I love the internet! It’s thanks to the internet that, Sue from Yay Retro stumbled across me via the Granny CAL I’ve been running over on Instagram, Ravelry and this ‘ere crochet blog. As a result, Sue suggested an interview, which I thought was a great idea! A couple of weeks ago I wrote out my answers to Sue’s fab questions and sent over a massive wodge of photographs of my home (with vintagey stuff- it’s relevant, I promise) and things I’ve crocheted. That interview can be found HERE. In the interest of keeping things a two way street I thought it would be nice to get to know Sue too, so I sent her a few questions for her to answer as well. We have things in common, we both live in Devon, we both love crochet and both have a penchant for cool, old stuff! Also, (as an aside) I found all of this really interesting. The questions started a nostalgic trip into the past, which triggered a load of old memories. I think that’s the main reason why I accumulate all my seemingly random junk. They’re connections to places I’ve been and people I’ve known.
Righty, over to Sue…
How long have you lived in Totnes?
We moved here in 2015 to be nearer to our son and family. We felt at home as soon as we got here, it’s a very special, welcoming and friendly place.
How much does living in Totnes feed your creativity and/or love of vintage? [Totnes is a town in Devon known for having an alternative, arty scene]
I did a fine art degree at The Winchester School of Art and trained, then worked as a professional artist (large abstract paintings) for around seven years before becoming a wedding photographer with my husband for six years. After this I set up yay retro! and I think both of these have significantly fed into the look and feel of yay retro! especially as everything needs to be photographed attractively. Totnes and the surrounding area is marvellous for finding vintage wares. I love the beautiful historic buildings and surrounding wonderful countryside, as well as the ‘anything goes’ feel in Totnes, it makes life more interesting and everyone is friendlier and accepting, I think.
What other parts of Devon are your favourite?
I adore Woolacombe in the North as I had all my childhood holidays there, visiting around 5 times a year in our tent and caravan. Tavistock is also a beautiful town, I love the market there and the drive over the Moors. My other favourite spots are the steam railways in Totnes and Dartmouth. These remind me of my Gramp who was a steam engine driver in the 1950s/60s.
There seems to be quite a few creative folk in Devon. Do you think Devon in particular is a good base for creatives? What makes it so special?
I’m quite new here and so have met only a few other vintage sellers and artists. However I am aware of more here than I was in Hampshire where I lived before.
The country and seaside are so inspiring in Devon and the slower pace of life is really superb. I think people’s outlook on life is different to that of people who live or work in or near big cities. Perhaps this is what attracts creative people to the county? Totnes itself is known for its arty folk as it is close to Dartington, which used to be the home of the famous Dartington College of Arts until quite recently.
What is it about vintage/retro stuff that makes you happy?
I was very lucky to have a happy time growing up in the 1960s and 70s, everything I buy for yay retro! makes me think of my Gran, Nan or my Mum all of whom were great home makers. I can recall special, happy times in each of their kitchens, and because each of them had different tastes in home decor, it really is a case of finding and recognising things they had. I only ever buy things that make me smile, that I truly love and would want for myself. If I’m not keen to give it house room myself I don’t buy it! When I find something lovely I say ‘yay! retro!’ in my head and often feel quite elated. It’s a real feel good job to have as I am forever ‘buzzing’ about the lovely objects and textiles I find!
When did you know it was time to make it your full time job?
I started the yay retro! online shop in 2012, and by 2013 knew it was going to take off and that I would need to tail off my other work commitments which were in the family web development company. I now run yay retro! full time.
Do you hangout with other crafty folk?
Being new to Totnes I don’t know that many people yet who are crafty. I do know of other vintage sellers and they are all very friendly and supportive. it’s a lovely community to be part of. On the crafty side of things, I am currently mad on crochet thanks to getting back into it after seeing you publicise the #grannycal18 crochet along. I am currently teaching my daughter in law to knit and soon to crochet. I find joining groups like Hooked on Crochet on Facebook is a good outlet for feedback and crafty talk. It’s also nice to share pics on the yay retro! Instagram page as my followers are really supportive.
What are your thoughts on the maker’s renaissance we’re experiencing?
I think that the internet has allowed people to share their work easily and also to sell their ideas and makes. This probably makes it appear that we have a makers renaissance, when in fact there have always been heaps of creative people out there.
I picked up the ‘making’ bug from my Mum and Gran who were fantastic at making clothes whether it be sewing or knitting. Neither of them crocheted, and I recently taught my Mum so that she could make a blanket for her great grandson.
It’s superb that getting online can enable people to share so much, and get feedback on their work. I spend many an evening being inspired by other people’s beautiful workmanship.
I often think that if only the internet had been as dominant when I was painting as it is now, I would still actually be working as an artist and selling smaller works from a website. At the time I was a working artist going the gallery route, it was the only option, which made my paintings too expensive for most people.
Who are your favourite artistic people? Top blogs? Instagrammers?
There are SO many artists and makers that I love, currently the printmaker Jane Ormes’ work really strikes a chord with me,
Anna Wiscombe’s wooden birds and plants are gorgeous, Jane Foster’s screen prints adorn my home and Chris Made This and Ames_Likes_Toast Instagram’s feed always make me really happy. I have bought quite a few pieces from Anna, Ames and Chris too. My illustrator friend Sara Rhys based in Totnes has a beautiful Instagram page which always brings a smile to my face.
What are your favourite shops/places in Devon to find treasure? And/or further afield?!
I search everywhere I go to be honest. I adore Totnes market; there are some lovely, friendly, helpful sellers there and it’s always great to have a chat as well as browse and buy! Like everyone, I always search around charity shops and often strike it lucky. I particularly like Salisbury in Wiltshire, New Milton in Hampshire and Brixham in Devon.