Friday, December 19, 2014

Kathryn Vercillo: An Update on Her Crochet Life


Kathryn Vercillo
Even though I have previously blogged book  reviews of two of Kathryn Vercillo's books, Crochet Saved My Life 

Crochet Saved My Life
and When Grandma Isn’t Crocheting, She’s Hunting Big Game ;

By Kathryn Vercillo
promoted her Hook to Heal project and invited her to be a Guest Blogger here. It seems that I just can’t get enough of her!  She has a presence on the internet and her website, Crochet Concupiscence radiates energy and joy from the community of crocheters that she covers. Recently, Kathryn has embarked upon a new assignment to bring crochet content to crocheters, so I thought it would be fun to touch base with this interesting and generous person again to bring you up to date on her exciting crochet-life.

There are a few key areas of crochet that interest Kathryn: health benefits; organizations that offer people in third world countries the opportunity to use it to support themselves; all aspects of crochet art; and gender-specific aspects. She explains, “The many intellectual and social aspects of crochet really fascinate me and that’s partly why I blog about it. In the end, of course, the pleasure of sitting down with a smooth hook and a luxurious skein of yarn and feeling the tactile joy of the act while creating something new out of my own mind is what I love most about crochet.”

Crochetqueen: What motivated you to take on yet another blogging job at About.com? How can you possibly fit one more thing into your already loaded schedule? Is there a particular focus on what you include at About.com?
Kathryn: I have recently joined the About.com Team <<crochet.about.com >> as their crochet expert where I’m writing ~3-5 articles per week about crochet. I have always wanted to be part of the About.com team and was excited to see that they recently made some changes and the Crochet Expert position opened up. I apllied and got the job, and it always seemed like a good fit.

Although it does mean that I’ve added a bit of writing time to my schedule, it’s not as time consuming as you would think. I already spend A LOT of time reading about and researching crochet. I follow hundreds of crochet blog feeds online and am immersed in social networking around the topic. Plus, of course, I crochet every day so I learn the hands-on skills that way.
Because I’m already doing all of that work, there really isn’t any additional research time to the new job. There is ample information out there that I’m already absorbing, curating and seeking to share. About.com just gives me a new platform in which to do that. It’s a place where I can share some of the things that I don’t often share on Crochet Concupiscence, such as stitch tutorials.

I’m still exploring what mixture of article types will work best for the audience there. I want to give the readers what they want! Right now it’s looking like my posts will be a mixture of crochet tutorials, my original patterns, themed crochet pattern roundups, book reviews and informative articles about the history of crochet as well as contemporary trends in the craft.

Additionally, Crochet Concupiscence is about to undergo some changes and some of the types of content that I’ll no longer be sharing as much there are things that I’ll be able to continue to showcase for interested readers over on About.com. For example, in 2015 I plan to de-emphasize crochet pattern roundups on Crochet Concupiscence but they will have a place over on About.com.

Crochetqueen: Psychology and Crochet mesh very well as you have proven by your book, Crochet Saved My Life.  In what will your new degree be and when will you finish?

Kathryn: Yes! I am in the second year of a Masters Degree program in Integral Counseling Psychology, which combines Eastern and Western approaches to healing for a degree that can lead to an MFT counseling license. I have already learned so much that I’m incorporating with my crochet health experiences; I look forward to doing more research and writing that combines this newfound knowledge of neuroscience and psychology with my hands-on knowledge of craft therapy.

My degree is a three year program so my cohort’s program ends in May of 2016. However, I am likely going to take one year off. The purpose of this is to integrate what I’ve already learned with the other writing and work that I’m doing.

I’m almost about to wrap up my next book, Hook to Heal, and after that I’ll be working on a revised edition of Crochet Saved My Life that updates the research with the new things I’ve learned. So I’ll be busy and I want to give that ample attention before starting on my practicum year (my third year where I do 20 hours per week of on-site counseling work.

Crochetqueen: What are your plans for using your professional degree in your new field?
Kathryn: I intend to keep doing what I’m doing for the most part - using my education and writing experience to help others share their personal stories as well as to write about self-care and healing through crochet and crafting. The degrees for me are more about the education that I gain and how I can use that to develop myself and therefore my writing than they are specifically about getting the degree. That said, degrees do open doors, and I hope to use mine to gain additional opportunities in research.

Crochetqueen: Do you hope to create a niche for yourself?
Kathryn: I think I’m in a really unique niche in terms of the research I’ve done and am doing into specifically how the craft of crochet can be healing and I hope to continue making headway in this. I believe that it’s really important work. I’m open to where else my path may lead but right now that’s a really key part of what I plan to do with my future work.

Crochetqueen: Crochet Concupiscence is very organized and the categories are good
Kathryn: Thanks, I’ve tried really hard to cover a diverse range of categories within the niche of crochet and to organize the information so that it’s fairly easy to find. I’m always honing and re-working it. In fact, Crochet Concupiscence just got a major site re-design with a new logo; and I pared down some of the categories to make it even easier to find things. I’ll be continuing to work on this in 2015.

