I’m continuing my series of highlighting crochet designers as part of my celebration of (Inter)National Crochet Month by sharing an interview with Susan Carlson from Felted Button. Her colorful designs have been spreading joy online for several years, and she has also been a Design Wars Challenger!
This post contains affiliate links.
You can find Susan and her colorful crochet patterns online on the Felted Button website, and on Craftsy, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Ravelry (as FeltedButton and on her designer page), and Twitter. All images are copyright Susan Carlson and are used with permission.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?
Susan: I was taught to crochet by my left-handed granny. Since I’m a righty, I’m still not certain how she pulled it off with a distracted and squirmy 9 year old, but I’ll admit I found the process intriguing. From there I made only one thing that I can really recall…a hideously long, squeaky black scarf for my dad. See, my granny never taught me how to fasten off, so I just kept going until the entire skein was gone. That whole “not knowing when to stop” was a problem I faced in school, too, as my teachers confirmed. Indeed, I immediately got distracted–for over 30 years–with things like running hurdles, teaching high school sciences, and learning a lot about other crafty things. But then, being inspired by a number of crochet blogs, I found the hook my granny had given me and bought A LOT of yarn. Again, not knowing quite when to stop, I made the most ginormous blanket! But I was “hooked” and have been crocheting ever since!
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Susan: I have what I call a very “noisy” brain. I crochet because it quiets the noise. And I remember as a child feeling the NEED to create something…anything. With crocheting, not only do I get a quiet mind, but also a wonderful, colorful, original handmade item to enjoy or share. Plus, do you realize how many colors of yarn there are? Why designing and writing patterns? To have someone with their own hands translate and make a tangible creation from what started out as only an idea in my head, well, it’s magical!! Plus, I never have to make the same thing twice—it’s that distraction/focus issue again.
UC: Although you have a lot of variety in your patterns, you definitely have quite a few blankets. What do you enjoy about designing blankets?
Susan: For me, I tend to be more focused on the art of the design than the current style or trend. That’s probably why I am drawn to blankets and rugs as they are essentially a huge canvas on which to “paint” or “draw” with colorful yarn! Like the Painted Pixels Blanket which is made with 7 colorways of a self-striping yarn. This one was taken on as a challenge to myself to see if I could make these 7 disparate balls of yarn actually look good together.
UC: Crocheters and afghans (and crocheted afghans) sometimes get a bad rep. When you’re designing blankets, do you feel additional pressure to break those stereotypes?
Susan: I often get sweet comments from Felted Button fans that my work is “not granny crochet.” Although I don’t necessarily consider that when I am designing, I am drawn to bold colors, lots of texture, interesting stitch placements and sometimes graphic, modern designs. Although I have a few traditional designs, I really enjoy trying to think outside of the box and create something brand new—but not trendy.
UC: Color is prominent in your designs. What suggestions do you have for crocheters who are feeling nervous about experimenting with colors?
Susan: Texture and color are vital elements in my designs, but never at the expense of crocheting that is pleasurable, as I believe the fun is in the action of hook and yarn in hand, not merely the finished product. So I strive to make my patterns friendly for various skill levels with any unusual stitches and techniques shown in detail. It has to be fun to make, right?!
Although I always suggest to folks to choose colors that speak to them—otherwise they get bored or discouraged and lose interest in the middle of a project–I also try to persuade them that getting a little daring can be surprisingly fun. I think I have been blessed with “an eye for color” so selecting colors is pretty easy for me. But, I have rounded up a number of sites for reference when looking for color inspiration. You can find them here on my blog.
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Susan: Everywhere! Sometimes it is the yarn itself, sometimes the colors I see around me, sometimes a photograph, sometimes just playing with hook and yarn in hand to see where it takes me.
I also find myself wandering Pinterest and the web for graphic designs in other mediums that I can translate to crochet. That’s how I came up with my Pointillism Posie Blanket. It started with a picture of a single bloom, which led to reminiscing upon my sixth grade art class where we learned about pointillism. Each of the 29 colors of motifs—busted from my stash–makes a little spot of color that adds to the image of the huge flower.
I came up with the Rainbow Sprinkles Blanket after finding a print of little sprinkles of color falling against a neutral background gaining more color as they fall into a colorful pile!
UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection?
Susan: Right now, I am having a ball playing with various stitch patterns from The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs by Linda P. Schapper. It may sound less than exciting to some folks, but it inspires me to use my creativity with color, texture and stitch placement and allows me to really experiment with my hook and yarn.
UC: You have over 5,100 sales on Etsy. Do you have any tips for new Etsy sellers?
Susan: I feel like such an amateur in the business world, but these are a few suggestions:
- Photos—take good ones with natural light!!!
- Shop Appearance—strive for a uniformity in your shop “look” so when people see your work they recognize it as yours and know precisely what they will find when they are in your shop
- Know your audience–exactly who you are marketing to? Age range? Gender? Skill level? Style?
- Value of your work—don’t undervalue your work or everyone else will, too.
- Take advantage of Etsy’s tips and suggestions for success.
- Look at other’s shops, but don’t look too hard. Comparing yourself to them, or worse yet, trying copy them, is not genuine and will not bring success. You must be true to yourself and your style. Create a strong brand that screams YOU!
- Flood the earth—Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc. If your product is quality, financial success is dependent on “eyeballs.”
UC: Do you have any crochet/crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
Susan: All of these sites provide delightful and colorful eye-candy, crochet patterns, inspiration and learning:
UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?
Susan: I’m planning on celebrating in a small way but probably should start planning some fun business events! I have a small crochet group—The Happy Hookers—in my area, and I’m hoping to have a simple celebration full of crochet, chatting, giggling and yummy treats.
That sounds like a very fun way to celebrate NatCroMo, Susan! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your enthusiasm for crochet with us.