Hooking With …. Jenna Maverick
This edition is Hooking With features Jenna Maverick. Jenna is the designer behind The Yarn That Binds Us.
Without further ado, shall we find out more about her?
Let’s hear from Jenna…
I’m Jenna Maverick crochet blogger and designer behind The Yarn that Binds Us.
I’m a wife to my husband Jason and mama to my daughter Claire and dog Libby. We are from Northern California, a little town called Eureka. Much like the ever popular Twilight movies, we live in the woods on the coast. We are so lucky to have both the beach and forest! And it rains quite alot. So there is plenty of crochet time, yay! I have been crocheting since I was 12 years old. My grandmother taught me one Summer, and I immediately became addicted. My grandmother would take me to the public library to check out all the crochet books so I could build on my skills. Who knew I would take that addiction and start designing on my own years later?!
When did you start designing?
I started designing when I was pregnant with my daughter Claire having been put on bed rest during my third trimester due to having extremely high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia). And I was SUPER bored. I hadn’t actually crocheted in years at this point in my life. Once I hit highschool I just put the hook down to collect dust. But due to boredom, I finally decided to dust my hooks off and make a baby blanket for my daughter! When I couldn’t find any patterns that I liked, I decided to make up my own. And that’s when the Crochet Mermaid Blanket was born! Since then, I’ve always crocheted my own designs more than crocheting from a pattern.
Do you have a blog? If so, when did you start that up?
I do! It is called The Yarn that Binds Us. Shortly after I gave birth to Claire, I decided to look into blogging, I did some research and had no idea some people could make a living from it! Like many mamas, I was looking for something I could build up as a side hustle and eventually make my full time job so I could stay home!
What was your initial plan with your blog and designs?
Well, my blog started out as The Independent Cavy. It was a blog that talked about pregnancy, being a first time mom, family life, relationships, and just a little bit of crochet, crafts, and DIY. I was super passionate about independent women who needed support during new transitions in their lives. Whether it was getting married, being pregnant, being a first time mom, etc. I was the first born in my family, so a lot of my life I had felt like a guinea pig! And I knew I wanted to help others who felt the same or had been where I had been. That’s where the name Independent Cavy came from (Cavy is another name for guinea pig?). Crochet and designing was an afterthought. So my designs usually were something small and cute for my daughter Claire to wear. But I soon found through a survey of my site, that people just didnt get the concept BUT they LOVED my crochet patterns and skills. So I decided to completely rebrand and focus mostly on crochet!
How have your designs and designing process evolved?
I’ve always been a creative mess. Jumping from one idea to another without finishing the first one. It’s honestly always how I’ve handled designing. I have evolved to learn when to stick with a design and when to trash one quicker though! My gut feeling about what my audience likes and what they dont like is pretty spot on so I’ve learned to really follow those instincts! I’ve also really honed in on garments! At first I really just made whatever I wanted to, but now I find that garments are my jam! Especially for the little ones!
What designs do you specialize in?
I specialize in Mommy and Me designs. Mainly garments and accessories. So tops, sweaters, beanies, dresses, headbands, etc. I love matching my mini me, and I know other mamas do too! But it is much deeper than matching for me.
My whole concept behind The Yarn that Binds Us is how you can connect with your family through crochet. Grandma teaches the skill to mother, mother crochets heirlooms for daughter, grandma gets cute pictures of grandaughter, then everyone grows up, and the cycle starts over! It really comes full circle! And it’s actually beautiful when you think about it! I feel like my generation is so caught up in the fast pace of life, that they forget to slow down, be in the moment with their family, and make memories together. Yes, it’s cute to match your little one, but the memories you create while actual making the items will be cherished for a long time. Especially when the items become heirlooms and can even be passed down from generation to generation. I really want to be an advocate for the true meaning of “handmade with love” for my generation. And each design is made with that concept in mind.
Do you have a favorite few stitches you like to use or do you always try to do new ones?
You can never go wrong with the basic single crochet, half double crochet, or double crochet! I think anyone could go pick a different stitch out of the countless stitch books in JoAnns and make something “new”. But true garment design (in my opinion) is playing around with how the item fits on the body. Is the bodice going to stop at the waist? Will it be a drop waist, for a longer torso? Is it going to be more of a babydoll dress with a bodice that hits above the waist? Etc! You can execute all of those things with the three simple crochet stitches I mentioned above, and still make something no one has seen before!
