Jacinta from Hattie Loves was the brave soul who, when I signed up to her crochet class, helped me make sense of all things yarn. Held in one of my favourite cafes, it also didn’t hurt that being the awesome barista she is, she kept us topped up with drinks and tasty treats as she taught us all things hooking. You can read more about my class experience in the upcoming Bendigo Magazine (out early winter)...but this is my extended Q&A with Jacinta. We cover everything from making a pink t-rex dinosaur for her daughter Hattie; what she’s learned about having a creative business; why amigurumi and kustom kulture are Jacinta’s jam...not to mention her sharing five other awesome creatives she loves to follow….
Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I'm a 25 year old Mumma, Wifey, barista and in the last couple of years... a hooker...a crochet hooker. I live in Bendigo with the hubby and our 19 month old daughter, Harriet Louise aka Hattie Lou. I work part time as a barista at Brewhouse Coffee Roasters. Next to crochet, coffee is my other passion. I've been making coffee for 11 years and don't see myself stopping anytime soon. My husband Dylan and I are old school, we're homebodies. We love most things mid century, from homes, to fashion, to cars to music. We're lovers of Kustom Kulture which absolutely is reflected in my crochet works (think skulls, tikis, hotrods, rockabilly and day of the dead).
When did you come up with the idea of starting Hattie Loves Kustom Krochet what motivated you to do it?
I started teaching myself crochet when Harriet was born. I adore vintage baby goods and anything handmade, so I wanted to surround Harriet with items that were more special than cheap plastic tacky stuff. Because of my obsession with vintage things, I also wanted to learn how to crochet granny blankets. In my learning phase, I came across 'amigurumi', it's crochet on steroids, anything and everything you can think of can be somehow crocheted into a stuffed toy. I became obsessed and realised I could make some money out of this new found hobby. My business name is obviously inspired by Harriet and the 'Kustom Krochet' reflects my love for kustom kulture and well as the fact that nearly everything I do is a custom order. I decided not to use patterns (as a reference only if anything for tricky shapes etc) and I never make the same item twice. Therefore every single item is a one off piece of art. The quirkier the items the better, I have done skulls, jars of pickles, peanuts, fortune cookies, cacti, a flamingo, the avengers, a shrunken head, tacos etc... I've just had the best fun with every order!
What was it about crochet that drew you in as opposed to knitting/sewing?
Crochet is so kitsch. I found it was definitely not as common as knitting, but is coming back in a big way. Crochet toys and homewares are so popular now. I love the look of crochet toys, there is so much room to improvise and be creative and just make anything from the top of my head that I just don't think is possible with knitting. It may surprise you, but I'm actually pretty time poor, so for me crochet is much quicker than knitting. If you make a mistake you don't have to stress about trying to pick up stitches and there's no casting on or off, it's so brilliant.
What would be a favourite of things you have made so far?
I've made a pink T-Rex dinosaur (not my own pattern) for my daughter. That's why I love what I do, when you can't find a dinosaur toy for girls, you can make one yourself, in pink! Perfect! I adore crocheting cacti and terrariums, "plants you can't kill." I also did an amigurumi goldfish, in a glass bowl with a plant and everything!
I'm currently doing a gift for a friend, I'm crocheting a huge two headed dragon based on an illustration by her 7 year old son. It's very sentimental, a really beautiful project.
What's the hardest thing about having a creative business vs. the best thing about having a creative business?
I think the hardest thing about having a creative business is that I just haven't got enough time! Or hands! Crochet is faster than knitting, but generally it is still very time consuming. As my daughter is becoming more active, my free crocheting time is decreasing, yet my business is increasing. I've really had to step back a bit from custom orders (mainly Amigurumi) as I was just getting too stressed sticking to deadlines. I know, an oxymoron really, getting stressed out from crochet, who'd a thunk it? The best bit though is being able to create the perfect customised one off items. People have come to me for something really special and personalised, or with an idea in their head, something they can't just buy anywhere and I can create that for them!
What have you learned since starting to teach crochet?
