Tag Archives: crochet today

Interview with Letty Giron (Hispanic Heritage Month series)

HHM Letty Giron

I’m continuing my Hispanic Heritage Month series today with an interview with fellow New Yorker and Etsy seller, Letty Giron. Letty is a Guatemalan-American crocheter and maker sells her creations as Simply Baby by Letty. Letty can also be found on Instagram as SimplyBabyByLetty.

 

All images are copyright Letty Giron and are used with permission. Click on the image to be brought to the listing in Letty’s Etsy shop.

This post contains affiliate links.

Letty Giron.

Letty Giron.

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

Letty: As a young girl, I always saw my mother with a crochet hook in hand doing little dresses and sweaters for babies in pastel colors and I remember thinking that they looked like cotton candy, because she used to hang them in a line.  They were beautiful and she made them all herself after going to craft classes.

Then, as a teenager, my older sister taught me the basic stitches. As my mother had so many magazines, all of them about doilies and tablecloths, I started to read them and learned more about stitches, and I started to follow the instructions. So in the beginning I only learned how to make doilies. Not major items. But that’s how I began and slowly it grew from there.

A dress combining a sewn cotton skirt with a crocheted, mercerized cotton top. (Size 6-12 months.)

A dress combining a sewn cotton skirt with a crocheted, mercerized cotton top. (Size 6-12 months.)

UC: What inspired you to open an Etsy shop?

Letty: I’ve always made baby clothes for friends and family who are expecting and sometimes they would ask me to make something for their friends.  Also, I’ve been working with children for four years and it helped me learn the different sizes of babies as they grow.  Someone suggested that I open an Etsy shop and just see if these little things I make might be of interest to other people.  Although I’ve only just started, I’ve already had some success and I imagine more is to come.

A unisex, crocheted sweater and hat set, featuring moon and star buttons. (Size 3-9 months)

A unisex, crocheted sweater and hat set, featuring moon and star buttons. (Size 3-9 months.)

UC: Your shop focuses on crochet for baby. What do you enjoy about baby projects?

Letty: I really do enjoy all kind of projects for babies, but I’m more focused on sweaters, hats, and dresses that I combine with fabric, because I love prints – specifically floral, animals, and galaxy print – but really all kinds in general.

UC: What was the yarn craft scene like in your community when you where growing up?

Letty: I grew up in a small town outside of the city in Guatemala, and as a child I can remember my maternal grandma baking all kind of bread and cakes and different kind of food. She really enjoyed her kitchen.

Since she used a lot of eggs for her baking, I remember when she broke the eggs she did it very carefully, breaking them only on one side because she used to decorate the shells with so many different colors and fill them up with confetti. Then all the kids in our neighborhood used them for a celebration that we call Carnaval and also for Easter time which in Spanish we call Semana Santa. It was a great activity for the children to be involved in the creative process of decorating them.

We didn’t have so much yarn around in my family before my mother began her crochet classes, though my maternal grandma often sewed shirts for all the boys in the family.

A crocheted brown and pink set including a hat, booties, and a cardigan. (Size 3-9 months.)

A crocheted brown and pink set including a hat, booties, and a cardigan. (Size 3-9 months.)

UC: How does that compare with the current scene in your neighborhood in New York?

Letty: When I came to New York at age 21, I knew very little English. I was interested in continuing my crochet skills but could not find any magazines in Spanish so I started to buy in English and with a dictionary in hand I could read and translate all the abbreviation into Spanish and that is how I managed to continue doing it. Similarly, in the beginning I did not know where to find yarn. Now it is possible and easy to find stores with many magazines, yarn brands, fibers, and some of them even offer courses for sewing, crochet, and knitting.

Additionally, the internet makes the whole community much wider and easier to find.  Today the scope and reach of crafters is truly global – I have followers on Instagram from all over and we share our projects and tips. 

A crocheted hat and sweater set. (Size 3-9 months.)

A crocheted hat and sweater set. (Size 3-9 months.)

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

Letty: Yes, as when I was young I had an aunt who had a sewing machine, a very old machine.  I used to sit on her chair and pretend to sew. But mostly I think I was influence by my maternal grandma, she really had very good hands – baking all kinds of goods, sewing by hand, and also embroidering. And of course, by my mom and my sister.  As crafting and working with one’s hands was such a large part of my heritage, I have continued that relationship with physical objects.  We didn’t buy new things and continuously throw them away – we made our treasured items, put our time and effort into them, so they were special and unique.  It meant that we took care of them as they have a history.  Family is so important to me and my community so we also pass on objects that were important to one family member – we cherish these things as reminders of them – so we like to make things that will last.


