Tag Archives: amigurumi

A Challenge Accepted

YOP3 yarn

After posting my initial list and one brief update, life became rather too complex for me to do much work towards my 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.

Nativity

Growing up, I was fascinated with the Nativity scene my maternal grandmother would set up during the Christmas season, and I remember being eager to place the baby Jesus into the manger after midnight on Christmas Eve.  That Nativity set was the one physical object that I most associated with the holidays during childhood, and since I first saw crocheted Nativity scenes, I’ve thought about making one for my mother.  I bought Carolyn Christmas‘s Amigurumi Nativity pattern in paper form a while back, but never had the time (or the right yarn on hand) to make it.

At the beginning of the year, I started planning to make the set.  I definitely don’t have much in the way of “flesh tone” yarns in my stash, so I appealed to the folks in the Surmount the Stash group on Ravelry.  The generous mamajulia stepped forward to send me some yarn she had leftover from a project, thus helping me avoid a trip to Michael’s that might result in a stash explosion.

The last few weeks have been tough for me, so over the long weekend I wanted to pick up simple that I could make without too much thought.  The Amigurumi Nativity seemed like the perfect project, but of course, I couldn’t locate the pattern.  I searched high and low and finally gave up and was ready to order another copy.  And that’s when I learned that it’s now available as a Ravelry download.  I’m a longtime fan of Carolyn’s work, and I’m always happy to support another independent designer, so I bought the pattern on Rav, added it to my Kindle Fire, and set to work.

My first three heads (perhaps for Mary, Joseph, and the Angel).
The first three heads (perhaps for Mary, Joseph, and the Angel).

I plan to vary the skin tone for the three Wise Men, so my amigurumi version will be similar to my grandmother’s set.  This is officially my first holiday project for 2013.  (Last year at this time, I was just beginning my holiday crafting list, so I feel like I’m on pace for this year, too.)

I also made some progress on my temperature scarf.  I have one row for each day of 2013 through May 24th.

Temperature scarf through 2013-05-24.jpg

I’ve used all but one color now, and it is really interesting to watch the scarf unfold.

As for reading, I’m about a third of the way through American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  I was on the waiting list at the New York Public Library for a while.  I don’t really know what I expected, but I’m enjoying it so far.

And, back in March, MC and I watched The Bible miniseries, and that got us talking about the actual Bible.  I’ve never read it in its entirety, and since – regardless of your faith and religious beliefs – it’s such a significant work in the development of Western civilization, I decided that I should actually read it all the way through.  After a little bit of research, I bought The NRSV Daily Bible: Read, Meditate, and Pray Through the Entire Bible in 365 Days last week.  Although it is tempting to read more at each setting, I decided to follow the book’s pacing.  It has been interesting to read the Bible in these little snippets, and I think I’ll probably remember each section better since I’ll have more time between readings to reflect.

For more Work in Progress Wednesday posts, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.

Favorite Online Crochet Resources: Tips and Tricks from FreshStitches

Every Saturday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be highlighting one of my favorite online crochet resources.  Today’s featured site is FreshStitches, my favorite source of tips and tricks for crochet and small (crafty) business.

I’m a huge fan of Stacey Trock, also known as FreshStitches.  I had the pleasure of interviewing her and participating in her blog tour for Crocheted Softies: 18 Adorable Animals from Around the World back in 2011.  I also had a blast working up my very first knitting pattern as part of her Knit and Crochet Design Week in 2012.  And I even made a rough and tumble version of her Lala the Panda pattern for my pre-school aged cousin.  (Stacey also happens to have an enormous giveaway going on through today at 6 p.m. Eastern time here.)

 

FreshStitches

 

Stacey’s blog is filled with wonderful pictures.  For amigurumi fans, there is a lot to enjoy as Stacey shares projects from her own patterns as well as tips and customer projects from CALs that she hosts.  And Stacey also shares her own projects, which include a range of crocheted and knit garments and accessories.

But the main reason I’m highlighting her blog today is because of the regular tips and tricks that Stacey shares with her readers.  Here are a few of my favorites for yarn crafts in general:

And a few of my favorites for crochet amigurumi:

This was tough!  Stacey has a lot of great amigurumi tips and tutorials to choose from on her blog.

