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National Crochet Month:
Amy Shelton, Crochetville
Crochetville is very proud to have designer Amy Shelton of Crochetville with us today, March 29, as one of the featured designers on our 2015 Designer Blog Tour in honor of National Crochet Month (NatCroMo). Yes, that’s me! I’ll be writing about myself today. I joined the Crochet Guild of America in 2006, became a professional member in 2008, served on the Board of Directors for four years (2009-2012), and served as President for two years (2011-2012).
Three Truths and a Lie:
Take a guess as to which of the following statements isn’t true. We’ll try to let you know which statement is “The Lie” somewhere in this post. If we just can’t work it in, we’ll post the truth at the bottom of the post!
- I designed a garment that made die-hard knitters decide they had to learn to crochet.
- I was in the National Spelling Bee when I was in 8th grade.
- I am very much an extrovert.
- I also enjoy knitting, spinning, weaving, and felting.
If you’re not familiar with my work already, I’d like to share two of my designs with you.
The motif used in this wrap brings to mind gently falling snowflakes on a crisp, frosty winter’s day. Although the air outside might be nipping at your nose, this wrap will keep the rest of you toasty warm. The open laciness of the motif means the wrap will still be perfect for cool spring days or in over-air-conditioned rooms in the summer. Make this wrap in a colorful yarn and the motif will have you thinking of a beautiful floral garden.
As a publicity stunt one year, I designed a crown to wear in our booth at STITCHES and Knit and Crochet Show / CGOA conference events. That pattern, the Queen for a Day Crown, was made from Filatura di Crosa New Smoking yarn. Bobbie Matela of Red Heart asked me to design a crown out of a Red Heart yarn. So I created this crown, that is even bigger and better than the original.
I made a version for myself that is all blinged out with glass beads in the blue color you may recognize from Crochetville’s blog and forum. The crown is obnoxiously in-your-face at 6″ tall and full of sparkle and bling from the metallic crochet thread and the beads. When we’re at the shows, I’m usually there at the front of the booth, near the cash register much of the time. The crown serves a very useful purpose: It gets people to stop and ask me why I’m wearing it. After we talk for a bit, almost everybody comes on into the booth to look around, shop, and talk to us about crochet for a bit.
Getting Off to a Good Start
I learned to crochet when I was in third grade, right as I turned nine years old. Our third grade teacher taught all the girls in the class. We’d sit on the back steps of the school with our hooks and yarn while the boys ran around the schoolyard. They could have learned, too, but they just weren’t interested. I was lucky enough that my mother and her mother were both excellent crocheters, so when the rest of the girls in class abandoned their efforts, I was able to keep learning at home.
My mother was primarily a thread crocheter. It wasn’t long before I was grabbing her steel hooks, her thread, and her Decorative Crochet and Magic Crochet magazines and setting to work. I don’t remember having much trouble learning to read the charts in those magazines. I’m left-handed, so I’d follow the directions in the chart, simply realizing that as I was working, I was just working in the opposite direction as shown on the chart.
All through high school, I would crochet gifts for my best friends for birthdays and Christmas, mainly thread crochet items of different types, since there was always plenty of thread around the house. I also made a stained-glass granny square afghan out of Red Heart Super Saver in bright, primary colors that I still have to this day. I made a number of afghans, most of which got used so much they eventually wore out. Now I just have a couple of afghans plus a thread crochet heart pillow with 3-dimensional roses.
A Crochet Career Is Begun
After I married and had children, I got away from crochet for quite awhile. My interest was revived when I received a beautiful crocheted scarf from my aunt for Christmas in 2004. At that point, I jumped right online and tried to find places where crocheters were gathering together. I came across Crochetville in early 2005 and joined right away. At that time, I was managing another high-traffic message board in another industry and didn’t have time to post much, but I read quite a bit.
In April 2006, after some changes in the moderator team at Crochetville, I was asked to come on board as an administrator due to my prior message board management expertise. By the end of 2006, Donna Hulka and I were the only two members of the admin/moderator team. The site had grown so much that it was regularly crashing the shared server on which it was located. The other businesses whose sites were on that server were none too happy with us. So we had to move to a dedicated server, which cost way more money than we were willing to pay out of our personal pockets.
In January 2007, Crochetville LLC, the business was born, with Donna and me as equal partners. We added Google ads to the site, and we’re happy to say that the site was able to pay its bills in full from that point on. It still doesn’t pay us each a full-time salary for the full-time work we put in, but we’re working on that! Since then, the Crochetville “social media empire” has grown quite a bit. Crochetville is now composed of our message board with over 67,000 members, a Facebook page with over 260,000 fans, a Facebook group, our blog, and a free pattern directory. You’ll find me online most of each day managing all of these places as Crochetville’s Social Media Director.
Several years ago, we partnered with Red Heart Yarns to have a booth at consumer shows such as the STITCHES events and the Knit and Crochet Show / CGOA conference. We’ve really enjoyed getting to meet crocheters from all over the country! We’re proud to say that at these shows, our booth is known as “Crochet Central,” with the most crochet-related products of any booth at the show.
