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Mini interview with Tammy Hildebrand

Hairpin Lace, the Crochet Speciality of the Month for May, 2015 on Underground Crafter
Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

As part of this month’s focus on hairpin lace, I’m sharing a mini interview today with Tammy Hildebrand from Hot Lava Crochet. Tammy is a crochet designer, author, teacher, and blogger. She’s also the current Vice President of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA)

This post contains affiliate links.

You can find Tammy online at the Hot Lava Crochet blog, and on Craftsy, Facebook, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter.  (By the way, May 18 just happens to be Tammy’s birthday, so don’t forget to wish her Happy Birthday on social media!) After reclaiming her health 22 months ago using a nutritional cleanse program after 7 years of illness,Tammy is also a health and wellness coach. You can find her health and wellness Facebook page here

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tammy before here as part of her blog tour for Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, and you can find more details about her background there. Today, we’re all focused on hairpin lace, one of Tammy’s favorite techniques. All images are used with permission and are copyright Tammy Hildebrand unless otherwise noted.

Tammy Hildebrand, wearing her Celebration 2015 Hat, a free crochet pattern.

Tammy Hildebrand, wearing her Celebration 2015 Hat, a free crochet pattern.

Underground Crafter (UC): You have several designs featuring the hairpin lace technique. How did you first learn about hairpin lace? 

Tammy: A number of years ago I attended a Stitches West show to work in the CGOA booth. Jennifer Hansen (Stitch Diva) was giving a demonstration of hairpin lace on the show floor. She is such an amazing teacher and made it so easy that I picked it right up and loved it immediately. 

3 hairpin lace designs from Tammy's book, Crochet Wraps Every Which Way. Left: Irish Jig. Top right: You Are My Sunshine. Bottom right: Shimmering Pearls Wrap.

3 hairpin lace designs from Tammy’s book, Crochet Wraps Every Which Way. Left: Irish Jig. Top right: You Are My Sunshine. Bottom right: Shimmering Pearls Wrap.

UC: What do you enjoy about designing with hairpin lace? 

Tammy: I love how quickly it works up and it is very methodical and relaxing. Plus the end result is beautiful!

Hairpin Lace Vest, free crochet pattern by Tammy Hildebrand. Image (c) Red Heart Yarn.

Hairpin Lace Vest, free crochet pattern by Tammy Hildebrand. Image (c) Red Heart Yarn.

UC: Do you have a preferred loom or other specialty tools for hairpin lace? 

Tammy: I do! Jennifer sells a handcrafted Walnut frame on her site that is the best loom I’ve ever used. It adjusts to more sizes than the typical metal and plastic looms and it is much sturdier. 

Abstract Treasures Shawl, crochet pattern by Tammy Hildebrand for sale on Craftsy.

Abstract Treasures Shawl, crochet pattern by Tammy Hildebrand for sale on Craftsy.

UC: Are there any crochet websites or blogs that you frequent for inspiration or community?

Tammy: Well, obviously Stitch Diva! Ha, Ha. I also love to search for inspiration on Pinterest.

Amelia Broomstick Lace Long Vest, crochet pattern by Tammy Hildebrand for sale on Craftsy.

Amelia Broomstick Lace Long Vest, crochet pattern by Tammy Hildebrand for sale on Craftsy.

UC: Do you have any new or upcoming projects you’d like to share?

Tammy: I will have a design in the upcoming issue of Interweave Crochet that I am rather proud of. It is unlike anything I have ever done before and it was a bit challenging but very rewarding!

Tammy, thank you for sharing your love of hairpin lace with us! We’re looking forward to seeing that upcoming pattern!

If you love these patterns, you may enjoy my Crochet Lace Board on Pinterest.

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Crochet Lace on Pinterest.

Interview with Jennifer Raymond from Tinking Turtle Designs

Underground Crafter Crochet Specialty of the Month 2015
Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

As part of this month’s focus on broomstick lace, I’m sharing an interview today with Jennifer Raymond (formerly Jennifer Crowley) from Tinking Turtle Designs. Jennifer is Virginia-based crochet and knitting designer and teacher, and she happens to have a great fondness for the broomstick lace technique!

