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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.

Interview with Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux

Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

I’m finally back on track with my posts for (Inter)National Crochet Month, and today I’m sharing an interview with one of my favorite crochet (and knitting!) bloggers and designers, Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux. Back in January, I was honored to be interviewed by Jennifer on her blog, and of course when NatCroMo came around, I wanted to share her story with you all.

This post contains affiliate links.

Jennifer can be found online at Fiber Flux, as well as on FacebookGoogle+Pinterest, Ravelry (as iheartfiber and on her designer page), Twitter, and YouTube. I’m also including a roundup of my favorite free crochet patterns from Fiber Flux (as well as one free knitting pattern thrown in for good measure!). All images are used with permission and are copyright Jennifer Dickerson/Fiber Flux.

Jennifer says,

Thanks so much, Marie, for having me here on your awesome site!  I have a lot of admiration for you as a crafter and business person and am honored to be here today.

Thank YOU so much for stopping by, Jennifer!

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Jennifer Dickerson.

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

Jennifer: I taught myself to knit years before I learned to crochet.  Being a member of Ravelry, I often would come across gorgeous examples of crochet.  I wanted to learn for quite some time and a lovely (and very patient) aunt of mine who is a very experienced and talented crocheter taught me the very basic stitches.  She is known in our family as the “afghan queen” and was the perfect teacher.  After that I was quite taken with the craft and have had the crochet bug ever since!

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Alpine View Wrap, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: What inspired you to start designing? 

Jennifer: It is really amazing all of the things you can do with some yarn.  My very first pattern, Lightning Fast NICU and Preemie Hats, was created because I wanted to make a large donation of little hats to a local hospital.  As a mother, I love the idea of wrapping the tiniest babies in something lovingly handmade.

I Like Crochet April 2015 banner

From there, I began making other things inspired by the people around me and from that came a scarf for a loved one, a hospice shawl, and lots more.  I still design each of my patterns with someone in mind as I am creating them.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Raspberry Sorbet Button Cowl, a free knitting pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: Although you have a lot of variety in your patterns, you definitely have quite a few cowls and scarves. What do you enjoy about designing neckwarmers?

Jennifer: I am somewhat of a scarf and cowl fanatic.  From early fall to mid spring, I honestly wear one every single day!  I have very heavy ones for the coldest of days and lighter ones for the house and when it warms up a bit (hopefully that will be soon!).  One of my blog friends even dubbed me the scarf queen at one time!  When I get together with friends and family, I will often send them home with a scarf around their neck too.  I love to wrap those I care about with a warm wooly neck hug.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Pumpkins on a Fence Scarf, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: You have tons of videos available on YouTube. How’d you get started filming videos and they’re numbered in episodes. What’s your approach to sharing videos with your fans?

Jennifer: Actually I make videos entirely because of my readers.  They have been asking me for years (yes, years!) to make videos of my projects.  I launched my YouTube channel in the fall of 2013 and have had a great time exploring this fun way of sharing information.  I have the most awesome readers and they have been very supportive and appreciative of my new endeavor.  I often accompany a video along with my written patterns, so that people can refer to it if they get stuck or need additional information.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Philomena Shawlette, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: In addition to crochet, you also share knitting and embroidery patterns and tips on your blog. As a multi-craftual lady, how do you divide your time between these different crafts? Do you have a favorite?

Jennifer: Percentage-wise I definitely have more crochet patterns and videos, but I definitely find joy doing both.  Crochet and knitting are so similar in many ways, but just different enough, so when I feel stuck or need to take a break from one craft, I will often switch and pick up a pair of needles or vice versa.

Celebrate National Craft Month

I am thankful for both of them because it often will help me “reset” my creative button from time to time.  I will always knit and I will always crochet. They are both such a big part of my life!

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Ocean Air Scarf, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Jennifer: I suppose many crafty people can relate to this, but I really do find inspiration everywhere…colors of produce at the farmer’s market, the high fashion runway, the local yarn shop, the way a particular fabric drapes over a shoulder, the juxtaposition of texture.  My background in art certainly helps me make creative decisions too…prior to being part of the yarn world, I was a painter, making large abstract paintings and showing them in local galleries.  This training in classical art making with regards to color theory, composition, perspective, etc. most definitely influences me as a designer too.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Crochet Class Cowl, a free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

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

Jennifer: I am a bit of a book collector…I have piles and piles of them and enjoy flipping through them often.  I love Sarah London‘s use of color and pretty much anything from Linda Permann.