When I was serving on the CGOA Board of Directors, we decided to create an e-booklet of patterns as a benefit for the members. The booklet was titled Across the Board Crochet. Each board member was asked to contribute a pattern. That booklet is what started me on the path to designing my own patterns.
When my schedule allows, I also teach online crochet and crochet-business classes on the Crochetville website. This year, I will be teaching a crochet class and a pin-loom weaving class at the Middle Tennessee Fiber Festival.
My Greatest Crochet Accomplishment
There are three things of which I’m very proud. I really can’t pick just one, so I’ll have to tell you about all three. First of all, I was so proud and honored to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Crochet Guild of America in 2009 and to serve as President during 2011 and 2012. My four years on the board, helping to preserve and promote the importance of crochet, are a time I will never forget. Serving on the board allowed me to meet in person so many of the wonderful designers and industry professionals whom I had only met online.
I am also proud of coming up with the idea for our annual Designer Blog Tour in honor of National Crochet Month. To the best of my knowledge, this is the biggest organized event in existence with the purpose of celebrating National Crochet Month. This year, all the available spots in the tour were taken within a period of less than ten days, and we had a waiting list of other designers wanting to be part of the tour. This year’s tour has gone so well that we have plans for expansion next year to make things even more exciting for everyone! I can’t wait to tell you all about the expansion plans in coming months.
The next thing I’m most proud of involves the knitting world. There can sometimes be a bit of rivalry between knitters and crocheters, with many knitters not fully realizing the beauty of today’s crochet. I’ve been quite surprised when wearing crocheted garments at various conferences to have knitters approach me asking what pattern I used, because they liked what I was wearing so much they were anxious to make it for themselves. They were often quite surprised my garment was actually crocheted. In late 2013, I created a design for Long Island Livestock Company using their fabulous fingering 2-ply yarn, made of alpaca, wool, bamboo, and a bit of nylon, the Classic Montauk Lacy Wrap. This design made its debut in the Long Island Livestock Company booth at Vogue Knitting Live in January 2014. I was so excited when I got a Facebook message from Tabbethia, while she was at the show, that KNITTERS loved the design so much they were buying the pattern (and the yarn!), even though they didn’t yet know how to crochet. It was such a thrill to know that MY design was inspiring knitters to finally break down and learn our wonderful craft!
The Wider World of Fiber Arts
After many years of unsuccessful attempts, I finally learned to knit about seven years ago, just so I could knit socks. After a practice prayer shawl made using Lion Brand Homespun, my first real project was a pair of socks using fingering weight yarn on size 2 double point needles. (I’m a tight knitter.) Nobody told me that might not be the best first serious project to tackle. I did a lot of frogging, but by golly, I had a lot of knitting skills by the time I finished them! I still love and wear those socks!
In the past year, I’ve also learn to spin on a spinning wheel, to weave on rigid heddle and pin looms, and to do Nuno felting and wet felting. If it’s a fiber technique, I love it!
About My Design Process:
I generally get an idea in my head, then sit down with yarn, hook, pencil, and paper. I take notes of what I’m doing and write the pattern as I go along. Sometimes the yarn behaves and does what I want it to. Other times, I have to stop and let the yarn turn itself into whatever it wants to be.
Advice for New Designers:
Learn the industry standards for pattern writing. The best way to do this is by scrutinizing the way patterns are written in books and magazines. You can also download the Designers Guidelines on the websites of many magazines. These guidelines explain how these companies expect their patterns to be written. Realize that some of these standards were developed because of the space constraints in print publishing. If you’re going to self-publish digital patterns, you can let your patterns take up as much space as want. You may decide to deviate a little bit from standard guidelines so you can explain things more thoroughly and perhaps more effectively. However, those industry standard guidelines are going to give you a good background as you develop your own pattern writing style.Do your best to attend a Crochet Guild of America conference. You’ll have a FREE opportunity to sit down with editors from crochet magazines and book publishers and show them your designs. Where else are you going to get that opportunity? You’ll also have the opportunity to meet many industry professionals and develop networking opportunities.
Funny Conference Story:
At one of the Chain Link conferences, CGOA had a yarn winding booth as a service to attendees. My job was managing the schedule of volunteeers. I dropped by the winding booth to check on how things were going. Volunteers were busily winding a bunch of yarn, and there was a pile on the table waiting to be wound.
A woman comes up behind me to check and see if her yarn has been wound yet. I told her I’d check the list for her name. It was pretty noisy in there, and I thought I heard her say, “Betty Hechtman.” I knew Betty Hechtman was an author of the Crochet Mystery cozy mystery series featuring Molly Pink and the Tarzana Hookers. I owned all her books. However, I was sure that such a well-known author would not be at our event.
