The wonderful Stacey from Fresh Stitches had me as a guest on her podcast, Crochet Chat, yesterday! You can listen to it over here. Be sure to stop by and say Hi to her. She hosts the world’s only crochet podcast so if you’re a hooker (or bi-craftual like me) go subscribe. It’s free.
A while back I asked Tami if she’d be kind enough to grant me an interview. She’s a blogger, gamer, knitter and has now opened up her own line of hand dyed yarns. To learn more about this talented lady, read on!
Tell me a little about yourself. What crafts do you typically do and who taught you/how did you get started?
I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles surrounded by the entertainment industry and tons of creative people. I’ve always been a creative person, earning a BA in Art and working in an entertainment field. A few years back, I gave up painting for writing, but I still felt like I needed to create something other than shaping words into stories. One morning, I just woke up and decided I needed to learn to crochet. I went to the craft store and bought a skein of Red Heart Super Saver and a J hook, then sat down at my computer and searched for videos online. My mom tried to teach me how to crochet several years before, but I just couldn’t pick it up, due to being left handed. Lucky for me, I found a few great videos geared toward lefties. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop crocheting (and now knitting). It’s a huge part of my life.
Right now my obsession is socks. I have a few pairs going (my first and second pair) and have plans for many more. Lucky for me, I have a ton of sock yarn in my stash. I also love making amigurumi, both knit and crochet. As far as my favorite materials, I adore Knit Picks Harmony needles and Susan Bates crochet hooks. And yarn? I love all yarn!
Not all of our projects turn out exactly as we intended. Tell me about some of your “ughs!”
Like everyone, I’ve had a ton of “ughs!” Some end up in the frog pile while I’ve been able to work through others. I bought a few skeins of beautiful yarn at a LYS once, and this was before I really knew much about different fibers. I just loved the look and feel of it. Because I wasn’t too experience, I decided to crochet a hat with it. Stupidly, I picked a pattern that was too hard for me and did it all wrong. I realized about half way through, and in the process of frogging, the yarn broke. I still have one of the balls, while the other is laying in several pieces. Sadly, I just can’t look at it really. I hope to someday make something beautiful out of it, as it is great yarn, but just wasn’t for me at the time. I guess right then I should have known that I’d become fiber obsessed.
On that note, is there any material you refuse to work with?
Hmmm, I’ll use just about anything to be honest. I think one of the things I dislike are Clover Bamboo needles (I like sharp points and slick needles and these do NOT fit in either category). I’m also not a fan of Boye crochet hooks. I learned with a set of them, but after trying a friend’s set of Susan Bates, I dropped what I was doing and bought a set. The Boye hooks aren’t very deep and are too round, in my opinion.
If you won the lotto but could only spend the money on studio space, what would you include and how would it look?
Glad I’m not the only one who dreams of that! I guess you have to play the lotto first though, right? When I was in college, one of my design teachers made us design our dream space. Of course, I didn’t knit or crochet at that point, but I was an art student after all. My dream is to have a library space (I have over 1,000 books, but due to space a lot of them are still at my parents house. Let’s just say ereaders were a godsend in my household) where I have a huge desk that looks out on a beautiful view where I can go to write. I’d love to have another large craft desk on the other side of the room with a perfect place for my sewing machine. I’d love a huge glass case to show off all of my yarn (I currently have 266 skeins of yarn but I’m sure if I won the lotto I’d have a LOT more), but still have it accessible. Another area would have a photography space so that I could take better pics of my projects and hand dyed yarn. I think it would be awesome to also have a counter with sink, etc. so that I could also do all of my dyeing there. I think it would be great to also have a big table so that I can hold craft nights at my house. We’d all have big comfy chairs by the fireplace (because OF COURSE this room has a fireplace!) to curl up in and knit/crochet. To be honest, I probably would never have to leave this room!
What got you into dying yarn?
To be honest, I’m not 100% sure. I bought some Fisherman’s wool and read a blog about dyeing. I missed being around a lot of color, since I gave up painting and drawing. In a way, I think dyeing yarn has filled that hole, but I get to combine my love of color with my love of fiber. I started small, using a very small section of the skein. I loved it instantly. To me, the yarn is my canvas now, and I love coming up with new colorways.
As far as Candy Skein, I would love to see it continue to grow, of course. To be honest, I haven’t been opened a month yet (I opened May 3, 2011) and I’m so excited about how it’s grown already. My goal is to have several different colorways always in stock in each weight (and have trouble keeping them in stock!). As I mentioned, I’ve started to make stitch markers too, which I hope to have up in the shop really soon. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a few patterns and/or crochet/knitted items for sale made with my own dyed yarn. My dream? To have a few LYS carry Candy Skein yarn!
