Designer Interview: Keke of Yarn Society

This is the last instalment of my interviews with designers that have been taking part in the 2016 Ami-Along! If you missed the previous interviews, learn more about: Melissa of Melissa’s Crochet Designs, Mevlinn of MevvSan, Justyna of Cute and Kaboodle, Alyssa of Monster’s Toy Box, and Chloe of Amination.

Today, I am happy to introduce to you Keke of Yarn Society! You can find her designs on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy. Hope you enjoy learning all about her and her design process.

Me: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Keke: My name is Katie, but everyone calls me Keke. I live in Chicago, recently married the love of my life, and am currently expecting my first child. I was a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse for over 10 years, and absolutely loved it, but was in desperate need of a creative outlet. After attending Pastry School and teaching myself how to crochet, I finally found my happy place. I now run a dessert website and am a crochet designer full-time.

Me: When did you start designing amigurumi and why?

Keke: I started to teach myself crochet, with the help of YouTube and Craftsy, during the long, cold, and snowy Chicago winter of 2013. After a friend showed me her amigurumi creations and I started learning it for myself, I was hooked. By spring of 2013 I tried my hand at creating my first amigurumi design – Chick-A-Dee.Keke_Chic

I loved the idea that I could create something that was unique and completely my own, and found enjoyment in the process of writing patterns. I love a good challenge, and can sometimes be a perfectionist, so let’s just say Chick-A-Dee was a true labor of love. I’ll never forget how nervous and excited I was when customers began to buy my first pattern – it was and still is one of the most rewarding feelings.

Me: How do you decide what to design next? What inspires you?

Keke: More often than not, I decide what to design on a whim. But, sometimes there’s an animal or doll floating around in my head that I can’t stop thinking about until I sketch out a rough idea of a design. I love exaggerated features, my favorite being big heads and small bodies, so I try to figure out how I can put my exaggerated spin on a design, but still make it cute… it definitely has to be cute!!! I’m ultimately inspired to push myself to design unique and creative patterns by other crocheters. There are so many talented designers out there that I admire and they ultimately inspire me to keep creating.

Keke_tiger

Me: What is your design process like? Do you sketch out your design first? 

Keke: Although I’m not an artist by any means, I do sketch out my ideas first. I first figure out my color scheme, and then draw a rough idea of what shape and size I’d like each part to be. My least favorite part of amigurumi is attaching pieces, so when I sketch, I try to figure out how to create a design with the least amount of crocheted pieces to attach. As I crochet I write out my directions in pencil and keep lots of erasers nearby – frequent changes are made throughout the process.

Me: I noticed you have more patterns for sale on Etsy than Ravelry. Did you first start selling on Etsy and then make the move to Ravelry? Which platform do you prefer?

Keke: Etsy was my first and only shop for quite some time. I was in my own little crochet bubble and hadn’t heard of Ravelry until a year and half into my crochet adventures. I eventually branched out to Craftsy and then finally stumbled upon Ravelry. I honestly was intimidated by Ravelry at first, and still sometimes am, but I’m starting to learn how to navigate the site better and get more involved.

I have found three of the most fabulous crocheters who have tested many of my patterns, and helped me navigate Ravelry better. Shout out to MixedKreations, Sammy-Cat, and Stitchee-Erika 🙂 I prefer Etsy at the moment, only because I feel confident in using it, but as I learn more about Ravelry and interact with others, I love the community and support I get from it. Keke_whale

Me: What is your favourite pattern that you have designed? Why?

Keke: I have to say that my favorite pattern is Chick-A-Dee, my very first creation. She holds a special place in my heart and always will 🙂 Creating Chick-A-Dee gave me the confidence as a designer to continue my path in crochet.

Me: What is your most popular pattern?

Keke: Domino The Dog is definitely my most popular pattern. I’m still sometimes shocked and pleased at how many other people love him as much as I do. It makes me happy that other crocheters like my patterns and are excited to create them as well.

Keke_Domino

Me: Which of your patterns have surprised you the most in terms of how popular they are?

Keke: The popularity of the Mini Dinos has really surprised me. Although I love everything mini, I tend to create amigurumi a bit on the larger side. I loved coming up with the Mini Dinos because it was a quick and fun pattern with many color options. At first, I was a bit nervous that attaching a bunch of small spikes would deter buyers, but it’s seemed to all work out 🙂
Keke_Dinos

Me: What is most challenging for you as a designer and creative business owner?

