Tag Archives: amigurumi

Interview with Adriana Aguirre (Hispanic Heritage Month Series)

HHM Adriana Aguirre

I’m continuing my Hispanic Heritage Month series today with an interview with Mexican-American crochet amigurumi designer, Adriana Aguirre. Adriana has been publishing her designs for just over a year.

Adriana can be found online on Ravelry (as AdrialysHC, in the Adrialys Designs group, and on her designer page), on her YouTube channel, in her Etsy shop, on her blog, and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. All photos are copyright Adriana Aguirre and are used with permission. Click on the photo to link to the Ravelry pattern page.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with crochet softies designer, Adriana Aguirre, on the Underground Crafter blog

Adriana Aguirre.

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

Adriana: I learned from my mother who had been taught by her mother. She started knitting and crocheting in her 20s and I used to see her doing it all the time when I was little. I was about 5 years old when I first learned to crochet chains. After that I lost interest until I was about 10 or 11. She taught me how to do both around the same time. I mostly knit in my teenage years. It wasn’t until 2 years ago that I started crocheting again.

Interview with crochet softies designer, Adriana Aguirre, on the Underground Crafter blog

Fabian the Red Fox.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Adriana: When I started making stuffed animals using patterns from other designers I learned a lot about the shapes. The more I made the more I started thinking of the ways I could make other animals with the basic shapes I was learning. One day I just started brainstorming on how to make my own elephant. I used the knowledge of the shapes I had learned and after some trial and error I designed my first pattern.

Interview with crochet softies designer, Adriana Aguirre, on the Underground Crafter blog

Octavio the Octapus.

UC: You design crocheted softies. What do you enjoy about this type of project? 

Adriana: I love animals. I’ve collected stuffed animals since I was little. When I found amigurumi, I loved the idea of making my own. I enjoy how quick they are to make and they are just adorable.

UC: Your current designs are all self-published. What do you see as the challenges and advantages of self-publishing?

Adriana: The advantage of self-publishing is definitely the freedom to make whatever I want. I get to pick what I want to make next and I can work on it as long as I want without any deadlines. A challenge, especially for designers just starting out, is that you have to promote them yourself.

Interview with crochet softies designer, Adriana Aguirre, on the Underground Crafter blog

Cora the Cuttlefish.

UC: You have about 20 YouTube tutorials that you’ve published within the last year. What led you to create these? What tips do you have for designers who are nervous about video?

Adriana: I’ve learned a lot from watching tutorial videos on YouTube. For a lot of people it’s just easier to see how to do something rather than having to read a paragraph on how to do it. It also makes for a shorter e-mail. If someone asks me how to do something I can just send them the link to the video and everyone so far seems to like them. My tips would be to write down notes, make sure your hands are not in the way, and do a couple practice videos. Most of the time the video that ends up on YouTube is not the first one I film.

Interview with crochet softies designer, Adriana Aguirre, on the Underground Crafter blog

Rebekah the Red Panda.

UC: You’re parents are Mexican, but you were born and raised in the US. What was the yarn crafts scene like when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene in North Carolina?

Adriana: Growing up the only person I was around who crocheted and knitted was my mom. Some of my aunts know how but they don’t do it very often. My grandmother on my mom’s side is always crocheting but she lives in Mexico I didn’t get to see her often.

Now there is a lot of interest for anything handmade. They have a First Friday Indie Market every first Friday of the month for crafters in my hometown. I recently started selling there and a lot of people come to this event. All the farmers markets around the area have craft fairs once or twice a year. We only have one yarn store but they offer classes for all types of yarn crafts. They even have days where you can just show up and work on your projects with other knitters and crocheters.

Interview with crochet softies designer, Adriana Aguirre, on the Underground Crafter blog

Gabriel the Grey Wolf.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?

Adriana: Most people I know crochet home decor items and clothing. They also like to embroider and cross stitch. I like learning all types of crafts so I think my cultural background does influence my overall crafting. When it comes to designing not so much, I’m the only person in my family who crochets toys.

Now on Craftsy: Crocheting in the Round: Mix & Match Hats (with Stacey Trock)

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?

