Casper recently revealed a miniature pillow that’s the perfect size for travel… a little relaxation… and well, naps.
The Casper Nap Pillow is a miniature version of the best-selling original (standard-sized) pillow, which has earned more than 2,500 five-star reviews. It’s ridiculously comfortable. And now, adorably miniature. Plus, it comes with a pillowcase and drawstring bag for on-the-go adventures and bigger travel plans.
In 1998, I had my second “batch” of children. Augie (my first) was born in 1994, and then I had triplets in 1998! Two years later, in 2000, I built them all a dollhouse. I used to make knitwear for my children when they were babies. I would make gloves and baby booties, but always craved a bigger challenge. At that time, I was always using patterns by other people because I was intimidated to design my own work.
I began making 1:12 knit works using real needles not miniature needles. My first works were very bulky. I created a vest with roughly 30 stitches per inch. I just loved it. It was truly a light bulb moment for me. And so, my children’s dollhouse never got built as I became obsessed with knitting in miniature. I made all my works in scale.
How did you transition from making miniature knitwear for yourself to selling your work?
I had never been to a miniature show, nor had I seen miniatures before. The inspiration for my work was all in my head. I wasn’t writing down any patterns. In due time, I went to the closest miniature shop which was 2 and a half hours away. I put all my miniature works in a cigar box and brought them to the shop. The feedback I received was that my work was too bulky. So, I bought something like a small dress form or mannequin which helped with scale.
Early on, I tried to sell some of my bulky works on eBay which helped to connect me to lots of people in the miniature world. I was soon asked the question, have you ever tried gloves? My first try looked like a baseball mitt! I’ve saved all of these beginner works, by the way. I was so determined. Then I thought, “well now maybe I’ll use sewing needles.” I had previously tried using tatting needles for lace making. They have an eye on the end and are longer and not as sharp. Then, I started to use thread. I made a pair of gloves.
How long would it take you to make one of your prototypes from your 24-hour class at IGMA Guild School?
For the 2015 IGMA Guild School, the prototype of the fisherman’s cabled vest took me about 1 week or less to make. I worked for about 5-6 hours a day.
The fisherman’s rope cable has a moss stitch. There’s also hints of algae and basket weaving in the design.
Have you ever made something so beloved you couldn’t sell the work?
Over the years I made very special pieces that were very conceptual. I made a Warhol sweater with soup can pockets and the iconic Marilyn Monroe on the back of the sweater. That work is now in the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center in Maysville. Kaye Browning is the Miniature Curator at the museum and she’s purchased a lot of my work.
For a period of time when I found I could not knit, a scuba diving trip really helped me get through a tough time. So, I knitted a special sweater all about scuba diving. It has on it a water spout, sharks, a dolphin following a boat, coral, fish, and my diving instructor finding a weight belt. I eventually sold this to Kaye Browning.
Some of my most special works are art history themed pieces including a work of a Greek amphora, and a Picasso piece. Those were really stand out works. My most colorful creations are 1:12 scale garments, each of which takes about 30 to 40 hours to design and 100-300 hours to knit.
What works will you start designing when you go home?
I have a pattern in mind right now: a medieval nativity scene based on a triptych. There will be panels in the front. Once I design it, I can knit it. I use a software program that’s a motif maker which pixelates the images. Sometimes I sketch out work or modify existing patterns.
Highlights of your knitting career?
I received a call from LAIKA Studios regarding making knitwear for a feature film. I sewed 14 sweaters and 5 pairs of striped gloves for Coraline. I made the star sweater with sparkles that she wears during the film. I kept the 15th sweater and still have it today!
I was on the Martha Stewart Show a few years ago. Everyone in the audience was working on knitting projects. I was in the front row and spoke to Martha on camera, she had a couple of my pieces on a dish. She asked about some of my prices and I had a few minutes on screen. It was so much fun to do that!
Follow your passions and work on what inspires you. Start a website, even if it’s only one page. No matter how basic it is, it will help people find you.
Advice you’d give to a new knitter?
One of your greatest resources will be a local yarn shop. Just sit and talk with them and listen to what they have to say. They’re knowledgeable when it comes to what yarns or what needles you may wish to try.
Advice you’d give to a new miniaturist?
Come to the Guild School. I’ve done miniatures and I’ve done other things I haven’t been thrilled about. I always longed to make art or make miniatures. I’m happy now, because my children taught me to pursue my passions. They are tenacious, and keep me creating.
What materials do you use to make your crochet miniature animals?
For my micro creations, I mostly use fine embroidery threads and also sometimes cotton threads and yarn for the bigger ones.
How has your work with miniatures and micro crochet minis evolved?
I’ve been making crochet miniatures since 2012. I first started making micro ones (about 0.4 inches) and would list them on eBay. A year later in 2013, I opened my Etsy shop.
I love making Disney characters, these are my most favorite. I’ve always been inspired by Walt Disney since I was little. I’ve spent whole days watching those magical Disney productions such as Beauty and The Beast, Cinderella… and drawing his beautiful characters with colored pencils and paint.
And now I’m happy to turn them into another kind of art: miniatures. They are always a great pleasure and challenge for me.
Favorite miniature you own?