You can find Jennifer online on the Tinking Turtle Designs website, and on Facebook, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter. I’m also sharing a roundup of my seven favorite crochet patterns (and one free knitting pattern) from Jennifer’s collection. All photos are used with permission, and are copyright Jennifer Raymond/Tinking Turtle Designs unless otherwise noted.

This post contains affiliate links.

Jennifer Raymond.

Jennifer Raymond.

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

Jennifer: I first learned to crochet when I was 6 or 7, from a babysitter that used to help my mother.  She taught me.  It wasn’t until I was in high school that I learned about things like gauge and patterns.  I just looked at what I wanted to make and then made things.

Witchlace by Jennifer Raymond Knit Picks

Witchlace, a crochet sweater design by Jennifer Raymond featuring a broomstick lace yoke. Photo (c) Knit Picks.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Jennifer: My husband (then boyfriend) started encouraging me after college to look into how I could take my passion and make it my career.  I’d just finished working for an office job that didn’t quite work, and I began to start researching how I could make it work.  You see, I’ve always been the sort of person to deviate from the directions, even when I don’t know what I’m doing.

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About the same time I was lucky to stumble across someone who had been in the industry in the late 80’s and early 90’s, who was willing to help guide me and help me present myself as a professional.

Points of Interest, a crochet pattern by Jennifer Raymond available in Quick & Easy Crochet Accessories. Photo (c) Annie's.

Points of Interest, a crochet pattern by Jennifer Raymond available in Quick & Easy Crochet Accessories. Photo (c) Annie’s.

Quick & Easy Crochet AccessoriesUC: Several of your patterns include broomstick lace. How were you introduced to broomstick lace, and what do you enjoy about designing with it?

Jennifer: I first learned to work broomstick lace in college.  I’ve always been hungry to learn new things, and I was reading up on obscure crochet techniques.  I came across it, and taught myself.  Later I availed myself of others who knew more about broomstick.

I love the way broomstick is so approachable to beginners: truly, if you know how to chain and single crochet, you can learn how to work broomstick.  I also love how it makes it look like you know how to do more difficult techniques than what it actually is.  I also simply love the look of the lace.  Hence my two patterns, Horn of the Moon and Sunburst Shawl.  I have several other patterns with broomstick I’m working on!

Horn of the Moon, crochet pattern featuring broomstick lace by Jennifer Raymond.

Horn of the Moon, crochet pattern featuring broomstick lace by Jennifer Raymond.

UC: You’re multi-craftual. Do you have a favorite craft or does that depend on the project or season?

Jennifer: I love knitting and crochet for different reasons: they both do different things well.  They also speak to different parts of my designing brain.  My crochet designs tend to play with color and simple shapes, in addition to fun riffs on older techniques.  Meanwhile, my knit designs tend to be playing more with stitches and how they relate to each other.

As a businesswoman, knowing how to knit and crochet means I’m able to work between two markets, and be able to function and speak to both knitters and crocheters.  Instructors who are very strong in both crafts are rare, and designers even more-so.  I think it gives me an edge.  I also get bored easily, so being able to do both means I can follow where my curiosity leads.

One Salt Sea, a hairpin lace crochet pattern by Jennifer Raymond.

One Salt Sea, a hairpin lace crochet pattern by Jennifer Raymond.

UC: You teach knitting and crochet, as well as a class on making a duct tape dress form! Tell us what inspired you to create that class and where we might see it this year?

Jennifer: The duct tape dress form class is a skill that is more common in the sewing world.  I often find there are great things to learn from other crafts to bring back to knitting and crochet – this is one of them.  Using a dress form for your knitting or crochet work can open up a bunch of opportunities.  It also helps a lot of people “get real” with their measurements – which only means that people are able to make garments that look better on them!

Crocheting in Circles

I’ll be teaching the Duct Tape Dress Form class this spring in a variety of places: Fibre Space, in Old Town Alexandria, VA as well as at the Carolina Fiber Fest.  If you’re interested in it, or any of my other classes, you should check out my calendar… I’m currently filling in my spring dates!

Stained Glass Rug, free crochet pattern by Jennifer Raymond.

Stained Glass Rug, free crochet pattern by Jennifer Raymond.

