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This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.
Today, I’m very excited to interview Spanish crochet designer and blogger, Angele Lumiere. You may have seen Angele’s designs on her Ravelry page or her French/Spanish bilingual blog, Le flux de la creativite. You can also find Angele online on Ravelry, on Artabus, or in her DaWanda shop, L’Atelier d’Angele. All images are used with Angele’s permission.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet?
Angele: Some of my earliest memories related to wool and crochet are of a small yarn store near my house. There my mother bought wool for various knit clothing. The saleswoman helped her with knitting since she was not an expert. I keep fondly a red wool skirt from when I was 6 or 7 years old.
My mother taught me to crochet when I was 10. My mother was taught by her grandmother. I remember making dresses for our dolls together with my cousin. Little by little, I taught myself more. With some 1980s crochet magazines, I learned the symbols and how to interpret the charts.
Another woman was important, too — my husband’s grandmother. She was a crochet expert who had worked for a textile company in the 1930s, crocheting garments. We shared our passion for crochet, and learned and shared many things together.
When I was a college student, and then, when I started working as a professor of philosophy, in my spare time, I crocheted to avoid anxiety and to relax.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Angele: I am by nature very curious and creative. I have always felt the need to create things with my hands. I try to be as creative as possible in everything I do. I do not like to repeat things in my work as a teacher of philosophy or as a painter (I also paint) or crocheter.
My crochet and my painting cannot be separated from my other passion, philosophy. Philosophy is the creation of concepts and crochet and painting are the creation of visual sensations. For me, both to live and to create are essential. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche: “Without art, life would be a mistake.”
One day, I thought it would be interesting to share my crochet designs. I set the challenge to draw and explain my creations and patterns in three languages (Spanish, French, and English), using international symbols to reach as many people as possible that are interested in crochet. My first pattern was a beret I posted on Ravelry in February, 2011.
UC: You use a lot of circles and waves in your designs. What inspires you about these geometric shapes?
Angele: The geometric shapes are everywhere in nature. I love the harmony of nature and its beauty. I am inspired by the sea, the ebb and flow of the waves, flowing water, the leaves of plants and trees, dancing in the clouds…
To the Greek philosophers, the circle was a perfect figure because it has no beginning or end, and represents life itself. I use circles and waves in my designs because they are natural and essential figures.
UC: Tell us about crochet in Spain.
Angele: In Spain, at present, there is the same general interest in crochet and knitting that exists in other European countries, such as France or England, or in the U.S. There are no crochet magazines published in Spain, there are a few books (most are translations of American or English books), there is no major wool industry. It is considered a thing of grandmothers. This art is not valued, but even despised.
Unfortunately, grandmothers who knew crochet disappear before their daughters and granddaughters learned to crochet. It isn’t taught in schools. I admire the U.S. interest in the art of crochet and knitting. I find it really important to value creativity.
In the last 4 years, thanks to the Internet and access to French, British and American blogs, crocheters have emerged in small groups of interested people who struggle to spread this art. They have opened new stores that make wool and offer small workshops and classes.
I am part of a group that meets every Saturday morning. The group includes women who are between 20 years and 66 years old. I like that there are young people who are interested in this art. Most of the material online is purchased from other countries, and most of the patterns that people follow are written in English. Thanks to the people in this group, Valencia Knits, I discovered Ravelry.
There is no rivalry between knitters and crocheters in Spain. On the contrary, we are woven together in a very nice and friendly way, and people teach each other and share many things.
UC: Many of your patterns are available in Spanish, French, and English, and some are charted with international stitch symbols. Your blog is in Spanish and French. Tell us about your decision to offer multilingual patterns and write a bilingual blog.
Angele: Over 3 years ago, I created my blog because I had the need to share my creations and I felt very isolated.
I decided that the blog was bilingual: Spanish and French. In Spain, as I have explained before, there were no crochet blogs. I speak French and I knew there were a lot of crochet blogs in French. For example, I participated in and am a member of a blog specializing in crocheted grannies, Granny Mania.
Over 70% of the followers of my blog are from French speaking countries and 20% of my followers are Spanish-speaking fans. I believe that blogs written in various languages have many advantages. They are a very rewarding.
UC: How do you share your love of crochet with others?
Angele: For two years, I’ve taught crochet to my fellow teachers. Working with adolescents as a young teacher is hard work that can produce anxiety and even lead to depression. Female colleagues attend my class, once a week, and I share tips and crochet techniques. Crochet is good therapy for anxiety.
Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, said that “philosophy was the medicine of the soul.” I think that crochet is, too. It is a kind of “meditation” that helps us feel better and be happier. My colleagues and students enjoy the course and have made several blankets and shawls in the past. And, they keep doing new projects.
I have a friend who is battling cancer. I advised him to crochet. Crochet helps you feel better when you create beautiful works with your hands. (Edited to add UC comment: For more on the healing power of crochet, check out my interview with Kathryn Vercillo about her book, Crochet Saved My Life.) My friend gives her crochet creations to nurses, doctors and caretakers. She lives far from my hometown, but in the summer, we crochet together. This summer, I taught her to crochet mittens. Now my friend is excited, crocheting mittens for Christmas gifts for her daughters and friends.
UC: What are your future plans?
Angele: Another of my projects is to continue designing crochet patterns. I have many ideas for new scarves, shawls, and handbags. I also started to learn to knit. I knitted two shawls of which I am proud.
And finally, in the future I want to write a book linking philosophy and crochet.
Thank you for stopping by for an interview, Angele, and sharing your perspective on crochet with us!