Getting to Know You #6: Stacey Trock

Whoo boy! We had a bit of a break from the Getting to Know You series; y'all didn't think I was done, did you? Well, I'm definitely not finished, because I've got loads more fabulous designers to talk up. This week, I wanted to tell you a little bit more about someone who may have been escaping your radar: Stacey Trock, aka Fresh Stitches!

Newly-married Stacey shows off one of her faves, a giant puppy
I got to meet Stacey this year at (wait, can you guess?) TNNA. She was doing a book signing for Cuddly Crochet in the Martingale booth, so I snagged one of those and snagged Stacey for the evening, too! We met up with the also-fabulous Teva Durham at the social networking event and afterwards wolfed down some of the best Mexican food Columbus has to offer. Stacey & Teva, since I'm a Texan and we had Mexican food together, you should know that makes us friends for life!

Teva, Stacey & myself at TNNA; click the photo to read Stacey's account of our fun!

The list of designers I admire would not be complete without Stacey; this gal is practically a machine of efficiency! Not only does Stacey crank out her amigurumi patterns at an alarming rate, she also has a dedicated following on her regularly updated blog, a solid handle on social networking, being active on Facebook, Twitter, and Ravelry, and she somehow finds time to fill all the custom orders in her Etsy shop. How does she do it all? I caught up with her to ask.

Microbes & Macrob
TSK: I love that you specialize in full-size, cuddly amigurumi, when everyone else seems to be doing tiny amigurumi. But why amigurumi? How'd you get started making those? Which was the first one you made, and how long ago was that?

I've ALWAYS loved stuffed animals. Of course, it started with my favorite teddy, then escalated to getting stuffed animals as gifts when I was a teenager, then sewing stuffed animals in high school and college. After college, I was browsing around online and saw that you could crochet stuffed animals, and I was right onto that! I crocheted my first amigurumi in 2008... and I think I designed my first one the next week. My first amigurumi were a koala and a lion... and they're still patterns of mine to this day! When I look back, I can't believe that I was able to make something cute on my first try!

Maple the Moose
TSK: Yeah, um, I MAY still have my childhood teddy bear. It may or may not still sleep in my bed. What can I say? I sleep on my side and need an arm prop. Nothing else is quite the same. Ha! Anyway. These projects seem to go quite fast for you; do you just crochet quickly, or do they really work up that fast? How long would you say it takes you, on average, to work up a new sample?

ST: Oooh, that's a tricky question! I think it's a bit of both. I've been crocheting since I was a little child, so of course, I crochet like someone with 20+ years of experience! Plus, I make A LOT of amigurumi, so I have the benefit of being able to crochet them without looking at a pattern, which saves time. But mostly, they're quick things to make... much faster than something like a sweater! My amigurumi aren't known for being super-tiny, and the medium-sized ones can take about 4-5 hours (once I've sorted out what I want to do). For some of the tiny amigurumi, they can take less than 2 hours- talk about a great project! I once crocheted a giant puppy (pictured at top), and I don't even know how that took me... it was forever! I'm not making another one of those!

Stacey's two books, Cuddly Crochet and Crocheted Softies

TSK: Now that we've established that you're a downright whiz with a hook, who taught you how to crochet, and when? Do you also knit? What other crafts do you enjoy besides crochet?

ST: My mom taught me to single crochet and increase when I was very little. She never taught me to decrease, because all she makes is ripple afghans. So, I got my hands on a crochet book or two, and am completely self-taught (besides the intro lesson from my mom). I began knitting in 2008, and I have to admit, most of the things I make "for fun" are knitted. I find the motion very relaxing, and it uses up much less yarn (which is important when you're calculating how much baby alpaca you need for a shawl)! Aside from knitting and crocheting, I also sew (mostly clothing for practical purposes) and bake like a crazy person (can that count as a craft?). I've dabbled in tatting, quilting, cross-stitch, french beaded flower making and embroidery... but I always come back to the crafts involving yarn.

Zork the Alien
TSK: Baking definitely counts. You are one busy lady! One last thing I'm curious about, though. Since you self-publish your patterns (other than your books), have you found the "business" end of things impacting your design style? If so, how?

ST: That's a really good question! When I first started designing, I wanted to make a stuffed animal from every animal on the planet. So I set to work: the koala was a success! Everyone loved the monkey! But then... the ostrich? The cheetah? Not so much. That's when I figured out that I needed to design animals that other people wanted to make. It sounds really obvious when I say it now, but it didn't really occur to me at the start how much my designing would be shaped by customer demand. After all, if no one is interested in buying your pattern, there's not much point in designing it!
So, some designs that pop into my head get scrapped because I don't think there will be much demand for them. But on the other hand, listening to what my customers are interested in has given me some great ideas! I had no idea that folks were so into buggy eyes, until I asked around and discovered that people are crazy about them! Now, I've started adding a 'buggy-eyed' option to many of my patterns!

TSK: Makes sense to me, Stacey! I've run into this myself too, because what I really love designing is dresses and skirts, but those are generally the least-likely-to-be-knitted. Luckily I do have a few clients who love having a good showstopper to send down the runway at TNNA and other functions!

