There are hundreds of crochet workshops to do in London. Crochet is a patient process but out of its traditional roots, there has grown the art of amigurumi. Amigurumi is the art of making cute little creatures from either knitting or crochet. In comparison to crocheting a blanket, amigurumi is a little more fast-paced and a lot more satisfying. Hook-A-Monster is a company founded by a love of both these crafts and a desire to never have to grow up. Viv, Mel, and Mya hold regular workshops in London teaching adults how to create these adorable little monster. In light of their success as teachers, they have now also published a book, 'Hook A Monster, A Beginner's Guide to Amigurumi.' An adults crochet guide with a playful side, we talked to the masterminds behind Hook-A-Monster and found out why and how they started this wonderful company, and how you, yourself, can become a part of the magic!
Explain to us the concept behind Hook-A-Monster. Whose idea was it to start this wonderful craft?
There are three of us in Hook a Monster. We’d been crocheting for years. Mel started 12 years ago when she decided that learning to crochet was far more exciting than revising for exams. Viv and Mya started later in life when Viv made Mya a crochet snood one Christmas six years ago. All three of us prefer to make cute toys to taking on longer projects like clothes and blankets. Instant gratification is hard to resist!
Whenever we hung out, we’d share new crochet techniques we’d learned with each other or be showing each other photos of the toys we were making.
We started talking about teaching other people what we’ve learned and talked for months about how to create a really good experience for our students. Between the three of us, we’ve gone to a lot of workshops and classes, everything from truffle-making to wood-turning. So we knew what good ones and bad ones feel like, which helped so much for our own crochet workshop planning.
We decided that there's nothing like making a monster to teach crochet as well as amigurumi techniques! In our Beginner's Crochet workshop we take our students through everything, from holding the hook and yarn, making crochet stitches and onto positioning of features and attaching body parts. This involves skills using the darning needle and working with felt fabric, as well as learning all the crochet stitches needed. It also gives us permission to use very bright and cheerful colours! Plus there's a play on word with the crochet hook in our name, which we love.
What is Amigurumi?
What we do is called Amigurumi (pronounced a-me-ga-roo-mi). It is a Japanese word for the art of making stuffed dolls and toys. It’s closely tied in with the Japanese aesthetic of ‘kawaii’, which means cute or loveable and often is colourful and quirky. Think, Hello Kitty and you’ll know what we mean. Amigurumi can be done with knitting or crochet but crochet is much more common.
How did you guys meet?
Viv and Mel met through a friend a while before Viv met Mya. Then Viv and Mya went to Mel’s incredible Halloween party that same year and the rest is history! I guess ‘monsters’ were a theme from the very beginning of our friendships.
What are your lives like behind Hook-a-Monster?
We work in completely different industries from each other so we bring different viewpoints and skills to Hook A Monster. Mel works as a Motion Designer with a strong background in branding (her husband is an illustrator and did the logo for us!) Viv works in a charity helping older people and has done a lot of events management in previous jobs. Mya works in the NHS as a junior doctor.
We all have Asian mothers, which is a common ground not to be underestimated! Behind the scenes with Hook-A-Monster is pretty much what you’d imagine it to be. Our business meetings are about favourite kinds of monsters, what kind of moustaches to put on them for Movember and how to reach more people so that more monsters can be birthed into this world at our workshops!
What is your average customer like that attends your crochet workshops?
We have wonderful students! We always feel energized and motivated after each of our workshops. Half of our students are thirty-something-year-olds and the other half are fifty-something-year-olds, all very diverse! They have a playful quirky side to them and we always have a good laugh. Crochet really is for everyone and it is fantastic to see the variety of people that come through our doors. Our classes are also gender diverse, and we love breaking down the stereotype that crochet is a female only craft.
Where do you run the crocket workshops?
Our workshops are held at Art4Space in Stockwell, London. It’s an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise run by professional artists. They do amazing work with Schools and Communities. We really love the fact that their projects use art to promote wellbeing and the women are genuinely passionate about supporting fellow artists. You can literally feel the love in the workshop space. Plus, it's got everything Hook A Monster needs: a quiet private space with floods of light, a kitchenette for drinks and a sound system to play music.
And Finally, what is the best thing you’ve done with Hook-a-Monster?
We launched the business in May 2017 after months of planning it. We’re particularly excited about our Hook A Monster Beginner’s Guide to Amigurumi book, which is launching in October 2017. It’s full of useful diagrams, top tips and exciting new crochet patterns of monsters. We worked really hard and are thrilled to bits with the final product. The best is yet to come for Hook a Monster. We can’t wait to see what our future students will make and how we can grow.
To join the girls on one of their crochet workshops in London, head over to Obby to book. We have a few other amigurumi classes, but these are the only ones in which you can make a monster. They've had fabulous reviews from all our customers, and we are so thrilled to have them as part of our Obby family. It's brilliant to be able to support small independent businesses like this, and we must mention the girls' other ventures. Both Viv and Mya run the Etsy shop, BearsinHoodies, where they create bespoke amigurumi toys for people to enjoy. They ship all over the UK and take custom orders, so even if you don't live in London, you can support the work these girls do. Mel is the creator of the wonderful BUMBLEDiNKS. These curious and well-traveled little monsters are slowly making their way around the world in the hands of their various owners. Mel creates these cute little monsters and sends them to travelers around the world. Follow them on Instagram to keep up with their adorable antics. We can't wait to see what this talented trio will come up with next. Thanks to Hook-A-Monster for keeping us young minded and curious! Never stop learning.