In this interview we get inside the mind of The Stitchkeeper herself, and dive into what makes her tick, what makes her sick, and what drives her create the ghoulish monsters you can find at @thestitchkeeper on Twitter, on Etsy and Patreon.
Hello, Stitchkeeper (@thestitchkeeper), welcome to the party. First of all – Happy Black History Month! Second is, of course, Happy Women in Horror Month! Thanks for joining at Haunted MTL; I’ve been a long-time Twitter fan and can’t wait to learn more about you and your art.
Can you start us off with who you are and a little bio about yourself?
The Stitchkeeper: My name is Chelsey Scully, but when I’m crocheting, I go by the Stitchkeeper. I was born in Edmonton, Alberta.
To ensure my safety during the zombie apocalypse, I moved to a literal island – Prince Edward Island to be exact – where live with my husband, Mike, and my daughter, Dana, my best friend over the past 17 years, my cat, Dahmer, as well as our bullmastiff, Bruce.
I work part-time as a receptionist, and work full-time crocheting horror-related dolls, then whoring them out for dolla dolla bills. Oh yeah, I do the mom thing, too, 24/7. In my spare time, I enjoy watching horror films, reading and I recently took up learning Latin.
Let’s talk about the very beginning. Tell me your first interactions with horror, as a genre and as a hobby. What categories drew you in most (e.g., movies, stories, Halloween, songs, etc.)?
I was watching horror for as long as I can remember. My dad was a big horror fan, so I was watching the old universal monsters movies, the Outer Limits, King Kong, stuff like that, since I was a kid. I loved monster movies as a kid. I couldn’t wait to see what the monster looked like in a film. And the campier the monster, the better.
Who were some of the first spooky icons in your life and why did they interest you?
The first spooky icons I remember are the characters in The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (**interviewer’s note: I had to look this up because I’m not Canadian**). I’m not too sure why they interested me so much, but I do remember watching that show religiously on TV as a child. I loved it. I’ve always wanted a decent box set of that series. Some company should get on that.
I also loved the wolfman; I loved the transformation between man and wolf. I just thought it was the coolest thing. Scooby Doo was also my jam back in my childhood days. Hell, Scooby Doo is still my jam even in my adult days. My first slasher icon though was Jason Voorhees. I remember watching that when I was about 8, maybe 9? And I was terrified. And I loved it. And right then and there, I realized I was going to be a horror addict for life.
Tell me about your craft. How and why did you start crocheting? Where there other projects or crafts before you were like, “oh, this is it!”?
I have always been into crafts. With crafts, I just get it. Like, if I can see how it is done, I will do it. It may take me a couple tries, but I will get it and do a semi-decent job. I never really committed to a craft before I started to crochet. I would maybe paint here or there, make a decoupage or something. I always loved crafting because it was something I understood and so I always felt relaxed doing it.
I learned to crochet at a very early age. My grandma taught me when I was around 7-8 and I could just make small blankets for my dolls and stuff, nothing too serious. I didn’t really pick it up as a hobby until about 10 years ago. I saw this book called ‘Super Scary Crochet’ and the projects were so adorable that I had to try and make one. Luckily, the lessons I learned as a child came back to me and my very first doll, from a pattern in that book, turned out surprisingly decent. I loved it, and I was immediately just like, “This is amazing, I can make any doll I want’’ and after a few years of practice, I felt I was good enough to start selling my work. I still have that first doll, too, displayed proudly in my office.
When I crochet, I go in a trance, and I know that sounds crazy, but I am extremely focused when I make these dolls. Especially with the larger crochet pieces, I couldn’t even tell you how I made it. I just crochet and then BAM its created. There’s an energy, that goes into these dolls. I need to be in the right mood to create a doll, so I usually watch the film while I’m crocheting, just to make sure I stay in the right head space so that I can create the character perfectly. If I get a project in my mind, sometimes it will just nag and nag at me until I do it. I’ve gotten out of bed at 3 am just to start a project so I could get it off my mind. So I guess my craft is a blessing and a curse.
What were some of your first projects?
My first project was a little possessed girl, Sam from Trick r Treat, Jason Voorhees, and I made a pretty mean Predator back in the day, as well.
So far which creation has been the most challenging? Did you curse it or love it?
I once created a huge Q the winged serpent. He was a challenge and a half and took almost a month to complete. I loved making him, though. He was a blast.
I do most of my cursing of projects when I have to make teeth and/or hair. Teeth and hair are the bane of my crochet existence. I think it’s because not only is it tedious, but with my teeth and hair methods, if I make a mistake, I done f—ed up the whole doll and have to start again. So the detailing has to be done painstakingly slow and steady.
You are a human of color and a human of female gender, please allow me to pick your brain about some of your thoughts. What are some challenges you see for people of color and women in horror – both as a genre and also as a profession? Have there been any changes in the narrative that you’ve seen or, to quote King’s Dreamcatcher, “SSDD”?
The challenges that I saw in the past was getting people of colour to be respected in horror films. They have been in the horror films since I started watching them in the 80s but its almost like they were just put in there to appease the black crowd. They never really did much other then smoke weed, save the white folks, then die. They were stuck in this horrid cliche.
