I learned how to knit and crochet from a neighbor when I was 9 years old, but wasn’t very good at it or focused enough to really make anything decent. Then, 28 years ago while working night shifts at the airport, a co-worker got me into knitting sweaters and taught me some more advanced stitches. Although I knew the basics of crochet, I tended to lean more towards knitting at this time. While I was pregnant with my daughter I started searching Pinterest for baby ideas. I kept seeing the pattern for the flower blanket that was very popular at that time, and decided I just had to make one. Then I made three! That was the point when I really started focusing on crochet more as I really enjoy the versatility of it, and how quickly projects come together.
I learned mostly from friends, a bit from books, and now with the internet the possibilities are endless. I’m constantly stumbling across new techniques and re-thinking the possibilities for what can be done with yarn. I know a lot of people love YouTube videos, but I live in a very rural area with poor internet service so I prefer pictures and diagrams since I don't have the patience to wait all day for a video to load.
The importance of stitch markers is something I had to learn the hard way, so knowing this from the beginning would’ve saved a lot of time. Also the importance of writing things down. With so many things going on, I know now to never trust that I am going to remember something, especially if I have to leave a project and then come back to it later.
What is your favorite thing about crocheting/knitting?
Being able to give somebody a gift that is unique and something they couldn’t find in a store, and then the feeling of pride when someone says “Wow, you made this?!”
This is also my favorite thing about designing patterns. Knowing that a crafter can use one of my patterns to make something that they would be proud to own, or give as a gift, is a really good feeling.
I enjoy making baby shoes and boots, mostly because of the cuteness factor. There is something about baby feet that is just too cute for words.
When you’re creating new designs, is there something that inspires you? What’s your muse?
When I create baby shoes I like to use adult shoes for inspiration. I find there’s something extra cute in taking items that adults wear and shrinking them down to baby size. So I spend a lot of time looking at people’s feet and browsing shoes on Pinterest.
The most challenging aspect of designing is that occasionally I will have an idea or a picture in my head of what I want to create, and then when I start working it up, sometimes it just doesn’t turn out like what I pictured. So, I have a special bag where these “uncooperative” projects go to have a time-out until we are on speaking terms again.
I’m sure it’s impossible to pick just one, but is there one project that you’re particularly proud of?
One of my favorites (and most popular pattern), would be the Sorel Boots. Folks tend to go crazy over these, especially when you bring them to a baby shower. I think the metal fasteners add a certain authenticity which makes them very memorable. The Ice Skates and the Polar Bear Rug were also a lot of fun to work on, so they really should get an honorable mention as well.
One of the big things I would say is not to rush through your projects. I know how it feels to want to make “all the things”, but remember that you are an artist, and making a piece of art can take time. Another piece of advice I would give is to treat a pattern the way you would treat a recipe. If you want your project to turn out exactly like the designer’s photos, then follow the “recipe” exactly. If you want to experiment and try tweaking some things to suit your needs or taste, then feel free to play around with the pattern. After all, you are the artist, so feel free to try different yarns, hooks or stitches. Unlike that recipe you tried and ended up with rock-hard cookies you had to throw in the garbage because even the dog wouldn’t eat them, the beauty of working with yarn is, if you don’t like it you can just “frog” it and try again. And my last bit of advice is to have fun, which I know is hard to do when you discover a mistake five rows back, but just keep smiling. You are making something unique with your own two hands, and that’s an amazing thing.