When I was eight years old, my mother taught me my first basic crochet stitches, thereby connecting me to a long line of crochet blanket makers in my family. When my daughter was born, I discovered amigurumi — a Japanese form of crochet used to make stuffed toys. Soon I was totally hooked, teaching myself to read patterns and design my own. I made everything from taco magnets to space alien finger puppets.
When my daughter had more crochet toys than anyone could possibly want, I knew it was time to turn my hobby into a business. I began by selling my work at craft fairs. I was shocked when all of my mermaid dolls sold in one day. While that gave me confidence in my idea, I soon realized that there are only so many toys I can make on my own. I scaled back on craft fairs and focused on commission work and small-batch wholesale. I do the Black Friday and Small Business Saturday sales at ARTichoke every year.
Part of the joy in this is being in a community of crafters, near and far. The crafters I’ve met on Cape Cod are so supportive and collaborative, and we all feel lucky to live in a place that values shopping small and handmade goods.
I love colorful, playful styles and anything nautical. But I’m always trying new things. I recently began to dabble in portrait crochet, where you paint a picture with yarn using freeform crochet stitches. But you never know, the next hit might come from pop culture. It’s always fun seeing what my talented maker friends are doing on Instagram — I’ve met so many people around the world that way.
My neighbors in Orleans started hanging rainbows in their windows recently to signal thanks to essential workers and to provide a sign of hope. It didn’t take me long to find a simple pattern from a craft friend so I could create my own. I hung one in my baby’s bedroom, and another on the Rock Harbor Road overpass on Route 6.
What I love about crochet is that anyone can learn, and right now is a perfect time to start, since most of what you need is right there on the internet. Dig out an old ball of yarn, ask a neighbor for a crochet hook, or check the websites of local craft stores — some are still operating by mail order. YouTube channels like Sewrella, Knit Grit, and Hooked by Robin provide guidance. Your first project isn’t going to be perfect, but don’t give up. You never know what connections you might discover.