Tag Archives: craftsy

Interview with Andrea Sanchez (Hispanic Heritage Month series)

HMM Andrea Sanchez

As part of my Hispanic Heritage Month series, I’m excited to share an interview today with Andrea Sanchez, the (mostly) knitting designer behind Andrea Sanchez Knits. In addition to her self-published patterns, Andrea’s work has been published by Holla Knits, Interweave Knits, Petite Purls, and Interweave Crochet.

Andrea is also a blogger whose work can be found on her own blog, Life on Laffer, as well as on the Craftsy blog. You can also find Andrea online on Ravelry (as peatmoss83 or on her designer page), on Facebook, on Instagram, and as @andrea_knits on Twitter. All images are used with Andrea’s permission. Click the pattern images to be brought to the Ravelry pattern page.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Andrea Sanchez, in her Adult Tide Pools knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

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

Andrea: My mom taught me to crochet first. I was about 19 and in college. We were having a lazy winter Saturday and I asked her to teach me to crochet because I had decided I wanted to make my own blanket. She made me promise that If she bought the yarn I’d actually start and finish the blanket. I’ve always had a kind of will o’ the wisp attitude towards learning new crafty things. But I learned and finished that afghan. It turned out to be about a queen size and I still use it every year. The following winter she tried to teach me to knit (with worsted weight yarn on long, metal needles, size US10.5!) and that lasted all of about half an hour. I was really frustrated and gave up.

I moved to Ohio in 2007 and in 2009 I was working for a woman who crocheted. She introduced me to Interweave Crochet magazine. I was looking though it one day and found an ad for Ravelry. I joined up and was amazed at all the crochet and knit projects. I joined a swap and my swap partner sent me a pattern for a bulky knit scarf and 2 skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande. I was so excited to have my own knit scarf I ran out that same night and bought the correct sized needles (bamboo this time) and spent the rest of the night watching YouTube videos and trying to work the first two inches of that scarf but finally figured it out. A week later I had my first scarf and I never looked back!

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Beech Street Vest knitting pattern. Image (c) Holla Knits.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Andrea: Before my son was born I started looking for some sweater patterns to make. I found that there just isn’t a big selection of sweater patterns that are more modern for little boys. I had an idea of what i wanted to knit for him and just couldn’t find the pattern. I realized that I had knit a lot of sweaters and I knew how the construction of one worked so I did a swatch and decided to give it a try. I submitted the idea to Petite Purls, it was accepted and that was the Navajo Pullover. After that, every time I had an idea of a sweater for him I just gave the idea a try on my own and that’s how I got started.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Adult Navajo Pullover knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

UC: You primarily design knit projects, with an emphasis on clothing for children and women. What do you enjoy about this type of project?

Andrea: I am very much a product knitter, meaning I’m in it for the finished products. Plenty of times I have started a sweater already knowing where I plan on wearing it or what I want to wear it with. With designing, I have found myself making things that I want to wear right away. I also really enjoy making sweaters for my son. Knowing my knitting is keeping him warm that makes me feel happy. After the successful design of the first Christmas sweater (Little Fisher Pullover) I told my husband that I would make our son a sweater for Christmas forever. So far he’s only had two Christmas’s to knit for, but I love that this is going to become our tradition. I’m already in the planning and swatching phase of the Christmas Sweater 2014.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Pugsley knitting pattern. Image (c) Andrea Sanchez.

I also tend to design mostly sweaters, because I’m a sweater knitter at heart. I love socks and accessories, but there’s something about seeing all the pieces of a sweater come together and be wearable that just gives me a lot of satisfaction.

UC: In addition to writing your own blog, Life on Laffer, you’re also a blogger for Craftsy. What tips do you have for new and emerging bloggers?

Andrea: Just write about what you enjoy. I started blogging a few months after I started knitting. I was so excited to be learning and making new projects that I wanted to share it with everyone! I try to share my real knitting life because I think that makes me (as a blogger) more relatable, instead of just sharing all my perfect finished pieces. Obviously, I share finished objects, but also the time my dog chewed the toe off my first pair of handknit socks, and when I had to rip and reknit the body of a sweater twice because I chose the wrong size. I didn’t want people to read my blog and think my life was so perfect and I crank out all these knitted things. In reality my kitchen and laundry is often neglected so I can knit instead, and occasionally there are dogs getting tangled in yarn and projects.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Sardines knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

UC: Tell us about your cultural background. What was the yarn crafts scene like in your community when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene in Ohio?

