I am very pleased today to have Stacey Trock with us, who is an amigurumi wonder woman. Stacey, welcome to Art of Crafts and thank you for taking the time for this interview.
* Stacey I am a big fan of crochet, particularly Amigurumi, which is what drew me to your work at http://www.freshstitches.com. Firstly, please could you tell us a little more about how you got involved in crafting? I’ve been crafting as long as I can remember! I was just looking through some photo albums the other day… and I found the most awesome photo. I’m 4 years old… cutting paper with scissors, crafting away in my bedroom. I come by it honestly, though… in the background, you can see a clown that my mom made from a simple metal frame and yarn.
I learned to crochet (from my mom) when I was about 5 or 6, and my Grandmother taught me to sew a couple years later. Since then, I’ve learned new crafting techniques (French beaded flowers, tatting, locker hooking, knitting) mostly from craft books or online tutorials.
* What is your earliest memory of crafting and is it from school or home? I don’t know about earliest, but there are a number of highlights. I remember working very diligently to crochet the longest chain that I could at quite a young age. And in school, we needed to make a puppet (from a toilet paper tube) of a US President… I decided that I wanted to make Rutherford B. Hayes and I worked at home to make his little felt tuxedo. I was particularly proud because I was the only one in the class to incorporate fabric into the project.
It’s probably easier to come up with memories of times when I *wasn’t* crafting! I began entering my crochet into the County Fair by the time I was a pre-teen, and by the end of high school, I sewed 2 homecoming dresses and a prom gown!
* Do you undertake your ‘crafty’ life on a full-time basis or do you have other work/family commitments? Tell us a little about your typical day. I’m a full-time crochet designer, so most of my ‘work day’ is dedicated to running FreshStitches, my pattern company. I always make sure to have ‘fun crafting’ in addition to the crocheting that I do for work.
Here’s a typical day:
Wake up, (sometimes go for a run), then hit the computer with my breakfast. I spend anywhere from 1-3 hours doing my ‘computer tasks’: answering emails, updating the FreshStitches Facebook page, posting work-in-progress photos to my Ravelry group, reading blogs, shipping Etsy orders (where I sell kits as well as my patterns), writing my daily blog post and tweeting.
After that, I turn to my ‘task of the day’: which can be anything from updating my website to formatting a crochet pattern to photographing samples or recording a podcast. I try to stay interactive throughout the day: tweeting about what I’m up to and taking photos so that my customers can keep up with what I’m doing.
I try to get off of work by about 6:00 every day (of course, crunch times and late nights *do* happen!). Twice a week, I get off by 4pm to get to yoga. From there, I have dinner, chat with my hubby and do some knitting while watching tv or reading.
* We all have something arty or crafty that stands out as something we are proud of. Tell us about something that you loved creating, and why it was so special to you? Oh, that’s such a tough one! I guess I’m most proud when I do as much processing as possible to create the finished result. I have a shawl that I knitted from yarn that I spun myself, and another shawl that I knitted from yarn that I dyed myself. I guess my ultimate would be to spin/dye/knit or crochet something… and add beads!
* For those that are are new to amigurumo and what it entails, please tell us why you love it and why people should give it a try? Amigurumi basically means ‘little knitted/crocheted doll’ in Japanese, and they’re great projects (especially for beginners) because they’re quick to make (only a few hours), require only basic crochet stitches and are super-adorable.
I’m partial to big amigurumi (the sort that you’d be happy to give to a child to play with), because I find them easier on my wrists to crochet. When you crochet something very tiny, you typically use a very small hook and do tight stitches. Making a bigger animal is more relaxed… bigger yarns and hooks with less wrist pain!
* You are an established teacher of crochet, what do you love about sharing this medium with others? My favorite part of teaching is seeing the moment when someone ‘gets’ it. With crochet (and amigurumi in particular), you only need to know a few basic skills before you can start creating on your own… and when students realize that, it’s pure magic!
* Your classes on Craftsy: Amigurumi: Woodland Animals and Amigurumi: Design Your Own Monster, offer the perfect way to master the skills and techniques involved. What would you say are the biggest advantages for people with an online class such as this? The platform that Craftsy came up with to offer online courses is just genius! (and I’m not just saying that because I teach some courses!) The platform allows the student to watch a video and pause, take notes and rewind as they see fit. In addition, the student can ask questions to the instructor… and get real answers! Yes, I really check the website regularly to answer student questions!
Best of all, you can be anywhere in the world and take the course… no need to be in my geographic location!
* What did you enjoy the most about making the Craftsy online courses? Oh, every bit of it! I LOVED doing the designs… for the Monster class, the Craftsy folks really gave me free reign, and I just let my ideas get crazy! The film crew was fabulous, and I’ve loved all of the student interactions I’ve had since then. It’s been a remarkable experience.
* As this is Art of Crafts I have to ask, do you enjoy any other crafts? If so, please tell us more. So many! I do a fair bit of sewing (my last project was sewing a batch of un-paper towels for my kitchen), and I’ve dabbled in: felting, beading, french flowers, locker hooking, tatting, quilting, metalworking (Jewelry), spinning and pottery (both on and off the wheel).
I love doing just about anything with my hands… although I steer clear of drawing and painting. I’m not sure why, I just never got into them!
* Are there any exciting plans you have in development, what’s next for your ‘crafty’ life? So much exciting happening! Later this month, I’m publishing a ‘Choose your own adventure’ crochet dragon pattern… where you can select the features you want your dragon to have. If that goes over well, I hope to do a lot more like it.
I’m also moving up north (Ithaca, NY for a year, then to Minneapolis, MN), so my daily life is going to get much colder. I expect to be doing even more knitting and crocheting of garments to keep warm.
And I’m very excited about my podcast (Crochet Chat), where I hope to keep exploring new and interesting techniques in crochet.
My crafty life never gets boring!