Interview with Lindsey Stephens of Poetry in Yarn

Every Monday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be interviewing crocheters.  Today’s interview is with Lindsey Stephens, a crochet designer and blogger.

I can’t remember how exactly I first came across Lindsey Stephens’ Poetry in Yarn blog, but I do know it’s been a staple in my Google Reader for quite a while.  Lindsey’s blog, unlike many crochet blogs that I follow, is primarily text based.  Lindsey is still able to capture my (relatively short) attention with her posts, and I hope you’ll check her out if she’s a new-to-you blogger.  Lindsey is also a crochet designer and can be found online on her website, on Ravelry (as Leebah and on her designer page), on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube.

All pictures in this post are used with Lindsey’s permission and link back to the pattern page on Ravelry.

This post contains affiliate links

Lindsey Stephens.
Lindsey Stephens.

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

Lindsey: I had tried to teach myself to knit, and it was a huge failure. I couldn’t handle all those loops (although really it had more to do with trying to learn with a fuzzy boucle).  Anyway, my step-niece was visiting me and she was crocheting- she never had more than 3 loops on the hook at a time. I was like “I gotta try this!”

Though Lindsey is primarily a crochet designer, she does have some knit patterns like the Learn It, Love It, Knit It Lace Scarf.
Though Lindsey is primarily a crochet designer, she does have some knit patterns like the Learn It, Love It, Knit It Lace Scarf.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Lindsey: You know, I don’t think any one thing inspired me. I just like to mess around with stuff and see what I can do. Just kind of “I wonder what would happen if I try this…” And then I discovered that other people were interested in what I was making.

UC: You have a mix of self-published designs and designs published by yarn companies, magazines, and book publishers.  Do you have a preference for self-publishing or traditional publishing?  What motivates you to seek one form of publishing over another?

Lindsey: Each method of publishing has its own merits. I like self-publishing because I get to work with so many other facets of the production process like layout and editing.  Getting to work one on one with a technical editor is a great learning experience for anyone interested in designing. It’s also great to be able to have an idea and run with it- no approval or submissions needed.

“Traditional” publishing is a trade off. You can’t always keep rights to your designs, but you may get slightly more publicity depending on the company, as well as more money up front. (Up front is a relative term. I just received a check in the mail for a design I did for a publisher 17 months ago.) A self-published pattern might make me more money in the long run, but the funds only come in one purchase at a time.

One of Lindsey's designs from Crochet 1-2-3, the Chanukah Candle Pillow.  (c) Valu-Publishing.
One of Lindsey’s designs from Crochet 1-2-3, the Chanukah Candle Pillow. (c) Valu-Publishing.

UC: Your Poetry in Yarn blog is one of the few crafty blogs I read regularly that doesn’t rely heavily on visuals, and yet you have such interesting content all the time!  How did you get started blogging and how do you keep it fresh?  Why did you decide to primarily use text-based, rather than photo-heavy, blogging? 

Lindsey: I’ve been involved in public speaking through debate, acting, and my work as a teacher for years. I am a talker. It just seemed natural to me to “talk” to people by posting on a blog. And also, I’m lazy. I can easily type out a post while lying in bed. For photos I would actually have to get up.  (UC comment: You make excellent points, Lindsey.  I will try to remember them on the mornings when I’m leaving my apartment early to take pictures of projects for my blog before work!)

Blackberry Blanket, from Lindsey's self-published e-book, At the Bakery.
Blackberry Blanket, from Lindsey’s self-published e-book, At the Bakery.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?

Lindsey: *Looking down at my bookshelf*

The The Crochet Answer Book by Edie Eckman was HUGE for me when I was first learning to crochet. Couture Crochet Workshop by Lily Chin opened my eyes for looking at how to increase and decrease in more complex pattern stitches. Cool Stuff : Teach Me to Crochet is the book that I used when I was learning how to crochet. 

Aureate Vest, (c) Susan Pittard, published in Curvy Girl Crochet.
Aureate Vest, (c) Susan Pittard, published in Curvy Girl Crochet.

UC: You’re both a Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) member.  What do you see as benefits of membership for aspiring crochet designers?

Lindsey: A CGOA membership can be beneficial regardless of whether or not you aspire to designing. You get a magazine as part of your membership as well as discounts with various companies. You also get discounts at the Knit and Crochet Shows. If you are interested in designing, CGOA has a mentoring program that can help.  

On the other hand, TNNA is purely a professional organization. That’s not to say we don’t have fun at trade shows, but we really go there to work. At a typical trade show I’m meeting with yarn companies, publishers, and other designers to discuss possible business opportunities.

