I’m excited to interview Monica Rodriguez Fuertes, a Spanish crochet, knitting, and sewing designer. You may be familiar with Monica’s designs from Crochet Today!, or through the Etsy shop she shares with her mom, HandMadeAwards. (You can read more about her in this Crochet Today! Designer We Love interview.)
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By the way, Monica asked me to share a special thank you with her mom, Loly Fuertes. Pictures are used with permission and link to the pattern pages.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet, knit, and sew?
Moni: When I was a little girl I was always painting and making little pompom animals and sewing dolls with fabrics.
My mom, Loly Fuertes, is an expert knitter and crocheter. She taught to me a few years ago at her home, and my great-grandmother taught her in the garden on a summer afternoon when my mom was a little girl.
Both my mother and I started HandMadeAwards.
The art of creating lovely and unique items has been always present in my family. I grew up all around this fantastic environment.
UC: What inspired you to start selling your patterns on Etsy?
Moni: I thought that Etsy was the perfect site to sell my patterns because all the crafters enjoy using Etsy to find and shop for their treasures.
UC: In addition to selling your patterns on Etsy, you also design regularly for Crochet Today! What do you enjoy about working with the Crochet Today! team? How does it compare with self-publishing?
Moni: The Crochet Today! team are fantastic and really professional and I always feel very comfortable and happy working with them. They are a great support for new designers.
Crochet Today! magazine has lovely ideas, and I make the items they love in real life with my own style. The difference when I design and create a toy [for self-publishing] is that this new toy is my own idea from the beginning until the end (colors, materials, size, style…).
UC: You’ve had success in selling your patterns on Etsy. What tips do you have for a new Etsy seller?
Moni: The most important is believe in, love, and enjoy your own work. This is the secret for having success. I always try to make each handmade piece delicate and unique.
UC: You’re originally from Santander, Spain. What was the yarn crafting scene like there when you were growing up? Has it changed since then?
Moni: Yes, I was born in Santander, Spain, and I grew up in a big home near the beach with my adoring family: my parents and my grandparents, Cris, my little sister, and my uncle, who is a brilliant architect. My grandfather is an expert in old Hollywood movies. The women of my home were always crafting, making amazing quilts, designing clothes and dresses, cooking cakes, making new clothes for toys and dolls for my sister and me, making beautiful garlands for parties…
My favourite scene that I remember is the living room in the afternoons, full of colorful yarns with my mom and grandmom knitting or sewing dresses and dolls for my sister and me. I would sit on the floor, playing with some of their strands of wool for making little pompom chicks or bunnies, with chocolate cookies and a glass of milk.
I’m very lucky because nothing is different today around me, my sweet grandmom that spends her afternoons with us having a cup of tea although today she can not make all those pretty things that she usually did…but our home continues to be full of vintage treasures such as old ribbons, hundreds of colorful yarn skeins, glass beads, beautiful scraps of fabrics, and all the pretty things for crafting.
UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Moni: Absolutely yes! I grew up in a family that loves art in all the expressions, and the person that I’m today is a reflection off all of that. Finally, I decided to study Applied Arts and I’m an interior architect.
My sister and I owned a fashion shop for several years with the most beautiful dresses and bags that we bought in Milan, Italy, and our shop was recommended in Vogue magazine six times.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Moni, and sharing your story!