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Interview with Katy from KT and the Squid

Interview with crochet designer Katy from KT and the Squid

I’m sharing another post as part of my series interviewing crochet designers for (Inter)National Crochet Month! Today, I’m interviewing Katy, the crochet designer behind KT and the Squid. Katy has over 6,900 sales in her Etsy shop, where she started out selling custom crochet hats and where she now sells digital patterns.

This post contains affiliate links.

Katy can be found online on the KT and the Squid website, and on Etsy, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, RavelryTwitter, and YouTube. All images are copyright KT and the Squid and are used with permission.

Interview with crochet designer Katy from KT and the Squid on Underground Crafter

Katy from KT and the Squid.

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

Katy: I taught myself to crochet with one of those generic instructional books in high school. My grandmother crocheted (even after she lost her sight), but she passed before she could teach me, so I like to think it’s in my genes.

Woodland Hooded Vest, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

Woodland Hooded Vest, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

UC: What inspired you to start designing? 

Katy: Designing was always just a fun thing for me and I didn’t realize I was doing it until years later. When I taught myself to crochet, I never really followed many patterns or if I did, I always tweaked. Not because there was anything wrong with them but I always found myself asking, “Well, what if I do this instead…” I ended up with a LOT of hats that would never fit a human head but it was the process of creating something that really intrigued me. Years later, I discovered I could share my designs with people and actually make a living doing it what fueled my fire even more.

Spiky Man Blanket, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

Spiky Man Blanket, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

UC: Although you have a lot of variety in your patterns, you have recently been focusing on garments more regularly. What do you enjoy about designing garments?

Katy: Back in 2009 when I really started to get into crochet I experimented with garments. I then started an Etsy shop where I became known for my finished hats. I enjoyed making the hats but they became a distraction from what I really wanted to do which was clothing. Last year, I decided to stop selling finished hats and took on designing full time and I’m loving it.

It’s hard to pinpoint (or put into words) what it is I enjoy about designing garments. It’s funny because not too long ago they intimidated me. In my mind it was like a huge puzzle. All the increases and decreases, going around shoulders and arms and making neck openings… it was scary! But today I really enjoy putting that puzzle together. I loved puzzles as a kid, lol.

Katy modeling her My Favorite Crochet Pullover pattern.

Katy modeling her My Favorite Crochet Pullover pattern.

UC: On your site, you share the links to makers who sell your finished items. Can you tell us how you started these partnerships?

Katy: The KT and the Squid Makers are a group of ladies that test my patterns for me. I get a lot of people asking me to make items from my patterns for them. It not something I have the time (or desire) to do so rather than just sending them on their way, I like to have a list of ladies I can send them to that are familiar with my patterns.

Lily Tunic, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

Lily Tunic, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

UC: All of your patterns are self-published. What do you enjoy about self-publishing? What do you see as the challenges?

Katy: It’s funny you ask this now because it’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently. I have only self-published up until now so I have nothing to compare it to, but there are benefits that I see. Just to name a few, I can get my designs out to my customers fairly quickly and I retain the rights to my patterns… I’m sure a challenge would be getting my work out there for everyone to see but with sites like Ravelry, Etsy and Craftsy it’s made it easier. Very recently I have started communicating with some publishers so we’ll see where that takes me.

Kayla Sweater, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

Kayla Sweater, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Katy: I get a massive amount of inspiration from fashion trends I see in stores. I could spend HOURS shopping, looking at clothes (or anything) and not buy a thing. With three little kiddos I can’t always get out to go shopping, so I might browses like Pinterest online.

Chunky Crunchy Newsboy Hat, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

Chunky Crunchy Newsboy Hat, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

UC: How would you describe your style?

Katy: I’d say my style is simple and practical. When I’m designing I want all the elements to come together neatly for pattern writing purposes but I also want my designs to be practical so you can actually wear them when you’re done. I also love little details. Things like little buttons, simple trims…things that put a design just over the edge but not too over the top.

Braided Section Infinity Scarf, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

Braided Section Infinity Scarf, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection?

Katy: I love Crochet Stitches VISUAL Encyclopedia by Robyn Chachula(UC comment: You can check out my review of the book here.)

UC: Do you have any crochet/crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Katy: I really don’t visit too many sites regularly. I do spend a lot of time in Facebook groups. If I’m looking for inspiration online I’m more likely to visit a fashion site than a crochet/ crafty site…Like I said before I like to browse Pinterest. I usually do a general fashion search just to see what trends are out there.

Bancroft Top, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

Bancroft Top, crochet pattern by KT and the Squid.

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Katy: I decided this year I will finally make (or at least start) an afghan for myself. I’ve made one for everyone in my family so I need one now.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Katy! An afghan for yourself sounds like a very worthy project for NatCroMo!

Interview with Susan Carlson from Felted Button

Interview with Susan Carlson from Felted Button on Underground Crafter

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.

Interview with crochet designer Susan Carlson from Felted Button on Underground Crafter

Susan Carlson.

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!