I find the list of yarn that has been wound, and sure enough the list says, “Betty Hechtman.” I whip my head around, and in a very surprised voice, manage to get out, “Are you THE Betty Hechtman?” She said she was Betty Hechtman and that she was an author. It was such a fan-girl moment! I said, “You ARE Betty Hechtman! Oh my goodness, I have all your books. I love them.” She could see from my nametag that I was on the CGOA Board of Directors. We had a very nice talk about crochet, her books, the guild, and more.
Later on, Betty was attending one of the Stitches events where Crochetville had a booth. I asked her if she’d do a book signing with us. It was late notice by the time I found out she’d be there, so I was only able to get in a few of her books. Betty brought more with her. We sold out of all her books within a 30 minute after she dropped them off. She came back for her book signing, but there were no books left to be purchased. Luckily, most of the people who bought the books brought them back to be signed.
Betty and I had a fabulous conversation while we sat there for the rest of her book signing with no books to sign! I told her that of all the author signings we had done, NEVER had I seen such a quick sell-out of all the books we had in stock!
Since that time, Betty has mentioned me (and current CGOA board member Delma Myers) in the Acknowledgments section of a couple of her Crochet Mystery books. I felt like I had really arrived to be mentioned by name in the books of a famous hardback book author! My mom buys a couple copies of each book just to see my name in print and have the copies for our “family archives.”
I am beyond thrilled that Betty is one of our featured designers in our blog tour this year! If you haven’t read any of her books, go check out her author page on amazon and get some of them! They’re very fun to read!
And if you’d like to read another very funny conference story involving yours truly, go read our blog post about Tammy Hildebrand, CGOA Vice President. The story involves us releasing our inner She-Hulks, an elevator, hysterical laughter, and a bunch of fellow designers and conference attendees who must have thought we’d lost our marbles!
Another Conference Story:
At the first CGOA Fun Night we hosted at the annual conference, Tammy Bradburn showed off this fabulous Spocktopus amigurumi, her original creation. When I mentioned I was also a big Star Trek fan, and we had an entire Christmas tree devoted exclusively to the entire collection of Hallmark Star Trek ornaments, she gifted Spocktopus to me. He is one of my most treasured crocheted objects. Thanks again, Tammy!
Oh, yes, and that’s the beaded version of my crochet crown, although you can’t see it very well. I’ll try to take a better picture of the crown sometime.
Some of My Favorites:
- Favorite Crochet Books: My absolute favorites are my Japanese stitch dictionaries, Dora Ohrenstein’s new Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop, and all of Doris Chan‘s books.
- Designers: I love the work of a wide number of designers. I have to say that I have made more designs of Doris Chan’s than of any other designer, with Jenny King coming a close second. (Jenny even designed a pattern and named it after me! How cool is that!)
- Favorite Hook: Tulip Etimo hooks: They glide like butter through every yarn I’ve ever used with them.
- Favorite Yarn: I love alpaca and bamboo in any weight from fingering to DK.
- Favorite Thing to Crochet: Garments and accessories
No need to visit a separate blog post today — You’re already here! I meant to have a new pattern ready for you for FREE for a limited period, but due to running the blog tour, it’s not ready yet. Please check back in about two weeks and it should be here. I’ll let it be free through the end of April so everyone will have a chance to get it.
While you’re waiting, I’m going to offer two specials.
1. La Fantasie Violette Infinity Scarf (shown above) FREE through 11:59 PM CDT on April 4. Just add it to your Ravelry cart and checkout. No coupon code required.
2. 50% off all other patterns in my Ravelry store through 11:59 PM CDT on April 4. No coupon code required.
NOTE: If you add the La Fantasie Violette pattern to your cart along with other patterns of mine, the shopping cart will charge you 50% of the purchase price. To make sure you get La Fantasie Violette for free, be sure it is the only item in your shopping cart. I will not be able to issue refunds if you end up purchasing it with other patterns.
Find Me Online:
Crochetville: Amy (must be logged in to see profile)
Ravelry: AmyS (must be logged in to see profile)
Crochetville Blog: https://crochetville.com
Ravelry Designer Page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/amy-shelton
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/crochetville
Facebook Group (A Daily Dose of Fiber): https://www.facebook.com/groups/Crochetville/
Facebook Group (2016 National Crochet Month): https://www.facebook.com/groups/nationalcrochetmonth/
While I enjoy being around people and love socializing at all the crochet events, I am really an introvert at heart. I need my alone time to recharge my batteries, or at least quiet time in the room with one of my favorite conference roommates.
Although if you ask these roommates (Tammy Hildebrand, Jenny King, Renee Rodgers, Donna Hulka, Kathleen Sams, in no particular order), it’s not really QUIET as we’re usually doing quite a bit of talking!
I really was in the National Spelling Bee in 8th grade. I won a full set of Encyclopedia Britannica that I just finally got rid of this year. I remember wishing I’d won the prize for second place, which was a really fabulous stereo system! My younger sister followed me three years later when she was in 8th grade. I think we’re still the only two students our county in east Tennessee has ever sent to the National Spelling Bee.
Additional Blog Tour Information: