Come with us and have a chat with Julie Picard, the French-born Geordieland-based lass behind Julie and The Knits, home of quirky and sweet knitted accessories… Julie, lives in the north-east of England, works full time in social media for a big company, and spends most of her free time knitting with her dog sleeping in her lap. Meet the lady behind the cutest knits…
How did you learn how to knit?
The first time I learnt how to knit was as a kid with my grandmother. However I gave up after a while and picked it up again about five years ago – this time I learnt through books, youtube and blogs.
What do you enjoy about it?
I work in a very corporate environment so knitting really helps me get away from all this! I also love the versatility of knitting. Whether it is the techniques or the types of yarn, you learn something new every day! There are no limits to what you want to create, you just let your imagination run. The best thing is when you come up with totally new patterns and charts, bring them to life and it looks amazing! (We love these bike handle warmers!)
What inspires you and your work?
I get inspired by all things quirky, cute or kawaii. I love the Japanese culture, especially the street fashion and all the cute little manga and anime characters! I’m not a girly girl but I think when it comes to accessories the cuter and more colourful the better. So if I knit a plain design I will always try to give it that quirky touch by adding a fruit button or some ribbon.
What sort of projects do you normally prefer to specialise in?
When I started knitting I mainly made girly accessories like headbands, hair bows, brooches – I love accessories! One thing you need to know about me is that I have no patience, so I tend to work little projects. But I’m trying to change.
How do you tackle a new project or design?
Although I sometimes get inspired by existing patterns or charts, I prefer to work on my own designs, draw my own knitting charts, even if that takes more time. As I work with a lot of colours, I try to think of different colour combos, I’ll also look at my button box for ages and decide on any potential embellishments, and then I just get started! Knitting is about trial and error, so very often I’ll start again because the size is wrong or I think of a better stitch, but once I find the perfect design I know it was all worth it!
Please tell us about your creative workspace – where is it, what’s it like and which parts of it could you not live without?
We have a study in our house which serves as a music room/knitting room – it’s full of records, CDs and yarn! The desk is definitely the most important part because that’s where I keep my precious craft boxes – it’s also one of my favourite pieces of furniture in the house!
When did you decide to sell your creations?
I started selling my creations back in April. Until then I was trying to perfect my knitting skills, for instance making edges as neat as possible, buying more material. My very good friend Victoria has been selling her awesome rock ’n’ kitsch handmade jewellery for a few years now and she really inspired me to give it a try!
What has been the response so far?
Very good! Obviously it’s still pretty new but my family, friends and colleagues have been really supportive which is such a relief! I am totally aware that my style doesn’t suit everyone’s taste and that’s absolutely fine, but people seem to love how colourful and unique my creations are.
Do you sell your items at craft fairs and events?
I’ve sold my knits at a couple of fairs so far and have got more planned later this year. I really enjoy attending craft fairs. I have met lovely traders! By meeting other fellow crafters you really get to find out more about opportunities in your area.
What advice could you offer to a fellow crafter who’s keen to sell their items at a craft fair or creative event?
Before committing to anything, make sure you create enough stock to have a pretty table full of crafts at your first fair. The atmosphere and audience varies a lot, so go to a few of them and then attend again whichever ones fit your business idea the most. Even if you don’t get many sales the first few times, try again, it will work out eventually!
What’s it like to work for yourself? (Good and bad bits.)
Well, if it doesn’t work out you only have yourself to blame. But mainly it’s all good. In my day job I have loads of managers, so being my own boss at Julie & The Knits rocks.
What’s the best-kept knitting secret?
Mattress stitch! You learn all kinds of techniques to join your work, but this one is the best – your work appears seamless.
What’s next for you and your knits?
There are not enough hours in the day to do all I want to do. I’m currently working on my own amigurumi which I’m very excited about. I’m also planning on making some pet accessories and cute home décor. All should be available in my Etsy shop soon.