Design Your Own Crochet Projects by Sara Delaney

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground CrafterI’m sharing an interview with crochet and knitting designer, author, and teacher, Sara Delaney, as part of the blog tour for her new book. If you’ve ever thought about designing your own crochet projects for yourself or to share your patterns with other people, you’ll definitely want to read it! I’ve also included a roundup of 10 of my favorite crochet patterns from Sara’s collection, and you’ll also get your chance to win a copy of her new book, so read on for details!

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. A free review copy of Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves by Sara Delaney was provided to me by Storey. 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. Images are copyright Sara Delaney unless otherwise noted and are used with permission.

Interview with Sara Delaney

Sara Delaney is a crochet and knitting designer, teacher, and author. You can find her on her blog, Chicken Betty: A Life from Scratch, or on Craftsy, Facebook, Instagram, Ravelry, or Twitter.

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Hot Button potholder, crochet pattern by Sara Delaney for sale on Craftsy.

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

Sara: My Memaire taught me to knit and crochet when I was young, between 7 and 9. I was surrounded by women who were makers, but she took the time to sit with me and start my journey. My first book How to Crochet is actually dedicated to her, I wouldn’t be doing what I do without her!

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Leyden Cowl, crochet pattern by Sara Delaney from Design Your Own Crochet Projects. Photo © John Polak.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Sara: I was interested in clothing and costume design as a teenager, and had studied a bit in high school and college. I found the history fascinating, and I liked making clothes, but I wasn’t inspired to design anything. Then I had the great privilege to work at WEBS for a decade. They have a wonderful design manager on staff, Kirsten Hipsky, who encouraged me to get some of my own ideas and projects down on paper so they’d be repeatable, and it just skyrocketed from there. With yarn I found the inspiration I hadn’t with fabric.

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Valley Yarns 644 Mystery Crochet-A-Long Blanket, crochet pattern by Sara Delaney. Photo © WEBS.

UC: When did you start teaching? 

Sara: I’ve always been someone who encourages and enables people who want to craft, or learn to craft. After my daughters were born I went back to school to become a primary school teacher, but found I couldn’t handle that many kids! At about the same time I started working at WEBS and they needed a crochet teacher…it was kind of serendipity. I was comfortable in a classroom of adults in a way that I hadn’t been with kids, and I found that I loved sharing my own love of crochet in a classroom setting.

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Longmeadow Cuff, free crochet pattern by Sara Delaney. Photo © Lindsey Palatino.

UC: You teach online and in person. What do you like and find challenging about each method of teaching?

Sara: They certainly do come with their own set of challenges! With an IRL course each class is a little different. The pacing and information shared depends on the unique set of students, and how they function as a whole. I may find that I need to speed up the pace of the class and throw additional, interesting tid-bits and challenges their way to keep them engaged. I love seeing the community that evolves when neighboring students help to talk each other through challenges, or get together between classes to work through homework. And the realization that they are not alone in their challenges!

With a pre-recorded, online class I miss out on individually connecting with my students. I don’t get to scan their faces as we go along looking for frustration points that they don’t yet know how to articulate, but that I can see in their knitted eyebrows, or looks of confusion. But the consistency of the teaching is there. I know that none of those students will get any less of me because I’m under the weather, or just having the worst week.

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Greylock Glen Hat, crochet pattern by Sara Delaney from Design Your Own Crochet Projects. Photo © Jessica Sipe.

UC: Where do you generally find creative inspiration?

Sara: Sometimes it’s in an afternoon spent making dinner for my family, or a quick jaunt to the craft store. Sometimes my teenagers’ random Instagram messages will inspire something. But mostly it’s in the doing of things. If I am actively being creative, I find that it flows more easily in all aspects of my life.

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Tadgell Cowl, free crochet pattern by Sara Delaney.

UC: As a multi-crafter, how do you divide your time between knitting and crochet?

Sara: It’s often project driven, though I tend to gravitate to crochet more readily than knitting. I’ve been crocheting longer, and have spent far more time with my hook than with needles. In the end it depends on the project, sometimes one form fits the needs of the finished object better than the other.

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Notchview Slippers, crochet pattern by Sara Delaney from Design Your Own Crochet Projects. Photo © Jessica Sipe.

