Crochet pattern: My Buddy Friend

My Buddy Friend, free crochet pattern in Red Heart Super Saver by Underground Crafter | This simple toy, stuffed with Poly-fil, makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive.

Back in January, I went to Phoenix for Creativation, the trade show of the Association for Creative Industries. One of the best parts of this event was getting the opportunity to meet representatives (in person!) from some of the craft brands I work with all the time.

This post contains affiliate links. Materials for the sample were generously provided by Clover USA and Fairfield.

When I met the folks from Fairfield, I mentioned that I was planning to feature My Recovery Buddy in an upcoming charity spotlight post, and they explained that Fairfield already works with this charity to provide Poly-Fil stuffing. They were kind enough to provide me with a 3 ounce bag of Poly-Fil, which was just the right amount for stuffing this little dude.

Similarly, once I saw the new Quick Locking Stitch Marker Set at the Clover booth, I knew these ultra-thin stitch markers would be perfect for using with amigurumi and other stuffed creations because the markers wouldn’t stretch out stitches. (If you’d like to see some of the other ways I use stitch markers, check out 5 Reasons to Use Locking Stitch Markers.) It was great to put both of these freebies to use for such a good cause.

My Buddy Friend, free crochet pattern in Red Heart Super Saver by Underground Crafter | This simple toy, stuffed with Poly-fil, makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive.

This month’s charity spotlight pattern for My Buddy Friend includes detailed assembly instructions, so if it’s your first crochet softie, don’t worry!

February’s Featured Charity: My Recovery Buddy

My Recovery Buddy launched in 2014, and in the past three years they have already distributed over 3,000 “recovery buddies.” These handmade and huggable buddies are distributed to people experiencing difficult challenges, such as “battling addictions, disorders, trauma, or medical or mental illness.”

My Recovery Buddy accepts crocheted, knit, or sewn buddies. You can find the guidelines for creating a buddy here, as well as free crochet and knitting patterns for buddies.

Individuals can request buddies here. Because buddies may include small pieces, they are not recommended for children under the age of five. Requests for buddies for children under 18 must be completed by a parent or guardian. If you’d like to chat with other crafters while working on your buddy, be sure to check out the My Recovery Buddy Ravelry group (sign in required). You can also get updated information on current requests in the group so your buddy can be customized for someone in need.

If you want to save money on postage, you can mail unstuffed buddies to My Recovery Buddy for stuffing and finishing. If you don’t have time to crochet something of your own, you can also donate postage or gift cards to craft supply stores. More information is available here.

Tips for Making Great Recovery Buddies

While My Recovery Buddy gives its volunteer makers a lot of creative freedom, they do ask that buddies measure about 6.5″ (16.5 cm) to 7″ (18 cm) square once completed. Buddies should be free of sharp pieces, such as buttons, because that makes them less huggable. While any yarn can be used, a machine washable/easy care yarn is recommended. This allows your buddy to be distributed to people in a variety of settings. I used Red Heart Super Saver, an acrylic yarn that holds up well to frequent washing.


Buddies should also include two arms of equal length (at least 2″/5 cm long) and two legs of equal length (at least 3″/7.5 cm long). Finally, buddies should have a cheerful expression! To make sure your buddies last a long time and are safe, yarn tails should be very securely woven in.

If you’d like to learn about other charities that accept handmade donations (and get more free crochet patterns), check out my monthly charity spotlight posts!

If you make your own My Buddy Friend, I’d love to see it! Share your progress and questions by tagging me on Facebook as @Underground Crafter, Instragram as @ucrafter, or Twitter as @ucrafter. Sign up for my weekly newsletter and get a coupon code for your choice of one of my premium patterns and other subscriber goodies. Plus, you’ll never miss one of my free patterns again!

Add My Buddy Friend to your Ravelry favorites or queue.

Underground Crafter on RavelryIf you want an easy print format, you can buy an ad-free PDF version on Craftsy.

Underground Crafter on Craftsy

This pattern is part of the Crochet Charity Drive’s Toy Drive. Join the Facebook group to get links to other great patterns that are perfect for charity.