Laurinda Reddig‘s latest book (that I had the pleasure to review recently) has been an exciting read too.  My stitch dictionaries get a lot of milage are are jam packed with post-it notes, full of things scribbled in the margins, and most of the corners are folded in to mark a spot. (UC comment: I’ve previously reviewed Sarah’s book here and Laurinda’s books here and here.)

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Cherries in Bloom Infinity Scarf, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

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

Jennifer: To get a big picture view of what is going on in the craft word at any given time, I am a frequent visitor of Ravelry and craftgawker.  I just love to peruse the beautiful handiwork and see the collective beauty of so much talent!  I am so grateful to have made friends with lots of other bloggy stitchers who inspire me not only with their talents, but their wisdom and business savvy as well…I find myself hopping onto their blogs regularly too.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Renaissance Button Wrap, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Jennifer: My crochet hook is pretty much an extension of my hand, I will most likely be doing what I already do on a daily basis…crochet, crochet, and more crochet!

Thanks again for stopping by, Jennifer! I’m looking forward to oodles more videos on your YouTube channel.

And, if you like neckwarmers as much as Jennifer and I do, you may want to check out my Crochet Neckwarmers Pinterest board!

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Crochet Neckwarmers on Pinterest.

Interview with Manda Robertson from Raising Robertsons Crochet

Interview with crochet designer & blogger Manda Robertson from Raising Robertsons Crochet on Underground Crafter

I’m excited to share another interview today as part of a series highlighting crochet designers for (Inter)National Crochet Month. Today’s featured designer is Manda Robertson, an emerging crochet designer and blogger who has challenged herself to post about hats every day this year through her 365 Days of Hats series! She has a great sense of style which combines a vintage look with a punk DIY ethos.

This post contains affiliate links.

Manda can be found online at Raising Robertsons Crochet, and on EtsyFacebook, Pinterest, and Ravelry (as RaisingRobertson and on her designer page). All images are copyright Manda Robertson and used with permission.

Manda Robertson.

Manda Robertson.

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

Manda: Shortly after having kids, crochet as a hobby started becoming all the rage in the mom circle I was a part of. I knew I had to start sometime. Eventually, I unraveled a hat I purchased from a fellow mom friend and worked it back together. I was hooked ;). I eventually resorted to YouTube to learn more. I started with only one hook and was clueless. It came so naturally to me, I’ve been addicted ever since.

Top Hat for Her, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Top Hat for Her, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: When and why did you get started blogging?

Manda: When we expanded our family, our budget become so tight and much less flexible. I really didn’t want to leave being a stay at home mom full time. My mom suggested I try blogging and working with fibers from home for a little extra income. She and her mother used to crochet, too!  She was right to tell me to do so :).

Pretty Pillbox Vintage Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Pretty Pillbox Vintage Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Manda: Honestly, my nanny (my grandmother). She used to crochet years ago and she handed down her hooks to me after a while of me crocheting. The moment I sent her a photo of my very first design she told me to go for it!

PurelyAlpaca

Every time I use her hooks, I’m reminded of how hard she worked as a stay at home mom with four kids, all little ones, yet still had time to make such lovely pieces for her family. Everything from where my crochet workstation is (we are kitchen table ladies) to the bag I use when I travel (it’s hers, too) with my supplies just reek of her. She is my number one fan, and I admire everything she has ever done. It is also why I try to design and make a lot of vintage items/hats.

funky

Funky Fez Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: You’re doing an interesting project on your blog this year, 365 Days of Hats. Tell us about this project. What is it and what was your inspiration behind it?

Manda: I keep seeing these “365 days” everywhere. I wanted to jump on the train. Hats seem to be very popular in the fiber arts world so I knew I had to take on this project!  This project feature a hat/hats everyday. This includes pattern reviews of hats I’ve made for customers or family, patterns I have designed and written myself, as well as roundups!

Shop Custom Fabric on Zazzle

I wanted to include other designers in on my project, too, so there will be even more pattern reviews from myself and other designers this coming year, too. I’m very excited about it!  I was inspired by being a mom and the never ending hunt for hats in the retail world.  Especially for babies. I couldn’t ever find any. Now I make them, haha.

