I have recently started a series here on the site interviewing San Francisco Bay Area crocheters who sell their stuff on Etsy. The first interview to go live was last week’s interview with SnippetFairy; I hope you’ll check it out if you missed it. But first, finish reading through this week’s interview with JacquiJCrochet. She sells affordable patterns for people who want to crochet the cool stuff that she designs and makes. The patterns are a mix of things including hats, home décor, child crochet patterns, amigurumi and jewelry. In this interview, she tells us about her charming early experiences with crochet, how she ended up on Etsy and what it’s like to design a pattern.
CROCHETBLOGGER: If you remember, what was the first thing that you crocheted?
JacquiJCrochet: I actually didn’t make anything the first time I crocheted. My great grandmother taught me how to single crochet (the only stitch I knew for about ten years) on whatever project she was working on. I would sit there and single crochet and then tighten my tail after each and every stitch because I never actually turned the work and had to stitch into those stitches. Then when I wasn’t looking she would frog it, fix it, and finish it.
Eventually many years later I picked up Susan Bates’ “Teach Yourself to Crochet” kit and expanded my knowledge beyond the single crochet and made my very first scarf (isn’t that most people’s first project anyway?) and I never turned back.
CROCHETBLOGGER: What a great story! I can just picture your grandma’s patience and the bonding that time must have allowed you.
CROCHETBLOGGER: What is your favorite yarn to work with? Where do you get your yarn?
JacquiJCrochet : My ultimate favorite yarn to work with is anything with cashmere in it (or pure cashmere when I can afford it). I am also loving anything from Knit Picks. I just started working with them as an Independent Designer and have had the opportunity to sample quite a few of their yarns and I haven’t found one I don’t like yet. I do the big box craft stores for my workhorse yarn (love Vanna’s Choice for anything acrylic), but love visiting the Local Yarn Shops (LYSs) for my higher end yarns.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Sounds like a reasonable mix of stuff. I’ve never tried KnitPicks but can second your opinion on any chance to use cashmere!
CROCHETBLOGGER: What made you decide to start an Etsy store for sharing your patterns?
JacquiJCrochet: I became a stay at home mom over 3 years ago and was on a mom forum one day when Etsy was mentioned. I immediately opened up a shop when I saw how wonderful the site looked. I began on Etsy by attempting to sell finished crocheted objects. I realized I was bored crocheting anything more than once and noticed my options for cute and stylish crochet projects was limited. I tried my hand at designing a few patterns and realized they sold way better than any finished object I ever listed. After that I chose to focus solely on my pattern business and have been very happy with that decision ever since.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Do you ever still sell the items that you’ve crafted yourself or do you only sell the patterns that you design?
JacquiJCrochet: I did do a limited run on my cowl collection, and am working on some really fun amigurumi characters that might do well in the shop, but I mostly stick to designing.
I do allow anyone who purchases my patterns to sell finished items from them. I ask for credit for the pattern when they list, but they can make and charge whatever they like for their finished items.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Can you share some information about your process in designing a new pattern?
JacquiJCrochet: I don’t have a set process when designing something new, only because my inspiration comes from different places. Sometimes I see a yarn and immediately picture something made from it, for example, my ruffle bikini pattern came to me instantly when I saw a knitted swatch of a ruffle yarn at Joanns. I bought the yarn and experimented with it until I figured out how to make the ruffles in crochet and then I just worked the pattern from there. Sometimes I see a picture of an accessory in a magazine and I picture it in crochet. Other times I see something in nature that I think would look really cool if it was crocheted, like my dress up butterfly wings.
Once I figure out what I want to make I rarely write the pattern before I make it. I instead crochet row by row and write out the pattern as I go, frogging and making adjustments as I need to get the pattern just as I envisioned it. Once the pattern is complete and how I want it, I type up the rough draft of the pattern and get it tested. I recently bought a “smart pen” which I now use to write my patterns down. Once I am finished I plug in the pen and it downloads my pattern to the computer and translates it into typed text. It saves me so much time and grief because that was my least favorite part of the whole process. I would sometimes sit on a pattern for months just because I would dread having to type the whole thing into the computer.
After it is tested I will photograph the item (I do all my own photography, editing, and chart making) and finish the pattern and then list it. I am a one stop shop for my patterns so I usually charge much less than other designers that must pay outside help for some of the steps I do myself. I try to give a great value to my customer and not short change them on a professional looking pattern.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Are there any particular items in your store right now that you’d like me to highlight on the blog?
JacquiJCrochet: Since spring and summer are coming up I would like to highlight all my home accessories and amigurumi that are great projects for hotter months when you don’t want or need to be working on large, warm projects.
CROCHETBLOGGER: What is one thing about crochet that you want other people to know?
JacquiJCrochet: Crochet is so much more than just granny square blankets, or trimming for knitted projects. It can be made into wonderful fabric for garments, structural pieces for amigurumi, or lightweight lace that looks better than any doily your grandmother ever made. It is a very versatile and stylish craft that I love to share with people and break the stereotypes associated with it.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Thanks so much for sharing your terrific creative crochet knowledge with us! I hope that everyone will head to your shop to check it out.