Author Archives: Underground Crafter

About Underground Crafter

My name is Marie Segares and I’ve been crafty for a long time. My maternal grandmother taught me most of the needlearts at a young age, but the only one I’ve done continuously since childhood is crochet. As an adult, I picked up (again) sewing, quilting, embroidery, and knitting. My parents were also big creative influences, especially my dad, who is a fine artist. He had a kind of creativity “boot camp” program in place after school, on weekends, and in the summer time. (He was the Drill Sergeant, and I was the new recruit, in case you were wondering.) I live and work in New York City and am currently on the endangered species list as a Native New Yorker. By day, I work in higher education administration/college access. By night (and weekend) I make cool creative stuff and teach people to do the same.

Interview with Pam Dajczak from Sincerely Pam

Interview with Pam Dajczak from Sincerely Pam on Underground Crafter

I’m excited to continue my series of (Inter)National Crochet Month interviews with Canadian crochet designer, Pam Dajczak from Sincerely, Pam. You may also know Pam as a crochet blogger or Design Wars competitor. She’s also been nominated for four Flamie Crochet Awards for the first quarter of 2015 (for the Butterfly Breeze Poncho, the Madison Vest,  the Marek Puffy Vest, and the Warm Hug Shrug). If you have a moment, please vote for her here (by March 9, 2015).

Pam can be found online at the Sincerely, Pam website, and on Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Ravelry (as SincerelyPam and on her designer page), and Twitter. You can also find all the posts featuring her on the Design Wars website here. All images are copyright Sincerely, Pam and used with permission.

This post contains affiliate links.

Pam Dajczak.

Pam Dajczak.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?

Pam: I have fond memories of my Grandmother teaching me to knit and purl when I was a little girl. I took it back up 4 years ago after my son was born and shortly after that, in February 2012, I decided to try crochet. I have trouble wielding 2 knitting needles in a way that doesn’t scare everyone watching, so a single crochet hook was very tempting. I was also new in town and my son was napping regularly so I had time on my hands. I crocheted my first (terrible) dishcloth, and the rest is history!

Hillary Scarf, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam.

Hillary Scarf, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Pam: A book my Mom bought me. It didn’t take long after I had started to crochet that I started to play around with stitches and come up with my own combos that I liked. I began testing for other designers and loved the whole process!

 While I still was focused on making finished items I added the Hillary Scarf to my shop and people were asking where I got the pattern from. I was shocked and excited that people liked it enough to want to make their own! All it took was releasing that first pattern to realize that I didn’t want to do anything else!

Madison Vest, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam.

Madison Vest, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam. The adult version of this pattern is up for a Flamie award!

UC: Although you have a lot of variety in your patterns, you definitely have quite a few accessories. What do you enjoy about designing hats, cowls, and the like?

Pam: Oh my goodness! One look out my window right now will show that it is more out of neccessity than anything else haha! Being in Northern Ontario, in the Snow Belt, the accessories are something that there is high demand for! Also, it was what I was familiar with and knew the ins and outs of. I am now branching out into designing garments which is a whole new world for me and I couldn’t be more excited!

Felix The Fox Pillow Cover/Sleepover Bag, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam.

Felix The Fox Pillow Cover/Sleepover Bag, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam.

UC: You’ve participated in Design Wars. Tell us all about it! How did you join up and what is the experience like?

Pam: I joined Design Wars in January, 2014. I had been a HUGE fan of the competition since it started and applied a few times before I was accepted into the Challenge.  I honestly can not say enough about that entire experience! Although the whole idea behind it is a competition, it feels like a family. Everyone is so sweet and helpful. We learn a lot from each other and really help one another build our businesses.

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The Challenges themselves are really fun and pretty intense! The most difficult part is the schedule. Everything is set out ahead of time so you have to make sure you are on track to complete with everyone else. For me, that is part of the fun! You don’t just compete against each other, you are really pushing yourself as well!