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

Jennifer: I love Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries.

I also am currently in love with Rena Crocket’s Flawless Knit Repair, which my father recently got me.  It represents both a book I desperately wanted and some that only my father could find – I’d been looking for it for nearly six months.

I also love historical knitting patterns, and have a huge collection.  It’s great inspiration to look at the old patterns and then create interesting riffs on them – like I did with Mary’s Rose Camisole.

Sunburst Shawl, crochet pattern by Jennifer Raymond. Photo (c) Brittany Tyler.

Sunburst Shawl, crochet pattern featuring broomstick lace by Jennifer Raymond. Photo (c) Brittany Tyler.

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

Jennifer: Ravelry is the big one.  I love Ravelry so much for both the community and also for information.  I love it so much, I taught an electronic class on Interweave titled Ravelry 101.  I’ll be teaching a second class, also on Ravelry.  The best part?  They both are accessible to watch whenever you want.

I also find a variety of blogs particularly helpful, though it’s hard to pick out just one.

Newport, a crochet sweater pattern by Jennifer Raymond. Photo (c) Classic Elite Yarn.

Newport, a crochet sweater pattern by Jennifer Raymond. Photo (c) Classic Elite Yarn.

UC: What’s the tool you use the most when crocheting or knitting?

Jennifer: I love locking stitch markers, and I’ve talked about it on my blog quite a bit.  I find them immeasurably helpful for a variety of tasks both related to knitting and crochet, and those outside of the craft zone.  Pinning things together, holding your crochet stitch so it doesn’t unravel, holding a dropped stitch in knitting, using them as a cable needle… I just think they’re a perfect little tool that makes your life so much easier.

Octopodes, a free knitting pattern by Jennifer Raymond, available on Knitty.

Octopodes, a free knitting pattern by Jennifer Raymond, available on Knitty.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Jennifer, and for sharing your story and your love of broomstick lace!

Interview with Crystal Bucholz from Crystalized Designs

Underground Crafter Crochet Specialty of the Month 2015Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

As part of this month’s focus on broomstick lace, I’m sharing an interview today with Crystal Bucholz, the crochet designer and maker behind Crystalized Designs. Crystal has competed in Design Wars and also co-hosts the FAN-tastic Hook Up link party with Maria Bittner from Pattern Paradise. Crystal has designed several broomstick lace patterns, so I wanted to talk with her more about her love for this technique. I’m also sharing a roundup of my favorite free and for sale crochet patterns from Crystal’s collection.

This post contains affiliate links.

You can find Crystal online on the Crystalized Designs website and blog, and on Craftsy, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter. All images are copyright Crystalized Designs and are used with permission.

Interview with crochet designer, Crystal Bucholz, on Underground Crafter.

Crystal Bucholz from Crystalized Designs.

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

Crystal: Five years ago while pregnant with my youngest son, I was put on bed rest for complications and needed something to fill my time. I knew I wanted newborn photos done of him when he arrived so I decided to try knitting. Knitting eventually became crocheting and I was immediately hooked (pun intended)! I really thought that it would just be a time filler for the last trimester of my pregnancy. I never intended it to become a passion. I never imagined it would become a successful business with amazing followers!

Peacock Lace Beanie, a for sale broomstick lace crochet pattern by Crystalized Designs.

Peacock Lace Beanie, broomstick lace crochet pattern by Crystalized Designs.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Crystal: I loved creating things from other’s patterns, I still do that to this day but part of me wanted to start putting my ideas on paper. It started with easy patterns but as I advanced in my skill, I wanted to create things using the unique stitches I love. I also have to say a few friends, even ones I’ve never met in person, have inspired me to follow my dreams, to create what I love.

Perfect Prince/Princess Crown, a for sale broomstick lace pattern by Crystalized Designs.

Perfect Prince/Princess Crown, broomstick lace pattern by Crystalized Designs.

UC: Although you have a lot of variety in your patterns, you definitely have designed quite a few hat patterns. What do you enjoy about designing and making hats?

