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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.

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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.

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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

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.