Tag Archives: crochet

Interview with Letty Giron (Hispanic Heritage Month series)

HHM Letty Giron

I’m continuing my Hispanic Heritage Month series today with an interview with fellow New Yorker and Etsy seller, Letty Giron. Letty is a Guatemalan-American crocheter and maker sells her creations as Simply Baby by Letty. Letty can also be found on Instagram as SimplyBabyByLetty.

 

All images are copyright Letty Giron and are used with permission. Click on the image to be brought to the listing in Letty’s Etsy shop.

This post contains affiliate links.

Letty Giron.

Letty Giron.

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

Letty: As a young girl, I always saw my mother with a crochet hook in hand doing little dresses and sweaters for babies in pastel colors and I remember thinking that they looked like cotton candy, because she used to hang them in a line.  They were beautiful and she made them all herself after going to craft classes.

Then, as a teenager, my older sister taught me the basic stitches. As my mother had so many magazines, all of them about doilies and tablecloths, I started to read them and learned more about stitches, and I started to follow the instructions. So in the beginning I only learned how to make doilies. Not major items. But that’s how I began and slowly it grew from there.

A dress combining a sewn cotton skirt with a crocheted, mercerized cotton top. (Size 6-12 months.)

A dress combining a sewn cotton skirt with a crocheted, mercerized cotton top. (Size 6-12 months.)

UC: What inspired you to open an Etsy shop?

Letty: I’ve always made baby clothes for friends and family who are expecting and sometimes they would ask me to make something for their friends.  Also, I’ve been working with children for four years and it helped me learn the different sizes of babies as they grow.  Someone suggested that I open an Etsy shop and just see if these little things I make might be of interest to other people.  Although I’ve only just started, I’ve already had some success and I imagine more is to come.

A unisex, crocheted sweater and hat set, featuring moon and star buttons. (Size 3-9 months)

A unisex, crocheted sweater and hat set, featuring moon and star buttons. (Size 3-9 months.)

UC: Your shop focuses on crochet for baby. What do you enjoy about baby projects?

Letty: I really do enjoy all kind of projects for babies, but I’m more focused on sweaters, hats, and dresses that I combine with fabric, because I love prints – specifically floral, animals, and galaxy print – but really all kinds in general.

UC: What was the yarn craft scene like in your community when you where growing up?

Letty: I grew up in a small town outside of the city in Guatemala, and as a child I can remember my maternal grandma baking all kind of bread and cakes and different kind of food. She really enjoyed her kitchen.

Since she used a lot of eggs for her baking, I remember when she broke the eggs she did it very carefully, breaking them only on one side because she used to decorate the shells with so many different colors and fill them up with confetti. Then all the kids in our neighborhood used them for a celebration that we call Carnaval and also for Easter time which in Spanish we call Semana Santa. It was a great activity for the children to be involved in the creative process of decorating them.

We didn’t have so much yarn around in my family before my mother began her crochet classes, though my maternal grandma often sewed shirts for all the boys in the family.

A crocheted brown and pink set including a hat, booties, and a cardigan. (Size 3-9 months.)

A crocheted brown and pink set including a hat, booties, and a cardigan. (Size 3-9 months.)

UC: How does that compare with the current scene in your neighborhood in New York?

Letty: When I came to New York at age 21, I knew very little English. I was interested in continuing my crochet skills but could not find any magazines in Spanish so I started to buy in English and with a dictionary in hand I could read and translate all the abbreviation into Spanish and that is how I managed to continue doing it. Similarly, in the beginning I did not know where to find yarn. Now it is possible and easy to find stores with many magazines, yarn brands, fibers, and some of them even offer courses for sewing, crochet, and knitting.

Additionally, the internet makes the whole community much wider and easier to find.  Today the scope and reach of crafters is truly global – I have followers on Instagram from all over and we share our projects and tips. 

A crocheted hat and sweater set. (Size 3-9 months.)

A crocheted hat and sweater set. (Size 3-9 months.)

