Monday, November 1, 2010

Meet the Maker Monday: The Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Itsy Bitsy Spider, a.k.a Karla, is one of those crocheting wonder-women who, wielding only hook and yarn, turn out gorgeously sweet plush that look good enough to eat. But of course you won't eat them, will you? You have to settle for admiring their smiles and squishing their little bellies. Get started at

You can even learn trade secrets by picking up a pattern.

How do you make your plush?
My plush critters are all crocheted using the amigurumi (spiral) style. I use a little felt and some embellishments (like safety eyes) here and there – but only for small accents and faces. I love fibers and really enjoy seeing a “plain old ball of yarn” take the shape of something loveable, beautiful, or whimsical.

Where did you learn your skills?
I’m entirely self-taught. When I was about 15, I picked up a book of needle crafts and decided I wanted to learn how to crochet. I followed the pictures and instructions and started out making small things like purses and pot holders. With more practice, I moved into afghans and sweaters but finally settled on amigurumi.

What’s your work area like?
I use a small bedroom to do most of my work. Believe it or not, one of the walls in that room is almost entirely dedicated to yarn!

My room also has a cozy papasan chair (in my opinion, the BEST place in the world to crochet) and a work bench where I do some assembly.

What inspires your plush designs?
I have two main inspirations – my two-year-old daughter and stories. Actually, you might consider that one inspiration…

In addition to plush making, I’m a writer. While most of my writing now-a-days is of the technical sort, I still love telling stories. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved acting out stories with dolls. Before I could make them, I used to have my mom draw the dolls – I would color and cut out my paper dolls and play that way.
Now that I have a little one of my own, I love telling her stories and acting them out with my amigurumi dolls. She loves playing along and has even come up with some “stories” of her own. For example, did you know that Fuzzy Whazzits like Fruity Cheerios for breakfast?

How do you promote your work?

In addition to my shop, I have a blog, use Facebook, Flikr, and I sell my patterns on Ravelry.
How do you fit plush-making into the rest of your life?

Ha! With a little one around, that gets more and more difficult every day! Actually, my husband is a prince. He often hangs out with our daughter in the evenings so that I can get some quality yarn time in. But oh, I am counting down the days until she starts preschool so that I can have a couple hours to myself during the day!

Any dreams for new designs or projects?
My ULTIMATE goal is to publish a pattern book. At the rate I’m going, that might happen sometime before my kid is in college!

What advice can you give makers who dabble in plush?
  1. Get yourself a “thing” and stick with it. For me, it’s yarn/crochet. Once you foray into the world of plush-making, you find so many fabulous designers that it’s tempting to throw in the hook (or your choice material) and try a little bit of everything. I’ve found that it’s best to work on perfecting my own techniques in my chosen media though and treat myself to others’ plush designs instead!
  2. Be true to yourself. You have some great ideas. Work at them until they are true to your own sense of originality. Don’t copy other peoples’ work – it’s not fair to all the potential you have inside YOU!
  3. Have fun. It’s been said by maker after maker after maker… but it’s true. If you’re not enjoying what you’re making, it might be time for a change!

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