UC: Your new book is Design Your Own Crochet Projects. What was the process of developing this book?

Sara: It originally grew out of a class that I taught. I had been teaching beginning and intermediate crochet classes for a few years and had so many students ask me for a next level class. So I developed a beginning design class to help them to think more about swatching and yarn choice, as well as stitch choice and some basic shaping, while designing their own cowls. After teaching the class a few times I realized how valuable all of that information was and how easily it applied to designing in general. I was also watching new designers come up through the ranks in the Ravelry forums were so many times one would make a mistake or misstep and wonder why there wasn’t a manual of sorts to walk you through this stuff…and now there is!

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Day Mountain Mitts, crochet pattern by Sara Delaney from Design Your Own Crochet Projects. Photo © Jessica Sipe.

UC: What message would you like to share with crocheters who are trying to design their own projects for the first time?

Sara: Any former student of mine will recognize this one, patience and practice. Have patience with yourself, it likely won’t turn out right the first time. Have patience for the project. I’ve found that most of my projects have their own voice, and when I ignore it, it’s usually to my own detriment. Pay attention to how you’re feeling about the project as it’s being created. Are you loving working with the yarn? Is this stitch pattern your jam?! Is this not the best hook ever invented by man?! If you’re not enjoying all aspects of your project, walk away for a bit and come back to it. Maybe changing one of those 3 things can alter everything for the better! And if not then frog it all and move on. I don’t torture myself with yarn and neither should you!

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Ashmere Beanie, crochet pattern by Sara Delaney from Design Your Own Crochet Projects. Photo © Jessica Sipe.

UC: Besides your own books, what are your favorite craft books in your collection?

Sara: The Barbara Walker collection, all 4 volumes. Sometimes I just like to look through the pages and look for texture inspiration, even for crochet! The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs by Linda P. Schapper, as well as the volumes on edges and motifs. The Knitter’s Book of Wool and The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes are an incomparable resource for understanding the fibers we all love to work with. The Crocheter’s Skill Building Workshop by Dora Ohrenstein is such a great volume packed with so many eureka moments.


UC: Are there any crochet, knitting, or craft blogs that you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Sara: I have always enjoyed the incredible color sense of Lucy at Attic24. Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane has a child-like sense of wonder and whimsy that is enviable. Getting Stitched on the Farm with Kristin Nicholas is just inspiring. She has a way of making you feel as though she’s welcoming you into her home and crafting space with each post, and then there’s her magic with color! The Shibaguyz: Shannon and Jason are just killlin it! It’s incredible to see how the two of them have combined their passions. And as a girl who started blogging back in 2005, it has been wonderful to see the resurgence of Mason Dixon Knitting.

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter
Seduction scarf, free crochet pattern by Sara Delaney.

Giveaway

Interview with Sara Delaney (Chicken Betty), author of Design Your Own Crochet Projects, along with a roundup of 10 of her crochet patterns via Underground Crafter | Enter through November 8, 2017 for your chance to win a copy of the book!Now that you’ve gotten to know Sara a little better, you’re probably wondering about Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves. I get asked all the time by fledgling crochet designers if I can recommend a book that will help them get started. I can now refer them to Sara’s  Design Your Own Crochet Projects! The book includes a ton of information on yarns, swatching and gauge, and the sizing details of different types of projects that most designers learn through trial and error. You can find actual pattern formulas for scarves, cowls, hats, socks, mittens, and gloves in the book. Just add your own stitches, choose your own measurements, and you’ll be cranking out customized patterns in no time. In addition, the book includes 18 actual patterns, so it isn’t just a technique book. You can see the patterns from the book on its Ravelry source page here and you can try an online calculator that does all the math in the pattern formulas for you here.

If you’re ready to get your hands on a copy of Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves, you’re in luck! The nice folks at Storey have set aside a copy for one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to readers with mailing addresses in the United States or Canada, except where prohibited by law. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, November 8, 2017. One winner will be chosen at random from the entries submitted via the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will receive 1 copy of Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves by Sara Delaney, courtesy of Storey.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

9 Colorful Crochet Blanket Patterns by Amanda Perkins (Interview and Roundup)

9 Colorful Crochet Blanket Patterns by Amanda Perkins - Interview with roundup by Underground Crafter
I’m sharing an interview with crochet designer, Amanda Perkins, along with a roundup of nine of my favorite colorful crochet blanket patterns from her collection.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. Images are copyright Amanda Perkins and are used with permission.

