Esther Dijkstra of It’s All In A Nutshell: “Crochet is a mathematic craft”

Have you heard of Nuts About Squares CAL? If not, be sure to check it out. It’s about an insanely beautiful crochet blanket created with squares by different designers (I have designed the border and I am very happy and proud about this fact!). This CAL is the very first personal CAL by Esther Dijkstra, a creative (and technical) mind behind It’s All In A Nutshell.
Nuts About Squares CAL by Esther Dijkstra (@It's All In A Nutshell)
Nuts About Squares CAL. Photo credit: Scheepjes

If you followed any of Scheepjes or my CAL’s (Circles of the Sun and Peacock Tail Bag) you have definitely “met” Esther already. She is well known in the world of crochet for her professional and very detailed instructional videos, and for her calm voice as well. But did you know Esther only learned to crochet in 2014? And did you know she is a chemical engineer with a math degree?!

Today we talked with Esther about inspiration, importance of crochet videos and being organized, designing, and Nuts About Squares CAL.
Esther Dijkstra of @It's All In A Nutshell
Esther Dijkstra of It's All In A Nutshell. Photo credit: Dedri Uys

- Hi Esther, congratulations on your Nuts About Squares CAL, I am very proud and happy to be a part of it. The blanket looks amazing! How did you come up with this idea?

- I have always loved squares, and especially squares with a lot of detail and texture. I love to work on intricate and complicated patterns and designs that challenge me. I wanted to combine all of these elements in my first CAL. I wanted to make a project that would be a challenge to those that have been crocheting for a longer time and at the same time be achievable for those that are new to the game. I hope that the video tutorials of each square help crochet-newbies and those less experienced to master the sometimes challenging squares and at the same time provide a challenge to the more experienced crocheter. I want people to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they finish Nuts about Squares.
Nuts About Squares CAL by Esther Dijkstra (@It's All In A Nutshell)
Nuts About Squares CAL. Photo credit: Scheepjes
 - You are mostly known for your YouTube channel which gained 26.000 subscribers not so long ago. Congratulations! I know that in addition to working with designers and making video’s for different CAL’s, you also have a Crochet Fundamentals section with 35+ instructional videos about the basics of crochet and different techniques, tips and tricks. These videos are also available in “left-handed” version. Why was it so important to convert them?

- I received a message from a lady asking me for help for her daughter who wanted to learn to crochet. Her daughter was left handed and was turned away from a crochet class because she was left handed. The crochet-instructor did not want to be bothered and take the time to help someone who was left handed. I was both flabbergasted and infuriated when I heard this. Seriously, how can you treat someone like that!

Everyone has the right to learn and the right to education, and that includes crochet education. This young girl is the reason why all my crochet fundamentals are also available in a left handed version. I want each and every person to have the opportunity to learn to crochet. Crochet does not discriminate between race, religion, gender or nationality and there is no way that I am going to let someone use crochet to discriminate against a left handed young girl.
Stripey Pouf - free crochet pattern by It's All In A Nutshell
Stripey Pouf, free pattern. Photo credit: Esther Dijkstra

- Probably not everyone knows, but except of creating videos you are also designing yourself. I especially like your pouf project, and you also have beautiful blankets, and Touch of Velvet wrap… Where do you find an inspiration for designing work?

- I am taking small baby steps in making my own designs. The Stripey Pouf was inspired by my HUGE stash of leftover yarn and the loads of old cushions I have in my attic. I wanted to use it in a useful way (I can’t throw yarn away, just can’t, not gonna happen). I am inspired by rhythm and geometric shapes. I like clear lines and I like repeated patterns. That is the engineer in me in guess.
Touch of Velvet Wrap - free crochet pattern by It's All In A Nutshell
Touch of Velvet Wrap, free pattern. Photo credit: Esther Dijkstra

- You are a chemical engineer with also a math degree, and now you are teaching mechanical engineering students… How do you manage to combine your daily job, your crochet “job” (preparing CAL’s and everything takes lots of time and efforts) and your family life?

- I am very good at planning and organizing, and I am very efficient. Something passes through my hands only once. I tend to be to the point with everything I do, also when doing video tutorials and writing blog posts. So when I am done with something, I am done and can move on to the next thing.
Ice Waves color pooling blanket - free crochet pattern by It's All In A Nutshell
Ice Waves color pooling blanket. Photo credit: Esther Dijkstra
 - This is probably the most common question crochet designers, artists and crafters are asked… How did you learn to crochet? And how did you understand you want to devote a big part of your life to crochet and making videos?

- I started to crochet in the summer of 2014. My sister in law was crocheting on a family trip and it caught my interest. I bought some cheap yarn and a plastic hook and read up on how to make stitches and watched a hand full of videos. It just clicked with me. Crochet is a rhythmic, mathematic craft. It might not look like it at first glance, but the way stitches and patterns are made has a logic in it that I appreciate.
Scheepjes CAL 2014
Scheepjes CAL 2014. Photo credit: Esther Dijkstra

My first big project was the Scheepjes CAL 2014 designed by the talented, but sadly late, Wink from A Creative Being. I joined the CAL rather impulsively; I bought a yarn kit without really knowing what I was getting into because the CAL was a mystery project. When the CAL started I made the first few squares without any problems, but I noticed that other people were having issues. They were fussing about things they didn’t understand and some were even giving up. I thought to myself: “If only they could see how to do it, where to put the stitches, what to watch out for…”. The idea grew in my mind to make video tutorials that would show how to make the squares stitch by stitch and because the idea did not want to go away, I decided to act on it. I contacted Wink and asked her permission to make videos that would support her designs and illustrate how to make them and she said “yes”. And the rest, well, you know the rest!

Making videos is not something that I set out to do, and I never dreamt that I would be able to help so many people. It just kind of happened and came on my path. Where my path will lead me next I don’t know, but I do know that I am enjoying every step of the journey.

You can follow Esther via her blog, on Facebook and Instagram. Kits for Nuts About Squares CAL are available at Wool Warehouse* and Deramores*.

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  1. El blog de Esther y el tuyo son dos de mis preferidos, muchas gracias a las dos,

  2. a beautiful blanket, and if i would join i think i'll choose to make it in the earth tones. I'm familiar with Ester's blog and especially with her very clearly explainations and her lovely voice in her video tutorials.

  3. Excellent article Tatsiana. You have captured Esther perfectly. She is so talented and much loved by so many. Making crochet accessible to so many. What a great achievement. Thank you both! Lynn x

  4. Thanks for sharing the story Tatiana. You had a great idea doing an interview with Esther!


  6. So wonderful to get to know Esther a little more - having listened to her soothing voice I'm glad to see her face. I'm loving the Nuts about Squares CAL.

  7. A delight getting to know Esther better. I was glad to read how much she cared about the young left handed crocheter and helped her out with her videos. She cuts through all the different ways designers write patterns. Hoping for one day to see a United approach to pattern writing. This U.K. Vs US terms is nerve wracking sometimes. I've done so many now I switch back and forth but sometimes the old DC will catch me unawares!😂

  8. This is a lovely post. I too am inspired by mathematic shapes. It is the mobius strip. I love your individual square shapes.


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