Meet the artist behind those adorable knit saguaros

Posted by John Wolfe on 1st Jan 2019

If you visited Sibley's West any time since October, there is no doubt you saw cute knit saguaros on our shelves.

They included a Halloween-inspired witch saguaro, a pilgrim saguaro and, of course, Christmas-tree saguaros with lights!

They are all the handiwork of Nancy Gaukroger of Waddell, AZ (near Surprise).

She started Cactus Creations in 2017, folowing the death of her husband of 52 years, Jim, in 2015. She shared her various knit items at the craft fair in the White Tanks and, by meeting children's author Kathy Peach there, came to be a supplier of Sibley's West last May.

Her standard knit saguaros come in a variety of colors, each featuring two arms and a rock base.

For the holidays, she created decorated saguaros in a mix of colors -- orange and black at Halloween, green and red with silver and gold for Christmas. Even a candy corn colored saguaro.

"I've really enjoyed making them," Nancy said. "And I hope the people who buy them enjoy them also."

She said she is an intense walker and biker and loves the desert.

"I see a lot of saguaros on my journeys, and that piqued my interest," she said.

Then her son, Geoff, bought her a simple cactus as a gift and she thought, "I can do better than that."

"It was a challenge," she said.

Mostly self-taught, she worked on various pieces with her son's encouragement. And here she is.

Nancy is a native of Kokomo, Ind. and graduated from Purdue University with a degree in special education.

She then moved to San Diego and taught and studied at San Diego State. She met and married Jim, who was a naval officer, and they had two children. Her daughter, Tamara, is a teacher in Globe, while Geoff works of the Treasury Department in Portland.

They moved a lot as a Navy family and bought a second home in Arizona in 2005. They settled her permanently in 2011.

Nancy continues to walk and bike, and continues to come up with ideas for her saguaros. Her next holiday is Valentine's Day and we can't wait to see what she does!