What are your top five favorite video games of all time and why?
Wow, this is a hard one for me, probably the hardest of the bunch! I’m a HUGE puzzle gamer, so I’d have to include Tetris as one of my 5. I remember when it first came out for the NES, my mom would take me to the video store every Friday to rent one movie and one game. I ALWAYS picked Tetris. She finally got the clue and bought it! I loved the RPG Mario and Luigi Partners in Time on the DS. I played it all the way through pretty quickly. I also love the puzzle game Puzzle Quest for the DS, as well as Animal Crossing. I’m a softy for the old ones, so I’d probably have to say one of the original Mario games as well. I LOVED Super Mario 3. Funny enough, a few months ago, my husband and I were cleaning out our studio and decided to hook up our old NES. Can it get any better than 16 bit side scrollers? Also, I love old Atari games like Q-bert and Centipede. I feel like I’m missing some HUGE ones that I love, but I guess that’s what I’ll come up with (considering I listed more than 5…oops). As you can see, I have a soft spot for my childhood. LOL If I had to pick one game for one system, I’d probably pick something I could replay a lot. I LOVE my DS (man do I want a 3DS like no other!) so it would probably be something on that and I’m guessing one of the awesome puzzle games. Ok, I thought of another game I love because it mixes two of the best gaming types; Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure. It’s a sidescrolling platform game that goes into a puzzle mode and again, it’s for the DS.
Thanks for the interview, Tami! If you’d like to be featured on here email me at vanessa AT mixedmartialartsandcrafts DOT com
Andi and I are part of several blogging groups on Ravelry. I love the simplicity of her blog’s design as well as the rich colors she uses in her knitting. It seems like she can whip up a full sized cardigan in under a week! Her blog is called Untangling Knots and she can be found on Ravelry as TheAndiPants.
Tell me a little about yourself. What crafts do you typically do? Did anyone teach you?
I am a knitter! Well, if I’m honest, of the three crafts that I do the most (knitting, sewing, and crochet), knitting was the last one that I really got enthusiastic about. My mom sewed all the time when I was a kid and she frequently asked me to help out doing small things here and there when she was sewing for me for me. When I was in middle school, I started to get into more alternative fashion so I got interested in DIY. I did a lot of sewing when I was a preteen and a teenager, but that’s also when I started knitting. I knit a lot of garter stitch scarves during that phase. In High School a friend taught me to crochet and it was so easy that I felt brave enough to tackle crochet patterns. After that, knitting patterns didn’t seem so bad. When I got to University, I was going to school out of state so I couldn’t bring my sewing machine and I started to knit more and more. Knitting has sort of become my obsession.
What are your favorite things to make?
I like to make garments the most. There’s something extra special about clothing that is custom made. I’ve always had a difficult time shopping for clothes because fashion changes so rapidly and rarely hits on what I like. I mentioned that I go to school out of State and that really impacts what I make. I grew up in California and I never had a lot of clothing or accessories for cold weather other than ski gear. College has led me to live in places that are a bit chillier like Washington State and northern England so I knit a lot of woolly winter things like worsted weight cardigans to fill in those gaps in my wardrobe.
What are some of your favorite materials to work with?
Wool is my favorite to work with because it’s comfortable to wear in a variety of climates. I love alpaca for its softness, but it’s way too hot to wear when I go home for Christmas.
Not all of our projects turn out exactly as we intended. Tell me about some of your “ughs!”
I have this one cardigan (it’s called “Veronica” on Ravelry and my blog) and I had to fudge all this stuff to make it wearable. It was completely seamless, but I had to tack down the collar to make it behave. I think that is my weirdest “ugh” because I have no pictures of how it actually looks without my weird repair job so I get a lot of compliments on it and people tell me that I’m being too critical of my work.
My worst “ugh” turned out to be oddly loved. My first sweater was a complete disaster. It was way too small for me and had twisted stitches. I thought it was completely unwearable, but I showed it to a friend and she fell in love with it. I sewed on some hilariously tacky mismatched buttons like a dinosaur button and some fish and gave it to her. I guess she still wears it all the time. She lets me know via Facebook every time someone compliments it. I like that it got a second chance at life.
That’s so funny! It’s kind of nice knowing that our handmade items, even the most poorly made can get a new lease on life. On that note, is there any material you refuse to work with?