Adriana: I mostly prefer stitch dictionaries both for knitting and crochet. I love making baby items and use the stitches I find in these books to make my items unique. One of my favorite crochet books is Crocheted Softies by Stacey Trock. I recommend it to anyone interested in making crocheted stuffed animals. (UC comment: I interviewed Stacey and reviewed the book here.)

Interview with crochet softies designer, Adriana Aguirre, on the Underground Crafter blog

Emilia the Elephant.

UC: Are there any Spanish- or English-language crafty websites/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Adriana: I don’t really follow many blogs. I like Fresh Stitches who is an amigurumi designer. (UC comment: Me, too! Stacey’s blog is one of my favorite crochet resources.) I started making amigurumi from her patterns and she always has helpful tips and interesting things to share on her blog. I really like Pinterest for inspiration. I usually find interesting blog posts through Pinterest, too.

Crocheting in Circles

UC: Do you have any upcoming projects to share? 

Adriana: I’m working on new patterns all the time. I like to publish at least one new pattern a month. It’s hard to say what animal is next because I’m never working on just one project at a time. I think I’ll probably expand on my Safari animals next.

I opened up an Etsy shop in 2012 where I sell my finished items, but this year I started selling locally. I’m always working on new things to make and sell. Right now I sell mostly toys but what to expand into other things like scarves and accessories for the holidays.

Thanks for stopping by, Adriana! Best wishes for expanding your craft sales this holiday season!

Free Pattern: Gift Pocket Bear

In honor of Grandparent’s Day, I’m sharing this free pattern for the Gift Pocket Bear. My maternal grandmother taught me to crochet and she used to crochet adorable bears way before amigurumi was popular, so this seems a fitting homage. Of course, you can use this bear to spice up a gift card for anyone, or for any occasion.

This pattern was originally published on the Galler Yarns blog, which is no longer available. Enjoy the pattern, and if you like it, give it a little love on Ravelry.

This post contains affiliate links.

Gift Pocket Bear, free crochet pattern by Underground Crafter

Gift Pocket Bear Crochet Pattern

by Underground Crafter

02-easy 50 US terms 503-light 50This bear makes a great addition to a gift card or cash gift and serves as gift wrap. 

Finished Size: 10 in (25 cm) length.

Materials

  • Galler Yarns Flore II (1.75 oz/50 g/100 yd/91 m/75% kid mohair, 15% wool, 10% nylon/light weight) – 2 skeins 106 (Main Color), or approximately 200 yd (183 m) of any light weight yarn
  • Galler Yarns Flore II – 1 skein each in 015 (CB), 023 (CC), 077 (CD), and 101 (CE), or approximately 100 yd (91 m) in each of 4 colors in any light weight yarn
  • E-4/3.5 mm crochet hook, or size needed to obtain gauge
  • 2 safety eyes (10.5 mm)
  • Stitch markers or scrap yarn
  • Yarn needle
  • Fiber filling

Gauge: Exact gauge is not critical for this project. Stitches should be small so that fiber filling doesn’t show. 

Abbreviations Used in This Pattern:

  • BL – back loop only
  • CB – Color B
  • CC – Color C
  • CD – Color D
  • CE – Color E
  • ch – ch
  • ea – each
  • invdec – invisible decrease – Insert hook in front loop only of each of next 2 sts, yo and draw up a loop, yo and draw through 2 loops. Planet June has a great tutorial here.
  • MC – Main Color
  • rep – repeat
  • Rnd(s) – Round(s)
  • sc – single crochet
  • sl st – slip stitch
  • sp – space
  • st(s) – stitch(es)
  • yo – yarn over
  • * Rep instructions after asterisk as indicated.

Pattern Note

  • Position of increases alternate throughout to keep the project more rounded.
  • Head, neck, ears, muzzle, arms, and neck/body are worked in spirals without joining. Place stitch marker in last st of each Rnd and move up at the end of each Rnd.
  • Legs are crocheted flat in rows.

