Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Knitting Contrisstas Day 10: Sylvie--- Chez Plum

I love Paris, everything about Paris---- including Sylvie Damey---- aka Chez Plum! A
great blog, a cool website and some wonderful and unique knit and crochet designs----
what is not to love?

Thanks for the interview Sylvie!

KC: Sylvie-------- you have a husband and children and a very busy life, yet you are
incredibly prolific in your many endeavors! How do you do it all?

CP: Oh you're too kind, actually I always feel like I hardly do anything and sometimes struggle to find something to blog about in my self-imposed weekly post... The hardest is to find time and brain-space for large projects, ones requiring concentration, calculations, .. and a lot of crafting time ! That's the reason why I love spinning: I can just sneak in 5 minutes here and there with my kick-spindle, even while watching the girls in their bath... And at the end of the day, there's still good progress without any actual dedicated crafting time ! :-)

KC: Do you really live in France? Are you a French citizen and how in the world do you
have such an excellent grasp of all things English?

CP: Yep, I'm a true French citizen and live here in Annecy in the French Alps. As for the speaking-English part, I've just always loved anything English. Started reading books directly in English from the age of what..maybe 12 (my first one was Jane Eyre, which I had already read in French so that was easier). I also used to take my parents little black and- white tv in my room to watch the late Tuesday night movie, which was in English with only French subtitles. And then later on come the travels with 3 years in English speaking countries, between AK, British Columbia, the West Coast of the US, NZ and Australia.. Now I'm so glad I can keep on speaking English with all my friends from our local SnB group ! :-) I chose right from the start to write only in English because I identify much more with the
English-speaking crafting scene. That's where all the interesting stuff happens.. ;-)

KC: Tell us what “Chez Plum” means and how it came about. I love your tagline “Knits
with a French twist”.

CP: Hmm.. I don't think it means much, I just love the color plum and wanted to give a French touch to my business name, to mark my difference somehow... At the time I thought really hard about names, asked for advice on Craftster, and chose ChezPlum. The tagline came from a blogger that labeled the link to my blog that way: she kindly agreed to let me use it.. :-)

KC: I know that you have had your work featured in Knitty, and the Craft Pattern Podcast. Do you have customers from all over the world?

Actually, funny enough the one country where I don't sell much is France !! :-)
France is still really backwards in terms of Crafts. Here, knitting is still considered a declining craft and a friend got some designs refused by Phildar who said “People are not interested in crochet any more” …!!! It's always funny to see where my customers come from. I was delighted to send a pair of Cactus mitts to Homer - Alaska recently..

KC: I know that you are a knitter and crocheter and you create lovely things! Do you like one over the other? Knit vs. Crochet?

CP: I've really been a knitter-only for probably twenty years. And I think I will always do both as they are not interchangeable techniques. But I've come to love crochet very very much as it opens more possibilities to me. I love funky designs and three-dimensional projects, which work better with crochet. Also, crochet lets you improvise along the way much more, and I totally love that versus having to plan too much ahead.

KC: Tell me a bit about how you got started designing patterns please!

CP: I learned to knit when I was a little girl, probably with my grandma.. I knitted a bit as a teenager (including a full sweater I was so proud of until it felted by accident) but nothing major. Then during Uni I brought the huge stash I had accumulated in my little room, and started knitting hats. Tons of hats. I knitted them with 7 mm needles and several strands of pretty yarns, and experimented all sorts of crazy shapes. They had a lot of success, all my friends wanted one, and the friends of my friends... At the time there wasn't Etsy and I didn't know much of internet much, but really to me that's when I started designing stuff. I just didn't publish them at the time ! Then a few years ago I discovered Craftster and blogland, started knitting again... Of course I didn't follow patterns much either, except this time I'd take notes on what I did and tried to sell my own patterns to pay for my yarn..! :-)

KC: Tell me about your projects, what is your favorite thing to knit/crochet?

CP: I don't think I have any favorite projects. Each year is probably different. I used to think I
wasn't interested in shawls but now I love them. I'll probably get into socks one day as everybody else.. ;-)

KC: How about crochet? There seems to be such a huge resurgence, or maybe just a bit of a re-invention. Your new Granny Mitts pattern is ADORABLE and as a non-crocheter these surely do make me want to learn!

