I’m 10 years old and my Italian grandmother asks me if I want to learn how to knit or crochet. At the time I didn’t realize how big that question would play a role in my life. Now, 30 something years later, I have a business that is the core of those two very crafts I learned from her. Here the story of my craft journey.
Nonna was one of those people always on the go. Whether she was cooking or knitting or crocheting, she never sat still. She watched me when I was a young baby before my mother and father finished having their family. My mother eventually stayed home with us because paying for daycare didn’t make financial sense as the family grew. As the oldest grandchild of a young grandmother, we developed a bond that would stay with us for both our lifetimes.
Cut From The Same Cloth
I am now around the same age Nonna was in the early days of grandmothering. I too find it difficult to sit and do nothing. I’m constantly cleaning the house or making dinner or taking the kids out to their sports. Even relaxing on the couch with a movie I need to have something in my hands to keep me busy.
Is this inherited, a coincidence, or a result of observing her for all those years in my childhood? I’m not sure.
The Early Years
After I learned how to craft as a youngster, I didn’t stick with it. The teenage years took over and my interest in boys, friends, and parties became a priority.
When my children were babies, I wanted a creative outlet. It was then that I decided to pick up the needles and the hooks again. I loved being able to use nap times and an early bedtime to create surprises for the kids. They were so excited when they woke up to see the different sweaters and blankets and hats and toys that I had made up for them.
Once they had more than they could ever wear or use, that’s truly what prompted me to consider starting The Ruthless Crafter. I saw that my kids were able to enjoy the tradition of handmade items, and after talking to other moms, realized that not everyone had that opportunity. Thus began my entrepreneurial journey.
The Ruthless Crafter Is Born
It was the summer of 2014 while on vacation that I first opened my Etsy shop. In the early days, I didn’t really have a vision other than wanting to make pieces for people who wanted them. Not the best business plan when starting out, but still I had good intentions. The trouble was, I was making whenever anyone wanted and based on their timeline. It was really hard for me to start fitting in deadlines and projects as the kids got busier and had different demands on my time. And I also lost nap times to do a lot of my work which made a big difference in my inability to continue making custom and one-of-a-kind pieces.
A Shift To Character Hats
So, I evaluated the business and really decided to focus on character hats. My kids loved wearing hats that had personality and colour and let them express themselves so that is how The Ruthless Crafter started to make character hats.
When I started out I was using other people’s designs that were lovely, but I found myself wanting more after a while. This is when I designed my first collection of monster hats. I loved making them so much that I created my second collection of unicorn hats.
As I was created, I realized that I needed something else to make them come to life. The faces just looked at me, begging for their story to be told. This is when I decided that each character from this point on would have its own short story. But I didn’t want just a story, I wanted to meld my English degree and my decade long experience with my home daycare and have a few activities in the book so that parents and children could continue the story or build on the story and use their imagination to explore further spending time together.
Teaching Knit And Crochet
Recently, I got together with some friends from my Alpha Gamma Delta women’s fraternity in university for brunch. Many of my sisters had started to knit and crochet and had a few had questions for me on how to do it. I was inspired by their interest and decided to create a learn to crochet and learn to knit series on the blog.
Learn To Crochet 2020 Blog Series
Starting on Friday, February 7, 2020, you will be able to find weekly “learn to crochet” posts that will give you a basic understanding of what crochet is and different techniques and terms that you need to know.
Once I’ve laid out several of these, we’re going to do a crochet-along so you can learn how to follow and make something from a pattern.
The plan, based on the feedback I get from the learn to crochet series, is to learn to knit.
If you are interested in learning to crochet, please join me each Friday here on the blog or sign up for the newsletter so you’ll be notified when it’s out and you won’t miss it.
I’m 10 years old and my Italian grandmother asks me if I want to learn how to knit or crochet. At the time I didn’t realize how big that question would play a role in my life.Elizabeth Ruth
This post was featured on Guelph Local on February 5, 2020.