Twinkie Chan Interview and Giveaway!

Update: Congratulations to our giveaway winner!

Every now and then I interview someone who surprises and inspires me with what they do. Twinkie Chan, the crochet genius who specializes in kitschy food-themed creations, has been one of those people for years. I met her at Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle back in 2010, when we were scheduled for back-to-back book signings, and I’ve been following her ever since. (She’s impossible to forget with her candy-colored hair!)

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Twinkie Chan has a new book out that anyone who loves crochet and/or cute stuff will be excited about, and I took the opportunity to score an interview and offer a giveaway of the book. Enjoy our conversation, then see how to enter the giveaway in the comments below.

(As you can see, the tiny ninjas are hoping to pick up some tips on how to steal from a crocheted cookie jar….)

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Anna: I’m so impressed with your new book—it’s gorgeous and so fun! Why did you wait until now to write another book after your last one in 2010?

Twinkie Chan: Thank you so much! It was a lot of fun to write! We’re actually starting off with a pretty big question here, haha. When I wrote my first book, I had in mind all the moms and grandmoms who would email me and tell me that they couldn’t afford the price of my finished pieces but wanted the patterns to make gifts for their families. For some reason, it never dawned on me that people would want to sell these items in their Etsy shops or at craft shows. While I absolutely love to inspire people to crochet and create, it did hurt my feelings a little bit, as an artist, to see entire shops set up with the same products I was selling in my shop, and without any credit or anything. It sounds kind of petty to talk about, but that was my honest reaction. I was like, “Why am I creating an army of my own competition?” since I sold both patterns and finished pieces. I feel so close to the projects I design, that it can be difficult to let them go. So that was a mental/emotional journey I had to go on, and it took me a few years. As I get more into video tutorials and teaching, and feeling joy from that, I am able to let go a bit more, and say, Okay, let’s write some books.

Anna: I’m not a crocheter myself, but could a beginner at crochet do the projects in this book? Which one would you suggest starting with?

Twinkie Chan: The woman who colors my hair just asked me to help her put together a crochet kit and some yarn for her niece, to go along with my book. While I feel like most of my patterns are not that advanced (I’m really not that advanced of a crocheter, technique-wise!), this situation really made me sit with the book and consider if a true blue beginner could tackle some of the projects inside. I would still suggest practicing some square and circle swatches, and maybe watching some videos on YouTube. I do have a how-to section in my book, but I know that a lot of people enjoy the video format for learning something new. Then I would say, you could start with the Little Cherry Zipper Pulls or some of the Grocery Fridge Magnets. Projects like the Banana Split Throw Pillow and the Licorice Allsorts Afghan are pretty big but actually fairly basic. Your level of patience is also a factor!

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Anna: Can you share a fun story about one of the projects, either about how you made it, or maybe about the photo shoot?

Twinkie Chan: I shot all the photos myself, and I do not deem myself a knowledgeable photographer by any means! I was actually so behind on my writing deadline, that I didn’t have time to hire or ask anyone to help me with the photos. I basically just crocheted my brains out and then immediately shot photos, project-after-project, until I made it to the end. When I was finishing the Red Licorice Wrist Rest and putting the glitter fabric paint on the bottom of it, I put it on a chair to dry. Worst move ever, right? You can see where this is going. I totally ruined a pair of jeans by sitting on that red glitter fabric paint. I posted a picture of my bum on Instagram, and everyone was like, “Oh that looks good! Just do it to the other side!” Um, no! It looked terrible, like I sat on something and it exploded!

Anna: I’m interested in people who work for a long time with one craft (like me, ha). What do you like most about working in crochet? Have your feelings about the craft changed over time?

Twinkie Chan: To be honest, it’s one of the only crafts that I feel I’m really comfortable with, so I keep at it! I love how I can turn an idea into an actual object, either flat or three-dimensional. I love how cozy all the projects feel, and how colorful I can make them. I love how portable the craft is, and how I can take my work everywhere I go. I’ve really come to appreciate crocheting more and more over time. It’s just really fun! However, when you turn your hobby into your job, it does become stressful at times, and I’m like, I never want to crochet again. But I’ve tried taking a break from it before, and I just end up picking up that hook. Maybe we’re just addicted!