Crystal: Hats hold a special place in my heart… yes, that sounds silly but it’s true. I never used to be a hat person. I refused to wear one even when it was below zero in the heart of winter. Once I learned to crochet, I mainly made things for others. Once I started designing, I started making things for myself. I fell in love with wearing hats and they are still so much fun to design. But my true passion is designing garments! You’ll be seeing more and more of those. Unfortunately, those take a bit more work so new releases are stretched out a bit more.

Pam's Pullover (Adult version), a for sale crochet pattern by Crystalized Designs.

Pam’s Pullover (Adult version), crochet pattern by Crystalized Designs. This design is named after Sincerely, Pam (interviewed here) and was part of the Design Wars Challenge.

UC: You have several patterns using the broomstick lace technique. How did you learn about broomstick lace and what do you enjoy about designing with it?

Crystal: I love the lacy look the Broomstick Lace technique gives. One of my crochet stitch books had a tutorial on it and I set myself to learning it. I immediately fell in love with the uniqueness of the stitch. Once I learned how to work the stitch well, I knew I had to create a pattern using it. Once the first was created, I knew I had to create more. I was worried that others would be intimidated by the stitch, I know I was at first, so I created a tutorial with a free pattern to help others realize it’s not a hard stitch at all.  And there are a few new patterns using this stitch coming in the future as well!

Broomstick Lace Scarf, a free crochet pattern and tutorial by Crystalized Designs.

Broomstick Lace Scarf, a free crochet pattern and tutorial by Crystalized Designs.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Crystal: Everywhere! My inspiration comes from many things. Yarn, the color or colors of something random, a stitch book, my children, my siblings, the season… it all depends. I can’t say there is really one thing that helps me create. I can say that when I don’t feel it, I just can’t design. But when I do feel it, it flows!

Pheasant Dreams Sleeper, a for sale broomstick lace pattern by Crystalized Designs.

Pheasant Dreams Sleeper, broomstick lace pattern by Crystalized Designs.

UC: Can you talk about FAN-tastic Hook Ups, the link party you co-host with Pattern Paradise? How did you get started and how can people participate?

Crystal: Ahh, the FAN-tastic Hook Ups!! Well, Pattern Paradise and I were doing separate project sharing parties. Hers was FAN-tastic Friday, mine was Crochet Hook Up. She contacted me asking if I wanted to join together and it’s been great! I love sharing the FAN-tastic Hook Up with her and getting to know her. Every Friday, we each post the linky party on our blogs. It’s virtually the same post on each of our sites. Anyone can post pictures of their work and it shows up on both of our sites. It really is easy and I encourage anyone wanting to participate but unsure of how to go about doing it, to contact either one of us. We’d be more than happy to help anyone with uploading. Also, each week we have featured projects of the most clicked links from the previous party. So even if someone doesn’t want to upload, checking out the links is fun as well!

Affinity Cowl Scarf, for sale crochet pattern by Crystalized Designs.

Affinity Cowl Scarf, crochet pattern by Crystalized Designs.

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

Crystal: Yikes! That’s a tough one! My favorite crochet stitch book is The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs: 500 Classic & Original Patterns by Linda P. Schapper.
My favorite crochet pattern book actually a booklet by Annie’s Attic. I love creating angels so Crochet Angels Around The World is my favorite pattern book. One day I hope to design an angel.

Emma Convertible Shrug, a for sale crochet pattern by Crystalized Designs. You can find the matching Emma Slouchy Hat by Sincerely, Pam here.

Emma Convertible Shrug, crochet pattern by Crystalized Designs. You can find the matching Emma Slouch hat by Sincerely, Pam here.

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

Crystal: Moogly! I love Moogly! I also love It’s Always Autumn but she writes more about other crafty things, not crochet. I have many blogs that I sporadically peek at but those are the two that I don’t stray from. I wish I could say there are many more but with designing, two small children, a husband, a day job, and the dreaded household chores, time for multiple blog reading is limited. I do participate in a group called The Blog Stalkers though. We just started at the beginning of this year. There are 3 of us that search for fun posts that relate to interests of ours, not just crochet, then put together one post to share what we have found. You can find that on my blog at the end of the month.

Crystal, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your love of crochet (and broomstick lace) with us!