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

Letty: Yes, as when I was young I had an aunt who had a sewing machine, a very old machine.  I used to sit on her chair and pretend to sew. But mostly I think I was influence by my maternal grandma, she really had very good hands – baking all kinds of goods, sewing by hand, and also embroidering. And of course, by my mom and my sister.  As crafting and working with one’s hands was such a large part of my heritage, I have continued that relationship with physical objects.  We didn’t buy new things and continuously throw them away – we made our treasured items, put our time and effort into them, so they were special and unique.  It meant that we took care of them as they have a history.  Family is so important to me and my community so we also pass on objects that were important to one family member – we cherish these things as reminders of them – so we like to make things that will last.


As time passed by I have learn to crochet so many things, like scarf, hats, for adult and young ones.  Then I started to crochet blankets, sweater, hats, booties, to give as a gift. By now I can crochet all kind of items and I don’t have to follow a magazine but design it myself.
Knitting I know very little, but what I most love and enjoy is doing crochet and work with fabric. All handmade, special items.

Crochet receiving blanket.

Crochet receiving blanket.

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

Letty:

Crocheted striped sweater set. (Size: 3 to 9 months.)

Crocheted striped sweater set. (Size: 3 to 9 months.)

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

Letty: I mostly like to check Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration, and I also like to watch the cooking channels, particularly the baking shows – the colors and the softness of the confectionary items seem so much like a pile of soft yarn.

Dover Books

UC: What are you working on now?

Letty: I’m currently working on adding new items to my Etsy shop and experimenting with different shapes – I’ve done a lot of narrow sleeves for the baby sweaters but I’d like to try some variations.  I’m also adding new receiving blankets as these are great baby shower gifts.  All of my items are customizable, so someone could add a special fabric, color or print to the back of any of the blankets.

Thank you for sharing your time, Letty! Good luck with your Etsy shop!

Free Pattern: ’80s Remix Chain

'80s Remix Chain, free crochet pattern by Marie Segares/Underground Crafter

I’ve seen my fair share of fat gold chains. After all, I grew up in New York City during the birth of the hip hop scene. In 2013, I was asked to make some samples for the Kollabora booth at Vogue Knitting Live, and this is one of them.

My friend, Carlota Zimmerman, also remembers those days. We shared a few laughs and memories during this summer time photo shoot. However, this eye catching necklace could be worn in any season.

I’m sharing this as a blog freebie. If you enjoy this pattern, show it some love on Ravelry here.

This post contains affiliate links.

'80s Remix Chain, free crochet pattern by Marie Segares/Underground Crafter

’80s Remix Chain Crochet Pattern

By Underground Crafter

02-easy 50 US terms 50 3-light 50This necklace has enough bling to remind me of growing up during the early days of the hip hop scene.

Finished Size

  • Adjustable. Sample is 24” (61 cm) circumference.

Materials

  • Galler Yarns Kismet (87% polyester/13% nylon, 8 oz/227 g/1,400 yds/1,280 m) – 1 cone each in 902 Light Gold (CA) and 907 Fuchsia (CB), or approximately 170-210 yds (155.5-192 m) in each of 2 colors in any metallic, light weight yarn.
  • E-4/3.5 mm crochet hook, or any size needed to obtain correct gauge
  • Yarn needle.
  • Stitch marker (optional).

Gauge

    • Link Tube 1 in pattern = 4” (10 cm) long before joining. Exact gauge is not critical for this project.

Hooded Scarves to Crochet

Abbreviations Used in This Pattern

  • CA – color A
  • CB – color B
  • ch – chain
  • ea – each
  • rep – repeat
  • Rnd(s) – Round(s)
  • sc – single crochet
  • sl st – slip stitch
  • st(s) – stitch(es)
  • * Rep instructions following asterisk as indicated.

Pattern Notes

  • Tubes are crocheted in the round. Do not join rnds unless indicated.

