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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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:
Feel free to download my free Blu The Bird pattern: http://yarnsociety.com/blu.html
Thank you Keke for sharing your story with us!
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