Although she is an extremely busy lady with an active Facebook page and Ravelry group, classes on Craftsy, and is prepping for the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival next weekend, among other things, Stacey had a few minutes to answer some NatCroMo13 questions.

 
Underground Crafter (UC): Can you share a favorite crochet project with us?

Stacey: Oh, I don’t know if I could really pick a favorite, but I’ll pick a nice one…

From the time I was 12 years old, I entered my crochet in the county fair every summer. It was a lot of fun, and I really liked getting ribbons.

Then, when I was 17, I was waiting in line to submit my crochet pieces for the year. A supervisor came up to me and said that my work was so lovely… and asked if I wanted to do a demonstration!

I couldn’t believe it, I was so excited! So, I got booked in for a timeslot, and I spent a few hours crocheting at the fair.

I think it was the first time that I viewed my crocheting as something exciting and interesting. Before then, I just thought of it as something my mom and I did… it never occurred to me that other people didn’t!

Stacey Trock.
Stacey Trock demonstrating crochet at the county fair.

UC: What are your favorite types of crochet projects to make?

Stacey: I love making stuffed animals. They’re cute, they’re quick, and they make use of the best properties of crochet fabric. They benefit from the density that a crochet stitch can provide.

UC: What are your favorite websites for crochet-related content and community?
I’m in love with Ravelry. I spend a lot of time chatting in the forums, there!  I also love Kathryn Vercillo’s blog.  It’s full of really great crochet content & trends.  (UC comment: I guess great minds think alike because I highlighted Crochet Concupiscence last week as my favorite source of crochet news!)

 

Thanks Stacey, for stopping by, and for providing such wonderful content on your blog!

 

Interview with Cheezombie

Through my travels through the internet, I often come upon interesting designers.  Cheezombie is one such talent.  She is one of the (relatively) few knit amigurumi designers I’ve come across, and her work has a distinctive style.  Cheezombie is shrouded in mystery, so I’m honored that she stopped by for an interview (but don’t expect a picture!).  You can find Cheezombie online on Etsy, Twitter, and Ravelry (as cheezombie, in her Slug Love group, and on her designer page).  All pictures are used with permission and link to the patterns.
Cheezombie's UnCrabby Crab.
Cheezombie’s UnCrabby Crab.
Underground Crafter (UC): What inspired you to start designing?
Cheezombie: I found other knitters online (thank you Ravelry!) who wanted to make the same wacky stuff I did. So I put out the patterns. Then all these people take these patterns & turn out amazing, creative things I never would have thought of in a million years. I am continually astounded at how a few written lines & silly pictures can spark a veritable flood of awesome. So THE PEOPLE are why I design. Shout out to EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO EVER KNIT A CHEEZOMBIE PATTERN. I love you all. You blow my mind on a regular basis.
Cheezombie's Eddie Lizzard.
Cheezombie’s Eddie Lizzard.
UC: How did you develop your Knitting Manifesto and how does it connect to your designs?
Cheezombie: The Manifesto is what all cheezombie patterns strive for: brevity, clarity, & fun. It’s serious stuff. Sort of. Plus it’s good to have a manifesto. Everyone should have one.  (UC comment: If you aren’t familiar with Cheezombie’s manifesto, check it out in this interview she did with FreshStitches!)
Cheezombie's Omar Alien.
Cheezombie’s Omar Alien.
UC: Your work is primarily self-published.  Can you talk about your decision to focus on self-publishing rather than on designing for other publishers?
Cheezombie: What can I say, they’re my babies. I’m a bit retentive about how they’re presented to the world, and retaining all rights to the designs is very important to me, and it’s gotten so easy to self publish with all the pattern sites popping up all over, it just makes sense. I’m not opposed to publishing for others, and I have and will continue to do so, but I’m super picky about where I submit designs. It’s like interviewing daycare centers, it has to be a perfect fit.
Cheezombie's Garden Slug.
Cheezombie’s Garden Slug.
UC: What are your favorite knitting books in your collection?
Cheezombie: The book collection has gradually dissappated what with virtually endless online resources.  Knittinghelp.com & YouTube have changed my life. but I still have a Kaffe Fasset book (for the colors of course!), and I regularly check out Mochimochi books from the library just to read them over & over like picture books.
Cheezombie's Sheepish.
Cheezombie’s Sheepish.
UC: Your business name is awesome.  How did you come up with it?  (Or will you have to kill us if you tell us?)
Cheezombie:Take a gaming avatar (unabashed nerd here) that looked like a zombiefied piece of cheese. A cheese-zombie, if you will. Add a midwestern twang and it becomes a cheezombie. Add a bunch of starey-eyed animals of ridiculous proportions and a bunch of slug loving creepy cute obsessed knitters and you get cheezombie patterns.
Cheezombie's Splat Cat.
Cheezombie’s Splat Cat.
UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs you frequent for inspiration or community that you would like to share?
Cheezombie: Ravelry is my people! It amazes me that I can immediately connect with like minded knitters from all over the world, anytime. We have the Slug Love group for sharing photos, swaps, & general squeeeing, I post sneak peeks, coupons, and gratuitous cat photos there too.
I also like Craftsy for cruising projects from crafts of all types, from sewing to jewelry & all kinds of other fun stuff.

