Meet Stephanie Thornton, second place winner in the Decorations category
Where are you from? England - Originally from almost right in the middle in the West Midlands, now living 2 miles from the coast in beautiful Cornwall in the South West tip.
Shop Name: My Etsy username is SixSkeins, but my shop is called loophole as it describes the knitting and crochet that I do - I wish I'd thought of loophole originally!
Website: Steph Thornton Crafts - http://www.stephthornton.co.uk is my personal website - now badly in need of redevelopment when I get around to it...
Blog: Six Skeins Under - http://www.sixskeinsunder.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SixSkeins - I just started dabbling in this recently - not really sure I'm getting it right yet!
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1176484970 - again, not my strong point!
Favorite crochet hook? Any between size 2mm and 12mm, usually metal.
Favorite fiber to work with? Cotton for crochet but also merino with cashmere or silk blends.
What was the inspiration for your challenge item? Well I actually love taking the Christmas decorations down as the house feels much less cluttered and open. It's a time to have a good clean and bring some fresh items into the home, hence the riverbed mats. I love playing with colours and motifs in crochet, and I find it fascinating how the same colourway and shape looks completely different when reversed for the second mat.
How did your interest in crochet first begin? My grandmother used to crochet all the time and my great-aunt knitted constantly. I learned to knit as a child but then wanted to learn crochet from my grandmother while I could. I eventually picked it up from her when I was in my early twenties; I found it awkward at first as it felt like the opposite of knitting! I'm glad I stuck with it as I find that knitting and crochet are usually better suited to different projects depending on the sturdiness or drape required.
Are there any books, movies, or CDs have been most inspiring to you? Not really any movies or CDs, but several books - I have a few of the Harmony stitch dictionary’s for both knitting and crochet, plus I love Nicky Epsteins's series of "On the Edge" books - fascinating!
How would you describe your own personal style and how is this reflected in your crochet designs? I'm not a big fan of vintage so I love to see crochet used in a contemporary way. Combining the huge variety of patterns with the amazing range of yarns we have nowadays is something I could spend every day doing! I love the crispness of the stitch definition you get when using cotton yarn, which I use for the hairbands, brooches, and coasters that I create. I have every single shade of Patons Cotton 4ply yarn that I can get hold of! I love to see new and original designs, and only sell items that I have designed and made myself.
Do you have a favorite handmade gift that you’ve either given or received? Definitely - that would be my gorgeous crocheted garter handmade for me by a web friend many years ago and sent over from the USA to me here in England. I had no idea she was making it for me until I received it! I wore it on my wedding day and will always cherish it. There are pictures of it here: http://www.stephthornton.co.uk/weddings/bridal.htm#The%20Garter
What’s on your hook now? I've just finished my entry for the team's Valentine Challenge; I think next up will be some more of my Galaxy Brooches in spring colourways.
Meet Rebecca Goldsmith, 3rd place winner in the Winter Wearable’s category
Where are you from? Originally I am from Arizona. I moved to Virginia in 1994 when I joined the Air Force. I just recently moved to Honolulu Hawaii in November 2010 for a new job.
Shop Name: Desert Diamond Crochet but this I think is going to change just a touch for 2011. I am opening a second shop so I may just leave this shop name alone but we'll see. It will still be Desert Diamond just not sure Crochet, Shop, etc. Still playing with ideas! Will probably just leave it alone.
Website: I have one but I haven't played with it much. I want to eventually turn it into an e-commerce site but with all my customer orders, pretty much no time so my primary pages are my Etsy store, my Blog Page, and my Facebook Page
Twitter: I currently do not use Twitter. I have never even been to their website. Maybe something I should think about?
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/desertdiamondcrochet
Favorite Crochet Hook: I would have to say my favorite hook is an "H" hook.
Favorite fiber to work with? This is a really tough question for me because outside of just the basic acrylic yarns... I have never really tried any other yarn types. Primarily this is because my customers would not pay the prices I would have to charge to use the more expensive yarns. This is all about to change though with the launch of my second store! Details coming soon but it is going to be an upscale boutique and I WILL start playing with some new yarns... so Playinhooky... Crochetgal... and anyone else that has really cool yarns.... Here I come ;-)
What was the inspiration for your challenge item? I had a hard time coming up with something for this challenge. Christmas is so vast a holiday that just about anything can be made for it. I work VERY closely with Sandy Powers. She is one of my FAVORITE designers. She sends me LOTS of patterns to test for her and in December she sent me this one and I knew it would be a huge hit so I made one... immediately sold it on my Facebook Page and decided to use it for my challenge entry. It is super cute! Wish I would have gotten the pattern a month sooner but I am prepared for this adorable hat to be a huge hit next year!
What was the first thing you made after learning to crochet? I made a baby blanket as a baby shower gift for a co-worker. After that it was a stuffed animal.
Do you do any other type of crafting or design? I don't right now. I have a full time job so between that and playing with yarn in the evenings and on weekends I don't have much time for anything else. However, that being said... I am going to start learning Japanese with my sister and I am starting to dabble a bit in photography so I can take better product photos.
Do you have any advice for aspiring crochet designers? From a new crocheter perspective, don't let crochet frustrate you! There are so many different things you can do. If hats just aren't your thing, try baby blankets, or stuffed animals, or scarves... etc. Keep trying different things until you find that item that you just love to make and then run with it! For aspiring designers: write down everything you do with a design. Then ask for help if needed in putting the design in correct crochet terms. There are TONS of people here who can help you do that. Then... test it. Make sure your instructions are accurate and make sure you put a gauge in your pattern so others know how you came out with the measurements you did. Nothing worse than getting patterns and no gauge is listed. Very frustrating!
What's your current obsession? Setting up my new boutique! I can't wait to launch it here in the next week or so. Very exciting and I hope that it will be a success. I am a bit nervous that it won't be but I think that is because I will be charging what items should be sold for and not what me as a consumer is willing to buy things for. One of the hardest things to do when setting up a shop is to NOT cater to yourself. Remember you are your own worst customer so as soon as you can separate that out I think the rest is cake. I have now crossed the bridge of needed to charge what I'm worth and not under charge and sell something for $50 that I spent 30 hours making. So... hence the launch of the boutique! Very excited! My average consumer friendly stuff will stay in this shop and the items that take 4 hours or more to make will be moved to the boutique and charged accordingly.
Meet Crochetgal, 3rd place winner in the Decorations category
Where are you from : Phoenix Arizona
Shop name: Crochetgal.etsy.com
Blog : http://crochetgals.blogspot.com - confessions of a yarnaholic
Favorite Crochet hook: Whatever works best for what I'm making. I enjoy using the hairpin technique, Broomstick, afghan hooks, double ended hooks and the standard crochet hooks.
Favorite fiber to work with: I don't really have a #1 favorite fiber, but the most unusual fiber I've ever worked with is yarn that was spun from sugar cane.
Inspiration for my challenge item: I wanted to try something different in stitch combinations so I started to experiment.
How long have I been crocheting: I learned to crochet while in elementary school and am still going strong. My grandmother was my inspiration as I used to watch her work with very fine thread and make doilies. As a wedding gift she gave me a beautiful crocheted table cloth which I treasure to this day.
What is the best thing about crochet? Its versatility! If you put your mind to it, you can make just about anything with just about anything that can be drawn into a strand. I'm always learning.
I'm most proud of having some of my work be displayed in the Smithsonian Institute as part of the Coral Reef project.