Craftsy

Pattern Instructions

Head

  • Beginning at back of head, with MC, start with magic adjustable ring. PlanetJune has a great tutorial for the magic ring here.
  • Rnd 1: Ch 1, 6 sc in ring, pull yarn tail tightly to close ring, place marker. (6 sts)
  • Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea st around. (12 sts)
  • Rnd 3: *2 sc in next st, sc in next st; rep from * around. (18 sts)
  • Rnd 4: *Sc in ea of next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st; rep from * around. (24 sts)
  • Rnd 5: *2 sc in next st, sc in ea of next 3 sts; rep from * around. (30 sts)
  • Rnd 6: *Sc in ea of next 4 sts, 2 sc in next st; rep from * around. (36 sts)
  • Rnd 7: *2 sc in next st, sc in ea of next 5 sts; rep from * around. (42 sts)
  • Rnd 8: *Sc in ea of next 6 sts, 2 sc in next st; rep from * around. (48 sts)
  • Rnd 9: *2 sc in next st, sc in ea of next 7 sts; rep from * around. (54 sts)
  • Rnd 10: *Sc in ea of next 8 sts, 2 sc in next st; rep from * around. (60 sts)
  • Rnd 11: *2 sc in next st, sc in ea of next 9 sts; rep from * around. (66 sts)
  • Rnd 12: Sc in ea st around.
  • Rnds 13 & 14: Rep Rnd 12 twice.
  • Rnd 15: *Sc in ea of next 9 sts, invdec; rep from * around. (60 sts)
  • Rnd 16: *Invdec, sc in ea of next 8 sts; rep from * around. (54 sts)
  • Rnd 17: *Sc in ea of next 7 sts, invdec; rep from * around. (48 sts)
  • Rnd 18: *Invdec, sc in ea of next 6 sts; rep from * around. (42 sts)
  • Rnd 19: *Sc in ea of next 5 sts, invdec; rep from * around. (36 sts)
  • Rnd 20: *Invdec, sc in ea of next 4 sts; rep from * around. (30 sts)
  • Rnd 21: *Sc in ea of next 3 sts, invdec; rep from * around. (24 sts)
  • Rnd 22: *Invdec, sc in ea of next 2 sts; rep from * around. (18 sts)
  • Fasten off.
Gift Pocket Bear, free crochet pattern by Underground Crafter

Here’s a detail of the granny square pocket.

Ears (Make 2)

  • Beginning at center of ear, with MC, start with magic adjustable ring.
  • Rnd 1: Ch 1, 6 sc in ring, pull yarn tail tightly to close ring, place marker. (6 sts)
  • Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea st. (12 sts)
  • Rnd 3: *2sc in next st, sc in next st; rep from * around. (18 sts)
  • Rnd 4: *Sc in ea of next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st; rep from * around. (24 sts)
  • Fasten off with long yarn tail for joining.

Muzzle

  • With CB, start with magic adjustable ring.
  • Rnd 1: Ch 1, 6 sc in ring, pull yarn tail tightly to close ring, place marker. (6 sts)
  • Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea st around. (12sts)
  • Rnd 3: Sc in each st around.
  • Rnd 4: Rep Rnd 3 once, changing to MC in last yo of final st of Rnd.
  • Rnd 5: Rep Rnd 3 once.
  • Rnd 6: *2 sc in next st, sc in next st; rep from * around. (18 sts)
  • Rnd 7: Rep Rnd 3 once.
  • Fasten off with long yarn tail for joining.

Arms (Make 2)

  • With MC, repeat instructions for head through Rnd 3, place stitch marker.
  • Sc in each st around until arms measure approximately 1.5” (3.8 cm) from marker.
  • Fasten off with long yarn tail for joining.

Neck, Body, and Legs

  • Beginning at the neck, in MC with a long yarn tail for joining, ch 18, join with sl st to first ch, being careful not to twist.
  • Rnd 1: Ch 1, sc in same and in ea st around. (18 sts)
  • Rnd 2: Sc in ea st around.
  • Rnd 3: *2 sc in next st, sc in next st; rep from * around. (27 sts)
  • Rnd 4: Rep Rnd 2.
  • Rnd 5: *Sc in ea of next 2 sts, 2 sc in next st; rep from * around. (36 sts)
  • Rnd 6: Rep Rnd 2.
  • Rnd 7: Rep Rnd 5. (48 sts)
  • Rnd 8: Rep Rnd 5. (64 sts)
  • Rnd 9: Rep Rnd 2. Place stitch marker.
  • Rnd 10: Rep Rnd 2 until body measures approximately 2” (5 cm) from marker.
  • Rnd 11: *Sc in ea of next 6 sts, invdec; rep from * around. (56 sts)
  • Rnd 12: *Invdec, sc in ea of next 5 sts; rep from * around. (48 sts)
  • Rnd 13: *Sc in ea of next 4 sts, invdec; rep from * around. (40 sts)
  • Rnd 14: Rep Rnd 2.
  • Rnd 15: *Sc in ea of next 8 sts, invdec; rep from * around. (36 sts) Do not fasten off.

