ST. GEORGE –From gorgeous mushrooms to dolls with interchangeable clothes, this artist crochet her way into Washington County homes.
Melissa Daams said she moved to the Netherlands with her husband in 2005. During the ten years they lived there, The couple had 4 children, with Daams as a housewife who crocheted almost every day. She enjoyed creating blankets, hats, bags and more.
“I used to crochet a lot over there because, you know, what can you do in a country where it rains a lot,” Daams said.
She was taught that when she was young Granny Stitch but never learned how to read or use a pattern. As she made more afghans and quilts, she became interested in trying amigurumi for the first time – which she believes is a Japanese word for “little crocheted cutie” but was concerned about trying something that was complicated and beyond her ability. She bought her first amigurumi book in the Netherlands, which was written entirely in Dutch.
“It took me a while to figure out what I was doing because I had to translate it into English first and learn to read patterns at the same time,” Daams said.
Along with the book, she found many step-by-step tutorials on online blogs and began learning how to read and use patterns. Her first doll was made from regular acrylic yarn and she continued to learn with every item she made.
“Learning patterns and seeing what I could create gave me the confidence to do it,” Daams said. “I felt like I could actually do it.”
In love with crochet and also a painter at the time, Daams said she decided to drop the amigurumi designs. In 2015 she and her family moved to southern Utah and the main focus was to grow as an artist and become a full-time painter.
“I decided that I would try to make it as a painter and I went all out,” Daams said. “I said I’d be in the galleries and even joined the Southern Utah Art Guild.”
Coinciding with her artistic career, Daam decided to try amigurumi again and bought a bunny pattern. She made the bunny and shared the finished product on her Facebook page. Shocked by the number of people wanting to place orders, she began creating more items and her knitting art quickly grew into a business.
Daam’s unique company name – Whimsy Winkle – reflects their whimsical designs, while the word ‘winkle’ means business or deal in Dutch.
“A lot of things I make, especially the mushrooms, they’re so whimsical. I also loved the alliteration composed of whimsy angles. It also reflects my time in the Netherlands, where my husband is originally from,” said Daams.
When she sold her amigurumi through word of mouth, Daams said she reached out to Kat Puzey, the owner of MoFACo and the St. George Downtown Farmers Market, who encouraged her to sell her items at the downtown craft co-op.
“She said, ‘You should sell your stuff here, it’s so cute and nobody else here makes it.’ She’s helped me get out of my shell and my comfort zone and helped me gain a confidence I didn’t have before,” said Daams.
With a focus on local sales, Whimsy Winkel’s art is now on display at MoFACo, Gaia’s garden cafe and Red Canyon Company in Hurricane.
“If you want to feed your growth, you have to break out and go to other places,” Daams said.
Using a mix of pattern work and her own designs, Daams said, for example, a small mushroom takes her about an hour, while the larger dolls take about a day and a half. She loved the creative process and continues to learn as her business grows.
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