Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

20. April 2010 09:00
by Jobo

Cuddly Crochet: Adorable Toys Hats and More - Interview with Designer Stacey Trock!

20. April 2010 09:00 by Jobo | 3 Comments

As Promised... Here we are today with Crochet Designer Stacey Trock, some info about her new book and about her love of Crochet.

Stacey Trock's Blue Bird In case you aren't familiar with the book (Cuddly Crochet:  Adorable Toys, Hats, and More) this newly released paperback is full of creative and cute stuffed toys to crochet.  From the standard teddy bear to more exotic animals like penguins and Koalas... these little softies have personalities all their own!  The little Blue Birdie is one of my favorites.

Paired with each cuddly toy are other coordinating items, like baby blankets, hats, and bibs.  I don't have any little ones of my own yet, but I will definitely be turning to this book next time a friend has a new little one on the way. 

The patterns look very straightforward, and include instructions for sewing together the toys and any unusual techniques needed.  My Crochet technique is strictly from working doilies and afghans, so I will definitely need those tutorials!

I particularly like the little red crocheted pickup truck - a nice change from the predominantly girl-oriented patterns for stuffed toys. 

Stacey Trock's Red Pickup Truck

The book itself is available from for CDN$17.32 which is quite reasonable considering there are patterns for 10 different stuffed toys, and plus the coordinating items.  I am pleased to be able to offer a signed copy as a prize for one lucky reader today!  (thank you Stacey!)


And now... On to the Interview!

Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from, where do you live now, do you come from a crafty family?

I was born and raised in Silver Spring, MD... and now I live approximately 10 minutes away :)  My family isn't particularly crafty, but my mom taught me to crochet when I was very little... and they've always encouraged my craftiness!

mouse bib When / how did you learn to crochet?

I think I was about 6 years old when my mom taught me to do the basic chain stitch.

What was the first thing you made with your new found mad yarn and hook skills?

At first, I just made a really long chain... I think that's what most kids do!  Then, my mom taught me to make a flower (basically, a ruffle in a circle), and from there, I was off!  I made a lot of things early on, but the thing I remember most vividly was a triangle-shaped caplet that I made when I was 12... it was brown and lavender... with a little lavender flower.  I was quite creative!

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?  have you ever made a crochet toy of this animal?

Definitely a dog.  They're sweet and loving, hardworking and very perceptive.... all things that I strive for.  And, yup, I've made one: Jeffrey the dog.

About your designs...  What is your designer style?  i.e. do you create on the fly and then try to transpose your notes into a complete pattern?  Are you methodical in your strategy?  (always the same things first?)  Do you use a computer or special software?  Who is your Design Idol?

I don't have too much of a process... most of the time, I just think up an animal and do it... with little sketching.  Sometimes, I cruise around online and look at cartoon photographs, to figure out what the 'important' features of an animal is.  I'm not very good with sketching... when I submit a design somewhere, the sketch is the thing that takes me the most time!  I do use software for writing up my patterns... I use LaTeX to do most of my pattern formatting.
A design idol... that's a tricky one.  I don't have a person in particular, but I love Finnish and Japanese designers!  The Japanese have always pioneered in the 'cuteness' industry (think Hello Kitty!), and I always get a huge smile when I walk into a Japanese bookstore and see books on how to make panda sushi, next to amazing sewing patterns and adorable crochet books.

stacey's Pineapple QuiltWhat is your favorite crafted item that you have made from your own designs?  What is your favorite crafted item of all time? (from any designer)  Do you have a pic to share?

Crafted item?  My favorite thing of all time is a 'pineapple' quilted wall hanging that I made (photo attached).  I didn't design the original quilt pattern, but I'm really pleased with the colors that I chose and I look at it every day!  My favorite own design is Gerry the Felted Bear (photo attached).  He's a foot tall, and so soft and squishy!!!  From someone else's designs... I love my Lillian tank top (designed by Amanda Reed) (photo attached).  I got the yarn from a thrift store cotton sweater that I took apart, and the pattern was so much fun to knit!  I'm hoping to wear it a lot this summer :)

Lillian Tank

We all like to challenge ourselves...  Are there any techniques or styles of crochet that particularly challenge you?  How do you deal with a new crafty challenge? 

(Jobo's strategy?  I tend to charge in confidently, mess up, rip back, call my mother to complain about it, eat chocolate/drink wine, and then when I am feeling brave enough, start again :)  Sometimes things work out okay the first time, and other times there are several repeat cycles of the above procedure)

I do love a challenge... and I usually dive in head first!  Since I'm newer to knitting, I find there are a lot more techniques that challenge me: I've loved learning to double knit, knit two socks at a time, and knitting entrelac.  The most recent technique I learned in crochet is hairpin lace, which was quite fun.  I'm quite patient overall, so there usually isn't too much drama involved :)  I just turn on a tv show and have a cup of milky coffee... and keep going until I get it done!

