Crash Crash Craft: An Interview with Alicia Kachmar

Crafts for Drummers, Drummers for Crafts. Crash Crash Craft is a new series in Tom Tom Magazine, spear-headed by Leslie Henkel, that features spectacular crafts made by (and sometimes for) female drummers. Enjoy!

Full name: Alicia Kachmar
Nickname/pseudonym: Too many to count–no one calls me “Alicia”
Where were you born: Pittsburgh
Where do you live now: Tribeca
Musical instrument?: I always thought I’d make an excellent tambourine-player.
Day job: On any given day I have the following jobs: cook, baker, errand-runner, archivist, writer, crafter, crocheter, soap-maker, sewer, grocery-getter, knitter.
Crafts: Soap, crochet, knit, sewing, paper-making, but I’ve pretty much done it all thanks to a crafty upbringing!

Alicia Kachmar is an NYC-based super-crafter and freelance writer/crafter for Etsy, Photojojo, Guidespot, Brooklyn Based, Instructables, Better Homes & Gardens, the Today Show, and other craftastic forums. Her most super super-power, however, is her ability to look at the world through crochet goggles. From her endearing safety cone friends, to the jauntily adorable “Choinkwich,” commissioned by The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, it seems no object is too much for Alicia to tackle, tranquilize, and replicate into a cute, crochet doppelganger. Knowing this, I decided to “commission” a drum and drumsticks for this article. As usual, twas nothing for her!

Oh, and P.S., these guys are up for giveaway-grabs at the end of this post!

Tom Tom Magazine: How long did each project take you?

Alicia Kachmar: The drumsticks probably took me about half an hour or so to design, as they are pretty uncomplicated. The drum was more of a design challenge because I had to figure out how to make the tension rods. Otherwise, it may not like a drum, just a little smiling cylinder. I can’t remember how much time this took–maybe 1 to 2 hours?

Tom Tom Magazine: You’ve designed another instrument before: Baby Ukulele. Is there a story behind this little uke?

Alicia Kachmar: Yes, my friend Chelsea Latimer is a talented writer and musician is in the Denver-based band, Eleanor and there is, you guessed it, a ukulele involved. She requested a crocheted ukulele as well as a “tour van” resembling theirs, but the idea behind the ukulele was that, “We’ll have our own little band mascot, just like safety cone!” So, they’d travel around with Chelsea and crew, and rock out on the merch table. There *may* be some selling of them at a later date.

TTM: How do you come up with your patterns, in general?

AK: The ideas for the patterns come from merely observing what’s around me, paying attention to relatively common objects and personifying them. I used to be a teacher in a variety of settings–schools, museum, botanical garden, after-school program, daycares, summer camp–and was constantly inspired and amazed by some of the things the kids would say, the way they saw the world and everything in it. It was in such a highly imaginative way where rotten apples are sad, balloons have feelings and it’s not, “Look, I see you in the mirror,” but “Look, there’s a picture of us in the mirror.” Even as an adult, it’s the way I see it too. The writer Anais Nin once said, “The analogy between the artist and the child is that both live in a world of their own making.” This is exactly what I’m going for with my anecdotal and imaginative crochet work.

TTM: When and why did you first get into crochet?

AK: It’s one of those silver lining stories I guess, though I didn’t see it that way at the time. I grew up in a crafty household and knew how to knit, but I didn’t start crocheting until a couple years ago when I became chronically ill. I had to quit all of my teaching jobs and was more or less bedridden and/or unable to work for many months. Crocheting was one of the few crafts I didn’t yet know how to do, and I wasn’t that good at knitting, so once I got to the point where I could, I decided to teach myself crochet. I took to it really quickly and I remember specifically thinking, “If I’m going to lie here indefinitely and be miserably twiddling my thumbs, I’d better as hell have something to show for it.” Unlike knitting, it’s a very forgiving craft in terms of making mistakes and lends itself well to round things. I began by making little food items with frowns instead of smiles, to counter all the happy amigurumi I was seeing and because I had a complicated relationship with food post-getting sick and I was one big frown, day in, day out. Out of suffering comes creativity, as the saying goes.

TTM: Any favorite artist or styles of music you like to craft to?

AK: Lately it’s been a lot of Electrelane, French Kicks, Thao and Vampire Weekend, but often I will listen to podcasts or watch Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes. If I really need to concentrate on following a pattern, then I opt for my favorite no-words-involved music: Debussy, Bach, Django Reinhardt and George Gershwin.

TTM: You’ve been commissioned by several local foodies, including Tia Keenan, a prominent New York fromager who requested a line of crochet cheeses. If you could have any rock star in the world request a project from you, who would that be, and what would you expect (or hope) they’d ask for?

AK: Okay, I just recently watched the SNL “Blue Oyster Cult: Behind the Music” skit, right after watching Conan’s last show with Will Ferrell. So I’d have to go with a cow bell requested by none other than “rock star” Will Ferrell. Well, or Christopher Walken as Bruce Dickinson. I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cow bell!

TTM: There’s always room for more cow bell! OMG, you’ve got to crochet a cowbell, even if Will Ferrell or Cristopher Walken never get around to asking for it (wimps!). Well anyhoo, thanks for all this Alicia, and thanks for your awesome offer to do a giveaway! Go HERE to win!

Interview by: Leslie Henkel. Leslie curates the “Crash-Crash-Craft!” series, mostly because she is nosy and likes crafts/crafty people.  This is also why she is a member of “Bags For The People,” a rad non-profit that hosts bag-sewing workshops all over New York City (and now in Jamaica!), hates Garbage Island, reads your diary when you’re away, and sometimes sews drumstick bags at Tom Tom events just for fun. Leslie also writes the Tight Pantsy Drew Mysteries, serialized cozy mystery zine set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, starring hipsters, anarchist freegans, “Chad P.”, and super-sleuth Tight Pantsy Drew–who also editorializes over at A Mutual!

Photos: courtesy of Alicia Kachmar

Psst! Are you Crash-Craft-Crafty? Submit an image/description of your work, plus a bio to, and you might be featured…possibly famous. Who knows?

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