Button & Blue’s Amy Phillip to discover where the inspiration comes from for her sweet knits for little ones…
Knitting from her home nestled within the vibrant North Laine in Brighton, Amy Phillip’s needles and knitting machine are always busy creating new super cute makes for the stylish babies in your lives. She even created the gorgeous wrist warmers starring on the cover of Mollie Makes issue 74, so us grown-ups could join in the fun too!
The mum-of-two (although soon to be three!) balances her time between looking after her young family and running Button & Blue, her award-winning knitwear business. From gorgeous cosy cardigans to teeny tiny mittens, Amy began knitting up a storm when she opened her Etsy shop in April 2015, using only the finest natural fibres to make her stylish designs. We caught up with Amy as she plans her new collection to find out how she juggles it all and her top knitting tips…
Hi Amy! So, how big is your yarn stash and where do you keep it?
I have to be quite restrained with buying yarn as there just isn’t enough space. I currently have a couple of wheel out boxes under my bed and my yarn is all organised into bags by fibre and colour, so it’s easy to see what is running low and needs a re-stock. I was so excited when my local yarn shop YAK moved in right at the end of my street – even though it’s very dangerous for my bank balance. I absolutely love popping in and often inspiration for the pieces I make starts with finding some yarn there that I love and just need to make something with.
Describe your workspace and why it works for you?
My workspace is a little corner of my bedroom. At some point in the future, I’d love to have a little studio at home, but for now I’m being creative with the space that we’ve got. This is something I’ve done from the very start of my business and for the first nine months, I had my knitting machine set up on my ironing board! It wasn’t the most convenient set up (or very Instagram friendly!), but as time has gone on, I’ve been able to invest back into my business and I now own a brand new, shiny knitting machine on its own little table. I’ve grown to like my cosy little space tucked under our sloping ceiling. It has taken a while, but everything has found a place, and it now looks neat and tidy.
What does your average working day look like?
My working day is about to look quite different as in January I will have both of my children out of the house at school and nursery for the first time. Up until now, my work has fitted around nap and bedtimes and any other possible undisturbed time my children have given me! It has been hard at times, but I’m so thankful I get to work doing something I love that I can do from home. From June, with a new baby, everything will change again, though I am seriously looking forward to putting a sweet little baby in my knits!
How did you learn to knit?
My mum taught me when I was young. I’ve always enjoyed making things and I remember spending ages doing craft sets, making pom poms or French knitting in the school holidays. My granny was an incredibly skilled knitter and had a craft room in her house for all her knitting and sewing projects – I loved playing with the button tin and pin cushions.
What’s the first thing you ever made?
I think the very first thing I made was a wonky dish cloth! But the first thing I made that I was really proud of was a little cardigan for my first born. Both my girls have worn it and I hope to pass it down to their children one day, too.
Who are your favourite makers?
What’s your favourite thing to make and why?
I love knitting for babies. There’s something so special about dressing your own children or seeing your friend’s babies in the pieces you make. Plus they’re quick to make and so tiny!
What’s been you proudest project?
I have to say being featured as the cover star for Mollie Makes with my raincloud wrist warmers was a very proud moment. I was so excited to be asked and was in my element spending a week this Autumn creating the pattern. Receiving my copy of the magazine and seeing the pattern in print was a moment I will never forget.
Name three things you can’t live without?
- Coffee! And it has to be the good stuff. We’re spoilt for choice where we live, plus my husband runs a coffee shop. Coffee has helped power many a busy making session.
- My notebook. I have a notebook full of sketches, lists of ideas and most importantly the patterns I’ve written for the pieces I make for my shop.
- My knitting machine. I started off with a very old, vintage knitting machine, which had some missing pieces and broken parts which was manageable but not ideal. I have since invested in a brand new one with all the possible attachments and accessories and I just love using it.
What have you learnt since starting your own craft business?
Draw a line between work and time off. It’s tempting when you run a craft business to be making for your business in any free time you have. However, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and if you take time to relax and re-charge you’ll run your business better for it. Don’t compare yourself to others. Especially on social media. Be inspired, but not in competition with them.
It’s also important to get involved with a community of other makers and creative business owners. Running a small creative business can mean you miss out on working with others. I’ve recently started a group with a friend, based at my church, called Meet and Make where we run different workshops to share creative skills and learn new ones. It’s been so enriching to give space in my week to creating things with like-minded people and developing new skills.
Get some training and read up on marketing. You’ll already be good at creating and making your products, but people need to know that they exist for your brand to get exposure and grow. I recently did some training with The Design Trust on marketing which has been so informative, helpful and inspiring.
Amy’s top three knitting tips?
- Pick a pattern that you love to keep you motivated.
- Knit a tension square to check you have the correct gauge. I’ve made the mistake of not doing this too many times, only to finish something I’ve been working on for ages and realise it’s too big or small.
- Try new techniques.