Marnie Chase (left) and Narda Bradshaw (right) on their first cruise to Alaska. (Submitted photo)

Marnie Chase (left) and Narda Bradshaw (right) on their first cruise to Alaska. (Submitted photo)

Wizards on the hook: The life of the entrepreneurial crocheter

WRITTEN BY DEBRA LYNN

Narda Bradshaw and Marnie Chase are old friends who are crocheting up a storm in Port Alice.

Both women work at the Port Alice Health Centre, Chase as a lab technician and Bradshaw as a receptionist. They can tell stories about Port Alice that go “way back” to the days when Port Alice had restaurants, an arcade and a clothing store. They started seriously getting into crocheting six years ago, when the pulp mill was going down. Big changes were happening in the community, resulting in a lot of personal problems for residents. Chase says, “it can be really tough in a small town, you know all these people… families, friends, friends’ kids… acquaintances’ kids, adults you worked with, and it started getting us really down… so crocheting is a good release.”

Chase originally crocheted things to give away. “I didn’t plan on having a business selling stuff, it’s an accidental business, it happened!” She describes their marketing strategy as, “word of mouth, Facebook, somebody you know, someone seen one so they message and ask.”

Bradshaw adds that after making a doll for her niece as a gift, “I showed it to a friend of mine and she says, ‘I want two,’ and then someone else saw them, she wanted two, and then Marnie says, ‘I gotta have one.’” She muses how, when Chase posts an item on Facebook, “two minutes later she’ll be editing her thing to say ‘sold.’”

They can each crochet roughly 200 items a year, which includes toques, blankets, dolls, bags and dish cloths. With volume comes speed: they can crochet a couple of smaller items, like toques, in a day if needed. For a full-sized blanket, “I mean, Narda and I are like machines, we can get one done if we have to in a couple days.” Sometimes, if they’ve been crocheting a lot, they need to take a break because of sore fingers.

Chase says she has been “popping headbands off like crazy.” They, along with toques, are her best sellers. At the latest market in Port Alice, she sold 26 headbands, and then 11 more when she got home. She has sent stuff across Canada, having recently sent a parcel to Manitoba.

Bradshaw, whom Chase refers to as “a wizard on the hook,” crocheted a blanket for a friend of hers in the United States, a “Granny Square” blanket made of small, crocheted pieces with a peacock feather motif sewn together. It turned out so well that her friend ended up volunteering to pay 300 dollars American for it.

Although their earnings can’t be considered very substantial for the time they put into each item, “It’s more of a passion and there’s nothing more complimentary than when you see somebody wearing a piece that you’ve made,” says Chase. The money they earn also helps to finance their obsession with new and interesting types and colours of yarn, so they can crochet even more.

After being tipped off to “crochet cruises” by a website one day, Chase asked Bradshaw, “isn’t that the goofiest thing you ever heard… do you wanna go?” They ended up taking one cruise to Alaska and another to the Caribbean. On the cruises they would take crochet classes during the day and then spend the rest of the day sight-seeing or just sitting on the deck, sipping tea and crocheting to their heart’s content. They ended up meeting people from all over the world, making “instant friendships” because of that common denominator of being crocheters.


@NIGazette
editor@northislandgazette.com

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