I’m continuing the (Inter)National Crochet Month festivities today with an interview with Australian crochet designer, Sarah Jane. I was first introduced to Sarah Jane when I saw her beautiful Frostberry Hat pattern during the Indie Design Gift-a-Long last fall. (And, after reading through Sarah Jane’s pattern descriptions, I learned that we frequently share the same tech editor, Juanita Quinones, who I interviewed here.)
You can find Sarah Jane online on Ravelry (as SarahJaneDesigns or on her designer page), Etsy, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter as sjjack44. All pictures in this interview are copyright Sarah Jane Designs and are used with permission.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?
Sarah Jane (SJ): No one in my immediate family crocheted but Mum was always a knitter. Once, at a family function when I was about 4 or 5, I was completely fascinated by a great Aunt who was crocheting an intricate doily. Amazingly she was blind! She was kind enough to take the time and show me the basic stitches and send me away with a hook and some yarn. After that I never stopped. Mum kept me in yarn and I used the same hook for years…
Acacia Cloche pattern.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
SJ: I never learned to follow patterns until I was an adult, so I guess I was always designing. I saw a small ad on a yarn website here in Australia for crochet designers/testers and emailed them. They were kind enough to take on an inexperienced designer and I did some work for them. When I came across Ravelry in a pattern search, I decided it was a match made in heaven. I haven’t looked back since!
The Perennial Bag pattern.
UC: You primarily self-publish your designs. What do you see as the advantages and challenges of self-publishing?
SJ: For me there are some great advantages in self-publishing – the flexibility being the main one, as I have a large family. It’s great being able to set my own schedule. I also like having control over the final product and the look of the patterns.
The disadvantages for me are mainly promotional. I’m not very good at promoting myself, and this year I intend to focus on that more. I can be a bit scattered if I don’t set myself targets and goals, so I have to be careful to do this. Otherwise I end up with lots of WIPs and no written patterns.
I have submitted to a few magazines but so far without much success…maybe this year will be the one!
Frostberry Hat pattern. (A matching Frostberry Cowl pattern is also available.)
UC: Most of your designs are hats, neckwear, and bags. What do you enjoy about these types of projects?
SJ: I like the smaller type projects for now because there is less of a time commitment involved. They are easier for me to complete while also looking after my family. My absolute favourites are hats. I love them, and here in Brisbane, where it’s often not cold enough for other crochet, you can always wear a hat! I would like to expand my range to include a few more garments in the future though.
Clio Hat and Cowl pattern.
UC: You also knit. Why did you choose to focus on crocheting for design?
SJ: While I love to knit, I am very slow so any knit designs would take me a year to complete. Crochet has always been my first love and I do feel that there are far more knit designers than crochet designers so I have chosen to focus on the crochet for now. I like to believe that I can offer something to enhance the crochet pattern market.
Serpensortia Hat pattern.
UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?
SJ: Goodness, there are so many I don’t know how to pick! For inspiration though, I love magazines and will spend far too long looking at all the pretty pictures.
Asperous Hat and Cowl pattern.
UC: Are there any crafty websites/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
SJ: Aside from yours, you mean ….
I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Ravelry looking at all the pretty pictures.
Cottage Garden Beanie pattern.
UC: What are you planning for the rest of 2014?
SJ: I have quite a few designs in the works at the moment, it is always a busy time of the year for me as we are heading into winter here. I am lucky to have been given yarn support for a Steampunk themed collection so I am very excited for that and can’t wait to get it started!
Thanks for stopping by, Sarah Jane (and for the kind words about my blog!). Best of luck with your upcoming designs!