What yarns make you weak in the knees?  Are there any particular yarns that you find best suited to toy-making?  Wool vs Cotton vs Acrylic?  Fat vs Skinny Yarns?

Oh... anything soft!  Shepherd's Wool (by Stonehedge Mill fibers) has the softest merino that I've ever touched in my life... and I make whatever I can out of it.  I'm also in love with Frog Tree's PicoBoo (a cotton bamboo blend), which I'm currently working with. 
For animals, I think you should use something you love.  The animal isn't that big, so the yarn isn't too expensive!  I usually use 100% wool (especially since I sometimes like felting my animals).  I just recently made an animal from an organic cotton, and it was out of this world!  I definitely think that you should experiment and make animals with what you love...
I stick mostly to worsted weight, just because I love my size H hook!  I'm open to experimentation, though.

penguin New book and fancy promo blog tour?  Congratulations!  What's your next big move?  more pattern books?  Your own line of Yarn?  Appearances at crafting camps/festivals?  teaching?

Thanks!  Well, I'm actually moving to Connecticut... but I'm not sure if that's what you wanted to hear :)  I'd love to do a second pattern book... and I'd really like to focus on Earth-friendly yarns.  We'll have to see if that pans out!
I teach now, and I'll probably continue to do so.  I'm planning a workshop on Amigurumi Design, which I think will be really fun.  I'm also planning on expanding my knitting designs...  Overall, though, I'm trying not to let my schedule get too booked.  I love designing because it gives me the flexibility to work at my own pace, bake bread during the day and keep calm!  I don't want to lose that!

A perfect craft-filled day... where would you be?  what would you be working on?  who would be with you?  would there be snacks/treats?

Ooooh!  I'd wake up, and it would be a wonderfully sunny & warm day outside. I'd go to a fiber festival with my boyfriend (because he's always willing to walk around and look at stuff... and he wouldn't have preferences about what yarns to look at!) and look at all sorts of new yarns, fibers and independent dyers.  I'd have an awesome lunch (maybe barbeque?) and then take a really interesting class.  Maybe something on spinning (I drop spin, but want to learn to use a wheel) or dyeing yarns.  In the late afternoon, I'd have an outside sit & stitch with my yarn-friends, and we'd have sweet iced tea and lovely cookies.  I'd be knitting on my Clapotis (which I really am working on), which is made from a delicious silk & wool blend... it's an interesting pattern, but easy enough that I can focus on the good gossip.  Once it started to get dark, we'd move inside and I'd knit while we watched a great movie with popcorn.
Oooh... now you have me thinking :)


Thank you Stacey for the opportunity to be a stop on your Blog Tour!  Best of Luck with Everything.

If you would like more information about Stacey's Designs - please click the link below :)


Also a big thank you to Martingale Publications for allowing me to use some of their official Shots from the book.


Would you like to win a copy of this great book?  Please leave a comment on this post (including some way to Contact you, i.e. Ravelry Name or Email) and answer the following question:

If you were a (stuffed) Animal:  what Animal would you be and why!?

Entries will be accepted until Midnight (Atlantic Time) April 30, 2010.  For one extra entry, blog about this book giveaway, or twitter that you've entered this contest, and link back to this article!

4. December 2009 08:00
by Jobo

Jobo's Favorite Things: Christmas 2009 DAY 4

4. December 2009 08:00 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Phew!  the first 3 days of this series have just flown by!  Thanks for stopping by to read each day!

Today’s Favorite thing:  BOOOOKKKKSSSS!

Ever since childhood, I have always loved books of all kinds.  Lately it seems that my stash of “how to” and pattern books has grown a lot faster than my fiction collection, but hey… it’s not terribly surprising I hope.  I have dozens of books about quilting techniques, and patterns ranging from stitch-by-hand-appliqué to stack-and-whack.  My knitting and spinning collection makes my quilting books look like a *small* pile…  I am afraid the quilt books are sadly outnumbered up in the studio!

Today’s post is about books I am already lucky enough to own… and the next Book Feature will discuss some books that I am hoping will show up in my stocking ;) ahem*hint*hint

selbuvotterThe Ultimate Norwegian Mitten Book - 

Selbuvotter:  Biography of a Knitting Tradition by Terri Shea

Some time ago, when I was new to searching the internet for knitting resources, I came across a review of this book quite by accident.  I had never been exposed to fair isle knitting or the breathtaking art of knitting 2-colored patterned mittens.  I was completely dumbstruck.  I remember just staring at the patterns featured in the article and thinking “holy crap… I simply must learn how to make these!!!”  At that point in time, I did not have a lot of experience purchasing things online, but decided to go for it anyways and boy am I ever pleased that I did. 