I don’t like 100% synthetics for garments, but that’s a slightly irrational result of wearing a dress lined with polyester in the summer and getting heat stoke. Despite that, I think they’re good for a million other things. There are some yarns that I sort of fear like angora, but I’d be willing to try them. I can’t think of anything that I’d completely refuse to use if I could find the right project for it. Even fun fur has its place. It makes awesome knit or crocheted stuffed animals.
You also design a lot of your knitwear. With that must come tools. What’s in your tool box?
Post It notes and paper clips! I have the usual craft supplies, but I do a lot of craft work at my desk and I find myself using my office supplies a lot. I use paperclips as stitch markers and I chain them together to make row counters. I also use them to hold dropped stitches when I notice them. I use the Post It notes like you’d think. I take notes on them to keep track of things. I also use them to wind short bobbins of yarn if I have to frog color work. I write on the Post It was section the yarn is from and then I make it into a tube to wind the yarn around. It helps me make sure that I have the right length for the section when I knit it again.
That’s a great idea with the Post-Its. You say you work on your desk so I’m sure real estate is a premium in your home. If you won the lotto but could only spend the money on studio space, what would you include and how would it look?
I would get some standing height tables because I absolutely loved those when I volunteered in my University’s costume shop for a semester. They kept me on task and active. I’d also get a really good sound system and a projector screen or a nice TV because I like having something else going on while I craft, even if I can’t pay much attention to it. As for how it’d look… It’d probably be a big white space because I’m terrible about decorating and I like the way light reflects off white. I’d have orange and lime green accents if I made a bit of an effort because I’ve been in that decorating rut since I was 12 and I see no reason to change.
Do you have any future projects planned?
I really want to put out a Living Dead themed pattern collection. I’ve got all of the intarsia charts drawn and I’ve sketched the designs. I’m just not sure if there is interest and I have to find the time to knit and write the patterns. I think my blog readers get that I like retro things, but I’m not sure if they’re aware of my love for B-horror. I’m a little bit worried that I’ll start working on the collection and everyone will be like “What the heck is this?!”
As one of your blog readers, I would love to knit up a Living Dead sweater. That gives me an idea to stitch up a pillow that says “They’re coming to get you Barbara”. Since I’m a new craft blogger, I’m always curious about what got other people in to blogging.
Waaaaaaaaaaay back in the day, my sister had an account on LiveJournal, as did a lot of people on a message board called Sheroes that we both belonged to. I wanted a blog because my sister had one. One of my friends on the message board gave me an invite code to LiveJournal and I made my first blog. It had a lot of posts devoted to internet quiz results and preteen drama, but that got me hooked on blogging. I kept my blog semi-private and around my freshmen year of college, I realized that I was posting mostly crafty content. My friends admired my work, but they weren’t crafters so they didn’t have much to say. I decided that it was time to start a new blog that was more public.
I still have a LiveJournal! I’ve had it now for 10 years. I’ve since made almost all of my high school entries private. They are too silly to let the public view them! Since you have a clearer idea about your blog’s “theme”, where do you see your blog going in the future?
I’m not entirely sure where my blog is going. At the moment, I can’t imagine ever not blogging, but I have no idea what will happen when I graduate from college and get a full time job. I’d like to think that I’ll continue to blog and become wildly popular, but I don’t make enough of an effort the way I blog now for that to happen and I’d be happy for my blog to carry on the way it is.
Since you’re a seasoned knitter, what are some notions no knitter should do with out?
A basic resource book is the most important thing that I can think of. I think a lot of knitters who started in the last 10 years think that they can get by using internet resources, but a good book like The Knitter’s Handbook is invaluable. There’s a lot of information that can get missed when you’re only working with snippets here and there on the internet. When I look something up in my books I don’t just get the information I’m looking for. There are always other details that help me understand what I’m doing and why instead of simply telling me how to do it. Plus, when I’m looking something specific up, I find a glossary to be a lot more concise than Google.
Glosseries and indexes make my inner librarian happy. I love to read and I’m constantly reading. Has your nose been buried in a book, crafting related or otherwise?
I’ve been reading a collection of late Victorian Gothic horror stories. It’s half for school and half for fun. I really enjoy Bram Stoker and Arthur Conan Doyle. I just read “The Case of Lady Sannox” and I love how simple but twisted it is.
I haven’t had a craft book to read in awhile because I’m studying abroad this year and only brought the absolute necessities with me which doesn’t include patterns. I’m really looking forward to this summer when I’ll be able to get my hands on A Stitch in Time Vol. 2. It’s a book of vintage patterns with both the original pattern and the pattern rewritten in modern terms. It has patterns from the 1930s to 1959 which makes me quite excited because it covers the decades in fashion that best suit my body type.