Shape first leg

  • Row 1: Sc in ea of next 17 sts. (17 sts)
  • Row 2: Turn, ch 1, sc in ea st across.
  • Row 3: Rep Row 2.
  • Row 4: Rep Row 2 until leg measures approximately 2” (5 cm) from marker, ending on the wrong side (inside).
  • Row 5: Turn, ch 1, *invdec, sc in ea of next 2 sts; rep from * across. (13 sts)
  • Row 6: Rep Row 3.
  • Row 7: Turn, ch 1, *invdec, sc in ea of next 2 sts; rep from * across to last st, sc. (10 sts)
  • Row 8: Rep Row 3.
  • Fasten off with long yarn tail for joining and seaming.

Shape second leg

  • Row 1: With MC, join with sl st to body in third st from first leg, ch 1, sc in ea of next 17 sts. (17 sts)
  • Rows 2-8: Rep Rows 2-8 as for first leg.

Gift Pocket Square

  • With CC, ch 3. Join with sl st to form ring.
  • Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as dc, here and throughout), (2 dc, ch 2) in ring, *(3 dc, ch 2) in ring; rep from * twice more, join with sl st to top of ch-3. Fasten off CC.
  • Rnd 2: With CD, join with sl st in any ch-2 sp, ch 3, 3 dc in same ch-2sp, dcBL in ea of next 3 sts, *7 dc in next ch-2 sp, dcBL in ea of next 3 sts; rep from * twice more, 3 dc in first ch-2 sp, change to CE while joining with sl st to top of ch-3. Fasten off CD.
  • Rnd 3: Ch 3, 2 dc in same st, *scBL in ea of next 9 sts, 3 dc in next st; rep from * twice more, scBL in ea of next 9 sts, change to CC while joining with sl st to top of ch-3. Fasten off CE.
  • Rnd 4: Ch 1, sc in same st, *3 dc in next st, scBL in ea of next 11 sts; rep from * twice more, 3 dc in next st, scBL in ea of next 10 sts, join with sl st to top of first sc. Fasten off CE with long yarn tail for joining.

Assembly and Finishing

  • Match 6 stitches on the ear to 6 stitches at the top of head. With yarn needle, whipstitch ear to head, going across the stitches on front and then back of the ear. Repeat with other ear.
  • Slide safety eyes into position between stitches on the head, above the muzzle opening. When you are satisfied with position, insert washer until it clicks.
  • Position neck at bottom of head so it is centered relative to eyes and ears. Join the neck on the bottom of the head with the yarn needle and whipstitch.
  • Stuff head and muzzle. With yarn needle, join muzzle to the head with whipstitch around, matching sts on head to sts on muzzle.
  • Stuff arms. Position arms at side of body in top quarter of body. With yarn needle, join with whipstitch.
  • Stuff neck and body. Position gift pocket square towards bottom of the body, about 1-2 rows above the legs. Join with yarn needle and whipstitch on 3 sides, leaving top of the square open to form a pocket.
  • Fold first leg in half. Using yarn needle, sew sides together until approximately 0.5” (1.3 cm) from body. Stuff leg and then finish sewing up sides, adding stuffing as necessary. Join leg to body with a whipstitch in unworked sc on the body. Repeat with other leg.
  • Cut approximately 12” (30.5 cm) of CB. Thread yarn needle. Starting 1-2 rounds below muzzle join, stitch around the surface of the crochet stitches to form a smile.
  • Weave all remaining ends into body. Trim ends.
© 2012, 2014 by Marie Segares (Underground Crafter). This pattern is for personal use only. You may use it to make unlimited items for yourself, for charity, or to give as gifts. You may sell items you personally make by hand from this pattern. Do not violate Marie’s copyright by distributing this pattern or the photos in any form, including but not limited to scanning, photocopying, emailing, or posting on a website or internet discussion group. If you want to share the pattern, point your friends to this link: http://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2014/09/07/free-pattern-gift-pocket-bear/. Thanks for supporting indie designers!