Victoria Slouch Hat and Victoria Infinity Scarf, crochet patterns by Sincerely, Pam.

Victoria Slouch Hat and Victoria Infinity Scarf, crochet patterns by Sincerely, Pam.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Pam: My inspiration used to come from a practical place. If my son needed a hat, I would design a hat. Living in the frigid north meant that I was designing A LOT of winter accessories. Lately, I find myself wanting to work more with current fashion trends or designs I haven’t seen anywhere else. This year you will see several new designs that are like nothing else in my shop and that really excites me!

Johnny Slouch, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam.

Johnny Slouch, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam.

UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection?

Pam: I only have 2 books! Not much of a collection. I have the book that taught me how to crochet called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting, and the book my Mom bought me that taught me new stitches called The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet.

Warm Hug Shrug, a 2-in-1 crochet pattern that is both a shrug and a scarf by Sincerely, Pam.

Warm Hug Shrug, a 2-in-1 crochet pattern that is both a shrug and a scarf by Sincerely, Pam. This was voted Favorite Design in the Heads Up Design Wars Challenge, and it is also nominated for a Flamie Award.

UC: You have over 1,600 sales on Etsy. Do you have any tips for new Etsy sellers?

Pam: Amazing photos!! The best photos that you can take! Learn about lighting and composition. Invest in a decent camera (no cell phone pics, no selfies). If you can’t do that, find a local photographer that you can work with. The photo sells the pattern. It doesn’t matter how well written the pattern is, or how much time went in to creating it if no one will buy it.

Urban Glamour Slouch and Cowl, crochet patterns by Sincerely, Pam.

Urban Glamour Slouch and Cowl, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam. This design was a Design Wars Swanky Challenge entry.

UC: Do you have any crochet/crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Pam: I have some favourites that I wish I could spend more time on. At the moment I work 12-14 hours a day with my day job so I’m not doing too much except sleeping! The few blogs that I do love to browse through are Moogly, Stitch 11, My Hobby is Crochet, HodgePodge Crochet, and Design Wars.

Butterfly Breeze Poncho, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam.

Butterfly Breeze Poncho, crochet pattern by Sincerely, Pam. This was Pam’s first Design Wars Challenge entry and it’s also a Flamie nominee.

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Pam: I have started celebrating a Pattern of the Week on my Facebook page, Flash Sales, and I’m continuing to plug away at my WIPS!

Thanks so much for joining us, Pam, and good luck in the Flamies voting!

NaBloPoMo BlogHer 2015-03

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through March, 2015.

Interview with Rebecca Langford from Little Monkeys Crochet & CrocheTrendy

Interview with Rebecca Langford from Little Monkeys Crochet on Underground Crafter

I’m excited to share my first NatCroMo interview today, with Rebecca Langford, the crochet blogger and designer behind Little Monkeys Crochet. Rebecca recently launched a new venture, CrocheTrendy, a free crochet pattern directory focused on trendy and chic patterns. You can learn more about CrocheTrendy in this one minute intro video.

Rebecca can be found online at Little Monkeys Crochet, on Facebook, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter. In addition to the CrocheTrendy website, you can also find CrocheTrendy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. All images are copyright Rebecca Langford and used with permission.

This post contains affiliate links.

Rebecca Langford.

Rebecca Langford.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?

Rebecca: I was a graphic and web designer at the time, and was hired by a friend who owned a crochet business to build a web site on which she could sell her crocheted creations. I spent a lot of hours on that site, looking at all of the amazing and adorable things she was making, and decided I wanted to learn, too! So I bought some basic supplies and watched a ton of YouTube videos, and that’s how I learned.

Buttoned Infinity Scarf, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

Buttoned Infinity Scarf, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Rebecca: I figured out pretty early on that I enjoyed coming up with my own designs much more than following someone else’s. I started writing them down, and it was my husband who encouraged me to start publishing them in blog format.

