I want to introduce you to someone I know you will enjoy!
Way back in late spring I came across one of Obey Crochet’s cartoons on Flickr and was literally hooked! I felt like she had crawled into my mind and pulled out my most obscure thoughts of crochet madness and made them funny!
Immediately I just had to get to know this fellow Texan crocheting chic and talk her into making a t-shirt! I didn’t care if anyone else wanted one – I wanted it for me! Stationary too! Like yesterday already!
She only had a handful of drawings up, but darn it if I wasn’t already a fan, hook-line-and-sinker. I dragged her onto Ravelry and told all my friends (even the ones who just don’t understand this crochet thing I’ve got goin’ on). I just loved her and wanted everyone else to as well. She even drew something I could use for one of my previous blog posts this summer “Tech Help For Crafters.” I also put her in touch with Laurie and she designed the Mascot for the Crochet Liberation Front “Crochet @Cama” 2011 Retreat!
I knew immediately the day I found her drawings that I wanted to interview this chic. Finally I asked and graciously she accepted.
I’ve been saving this blog interview, waiting for the right moment to share her with the world, when she wouldn’t have to share the pedestal with someone else or some other event. But now it’s time!
So with the enthusiasm of Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear, here she is ladies and gentlemen – I know you’ll love her too! Ms. Stephanie Toppin! a.k.a. Obey Crochet!
1. How did you get into crochet?
My mother, who does not consider all the things she does a skill, but just a basic knowledge. I was about 8 when she showed me crochet and it awakened in me three years ago for fun and a determination to learn patterns and not just wing it.
Frustration. Mostly frustration. I felt the pains of being a second class citizen while creating a public art project using crochet. People were allowed to come and watch as we labored for art and many expressed their love for my choice of craft which they all assumed was knitting. For everyone to admire what you do and then call it something else, it’s like a gorilla tap dancing on your forehead, über annoying. Off to the internet for some type of rescue to show off my crochet pride!
The crochet community existed but there was nothing that suited my dry, tongue in cheek, silly behavior. “I heart crochet” was not going to cut it. I had the idea of “Codependent” and on a Friday night I sketched, on a Saturday morning I drew what turned into 12 drawings. I uploaded them to my Flickr and ideas kept flooding me so I indulged them.
Obey Crochet was born in less than a fortnight as the first website I constructed. I bought a tote bag and some iron on sheets and made a bag that I still carry. It happened so sudden and it’s less than a year old but it was the first thing that just clicked and I never questioned. Fun factor for me? Bajillion times awesome.
3. I hear you’re from Houston, TX! How would you describe the Houston craft scene?
I’m new to the “craft scene”, most people know me as a painter. I have always been crafty but it was more for hanging out at craft fairs, things for friend’s birthdays, Christmas, and junk to spoil their kids with some handmade goodness. It was just a personal release. From what I have come across now after getting more involved, it seems to be huge. I have heard of dozens of craft groups and I think the only down fall is that they don’t know about each other. Houston is a huge city, it’s sometimes tricky to make bridges beyond your area.
4. Can you tell me about your day? What other hats besides “Obey Crochet” do you wear?
Up at 6:30a. Lay in bed, check email, twitter, WordPress from phone. Shower, dress, eat at work. I work at a small local IT company, all guys except my boss. I do graphic design, HR, assistance, work with soap, random tasks while tolerating my male coworkers. I mostly eat cereal and yogurt with local honey. I have allergies. I go home 6ish, sometimes later. Come home, draw, take photos, scan. I paint, or make banners, work on cake sketches, upload an Obey Crochet drawing, work on my other blogs (Fabricandlines, Art Keeps Me Poor) do a proposals for art galleries while listening to podcasts, over 80 of them. I stay up until midnight/1ish most days. And then do it again. I volunteer, I drink beer, I use to ride my bike more, I thrift in my spare time for awesome things like huge brides maids skirts.
5. Quick! What are 5 random things about yourself that others might not know?
I have an afro, I love it. I’m making a unicorn cake for a soon to be 6 year old (hope that’s right). My family is West Indian. I never use LOL. I don’t know how to follow directions.
6. What’s your favorite drawing and/or crochet project so far? A favorite yarn or hook?
I really like roving yarn, I love the way it feels and looks. My heart leaps for it. Hooks? I like the way wooden ones feel more than metal, although when my hands get sweaty the cool metal is nice (sorry, too much info).
Favorite drawing…? “My shadow puppet is better than yours.” It’s silly and ridiculous; it was one of the firsts that were on Flickr. It makes me laugh really hard which is weird and awkward and awesome. I tend to use awesome too much. And to ramble.
7. Artists and crafters seem to be in constant pursuit of the perfect work-room! What is one thing about your current work space now that you like and what is one thing you would wish for in a dream work space?
I like that I have a workspace. I just moved and the old digs had my workspace as my bed in a 9 x9 room. Now I have a spare room and I love that it has French Doors, but I love more that it is a room without my bed in it. For the space, I really wish I had shelves. There is no point grudgingly wishing for grand things when all I need are some shelves. Cinder blocks and wood would be grand. Everything on the floor is really not assisting the flow.
8. Where can people buy your stuff and/or meet you? Shows, venues, etc.? Are t-shirts available yet?
I’m mostly at a taco truck near Shepherd and Alabama in Houston, but I am usually at a craft store somewhere in the loop. If you are local, you know what that means. I plan to go to all the upcoming craft fairs in Austin and the quilt show in Houston. No booths, just me, I have big hair, I’m easy to spot. I’ll give you a free button or a rub on tattoo.
[She's going to be at Austin Craft Riot a week from today, along with the yarn bombing freebies she donated!]
I currently have a Cafepress store and yes we have shirts, we even have shot glasses. My goal is to get all the drawings on some type of item in the upcoming weeks. Check back for new uploads all the time.
9. Would you share with readers one valuable piece of advice someone gave you that has helped you or one that you have gained from hands-on experience yourself?
My boss shared what a professor once told her:
Talent is not that rare. Discipline is rare. The will and determination to get up and write that paper, look for that opportunity, save instead of blowing it all on beer, is rare.
I know that being self-motivated is tough. To craft a life of the things you want to actually be doing is nothing short of the most insane schedule and complicated game plan you will ever set out to do. And no one will write it. It’s yours to fumble and attack and concur every day.
My advice is: Do it.
My fear in life is to be that person who has a million ideas, dreams, and wishes for the rest of their being. Write them all down no matter what you feel about them and do them today or tomorrow or next week, but just make sure you actually do them. Don’t share all of your dreams. Sometimes people can erode an idea before it has even taken its first breath. Sometimes you don’t need the reality check to stop you before you start. You never know until you have it down, it’s solid and real.
What do you want people to say about you on your 75th birthday? Okay. Good. Now go at it and good luck.
Thank you to Stephanie for agreeing to be featured on my blog! Love ya gal!
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