In the Revelstoke Makers series we profile local makers – people who have honed a craft and are skilled in creating things by hand. The series will explore areas of tension in a maker’s process and examine how each person overcomes challenges unique to their art.
Meet Jasmine Brackenbury, crochet master and owner of Kicheko Designs. Originally Brackenbury is from Austraila, lured to Revelstoke by the promise of epic snowboarding in the Selkirk Mountains. “What I discovered was a town unlike any other I had ever been apart of with a culture of creativity and community,” she enthuses. Brackenbury met her husband, Ethan, in Revelstoke and now nearly four years later, they are settled and expecting their first baby. In person, Brackenbury is glowing. “There’s lots happening in our household!” she gushes.
Revelstoke Mountaineer: What do you make?
Jasmine Brackenbury: I crochet using wool, cotton, bamboo or synthetic materials, to create something useful or fashionable. I’ve created an array of items including a crochet dancing Baby Groot (for all you Guardians of the Galaxy fans), headbands, toques, fingerless mitts, baby booties, slippers, barefoot sandals, cup cozies, and my latest project is scrubbies for the kitchen, made from tulle. The options seem to be endless, and that’s what keeps my excitement going.
RM: How did you learn to express yourself with this medium?
JB: I’m blessed to have an incredibly creative family. My beautiful sister in law Abigail taught me how to crochet one afternoon when we were just hanging out. It surprised me how much I liked it, considering my other hobbies are outdoor activities like snowboarding, biking and climbing.
I love learning new patterns, and have collected a lot of different ones. I love creating something from a ball of string and adapting patterns to improve on them.
The inspiration to create is truly born from the desire to see what it’ll look like in the end, how it might look on someone else, how the piece could be functional and fashionable, and the different colours and materials I get to use.
Other people’s creativity is also inspiring. I’ve been approached to make items from either an idea someone has, or a pattern they have found. Being a part of that creative process is fun.
RM: As a crocheter what do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
JB: My greatest achievement I think is that people are interested in what I make and that I’ve somehow developed a style, or quality of work that is my own.
There have been seasons where I’ve felt overwhelmed, and seasons of rest. Christmas 2014 was one incredible time, managing full time work and creating items for people before the holidays. I realized this past Christmas that people are becoming more aware of where they spend their money — a local business versus a box store.
It’s definitely been an obstacle crocheting handmade and custom items when there are box stores that sell cute crocheted/knitted items for such a small cost to the consumer. Or even just realizing that it’s something so many other people are capable of doing themselves.
Managing my time has been a huge learning curve for me. I surprise myself how much I underestimate the time it takes. For example, last summer I had close to 32 orders of barefoot sandals. It’s so exciting when you realize that others are interested in what you are making. I thought I’d have them all done in a month, but I don’t think I was done until the end of summer just due to balancing a full time labour-intensive job, sleep, relationships, leisure time and all that life encompasses in between.
RM: When did your craft transition from hobby to profession?
JB: The crocheting came about after we returned from Australia in 2013 and I was unable to work due to work visa complications. I would spend my evenings making something for Ethan or myself, share it on Facebook and Instagram, and people would respond asking me to make them something similar.
My desire to make items for people other than myself pushed me forward, and I started taking orders from friends and family. Naturally I started trying new patterns, experimenting with new materials and got a feel for what the trends are.
Eventually I stopped making items to stockpile, hoping to sell them later. Now I make items based on demand or through custom orders.
RM: What are some new directions your creations are taking?
JB: I’d like to delve into more barefoot sandal patterns, create some of my own and even customize them according to what a particular person may want.
It’s been a few months since I’ve scoped out new patterns. Dancing Baby Groot was the last item I felt I just HAD to make; it was a present for my sister in law. That was so much fun.
Surprisingly, I’ve been so tired throughout this pregnancy and taken to sleeping far more than I’m used. So I have not been advertising as much. But it is always such a joy when someone contacts me to create something for them that I’ve already made, or has an idea that I could possibly complete for them.
You may have seen her work the summer of 2014 at the BC Interior Forestry Museum.