Mongolian Tundra Cowl, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Mongolian Tundra Cowl, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: Obviously, you like to crochet hats! What’s your favorite thing about hat projects?

Manda: It’s funny because I used to hate making hats. I was sick and tired of being asked to make the same beanie over and over again. I started collecting free patterns in my Ravelry queue just to show people a different option than they requested. This project had taught me that there are almost a million more designs out there and everyday I have gotten to “know” a new one.  There is a design out there for everyone! That is 100% my favorite thing. So many options!!!!

Elflet Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Elflet Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Manda: From everyone in my life I love. It’s smaltzy, I know, but it’s true. Literally every design I come up with has someone in mind, whether it be my sons, or just a very loyal, old friend. Everyone has a different personality and drive in life and each of those works of art, to me, represents them.

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

Manda: Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller. Actually, anything fiber art related by her is my fav!!!

Arctic Fury Aviator Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Arctic Fury Aviator Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

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

Manda: I have to plug Ravelry first. It’s my go to site for free or paid patterns. It also feels like a secret club for fiber artists, which makes me feel pretty cool lol.  It’s a great place to network too!  I also really love Hopeful Honey. She is so talented and her vintage hats are obviously my favorite to make tee hee. There is also Stitch 11. She has been there from the beginning for me. She was one of the first to tell me to take this yartsy (yarn artsy) path in life and never give up!

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Manda: My husband and I are working on a new fiber arts room for me. So, I’m using it as an opportunity to organize my yarn stash and get a new crochet work space!! Maybe crochet a new set of curtains for it :).  NatCroMo will be all about self care this year.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Manda, and I can’t wait to see how your 365 Days of Hats turns out!

Interview with crochet designer Dedri Uys from Look At What I Made

Interview with UK crochet designer Dedri Uys from Look At What I Made on Underground Crafter

This post contains affiliate links.

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, you’ve probably seen the inventive designs of Dedri Uys, especially her amamani patterns, over the past year. Dedri is a U.K. based crochet designer, blogger, and author, as well as a radiographer. I’m excited to share an interview with her today as part of a series highlighting crochet designers for (Inter)National Crochet Month.

Dedri can be found online on her website, Look At What I Made, on FacebookInstagram, Pinterest, and Ravelry (as BabertonDaisy and on her designer page). All images are copyright Dedri Uys and used with permission.

Dedri Uys.

Dedri Uys.

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

Dedri: My granny (on my dad’s side) taught me to crochet when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and although I was good at it, I didn’t particularly like it.   It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my second son 5 years ago that I picked up a hook again.

Dedri's squares from the Block a Week CAL 2014. You can find links to the patterns and more here.

Dedri’s squares from the Block a Week CAL 2014. You can find links to the patterns and more here.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Dedri: I soon realize that I couldn’t find that many crochet patterns aimed at boys, at least not toy patterns. So I decided to design some of my own. My first designs were rudimentary to say the least. They consisted of a Little Blue Car, a Crochet Tractor, and a Digger-loader.

Then one day my mom’s friend sent me a picture of a fabric puzzle ball. I was too lazy to get the sewing machine out, so I decided to crochet one instead. And that was it! Every time I started another design, I would think of 5 more things I wanted to design. It was never a conscious choice. The ideas just don’t seem to stop.

The puzzle ball, and the resulting animals, were definitely the reason my crochet went from hobby to obsession.

Star Ball, a free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys.

Star Ball, a free Amish puzzle ball crochet pattern by Dedri Uys.

UC: Although there is a lot of variety in your designs, you are definitely well know for your Amish puzzle patterns, such as the ones included in your first book, Amamani Puzzle Balls. Can you talk about how you got started making these and what you enjoy about creating these designs?

Dedri: The Amish Puzzle Ball is a crochet version of the traditional Amish Puzzle Ball and comes apart into 3 segments, or rings, which have to be assembled to form the ball. There is also a Flower Ball and a Star Ball. These balls soon gave birth to a small menagerie of puzzle animals (Amamani), and my first book, Amamani Puzzle Balls, features 5 of these animals.


These patterns usually cause a roller-coaster of emotions.

There is often frustration – the wedges can be a tad boring. It’s like eating your veggies before you are allowed your pudding.

There is an increasing sense of excitement when you realize that you have almost made all the required parts, coupled with confusion – “How will all these pieces ever come together???”

