Saturday, July 26, 2008

Focus On: Maggie Estrin

Maggie Estrin



Last fall I developed a yen for fingerless gloves. I settled without much ado on these Iceburg Mitts by littlegreycatdesigns on Etsy. I love them and get tons of compliments every time I wear them! So I'm thrilled that Maggie has agreed to visit my blog!

Tell us about yourself.
What makes you, you? Ooh, the hardest question right off the line! I think there are a few things that account for who I am today: a good education, easy-going parents, extensive travel for work as well as many very different jobs, and exposure to different walks of life. I grew up in Maryland and live north of San Diego now. I’ve got a husband and, yes, a little grey cat (her name is Clio, she’s 15, and enjoys long naps on the sofa). I’ve been a library assistant, a vet tech, a pharmacy tech, an interior designer, a marketing specialist, a daycare worker, and a camp counselor. I’m a vegetarian and eat vegan as often as possible. I love to read, but generally avoid non-fiction books (though I love National Geographic and the Smithsonian magazine). I can’t imagine how empty my life would be with the internet—that sounds lame, but I wouldn’t have my shop, I wouldn’t have met many of my fibery friends, I wouldn’t be able to keep in touch as easily with my cross-country family, and I wouldn’t have been able to teach myself how to knit and spin. I’m pretty darn grateful for the internet, actually!

Do you see yourself as an artist or craftsman or both?
I think both—probably leaning more towards craftsman because my items are functional, though I do think some of my work could possibly be called art. There’s an excellent three part series by PBS called “Craft in America” that talks to craftsmen of all sorts, and I think much of what they show could be called art as well—it’s exceedingly difficult to make a distinction!

What made you want to be a craftsman?
When I was in high school and my first round of college, I never thought of myself as creative. Then I started knitting again (I first learned as a child) as a way to keep myself occupied on a long marketing trip, and that seems to have led to a whole new side of me! I started Little Grey Cat Designs, got a BFA in interior design, and have added handspun yarns to the shop. I can’t imagine not being creative now! I think I love the freedom available to me when I create—that’s why I want to do it. Making things makes me smile.

Why yarn?
I love textiles—I don’t think I many people who can pass by a skein of yarn or bolt of fabric and not touch it! Humans have used textiles of one sort or another just about forever. I love the fact that my decidedly 21st century creations reflect skills our ancestors used on a daily basis. Really, it boggles my mind.

How do you see your style?
Colorful, certainly. Beyond that, it’s hard for me to say. Hmm, maybe free-spirited, uniquely traditional, and fun.

What's the most wonderful thing you've made? The oddest?
The most wonderful…while it’s not my favorite thing I’ve ever made, I’m pretty happy with my T-Shrug. I designed it as I knit and I think it came out pretty darn well and is fairly unique.
The oddest—well, it’s not even made of fiber, but the giant bottle of Viagra I made for a school project. We had to transform a regular sized object into a huge one, and when the teacher said it should be soft and not stiff…

What inspires you?
How colors interact with each other, sunlight, the amazing photographs on Flickr, chatting with other fiber artists (hurray for Ravelry!)

What scares you?
Nerve damage, presenting my work to local yarn shops, and moths (shudder)

Tell us about your creative process.
I think about spinning and knitting pretty much all the time. Sometimes I’ll see a photograph or image that inspires a concept for a particular yarn, sometimes I work from the colors in a roving or yarn, and sometimes I just cast on or begin spinning and see what happens!

How did you get on Etsy and where else do you sell?
A friend at design school told me about Etsy (from a shopping standpoint), and I immediately began thinking of a shop name. I don’t sell anywhere else online, but you can find me at local craft shows and I do wholesale my yarn to Susan Gibbs of I also plan to approach my local yarn shops soon (wish me luck!).

Describe your shop.
A bit eclectic, leaning towards handspun yarns now more than knits, colorful, and soft—I don’t use any fiber I wouldn’t put next to my own skin!

Make a recommendation.
Fibery things: – Ginny is wonderful, and does GREAT work.
Non-fibery things: – Charlene makes *beautiful* jewelry (wish I had more of it!)

Tell us the answer to a question that we didn't ask, but should have. If you can't think of anything, tell us something random.
My favorite color is leaf green (though turquoise seems to be sneaking in), I’m right-handed and I skipped first grade.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------'Don't forget to check out the EBW Team Sale.


  1. what makes me?

    i was raised in a great whatever i am that anyone sees has , home has lots to do with it. oh and sometimes the world effects me too haha

  2. Oh, thank you for showing me Maggie's work and for the interview with her. Great sense of humor and creativity. (And I completely agree with her about about a sense of style and color!)

  3. Great hearing about Maggie. It is interesting to see how others got to where they are.

  4. What an interesting article. I admire fiber artists from a safe distance. Knitting makes me nervous up close, I'm intimidated by the complexity.

  5. I love cserdan's work too!

    Melody-- I'm shocked that you,who do such complex beadwork, are scared of the complexity of knitting. hmm.