Okay, that's it for this time! Huge, huge thanks to Stacey for stopping by. We do have a little surprise for you; Stacey is going to gift one lucky winner with one of her new amigurumi kits from her Etsy shop! To enter, all you need to do is go have a look at Stacey's designs, then come back here and leave a comment suggesting an animal for her to make that she hasn't done yet! I'll announce the winner on Thursday. 

We have a winner!

Looking for the winner of the Capelet Giveaway Extravaganza? Random.org tells me it's commenter #71, Mamahoov on Ravelry! Congrats, Mamahoov! Shoot me an email at thesexyknitter@gmail.com and let me know your mailing address and whether your prefer your Signature Needles (size US 8) to be circular or straight. :)

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Each year since we've been married, the Dr. and I sit for a photo with Santa. We keep all of the photos in a large Christmas scrapbook with a bit about what that Christmas was like, where we were and who we spent it with; even though we have just 7 photos so far, it says a lot about our life together. Last night, we had our annual photo taken in Sheridan, WY, at City Hall with Santa AND Mrs. Claus! In eight years, we'd never seen a Mrs. - or a fake beard!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! On Monday, I'll announce the winner of the giveaway extravaganza, but there might just be something else going up for grabs, too, so come on back!


Capelet Giveaway Extravaganza!

Click the photo above to be taken to the Ravelry pattern page

The Winter issue of Knitcircus came out today, and features not only a video where yours truly will teach you how to work I-cord and applied I-cord, but also features a little design of mine, the Priscilla Vintage Capelet!

Texture, short rows and an I-cord edging complete this look. Also, isn't my beagle cute?

This capelet was inspired by an antique stitch pattern book; I selected a dainty border that was originally intended to be worked on minuscule needles and crochet thread, and turned it into a big fashion statement! Seen here in America's Alpaca Blend DK held doubled throughout, the capelet whips up in a jiffy when worked on Size 8/5 mm needles! You've still got plenty of time to knit one before the holidays, so I thought I'd help you towards that end. That's right, kids, it's GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

America's Alpaca was gracious enough to sponsor the giveaway with enough yarn to work the capelet, but that's not all! I also have a lovely project bag from RudDawg, some handmade point protectors from Kusala Knitworks, a pair of Signature Needles, and a copy of the Winter Pattern Collection from Knitcircus!

So here are all the goodies:

That's 1320 yards of luxury, a fabulous project bag, and an entire SET of point protectors!

The project bag is a Medium KIP bag from one of my very favorite project bag makers on Etsy: RudDawg. I have two of her Small KIP bags that I use absolutely all the time, which are great for socks and other small-to-medium-ish projects. Brenda's bags are made out of high-quality cotton, they have a nice fleece base the bag can stand on, and they are fully lined with about a jillion pockets inside (seriously). They also close with a double drawstring, which I generally prefer to zippers, since I'm the klutzy type that always manages to snag my yarn in the zipper. With the small bags priced at just $9.50 and the mediums at $15-$17, they're some of the most affordable bags I've found. And as if that's not enough, she even has a clearance section, where you can often snag the small bags for about $6.50. This one's big enough to fit all 6 skeins of yarn with a tiny bit of room left over!

Fabulous custom point protectors and YARN!!

I was really excited when Jennifer offered up a set of her custom wine-cork point protectors, because how perfect are these going to be with the razor-sharp Signature Needles? Perfect, that's how. It was also Jennifer's idea for me to find a needle sponsor, so thank her for my contacting Signature! Definitely go check out her Etsy shop, because she has many other cute things, including LEGO stitch markers!

This yarn was a real delight to work with; it's the perfect blend of 70% alpaca and 30% merino, with a nice tight twist so your knitting doesn't get a weird halo to it. It was a great pairing for the textural quality of the stitch pattern in the capelet! These skeins come in put-ups of 220 yards per ball and retail for $14.00 each; they come in 4 colors and can be purchased directly from America's Alpaca.

Signature Needles! THE knitting needle.

The winner of this giveaway will also receive a pair of size 8/5 mm needle from Signature Needle Arts, in 14" straight needles with their their choice of point and cap or a 32" circular needle. Seriously, every person I have ever known who has tried these needles says they're unlike anything they've ever worked with before, and tells me very earnestly that if they could afford to switch ALL their needles for these, they'd do it in a heartbeat. That's some pretty convincing advertising, right there!

So, you probably want to know how to enter the giveaway, amiright? Well, first go and queue up the pattern on Ravelry. Hey, this giveaway is all about my pattern, and if you win you'll have everything you need to make it, so you might as well put it in your queue, right? Then, I think it would be nice to thank all of our sponsors in the comments, so come back here and leave a comment with any one of the following (you don't have to answer them all!!):
  • Your favorite pattern from this issue of Knitcircus OR
  • Your favorite project bag in RudDawg's store OR
  • Which item you find most covetable in Kusala Knitworks' shop OR
  • Which needle you'd choose from Signature if you were to win, OR
  • Your dream order from America's Alpaca
I'll leave the comments open until midnight, Central US time on Black Friday, November 25th. The winner (one winner takes it all!) will be chosen by the Random Number Generator and announced, um...well, I would tell you when I'll announce it, but honestly every time I do that I never seem to get around to it, so let's just say I'll announce it as soon as I can. I'll be traveling until the 27th (the Dr. and I are going to WY for Thanksgiving!) so it'll probably be the 28th.

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