A Challenge Accepted

YOP3 yarn

Life became rather too complex for me to do any work towards Year of Projects goals.  And, then, suddenly it was December.

Last year, I did a lot of advanced holiday crafting, and I even finished all of my gifts by mid-November.  This year, not so much.  When Thanksgiving rolled around last week, I realized I was in for some trouble and sat down to look at my handmade holiday list.

Amigurumi Nativity heads

I started this nativity set for my Mom at the end of May, using Carolyn Christmas‘s Amigurumi Nativity pattern.  Currently, I have six heads and I just bought fiber fill, pellets for the bases, and some safety eyes.

My mom also liked this hat I designed, and asked for one in black.  Luckily, I have just the yarn in my stash.

Mountain Colors Twizzle

A few weeks ago, I received this beautiful skein of Mountain Colors Twizzle in Swift Current from Mountain Colors to review.  I figured you can’t review a yarn without trying it out, and something about it said shawl to me.  On Friday, I picked up the delightful Shaping Shawls by Anna Dalvi (an awesome book, by the way) and decided to try my and at designing a simple knit crescent shawl for my younger sister.  It’s about two-thirds finished now.

Geaux SaintsAnd speaking of my sister, I started an earwarmer for her boyfriend.  They currently are in law school in New Orleans but he’s accepted a job in Houston after graduation in May.  This will be reversible: one side will be for the New Orleans Saints and the other for the Houston Texans.  I’ve finished the first side in Tunisian crochet and it will need some serious blocking before it is gift.

Bill hat notes

I have little more than these notes I took earlier this year about my Uncle Bill’s hat.  He has one of those factory made cashmere hats, and I was planning to make a handmade version with some scrumptious Galler Yarns Pashmina I have on hand.  So far, other than the finding the note (which took some time!), identifying the yarn, and picking out needles, I’ve done nothing.

Diagonal blanket both sides

Luckily, I have finished one project – from my original YOP list, no less – a baby blanket for my dear friend’s newborn.

And then there are the 7 or so more handmade gifts that I haven’t even started yet. Oh, and 4 design samples due in mid-December for a magazine (but I haven’t received the yarn support yet).

So here’s my challenge to myself: finish a project every 2 days between now and the end of December.  What do you think?  Can it be accomplished?

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Teresa Alvarez

Today’s Hispanic Heritage Month interview is with Teresa Alvarez, a Spanish crochet designer.  Teresa primarily self-publishes and last year had her first designs published in magazines.

Teresa can be found online on Ravelry (as teresacompras and on her designer page) and on Twitter.  All pictures are used with her permission and are copyright Teresa Alvarez unless otherwise noted.  Click on the pictures of the designs to link to the pattern pages.

Teresa Alvarez.
Teresa Alvarez.

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

Teresa: I suppose this is a classic answer: I was taught to crochet by my mum. I’d been watching my mum knitting jumpers for my sister and myself for several years and I was intrigued by how to transform a skein of yarn into something so different. Now, let’s relate this to the summer I learnt to crochet…

I’ve always lived in cities where you have all sorts of shops and amenities, but when I was a child, my family used to spend a month in a small (really small) village in Castille. Imagine for a 10 year old girl spending 30 days without friends, playing all day with her younger sister, running out of books and comics and no bike! Let’s say it was exciting to learn how the cereal crop was harvested or looking for ant’s nests, but … there was something missing for me. So, one afternoon we went walking to the neighboring village (even smaller than the one we were holidaying!) to visit one of my mother’s aunts, and there I saw a scene I will never forget: all the old ladies were sitting on chairs outside their houses chatting and knitting … no!!! they were not knitting, they were crocheting!!!

I was intrigued and I said: I want to learn, who can teach me, please? And that’s how it began. My mother taught me the basic stitches: single crochet, double crochet and a new world opened for me. The remaining weeks were spent crocheting dresses for my dolls and for my sister’s dolls and for my aunts’ dolls. In fact, my aunts have kept the dolls with the dresses and when I visit them, they show them to me.