Sandy Slouchy Hat, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

Sandy Slouchy Hat, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

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UC: Although you have a lot of variety in your patterns, you definitely have a lot of neckwear. What do you enjoy about designing women’s accessories?

Rebecca: I love scarves and cowls! I love to wear them, so I think that’s why I love to make them. I think they’re also a great beginner project, and a very appealing project for the younger crochet crowd, which is my target audience.

Maribel Cowl, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

Maribel Cowl, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Rebecca: My little sister and my nieces are my biggest inspirations. They are teenagers who love fashion, so my goal is to design things that they would wear.

Sparkly Buttoned Cowl, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

Sparkly Buttoned Cowl, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

UC: You just launched a new free pattern directory, CrocheTrendy. Can you tell us about it and how people can connect with it?

Rebecca: Crochetrendy.com is a new pattern directory filled with patterns from today’s trendiest designers. Crochet obviously spans a very large demographic, but I wanted to concentrate this more on the younger crocheters out there, who want patterns that are young and fresh. I didn’t see anything out there that compiled them all into one place, so I decided to make it myself. If anyone is interested, they can register for a free account at crochetrendy.com or visit us on Facebook.

Striped Mug Cozy Rebecca Langford Little Monkeys Crochet

Striped Mug Cozy, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection?

Rebecca: Is it strange that I don’t actually own any crochet books? Honestly, I think that it stems from the fact that I’m a mom of two young boys and can barely find time to design my own patterns, let alone make someone else’s! If I were to buy one, however, it would definitely be Dedri UysAmamani Puzzle Balls, because they’re adorable and way out of my realm of expertise.

Wildflower Granny Square, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

Wildflower Granny square, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

UC: Do you have any crochet/crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Rebecca: Too many to list! Among my top favorites are All About Ami and Moogly. However, I’ve always been the type who searches Pinterest for what I need, so that’s exposed me to all kinds of wonderful bloggers and designers.

Slouchy Crochet Hat, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

Slouchy Crochet Hat, free crochet pattern by Little Monkeys Crochet.

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Rebecca: By crocheting as much as I possibly can! (But then, that’s no different than any other month for me!) I’ll also be releasing a couple of new patterns on my personal blog, and working hard to continue to promote Crochetrendy.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story, Rebecca! We look forward to seeing CrocheTrendy grow!

If you enjoy cowls and scarves as much as Rebecca, you may want to check out my Crochet Neckwarmers Board on Pinterest!

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Crochet Neckwarmers on Pinterest.

NaBloPoMo BlogHer 2015-03

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through March, 2015.

How to Start a Crochet Circle

How to Start a Crochet Circle in Your Local Community on Underground Crafter

These days it can seem easier to find other crocheters online than in your local community! Meeting regularly with a crochet circle can be a great way to finish your crochet projects while having fun.

This post contains affiliate links.

What is a crochet circle?

A crochet circle is a group that meets regularly for socializing and crocheting, and they can take many different forms. Some circles are made up of close friends while others are open to the community. Some meet in public while others rotate visits to members’ homes. Crochet circles may meet as frequently as once a week or just a few times a year. Before starting up a crochet circle, think about what type of group you’d prefer to organize and join.

Membership

Open Membership

If one of your goals for the crochet circle is to meet people, you may choose to have open membership. For the privacy, safety and convenience of members, meet in public locations such as coffee shops, food court dining areas, public library community rooms, book stores, or local yarn shops. Many of these venues will allow a crochet circle to meet for a few hours free of charge while others will expect members to spend a minimum amount. Check with the manager if you are unsure.

You can recruit members with fliers placed in the meeting location and local community centers. Talk up the circle at your local crochet guild. (You can search for local chapters of the Crochet Guild of America here.) Online, spread the word by starting a thread in a local group on Ravelry, writing a Craigslist ad, or Tweeting using a local hashtag.

