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Creative Roots Challenge Week 9 - A Menagerie of Stitches

Week 8 of the Creative Roots Challenge welcomes Lauren of A Menagerie of Stitches!
You can find this talented lady on Instagram here, and check out her website here.

A Menagerie of Stitches Creative Roots Challenge

Week 9 Challenge: What is something you’ve been wanting to learn or make? Are you a crocheter and you want to learn how to knit or vice versa? Is there a certain pattern you’ve been eyeing but can’t seem to take the leap and make it? What’s holding you back?

Prize: A copy of Whimsical Stitches and Crochet Cafe by Lauren Espy

How to Enter: Post your challenge photo and tag @amenagerieofstitches + @knitbrooks, using hashtags #CreativeRootsChallenge + #CreativeRootsWeek9. You have until Monday, November 2nd @ 1pm EST!

Sometimes it’s a matter of not wanting to step out of our comfort zone or just not having enough time. What if our main craft, which was once our hobby, becomes our job, then what hobby do we have? I sometimes step away from my work as an amigurumi artist and I’ll either crochet a shawl or knit socks. This break helps me so much and I always feel more creative and full of new ideas for my business.

A Menagerie of Stitches Creative Roots Challenge

Hi everyone! I’m Lauren and I’m the maker behind A Menagerie of Stitches. I’m an author of two crochet books, completely obsessed with amigurumi and have been a full time crocheter for nearly 5 years. I started crocheting back in 2009 when I got my first amigurumi book and a set of hooks. No one in my family knew how to crochet so it was up to me to teach myself. Youtube became my best friend during those first few months! After getting the hang of it, I started to make my own patterns and would crochet things for friends and family.

A few years later I ended up in a completely new state with my husband. I was working a retail job that I absolutely hated and crocheting became my creative outlet when I came home. In 2015 I decided it was finally time to start an Etsy shop and that’s when A Menagerie of Stitches was born! I quit that horrible retail job and the following year started working at a science and nature museum, all while trying to do AMOS as my side hustle. That year I created a crocheted chemistry set for an art show the museum was hosting, which the photo of my set ended up going viral. My shop really took off from there and juggling my job at the same time became too much. I realized I couldn’t do both and decided it was time to take my shop on full time. Since then I’ve released tons of patterns and have crocheted my way through enough yarn that I still haven’t made a dent in my stash!

In 2018 I published my first book of amigurumi patterns! It was an absolute dream writing that book and I learned so much about myself and what I’m fully capable of doing. When writing my second book last year, it pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have never felt so much accomplishment as I did the day I received the finished book. Seeing where my crochet journey started and where it is now is like night and day. I never thought I would be here, publishing patterns and books and connecting with people from all over the world.

A Menagerie of Stitches Maker Q&A

A Menagerie of Stitches Creative Roots Challenge

When you first started your maker journey, what was your goal? How has it changed?
My goal when I first started was to just make cute things, as cheesy as that sounds! I love surrounding myself with things that make me happy and I wanted people to have the same experience as I did. When I started my shop, my husband and I were living in a basement apartment loft that had tiny windows. I crocheted a few plants because 1- nothing ever stayed alive in that apartment and 2 because I needed something that would make me happy! Plants with smiling faces were just the thing I needed!

My goal of sharing that happiness with others has grown in a couple different ways. Mostly because people want to crochet these things for themselves and I never thought I would be a pattern designer. When I started my shop, I was only going to offer finished pieces, and while I do still offer those, my main goal now is releasing patterns for others to enjoy.

What is your favourite inspirational (or creativity-related) quote?
Don’t compare your life to others. There’s no comparison between the sun and the moon, they shine when it’s their time.”

What is your main creative struggle, and how do you work through it?
Finding the time to make everything! I have an ever growing list of things I want to make and it becomes overwhelming at times. I find the best way to work through it is to pick a few of the ideas and sketch them out. It gets the designing process started and I can picture how I want to make it in my head. I also have a hard time staying focused sometimes so if I make a to-do list of what I want to make that day, it helps keep me on track.

Tell us about a total maker FAIL. What did you learn from it, and how did that failure help you grow?
When I was selling the crocheted chemistry sets, I offered wayyy too many and was scrambling to get them all made and shipped on time. It was a stressful nightmare! I try to keep the amount of items I offer to a reasonable number but I still find myself struggling with this, even years later. Christmas time is usually when I want to make allll the things and there are just never enough hours in the day!

What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment?
Publishing both my books! It takes so much dedication and A LOT of work to publish those and I’m incredibly proud of the patterns I designed for them. Becoming an author was always just a dream of mine and I never in my wildest dreams thought that would ever become a reality for me.

What is one goal you’re working towards right now?
I really want to put more effort into my blog and maybe, maybe start a Youtube channel! I’m so nervous about starting a Youtube channel because it’s way outside my comfort zone. But I’ve had many people say they would love to learn from me so I think it would be so fun!

Name three creative people who inspire you, and why? (include IG / site link)
@storyland_amis -Anything Holly makes is absolutely adorable! Even being an amigurumi artist as well, it’s inspiring to see all the things she comes up with!

@ilovetinderbox and @knitbyzoe -These two come as a package deal! I was lucky enough to meet them both at OML in Toronto and we’ve been friends ever since. They’re both amazing at knit and crochet and it’s so inspiring to see the things they make. They’ve helped me step out of my comfort zone and have been there for me when I needed them most.

@the.hook.nook -Jessica and I have been friends going on 5 years now and being able to watch each other and our businesses grow has been really special. We’ve spent a couple weekends hanging out (at OML and The Maker’s Retreat) and each time I’ve gotten to see how genuine and caring Jessica is. I’ve never met anyone who is as big of a cheerleader as she is. She’s the best encourager, a true gem and I’m lucky to call her my friend.

What is your best piece of advice for someone who has lost their creative mojo?
Switch to a different craft or take a couple days to reset! I always find that working on something that isn’t crochet related helps get my ideas flowing again. That time away really helps inspire new ideas and most of the time I feel refreshed and ready to jump back in.

A Menagerie of Stitches Creative Roots Challenge

Share five fun non-maker-related facts!

  1. My husband and I bought a retired school bus and are in the process of converting it into our tiny home!

  2. I love cooking and baking! 

  3. Gilmore girls will always be my favorite show! Team Jess forever!

  4. I’m completely obsessed with my dogs, Thunder and Storm! They’re a handful but so darn cute!

  5. If I could live anywhere, it would be in the mountains! There’s just something about the fresh air and trees that makes me love it.

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