That is followed be a sense of achievement when the segments come together. And then perplexity – “Now how the Dickens am I meant to build this thing?”

And finally there is delight when the animal is built!

This delight is what I love most about making the puzzle balls. And it is not limited to the person actually making it. I love nothing better than taking one of these apart and then shoving it at someone, going: “Build it!” I love watching their faces as they go through the whole gamut of emotions again.

Shorn the Sheep, a free crochet pattern by Anette Bak and Dedri Uys.

Shorn the Sheep, a free crochet pattern by Anette Bak and Dedri Uys.

UC: Most of your designs are self-published, but you also have a book published by Annie’s. Do you plan to continue keeping a variety between self-publishing and third-party publishing, or do you prefer one over the other?

Dedri: I love the freedom self-publishing gives me. By that I mean that I am not limited by word-count and my instructions can be as informal and chatty as I like. This is a huge bonus as I have had a lot of good feedback about my chatty style, and people have come to expect it of me. It is also easier to amend errata if you are self-published.

Having said that, there is something so exhilarating about a real book…with your name on it! And there is just no way that I would have been able to promote self-published patterns to the same degree. Also, the book looks so much more professional than I would EVER be able to achieve on my own. So, despite having to compromise on how the patterns are worded, I much prefer third-party publishing to self-publishing.

From the free Sophie's Universe CAL by Dedri Uys.

From the free Sophie’s Universe CAL by Dedri Uys.

UC: You’re currently hosting the Sophie’s Universe mystery crochet-a-long. Tell us about it and how people can join in.

Dedri: Lately my focus has shifted a bit and I now put my energy into tutorials more than patterns. The patterns I do write are very photo-intensive and my hope is that I will be able to provide not just patterns, but “learning journeys”, if that makes sense.

Sophie’s Universe is a case in point. It is based on Sophie’s Garden, which was, in turn, inspired by Chris Simon’s Lace Petals Square.

Sophie’s Universe is a 20-week mystery crochet-along that will yield a continuous square blanket. The pattern is written as a step-by-step photo tutorial, specifically aimed at advanced beginners. The idea is that people will not only be able to make something that they initially perceived as too complicated, but that their confidence and understanding will grow in the process. I want people to feel good about the items they make. More importantly, I want them to enjoy making them!

The “Parts” are released each Sunday as step-by-step photo tutorials with plenty of hints and links.

The size of the final blanket will depend on the yarn and hook you choose to use. I am using Scheepjeswol for all 3 of my “sizes”.

Lazy Waves In Progress

Lazy Waves, a free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Dedri: I am inspired (and energized) by colours. Any colours. Any combinations. The more the merrier.

Cable Stitch Dishcloths, free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys.

Cable Stitch Dishcloths, free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys.

UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection (besides yours, of course)?

Dedri: Lol.

Edie Eckman’s Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs: Creative Techniques for Joining Motifs of All Shapes; Includes 101 New Motif Designs.

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

Dedri: My favourite blog is The Purl Bee. (UC comment: I reviewed the Purl in my Visitor’s Guide to New York City Yarn Shops.) Hands down. It is a multi-craft site and the projects they share on it are amazing! Some of their pieces are monotone, some of them are all white, some of them have more colours than smarties used to have when we were little.

I spend hours just looking at all the beautiful knit/crochet/sewing creations.

Edward: Circus Elephant Lovie, a free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys.

Edward: Circus Elephant Lovie, a free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys.

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Dedri: I honestly don’t know! At the moment I am spending every waking (and most sleeping) moments working on Sophie’s Universe. I think I will have to skip National Crochet Month this year. Or maybe divine inspiration will strike…

Thanks so much for stopping by, Dedri! I look forward to seeing how Sophie’s Universe turns out!

Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking: Interview, Crochet Hook Review, and Giveaway!

Shepherds Custom Woodworking Crochet Hook Review and Giveaway on Underground Crafter

I’m very excited to be (almost) recovered from a cold that wiped me out for a few days so I can jump right back into the NatCroMo excitement! Today is the first in a series of weekly posts where I will 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!

Today’s post features Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking LLC. David Shepherd is the woodworker and maker behind the shop, and Kelly is responsible for the administrative work including listing items on Etsy. You can also find David and Kelly online on the Shepherd’s Woodworking Facebook page. Both David and Kelly have stopped by today for an interview, followed by my review of a Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking crochet hook, and a giveaway for another hook from the shop, so read on for details!

