As you can clearly tell, this isn’t quite the same crocheting as your grammy knitting a scarf. Shove Mink, creator of Croshame and a 2002 alumni of the California College of the Arts, is not limiting her artistic skills to the basic tenets of sculpting, drawing and painting. Her newest project, Croshame, consists of small stuffed knitted figures that aren’t so cuddly and cute, but not any less lovable. Creating some gruesome creatures and situations, she has taken a whole new approach to a lost art.”I went to Catholic school for 13 years, which shaped my personality into the deformed heap of darkness it is today,” jokes Mink. Drawing inspiration from some horrifically twisted stories, her toys include scenes from The Exorcist, a poor piglet sliced up on a plate, and the infamous Sid and Nancy murder. But don’t be too disturbed — there are some cute characters in her collection as well: holiday-themed witches, small cats, husks of corn, et al. Having made this hobby of hers a full-time job now, Shove Mink currently lives and works out of San Francisco (where she grew up) with her husband Chuck and their own little one, a Pomeranian named Manson. We were able to interview her to find out more about herself and her unique project. So if you like what you see, pick up one of her lovable figures at her Etsy Shop and keep reading our interview below…

What was your inspiration for Croshame?
I first learned to knit about a year ago and fell in love with it. I was really anti-crochet for the first few months, but when I finally put my knitting snobbery on hold and gave crocheting a try it turned out to be even more fun for me (even though it wasn’t as attractive). I discovered amigurumi (the Japanese term for crocheted/knitted toys) and started out making other people’s patterns — which was a great way to learn — but very soon I was tired of seeing the word “cute” in every book I picked up and wanted to put my own traumatizing spin on things. Even though I still had “cute” in the back of my mind, I wanted to saturate it with a factor of aggression and violence that I hadn’t yet seen in crochet.

When did you design your first creation?
I learned how to crochet in October of 2009 and made my first design in January 2010, so I still consider myself an advanced beginner.

What do you love most about crocheting?
One thing I definitely love about crocheting is that I get a lot of thinking done while I work, more so than painting or drawing. The thinking turns into realizations, and the realizations turn into self-revelations. It’s kind of like going to a therapist made out of yarn.

Where you influenced by books as a child? Did you have a favorite?
There were many! Even though I was probably far too young for them, I was obsessed with V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic series. I really loved Alfred Noyes’ narrative poem The Highwayman, which my mom used to read to me at bedtime. I also recall being very intrigued by the biblical story of The Judgment of Solomon because it dealt with themes of infanticide and ended with King Solomon almost cutting a living baby in half. Other than that, I was into the usual young-adult books from the 1980s…. I still have my Sweet Valley High collection proudly on display.

Hit the Jump to continue reading our Q&A with Shove Monk, and find out what she has to say about Edvard Munch, Hello Kitty wheelchairs and who she considers her second husband. And while you’re at it, follow LIAS on Twitter or Facebook and we’ll knit monsters with you forever…

“I’ve always been fascinated by Nancy’s life and felt a weird kinship with her… I’d like to think she’s looking down at it and letting out a hoarse giggle…”

What did you do before you started the Croshame project?
Over the past six years I have watched thousands of movies and kept books filled with reviews for almost every single one. I’ve also authored and illustrated zines, comics and several blogs. I made some art, too — paintings, sculpture, collage. Much of it dealt with confrontational issues like sexuality, feminism and misogyny, and was far less humorous and aesthetically gentle than my current crochet work.

Who are some of your heroes?
Unforgivably harsh and beautiful women. Drag queens. Edvard Munch. John Waters. Kembra Pfahler.

What has been your proudest professional achievement?
I don’t think it’s happened quite yet. Right now I’m just proud and happy to be an artist.

What’s the most interesting example of design work you’ve seen in the past year?
I’m not really hip to good design in general these days, but I did just see a Hello Kitty wheelchair that blew my mind. Jeremy Fish’s “Barry the Beaver” vibrator was also a nice surprise.

What is your most treasured material possession?
The La-Z boy recliner I do all my crocheting in. I call him my second husband.

What is your favorite Croshame character you’ve made?
So far, it would have to be my dead Nancy Spungen figure from my Who Killed Nancy-gurumi piece. I’ve always been fascinated by Nancy’s life and felt a weird kinship with her, so making that piece was really fun for me and I was very pleased with the way it turned out.  I’d like to think Nancy’s looking down at it and letting out a hoarse giggle.

Are there any other Croshame characters you’re working on? Perhaps something related to a recent current event?
There are many characters I’m currently working on! More pop culture tributes, movie interpretations and a few more punk rock references will definitely pop up in the near future, as well as my usual gory animal catastrophes. I’m also going to try to work some female issues and lady problems in there. Current events will probably play a role in my work somewhere along the line, but I don’t have anything planned yet.

Have you created any other art outside of crocheting recently?
I’ve been trying, but now that the crochet has taken over it’s really hard to focus on anything else. My current work in progress is an acrylic painting combining my two current obsessions: toy-making and the A&E program Hoarders.  I was going to make the idea into a series, but I’ve really grown to detest putting paint on canvas so it might just turn into some ink wash pieces instead.

What was the first Croshame character you created? The first one you made?
was my first completed piece, but my first design was actually Hogtied. It’s quite amazing to me that I managed to pull them both off, since I didn’t really know what I was doing back then. I’m just starting to revisit my old designs and remake them with updated skills and techniques, so hopefully they can only get better with time.

And finally, if you were lost in a supermarket what aisle would we find you?
Probably the magazine aisle, trying to figure out crossword puzzles or word jumbles while doing my damnedest to ignore the covers of US WeeklyOK! and People.

Some more close up shots of  Shove Mink’s toys….

No Responses to “Mutilated Animals, Puking Demonic Spirits and Sid Viscious…In Crochet Form”

  1. Morwynne says:

    Does every single article about a knitter or crocheter (note: different things) have to start with a variation of “not your grandma’s ____”??? Really?

    I’m a big fan of Croshame. I think she is incredibly talented and funny, and I look forward to more of her great work. She is *not*, however, the first young, hip artist to pick up a “granny” craft and make it cool. Can we just move on from the old lady stereotype already?

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