Knitters You Should Know: FreshStitches

I feel compelled to state my honest personal opinion: Stacey Trock is awesome.  I have never been particularly interested in crochet, and the more time I devote to knitting, the less time I want to devote to learning a new fiber craft.  FreshStitches changed all that.  Stacey’s website is full of adorable patterns, friendly and easy to navigate links, and tutorials which would make any intimidated non-crocheter eager to dive into the craft.  Stacey’s crocheted creations are a testament to the ability of crochet to create beautiful, functional, lovable, fresh items, and I’m sure that after you’ve seen her designs, you will be a FreshStitches convert too.  Make sure to check out Stacey’s Ravelry, designer page, Website, twitter, facebook, and her book, cuddly crochet! 

How did you get into knitting? 
It’s kind of a funny story how I began to knit.  I learned to crochet from my mom when I was little (in fact, I hardly remember, but I estimate that I was 6 or so).  When I finished school, I decided that I wanted to design amigurumi (crocheted stuffed animals) as my career, and I thought it would be a good idea to work in a yarn shop until my business ‘got off the ground’.  When I went into the shop, they said that they couldn’t hire me unless I could knit… so I learned! In less than a week, I could knit, purl, increase and decrease… and I was hired!  That was 3 years ago now, and I haven’t stopped :)

Do you have a ‘real world’ job other than design? If so, what do you do? 
Not really :)  Designing (and book-writing) is my primary source of income, so I consider it my real ‘job’.  However, I also work part-time at a yarn store (a different one than I started at, since I’ve moved since then)… I love the human interaction!, teach knitting and crochet, do a work-study at a yoga studio and occasionally dog-walk.  I stay pretty busy!

Where are you from? Do you have one or two interesting insider tips or observations about your home or hometown? 
I was born and raised in Silver Spring, MD, which is a suburb of Washington, DC.  I do have a good story!  When I grew up, ‘downtown Silver Spring’ was a really rough area: drugs and dangerous and stuff.  In economics class in 11th grade, we needed to write our final project about a local economic event.  I clipped a newspaper article about how the Discovery Channel was going to move to downtown and revitalize the town.  My economics teacher laughed at me and said there was no way to improve the city… but I’m delighted to report that he was wrong! The Discovery Channel moved in, and 10 years later, it’s an amazing place! If you visit, make sure to go to the Pho restaurant that’s on the 2nd floor next to the fountain… that’s my tip ;)

What is your favorite knitting spot? Do you have an ‘artistic process’ when it comes to knitting and design, or do you tote the needles wherever you go? 
On my sofa.  I usually have a couple projects going at once.  If I’m designing a new stuffed animal, I work at it at home on my sofa because I’m usually taking notes about what I’m doing or taking progress photos… and that’s all hard to do on the go.  But, I usually also have a fun (personal) project going on… and then I’ll tote it around if I’ll be out of the house for long.

Describe your average day.
I wake up at 7:30 in the morning, and check my email and eat breakfast (homemade yogurt and Kashi cereal) while writing a blog post (I blog every weekday).  A couple of days a week, I go for a run, then get to work.  Depending on what’s on my calendar, that can mean crocheting, editing my website, formatting patterns or reading articles about marketing or photography.  Right now, I’m addicted to the Tour de France, so that’s always on in the background.  I’m always off of work by 6, when I head to the yoga studio or cook dinner.  Then, I usually knit while watching tv, and I’m in bed by 10!

Tell me about your favorite project. 
ooh… that’s really tricky! I’m going to have to say a white Japanese Feather and Fan shawl that I knit this spring.  It was my first lace shawl, and it was so entertaining to knit… plus, I get loads of compliments on it!  I wore it non-stop until it got too warm!

What is your favorite quote? 
Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.  I totally think it’s true- which is why I make sure I ‘leave work’ by 6pm each night.  You can spend forever reading tweets, or on forums, and I have to make sure to not let the small stuff take over my life!

If you could have one splurge knitting purchase and project, what would it be? 
Only one?  I’m not sure I can answer that! But, I have two candidates… it would either be an Addi Interchangeable Needle set (because who doesn’t want one?) or a skein of hand-dyed silk yarn.  I’ve never worked with 100% silk… and I think it’s about time I do!

