Welcome to Shop Stories! In this series of weekly blog posts Etsy Originals will be quizzing some of the most talented & famous small shop owners and Instagram super stars to find out exactly what makes them tick. Make sure you follow this blog to ensure you never miss out!
This weeks Shop Story is written by Lauren Espy. Lauren has been crocheting away since 2008, becoming one of the most prolific crochet accounts on Instagram with a following of over 12k users. With a focus on turning every day, inanimate objects into your cute little buddies, it’s easy to see why A Menagerie of Stitches has become so popular. Read on to get all the latest from Lauren herself.
Hi Lauren, thanks for joining us here on Etsy Originals, it’s great to have you! Start by telling us who you are and how you got started.
Hi! I’m Lauren, the crocheter and designer behind of A Menagerie of Stitches. I taught myself how to crochet back in 2008 after I begged my grandma to get me a book on amigurumi. She not only got me the book but she also gifted me my first set of crochet hooks, which I still use to this day. I spent countless hours trying to figure out how to crochet. I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials and read so many patterns. After a while I got the hang of it and that’s when I became addicted to amigurumi. A couple years later I felt like I was crocheting the same things over and over again. So I decided it was time to start designing and writing up my own patterns.
It wasn’t until two years ago that I finally took the plunge and opened up my Etsy shop. At first it was slow and I was having a hard time trying to find my way into the crochet world. During that time, I was also working at a science and nature museum and crocheting whenever I had free time. I ended up participating in an art show that the museum was hosting and created a crocheted chemistry set. People went crazy over it and within a few days it had literally gone viral. It was insane and I wasn’t prepared for it at all! I was getting so many requests to make the set and I just didn’t have enough time after work to make them. After a couple months I ended up quitting my day job and making A Menagerie of Stitches my full time job. Since then I have created lots of new products for my shop and have even started to branch out into selling my own patterns, which is super exciting!
Tell us about your creative side. How do you come up with your designs?
I love picking up my sketchbook and just drawing fun little characters. I usually search google for ‘kawaii things’ and get my inspiration from there. Sometimes I draw animals but most of the time it’s inanimate objects with cute faces. I can’t help but add a face to things like donuts, coffee mugs, slices of pie and cacti. I feel like a lot of my customers find it fun when something they love has a cute face smiling back at them. You can’t help but smile when a prickly little cactus is smiling back at you!
One thing I do enjoy about my creative process is that I can walk into a craft store and go straight to the yarn section for inspiration. Sometimes I don’t even have an idea in my head of what I’m going to make. I usually find colours that I love and can’t live without and go from there. It gives me a chance to actually come up with something new to make before I even leave the store. It probably isn’t good for my bank account but my yarn collection is pretty nice to look at!
So, what inspires you to create all these amazing things?
I’m always inspired by bright, fun and cheerful things. It can be an assortment of yarn or even a new animated cartoon movie. I’m always looking for things that I can put my own spin on. I think my love for crochet comes from just being able to pick up some yarn and a hook and then create whatever I want out of it. It’s amazing what you can make out of yarn!
I was recently in New York City visiting the World Amigurumi Exhibition at Resobox where some of my amigurumi was being featured. It was such an amazing experience to see all these amigurumis from hundreds of crocheters from all over the world. I was literally bursting at the seams when I got home wanting to crochet all kinds of new things. I follow some incredible designers on Instagram and it’s so inspiring to see what they’re up to and how they’re succeeding. It always makes me want to branch out and be the best crocheter that I can be.
What would your advice be to those just starting out in the crochet world?
I always tell new crocheters to never give up! Crocheting might be hard at first but with lots of practice, you’ll get the hang of it! We all have to start somewhere and guaranteed, we all have those embarrassing projects we keep hidden. Just keep at it and with time you’ll be able to crochet whatever you want. I encourage you to reach out to other crocheters or even people who inspired you to start crocheting in the first place. The crochet and knitting community is amazing and everyone is so welcoming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!
If you’d like to see more of Lauren’s work, you can do so by following her here:
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