Network Membership

Perhaps you don’t have many friends and family who crochet, but you don’t want to open membership to the public. Target your own networks of friends and family, co-workers and alumni.

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Email your friends and family asking for referrals, or ask friends to share your Facebook post about the crochet circle. If you work for a medium to large employer, talk with a Human Resources representative. The company may be willing to promote your crochet circle as part of their efforts to increase work-life balance, and may even allow you to use a conference room during lunch or after work for meetings. If crochet circle membership would be industry-appropriate, consider sharing information on LinkedIn or with professional networking groups. Update your high school and post-secondary school alumni networks with information about your crochet circle, especially if you live near the campus. You may even be able to use an alumni lounge to meet.

With network membership, you may feel comfortable hosting the first meeting at your home, or you may prefer to find a public location.

Closed Membership

A personalized invitation can go a long way towards growing the membership of a crochet circle made up of friends and family. Create your own crochet-themed invitations using color pictures of a crochet project or yarn. Print invites at home on cardstock, or find some great customizable print invitations on Zazzle. If the first meeting takes place at your home, be sure to mention whether you are providing snacks or if it is a potluck.

The First Meeting

Set the stage for a fabulous crochet circle by welcoming everyone. Share your vision and get feedback from the other members for the next steps. Some discussion points to consider are:

  • Meeting frequency: Will you have a set meeting day and time, or will meetings change based on member availability? How often will the group meet?
  • Meeting location: Will you always meet at the same location or will you rotate locations?
  • Refreshments: Are meetings potluck/bring your own snacks, does the host provide refreshments, or do all members contribute towards the cost of refreshments? If you’re meeting at a public eatery, be sure to inform members about any minimum orders you have discussed with management.
  • Activities: Will you work on group projects such as charity blankets, pieces for a street art project, or a layette set for a mutual friend? Or, will each member bring their own project(s) to work on?
  • Skill Building: If some members are new to crochet, will other members provide technical support? Will the group want to hire a teacher for some meetings to demonstrate new techniques? Do members want to volunteer to teach a new project or skill to other members?
  • Field Trips: Will the group attend local fiber events together?
  • Communication: What’s the best way to get in touch with each other between meetings or on the day of the crochet circle if plans change?

Once you’ve established guidelines for your group and have grown the membership, the fun begins! Be sure to periodically revisit membership and guidelines to keep your group active and engaged.

Do you have a local crochet circle? What are your tips for keeping one active?

NaBloPoMo BlogHer 2015-03

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through March, 2015.

Read Across America Giveaway 2: My First Crochet Book

Celebrate Dr Seuss Day with Kids Crochet Books Giveaway on Underground Crafter

Did you know that March 2 is Dr. Seuss Day (also known as Read Across America Day)?

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It’s a great way to encourage kids to read more while honoring the legacy of one of the most beloved children’s book authors, Theodor Seuss Geisel (also known as Dr. Seuss). 

I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan (two more of my childhood favorites are My Book About Me and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!), and I thought the best way to celebrate children and reading during (Inter)National Crochet Month would be by hosting a giveaway for a children’s crochet book! This is my second giveaway (you can find the first one here), and this one is for My First Crochet Book, courtesy of CICO Books.

Giveaway for My First Crochet Book on Underground Crafter

My First Crochet Book is a comprehensive crochet book geared towards children. The book opens with a 1-page Tools and Materials overview, followed by an 8-page Crochet Techniques section that includes written and illustrated instructions for basic crochet stitches, increasing, decreasing, and more. The book uses bright colors and includes cute illustrations of animals playing with yarn or hooks throughout.

The book then moves onto the patterns, which are organized by project type. The first section, Clothes and Accessories, includes 11 patterns. Jewelry includes 7 patterns, Bedroom Essentials includes 7 patterns, and Perfect Gifts includes 10 patterns. Each pattern is written out in U.S. pattern abbreviations and includes multiple illustrations. Some are informative (e.g., to show how to finish a project) and others are entertaining (e.g., an elephant holding a pair of scissors). There are also multiple full color photos of each project. The book ends with a list of suppliers with links to websites and a written index.