As time passed by I have learn to crochet so many things, like scarf, hats, for adult and young ones.  Then I started to crochet blankets, sweater, hats, booties, to give as a gift. By now I can crochet all kind of items and I don’t have to follow a magazine but design it myself.
Knitting I know very little, but what I most love and enjoy is doing crochet and work with fabric. All handmade, special items.

Crochet receiving blanket.

Crochet receiving blanket.

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

Letty:

Crocheted striped sweater set. (Size: 3 to 9 months.)

Crocheted striped sweater set. (Size: 3 to 9 months.)

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

Letty: I mostly like to check Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration, and I also like to watch the cooking channels, particularly the baking shows – the colors and the softness of the confectionary items seem so much like a pile of soft yarn.

Dover Books

UC: What are you working on now?

Letty: I’m currently working on adding new items to my Etsy shop and experimenting with different shapes – I’ve done a lot of narrow sleeves for the baby sweaters but I’d like to try some variations.  I’m also adding new receiving blankets as these are great baby shower gifts.  All of my items are customizable, so someone could add a special fabric, color or print to the back of any of the blankets.

Thank you for sharing your time, Letty! Good luck with your Etsy shop!

Interview with Carolyn Christmas

I’m so excited to share an interview today with Carolyn Christmas. Carolyn is one of the crochet designers whose work inspired me to start designing.

Interview with crochet designer and author, Carolyn Christmas, on Underground Crafter blog.

Crochet designer and author, Carolyn Christmas.

This post contains affiliate links.

Carolyn is the author of Rodale’s Visual Encyclopedia of Needlecrafts, The Portable Crafter: Crochet, and one of my all time favorite stitch guides, 101 Easy Tunisian Stitches, along with dozens of pattern books published by DRG and Leisure Arts. She is also the former editorial director and product development manager for DRG (now Annie’s), and the founding editor for Crochet! magazine. Her designs have been featured many magazines, including Crochet!, Crochet Today, and Crochet World.

Carolyn is focused on self-publishing these days, and you can find her print patterns for sale on her site, Gourmet Crochet. Her PDF patterns are available on her site here, as well as in her shops on Ravelry (where she is carolynchristmas), Etsy, and Craftsy. Carolyn also has a blog where she shares free patterns, Pink Mambo. You can also find Carolyn on the Pink Mambo Facebook page, on Pinterest, and on Twitter. All images are copyright Carolyn Christmas and shared with permission.

Interview

Circle Dance Afghan by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Circle Dance Afghan, free pattern by Carolyn Christmas. Click image to link to the pattern.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you get started crocheting?

Carolyn: I’ve crocheted all my life. I remember learning to knit at age 5, and crocheting came right on the heels of that. I didn’t get serious about crocheting until I was in my teens, though.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Carolyn: When I was in my twenties, I found myself at home with newborn twins and a six year old. I had a lot more time on my hands than I thought I would during naptimes, and I’d always been intrigued by the idea of designing for publication. I used to study magazines at length, checking the bylines of each design, and finally decided to gather my courage and send something off. I told myself I would give it up if I hadn’t published anything by the time the girls started kindergarten. As it turned out, I was working as editorial director of a needlework publishing company by that time.

Calypso Shawlette by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Calypso Shawlette, a free crochet pattern by Carolyn Christmas. Click image to link to pattern.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Carolyn: Everywhere and everything. Just life, really. For example, I’m working on a rug design now because I decided I needed a rug in my bedroom. I’ll be doing a lot of baby designs soon because we are looking forward to a new grandchild in November.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books (besides yours, of course) in your collection?

Carolyn: I’m inspired by designers with widely varying styles, and not all are knit and crochet desginers. I love the whimsical work of knit designers Jean Greenhowe, Alan Dart, and Jan Messent; the color work of Kristin Nicholas, the freeform work of Prudence Mapstone and many others; I also love newer designers Amy Gaines and Stacey Trock, the thread designs of Ann White and Kathryn White, the graphic style of Katherine Eng, cuteness and precision of the work of Michele Wilcox, the wonderful doll designs of elinor peace bailey and the fabric designs of her daughter-in-law, Heather Bailey. I could go on and on.

UC: Recently, you revived your blog.  What motivated you to start blogging again?

