Yarn Heroes Chapter 2, Charity Crafting with All About Ami
We hope you have enjoyed the first two posts of our Yarn Heroes, a series all about celebrating Charity Crafting! We were extremely fortunate to collaborate with fifteen of the most creative, generous and spirited yarn bloggers and designers to create new free patterns, host giveaways for new charity crafters, and tell inspiring stories... all while wearing colorful costumes that show just how empowering knit and crochet wear can be!!
All of our jaws dropped to the floor when we saw Stephanie from All About Ami's charity crafting character... Captain Kawaii! We had an opportunity to catch up with Stephanie and find out more about inspires her to make an impact on the world through crocheting.
LB: We hope Yarn Heroes illustrates how empowering yarn craft can be, not just in terms of personal accomplishment, but also giving back to charity and helping others reach their potential. It's hard not to look at this awesome picture of you as Captain Kawaii and really feel an electric power of pure joy! What is the most empowering part of yarn craft for you?
All About Ami: One of the most rewarding parts of blogging and designing has been hearing that I have inspired others to learn how to crochet. After seeing images of my creations and reading through the step-by-step process, people feel like they can tackle the challenge and do something out of their comfort zones. Taking up such an amazing hobby and creating something with your own hands has empowered people and given them a sense of achievement and accomplishment. People have shared their stories with me where crocheting has helped them through a particularly tough time, a stay at the hospital, or has helped them manage their depression or anxiety. We as knitters and crocheters can use our hooks and needles for good by teaching and encouraging others to take up our beloved hobbies, unleash their potential, and do things they never dreamed were possible. Even if it’s not knitting or crocheting, we can encourage people to seek out something they are passionate about!
LB: Your charity pattern, the Cobblestone Cowl, is totally off the hook (cue the drum... and eye roll, tee hee hee) - What inspired it and how did you come up with that great name?
All About Ami: I recently fell in love with slip stitch crochet as there is a simplicity about it, yet it gives such a unique look. I crocheted a jumbo pillow using slip stitch crochet in the summer, and I was inspired to use the same technique for a wearable item such as a cowl. This sparked the creation of the “Cobblestone Cowl”! Slip stitches are one of the most basic and simple stitches, so I knew this would be a great project for beginners, and one that would work up quickly. Both sides of the cowl are very different and have gorgeous texture and design. It is reversible and looks beautiful when folded so that both sides are showing.
LB: Have you ever donated a handmade item before?
All About Ami: I have crocheted items and donated them for silent auctions in the past! It’s such an honour crocheting special items knowing that they are being used to raise money for great causes, such as orphanages in Taiwan and missions trips to Guatemala. People are very generous when bidding for these items since they know the funds are going to great causes, and I was astounded to see how much my items sold for! It’s wonderful being able to contribute these handmade items that cannot be purchased in stores.
LB: Have you been involved in charity work that doesn’t involve knitting?
All About Ami: I designed a collection of items featuring my amigurui lamb named Lambert called “The Lambert Collection”.
LB: OK, well that sounds amazing. Tell us more.
All About Ami: This collection is for crocheters and knitters to show off their love of yarn and includes tote bags, mugs, t-shirts, zipper pouches, and more. The wonderful part is that all profits go to sponsoring a classroom of children in Guatemala. I wanted to be able to use my influence as a crochet designer and blogger to help and empower others and to also include others in this wonderful initiative. When people purchase items in this collection, they know they are helping to sponsor these children too and provide them with basic necessities and support their teachers!
LB: I'm asking everyone, are there any world issues that make you sleep a little uneasy? (note: Yarn Heroes is a politics free zone)
As a mom of two toddlers, it breaks my heart to see children in unfortunate circumstances, whether that be children in poverty or children in abusive households. I used to work with children in my previous career before being a crochet designer and blogger, and I know that even one loving adult showing them compassion, kindness, and love can make a huge impact in a child’s life and boost their spirit and self-esteem!
LB: How did you first learn to craft with yarn? Did you have a mentor? Did you teach yourself?
All About Ami: I first learned to craft with yarn when I was ten years old! I learned from a book that my parents bought me and was thrilled whenever they took me yarn shopping. I learned how to read patterns and soon I was off crocheting and knitting my own purses, stuffed animals, and clothes for my teddy bears!
LB: What was your first yarn project? The first project you were really proud of?
All About Ami: I think my first yarn project was probably a skinny scarf when I was a child. It definitely was something simple and quick for me to practice working stitches back and forth and getting even tension!
The first project I was really proud of was my “Chinese New Year Doll” as it was my first original amigurumi design! Once I learned the basics of creating shapes, increasing and decreasing, it was such a joy being able to translate a sketch on paper into a real life doll.
LB: When did you decide to start a yarn craft blog?
All About Ami: I decided to start a yarn craft blog back in January 2011. My husband Ryan and I got married in September 2010, and when I was researching pillows for our new home, I somehow stumbled upon amigurumi and was captivated by their adorable looks and kawaii proportions. I had crocheted amigurumi before as a child, but amigurumi had gained popularity again in recent years and looked very different than the amigurumi I used to crochet. This reignited my passion for crochet and I began crocheting stuffed animals using patterns I found online.
I took many progression photos along the way and thought it would be neat to start a blog to document my crochet journey. I figured others might like these step-by-step photos as most people simply posted their finished projects. I also knew it would be a great way for me to look back upon my previous projects and serve as a portfolio of my work! A couple of months into blogging, I posted my very first original design as a free pattern, and the rest is history!
LB: If I may be so bold, I think your photography is among the very best out there. But I've also heard several of your fellow bloggers say that they learned a lot of their early tricks from you. What would you say is your greatest strength as a blogger?
All About Ami: I think my ability to explain steps clearly and concisely with photos has allowed others to understand and work through more complex patterns. People have learned crochet cabling, shaping in amigurumi, and new stitches by following my tutorials. It’s such a delight whenever someone comments that they KNOW they will be able to learn a certain stitch or complete a pattern if they know I am the designer since they are confident that it will be well-explained and clearly communicated! I try to design clean, modern, and elegant designs that fit my own personal aesthetic, and I’m so thankful that others have embraced them with open arms!
LB: Was there a moment when you said to yourself "I might really be onto something with this blog?"
All About Ami: The first time I got commissioned to design a project for a company was a pretty big step! I realized that someone else was interested in my work and design skills, and that they were willing to pay me to do what I love doing! It was pretty exciting since this happened only two months into blogging!
LB: Between your photos, tutorials, and effortless positivity, you're a triple threat. But if you were to go for the hat trick, is there anything you'd like to work on?
All About Ami: I would love to work on my knitting skills as I only started knitting again within the last year. I’ve been having so much fun learning how to cast on, do knit and purl stitches, and learn new techniques such as fair isle knitting. I would love to learn how to knit cables and learn more complex stitches!
LB: If we could go bigger with a charity campaign next time, what would you do? Should we go bigger? Or maybe, should we go smaller, more local? Can it be both?
All About Ami: I am part of a wonderful local knitting and crocheting group full of skilful designers and small business owners. It would be neat to pool our efforts and all use a similar design but put our own touches on it to make a generous handmade donation to a local charity!
LB: I can't let you leave without giving us a sneak preview of what’s next for your blog!
All About Ami: I am working on a knitting series to introduce the basic stitches to create simple and modern projects! I know other crocheters are interested in learning how to knit after seeing my knitted projects, so I hope to provide them with some great resources!
To Our Readers: Submit YOUR stories of charity crafting to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win $250 in yarn support for your charity crafting cause - we'll be picking winners every week, and it never hurts to let us know what you are doing for the world!