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Guest Blogger ~ The Stitch Stud: Why Do You Crochet?

Friday, May 16, 2014

I'm happy to introduce my guest blogger for this week, Charles Voth, aka The Stitch Stud. Charles and I are cyber-friends who have never met face-to-face. We connected on Ravelry, not only because of our love of crochet, but also because we are both fluent in Spanish and have lived in various countires in Latin America. I have a great respect for Charles' talents and enjoyed having him as my tech editor for designs I published in the British publication, Inside Crochet.  As we approach the 20th anniversary of CGOA, this type of connection with pure strangers is the most wonderful thing about the guild. The crochet thread tugs us together in a very good way!

Charles Voth, aka Stitch Stud
 I was wondering during my long drive home from Indianapolis a couple of weekends ago why so many people crochet and knit. I was fortunate to attend the National Needlearts Association’s trade show, where wholesalers of yarn, yarn crafts, and other needlecrafts go to meet with retailers shopping for their inventory for the next half of the year. It was so amazing to walk into a hotel lobby in the evenings of the show and to see 50 plus people knitting and crocheting. If any of you have had the good fortune to attend the Knitting and Crochet Show organized by CGOA and TKGA, you’ll know how amazing it is to be surrounded by your "peeps”. No secret handshake is needed, but the camaraderie and conversations about yarn and tools makes one feel right at home, like with family.

So as I drove, I pondered the the question. I know for many that needlework is therapeutic, either an escape from life’s woes, or a calming rhythmic exercise that quiets one’s thoughts and centers focus. For many it’s a nostalgic activity that elicits memories of loved ones who have passed away, but not before ensuring that their expertise and love for these crafts is a secure legacy. Others have more practical reasons: gifts need to be made for upcoming celebrations; winters are cold; homes are bare or recently redecorated and need a new shot of color and coziness, Still, others want to give to humanitarian causes like veteran’s hospitals, cancer centers, children’s charities, and many other possible recipients who will be comforted by the warm, plush care packages they receive. And, a few yarn crafters spare a few minutes to participate in completely nonsensical but thoroughly fun and heart-warming activities like yarn-bombing.

While I do identify somewhat with all of these reasons for crocheting and knitting, none of them perfectly describes my situation. I have been crocheting since I was 4 years old and knitting since age 10. I’ve tried cross-stitch, needlepoint, embroidery, and sewing, too. I have a loom and a spinning wheel. Other than sewing the occasional item for my family or mending a garment, sewing hasn’t caught on. Weaving is on the back-burner for sure right now, and spinning is an occasional retreat, but I always go back to knitting and crocheting, either to one or both every day.

I think my main motivations for crocheting and knitting come in a set of three. I love to create. I love to explore, I love flexibility. But these three all blend together into one passion, which I guess could be called designing. The softness, elasticity, and fluidity of yarn has me spell-bound. I know that every project has a beginning and an end, and that we have to tie in new skeins of yarn every once in a while, but I’m able to blur that out and image that my yarn is a reflection of eternity. It’s one long line, but it’s not rigid, nor straight, and with all the stitches one can form with either a hook or two needles, I feel challenged to explore the unlimited possibilities. The softness of merino or angora, the sheen of silk or rayon, the sturdiness of cotton…each type of yarn or blend begs me to have it flow through my fingers. 

One of Charles' Most Recent Designs (C) Vogue Knitting Crochet 2013, photo by Paul Amato for
I think there’s a room in heaven for me with a sign over the door, “Swatching Room”  which is full of all types and colors of yarn, and I imagine myself swatching to my heart’s content without having to come up with a pattern to sell.  Designing and pattern writing for others is absolutely one of the most fun things for me to do, but with 2 sons heading to university, I can’t create patterns as quickly as I can conceive them. I am so thankful that there is a community of yarn crafters who don’t care to design as much as they love to work patterns by designers who love to dream them up.

Another activity I’ve done ever since I was a young boy living as an expatriate in Colombia, South America is to teach languages. There, I taught English to my friends and once here in Canada and after a couple university degrees in language and language education, I’ve been teaching English and Spanish ever since. For the last 20 some years I’ve had the pleasure of working with learners from all over the world, helping them prepare to be writers, presenters, and students in Canadian universities and colleges. This means that I’ve edited a whole lot of essays and speech transcripts.

Ed. note: Charles' father was a nurse and his mother a nutrition and English teacher working for a Non-Governmental Organization in Colombia for 26 years.He was born there and spent his whole childhood there.

During these years as a teacher I never could have dreamed that there was some way my love of teaching and writing and my love of crochet and knitting would ever converge, but I was very lucky to befriend several crochet designers at Chain Link 2009 in Buffalo (just across the border from my home in Canada). While visiting with them, I kept hearing them talk about tech-editors and how few crochet tech-editors there are. So I piped up and asked “What is a tech-editor? Although their definitions were more lengthy and descriptive, it only took me a few seconds to feel my heart lurch inside me and the words “my dream job” pop into my head. I could not believe there were people who edited crochet patterns. But it didn’t take me long to investigate how to get started at it and to practice doing it for these friends until they said I was good enough to find paying clients.

Crochet Stitch Dictionary Tech-Edited by Charles: Read my Review
Reversible Color Crochet Tech-Edited by Charles
I am so thankful that I now can immerse myself in the world of crochet and knitting as a technical editor, teach ESL at my local college part-time, be a dad and husband, and have a few spare minutes to swatch and design. Going to the trade show in Indianapolis was a special treat as I was able to meet with some of my clients, publishers and yarn companies, face to face, and to see all the new yarns that will soon be available in yarn stores across the continent. There were so many design ideas flickering into existence behind my eyes, that I couldn’t even sketch them quickly enough in my inspirations journal. Keep your eyes open, all of us crochet designers feel all fueled up with ideas and are ready to go again for another year!

In closing, "I'm curious to know what motivates you to crochet!   Please share in the comments.


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