Pattern Instructions

Link Tube 1 (Make 9 in CA and 8 in CB)

    • Ch 9.
    • Set Up Row: Turn, sk first ch, sc in next ch and in ea ch across. Optional: Place marker in last st to indicate end of rnd, move marker up each rnd. (8 sts)
    • Rnd 1: Being careful not to twist, join with sc in next st and begin crocheting in spirals, sc in ea st around.
    • Rnd 2: Sc in ea st around.
    • Rep Rnd 2 until tube measures approximately 4” (10 cm) long, fasten off with long yarn tail of approximately 8” (20 cm) long. 

Dover Books

Link Tube 2 (Make 1 in CB)

  • Ch 9.
  • Set Up Row: Turn, sk first ch, sc in next ch and in ea ch across. Optional: Place marker in last st to indicate end of rnd, move marker up each rnd. (8 sts)
  • Rnd 1: Being careful not to twist, join with sc in next st and begin crocheting in spirals, sc in ea st around.
  • Rnd 2: Sc in ea st around.
  • Rep Rnd 2 until tube measures approximately 12” (30.5 cm) long, fasten off with long yarn tail of approximately 8” (20 cm) long.

'80s Remix Chain, free crochet pattern by Marie Segares/Underground Crafter

Assembly

  • Starting with Link Tube 1 in CA, fold link in half with short ends together. Line up sts across sides (4 sts on ea side). Close edge of tube by working sl st through 4 layers of corresponding sts on each side across (4 sl sts). With yarn needle, weave in ends.
  • Attach remaining Link Tube 1 pieces by alternating colors and folding through previously joined link, using the pictures of the finished necklace as a guide.
  • Join Link Tube 2 by folding through links on ea end of necklace to close.

If you like this pattern, show it some love on Ravelry here.

© 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/2014/09/26/free-pattern-80s-remix-chain/. Thanks for supporting indie designers!

Interview with Victor Noël Lopez (Hispanic Heritage Month series)

Interview with VIctor Noel Lopez, crochet designer/charity crafter on Underground Crafter blog

Today’s Hispanic Heritage Month series interview is with Victor Noël López, an emerging crochet designer and prolific charity crafter. Victor is known as hookdude on Ravelry and blogs at Project La Paz (Project Peace). You can find his (mostly free) crochet patterns on his Ravelry designer page. All photos are copyright Victor Noël Lopez unless otherwise noted and are used with permission. You can click on the pattern images to link to the Ravelry pattern pages.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with VIctor Noel Lopez, crochet designer/charity crafter on Underground Crafter blog

Victor Noël Lopez

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

Victor Noël: I’m a self-taught crocheter/knitter. Four years ago (after my retirement), I picked up the DVD I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting and just followed along. About a year ago, I decided to try knitting and I taught myself by watching some YouTube tutorials. The rest, like the saying goes, is history.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Victor Noël: Probably my obsession for detailed work. The actual sitting down and designing a pattern just happened. I always liked to read and decipher crochet symbols in patterns. To me, it was like putting a puzzle together. One day, I started drawing a crochet symbol pattern for a woman’s hat. It just took off from there. My interest in color is another motivating factor. I would like to see more color choices in fabric items for men.   I’m working on coming up with more designs for the male customer and for the woman who is shopping for a man.

Interview with VIctor Noel Lopez, crochet designer/charity crafter on Underground Crafter blog

Color His World Scarf, a free crochet pattern.

UC: You do a lot of crafting for charity. Can you share your motivation for starting Project La Paz? How do you set your charity goals and identify locations to donate?

Victor Noël: I live in the greater metropolitan area of San Antonio, Texas. A couple of years ago, I crocheted scarves for Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages (that include scarves and hats) to our troops stationed overseas. After my involvement with O.G., I began looking for local organizations in my immediate area that could benefit from donations of scarves and hats. I chose a local children’s shelter to which I donated many crocheted hats for the children. It was a very moving experience for me and that provided the impetus for Project La Paz.

