I first picked up a crochet hook purely on a whim back in 2002. While perusing the isles of a local craft store in California, I became mesmerized by all of the yarn—the colors … the textures … the possibilities. I was inspired to be creative. Finding myself in front of the yarn accessories, I had a decision to make: knit or crochet. Most pattern books had instructions in the back and I thought that I could surely figure it out. Seriously, it came down to economics. A set of five crochet hooks were the same price as one or two sets of knitting needles. Since I didn’t know what size needles to get, I went for the set of hooks thinking they’d give me more options.
Yep, I taught myself to crochet from the back of a pattern book. It was frustrating at first and I really wished there was someone around to show me how to do it. This was before the days of YouTube. Since no one was around to catch my little mistakes or “bad habits”, it took years to call myself “proficient.” Now I get to pass on my crochet wisdom and save others from the same trials that I went through.
By 2009, I had returned to my hometown of Chicago. My crochet fascination was in full swing and I made a New Year’s resolution to stop crocheting by myself in front of the TV. I sought out a community that was excited about this beautiful art and wanted to socialize, share projects and crochet together. What I found in my city was a large knitting population with lots of options to socialize but, as a crocheter, I did not feel very welcome. In fact, I was made to feel that crochet was inferior to knitting. So I founded Crochet Connection of Chicago (CCC) and we met in libraries, coffee shops and similar places. After just four months, it became a local chapter of the Crochet Guild of America and I served as president until I moved overseas.
While seeking places to hold CCC meetups, I had a very serendipitous meeting with a local yarn store owner who had just acquired her shop. Although I had never been paid to teach crochet before, she hired me on the spot. If it wasn’t for her, I highly doubt I would have a crochet career today and you would not be reading this now. If you are ever in Chicago, be sure to visit Knit 1. You will drool over the yarn and want to sit down to crochet for a while among their delightful company.
What about the alpacas? Well, they are a part of my crochet story too. During my time at Knit 1, I learned about natural fibers and the animals that produce them. In August 2011, I visited an alpaca ranch and became obsessed with the beautiful animal. I loved the alpaca’s gentle demeanor, small size and great market value. Alpaca is a luxury fiber, hypoallergenic (no lanolin), water repellent, softer than cashmere, warmer than wool and comes in an array of natural colors. You seriously gotta get you some alpaca yarn!! As a yarn lover, I decided raising alpacas is what I wanted to do. That visit to the alpaca ranch was three weeks before I was to leave the country to teach English in Seoul, South Korea. I visited seven other alpaca ranches in the area and did extensive online research. A week before I left the United States, I bought a pregnant alpaca and paid to have her boarded while I lived overseas. I know, I know…that was crazy. LOL
My time in Korea was spent doing more industry research, creating a business plan and networking as much as I could from the other side of the world. One decision made was to locate my alpaca ranch in south central Nebraska where my family has been since 1871. When I returned to the U.S. in March 2012, I trained at the alpaca ranch where I first met these exquisite creatures and attended many alpaca shows as my ongoing education and research. Less than a month after moving to Nebraska, I acquired 12 more alpacas and dived into alpaca life. Remember, I told you that I was obsessed.
After I had settled into Nebraska living, the excitement to teach crochet returned. I asked a family-owned store near me that sold yarn about offering crochet classes and they were very excited to bring crochet instruction to their small town. The response was phenomenal and I ended up having 20 beginning crochet students. Word spread to the local community college crochet teacher who asked me to take over her classes. In the next 19 months, I had 127 students in 17 courses, including beginning, intermediate, advanced, Tunisian, Broomstick Lace, Hairpin Lace and Crochet for Knitters. The community college teaching position opened the door for me to be recognized as a professional crochet instructor by the Crochet Guild of America in April 2015. It is through all of these experiences that I have developed and tested the curriculum I offer to you at Forever Bliss Crochet so what you receive is quality instruction and expertise.