Crochet Toy Drive via Underground Crafter

My Buddy Friend, free crochet pattern in Red Heart Super Saver by Underground Crafter | This simple toy, stuffed with Poly-fil, makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive.

My Buddy Friend

Crochet Pattern by Underground Crafter

This simple stuffed toy makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive on Facebook.

Finished Size

  • Approximately 7” (18 cm) square when seated with arms together; approximately 11.5” (29 cm) tall from hair to toes x 12” (30.5 cm) across from arm to arm when standing.

Materials

  • Red Heart Super Saver (100% acrylic, 7 oz/198 g/364 yd/333 m) – 1 skein ea in 505 Aruba Sea (CA), 360 Café Latte (CB), 316 Soft White (CC), and 365 Coffee (CD), or approximately 145 yd (132.5 m) in CA, 38 yd (35 m) in CB, 15 yd (14 m) in CC, and 20 yd (18 m) in CD in any medium weight yarn.
  • US Size H/5 mm crochet hook, or size needed to obtain gauge.
  • Yarn needle.
  • 12 locking stitch markers. (I used the Clover Quick Locking Stitch Marker Set.)
  • 3 oz (85 g) of Fairfield Poly-Fil.


Gauge

  • Exact gauge is not critical for this project but stitches should be small so that fiber filling doesn’t show.

Abbreviations Used in This Pattern

  • CA – Color A
  • CB – Color B
  • CC – Color C
  • CD – Color D
  • ch – chain
  • ea – each
  • invdec – invisible decrease – Insert hook in front loop only of ea of next 2 sts, yo and draw up a loop, yo and draw through 2 loops. (Planet June has a great invisible decrease tutorial here.)
  • rep – repeat
  • Rnd – Round
  • sc – single crochet
  • sl st – slip stitch
  • st(s) – stitch(es)
  • yo – yarn over
  • * Repeat instructions after asterisk as indicated.

Pattern Notes

  • When choosing colors, note that CA is used for the body, hands, and feet. CB is used for sleeves and pant legs. CC is used for smile and whites of eyes. CD is used for hair.
  • Locking stitch markers are used to track the corners of body and the last stitch of Rounds in arms, legs, and eyes. Once placed, the markers should be moved up every Round. Do not remove markers after fastening off body because markers aid in positioning pieces for assembly.

Pattern Instructions

Body (Make 2)

  • With CA, start with magic adjustable ring. (Oombawka Design has a great magic ring tutorial here.)
  • Rnd 1: Ch 1, 8 sc in ring, pull yarn tightly to close ring, join with sl st to first sc.
  • Rnd 2: Ch 1, starting in same st, [3 sc in next st, place marker in second sc, sc in next st] 4 times, join with sl st to first sc. (16 sts)
  • Rnd 3: Ch 1, starting in same st, [sc in ea st across to marked st, 3 sc in marked st, move marker to second sc] 4 times, sc in ea st across to last st, join with sl st to first sc.
  • Rep Rnd 3 until body measures approximately 6.5” (16.5 cm) square. Fasten off.

Arm (Make 2)

Sleeve

  • With CB, ch 11.
  • Set Up Row: Turn, sk 1, sc in next ch and e ach across, join with sl st to first sc. Optional: Place marker in last st and move up every Rnd. (10 sts)
  • Rnd 1: Sc in ea st around, do not join.
  • Rep Rnd 1 until sleeve measures approximately 2” (5 cm) long, change to CA.

Shape hand

  • Rnd 2: Rep Rnd 1.
  • Rnd 3: 2 sc in ea st around, do not join. (20 sts)
  • Rnds 4-5: Rep Rnd 1 twice.
  • Rnd 6: *Invdec, sc in next 3 sts; rep from * around, do not join. (16 sts)
  • Rnd 7: *Invdec, sc in next 2 sts; rep from * around, do not join. (12 sts)
  • Rnd 8: *Invdec, sc in next st; rep from * around, do not join. (8 sts)
  • Rnd 9: Invdec around, do not join. Fasten off. (4 sts)

Leg (Make 2)

Pant Leg

  • With CB, ch 17.
  • Set Up Row: Turn, sk 1, sc in next ch and e ach across, join with sl st to first sc. Optional: Place marker in last st and move up every Rnd. (16 sts)
  • Rnd 1: Sc in ea st around, do not join.
  • Rep Rnd 1 until pant leg measures approximately 3” (7.5 cm) long, change to CA.

