Kathreen Ricketson wears many hats as a crafter, mother, wife, and designer — yet most of us know her best by the fabulous craft portal blog she runs called Whip Up. She’s got a knack for finding a lot of cool things, something I discovered way back to last fall when I first started posting craft topics on the MAKE blog. Her crafting robot mania got me hooked and from then on I became and instant Kath fan. Here’s the interview with Kath – Enjoy!
Nat: Hi Kath! Please tell me about yourself.
Kath: When I left school at 18 I was pretty uncertain about what to do so I studied cooking and travelled with friends around Australia and then worked in England for a while and travelled in Europe and Asia for a bit. When I returned to Australia I decided I wanted to study something history related so I did curatorship and conservation, and to give myself an extra challenge I also studied Mandarin Chinese language, and then went to China for a year to study.
When I completed my degree I had the option of continuing and doing post grad studies in museum conservation or in going to art school – so I went to art school – something was pulling me in that direction and I was never completely satisfied with museums. I studied visual arts – majoring in photo-media for 5 years. During those 5 years I married and had my 2 children. Crazy times. When I finished I was empty and needed a break – so I stayed at home with my new baby and toddler for a couple of years while my husband spent time in his company.
Nat: What kind of crafts do you enjoy to do? How has crafting become part of your life?
Kath: I enjoy lots of different crafts but am not profient at many (or any) but sewing is my main thing – having learnt from my grandmother. She used to sew all her own clothes and I would help her cut and pin and thread the sewing machine. The first things I made were dolls clothes and then patchwork cushions before making my own formal dress when I was 16.
Now I make some of my kids clothes and some of my clothes and make fun things like bags and dressups and toys, and bigger things like recovering my couch and curtains etc.
I sew to ad variety to mine and my kids wardrobe and to save money (on things like covering the couch) and to be a bit creative. I also love fabric, love colour, and love experimenting with both which led me to freestyle (or modern) quilting – which I now dabble in.
Nat: Can you tell me the idea behind y our fantastic craft site, Whip Up?
Kath: ooh, well while I was at home after art school with the kiddies, I found myself needing a creative outlet and discovered the world of blogging and craft blogs and mother blogs in particular. I was really drawn to the craft blogs because they weren’t just all about nappies and feeding etc but most of them do have some mothering content that I could relate to and they were from exotic locations etc. So I started my own blog and then before you know it I had self portrait tuesday going. And then decided to do something to bring new craft blogs and creative women together. There is craftster of course – which is a fantastic resource, but I was lost in there.
So I gathered a few creative women together and started whipup. A few have since dropped out and new people have joined – it is really an organic continuous process, which I am enjoying – it takes a lot of my spare time, luckily I have a really computer literate husband who fixes bugs and sorts out techical issues – I would be lost without him – and even more lucky he appreciates and supports my kooky ideas and is good to bounce off ideas with.
Nat: I enjoy how you can make links between what different crafters are doing. What are some trends you are seeing in crafts today? How do you find all these great things?
Kath: I really get on a roll sometimes – I usually see something that I like and then find that others are doing something similar using similar materials etc and I follow links until I am exhausted and then move on to something else. I see embroidery being used in contemporary art more and more and knitting is in art galleries and artists are doing fabulous things with crochet. Buttons are big at the moment, and felt is seemingly everywhere and used for so many things. – The latest trend in craft blogging seems to be recycling and eco crafts – and refashioning clothing – I really love this.
mmm how to do I find things – I first of all check my bloglines, and follow links. Then I check out craft websites, and I also use google image search once I know what I am looking for. As I work in the visual arts industry I have access to great magazines and contemporary art shows so I can see if something craft related is going on.
Nat: This new Internet crafting community feels like a tight knit group with lots of information and tips to share. What are some great experiences that you’ve had with the craft community? For instance, I love that because of our blogs, even though you live in Australia and I live in San Francisco, we are all in touch.
Kath: I know isn’t it fantastic. I have ‘met’ artists from UK and Europe and Asia and we are in touch and working on projects together. I have ‘met’ mothers from around the world who I am influenced by when thinking about education and parenting matters. And I have met local women who are interested in things I am interested in and who live in Australia. It has really been a positive experience.
Nat: What is a craft that you don’t currently know how to do and would like to learn?
Kath: I am interested in learning crochet – even though I should already know how – my mother is constantly moaning how I didn’t pay attention when I was a child etc. but until now I never had the urge to learn. But seeing how it can be used in freestyle projects and for non functional applications I am really excited to learn – it is on my list.
Nat: What are some of your crafting projects that you are currently working on?
Kath: I am in the middle of 3 quilts – one is a fun quilts pattern, another is my own freestyle variation and and another is a commission. Not much crafting has been happening lately, I am in the middle of working on plans to extend our house and am using my crafting room as storage. I do alot of kids crafts though – like nature collage and water colours – so that is my current focus. – and whipup of course – there is not enough hours in the day.
Nat: Can you share with me some of your past craft projects?
Pencil Roll and Art Bag
This bag is a tutorial from craftster and the pencil roll is a altered knitting roll pattern. Great for kids who love to be organised and line their pencils up in colour order. – not too hard to make either.
I made these for the school fete craft stall. fun to make if a bit finicky.
Paper Mache Doll House
I loved making this – and while it has sagged over the years it has surprisingly really stood the test of time – am in the middle of making another one.
A big project – which took time and thought but was really worth it. – it saved a lot of money – literally thousands of dollars and has made a big difference to our lifestyle with the dark faux suede which repels dirt – fantastic.