Polka Dot Funky Bear.

Polka Dot Funky Bear.

Then, I stopped crocheting. At the age of 15, I decided I wanted to knit, so I spent the summer knitting, then, guess? I stopped until 11 years ago, when I was pregnant with my son: I decided I wanted a blanket, a very colorful blanket…so I picked up my needles again…and I didn’t finish the blanket before he was born. Two years later, my daughter was born and then I decided that I was going to crochet again. Why? Well, I wanted to make toys for them and bags for me…and a crochet hook is safer than a knitting needle (at least that is what I think!).
The only thing that saddens me is that my mum hasn’t seen what I’m doing now, because she passed away 8 years ago. I would like to let her know, that I would never forget what she taught me. Now that my girl is learning the basic stitches, I feel like I’m continuing with something beautiful, something that bonds generations and people from all ages. I’ve tried out with my boy, but he prefers football (soccer!).
Dotty, the Ladybug full of surprises.

Dotty, the Ladybug full of surprises.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Teresa: My way into the designing world is curious.  I’ve been up in Ravelry for some time. I uploaded my finished projects and I was delighted when someone favorited any of them. One day, I received a message from one guy working at Inside Crochet, asking if they could show one of the finished pieces in the reader’s section.  Of course, I agreed.

When I saw the photo in the printed magazine, I was so delighted that I said to myself: ‘Tere, you have ideas, write them down, upload them to Ravelry and see what happens.’

In my own way, I’m a creative person. I don’t paint or make sculptures, but I’m a computer engineer, I’m used to ‘creating’ programs to solve problems and to writing papers about computers and routers (‘boring stuff’). I think that writing down a pattern is more fun than writing about the Internet.

The next step was to send patterns to magazines. When Inside Crochet accepted the Vintage Granny Clutch, I was jumping like crazy! But it was even better when the Abracadabra Bag was accepted for publication. Call it the luck of the novice! But it was very gratifying.

Vintage Granny Clutch, published in Inside Crochet.  Photo (c) All Craft Media.

Vintage Granny Clutch, published in Inside Crochet. Photo (c) All Craft Media.

UC: Most of your patterns are for toys and bags. What appeals to you about crocheting these items?

Teresa: When I re‐entered the world of crochet, my son was almost 3 years old, and his sister was a few months old (a chubby baby!!!). I bought Ana Paula Rimoli’s book of amigurumi and a grey elephant was born. After several toys, I gained enough confidence to make a dress for my daughter, and many projects later I felt it was time to write my own patterns.

It seemed logical to go for toys and bags: the toys had two avid children waiting for them,whereas the bags had a bagaholic wanting to wear them(myself!!!!). Moreover, I usually crochet while my children are doing their homework, so I need something that is not very complex because my abilities of multitasking are quite limited: going through multiplications, sums, orthography, and the water cycle is not very compatible with designing a dress. Moreover, if they see me crocheting a toy, I can blackmail them: finish the homework and then the doll/monster/fish… will be yours!

Abracadabra Bag, published in Interweave Crochet.  Photo (c) Interweave Crochet.

Abracadabra Bag, published in Interweave Crochet. Photo (c) Interweave Crochet.

Most of the bags I design were made for me, although my sister usually ‘borrows’ them and I end up without them, which is a good incentive to design a new one. You know! A woman cannot have enough bags!
A flower toy called Rosita.

A flower toy called Rosita.

UC: Most of your current patterns are self-published. What do you enjoy about being a self-published designer? What are some of the challenges?

Teresa: Designing is a hobby for me.  My day job is at the University and I love it. I teach/lecture future Engineers, and research about congestion in Internet.  Although secretly I would like to be a full time designer, I’m not. Truly, I do not know if I should say I’m a designer…I see my patterns as a way of tidying up the ideas I have in my head.

Self‐publishing is faster and I can publish all the weird ideas I have. Some designs are better than others. I wouldn’t even dare to send one of my monsters to amagazine, but I like them and I like to share them. So, when Ravelers send me messages telling me they like this or that toy, it’s rewarding.