I remember watching The Craft and Rochelle came on the screen and I was like YES a black woman with whom I can completely relate to because I am also a black teenager going to a predominantly white school and so I am LITERALLY going through the same shit as her and then we got like, shit all of her backstory and that was when I realized that black people were just in film to appease the black crowd. Like, here’s a black person, now shush and watch them help these white people with their problems.
As a black female, I want more. I want black people with a backstory in horror, I want black people with a purpose in horror. Representation matters. I know now that I matter, but as a teen, yeah, I definitely felt that black people were not important because of that film. And it sucked.
I am definitely seeing changes within the past couple of years. I’m seeing more ‘Bens” in horror. More black people who are in the film with a purpose. I think Jordan Peele is a shining example of someone who is doing a wonderful thing for the black community in horror. His films, are creating stories that revolve around predominantly black characters and he is doing it without making the film feel like ‘blaxploitation’ films. These are horror films with black people being represented as everyday people. Not superhero’s like Blade, not monsters like Candyman, just regular, everyday black people having to deal with crazy ass situations. He is showing the world how black people should be represented in horror and I thank him so much for that. I also think he should remake The Craft just to cater to my petty ass. Lol.
In your opinion, who is the most iconic person of color and/or female character in horror, and why do they resonate with you?
I’m going to have to go with Ben (Duane Jones) in Night of the Living Dead (1968) I remember watching that movie when I was young with my Dad. My dad explained to me how happy he was when he saw a black man take the lead role in a movie. I think Ben showed my Dad, and other black people at the time, that black people can rock a lead role in a film. That black people CAN matter. I think the character was also very important in showing white people that its ok to support black people. I mean, for the whole film, they were rooting for a black man. There were other white people in the film, but the black man was the one they wanted to survive. I think at the time that was probably a super confusing feeling but it was a feeling that needed to be presented to the white community. I like to hope that some white folks left the theatre with a different perspective on how they treat black people. I think Night of the Living Dead was one of the first popular films that showed exactly how representation of black characters in film matters.
And for fun, who is the most iconic white dude in horror, etc.?
As for the most iconic white dude, I’m going to have to go with Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams. I mean, the Evil Dead franchise has been around forever and every time they come out with something new, they f—ing nail it. I have NEVER been disappointed in Evil Dead anything (even the musical was fantastic) I think Ash as a character, is relatable in so many ways. I mean, he’s just a typical dude, no special powers, and yet he manages to save the world numerous times. He’s the poster boy of ‘you can do anything if you just try’
As a Mama of Horror with an adorable spawn, how do you use horror as a positive influence in your lives? How to you use horror to engage and interact with her? Have there been some lessons learned or taught by Mr. Pinhead or Mrs. Voorhees (e.g., horror influences)?
I think that, what we have to remember with horror, is that it’s all not slashers and blood and guts and demonic possessions. I don’t watch the gory and psychological stuff with her simply because she wouldn’t enjoy it. When I say that I watch horror with her, its more of the monster stuff. The fun stuff. We love to look at the costumes of the different monsters, and I’ve always been into horror FX and how its done and I love explaining it to her, then we go and look for videos of the monster being made. We appreciate the art of the film.
I cant say I’ve had any lessons from horror characters (except maybe a list of what NOT to do as a mother) but since I became a mom, some films hit me a different way emotionally now. Films that involve children like Aliens and Cujo, and even Pet Semetary. I sympathize more with the parents because now I fully understand what it means to fight for your child’s survival or the emotions involving losing a child. I mean, I always got kinda upset when kids got hurt in films, but now, ugh, I need like, a week to get my emotions in check after watching a film if a child dies.
Tell me about your Patreon and the different tiers. How can people get your stuff? Do you accept commissions?
I started my Patreon as a way to make selling the dolls more fun. Because my dolls are hand-made, I can only comfortably make about 20 a month, so I figured it was only fair that people who support my Patreon page get first dibs at purchasing them.
Any tier you support gets you sneak peeks at the dolls I am making for the month. My most popular tier is the $5 tier, which gets you a ballot in my monthly draw to win a doll. I also have a $40 tier which gets you a small crochet horror related character as well as a ballot. The larger tiers are where you get a doll. Pretty much, if you donate to the larger tiers then you are guaranteed one of the dolls from the recent months collection.
There are also tiers for receiving a custom doll of your choice and even a tier to just flat out receive all the dolls in my monthly collection. At the end of each month, any dolls that do not become Patreon perks are placed in my Etsy shop where the public can purchase them. They prices also go up once the dolls are in my Etsy shop so if you want a deal, go through Patreon.
What’s in the future for the Stitchkeeper or is there anything you’d like to plug?
I have some vague ideas that I want to do this year. I’m actually considering more stop motion videos with the dolls. Maybe remake famous horror films in yarn form. I would eventually like to practice writing crochet patterns as well, so everyone can learn how to make dolls.
Last question: which one is more worthy of the internet’s adoration – Baby Tall Man (from Phantasm) or Baby Pazuzu?
Baby Pazuzu would be pretty f—ing adorable. I’m gonna go with him.