Crochetqueen: You are very generous to others out there in all the social media you produce.
Kathryn: I’m glad that you noticed this. It has always been really important to me to use the platform that I have to help others in this community. The crochet community has always been incredibly generous to me and I want to support what people in it are doing. That’s what my Saturday Link Love roundups are all about - sharing the best of the best links with everyone in order to support and grow the community while providing information that I hope is inspirational to readers.

Crochetqueen: Tell me about your annual Awesome Blog Awards.  Do you feature the same thirty-one categories every year? I am certainly honored to have received an Award more than once since 2011 because I believe you have your finger on the pulse of bloggers everywhere! How ironic that I won for “Best Crochet Interviews” this year since you; and wehave been trying to get this interview of you done since last summer. Somehow, life got in the way!!
Kathryn: Each December I do daily “crochet awards” to recognize what awesome crocheters are doing in different areas of the craft. And I also do book reviews, yarn reviews, etc. to help the community in that way as well.

Crochetqueen: Are you promoting your blog more now?
Kathryn:  I’ve gotten more active on social media in the last year because I’ve been able to find decent tools that streamline the process pretty well for me. My website has gotten more attention for the site, but other than that I just try to write good content and hope people find it.

Crochetqueen: Would you say that this site is made up mostly of your scouring the internet? Do you cut and paste content you find to the website? It seems to stay mostly superficial, info scooped and passed on to crocheters. It also appears that there are not many in-depth person- to-person interviews. Is this accurate? Understandably so, if it is true; personal interviews are very time-consuming!
Kathryn:  This is an interesting line of questioning and one that I’m really glad that you took because CC has changed over time and will be changing in 2015 to better reflect some of my core values. It started out as a site that had four posts per day including a daily Etsy find, a daily crochet quote and usually a long well-researched article. That proved to be too much (for me and for readers,) and it’s shifted a few times over the years.

In the past year or so people have really wanted access to more crochet patterns so I’ve been doing a lot of pattern roundups. Those do often come from feedly RSS feed. I don’t typically cut and paste but what I share has been pretty brief in those roundups. Readers and the search engines have liked that but it’s made me really feel lately like something is lacking that the site used to have - back when I did more researched lengthy posts.

I don’t want to get rid of those types of posts entirely, but in 2015 you’ll see that there’s less emphasis on them and there will be more of the longer posts. Over the summer I put out a survey about crochet health that was answered by over 10,000 respondents. About 3000 of those people indicated that they’d be interested in doing interviews about how crochet has helped them heal. So I’m starting to do those interviews now and many of them will be on the blog in 2015. I’ll also continue doing posts about crochet art and fashion but I’ll go back to articles on those topics that include more of my original thoughts and the research about the artists/ designers.

I will continue to do my weekly Link Love posts,  to give back to the community in that way, and that’s where the info from my feedly will be coming in. There will still be some pattern roundups, etc. but they will not be the bulk of the site. I get a lot of information from around the web and want to continue to showcase that in the best way possible; but I feel like the site has been erring on the side of simply rounding up what already exists and in the new year I plan for there to be a lot more original content.

Crochetqueen: As a CGOA member what are your thoughts about belonging?  Do you have plans to attend the 2015 conference  in San Diego July 22-26, or apply to present a workshop at Professional Day? It will be pretty much in your neck of the woods!
Kathryn: I’m planning to sit down with a calendar in January and map out the entire new year to see what I can fit in and where.  This would be a great opportunity and thanks for putting this one on my radar! I was really saddened to see that Stitches East isn’t happening this year. it really shook me up and made me realize that the time to participate in events is NOW not “someday” because it’s our participation that makes them continue to happen.

I think that the CGOA seems like a great organization that offers tons of terrific resources to members and I’ve just renewed my membership for the second year. One of the things I love about crochet is that there’s a great community built up around this craft. The crocheters I’ve met in person and online are generous, creative people with positive spirits and interesting lives. I’ve really enjoyed connecting with others who love this craft and I think CGOA offers opportunities for this kind of connection.

Crochetqueen: Do you ever meet with a group of crocheters? That’s a great resource for original content.
Kathryn: I have met up with groups of crocheters in the past but it’s not something that I do regularly. There’s no Barnes and Noble here in San Francisco and I have not made it to the meeting of the local CGOA chapter but due to scheduling conflicts. There is a local knitting / crochet in public group as well as a general craft meet-up and I’ve attended both of those in the past. I think that they’re a great way to meet people and work on projects. If I was ever at a point again where I was struggling with depression and needed a scheduled event to get me out of the house and socialize, it’s definitely something I’d turn to. For now, I find that I’m happiest crocheting on my own at home because of how it helps me decompress and get in touch with myself; but I’m sure that won’t always be the case.

3 comments:

Vashti Braha said...

I enjoyed reading this interview very much. Thank you, Gwen and Kathryn. I hope to see BOTH of you at the Chain Link in San Diego this year!

Stephanie B. said...

Great interview. Love following Kathryn and you too Gwen!

Kathryn Vercillo said...

Thanks to Stephanie and Vashti for your lovely comments. And thanks so much, Gwen, for doing this interview with me!!