Tag Archives: argentina

Interview with Sol Maldonado (Hispanic Heritage Month series)

Interview with Argentine designer, Sol Maldonado, on Underground Crafter blog

Today I’m interviewing Argentine multi-craftual designer, Sol Maldonado. Sol creates crochet and knitting patterns as well as sewing patterns and tutorials. Sol can be found on her website, Craftsy (in the bySol and Soles shops), Etsy (in bySol, her crochet & knitting pattern shop, and in Soles, her fabric doll/flower/toy/pattern/tutorial shop) , Facebook, Pinterest, and Ravelry (as soles and on her designer page). All images are copyright Sol Maldonado and are used with permission. Click the design images to be brought to the Ravelry pattern pages.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with Argentine designer, Sol Maldonado, on Underground Crafter blog

Floral Yummy 3d Flower Granny Square, crochet pattern by Sol Maldonado.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet and knit?
Sol: My mother, grandmother and aunts used to knit and crochet after lunch on Sunday visits during my childhood, so I learned with them.

Visit Craftsy’s 5 Million Member Flash Sale!

UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Sol: I started designing my own sweaters because I never liked what was available in shops!
In Argentina there were not many options, designs or colors in the past… but from long ago we have wonderful yarns, so I thought that making my own stuff would be easier and better.

Interview with Argentine designer, Sol Maldonado, on Underground Crafter blog

Cape Geometric Neckwarmer, knitting pattern by Sol Maldonado.

UC: You’re multi-craftual. Do you have a favorite craft or does that depend on the project or season?
Sol: I love them all, but yeah depends on climate a lot!!
These days, it’s so cold now here, I prefer to knit and crochet warm pieces, and as the summer trends start to pop up in magazines and all around, I start planning next summer projects.

UC: You’ve had over 4,000 sales in your Etsy shop. Wow! What tips do you have for new Etsy sellers?
Sol: Sell what you love most and this will guarantee your success.

My pleasure is to make new things always, so my job is to plan-make-publish and design something new again. Because of this, I’m always excited about what I’m doing…if you get bothered about your daily work it will be a loss of energy.

Be aware of what you are best in and go for it!

Interview with Argentine designer, Sol Maldonado, on Underground Crafter blog

Tribe Tapestry Granny Square, crochet pattern by Sol Maldonado.

UC: Tell us about your cultural background. What was the yarn crafts scene like in Argentina when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene?
Sol: In Argentina the yarn scene is high quality since forever….lots of products, colors and textures, and not very expensive.

Here winter is very cold, and knit and crochet are popular practices, like traditional craft.

Interview with Argentine designer, Sol Maldonado, on Underground Crafter blog

Bubble Zoe Purse, crochet pattern by Sol Maldonado.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Sol: Yeah, it influences a lot! As a third world country there are not enough tools or books available ever!!! So, to make something you will have to figure out and work on it with the basic tools, minimize resources as much as possible because tools here are very expensive!

Interview with Argentine designer, Sol Maldonado, on Underground Crafter blog

Clamshell and Pinwheel Geometric Pillows, knitting pattern by Sol Maldonado.

UC: What are your favorite knitting and crochet books in your collection?
Sol: I do not have any collection, since I search for instructions online.

UC: Are there any Spanish- or English-language crafty websites/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
Sol: I’m totally in love with Pinterest, regular people pinning and building trends is the most exciting thing ever to happen in design!

I find inspiration and delight with wonderful photos and trends.

I think that image is everything, Spanish or English – with Google translate tool, it doesn’t matter anymore, and frankly I don’t have much time to read any post, I look only at photos!

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your patterns with us, Sol!

Interview with Joji Locatelli (Hispanic Heritage Month)

HHm Joji Locatelli

Today, I’m continuing my Hispanic Heritage Month series with an interview with Argentine knitting designer, Joji Locatelli. Joji can be found online on Ravelry (as jojilocat, in the Designs by Joji group, and on her designer page), on the Joji Knits blog, on her Facebook page, and on Instagram. All images are copyright Joji Locatelli and are used with permission. Click on the photo to link to the pattern on Ravelry.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with knitting designer Joji Locatelli on Underground Crafter blog

Joji Locatelli.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to knit?

Joji: My mom taught me the basics when I was a teenager, but I didn’t really learnt to make anything other than a garter stitch scarf until I was in my 20s.  I had just finished University and found myself with a lot of free time and internet… And well, I found lots of knitting blogs and patterns.  I taught myself the rest by “guessing” what knit and purl meant.

Interview with knitting designer Joji Locatelli on Underground Crafter blog

Japan Sleeves, a knit pullover pattern.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Joji: In Argentina, most knitters don’t follow patterns, or at least we didn’t.  When I learnt to knit, we didn’t have access to pattern books or even special yarns, so we always make the best we can with what we have on hand.  Most of the times, we would see a garment that we liked on a store and tried to recreate it. We usually wouldn’t mind if the gauge/texture or color was absolutely different, and that left place for creativity and improvisation.

