I’m really pleased to share that I won two 2013 crochet blog awards.
Kathryn from Crochet Concupiscence awarded me her 2013 Awesome Crochet Blogger Award for Best Crochet Interviews for the third year in a row (!). (On a side note, wow, the pressure is really on now to come with some fantastic interviews! Luckily, I already have a few up my sleeve that I’ll be posting later this year.)
Kathryn is one of my favorite bloggers, and this is really an honor. I love her annual blogger award series and her weekly link love posts, which always introduce me to new crochet blogs. You can read my interviews with Kathryn here and here, and find out more about what I love about her blog here.
I’m sharing links to four of my favorite crochet interviews from 2013:
This might explain why my Pinterest source page currently looks like this:
(Usually, there is a variety of different photos!) The All Weather Cowl is definitely one of my favorite samples to wear out. (I even wear it around the house when it’s extra cold.) I only wish the yarn I designed it with, Galler Yarns Aztec Boucle, hadn’t been discontinued this past summer. You could make the entire cowl with just one skein!
Perhaps this award will motivate me to make another sample with a yarn that’s currently available…
You may know that I volunteer to review crochet books on the Crochet Guild of America‘s blog, CGOA Now! In 2013, most of my book reviews have been published there. Here are the links in case you missed the reviews.
Every Saturday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be highlighting one of my favorite online crochet resources. Today’s featured site is New Stitch A Day, my favorite source of crochet videos.
There are many online sources of crochet videos and everyone has their favorites. Mine is New Stitch A Day. I frequently refer my crochet students to the crochet stitchionary (and the knitting videos are pretty cool, too). I like the videos because they are clearly lit, well edited, and frequently include written instructions as well.
Some of my favorites include his videos on the sc3tog decrease and the dc5tog bobble. Many of my students struggle with this type of stitch so it is great to have a site to refer them to once they get home from the lesson.
I had the chance to interview Johnny Vasquez, the site’s founder, earlier this week, and talk to him about the site’s growth and their upcoming expansion. But I saved a few special NatCroMo questions from the interview for today.
Underground Crafter (UC): Can you share a favorite crochet memory with us?
Johnny: My wife and I inspired another couple who are friends of ours to start knitting. So we were all hanging out in this little town in northern New Jersey in late October ’10 for the weekend. We went to this cute little yarn store because they had never been to a real yarn store at that time. While I was there I saw a gorgeous crochet hook made of palm wood. I didn’t know how to crochet, but I bought it anyway. Now I needed to find something to make. Well, my buddy Nick, the hubby, hates Panda Bears. With a passion! He thinks they’re the dumbest, lamest, laziest animals on the planet. So I found an amigurumi panda pattern and made it for him. The funny thing was, I was making it right in front of him and he had no idea what it was. He was so excited he was jumping up and down with anticipation.
We ended up getting together for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh (we all worked for a company where we traveled full time). I gave him the toy panda and he looked at me like I was crazy at first. But he finally broke out with a big smile and said it was the only panda he’d ever loveWe named it Bambu and now it lives in the crib of their new baby girl.
I liked that panda . . . I’ll have to make another one . . .
UC: What’s your current favorite crochet related resource on New Stitch a Day?
We get A TON of requests for stuff on Tunisian crochet, and we’re working with Lion Brand to put together some resources on that in the near future.
UC: What are your favorite types of crochet projects to make?
Johnny: Personally I am not a fan of crochet for garments. I think it looks like chainmail in most cases, especially on men.
I prefer to make amiguruimi with crochet. I’m working on a project I’m calling Yarn Monster that will be an amigurmi template in both knit and crochet that people will be able to use to make all kinds of toy monsters!
UC: What are your favorite websites for crochet-related content and community?
Johnny: There’s a lady, Kathryn Vercillo, who runs a blog called Crochet Concupiscence. I can’t pronounce it for the life of me, but she puts out some really cool content. I’m always impressed with the stuff she finds. And she wrote a book about how crochet saved her life! (UC comment: I love Kathryn’s blog, too. I featured it as my favorite online resource for crochet news here, interviewed Kathryn here and here, and reviewed her book on the CGOA blog here.)
Thanks so much for stopping by Johnny, and for creating a wonderful resource for crocheters!
Every Saturday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be highlighting one of my favorite online crochet resources. Today’s featured site is Crochet Concupiscence, my favorite source of crochet-related news.
It is sort of like the USA Today of crochet blogs – a roundup of everything going on in the crochet world, plus Kathryn’s personal projects – but with much better/more engaging writing.
It’s because of that combination – Kathryn’s tireless efforts at gathering crochet news along with the quality of her writing – that I find myself returning to her blog again and again. I always discover new blogs through Kathryn’s weekly Crochet Link Love on Saturdays, and I also love her vintage crochet discoveries (which can be found in her new 50 Years of Crochet feature and her series on Edgy 1970s Crochet Designers).
Underground Crafter (UC): What’s your favorite crochet memory?
Kathryn: My sister and I sometimes crochet together when she is here. I remember one time that she came here and we had a fire going in the fireplace and I was working on my crochet work while she was reading out loud to me by the light of the fire. It felt like I was part of an amazing 19th century novel.
UC: What are your favorite types of projects to crochet?
Kathryn: This varies so much depending on my mood. Crochet can serve so many different emotional needs! Lately I’ve been in a complicated emotional space in both my personal and professional lives and as a result I’ve been drawn to really simple, instant gratification projects that offer the opportunity to focus and go inwards. For example, I’ve been crocheting a lot of post stitch and cable stitch crochet hat patterns because I can follow the pattern, focus on the work at hand and kind of let everything else slip away but the project is never so complicated that it feels draining or trying. (UC comment: I love to make granny squares when I’m stressed out, for the same reason!)
UC: What are your favorite crochet websites?
Kathryn: It’s so hard to choose just a few websites. That’s why I do crochet link love every week, to link to all of the best crochet content from around the web because there is so much of it and the sources change from week to week! I like Pinterest for finding crochet inspiration, Ravelry for finding patterns and I’m learning to like the Facebook crochet community although the Facebook platform has taken me some getting used to. (UC comment: Kathryn frequently shares a crochet question of the day on her Facebook page and it’s very fun to play along!) I’m increasingly interested in Twitter chats and hangouts where you can connect with a smaller group of people in real time but there are only a handful of those; I’d like to get more involved in that.
UC: You’re a very organized blogger. Can you share your current blog schedule with us?
Kathryn: My current posting schedule varies depending on what’s in the news but you can usually count on these things:
Designer crochet or crochet fashion posts on Thursdays
Something about crochet health or crocheting for creativity on Fridays
Then throughout the week some of the other things that I feature include crochet news, roundups of crochet pattern links, and info on crochet designers. Occasionally I’ll do crochet book reviews or giveaways. I’ve also just started accepting crochet sponsors on this blog so there are posts introducing the amazing things that they offer and usually featuring a giveaway at some point during the month.
Thanks, Kathryn, for stopping by, and for regularly scouring the web to share such amazing crochet content with your readers!
What’s your favorite online resource for crochet-related news?
I designed the Twisted Cable Hat because I love the look of mini cables and twisted stitches. My version was made with just over one skein of Patons Classic Wool in Leaf Green. It is super warm and thick because of the way it is crocheted. I haven’t decided yet when I’ll offer a PDF version of this pattern.
The Lattice Shell Tunic is available as a free pattern on their website. (Side note: The schematic hasn’t been uploaded yet, so if you’re getting started on the project, let me know and I can email it to you.) The small is a great one skein project using a jumbo skein of Kollabora’s Nora’s Pantry yarn, which is a soft alpaca.
It’s always fun to see your designs published, but there was other great news this week…
Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival
I’ll be teaching two classes at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival in March, and my mom and I have decided to make it a weekend road trip! I’m really looking forward to spending a few days out of town with my mom. I booked the hotel this week and am already thinking about what to pack. (Can you tell I don’t travel much??) I’ve been wanting to check out Pittsburgh for a while, so this is a great opportunity. And, since my mom is driving us up, we’ll have a car to get around town with, too.
If you’re in the area (or are planning a road trip, like me), I’d love to see you at either of my classes: Knitting Cables 101 on Saturday morning or the Bruges Lace Basics Stitch Sampler on Sunday afternoon. Also, if you have any Pittsburgh tourist suggestions, let me know!
When I won the award last year, I was thrilled, but this year I’m even more excited. It may not be evident, but I put a lot of work into my interviews – probably more time than for any other type of post. But (even without these two awesome awards!!) it is completely worth it because I learn so much from the interviewees and I’ve been able to “meet” some of my crochet heroes by contacting them for an interview.
When I started blogging, I naively thought interviews would be a good way to have content on days when I didn’t know what to blog about. You know how they say that ignorance is bliss? If I would have known then what I know now about interviewing, I might have never started ;). About half of the people I contact may never respond while others may be interested but aren’t available to answer the questions for months because their schedules are so tight. Each interview can require hours of research before I even write the questions – everything from reading the interviewee’s books to searching the web for information about their background. Once the interview answers are returned, taking the time to organize the pictures and links for the posts, as well as editing out typos and adding in my own comments, adds in another hour or two. I feel so honored that Kathryn would highlight my interviews again this year, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed them. You can find all my interviews here. (I’m also planning a recap of my favorite interviews from this year later this month.)
This has been an amazing week for me, and I hope yours has gone just as well!
Today, I’m interviewing Kathryn Vercillo, one of my favorite crochet bloggers, for the second time. (You can check out the first interview here.) Kathryn recently self published a book, Crochet Saved My Life, about the ways crochet supports physical and mental healing.
Kathryn is a professional writer, and her work has been published in magazines such as Latina and Skope. Kathryn has also written for numerous websites and blogs, including PC Worldand Houzz. And, of course, Kathryn is the mind behind Crochet Concupiscence, and is also known as CrochetBlogger on Ravelry and Twitter. You can also find Kathryn and Crochet Concupiscence online on Facebook, G+, and Pinterest, and you can sign up for her newsletter (which generally features awesome goodies and discounts) here.
Underground Crafter (UC): Your new book, Crochet Saved My Life, shares your personal experience of using crochet to help deal with your depression. Tell us more about your decision to write the book and to share your experience with depression, which is often stigmatized in our society. What were some of the challenges you faced in starting this project?
Kathryn: I have been a writer for as long as I can remember and I knew that there was another book in me, but I wasn’t sure what it would be about or when it would happen. I started writing the Crochet Concupiscence blog shortly after beginning to heal from depression and it was a really great project for me. I enjoy writing about crochet every day and I’ve really been happy with the terrific support I’ve received from the online crochet community. So it began to get clearer and clearer that my next book would be related to this topic that was becoming increasingly important to me – meaning the topic of crochet.
There were actually a few false starts. For example, I had ideas for a crochet pattern book and was thinking at the time that I wanted to get into pattern design. But as I started doing that I just found that it wasn’t really that enjoyable for me for a variety of reasons. I admire and respect the terrific crochet designers that are putting out books, but making my own patterns turned out to not feel right. I like doing a lot of random crochet work and creating my own designs but I don’t enjoy the process of writing that down and translating it all into something that someone else can follow.
I also started writing some short stories about crochet. I enjoyed that but I can’t say that I was passionate about it. In the meantime, I was continuing to post a lot on the blog and I found that one of the topics I was drawn to again and again was how crochet helped in healing people and just improving quality of life. So it began to occur to me that this was really a topic I wanted to explore further and to do that I needed to get at the core of why it was so important to me, which meant confronting my own depression story. As I started to do that, I found myself not only having a lot to say but also feeling really positive while writing the material and that was what told me that yes, this was the right project at the right time.
One of the toughest things for me with this book was deciding how much of myself to share and in what way. I did not want this to be entirely a memoir about my own experience but I did think that it was important to share that story in detail. I wanted to be honest but not self-pitying. Finding that voice was a little bit tough. In the end I decided to write the book much like I write my blog – just casually talking to my reader. I found that it worked for me and I hope it works for the readers!
The other thing is just that the length of a project like this is tough in many ways. You sit there isolated at your computer and even though you’ve written 100 pages you aren’t anywhere near done. There’s no instant gratification. There is a lot of self-doubt. There is a lot of writer’s block to contend with. I’ve been writing long enough to know how to work through that but it’s never easy!
UC: What was the development process like for this book? How did you find the other people you profile and encourage them to share their personal experiences in your book?
Kathryn: In the beginning I just started by creating an outline of topics that I personally thought crochet might help in healing and that I wanted to learn more about. I started with my own story because I think that’s where all good writing begins. Then I began doing basic research (thanks Google) to start getting new ideas about the topics on my outline. So, for example, I knew I wanted to cover the topic of how crochet can help with anxiety so I did a bunch of searches into that to start fleshing out that chapter.
In the meantime, I did a few posts here and there on my blog about health-related topics. The response I received was terrific and really encouraged me to keep going with my research. I put out a few “calls for stories” on the blog. At first I really had no idea how I would use those stories other than just for getting ideas about what else to include in the book or maybe pulling a few quotes for chapters I’d already identified as interesting me. But then the stories I received were so incredibly powerful that I knew that they needed to be told in full.
Women were responding to my calls for stories and telling me really intimate, personal, difficult details about their lives. I felt like it was my responsibility to honor that and find the best way to share their stories in a way that celebrated their strength while conveying the role that crochet played in helping them to heal.
I had about a dozen stories from those calls on my blog but since they were now going to be such a key part of the book I knew I needed more. That was when I started putting out calls for specific topics, to help cover areas of the book that I didn’t have enough material for. So for example I put out messages on Twitter asking if anyone wanted to share their stories about using crochet as a pain management tool.
In a few cases, I actually found specific people who had blogged about a topic and reached out to them individually to see if they wanted to share their stories. Of course, some did and some didn’t. My whole approach to this process was believing that the stories that were meant to be told right now would be the ones that came forth. I made sure everyone had the right to choose how much personal detail to share, whether or not to share their real names, etc. I wanted to respect that everyone is in different stages of healing and should tell their story from that place. I hope I did a good job of that!
UC: This is your second self-published book. Can you tell us about the experience of self-publishing? Do you have any advice for those of us who are considering self-publishing?
Kathryn: Yes! In 2011 I put out my booklet of articles about cool elderly women who crochet. That was mostly a test run to see how I liked self-publishing through Amazon’s CreateSpace tool. At the time I was still really undecided about whether or not to get a traditional publisher but the experience of self-publishing was so positive for me that it clinched it for me that I’d self-publish. I honestly believe it’s the best option for most writers today. You get to retain your rights, make many decisions for yourself about the entire process, collect more in royalties (usually), etc. and as a solopreneur that is all really important to me.
I have two pieces of advice for people who want to self-publish. First is to surround yourself with experts to help you in the process. I worked with a really great photographer for my book cover and she did images that I just never would have gotten on my own. And it’s a bit tangential but I have a really great web/tech guy who helps me keep my blog running right. If I didn’t have him, I would have spent tons and tons of time trying to keep the blog’s problems at bay (he helped in particular with a big issue I had with my web host) and I wouldn’t have had the time/energy to get the book out on schedule. Other professionals that a writer may want to work with include editors, marketing people, and interior layout designers.
The other thing is that you have to be willing to play many different roles to successfully self-publish. I needed to treat this like a creative work, almost a piece of art, as I was making it. And yet, I needed to be my own taskmaster and manager, insisting on maintaining a schedule to keep it on track. And now that it’s out, I can’t think of it as a creative work anymore, because then the critiques would be too emotionally tough to bear, so now I need to switch gears and think of it as a product I’m trying to sell to the right people. But still, it’s my baby and to promote it I need to stay genuine to its creative intent. So you just go back and forth a lot, utilizing different skills. I think if you aren’t prepared to do that then self-publishing can be really, really tough.
Practically speaking I think that the CreateSpace tool is a really good one. It was easy to understand. It affords you a lot of control but there is an online community there to support you with questions and help. There are other options (Lulu, Blurb) and I don’t know a lot about them but my experience with CreateSpace has been really positive.
UC: Your blog has some new features since I last interviewed you. What are some of your current and upcoming Crochet Concupiscence projects?
Kathryn: I am running two regular series right now that I’m really enjoying. And the first is one that I know you enjoy as well – my articles about the crochet designers from the 1970s! Each Wednesday I take a look back at the work of a crochet artist who emerged around the early 1960s. I explore the work they did at the time, the boundaries that they were pushing in the fiber art world, etc. Then I try to find out what they’ve been up to since. A large number of them are still creating art today, although it’s often not crochet art anymore, and it’s fun to see how their careers have gone over time. These people really contributed a lot to the growth of crochet, making it the craft we know today, and I think it’s not only interesting but important to honor them for that. (UC comment: Yes, it’s true, I’m completely addicted to this series since I love vintage crochet!)
The other regular series is my Designer Crochet Series where I take a look at a famous fashion designer each Thursday and see if there is any crochet in their collections. This is a yearlong project and I’m about halfway through it. I actually haven’t gotten a lot of feedback on this one so I don’t know if people are enjoying it as much as I am but it’s something I really love doing. (UC comment: I’m always amazed by all of the pictures you find for each of these posts!)
And finally I’ve recently begun to take a strong interest in crochet blogs published in other languages so I’ve been doing some posts sharing my favorites. People who are interested in that can start by checking out my posts on Spanish Crochet Blogs but I’ve also covered Italian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Finnish and a few others.
UC: You do a lot to support the crochet community through your blog and other social media outlets. Do you have any suggestions for crocheters who are interested in being more involved in the online crochet community?
Kathryn: Thanks! I love being a part of the crochet community. My best advice is to be available everywhere but active in only your favorite spots. So for example people who want to can find me through Ravelry, Hookey, Etsy, and a whole bunch of other places because I do make myself available there. However, I’m only super active on Twitter and Pinterest, and to a lesser extent G+ and now Facebook. Facebook was a compromise for me because I’ve never really liked the format there but so many people wanted to see a Crochet Concupiscence Facebook page that I felt like it was important to get more active there.
My point here is that you want people to be able to connect with you but you don’t want to burn yourself out by trying to keep up with all of the latest social sites. Find the ones that you really enjoy. (UC comment: I think this is great advice. I try to focus my time on the sites that I enjoy using the most!) I like Twitter because for me it’s a place where it’s easy to have quick conversations with many different people. Plus I like participating in TweetChats, such as Crochet Chat, which is the first Wednesday of every month. I like Pinterest because of the visual beauty of it; I truly enjoy spending time there. And I like the G+ format for finding and sharing information. I enjoy those so I spend time there. I spend less time on the sites I enjoy less because if you’re not having fun with the community then what’s the point! I also want to give a shoutout to Hookey here – I haven’t spent nearly enough time on it myself (only so many hours in a day) but whenever I’m there I find a really great crochet community so anyone who is looking for a new place to start finding some great online connections would do good for themselves to try there.
I also really encourage people to comment on my blog and even to email me. I like the one on one connection of really getting to know people.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Kathryn, and for sharing your tips with us!
This week, I auditioned six more motifs for my mom’s milestone birthday blanket. I made each sample with stash yarn, and I’m happy to report that I’m almost to the bottom of one of my plastic yarn tubs!
At this point, I was ready to make a decision. (Ok, I wasn’t actually ready to make the decision, but I was ready to stop making more samples!) But then, I got an email from my sister. You see, I had sent her the link to the Pinterest board of patterns I set up a few weeks ago, and she just got around to reading it this week. Naturally, she thought two patterns that I hadn’t even tried yet were the perfect choices for my mom’s bedspread, so I made samples of those, too!
This is the Lacy Square Motif by Crochet Atelier. (Side note: This is the first time I followed an entire pattern on my Kindle Fire. It wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be, and I saved some printer ink and recycled paper!) If I were to use this motif, I would adjust the center part of the pattern so that the circle and the petals were a bit smaller – I suspect that my chains are much larger than those of the designer.
My plan now is to send pictures of all the possible motifs to my sister for a final decision. Then I will purchase the yarn and get started.
And that brings me to my next set of decisions. You may recall that one of my YOP2 goals is to participate in the 2012 Ravellenic Games. The kick off is the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday at 4 p.m. Eastern time. There are a few things that I need to do before then:
Choose a sock pattern. My main goal is to complete my first pair of knit socks during the Ravellenic Games. I think I’ll be using the Austermann Step Sock yarn I received in the July Goodie Box Swap. These will be entered in the sock put event.
Make (at least one) gauge swatch. I want to make sure I have the right needles available before casting on Friday.
Decide if I’ll be entering the modular relay. If so, I’ll need to decide whether I’ll be competing with charity squares or motifs for my mom’s bedspread or motifs for a scrap blanket for me. (That’s right, I want to make even more blankets!) I will need to declare a number of motifs, which will naturally be based on the project I’m working on for this competition.
Choose a team (or teams). This has been the toughest part for me. Normally, I would enter a crochet-focused team, like Team Crochet, but that seems strange if my main project is knitting. (Although, apparently, I can enter more than one team.) If anyone reading is also participating in the Ravellenic Games, do you have any team suggestions for me?
By the way, Kathryn is hosting 31 days of giveaways and daily blog awards throughout December, so be sure to stop by her blog and check these out! Thanks again, Kathryn, for the award, and thanks to all of the wonder artisans who have shared their time with me for interviews this year!
Today, I’m pleased to present an interview with Kathryn Vercillo from Crochet Concupiscence, one of my favorite crochet blogs. It is sort of like the USA Today of crochet blogs – a roundup of everything going on in the crochet world, plus Kathryn’s personal projects – but with much better/more engaging writing. Kathryn is working on a new project Swaddle, which she will share with us.
Kathryn is a professional writer and blogger, and she lives in San Francisco, where I used to live as a toddler (yes, it is true, I haven’t lived in NYC for my entire life – I did spend three years elsewhere). You can find Kathryn on her blog, on her Twitter page, or on Ravelry as CrochetBlogger.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Kathryn: Like many other people, I learned a basic crochet chain from my mom when I was a kid but then didn’t really do anything else with crochet until I was an adult. A few years ago, I was struggling with a very serious bout of depression and I kept trying to force myself to explore different interests in order to escape from the clutches of such sadness. I can’t even tell you how many things I tried (hula hoop dancing, drawing, computer gaming) and somehow I got it into my head that I wanted to try crochet. It immediately resonated with me when nothing else had.
I started re-learning crochet at that time by trying to read vintage crochet patterns from my mom’s old magazines but those proved too difficult to understand (although I can read them now). I ended up getting some “how to crochet” books for kids from my library and learning from them, using YouTube videos as a supplement when certain stitches confused me. It started out as a possible hobby and became a true passion. Now I crochet daily and research the craft all of the time.
UC: What was your original inspiration for starting Crochet Concupiscence?
Kathryn: I am a freelance writer for a living and had been working as a professional blogger for other people for about five years. Every time that I had a new interest, I started a blog of my own to explore it further and share it with others. However, I never really devoted a lot of time to any of those previous blogs because I was busy blogging for others. Last year I started cutting back on my professional blogging work in order to focus on some other writing projects. That opened up a space for me to launch a blog of my own that I could really devote myself to. Crochet had become the love of my life by then and I wanted to spend as much time as I could researching it so it was a natural step to launch the blog. My favorite part of every day is the writing I do for Crochet Concupiscence.
UC: You’re a very active blogger with an established audience, but seem to have a life, too (or perhaps that is all a scam, and you are chained to your computer all day?). What tips do you have for emerging bloggers?
Kathryn: I do try to have a life although I admit that I probably spend more time crocheting and blogging than the average person would :). Based on my experiences both with Crochet Concupiscence and with the blogs I’ve done professionally for others, here are my blogging tips:
Take the time to ask yourself what you want from your blog. The thing about the blog world is that there are many, many different tools for bloggers (Twitter, SEO stuff, WordPress plugins, etc. etc.) and you can easily get lost as you learn about each of these new things. If you know exactly what you want from your blog, it will be much easier to sift through all of this and choose only those things that make sense to you and keep you enjoying your blog. Your goal might be to keep track of your projects in one place, or to connect with other like-minded people around a topic like crochet, or to have hundreds of thousands of followers and be a big influencer in your niche. Whatever goal you have is fine but it’s important to know what it is.
Establish a posting schedule. I write about the same things each day of the week so that I don’t have to think “what should I write today?” For example, I always do crochet artist profiles on Mondays and crochet book reviews on Tuesdays. It’s a time saver. I also recommend setting aside specific times of day or days of the week to do your blogging. This keeps you on track.
Read other blogs that interest you. This will keep you inspired, give you ideas for what you want to do with your own blog, and help you connect to a larger community, which is a key thing that makes blogging fun.
UC: You are working on a new project, Swaddle, which explores the way women nurture the men in their lives. Tell me about your inspiration for this project and what type of support you are looking for from the crochet community.
Kathryn: Yes! Swaddle is a crochet art project that uses the traits inherent in crochet to explore the ways in which women communicate with the men in their lives and how this affects their relationships. I believe that women are generally taught to be the caregivers and problem-solvers in their relationships, and they often use words to do this. Sometimes the ways we communicate as women do a great job of nurturing the relationships we have and sometimes they go awry and really stifle those relationships. Swaddle explores both sides of this through crochet art.
Historically, mothers swaddled babies to keep them safe but it sometimes went wrong and ended up killing the child, and that’s where the imagery comes from for the project.
This crochet project will ultimately have 12 – 24 pieces in it for display in a gallery. The title piece is Swaddled. This is a collection of crocheted swaddling blankets wrapped around representations of male figures. Some are cozy and comfortable, as we expect crochet blankets to be. Some are strangling and suffocating. Some are too loose and the male is exposed. This represents the core idea behind the title project.
Communication, relationships, and women’s roles have long been themes I’ve explored in my writing and artwork. When I started getting into crochet, I knew that I wanted to do some type of art project with it. Crochet is stereotypically a female craft and can be constructed in both a delicate “feminine” way and a structural “masculine” form so it lends itself well to art that explores gender issues. I also think that the repetition in crochet with its constant loops and knots easily represents communication, so it works well for this project.
I would love to see the crochet community support this project and that’s why I’ve chosen to use Kickstarter to crowdsource funding to make it a reality. People can donate as little as one dollar to support the development of the project. People who donate $20 or more will be allowed to select a set of stitches in the color of their choosing which will go in to one large-scale art piece in Swaddle to represent the participation of those who have helped the project along.
I’d like to note that I’m using yarns from indie female yarn dyers and spinners so the funding through Kickstarter will also help the fiber community in that way.
UC: I usually ask about favorite blogs, but I think your Hooked Together project gives us all a great view into your blog reading habits. Instead I’ll skip right to asking about your favorite crochet books in your collection. Do you have some that you always return to, or new favorites, to share?
Kathryn: Yes, Hooked Together is a compilation of all of the crochet and fiber blogs you read. I’d also like to note that each Saturday I do a “link love” post with links to my favorite crochet posts from the week so that’s another great way to see what I enjoy reading. (UC comment: I love Link Love – I don’t read as many blogs as Kathryn, so that’s how I find out about posts I haven’t seen yet.)
As for books, I’m currently obsessing over Edie Eckman’s Around the Corner Crochet Borders. It features 150 crochet edging options, so it’s a great way to learn lots of different stitch combinations in a manner that is easy to follow.
And I’m a huge fan of Crochet Master Class, which you actually turned me on to because of your great posts working through that book! (UC comment: Thanks, Kathryn! You can read my Crochet Master Class posts here.)
Finally, I am working my way through a great vintage crochet book called Crochet and Creative Design by Annette Feldman that is more about the theory behind crochet construction. (UC comment: Thanks for introducing me to this book, Kathryn. Of course, you know I had to rush out and buy a used copy for my vintage crochet book collection!)
UC: Has blogging about crochet influenced your personal crocheting? If so, how?
Kathryn: Great question! Blogging about crochet gives me an excuse and motivation to constantly research crochet, so it has exposed me to many different things in crochet that I might not have found otherwise.
It was through reading crochet blogs that I came to understand both the importance and the how-to of blocking crochet. And it was through crochet blogs that I learned about tapestry crochet, which is a type of crochet that I really want to delve into in the near future.
I think crochet blogging also helps to keep me productive because I always want to have new work to show off on my blog. I’m participating in Year of Projects through Ravelry and I always try to chip away at my list to present something for those weekly posts on my blog.
UC: What are your favorite types of yarn to work with?
Kathryn: I’ve never met a yarn I didn’t like! No seriously, in terms of fiber, I’m currently loving bamboo/ silk blends. They are soft, shiny, somewhat eco-friendly (bamboo is, silk isn’t always) and work up easily. I also just recently bought some crazy soft baby alpaca and that may be my brand new love.
I prefer to buy hand-dyed and / or hand-spun yarns from indie dyers and small stores. Six Skeins and Candy Skein are two examples of online stores I like. (UC comment: Candy Skein’s proprietress is Tami from Tami’s Amis, the host of WIP Wednesday and FO Friday.) I also like Yarns of Italy, which isn’t an indie dyer but offers a select set of yarns direct from Italy at affordable prices. I prefer variegated yarns and like to stick to a blue/grey spectrum with some infusion of bright colors (greens and purples, mostly) and neutrals (creams, black and white).
If I had to pick a name brand yarn type that most people know, though, I’d definitely go with Malabrigo. I can never pass up a Malabrigo that comes into my path. And I also like Lorna’s Laces. I have a ridiculous yarn stash, which is organized loosely by color and put on display in vintage metal containers throughout my home. (UC comment: I’ve been planning to check out Candy Skein and haven’t tried Six Skeins or Lorna’s Laces yet, either – so thanks for the positive reviews!)
UC: What are your favorite types of projects to pick up for your own personal crocheting?
Kathryn: I make a ton of capelets, cowls and scarves. I often buy just one or two skeins of yarn and these items are small enough that I can use just that small yarn amount. I also like those small projects because they allow me to see how various stitch combinations work out without a huge commitment. Plus one great crochet accessory like that can really pull together an outfit! (UC comment: So true!)
I do typically have one larger project on the hooks – lately it’s been a large granny square blanket but I’ve also done a lot of dresses – that I can go to when I want to crochet but don’t want to think about what I want to make! In general I like to work on seamless crochet projects with very few color changes.
UC: (Insert question here: If there is anything I haven’t asked about related to crocheting, blogging, yarn, etc., that you would like to talk about, please include it here.)
Kathryn: I would just like to add that one of my main goals in terms of what I can contribute to the crochet community is to strengthen the connections that crocheters have online. This is reflected in my Hooked Together project, of course. But I also try to do it steadily with my blog by reviewing books and yarn, interviewing crocheters, sharing links, highlighting daily Etsy selections, etc. I believe that the crochet community is a terrific community and think it’s wonderful that we can connect online in the twenty first century so I try to do my part to establish and strengthen such connections.
UC: Thanks so much for stopping by, Kathryn, and I think you are meeting your goal of strengthening the online connection between crocheters! Please stop by the Swaddled Kickstarter page and contribute to this exciting art project.
To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl. For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.