With that said, I love me some AMAZING texture! And a stitch book is an amazing resource when you are looking for that sort of element for your design.
When you come up with an idea, does it come first from yarn you have or do you find yarn to fit the idea?
Usually I start by playing with yarn I already have. Then once I do something I like, I figure out the concept and choose a yarn that fits how I want the design to fit, drape, and overall look.
What made you decide to become a designer?
Definitely having my daughter. I felt like many of the baby/child patterns out in the crochet world are very outdated, and not what my generation is looking for. And I think this is why many mamas my age dont try, because the patterns are too “grandma-ish”. I’ve decided to make patterns that excite young mamas to learn crochet and make for their own families! I feel that the tides are changing, now that we have apps like Pinterest. But there is still a big gap to fill when it comes to more modern baby designs.
Are there any patterns not your own that you just love?
Basically anything Stephanie Erin comes up with! I think she is a true pioneer in the crochet garment game. Her designs are always modern and wearable. And you can tell she puts a lot of thought into how the garment fits each size. Her designs are size inclusive, trendy, and something you could wear everyday!
Who/what inspired you? Does this still inspire you? Why?
I’m inspired by my family. Every design I’ve made has them in mind and is based on experiences we’ve had together! Because of this, each design has a purpose. My Lucille beanies were created for late night local baseball games. My American Belle designs were made for making sandcastles on the beach in July. The Ethel cardigan was made for those chilly Spring days when we head out to the golf course. All of my designs are inspired by my family some way or another.
Of your patterns, which is your favorite and why?
Probably my American Belle Top/Dress. It was the first design I knew would be a popular one with my audience before it was released! It’s also the first design that really solidified I’m in the right niche! Plus it has an optional, no-sew tulle skirt that I absolutely adore!
Are there any crochet techniques/stitches you wish to learn this year?
If anything, I want to get better at color work! I have big plans to make an Ugly Christmas sweater with a Tiger on it this year (yes inspired by Tiger King lol). I also want to experiment more with embroidery. I’m really big into mixing mediums, and I think embroidery on crochet garments would be stunning!
What are your biggest crochet challenges and how do you plan on overcoming that?
Probably not being so hard on myself when it comes to time! Claire is two now, and it is extremely hard to get my projects and designs finished “on time”. However, being a Mom will always be number one over anything crochet related. So I’m learning to not beat myself up about it. I have my projects near me at all times now, and I find that’s the best way to make sure things get done these days. As soon as I find a time to crochet, I can just pick up my project right where I left off. As soon as i have to go looking for my project, that eats up a bunch of time and by the time I find it, my time is usually up! Haha!
Have you ever lost your crojo and how did you overcome that?
Not really. I feel these days there are so many tools, resources, apps, books, classes, etc. that it’s very easily to stay inspired or to keep the ideas flowing. I think people get wrapped up in the idea that everything has to be perfect or they start caring what other peers are going to think about their design, instead of just doing it. Just go with your gut, and ultimately do what you want to do. I also am a big believer in testing for other designers at least once a month. Seeing how someone else designs first hand will help you with creativity. This doesn’t mean to copy anyone! Never do that actually. But other designers interpret crochet differently than you, and it can be helpful to get out of your stuck mindset and think up something new!
What three tips can you offer to anyone that crochets?
- The only way to get better at it is by practicing. The more you crochet, the quicker your skills will improve! But it definitely doesn’t happen over night. You have to put in the work! And never say “I can’t do it”. Challenge yourself! You will be surprised at what you can achieve if you just stick with it, and have a positive mindset!
- Learn to give yourself grace, especially if you are just starting out! Seriously, take it easy on yourself! Crochet is supposed to be enjoyable and somewhat therapeutic. If you are stressed about the end result, that takes away from all the positives! I dont think I’ve ever finished a project that I didnt make an error on. Plus, the majority of friends and family won’t even notice it anyway!
- Google, YouTube, and Pinterest are your best friends! Before the internet, you would have to call up your grandma or head to the library if you had a question or needed to learn a new skill. Now you can learn new crochet stitches and techniques right at your fingertips! Literally anything you need is now on the internet! And you can access it right now for free!
Thanks Jenna. There are some great insights there …. and I am so jealous you get the beach and the woods!
Just for you guys Jenna has given you a free pdf of her Lucille Beanie! It’s such a sweet design.
You can check out Jenna’s blog at https://theindependentcavy.com/blog/