Couples who work together always interest me. Couples who work together on creative endeavors especially interest me. When one half of the team knits and the other crochets and it comes together in fun Etsy shop I just have to learn more about it. That’s why I’ve interviewed Kelly and David, the team behind Craftypodes.
About the Couple
Kelly Martinez is an artist who works in multiple mediums. One of the ways that she creates is through crochet. She is, therefore, the crocheting half of the married couple. Her husband David is the knitter. He’s also a United States Marine. Together they make Craftypodes, a shop filled with slightly quirky and offbeat toys and accessories that have a sense of humor and a spirit of fun.
Pretty Little Monster and Black Cat Knitted Kitty by Craftypodes
About the Shop
Craftypodes is an Etsy shop featuring their combined work. From their shop’s about section we learn:
“The name Craftypodes started as a joke about plural forms of platypus and octopus. “Platypodes” and “octopodes” led to us pluralizing other things by adding “-podes” just for a giggle.
Craftypodes is a silly word that means “crafty people”.
We are both serious about what we do. We would rather start over and get everything right before putting an item in the shop than sell you something we would not be willing to buy for ourselves. When you request custom items, we want to keep every reasonable option open so that you get colors you love and items you truly feel were made with you in mind.
As serious as we are, we also enjoy our work. Our workplace is our home, and we often have long conversations with each other while knitting and crocheting. We support each other in our creative journeys, and each item is handmade in an environment filled with love and laughter.”
I started off the interview asking Kelly about a little bit about her blog 45 Degrees Off because I liked what she had to say about its name on the site itself:
“We are all looking at the same world each day. Some of us see different pieces of it, and some of us are looking at the same pieces from different points of view. As an artist, I work to share my point of view in a way that allows you to see the world through my eyes, even if just for a short time. It may look like the same world you are used to seeing, but turned a little. Say… about 45 degrees off.”
So I asked her, how did you come to think of that name? What challenges have you found, if any, in staying true to your own voice and vision as you’ve developed your online store?
Kelly answered: I have become very aware over the years that most people I know would have to make an effort to look at things the way that comes to me naturally. I get questions like, “Why do you spend so much time thinking about this?” or “How did you come up with that idea?” and I have no clue how to answer them. It’s usually something I don’t really put effort into. These things are really obvious to me, and I’m usually surprised to find out everyone else is not having the same idea. On the other hand, there are things that are so obvious to other people, or so effortless for them to do, that they can’t see why I struggle with those things. I don’t exactly live in my own little world, but I often feel like the way I’m experiencing the world is just dialed to a different setting. That’s something I want to be able to share because I don’t think my way of seeing things is any better or worse than anyone else’s. It’s just different, and I think the more we share our different ways of seeing things with each other, the more complete picture we get of life. I do quick, small sharing of things on tumblr
now because I sometimes have to choose between writing a blog post or getting some more crafting time in, but 45 Degrees Off is still where I explore different types of art and what motivates us to create it, as well as how it shapes us when we view it.The frustrating part for me is that I’ll probably never create everything I want to because new ideas pop up all the time. I keep a list of my ideas so that I don’t forget them before I can finish one project and get to the next, but that list grows much faster than I can complete things. There are some projects I’m very passionate about the idea for, but it’s possible they’ll never be shared with anyone. It’s also a challenge to balance what I want to create visually with what customers want when it comes to functionality. That’s why I’m working on designs for some limited series items. I think that will be good for me as an artist, and it also means I can offer customers something uncommon, if not truly “one of a kind”.
Next I wanted to get into the fact that Craftypodes is a husband-and-wife team. I said: It sounds like such a joy to work in a creative partnership and really infuse the products you make with that happiness and love. But there must be some challenges to working together as opposed to solo so I’d love to know what the benefits are of having a creative partner and what the challenges are? How has it been balancing home and work?
David answered, “We can share yarn. We can talk about our crafts and each at least have some idea of what the other is talking about. I sometimes feel that I’m not doing enough because Kelly completes projects faster, even though I know knitting is a slower craft. As far as balance, the main thing for me is just finding the time to do everything that needs to be done.”Kelly answered, “I don’t share my yarn with him unless it’s really necessary. If one of us needs yarn, that’s a good excuse to go yarn shopping. It is so much easier to bounce ideas off of him since he started knitting, though! It’s comforting to know he understands my work, and understand that it really is work. I don’t have to convince him that I’m not just sitting around playing with string like a cat. We each have a different approach to choosing projects, so I feel like we can provide things for different types of shoppers. I sometimes get a little stressed because it gets difficult for me to see where crocheting for the shop ends and crocheting for personal reasons begins, but I can depend on him to let me know when I might be pushing
myself too hard.”
I also had to make sure to ask about the experience of being a Marine who knits. That is awesome! Love it! How did it happen?
David explained: “My active service in the Marine Corps ended in 2007, and because it left me disabled I needed to adjust to living life with those limitations. I took up knitting because it’s something I am physically able to do and because the mathematical aspect intrigues me.”
Knitted scarf from the Craftypodes store
Q: You both have some nerdy/geeky interests and are also both doing these domestic crafts … do you see any conflict between those two areas of your life or how do they influence one another?
