Tag Archives: argentina

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Hispanic Heritage Month Series)

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery) on Underground Crafter blog.

Today, I’m continuing my Hispanic Heritage Month series with an interview with Melissa Martinez, the knitting and crochet designer and maker behind Acts of Knittery Designs. Like me, Melissa grew up in New York City, but she has since moved to Philadelphia. Melissa’s patterns have been self-published as Acts of Knittery, as well as by Classic Elite and Made in America Yarns.

Melissa can be found online on her website/blog, Ravelry (as ActsofKnittery, on her designer page, or in the Acts of Knittery Designs group), Ebay, FacebookAmazonCraftsyPinterest, and Twitter. All images are copyright Acts of Knittery Designs and are used with permission. Click on pattern images to be brought to the Ravelry page.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery) on Underground Crafter blog.

Melissa Martinez

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

Melissa: My grandmother first taught me as a young child. I started learning crochet first and then went on to learn knitting shortly after that.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Melissa: I had sold finished knit and crochet accessories on both eBay and Etsy for several years. Customers would often ask me if I had patterns available as well. I figured why not start writing them down and selling the patterns.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery) on Underground Crafter blog.

Shrubbery, a knit shawlette pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: You design a lot of hats and shawls. What do you enjoy about those projects?

Melissa: I love how quick they are and also how most don’t require a lot of yarn (or time) to make. I also love how a relatively small accessory can make such a big impact and really transform a whole outfit and your look.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

An Ounce of Flounce, a knit scarf pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: The photos for your self-published patterns have a very consistent (branded) look. Do you take your own photographs or do you use the same photographer? How did you develop your photographic style?

Melissa: Thanks so much for that compliment! I take all of the photos myself. I guess I’ve had lots of practice with shooting product photos for when I sold on Etsy and Ebay. I just try to make sure there’s adequate light coming in from the window (natural light is definitely the best) and then when I crop my photos I try to not have all of them exactly centered. I think that adds a bit of interest.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Mesh Cowl with Flower, a crochet pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: You sell your finished objects on Ebay and individual patterns on Amazon. What do you see as the pros and cons of selling on websites that get a lot of traffic but aren’t focused on the needlecrafts?

Melissa: I think that selling on these large marketplaces definitely helps to expose your products to an entirely new audience. There may be a lot of potential customers who are looking for a hand knit item or pattern and have only heard of the major online sites Ebay and Amazon. On the other hand, I find that most of the time these customers may not be fully aware about how long it actually takes to make an item, the quality of yarn used and the great attention to detail that goes into a handmade item. A lot of people on Ebay are just looking for bargains and you can’t really blame them. On Amazon, I find that some of the more classic or generic patterns sell well but not the truly unique. That’s one area where sites devoted exclusively to the needlecrafts such as Ravelry and Craftsy excel, since customers already have more of an appreciation for hand crafted goods and unique patterns.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Wyvern Scarf, a knit pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: Your parents are Argentinian with Spanish and Italian roots, but you grew up in my hometown of New York City. What was the yarn crafts scene like in your family and community when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene in Philadelphia?

Melissa: My grandmother was always knitting something and she made the most amazing knit onesies for babies I had ever seen. She would actually go out and sell them on consignment at a few local stores. My mom is also an avid knitter and crocheter. She is very DIY (do it yourself) and I think that’s where I get it from. She would sew clothes for me and my siblings growing up, bake her own bread, etc. There were a few craft stores and fabric stores that sold yarn in Queens where I grew up but when I had discovered the yarn shops in Manhattan, or “the City” as us native New Yorkers call it, I was completely blown away and my yarn addiction took on a life of its own. I really like the yarn shops in Philly as well.  (UC comment: You can read my yarn shop reviews from my trip to Philly here.) The people are really friendly here and extremely helpful. One of the yarn shops here is actually owned by a New York transplant like myself. I hope to personally get more involved in the local scene soon. Most of the time I feel like I’m the only one I know who knits. I guess I need to get out more, lol.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Chai Beanie, a knitting pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

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

Melissa: I don’t often think about, this but I guess it does. I think it’s more of the fact that previous generations and other cultures place a greater value on crafts and handmade things. I see it almost as carrying on a tradition in some ways. The only other thing I can think of is that I do adore using vibrant color when I design a piece so maybe my cultural background sneaks in that way.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Northern Belle Cloche, a knitting pattern by Acts of Knittery.