My self‐published patterns are free. I think I will go on like this, self‐publishing, and from time to time, publishing in a magazine. However, I have to reckon that a book full of my toys would be a dream come true!

Tunisian Cat Amigurumi.

Tunisian Cat Amigurumi.

UC: You’re originally from Gijon but now you live in Valladolid, Spain.  What was the yarn crafts scene like in Gijon when you were younger?  How does it compare to the current scene in Valladolid? 

Gijon and Valladolid are two middle size cities: there are around 300,000 inhabitants in Gijon and 400,000 in Valladolid. They are 240 km apart. The first is in the coast and the other almost in the center of Spain.  I was raised in Gijon. Thirty years ago, there were quite a few yarn shops in the city. Knitting was more fashionable than crochet. Crochet was made by grannies. The pieces were usually bedspreads and tablecloths in white using a very fine thread. No fantasy there!

However, my mum made some crocheted clothes for my dolls. Knitting was a different matter: scarves, pullovers, coats, jackets,… Maybe, times were different and knitting garments was at the same time fun and a necessity.  Slowly, yarn shops closed. Only those where the owners had a very good knowledge of knitting and crochet resisted the passage of time.  Nevertheless, the variety of yarns decreased. Now, I lived in Valladolid. My mother-in-law has told me that the scene was the same as in Gijon.

Sara the Lovely Security Blanket.

Sara the Lovely Security Blanket.

UC: What about in 2013?

Teresa: I can say that both cities have evolved in the same way. There is a new interest for crochet and for knitting. Maybe, the newcomer is crochet: there is the possibility of attending courses of amigurumi, fabric yarn (trapillo in Spanish), and there are more varieties of yarns, but British and American shops (at least online) have more things to offer.

I think that this new interest has grown exponentially during the last two years.  The first time I used the word amigurumi, no one understood whatI wassaying. If we talk about hairpin crochet or Tunisian crochet, the same story… And, if we talk about tools: soft grip hooks, Tunisian hooks, it was like asking for an impossible mission. Now, some Clover hooks can be bought locally.

Five years ago, if I wanted a good selection of yarns or tools, I had to go online. Now, I can find more things locally. Even, I can buy online in Asturias (Gijon’s county) top‐end yarn brands. The same applies to Valladolid.  We are talking about two medium‐sized cities, they are not Madrid or Barcelona. But I can say we have great expectations!

Smiling Sun.

Smiling Sun.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?  
Teresa: I think that I’m not a typical Spaniard, let me explain this: Although I’ve lived most of my life in Spain, I’ve spent several short periods living in the UK after finishing my degree. These stays have broadened my mind. So, when I began to crochet again and I couldn’t find what I was looking for in Spanish, I turned to the Internet and Amazon, and searched for patterns and books in English. Funnily enough, I learnt the term Tunisian crochet in English and then found the translation into Spanish: ganchillo con horquilla.  I am more familiar with crochet terms in English (American and British) than in Spanish. A shame!
Scrap Soft Toy.

Scrap Soft Toy.

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet or craft blogs to share?
Teresa: I do not follow many blogs. I rather prefer to look for designers or patterns in Ravelry.  I really like Amo el Amigurumi, Fresh Stitches (a.k.a. Stacey Trock), and Las Teje y Maneje.
I also visit their pages, follow on Ravelry and buy their books: Ana Paula Rimoli, Stacey Trock, Dora Ohrenstein, Doris Chan, Kristin Omdahl, and Robyn Chachula. Each of them is different: Paula’s designs are beautiful in their simplicity. Stacey’s toys are unique with the blo sc stitch. And what can be said of those dresses without seams by Doris. The designs of Dora, Kristin and Robyn are impressive!  I cannot decide!!!!!

Thanks so much for stopping by Teresa!  (And yes, I do think you can call yourself a designer!)

 

The next interview in the series will be posted on October 10 with Cirilia Rose.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Monica Rodriguez Fuertes from Hand Made Awards

I’m excited to interview Monica Rodriguez Fuertes, a Spanish crochet, knitting, and sewing designer.  You may be familiar with Monica’s designs from Crochet Today!, or through the Etsy shop she shares with her mom, HandMadeAwards.  (You can read more about her in this Crochet Today! Designer We Love interview.)

