Thursday, February 2, 2012

Local Artist Interview: The Shizknit

Our local artist interview this week is with Tonya Wagner from The Shizknit.  Tonya creates beautiful knitted pieces and holds local knitting classes for those in the Louisville area.  We are big fans of her work – check out the knitted swimsuit! – and are so happy that she has agreed to be a part of D.I.Y. Louisville as a sponsor this month.

The Shizknit

The Shizknit

What type of art do you make and when did you get your start?
I am a knitwear designer and teach knitting classes.  I taught myself to knit in early 2006 by using the book Stitch 'n' Bitch by Debbie Stoller.  I learned to knit in April - by June I had designed my first item; a cabled purse.  That December I began working at the (sadly now closed) local yarn store, the Knit Nook and began teaching.

What makes you D.I.Y.?
It doesn't get more D.I.Y. than making something out of sticks and string!

How does your business impact Louisville?
The Knit Nook was more than a yarn store; it was a community.  I hope that my classes are able to do at least a small part to fill the void that was left when the store closed. 

What are you currently working on?
I have a sweater design in the works and a full class schedule - see for the list.

The Shizknit
Swimsuit design for Knitting in the Sun

What is your favorite thing about running your business?
Being able to set my own schedule is pretty phenomenal.  Not only is it nice to be home all day with my two small children, I am able to choose which classes I teach and find a way to make money knitting what I want. 

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
I wish I could please everyone, but it's just impossible.  Trying to schedule classes that a variety of people are interested in is the first challenge; the second is figuring out what time and day of the week is best for holding those classes.  Design-wise, I have been known to get "knitter's block" . . . kind of like "writer's block" but with yarn.  

The ShizknitThe Shizknit
Lucky Number Pullover design for Spud & Chloe

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists/business owners?
Go for it!  When the Knit Nook closed I took a job that wasn't particularly a good fit.  My husband encouraged me to devote that time to build my knitting business, and I'm so glad that I did.  While I am by no means making a ton of money, I am much happier doing something that I love.   Also, buy a good calendar and write down everything!

Share something silly about yourself.
When I was a little kid I had a massive crush on Doogie Howser, the teenage doctor played by Neil Patrick Harris.

Any independent artists you’re crushing on lately?
So many - and several of them are local. My good friend Adrienne Callandar (who has been featured on this blog previously) is a talented fiber artist.  You can find her on The Weather Up Here.  (  I am a huge fan of photographer Mickie Winters.  (  We have works in our house by Amber Thieneman and her husband Nick -  you might recognize Amber's paper crane mobiles that hang in Sunergos.  Of course, there are great independent artists all over the world - my Etsy favorites list is always growing! 

The Shizknit

Thank you, Tonya, for sharing about yourself and your work with our readers!  (Shh - I used to have a crush on Doogie Howser, too!)



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