First-time author and self-proclaimed “geeky hooker” Cindy Wang has gifted all the nerds and bibliophiles in the crochet world with a fantastic new book, Literary Yarns: Crochet Projects Inspired by Classic Books. If you know Jane Austen’s novels by heart, have ever referred to yourself as a Dickensian, or own a book of Shakespearean insults, then you will fall in love with the beloved characters that Wang has brought to life. Readers can crochet along with her to create a miniature Elizabeth Bennet, Ebenezer Scrooge, Prince Hamlet, Captain Ahab and more.
In an email interview with Wang, I Like Crochet got to know the creative mind and engaging personality behind Literary Yarns. Read our Q&A below to learn about the book’s publishing and design process as well as Wang’s passion for amigurumi and all things nerdy.
- I love that you describe yourself as a “geeky hooker” and “crochet ninja.” Have you always been passionate about books, comics, crochet, and all things nerdy? What got you started down the path of combining these elements to create your website?
I’ve definitely had an interest in all things nerdy since I was a kid, but the crocheting habit started just six years ago! I came across a photo of a crocheted ninja and made an instant decision to start a new hobby. I was also about to go to San Diego Comic-Con for the first time when I was just starting out crocheting, so that’s where the crocheting and the geekiness all started to meld together.
- How did you come up with the idea for the Literary Yarns project?
I started out pitching for my superheroes, but there were licensing issues. I was fortunate enough that the editor I was in contact with was still interested in working with me, and after bouncing some ideas around characters from classic literature became our pet project!
- Which character in this book was the most fun to design and work up?
Napoleon from Animal Farm. I had fun making and designing him, but I had a lot of weird feelings about it, because his character in the book is HORRIBLE. It almost felt wrong to make him cute. The final confirmation that I’d either done something very right or very wrong was when my co-worker picked up the finished product and squealed “OH MY GOD HE’S THE CUTEST LITTLE DICTATOR EVER!” To this day I can’t tell if that’s the exact reaction that I wanted out of Napoleon, or the reaction that I DIDN’T want, but that was the moment that I knew I’d struck that “horrible-cute” balance.
- On a related note, if you could hang out with one literary character for a whole day, who would it be? And what would you do?
Is Harry Potter too new to be considered literary? If not, hands down Fred & George Weasley. Hanging out with those two for a day would be ridiculously fun, and if you got in trouble you know they’d be quick to bail you out too.
Otherwise for someone who’s from an older piece of literature, maybe Nick from The Great Gatsby? I’m not enough of a party animal to want to hang out with Gatsby himself, but I’d still be curious enough to at least be a bystander at the parties, eat some food, and hear some great stories. I’m sure he’d have some great food and drinks at those shindigs. I think what I’m trying to say here is that I’d be at one of the Gatsby parties for the food.
- What is your creative process like? How do you go from the basic amigurumi pattern to creating such realistic and personalized characters?
I’m so glad you think of them as realistic and personalized! The first step is trying to see if the character is someone that can be easily identified! Characters like Sherlock Holmes, Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, and Hester Prynne from the Scarlet Letter have easily identifiable clothing to make them easy to shrink down into cutesy form, but there were others where it wouldn’t have worked out. One of my favorite books of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird, but I couldn’t come up with a good way to differentiate Atticus Finch from some generic little guy in a suit. Finding a way to make the character recognizable is a huge part of making them work!
- Is this your first book, and if so, was there anything that surprised you about the process of taking an idea to final copy? As a book lover, how did it feel to have everything come together and to have a book with your name on it?
Yes, my first book! One thing that surprised me (although it shouldn’t have) was that writing a pattern for the masses is MUCH different than just making finished products for people to enjoy. When I make the finished products I don’t think about how they’re being made or if those steps can be followed, I just make them my way until everything looks right. When I’m writing a pattern that’s meant to be followed by others, I have to account for every single step and make sure everything is as clear as possible. I have my editor to thank for helping me out with that, there were so many parts of the initial manuscript where it may have made sense to ME, but it wouldn’t have necessarily been clear to someone who wasn’t familiar with the steps.
- I read on your website that sometimes you leave your amigurumi to be adopted. That sounds really interesting! How does this adoption work? What led you to start doing this, and where is the last place you left one?
I leave my little critters behind with tags with my contact information on them. All I ask is that the finder sends me a photo of their new friend as proof that it’s been found and to tell me where its new home will be!
I started in 2011, the first year that I went to Comic-Con. The idea to leave them behind was kind of a perfect storm of events: around that time I first heard about Catlanta, an artist based in Atlanta who leaves little cat magnets behind for people to find, and I was also just starting out on my crocheting hobby, so everything I made was just for practice. It was also my first time going to Comic-Con so comic book-related things were on my mind, so when I got bored practicing making generic little dolls I turned them into little superheroes instead. I ended up with a bunch of lumpy little superheroes that I didn’t plan on keeping because they were just practice runs, I had an upcoming trip to San Diego Comic-Con, and an idea from an artist in Atlanta. Everything came together pretty nicely from there.
The last place I left one was at Brazos Bookstore here in my hometown of Houston (I had an event there on May 4th, so it’s also helped to promote the event in addition to letting people have fun with the scavenger hunt!), but every year I go to San Diego Comic-Con and do a massive series of drops!
- Most of your designs are amigurumi—what is it that you like about this specific type of crochet project?
It’s the only thing I’ve ever really made! I love it because you can make just about anything with it, and the projects don’t have as much of a time commitment compared to say, a massive blanket that would take months to a year to complete. I prefer bite-sized projects over the long-haul ones.
- What do you do when not crocheting?
I love to eat. Tell me where to go for good food and I’ll be there.
- What are you looking forward to geeking out over for the rest of 2017?
It’s a beautiful time to be a geek, isn’t it? There’s so much happening! Just a few things I’ll be looking forward to:
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Game of Thrones
- Thor: Ragnarok – Thor was actually my least favorite standalone Avengers movie, but the Ragnarok trailer just looks SO good.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Yeah…it’s a great time to be a geek. 🙂
It is indeed a great time to be a geek—and a crocheter—with projects like Wang’s to look forward to. Work up some of these to decorate your desk or bookshelf and to gift your fellow nerds, and keep an eye out for any of Wang’s adoptable amigurumi!
Official Rules for Giveaway:
- Leave a comment on this blog post answering our question below.
- Each comment will count as an entry, and two winners will be chosen at random after all the comments have been tallied.
- The winners will be announced here on this blog post at the end of the day on June 22, 2017 as well as contacted by the email address provided. Comments posted after the announcement will not be counted.
- Contest open to anyone 18+ in US and/or Canada