Interview with Rhelena from CrochetN’Crafts

Underground Crafter Crochet Specialty of the Month 2015

Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

As part of this month’s focus on broomstick lace, I’m sharing an interview today with Rhelena, the blogger behind CrochetN’Crafts. Rhelena shares free crochet patterns along with craft and sewing tutorials on her blog. Rhelena happens to have quite a few broomstick lace patterns and tutorials available, and I’m also sharing a mini roundup of my 4 favorite free broomstick lace crochet patterns from her collection.

This post contains affiliate links.

You can find Rhelena online at CrochetN’Crafts, or on Facebook, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter. She also maintains a free pattern directory, Crochet Pattern Bonanza. All photos are copyright Rhelena/CrochetN’Crafts and are used with permission.

Interview with Rhelena from CrochetNCrafts on Underground Crafter with free crochet pattern roundup

Rhelena from CrochetN’Crafts.

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

Rhelena: My sisters taught me the double crochet when I was kid. One of my older sisters and I crocheted a huge blanket using scrap yarn that someone had given us. After that I learned by following pattern books. In my late teens/early 20s, I began working with crochet thread and enjoyed making pretty doilies.

Broomstick Lace Wrap, free crochet pattern by CrochetN'Crafts.

Broomstick Lace Wrap, free crochet pattern by CrochetN’Crafts.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Rhelena: One of the biggest reasons behind it was that nothing ever fit me when I followed patterns. I’m very short, and it didn’t matter what pattern I followed it was always way too big for me. So I found it easier to just design my own from scratch. A few of my first patterns were a pair of slippers and a tank top.

Broomstick Lace Cowl, free crochet pattern by CrochetN'Crafts.

Broomstick Lace Cowl, free crochet pattern by CrochetN’Crafts.

UC: Several of your patterns include broomstick lace. How were you introduced to broomstick lace, and what do you enjoy about designing with it?

Rhelena: I learned about broomstick lace when I began to study the history of crochet. I was intrigued to discover that in the olden days, they had used actual broom sticks to create the lace. Knitting needles are commonly used today, which in my mind makes broomstick lace a cross between crochet and knitting. And for me it’s simpler than knitting because you work with only one needle and one crochet hook.

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Another reason why I love broomstick lace is because it creates a nice lacy texture on the fabric. It’s great for wraps, blankets, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

An 18-inch doll dress Rhelena sewed for her niece.

An 18-inch doll dress Rhelena sewed for her niece.

UC: You also sew and share sewing tips on your blog. Do you have a favorite craft or does it depend on the project or season?

Rhelena: Crochet is by far my favorite hobby because it’s so easy to do. In school I was taught the very basics of knitting, but I soon discovered that holding one hook was far less complicated than trying to work with two knitting needles. At the same time, I love the gorgeous drape of knit fabrics and I hope to one day learn how to knit beautiful sweaters and other tops.

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As for sewing, at one point I had this crazy dream to be a seamstress. During the course of that dream I made quite a few pajamas and simple clothes for myself. I also made a graduation dress for my one niece and a doll dress for her younger sister. Both dresses were done in a satin material, which is difficult to work with. As a matter of fact, I ruined the first dress and had to go back to buy new material and start over. At that point I realized that although I enjoyed sewing, it wasn’t something I wanted to do for a living.

Broomstick Lace Chunky Crochet Scarf, free crochet pattern by CrochetN'Crafts.

Broomstick Lace Chunky Crochet Scarf, free crochet pattern by CrochetN’Crafts.

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

Rhelena: The books that taught me how to read and follow crochet patterns will always be my personal favorites. My sister-in-law once gave me an old worn out book that gave you basic instructions on various arts and crafts, including crochet. I no longer have that book, but it will always have a special place in my heart because that book taught me how to read a crochet pattern. After that I resorted to those Leisure Arts pattern booklets that I picked up at Walmart. Two of my personal favorites are Dainty Little Doilies and Pineapple Doilies.

I also have a digital stitch directory that I’m finding very inspirational, especially when it comes to designing patterns.

Broomstick Lace Beaded Valance, free crochet pattern by CrochetN'Crafts.

Broomstick Lace Beaded Valance, free crochet pattern by CrochetN’Crafts.