Monica can be found online on Etsy (through the HandMadeAwards and The Cup of Tea shops), on the HandMadeAwards Facebook page, and on Ravelry (on her designer page or in the HMA group).

By the way, Monica asked me to share a special thank you with her mom, Loly Fuertes.  Pictures are used with permission and link to the pattern pages.

 

Monica Rodriguez Fuertes.

Monica Rodriguez Fuertes.

 

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet, knit, and sew?
Moni: When I was a little girl I was always painting and making little pompom animals and sewing dolls with fabrics.

My mom, Loly Fuertes, is an expert knitter and crocheter.  She taught to me a few years ago at her home, and my great-grandmother taught her in the garden on a summer afternoon when my mom was a little girl.

Both my mother and I started HandMadeAwards.

The art of creating lovely and unique items has been always present in my family. I grew up all around this fantastic environment.

Vincent Van Gogh Teddy Bear pattern by HandMadeAwards.

Vincent Van Gogh Teddy Bear pattern by HandMadeAwards.

 

UC: What inspired you to start selling your patterns on Etsy?
Moni: I thought that Etsy was the perfect site to sell my patterns because all the crafters enjoy using Etsy to find and shop for their treasures.

 

Fittipaldi Car Carrot pattern by HandMadeAwards.

Fittipaldi Car Carrot pattern by HandMadeAwards.

UC: In addition to selling your patterns on Etsy, you also design regularly for Crochet Today!  What do you enjoy about working with the Crochet Today! team?  How does it compare with self-publishing?
Moni: The Crochet Today! team are fantastic and really professional and I always feel very comfortable and happy working with them. They are a great support for new designers.

Crochet Today! magazine has lovely ideas, and I make the items they love in real life with my own style. The difference when I design and create a toy [for self-publishing] is that this new toy is my own idea from the beginning until the end (colors, materials, size, style…).

Solar System Mobile, published by Crochet Today!

Solar System Mobile, published by Crochet Today!

UC: You’ve had success in selling your patterns on Etsy. What tips do you have for a new Etsy seller?
Moni: The most important is believe in, love, and enjoy your own work.  This is the secret for having success.  I always try to make each handmade piece delicate and unique.

Bonnie the Striped Bunny by HandMadeAwards.

Bonnie the Striped Bunny by HandMadeAwards.

UC: You’re originally from Santander, Spain.  What was the yarn crafting scene like there when you were growing up?  Has it changed since then?
Moni: Yes, I was born in Santander, Spain, and I grew up in a big home near the beach with my adoring family: my parents and my grandparents, Cris, my little sister, and my uncle, who is a brilliant architect. My grandfather is an expert in old Hollywood movies. The women of my home were always crafting, making amazing quilts, designing clothes and dresses, cooking cakes, making new clothes for toys and dolls for my sister and me, making beautiful garlands for parties…

Alice in Wonderland Tea Cosy by HandMadeAwards.

Alice in Wonderland Tea Cosy by HandMadeAwards.

My favourite scene that I remember is the living room in the afternoons, full of colorful yarns with my mom and grandmom knitting or sewing dresses and dolls for my sister and me. I would sit on the floor, playing with some of their strands of wool for making little pompom chicks or bunnies, with chocolate cookies and a glass of milk.

My Darling Geese by HandMadeAwards.

My Darling Geese by HandMadeAwards.

I’m very lucky because nothing is different today around me, my sweet grandmom that spends her afternoons with us having a cup of tea although today she can not make all those pretty things that she usually did…but our home continues to be full of vintage treasures such as old ribbons, hundreds of colorful yarn skeins, glass beads, beautiful scraps of fabrics, and all the pretty things for crafting.

My Bicycle by HandMadeAwards.

My Bicycle by HandMadeAwards.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Moni: Absolutely yes! I grew up in a family that loves art in all the expressions, and the person that I’m today is a reflection off all of that. Finally, I decided to study Applied Arts and I’m an interior architect.

My sister and I owned a fashion shop for several years with the most beautiful dresses and bags that we bought in Milan, Italy, and our shop was recommended in Vogue magazine six times.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Moni, and sharing your story!

 The next interview in the series will be posted on September 26 with Daniela Montelongo/Pompon’s Party.