You may remember Amanda as the author of Rainbow Crocheted Afghans: A Block-by-Block Guide to Creating 10 Colorful Blankets and Throws, which I recently reviewed here. You can find Amanda online at her website, Amanda’s Crochet Blanket Adventures, as well as on Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter.


Interview with Amanda Perkins

9 Colorful Crochet Blanket Patterns by Amanda Perkins - Interview with roundup by Underground Crafter
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet and knit?

Amanda: My granny taught me to crochet at a very early age, I have always found crochet a lot easier than knitting and didn’t learn to knit until I taught myself at art college when I was 19.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Amanda: I started designing in 2007. At the time I ran a hand-dyed yarn company and needed pattern support for my yarn. As I found crochet easy it seemed like the logical place to start.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Amanda: Colour, shape and the landscape around me. I’ve always been obsessed with colour and 13 years of being a hand dyer refined my understanding of colour. And I’m fascinated by geometry and the way shapes fit together. I live on Exmoor, next to the sea. It’s an amazingly beautiful part of the UK. I can lay in my bed and watch the colours of the hill on the other side of the valley change daily.

UC: Although you also knit, you primarily design with crochet. What is it about crochet patterns that you enjoy?

Amanda: I don’t knit very often as it frustrates me. I have to admit I also find it boring. I think in crochet, it just comes naturally, and love writing patterns. I try to make my patterns as easy to follow as possible and so include lots of step by step and colour charts. To me the patterns are an artwork in their own right.

UC: Most of your designs feature motifs. Why do you like motif projects?

Amanda: I like using the motifs as pieces of a jigsaw. I always join the motifs as I make the blanket as I love to see the design emerge. I design as I go and quite often change the design while making it. Plus if I make a mistake I only have a few stitches to frog.

UC: What are your favorite types of crochet projects for challenging yourself?

Amanda: A big blanket with a complex layout and lots of colour changes. The real challenge comes when I write the pattern to make it easy for my ladies to follow. I like having a big canvas to play with.

UC: What are your favorite types of crochet projects for giving as gifts?

9 Colorful Crochet Blanket Patterns by Amanda Perkins - Interview with roundup by Underground Crafter
Sneak peak of Amanda’s blanket for grandbaby.

Amanda: Yet again blankets. At the moment I am working on a very special secret design for my first grandbaby who is due to be born in a few weeks. I want the blanket to be finished in time for the baby to be wrapped in when she/he comes home from hospital.

UC: Besides your own book, what are your favorite crochet and fiber crafts books in your collection?

Amanda: I love books and have a big collection. I’m a huge Kaffe Fasset fan and have all his books. Other favourites include a book of antique Amish patchwork quilts, several books on Persian carpets, and Japanese crochet motifs.

9 Colorful Crochet Blanket Patterns by Amanda Perkins - Interview with roundup by Underground Crafter
Amanda at Kaffe Fassett exhibition in 2014.

UC: Are there any crochet or fiber blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Amanda: I don’t read many blogs as I’m too busy trying to keep up to date with mine. But I do spend far too much time on Pinterest, Instagram and of course Ravelry.

Thanks for spending time with us, Amanda!

9 Colorful Crochet Blanket Patterns by Amanda Perkins

9 Colorful Crochet Blanket Patterns by Amanda Perkins - Interview with roundup by Underground Crafter

Now that you’ve gotten to know Amanda a bit better, are you ready to be inspired by her patterns? In addition to her beautiful projects in Rainbow Crocheted Afghans: A Block-by-Block Guide to Creating 10 Colorful Blankets and Throws, Amanda also sells individual patterns as instant downloads in her Etsy and Ravelry shops. Here are nine of my favorite colorful crochet blanket patterns in her collection.

If you enjoyed this roundup, follow my Crochet and Knit Blankets board on Pinterest!

Cricut Basics: Which Cutting Machine Should I Buy?

Which Cutting Machine Should I Buy? on Underground Crafter - comparing Cricut Explore, Silhouette Cameo, and Sizzix machines

If you’ve been considering buying a cutting machine, you’re in the same position I was about a year ago. I spent a lot of time online reading reviews, so I thought the least I could do to help other crafters is to write my own comparison post. If you’re hoping to find the right machine for you, this post will help you!