Kelly: As long as I’m not allowed to build a nuclear reactor in the back yard, crochet is really working for me. It’s just a different way of taking ideas and turning them into something tangible. I’m not going to provide free energy for the world, or find a cure for cancer this way, but I can make things that make other people think in new ways or consider what they could be teaching themselves to do that they’ve never done before. And maybe one of them will find a cure for cancer, or figure out a new way to fund a space program. Maybe someday I’ll crochet an amigurumi astronaut and someone will take him on a space mission. I would love that!David: Because it’s the numerical patterns that get my attention, I often want to do more advanced projects than I’m ready for. I need to master more of the basics first. That’s both good and bad because it’s frustrating now, but it gives me something to work toward.
Q: I see a lot of bright colors in the items available for sale in your store. Would you say you’re drawn to those? Where does your color inspiration come from?
Kelly: Sometimes the colors are where an idea starts for me. Other times, it’s me putting something of myself into the piece. When I made a potholder and dishcloth set, I chose yellow because our kitchen is yellow. I’m working on a baby blanket done with lavender as the main color. That choice came from thinking about trying to find gifts when you don’t know if the baby will be a boy or girl, and noticing quite a few people say they just don’t really like the idea that colors “belong” to specific genders.
David: I let her choose colors for me. ;-)
Q: You have a diverse range of products from small amigurumi creatures to stylish accessories – what would you say is the thread that runs through all of the things that you offer?
David: Since I’m still finding my personal style, I look at what is popular or in demand at the time.Kelly: If there is a common thread in my work, I’m not sure it would be easy to spot. It’s something of a personal journey for me. I want to create things I’ve never created before, or find ways to put new ideas into something old and reliable.
Q: How is Etsy going for you? What have been the toughest parts of trying to be successful on the site? What have been the biggest joys?
David: Our shop is still in the first year, so the toughest part has been finding all the information needed to run a shop smoothly. The biggest joy has been seeing people comment and spread the word about our work.
Q: Kelly, you mention on Ravelry that your grandmother crochets. What memories do you have of her crafting? Has her crocheting influenced your work at all?
Kelly: She was always crocheting something. She and my mother had a successful local craft business for years. I know she made other things for their business, but when I picture her in my mind it’s always her crocheting and my mom doing other crafts. My grandmother did a lot of crocheting with fine thread. Snowflakes, table cloths, Christmas ornaments, people’s names done in filet crochet. I’m fairly certain she could crochet anything. As a kid, I didn’t learn much from her but that was my own doing. I was very interested in the idea of simply being able to make things, but never very interested in the reality of putting the work into it. I have anxiety as a complication of a neurological illness, and crocheting is very soothing for me. I realize now that she had anxiety for different reasons, but I think that probably explains some of why she always seemed less nervous when she was crocheting. The things I make are very different than what she did, but I hope she’d be proud of my work if she could see it. I have one of the hooks she used, and I gave working with fine thread a try by crocheting around a stone I brought home when I once visited my grandmother’s sister in another state (shown below).
Q: Kelly, you also do other artwork and crafting, correct? What role is crochet playing in the overall picture of your personal creative life?
Kelly: I’ve put my drawing on hold for now. I still have work available for purchase, but I’ve focused on doing my part to get Craftypodes running this year. Making that decision was a real struggle for me because I’ve put four years into selling my drawing. I was planning to start a big project this year that has a lot of personal meaning for me. I talked it over with my husband, though, as well as a couple of friends, and the change was something I needed to do. I had reached a point where there were more benefits to focusing on crocheting, and many of the ideas I had on my list for drawing would actually make really interesting crocheted pieces. Drawing is still something I want to do, but it’s a more occasional activity for me now.
Q: You take requests for custom items … can you share a little bit about the process of that from the customer first asking for a custom item to the creation and delivery of the product?
This octopus was a custom request; the customer needed a version of the Cratfypodes rainbow octopus in softer colors for a baby.
A: We have been contacted for custom requests both through Etsy conversations and messages to our Twitter account (@Craftypodes). Of the two, Etsy conversations are the most reliable way to get in touch with us. Exactly how the process goes depends on a couple of things. Our shop policies are that we will let someone know if we can take the order, how long it will likely take us to make the item, and confirm the details they want and the cost for them. We ask them to confirm that this is all acceptable and that they do want to place the order. When the item is complete, we put it on reserve for them and let them know it’s ready and that our policy is to hold an item for up to one month before making it available for anyone who wants to purchase it. Once we get confirmation that they’ve paid for the item, we let them know exactly which day we’ll be shipping it. If they’re needing to pay with a personal check instead of PayPal, the process is different and doesn’t go through the Etsy shop. We have to ask that they send the check before we ship the item. We haven’t had anyone not pay, but if that did happen we would then put the item in the shop for anyone to purchase.Items that are simply a different color or size for something already in the shop are usually the same price as the item in the shop. If the size difference would mean a higher price, or if they’re asking for a different type of yarn to be used that would change the cost, we make that clear before asking the customer to confirm that they want to order the item. And we welcome questions about items not already in the shop! There are a lot of things we can make but just haven’t gotten around to making for the shop yet, and we will let someone know if what they’re looking for is something we just can’t do at the time.
Q: If you could let people know one single thing about crochet, what would it be?
Kelly: It’s not an easier form of knitting. They are different crafts. Some people find one to be more enjoyable than the other, and many people master both. If you’ve tried one and it just didn’t work for you, try the other one.