Foot

  • Rnd 2: Rep Rnd 1.
  • Rnd 3: *2 sc in next st, sc in next st; rep from * around, do not join. (24 sts)
  • Rnd 4: Rep Rnd 1.
  • Rnd 5: *Invdec, sc in next st; rep from * around, do not join. (16 sts)
  • Rnd 6: *Invdec, sc in next 2 sts; rep from * around, do not join. (12 sts)
  • Rnd 7: *Invdec, sc in next st; rep from * around, do not join. (8 sts)
  • Rnd 8: Invdec around, do not join. Fasten off. (4 sts)

Eye (Make 2)

Iris

  • With CD, ch 2.
  • Rnd 1: Turn, skip next ch, 4 sc in next ch, do not join. Optional: Place marker in last st and move up every Rnd. (4 sts)
  • Rnd 2: 2 sc in ea st around, fasten off CD. (8 sts)

White of Eye

  • Rnd 3: Join CC with sl st to back loop of any st from Rnd 2, ch 1, starting in same st, *2 sc in back loop of next st, sc in back loop of next st; rep from * around, do not join. (12 sts)
  • Rnd 4: *2 sc in next st, sc in next 2 sts; rep from * around, fasten off with long yarn tail (approximately 8”/20.5 cm) for seaming. (16 sts)

Mouth

  • With CC, ch 13.
  • Row 1: Turn, skip next ch, sc in next ch and ea ch across, fasten off with long yarn tail (approximately 8”/20.5 cm) for seaming. (12 sts)

Charity Guide

 Assembly

My Buddy Friend, free crochet pattern in Red Heart Super Saver by Underground Crafter | This simple toy, stuffed with Poly-fil, makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive.

  • Designate one body piece as the front side of body. Use stitch markers to position eyes and mouth on front side of body.
  • Thread long yarn tails with yarn needle. Sew eyes and mouth into position. Weave in yarn tails on back of body piece.
  • With yarn needle, weave in yarn tails at foot and hands. Stuff arms and legs with Poly-Fil. Use yarn tail at base of arms and legs to sew sleeves and pant legs closed.

My Buddy Friend, free crochet pattern in Red Heart Super Saver by Underground Crafter | This simple toy, stuffed with Poly-fil, makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive.

  • Thread yarn needle with long strand of yarn (approximately 12”/30.5 cm long). Center one arm between eyes and nose at second Rnd from edge of body. With yarn needle and yarn, sew arm to of front of body. Repeat for other arm on opposite side of front of body. With yarn needle, weave in yarn tails on back of the front side of body.

My Buddy Friend, free crochet pattern in Red Heart Super Saver by Underground Crafter | This simple toy, stuffed with Poly-fil, makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive.

  • Position front of body over back of body with wrong sides facing together. With back of body facing you, join CC with sl st to side body above top of sleeves. Working through the inner loop of both layers of the body, join lower half of body (from arm down to corner, across the bottom below the mouth, and then up the side to the top of the arm) with sl st seam across to top of other arm, being sure to line up stitches and match marked corners. (A tutorial on joining with a slip stitch seam is available here.) Fasten off CC.

My Buddy Friend, free crochet pattern in Red Heart Super Saver by Underground Crafter | This simple toy, stuffed with Poly-fil, makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive.

  • Thread yarn needle with long strand of yarn (approximately 12”/30.5 cm long). Center legs below mouth at second Rnd from edge of body. With yarn needle and yarn, sew leg to of front of body, being careful to work through front layer of body only. Rep to attach other leg. With yarn needle, weave in yarn tails inside of body.
  • With front of body facing, join CD with sl st at next st above arm on side. Ch 1, working through both layers of the body, join the side and top of body with sc seam. (A tutorial on joining with a single crochet seam is available here.) Do not join body completely. Leave side open to stuff.

