We'd like to share with you a sweet little etsy shop called Hug-a-Tree Crafts. It's a lovely collection of handmade toys and hats/booties. We love owner/designer Toni's creativity and sense of whimsy in all the handmade, crocheted items in her shop.
Let's get to know more about Toni:
|Toni, owner/designer Hug-a-Tree Crafts|
What does your life outside of Etsy/blogging look like?
I am a bit of a Jack-of-all-Trades so my life is pretty full of random things. My day job is teaching anthropology classes at several local community colleges in Los Angeles and San Bernadino. I am an actor. Lastly, I am a textile artist who has way too many projects in progress at one time. The entire living room of my apartment is my studio and you’ll find crochet projects, embroidery projects, quilting projects, painting projects, and whatever other brilliant idea I’ve recently had in various stages of completion littering the space...like my recent forte into making mini sculptures out of floral wire by forming the object’s frame out of pipe cleaners and wire wrapping it until you can no longer see the frame. This came about when I took a set design class and had to build a mini model play set. I ended up with a wire-wrapped man wearing a crocheted wig on a set of a Moliere play...random :). Fortunately I’m an organization nut so it isn’t a complete mess. More like controlled chaos. Because that isn’t enough, I also take classes part time at The Art Institute of California in digital film...if I can learn to do something myself rather then having someone else do it I figure, why not. Being an actor, why not learn how to film and edit so I can do my own reel and maybe make some short films with friends rather then paying to have someone else do it, right?? Plus, I just like understanding how all the different parts of something work. I have a lot of energy and I pick things up pretty quickly so it is a struggle to keep myself occupied and engaged, hence, I do a lot of different things. When I am not working or in class or sitting on my couch crocheting I like to be out and about. I spend a lot of time meandering around LA walking, window shopping, eating, and hanging with friends. I always have my camera and love shooting the most random of things around the city. In the summer when the water is relatively warm you’ll find me at the beach, in a kayak, or on a paddle board. I don’t surf, though I’d love to try but I have this huge irrational fear about becoming fish food...kayaking in the open water is dodgy enough. I am also a voracious reader and have a small library of about a 1,000 or so books. I have run out of space for new books and finally broke down and bought an e-reader (I LOVE it!!). Lastly, I love making bread. From scratch. With a wooden spoon and a big glass bowl that belonged to my Grandma and is older then I am. If you ever feel like giving bread making a go, Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads is my absolute all-time favorite book.
Describe yourself (or ask someone else to do it!) in three words.
Exuberant. Thoughtful. Honest (direct, frank, to-the point...I tend to speak my mind and say exactly what I think so you always know where you stand with me. I do try not to say anything mean or hurtful but I am honest to a fault, I think.)
Fall piece you can’t live without: I have two things I can’t live without as soon as October rolls around and the weather starts getting cold. My Uggs and my thigh-length down parka. I realize that I live in Southern California and we are blessed with beautiful weather. However, it gets seriously cold (by our standards) in the fall and winter. It may be 80 degrees at noon but come 7 pm and it has dropped to the low 50s. I am petite and thin and freeze at pretty much any temperature below 70 degrees. I get mocked endlessly by friends, co-workers, classmates, and random people on the street for wearing my parka but you know what, I am warm and toasty. It is a lot easier to have one jacket to pull on over my tee shirt and jeans when the temperature drops then to have to layer a bunch of things on to get the same warmth. I LOVE my parka.
Most recent fashion-related purchase: I love love love clothes and shoes and jewelry. I just bought this great kimono style sweater at Anthropologie (my all-time favorite shop...its been my go-to store since I was 17.). I had seen it over the holidays but could not justify purchasing it. I went in this week to see about something else and found it on the sale rack for 50% off...who can say no to that ;)
Do you craft/make anything else outside of what’s in your shop?
I do make a lot of different things that don’t end up in the shop. I do hand embroidery and I’ve turned those projects into mini art quilts and pillows. I sew and crochet bags/purses. I’ve made tons of baby blankets, hats, booties, sweaters, and buntings that I’ve given as gifts over the years or stowed away for myself one day. There are unique dolls and animals that are one of a kind because I just don’t have the time to make another one or I have too many new ideas in my head to move on to rather then doing another of what I just finished. Those generally go to friends, family, or I keep it for my “pattern” since all of the dolls and animals come out of my head and are worked out while being made. I always say I’m going to write the pattern down as I go but I never do. Some come out so cute that I just can’t part with them because I know I’ll never get another to come out the same. I still kick myself for selling a monkey that was so perfect and that I’ve never made again. Some dolls are just so time consuming to make that it would be a ridiculous cost to sell. I made a doll with a diaper bag and quilt and baby bed for a friend’s daughter. It is wonderful but the bed alone took three months to complete. It was big enough that a newborn infant could have slept in it comfortably. It was all hand crocheted and I’d love to do another but there is only so much time and so many ideas in my head. I do oil paintings but I don’t sell those in the shop. Needless to say, what is in the shop is a very small window into my crafting activities.
Any pet peeves?
My biggest pet peeve is having my time wasted. I am a little OCD about efficiency. Probably because there are so many things I want to do and not nearly enough hours in the day in which to do them all, I hate people wasting my time. Phone trees should be exterminated. Not only do they waste my time but not being able to talk to a real person is completely maddening. I live in LA, traffic sucks and we have horrible horrible drivers almost anywhere you go...no one uses turn signals, people think it is perfectly acceptable to make a right hand turn from the left lane without any type of indication that they’ll be cutting you off in the process, and stop signs seem to be an optional thing for too many people. It drives me mad.
Bad habits? Honestly, I am pretty comfortable with who I am and how I live my life. That definitely wasn’t always the case but at this point in my life there isn’t anything I really beat myself up for doing or saying or thinking, etc. When I was in my 20s I was a horrible procrastinator and would put off doing the things that I didn’t want to do until the last possible moment. Now, I’ll still put things off but I do get them done with sufficient time that I am not rushing myself and am able to put forth the effort needed for the quality of work I desire. Subsequently, I don’t think I can really call myself a procrastinator anymore. I can be stubborn and hard-headed. I also tend to make things more difficult then they maybe need to be. Again though, this doesn’t bother me. Keeps life interesting. I’m pretty sure that at times it may drive those near and dear whom I love to pieces a bit mad though.
Desert-island food? I am a junk food junkie. I eat pretty healthy at home. When I go out to eat it is usually junk - burger, fries, pizza, etc. My current favorite thing is a chili-cheese dog (w/o onions), fries, and a chocolate coke from Johnny Rockets. I have to have it at least once a month. Also, I have to have a chai tea latte in the morning or the world may end if ya know what I mean.
Three bands/singers you can’t get enough of: Currently I am diggin’ the song Pumped up Kicks by Foster the People but I haven’t heard much else by them. Three of my favorite bands are Mumford & Sons, The Eels, and Local Natives.
Another blog you follow regularly:
What made you decide to start a shop? I taught myself to crochet when I was about nineteen. At first I made blankets and hats and scarves. Then my friends started getting married and having babies and I started making baby hats and booties and blankets. Then I discovered amigurumi and started making dolls. I made them for friends and I made them because I couldn’t stop. After awhile I had piles of them that I didn’t know what to do with. Then I found etsy and it seemed like the perfect outlet because I can’t stop crocheting to save my life. Then I started quilting and embroidering and again, one only needs so much but when you can’t stop you have to find something else to do with the stuff or someone else to take it home with them. Especially with the dolls. They are made to be played with and loved, not sit on my shelf...even if they do look cute there. I still make a lot for my friends though. I really enjoy making things with a specific person in mind, tailoring the item to their taste and personality.
Significance of your shop name?
When I first started with etsy the name of the shop was trehugger78. It came from the initials in my name and the fact that a friend had been teasing me about being a tree hugger. When I decided to open a new shop as an actual business with all the fun-filled paperwork that came with it I decided I needed a new name but I still wanted it to be something along the same lines. I try to use natural products as much as possible and I try to be environmentally conscious and I wanted something that reflected that. I played around with a bunch of different ideas and somehow ended up with Hug-a-Tree Crafts. Mostly because I had this mental picture of a design for the shop of a child hugging a tree as the shop logo. It just seemed to suit, though I never did get around to finding the time to do the illustration I’d originally had in my head...someday.
Favorite item in your shop right now?
That is always hard for me...to pick a favorite, especially since my favorites don’t always make it into the shop. I have a whole box of baby blankets and sweaters and toys that I’ve made for myself stored away for “some day.” Also, it takes so much time that what is in the shop is several years worth of work and I go through phases where I do a lot of one thing at a time cuz I am just so into it. The last few years I’ve made a lot of dolls and while I have a few new ones stored in my head as ideas I needed a bit of a break from making them. I really love the blanket sets. It has been a long time since I’ve made baby hats and booties and blankets and I’m having a lot of fun with it. The goal was to use up the stock pile of synthetic yarn that I had before moving on to other things and when I got to the bottom and was almost done I ended up going to the store and picking up more because I’m having so much fun with the blanket and hat sets. I think though, my favorite at this moment, is Nate the Super Cheeky Monkey. He was inspired by my best friend’s little boy and I just love the cape.
Toni is giving one of our readers the chance to win an adorable set that includes a hat, booties and matching rattle. *the winner will have the option to make it more "girlie" by having Toni add a flower on the hat and buttons on the booties : )
Here's how to enter:
1. Follow our blog! Once you become a follower, just leave a comment below, telling what your favorite item from Hug-A-Tree Crafts is. If you’re already following the blog and our twitter—simply leave a comment, telling us what your favorite item from
2. Follow Miskabelly (@miskabelly) on twitter…and again, just a quick comment to let us know you did (with your twitter user name) and share what your favorite item from
3. Once we tweet about the giveaway, you can re-tweet to gain an extra entry!
4. HEART Miskabelly on Etsy (leave us a comment to let us know!)
on Etsy (leave us a comment again!)
This contest will run through next Sunday, March 6th and the winner will be chosen by a random number generator.
Manda & Jayme