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Anna: What do you do when you feel like you’re having a creative block?

Twinkie Chan: I don’t freak out about it and just let myself feel blocked for a little while. I am not usually blocked for ideas, but sometimes I get blocked as far as feeling intimidated by actually beginning a project and not wanting to do it. It’s like I have to allow myself to throw a little tantrum about it first, and then once you get started, it’s not as bad or as complicated as you thought it might be. And even if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, you just frog your work and start over and have faith that it will work out in the end!

Anna: What do you do with the samples that you make?

Twinkie Chan: I have a tendency to give away my work a lot. If a friend sees a photo that I posted on social media, and they jokingly say, “I WANT THAT,” I’ll ask if they actually really want it and then send it to them. I only have so much space in my house, and if someone else is going to love that sample more than I can, then I’m happy to send some free crochet into the world!

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Anna: Do you have any upcoming appearances where people can meet you and see the projects in person?

Twinkie Chan: I have my first book signing and trunk show here in San Francisco at my favorite local yarn store, Imagiknit, near Dolores Park. It’s on Monday, May 2nd, from 4pm – 7pm, and I hope people will want to swing by! I’m also teaching a mini donut crochet workshop on May 12 at Imagiknit. A few days later, I will be in Pasadena at Vogue Knitting LIVE, May 14-15. I’ll be hanging out in the “Knit For Your Health” area. People will be able to make-and-take knit or crocheted lemon stress balls and heart-shaped stress balls as part of the campaign to Stitch Away Stress.

Anna: I see that you teach online and in person. What do you love about teaching and what do you find most challenging?

Twinkie Chan: I never thought that I would be a good teacher. I never took a crochet class from anybody before, so I didn’t think I had the vocabulary to be able to explain what I do to someone else in an understandable and fun way. When my best friend’s grandma taught us, I think it was pretty much “Watch me do this and copy it,” without much explanation. When I first started making video tutorials, I got a lot of positive feedback which encouraged me to keep making them, so I really owe that to my viewers and readers. I feel like my one big challenge is that a lot of people feel like they can’t read patterns, and they want videos for everything, but I strongly encourage people to force themselves to learn. There are so many wonderful crochet and knit patterns in the world. You’ll be missing out if you don’t try your hardest to learn. Patterns really do make sense and are logical, and you just need to give it some time. In my videos, I flash the written pattern as a subtitle as I work on a project, hoping that at least some of the pattern lingo will sink in via osmosis!

Anna: You have your own line of licensed goods, right? What was it like for you to make that move from making everything yourself?

Twinkie Chan: There was a steep learning curve with “Yummy You!” which is the name of the licensed line. The licensing/apparel industry is just an entirely different animal than the craft world. I had to learn to detach myself emotionally from the work. Even if my name was all over it, I didn’t have as much control over it. Everybody’s experience is going to be different, but I didn’t find it as easy as people seem to think it is. “Oh, just get it mass-produced.” Well, that’s a huge headache in and of itself! It was really exciting, though, and I am glad I took that leap. I’m not sure I will continue with it at this point, but I have no regrets! On paper, it’s ideal: design a pattern and a sample, send it off, watch the money roll in. But as with all young businesses, you still end up having no sleep, doing all sorts of things you never thought you had to do, fighting for everything you want, and splitting a check with everybody else involved. I honestly don’t enjoy the business end of things. I’m a creative spirit at the end of the day, but I’ve had to learn to adapt to make things happen. I’m kind of at the point where I just want to focus on pattern-writing and teaching, but we’ll see what happens!

Anna: Can you tell us the story behind your name?

