A quick study

MARSHALL – About a year and a half ago, Amy Gillingham of Marshall turned to an online resource to learn how to crochet. She had seen a crocheted baby hat somewhere and wanted to begin making some of her own.

“I went home that day, turned on YouTube and started learning,” Gillingham said. “Within two weeks, I was making baby hats.”

Under the name Little-Snuggle Boutique, Gillingham crochets and sews baby and toddler items, including quilts, bibs, shoes, boots and hats.

What started out basically as a hobby has practically grown into something big. Gillingham said sometimes it’s tough to keep up with the orders she receives.

But she doesn’t mind.

“I love doing it, that’s why it’s so easy,” Gillingham said.

Little-Snuggle Boutique started back in 2011, Gillingham said. She has a Facebook page and an Etsy store.

“I’ve always loved the beautiful baby things,” she said. But they were also so expensive, she said, so she started out with sewing quilts and burp cloths.

Gillingham was asked to supply some of her baby items for J’s Dream in Minneota. Then in July 2011, she went to Italy Ava to see if there was a need for baby goods.

People ask her “how do you do that?” when it comes to her crocheted baby items. Trial and error is her answer. She’s also figured out a few crocheting tricks that she won’t share.

In the last year and a half, Gillingham figures that she’s made hundreds of baby hats. From there, she’s branched into other items, with one being a baby cocoon. She found the idea on the Internet.

“My husband thought it was a hat,” she said. A baby cocoon is a tube-like item where the baby is slipped inside, and he or she could stay snuggly, Gillingham said. “I didn’t have a pattern for that.”

She tends to create her own patterns, combining instructions from two or three she finds. But she doesn’t sell them because she puts so much into them.

And she’s gotten to the point where she doesn’t use a pattern.

“Now I generally don’t need patterns when I make things,” Gillingham said.

She said her crocheting has progressed since she learned the basics.

“When I look back at those hats (I made a year ago), I chuckle,” she said.

Gillingham continued to add to her creations – baby boots that look like Uggs, cowboy hats and boots. She said she was asked by a customer to make a cowboy hat. Once she showed others the cowboy hat, it gained quick interest.

“I don’t know how many people emailed me about them,” she said.

Gillingham said her products have gained popularity.

“They sell as fast as I can make them,” Gillingham said. Several of her items have been used by photographers for photo shoots – even ones in the UK and New Zealand, she said.

She said it doesn’t take her too long to crochet various items. A pair of boots may take four to five hours, she said.

“It takes a lot of patience, too,” Gillingham said.

Most of her Little Snuggle business has been online, especially through Facebook. She said she usually has a giveaway for her Facebook fans, which has grown to about 400, she said.

One of the most favorite things Gillingham likes to create is hats for cancer patients.

“I’ve given them away,” she said.

During the Christmas holidays, she also finds ways to help out others. This year, at the end of November, she put a note on Little Snuggle’s Facebook page, asking if anyone knew of a family in need. Someone had told her about a family with four young children that lost their mother to cancer. A couple of Little-Snuggle’s Facebook fans helped with donations.

“I went to Sioux Falls in December,” she said. “I went on a shopping trip for them.”

She took her three daughters along, and they went to Toys ‘R’ Us to find toys for the children. Gillingham hopes to make this project bigger and help out more families.

“That’s the reason I do this,” she said. She said she gets so much joy from doing something for somebody else. “Out of everything I’ve done this year, that brought me the most happiness.”

Gillingham said it’s been neat to see someone pass by with a baby wearing a hat or shoes that she had created.

“That’s really rewarding,” she said.

Gillingham is now teaching herself how to knit. She had bid on some knitting needles at the Fields of Grace fundraiser some time ago at the Adult Community Center and won them.

“I thought, ‘it’s time to learn how to knit,'” she said.