Kristi Simpson Discusses Overlay Crochet, Craft Books and More

Kristi Simpson is a crochet pattern designer who is best known for designing baby projects, amigurumi toys, blankets and other enjoyable crochet projects. She is also the author of numerous crochet pattern books. Her books have helped countless crafters create adorable baby shower gifts plus make other unique projects for wearing, gifting and decorating their homes.


I’ve had a chance to review several of Kristi’s pattern books, and they’re all books I’d recommend to others:

Her latest book, Overlay Crochet, is my favorite out of all of them.


Overlay Crochet book by Kristi Simpson, published by Leisure Arts
Overlay Crochet book by Kristi Simpson, published by Leisure Arts

Why?


I love everything about the projects in the book — their delightful texture; the intricate interplay between colors; and the sophisticated look of the finished items. The projects included in the book are all useful ones, and they are all gift worthy, too.


I also think this is an important book, because it fills a void in the marketplace. I don’t know of any other currently available, in-print book that offers such a fantastic collection of overlay crochet projects.


As far as crochet techniques go, overlay crochet isn’t all that well-known amongst the crafting public. I realize that many of my readers may not know much about it yet, and would probably like to learn more about it. So I reached out to Kristi Simpson and the team at Leisure Arts, and I invited Kristi to participate in an interview that will answer some frequently-asked questions about the overlay technique.


The following is an email interview with Kristi; I emailed her the questions you see written in boldface type below. Kristi’s answers follow each question.

Amy: “Kristi — congrats on the recent publication of your new book, Overlay Crochet, with Leisure Arts. I really love the book, and I’m excited to discuss a few of the details with you.

“Many of my readers are brand new crocheters – and even the experienced crocheters among us might not have heard of the overlay crochet technique. How would you describe it, in a nutshell, to someone who’s familiar with crochet but has never heard of this particular technique?”

Kristi: “Overlay Crochet is a combination of stitches in unique locations. For instance, you’re going to use the stitches that you know (sc, dc, FPdc, BPdc) but maybe 2 rows/rnds below or behind a stitch to create a unique look. It’s really not difficult, it’s interesting and fun!”

Amy: “What do you find most appealing about overlay crochet?

Kristi: “I love love love the fact that it’s not boring. It will not only keep your mind busy with the pattern but the final results are not your usual ‘crochet’ look.”

Amy: “How did you get started with the overlay crochet technique?”

Kristi: “It really has been a compilation of designs throughout the years. Learning how to mix and match not only stitches but multiple colors has been a trial and error experience.”

Amy: “Was there anything you found challenging about overlay crochet when you first got started with the technique? If so, how did you overcome the challenge?”

Kristi: “Mixing so many colors! Seriously, I love yarn and lots of colors just as much (if not more) than everyone else, but when you’re changing colors every row and mixing them together with a variety of stitches—- my mind has to sort through the layers. The texture is grand, and you don’t want to lose it with just one color. It’s fun to pull together contrasting colors such as hot pink and teal but then with orange and white (like in the Mandala wall hanging) it just tops it off!”


The mandala wall hanging from Overlay Crochet by Kristi Simpson, published by Leisure Arts
The mandala wall hanging from Overlay Crochet by Kristi Simpson, published by Leisure Arts

Amy: “At what point did you realize you just had to write a book about this technique?”

Kristi: “I had been making a few motifs for a blanket and I just kept saying, this is so pretty and I think that all levels of crocheters would find this interesting. I developed a layout and the publisher loved it!”

Amy: “Do you have a favorite project from your Overlay Crochet book?”

Kristi: “Yes. If I have to pick a favorite, it would be the pillow! I made it first and poured so much creativity into it—and making the rest just as detailed and pretty was a challenge! I had lots of ideas and it came so naturally….I can’t wait to see all of the different color combinations others use!”


This pillow is Kristi's favorite project in her brand new book called Overlay Crochet, which is published by Leisure Arts.
This pillow is Kristi’s favorite project in her brand new book called Overlay Crochet, which is published by Leisure Arts.

Amy: “By now, I’m sure you’ve received significant amounts of feedback on Overlay Crochet. Which project in the book has been generating the greatest amount of buzz with your readers so far?”

Kristi: “It may seem like one of the smaller projects in the book, but the placemat and coaster set have been a huge hit! I’m not sure if it’s the pattern or the color combination that catch the eye first, but it’s been a hit!”


The placemat and coaster set from Overlay Crochet have been a huge hit with readers so far. This pattern design is by Kristi Simpson, and the book is published by Leisure Arts.
The placemat and coaster set from Overlay Crochet have been a huge hit with readers so far. This pattern design is by Kristi Simpson, and the book is published by Leisure Arts.

Amy: “I noticed that you chose cotton yarns for the overlay crochet projects you shared in this book. Is there a technical reason for that choice of fibers?”

Kristi: “When designing this book, I wanted a crisp look for all of the patterns. I didn’t want it to be fuzzy or blended like a wool. I wanted the stitches to pop and I knew cotton would do the trick. Another thought behind the cotton yarn was the softness look as well. There’s so much going on in the pattern and the finished product, I didn’t want the item to be rough and scratchy–it had to be show worthy!”


Here you can see some of the cotton yarns Kristi is talking about -- and they're beautifully displayed in a crocheted basket. The basket pattern is also included in Overlay Crochet by Kristi Simpson, published by Leisure Arts.
Here you can see some of the cotton yarns Kristi is talking about — and they’re beautifully displayed in a crocheted basket. The basket pattern is also included in Overlay Crochet by Kristi Simpson, published by Leisure Arts.

Amy: “What about crochet hooks? What hook do you use for overlay crochet? Have you noticed that a particular type or brand of crochet hooks is ideal for overlay crochet? Or is it OK to just use any hook you happen to have in your stash?”

Kristi: “I think that you could use any hook, but my favorite is Clover Amour. The grip is great and the hook is light!”

Amy: “You’re a prolific author, aren’t you, Kristi? How many books have you written so far? Out of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite?”

Kristi: “I just love to design! have written 40+ books and have been contributing editor to a few and have worked on many collaboration books as well…. BUT if I had to choose a favorite (second to Overlay Crochet) it would be my Huggable Series: Huggable Amigurumi, Huggable Monsters and Huggable Superheroes.

Amy: “The intro to Overlay Crochet mentions that you’re a mother of five – and I am particularly impressed by your many accomplishments in light of that. I am a mother of ONE, and I struggled to find crochet and knitting time after giving birth to my daughter. How on earth do you find time to not only crochet, but to write books about it?”

Kristi: “First, I must give my hubby a ‘high-five’ here. He is so awesome and supportive of what I do…he even quit his job and works at home with me! So, we run this ‘business’ together and what some may call chaos, we call family! Mainly, we work after the kids go to bed. It’s quiet and still and I get a lot done.”

Amy: “Do you have any time management tips to share with other time-starved moms who may not be crocheting and/or knitting as much as they’d like to?”

Kristi: “I know that it’s hard sometimes but you have to MAKE time. My biggest tip would be to have a bag ready to go when riding in the car, sitting in the line to pick up kids or in a Dr. office…. That’s my favorite! I never get to crochet much because I end up teaching while sitting in the lobby.”


Amy: “Those are great tips, Kristi. Thanks for sharing them!

“Back when I used to sell crochet patterns on eBay, I used to bring a paperback with me to the post office to read when I was waiting in line to mail out packages. If I didn’t have something to do, the long wait times would drive me bonkers. And yeah, I can see how you’d end up spending more time talking to other people than actually getting anything done. While I was reading in line at the post office, sometimes the other people in line would ask me to read out loud to them. Clearly, waiting in long lines is just a tedious and boring waste of time for everyone.


“But like Kristi just pointed out, it doesn’t have to be a waste of time, if you come prepared. Crocheting while waiting in line could definitely be a productivity booster. Having a crochet project bag ready to go in the car would be really smart, because it could allow you to maximize all those little moments that would just be wasted otherwise.

“Great suggestions! I hope these ideas will be helpful to others for squeezing a little more crochet time in.”


“OK, another question for Kristi. What’s your favorite crochet or needlework reference book? Why is it your favorite?”

Kristi: “My top go-to reference book is “The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs” by Linda P. Schapper. It has over 500 patterns and it also includes the charts so I can double check my work!”

Amy: “What are your professional goals for the remainder of 2019 and heading into 2020?”

Kristi: “Okay, now we’re talking! Goals. Always have them. So, I have 3 books I’m working on, around 20 projects for magazines (and more proposed) and working with different yarn companies on different collections. I always have something going on. So I’m continuing working on books, magazines and with yarn companies but can’t tell any project secrets yet!”

Amy: Well, we’ll just have to look forward to seeing your latest work as time goes on and the secrets are revealed. I hope you’ll keep us posted on what you’re up to, Kristi.


“For those of you who want to be sure of keeping up with Kristi’s latest work, here’s a link to her website you can bookmark:


Kristi Simpson’s website


Here are some quick links to other resources mentioned in this interview:

  • Overlay Crochet is available for sale online through numerous retailers. I highly recommend buying it directly from the publisher, because that’s one of the best ways you can support their work. But you can also buy the book from Amazon or Annie’s if you prefer to shop with either of those websites. It is also possible that you might be able to find the book available for sale at a local retail store near you.
  • The Clover Amour crochet hooks that Kristi recommends are available online from multiple retailers including Knitpicks and Lion Brand Yarns.
  • If you’d enjoy crocheting some fun toys for any of the kids on your gift list, check out any or all of the books in Kristi’s “Huggable” series: Huggable Amigurumi, Huggable Monsters and Huggable Superheroes.

More Insights From Your Favorite Crochet and Knitting Designers

Want to discover more tips, hints and insights from some of the world’s most talented crochet and knitting pattern designers? If so, I invite you to check out more of the designer interviews we’ve posted:

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