Shayna Gier of Bugzie’s Crochet Creations taught herself to crochet so that she could make things for others that she couldn’t afford to buy otherwise. She is autistic and finds that crochet has helped her in a number of ways. She has been selling her work for the past years but has only recently opened her Etsy store. In this interview, we learn more about why Shayna crochets, what she likes to make and what sets her business apart from others.
When did you learn how to crochet?
The very first time I picked up a hook, it was around November 2011. Originally I wanted to learn to knit so that I could make myself a “Weasley Sweater” but I tried for a month and couldn’t get past the cast on so I gave up on knitting. I turned to crochet, wanting to make little amigurumi monster creatures for my family for Christmas. I ended up giving myself carpal tunnel. My tension was really tight and I crocheted about a dozen monsters in less than a month. I ended up getting carpel tunnel in my hand for 3 months and I didn’t pick up a hook again until October 2013. That was when I found out that I was going to be a mom.
“I’m also a mother of an amazing Autistic boy, and when he was born I thought that I would crochet him some blankets, hats and photo props, as I had previously taught myself how to crochet. It really didn’t occur to me at all that I was still a beginner with little experience. But, from that day on, there hasn’t been very many days in which I did not pick up my hook, and my craft has become much more refined. I even bartered my crochet for some baby toys when my child was first born.” – Via Etsy
It sounds like you took to crochet pretty easily. Was anything difficult to learn?
I learned from YouTube videos and online instructions, and it was pretty easy to learn. The hardest parts were learning to crochet into a chain stitch and learning to properly count crochet stitches in the round. I got fed up with those! I don’t use chain stitches today unless I absolutely have to!
What is your favorite crochet stitch or technique?
I love any stitch that produces texture but is not the popcorn stitch. I can’t stand dragging my hook through so many loops required for popcorns! But if it raises the yarn up and makes fun designs then I love that!
What is your favorite yarn?
I have grown really fond of cotton. I can afford that, but I really love when I get my hands on wool. I don’t like superwash though. One wonderful thing about wool is you can use every bit of it as you can reattach it if it breaks; superwash ruins that. Brand-wise, I like Big Twist, and I have been won over by I Love This Cotton/I Love This Yarn. Definitely worsted weight is my favorite, but I’m starting to do more with chunky too.
What is your favorite crochet hook?
Either the ones with a bamboo handle, or I really love the Yarnology ergonomic crochet hooks. But those are limited in the sizes they come in, sadly.
What other supplies do you use besides yarn and hook?
Polyfil, very rarely buttons, flip-flops, needles, scissors. I try to keep my products 100% yarn and polyfil if appropriate when I can.
What is the setting when you crochet at home?
I usually crochet in the bedroom or the living room. Preferably with my son asleep, but my husband, son and I live in close quarters, so we are usually always in the same room. I go through phases of time where I go to the living room all day, and then I will just stay in the bedroom forever. It changes without my thinking about it. Right now, I prefer the bedroom.
Do you crochet other places than home?
I love crocheting on carrides! I don’t drive, and I find I accomplish quite a bit even on short trips. I have also worked on my son’s whale blanket while he was getting an MRI.
What is the most important thing you would want to tell someone who is just learning to crochet?
Don’t be intimidated to do a pattern that you feel is too advanced for you – just don’t expect perfection either. I certainly didn’t start with “beginner” level projects.
Is there anything you don’t know in crochet that you would like to learn?
I would like to learn Tunisian crochet someday.
How often do you crochet?
Daily. I might miss a day or so, but it’s usually woven into some part of my day.
What benefits has crochet brought to your life?
I’m Autistic and generally have functioning issues since I pushed myself too hard working a full time job years ago before I knew I was Autistic. Through crochet, I feel empowered and like I have purpose. It centers me. I struggle a lot in making decisions on colors to use and what pattern to do if it’s not an order for someone else, but when I am actually doing the crochet, I forget that I have issues functioning in other ways. It’s nice.
So you like doing commissions?
Yes, I love projects that are commissioned, with others making all the decisions and me just making it happen.
Do you mostly crochet for others then?
Yes, I just opened up as a legitimate business, and I find myself thinking “gee, I want to make myself a sweater, and also I need a crochet bag…” because I keep nothing that I have crocheted in the past. I have one hat. I love that hat. But I need a lot more, as conversation pieces and as a way to use my own creations.
What are your favorite items to crochet?
I like crocheting stuffed animals. I’ve done quite a few of those. I also really like crocheting anything new that I haven’t done before.
What is the smallest / largest item you have ever crocheted?
The smallest is probably the monster shoes/socks I crocheted for my son’s first Halloween.
The largest item to date is my aunt’s cardigan. It was meant to be baggy, but I didn’t have gauge down – or, you know, I disregarded gauging altogether – and it turned out humongous.
How has your self-esteem or perception of yourself changed since you started crocheting?
For once, I don’t feel lesser than others. I can do something that a lot of other people can’t. And unlike writing, it’s not impossible to find people that value what I do, and want to pay for it. Now that I am pretty good at crochet, I end up marveling over every piece I do at the end, and that sense of accomplishment is just amazing.
What crochet project are you most proud of?
I recently made the Ulyne unicorn hooded scarf with pockets. I’m pretty proud of that. It’s really hard to say though, because lately just about everything I do in my eyes is a freaking masterpiece and comparing them is hard. I’m also proud of the flip-flop slippers, which I know a lot of crocheters have issues with, but I’ve made at least 13 pairs. Over 20 individual shoes. Then there’s my first baby afghan I made for my son, I actually completed that while pregnant…. yea, lots of favorites for various reasons.
Where do you sell your crochet? What do you like about the different venues for sales?
For 3 years or so, I have sold through word-of-mouth and to friends.
Recently, in August, I opened up on Etsy. I love getting orders from various places in the US! So far, it’s mostly been Easy Coast, but it’s always fun to get an order and find out where it is going.
I’m planning to do my first craft fair for Christmas next year. I’m excited, but as I do made-to-order, I’m also worried about getting the inventory necessary for it.
What is the mission of your crochet business?
I make 100% customized made-to-order crochet. I tell my customers that, within reason, what they receive should be exactly what they pictured in their heads, and not just a close approximation. I work with them to determine what colors- exactly- they want on what parts, and I have only heard amazing feedback so far. I want my customers to get a satisfied smile on their faces anytime they reach for that product I made- whatever it may be. I hope it brings them happiness.
What are the pros and cons of making money doing a craft you love?
Pro: You make money! The feeling that people value what you do is great. Before I crocheted, I wrote, and self-published a book, and selling that was hard. Crochet is a hard sell too, but only in it’s own right. It is so much easier to sell crochet than it is a book! And, it’s funner to make crochet, too.
What advice do you have for crocheters who want to sell what they make?
Know your value. A lot of people undercharge. You don’t want to pay someone for the opportunity to make something for them, and with little mistakes here or there; if you don’t price properly, then you will end up doing that.
What is your favorite quote or saying?
“The young do not know how age thinks and feels but old men are foolish if they forget what it is to be young” Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Order of Merlin (first class), Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot
What five words would best describe you?
Quirky, Intelligent, Persistant, Fun, Loyal
Finish the sentence … “If I couldn’t crochet, I would … “
Surf the internet all day, or watch Netflix? Lol. I do that anyways, but less so with crochet.
What is the number one reason that you crochet?
I love it and find it enhances my life.