Interview with Rawfish Designs

I recently asked Laila from Rawfish (on etsy!)  to answer a few questions about her craft. She generously agreed and this is your chance to learn all about her craft and what inspires her fabulous fiber art! She’s also offering Mireio readers $5 off of any Spun to Order yarn. Just mention “mireio” in the notes to seller at check-out! (until 10/4).

Are you ready to read on and get inspired by the quirky and energetic Laila?  You won’t regret it!

The Interview : Rawfish Designs

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Beehive Handspun


1. So, tell me a little bit about you personally and your store.

My name is Laila, and I am 23 years old.  I am a small little lady (on a tall day, I’m a whoppin’ 5’3”) but I definitely have a BIG personality!

Since I run the shop (and every facet of the company) it is really based around my likes. I really believe in the “do-it-yourself” movement, and living the handmade life. I trade and support other etsy sellers constantly, and some of my favorite projects have been the “COOLabos” where I collaborate with other etsy sellers.  I really do love the bright colors that can be seen in the newly launched spun-to-order line. I actually LIVE in an environment that bright! Turquoise living room, bright green bedroom, tangerine kitchen!

I want people to come into the shop and instantly feel welcome and have it easy to navigate, but also like they are being hugged by their best, weirdest friend with my quirky drawings and bright attitude. I really love my customers, and I like that my shop is small so I can really spend time with each person.

I spend almost every waking minute thinking about yarn. I have a lot of ideas that roll through my brain every day, and I have a zillion little notebooks where I jot my big plans. I try to launch new products every couple of months, sometimes they aren’t as successful and they get phased out, but as a creative soul I need that new inventiveness that comes with brainstorming! I keep a binder where I collect inspirations and snippets from magazines. I spend a lot of time thinking about TEXTURE. Knits are wonderful because of the warmth, but really I’m attracted to the luscious comforting texture. Knits are something you feel like you could squeeze through your computer screen!

I am hugely inspired by: wood and natural elements, modern lines, layering, color, juxtaposed materials (like wool and metal), softly lit dream-like photography, my cozy colorful home, bunting garland banners flags, current fashion trends and couture, indie music – especially creative song titles, ice cream candy treats, eclectic styles and material culture…. and so much more.

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Mint Sprig Tam


2. How did you get started? And what inspired your passion?

I have been making things my entire life. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t feel the urge to create.  I am hugely into art and I love being surrounded by other artists. I love pushing limits and dreaming up wonderful new crafts to try out and experiment. I think I have tried almost every form of art. Seriously, ask me!

I attended Maryland Institute College of Art, a small private arts college located in Baltimore, and I majored in “interdisciplinary sculpture” (which is a fancy way of saying, I prefer three-dimensional artworks and variety of medias). Rawfish was my senior thesis. For the final show, I created a little boutique inside the galleries with my friend and collaborator Ashley Charit (sacharit on etsy! she makes incredible garments out of hand woven fabric!).

I learned the basics of knitting my sophomore year of college in an “intro to fiber” arts class. Knitting was fun, but I had never really expanded beyond the rectangular scarf.

I tried learning how to crochet THREE times before I finally caught on, but once crochet became second nature, a world of ROUND objects was opened up before me. Crochet was so much more intuitive. I found a set of my mom’s old metal and I started avidly crocheting hats, making them up as U went along, altering to fit my head. Hats are still, to this day, my go-to crochet item.

My friend Adjeete saw all my hats, and mentioned that in her fibers arts intro class at MICA they learned how to spin on a drop-spindle. Thank goodness she did!  That winter, I begged my parents for a spinning wheel. They are both engineers and I started by asking them to make me one, after researching & realizing just how expensive they are. My dad, always the jokester, simply said “you couldn’t afford my rates.” The general consensus, from all my research, was you should definitely GO TRY THEM OUT! I’m SO glad I did.

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Yarn Club!


Turns out, double treadle (where there are two “pedals”) spinning wheels are so much more natural to me! As soon as I sat down at the double treadle lendrum wheel, I was smitten. It was like I had been spinning forever.

Rawfish really became cohesive at that point. I started dyeing my own fibers on my stove top, soon moved into processing my own fleece, adding the plying head attachment for my wheel, buying a drum carder so I can make batts, and pushing the boundaries of what IS yarn…. the rest is history! 🙂

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Made to order –Handspun


3. You have a very interesting store name, is there a story behind “Rawfish”?

Rawfish started as comics. I needed a name that would stand-out in the comic world and I realized it doesn’t really matter what you name yourself – since you just add COMICS to the end. I was in a sequential class my junior year of college and I think I happened to say “rawfish comics” – it just popped into my head. Rawfish comics just had such a ring to it.

Since I’ve always been an artist that dabbled in many mediums, making the change to the all encompassing “rawfish designs” came not too far after. To keep true to my comic roots, I drew my website by hand! It is TRULY a handmade website!

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Patchouli Tam


4. What famous or historical person would you love to see wearing your knitwear?

AH! This question thrills me. Around the time I moved to New York, there was this huge buzz about Bill Murray making random appearances in Williamsburg and hanging out with all the hip 20-somethings. I kept having these re-occurring dreams that we would meet and Mr. Murray would just be so smitten with my crazy freeform hats (like cthulhu)- that he would become my mysterious benefactor and commission a $10,000 hat.

Also, if I became Woody Allen’s new (knitwear) muse, I would just about die. 🙂

You can catch up with Laila on her wonderful blog via her website: Rawfish Designs. Laila is also offering a drawing to celebrate 300 sales—go see her shop profile for more information!

Thanks again, Laila!

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