Obviously, I can’t work with all the charities where I live due to it being a large metropolitan area, so I carefully research the charities before I make my decision to make my charitable donations. Because I am a one-man operation, I have to limit my choices. At present, I am working with two local organizations. In addition to working with the charities, I also volunteer at a local hospital.

Interview with VIctor Noel Lopez, crochet designer/charity crafter on Underground Crafter blog

Crochet Ribbed Winter Scarf, a free crochet pattern.

UC: You mention on your Ravelry profile that when you joined, you thought you were the only guy who could knit and crochet. What has it been like meeting other men in the knitting and crocheting community?

Victor Noël: I was welcomed to Ravelry with open arms by both women and men alike. Had I known what Ravelry was and what it offered, I would have joined this community four years ago. I have met many talented male and female fabric artists here as well. It’s just incredible to see literally thousands of other men like myself who crochet and knit. I thought I was the oddball, and I never imagined that there were so many other guys. It’s very inspiring to see so much diversified talent. I have embraced this community with an open mind to learning and creating. When you stop to think about it, that’s what it’s all about … you learn so that you can create.

Interview with VIctor Noel Lopez, crochet designer/charity crafter on Underground Crafter blog

The Fair Isle Motif Crochet Hat will be Victor Noël’s next pattern, scheduled for release in October.

UC: You’re a first generation Mexican-American. What was the yarn crafts scene like in your community when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene in Texas?

Victor Noël: I grew up in South Texas along the Mexican-US border in a predominantly Hispanic community of under 100,000, minute when you compare it to the city where I live now. From what I can remember, the yarn crafts activities were left exclusively to women crafters. Fortunately, all of that has changed. Through Ravelry, I have discovered that many crochet/knit groups and guilds can be found in larger metropolitan areas of Texas. I know that there’s a yarn craft group in my hometown that meets on a weekly basis at the public library, and, there’s one male Hispanic who attends the sessions. He just happens to be a high school friend of mine who became interested in crochet after he retired. I’m hopeful that in the future, more men in Texas will show an interest in this craft.

Dover Books

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

Victor Noël: Having been raised in a predominantly Hispanic culture that strongly delineated male and female roles has definitely influenced my crafting activities. For example, I will not crochet or knit in public. I prefer to do my yarn craft work at home. Many of my friends, both male and female, know that I crochet and knit, and though, they were surprised at the revelation, they have applauded all of my efforts in learning the craft. It’s not that I feel embarrassed because of what I create with yarn, but I feel that our society today is still not ready to embrace men making the “cross-over” into yarn crafting. That may not hold true for cities like New York and Chicago, but that’s just my opinion. The yarn artistry field is still dominated by many talented women, but, hopefully, that will change in the future as more men begin to share their art with the public.

Interview with VIctor Noel Lopez, crochet designer/charity crafter on Underground Crafter blog

Crocheted Afghan in V Stitch, a free pattern.

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

Victor Noël: The book that I always keep close for reference is The Big Book of Crochet Stitches by the two leading legends in crafting, Rita Weiss and Jean Leinhauser.  I like that it’s divided into stitch categories and is an easy reference.

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

Victor Noël: The Spanish language Tejiendo Peru is one that I always check out. Even though I speak Spanish, whenever I come across a pattern in Spanish, I always check out this website because it has some helpful crochet and knitting terms both in Spanish/English. The website also has some fantastic tutorials in Spanish via YouTube.

UC: What are your upcoming charity plans?

Victor Noël: My plans at the present are to continue working with the two local charities and provide them with hats and scarves for the colder months. That alone takes up about 70% of my crafting activities. Because I feel that I have been blessed in many ways, I want to give a small part of myself back to the community. It gives me much personal satisfaction knowing that I can bring some warmth to a person by means of a knit hat or crocheted scarf. I have also found that both crocheting and knitting are very therapeutic.

Thank you for sharing your story, Victor Noël. Your charity work is truly inspiring!

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!

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!