My Buddy Friend, free crochet pattern in Red Heart Super Saver by Underground Crafter | This simple toy, stuffed with Poly-fil, makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive.

  • Stuff body with Poly-Fil. Continue sc seam around to other arm. Do not fasten off.

My Buddy Friend, free crochet pattern in Red Heart Super Saver by Underground Crafter | This simple toy, stuffed with Poly-fil, makes a portable pal for a child. It meets the donation requirements for My Recovery Buddy, a charity that distributes handmade, huggable buddies. This pattern is one of many great projects shared by designers as part of the Crochet Charity Drive.

Hair

  • Turn, ch 1, sc in same st, *ch 4, sc in next st; rep from * across to last st in CD. Fasten off.

Finishing

  • With yarn needle, weave in any remaining ends into inside of body.
© 2017 by Marie Segares (Underground Crafter). This pattern is for personal use only. You may use the pattern to make unlimited items for yourself, for charity, or to give as gifts. You may sell items you personally make by hand from this pattern. Do not violate Marie’s copyright by distributing this pattern or the photos in any form, including but not limited to scanning, photocopying, emailing, or posting on a website or internet discussion group. If you want to share the pattern, point your friends to this link: http://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2017/02/17/free-pattern-my-buddy-friend/. Thanks for supporting indie designers!

If you make your own My Buddy Friend, I’d love to see it! Share your progress and questions by tagging me on Facebook as @Underground Crafter, Instragram as @ucrafter, or Twitter as @ucrafter. Sign up for my weekly newsletter and get a coupon code for your choice of one of my premium patterns and other subscriber goodies. Plus, you’ll never miss one of my free patterns again!

Add My Buddy Friend to your Ravelry favorites or queue.

Underground Crafter on RavelryIf you want an easy print format, you can buy an ad-free PDF version on Craftsy.

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30+ Yarn Tutorials That Will Rock Your Crafty World #ILoveYarnDay

30+ Yarn Tutorials That Will Rock Your Crafty World: Roundup by Underground Crafter #ILoveYarnDay #StitchItForward

Tomorrow is I Love Yarn Day, one of my favorite days of the year! This annual event, organized by the Craft Yarn Council, is now in its sixth year, and this year’s theme, #StitchItForward, is all about teaching. To celebrate, I thought I would share some of my favorite yarn-related tutorials from around the web. I’ve organized them into different categories so you can easily find what you’re looking for. Enjoy!

This post contains affiliate links.

30+ Yarn Tutorials That Will Rock Your Crafty World: Roundup by Underground Crafter #ILoveYarnDay #StitchItForward

Understanding, Discovering, and Using New-to-You Yarn


Organizing Yarn

know-your-yarn-craftsy-class

Yarn Crafts

Yarn Care

Ravelry Tips

Still looking for more yarn tips and tutorials? Check out these roundups!

Interview with crochet designer, Julie Yeager

Today, I’m happy to share an interview with crochet designer, Julie Yeager. Though we’ve never met in real life, Julie and I share a love of crocheting squares and blankets, and of participating in crochet related swaps. (And, I learned from the interview that we also both grew up shopping for yarn at Woolworth’s in New York City!)

Julie can be found online on Ravelry (as JulieAnny, on her designer page, in the Julie Yeager Designs group), Facebook, and Etsy. Julie also founded and co-moderates the Vanna’s Choice Fan Club group on Ravelry, where you can exchange squares and share pictures of your Vanna’s Choice creations. All photos are copyright Julie Yeager and are used with permission.

This post contains affiliate links.

Julie Yeager

Julie Yeager.

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

Julie: I’m honored to talk to the readers of Underground Crafter, Marie.  Thanks for having me. (UC comment: Thanks so much, Julie! It’s great to have you stop by.) I’ve been knitting and crocheting since I was about 8; learned from my Irish mom. I would buy sparkly crochet thread at Woolworth’s in the Bronx, NY and crochet clothes for my Barbies. I also made my share of granny square tote bags. I didn’t do much crafting in my 20s, maybe an occasional baby blanket, but then when I became a stay at home mom I got back into knitting and machine knitting for my daughter. When I discovered Ravelry I got into crocheting afghan squares and blankets and I haven’t stopped.

Stained Glass Afghan Square

Stained Glass Afghan Square, available as a 12″ block pattern.

UC: What inspired you to start designing? 

Julie: I’ve always changed patterns to my taste and would put together the yoke from one sweater with the sleeves from another so I guess I’ve been “designing” a little for years.
I joined some afghan square swap groups on Ravelry and perfected my technique using the patterns of many great designers. Interweave Crochet magazine and the Crochet Me website sponsored a contest in which readers could submit afghan square patterns and the winners would become part of a published pattern called the Chain Reaction Afghan Project. I just picked up my hook and started playing around and submitted a few designs. Three of my designs were chosen and appeared in Interweave Crochet in 2010 – 2011. It was very exciting and the start of my designing career. With Ravelry, I had a great tool to share my work.

Hexaghan

The Hexaghan, including 6 different hexagon designs joined together into one 61 hexagon blanket.

UC: You primarily design crocheted squares. What is it about square motifs that you enjoy designing? 

Julie: I love designing 12-inch squares in aran weight yarn and I have an obsession with Vanna’s Choice. I like the modern look of large scale stitching and I feel like a sculptor with my hook in hand. Fitting my idea into a 12-inch square and getting it to square is very satisfying. My squares are small enough to design and crochet quickly, and I enjoy writing a clear pattern that is easy to follow. I also like an unfussy and repetitive design; as a pattern-user I do not like to have to constantly refer to the instructions and I want my customers to enjoy themselves. Also, there are no fitting problems with blankets.

Catalina Afghan Square

Catalina Afghan Square, a free pattern available in both 9″ and 12″ sizes.

UC: Most of your patterns are self-published. What do you see as the advantages and challenges of self-publishing? 

Julie: With Ravelry and Paypal and a head full of ideas, it is easy and stress-free to work this business around my life. I have a full-time job as a Registered Nurse and am raising a 16-year-old, so I can write and publish patterns around my schedule. Although I would love to have my patterns in magazines and books, for now I find this a great outlet for my creativity and am very happy with how it’s going. It is not for everyone; you have to be a jack-of-all-trades and competent with designing, writing, proof-reading, and know your way around the internet. No editors or publicists on my staff, haha.

Tangled Web Afghan Block

Tangled Web Afghan Block, a 12″ square design.

UC: You’ve hosted several Mystery Crochet-a-Longs. What do you enjoy about using this format to release your patterns? Do you have any tips for designers who want to dip their toes into the MCAL waters? 

Julie: Mystery Crochet-a-Longs are a fun way to draw interest to my patterns. I am lucky to have a base of fans who trust me and are willing to blindly follow where I go! I can only do it about once a year because designing, crocheting, and writing and proofreading a pattern for a whole blanket is very time-consuming! I need a compelling idea to keep my interest through the work! My fans seem to enjoy it and it keeps them interested in my new work. It also brings new fans. I’ve kept the Mystery’ghan free for participants and then later I put the pattern up for sale. The finished projects become a marketing tool. I’m always a little nervous hoping that people will like it after they’ve invested their time and money into a “Mystery.” My only advice is that you have your pattern fully tested before you start.

Garden State Afghan

Garden State Afghan, which Julie originally offered in June, 2013 as a MCAL design, includes eight 4″ squares, four 8″ squares, and two 12″ square patterns.

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

Julie: When I first started swapping afghan squares, Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans was my favorite. I also worked my way through a few other square reference books, like 101 Crochet Squares by Jean Leinhauser. I love Edie Eckman’s Around the Corner Crochet Borders for finishing after I have a pile of squares to join! I sometimes use The Crochet Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden for stitch inspiration. I try to invent my own stitches these days!

Sun Catcher Afghan Square

 

Sun Catcher Afghan Square, a 12″ block.

UC: Are there any crafty websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Julie: I am a Ravelry addict and check in there several times a day. I like to check the Hot Right Now pattern list and I also check in with my group to see if anyone has any questions or if anyone has posted an awesome photo. 🙂

In Treble Afghan Square

In Treble Afghan Square, a 12″ block.

UC: What projects do you have coming up this year?

Julie: I am currently working on the pattern for my next Mystery-Ghan and hope to have that ready for a June 2014 start. Stay tuned to my Ravelry board for information on that. Clues will be given out over a six-week period and you will have a complete afghan finished!

Thanks again for stopping by, Julie, and I wish you and your fans the best for a fun summer Mystery-Ghan!

Interview with Tamara Kelly from Moogly

I can’t believe the last day of March is already here! I had so much fun celebrating National Crochet Month, and I’m happy to end the festivities with an interview with crochet designer and blogger, Tamara Kelly.

You may know Tamara from her blog, Moogly, or from crocheting one of the more than 130 designs she has published since 2008. Besides her blog, you can also find her online on Ravelry (as tamarairene or on her designer page), on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on Twitter as @mooglyblog.

All photos are used with permission and are copyright Tamara Kelly unless otherwise noted.

This post contains affiliate links.

Tamara Bio Photo 2013

Tamara Kelly. Photo (c) RSH Photography.

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

Tamara: I tried to teach myself in my early twenties from a pamphlet I’d picked up at a craft store – what a disaster! And it didn’t help that I’d decided on a super fuzzy chunky boucle and a Tunisian hook (not that I knew the difference). I set it aside, thinking crochet wasn’t for me, until a few years later. At that point I’d gained a baby, as well as a sister-in-law who’d been crocheting for years. She showed me how to chain and single crochet, and in those 5 minutes I was “hooked!” I taught myself the rest from a stitch dictionary, and crochet quickly became my favorite craft!

Rainbow in the Clouds Pillow

Rainbow in the Clouds Pillow.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Tamara: I made many projects from other people’s patterns, but I often found I was making my own changes and improvements. When I started doing commission crochet work, other crocheters asked me to share my patterns – and I found I liked the design side better! With designing, I get to crochet what I want, when I want it, and never have to make the same thing twice if I don’t want to.

Riley Cross Body Bag

Riley Cross Body Bag.

UC: You self-publish all of your work. What do you see as the advantages and challenges of self-publishing?

Tamara: The advantage is definitely control – I love being my own boss! All my deadlines are ones I set, and if I need to take a week off, or scrap an idea completely, or change directions, there’s no one telling me no. The challenge is not having a team – people to bounce ideas off of, people who are media and promotion experts. Luckily, I’ve been able to join a community of other crochet bloggers, and we support each other and help each other out.

Moroccan Midnight Cowl

Moroccan Midnight Cowl.  (Tamara also designed a matching pair of fingerless mitts and slouch hat.)

UC: You’ve undergone a few transformations online – from a mommy blogger, to a maker, to a designer/blogger. How did you make the decision to focus on designs, and then to offer your patterns free on your blog?

Tamara: I love new challenges, and I love being my own boss. When I tried mommy blogging, I got bored – it just wasn’t for me. When I started taking commission work, I loved getting paid for my hobby, but I didn’t love making the same things over and over again – and suddenly I had a whole bunch of bosses, with their own unique demands! When I design, I design for myself, for my kids, to my own tastes. I always love what I’m doing, and I think that that’s what comes through on the blog! I decided to make most of my patterns free, for several reasons. During the 10 years I spent crocheting as a hobby, free patterns were almost all I could afford. Additionally, I have a husband who works in the advertising field, so that model was familiar to me. By having ads on my blog, I’m able to provide free patterns, and give back to the community, while still earning a much needed income for my family – everybody wins! And that makes me happy.

Easter Lily

Easter Lily (November Lily).

UC: Do you see yourself primarily as a blogger, designer, or publisher, or do you wear all three hats equally?

Tamara: Definitely a blogger and a designer – and blogging and social media certainly take more actual hours of the day… but I’m always designing in the back of my head at the same time. I crochet in my sleep! Publishing is a side effect of running a blog I suppose, but it’s not something I think about too much. I just love putting together a great blog and fun patterns, and sharing them with others!

Circle of Love Afghan

Circle of Love Afghan.

UC: What tips or advice do you have for emerging crochet bloggers?

