I have been crocheting for 38 years. I learned when I was 9.
How did you learn to crochet?
I used to spend a lot of time with my Aunt when I was little. She was very crafty and she could sew, knit, crochet and she did the most beautiful tatting. I would always sit beside her and watch and I tried to copy everything she did. I failed pretty badly at knitting, but when I picked up that hook, it was different. It seemed that my hands just knew what to do instinctively. I’ve always said that crocheting is a God given gift, but Aunt Joyce taught me how to unwrap it.
I wish I hadn’t waited so long to learn to read patterns. Everything I made in the first 25 years was freeform. I would see something I wanted to make, and I would just make it. I don’t think I saw a crochet pattern book or magazine until I was in my 30’s. Now I’m designing my own.
What is your favorite thing about crocheting?
I love taking some string and a hook and making something useful or decorative with it. It’s magical to look at a skein of yarn, and know it will become a hat or a sweater or maybe even a doll. I also love that it brings people together. I have met some of the most talented, wonderful people through our mutual love of crochet and consider many of them to be my best friends.
I love designing hats. I work with a nonprofit organization called Ellie’s Hats for kids battling childhood cancer. These brave kids are going through the worst thing you can imagine, yet their smiles shine so bright when they get their packages with their hats. I have had showcases of my designs in several fashion shows with Victoria Henley of Americas Next Top Model, and she has also featured my work in magazines and on television. It’s a thrill for sure to see someone famous wearing one of my designs, but it pales in comparison to getting pictures like this one of Ellie herself in the tiara I designed for her to wear to her last day of treatment.
The children that are affiliated with Ellie’s Hats (EH) inspire me the most. EH is an amazing organization that provides support to these brave little warriors and their families. They distribute hats, gift cards, and so much more to assist the families as they fight this terrible disease. The founder Jay Coakley and his sister Muffin Pellegrino have become dear friends. They are so selfless and giving. You can read more about them at www.ellieshats.org or on their Facebook page.
For me the most challenging part of designing is writing the patterns. I know exactly how to do the stitches to make it look like my vision, but actually having to type it up so that other people understand what I mean can be tough at times. I’m blessed to have the most amazing pattern testers that help to make sense of my gibberish though. I could not write my patterns without them. They are my Insane Crochet Posse, and I adore them.
The tiara that I designed for Ellie is my favorite original design. I released it as a free pattern in my Ravelry shop and it’s my most popular download. I think my Grembly Gunk Sloth hat I made in tribute to The Walking Dead’s character Eugene Porter would have to be my 2nd favorite. I was a giggly fan girl when I saw that the actor that portrays him, Josh McDermott liked it on Instagram.
Support your fellow crocheters and their contributions. What we do is create art, and it’s important that we stick together and support each other. Too often in the fiber art world I see people that don’t value how much hard work is put into designing original patterns, and then share these patterns free online thinking it’s no big deal. I see people complain that no one wants to pay them a fair price for their crocheted work, but then turn around and complain about paying $5 for a crochet pattern. Most importantly, don’t give up. Crocheting can be the best therapy. Share your gifts with others. Teach a child to crochet, donate a hat to a homeless person, or make some cotton blankets to donate to an animal shelter.