DeAndra Buchanan, known as DeandrasCrafts around these here parts, is well known for her fun, simple, educational, and kid-friendly craft projects and fun crochet patterns. Recently, I was fortunate enough to get to pick her brain about how she got started, where she finds inspiration, and how she makes time for fun and creativity with her kids as a working parent.
When did you first start making things? What was your first project?
My grandma taught me how to crochet when I was ten years old. My first project that I remember being successful was one crocheted slipper. My grandma only spoke Spanish, so crocheting was our way of communicating and it was something we enjoyed doing together literally until her passing in my thirties. I didn’t finish the second slipper for over a year after I completed the first one, as I started different crochet projects and didn’t finish them, something I'm still notorious for doing even now.
Some incomplete crochet projects.
How did you find Instructables and what made you start posting projects?
I remember it vividly. My oldest son (six years old at the time) was begging me to make a folded newspaper hat. Not one of my proudest mommy moments as I was just sick of his begging, I jumped onto google and I typed in "how to make a paper hat with photos." I found Instructables. I finished his hat, bookmarked the site, waited until my kids went to bed that night and spent a good hour going through different projects. As many others can relate, the rest was history.
You have a blog, deandrascrafts, what prompted you to post projects on Instructables as well? How do you decide what projects to post where?
After a year or so of writing Instructables, watching what got featured, what became popular, what was getting comments, etc., I learned to post the things I am truly interested in sharing with the enormous community that goes along with Instructables. I’m a checklist kind-of woman so I check if the project I’m working on (1) has been done on Instructables (and if it has could it be improved,) (2) might satisfy a contest requirement, and (3) is something that is truly interesting to the people who have chosen to follow me. (Something I do not want to take for granted!) I recognize that people follow me for kid-related projects, simple photo tutorials, and hopefully crocheting projects.
The other thing that helps me decide where to post projects is that I actually make many things other authors have posted on Instructables. The new "I made it" button is perfect for this to show off my work without having to re-write an instructable.
Thank you and I hope so! Due to my personal priorities in life I don’t write many crochet patterns and usually use free ones on the net or from my vast library at home. I have been working feverishly at trying to complete mostly-done projects that have been sitting in a container in my garage. I hope to post one on the chevron (or ripple pattern) baby blanket I completed for a friend’s baby. I chose to take photos of the details for it while I was working on it - something I don’t normally do while I crochet as crocheting is more of a relaxing time than a functional-thinking-about-taking-photos-time.
Of the projects that you have posted on Instructables, what has been your favorite project and why?
I really enjoyed doing the Important Family Days Frame & Print. That was one of those projects I really wanted to do and it’s only meaningful to me and my husband so it’s a very personal project that I love. The story with that is that I used a frame I got from my grandma (the one who taught me how to crochet) and used it to make the project.
My children are growing up so fast (they kind of do that) and I look at those photos every day. One of the downsides to having photos stored on the computer, disks, external drives, etc. is that I don’t print them often. With that project, I used a precious gift I got from my grandma, printed photos of my children when they were younger, and printed a memory of the most important days in my life that will last my whole lifetime.
You are very prolific and have posted a wide variety of projects! How do you keep coming up with fresh ideas?
That’s easy – I’m a Pinterest junky!
If there’s anything that I’m addicted to other than crocheting, it’s searching the latest creations on Pinterest. I have secret boards with future blog posts and stuff to do, as well as my public boards of things To Do Another Day or My Crochet Dreams, with many projects pinned from Instructables.
Between your job and kids and other life obligations, you still make time to post detailed and well thought out Instructables! Why is it important to you to share what you make?
I am determined to prove that the working woman/mommy can make things and do things amongst the chaos of everyday life. It’s a personal challenge to show others (particularly working mommies) that you have to set time aside for yourself, to do things for yourself, including reading, writing, crafting, cooking, whatever it is and find the time to actually create it.
I craft for one primary purpose – to relax. The other main reason is to teach my children about life. My 8-year old takes photos for me and with me. I’m teaching him about websites and how to search for things he wants to find answers for. I show my daughter how she’s in the photos and it excites her to see herself on the computer, even though she doesn’t know or understand that thousands of people have too.
But hear me right – I don’t always get stuff done. Sometimes life gets in the way. I probably have over ten completed and photographed projects that I have not had time to write Instructables for. My mom got hospitalized in the middle of making the Two-Face Costume and thankfully she got better or it wouldn’t have gotten finished. (I mention it a tiny bit on Step 5.) Stuff just happens.
Do you have any projects in the works that you can tell us about?
I have been sitting on a no-sew recycled jeans project for years that I want to complete soon. (Hint: There’s a green design contest going on!) I’m also involved in making crocheted sweaters for rescued dogs and want to post Instructables about those, if I ever get the chance to take photos for a project.
Here's a sneak peak of the materials for the no-sew, recycled jeans project.
If you could give one piece of advice to all of the other authors on Instructables, what would it be?
My one piece of advice: Be proud of what you make. Just because it didn’t get featured or it’s not the best Instructable you wrote to date, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proud of what you made. This entire site is dedicated to showing off what you made, hence the permission to give yourself a pat on the back.
You finished a project! That in itself is something to be proud of even if it’s the first model/version or the first time you’ve tried something new. Tell other people about it; use that “I made it” button with photos for the other authors to know you enjoyed their work and know that I’m proud of you. Really.
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