Who is your favorite knitwear designer and why? 
Veera!  I’m just so attracted to her designs… sleek and simple, but still so unique and modern! I’ve knit Still Light (a tunic pattern of hers), and the pattern was so clever and brilliantly written.  I’m so in love that I cast on a second one yesterday!  I have almost every one of her designs in my queue… I think she deserves a ‘totally awesome designer’ award!

Do you have any hobbies other than knitting? 
oodles! Other than knitting and crocheting, I sew (some of my own clothing) and dabble in quilting (although I’ve yet to accomplish a full-sized quilt).  I consider myself an urban homesteader, so I make soap, pickle stuff, garden, make yogurt and cheese… anything I can make myself, I try to do.  Except metalworking… I haven’t gotten there, yet.  I’m also a crazy sports fan: I love American football (go Bears!), and my partner and I love watching Rugby (my favorite team is the South Sydney Rabbitohs) and Cricket.  We go to a one week cricket game every year the first week of the year… I can’t get enough!  And, I also love doing yoga, running and biking.  I could go on…

Your photographs look so professional, and you have a link to some ideas about project photography on your blog. Do you have any tips for crafters who want to take clear and clean project photos? 
Aww… thanks so much! That really means a lot to me, because I’ve improved so much over when I first started! My biggest tips are to take photos in natural light (outside or near a window, not in full sun) and have a white background.  I’m super lucky because I live in a house with a white porch!  I also finally took the time to read my camera manual… sounds silly, but really useful! I just have a cheap point-and-shoot, but for blog photos, I think that’s all you need!

What is in your knitting bag right now? 
I’ve got a stuffed animal that I’m crocheting (and hoping to submit to a magazine for publication).  And, I’m crocheting an inchworm to self-publish.  As for knitting, I’m working on a Still Light (see previous question) with Blue Moon laceweight… which is delicious.  I’m going on vacation the first week of August, and I’m trying not to knit on it (to save it), but I’m finding it hard to resist!

Do you have any advice for new knitters trying to refine their craft, or trying to design professionally? Any tips about self-publication? 
As far as improving your skills, I don’t think there’s anything better than just trying new techniques.  They’re always scary, but once you do them… you’ve mastered a new skill! As for self-publishing, I’ve found the forums on Ravelry (and Etsy, for marketing advice) so valuable.  Also, I think it’s important to keep your expectations realistic… you’re probably not going to become rich overnight.  But as long as you publish nice designs, provide quality patterns and have good customer service, you’ll build a business.

What is your favorite item to design? 
Stuffed animals! I’m obsessed.  They’re just so cute!  My favorite moment is when I put the eyes in… it’s when the animal comes to life!

Do you think the internet is changing knitwear design? If so, how? 
I totally think so.  I’m a new designer, so I can’t speak from personal experience about how it ‘used to be’, but the impression I get is that it used to be very difficult to ‘make it’ as a designer.  It was very important to know the right people to get your designs seen.  Now, with the internet, you can post a pattern online, and even if it’s your first pattern, people will see it, and there’s a possibility that it’ll become popular! I think the internet has really helped make it easier to become a designer.

What role, if any, do you think knitting will have in your life in ten years?
That’s a really interesting question.  Loads of people ask me if I could really design crocheted stuffed animals for the rest of my life… and I think it’s possible! Every year, my style evolves, and I’m so passionate about making toys for children that I can totally picture still doing it later on.  I can also picture moving more into knit design.  Or, maybe I’ll become a yoga teacher and leave the world of professional knitting… it’s hard to say! 10 years ago, I had just graduated high school! So much can change in a decade!
I think knitting and crochet will always be a hobby, though… so I’ll keep at it at least a little bit!

3 Responses to “Knitters You Should Know: FreshStitches”
  1. Erin-Kate says:

    So so cute! I’ll definitely be following her.

  2. Julie says:

    I am not familiar with this knitter, but I’m definitely going to check out her site and patterns! what a charming interview.

  3. Cheryl says:

    What a fab interview! I’ve been following Stacey’s blog for a while, she’s great :)

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