My collection of miniatures by other artists is relatively new and has just a few miniatures. But my most favorite one is a little book shop I bought from Petit Connoisseurs not long ago. It was made by the South African artisan Roz Crouch. This is a half scale dollhouse, very well furnished and everything is so small and perfect. I really love it because this is my first dollhouse, and it means so much to me. The house has its own spirit, memories, and is so very realistic that it’s simply unbelievable that it’s a dollhouse. I am very impressed and admire Roz Crouch’s beautiful work. I hope soon I’ll have more of her great work in my collection.
Why miniatures? What appeals to you most about what you do?
A few years ago I read a blog article about miniatures featuring an incredible video that was revealing the magical world of miniatures. Before that I didn’t even know such world existed, but at the moment I saw the enchantment of building a whole new mini world, a copy of the real one, but even better, I fell in love with this art and decided to try. And it worked.
After I had started to master the art of crocheting, it was a challenge and it was fun to apply it to miniatures. What I really love about my work is that I don’t feel it’s work. It’s magic, it’s a challenge to recreate what you see on a picture for example in the same crochet shape. And when you get people’s approval and positive feedback, when you find people who love your creatures the same way as you do… that’s the greatest recognition of all.
Advice for beginner artists?
Make your art with heart and soul, so that it can be unique. Make an individual distinguished style. Place your love on everything you do.
Other activities you enjoy?
In addition to my miniature crochet creations, I’m also a dog clothes designer. I have a Yorkie named Carey. First I started making clothes for her then I opened an Etsy shop. After 3 years of hard work now I have also a dog fashion website.
My other hobbies are painting and drawing, though I don’t have much time for either lately. I love spending time in nature. Nature inspires me the most. It makes me feel relaxed and at the same time, it charges me with so much positive energy. I adore magical walks in the beautiful forests and to see all wonders of nature, all colors of life. The greatest art gallery of all.
What’s to come from By Anni?
Here in Bulgaria where I live, making miniatures is not very common or popular. But I sincerely hope things are about to change in the future and that we also start attending big miniature exhibitions. My dream is to visit some of the world’s greatest miniature exhibitions. Meeting other miniaturists in person and seeing their work live would be a great experience for me. Currently, I’ve been working on my blog and I hope it’ll be ready to go online very soon. Miniature lovers will find there more information about what I’m working on at the moment, what’s coming up next, lots of pictures of my miniature creations and more “behind the scenes.” This will also be a space for fun, contests, sweepstakes and all that can make people enjoy my work even more.
I’m also planning to make a pet collection in the near future and offer crochet miniatures made after real life pet models from pictures provided by customers. The pet collection will include different breeds of dogs, cats, and other animals.
What do you want miniature fans to know about you?
All of my miniatures are made without any patterns. Sometimes I use only a picture (for my crochet characters) but mostly I use my imagination and make everything with plenty of LOVE.
I am originally from Belgium and studied textile art in Antwerp and Ghent. From a very young age, I loved to paint and craft. I wanted to try all kind of crafts. It was so bad that my mom used to say my hobby was changing hobbies. Until I discovered weaving. There are so many different techniques and possibilities that it never becomes boring for me.
After marrying my Turkish husband, we moved to Turkey, and I left my looms in Belgium. Once in Turkey, we opened a real size carpet shop, and I started knotting carpets in the shop, because that was the only loom I had. A carpet loom is different from the weaving looms I had before, but in my textile art training I had used a very similar loom.
I started with a medium size carpet but after working on it for several weeks, I decided to make it a square—to finish a bit faster—and after doing this, I learned to make the carpets smaller because it takes so long to finish a piece that it started to be boring. And also because customers asked for smaller sizes and nobody made these small sizes at the time. One of the first real small carpets I finished was sold to a Dutch customer for his dollhouse. And here the idea was born to make dollhouse carpets. It must have been around 1997.
It was a long way to make smaller, better and finer carpets, not only small carpets but real miniature sized works. In the beginning, I made wool carpets for 1:12 scale, but when I wanted to make finer and finer pieces I began also to use silk. Some of those smaller fine silk carpets work well in smaller scales.
After some time, when I started selling on eBay, I began making miniature crochet. And when I saw the possibilities with petit point embroidery when I was at the Chicago International Show, I wanted to try this. I really love to make pillows and now and then a carpet. The designs I make for my knotted carpets are perfect for petit point carpets in smaller scales.
What can’t you live without?
My crochet needle, a box of silk sewing threads, and needles is always close by. Often times, I will take a project in my bag if I go somewhere. It is easy to take with me, and here in Turkey, it is not strange to sit somewhere and do some handcrafting… although the younger generations are not as interested in crafts anymore.
What inspires you?
When I was working in our carpet shop, I was surrounded by carpets and had inspiration all day. Now that I am retired from the shop, I still have my books and I can find a lot of information and inspiration on the Internet. I am not weaving as much anymore but I’m creating more and more embroidery and crochet. I’m enjoying life, my cats and my garden.
Here in Turkey we do not have much dollhouse miniatures and surely not in the days I started. So I am happy I found miniature friends online. I am member of the Yahoo! group The CAMP where we share ideas, show our miniatures, and have a lot of miniature-related fun.
Upcoming projects planned?
At the moment, I am not doing any shows. Making my carpets takes so much time that it is not possible to have new work every year. Maybe in some time, I will be back at a show again, because it is so nice to see all the beautiful work I can see there…. and to meet new friends!
Ludwina Akbulut lives in Turkey. For more handmade work from her ludwinaminicarpet brand, visit her website, check out eBay, Facebook, Etsy or take a peek at miniature carpet designs on her blog.