Annette can be found online on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Ravelry (as AnnettePetavy, on her designer page, and in the multilingual Annette Petavy Designs group). Annette also has a French podcast, Mon crochet et moi, which is available on iTunes as well. All images are used with her permission, and clicking on the photos will lead you to the pattern page.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Annette: I learned as a child, perhaps around 6 years old. My mother taught me, because I asked her to. All women in my family were doing some kind of textile craft (sewing, embroidery, weaving, knitting…) and both my paternal grandmother and my mother were avid crocheters.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Annette: After crocheting quite a lot as a child and a teenager, I became more of an occasional knitter. In my late twenties, an injury in my neck caused lots of problems with my left arm, and I stop fondling yarn altogether. But when I was pregnant with my second child twelve years ago, I couldn’t fight the urge any longer, and walked into a yarn store. I decided to try to take up crocheting again, since I could do this without putting too much strain on my left arm, which was still fragile at that point (I’m glad to say it is much better now!). This was twelve years ago, and there weren’t many crochet patterns to my taste around. I wanted to make a little jacket for my daughter, so I just winged it. It was my first crochet design!
UC: Can you tell us a little about how your experience as a Swedish designer in France impacts your design process?
Annette: From my Swedish background, I have a profound respect for all things handmade, and the feeling that you can make just anything by hand. I grew up seeing people making beautiful things themselves all the time, and I think that was very important.
From my life in France (and I have now passed the point where I have been living longer in France than in Sweden), I have (I think!) a sense of style and elegance and a love for beautiful materials. A wonderful thing about French culture is that it gives you permission to think that things like beautiful clothes and accessories or delicious food have a lot of importance – and they have! Enjoying a great meal with family or friends, wrapping a gorgeous scarf around your neck or wearing a flattering garment that makes you feel pretty are things that create beauty, wonder and joy in everyday life.
With time, connecting my Swedish background and my life in France becomes more and more important to me, on all levels in life. There are a lot of very interesting developments in Sweden and the other Nordic countries around traditional textile techniques. I have also started importing Swedish yarns to France, and their specificity and character nourish my design process.
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Annette: Sometimes, the idea for a design just comes into my head and I don’t know from where!
Sometimes, I get inspired by learning or exploring a specific technique. It can even be a knitting technique that I try to transpose to crochet that works as my starting point.
Other times, I find inspiration in a photo or a painting.
Or I just sit down and swatch different stitch patterns from a book, and start building my ideas from them. It’s so interesting to see how a stitch pattern evolves when you start modifying it!
What I think is the most interesting in my current design process is trying to free myself from existing stitch patterns and finding ways to create shapes in crochet myself. I’m currently working on a design where the stitch pattern is based on a picture of an exotic flower a friend in Florida sent me. The stole “Cirkel”, for which you can find the pattern in my web shop, is one of the first examples of finished designs in this vein. I wanted to design real, rounded circles on a filet background, which required quite a bit of drawing, swatching and creative use of stitches.
UC: Your blog is bilingual and your Ravelry group is trilingual. What do you see as the advantages and difficulties of maintaining a multi-lingual presence online?
Annette: Actually, my entire life is multi-lingual! I speak Swedish with my friends and family in Sweden, French in my everyday life, English with other friends and for work… Europe is a multi-lingual place, and if you want to be present on this market, you must communicate in several languages.
So, the advantages are that you include many more people, and get a bigger market. The difficulties? Essentially that it’s very time-consuming. Translations take time! Also, I only know three languages really well.
Today, I’m basically working with those three: French, English and Swedish. I’m rebuilding my website to adapt for multilinguism. The next step is to create a stronger presence on the Swedish market, and the step after that is to branch out to German, Spanish… But then I’ll need help!
UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?
Annette: I love stitch dictionaries, of course! I also really enjoy books that focus on specific techniques. Right now I’m trying to learn and explore Tunisian crochet seriously, and Dora Ohrenstein‘s book The New Tunisian Crochet: Contemporary Designs from Time-Honored Traditions is on my nightstand. I slowly learn different variations of this technique by making cotton potholders, a few rows at a time, before I fall asleep at night.
UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs you frequent for inspiration or community that you would like to share?
Annette: I have a lot of blogs that I read and enjoy, but I don’t have the time to follow them on a very regular basis. Of course, I use Ravelry several times a day! I’m also an avid podcast listener, be it when I crochet or when I do household chores. I recently re-painted my son’s room, and yesterday I painted a wall where I’m going to put a bookshelf for my cookbooks. My favourite podcast for painting is Jane and Jen Knit Funny!
When I do research on a specific technique, I come across lots of interesting sites and blogs. I’m always in awe of all the knowledge and inspiration that is out there!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Annette, and sharing your enthusiasm about design with us!