You mentioned you like having the TV on while you craft. Do you listen to music while you create? What’s been on your iPod lately?
I don’t listen to a lot of music when I craft. I tend to go with audio books or movies. When I do listen to music, it’s all over the place, but most of it would fall under the category of rock. I like The Horrorpops, No Doubt, Korn, Blink 182, Dick Dale & The Del Tones, Marylin Manson, Streetlight Manifesto, The Academy Is…, Glenn Miller, OK Go, Morningwood, Placebo, Metric, and Stray Cats. I’m sort of a terrible person to ask about music. Unless you’re specific about what you’re interested in, I always seem to give giant lists of things that don’t really relate.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to a newbie crafter, what would it be?
Try things. If the things you try suck, try something else. That method has never served me wrong. My other advice would be to not take things too seriously and don’t expect perfection from the very beginning.
I think that’s advice that all knitters and crafters can take to heart. Thanks again to Andi for the wonderful interview. If you’d like to be interviewed, email me at vanessa AT mixedmartialartsandcrafts DOT com.
MMAAC: Tell me a little about yourself. What crafts do you typically do?
Odessa: My name is Odessa. I’m an at-home mom who went to art school before that. I mostly knit. Sometimes I crochet, but I identify myself as a knitter. I’ve done all sorts of crafts though. I think I really like knitting out of all of them because I find it’s the one way I can craft exactly what I see in in my head and realize it as a real object if that makes any sense. Because I get these crazy ideas of exactly what I want and can never find any patterns that match them, I make things up a lot and from that started designing my own.
MMAAC: Did anyone teach you to knit or design?
Odessa: I don’t think I was ever really taught, it all came out of books and magazines. A friend and I decided to start knitting sometime around the end of high school (which is around 10 years ago) and I just kept going with it. After my sons were born I found myself in need of something relaxing to do (as so many do!) so I came back to knitting in a big way.
MMAAC: What are your favorite things to make?
Odessa: My favorite things to make are mittens. I love mittens. Although I always forget them on cold days and then kick myself because I have a stack at least a foot high in my work area. Mittens are a small project, so there is a lot of project completion satisfaction. And they are small enough that you can try new techniques out and it’s not a huge time or yarn investment if you finish them and they suck. I like to buy single balls of nice yarns a lot and you can almost always make mittens out of a single ball. And if you can’t, you can make the cuffs a different color or stripe them and it looks just fine. There’s a lot of possibility.
MMAAC:What are some of your favorite materials to work with?
Odessa: I prefer natural yarns, especially wool, but I also experiment with other things. I really love hand painted sock yarns. It’s really cold where I live so I like to use them in mittens so I can always look at them instead of hiding them in my boots. I am really more about color than material, so if a color speaks to me, I’ll make it work.
MMAAC: Not all of our projects turn out exactly as we intended. Tell me about some of your “ughs!”
Odessa: I generally like to pretend those don’t exist. Right now though, I am trying to reknit a pair of cabled mittens I had knit from some old notes and no matter what I do they just are not working. It’s pretty frustrating. I am on my last attempt before I give up. I try not to linger on projects when they are not working, I usually stop myself and take them apart before they get too out of hand so they usually don’t even get to an ugh point.
MMAAC: What’s in your designer’s tool box?
Odessa: Lots of needles! I mostly work in the round and magic loop so I have a tangled mess of circular needles in all sizes from US00 up to 17 (my most used is a US1 Addi turbo lace), along with all sorts of buttons, bits of yarn, pom pom makers, safety and googly eyes, measuring tape, some scissors, a needle gauge, and lots of coil-less safety pins (which I bought because Elizabeth Zimmermann kept saying to use them in her books and I thought if I did I might improve my knitting skill just a little). I had to move my crochet hooks to their own smaller pouch recently because there was no room for them. I really need a bigger notions case.
MMAAC: Sounds like my knitting bag! I need a bigger notions bag and a bigger crafting space. Speaking of which, if you won the lotto but could only spend the money on studio space, what would you include and how would it look?
Odessa: My ideal studio space would have a lot of wooden surfaces, large tables and lots of light! I have very little natural light right now. I’d have large shelves to organize my yarn in a way I could always see what I had on hand and an area for dying yarns. I’d have a great big desk with some large monitors (I do most of my computing on a tiny netbook right now) and lots of space to sprawl everything out. And I’d need a comfy couch or two with a television for when I am knitting because I totally watch too much tv while knitting. I’d probably have a secret hidden darkroom somewhere because I love developing photographs; it’s magical no matter how many times you do it.
MMAAC: What got you into blogging? Where do you see your blog going in the future?