Andrea: I am Mexican on my mother’s side. Her father immigrated to California, where I grew up, when he was 16. My father’s family is from Spain and they came to California many generations ago, back during Spanish mission days before California received statehood.

My grandmothers on all sides crocheted while I was growing up (lots of doilies!) but it was never the thing. My mother learned to crochet at school and I don’t remember any of my cousins doing it. I also wasn’t very into to crocheting when I loved there. Other than my starter blanket, I made one other blanket and that was it. In Ohio, I found that “making” made me feel more Midwestern! I joined a Stitch ‘n Bitch group right away and have found a really vibrant group of crafters. I have a good friend who is a true maker, from food to household items, to much more. I love being a part of this group of so many talented women. Our town also hosts many craft fairs and has some great locally handmade shops.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Midwinter Cardigan knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

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

Andrea: As an adult I’ve felt that I kind of missed out on having a strong Hispanic culture. My family is very assimilated to mainstream American culture so I feel like I have to make my own culture resurgence. Learning to cook was one of the things that has helped me feel a connection to my heritage. I grew up eating excellent Mexican food but never really learned to cook on my own. I taught myself to make tamales and now that’s something that I do every winter. I want my son to have a good connection to his cultural heritage and I feel like that’s going to come from my own connection to it.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Mustill knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

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

Andrea: My favorite would have to be Knitting Without Tears. It was one of the first books I received as a new knitter and the one that I have referred to most frequently. That Elizabeth Zimmermann sure knew her stuff!

Heirloom Baby Knits

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

Andrea: I have quite a few blogs in my blog roll that I visit as often as I can but I have been really into knitting podcasts lately. My new favorite is Curious Handmade. She is also a designer and has small children so I often feel like I can relate. I’m also a regular listener of The Knitmore Girls, The Doubleknit Podcast, and Knitting Pipeline. (UC comment: I love podcasts, too, and they let me crochet and knit while listening. And, I’ve recently launched my own podcast, the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show.)

UC: Do you have any upcoming projects to share?

I have a few new patterns that will be released with various companies this fall, as well as some set for late spring publication. It’s amazing how far in advance one can work when designing knitwear! I am also working on a knitwear book which makes me immensely proud, excited, and terrified all at the same time. It’s quite an undertaking and still has quite a way to go before being published.

Thank you for stopping by, Andrea, and best wishes for success with your book project!

Review: Custom-Fit Tunisian Crochet on Craftsy

Dora Ohrenstein's Custom-Fit Tunisian Crochet Craftsy class reviewed by Underground Crafter

This post contains affiliate links. Although I’m a Craftsy affiliate, and I earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you) when you click through the links I share to Craftsy and make a purchase, I paid to take this course and, as always, the review is based entirely on my honest opinions.

This must be Tunisian crochet week on my blog! (Check out my mini interview with Sharon Silverman about her new book, Tunisian Crochet for Baby, here.)

I recently completed Dora Ohrenstein’s Custom-Fit Tunisian Crochet class on Craftsy. In the past, I’ve interviewed Dora on my blog here and shared reviews of two of her books, Custom Crocheted Sweaters (review here) and The New Tunisian Crochet (review here). She let me know back in May when the class was first available, but I didn’t have time to sit down and watch it until recently.

The class includes 7 lessons:

Lesson 1: Tunisian Basics (29:32 minutes) provides a refresher of two basic Tunisian crochet stitches (Tunisian knit and Tunisian simple stitches), increasing, decreasing, counting rows, starting a base row, the standard return pass, and the slip stitch bind off. I enjoyed learning more about Dora’s method for decreasing, and actually incorporated the technique into one of my own designs.

The video in this section alternates between close ups and more conversational views of Dora talking.

Dora Ohrenstein's Custom-Fit Tunisian Crochet Craftsy class reviewed by Underground Crafter

Dora providing a refresher of basic Tunisian crochet stitches.

Lesson 2: Tunisian Tools (13:43 minutes) includes an overview of different yarns and hooks for Tunisian crochet. Dora emphasizes choosing tools for the best drape. She also talks about gauge and provides some tips for getting the right gauge in this section.

