Make & Do Crew's Jessica Coppom and the "Granny Gives Back" Hooded Blanket!
Dear reader: You've made it through an intense weekend! We hope you had a fun, safe, comforting Thanksgiving and avoided any Black Friday stampedes. We gave you a break from Yarn Heroes on #GivingTuesday, but we're back with one of the most fabulously creative forces for good on the internet: Jessica Coppom of Make & Do Crew. Jess is a yarn craft master, but her work goes beyond just yarn. Visit her website for all sorts of interdisciplinary crafts! She'll show you how working with yarn can be a gateway to much more. We were so thrilled that Jessica donned her "Miss Make & Do" costume for this interview, where she tells you more about what goes into so much Making and Doing!
LB: The Granny Gives Back Hooded Blanket is one of the most amazing designs I've ever seen. Certainly an amazing addition to the great patterns our Yarn Heroes have made this season. What inspired it?
Make & Do Crew: I wasn’t sure what I was going to make for Yarn Heroes until I came across Project Linus—a charity that gives blankets to kids who have been abused, hospitalized or otherwise in need of a good dose of support. I was so inspired by their story that I instantly knew I wanted to design a hooded blanket that would feel like a safe place for a child to recede and literally feel wrapped in love.
LB: Jess, I'm fortunate enough to basically be your pen pal at Lion Brand, and you write some of the most sweet, thoughtful letters I've ever received. Every sentence positively radiates enthusiasm and charm, and I feel like that's an approach you bring to your craft work, and especially to what you brought to Yarn Heroes.
Make & Do Crew: I think there's something really special about pouring your creativity into a charitable project. With each stitch, you're passing on your love, generosity and thoughtfulness to someone who needs it, perhaps even more than they need the handmade item itself. It is the same sentiment that makes a DIY gift special in any circumstance, I think, but when we’re creating something for someone we don’t even know and will likely never meet, the positive intention is even stronger.
LB: Is this your first experience with service / charity crafting?
M&DC: This is my first experience crocheting for charity, so I am really grateful Lion Brand planted the seed of giving back in this way. I have actually been on the receiving end of a charity crafting when my oldest daughter received a hand-knit hat from the hospital when she was born. As a crafter myself, I was especially touched that someone spent her/his time ensuring that my baby would be warmed by a handmade hat.
LB: Have you been involved in charitable work that doesn’t involve knitting?
M&DC: My daughter goes to an awesome preschool that is very involved in the community. Not only does allow her to see how we can work together to help people, it gives me ideas for how to contribute too.
LB: As a parent, what keeps you up at night?
M&DC: I have spent many a nights awake worrying over the course of my life and since becoming a parent, I feel the most concern over something happening to someone that I love. I also worry that we as a global population haven’t taken good enough care of the planet and that my kids won’t have a safe, healthy world to grow old with.
LB: How did you first learn to craft with yarn? Did you have a mentor? Did you teach yourself?
M&DC: My mom’s DIY resume reads like a Pinterest feed and she was definitely a “make and do” mentor for me. She came to my third grade class and taught me some classmates how to crochet. I remember anticipating that day with so much excitement because I had grown up watching her transform simple balls of yarn into sweaters, tablecloths and blankets. To me, it was magic!
M&DC: What was your first yarn project? The first project you were really proud of (or at least that didn't horrify you)?
My inaugural third grade crochet project was intended to be a washcloth, but ended up so warped and triangular that I cut into a bunch of pieces in a fit of frustration. Ha. I still get frustrated, but luckily, I’ve curbed the desire to chop up my projects.
My most sentimental project was probably yarn bombing a tree on the road where my oldest daughter was born. (She was born in our Subaru. Not on purpose!) Crocheting to make that tree a special place was therapeutic and meaningful after a pretty intense birth experience.
M&DC: When did you decide to start a yarn craft blog?
After I learned how to crochet as a kid, my mom and I taught my sisters and cousins and I would hold “Crochet Club” complete with mandated goals and homework. (How many rows will you finish before tomorrow?!) I’ve really always loved creating things and talking about creative projects, but it took me a long time to get up the courage to share my ideas with the world. I started MakeAndDoCrew.com in November of 2015 and it definitely satisfies my Crochet Club yearnings, although I’m not quite so strict about crochet homework anymore.
LB: What would you say your Yarn Hero super power is?
M&DC: My yarn super power might be that I see yarn as tool to create 3D objects versus a supply to make things like afghans or scarves. Some of my favorite projects are those that use yarn for a less expected purpose or in a new way.
I don’t think I’m particularly amazing at crochet, I just really love it so I practice it regularly. And having a lot of ideas has always come easily to me. Coming up with pattern ideas is far easier than actually finding the time to make them all.
LB: What areas of yarn craft do you still need to work on? Any particularly hilarious stories of a yarn project failure? ;)
M&DC: I’m really working hard on developing my pattern writing skills. There’s not just one right way to communicate a crochet vision, so I’m always trying to figure out what is the clearest way to teach my readers how to replicate my idea. I wish there was just a textbook I could read that would give me all the pattern writing answers!
LB: What area of blogging do you want to work on?
M&DC: There are so many details in blogging that need to be managed on a regularly--photo editing, social media, pattern writing, pattern submission, responding to readers’ comments and emails. I tend to be sort of spontaneous by nature, so figuring out systems to manage these many details doesn’t come easily to me. (I’d rather be starting a new crochet project!) I’d like to improve at streamlining my work so that I can be super efficient and impactful in the times I’m not caring for my kids.
LB: Tell us a more long-term dream charity project that you could do in the future?
M&DC: Even more than creating handmade gifts for others, I really love to teach people to crochet themselves. It can be such a meditative form of stress relief and a huge confidence booster to make something with your own two hands. I would love to give more people who might be going through a stressful time the gift of this creative, therapeutic life skill.
LB: Would you give us a sneak preview of what’s next for the Made and Do-Universe?
M&DC: I’ve had so much fun turning cheap flip flops into crochet shoes and boots in 2016 that you can definitely count on more free DIY shoe patterns on MakeAndDoCrew.com. I’m also continuing to work on publishing helpful video tutorials and hope to share even more in 2017!