Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interview with Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence

I was excited to have the opportunity to interview Kathryn Vercillo, author of the wonderful book Crochet Saved My Life, and owner of the website Crochet Concupiscence. If you've never been to Crochet Concupiscence, you need to set aside a few hours and browse. Kathryn has a bit of everything. She's done the research. You just need to sit down and absorb it all.

I'd like to thank Kathryn for taking the time to share her thoughts with us all.  I know I personally enjoyed learning more about this multi-talented crocheter. I've sprinkled a few photos throughout the interview which Kathryn has graciously shared.

Where did the name Crochet Concupiscence come from?
Everyone asks me that (and they also always ask how to say “concupiscence”)! I knew that I wanted a blog name that included the word crochet (since that’s what I write about) and that reflected my true love for the craft. I thought about a lot of related names that just didn’t ring right for me – Crochet Love, Crochet Mistress, Crochet Obsession. I’ve always been a fan of alliteration so I started looking at “c” words that would go with crochet. Concupiscence is really mostly a religious word but at its core relates to passion for something. I know the word because I’d heard it in a movie where the main character is a lover of long words and it came to mind and stuck. I love the name of my blog. It has a nice ring to it and it’s the kind of word that people notice and look at twice because it’s unfamiliar.

How many years have you been crocheting?
I learned to crochet a chain as a child but I didn’t do anything more with it until my mid-late twenties. I guess it was in about 2009 that I taught myself how to crochet again and have been doing so avidly ever since. I crochet pretty much every day so I’ve packed a lot of learning into those three years since I got started!

Your blog is so expansive, with such a wide variety of topics, that I can see how one could get lost in it and forget to actually crochet. How do you choose topics on which to focus? Is there a process you go through where you seek out particular topics or is it more random in that you come across something that whets the appetite for more information on that topic? Perhaps a combination?
That’s a great question. When I first started I knew that I wanted to cover as much as possible about the craft of crochet on Crochet Concupiscence. I also knew that I would only be able to do that if I was organized about it so I created a loose plan to cover certain topics on certain days. You can still see that on the blog today. For example, I almost always cover crochet art and artists on Mondays, crochet in fashion on Thursdays, etc.

I also do a second post each day and that’s on a more general topic. I find those topics because I read lots and lots of crochet news and crochet blogs so anything that interests me in those can potentially become a blog post that would go live on one of those other times on the blog.

As the blog develops, I try to pay attention to what my readers are most interested in seeing. When I get a lot of questions about a topic I try to do a post to cover that topic on the blog. For example, I’ve recently had several people ask about plus size crochet patterns so I’m working on coming up with a post that covers that topic. I always make sure that the posts are something that interests me so that it stays true to my own voice at all times but I also listen to the readers.

365 ways to wear crochet

You provide a needed focus on crochet which I think helps to spread the craft. What do you personally envision as the main purpose of your blog?
Thanks – I do try to provide that focus and hope that it helps spread the craft of crochet. I love many crafts but I’m a crocheter through and through and that’s the main thing I want to support on Crochet Concupiscence. I see Crochet Concupiscence as having two important purposes:

1.    Crochet Concupiscence is designed to be a hub of information about all aspects of crochet where people can come and find links to more information about any part of the craft that might interest them. In line with this, it is a blog that celebrates all of the potential of the craft of crochet.

2.    Crochet Concupiscence also serves as a place to connect the crochet community. I do this through supporting the work of other crocheters, spreading the latest in their crochet news and trying to serve as a safe space where people can share their crochet stories.

I have just published my book, Crochet Saved My Life, and that’s becoming an increasingly important part of the blog as well. The book is about the health benefits of crafting so I’m writing more and more about the research and stories showing that. I also just launched a related Ravelry group of the same name that further serves as that “safe space” where people can share their crochet/health stories.

Is there a particular facet of crochet that interests you more than others? In other words, when you think "crochet" what immediately comes to mind?
I personally am especially interested in crochet art. I love the fact that you can take a really basic skill that almost anyone can learn and use it to create art that is unique, filled with self-expression and can say so much in a visual way. 

Your blog contains such a wide variety of featured projects. Do you find yourself drawn to the unusual and unique?
Yes, since I’m really interested in the art aspect of crochet I do find myself drawn to a more unique set of projects than the average crafter. I am also really interested in crochet fashion that is unique and stands out from the crowd and I try to pull that out and highlight it on the blog.

The funny thing is that most of the things that I actually crochet are pretty plain and normal and average. I love making large granny square blankets, for example. So in my own crafting, I’m less unique, but when I’m looking at what other people are making I’m really drawn to those eye-catching things that are just “different”.

I noticed you have a section for blogs written in foreign languages. What will crocheters get from these sites if they don't speak the language? Do you find that the translation sites do a good job of interpreting crochet terminology or are symbols or photos needed to get the most out of these sites?
Yes, I love supporting crochet blogs from other countries for a variety of reasons. First of all, this is right in line with my goal to make Crochet Concupiscence a place that connects crocheters from all different walks of life while simultaneously educating people about work they might not already know of in the crochet community. And also, I really enjoy the fact that crochet itself is our shared language and transcends the actual word language that we each may use.