Carolyn: I decided to start the new blog, Pink Mambo, because there are a lot of designs that run through my head and off my hook that I’d simply like to share, and the blog will be a home for those. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying designing smaller things for Pink Mambo. I’m intrigued by the idea of ads supporting the blog so that I’m able financially to show the patterns for free. The blog is not self-supporting yet, but I’d love it if I could give all my patterns away at no cost. Another reason for starting the blog was that there is a big, thriving crochet blog community out there and I wanted to join in.

Surfside Bag by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Surfside Bag, a free crochet pattern by Carolyn Christmas. Click image to link to pattern.

UC: You’ve written books with major craft publishers, self-published print patterns, and now are selling your e-patterns on your website, and on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy.  Can you talk about your transition from book publishing to self-publishing and what you see as some of the advantages and challenges of self-publishing?

Carolyn: My own journey from book publishing and having a “real job” in the industry to self publishing came because I became ill and found myself at home needing to start over and redefine my goals. I had been working as product development manager at DRG when I had to leave because of my illness, and as I recuperated, I realized I wanted to spend my time creating new designs and publishing them myself.  I wanted to primarily create, rather than primarily manage people.

Self-publishing is a very freeing experience after working for mainstream publishers for years. There are a lot of new designers out there who have never known anything but self-publishing. You don’t have to send a design off and wait for weeks, sometimes months, to hear back from a publisher. You can just get it out there when it’s ready. And of course, owning the rights to your own work is a benefit that’s a whole subject in itself. One thing to remember for those who want to self-publish—you have to wear the hats of editor, copywriter, technical editor and more. Sometimes this involves hiring outside help in the form of tech editing and testing. The best thing, I think, about self-publishing is that it allows a designer to find his or her own “voice” in crochet, so to speak. You don’t have to try to design to fit the mainstream market if you don’t want to—you can design what your heart, and your own customer base, wants you to design.

Tunisian Crochet Entrelac by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Tunisian Crochet Entrelac, the pattern booklet by Carolyn Christmas that taught me entrelac crochet! Click image to link to pattern shop.

UC: In the past few years, you seem to be really drawn to circles, including your recent Circle Dance Afghan Crochet A Long.  What do you like about designing with this motif?

Carolyn: I love circles! I don’t know what it is exactly about circles, but I can just never get enough of them. I’m doing a series on Pink Mambo about how to crochet flat circles in several variations, and I’ll move on to doing multicolor circles with invisible beginnings and endings, and turning a circle into a square.

UC: You’ve done a lot of work with Tunisian crochet (one of my favorite crochet techniques).  How’d you get started with Tunisian and what do you enjoy most about it?

Carolyn: I got started doing Tunisian crochet in my teens. My mother and I made a lot of designs where you crochet a big swath of off-white Tunisian simple stitch, then cross stitch on it. Back then, I didn’t think about the possibilities too much and I didn’t realize the textures that could be achieved. I enjoy the nice drapey fabric that is possible with Tunisian crochet. I also love Tunisian entrelac and have done a lot of experimenting with that technique, including working it in a circle with my Giant Dahlia design. My most enjoyable Tunisian crochet experience was when my husband and I designed the Easy Tunisian hooks formerly manufactured by Annie’s. These are in really short supply now but we do have another manufacturer interested in having these made, so we’re hopeful these will plentiful again soon.

Adelaide crochet pattern by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Adelaide, a crochet pattern for sale by Carolyn Christmas. Click image to visit Ravelry page.

UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs you frequent for inspiration or community?

Carolyn: I visit Ravelry, Craftsy, Etsy and lots of blogs. I also love the color palettes at design-seeds.com. I belong to several Facebook groups and try to keep up with those.

UC: What’s next for you and crochet?

Carolyn: For the foreseeable future, I’ll be putting the bulk of my crochet energy into Pink Mambo. I just love working on it and traffic is increasing every day.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Carolyn!

Interview: Dora Ohrenstein, Crochet Designer and Author

This post contains affiliate links.

Today’s interview is with fellow New Yorker, Dora Ohrenstein.  Dora is the publisher of the Crochet Insider ezine; a designer whose work has appeared in Crochet!, Crochet Today!, Crochet World, Interweave Crochet, and Vogue Knitting Crochet, among other publications; the author of Creating Crochet Fabric, Custom Crocheted Sweaters (reviewed here), and The New Tunisian Crochet (reviewed here); and a crochet teacher.  Along with Gwen Blakley Kinsler, Dora is also the co-editor of Talking Crochet, which recently won Crochet Concupiscence‘s Awesome Crochet Blogger Award for Best Crochet Newsletter.