Baby Bobbles Blanket from Leisure Arts #5267, Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection, Book 3.  (c) Universal Yarn.
Baby Bobbles Blanket from Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection, Book 3. (c) Universal Yarn.

UC: Since it is NatCroMo, can you share a favorite crochet memory with us?

Lindsey: My grandmother made lots and lots of crochet flower bookmarks that she would give away. She tried to show me how to make them once. First she showed me how to chain stitch, and I got the hang of that fairly quckly. Then she said, “watch this.” Well, the yarn moved and the hooked moved and all the sudden there was a flower on the end. She didn’t use terms like “double crochet” or anything like that. She just did it.  

UC: What are your favorite websites for crochet-related content and community? 

Lindsey: Hmm… I really enjoy Ravelry, but I find it slightly more knitting centered. Crochetville was the first crochet website I got hooked on. It’s great for crochet-centric information and groups. And I love the Crochet Liberation Front.

 

Thanks, Lindsey, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us!  Just a reminder that Lindsey’s blog, Poetry in Yarn, is one of tomorrow’s stops on Crochetville’s mega blog tour, A Tour Through Crochet Country.

Crochet Hook Review and Giveaway: The Crochet Dude Ergonomic Hooks by Boye

Every Sunday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be reviewing crochet hooks.  Today’s post features the Crochet Dude ergonomic hooks, along with a giveaway for 6 hooks, courtesy of the Crochet Dude by Boye.

Last summer, I was the happy winner of a giant box of crochet fun through a giveaway on Robyn Chachula‘s blog.  One of the many goodies tucked away into this prize package was a Crochet Dude ergonomic aluminum crochet hook.

The hook that got me hooked.
The hook that got me hooked.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Boye hooks – I have a collection of sizes B through P in my hook drawer, and I even have several sizes of steel Boye hooks for cotton thread.  I prefer not to use an inline crochet hook, and so naturally Boye became my “go to” brand over the years.

But as crochet has become a bigger and bigger part of my life – and especially when I’m crocheting on a deadline – I’ve found that a solid aluminum hook can put too much stress on my hands.  In the last 18 months or so, when I start a crochet project I usually reach for a comfort hook.

After using Boye hooks regularly for over 20 years, I know readily what size hook to use with different yarns and can be pretty consistent about my gauge.  This familiarity was what excited me about the Crochet Dude ergonomic crochet hooks.

Each Crochet Dude ergonomic hook features the familiar Boye point and throat with a molded, soft handle covering most of the hook’s shaft.  The handle is squared towards the middle, has a flattened thumb rest, and then tapers down at the end.  Each size comes with a different color handle and the size in etched on the handle in both US letter size and millimeters.  These features allow you to quickly pick up the right size if you have a full set.

The Crochet Dude ergonomic crochet hooks provide cushioning and comfort while allowing me to use my preferred type of point and a tapered throat.  It’s  one of the most affordable comfort hooks on the market.  (The suggested retail price is $5.99 per hook.)

Like most comfort hooks, the shaft of the hook is mostly covered by the soft handle, so the Crochet Dude ergonomic hook isn’t ideal if you are doing certain dimensional stitches (like bullions or puff stitches) where you may need more space to keep multiple loops on the hook, or where a tapered shaft might make it easier to work the stitch.

My overall review: The Crochet Dude ergonomic crochet hook is a great, affordable comfort hook option for a crocheter who doesn’t need an inline hook.

Full disclosure: Six review/giveaway samples of this product were provided by Boye/Simplicity. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the distributor/manufacturer, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. You can read my complete review disclosure here.

Giveaway

When I contacted the nice folks who manufacture the Crochet Dude by Boye collection to tell them about my plans for reviewing the hook during NatCroMo13, they were generous enough to send along a prize pack of 6 different ergonomic Crochet Dude hooks (in US sizes B, E, G, H, I, and L) for me to share with one lucky reader.

Crochet Dude by Boye prize pack

This giveaway is open internationally.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 9, 2013.  

Favorite Online Crochet Resources: News with Crochet Concupiscence

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’s no secret that I’m a fan of Kathryn Vercillo‘s blog, Crochet Concupiscence.  I’ve interviewed Kathryn twice on my blog (here and here), and I’ve previously described Crochet Concupiscence this way:

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.

Crochet Concupiscence logo

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).

Although Kathryn’s a busy lady – she maintains three different blogs, writes books, and is organizing a multimedia project to teach people to use crochet to improve their overall wellness –  she took some time to answer a few NatCroMo13 questions.

Kathryn Vercillo

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:
  • Crochet artist profiles on Mondays
  • My new 50 Years of Crochet History posts on Wednesdays (starting with crochet in the 1930s)
  • 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?

Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL: The First Repeat

Pineapples with Underground Crafter CAL

Welcome to the Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL!  If you’re just joining in, you can find the free pattern here.  Ravelry members can join our CAL chat here.  Our tag is 2013PFEcal.

We’re at the third week mark in the Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL.  Last week, I shared progress pictures of the first repeat of the shawl (rows 9-14).  From this point forward, you’ll just be repeating rows 9-14 until your shawl is the size you’d like (or until you run out of yarn).

Here’s my shawl after 20 rows (two repeats of rows 9-14).

Pineapples for Everyone through Row 20I love the way this new version is coming along.  I’m looking forward to changing the colors soon, so I can introduce the Galler Yarns Inca Eco in Raspberry.

Inca Eco wound

Several crocheters have already made multi-color versions of the shawl, and I’m sharing pictures of their Ravelry projects with permission.

yarnpumpkin made her entire shawl in one variegated yarn and then added fringe in a complementary solid.  This is a fun way to add color without worrying about weaving in the ends for color changes within the shawl.

yarnpumpkin Pineapples for Everyone

ctarski‘s Midnight Pineapples is the original multi-color Pineapples for Everyone Shawl – she made her project during the pattern test.  Unfortunately, she didn’t note her color changes and has since donated the shawl.  But from looking at the pictures, it seems like she changed colors for Rows 13, 14, 9, and 10 and then returned to the original color.

ctarski Midnight Pineapples

For Black67‘s Glamourous Pineapples, she changed colors for Rows 13 and 14 in each of her final two complete repeats.

Blacky67 Glamorous Pineapples

Each of these projects showcases a different creative way to change colors.  How many colors will you use for your shawl?

Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL Schedule

Friday, February 15: Start your chains: Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL kick off!  

Friday, February 22: Laying down the foundation: Rows 1-8

Friday, March 1: The first repeat: Rows 9-14

Friday, March 8: The second repeat: Rows 15-20

Friday, March 15: The third repeat: Rows 21-26

Friday, March 22: Finishing off: Edging and blocking

Friday, March 29: The big reveal: Flash your shawls on RavelryFacebook,Twitter, and/or your blog for a chance to win prizes from Galler Yarns!

NatCroMo13 with Underground Crafter!

Although I dabble in most of the needlecrafts and even teach knitting, I’m truly a crocheter at heart.  For the first time on my blog, I’ve actually been organized enough to plan a month’s worth of activities for National Crochet Month (also known as NatCroMo).  I’ll be posting about crochet awesomeness every day this month.  I even made a schedule!  (That exclamation point is equal parts excitement about NatCroMo and about being organized.)

Sundays: Hook reviews with giveaways

Each week, I’ll share a review for a different crochet hook.  I’ll also be hosting hook giveaways sponsored by The Crochet Dude by Boye, Denise Interchangeable Knitting and Crochet, Lantern Moon, Laurel Hill, and Susan Bates.

 

Mondays: Interviews with fantabulous crocheters

This month, I’ll post four awesome interviews with crochet designers, teachers, and bloggers.  (I’ll also share some mini interviews on other days of the week.)


Tuesdays: Book reviews with giveaways

I’ll be reviewing four recent crochet book releases and hosting your chance to win a copy, courtesy of Interweave, Leisure Arts, North Light Books, and Trafalgar Square Books.

NatCroMo13 Book Collage

Wednesdays: “Free Day”

I was a bit nervous about scheduling a themed post every day, so I’ve left Wednesdays open for whatever crochet-related post strikes my fancy!

On Wednesday, March 27, I’ll be participating in Crochetville’s A Tour Through Crochet Country.  This mega blog tour will include stops on over 40 crochet designers blogs/Facebook pages, along with a chance to support a wonderful charity, Project Night Night.  My March 27 post will also mark the second anniversary of my blog.  (Hint, hint: Perhaps there will be a giveaway…)

ATourThroughCrochetCountry Crochetville

Thursdays: Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week

This month, all four of my Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week posts will focus on a cherished crochet classic.

Vintage Picks for NatCroMo13 Collage

Fridays: Pineapples for Everyone Shawl Crochet-A-Long (free pattern)

I’ll be continuing my CAL throughout this month, and I can’t wait to see your shawls!

Pineapples with Underground Crafter CAL

Saturday: My favorite online crochet resources

On Saturdays, I’ll be spreading the crochet love by sharing one of my favorite online crochet resources.

 

Since I’m hosting a lot of giveaways and reviews this month, I just want to remind my readers of my review policy.  So, without further ado, Happy National Crochet Month 2013!