Odessa: Oh geez. I think I’ve been blogging since around 2000 in some form or another. My current blog started out as a blog about me and my family and things we did but slowly morphed into it’s current form as a knitting blog. I am in the middle of re-designing it right now and am really questioning what exactly I want it to be and do. Right now I am still not sure though. I want to talk more about design processes, since that is the kind of stuff that really interests me as a process sort of person. I think I need to find more time to spend blogging if I want to make my blog anything more than the casual mish-mash (which I mean in the fondest sense) that it is. Maybe when I finally get arse up my office area I can figure that out!
Much luck on the blog redesign and thanks for the interview, Odessa! If you’d like to be interviewed by me (or interview me!) send an email to vanessa AT mixedmartialartsandcrafts DOT com.
Charlotte has been gracious enough to grant me an interview. Her blog is An Accidental Knitter and she’s been hosting Monday’s ABC meme. She can be found on Ravelry as Charlott3. Like me, she is young and with a chronic illness.
MMAAC: Tell me a little about yourself. What crafts do you typically do? Did anyone teach you or did you sort of fall into your craft?
Charlotte: I’ve had M.E since I was 12 years old and so I’ve turned to different crafts to help me get through my day. For a while I was big on card making, then it moved on to painting (my mother and grandmother are artists, so help was always at hand). Then in February 2011, I watched a documentary on pain. I noticed during the programme that a few of those suffering with pain were knitting, and they looked like they were really enjoying it. My Mum fortunately had needles and yarn and taught me that night. I’ve been completely hooked ever since!
MMAAC: What are your favourite things to make? What are some of your favourite materials to work with?
Charlotte: I love to make mug-hugs. My family are big tea-drinkers and so they are used on a daily basis. As for materials, I’ve only ever knitted with acrylic. I mostly knit for my Mum and sister, and since they are allergic to wool etc so I have to knit with acrylic. But to be honest, I’m too nervous to knit with anything else, as I don’t want to become a ‘yarn snob’.
MMAAC: Not all of your projects turn out exactly as we intended. Tell me about some of your “ughs!”
Charlotte: The first one that comes to mind is a bookmark I made for my best friend. She is completely obsessed with reading so I wanted to make her something she could use every day. It was so wrong on many levels. Firstly, I used double knit wool so it was nice and thick, not something you really want for a bookmark. It was also my first time striping, so the stripes were very uneven. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I didn’t weave in my ends (because I’m such a lazy so-and-so!), I just tied them and cut. It looked awful. My friend was very sweet though and told me how much she loved it.
MMAAC: On that note, is there any material you refuse to work with?
Charlotte: Eyelash yarn. It’s awful stuff. It’s nice to hold, I’ll give you that. But horrible to knit with. You can’t count your rows, or even make stitches. You can’t even frog it, as it gets all knotty. As you can tell, I’m not a big fan.
MMAAC: What’s in your tool box?
Charlotte: Mine is more of a make-up bag rather than a tool box, but it is nice and full. I have a small pair of craft scissors, three colourful crochet hooks, bright purple 4mm needles and a small ball of yarn (encase there is a knitting emergency!) pens, pencils, eraser, two straight cable needles and three darning needles.
MMAAC: What other crafts would you like to learn?
Charlotte: I would love to learn how to crochet, as I love the look of granny square Afghans. I really want to learn how to sew and cross stitch, but my phobia of needles is holding me back at the moment.
If you won the lotto but could only spend the money on studio space, what would you include and how would it look?
Charlotte: It would be a completely white room, with white tiles and white shelfs etc. The reason for that is so the yarn will stand out. Along one wall would be shelves all broken up into sections. With bulky yarn being at one end and in the other would be 2-ply. The yarn would be sorted into the different categories so I can easily get what I want. The other wall would be my very own knitting library. With pattern books from the twenties, right the way down to the modern day. Covering subjects from the simple flower, down to the the extreme life size cars.In one corner of the room would be a photography area, with lots of different backdrops, for photographing all my knits. In the other corner would be a bright red rocking chair, where I can sit and knit.
MMAAC: Sounds amazing! What got you into blogging? Where do you see your blog going in the future?
Charlotte: The film Julie & Julia, really inspired me to get back into blogging. I’d done it before but never really gotten into it. Now though I’m completely obsessed! My goals for the future are to reach 100 followers and blog daily. Something I can’t see happening for a while yet.
Let’s help her reach her goal and check out her blog. Thanks again Charlotte!
I’ve been a long time reader of Brinn’s blog, Stitch, Brinn, Stitch! and I really admire her creativity and turn around time! She can also be found on Ravelry as stitchbrinnstitch. She also designs and sells her knits on Etsy.
