Interview of the Week: Stephanie Stratton

This week I sat down with Stephanie Stratton, of Luna Bud Knits, to learn a thing or two about fiber art and get to know the delightful woman behind the shop. Stephanie spins her own breathtaking yarn from furs and other natural sources. I wish I knew how to knit just so I could use some of her fluffy goodness!! My favorite thing in her shop right now is this beautiful soy silk yarn:

Corinne: Hi there, so sorry this has taken so long, I have had a crazy few weeks! I spent all weekend helping in laws out after Grandpa backed his boat into the house and knocked down a wall, lol!
Stephanie: Backing a boat into a house....lol! I'm sorry, I shouldn't giggle, but that is a new one for me:) I hope no one was hurt!

Corinne: I don’t know about you, but my days are chaos! Tell me about a typical day for you.
Stephanie: The first thing I do in the morning when I roll out of bed is take care of Miss Piper the 135 lb Newfoundland and Miss Kitty, our little calico cat, who has recently grown quite fond of eating cicadas. Then it is off to the full time job which is web design, marketing and advertising for a manufacturer of steel buildings. After work #1 if needed I head to work #2, which is property management of about 20 rental units. When I finally get home, I like to spend about 20 minutes sitting in front of my 75 gallon saltwater aquarium to ease my nerves and to calm down a bit from my day. After dinner and any cleaning that needs to be done, I usually have an hour or two to spin yarn, knit, card a batt or two, clean/prepare fiber or read a book before we hit the sack. Right now I am almost 1/3 of the way through an order to spin 20 pounds of alpaca. Weekends are really when I get to fulfill my fiber addiction and spend a little bit of time with Applebutter my appaloosa;)

Corinne: What’s your family like? Are they involved in your crafty works?
Stephanie: They love seeing each yarn that I make. My husband loves telling his buddies about what I am working on and they all get a real kick out of watching me spin and knit. I have most of my fiber shipped to my Mom's shop in case I have to sign for it and she enjoys seeing what is in each box and bag as well as seeing the finished product. The nephews ranging in age from 1-11 are always asking 'what is that' and they love trying to figure out how the spinning wheel works. I would have to say that I am a bit more artsy-craftsy than the rest of the bunch, but I blame that on the 'evil' television, internet and video games none of which I am much interested in.

Corinne: I love, love, love your beautiful fibers! Where do you get the material to spin from?
Stephanie: They come from a variety of places. All over the world really. I have wool from Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and America; Silk from China and India; Alpaca from USA; Fire star from China; Camel from America (a wedding gift not to be sold) and from the Middle East; and a variety of others from various places. Some fibers I buy in bulk and others are purchased in smaller quantities. Oh, and some of the fibers I find are a little something special just for me:)

Corinne: Where do you get your inspiration?
Stephanie: I let the fiber tell me what it wants to be whether I am spinning yarn or creating a OOAK fiber batt.

Corinne: What sets you apart from your competition?
Stephanie: Gee... now, that is a tough one. But I would say that one of the larger differences would be that I try to learn as much as I can about different fibers so that I can make sure my customers are happy. For example, not many people know that many of the new eco-friendly fibers like soy silk and corn silk are highly flammable or will melt if left in a car in the summer heat.

Corinne: I love the look of the soy silk yarn. Can you tell me more about it?
Stephanie: Soy silk is actually a by product made from the leftovers of the tofu industry. It is a very soft fiber that is very similar to silk in how it behaves while spinning as well as it's softness and drape (drape would be how it lays after knitted into a fabric). It is also a protein fiber so it takes the same dyes and dying methods that are used with wool and silk. There are two major differences between soy silk and other protein fibers. For starters, soy silk will do what knitters call 'bloom' as it is worked this means that as it is knit many of the end fibers will stick out to give the knit item a softer halo effect. The second difference and I believe the most important is that soy silk can not tolerate overly high temperatures. The result off too much heat would be that the fiber will begin to melt. This must be taken into account when wearing soy silk, such as to not wear it around open flames or when cooking. Ingeo or 'corn silk' will have the same result but at a lower heat level. It has been known to melt when left in a car with the windows up on a hot sunny summer day.

Corinne: What medium do you work in the most?
Stephanie: Fur. Dirty or clean I love it all ;)

Corinne: Do you do a lot of craft shows?
Stephanie: At the current time, I have not had much time to do craft shows. I have been talking to a woman who has a spot at a local farmers market about setting up booth with her as she sells and spins fiber as well.

Corinne: Do you ever get to demonstrate spinning? I bet its fascinating to watch!
Stephanie: Right now, I haven't had much time to research what craft shows I think would best suit my needs. This being the reason why Etsy is my only selling spot for the time being.
I do take my spinning wheel with me to knitty night on Wednesdays at where ever the group ends up. I am at the 'Main and Maple Coffee Shop' in Nicholasville every second Wednesday of the month with my wheel. It usually does garner a bit of attention, especially from children. I always try to get them to come a little closer to show them what, how and why the wheel works like it does :)
On a side note here, I am waiting for things to settle down around here so that I can open up a second shop which will sell my fine art photography.

Corinne: What do you do to get over creative block or to take a break from creating?
Stephanie: I take Miss Piper the 140 lb. Newfoundland for a walk :)

Corinne: What product in your shop is your favorite right now?
Stephanie: Do I have to pick a favorite? If I had to pick a favorite, I would pick my Crashing Waves roving:

Don't tell the other batts as they would be terribly jealous, but I have debated taking this little lovely out and spinning it.

Corinne: Who is the artist who inspires you the most?
Stephanie: As a teenager, I would have to say Van Gogh. At the current moment, I am reading a book by Osa Johnson called 'I Married Adventure' which is fun and action packed and based on Martin and Osa Johnson (her husband) as they traveled the world taking photographs and making films of the exotic indigenous people and wildlife they found. Although the book is mainly based on Martin, I find Osa was a rare woman indeed who bull-headed, bucked the norm of that day and time. A real spit fire! Wish I had read this as a teenager instead of Poe....lol!

Corinne: As a fellow Bluegrass Etsy teamster, I know you’re in Kentucky. Where in Kentucky are you?
Stephanie: Nicholasville, which is a hop, skip and jump from Lexington. Seven miles south to be precise.

Corinne: As a web designer by day, you surely have a website or blog in addition to your etsy shop!
Stephanie: Yes, I do. I have a blog: http://lunabud.blogspot.com/ and a website: http://www.weedofdreams.com/

Corinne: If you could give just one tip to a newbie to selling their craft online, what would it be?
Stephanie: Customer service whether online or at a physical store should always be your number one priority. Always be pleasant, happy and eager to help your customers. This will generally result in return business plus good word of mouth advertising. Another thing to keep in mind is SPELLING! There is no telling how many times I look at a listing and come across incorrectly spelled words. It is annoying to no end, because it means that the seller is too lazy to fix the word the Etsy spell checker pointed out to them in red. And in my mind, lazy is as lazy does.
OK, ok, I'll stop at two ;)

Corinne: Now, for the question that’s on everyone’s minds: pirate or mermaid- which one would you be?
Stephanie: When I was a little girl there was a creek running through the back field behind our house. The water was clear, cool and deep enough in some areas for a refreshing dip in the summer heat. I would sit on a huge grey limestone rock that jutted into the water and pretend all day long I was a mermaid. I would hold both my legs together and flip them in the water as if they were truly fused into a long green tail. I could spend hours on my rock staring into the water playing with the little guppies as they swam beneath my finger tips.

Visit Stephanie’s shop, Luna Bud Knits, on Etsy, at:

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