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. Materials for this post were provided by Cricut.

I actually bought a Silhouette Portrait last spring (primarily because of its small size, which seemed ideal for apartment living), but I returned it soon after because I received a Cricut Explore Air in exchange for promoting an event last summer. I’m so glad I ended up with a Cricut Explore Air because I love it. I’m obviously a bit biased towards the machine I have and use regularly, and I have limited experience with other cutting machines, so I reached out to the blog-o-sphere for help. I took prodigious notes when I was working at the Cricut booth at the SNAP! Conference for creative bloggers back in April, I interviewed a fellow blogger, and I’ve combined my own experiences, feedback from blogging friends, and links to other blog reviews in this post so you can make your own decision about how Cricut machines compare to other cutting machines by Silhouette and Sizzix, and which machine is the right one FOR YOU.

Questions to ask yourself

Here are a few of the main questions to consider when you’re comparing cutting machines.

  • How and where will you use this machine? Will you be near an ethernet connection or WiFi?
  • Do you want a manual machine or an electronic machine? Do you want to save money on the machine but then spend money on dies/cartridges? Or, would you rather spend money on a machine but then save money on dies/cartridges?
  • Do you need a beginner-friendly machine or are you confident enough to explore the machine’s features (and software) with less guidance?
  • How large are the projects you plan to make? What type of materials do you plan to cut?

The answers to these questions can help you pick the best machine for you and help you avoid disappointment.

Cricut Explore series

I’ll start by talking about the machines I know most about, the Cricut Explore series. There are three models in the series. All three use a cloud-based software, Cricut Design Space, which allows you to send information from your computer or tablet/mobile device to your Cricut Explore. The machines have the same primary features, such as the ability to…

You can read more about each of these features while getting links to 15+ free beginner-friendly Cricut Explore projects here.

Since Cricut Design Space is cloud-based, you do need to have an active internet connection in order to design your project. I’ve used Design Space with my tablet and laptop at home and with WiFi away from home and I haven’t had any problems. However, if you spend a lot of time away from an internet connection, this may not be ideal for you.

Cricut also has a thorough, searchable online Help Center and you can reach them through online chat seven days a week and through their toll free phone number Monday through Friday. I love that it’s so easy to reach out with questions.

There are currently three machines in the Cricut Explore series.

  • The Explore One machines are the most affordable models. These are wired machines that you connect directly to your device. These have one tool holder, so you can write and cut, but not at the same time.
  • The Explore Air and Explore Air 2 both have two tool holders so you can write and cut in the same project without changing tools. These machines also Bluetooth to send information from Design Space on your device to your Cricut.
  • The Explore Air 2 writes and cuts up to twice as fast as the other two machines. If you plan to use your Cricut a lot (such as for a classroom or small business), this feature is definitely worth the added price.

What I personally like about the Explore Air is that it’s super easy to use, right out of the box, because there’s a welcome project WITH SUPPLIES included. (You can see what else it comes with in this post.)

Cricut Explore Air unboxing and review on Underground Crafter

Being able to create a project that used cutting and writing straight out of the box helped me to understand the features and to build the confidence to start creating my own designs and projects. I’ve heard from so many people who buy a cutting machine or receive one as a gift and it sits in the box forever because it’s too confusing to get started. The Cricut is definitely beginner friendly, which means that you can transition from a beginner to a pro with ease. (There’s also a Craftsy class that’s really helpful for Cricut Explore newbies, Craft and Create with Your Cricut Explore with Lia Griffith.)

Another thing I like about the Cricut Explore Air machines is that you have options in terms of color. Currently, there are Gold, Wild Orchid (my favorite), and Mint (Explore Air 2) options in addition to the standard Blue that I have. You can coordinate most of your tools to match your machine. I like the idea that my machine can be a little bit more personalized.

And, if you had an older Cricut die cutting machine, you can actually import your cartridges into your Explore.