 

UC: Tell us about your newest patterns.

Cheezombie: The newest pattern is Splat Cat & I have one coming out in an upcoming issue of Knitty.

 

Thanks for stopping by, Cheezombie!

Chubby Sheep CAL January Giveaway winners!

We had a lot of fun during the Chubby Sheep CAL, and now that it is over, I’m happy to announce the winner of the January giveaway.  But first, let me share the awesome sheep that were finished this month!

Blacky67‘s Black Sheep

jaye-yarns‘s Sheep Shape

MommieLamb‘s Chubby Rainbow Sheep

Stormbat‘s Minikin

Relodie made two Chubby Sheep: an Evil Chubby Zombie Sheep for the boyfriend and a kinder, gentler Chubby Sheep for her dad.

Can you tell which Chubby Sheep is which? :)

All of these sheep are so cute (well, except maybe the Evil Chubby Zombie Sheep – which is scary with a side of cuteness) so I’m glad that I’m choosing the winner randomly.  I numbered each project by the order it was posted to the giveaway thread on Ravelry, and according to Random.org, the winner is #5…

 Relodie’s Chubby Sheep for Dad!

Congratulations to Relodie, the winner of a $15 Etsy gift card which can be used to purchase more amigurumi supplies or other fun stuff from Etsy.  And thanks to everyone who entered and participated in the CAL!  If you’d like to make your own Chubby Sheep, you can download the free pattern here or as a Ravelry download.

And, if you’re looking for another CAL to join, I’ll be hosting one starting on February 15 for my latest free pattern, the Pineapples for Everyone Shawl.  More details will be posted soon and I hope you’ll join in!

Vogue Knitting Live, Day 1

Yesterday, Vogue Knitting Live 2013 opened in New York.  If you’re in the New York area this weekend, you should stop by!  Here’s a quick wrap up of some of what I’ve seen so far.

Gallery

The gallery exhibits were being set up in the morning, and I had a chance to photograph most of them before it got too crowded.  Here are some of the highlights.  (And speaking of highlights, keep in mind that these photos were taken in dimly lit hotel corridors.)

Colorful Stitches had an awesome array of knit food displayed like a picnic table.  This bowl of cereal with a strawberry was my favorite!

Alyssa Ettinger is a ceramic artist with a studio in my native Brooklyn.  I love the soothing pastels of her work.

Rhonda Fargnoli‘s continuing education students at the Rhode Island School of Design created some beautiful designs with mill ends from Koigu.

I got to meet Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land fame.  I’ve been an admirer of Anna’s work since I first saw it at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in 2011.  We’ll both be at the 9th Annual Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival in March.  (I’m teaching and she’s exhibiting.)

Adrian Kershaw is a crocheter and knitter working with upcycled VHS tapes as yarn.  Because her work is black and the lighting was so dim, the pictures don’t really convey the projects.  They’re pretty cool!

