Let's Dish with Karen of Robyn's Egg Blue

Let's Dish is a new series of posts I'd like to introduce. I will be featuring mom's with businesses in the creative arts. Hope you enjoy my first guest, Karen Platner. Karen is friend and a phenomenal seamstress specializing in fine children's clothing. Below is my interview with her about her life as a mother of three and her business: Robyn's Egg Blue.

Vintage Hankie Jacket (photo courtesy of Karen Platner)

Tell us about yourself and your family
I have been married for 28 years to my husband Tim. We have 3 children, Adam who is 26 and married to Kristine, they have presented us with Selah & Afton our sweet little granddaughters, Robyn who is 24 and married to Jimmy, and Greg who is just turning 20. We were married and raised our children in Grass Valley, CA and continue to live in the house my husband built for our family years ago.

How did Robyn's Egg Blue come about? I hear your smocking is self-taught...
Robyn's egg blue is the culmination of a lifetime love of sewing. I was taught to embroider by one of my grandmothers when I was between 6-8 years old. I was not a natural but I loved the process, the texture and the finished product. Both of my grandmothers did handwork- one embroidered and crocheted, the other loved to knit & sew. My mom was an accomplished seamstress as well, making many clothes for herself and her children. Now she can whip up a stylish curtain and focuses on her natural ability toward interior decorating. She is incredibly talented. I taught myself to smock in 1982, right after Adam was born. When I was pregnant I remembered a dress my sister-in-law had smocked for my niece and thought I might like to try. I used a wonderful book called "Sewing Classic Clothes for Children" by Kitty Benton to learn the stitches. I was captivated by it from the first stitch, I still have my very first sample piece. I did not smock much for Adam, although Princess Diana was dressing Prince William in smocking the same year he was born. Grass Valley, CA is a long was from London, England! When Robyn arrived in November 1983 my needles went flying! I had so much fun that I began designing patterns. There were problems with the patterns,mainly due to my inexperience, so I discontinued selling them and focused on teaching others to smock and an occasional special request. It was great fun to create a custom garment to a mothers specifications. I have album full of pictures. To this day that is still my favorite thing to do- create a one of a kind garment for a child, I love a well dressed child. In January 2007 we began the process to put up a website and it came to life on the web in April of 2007. It is just a sampling and I have many more styles available. I have a preference for my own original designs and that is what the website highlights. The name of my company reflects my connection to the women of my family. Robyn is for my sweet daughter....an incredible support and my best friend. Robin's egg blue was my grandmothers favorite color and so combining the 2 allowed me to celebrate my grandmothers and my daughter who have all been inspirational in my work.

As a parent and now grandparent, what are some ways you fostered creativity/activity in your children (or grandchildren)?
For me, the best way to foster creativity was to make it available to my children. I do not have a "craft box" or child sized cooking utensils...they used mine and sewed, or drew or cooked right beside me. Being creative was a natural extension of who we were as a family. My husband is a building contractor and the kids all helped in various phases of building our house. We gave them age appropriate projects so that no one was frustrated. Recently my granddaughters were here. We allowed Selah (age 3) to "wash" dishes at the sink while we cooked. She had a great time and was in the thick of the action. The fact that the dishes got clean was secondary to her just living life right along side us. I can hardly wait until they girls are old enough to pick up a needle, Selah may be ready by next year.

I know from talking to your daughter, you really encouraged outside time for your children...can you tell us a little more about that?
Well....we live on 5 forested acres that border 2- 5 acre parcels owned by my husband's family. They had cousins next door in one direction and grandpa next door in another direction. It seemed a natural extension of our home for them to be outside and, other than poison oak, it was safe. We did not have to contend with a busy street or grumpy neighbors. I think my kids had a pretty "dirty" childhood as well since we did not have a lawn or even a paved driveway for many of their growing up years. One of their favorite things to do was to pile more than 1 kid on a "big wheel" and drive downhill, either toward our house or the other family homes. The cloud of dust that encircled them ended up in the bathtub every night! As far as I can tell they weren't harmed by the dirt. And...if you know Robyn now...well, she is girly girl all the way through :).

Do you have any special traditions as a family?
My kids might be better able to answer this. We weren't terribly consistent with the traditions. The only one that I know is sacred is our Christmas stockings. They are BIG , as much a present as anything and I love that I could hear my children rummaging through them in the wee hours (3-4 a.m.) of the morning. I also love the anticipation my now adult children have regarding them. They have not picked up the baton and run with it yet.... we primarily do the stockings, but that's o.k. Now that the children are grown we have our stockings every other year when we are together for Christmas. Recently all the kids were home for a weekend. As always seems to happen all 9 of us tend to cram in the breakfast nook for deep conversation....we have other, larger areas but there must be something comforting about the small space and rubbing shoulders together. It is beginning to be our new tradition with adult children- life altering conversations around the breakfast table. Come to think of it, it was at this same table Jimmy asked us for permission to propose to Robyn, yes, the breakfast table is becoming sacred ground!
You can request a custom order from Karen by visiting her website Robyn's Egg Blue or her shop at Etsy.com

1 comment:

  1. Hey Michelle, I love that you're getting inspired to start interviews of other bloggers and moms who are trying to make it from home. So neat.

    This was a great article.