Silhouette machines

I don’t have personal experience with the Silhouette Cameo 3, but I did a lot of research on Silhouette machines before I got my Cricut and, as I mentioned, I ended up buying a Silhouette Portrait. I never actually used it because as a total newbie to cutting machines, I felt completely lost. There wasn’t much in the box to help newbies and I sold it right after I received my Cricut Explore Air. If you’ve used die cutting machines or other electronic cutting machines, you may feel more confident with a Silhouette. A lot of my favorite bloggers use Silhouettes, so I’ve been very impressed by the projects they can create. In fact, my friend Alexis from Persia Lou teaches a Craftsy class, Silhouette Savvy: Venture Into Vinyl, that helps Cameo 3 users get comfortable with vinyl projects.

Like the Cricut Explore machines, the Silhouette Cameo 3 can cut over 100 materials and it also has a feature where you can take images with your tablet/device for cutting. As far as I can tell, the Cameo 3 doesn’t have the writing capability of Cricut machines. Silhouette Studio, the design software, is not cloud-based, like Cricut Design Space. Instead, you download it on your machine. I can see pros and cons of that, so you’d have to decide which option is best for you.


I found some reviews that were really helpful if you’re considering a Silhouette Cameo.

The key differences I’ve seen highlighted between Cricut Explore machines and Silhouette Cameos are…

  • Cameos can cut up to 10 feet without a mat, which is helpful if you tend to create very large home decor projects.
  • Silhouette Studio software is stored on your computer/device, while Cricut Design space is cloud-based.
  • Cricut Design Space is more beginner-friendly and Cricut machines make more precise cuts, especially on heavier materials.

If you end up choosing Silhouette Cameo 3, Silhouette School shares her tips for getting started for beginners (including videos) in this post.

Sizzix machines

I’ve used a Sizzix die cutting machine, the Big Shot, which is more affordable than an electronic cutting machine (unless, of course, you plan to make a variety of projects and start buying a lot of dies, which can add up quickly). Since I don’t know much about Sizzix machines, I asked my friend Marjie from Marjie Kemper Designs if she could share some of what she likes about her Sizzix machines with you.

Underground Crafter (UC): Which cutting machine(s) do you own?

Marjie: I have two Sizzix machines – the Big Shot and the Vagabond.

UC: What is your favorite thing about your machines?

Marjie: The Vagabond is my favorite. It’s electric, which makes cutting a breeze. It can cut up to 5 pieces of paper at once, as well as all kinds of thick materials (chipboard, corrugated cardboard, shrink plastic, fabric, etc.)  I also love using it with embossing folders.

The Big Shot is great too.  It’s my workhorse… I take it everywhere I teach.  It’s manual, though, so a bit more effort.

UC: What kinds of projects/materials do you recommend this machine for?

Marjie: I use my Sizzix die-cutting machines for mixed media art and scrapbooking.

UC: What tips do you have Sizzix newbies?

Marjie: My advice to newbies is to play around with shims.  Some dies are delicate and you might not get a good cut the first try. This is especially true with thin dies, often called Thinlits. I keep an old notebook next to my machine and tear out pages to use as shims. You’d be surprised how well some of the thin dies work when you add a folded over piece of notebook paper along with your chosen paper.  They make it cut like butter!

To give you an idea of what types of projects you can create with a Sizzix machine, Marjie shared this image from a recent blog post: Nelson Mandela Quote Collage.

(By the way, if you’re interested in exploring mixed media, Marjie teaches Inventive Ink: Colorful Mixed Media Effects on Craftsy.)

Sizzix also has an electronic, die-free cutting machine called the eclips2. I don’t know anyone who uses it, so I couldn’t get any insider information, but here’s an unboxing with review and getting started video by Ken’s Kreations.

 

So, which cutting machine should YOU buy?

I’m in love with my Cricut Explore Air, but I know people who are equally happy with their Silhouette Cameo 3 or Sizzix Vagabond. If you have a friend with a cutting machine, try before you buy. If that’s not possible, Ken’s Kreations maintains a regularly updated Which Die-Cutting Machine Should I Buy? post that includes a lot of video tutorials where you can see different machines in action.

Think about your answers to the questions at the beginning of the post. Choose the machine that seems to be the best fit for your answers. And try it out as soon as you get it home! I can tell you from experience that letting a cutting machine sit around in a box just increases your anxiety about getting started.

