Monday, February 21, 2011

Valentines Challenge Winner Interviews

First Place: Alessandra Hayden from Just Be Happy

Where are you from? I'm from a small town in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. But I live in Tacoma, WA with my son and husband.
Shop: www.justbehappy.etsy.com
Website: www.justbehappycrochet.com
Blog: www.alessandrahayden.blogspot.com
FaceBook Page: www.facebook.com/justbehappycrochet

Favorite crochet hook? I like aluminum Boye the best, my favorite size is H-8/5.00mm

Favorite fiber to work with?  Anything soft


What was the inspiration for your challenge item? My photographer friend said I should make a "love bug" hat and that's what I came up with. Love Bug reminded me of ladybug, so I went from there.


Do you look for any trends when deciding what to crochet, and do you have any favorite sources where you get your inspiration from? I have a little boy and many times my inspiration comes from his colorful clothes and bright toys. I also listen to my customers, the hats I make from customer requests usually become hits.


Just Be Happy Crochet Hats for Babies and Toddlers -Paperback, 47 pagesYou recently published a book of your patterns, an amazing accomplishment. How did you go about choosing the yarns and colors for the patterns in your book? I am a very driven person and writing a book was one of the things in my bucket list. It was incredibly hard, specially because English is my second language. I didn't know anything about writing books, didn't know any publishers or writers to give me advice. I am thankful for the internet, I did a lot of research and just went for it.

What was the most challenging part of the book writing process? I thought about giving up several times along the way, but I had told people I was going to publish a book and being the proud person that I am I couldn't just let it go. It took me about 9 months to get the book ready. The decision making was the hardest part. Choosing the patterns I would include, choosing a publishing company, choosing a publishing package, and of course writing in English.Hippy Hoppy Bunny Hat - Choose Your Size

Now that your book has been published how have your goals changed for promoting your work and your Etsy shop? My book will be in the book section of a magazine next month, I am excited about that, but I really don't have any goals yet as far as promoting goes. I'm just working on my blog, website and facebook for now, which already takes a big chunk of my time considering I have a toddler running around and a busy schedule.


Do you have any advice for aspiring crochet designers?
I had to re-learn how to read crochet patterns when I moved to the US, everything I knew was in Portuguese. Start with simple patterns, make sure you have about 3 testers for each pattern you write. Don't give up! If I can do it, you can too!

Second Place: Rebecca Goldsmith from Trés Crochique

Website: http://www.trescrochique.etsy.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TresCrochique

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: Trés Crochique

Favorite Crochet Hook: I would have to say my favorite hook is an "H" hook.


What was the inspiration for your challenge item?
I saw this pattern from Fiber Doodle some time ago in a Team Members Treasury and just had to buy it. I have wanted to make it for quite some time and just never had time so I finally forced myself to make one for the Valentines Day Challenge!


The designs in your shop are so whimsical and the detail that was put into your Pegasus design is just fantastic, how would youCustom made to order Sock Monkey Dolls - Great Photo Prop describe your own personal style and how is this reflected in your crochet designs?
My new shop is all about things that I personally love to make. Don’t get me wrong, I love making everything under Desert Diamond Crochet but sometimes I get tired of making the same things over and over and over. So with Trés Crochique I decided to start making items that I want to make in between all the customer orders and charging what I feel they are worth. It gives me a break from all the repetition and I get a chance to explore things that I myself would like to have and cherish! This means if they don’t sell, I am ok because they are things that I would keep anyway ;-)
I do a LOT of searching for the perfect patterns for my store as I prefer to give designers credit where deserved however, every once in awhile I just can’t find a pattern for the idea in my head and I just have to create my own pattern. I love to put my whole heart and soul into my creations so you will see me use heart motifs a lot such as the heart on the Pegasus butt. I also believe everything needs to be handmade so you will see that I create my own eyes and faces for my animals instead of using buttons or other machine made items. Typically the first item from a pattern I make will resemble the designer but I do try to put my own twist on them such as re-doing the eyes on this Pegasus and adding the heart to the butt. When I make the next one, I will be changing it up a bit and doing different colors, possibly adding some ribbon or some other personal touches to not resemble the designer so much.

Crocheted Stuffed Giraffe - Charity Item - In StockYou were one of the December challenge winners in the Winter Wearable category and talked to us about your new boutique shop which we now know is Trés Crochique. I know that one of your goals for the new shop was to ensure that your prices reflected the amount of time and attention to detail that goes into making a unique crocheted piece. Many people don’t realize the time involved in making a one of a kind, hand crocheted creation. There has certainly been resurgence in the popularity of crafts like crochet in recent years. Do you think the art of crochet has finally turned a corner where our intricate craft can now get the appreciation it deserves?
I think the art of crochet like other old fashion fads is taking a popularity turn but I also think it could be much better. We as artists need to get the exposure out there for our items. With the new shop one way I am trying to give crochet some added exposure is with my Endangered Species & Wildlife Collection. Currently I have a giraffe in stock for this collection but sold the lion and the panda bear. What I want to do is bring a new twist to the stuffed animal community by showing that crochet stuffed animals are not only cuter (in some cases) but also much more durable while at the same time donating portions of the sales from that collection to the Honolulu Zoo Society to help them with their conservation efforts. What I would like to do in the future is get a couple more animals made such as making another panda bear and possibly an elephant or something along those lines and taking those over to the Zoo Gift Shop and trying to promote crochet in conjunction with raising money for the Zoo Society. I think one of the biggest issues with selling crochet items online is that a photo just does not do justice to the intricate details of a hand-made piece. The customers need to be able to touch it, feel it, hold it, and love it! I have started bringing my stuffed animals to work and people are just in love with them! I have sold 3 stuffed animals at work this month but they have all told me they would never have purchased them online that they are so much more adorable in person. So as artists to give crochet the credit it deserves, we need to be out in our local communities promoting our wares in person.

Crochet Stuffed Panda Bear with Hearts - Charity Item - Great Gift
Because of the time and energy it takes to crochet a finished product and the price that needs to be charged, many crocheters primarily use affordable yarns like acrylics. With the opening of your new boutique have you had an opportunity to work with any of the more expensive fibers? Is there a particular yarn you have your eye on or really want to use in your boutique?
I still prefer acrylic yarns but you are absolutely correct. With the new boutique I really do want to experiment with some new yarns and try new things. Currently I use acrylic yarns for the stuffed animals but I have also started using softer acrylic yarns for them. Especially for stuffed animals being purchased for babies. I have started using the Caron Simply Soft, Red Heart Soft Yarns, and Vannas Choice. My biggest complaint about the more expensive yarns are the dye lots. I have no idea how much yarn an item is going to take until I make the first one so I usually make the first item with the cheaper yarns so I know about how much yarn it takes to make one and then I experiment with more fancy yarns after that so I know how much of a dye lot to buy. I would like to play with Red Heart Moon & Stars and some of the beautiful hand dyed yarns that our team members make. One of my weak areas is using the bulky yarns. I personally find it very difficult to work with so I would like to start doing more with bulky yarn and getting better at working with it as I think I could make some really CUTE stuffed animals with bulky yarn once I get the hang of it!


What’s on your hook now?
Right now I am working on an Elephant for a baby shower gift and then after that I have a Sock Monkey Doll on order and a 3 Peas in a Pod cocoon photography prop. Not sure what is next after that. Maybe a Zebra!! ;-)

Third Place: Gina Renee' Padilla from Yarnabees

Where are you from?: San Antonio, Texas
Shop: Yarnabees
Website: http://www.etsy.com/shop/yarnabees
Blog: http://yarnabees.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/yarnabees
FaceBook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yarnabees/119214642732
Favorite crochet hook? well G of course
Favorite fiber to work with? soft acrylics


What was the inspiration for your challenge item? I love Turtles and I just thought what a great way to make them more lovable.


I read in your Etsy profile that you taught yourself to knit and crochet and have been at it for 14 years now. Was learning on your own a difficult process? I am left-handed so I had to train my brain to flip everything I was reading to where I could understand it.


What advice would you give to someone just starting out? Just take your time, I have learned when I take my time to read the instructions and visualize them I learn a lot faster.


As the mother of 7 children who have all undoubtedly received cherished crochet gifts from you over the years you certainly know that there is no gift more precious to a child than one their mom or dad made for them. Do you have a favorite hand made gift that you have received from someone? I received an Afghan from my mom, what is really special about it was it was the last thing my Grandmother was working on before she had passed away. She gave it to me to finish it, I am still working on it.


Where do you get most of you inspiration for your amigurumi? I sometimes get inspired from a show, a picture or even other creations I have seen on Etsy.

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Is there anything you do to keep yourself inspired or to generate new pattern ideas? I look at drawings, my kids shows inspire me sometimes and of course Etsy always has a lot of great artist that inspire me.


What, in your opinion is the best thing about crochet? The best thing about crocheting is it relaxes me and I just love when I finish a design to seen that cute little face looking up at me which always makes me smile and say, "Hello friend."

3 comments:

MagdaleneJewels said...

Congrats to our 3 Valentine Challenge winners. Great interviews, I love to learn a little bit more of the people we chat with everyday!

Julie G. said...

What great creations! Such a talented group:))

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