MMAAC: What crafts do you typically do?
Brinn: My main craft is knitting and I do that nearly all the time (I always have it with me), but I also crochet, sew, spin yarn (poorly), embroider,and cross stitch, and I dabble in paper crafting (mostly making notecards) and jewelry making (which I am not very good at/lack the patience for). I have a lot of craft supplies and I like to make things.
MMAAC: My mom showed me the basics of knit and crochet. Did anyone teach you? Or was it the internet?
Brinn: I pretty much taught myself to do all the crafts I do. My mother taught me to do a crochet chain stitch and bought me a how-to kit for Christmas, and I taught myself. Then, I learned how to knit from a kit my mother bought my sister. It was several years before I could purl (which I taught myself thanks to the internet). I started sewing in middle school because my sister was in home ec and made a cute tote bag and skirt, and I wanted to make one too. My mother showed me how to use the sewing machine and I broke the bobbin winder.
I don’t really have any formal training in any of my crafts and I’m sure I do a lot of things wrong. I only this year started pressing things when I sew. When I do paper crafts, I just make stuff up. I got a jewelry kit from a Craftster.org swap, so that’s where I learned to do that. I just recently taught myself to embroider and cross stitch, and it’s one of my favorite crafts now.
MMAAC: Since you’re a jill-of-all trades, what are your favorite things to make?
Brinn: Probably sweaters. I love sweaters. Thick wool, thin cotton… love them. My favorite sweater is probably my modified Girl Friday sweater. I wear it pretty much every day when it’s cold. The fit is perfect and I love the color, plus the yarn (Valley Northampton) doesn’t really pill. I want to make a couple more in stockinette. I also love to make wall art, particularly cross stitches. I have a huge list of things I want to cross stitch. I also love to knit hats. They’re fast and cute. Yay, hats. My other favorite knitted thing is my shark mittens, which is a thing I made up and wrote the pattern for and promptly sold a billion copies, which is good because I’m a poor college student.
Not any more! Brinn is now a broke college graduate. Congrats!
MMAAC: Since you mostly knit wearable items, what are your favorite yarn?
Brinn: I love working with wool yarn (as that’s what I mostly use), but my current favorite yarn is Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, which is merino, nylon, and cashmere. Ah, heaven.
MMAAC: Any yarn you hate?
Brinn: I HATE fun fur. HATE.
Thanks again to Brinn for the interview! If you’d like to be interviewed, email me at vanessa AT mixedmartialartsandcrafts DOT com.
I met Andrea through the Martial Arts Knitters group on Ravelry. She’s a crafter and practices martial arts. Her blogs can be found here and here. She’s known as StickPixie on Ravelry. She practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Sudbury MMA.
Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts: What crafts do you typically do?
Andrea: I’m mostly a knitter, and have been for about 20 years, although recently I started messing around with the drop spindle. I used to be quite the little cross-stitcher, but haven’t been able to find the time to do it lately.
MMAaC: How did you get started/who taught you/where did you learn?
Andrea: I was four years old when my mom taught me to knit. It was something to keep my little hands busy, something we could do together. She taught me English knitting (she calls it Canadian-style) rather than Continental, which is her preferred method, because she thought that it would be easier for me to learn. I sort of messed around with it until I was about 15, when I started taking it seriously again. I wanted to knit a scarf for a boyfriend. Well, the boyfriend didn’t stick around, but I revived my interest in the craft the next year when a good friend became pregnant, and I made her a blanket for her little one. Once I started university, it became necessary to knit because a) if I didn’t, I’d go crazy, and b) I didn’t precisely have the funds for expensive Christmas gifts, so I made people things.
I started spinning last July, at an informal “spin-in” at the home of one of our SnB members. For the first little while, I just made the most hideous lumpy single-ply handspun. Then I went to a spin-in at the local spinner’s guild last month, and got some smarts smacked into me! That day, they featured a movie about drafting techniques for different types of fibre, and it really helped me to understand what to do with my fluff.
MMAaC: Spinning is next on my “to learn” list. What are your favorite things to make? Andrea: Mostly, I like to focus on hats and baby clothes. Hats are great because they’re small, you can take them anywhere, and they’re quick to complete. The same applies to baby clothes, with the added bonus of the cuteness factor. I guess I’m at the age now where all my friends and family members of a similar age (early-mid 20′s) are having babies, so I’ve been making a LOT of baby clothes lately. None for myself though…yet.
MMAaC: Tell me about your favorite project?