Carol MacDonald is a printmaker who makes prints, cards, and tags using her images from her knitting.

Edwina Sutherland is a fiber artist working primarily with needlefelting.  She shared her secret for successfully transporting her projects for display with me – wrap them in quilt batting.

And last – but certainly not least – was the crochet artist, Jo Hamilton.  I’ve seen her crochet portraits online and was really looking forward to seeing them in real life.  They are much cooler in person because there is much more texture and subtle color variations than a photo can convey.

Interview Teaser

I met with Danielle Chalson from Makewise Designs for a quick interview after lunch.   Until I publish it, I’ll just share this picture of Danielle’s enthusiastic smile.

Send your happy thoughts her way. She'll be working at the String booth at the Marketplace tomorrow!

The Marketplace

Apparently I wasn't the only one trying to get into the Marketplace when it opened.

With over 70 vendors, the Vogue Knitting Marketplace alone could take up many blog posts.  So I’ll just concentrate on the colleagues I visited and my purchases.

Kollabora's booth during set up.

I stopped by Kollabora‘s booth a few times to say hi and to see my samples on display.  Here’s a sneak peak of two of my upcoming crochet designs that they are debuting at Vogue Knitting Live.  (The patterns aren’t available yet.)

It was also cool to see two of my other designs featured in their ad in the program.

The patterns for the Givin’ Me Fever Pom Pom Hat (knit) and the Chevron Shell Cowl (crochet) are available as free downloads.

I also took a picture of their schedule so I can remember to stop by their events. With a program this packed, every reminder helps!

Then I got the chance to meet Shannon Okey (a.k.a. Knitgrrl) in person.  I have a pattern in one of the upcoming Cooperative Press Fresh Designs: Crochet books so we chatted about that briefly.  I somehow forgot to take a picture of Shannon, but here is a picture of the Cooperative Press booth :).I had a chance to check out Dishcloth Diva by Deb Buckingham in person.  It looked just as scrumptious as I thought it would!  (And I love that I can feel glamorous about making dishcloths!)

You may remember from Vogue Knitting Live last year that my first purchase was at the Kinokuniya booth.  Well, ever since I bought this awesome Japanese knitting stitch guide from Knitty City in the fall, I’ve realized that I don’t know nearly as much about knitting stitch symbols as I do about crochet stitch symbols, and I’ve been thinking about buying Clear & Simple Knitting Symbols.

A taste of the crochet selection at the Kinokuniya booth.

And then I saw the North Light Fibers booth.  I was drawn in because their tagline is “Block Island made,” and MC used to vacation in Block Island as a kid.  In addition to great natural fiber yarns, they sell these cozy alpaca socks.

After that, I saw a local vendor, the Long Island Livestock Company.

This chair from the Long Island Livestock Company booth is made from three spinning wheels from the 1930s.

I had a great chat with the owner and her husband, and I was drawn to their natural care products.

So what did I end up buying?

I bought a pair of cozy alpaca socks for MC, a book for me, and some handmade soap and lip butter from a local company.

You’re probably saying, “What?? No yarn??”  You know I’ve been working on stashbusting for the past 13 months.  I’m not sure if I’ll buy yarn at Vogue Knitting Live, but I promised myself that I wouldn’t on the first day.  I wanted the chance to look at everything and sleep on any potential yarn purchases…  Let’s see how I hold up today!

Chubby Sheep CAL December giveaway!

Chubby Sheep, more fun than a hacky sack.

 

I’ve seen some very cute Chubby Sheep projects shared in the last few weeks as part of the Chubby Sheep crochet-a-long.  I’m hosting two small giveaways for this CAL.  One is open to everyone who completes a Chubby Sheep in December, 2012, and the other one will open up to everyone who completes a Chubby Sheep in January, 2013.

The December prize is a copy of Long-Legged Friends: Crochet Creatures to Create and Cuddle by Hisako and Shizue Okawa, courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing (reviewed here), and 5 pairs of assorted safety eyes from my collection (originally from 6060 on Etsy).

To enter the Chubby Sheep December giveaway for your chance to win this cool prize set:

  • Join in the Chubby Sheep Crochet-a-long!  You can participate in the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, in the comments on this blog, on the Underground Crafter Facebook page, or by Tweeting @ucrafter.
  • Share a photograph of your Chubby Sheep project completed during December, 2012 by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, December 31.  Each project counts as one entry in the giveaway.
  • To share your project on Ravelry: Add the project to your notebook.  Share the project  in the Chubby Sheep CAL giveaway entries thread.
  • To share your project on Facebook: Post a Wall photo on the Underground Crafter page.  (Remember that if you don’t “like” the page, I won’t be able to message you on Facebook, so you’ll have to check back to see if you’ve won.)
  • To share your project on this blog: Post a link to a project photo (on your blog, Flickr, etc.) in the comments.
  • To share your project on Twitter: Tweet @ucrafter with a link to a photo of your project.
  • This giveaway is open to all crocheters worldwide.
  • By entering the giveaway, you are granting permission for your project photo to be shared in a collage of all entries on this blog.
  • On or about January 4, 2013, one winner will be chosen at random and contacted for mailing address.  The winner must respond by January 15, 2013 or the prize will be forfeited.

 

Thanks so much for joining in, and I can’t wait to see your sheep!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Paola Navarro from Delicious Crochet

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m interviewing Argentinian crochet designer Paola Navarro, also known as Delicious Crochet.  She has been selling her signature style of amigurumi patterns in her Etsy shop since 2007, and can also be found on Ravelry (as DeliciousCrochet and on her designer page), as well as on her website, Flickr, Craftsy, and Twitter.  All pictures are used with Paola’s permission.

 

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

Paola: When I was a kid, my mom and grandma taught me the basic crochet stitches. But back then, I wasn’t too interested in crocheting or knitting.  Then, as a teenager, I became more attracted to this craft and some years ago, I just completely felt for it!

 

Granny by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: When did you first become interested in amigurumi?
Paola: I always loved designing toys! Even as a kid, I used to sew some dolls and teddies! Then, just by accident, I stumbled across amigurumis and discovered they were just perfect for me, because they give me the possibility of combining two passions: crochet and toy design.

 

Randy the Raccoon by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Paola: In fact, I always did my own designs, and not just for crochet. And everything inspires me, specially my hubby and nieces.

 

American Bison by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC:  Tell us about crochet in Argentina.

Paola: In Argentina, both crochet and knitting are almost exclusively practiced by women. Most women learned from a family member, like their grannies, moms, or old aunts. And to a lesser extent, at school.

A couple of years ago, some yarn sellers started teaching adults and kids how to crochet and knit in their stores on Saturday afternoons and this was a great success. Also, you can see some grown women crocheting in doctor’s waiting rooms, parks, while waiting in bank lines, and even in buses!  (UC comment: I crochet on the subway all the time, so I guess I’d fit in if I moved to Argentina!) Not so the young women. They prefer crocheting or knitting in their homes.  Just some people know how to do both, but knitting is more common among Argentinian women.

Caveman by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: Can you tell me about your decision to offer your patterns in English and Spanish?

Paola: Well, as I can speak both, I thought this was a great idea to help my designs reach more people across the world. Most of my buyers are used to crochet patterns written in English, but Spanish speakers are somewhat reluctant to use patterns in a foreign language, specially if they are crochet beginners. And having the possibility of using a pattern in their own language gives them more confidence.

Angie the Pig by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

 

UC: Your pattern photos have a signature style with a white outline and a solid background. How did you start using that style?

Paola: This is a way of giving my photos, as well as my amigurumis, the same signature style and more consistency to my shop. Then, when someone sees an amigurumi photo with this style, they will think: this MUST be from DeliciousCrochet.

Coquena the Llama by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: You have over 15,000 Etsy sales. (WOW!)  Can you share some tips for new Etsy sellers?

Paola: All my designs are original and have my own style. When you see one of my designs, you know its mine even before seeing its name or my signature elsewhere. I think finding your own personal style instead of trying to imitate others and printing it in your creations is something buyers really value.

There are no secrets for running a shop. Just do what you love the best way possible and always take good care of your buyers.

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing, Paola!

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.