Meet the Designer – Kristen Stoltzfus Clay

I think most of us enjoy reading about other crocheters. Hearing their stories, helps connect us to the larger crochet community.

Today I would like to introduce you to Kristen Clay. Kristen’s designs which often appear in Crochet World and Crochet! magazines are always fresh and very appealing and fun to crochet! Kristen’s Art Deco Neck Warmer in the February 2017 issue of Crochet World is no exception. Its vintage-inspired style and modern flair make it a very wearable winter accessory.

Art Deco Neck Warmer Designed by Kristen Stoltzfus Clay

Art Deco Neck Warmer
Designed by Kristen Stoltzfus Clay

I recently interviewed Kristen and share our conversation here:

CW: Kristen, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kristen: I’m 25 years old, the oldest daughter of 7 children. My family moved from Dutch country in Pennsylvania to the gorgeous hills of west-central Idaho less than two years ago. Moving west was to me like coming home from exile – I love it here with a passion. Since then I’ve recently married a wonderful man and live with him on his family’s ranch, which has been in their family since the 1800s.

CW: When did you learn to crochet?

I grew up surrounded by crochet. My mother specialized in thread doilies, especially pineapple designs. My maternal grandmother has made hundreds of baby afghans, including one for each grandchild and great-grandchild, to this day. She learned to crochet to occupy her time once she was older, and made striped afghans using the crazy stitch. So when I was around 6 years old, I naturally begged Grandma to show me how. She started me out with the chain stitch. I learned a few basic stitches but didn’t pick up crocheting seriously until I was about 17, when I was reading my mother’s back issues of old crochet magazines and got hooked.

CW: What other crafts appeal to you?

Kristen Stoltzfus Clay

Kristen Stoltzfus Clay

Kristen: Counted cross stitch interested me for a time, but for the last few years it’s been sewing! In fact, sewing and crocheting often compete for my time and interest. As you can tell from the photo, I love bygone fashion, and make my own clothes from vintage patterns, styling them on my blog www.verityvintagestudio.typepad.com.

CW: How did you become a designer? What was the first design you sold?

Kristen: I realized afterwards I’d been designing things for a time after I learned to crochet – I just didn’t realize that’s what it was. I’d make doll dresses, and alter existing patterns ad lib according to my needs and the yarn I had on hand. When I was 19, we subscribed to Crochet World. I read about the Winner’s Circle contest and emailed then-editor Michele Maks, who kindly said that she’d look at any ideas I could send her. Ideas instantly began to bombard me, and I’ve never looked back. Everyone in the business was kind and encouraging, despite my ignorance of everything in the beginning. Oh, the learning curves!

My first sold design was a set of two thread brooches with mixed media embellishments, to a craft magazine that no longer exists. Thread jewelry remains a favorite of mine to design.

CW: What is your favorite part of the design process?

Kristen: I absolutely love turning an intangible image in my head into something tangible that others can recreate. It’s like giving body to a thought. Sometimes actually working it out can be tedious, especially if I can’t get something in my hands to look like the picture in my head, and not every design is a success (though sometimes it just needs revamped with another yarn or color choice). But I love seeing it come together in the end, and finding my name in print if the design sells!

CW: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?


Kristen: From everything. Pinterest images of home décor or fashion, an element on an existing garment, or unexpected color patterns…often the yarn itself will inspire me by its color or fiber with what it “wants” to be made into. I’ll see something in fabric and think, “How can I do that in crochet?” Often all I will need is someone saying “We need ideas for fingerless gloves” or something generic like that, and that will trigger inspiration for me. Usually when I’m staring vacantly at the wall, looking totally spaced out, I’m working out a design in my head! I also especially love incorporating buttons and bead elements into my designs; many times I will see an embellishment and imagine what would be a suitable backdrop. So a craft store has endless inspiration!

CW: What is your dream project? If you could design anything, pull out all the stops with the perfect yarn ready and waiting, what would you create?

Kristen: I’d love to do a 1930s style dress and jacket set. I’ve seen some gorgeous vintage images of knitted ones! Very chic and wearable, with such unique and fun details.

CW: What does an absolutely perfect day look like for you?

Kristen: A perfect day is one I can share between tidying my pretty little home while listening to music, crafting or reading beside an open window in my spare time with a view of the mountains to be glanced at every few minutes…and most of all, spending time with my husband and family enjoying Idaho.

CW: If you did not crochet what would you miss the most?

Kristen: Having a flexible job that is also a hobby and passion, in which I can express my style and taste in things I create. But my guess is my creative drive would have found some other outlet… I’m just glad crochet and I found each other!

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Crocheting in Tuscany!

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The weather outside may be frightful, but I am dreaming of crocheting in Tuscany! If you missed going to Ireland last year with the Annie’s (which got rave reviews!), here is your chance to join us for a wonderful trip to Italy.

