I'm excited to introduce a brand new feature on this blog: the Designer Spotlight! After a recent incident, I was trying to brainstorm ideas for how we can better support each other in the crafting community, even though we may live far apart. And I think one of the best things we can do is to respect and appreciate each other's work. It's easy to get utilitarian about crochet/knit pieces because, well, they're often functional. But we are fiber artists! In the words of Tinna (a yarn graffiti artist), "I don't think that the art should be valued any less, even though it is practical. That just makes it even better." So, as an homage to fiber artists everywhere, I decided to start this feature, spotlighting different crochet and knit designers; you can learn more about them, admire their work, and be inspired to create something original of your own! These designers are truly artists.
To kick things off, I'm thrilled to feature the extremely talented Abigail of Prairie Things (http://prairiethings.weebly.com/). Her work is definitely proof that knitting and crochet is both functional and beautiful. So learn more about her in this interview and take a look at her gorgeous designs! She is a designer you'll want to keep your eye on. The images throughout the interview link to their respective patterns, so if you see something you like, just give the picture a click.
How long have you been crocheting?
I’ve been crocheting since 2004 (and knitting since 2016).
How did you learn to crochet?
A fellow dormmate in my 3rd year of university taught me, and I’ve been crocheting ever since. My very first piece, a hat, looked like one of those candy corn candies, and had so many holes it might as well have been considered a lace hat. It was so terrible that I don’t think I donated it like I was supposed to. I knew it couldn’t keep anyone warm for a maritime winter. I’ve come a long way since then, for sure.
What’s something you wish you had known when you’d first started crocheting?
That it would become incredibly addictive. I mean, I could have been scouting out second hand supplies way earlier on if I’d known how much of my future time and energy and money would end up being poured into crocheting and knitting.
What is your favorite thing about crocheting?
Being able to mindlessly create something from a piece of yarn. Really, each piece is one giant knot. It’s amazing. I love how repetitive the stitches can become when making particular pieces. You can watch a movie with a friend, and have half of a hat by the end. It’s pretty awesome.
I also love that the crocheting and knitting group that meets at my house monthly has grown from just another crocheter and me to a living room of regulars who bring newcomers once in a while. It’s great to sit and visit, and learn how to crochet and knit better from one another. Actually, that may be tied with my first reason.
Is there a certain type of pattern you love to design the most? Why?
Winter gear is where it’s at for me. Surviving Canadian prairie winters has become a skill I’ve finally mastered. I prefer to create warm toques, scarves, and, hopefully soon, mittens. I’ve also been venturing into sweater-making this last year. Definitely a challenge for me. It’ll be a while before I have any sweater patterns ready for Ravelry, so don’t hold your breath…
When you’re creating new designs, is there something that inspires you? What’s your muse?
I often try to create thick warm hats, with simple, yet elegant, design elements, and try to keep my scarf and cowl designs fairly warm but with a nice drape to them. I’m all about bulky weight yarn, and prefer to work with it when I can. I also don’t like to make more than one piece of a kind, so I’m constantly changing things up to keep my brain interested. I try to incorporate nature elements (leaves, branches, etc.) as design elements or as part of pattern names.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of designing?
Oh boy. Um…probably learning how the math side of things works before picking up the yarn. It’s not difficult, per se, but it does take some legwork to get that stuff sorted out ahead of time so that the actual crocheting or knitting goes as smoothly as possible. Gauge, yardage, how your stitches will interact and how many you’ll need for each section, etc.
Of course, some changes along the way are inevitable.
I’m sure it’s impossible to pick just one, but is there one project that you’re particularly proud of?
I suppose I am pretty pleased with my Maryjane baby shoes design. It was a tonne of work, since I was still new to pattern-writing, and I still haven’t finished writing up the pattern for Ravelry (I know, I know). Eventually, it’ll be up there, ready to go. Plus, tiny shoes are adorable. Just because.
On the knitting side of things, I am super proud of my Morning Mocha ‘N’ Me Wrap with Leaves. I was fairly new to knitting at that point, and I really wanted an elegant nature-themed wrap to cozy up in on my porch for when I drink my mochas and read. Just my morning mocha ‘n’ me (hence the name!). When I’m not using it, it’s draped on the back of our couch, and every time I look at it, I feel inspired to create other designs that are unique, elegant, and totally me (instead of the “trend” designs that float around online every couple of months).
What advice would you pass along to other crocheters?
Just keep at it. People are going to call you an old-fashioned granola-crunching hippy grandma, but just go with it. You can’t stop them, so learn to appreciated that they’re simply jealous that they can’t make their own clothes from a piece of string. Eventually, they’ll start asking for you to make them custom pieces, and then you can make them eat their words. (Haha.)
There is always a new technique, a new stitch, or a new pattern to learn. If you’re feeling bored with where you’re at, try learning something new to challenge yourself. It’s totally worth it.
Also, find some yarn friends who you connect with, and meet regularly. Maybe it’s a weekly one-on-one coffee date, maybe it’s a monthly group, or maybe it’s just an online friend who keeps you accountable for your yarn stash. Crafting is more fun with like-minded friends.
Thanks to Abby for participating in this first Designer Spotlight. I hope you all enjoyed it! I don't know about you, but I definitely feel inspired to go crochet something. Let me know what you think of this new feature in the comments section below or on social media. And be sure to check out Abby's site to find even more great designs. Happy hooking!
Thank you for stopping by to visit my own personal corner of the web! Feel free to take a look around and check out what I've been crafting, crocheting, or baking. Hopefully you'll find something to inspire your own creativity!