An Interview with Stacey Trock and Giveaway!

A while back, Stacey Trock contacted me and asked if  The Itsy Bitsy Spider would like to participate in a blog tour she was planning to help publicize the release of her new book, Cuddly Crochet. Of course, I said "heck, yeah!"

I'm officially the last stop on the tour and I figured we'd wrap up the journey with some deep questions... Let's see what Stacey had to say:

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been a crocheter? What are your inspirations? Who are your favorite designers?

I've been crocheting since I was little and my mom taught me... but I've only been designing since 2008. That's the time that I decided that I wanted needlework to be my full-time job, and I learned to knit, as well.

I've always really loved the cartoony look of stuffed animals, and the Japanese always draw the cutest animals! I'm always delighted at how such simple shapes can be combined to make such a cute little animal drawing! I find those combinations of shapes really inspiring.

There are lots of great designers out there... especially in the realm of amigurumi. I'd have to say that my absolute favorite is the designer of Delicious Crochet... she always comes up with really great ideas and great looking amigurumi. I also really admire June from Planet June... she has great designs and has a great blog and tutorials.

After just a brief look at Cuddly Crochet, I knew this book was different from a lot of amigurumi books out there. What do you think makes your book so different?

One thing that makes Cuddly Crochet a bit different is that it's really geared towards projects that are practical for children to use. So, there are lots of kiddie accessories (like blankets, hats and bibs) that I think make great baby-shower or birthday presents, in addition to the animals. Also, my animals are designed for children... most of them are about 8" tall, and what I call 'full-sized' stuffed animals, which is different from a lot of the 2" tall amigurumi out there.

I like to focus on kid-friendliness and practicality, and that means making the patterns practical to crochet, as well! I've included patterns that are great for girls & boys (and unisex patterns). Also, a lot of amigurumi are crocheted with TINY crochet hooks, so that stuffing doesn't poke through. This makes the average crocheter's hands hurt! So, my amigurumi are crocheted with a size H hook, and through the back loop... this means that the stuffing doesn't peek out, and your hands don't cramp up. I think that's good news!

A lot of amigurumi design out there is edgy. You have Cthulu, zombies, and all kinds of crazy stuff. In a world where you can buy skull and crossbones pajamas for your 12-month-old, what made you decide to choose a more nurturing approach toward the topic?

Yeah, I guess I'm not that edgy :) Maybe I'm old fashioned, but my favorite stuffed animal as a child was a teddy bear (named teddy)... and he was cute and soft. And, I think that's what little kids want.
Amigurumi has become so popular with lots of age groups... and so I don't think all of the designs out there are necessarily meant for small children. A lot of adults make amigurumi to decorate their desk... so I think there's definitely a market for edgy things, but also for cuddly, sweet child-friendly things.

When I'm designing, I often make up prototypes that may or may not result "good" finished products. Fortunately, I have a special "little person" in my life who adores all of my creations and is happy to find a home for even the ugliest failure. What do you do with your prototypes?

If I don't like how something is turning out, I'll rip it out right away... so I guess it's true that I don't have any icky prototypes... because they'd never make it to assembly! I don't have a little one myself, but a couple of the samples I make have gone to cousins or kids of friends. Mostly, though, I sell them. I've been selling them at a store near my home in DC, but I'm moving this summer, so I'll switch over to selling them on my etsy shop. I make way too many to keep in my one bedroom apartment!

If you needed to make up a baby gift for someone close to you and could only pick one set from the book, which would it be and why?

Ooohh... that's a tough one! The koala is my favorite animal, and everyone loves him :) It's probably the animal that I've made the most of for friends... And the mouse bib is my favorite accessory, because the little mouse peeking over the edge of the bib is so cute! But, as a set... I think I would go for the bear set. I think the teddy bear is a classic stuffed animal, and I think that the blanket that I designed to accompany the bear looks great for tiny kids, but will also be loved by older kids. It's a crocheting challenge, but I think it's a great result. Besides, I like to think I'm always crocheting an heirloom :)

A lot of Itsy Bitsy Spider Readers are also crocheters (and yarn addicts, like me). If you had to pick only one brand of yarn to use for the rest of your days... which would it be?

Oh, no... another tough one! The rest of my life, only one yarn for everything that I do?!? My favorite yarns for making amigurumi are Ella Rae Classic and Plymouth Galway, both worsted weight wools that come in lots of different colors and are great for felting. I'd have a very hard time living without those...

But, if I can only pick one brand for all of my amigurumi and all of the knitting of clothing that I do... (and let me tell you, I answered this after 10 minutes of looking around on Ravelry at my choices) I'd pick Stonehedge Mill Fibers. Their Shepherd's wool is the softest merino I've ever worked with, feels great next to the skin and felts amazingly. And, it comes in worsted and fingering... so I could keep making animals, sweaters and socks!

Let's just hope that never happens in real life though... I love trying new yarns!!!

Thanks so much Stacey for taking the time to visit with me and my readers. I know that I, for one, will be trying out some of your new patterns very soon!

And.... for those of you who would also like a chance to try Stacey's Cuddly Crochet patterns -- free! -- Stacey has graciously given me a copy of her book to use in a giveaway (YAY!!!).

To enter, click the following link and complete the short form. Once you have submitted the form, you are officially entered into a random drawing that will take place on May 1. Both US and international blog readers may enter. GOOD LUCK!

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