We were so pleased when Daniel Remmert got in touch via the website last year to introduce himself and to let us know how he was loving finding new artists and creators through our Twitter account. Dan and his partner Andy are both very involved within the local craft scene in Peterborough and help to organise the monthly Handmade For You craft fayres.
Check out our Q&A with Dan below to find out about how he started Dandystitch, the inspiring story behind his life-changing nestrophomy bag design, and the various community projects he has participated in since joining his local craft group.
(Image by Stephanie Freeman – Saints Crafters Fair)
(Image by Daniel Remmert – Handmade For You Fayre)
Tell me a little about yourself and how you came to make handmade textiles.
Hello, I’m Dan and I have lived in Peterborough for most of my life. I have been living with my partner Andrew for about 14 years now. Our lives changed completely in 2013 when Andrew got out of bed one morning and collapsed screaming. He was unable to walk for two days and thereafter could only walk with the aid of walking sticks. It turned out that one of his spinal discs had exploded which has left him with constant pain in his back and both legs.
As he was more or less confined to bed, I spent a lot of time upstairs with him but nothing much to do. I started doing a bit of hand stitching and while messy, I found that I loved it and soon bought a sewing machine. That year I made all of the Christmas presents that we gave to family and friends. They soon started asking me to make things for them so I decided to start selling a few items in the shop that I worked in as well online.
Sewing has now become an addiction and I feel wrong if I haven’t sat at my machine or had a needle in my hand. As Andrew has become more accustomed to his condition he has also been able to help a bit when he is up to it. I have also recently started attending meetings of Handmade In Peterborough (HIP) craft group and through them discovered that I love crochet too so I now do that most evenings while watching television.
(Image by Stephanie Freeman – Sewing Accessory Bag)
Describe your style in 5 words.
Handmade, Random, Bright, High Standards
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I have insomnia so spend a lot of time lying awake at night with my mind wandering. During this time I often make bags and designs in my mind, trying to work out how to fit various parts together. I then try to make what I pictured. I often have several projects on the go at the same time because of this.
I also get inspired when people ask me to make something for them. They might envisage a simple bag but I always seem to over-complicate things and start to think of what else they might want then add things to suit. Recently I began making miniature bean bags for kindles, and have also started to carve my own woodblocks and printing fabric for bags. It is early days but I am pleased with how it is going.
(Image by Daniel Remmert – Carving Printing Block)
(Image by Daniel Remmert – Block Printing Fabric)
Could you tell me a little more about one of your pieces?
The item that I am proudest of is my nephrostomy shoulder bag. It all started with one of my friends having complications during routine surgery which left her needing a nephrostomy bag. These things are clear plastic, bulky and heavy when full and UGLY. She felt very anxious and refused to go outside. She either had to carry it on a shoulder strap outside her clothing or strapped to her leg – where it slowly slipped down as it got fuller.
(Image by Daniel Remmert – Nephrostomy Bag)
The bag that I made for her has an extra-long shoulder strap so that it can be held at the right height (normally below the pelvis). I also lined it with waterproof fabric so that drips did not soak through to the outside so easily. There are pockets – for a phone, purse, etc. – and the flap is lined in fleece so that it can be worn comfortably under a dress if preferred. The bit I am proudest of is a small zip in the bottom which allows the bag to be drained without having to remove it.
My friend was overjoyed and started to go out again straight away. It changed her life so dramatically that I made another which was bought within a couple of days. I have now sold several of them and I have also started to trial another version which will give people more storage space.
How do keep yourself informed about what is going on within the handmade world, in Cambridgeshire and further afield?
I find out quite a lot about the art world through HIP. I also regularly buy design magazines and peruse The Trove Cambridge. Apart from that I pretty much keep to myself and do my own thing.
(Image by Daniel Remmert – Tailoring)
Are you a member of any local art groups?
I am a member of Handmade In Peterborough (HIP) who meet up every Monday night at The Brewery Tap in Peterborough. It is very relaxed with everyone bringing whatever they want to do with them. Everyone is really friendly and happy to show you what they are doing. I found one of their flyers in a local café and decided to turn up one day. I have made a lot of new friends and know that if I get stuck on something, I will be able to get lots of help from other members. It is also a great way to have some ‘me time’ once a week.
HIP also like to help the community and in 2016 we had a drive to make sensory sleeves for the local dementia unit. We also took part in a yarn bomb in Peterborough city centre as part of the 2016 Green Festival.
Where can people find your work?
I have a website – where people can buy my work or request custom orders – as well as an Etsy store. I also attend Saints Crafters craft fairs which are held on the first Saturday of each month at the Free Church in St Ives, plus I attend and help to organise Handmade For You craft fayres in Peterborough.
Thank you so much to Dan – and Andy – for taking part in our Q&A! It was great to finally meet them at Saints Crafters back in July this year. If you want to find out more then be sure to follow Dandystitch on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. As well as creating handmade textiles and taking commissions for bespoke items they offer a tailoring service for alterations and simple repairs. When we visited them in St Ives earlier this year they had also just launched a range of handmade natural soaps – read about Soap + Dandy here.
If you are a local artist, designer or maker and are interested in finding out about a feature, please do feel free to contact us – we would love to hear from you and find out about your work.