Tracy Roul is a Canadian crochet designer with a store called Castaway Collection. She makes an array of goodies from ponchos to pillow cases. Today I’m happy to share with you an interview with this awesome lady in which she shares how feelings inspire her work, her terrific experience crocheting with women in a shelter and lots more about her work. And at the end of the interview you’ll find a special discount code for my readers!
CROCHETBLOGGER: I read that you were inspired to learn to crochet by the women at the Qimaavik Women’s Shelter. Can you share more about what that was like and how crocheting was a benefit to them? It seems so powerful!
My father lives in Iqaluit, NU and I would work there during the summers to help support the cost of university. I was completing a Degree in Social Work so this position at the women’s shelter was a very good fit for me. I have since convocated with a Master of Social Work from Memorial University of Newfoundland.
My experience at the Qimaavik Women’s Shelter was certainly very powerful and one I will not forget. The women (many with children) had to leave everything they had and knew in order to protect themselves and their family from violence. This shelter serves women not only from Iqaluit but also the surrounding communities which are only accessible via airplane.
As you can imagine, this is a terribly difficult time in which the women often turned to each other for support. The women often sat around crocheting individually as a source of income. Fibre arts are very popular in the northern communities and the creations are just astonishing! But very quickly I could see how the women began to bond and trust each other. They had the opportunity to exchange stories with others who could understand the complexities of living in a situation of violence. Very soon, these women became a teacher to me taking great pride in sharing this traditional art form. I felt so blessed to be included in this circle and really feel that this experience helped all of us grow into a fuller person. I really looked forward to these afternoon sessions and am still amazed to reflect upon this helping process.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Wow. What a wonderful experience! Can you tell us a little bit about the items that you crochet?
I have always been drawn to items that are classically beautiful. When my cousin suggested that I open a shop on Etsy, I really wanted to develop a collection that was timeless. I had often crocheted baby hats and blankets as gifts but I could see that opening a shop would be a good fit with me. I design pieces that are meant to be used. I love picturing one of my blankets draped across someone’s couch or one of my newborn hats as the first thing a parent puts on their little baby before leaving the house. And I do love the idea of design pieces for photographers since most newborn photographers love to capture a timeless photo and I think that my pieces fit with this art form too.
CROCHETBLOGGER: You offer a lot of great crochet items for babies. Do you have any babies in your own life that inspire your work?
Christmas Crochet Flapper Beanie for Babies
I am a proud mama of two beautiful children! My daughter Mirah is now 3 years old. She is just a little doll and sometimes a diva too! My son Jonas is 1 ½ years old and keeps his mom and dad busy. He loves to climb and thinks that he is just hilarious. Life is good and I am so thankful to be able to stay at home with my children for at least another year. I love creating crocheted treasures for my children, many of which have not reached my shop yet. This gives me the opportunity to “test” designs and rework them too.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Where else do you get inspiration for your crochet? I know that you don’t use patterns so can you tell us a little bit about your design process?
I am most often inspired by feelings: the feeling of warmth, love, and care. My pieces remind me of my grandmother, of a hot cup of tea, and of snuggles under a granny square blanket – all crafted with love with memories. This is the feeling I want to share with my customers; this is where my inspiration comes from. I try to capture this feeling in each and every piece I create from my pixie-styled newborn hats to my granny square pillow covers.
Colors are also very important to me. I am not afraid to use color but I am really drawn to neutral and classic color combinations. I try to make sure that my color choices are going to work in the daily lives of my customers. Take for example my Caribbean Fantasy Blanket. This blanket show cases bright but classic colors of cream, lime green, and orange that I think would fit into the homes of many. And cream, I cannot get enough cream!
And finally, I am based out of Torbay, Newfoundland, Canada and it is no surprise that inspiration for my shop name came from living so close to the wonderful Atlantic Ocean. I also wanted to connect my work to my home with each collection piece being named after a part of our sea-bound culture.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Congrats on the great response to your new business. What tips do you have for other crafters who are trying to generate interest in their handmade items?
Castaway Collection Crochet Headband with Feather
Stick with it! I can hardly believe that I opened my shop doors less than 3 months ago. The response I have received has just been amazing which reaffirms that I am on the right track with my business. I think that it is important for crafters to really narrow their focus and create some signature pieces. This helps create familiarity and assist with your branding.
And social networking is so important. Believe me, I am no pro but simple things like creating a facebook fan page, twitter account, e blog have helped my enormously. After all, people need to know about you before they can buy!
And one more tip – be yourself. Let people into your life a little. I think the most powerful connection is when we connect with our hearts. I have found this to be true about all relationships whether in my professional life as a social worker, my personal life, and now within my cyber life.
CROCHETBLOGGER: You have some great crochet cowls for women. I’m curious what your opinion is of the current trend of crochet cowls for men.
Castaway Collection Infinity Scarf / Cowl
I have toyed with the idea of creating cowls for men. I love them! But only in classic man colors like gray, brown, navy, or black and they can’t be too chunky. I think it really depends upon the man and his style in terms of pulling this one off!
CROCHETBLOGGER: Is there anything else you want to make sure people know about your work or store?
Come visit and if you don’t see what you are looking for just contact me! I do create custom orders and would love to bring your visions to life. And be sure to sign up and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and my Blog as I offer exclusive deals and discounts directly to my fans that are not always available at my shop.
CROCHETBLOGGER: Finalmente, what is one thing that you really want people to know about crochet?
Crocheting is an art form. It really has stood the test of time and is being reinvented every day.
Tracy has generously offered my readers an exclusive coupon code for 15% off any order. Just enter Coupon Code: CROCHETLOVERS in the “notes to seller.”
Find Tracy online:
Tracy Roul, Creative Owner
The Blog: http://www.castawaycollection.com
The Shop: http://www.castawaycollection.etsy.com
The Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/castawaycollection
The Tweets: http://www.twitter.com/castawayshop