Andrea: My favorite project would have to be the sweater I made my husband for our first anniversary. Well, it was supposed to be for our first anniversary but I never finished it in time. “Besides,” husband-of-mine said, “our anniversary is in August. I don’t need a sweater then! Make it for Christmas.” So I finished it on time – at ten minutes to midnight on December 23rd – blocked it, sewed it up, and had it ready for him on Christmas Eve. My other favorite project would be the Selbuvotter gloves I made for my dad. These were also supposed to be an Xmas gift, but turns out I finished them in March. Heh.
MMAaC: Not every project can be a winner. What’s been your worst or least favorite project?
Andrea: My least favorite project was a garter stitch scarf I started making for one of my aunts when I was 12. My mom bought me the yarn, a forest green acrylic – and told me she wanted me to make it for said aunt, whom I didn’t like – she had married my uncle that year and was really an unpleasant person to be around for extended periods of time. So I grumbled through the making of the scarf, which never grew beyond 6 inches in length because I kept getting frustrated with it and ripped it out multiple times. Finally, I told my mom I wasn’t going to do it because it was driving me crazy, and if she wanted it done she would have to do it herself. I recently used that yarn to make a bunch of hats for the homeless.
MMAaC: Tell us more about Andrea. Who is she and what is she into besides knitting?
Andrea: Whenever I’m not knitting, I can usually be found at school learning various bits of nursing knowledge; at home, cooking up a storm and cuddling my two crazy Labrador girls; or at the gym, rolling around on the mats learning some jiu jitsu and throwing around boys twice my size. I recently achieved silver and bronze medals at a BJJ tournament in Toronto.
MMAaC: What is BJJ for those readers who don’t know? What level are you at?
Andrea: I am a practitioner of Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ), also known as Gracie jiu jitsu. I currently have a white belt with three stripes, having just received my third stripe this week!
(For those who are not familiar with the grading system in BJJ, before one can attain the next level of belt – blue, purple, brown or black – one must first attain four stripes on their belt. In our club, it takes a minimum of two years to attain a blue belt, but that is only a guideline and attendance alone is not a guarantee of promotion.)
MMAaC: Have you tried any other forms of martial arts? How is it different from what you’re doing now?
Andrea: When I first started, I did some Muay Thai on the side as part of some beginner MMA classes. It’s definitely different from BJJ in that it’s the striking aspect of our MMA program, whereas BJJ is focused on grappling. I think what lead me to focus on BJJ was the fact that although muay thai is a crazy cardio workout, the punch-kick routine was starting to bore me a little. (That, and I can’t do pushups to save my life! Nobody ever asks me to do a pushup in BJJ!)
MMAaC What do you love most about BJJ?
Andrea: I love the physical challenge of it, and seeing how the body mechanics of it work. I love watching the flow of movement between two practitioners who are mutually involved in demonstrating the moves, not intent on killing each other. I love using simple motions to have great impact on someone larger than me. And I especially love how even when I’m dead tired, my limbs are heavy and full of bruises, and my hair and gi are plastered to me with sweat, I can still feel myself smiling from ear to ear. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Prior to joining Sudbury MMA, I had gained about 25 lbs and was horrified that my inactivity had led to such a radical gain. I didn’t feel as though there was anything I could do; I worked a lot of shift work and was just beginning college, so I imagined I had no time to engage in any kind of physical fitness. Luckily, the club has a really flexible schedule – 6 days a week – and I could train whenever I wanted in whatever discipline I wanted. Within 6 months, I hadn’t budged the numbers on the scale much (about 5 lbs lost), but I definitely had lost some inches off my waist – 3 to be exact. Plus my entire body felt stronger and looked more toned. Over the last few months, since I’ve been training for competitions, I’ve lost another 10 lbs.
I have definitely gained a great deal more confidence. If I hadn’t, I know I would not have had the strength of mind to stand in front of 2000 people and fight another human being two weeks ago. I used to have such terrible stage fright as a child, but now I find I can more easily do things like present in front of my class at school, confidently walk into patients’ rooms during my clinical placement days, and yes, even help teach some of the classes at the club.
I think sometimes that being in BJJ has given me a bit of an “attitude”, but then I realize that what it has done is given me what I need to learn to open my mouth and my mind. Now it’s kind of hard to shut up.
MMAaC: How did you get started?
