If you’ve been looking at crochet on the internet anytime in the past few years, chances are you’ve run into The Crochet Crowd, a popular crochet “empire” run by Michael Sellick, aka “Mikey”, and his partner Daniel Zondervan. The Crochet Crowd is all about encouraging crocheters. I recently talked to Michael about his career, his new book, and where he’s headed next.
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The questions are mine, the responses are Michael’s.
You have a new book, The Crochet Crowd, which details your life, how you got into crochet, and how you grew into the business. For those not familiar with you, tell us in a few words about The Crochet Crowd. Who are you, and who is Daniel?
The Crochet Crowd is a collective of individuals reaching for similar goals. For me, it’s a community where people in the community that appreciate the art form fully fill a void of people in real-time. Encouragement through other community members enriches a crocheter’s creative spirit.
I’m a creator who has a fascination with momentum, to make a ruckus about crochet, to share the joy of learning and self-discovery with others. Daniel is the support system for pushing me to continue to focus on community and trend-setting by observing from the sidelines. He makes sure we don’t become so self-focused on current momentum that we fail to plan.
What gives you the most joy in your current role?
The awakening moment of a new creative outlet for people to take up crochet. I’ve been asked when am I going to be doing something more and moving on from the beginner stages and designing more higher end things?
To me, it’s a privilege to be welcomed into someone’s life through a cyber connection, and establish that trust factor in education. I want to be the support person so that designers that don’t cater to beginners always have new crocheters, people emerging with a thirst to know more and push themselves. Crocheters cannot suddenly buy books or do something without basic knowledge, and I love being the person showing people what they are capable of.
You’ve mentioned an engineering background. Tell us more about that and how it has helped you with crochet.
My parents identified early in me that I am very methodical. Showing me step by step. For example, you cannot glue your popsicle house together without a plan. My study of engineering was about product movement and production planning of factories. What are the steps it takes to move a product from raw materials to being boxed and out the door?
In my studies, I was involved in computerized drawings of tooling to mould components such as vehicle car components. Through reading blueprints, I would have to figure out how to orientate the part into a mould so the part could be made efficiently
I learned to crochet using crochet diagrams when I was fourteen. At that time I already used blueprints in my high school studies. The use of the crochet diagram matches closely with my studies with learning to read. It’s a separate way of communication without word descriptions. It’s very visual.
I can see a finished item in a crochet diagram, versus words, and will always prefer a crochet diagram over written words. The only thing missing is the decisions on what yarn to choose and colours.
Engineering and designing in crochet feel to me very similar to how I design. I design through diagrams before ever applying words. It’s the words I screw up on in the instructions.
As a YouTuber and social media influencer, you had to learn a lot of skills beyond crochet techniques. Tell us about some of the unexpected skills you’ve had to pick up along the way.
As I started to understand YouTube and its algorithm, I would evaluate other YouTube videos in my category and dig into why their videos were kicking serious numbers, and I was not. Other than subscribers, what is the magic that makes them work?
I learned to read source coding and analytical data from a wide scope to narrow down. The investments of The Crochet Crowd are heavily in programming unrelated to crochet, so I can read statistical data. What we do today is generated by the analysis that I do. I keep spreadsheets and charts to help me measure myself.
I consider myself a metric junkie. I love statistical data…honestly, probably a little too much.
What do you struggle with? What keeps you up at night? (Besides war in Ukraine, COVID, monkeypox, rising gas prices, etc.)
I mentally struggle with a workaholic personality, feeling like I haven’t done enough. I struggle with the concept of wasting air and resources on this planet if I am not productive. I feel extremely guilty if I am creating and it’s not benefiting others. I don’t think I will ever break free of it this constant guilt I have.
What do you want to learn next, not necessarily crochet-related?
I would like to be a better woodworking person. Not to fear angles and challenges of taking something from paper to making it physical.
If you could do any job you want, except The Crochet Crowd, what would it be?
I would like to mentor others in this field from a serious point of view. However, my mentorship isn’t a quick fix or get-rich scheme as most of us know in this industry. The road to a livable wage is extremely difficult, and the groundwork to get a decent paying wage is hard.
Give us a sneak peek behind the scenes at The Crochet Crowd. What kind of support staff do you have?
The Crochet Crowd is a community team member approach. It’s never been just Daniel and me. Our main support in the social realm is Jeanne and Wendy. With additional Tunisian mentorship with Anita. Backed by our closed captioning team Diane and Nancy. Assisted by our VIP Testing Team, Michele, Wendy, Diane, Donna, Nancy, Kathleen, Cathy, Tiffany, and Jenn.
We also have a digital support team with Yarnspirations which includes Ally, Renee, Lilian and Bianca.
It takes a village.
Which technique(s) do you love most? Which ones do you not really care for? Do you knit?
I love textural stitches at the moment. I dislike the puff stitch. If I could wipe that off the face of the earth, I would.
Yes, I can knit, but I find with the crochet videos I crochet from start to finish on a real project. I cannot see how to make knitting tutorials with the same momentum and finish anything in knitting in a time frame that doesn’t make me go offline for days/weeks. I cannot just teach a knitting sweater without doing the entire sweater. People would complain if each step is not detailed, as pattern reviews get slews of complaints. I don’t know how to make knitting work online for how I teach.
Any final words you’d like to share?
Life is short, don’t sweat the small details and live like today is your last.
The Crochet Crowd, the Book
Learn much more about Mickey and The Crochet Crowd in their new book, The Crochet Crowd, available in bookstores and online. In it, you’ll find more of the backstory of how The Crochet Crowd got started, the personalities involved, and how crochet can be not only a creative outlet, but also a mental health tool. learn much more about the You’ll find 15 patterns, all of which include both text and stitch charts.