Tamara: Keep it positive, and be true to yourself and your own voice. Don’t worry too much about what will “sell” – share the things you love, and let that love show. Be generous with your time and talents, and find like-minded bloggers to network with. If you have a question, someone else has likely had it too!

Wavy Baby Blanket

Wavy Baby Blanket.

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

Tamara: Hands down my favorites have to be my stitch dictionaries. I have big ones, little specialized ones, and I hope to get some Japanese ones soon! The Harmony Guides 300 Crochet Stitches Volume 6 is what taught me how to read a pattern, how to read charts, and what amazing things crochet can do! (UC comment: This is one of my favorites, too, because it is so thorough. I’m also a stitch dictionary junkie, and you can see my reviews of this book and 20+ other crochet stitch guides here.) It is sadly out of print, so I had my copy specially spiral bound to preserve it. I still use it regularly!

Magic Spike Mandala Square

Magic Spike Mandala Square.

UC: Are there any crafty websites/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Tamara: So many! Ravelry is a great go-to of course, as well as The Yarn Box and All Free Crochet. I visit dozens of other crochet blogs every week, including Stitch 11, Repeat Crafter Me, Petals to Picots, Fiber Flux, The Crochet Lounge… and so many more!

Blackberry Salad Striped Baby Blanket

Blackberry Salad Striped Baby Blanket.

UC: What plans do you have for the rest of 2014?

Tamara: There’s so many exciting things happening this year – not all of which I can talk about yet! I’m always planning new crochet and yarn related giveaways – and I love promoting small businesses that might be interested in giveaways, including other designers, indie yarn dyers, hook makers, you name it! Also in 2014, I’m leading the Moogly Afghan Crochet-a-Long, where we crochet a different 12″ square every 2 weeks from now until November – that will give us enough for a 4′ x 6′ afghan at the end of the year, and the month of December to put it all together in time for gift giving! It’s not too late to join up, and it’s all free. (UC comment: There’s an unofficial Moogly Afghan CAL 2014 group started by fans on Ravelry, too.)

Thanks for stopping by for an interview, Tamara! 

Interview: Dora Ohrenstein, Crochet Designer and Author

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Today’s interview is with fellow New Yorker, Dora Ohrenstein.  Dora is the publisher of the Crochet Insider ezine; a designer whose work has appeared in Crochet!, Crochet Today!, Crochet World, Interweave Crochet, and Vogue Knitting Crochet, among other publications; the author of Creating Crochet Fabric, Custom Crocheted Sweaters (reviewed here), and The New Tunisian Crochet (reviewed here); and a crochet teacher.  Along with Gwen Blakley Kinsler, Dora is also the co-editor of Talking Crochet, which recently won Crochet Concupiscence‘s Awesome Crochet Blogger Award for Best Crochet Newsletter.

You can find Dora online at the Crochet Insider website or on Ravelry (as crochetinsider, on her designer page, and in the Crochet Insider group).  All images are used with permission.

Dora Ohrenstein

Dora Ohrenstein.

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

Dora: When I was about 20, I lived in Amsterdam on a tiny little houseboat. It was the Age of Aquarius and everyone was getting crafty. I learned to crochet and since I had no background whatsoever, I just started making clothes without knowing what I was doing. But then I totally stopped for literally decades. I became a professional singer and that consumed all my time. I didn’t pick up the hook again until early in this millenium.

Shawled Collar Tunic

Shawled Collar Tunic from Custom Crochet Sweaters.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Dora: I wasn’t performing much by that time, and needed a creative outlet. I made a few sweaters and went to a CGOA conference, where I met Jean Leinhauser. She and Rita Weiss liked my stuff and bought several sweater designs for their books. Then Jean taught me how to write patterns, since I’d never followed one!  (UC comment: Dora has a wonderful interview with Jean here.)

new tunisian crochet

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Dora: So many places! Sometimes it’s a fashion silhouette, sometimes a yarn or stitch. I keep many swatches lying around and then one day I find the right project for them. I’ve also learned that once you’re a pro, you can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to hit, you have to be generating ideas constantly. I would also say my motivation often comes from wanting to continually grow as a designer, try new techniques and strategies in my work.

Kerala Tank c Crochet Today

Kerala Tank.  Image (c) Crochet Today!