Terri Shea’s book is full of folklore and history – and some amazing mitten patterns.  The charts are easy to read and the mitten patterns are quite complete and straightforward to follow.  There are errata available where errors exist, but these are uncommon.  The one challenge I found to making these mittens was finding suitable yarn, as the majority of the yarns listed in the book are not sold by any yarn stores in my area. 

If you think you will ever want to learn to make Norwegian mittens, this book is an ultimate anthology of patterns and a very helpful resource.  Everyone I have shown this book to has wanted a copy… and for good reason – it’s the best book I’ve been able to find on the subject.

knittingsockswithhandpaintedyarn Great Sock Knitting collection -

Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn by Carol Sulcoski

I am a self admitted Sock-a-holic… and I have a serious willpower problem when it comes to purchasing skeins of temptingly beautiful hand painted Indie yarns.  The truth of the matter is – I love to knit socks, and the more patterns I can find that make my fingers itch to cast on something new the better.

I knew this book was going to be a winner before it was even released.  One of the designers featured in the book, Deb Barnhill, worked at the Dalhousie College of Pharmacy where I spent 4 years of my life.  I have been lucky enough to keep in touch with Deb over the years… and when I heard that one of her patterns was to be featured in a sock book, I ordered it before hearing another word.  This book does not disappoint.

The beginning section of the book teaches readers about the many types of hand painted yarns available today, and helps outline the nuts and bolts of the way that each yarn behaves in different types of patterns.  I liked the simple and no-nonsense descriptions and advice given – i.e. how to avoid/encourage pooling and flashing, and of course choosing patterns that will most complement the delectable yarns that you already have in your stash too!  Also included are handy tutorials for several kinds of cast-ons, bind-offs and Kitchener Stitch.

Then comes the patterns section… I have flipped through this book countless times, drooling over admiring the eye-catching photography and day dreaming of the process involved in each pair of socks.  This books features many different sock construction types, and lots of unique and different strategies to avoid pooling.  With 21 different patterns by 17 different Sock-RockStars (i.e. Chrissy Gardiner and Ann Budd) – there is something for every sock knitter in this book… in fact I have personal plans to make at least a half-dozen of them, maybe more.  Every time I look through it, I find something else that I want to try.  Make sure you have a couple skeins of hand painted yarn and some needles close at hand when you bring this little gem home… you might not be able to resist the urge to cast on!

12. November 2009 06:49
by Jobo

Whimsical Little Knits: A Little Knitting Treat!

12. November 2009 06:49 by Jobo | 2 Comments

little knits book I was lucky enough a few months back to win a blog contest sponsored by a fellow spinner and knitter Keri (over at It’s Otrembarific)  and won a copy of Ysolda Teague’s booklet “Whimsical Little Knits”!

I had been admiring several of the patterns in it, so of course I was completely thrilled when the book arrived in the mailbox.  I had never worked any of Ysolda’s patterns before, but knowing how many people already have, I was certain that they must be excellent to be receiving so much attention in the knitting world.

Like many other knitters, I headed straight for the Ishbel Shawl pattern.  With the first 2/3 of the pattern in Stockinette stitch, Ishbel is a very quick knit.  Unusual in that there are YO increases on EVERY row (not just every knit row like many triangular shawls) the resulting triangle is longer and leaner than the usual almost 90 degree triangle of the traditional shawl.  It took me only 2 evenings of knitting to complete the basic stockinette part of the shawl, and another 2 sessions to finish the lace portion – from detailled, organized and accurate  charts.  Normally I head straight for the written-out lace directions, but the clear concise charts made me feel confident that I could handle it so I worked the lace portion directly from the charts.

I understand the Ishbel Obsession now… before I had finished the first I had already made plans for a second.  Both the one I knit in Alpaca/Silk Laceweight and the one in  Sock Yarn were both lovely and reasonable.  I see profiles on Ravelry where people have made 4-5 of these and I can totally see why… I might be thinking about a third too!

Generally, I don’t make knitted toys, mostly because I don’t have any need for them at this point, but maybe some day  when more children come into the picture (aka my own, or friends’ children) I will have to remember the cute doll pattern in this booklet… she looks like the perfect pattern for a simple doll with adorable little shoes and a customizable pinafore.  I can also see the pattern for the little grey baby booties coming in handy for a fast new-baby project. 

November 010November 009baby shoes 

Overall, though I have only used one complete pattern and browsed the rest, this booklet appears to be well organized, has a nice variety of reasonable and attractive projects, uses a variety of yarns, and has lots of useful diagrams, drawings and photographs to illustrate each project.  The glossary of stitches is very complete, and even goes so far as to offer online help if things in the book aren’t clear enough.  I would have liked to see a few more detail photographs, but overall the whole booklet is well done.  I can see why Ysolda is described as having her own distinct sense of style and known for her attention to details… I can almost spot her designs now after admiring them for so long.  I will be anxiously awaiting the release of her new collection:  Whimsical Little Knits 2 which is due for release sometime in November 2009.

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