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

Rhelena: Yes, there are many designers who inspire me. A few of my favorite websites are Cre8tion Crochet, Jessie At Home, Kim GuzmanPatterns For Crochet, and Red Heart. (UC comment: I previously interviewed Kim Guzman here.) I love their designs and seeing them inspires me to bring out my own creativity.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Rhelena, and sharing your love of broomstick lace with us!

Craftwich Creations: Interview, Crochet Hook Review, and Giveaway!

Interview with Monica Lowe from Craftwich Creations with crochet hook review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

Today is the last in a series of weekly (Inter)National Crochet Month posts where I feature an artisanal crochet hook maker, share a review of the hooks, and offer up a giveaway where you can win your very own hand crafted crochet hook necklace!

Craftwich likes to add a touch of mystery to the packaging.

Craftwich likes to add a touch of mystery to the packaging.

This post contains affiliate links.

Today’s post features Monica Lowe of Craftwich Creations. Monica can be found online in the Craftwich Creations Etsy shop, and on Facebook, Instagram, Ravelry, and Twitter. Today, I’ll be sharing an interview with Monica, followed by a review of her crochet hooks, and a giveaway for you to win your very own Craftwich portable crochet hook necklace! Read on for more details.

Left: My custom Craftwich hook. Right: The giveaway prize!

Left: My custom Craftwich hook. Right: The giveaway prize!

Interview

All images in the interview are copyright Craftwich Creations and used with permission.

Interview with Monica Lowe from Craftwich Creations with crochet hook review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

Underground Crafter (UC) How did you first get started working with wood?

Monica: I tried making my first hook a few years ago, and boy did it SUCK. HA! I used an oak dowel, which was so hard to hand carve with an Xacto blade. But I really got the hang of it after taking a class on hook carving with Jimbo (of Jimbo’s Front Porch) at Crochet@Cama four years ago. Once I started, I couldn’t seem to stop, and soon my husband was asking me WHAT was I going to do with all those hooks? Worked out how I liked to make my hooks, what worked best for me, and a business was born.

Craftwich Creations Studio.

Craftwich Creations Studio.

UC: What initially inspired you to make handmade crochet hooks?

Monica: In my crafting, I always have enjoyed the process more than the finished piece. It’s always a bit disappointing when it’s finished, no mater how cool it is. SO, when I moved to the Pacific Northwest, and was able to stay home with the kids, it was a natural progression to first wanting to know how to make my own yarn, and then my own tools. I want to know my craft from the beginning to end.

Craftwich Creations shawl pins, crochet hook necklaces, and other and accessories

Craftwich Creations shawl pins, crochet hook necklaces, and other and accessories

UC: Do you crochet yourself? If not, who tests out your new hook designs?

Monica: I crochet every night, on the couch, with my Ott light and my pillow, LOL! I’m a more advant-garde hooker, so I like unusual designs, and since I tend to have crafting Short Attention Span, I like to make shawls (asymmetrical are my faves) and other patterns with a variety of stitches. I do like to have anyone I see in person test my hooks – one can never have enough feedback.

Craftwich Creations knitting needles.

Craftwich Creations knitting needles.

UC: Many crocheters have never owned a handmade hook before, and you prefer to make custom hooks. Talk us through the process of working with a customer to create a great hook.

Monica: Well, my goal with my business is to make a piece of art for everyone, that is a useful tool also. If I don’t make something with someone in mind, then I want to make something that the wood tells me it wants to be. If someone is interested in my hooks, but doesn’t see one that leaps out at them (don’t laugh, it has literally happened at a craft show!) then they can request a custom order, which is SO much fun.

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First, I need to ask what kind of grip they have, small or larger hands, and whether they use a thumb, forefinger, etc. Any quirks they might have in their hook hold. For example, I have a knife hold in my left hand, and I use my fingers to throw off the yarn. (it was dubbed the “spider crawl” by Julia M. Chambers, who wrote an excellent series of articles in Interweave Crochet on hook holds). Since crochet hooks are held differently by literally each person, some of my natural hooks will NOT work for some people, and others will be PERFECT. I want to match people up with THEIR hook. Nothing makes me more pleased than hearing someone tell me, “it fits like it was made for my hand,” or “it caught my eye right away and I love it.” That means more to me than the money (although getting paid to make people happy is nice too).