Keke: My challenges come mostly from within and the pressure I put on myself. I’m a perfectionist and am always trying to figure out how to make sure I have the perfect pattern, pictures, and videos for my customers. I don’t ever want anyone to feel like they wasted money on a pattern, thought it was too difficult to understand, or not well written. It’s also challenging to keep fresh ideas flowing. Creative ruts happen from time to time, but I just try to give myself time to get inspired instead of trying to force it.

Me: Any advice for those that are thinking about starting to design themselves?

Keke: Pick up that hook and yarn and just do it, you’ll be proud and happy that you did! Begin designing with basic shapes and experiment with eye, nose, and mouth placement. Figure out if you like the look of crocheting in the back loop only or through both loops. Decide if you like cartoon-like figures or more life-like designs. All of these things will ultimately help you find your unique style and come up with your first design.Keke_cat

Me: Do you have a tip for those just starting to learn to make amigurumi?

Keke: My tip for crocheters new to amigurumi is practice really does make perfect. We all have our own style and way of crocheting, so stick with it and find your unique style. Your first few amigurumis are going to be just as adorable as your 100th, because it’s all what you make of it. Best of luck on your crochet adventures!

Me: Where can people find out more about you?

Keke: You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yarnsociety/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/yarnsociety
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yarnsociety/
YouTube: http://bit.ly/1V7Ob6u

Feel free to download my free Blu The Bird pattern: http://yarnsociety.com/blu.html

Thank you Keke for sharing your story with us!

For cuteness sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun. You can also follow me on facebooktwitterinstagram, and pinterest to keep up to date on all things hookabee.

Until next time,
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Designer Interview: Chloe of Amination

interview with amigurumi designer Chloe of AminationThere are still a couple weeks left for the Ami-Along – plenty of time to make more amigurumi to enter for prizes, especially since there are so many small and quick patterns you can make (including those by the designer in this interview!).

I have been interviewing several designers that are taking part in this years Ami-Along, including Melissa of Melissa’s Crochet Designs, Mevlinn of MevvSan, Justyna of Cute and Kaboodle, and Alyssa of Monster’s Toy Box.

Today, I am happy to introduce to you Chloe of Amination! You can find her designs on her website, Craftsy, and Ravelry. Hope you enjoy learning all about her and her design process.

Chloe of Amination amigurumiMe: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Chloe: My name is Chloe and I live in Athens, Greece. I learned to crochet and knit the basics as a child by my two beloved grandmothers, but it took another 25 years and Stacey Trock’s “Crocheted Softies” for me to get actually hooked! Besides enjoying actually crocheting amis, two things have kept my interest in them so vivid: Ravelry, with its endless possibilities, and the response by children to them (my two nephews being amongst them!). Their excitement is just so fulfilling and encouraging!
Crochet is taking up all of my crafty time nowadays, but in the past, I’ve enjoyed pottery, candle making, polymer clay modelling and paper crafting, as well. I also love reading Russian literature, travelling, the sea and summer (preferably all those combined together at once!), animation, hiking, cooking, etc.

Me: When did you start designing amigurumi and why?

Chloe: It all started with the gnome FreshStitches pattern, which for some reason inspired me to modify it into a wizard! I was thrilled by the whole process! So, I decided to modify Stacey’s Leprechaun pattern as well, but this time into a pirate! It started as fun, but soon enough I found myself doodling my own designs!

Me: How do you decide what to design next? What inspires you?

Chloe: It depends. Of course, I have a growing list of animals I want to design, but I don’t always follow it! Sometimes I get a custom order (like the octopus or the minion), sometimes I just get carried away by the season (like the daisy or the Christmas ornaments). The bug world (Earth bound and Fly away) has also been very inspiring to me (I have another buggy coming up!), as well as the rainbow themed plushies, so many possibilities there! Inspiration can strike me anywhere, really!Chloe_christmas

Me: What is your design process like? Do you sketch out your design first? 

Chloe: I’m horrible at sketching! That being said, let me tell you that I always make a sketch before I start crocheting the sample! I first google the animal to have a look at the real thing, and then I try to put the general idea of its cartoonish version into paper. It’s a very rough sketch, full of stitch numbers, which actually gets written and re-written a lot!

Me: Your patterns are crocheted in the blo (like mine!). Why did you choose to design your patterns this way?

Chloe: I started crocheting in the blo because of the patterns I used at that time. After a while, though, I thought I should try both loops for a change. To sum up, I prefer blo, mainly because I prefer the texture of the fabric that way. Plus, the ridges make it easier to attach pieces, like we often do in amigurumi. However, both loops or flo (front loop only) are always useful for miscellaneous uses (different texture, creating an edge etc).

Me: What is your favourite pattern that you have designed? Why?