I do think that there’s something of a learning curve when tackling projects and patterns shown on a blog in a different language. I use Google Translate on my blogs so I get a basic translation into English but of course those translation tools aren’t always accurate. Luckily, most crochet bloggers share a lot of pictures, especially if they’re creating a tutorial, so it’s usually possible to figure out what they’re trying to share.

I think that even if you don’t work on the projects it’s fun to look at foreign language crochet blogs just to get inspiration from the things that you see there!

You sometimes tackle controversial topics. Do you see yourself in a sense as a sort of arbiter in presenting all sides of a particular topic?
I try to cover all different types of topics related to crochet and although crochet isn’t too controversial of a topic it sometimes does play into other controversial issues. For example, I’ve covered crochet in prisons, fair trade crochet, environmental issues, street art and crochet health issues. I definitely think that it is important to present all sides of the issue when covering controversial topics. More than that, I think it’s important to highlight that all different opinions are accepted on the blog as long as anyone who comments does so respectfully.

What prompted you to seek out others who have benefited from crochet in the special way highlighted in Crochet Saved My Life? How did you find those willing to share their stories?

I originally just wanted to share my own story about crocheting through depression and to do research into why it was that crochet helped me so much. As I began to post related blog posts on Crochet Concupiscence I started to get many comments and responses from other people who had found that crochet had helped them heal from various conditions. I was so interested in these stories that the idea for the book just grew into covering many, many, many different conditions and the benefits crochet had for people going through those things.

The more that people shared their stories, the more honored I felt to be trusted to tell those intimate stories in a safe, honest way. This really encouraged me to put my heart further into the book and to try to do everyone justice. I got all of the early stories from people who saw me talking on the blog about crochet and health and starting to send me comments. I then put out specific calls for stories on the blog asking for more related stories. Sometimes when I wanted to cover a specific topic in more depth, such as PTSD, I’d put out a call just for that on my blog and on sites like Twitter.

Everyone was so generous in sharing their stories with me. I feel that there is a lot of benefit to sharing our own individual stories and in hearing the true stories of others so it was great for me to have the opportunity to share all of that with everyone.

Can you share something about the publication process?
I chose to self-publish Crochet Saved My Life through Amazon’s CreateSpace tool. I feel really comfortable with writing, editing, layout, design, marketing, etc. so I was confident that I could do well in self-publishing. I think self-publishing offers the benefit of being able to do all of the things that you want to do in your own way, but of course the flip side is that you take on tons of responsibility. It’s worked really well for me and I’d recommend self-publishing to anyone who likes wearing lots of different hats and learning all aspects of the publishing and promotion business.

My husband sometimes wonders why I need all these hooks and yarn. Does your family support your crocheting "habit"? Do they help you with the site?
Tell your husband to read my book!  :-)  No I’m kidding. People who don’t crochet may not understand the importance of it but I’ve found that most family members will eventually see what pleasure it gives you and that makes them realize how valuable it is to me. My own family is really supportive of all of my work. They don’t help me with any of it but they spread the word and support it. I also have really supportive friends who are very generous in sharing my work with others as well.
One place where crochet gathers in Kathryn's home

Have you taught any of your family members to crochet?
My mom originally taught me to crochet as a child. Then she kind of forgot and when I learned again she also learned again and has been doing crochet of her own recently. I also taught my sister to crochet. Every time she comes to visit she has to re-learn and we always work on something together.

Do you design and sell your own pieces?
I create my own pieces without patterns although I’m not very good at tracking the process so I don’t turn them into patterns of my own. The result is a whole wardrobe full of unique one-of-a-kind items that I wear myself.

I don’t sell my own pieces, although I do eventually want to do some sales. I keep saying I’m going to start what I call an Etsy Pop-Up store where I do themed collections just for a couple of weeks out of each season but it always seems like there are so many other things to do with my books and blog that I haven’t quite gotten that plan off of the ground yet.

Where can we find you on the web?

It’s a long list, here we go:
         Crochet Concupiscence
         Crochet Concupiscence on Twitter as @CrochetBlogger
         Crochet Concupiscence on G+
         Crochet Saved My Life (the book)
         Crochet Saved My Life on Facebook 
         Crochet Saved My Life at Amazon

         Kathryn Vercillo writing site
         Kathryn Vercillo on Facebook 
         Kathryn Vercillo on Twitter as @KathrynVercillo
         Kathryn Vercillo on Pinterest
         Kathryn Vercillo on Goodreads

And I think I’m forgetting some but those are the main places I’m active.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Are you planning a new book?
I always have more projects! The next book that I’m working on is a series of crochet exercises designed to improve health, creativity and quality of life. Basically it’s an “art journal” of exercises for personal growth except that all of the exercises incorporate crochet and are designed for crocheters. That will have a 2013 release date.

It was wonderful chatting with Kathryn. If you'd like to check out some of her past works, you can find her author page at Amazon here. Past books include Ghosts of Alcatraz, Ghosts of San Francisco, and When Grandma Isn't Crocheting, She's Hunting Big Game.

Happy crocheting!


  1. Thanks for sharing this interview! Even though I've interviewed Kathyrn on my blog, I didn't know a lot of this. I'm such a fan of her blog and it is great to see her show up here, since I'm also a fan of Crochet Cabana :).

    1. It was a pleasure to interview Kathryn. She's a sweetie as are you! Thanks for being a part of the Crochet Cabana world.

  2. I love the name you picked. I has a nice flow. :)