Meet The Maker: Toni Lipsey, Author of Tunisian Crochet and owner of TL Yarn Crafts
For Toni Lipsey, owner of TL Yarn Crafts and author of the recently released book Tunisian Crochet, the publication of her book has been as she laughingly says – a journey. Originally slated to be released in October of 2021, the pandemic played havoc with her book’s release and then once it did come out, it sold out right away (which is a lovely problem to have in some ways) and shipments have been delayed. Luckily, just this week, Fancy Tiger Crafts has been able to stock this beautiful book and we are happy to share photos from it and an interview with Toni here on our Journal.
“It officially released in December,” said Lipsey. “And I am so happy people were able to get the book then but then there were no more books. I had an event so I had to reach out to a close friend to borrow a copy. I don’t even have one!”
Lipsey said she has been grateful that some followers have been able to access the digital book but it is a relief to finally see the book hitting stores again.
Tunisian Crochet is without a doubt Lipsey’s love letter to crochet and the people who like her, enjoy the comforts of a hook and some nice quality yarn. “I wanted this book to tell the story of the person who wants to wear and have these things in their home.”
TL Yarn Crafts was built out of a desire to connect with others and to build a community. Lipsey’s community started out on her blog where she releases patterns and provides free patterns as well (you can find her blog at https://tlycblog.com/). She then created a private Facebook group called TLYC Makers so that makers could engage and ask questions about patterns. It quickly turned into a community where her fellow crocheters can talk about all kinds of topical concerns and issues. She also saw her Youtube channel grow and thrive and knew she was onto something. Her followers were also looking to connect with others in the maker community.
“Building and nurturing that community is very important to me,” said Lipsey. “It’s honestly what keeps me going in this business.”
Lipsey says that her mother taught her crochet when she was a child but she revisited it when she hit a rough patch. She found herself in the middle of many transitions including a new marriage, a new graduate degree that left her applying for jobs and increasingly anxious about being unemployed.
“I got into making during a difficult and dark time. I needed something that could help me feel productive. I picked it back up and didn’t know anything. I got some random patterns. It became a lot more than a hobby. It gave me purpose. Then I fell in love with making. If I go more than a few days without crocheting I wonder, ‘Who am I?’ It’s a form of therapy for me.”
Lipsey contends that crochet is always a smaller community than the knitting community but she finds the art of Tunisian crochet exciting because she is often sharing something that is altogether new and different. This is where her community building comes in. Sharing a new skill and fostering those who are trying to learn and master something new is just what Lipsey is the most excited about. She loves it and she wants you to as well!
So what is she the most excited to make? “I am pretty obsessed with shawls,” said Lipsey. “I love a shawl because it is an opportunity to explore texture, shaping, colors. Shawls are not something you wear often or even everyday but they are just so fun to work on. I like the feeling of the yarn in my hands. For me it’s the pinnacle of the making experience. Every shawl I have made I have just really enjoyed the process.”
We are so thankful that her love for the process has translated into something we can all enjoy! Feel free to enjoy some of our Q&A with Toni Lipsey below.
Can you share why you are drawn to Tunisian Crochet and how it differs from other crochet practices? I was drawn to Tunisian crochet simply because it was so different from any other yarn craft practice I'd seen. I've been in love with crochet since day 1. I've tried dozens of techniques. But none of them achieve the rhythm, fabric, and possibilities that you get with Tunisian crochet. It was a new challenge to explore and there is still so much that I don't know.
How long have you been in business? How did you start? I started TL Yarn Crafts in 2013 selling at craft shows and teaching at yarn stores shortly after. The entire business happened by accident. After my family politely told me they didn't need more hats and scarves, I looked for a place to sell them since I knew I wouldn't be slowing down on crochet anytime soon. Then I found out about the Columbus vibrant craft show community and made friends with lots of vendors and organizers. This helped me determine which shows are the best fit for me, and I applied to all of them. I got a lot of rejections in the beginning, but I used that as energy to spruce up my marketing, refine my product, and master my sales pitch.
Tell us about your studio or workspace. My studio is actually my 8 x 10 guest bedroom. My workday starts by padding across the hall to the studio, opening the blinds, making coffee, and putting on the latest lofi playlist. I recently invested in my workspace, focusing on the intersection between form and function. I was gifted a Dreambox a couple years ago, which stands as the centerpiece of my workspace. I've arranged furniture around the box to make sure all of my necessary supplies (pens, post its, tapestry needles, scissors, etc.) are all within arms reach. I love my workspace for the convenience and cost savings, but I do look forward to moving TLYC into a craft shed in my backyard one day.
How would you describe your design aesthetic? I would describe my design aesthetic as playful & poised. I try to incorporate modern fashion with timeless techniques and eye-catching color palettes to get beginner-level crocheters excited.
Where did the inspiration for your book come from? I tried my best to harness the wonder and excitement I had in stumbling across Tunisian crochet and convey that to someone who'd never heard of the technique before. Learning something new can be nerve-wracking but it can also be incredibly exciting. I knew I wanted to present the book with strong visuals to make it both attractive and practical for learning.
What is your favorite album to listen to while you work? I tend to listen to instrumental music while I work, and I typically go with a playlist. Some genres I'm into right now are aesthetic lofi, Christmas jazz (all year long), and deep funk revival.
You can purchase Toni Lipsey’s book Tunisian Crochet here. Fancy Tiger Crafts is also excited to offer two classes focused on Tunisian crochet for makers who are ready to unlock a new skill! Register here for this fun class.
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