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Behind The Stitches: Natalie Thomas

“I find I have to sit with the yarn to get an idea of what it wants to be. Sometimes that changes while I'm working with the yarn. I always listen to the yarn”

Sam: Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Natalie: I am from Detroit, MI. I never left the city and probably won't. I love it!

Sam: Where does your love of crochet come from? How did you learn to crochet, what was your first WIP, and do you still have it?

Natalie: No one in my immediate family works with yarn at all. I was introduced to crochet by a neighbor's Grandmother when I was young. We were busy kids and she wanted to keep us occupied and out of trouble. I didn't fall in love with it until later in life when I needed a Secret Santa gift. Using my previous knowledge I made it and it was a hit! Now I wonder if she still has it.

I consider that hat and scarf my first real WIP. Then, I fell into the YouTube tutorial hole and it was upward from there.

Sam: What does your yarn stash look like?

Natalie: I didn't use to have a stash. It wasn't until I discovered that I wasn't allergic to superwash merino that I grew my stash. It's mostly indie dyed yarn. It's still small by most maker's standards but that's okay. I'm using my small house as an excuse to maintain self-control. Although, I'm fully aware that's a losing battle. I use up big box yarn pretty quickly.

Sam: Can you walk us through your typical crafting process?

Natalie: Ideas strike me at weird times. Usually right before I drift off to sleep. Either I get up and begin swatching right then, or I write it down to explore later. Sometimes the yarn starts the process. I find I have to sit with the yarn to get an idea of what it wants to be. Sometimes that changes while I'm working with the yarn. I always listen to the yarn.

Sam: When you’re designing do you write your patterns out as you go, write them out before you start, or write them after you finish the first sample?

Natalie: I'm never going to be organized enough to write beforehand. I try to write as I go but it's normally in a language only I can understand. A design can, and usually does, turn into something completely different then where I start. I let the process flow however it goes.

Sam: How would you describe your design esthetic to someone who has never seen your work?

Natalie: I would say it's bold colors and graphic shapes with a little sexy thrown in.

Sam: If you went to the yarn shop right now and you could get any yarn in the world what would it look like?

Natalie: It would be orange with lots of jewel toned speckles. I have a thing for orange and a new found love of speckles.

"It is not an escape but it helps to keep me grounded and present in all aspects of my life"

Sam: What has been the most rewarding crafting project you’ve ever worked on?

Natalie: It would definitely be My Favorite Jeans Top. It was my first real collaboration project. I struggled with this design when I first started it, a year before it's release. The neckline wasn't what I wanted and I needed to figure out how to get it. When I picked it back up everything just clicked. But then, shortly before I was to have it tested and submitted, my back went out. I literally finished this design while laying on my back in pain. It was a true labor of love. The maker community showed up and showed out when it was finally released.

Sam: We have to talk more about your My Favorite Jeans Crochet Top pattern. Where did the inspiration for that pattern come from?

Natalie: I saw a lot of bold stripes and chevrons on Instagram. I thought why not put them together. In my mind it was an A-line maxi dress. Like I said before, ideas come to me just before sleep. I saw it clearly in my mind. Minus the neckline, it turned out just how I wanted it to.

Sam: You recently wrote about having to take steps back in order to create better content. Can you tell us more about this decision?

Natalie: I've had the opportunity to collaborate more with other makers and businesses. I realize the value with collaborations in helping my brand grow and reach new audiences. I'll still design but at a slower pace for now. I'm in the process of building my own website where I would love to eventually host a blog. I want to be able to serve my community with more than just patterns.

Sam: What has crocheting brought to your life?

Natalie: Crochet brings me joy. It is not an escape but it helps to keep me grounded and present in all aspects of my life. It's my quiet reflective time. It's my way of bringing and sharing the best parts of myself with the community.

Sam: The relationship between designer and pattern tester can be wonderful and trying. As someone who’s been on both sides do you have any advice for designers looking to work with testers for the first time and vice versa?

Natalie: It's important to understand that not everyone is going to have the same feeling about your design that you do. Some people will take the pattern and run. It's unfortunate but it happens. Find a group that you love and stick with them. Develop a thick skin, honest feedback is important. On the flip side, they are volunteering their time and resources to help you. Treat them kindly and don't dismiss their feedback. You don't have to take it, but don't be dismissive. Thank them for their time and energy. Respect that life happens and some may not be able to complete the test. This doesn't mean that they shouldn't be given a second chance.

Sam: Are there any books, classes, accounts, or YouTube channels that you would recommend to new crocheters?

Natalie: I don't know much about books or classes, but Brittany from Bhooked was my go to in the beginning. Bella Coco is awesome as well. Both are on YouTube and Instagram.

Sam: What do you like to binge watch or listen to while you craft?

Natalie: I don't watch much television but I will listen to podcasts. For fiber, I listen to Bhooked, and Collage Creative. For business, I listen to Goal Digger, Business Shet, How I Built This, and Stitch Craft Marketing.


If you want to see more of Natalie's work you can follow her on Instagram @detroitknots, ravelry @DetroitKnots, and sign up for her newsletter.

Who should I talk to next? Leave your suggestions in the comments section along with any thoughts you have about Natalie's interview. I’m always on the hunt for inspiring crafters. Also, don't forget to follow along on my Instagram account @bobbleclubhouse for your daily dose of all things fiber. Until next week, happy crafting!


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