Andrea: A friend of mine was advertising on Facebook that the martial arts club she attended was offering a 2-week free trial. She said that they offered beginner MMA classes, and I thought to myself, “Hmm, I wonder if I could do that?” So I signed up and did 2 straight hours the first night – almost passed out – and decided I was hooked. It was hard going at first, because not long afterward, the friend who got me started decided to leave the club – her boyfriend was one of the instructors and it turned out they had broken up – so I’d lost my training partner. Also, I initially found it hard to be around so many boisterous, sweaty boys I barely knew. Eventually though, I started making friends with the guys at the club, and yes, some of the girls (we do have the odd girl thrown in the mix!).
MMAaC: My mom hates that I spar but my husband loves it. It seems like most people are either OK with girls fighting or not. What are you opinions on girls fighting professionally or even on an amateur level?
Andrea: I don’t know if I would ever have the opportunity to fight at a professional or amateur level, considering that I live in a somewhat small, Northern Ontario city. If I decided to move to Ottawa and train with the black belt whose club is affiliated with mine, I still think it would be hard to gain recognition or be taken seriously. I also think it’s probably like that for female BJJ practitioners everywhere, not just here. It’s truly sad that in the 21st century, women still do not have the same opportunities as men, and that includes martial arts. It sucks that the only time you see a girl in the UFC is when she’s prancing through the octagon holding up a card. I’m aware of other avenues women can take to fight professionally, but even so, I find that most guys just get off on the novelty of chicks fighting rather than taking them seriously as athletes.
That’s my long-winded way of saying: let’s buck this misogynistic crap already and get more women in professional fighting!
Amen to that! Thanks for the interview Andrea!
Want to be interviewed on Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts? Send an email to vanessa [at] mixedmartialartsandcrafts.com and put “Interview” in the subject!
Today I am unveiling a new reoccurring feature on Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts. I’ll be interviewing and spotlighting some crafty guys and girls and today’s first spotlight is on Amber from Last Yesterday! Amber is a fellow military wife, avid hooker and seamstress.
Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts: Amber, what crafts do you typically do?
Amber: I normally do crochet and sewing. Those are my two main crafts.
MMAaC: How did you get started sewing and crocheting? Did anyone in your family show you?
Amber: Crochet interest started while watching my mother and grandmothers. They typically made blankets, and I was facinated that you could take some yarn and turn it into a giant blanket! My mother taught me the basics, chaining and double crochet. I was hooked (no pun intended!) I joined a crochet community on LiveJournal and I noticed that they all kept mentioning Ravlery.com, and I decided that I’d finally check it out. And from there things exploded. I bought two crochet books (The Happy Hooker and a stitch dictionary) and I haven’t looked back since!
Sewing also stemmed from my mother. She used to make me such cute dresses as a girl, and I wanted to make Barbie clothes! Of course, I never got around to it. My first project was on my grandmother’s 1930′s Singer. It was a piece of jean, with some netting sewn onto the back, with a patch on the front. I was so proud of it. My mother taught me about patterns and how they worked, and I went from there.
MMAaC:What are some of your favorite things to make?
Amber: Clothing, actually. I find it satisfying to be able to wear and show off my creations. It gives me a since of accomplishment and pride! Next, would have to be blankets. I’m always cold.
MMAaC: What are your favorite materials to work with?
Amber: Yarn! I’m actually really picky about yarns, being that I’m allergic to a few things, and then my hands can’t handle some yarns. I prefer merino, silk, bamboo, and mixes. I’m not a yarn snob. If it has nylon mixed in with my merino, I won’t cry. All yarns need to be loved.
With cloth, I’m not that picky. I can make anything out of any kind of cloth. Though, I do have to say seersucker was pretty amazing to work with.
MMAaC: Tell me about a FO that you’re most proud of.
Amber: For crochet, right now, I’m most proud of my Elise shawl. It was my first time stepping away from something other than a blanket, scarf or hat. While it was simple, it turned out really beautifully. With sewing, I’m going to have to go with my polka dotted sundress. It’s so comfortable, and I get nothing but compliments every time I wear it!
MMAaC: Yes! I’ve seen pictures of the shawl and dress. They are super cute. I know that not every project is a winner so dish about your worst project.
Amber: The worst project? I attempted to make a romper for my friend’s new baby, and I completely FAILED. I don’t even know what I did wrong. There are no pictures of this disaster, and I think I’ve stuffed it into the burn pile. My worst crochet project was a blanket I attempted to make out of Fun Fur. Straight up striped Fun Fur. Never. Again.
MMAaC: I know you’re like me and you have to be at least bi-craftual. What other crafts would you like to learn?
Amber: I’m trying to learn more about knitting. I can do the knit stitch, and then I get so frustrated from there. Two sticks are HARD. I’d also like to learn embroidery. It looks so cool.
If you’d like to be featured on Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts, contact me here. Be sure to put “Interview” in the title of your email.