Author:
Lauren Espy

Lauren Espy is the maker behind A Menagerie of Stitches, a shop dedicated to creating adorable crocheted amigurumi. After teaching herself how to crochet, she soon fell in love and has been playing with yarn ever since. When not crocheting, Lauren loves spending time with her husband and their two pups.

How One Little Hobby Can Turn Into A Dream

Maker
6/13/2018

Growing up I was always creating and my favorite thing to do was to go to Michael’s with my grandma on the weekends. She loved to do arts and crafts and we were always creating something together. I lived for those days! She taught me so much and if it wasn’t for her encouragement and kindness, I probably never would have picked up a crochet hook. It was because of her that I even started crocheting. I was at a bookstore with her and came across a book on amigurumi. I knew I needed this book and begged for her to buy it for me. I was a teen right out of high school so I didn’t have a penny to my name. She gave in and later gave me a full set of crochet hooks, which I still use everyday. My grandma knew nothing about crocheting or knitting. Or at least she didn’t remember how to do it. That only left me with one other choice, youtube. 

Like many of us crocheters and knitters, I spent hours and hours trying to learn everything and anything about crochet, specifically amigurumi. It took me weeks of trial and error to figure out how to chain properly as well as figuring out all the basic stitches. I can’t tell you how many times thought I would never figure it out and the countless times I wanted to give up. As time went on, I started to get the hang of it and about a year later I started dabbling in designing my own amigurumi. I’m so glad I didn’t give up!

Fast forward a few years, I was still crocheting and absolutely loving every second of it! I was making all sorts of amigurumi and giving them as gifts to all my family and friends. It wasn’t until I started running out of room for my yarn and finished stuffed toys that I knew I had to start selling them. I had always wanted to open an Etsy shop but it absolutely terrified me. All of 2014 I said I would open one and it wasn’t until the following year that I finally took the jump. A Menagerie of Stitches opened and let me tell you, crickets have never been louder! It took a couple months before I even got my first sale but my goodness, I was elated that a stranger wanted to buy my items!

My shop started to pick up and I was making new items like crazy. I was working at a museum then and my time was split between running my shop and getting to work on time. I had always wanted my shop to be my full time job but knew it wasn’t the right time. My big break came in the form of a crocheted chemistry set. While at the museum we had an art show where the employees could take part and submit their work. Since it was a science and nature museum, I came up with the idea to crochet a chemistry set. I remember being so nervous that day to share my work with my co workers and the strangers coming into the museum. I posted a photo on my Instagram later that night of the completed set and people went nuts over it! I never knew there were so many scientist out there who also loved to crochet. It was a bit overwhelming to see so many people loving what I had created. It got to the point where I couldn’t accept any more orders because I just didn’t have enough time to crochet. I finally decided that if I wanted to be a maker full time, now was the time. So I quit my job at the museum and have never been happier. As scary as it was to leave a steady income, I knew I had made the right choice.

Becoming a maker has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced. I absolutely love designing and when I get to share what I’ve made with the world, it’s the best feeling. I’ve been asked before “You could crochet anything, why do amigurumi?” Honestly, I just really love cute things, especially if it has a face! I love being able to put a smile on someone's face because they see a little donut or taco smiling back at them. I had a follower tell me once that they looked forward to seeing my posts each day because it brought them so much joy. That right there is why I crochet. I want to be a part of someones day, whether they’ve had a good day or bad one. When customers tell me they bought something I’ve made and they’ve given it as a gift, that makes me incredibly happy. To be apart of someones life, even in the smallest way possible, is what inspires me to keep crocheting.

It had always been a dream of mine to write a book all about amigurumi. A book where someone could be inspired to pick up a crochet hook and try something new, just like I had done all those years ago. Last August the opportunity had come up to work with a wonderful publishing company based out of Bend, Oregon. At first when I read the email, I thought it was spam. I thought, “This can’t be real!” I even told my publishers about my crazy thought and we all laugh about it now! They had seen my Instagram and wanted to work on a project with me. Little did I know, that project was writing a crochet book. After a few meetings with my publisher, my contract was signed and the writing process had begun.

For 3 months straight I worked on perfecting all my favorite amigurumi patterns. The whole process of writing a book was both exhilarating and terrifying. From choosing the right font and colors to making sure we came up with the perfect title, it was the best experience. When we finally landed on “Whimsical Stitches” for the title, I knew it described the book perfectly. Everything about it is so fun and I hope that shines through with all the patterns I included. The day I received the final copy in the mail, I shed a few tears. To see something I had worked so hard on and had dreamed of for so long, right in front of me, was so very special to me.  

It’s still crazy to me how one hobby can turn into something so much bigger than I imagined. Who knew picking up a crochet book would have lead me to where I am today. I always knew I wanted to be doing something creative with my life and I’m so happy with where crochet has taken me. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and I know you’ll have the same feeling if you just take the jump! Whether it’s opening an Etsy shop or accomplishing what you think is impossible, don’t be afraid to have big dreams! As the saying goes, big dreams have small beginnings.

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