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If you are a crocheter that loves to visit exciting places, start making plans now and travel with us to the beautiful Tuscany area of Italy. We’ll spend nine wonderful days exploring Florence, San Gimignano, Montecatini Terme and Cinque Terre. We’ll visit an Italian yarn factory, take a Tuscan cooking class, shop in Florence markets and much more!

And to make it extra special, celebrity crocheter, Lily Chin will travel with us for the entire trip. In between all the wonderful sights, there will be plenty of time to crochet and learn new hints, tricks and techniques from a master designer and teacher.

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Make your plans now to join us in Italy, October 20-28 2017. Sign up here and don’t miss this trip of a lifetime!

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New Year’s Resolution – Passing on the Love!

Do you love to crochet? I know, silly question! If you subscribe to Crochet World magazine and read this blog, you most likely love to crochet!

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One of the things I hope to share with you as the new editor of Crochet World is my passion for teaching others about our wonderful craft. Now, hear me out; you may not think you can teach, but it is not as hard as it looks. And it is so important to pass on the tradition to others.

In the February issue I interviewed Mary Colucci, past Executive Director of the Craft Yarn Council, who now serves as the Executive Director for the Warm Up America Foundation.

I asked Mary to tell us about the Each One Teach Two initiative sponsored by the Craft Yarn Council. Here is an excerpt from the article: “Each One Teach Two was the brainchild of two of the crochet industry’s leaders: the late Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss, who at the time were principals in ASN Publishing. They were champions of building awareness about crochet and for teaching our craft in general.

Their idea was simple: If we all taught just one person and that person taught another and that person taught another, we could get the entire world knitting and crocheting. Leinhauser and Weiss created a program that provided helpful how-to illustrations, teaching hints and certificates of accomplishment, all of which can be downloaded from the Each One Teach Two website.

You don’t have to be an expert to teach someone else to crochet. If you are considering teaching, the hints included at the Each One, Teach Two website are a good place to start. There are basic tips like keeping the sessions relatively short, working with a light-colored yarn and medium-size hooks or needles. Sitting next to a person gives them the chance to better see how the stitches are created.

Consider having your student’s first project be a 7” by 9” block for Warm Up America! It’s just the perfect size for practicing basic stitches and helps the person become comfortable holding a hook or needle and yarn. Plus, Warm Up America! would be delighted to receive the finished rectangles to join with others to complete afghans which are donated to people in need. And don’t forget to check out the Each One Teach Two website for free downloads, projects and certificates to use when you teach.”

May I suggest a New Year’s resolution? How about teaching 2 people to crochet this year? Share your love of crochet by teaching a daughter or grandchild. Or perhaps your neighbor who is always admiring your work. Or teach a co-worker on your lunch break.

Make sure to send me pictures and tell me about your experience. I would love to share your stories on the blog and in the magazine!

Happy Crocheting!

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February 2017 Sneak Peek!

I love it when a new issue of Crochet World is ready and I get to share some of my favorite projects with you! Of course, they are all my favorites, so I always have a hard time picking just a few. You can look here to see all the projects in the new February 2017 issue.

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I wish you could feel the Cushy Corrugated Rug on the cover. It really is so cushy and soft! Make one to put by your favorite chair or your bed. Crochet one in colors to match your kitchen and put it by the sink. It might just make washing the dishes fun to do!

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In our DIY chapter, you’ll find crochet do-it-yourself projects to spruce up your home on a budget. I really do like all the projects in this chapter, but was especially taken with designer Agnes Russell’s Ruby’s Café lampshade. This would look so cute in a breakfast nook over a café table. Or make it in white and hang it over the nightstand in your bedroom.

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Flowers in a Row is a quick project and is a great way to use up bits of crochet thread. The motifs make a cute edging for a kitchen towel, but would be just as pretty on the edge of a pillowcase.

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I can think of so many ways to wear designer Rena V. Stevens’ Diamond Flowers Shawl. Crocheted in ultra-soft merino wool, wear this shawl with a pair of jeans as you snuggle by the fire; dress it up for a night out, or wrap it around your shoulders over a winter coat for extra warmth on cold snowy days.

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And finally, for our sneak peek, I had to share this adorable Bubbles Blanket & Pillow set. From our Creative Textures chapter, this fun-to-crochet project is worked in a shell stitch pattern which gives the finished piece lots of texture. Our model was so cute and adorable, and smiled for the entire photo shoot!

You can order your digital copy of the February 2017 issue of Crochet World here or look for it at your favorite craft store or Wal-Mart.

Looking for more crochet inspiration and design ideas? Try a free issue of Crochet World magazine on us!

Happy Crocheting!

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Season’s Greetings!

Wishing you and your family

peace and joy this holiday season.

May your days be filled with laughter and hot cocoa!

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Peppermint Coasters pattern available in

Annie’s 2016 Christmas special issue.

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