Friday, August 5, 2016

She's Crafty! Lauren Espy

A couple of months ago, I saw a picture go by on my Facebook of an adorable little crochet chemistry set. I immediately stopped what I was doing and went hunting all over the web for more info about it and the person who created it. I just knew that anyone would you make a crochet chemistry set (A CROCHET CHEMISTRY SET!!) was someone I needed to know more about.

I'm so glad I did. As it turns out, the creator is Lauren Espy, and the chemistry set was just one of of her many wonderfully whimsical crochet creations! All which she sells through her Etsy store A Menagerie of Stitches. Understandably, every item in her shop sells out within hours, and she has to give her loyal followers a head start to get their orders in. (Hint: After taking a month off, her shop will reopen this afternoon.)

Lauren was kind enough to chat with me about her creative process and the inspiration for her crocheted cuties!

SRPS: First of all, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? What's your background? What inspires you?

LE: My name is Lauren Espy and I run A Menagerie of Stitches. I was born and raised in California but I now live in Elizabethtown, Pa with my husband Carl and our two pups, Thunder and Storm. In May of this year I decided to take my shop on full time and now spend my days crocheting cacti and other super cute things. I get inspired by cute kawaii characters and anything colorful. I'm most inspired all my maker friends who run shops too. It's so neat to see friends doing what they love and showing support to each other. It's a great community to be a part of and to be inspired by.

SRPS: When did you learn how to crochet? How long have you been creating amigurumi creatures?

LE: I taught myself how to crochet back in 2008 after I begged my grandma to buy me a book on amigurumi. She bought me two skeins of yarn and my first hook set, which I still have and use daily. Those first projects I made were not my best! I laugh when I see some of them at my grandparents house because its so funny to see how far I've come since then. It wasn't until a couple years later that I started drawing up my own critters and then writing up the patterns for them.

SRPS: What inspired you to create A Menagerie of Stitches?

LE: Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved making things. It didn't matter what kind of craft it was, I just love creating. My grandma, who recently passed away, was my biggest fan. She would always take me to craft stores and would let me pick out something to make. I remember showing her my finished pieces and waiting for her stamp of approval. Starting A Menagerie of Stitches was my way of showing her that she taught me some much during all those days we crafted together.

SRPS: I adore all of your creatures, and have a special affection for the little cactus plants, but it looks like your chemistry set has pretty much blown up all over the place. (Sorry, I couldn't resist using a chemistry pun.) What's that been like? Did you expect anything like that happening when you dreamed up the design?

LE: Thank you! Those cacti are some of my favorite things to make. You're right though, that chemistry set kinda blew up everywhere! It's been a little crazy and overwhelming to say the least. I never in my dreams thought I'd get so much recognition when I drew up the design. It was originally for an art show my work was having and it had to be science and nature related. I knew some of my Instagram followers would enjoy seeing a few of the pieces as I made them. I never thought it'd be so popular. I actually never had plans to sell any of the pieces!

SRPS: What do you do in your spare time when you're not busy hooking yarn trying to catch up on your orders?

LE: If you ask my husband he'll tell you I'm always crocheting! I do love to cross stitch when I have the time. Usually though, I spend my spare time with him and our dogs. We love getting out and going on adventures whenever we can.

SRPS: Where else can folks find your stuff online?

LE: I try to add new things to my Etsy shop as much as I can. For updates and sneak peeks, I'm always posting on my shops Instagram.

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