Floppy Strings and Poky Things

Minnesotan designer Amanda Ochocki is always looking at the world with fresh eyes and, therefore, knits and crochets with a fresh style too.


Minnesotan designer Amanda Ochocki is always looking at the world with fresh eyes and, therefore, knits and crochets with a fresh style too.

Midwestern knit and crochet designer Amanda Ochocki has always been a creative person, but it took until adulthood for her to bring her energy to yarn arts.

“I started late, it wasn’t until I was in my 30’s and it was almost by accident,” she says. “I was making little paper pulp snowmen using vintage salt and pepper shakers. I really wanted them to have crocheted scarves, the kind of homespun burly scarves full of fringe I remember being wrapped up in as a kid. So I set about learning everything I could.”

She has been happily married for 21 years and lives in Cannon Falls, MN. Although their daughter is now in college, Amanda still carries childlike energy through her life. In fact, she cites one of her biggest accomplishments as winning a year’s worth of ice cream.

“Most of my adult life was joyfully spent being a mom, playing make believe and laughing,” she says.

Amanda’s passion for creativity is infectious. She keeps her workspace filled with pieces that inspire.

“I love my little corner room,” she says. “The walls are covered in floor to ceiling shelves and are filled with collections of my favorite things, from stacks of calico, ephemera and tools, to things I find endearingly sweet, endlessly cool, creepy and weird!”

She takes her inspiration from her own mind and soul, as well as from the beauty around her.

“Sometimes it’s quirky things from my childhood, or things I see in everyday life that take my breath away,” Amanda says. “It can be as simple as gorgeous colors, fascinating shapes or something funny my husband or daughter said. I surround myself with things that remind me of home and family, full of cozy vintage charm, so I try to impart that same personality into my patterns.”

Just as she describes herself as well-known for her honesty, willing to say anything that’s on her mind, Amanda takes the same openness into her knit and crochet designs.

“It’s absolutely you on a raw level, without much thought or stress about cohesion!” she says. “I often use unexpected colors and odd pairings, which result in combinations that delight me and others find offbeat but strangely appealing. If it gives me joy to look at or touch, it’s a favorite!”

As a result of her excitement for the art, she is never without project ideas. Her creations have included crocheted rocks, bear-shapped scrubbers, yarn dying tutorials, merit badges, and even a mini crochet of her old home.

“I’m always bursting with ideas, it’s just thinning them out, categorizing them into ‘can do’ and ‘is that even possible?’” she says.

Amanda has gone from a small operation in her town to a larger audience online, with her blog (entitled chalklegs), Ravelry, and Etsy. She enjoys knitting for charity, as well as test knitting and tech editing for other designers. Perhaps most importantly to her, she knit for her mother and sister during their battles with cancer.

“I wanted to give them as much comfort and support as I could,” she says.

To other knitters and crocheters, she advises to remember the meaning behind the creations.

“Often we’re creating unintentional heirlooms, we forget our handiwork will live far beyond us,” Amanda says. “Always take the time to use the best quality you can afford, fill it with all the love your little fingers can muster and smile knowing that future generations will be getting wooly hugs from you!”

For now, Amanda will keep creating as her enthusiasm leads her, reveling in the “subtle magic of taking simple tools (floppy string and poky things), subtle movements, and time. With just those basic things, you can build almost anything you can imagine.” So, imagine on!

All photos by Amanda Ochocki.