Twinkie Chan: Anna, you’re like Barbara Walters, and you’re asking all the good questions! I’m going to tell you the story, though some may find it a bit weird…. So, “Chan” is my mother’s maiden name. That’s a nod to her. “Twinkie” is a not-so-often used term to describe Asian kids who grew up in America, because we’re yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Racial stuff seems really sensitive right now, so it seems weird to talk about, but it was never a negative term for us. I think it was self-appointed and just kind of funny. For me, it’s like a wink to people who have heard of this term, but otherwise, it’s obviously just a snack cake, and I’m all about fun, edible things! I think my business partner once told me, “Maybe don’t tell that story…” but if I told you it’s because I love Twinkies so much, that would be a lie!

Anna: How often do you have to dye that amazing hair?

Twinkie Chan: The dye that I use (diluted Special FX Atomic Pink) has amazing staying power and is actually really hard to remove from your hair. So I don’t have to dye it often as much as having to re-bleach my roots. My hair has started breaking off in the last year, so I’m getting it bleached less often. I used to go in about every 6-8 weeks! I’m about to go in again, but it’s been since last December!

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Anna: Can you tell us about your project with the lemons? Is that still something ongoing?

Twinkie Chan: The project with the lemon stress balls is actually the Craft Yarn Council’s. They contacted me last year to develop a pattern for a stress ball for National Stress Awareness Month. I came up with an idea for a lemon, because “When life gives you lemons…” you can just squeeze away your stress, or knit/crochet away your stress. They really amped the campaign up this year by encouraging knit and crochet guilds across America to crochet hundreds of lemon stress balls and contribute to a big Lemon Drop in NYC on tax day, where volunteers handed lemon stress balls out to everybody in line at one of the big post offices. It was really neat to watch this thing grow to such a huge scale! The CYC really did all the work, but it has been fun to be a part of it.

Anna: Any future projects you can share with us?

Twinkie Chan: My new book editor just asked if I might be interested in a third book, so we’ll see how that develops! I also have a new series of crochet classes rolling out on Creativebug.com soon. I’ll be teaching people how to crochet a bunch of different cute fruits and veggies. I also need to update my YouTube channel more regularly with crochet tutorials, and I have a lot of fun plans for small pattern collections for my Etsy shop!

Anna: Do you EVER take a day off? If so, what do you do on those days?

Twinkie Chan: I really love working, maybe to a fault! But I do make a point of spending quality time with my favorite people. I like doing boring stuff like go to the movies, eat at all the great restaurants in San Francisco, attempt to bake, and sometimes make ridiculous videos with friends!

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Thank you, Twinkie Chan, for the peek inside your yummy brain! (Mmmm…)

I asked Twinkie Chan to supply a question for people to answer in the comments and enter to win a copy of her new book, Crocheted Abode à la Mode. Her question:

What has been your most mouth-watering creation?

Answer that in any way that seems right to you, and I’ll randomly select a winner on May 9th!

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56 thoughts on “Twinkie Chan Interview and Giveaway!

  1. What a fun interview! I love Twinkie Chan and follow her IG, which is always full of fun photos. My most mouth-watering creation? I can’t say any of my knitting or crochet items are mouthwatering. But I do make a key lime cheesecake every Easter. This year I made the mistake of not buying 3 blocks of cream cheese (the recipe calls for 2 1/4 blocks). I didn’t change the key lime juice amount and boy oh boy that was some mouthwatering and lip puckering cheesecake! That 1/4 block really makes a difference. lol

  2. Twinkie Chan creations are so adorable. I love her work! My most mouth watering creation was a 3-tiered crocheted birthday cake for my sister a few years ago. I am a lousy baker, but I know my way around a hook and some yarn! I hope she still has it, lol…

  3. this was a great interview! my most mouth-watering creation in yarn is a sushi platter. In real food it is thick & chewy peanut butter cookies.

  4. This was such a fun interview, thank you! I don’t actually have mouth watering yarn creations, but I have some mouth watering yarns! ;-) And my favorite dessert is the Belgian Brownie Cakelets from the Smitten Kitchen – those really will make your mouth water!

  5. What a fabulous interview, with my favorite knitting designer and favorite crochet designer taking to each other! My most mouth watering creation to date has to be my little stack of pancakes amigurumi with the mischevious smile and a pat of butter and a strawberry on top:)

  6. my most mouthwatering creation is a basket of mushrooms (doesn’t seem mouthwatering but they were just so darn cute in their little basket).

  7. These are all so cute! I make some pretty mean scones that my husband and I have been having for breakfast basically since I got the recipe!

  8. Last year I actually went to a workshop with Anna and I made a tiny crab. Well he actually wasn’t that tony, about palm-sized. I think he is my most mouth-watering creation because he is adorable, and tiny. He sits on my shoulder and looks cute! Also, I love real life crabs, both to watch on the beach, and to eat… crabs are cute and yummy ??

  9. My most mouth watering creations are my chocolate chip cookies. They’ve even won ribbons at the fair! Now I’m hungry! What a great book!

  10. I haven’t made any mouthwatering creations yet but I do plan on making the pie and lollipops from your newest book soon.

  11. One of my all-time favorite treats is brownies with cookie dough on top — my yummiest food. My yummiest crochet creation would have to be a teensy honey pot and dipper that I made as an accessory for an amigurumi.

  12. My most mouth watering creation would have to be the cupcake hat in Twinkie Chan’s first book. I made a few for family members at Christmas time a couple years ago. They loved them almost as much as I loved making them.

  13. I once knitted a piece of blueberry pie. It was in honor of my grandfather when he passed away – he made the best blueberry pie. My daughter used to ask him to make her one on her birthday instead of a birthday cake from me.

  14. My most mouthwatering creation has to be my lemon drizzle cake , I haven’t tried any amigurumi yet but it’s on my list of things to try , maybe some sushi that’s very mouth watering and yummy??????

  15. My most mouthwatering creation is a sushi Box.
    That was a nice interview. Well done!! Love Twinkie Chan. Thank you

  16. I’m an avid knitter, self taught since age 5, I could never get the gist of crochet until Twinkies first book, especially charts. She made it so easy and fun to learn and also makes charts different from others so one can actually see each stitch and follow along. Thanks Twinkie for teaching something so easily that others have made difficult.

  17. Forgot to add the first thing I made was the bacon and egg scarf and added the toast to the ends for pockets . The most delish was the pear scarf

  18. My most mouth watering creation ever was probably figuring out how to brew my own hard cider when I lived in China. ;) Yarn-wise, it’s my giant pile of knitted socks!

  19. Loving Twinkie Chan’s new book!! My most mouth watering project so far is Twinkie’s Rainbow sherbet throw pillow.

  20. Thanks for such an insightful interview with Twinkie. I am in love with all her cute creations. My most mouthwatering project would be my ooey gooey sticky chewy peanut butter choc chip toffee brownies. Fiber wise it would be a frothy confection of a baby blanket I made years ago for one of my nieces.

  21. I do so adore Twinkie Chan’s work. My most mouth-watering fiber art was a pair of fried eggs. My preschooler loved them for pretend cooking and hibachi practice, magic tricks, and even the dog thought they were edible.

  22. years ago, I knitted a swirl cone that looks so realistic, to this da,y I want ice cream every time I look at it.

  23. The loaf of bread mail holder. I would totally make that for my sister. She leaves the mail scattered on her coffee table and then the cats get to it.

  24. In yarn it would be a half dozen cupcakes in different flavors in edible food it would be cream puffs with chocolate drizzled on top, it took forever but they tasted so good

  25. I don’t think I’ve made any mouth-watering yarn creations, but just the other day I made a batch of Smitten Kitchen’s strawberry rhubarb crisp bars which were pretty mouth-watering.

  26. Twinkie Chan is pretty awesome! I love her Creativebug classes, so fun to watch and I even spied some Mochimochi in the background. :)
    Yesterday I baked some banana chocolate chip muffins but as far as knit stuff I would say the yummiest was a fully decked out cheeseburger. And tiny cupcakes.