Rainbow Sprinkles Blanket, a crochet pattern by Felted Button.

Rainbow Sprinkles Blanket, a crochet pattern by Felted Button.

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.

Pointillism Posie, a crochet pattern by Felted Button.

Pointillism Posie, a crochet pattern by Felted Button.

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.

Painted Pixels Blanket, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

Painted Pixels Blanket, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

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.

Monet's Garden Throw, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

Monet’s Garden Throw, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

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.

Mariposa Throw, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

Mariposa Throw, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

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.

Craftsy

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!

Infinity Blossom Cowl, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

Infinity Blossom Cowl, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

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.”
Let"s Twirl Baby Blanket and Rug, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

Let”s Twirl Baby Blanket and Rug, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

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:

Interview with crochet designer Susan Carlson from Felted Button on Underground Crafter

Circle Takes the Square Blanket, crochet pattern by Felted Button.

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.

Guest Post: Anna Lisa Brown from Make Mights Wave

Anna Lisa Brown from Make Mights Wave, Guest Post on Underground Crafter

Today, I’m sharing a great guest post from Anna Lisa Brown at Make Mights Wave. When I was getting ready for this year’s (Inter)National Crochet Month celebrations, I knew I wanted to include a few posts about crochet styling, so I reached out to two fashion and design bloggers. Anna’s post is the second one I’m sharing.

This post contains affiliate links.

Anna is a self-described ” textile designer, pattern nerd, and a calico enthusiast.” She blogs at Make Mights Wave and can be found online at Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. All images are copyright Anna Lisa Brown and are used with permission. All crocheted designs are handmade by Melissa from Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

Guest Post: Wearing Your Handmade Items

Hello! I’m Anna Brown and today I’m here to talk about wearing handmade items. Let me be up front with you and admit that I am not a crocheter. I’m am a designer and feel much more comfortable in front of a sewing machine than with a hook or knitting needles in my hand. For this post my friend Melissa from Sew What Scarves helped me by crocheting these beautiful infinity scarves.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

I know from making my own clothing that wearing a handmade item out can be unsettling at times. I am aware of every mess-up, every loose thread, every unaligned stitch on the piece and I convince myself that everyone around me can see them too. Even though I know I spent hours on this project my mind tells me my co-workers think I’m wearing a pillowcase with arm holes cut out. In reality, that is not the case. Think about it. How often to you scrutinize what the people around you are wearing? Unless you have a conversation lasting longer than five minutes do you even remember what most people wear everyday? Now I’m not trying to say your handmade garments and accessories won’t get noticed. They will, but all the imperfections you see will not.

Now, let me be up front again and say I am in no way a fashion expert, but here are three tips that help me feel more sure of myself when wearing handmade apparel out and about.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

1. Be confident.

I know, easier said than done.

When I’m wearing a handmade item out for the first time I try to channel, what I like to call, my “inner mom.” Moms are the greatest. In my experience, moms are always proud of what their children accomplish, no matter what. Whether it’s loosing your first tooth, creating lumpy clay coffee mug in grade school, or decorating a ragged hoodie with puffy paint to express your teenage angst, moms are always there to hug, smile, say “good job” and brag when applicable.

You have every right to be proud of what you made. You’ve put time, effort and probably money into creating something out of nothing. Celebrate that! You don’t have to throw a party or yell it in the streets but you’ve got to do something … like … show it off, wear it out! You made this thing. The fact that you’re contemplating whether you should wear it out in public or not means you’re at least a little bit proud of it, right? So go for it! I would bet the majority of people you encounter face to face on a daily basis can’t say, “I made this.” You can! Why not be proud of that? Your time, skill and determination are worth celebrating no matter how grand or minuscule.

Celebrate National Craft Month

2. Don’t point out imperfections.

No one is perfect, and that’s ok. As I mentioned above, people are rarely as aware of everything on your person as you are. Not because they are unobservant, but because they are more worried about themselves. There’s no need to point out that tiny, unavoidable mistake. Most people won’t notice it unless you point it out. Instead, revel in the learning process and discuss your mishaps or new discoveries with other creators in your field.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

3. Be comfortable.

This is so important! Make sure whatever creation you’re showing off fits you properly and makes you comfortable. There are definitely positives to stepping outside your comfort zone and trying new things but there is a time and a place for everything. If you usually wear jeans and t-shirts, don’t force yourself to wear that awesome tight dress out on your daily errands. Schedule a date night with your significant other or best friend instead. If you know you’re going to a building that is usually warmer than you like, don’t suffocate yourself with that fabulous new scarf the whole time. (I am so guilty of this!) If you’re trying a new style make sure to pair the new accessory or garment with items you know you’re comfortable in. When you’re looking to crochet a new sweater choose a style and color that you know will look good with your favorite dress or pair of jeans. If you’re comfortable in the rest of your ensemble it makes it easier to create a familiar bond with your new attire. You can’t be confident if you’re not comfortable!

So there are my tips for wearing handmade accessories and garments in public. Thank you to Marie for letting me share my thoughts with you!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips with us, Anna!