If you have any questions about the Cricut Explore Air (or the other machines in the Cricut Explore series), let me know. I’d be happy to answer and help you in your machine comparison journey. I hope you find the perfect machine for you!

 

Holiday Stashdown Challenge 2016 Sponsor Spotlight: Paper from Heaven

Announcing the Holiday Stashdown crochet-a-long 2016! #HolidayStashdownCAL2016In this post, I’m spotlighting the final prize sponsor for the February monthly giveaway for the Holiday Stashdown Crochet-a-Long. (If you’re just learning about the CAL now, you can find more details here.)

This post contains affiliate links.

This post’s featured sponsor is Paper from Heaven. Show your support by following Paper from Heaven on Facebook | Instagram | Newsletter.

Sponsor Spotlight: Paper From Heaven

Paper from Heaven is an Etsy shop where organization is all rolled up. Katie is the maker behind the shop, and one of her favorite quotes is by Marcus Aurelius: “The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.”

Paper from Heaven is a February crochet-a-long sponsor, and Katie took a moment to stop by for an interview so you can find out more about her shop! Photos are copyright Paper from Heaven and used with permission.

An interview with Katie from Paper from Heaven on EtsyUnderground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started with sewing? What other crafts do you enjoy?

Katie: I always had been around sewing. My mom was sewing before I was born. I didn’t think it was for me and I passed every opportunity I was given to learn from her before she moved away after I was married. I had quit my job less than a year before and was home with my 2 small children. I just needed an outlet, I needed something I could do for myself. I soon heard about Etsy and started selling online, which just fueled my hobby. After a few years it became time to decide to go back to work or make my hobby work for me.

Paper from Heaven on Etsy's mini crochet hook case
UC: What inspired you to start Paper From Heaven? Can you tell us about your Etsy shop?

Katie: I began this journey as Paper From Heaven sewing and creating fun organizing products for kids. It started with a love for the idea of crayon rolls for the kiddos, but I wanted to make them different and more versatile for different types of crayons. I came up with the design of a larger pocket to hold more crayons in Summer 2011, and the mini crayon roll followed in Fall 2011. I love the design and that it gives customers the ability to have their crayon needs grow with their kiddos!

ILC February 2016 BannersAs time moved on I began expanding my product line to other areas where creativity and organization needs to be more fun. As my business grew I began to enlist the help of my husband to handle some of the administrative tasks. Because of his commitment to PaperFromHeaven he was able to go back to school to work on his masters degree. So now we are here in North Carolina being creative and experiencing the East Coast life.

Paper from Heaven on Etsy's mini crochet hook case
UC: What is your favorite crafty book in your collection?

Katie: A is for Apron. I love the concepts and designs in that book, it’s just something that sparks my creativity and love for fun aprons!

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

Katie: Cliche enough, I follow Pinterest more than a particular site. I typically look at the picture and if easy enough I reproduce it without even going to the website. I rarely follow a pattern, I usually just wing it and figure it out myself. I usually have an idea and just figure out what works. I did that with all of the designs in my shop, either I had an idea or someone came to me with a concept and I just sat down and figured it all out on paper and made one. The Mini Crochet Hook Case concept came from a friend who wanted something to store her hooks in.

Paper from Heaven on Etsy's mini crochet hook caseUC: Tell us about the Paper From Heaven prize for the Holiday Stashdown CAL. What can one lucky winner expect to win from your shop?

Katie: You’ll receive a Mini Crochet Hook Case in any fabric I have available in my shop! (The ones listed, as well as any of the newer fabrics.)

By the way, Katie’s large cosmetic bags work great as crochet project bags!

Thank you, Paper from Heaven, for sponsoring the crochet-a-long.

Which Paper from Heaven product do you like the best?

Holiday Stashdown Challenge 2015 Sponsor Spotlight: katrinkles

Are you having as much fun with the Holiday Stashdown Crochet-a-Long 2015 as I am? (If you’re just learning about it now, there’s still plenty of time to join in. You can find more details about the CAL here.) I’m shining a spotlight on each of our generous giveaway sponsors with a dedicated post over the coming weeks.

Today’s featured sponsor katrinkles. Show your support by following katrinkles on Facebook.

All images are copyright katrinkles and used with permission.

This post cointains affiliate links.

