If you happened to be watching ESPN on Christmas Day, you might have seen something pretty cool… something that will forever be referred to in our home as “that time mommy crocheted a Christmas stocking for ESPN.” Whaaaaat!?
Yeah, it’s officially the most random, and possibly the coolest, thing I’ve been asked to do since becoming a blogger. You can see the stocking in the teaser commercial below, which aired on ABC and ESPN in the afternoon on Christmas Day 2019 ahead of the basketball game between the Bucks and the 76ers. For a brief moment at 0:20 you can see my red hand-crocheted NBA Countdown stocking hanging from the mantle along with some green (store-bought) stockings, and you can see a closeup of the stocking at 1:03.
You heard the man, let the show begin ? pic.twitter.com/oyi1ktjfLG
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 25, 2019
So here’s how it all happened!
The First Email
On the morning of December 5, I checked my email and saw what I at first assumed was just another junk message. (You wouldn’t believe some of the ridiculous emails I’ve gotten since becoming a blogger.) THANKFULLY I read it a little closer after scanning it over, and realized — oh my goodness — I think this is actually legit! It was from a production agency and they were looking for someone to crochet a few green stockings with different names on them. (I’m guessing they found me by searching for crocheted stockings online, and came across the Malia stocking.)
They needed the stockings as background props for a commercial for the show “NBA Countdown”, and they needed them ASAP. I screenshot the emails and texted them to my husband, who freaked out. (He’s the sports person in the family.) We decided it was definitely legitimate, so I replied to the email and accepted the assignment.
Change of Plans
Over the next couple of days, I emailed back and forth with the head of the production company as we figured out the logistics. The big question for me was, how am I going to add the names? After lots of brainstorming, we decided that using the cross-stitching method would be best. So the next day, I headed to Hobby Lobby for yarn. But right after I got home, there was an apology email in my inbox from the producer, saying that the “higher ups” had changed the plan, and now they wanted one stocking, simple and red (not green), and they wanted the NBA Countdown logo on it. Here’s the rough mockup he sent me:
I looked at the complexity of the logo and knew there was no yarn technique I could use that would recreate the detailing to make it recognizable… at least not in the timeframe I had. So, after a bit of panicking, I realized there was really only one way to add the NBA Countdown logo to the stocking.
Back to the Store
The only problem was, I didn’t own a Cricut. I’d been daydreaming about having one, but never had a good reason to spend the money on it. Now I did! So I went straight to JoAnn Fabrics and got a brand new Cricut Explore Air 2 (that’s an affiliate link). I had no idea how to use it, but I was going to learn… and quick.
No Time to Waste
Over the next couple of days, I watched tons of Cricut tutorial videos while I crocheted the stocking. For the stocking, I knew that the fabric needed to be as flat as possible so that the soft vinyl wouldn’t get too distorted when it was adhered to the yarn. I had just started another pattern with a new-to-me stitch that I was in love with — the linked double crochet — and decided that would be the way to go. It would produce a nice tight fabric in case they wanted to put anything in the stocking, it wasn’t too textured, and it would be much quicker than single crocheting the whole thing. And at this point, time was running out… once the “higher ups” finalized the design, I only had 4 days to make it and overnight it to Philadelphia for the shoot!
Nothing gets your adrenaline going quite like knowing a national television commercial is waiting on a prop from you.
The Eleventh Hour
Once I finished crocheting the stocking, my nerves really set in. Even though I had practiced adding vinyl to some cotton potholders, I knew that I only had one shot at adding it to the stocking. If I messed up, I would be pulling an all-nighter to remake the stocking and try again, because it was due at FedEx the next day. No pressure.
I cut the vinyl, turned on the heat press, said a prayer, held my breath, and went for it.
It worked! The next morning I packaged it up and dropped it off at FedEx to be overnighted to where the commercial would be shot in Philly, and that was that.
I had no idea what the commercial was about, who would be in it, or when it would air. All I knew was that it had something to do with the basketball game on Christmas Day, and my stocking would be hanging on a mantle. Of course, we kept ESPN on all day on Christmas. A little before 3pm, right in the middle of opening gifts with extended family at my parents’ house, the commercial aired! There was Joel Embiid (a name I didn’t know before all this happened, because a again, not a sports person), and there behind him on the mantle was a row of store-bought stockings… and one red handmade stocking with the NBA Countdown logo on it.
It was brief but so fun to see, and so surreal! It made me realize just how much thought is put into commercials and everything in them. And I’m so glad I got to be a tiny part of it!
Many, many years ago, my grandpa was on a game show on television, and I remember how cool I thought that was. Now I get to tell my own grandkids someday about the time Grandma crocheted a stocking and it was on national television on Christmas Day!
What a randomly unexpected and crazy fun little adventure that was. You never know what the blogging life is going to bring… but I sure do love my job!
And that Cricut Explore Air 2? I’m making great use of it! Just in the week before Christmas, I made…
- Fun shirts for my boys
- A personalized apron for my middle son, who has discovered a love of cooking
- Several bags and shirts for extended family members for Christmas
I am having so much fun with it! Stay tuned for some gorgeous Yarn + Chai and yarn-related merchandise in the coming year! And if you’ve been thinking about getting your own Cricut, I highly recommend it. Here’s my affiliate link if you want to use it:
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If you’re wondering… no, I didn’t write out the pattern for the stocking. There just wasn’t enough time! But I do have a stocking pattern here that you might love 🙂
That is the coolest how may I get the pattern of the stocking
My e -mail
Can you post or email how you do the linked double crochet stitch? I like the way it looks maybe for other projects. Thanks so much!
So very cool, Rebecca! I missed this the first time around. Thanks for sharing your “day I was on ESPN” story again!
I would flip out if ESPN asked me to do anything! Both my bf and I are sports fans, so I’d be in heaven.
Question on the vinyl and heat press – obviously it doesn’t get hot enough to melt the yarn, which I’ve always been concerned about. Do you think the vinyl would adhere to the yarn long term? I’ve attached patches to hats before using fabric glue, but I’d have so many more options using vinyl!
Hey Jill! I used 100% cotton yarn, which is why the yarn was safe from the heat. I wouldn’t use anything else; it would probably melt. As far as long-term, I think it’s on there really good, although they say no vinyl lasts forever — but, keep in mind that the vinyl will take on the texture of the yarn underneath it. Even though I did as flat of a stitch as I could, that texture was still visible up close. You couldn’t see it when you stepped back a few feet though. 🙂
That’s so awesome Rebecca, Congratulations!
So happy for you!!! Wow that was absolutely amazing! Now I can tell others that I follow the amazing person who crocheted a stocking for the NBA!! I have owned my cricket for 2 yrs now and still haven’t even tried to do anything with it..I am now totally inspired to use it. Hopefully you will make some projects that will incorporate it..???
I’ve been following you since little monkey’s and think you have an amazing talent. Congratulations!
Wow! that is so exciting! And you had a great excuse to purchase a Cricut!