That’s the way I approached all the patterns when I finally found Ravelry.  And one day, I received this very special yarn (it was Malabrigo Worsted), and it was the very first time I had in my hands one of “those” yarns I saw on the internet, you know?  I knew I wanted to make something special out of it, but I just couldn’t find a pattern that I really liked.  I had a store bought sweater that I loved and said ‘why not?  This has to work!’

So I started knitting my own interpretation of that sweater, using a very unusual construction and wondering whether it would turn out to be a wearable garment.  Other knitters seemed to be really interested in my process of posting photos and asked if I was planning to write this up.  I said ‘No!  no… I am not a designer!’  And then I said ‘Why not?’

So there, that’s when my first pattern was born :).

Interview with knitting designer Joji Locatelli on Underground Crafter blog

Looking Back, a knit cardigan pattern (with buttons in back).

UC: You primarily design garments and women’s accessories. What do you enjoy about these types of projects?

Joji: Well, it’s much easier for me to think of designing things that I can actually wear… and also I have an audience that pays much more attention to those kinds of projects, so it’s easy to be biased and always go in that direction.

Interview with knitting designer Joji Locatelli on Underground Crafter blog

Opposite Pole, a knit cardigan pattern.

UC: Most of your current designs are self-published. What do you see as the challenges and advantages of self-publishing?

Joji: I don’t see any challenges in self-publishing your designs, unless you start designing expecting to make certain money out of what you get out there.  Self-publishing can be very exciting, and a pattern can be a total success without you having to share it with anyone, or can be a total failure, and then you’ve worked for nothing.

When I started designing I was working full time somewhere else, so I didn’t have to worry about making money or not from my designs.  And I felt that self-publishing allowed me to handle my time frames (and the rights to my patterns!) the way I liked.

When you publish with companies or publishers, you have to adjust your times to their deadlines, and also your style… which might make one a little nervous! But then you get the support from this company, which will probably do their best to get the word out there about you working with them, they will probably do a lot of work with photos and layout, which is also great!  Plus, it’s not nice to work always on your own… Sometimes it’s nice to play with others too :).

Interview with knitting designer Joji Locatelli on Underground Crafter blog

Boxy and Buttony, a knit pullover pattern.

UC: You have a large group on Ravelry with over 4,000 members. What tips do you have for designers who are nervous about starting a Ravelry group?

Joji: Yeah, the group getting that big… that’s a total surprise!

I don’t think there’s anything to be nervous about!  A Ravelry group is not a commitment to do anything.  It’s just a way to communicate with people who are interested in what you do, and there are no rules about what you need to do there.  Like all groups, mine started with just 3 members (me and 2 moderators) and was really small for a very long time! I think it was just as great back then as it is now… and I just treat it as any other social media.  Knitters really like to hang out on Ravelry, so if you give them a space to share what they like and chat a little bit, they will enjoy it.

Interview with knitting designer Joji Locatelli on Underground Crafter blog

Ohlala, a knit cardigan pattern.

UC: What was the yarn crafts scene like when you were growing up in Argentina? How does that compare with the current scene in Buenos Aires?

I described in a previous question how the knitting scene was like when I learnt to knit.  It still hasn’t changed much.  Some knitters have started to use Ravelry and learnt to read instructions in English, but this is still a rather small group within a country where A LOT of women knit.

I used to work at a yarn store until recently, so I kept in touch with what knitters here liked, and what the supply and demand of products was…

Argentine knitters tend to like quick projects and heavy weight yarns, even though we barely have a couple of weeks of winter.  They still improvise most of their projects, some follow patterns but barely, none of them are scared of adjusting gauge or even the style of the garments, and they all knit with straight needles just like me!

Interview with knitting designer Joji Locatelli on Underground Crafter blog

Rocio, a knit cardigan pattern (with top buttons in the front).

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?

It probably does, but I can’t precise in which way.  I learnt to knit from a non-Argentine community, so I think most of the techniques and styles I used do not resemble my cultural background… but I think there is a little something in everything I make that has a little bit of my origins there.

Interview with knitting designer Joji Locatelli on Underground Crafter blog

Astrid, a knit scarf/shawl pattern.

UC: What are your favorite knitting books in your collection?

I don’t own many books!  Mailing things to Argentina is quite hard, and we cannot buy imported pattern books here, so I only have a couple.  I did enjoy and learn a lot from all Elizabeth Zimmermann’s.

UC: Are there any Spanish- or English-language crafty websites/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Not really...  Most of the things I read nowadays are in English…

Thank you, Joji, for sharing your thoughts with us!

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Hispanic Heritage Month Series)

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery) on Underground Crafter blog.

Today, I’m continuing my Hispanic Heritage Month series with an interview with Melissa Martinez, the knitting and crochet designer and maker behind Acts of Knittery Designs. Like me, Melissa grew up in New York City, but she has since moved to Philadelphia. Melissa’s patterns have been self-published as Acts of Knittery, as well as by Classic Elite and Made in America Yarns.