I send pictures of the hook in progress as needed. It’s a small step to take, to make sure someone loves what they get.

Craftwich Creations kits and more.

Craftwich Creations kits and more.

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

Monica: I wish I had more time to visit all the blogs i WANT to! I spend most of my time on Facebook, I’m afraid. But some of the blogs I have visited, besides yours, include Moogly, ReCrochetions (Laurinda Reddig, the crochet designer, is a good friend of mine), Cre8tion Crochet, Crochet Concupiscence, Fresh Stitches, and….there’s more but my brain is not working.

Craftwich Creations crochet hooks and knitting needles.

Craftwich Creations crochet hooks and knitting needles.

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Monica: I am actually going to keep doing what I am doing! I have sold most of last year’s hooks, so March will be a big carving month for me – more gorgeous crochet tools for all my fellow hookers!

UC: What’s coming up for Craftwich Creations?

Monica: I will be at a few craft shows this year around the Pacific Northwest, so watch my Facebook page for details.

I always like to explore fun new fiber crafting ideas that I can make for people…at the end of last year, I really got into the large Tunisian hooks, so I’m gong to be making more and trying to get more people to try it! What a blast.

Most exciting of all for me, I’m partnering up with Laurinda Reddig of Reversible Color Crochet book fame, to create an exciting new tri-monthly crochet kit. We’ll have top notch hand painted yarn, an exciting pattern, an accessory that goes with them that I make (AND an option to get a custom hook to go with!), and best of all – a story that ties everything together and adds excitement to the kit. We’re putting together the details now, and I can’t wait to introduce the kits to everyone! Watch for details on the Ficstitches Yarn website!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Monica, and sharing your love of creativity with us!


Craftwich Creations CrochetHook Review

My custom crochet hook from Craftwich Creations.

My custom crochet hook from Craftwich Creations.

I had a great conversation with Monica via Etsy convo and email. The process was just as she describes in the interview above, where I shared my preferences (for a tapered hook), my grip (knife hold), my eccentricities (using my forefinger heavily), and my favorite hook sizes (I through K). After back and forth discussion, I even sent her a video of me crocheting, and ultimately, she created a custom US K-10.5 (6.5 mm) crochet hook for me to review. You can see the hook in action and hear my full review in the video below.

What I like about this hook:

    • It’s visually appealing.
    • It’s very smooth.
    • It’s extremely lightweight.
    • It has a long handle to avoid the abrasion against the side of your hand that sometimes happens when you use the knife grip to hold your hook.
    • The hook has a tapered throat, which I prefer to an inline hook.
    • It has a wider circumference on the handle, allowing for a more relaxed grip while crocheting.
    • It’s custom made and it actually feels custom made. It’s like Monica jumped into my mind and knew exactly what I wanted! What an awesome conversation starter.

Get Knook Patterns a 35% Savings

What might take some getting used to about this hook:

  • Crocheters who prefer hooks with inline throats to tapered hooks may find it harder to pull the yarn through their loops with this hook – but I’m sure Monica could make another one that suits inline hook lovers.
  • Neither the company name nor the hook size are indicated on the hook, so you may not remember where to order from again. Similarly, you will need a Susan Bates Knit-Chek (or something similar) to check the hook size if you have multiple Craftwich hooks.
  • The hooks has a non-standard shape, so it may not fit into your existing hook holders.

Craftwich Creations crochet hooks currently sell for $18 – $26, depending on the size, style, and wood used. You can find more of Monica’s hooks and her other products, including wood buttons and knitting needles, in the Etsy shop here.

Full disclosure: A free review sample was provided by Craftwich Creations. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

I Like Crochet April 2015 banner

Giveaway

Monica from Craftwich Creation is offering up a portable crochet hook necklace for one lucky U.S. reader!

This could be yours! Perfect for crocheting on the go, or to pick up dropped stitches in knitting!

This could be yours! Perfect for crocheting on the go, or to pick up dropped stitches in knitting!

So stop by Craftwich Creations and let us know your favorite hook from the shop in the comments! Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for your chance to win by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Only entries logged through the widget will be eligible to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway