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Real Moms, Real Talk: Jen Chester

Crocheting for Self-care

I had the pleasure of interviewing Crochet Artist and Amazing Mom, Jen Chester, about her newfound hobby (and Creative identity).
Jen is a mother to two bright and kind teens.  Now that her babes are grown, she's using crocheting as her medium for Self-care and Self-Love.
Thanks, Jen, for giving us a little piece of You, and just one of the many Amazing things that you do!
 1.  What in your personal life has influenced you to pursue crocheting?
Originally, it was my Mother-In-Law. You see, she passed away in 2011 and left an unfinished blanket that was clearly for my son because it was in his favorite football team's colors. Gold and black for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Actually, that blanket could have been for my husband too because he shares the same love for this team. I wanted to be able to finish this project for her so my husband and son could use this blanket. When I realized it was an "unfinished" project, I decided to teach myself how to crochet. I turned to YouTube. Within a few days, I was able to add a couple more rows and finish it off presenting them with a finished product from both Grandma, and mom (or mom and wife). I feel like it's somewhat of an air loom now.
 2.  What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in creating new pieces?
This one is easy! Have you seen all the cool things that can be made with a single piece of string? Aside from the usefulness of some of my pieces (Baskets, scarves, mittens, coffee cozy's) I absolutely LOVE the idea of saving money and DIY'ing it myself. I suppose my motivation comes from my desire to be creative. You see, I don't consider myself a very creative person and this is a great way for me to channel some of my creativity in a way I can express. Plus, it's instant gratification! Kinda like cutting a long over due lawn and looking at it when it's done with a sigh of accomplishment. That's how I feel when I finish a project. I've saved money, created something NO ONE else had a hand in, and achieved instant gratification.
 3.  What do you find most enjoyable about crocheting?
Giving a finished project away and seeing the smiling faces staring back at me. Of course the goal is to make money doing this, but there is something so heart warming (for me) to be able to give something away to a special someone who can actually use and enjoy it. I love to make people happy. In fact I'm a people pleaser by nature--not always good, but that's okay and I recognize that. Secondly, I love the peace that comes over me when I'm in the middle of a crocheting session. Such Zen.
4.  How has crocheting played a role in your Self-Care/Self-Love?
I get lost when I crochet. I'm able to tune out all the "crap" I don't want to focus on at that moment. I'm so focused on the next stitch and how to attach one thing here or there, that I forget about the woe's in my life--if even for a little while. It gives me a sense of calmness and soothes my nerves. I feel a little bit of a "high" when I give a project away, and that motivates me also to create more.
5.  Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.   Please share anything you’d like about your experience being both artist and Mom.
I'm a mother of two teenagers who spend most of their time these days outside the home. My son is busy with boxing and working out (he's 17) and my daughter spends a lot of time in her room face-timing with her friends (she's 14). It hasn't been until now, until this point in my life that I've actually had an opportunity to do something creative that I enjoy. Why? Well I'm sure you can relate, with two small kids, time is of the essence. Crocheting just wasn't something I could fit into our busy days. As elementary and middle school kids, my kids needed me way more then than they do now. I'd spend a lot of time at their schools volunteering, participating in school activities with them, and things of that nature. Then, high school hit. It was like mom really wasn't needed, (or at times wanted) anymore. Instead of feeling sad about the realization that my kiddos were growing up and embracing being teenagers, I decided to crochet.

My mother-in-law passed away leaving an unfinished project. It was she, even from her ern (she was creamed) who inspired me to learn how. I simply didn't want one of her projects to go unfinished, so I learned to crochet and finished it for her. That was my very first project; to finish the blanket she started.

You see, it's all in timing. God knew I wouldn't be able to embrace this life skill until the time was right. Until my kids were teenagers and in highschool because He knew how much time it does take and knew now was my time to learn, and excel. My husband has been supportive all along.
6.  Tell us a little bit about your work and business as a crochet artist.  How can people reach you if they’re interested in purchasing or custom ordering?
My business name, although it hasn't really been implemented anywhere yet, is Crocheted With Style. I have been crocheting since December of 2013 and try to fit a little in each day. I make a variety of things such as baskets, baby clothes, scarves, water bottle covers, wash clothes, baby blankets, afghans, and I hope to learn how to crochet characters next. I'm looking forward to learning how to put an elephant together. (:

If people are interested in purchasing, for now, they can reach me at my Crocheted With Style "public" photo album. If there isn't something there you're interested in, let me know and I'll see what I can do to make that.
In the future, I'd like to plan workshops where I can teach people how to do this life skill.
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