Knitted monsters project gains huge support
By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor
When Rena Varsakis isn’t busy with archeology work, she’s designing knitting patterns for clothes, accessories, and toys. For her latest design, a pattern for a monster-themed, octopus-like knitted toy called monsteropus, she put the project on Kickstarter with a modest funding goal of $50.
“I had some sketches that I’d been working on, developing several different kinds of knit toys. This is the first one,” Varsakis, a Douglas College alumna, told the Other Press. “I just wanted to cover my costs, and if I got anything more than that it would go towards developing the other designs.”
Now, with more than $350 pledged to the project, she’s started adding stretch goals and additional rewards for backers. For the smaller reward tiers, backers can get the digital knitting pattern, a three-inch baby monsteropus, or a six-inch grown-up monsteropus. For the larger reward tiers, backers can receive up to four monsteropus creatures, including a family set with one grown-up and three babies.
Each of the monsteropus creatures is customizable, with multiple options for yarn colour, eye colour, yarn type, and mouth style, which can be a smile, an X, or no mouth at all.
“I hope people have fun with them,” Varsakis said. “I’ve had a lot of fun with them myself.”
The Kickstarter campaign began on October 25, just a few days before Halloween, which was a happy coincidence for Varsakis since she’s trying to get funding for monster-themed toys.
“I wanted to do it before Christmas, so it wouldn’t run into December,” she explained. “I didn’t even think about Halloween, yet that’s when I planned it. It was pretty cool.”
After running a Kickstarter campaign in September to raise funds for creating a knitting pattern book called Woodland Animal Knits, Varsakis has learned a few strategies to make the monsteropus campaign a hit.
“It was different because it was for a book for knitting animals and not as tangible. People seem to like tangible rewards, so that’s how I came to do this project,” she said.
“Usually I don’t sell finished objects. I usually just sell patterns. But I decided to experiment a little this time,” she said, noting that offering the finished monsteropus instead of just the pattern has drawn more interest.
Varsakis began her journey into knitting about 10 years ago when she was in graduate school reading scholarly journals all day.
“I needed something physical to do with my hands that I would see as a result,” she said, explaining that knitting was the answer.
She learned to knit from online tutorial videos during the early days of YouTube, which led her to designing knitting patterns and selling knitted items on her website, theredfoxandgown.com.
Varsakis often makes her knitting projects using yarn dyed by her sister Krista’s company, RainCityKnits, in Vancouver. The company offers bright, colourful, high-quality, and ethically made yarn at raincityknits.com.
To learn more about Varsakis’ monsteropus or to support the project, check out Happy Monsteropus on Kickstarter.com