Lesson 3: Measuring for a Perfect Fit (23:12 minutes) applies to any type of handmade garment measuring.

Dora Ohrenstein's Custom-Fit Tunisian Crochet Craftsy class reviewed by Underground Crafter

Dora demonstrating proper measurement techniques.

Dora shows the correct way to take measurements from a body, her dress form Claudette, and existing garments. This section is very helpful, especially for those of us that haven’t had a lot of experience with doing measurements and want to create the great fit. You can see Dora wearing the vest project for this class in the picture above. You can buy a kit for the vest here, and the pattern is only available through the class.

Lesson 4: Adjusting the Pattern (23:04 minutes) is a detailed walk through of the pattern. The video in this section usually focuses on the pattern itself, with relevant areas highlighted or enlarged while Dora talks about that component. While this is obviously specifically about the vest pattern, Dora shares a lot of information about fitting, pattern alternations, and understanding schematics that could apply to any pattern you may work with in the future.

Dora Ohrenstein's Custom-Fit Tunisian Crochet Craftsy class reviewed by Underground Crafter

In Lesson 5: Custom-Fit Calculations: Bust & Shoulder (35:53 minutes) and Lesson 6: Custom Fit Considerations: Waist & Hip (18:40 minutes), Dora goes into further detail about how to customize the pattern to fit your body (or the body of someone you are gifting or selling the finished project to). In these section, she talks about ease, measurements, how to adjust increases, decreases, and stitch counts, and (don’t be afraid, Americans) provides a review of the math necessary. She shows her math equations on screen (as well as the times she counts on her fingers) so that even those who are uncomfortable with math should be able to use these lessons to alter the pattern.

Dora Ohrenstein's Custom-Fit Tunisian Crochet Craftsy class reviewed by Underground Crafter

In Lesson 7: Finishing Details (35:02), Dora goes over everything required to make your finished vest look “professional” – blocking, seaming, edging, cleaning, and so on.

At $29.99 with just under 3 hours of video, this class is a great value. In addition to the video lessons, the vest pattern, and some additional handouts, you have the opportunity to interact with fellow students and ask Dora questions. Unlike a face-to-face class, you can return to the videos again and again over time.

Although the class is focused on the vest pattern, Dora shares a lot of general information about gauge, fitting, measurements, altering patterns, and finishing that can apply to any project. She has a very calm voice and shares her sense of humor with the class on several occasions.

The only changes I’d like to see in the class are consistent with what I would like to see changed in Craftsy classes in general. I wish they would edit the videos into shorter segments, or break them up with music or visuals more often. Yes, of course, I can pause at any time, but as someone with an increasingly short video attention span (thanks a lot, YouTube!), I found the segments pretty long for watching straight through. I also wish there was more variety in the actual filming. The class basically alternates between watching Dora behind a desk, over the shoulder close ups (of her hands, the pattern being annotated, etc.) and Dora standing to take measurements. I wish there was more variety in backgrounds and use of illustrations or animation. These aren’t deal breakers – as I said, it is consistent with the way Craftsy classes are filmed. They tend to look like public television craft shows filmed on a static set, rather than funky videos you might find elsewhere online.

Overall, I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to go beyond the basics in Tunisian crochet; crocheters who struggle with (or fear) custom fitting, measurements, and the math behind alterations; and fans of Dora’s work who haven’t had a chance to take a class with her. You can sign up for Custom-Fit Tunisian Crochet (with Dora Ohrenstein) here!

Vogue Knitting Live 2014: Day 2

VKL NYNY

This post contains affiliate links.

My second day at Vogue Knitting Live started off with no hot water at home (and who doesn’t love showering in cold water when it’s sleeting outside?).  In the rush to get out the door, I forgot to take the ceremonial pre-show picture of me in my handmade goodies.  (I was wearing my 2013 Temperature Scarf, which is perfect for cold weather.)

My first stop was an interview with the delightful Kate Atherley from Wise Hilda.  I should be posting it in a few weeks.  I asked her to pose with her two books, Beyond Knit & Purl and Knit Accessories.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Kate Atherley

Then I walked through the fashion and art exhibits.  I’m planning a separate post about these, so I’m sharing just one picture today.  This is a crocheted piece by fashion designer, Gabriela Serigatto.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Gabriela Sarigatto2

My next stop was the Marketplace.  I learned a lot from Rosemary Drysdale‘s Entrelac: The Essential Guide to Interlace Knitting, and she was signing books at the Vogue Knitting booth.