CP: Thanks ! Yes I love to see more “modern-looking” crochet projects.. I don't really like the traditional stiff and thick crochet. There's so much more you can do with a hook and yarn ! Like I really love to play with working in only one loop to achieve more drape and thinner fabric. To me crochet is like a virgin land: possibilities are endless.

KC: I met you last year when I came across your Cactus Mittenette Pattern------ I still love those and have knit two pair, both for gifts. I need to make a pair for moi!

CP: And I've worn my pair all winter last year, I'm thinking it may be time for a new pair ! I'm still quite partial to that pattern as that's the pattern that got me interviewed on :-)

KC: It has become well known that I am the only"THROWING" knitter left on the planet these days ---- please answer the everpresent question---- does speed matter?

CP: Aha, now you've caught me.. Actually I tried to learn to knit continental at one point, but I was knitting a lace pattern at the time and it would have been too hard to knit it I went back to my old ways and ... never even thought about it any more! I guess that totally show speed doesn't matter to me... :-P I'm not much into knitting techniques anyways. I prefer the creative side of it all..! :-) But at least now I know what it's about.

KC: Are you a process or a product knitter/crocheter? I wonder if it makes a difference if you are creating something for your personal use or for a pattern?

CP: I am a typical process knitter/crocheter. I love the creative process, the problem-solving stages … I don't wear my handknitted objects much, even though I got better at it lately ! I think there's still this fear both to use some really beautiful yarn “only for me”, or to do something that might “look handmade” but in a bad way. I still feel slightly uneasy whenever somebody asks “did you make that ?”.. I think I'm still in the learning curve as to know which project to tackle for myself that I will actually wear ! ;-)

KC: Is there anything in the world of knitting AND quilting that you have not done and wish to tackle?

CP: Maybe one day when I have a full studio I'll try weaving a bit with my handspun. See if I like it. I'm totally a wool person. Everything revolving around wool excites me. Maybe felting or needle-felting ? I tried sewing but I have no patience with a sewing machine.

KC: Are you a part of the Ravelry world, and if so, what is your Ravelry name?

CP: Of course ! Who could live without Ravelry ? I'm Sylvchezplum there, as on Etsy.

KC: What else do you do to feed your inner creative muse?

CP: Not that much seeing the size of our apartment and the time I have on my hands... But I love reading and always enjoy cooking for my family. I enjoy hand-sewing little things sometimes, and doing all sorts of crafts with my girls.

KC: What do you do during the holidays? Anything special?

CP: We're going to celebrate with the family, and meet my cousin's 2 baby boys who are just adopted from Ethiopa. They've been waiting for them for so long it's really special to see them as a family finally !

KC: What is coming up next in the world of Sylvie Damey and Chez Plum? Please tell me that you are still giving thought to a little lesson in crochet via a mystery pattern?

CP: I have plans for several more granny-square based designs. I hope I'll manage at least a couple this winter. Also, I'd love to release some of the patterns I've had in the works for ages like for some of my funky scarves and some hand-sewn baby booties... But I'll be knitting too as I was commissioned a secret project lately (Yay !). And I'd love to do my little part in getting more people to learn to spin their own yarn and to crochet with some personal projects.. So yes I'm totally still thinking of that “mysterylearn- to-crochet project”, although I'm not sure when I'll be able to prepare all the instructions/photos/videos that would have to go with it.

KC: Love Love Love those mitts Sylvie, it makes my non-crocheting self yearn to pick up the hook and have a go of it.

Thanks Sylvie------ and Happy Holidays!

**On a side note, those of you who may not (if possible) read Amy Singer's blog at Knitty, you HAVE to check out the incredible Coraline Box she received! I am so jealous, it is fabulous! When you read the post about The Coraline Box, you can log in to the movie website and use the password supplied there and view the most fantastic teensy weensy detailed incredible sweaters you have ever seen. Like, ever. It is a treat--- check it out!

Lastly, in the interviews we always talk about Ravelry. I'm Knitting Contessa there (what else?) and I'd love to meet you there as well as here!


Anonymous said...


I am having a problem getting any email through to you. Any suggestions?


Unknown said...

Great interview! And Sylvie is such a nice person!
Groeten uit Rotterdam