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Born and raised in Hot Springs, Virginia, Vanity Nicole Deaner is a crochet artist and the creator of Small Paw Apparel. Polishing her craft since the age of 12, she creates beautiful crocheted scarves, hats, and tops for men and women. To date, she has designed 5 pieces. Her customer base is comprised of mainly Bath and Alleghany County locals but hopes to expand. Aside from her beloved craft, Vanity is a part-time server at the Waterwheel Restaurant at the Inn at Gristmill Square and she is a full-time animal enthusiast. Learn more about Vanity with our Q&A:

How do you describe your palette?

I would not say that I have a specific palette – that’s the beautiful thing about fiber arts. Every color imaginable can come to life in my hands with yarn and a hook. I do tend to stick to rather earthy colors when making clothing, soft and comfortable is what I strive for.

What’s your greatest accomplishment?

I’m not sure that it’s much of an accomplishment, but believing in myself is my number one. When I had the idea of starting Small Paw Apparel, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew that I had been crocheting since I was about twelve years old or so. It’s something I got from my mother, and she is still teaching me new things everyday. Given I knew how to crochet and I didn’t want a second job, I decided to go out on a limb and begin a small business. I have known for so long that it’s something that I enjoy, why not give it all one big shot into the world other than friends and family.

What obstacles do you need to overcome to find your creative space/muse?

It’s funny really, there are days that I can sit just about anywhere and work on a piece. But for the really intricate pieces like the Helena Crop Top, I have to be incredibly focused so I do not miss stitches. Morning time is my favorite time to begin something new. With the weather finally breaking the cold spell I can make my cup of coffee, open the kitchen windows and bring new life to skien of yarn.

How do you find your inspiration?

There are so many fantastic pattern designers out there. I spend a few hours a week just browsing through new patterns, seeing what other people are making, drooling over their instagrams. One thing I wanted for Small Paw Apparel is community and local shopping. Crafty people helping crafty people. Everything I make that is not personally designed by myself, I give links to the pattern I have bought so if someone would rather make it themselves they are more than welcome to and it helps out the person I originally found and bought from. It’s nice for things to come into a full circle.

What advice do you have for other artists?

Never doubt yourself. Never feel like your work is unworthy. For years I felt so silly even thinking of doing something along the lines of Small Paw, and now here I am feeling better about myself than ever because I just went for it. I’m still in the process of getting everything together and an inventory stock up. I don’t know if this is going to be a forever thing, but I do know I believed in myself enough to just dive right in.

What is your favorite piece(s) of art you’ve made and why?

 The Modern Rainbow Blanket is one of my favorites because it was simple. I used Caron Cakes which is a self-striping yarn so visually I never got bored with it.

How can our readers purchase your pieces?

I am still in the process of creating an online store, however I release things on Facebook at the current moment. @SmallPawApparel and hopefully in the near future once I get enough stock made, there will be pieces for sale in the gift shop at The Inn at Gristmill Square in Warm Springs, Va.

What is the best way for our readers to contact you?

     Facebook is currently the best method, @SmallPawApparel

– HashtagWV #101. May 2018.

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HashtagWV Art & Entertainment is a high-quality print and digital multimedia platform for all things West Virginia and the greater Appalachian region. The editorial focus is local music, unique shopping, the arts, events, theatre, and food and drinks. tiktok.com/@hashtagwv

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