Melissa can be found online on her website/blog, Ravelry (as ActsofKnittery, on her designer page, or in the Acts of Knittery Designs group), Ebay, FacebookAmazonCraftsyPinterest, and Twitter. All images are copyright Acts of Knittery Designs and are used with permission. Click on pattern images to be brought to the Ravelry page.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery) on Underground Crafter blog.

Melissa Martinez

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet and knit?

Melissa: My grandmother first taught me as a young child. I started learning crochet first and then went on to learn knitting shortly after that.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Melissa: I had sold finished knit and crochet accessories on both eBay and Etsy for several years. Customers would often ask me if I had patterns available as well. I figured why not start writing them down and selling the patterns.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery) on Underground Crafter blog.

Shrubbery, a knit shawlette pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: You design a lot of hats and shawls. What do you enjoy about those projects?

Melissa: I love how quick they are and also how most don’t require a lot of yarn (or time) to make. I also love how a relatively small accessory can make such a big impact and really transform a whole outfit and your look.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

An Ounce of Flounce, a knit scarf pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: The photos for your self-published patterns have a very consistent (branded) look. Do you take your own photographs or do you use the same photographer? How did you develop your photographic style?

Melissa: Thanks so much for that compliment! I take all of the photos myself. I guess I’ve had lots of practice with shooting product photos for when I sold on Etsy and Ebay. I just try to make sure there’s adequate light coming in from the window (natural light is definitely the best) and then when I crop my photos I try to not have all of them exactly centered. I think that adds a bit of interest.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Mesh Cowl with Flower, a crochet pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: You sell your finished objects on Ebay and individual patterns on Amazon. What do you see as the pros and cons of selling on websites that get a lot of traffic but aren’t focused on the needlecrafts?

Melissa: I think that selling on these large marketplaces definitely helps to expose your products to an entirely new audience. There may be a lot of potential customers who are looking for a hand knit item or pattern and have only heard of the major online sites Ebay and Amazon. On the other hand, I find that most of the time these customers may not be fully aware about how long it actually takes to make an item, the quality of yarn used and the great attention to detail that goes into a handmade item. A lot of people on Ebay are just looking for bargains and you can’t really blame them. On Amazon, I find that some of the more classic or generic patterns sell well but not the truly unique. That’s one area where sites devoted exclusively to the needlecrafts such as Ravelry and Craftsy excel, since customers already have more of an appreciation for hand crafted goods and unique patterns.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Wyvern Scarf, a knit pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: Your parents are Argentinian with Spanish and Italian roots, but you grew up in my hometown of New York City. What was the yarn crafts scene like in your family and community when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene in Philadelphia?

Melissa: My grandmother was always knitting something and she made the most amazing knit onesies for babies I had ever seen. She would actually go out and sell them on consignment at a few local stores. My mom is also an avid knitter and crocheter. She is very DIY (do it yourself) and I think that’s where I get it from. She would sew clothes for me and my siblings growing up, bake her own bread, etc. There were a few craft stores and fabric stores that sold yarn in Queens where I grew up but when I had discovered the yarn shops in Manhattan, or “the City” as us native New Yorkers call it, I was completely blown away and my yarn addiction took on a life of its own. I really like the yarn shops in Philly as well.  (UC comment: You can read my yarn shop reviews from my trip to Philly here.) The people are really friendly here and extremely helpful. One of the yarn shops here is actually owned by a New York transplant like myself. I hope to personally get more involved in the local scene soon. Most of the time I feel like I’m the only one I know who knits. I guess I need to get out more, lol.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Chai Beanie, a knitting pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?

Melissa: I don’t often think about, this but I guess it does. I think it’s more of the fact that previous generations and other cultures place a greater value on crafts and handmade things. I see it almost as carrying on a tradition in some ways. The only other thing I can think of is that I do adore using vibrant color when I design a piece so maybe my cultural background sneaks in that way.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Northern Belle Cloche, a knitting pattern by Acts of Knittery.

UC: What are your favorite knitting and crochet books in your collection?

I only have three right now. Two were lent to me by my mom and I sort of just kept them with me but she can always have them back if she ever needs them: Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns by Sterling Publishing Co. and Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet (UC comment: reviewed here). The third book I purchased myself when I seriously started thinking about designing: The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design by Shannon Okey (UC comment: reviewed here). This last book has really helped shine the light on so many questions I had about becoming a designer. I was truly clueless and this book helped me so much. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to follow a similar path.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Cloche Hat with Two Flowers, a crochet pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: Are there any Spanish- or English-language crafty websites/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Melissa: I love Design Sponge even though it’s mostly geared toward interior design. Rena Tom has some cool business tips at times, Tara Swiger is absolutely wonderful and really understands what it’s like to be a creative entrepreneur. I also enjoy reading your blog. :) I wish I did follow more blogs, especially Spanish language ones. I’m always open to suggestions.

Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview, Melissa, and for your kind words about my blog!