Although the subtitle on My First Crochet Book by CICO KIdz is “35 fun and easy projects for children aged 7 years +,” I would actually recommend it for older children in their tweens and teens for several reasons. It is fairly text-heavy, relies on illustrations rather than progress photos to provide instruction, and uses pattern abbreviations in the patterns. I think younger children would struggle with the translation from English to crochet pattern abbreviations (I know many adults do!), so I recommend this book for an older audience that has stronger reading skills and a longer attention span. Also, because the patterns are arranged by type rather than by skill level, I think a younger child might get frustrated if s/he unknowingly chooses a project that is too difficult. However, for an older child, or with parental guidance, I think this book has some really fun projects for kids. The cute illustrations and varied color palette make it visually appealing as well.

So, are you ready to enter the giveaway for My First Crochet Book, courtesy of CICO Books? Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget to enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, March 8. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

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Full disclosure: A free review/giveaway copy of My First Crochet Book was provided by CICO Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

NaBloPoMo BlogHer 2015-03

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through March, 2015.

Read Across America Giveaway 1: Crochet for Kids

Celebrate Dr Seuss Day with Kids Crochet Books Giveaway on Underground Crafter

Did you know that March 2 is Dr. Seuss Day (also known as Read Across America Day)?

This post contains affiliate links.

It’s a great way to encourage kids to read more while honoring the legacy of one of the most beloved children’s book authors, Theodor Seuss Geisel (also known as Dr. Seuss). 

I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan (some of my childhood favorites are I Wish That I Had Duck Feet and Ten Apples Up On Top!), and I thought the best way to celebrate children and reading during (Inter)National Crochet Month would be by hosting a giveaway for a children’s crochet book! I’m hosting two giveaways today, and the first one is for Crochet for Kids: Basic Techniques & Great Projects that Kids Can Make Themselves by Franziska Heidenreich, courtesy of Stackpole Books.

Crochet for Kids giveaway on Underground Crafter

Crochet for Kids is formatted like a high quality beginner crochet book but with details that make it just right for children learning to crochet. It opens with some great introductory material, including A Short Guide to Yarn, Basic Equipment, and Crocheting Step-by-Step. Each of these sections includes many pictures and is written with simple, straightforward sentences. The Crocheting Step-by-Step section includes photo tutorials for all the basic crochet stitches, increasing, decreasing, and more.

The next section, Ready To Go! includes 12 beginner-friendly patterns that kids would love to make, like finger crochet shoelaces, a unisex brimmed hat, and hacky sacks. The patterns are written out in words without abbreviations and include lots of progress pictures to help. The next section, Moving Up, includes 10 slightly more advanced projects, like a slouchy beret with a bow, and appliques to sew on to to t-shirts or jeans for customization. The last section, Projects for Pros, includes 5 more challenging projects. These projects don’t necessarily require more skills, but they do require more patience! These include a blanket and other larger projects with frequent color changes. The book ends with a visual index so it’s easy to find a favorite pattern again, and a bio of the author.

Although the book was originally written in German, it does seem to be translated clearly and I don’t anticipate children struggling through it. I do wish the lighting was better in the Crocheting Step-by-Step photos, but I’m sure that most children have better eyesight than I do ;). It’s filled with brightly lit pictures of children crocheting and wearing crochet gear, so it makes crochet seem really fun. It also doesn’t ask children to make the mental translation required for reading pattern abbreviations. The author seems to really understand how to teach children to crochet. If your child is confident about reading, this would be a great book to nurture a love of crochet.

So, are you ready to enter the giveaway for Crochet for Kids, courtesy of Stackpole Books? Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget to enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, March 8. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full disclosure: A free review/giveaway copy of Crochet for Kids was provided by Stackpole Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

NaBloPoMo BlogHer 2015-03

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through March, 2015.