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview

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

David: I started woodworking when I was 7 years old with my father in his wood shop in the barn behind the house. When I was in high school, I went to work in a cabinetry shop with my father. When the shop closed, I decided to open my own shop, Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking LLC, making custom cabinetry, furniture, and refinishing and repairing wooden items. And, later making fiber art tools.

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

Kelly: Making crochet hooks was my sister’s Idea. I had bought her a pair for rosewood crochet hooks for her birthday a few years earlier and not since then seen wooden hooks for sale.

David: I borrowed a few hooks for examples and started experimenting. I broke a lot of heads off the crochet hooks before I was able to get it just right.

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

David: I was taught by a teacher in school when I was 8-9? years old. But I do not use that skill very often.

Kelly: I am the official hook tester and my sister gets called in sometimes to help test products.

The lovely crochet hook that I received from Shepherd's Custom Woodworking for the review.

The lovely crochet hook that I received from Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking for the review.

UC: Many crocheters have never owned a handmade hook before. Do you have a recommended wood or size for someone venturing into a handmade hook for the first time?

David: The wood hook can be fit to the person and their style better then a one-size-fits-all store bought hook. If you like a light weight hook, sure. A domestic wood like elm or maple would be great. You like your hook to have some weight? Madagascar ebony or blood wood is the way to go. You don’t like dark colors, ok, so yellow heart or maybe oak. You just want a hook none of your friends have, maybe something playful like leopard wood or zebra wood or one of our dyed woods? As far as the size hook, our suggestion is to pick a size you use often or a new size you want to try. The length and wider handle will help with hand fatigue and just make crocheting more comfortable .

At the fiber shows, we encourage someone looking for a new hook to touch them all. Each one has its own unique feel, almost an energy of their own. And when you find your hook you will know it.

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

David: No?

Kelly: I am on Ravelry every day. I have also been on your blog and have found several wonderful patterns.

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Kelly: We will be in Michigan for the Spring Fiber Expo at the end of March. We will be having a sale in our Etsy shop. (UC comment: Use coupon code NATCROMO for a 10% discount off anything in the shop through March, 2015!)

UC: Where can people find you at upcoming events?

Kelly: We will be at several shows this year:

Thanks so much for stopping by, David and Kelly!

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Hook Review

David and Kelly sent me a purple heart/purple wood US J-10/6 mm crochet hook to sample for a review. You can see the hook in action and watch my full review in the video below. I also demonstrate how you can use this hook to create plump bullion stitches.

This is an inline hook where the point, throat, and shaft of the hook have the same circumference. There is a thumb rest and the hook is unusually long (approximately 8.25″ (21 cm). After the thumb rest, the hook tapers quite a bit.

What I like about this hook:

  • It’s very lightweight and smooth.
  • The purple heart/purple wood is a beautiful, purplish brown.
  • The company name and the year the hook was made are printed on the handle so you can easily find the artisan again if you’d like to order more.
  • The hook size is etched into the handle and filled in with a contrasting color so it’s easy to read.
  • The long handle allows you to avoid any abrasion against the side of your hand that sometimes happens when you use the knife grip to hold your hook.
  • The long handle’s taper makes it great for forming bullion stitches and other dimensional stitches like puffs that use many yarn overs.
  • The design is lovely so it’s a great conversation starter!

What might take some getting used to about this hook:

  • It is unusually long so it may not fit into your existing hook holders.
  • The finish, while smooth, grips the yarn a bit. I expect that over time/with frequent use this will diminish.
  • Crocheters who prefer hooks with tapered throats to inline hooks may find it harder to pull the yarn through their loops with this hook. (Though I generally prefer tapered hooks, I found this one easy to use.)

Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking hooks currently sell for $16.50 – $24, depending on the size and wood used. You can find more of their hooks and their other products, including yarn bowls, knitting needles, and more, in the Etsy shop here.

Full disclosure: A free review sample was provided by Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking LLC. 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.

Giveaway

David and Kelly have been kind enough to offer a great giveaway to one lucky reader! Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for your chance to win a crochet hook from the Shepherd’s Custom Woodworking Etsy shop by Sunday, March 15, 2015. Only entries logged through the widget will be eligible to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
NaBloPoMo BlogHer 2015-03  

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through March, 2015.