1. Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what drew you to your chosen craft?
I have always made things, studying art was my only choice. After graduating from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a degree in Fine Art, and no idea how to get a job, a friend suggested that since I knit anyway I should buy a knitting machine. Off and on its been the way I earn a living, whether knitting for myself, or working as a knitwear designer for other companies.
My mom knit after work to relax. The first thing I knit at the age of 5 or 6 started out as a blue angora headband, but ended up a one shoulder Barbie dress after I kept dropping stitches. I figured out that I could design a dress from the failed headband, so I guess my streak of optimistic designing started then.
3: How would you describe your style? Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
I paint with yarn. Its all about blending multiple thin strands of yarns to invent new colors and gradations. My knitwear style is very sculptural, with rolled edges and a true feel for how the body looks and works. You become part of the sculpture, and there usually are options where you can make it your own.
4: Where do you seek inspiration from?
Nature inspires me. The colors you find on hikes, bike rides or even in a city looking at architecture, or just two random brightly dressed people passing each other on the street. My wraps and sweaters are named after the inspiration: Spice Market, Yosemite Falls, Hummingbird, Tide pool, boysenberry tart. Ok, so the last inspiration comes from the coffee shop, but you get the picture.
5: What are you focused on right now?
I am trying to decide how much to invest in knitting more infinity wraps, I've been knitting them for 4 or 5 years, and now I need to move on, they are everywhere. I have to decide if I go toward more menswear since there seems to be so little competition. I am also starting a new project with a friend making eco market and mushroom hunting baskets and bags.
6: What are your can't-live-without craft-room essentials?
Sunlight, it's so hard to see colors without it, and a vacuum cleaner. It lives under my knitting table.
7: How do you combat creative blocks?
I think best horizontal, so I lay down in bed with a notepad, or now iphone next to me so I can write down the ideas as they come. The best restart is to go to the mountains (where I lived in San Francisco). Now I go for 70 kilometer bike rides or 5 hour cross country ski treks through the Latvian woods just outside of Riga where I live.
8: Why should people buy handmade?
When you make something by hand a little bit of your soul goes into it, and the buyer can feel that. It takes longer to make, so you can think and rethink along the way. These little tweaks are what makes it unique and why the buyer feels special owning it.
9: Anything else you would like to share and where can we find you?
I walked through Old Town Riga last Xmas, and looking at all my friends and fellow crafters freezing in their outdoor craft stalls between the snow drifts, I just thought - thank you Internet, thank you Etsy thant I don't have to be out here freezing any more. The world is changing so fast. I have sold to 23 countries last count. I can live and work anywhere I want, all I need is internet access and a post office. Wow, who would have thought!
You can find Inese Liepina and her wonderful makes at: