100 Snowflakes to Crochet: Interview with Caitlin Sainio and giveaway!

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Today, I’m excited to interview Caitlin Sainio, author of 100 Snowflakes to Crochet: Make Your Own Snowdrift—to Give or to Keep and host a giveaway for the book, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press.  (I’ve recently begun reviewing books for the Crochet Guild of America blog, which is where you’ll see my review posted soon.)

Caitlin can be found online in her Etsy shop, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.  All pictures in this interview are from Caitlin’s Etsy shop and are used with permission.  (Click on the pictures to link to the listing.)


Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?

Caitlin: When I was in elementary school, my class held a craft fair as a fundraiser.  A couple of my classmates knew how to crochet, and in the course of the craft fair excitement, they taught me a few stitches.  I fell immediately in love: with the yarn, with the hook, with the shapes of the stitches, and with the fact that if you made a mistake, you could unravel it and try again.  I went home and took possession of my mom’s only crochet hook and a “teach yourself to crochet” book that she happened to have, and the rest is history.

Maple Leaf ornaments.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Caitlin: I’ve always liked to draw, and crochet design, for me, was a natural extension of drawing.  I realized early on that I could use stitches to create shapes, and that I could use those shapes to make more complicated geometric patterns and pictures.  Before I knew it, thread had become another medium for drawing pictures — like pens and color pencils, only three-dimensional (and with lots of little knots!).
White snowflake ornaments.


UC: What attracts you to the snowflake motif?

Caitlin: I love the symmetry of snowflakes, and I’m fascinated by the tiny, lacy patterns.  I also find snowflakes very relaxing to design, because unlike a crochet butterfly or maple leaf, a snowflake doesn’t have to look like anything in particular.  Sometimes I aim for a specific shape, but more often I just start a six-pointed base and keep crocheting until the snowflake seems to be finished.  If the result isn’t exactly what I expected, I can be happily surprised, instead of thinking, “oh…. that’s not right.  I’ll have to fix it.”


Snowflakes also have the advantage of instant gratification: they’re so small that a couple of hours is plenty of time to make a whole array of finished pieces.  This is good for me, because I don’t have a tremendously long attention span.  (I’ve been known to abandon afghans in midstream, but not snowflakes!)


Butterfly appliques.

UC: What is your favorite stiffening method?

Caitlin: I’m a fan of laundry starch.  I like the soft texture of the thread, and I’m not crazy about the plastic feel of commercial fabric stiffeners or glue mixes.  I used to make sugar starch, but I’ve since found that heavy spray starches produce a similar result, with less work on my part.


Large star snowflake.

UC: What was the design process like for 100 Snowflakes to Crochet?

Caitlin: The timing of 100 Snowflakes to Crochet was fortuitous, because I’d broken my foot shortly before starting the design work.  If you can’t walk or drive, it’s not a bad thing to have a lot of crocheting to do, and I was happy to spend a couple of months resting my foot and writing patterns.


When I designed the snowflakes for the book, my first priority was to make a good selection of basic patterns.  I tend naturally toward complex designs, and while the results can be lovely, it was important to me to include patterns that beginners could make, and that everyone would enjoy.  When those were done, I gave myself a license to experiment, sometimes working to create certain shapes, and sometimes playing with stitch combinations to see what would happen.  Once I had a hundred patterns, the rest of the process was just refining them: typing, testing, making modifications, and fixing mistakes.


White snowflake ornaments.

UC: 100 Snowflakes to Crochet includes tips for seven projects using the snowflake motifs. What are your favorite projects to make with snowflakes?

Caitlin: I like using snowflakes as decorative appliques, and I think they’re gorgeous on greeting cards.  Those projects are fairly easy to do, and the variation in texture (raised snowflake on fabric or paper) appeals to me.  My favorite snowflake project ever, though, was the Blizzard Scarf in 100 Snowflakes to Crochet.  It was a bit of a departure for me (I rarely work in yarn, and I’d never made a snowflake scarf), but it was a very satisfying project: the alpaca/silk yarn was fabulous to crochet, and the finished scarf is just beautiful.


White medallion ornament.
UC: Many crocheters are apprehensive about working with thread and steel crochet hooks.  Do you have any suggestions for thread crochet newbies?
Caitlin: I think the most important thing is to start with a comfortable hook and yarn, and then gradually size down.  That is, don’t go from chunky yarn to size 30 thread, and (especially) don’t start with a fine thread if you’re brand new to crochet: you’ll drive yourself crazy.  Instead, start crocheting with yarn, and then drop down to a finer yarn and smaller hook than you’re used to.  If, after getting comfortable with lightweight yarns, you still don’t feel quite ready to work with size 10 thread, try size 3, which is thicker (again sizing your hook to match).  Once you’re used to the thicker threads, you can work your way down to finer threads and smaller hooks.
Large lacy snowflake.
UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection (besides yours, of course)?
Caitlin: I really like Super Finishing Techniques for Crocheters by Betty Barnden.  It’s an excellent reference for everything from basic crochet stitches to neat finishing to more complicated “I wonder how they do that” questions, and full of helpful information and illustrations.  (UC comment: I love that book, too!)  100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet by Lesley Stanfield is another lovely book: the crochet patterns are beautiful, the knitting patterns make me want to learn to knit, and the whole thing is so pretty that my kids are always stealing it to look at the pictures.
Leafy green mandala.
UC: Are there any crafty websites or blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
Caitlin: I spend an incredible amount of time on Etsy.com.  I sell my work there, but I also shop, browse, read, and socialize in the forums and elsewhere on the site.  I’ve learned a lot from other Etsy shop owners, and I continue to be amazed by the beautiful, clever, and unexpected things they make and sell.

Thanks, Caitlin, for stopping by for an interview!

The nice folks at St. Martin’s Press were kind enough to provide an extra copy of 100 Snowflakes to Crochet to one lucky winner.  This giveaway is open to all readers with a mailing address in the U.S.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, October 26, 2012.

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

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