For my next interview, I talked with the talented Stacey Trock of FreshStitches. Her cuddly crocheted critters beyond adorable, and I asked her a few questions about her creative process.

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What’s your favorite drink to have by your side while you’re crafting?

It totally depends on the season, but there’s never less than two! I’m a water-a-holic, so I always have a glass of water, and I make myself a large cup of coffee (breakfast blend with extra milk!) that I sip throughout the day. And then, in the winter, I’ll usually add a hot cup of tea around lunchtime… and in summer, it’s iced tea.

My husband always teases me about my drinks… in fact, we were just looking at side tables (for the living room) the other day, and about one he said, “Well, at least it’s big enough to hold your collection of drinks!” 🙂

Do you like to have some background entertainment while you’re working? A favorite movie or maybe an audio book?

For sure. I always fantasize about using my crafts as meditation: sitting in silence while I focus on each stitch… but that absolutely never happens. My default background noise is watching tv. I love the History Channel (when it’s actually about history, that is), news and documentaries. If I’m doing some crocheting/knitting that I don’t need to look at, then I’ll turn off the tv, and read a book (held open with a binder clip) while I stitch.

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What is an average day in your life like?

My goal for 2013 is to the work of running FreshStitches in 5 hours a day (rather than 8-9 hours), so my days are shaping up to have more time for the rest of my life, which I totally love. I wake up around 8-ish, eat breakfast and three days a week, I go for a run. Then I spend a little bit of time chatting with my hubby before we both go to work (although my ‘going’ means walking upstairs to my studio). I check my email, Ravelry group, Facebook group, Twitter and blog comments and make sure that any pressing customer concerns are taken care of. This usually takes about an hour or two. Then, I write a blog post (yup, every day!), which may require taking some photos or gathering information. Then, I’ll ship out physical orders (like kits) for the day. Those are the things I consider essential to a work day, and after that, what I do depends on what’s on my to-do list for the week. It might be formatting a pattern, creating a new design, applying to teach at an event, assembling materials for kits, taking photographs… whatever needs to be done! My job is pretty varied, which I love.

Somewhere in there, I have lunch, and then (if I’m on target for a 5-hour day), I get off of work around 3 or 4pm. Since this afternoon freedom is a little novel to me, I’m still sorting out what to do with myself! I usually get into a bit of fun crafting, reading, news-watching and maybe errand-running before my husband comes home (around 7:30) and we have dinner. I’m usually in bed by 10pm.

Of all of your designs, do you have a particular favorite? What makes it special?

Oooh… that’s like asking someone to pick their favorite child! I adore Nelson the Owl, because he’s the most popular and looks great in absolutely any color combination. I, personally, love slugs and snails, so Hannah the Slug and Martin and Milton the snails are really close to my heart. Maybe it’s interesting to note that the two animals who sit on my desk are a giant Hannah the slug and the Rainbow Monster from my Craftsy course.

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What is your go-to source for inspiration?

Microsoft Clip Art. Seriously… sort of.

My inspiration for my animals is internally-driven, I have no idea where it comes from. One day, I’ll just say, “ooh! I know what shape would make a super-fabulous sting ray!”… and then I crochet it. But, if I need to reference some other cartoon sting rays (to see if they have white tummies or if they’re the same color as their tops, for an example), I go to clip art and see what other folks have drawn. I find my work to be most similar to cartoon drawings, so that’s what I reference most often.

If you had the time and resources to pick up a new craft, what would you try?

I’m starting to reach the point where it’s hard to find ones I haven’t tried! This year, I picked up bead crocheting and I’ve recently been into embroidery (cute stuff, of course!) and sewing with felt.

For me, crafts are all about the tactile experience. I love feeling thick, plush wool felt and the feeling of the sewing needle zig-zagging through. It’s probably why I love crocheting and knitting as my main crafts- the whole time, you get to touch that lovely yarn! I’ve tried crafts like metalworking and machine sewing, and I don’t like the hardness of the metal (or the loudness of the sewing machine).

So, what’s next? Maybe some form of wood-working? Basket-weaving?

Choose your own dragon adventure

You have so many cute animal patterns and have long surpassed the more familiar creatures like cats and dogs. How do you decide what to make next?

Giggle. I actually haven’t really designed a cat I’m in love with… maybe I should get on that! I like to design what I call ‘cartoon stuffed animals’, they’re cute and immediately identifiable, but not necessarily realistic. I have a list of about 10-20 animals in my head at any one time that I’d *like* to do (maybe they’re trendy animals, or fit in with a theme I’m into), and then I let those animals float around in the background. Eventually, the technique for creating a great shaped whatever-body-part that makes a jackalope (let’s say) a super-awesome and cute jackalope hits me. And then I make the design.

It’s important to me that my animals are large and suitable for children to play with, so certain animals don’t make the cut. For example, I’ve postponed making a brontosaurus, because I haven’t figured out a way to make a super-long neck (in crochet) that doesn’t require additional (and non-kid-friendly) support.

What have you been working on lately?

Oooh, so much! I feel like summer is the time of year where my brain gears really get turning! Right now (on my sofa this second, actually), I’m designing my next Mystery Crochet-a-long. I did one about 6 months ago, and people totally loved it! Basically, you get ‘clues’ that tell you parts to crochet each week, and the last week contains assembly instructions… which is of course when you find out what it is. Last time, no one completely guessed the animal (and how it would be assembled), so I have high hopes that this one will be just as mysterious! That pattern will go on sale June 17th. (Andi’s note: I interviewed Stacey in advance, and the Mystery CAL has since started, but they’re only on clue #1 so you can still catch up if you decide to join in.)

I’m also gearing up for the new iteration of my kit club. I did a trial run last year, and it was hugely successful! (umm… maybe a little *too* successful if you ask my poor postman who had to take all those packages to his truck!) Folks sign up, and receive a stuffed animal kit (with a fun surprise!) every other month. This time, I’m switching to a fancier system that will allow folks to sign up on a month-to-month basis, instead of committing to 6 months in advance. I’m hoping that’ll make it accessible to even more people, and I can’t wait to get started! Sign-ups will begin in mid-August (folks can sign up for my newsletter to get a notification!)

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You can see more of Stacey’s work on Ravelry and her website FreshStiches. All images (C) Stacey Trock. Just click on them to get to the pattern they feature!

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