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

I only have three right now. Two were lent to me by my mom and I sort of just kept them with me but she can always have them back if she ever needs them: Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns by Sterling Publishing Co. and Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet (UC comment: reviewed here). The third book I purchased myself when I seriously started thinking about designing: The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design by Shannon Okey (UC comment: reviewed here). This last book has really helped shine the light on so many questions I had about becoming a designer. I was truly clueless and this book helped me so much. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to follow a similar path.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Cloche Hat with Two Flowers, a crochet pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

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

Melissa: I love Design Sponge even though it’s mostly geared toward interior design. Rena Tom has some cool business tips at times, Tara Swiger is absolutely wonderful and really understands what it’s like to be a creative entrepreneur. I also enjoy reading your blog. :) I wish I did follow more blogs, especially Spanish language ones. I’m always open to suggestions.

Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview, Melissa, and for your kind words about my blog!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Sara Palacios from Arrorró en Colores

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

Today, I’m interviewing Argentinian crochet designer Sara Palacios, the mind behind Arrorro en Colores (known as Colorful Lullabies in English).  Sara can be found online on her website, Ravelry (as SaraBea and in the Colorful Lullabies store), Etsy, Facebook, and Flickr.  All pictures are used with her permission.

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

Sara: I’ve liked handicrafts since I was a child. My mother was a dressmaker and I grew up watching her as she created new things, being passionate about fabrics, textures, shapes, and colors. When I was 10, she taught me the basics of crochet, knitting and embroidery. I also learned a lot from my aunts, who where always crocheting doilies, and from the craft magazines that they used to give me: they were the best gift I could get!

UC: When did you first become passionate about afghans?

Sara: At age 15, I crocheted a multicolor granny square using yarn remains and made a pillow with it. It was then that I discovered the magic of harmonizing colors and I wanted to crochet a blanket for my bed. This time I made it with new brightly colored wool. Since then, I came up with several ideas that I kept as projects to do some day, such as the illusions of stacked cubes. During the following 27 years, I crocheted some simple blankets and other things, but I did not realize any of these early projects because there was always something missing: time or money.

In 2008, I could make the first of the blankets I had been planning to do for so long. After that I could never stop imagining new things.

 

Hexagon Spiral pattern.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Sara: To copy other people’s models in an exact way – as beautiful as the model may have been – bored me. For example, I needed to combine the design of a pattern with a different stitch from another, and the colors of a flower in my garden. In other words, I needed to add something personal to it. And so, unexpected things started to come up. Any aspect of life that makes me feel passionate or that suggests beauty or excellence to me can be the source of inspiration for a crochet design: nature, art, dreams, maths, science or everyday experiences.

 

Flower Rug pattern.

UC: Tell us about crochet in Argentina.

Sara: In general, crochet is picked up within the family as grandmothers, mothers and aunts teach you. However, today it is also learned through the Internet. In some places, they teach courses to learn or perfect crochet techniques. Usually, we learn both knitting and crochet but, as time goes by, we tend to choose crochet.

I believe that in the last years we, crocheters, are becoming more and more well-known, and we have started meeting in groups mostly thanks to social networks. In addition, there are also more young people crocheting nowadays.

This increasing popularity in crochet has to do in part with initiatives for solidarity that consist in getting granny squares of a certain size so as to make blankets to donate to hospitals and retirement homes. In particular the group Tejiendo por un Sueño (Knitting/Crocheting for a Dream) on Facebook gets thousands of knitters and crocheters together, and it also provokes an infectious enthusiasm that is both enriching and motivating. In this way more people want to crochet again which, the way I see it, has to do with the ‘magic’ of the granny squares: The possibility of combining colors, of giving new life and use to the leftovers of other handicrafts, of getting unique products and also of working with and for the community.

UC: Most of your patterns are available in English (both US and UK terms) and in Spanish.  What made you decide to sell bilingual patterns?

Sara: I had always wanted to write patters, but I had never imagined myself doing it in English. I opened my shop on Etsy with the intention of selling blankets, but people started to ask me for the patterns, and so I decided to write them in both languages. I am happy to be able to share them with more people.

Joy: Hexagon and Triangle Blanket pattern.

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet or craft blogs to share?

Sara: Crochet soñado by Claudia Daneu is an Argentine blog with many video crochet patterns that explain very nice stitches and interesting variations.  Tejido Crochet is another Argentine crochet blog with original designs and graphics.  Mi Sala de Costura is a Spanish patchwork and craft blog, which also includes beautiful crochet patterns.

In English, I like Fiddlesticks and the crochet techniques of Vashti Braha, among other blogs.  (UC comment: I’m a huge fan of Vashti’s blog and newsletter, and I also interviewed her back in January.)

 

Wonder, crochet flower blanket pattern.

UC: What’s next for Arroro en Colores?

Sara: I have a lot of projects. Most of my patterns are still in my head or in a draft. I crochet and write when I have free time to do it. I make my living working on computing with computers and crochet is just a hobby.  I would like to be able to spend more hours on it, although I don’t want to hurry: crocheting is precisely about going slowly step by step.

 

Thanks so much, Sara, for stopping by to share your thoughts with us!

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

 

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!

 

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.