UC: Tell us about your motivation for launching Crochet Insider. What are some of the challenges and joys of publishing an online crochet magazine?

Dora: I haven’t really been publishing Crochet Insider as a magazine for a couple of years, it was just too much work once my design career really got going. But I loved doing it because of meeting and talking to so many interesting people. Challenges: it took huge number of hours and did not earn much, so it couldn’t continue indefinitely. There is still a lot of great content at the site and I wish more aspiring designers would read the interviews, because there is so much to learn.  (UC comment: Besides the Crochet Insider interview with Jean Leinhauser I linked above, two of my other favorites are this one with Vashti Braha and this one with Myra Wood.)

#15 Lace Pullover c Vogue Knitting

#15 Lace Pullover.  Image (c) Vogue Knitting.

UC: Your books place a lot of emphasis on teaching techniques and skills, along with the inclusion of patterns. Tell us about your decision to work this way rather than through pattern collections or historical work, which you’re also known for.

Dora: Many of these decisions are economic. I would love to publish a book on crochet history, but can’t afford to do so without a publisher. But no publishers wants such a book, because it will not sell in the numbers they need to be profitable. It’s sad but true. I try to get as much history into my books as they will tolerate. Hey, I’d love to go around the world and make film about crochet traditions, but again, where’s the funding? Publishers have been interested in my books that combine good designs with educational material, and I love teaching and empowering, so that works for me. In addition to being a designer, I teach singing and have for many years, so teaching comes naturally to me.

Prelude Houndstooth Skirt c Tension Magazine

Prelude Houndstooth Skirt.  Image (c) Tension Magazine.

UC: You design mostly women’s garments and accessories. What appeals to you about designing wearables?

Dora: This comes back to my background in crochet, or the total lack of it! I never was exposed to afghan making, thread crochet, or any of those fine American traditions. My parents were WWII immigrants and craftiness was not their heritage. I live in NYC and never had the chance to shop at big box stores, which didn’t even exist here until a few years ago. I do love fashion and had discovered for myself that crochet could make great wearables. It was shocking to encounter the yarn industry’s negativity about crochet wearables. So I’ve been very motivated to change that viewpoint with my work. And I’m in some very fine company there of course.

DoraBookCover.low.res

 

UC: You’ve had a variety of roles in the crochet industry, including designer, writer, teacher, publisher, and social networker/community builder. What advice do you have for aspiring professionals?

Dora: I would say to aspiring designers, don’t be naive about this industry – it’s very tough to make money, very competitive, and takes tremendous perseverance and drive. I’ve done all these things to build my career and earn money. And I enjoy all of them too. But I’d be happy to restrict my activities and lead a more sane life if it were possible.

Ariadne Scarf

Ariadne Scarf from Creating Crochet Fabric.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books (besides yours, of course) in your collection?

Dora: The books I bought when I started getting serious, about 10 years ago, are still my favorites. They are “vintage” ’70s and ’80s books by designers like Jacqueline Henderson, Sylvia Cosh, James Walters, Judith Copeland. (UC comment: I love those books, too!  I shared several from my collection in my Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week series.)  I adore Japanese pattern books, and the Ukrainian magazine Duplet — I stocked up on about 100 magazines when I visited the Ukraine! I also use stitch dictionaries, any I can get my hands on, including the huge Linda Schapper book, the old Harmony Guides, and Japanese stitch dictionaries.

UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs you frequent for inspiration or community?

Dora: Pinterest and Etsy – lots of great inspiration. And Ravelry!

UC: What’s coming next for you?

Dora: I have a crochet reference book coming out in the fall of 2014 by Storey Publishing. The working title is The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Handbook. They are fantastic publishers, I’m very excited about it. A reference book not just for beginners but for intermediate crocheters too, with lots of information on working stitch patterns, shaping, construction, colorwork, and flexible tension. What I mean by the latter is the ability to control tension so you can really sculpt stitches.

Crochet Insider will get a facelift soon and I will be enlarging my indie pattern line and store at the site. I also plan to develop video classes, sort of like Craftsy, but as an indie venture so I can go direct to students.

Thanks for stopping by, Dora!