I love, love love teaching. The demand was there and no one really offered it so I decided to dabble in classes and they have been nothing but successful. Since December '14, I've taught near on 100 ladies (yet to teach a gentleman) to become hookers. I love teaching in general. I am in charge of training staff at work on coffees, I just think I have a knack (and the patience) with understanding how individuals learn. Everyone is different and I cater for all types in my classes. I've even taught lefties crochet, which was a challenge. I've since become ambidextrous to cater for those lefties!
What would you say to someone that is hesitant to start “hooking”…either because of doubt in their own ability to be creative, or they don’t realise it can be fun (i.e. they’re picturing Grandma's making doilies...not that there's anything wrong with that!)..?
I usually go straight to my gallery of photos and show them just how fun it can be. That usually kick starts their interest as they all want to crochet all of the things! I tell them that I taught myself and once you know the techniques it doesn't take too long at all before you're off creating the most amazing things. Not everyone will get it day one, but just a bit of practice and they'll surprise themselves.
Where do you do your creating mostly?
Haha, my house is teeny tiny, a little miners cottage. I have no glamourous crochet studio or even a spare room in my house. Everything is done on my couch at night, on trains, in cafés... hospital waiting rooms. It's a very portable craft after all.
What do you do when you're stuck in a creative rut?
I am yet to be in a creative rut, I have too many ideas and not enough hands or days of the week to create all these things! I have so many suggestions all the time, my list of future projects is huge!
Your favourite place to buy supplies?
For yarn, I have favourites from Spotlight which is great as the stores are all over and usually stock the same products. I only buy a particular style of yarn though, so my options are limited. Sometimes it can be hard to find particular colours, which can be a problem if the customer has a specific colour in mind, but they're all understanding.
Your favourite thing about living in Bendigo?
Bendigo is so chock-a-block with creative souls, I have met so many other talented women and Mummas. I am all about supporting local and buying handmade and with events in town like Trove Makers' Market, it provides such great exposure for these small businesses.
I love connecting with other creatives in town. I've recently started up a social stitch 'n' bitch. It's free for all hookers, knitters, sewers and crafters. It's basically getting these talented individuals together to do good stuff for our community. I'm big on philanthropy. We're currently working on how we can best carry out community projects, it's very early days. The social nights are the last Thursday of the month, follow on Facebook to stay up to date with future dates & locations of these.
*Editors Note: The next will be at the Old Church on The Hill...and if you're interested in reading another Q&A then you might just like this one with Rose about how The Old Church on the Hill came to be!
Lastly, who are five creatives that you follow on social media that you would like to share with us?
- Tesha Mahoney: "Hey Buster"...a girlfriend from Castlemaine making killer 60's inspired ladies frocks, skirts and shorties out of the most amazing fabrics. One off items only made to measure! Something for the retro loving broads. Instagram // Store // Facebook
- Ange Trewarne: "Squeets Craft"...another girlfriend from Bendigo making gorgeous softies from recycled fabrics. Instagram // Facebook // Store
Frankie Dowler: "Frankie Dowler Design" ...another good friend who did all my design work and my logo for Hattie Loves. She's a very talented young lady with similar taste as me so her work is absolutely perfect for Hattie Loves Kustom Krochet. Website // Facebook
Jake Knight: "JK Signs, Lines & Small Resto's" ...Jake is a seriously talented pin-striper and sign writer. Pin striping hotrods is a dying trade and I love seeing young blokes getting into it, and killing it! Facebook
Margaret Mew: "Quilt Station" My mother-in-law and phenomenal quilter, teacher and designer. She's a celebrity in the quilting world. Her cottage studio at her home in the Elphinstone train station is where Margaret does all her work. She has regular magazine and book appearances, with her own book to be published in the not too distant future. Her work is breathtaking. My husband and I are lucky enough to have a queen sized quilt on our bed and Harriet has one on her cot. Knowing how much work goes in these babies makes us feel very lucky indeed. She also has the most amazing (and OCD) fabric collection I have ever seen in my whole life. Instagram // Blog // Facebook
Thanks for sharing Jacinta! If you're interested in one of her custom pieces, her crochet classes, or her crafty "Stitch & Bitch" nights, follow her on Facebook to keep up to date with all her latest news :)