Chloe: It’s hard to say…I love the story behind most of them! I’d say my favourite guy is Aris, the tiny brontosaurus. Chloe_Aris_CollageI hadn’t really planned it at the time, but I made myself a tiny dino, called him Tino, and have been carrying him around wherever I go! It’s been really fun taking photos in the most amazing places! On the other hand, the pattern I enjoyed designing the most  is definitely Nina the Rainbow turtle! So challenging handling all those skeins at the same time!Chloe_NinaMe: What is your most popular pattern?

Chloe: The most popular paid pattern is my very first pattern, Ion & Glafki the Seagulls, with the Microcosmos e-books being a pretty close second! Chloe_seagull_collageOn the other hand, the most popular free pattern is already the Daisy. I love all the cute daisies popping out in Ravelry!

Chloe_daisy

Me: Which of your patterns have surprised you the most in terms of how popular they are?

Chloe: I guess that would be the bugs in general. I know that they are popular as toys and in high demand with children, but I feared that crocheters might get discouraged by crocheting and attaching all the small parts, legs, antennae, wings etc. I’m happily proven wrong!

Chloe_bugcollage

Me: What is most challenging for you as a designer and creative business owner?

Chloe: For the time being, this creative business only takes place in my free time; after my full-time job, my studies at the university and all the everyday stuff that waits to be done. So, for now, time is the most challenging aspect. I’m sure, there’s much more to it than time, once you get to give your full self to it.

Me: Any advice for those that are thinking about starting to design themselves?

Chloe: Go for it! There’re never too many designs! You just need to be thorough with your instructions (especially if you’re a non-English speaker, like many of us!), provide all the information required (hooks, yardages etc), take clear photos and have your pattern tested (there are lots of people willing to help with that). Provide the same quality, no matter if it’s a paid or a free pattern.Chloe_owls

Me: Do you have a tip for those just starting to learn to make amigurumi?

Chloe: Practice makes perfect! You need to learn the basics and give it a little time. Before you know it, amazing creatures will fly off your hook! Gauge is almost never important, so that takes a lot of pressure off. Take one step at a time, start with beginner-level patterns and move to more advanced patterns as you go. If you’re enjoying it, you’re on the right track!

Me: Where can people find out more about you?

Chloe: You can read my posts in my blog, check my patterns in Ravelry, become a member of Amination group in Ravelry, follow me on Instagram, or like my Facebook page. And, of course, shoot me an email about anything!

Thank you Chloe for sharing your story with us!

If you decide to make some amis using Chloe’s patterns, make sure you enter them into the Ami-Along for your chance to win prizes! It will be running until the end of August 2016.

For cuteness sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun. You can also follow me on facebooktwitterinstagram, and pinterest to keep up to date on all things hookabee.
Until next time,
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Designer Interview: Justyna of Cute and Kaboodle

Interview amigurumi designer JustynaI am back with another interview with another great amigurumi designer. Missed the other interviews? Make sure you read about the designers Mevlinn, Melissa, and Alyssa. All of them are also taking part in the 2016 Ami-Along, which runs until the end of August.

Today, meet Justyna of Cute and Kaboodle. You can find her designs on her websiteRavelry and Etsy. Hope you enjoy learning all about her and her design process.

Justyna amigurumi designerMe: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Justyna: My name’s Justyna and I live in Poland where I divide my time between my family (husband and two little boys) being a designer and working in my craft store. I love crafts with all my heart and I’m always ready to try something new, although I suspect knitting and crocheting will always stay my favorite pastimes. I’m a chatterbox and talk a lot, but I tried to keep the answers short for easier reading 😉

Me: When did you start designing amigurumi and why?

Justyna: It was in 2011 when I wanted to open an Etsy store selling crocheted toys and didn’t want to use somebody else’s patterns. Designing turned out to be so much fun that I started selling patterns instead of toys and now I can’t stop!Justyna_bunny

Me: You have such a variety of patterns, including amigurumi, bookmarks, shawls, ornaments, tape measure covers, pouches and cases, even a bath puff. How do you decide what to design next? What inspires you?

Justyna: Various things, really. Sometimes it’s the need, like I was asked to design a schnauzer and Hear, See, Speak no evil monkeys; sometimes it’s the urge to try something new, like it was with the shawls; sometimes it’s the yarn – when I got a skein of Cascade Yarns Pacific Multi in gray, I just knew it said “a knitted cat” and so on…

Justyna_Monkeys

Me: What is your design process like? Do you sketch out your design first? 