Sponsor Spotlight

Interview with Katy Westcott from katrinkles

A crochet gauge ruler designed by katrinkles.
A crochet gauge ruler designed by katrinkles.

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

Katy: After college I worked in a goldsmith’s shop in New York City.  A coworker noticed me drawing these intricate, lacy patterns on our lunch break and decided I should learn how to crochet.  Once I got the hang of it I started making doilies that looked like those drawings.  It was a great activity for my subway commute.  Eventually I learned how to read crochet patterns and that led to making scarves and hats and sweaters.  I especially love when you get to the stage of a crochet project where you have memorized your motif.  You can pick it up anywhere and just go, eventually combining them into something awesome.

UC: What inspired you to start katrinkles? Can you tell us about your Etsy shop?

Katy: By trade I’m a jeweler, so I took a laser cutting workshop thinking it would be an interesting thing to incorporate into my metal work.  We have an amazing non-profit community arts center in Providence called AS220, which has a laser cutter in their lab.  I was already knitting and crocheting at that point, so once I learned how to laser cut I instantly thought of making buttons.  Since buttons are the intersection of knitting and jewelry it made sense that I would be making them.

Years before this, my first product was double pointed needle holders made of rubber and elastic to hold my WIPs.  I started making and selling those long before I thought of it as a business, but it was my buttons and knitting needle gauges that really got katrinkles started.  Having a booth at local fiber events and a shop online was a hobby at first while I worked full time in the Jewelry Industry, but early this year I finally left my last part time job to be able to focus exclusively on katrinkles.

Gauge ruler and buttons by katrinkles.
Gauge ruler and buttons by katrinkles.

UC: You’re multicraftual. Do you have a favorite “go-to” craft or does it depend on your mood or time of year?

Katy: I’ve come to realize that it depends on time of year.  As soon as it starts getting springy outside I get an itch to start crocheting lacy tops out of cotton thread and knitting cotton dish cloths. In the middle of the summer I become engrossed with sewing tops and dresses.  Then, in the fall, I get back to knitting socks and sweaters and spinning wool.

Katy's favorite craft books.
Katy’s favorite craft books.

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

Katy: Oh man, this is a tough one!  I’ve narrowed it down to three:

  1. I’ve knit a lot of the sweaters in the New England Knits book, by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre, and there are still more in my queue.  The sweaters are timeless and most are also great for showcasing buttons.  Plus I’m a New Englander through and through.
  2. Denyse Schmidt Quilts is full of amazing things! Someday I hope to sew a quilt. I pretty much want to make all of the quilts in this book. She’s a fellow RISD alum and I discovered her book at RISD Works, which is a shop on campus which sells only the work of RISD alumni.
  3. I can’t not include a jewelry book:  Calder Jewelry, with photographs by Maria Robledo and Edited by Alexander S.C. Rower, is a huge exhibition catalog I picked up at the Calder show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Calder’s playful use of line and interesting cold connections are infinitely inspiring to me.  I could thumb through this book for hours.

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

Katy: I love Ravelry, of course, it is the best!  Aside from that, my community and inspiration are mostly on Instagram these days.  Instead of following each of the individual crafty blogs I used to read I now follow their Instagram feeds.

A granny square hook gauge by katrinkles.
A granny square hook gauge by katrinkles.

UC: Tell us about the katrinkles prize for the Holiday Stashdown CAL. What can one lucky winner expect to win from your shop?

Katy: I started crocheting before I took up knitting so it’s always been important to me to have tools and buttons for crocheters as well as knitters.  I have a few crochet hook gauge designs now but the one with the granny square was my first and it’s my favorite.  There’s something so satisfying about the simplicity of a granny square, it’s fun to make and they can be so beautiful.  The granny square crochet hook gauge is made out of bamboo.

UC: Besides Etsy, where else can people find katrinkles in the coming months?

Katy: I will be at the Fiber Festival of New England in Springfield, MA the weekend of November 7th, 2015. (I will be sharing a booth with Maybe Tomorrow Farm.) I will also vending the Knitting Weekend at Historic Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI the weekend of January 17th 2016. Lots of interesting classes and events connected with this even in addition to the marketplace, which is free.

Thank you, katrinkles, for sponsoring the crochet-a-long.

Which crochet accessory in the katrinkles Etsy shop do you like the best?

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