  27. Fantastic interview! I hadn’t ever seen Twinkie Chan’s work but now I’m even more inspired to dive into the world of crochet.
    Mouthwatering yarn creation: Little cupcakes (from Anna’s pattern) I made a small handful to send to my boss’s daughter who’s deployed in the army. They were so colorful and the perfect size to pop in your mouth for a snack.
    Mouthwatering food creation: My beef stroganoff is really on point.

  28. The only crocheted item would be a candy that became a magnet. Actual food would be my Pop-pop’s almost famous peanut better chocolate fudge. It’s always gone the same day when anyone in my family makes it

  29. You really do ask all the hard questions, lol. My most mouth-watering creations was the few times I’ve made Bavarian Cheesecake using a recipe from Epcot’s German restaurant. Holy cow, just writing about it makes me want to make one. It’s very time consuming to make, but so worth it. Same as making macarons for me :)

  30. I like to make amigurumi and tawashi for fun. I think the most mouth watering would be the fried egg tawashi or a colorful thanksgiving turkey ami. As for really food, maybe peanut butter pie!

    Thanks for a wonderful interview and great giveaway.

  31. I don’t think I ever made anything crafty that was supposed to look appetizing since making sand cup cakes at the play ground. For food items… it depends on who you ask. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth but I love baking (and eating) bread.

  32. I’m just learning how to crochet after many years of knitting and her work is inspiring me to learn more! My yummiest creation would have to be the Oreo cake I made my husband last year. It was made from scratch and it was so decadent….YUM!

  33. Great interview! I’d never heard of her before so I will definitely check out the book. My yummiest creation are my made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls. They are a lot of work but they are dangerously delicious.

  34. My most mouth watering creation was by far my pig with out the wig (just kidding..i’m vegetarian…) I made my grandmother a bunch of crocheted gingerbread men for Christmas–by far my most potentially tasty creation.

  35. I knit a life sized eggplant for a self employed chief friend, his company was called Mad Apple Catering!

  36. My most mouth-watering creations are my soups I make. I don’t use a recipe, I just throw things into a pot until it tastes right. :D
    Yay for a Twinkie Chan interview! I’ve loved her stuff for a long time. I always wanted to make some of her scarves, especially the cupcake one. :D This new book looks pretty awesome too!

  37. My yummiest creation in yarn is a currant bun from a free pattern on Ravelry; in real food, it would have to be my biscuits. I’m a total drop biscuit queen, from scratch! I loooooooved this interview, and golly I hope I win the book – it’s FANTASTIC!

  38. I really enjoyed your interview! My most mouth-watering creation was the truffle scarf that I made for myself from one of Twinkie Chan’s patterns. I got many compliments but I couldn’t have done it without her amazing pattern.

  39. I knit a lot of food – I have invented patterns for foods that I want to make, but can’t find a pattern for. I made a box of truffles for Valentine’s Day. I put the “candies” in little foil cups and a cute red box. They looked so real – it was actually a disappointment for the recipient – they thought they were real!

  40. I am so excited for Twinkie Chans new book! I’ve made a pumpkin and lemon from her patterns and even though they’re quite simple to make, I love them! The most mouth watering thing I’ve crocheted are life sized donuts (in every flavor of icing!)

  41. What a fun interview to read! Can’t wait to check out the book. I’ve crocheted a sliced apple–it looked pretty yummy.

  42. I have several mouth-watering creations which basically are artsy-crafty projects I have completed that when I look at the end result, I can’t believe my eyes at how amazing they turned out. One example is my Sailor Moon amigurumi doll that’s about 27 inches tall.

  43. A pumpkin baby hat is the most mouth watering project I’ve worked on.

  44. I’ve never made crocheted food but my mother made several for my daughter that she loves to play with (esp the cheeseburger). IRL my best creation is homemade caramels. Not sure how that would translate into a play food. Crocheted steak sounds better :)

  45. I sewed a huge donut in the 8th grade. It was a giant pillow for my bedroom and it took bags and bags and bags of stuffing.

  46. Thanks for the sharing your delicious stories, everyone! I’m going to choose our winner now, so any following comments won’t be eligible, but of course more comments are still welcome!

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