Premier Yarns is delighted to sponsor the Christmas Present Crochet Along hosted by Kathy Lashley of ELK Studio Crochet. We’re big fans of Kathy’s elegant crochet designs, and we love seeing what she creates with our yarns.
Creative Director Sandi Rosner spent some time talking with Kathy so we can all get to know her a little better….
Sandi: How did you learn to crochet? How old were you? Who taught you? What was your first project?
Kathy: When I was in the 7th grade we had classes called “Enrichment Classes”. You had the opportunity to take a variety of classes with some being basket weaving, Spanish, and crochet. I loved the basket weaving class, so I decided my next class would be crochet. My teacher’s name was Ms. Johnston. She was the 7th grade science teacher. The class was 6 weeks long so we learned how to make the chain stitch and double crochet stitch. Once we figured out those two stitches, she taught us how to make a granny square. I loved the class so much. She didn’t furnish us with a whole skein of yarn, so I would unravel the square, then make it again for the remainder of the 6 weeks.
About a year ago, I ran into Mrs. Johnston at a restaurant. I hadn’t seen her since I was 12 years old! I told her about ELK Studio and the blog. You could see from her face it made her proud to know she had played a role in my success as an adult.
My first real project was a blanket that I made at the age of 19 when I was pregnant with my first child. She had it for years and used it for a long time until it just wore out.
Sandi: What drove you to start the blog? When or how did you know the blog was a hit?
Kathy: At the age of 41, I decided to return to college and finish my degree. I was taking a human resource class and we had a speaker that told us about blogging. I went home that day and started a personal blog. I maintained it for a while, but at the same time had really started crocheting lots more. It occurred to me that I could blog about crocheting. I had no idea at the time it would turn out to be what it is today.
It’s strange to say when or how I knew the blog was a hit. Sometimes it still doesn’t feel like “I’ve made it”. I think that’s a good thing, because it continues to drive me and pushes me to keep designing better projects.
I’d say that when the members of my ELK Studio Crocheter’s Facebook group started calling themselves ELKies, I knew that was really special. Believe me, it’s quite humbling to know people love ELK Studio that much.
Sandi: Tell us more about “the ELKies”. What would you like to say about the community you’ve created?
Kathy: The ELKies are incredibly special to me. Our little community is a place where crocheters can come together to share their talents and ask questions. We have people that are just beginning to learn how to crochet, along with the experts that have been crocheting for 30+ years. No question is unreasonable, and everyone jumps in to help. We keep the group strictly focused on crochet which helps create a warm and welcoming environment. I can’t say enough what the group has meant to me. I’ve watched it grow from 10 people to 30,000 over the last few years. Despite the numbers, it still feels small and friendly to me.
Sandi: What has most surprised you about the transition from hobby crocheter to professional?
Kathy: The biggest surprise has been the amazing relationships that I’ve formed over the years with others in the yarn industry. I’ve had the pleasure to meet other designers at conferences over the years. Now we’ve become good friends and look forward to seeing each other at those conferences. It’s nice to have a group of peers to discuss the trends, share our struggles and celebrate our accomplishments.
The yarn companies have also been amazing. The relationship that I have with Premier Yarns is above all the best. The collaboration in choosing yarns for projects is invaluable to me and the support I receive in terms of discounts and giveaways for the ELKies is amazing. The ELKies love feeling so valued by a big yarn company.
Sandi: What has been your biggest crochet fail?
Kathy: I started crocheting a new shawl design and finished the entire project. I wrote the pattern, sent it to the tech editor (which isn’t free) and was ready to publish the shawl when I really looked at it…….Could it have been any worse? There was nothing about this shawl that was appealing. I just thought to myself that I couldn’t believe I had wasted so much time and money on a project that I’d never use. That shawl sat in my closet for 2 years. I came across it a couple of months ago as I was cleaning things out, and I just shook my head. But then, as I was looking at it, I decided to take the idea of the project and turn it into a different shape.
I can’t stand to fail. I know it happens to all of us, but I have taken that failure and turned it into a beautiful project that I can be proud to show off to my fans.
Sandi: What does Christmas mean to you? What are the holiday traditions you most cherish?
Kathy: I love the Christmas holidays! I always remember how excited I was as a child. As I’ve gotten older and raised my children, and now see my grandchildren growing, this time of year is even more special. We have Christmas morning breakfast at my house where all the family members are welcome. My husband, Emory, bakes the best breakfast casserole, and I make homemade biscuits. It’s an amazing time. I believe creating those memories for the little ones is so important so they will understand the love of a family.
Sandi: Do you have a philosophy around giving handmade gifts for the holidays? How do you decide if someone is “worthy” of a gift crocheted by you?
Kathy: I don’t have very many people in my family who will wear the shawls I make. The hats are more of a hit around my house. I can’t count the hats I’ve made for my husband. He wears every single hat that you’ve seen him model for the website over the years. It does a heart good to know that he really appreciates the time and effort.
Sometimes I get messages from friends or family about certain projects that I’ve made, and I’ll just tell them to come by house and pick out what they want. That’s what they’re there for, right?
Sandi: What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you if they have questions about the CAL?
Kathy: There are several ways to reach me. Sometimes people have questions about the CAL, such as a question with a stitch or not understanding the wording within a row. I think the best bet is to ask your question in the ELK Studio Crocheter’s Facebook group. I may answer, but often it’s the other ELKies who pop in with the answer to a question before I get the chance. I try to have a real presence in the group, but I just can’t be on Facebook 24/7. Like everyone else, I’m responsible for a family, plus I have a “day job” working at a hospital as an ultrasound technologist.