Q&A with the Crochet Geek, Teresa Richardson!
Teresa Richardson usually likes to let her hands do the talking for her, but she graciously answered a set of questions for us here at Crochet Today! Her YouTube channels have logged more than 66 million views, and it's hard to imagine how many people she's helped learn to crochet (or to crochet better). We're big fans, and very pleased to bring you more information about her.
How long have you been crocheting and who taught you?
I have been crocheting for 29 years. I learned while on bed rest when I was expecting my second child. My mom taught me some of the basic stitches. I learned the rest through deciphering written instructions, which we all know can be very challenging. Thread crochet is my passion. My mom had me learning to crochet with bedspread cotton, a size 1 steel crochet hook and a snowflake pattern.
What role has it played in your life?
I was never a good student with math. Crochet helped me understand the meaning of multiples related to math. It also taught me comprehension. I was never quite able to grasp the concept of reading comprehension until I started to crochet. Crochet taught me that it was alright to read something 25 or 50 times until I understood it. It taught me some basic educational skills that I struggled with in school. The difference may have been that I found crochet interesting.
It was also a self-esteem builder for me, in that I found something I was good at so it helped me feel good about myself. I wanted to learn how to make beautiful doilies and lace pieces. When I would crochet in public, it was fun to hear everyone say that they wished they could do what I was doing.
I read that it was helpful to you as a military wife, since you had waiting time overseas.
Crochet has been my best friend for the past 3 decades. It’s compact and easy to pack up in a car or on an airplane. And as a military spouse, you spend a lot of time alone, so crochet was a great companion and gave me something to do during periods of "hurry up and wait."
When did you decide to post videos on YouTube?
I started posting crochet video tutorials late in 2006 after moving to Savannah, Georgia. I will be the first to admit that some of the first tutorials are really bad but I love to look at them as a reminder of where I started. For years, before the Internet was popular, I had this desire to share my knowledge but I didn't know how. I had ideas that I wanted to share with everyone. I posted the first video not thinking about if anyone would even watch. I had fun doing the video editing. People started leaving comments so I knew some were watching. In the first year I had a million views.
Did you have much technical experience, or was there a learning curve?
In 2001, long before YouTube, I enrolled at a local community college in Iowa for a degree in multimedia marketing. I graduated in 2003. In that time I did an internship with a local company, doing videography and video editing. The internship involved taking the company’s SOP (standard operating procedures) and putting those on video. Back then we were working with digital videotape so it was time consuming to work with and transfer it to the computer. The internship helped me develop my crochet video tutorials. I learned how to work with video editing software, too, which has been very useful.
Can you talk about the difference between learning from written directions and learning from a video? It seems like crochet, even more than knitting, is a skill that needs to be learned by watching.
Written instructions can be a nightmare at the very least. All it takes is one little typo or error to create a week’s worth of frustration. Each author has their own way of explaining instructions, which can make it even more challenging. There is also the difference between countries. Back when I was first learning, I made an attempt at a doily not realizing it was British instructions until halfway through the pattern. Ideally it would be great to have a set of standards worldwide but that is not realistic. Video instructions help make what is being done very clear.
Video provides close-up details that may be challenging to convey when teaching in person. There have been a number of people who said they paid up to $65 for a class to learn just a few basic stitches. With video you can play it over and over again at any time of the day. You are not on a learning time limit.
Talk about the impact of being a lefty on learning to crochet.
I am a right-handed crocheter who teaches lefties. Lefties would write with stories of wanting to learn crochet [and that] it was challenging. They shared stories of negative remarks made by the people who were teaching them. This is where I decided to put some special effects to work using my video editing software. I slowly introduced a few lefty videos, just to see if they were useful. They caught on quickly. I wanted lefties to be successful and to crochet with comfort. Hollywood can make humans fly, I can teach a lefty to crochet using the same special effects.
I'm hoping you can give me updated numbers about subscribers and upload views since the Forbes article. And how many videos total you've completed? (Note: Teresa was interviewed by Forbes magazine about her success—they were amazed to learn how many people wanted to learn to crochet!)
Total Video Views - 64,490,397
880+ total videos
Total Video Views - 1,684,216
64 total videos
Did you ever expect this kind of success? There are a lot of crochet tutorials out there—why have yours been so successful?
I did not have any expectations when I started out on YouTube. It is groundbreaking, providing a platform for independent content creators as mainstream entertainment crosses over to the Internet. I saw an opportunity early on and jumped right in. I have learned a lot along the way and look forward to what comes next.
There was a point I decided to embrace all suggestions from viewers and learn from the crocheters. Sometimes constructive criticism can be harsh but it is very useful as well. With that information, I was able to mold my tutorials and make them better using the information. My goal is making everyone a successful crocheter, with the least amount of frustration.
What are your plans for the future—DVDs, books, TV?
I plan to be on YouTube for years and years to come, since it is a great fit for the content I create. What I do may not fit with traditional TV but it would fit with "on-demand TV." I keep an open mind about ideas, opportunities and new technology that may come about in the future.