I am really excited about this interview today with my dear friend from Portugal, Maria Ribeiro or Kjoo as she is known to many. I discovered her work on etsy in the spring of 2007 and again it was love at first sight. I puchased one of her patchwork crochet and handmade felt pins and it instantly became my favorite piece of jewelry. I am in love with the concept of wearable art and this little piece typified that concept to perfection. I have purchased a number of her pins since then and I always receive complements on them and they have stirred up more than a few interpretive conversations. I want to display them in small shadow boxes when not in use to give them the attention they rightly deserve. It was because of Maria that I took up my crochet hook last year in a serious way and if your have been following my blog or flickr you will know where that has lead me. A little inspiration can lead one down an entirely new exciting path. One of the highlights of 2008 was actually getting to meet my crochet idol in person. It happened in December in the fantastic city of Lyon, France. She is just as sweet and wonderful and pretty as I knew she would be . By the way I think she recognized me standing on the street in Lyon outside my husband's apartment by the kjoo pin that I wear on my coat. That was a picture of me outside of Purl in NYC last spring wearing the same vintage coat and kjoo pin I wore in Lyon. The next picture is Maria and Miro ( he is also very sweet and handsome) in Lyon climbing up to the top of the hill to see the beautiful church up there. She also is wearing one of her pins ( the only one she kept for herself ) and it was very beautiful. While we are modeling her work, here is Bekki with her favorite kjoo necklace on. What inspires you in your creativity? I don´t know for sure. I like to absorb everything in my own way. Inspiration can come from a place I visit, some artwork I admire, a book or a film. Nature is a great inspiration. If you tried to trace back the series of events that lead to you making things and opening an etsy shop where would it begin? I was unsatisfied with my job options as a graphic designer, and was seeking more freedom to create. In the meanwhile, I found several blogs and got to know this new "craft movement". The Design Sponge and Whip Up blogs led me to a reinvented universe that I wished to be a part of. When I first searched The hutup ( http://www.hutup.de/ ) website catalogue I knew I had to learn how to make felt, it looked like a perfect material for me to create. So I started learning the felt basics, and after so many years, I started crocheting and exploring new crochet techniques. These are very different from the ones my grandmother taught me in my childhood. Soon I joined Flickr with some pieces of work, and surprisingly I got so much encouraging feedback on what I was creating, that I thought I should start selling the products online. I knew of Etsy since the beta version, so it was my first option apart from some "real shops". -How did you learn your crafting skills? I learned how to felt from the Martha Stewart website (I first learned felt beads) , some quick tutorials from the internet and from the book Felting by Hand ( http://www.amazon.com/Felting-Hand-Anne-Einset-Vickrey/dp/0961905352). Japanese zakka felt books also taught me some interesting tips. I first leaned how to crochet with my grandmother, and every day I learn new techniques. I just need to keep practicing. Can you describe an environment : time, place and company ( people or pets) where you feel most creative?Most of the time I feel more creative at night, Many times I've worked until 1or 2 am, usually in my living room while watching a film. Normally I work in my small atelier at home surrounded by my two cats, Rita and Artur, as well as my puppy Eva. My husband also works at home, so we share this space together. Each day is different, but I usually start working between 9 or 10 am until 6 or 8pm. What do you have planned 2009? My first plan is to make some plans regarding my work. Until now things have been going with the wind... between Etsy, Flickr and several invitations. It's been almost two years and its time to refresh things and balance all possibilities. I am working on my website, it will be a conversion point between Etsy, Flickr and a new shop I plan on opening. What advice or encouragement would you offer another creative person contemplating taking a big step to open a shop or blog in 2009? I have always been creative and I always loved to make "things" for me. When I first started sharing my work on the internet I found people who liked the same things I do. That was so so inspiring to me. So don´t be afraid to share your thoughts, interests or work because there will always be someone like you. If not beside you, then maybe on the other side of the globe :) I discovered that painting of Maria's looking through her flickr sets and I would love to encourage her to paint in 2009. I love it so much. Tomorrow I have an interview with someone I hope to get to know better in 2009. She is a New Zealander living in Norway and I am in love with the way she lets her needle pull thread. An extra bonus today is a second posting a little later in the day with the first 2009 installment of " guess the nature inspiration". Prior to this interview series they were my favorite posts. Now I think it is about even. Don't forget to check back a little later and play along. No knowledge is required only curiosity and imagination which are both somethings we all have.