Justyna: Oh no, I never sketch! I’m terrible at drawing and the toy never looks on paper like I imagined it in my head, so, in my case, it’s a waste of time. I usually just try to think about what I’d like to make, get the perfect yarn for it, and start. I usually don’t know how big it’ll become when I’m done because there are lots of decisions I make in the process. To me it’s like a great adventure, as I’m never sure what it’ll become.

Justyna_elephant

Me: You are the founder and original organizer of the Ami-Along. How did you come up with the idea and get it started?

Justyna: I run a group on Ravelry where I try to organize some games and CALs often, but I know that in the summer my time is limited and I’m not always available. I thought other designers might have the same issue, so I thought it would be a good idea to team up for the summer and organize something together – this way, you can have stress-free vacation time because you know your fans and followers have a fun activity to take part in. Even when you’re not there, there are other designers who will be there for them. Plus, when you’re back you’ll be the one who’s helping participants work on other designers’ patterns when they’re away. But it turned out to be so much more than just a summer break and I love it! I hope we will continue organizing it for many years in the future.

Me: I noticed a few of your patterns come in both a knit version and a crochet version. Are they originally crochet patterns and you convert them to knitting, or vice versa? Is it challenging to make the conversion?

Justyna: There’s no rule here 🙂 Sometimes I come up with a crochet version and I’m asked to create a knitted one and sometimes the other way around. I mainly crochet, however, so it’s usually the crocheted toy that is the first one. As I mentioned, I sometimes just know that this or that toy says “knitted” or “crocheted” and that’s the original. If it’s popular enough for “the-other-craft-people” to start asking for a different version, I usually do that. It can be challenging, but that’s the type of difficulties I like, so I see it as something fun to do.

Justyna_Ornament

Me: What is your favourite pattern that you have designed? Why?

Justyna: That’s probably the most difficult question! Since most of my designs have eyes and can give me a bad look when I don’t mention them here, it’s really hard to decide. I guess I try to treat them all equally, but I’m really happy how Swinging Kitty Ornament turned out and I love how the Sheep Tape Measure combines cuteness with usefulness. I could go on and on about how each of them is special, but I already feel like I’m talking too much!

Justyna_SheepTapeMeasureCollage

Me: What is your most popular pattern?

Justyna: That would probably be the schnauzer when it comes to amis, and the owl mug cozy for non-ami patterns. Oh, and while we’re here, I Promise You Pineapples shawl is also popular. These are definitely the ones downloaded most often.

Justyna_Schnauzer

Me: Which of your patterns have surprised you the most in terms of how popular they are?

Justyna: I guess this must be Vlad! I designed it as a quick and easy Halloween CAL one year, but it got so many projects even after the CAL that I was amazed. Oh, that’s the best example of a pattern that got so popular knitters wanted their version, too…

Justyna_Vlad

Me: What is most challenging for you as a designer and creative business owner?

Justyna: Time! I guess it’s every freelancer’s nightmare – too little time for everything. Since we usually work at home, there are no clear work/home boundaries and finding balance can be tough.

Me: Any advice for those that are thinking about starting to design themselves?

Justyna: Pay attention to the actual writing of the pattern. Making an item, whether it’s a toy or a sweater, is the easy part. The most difficult task is writing your idea down clearly and easily for your customers to understand. Also, always test your patterns, no matter how many times you read your pattern, a fresh set of eyes (and hooks!) always see more and will help you improve the pattern for sure.

Justyna_teddy

Me: Do you have a tip for those just starting to learn to make amigurumi?

Justyna: Not to be afraid, I guess, they’re usually just single crochet stitches! It’s also important to start with a hook that matches the yarn – you don’t want holes in your amigurumi, so don’t pay much attention to what the yarn label says, but make your own swatch with a hook a bit smaller than recommended and check if there are holes. Also, try different eye placements before fixing the eyes and see which you like best, as the position of the eyes has a tremendous effect on the final look of the amis.

Me: Where can people find out more about you?

Justyna: On my Facebook page and in my Ravelry group. When it comes to more personal life things, I share them on Instagram, although they’re mostly still craft related. I also have a website www.cuteandkaboodle.com, but it needs some more work. There are a few useful tutorials, though! I love getting messages, so if someone has a question, needs help, or just wants to chat, they’re all welcome 🙂

Thank you Justyna for sharing your story with us!

If you decide to make some amis using Justyna’s patterns, make sure you enter them into the Ami-Along for your chance to win prizes! It will be running until the end of August 2016.

For cuteness sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun. You can also follow me on facebooktwitterinstagram, and pinterest to keep up to date on all things hookabee.
Until next time,
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