VKL NYC 2014 Rosemary Drysdale Autograph

From there, I snuck over to the Leilani Arts table.  You see, they sell this Soft Donegal yarn, which has become the favorite amongst the men in family: soft but charcoal (with a little tweed to keep my interest).

VKL NYC 2014 Studio Donegal

I promised my dad I’d make him a version of this cabled hat, so I needed another skein.  Melissa Leapman rung up my sale.

Then, I went to the Knitty City booth (it’s always a treat to see your favorite local yarn shop at an event) to get my copy of Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits signed by Shirley Paden.

VKL NYC 2014 Shirley Paden autograph

Shirley was really quite friendly and we had a nice chat about her class on Craftsy, which is a companion to the book, as well as the We Love Shirley Paden group on Ravelry.  (Shirley assures me she didn’t name the group!)  The group sounds like a lot of fun and they have even hosted three Design-a-Longs.

I had a few minutes after the book signing to watch the beginning of the Fiber Factor Fashion show.  I learned there will be KALs throughout 2014 and the next “season” will begin in 2015, but I missed the announcement of the winner.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Fiber Factor Rachel Henry Gates of Dawn

This stunning felted dress, Gates of Dawn by Rachel Henry, was one of my favorite Fiber Factor projects on display.

Believe it or not, I had time for two more quick stops before reaching my final VK Live destination.  I took a picture of Virginia from Yellowfarm (interviewed here), who I met at last year’s event.

blog VKL NYC 2014 YellowFarm Virginia

And, then I visited the Full Moon Farm booth, to snap a picture of Laura.  My interview with her will be coming up soon.  We met last year, too.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Full Moon Farm Laura

And then I headed off to the Michelle’s Assortment booth.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelle's Assortment Michelle

I helped out in Michelle’s booth for a few hours in the afternoon, so she could stretch her legs and walk around the Marketplace for a bit.  It was a great opportunity to learn more about her creative process.  She’s sponsoring two months of prizes for my 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-a-Long, so it was great to meet her in real life and see all of her awesome shawl pins, bookmarks, and stitch markers.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelle's Assortment circles

I particularly like Michelle’s round shawl pins.  It was also great to see her collaboration with other indie business owners.  Michelle had several samples from Ash Kearns on display to show off her shawl pins including Havelock (left) and Everton Lace Wrap (right), along with the print versions of the patterns.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelle's Assortment Ash Kearns samples

Of course, I couldn’t spend all that time in Michelle’s booth without falling in love with some shawl pins.  I was initially drawn in by the circles, I ended up choosing two straight pins for myself.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelle's Assortment goodies

These will definitely need to be re-shot in natural lighting because you can’t see the beauty in this picture.  I’m off to get some rest before Day 3!

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.

This post contains affiliate links.

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.

 

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!

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Coats & Clark’s Book No. 208 Edgings

VintageNPotW 400

This post contains affiliate links

This week’s pick: Coats & Clark’s Book No. 208 Edgings

Source: Purchased from CountrynMore2 on Etsy.

Publication date: 1971

Status: Out of print but available online.

Condition: Edges are worn.

Crafts: Crochet, knitting, and tatting.

C&C Edgings front cover

I’ve mentioned this booklet before on my blog.  I bought it when I was planning to learn hairpin lace while I was crocheting my way through Crochet Master Class.

C&C Edgings back cover

It’s a very straightforward little leaflet aimed at the multi-crafter who likes lace.  And edgings.

It has crochet edgings…

C&C Edgings crochet

and more crochet edgings…

C&C Edgings crochet2

and specialized crochet edgings…

C&C Edgings filet

Filet crochet edgings and insertions.

Hairpin lace edgings.

Hairpin lace edgings.

and knit edgings…

C&C Edgings knit

and tatted edgings.

C&C Edgings tatting

Craftsy

Although these are all done with threads of various kinds, you could obviously create the same designs with larger hooks, needles, and… tats?  Ok, time for a confession.  I know nothing about tatting.  I did a web search about it for this post to discover that you can tat with a shuttle or a needle.  If you’re interested in learning more about it, Marilee Rockley offers a class on shuttle tatting on Craftsy.

If any tatters are reading, tell me how you learned :).