You can find Dora online at the Crochet Insider website or on Ravelry (as crochetinsider, on her designer page, and in the Crochet Insider group).  All images are used with permission.

Dora Ohrenstein

Dora Ohrenstein.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?

Dora: When I was about 20, I lived in Amsterdam on a tiny little houseboat. It was the Age of Aquarius and everyone was getting crafty. I learned to crochet and since I had no background whatsoever, I just started making clothes without knowing what I was doing. But then I totally stopped for literally decades. I became a professional singer and that consumed all my time. I didn’t pick up the hook again until early in this millenium.

Shawled Collar Tunic

Shawled Collar Tunic from Custom Crochet Sweaters.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Dora: I wasn’t performing much by that time, and needed a creative outlet. I made a few sweaters and went to a CGOA conference, where I met Jean Leinhauser. She and Rita Weiss liked my stuff and bought several sweater designs for their books. Then Jean taught me how to write patterns, since I’d never followed one!  (UC comment: Dora has a wonderful interview with Jean here.)

new tunisian crochet

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Dora: So many places! Sometimes it’s a fashion silhouette, sometimes a yarn or stitch. I keep many swatches lying around and then one day I find the right project for them. I’ve also learned that once you’re a pro, you can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to hit, you have to be generating ideas constantly. I would also say my motivation often comes from wanting to continually grow as a designer, try new techniques and strategies in my work.

Kerala Tank c Crochet Today

Kerala Tank.  Image (c) Crochet Today!

UC: Tell us about your motivation for launching Crochet Insider. What are some of the challenges and joys of publishing an online crochet magazine?

Dora: I haven’t really been publishing Crochet Insider as a magazine for a couple of years, it was just too much work once my design career really got going. But I loved doing it because of meeting and talking to so many interesting people. Challenges: it took huge number of hours and did not earn much, so it couldn’t continue indefinitely. There is still a lot of great content at the site and I wish more aspiring designers would read the interviews, because there is so much to learn.  (UC comment: Besides the Crochet Insider interview with Jean Leinhauser I linked above, two of my other favorites are this one with Vashti Braha and this one with Myra Wood.)

#15 Lace Pullover c Vogue Knitting

#15 Lace Pullover.  Image (c) Vogue Knitting.

UC: Your books place a lot of emphasis on teaching techniques and skills, along with the inclusion of patterns. Tell us about your decision to work this way rather than through pattern collections or historical work, which you’re also known for.

Dora: Many of these decisions are economic. I would love to publish a book on crochet history, but can’t afford to do so without a publisher. But no publishers wants such a book, because it will not sell in the numbers they need to be profitable. It’s sad but true. I try to get as much history into my books as they will tolerate. Hey, I’d love to go around the world and make film about crochet traditions, but again, where’s the funding? Publishers have been interested in my books that combine good designs with educational material, and I love teaching and empowering, so that works for me. In addition to being a designer, I teach singing and have for many years, so teaching comes naturally to me.

Prelude Houndstooth Skirt c Tension Magazine

Prelude Houndstooth Skirt.  Image (c) Tension Magazine.

UC: You design mostly women’s garments and accessories. What appeals to you about designing wearables?

Dora: This comes back to my background in crochet, or the total lack of it! I never was exposed to afghan making, thread crochet, or any of those fine American traditions. My parents were WWII immigrants and craftiness was not their heritage. I live in NYC and never had the chance to shop at big box stores, which didn’t even exist here until a few years ago. I do love fashion and had discovered for myself that crochet could make great wearables. It was shocking to encounter the yarn industry’s negativity about crochet wearables. So I’ve been very motivated to change that viewpoint with my work. And I’m in some very fine company there of course.

DoraBookCover.low.res

 

UC: You’ve had a variety of roles in the crochet industry, including designer, writer, teacher, publisher, and social networker/community builder. What advice do you have for aspiring professionals?

Dora: I would say to aspiring designers, don’t be naive about this industry – it’s very tough to make money, very competitive, and takes tremendous perseverance and drive. I’ve done all these things to build my career and earn money. And I enjoy all of them too. But I’d be happy to restrict my activities and lead a more sane life if it were possible.

Ariadne Scarf

Ariadne Scarf from Creating Crochet Fabric.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books (besides yours, of course) in your collection?

Dora: The books I bought when I started getting serious, about 10 years ago, are still my favorites. They are “vintage” ’70s and ’80s books by designers like Jacqueline Henderson, Sylvia Cosh, James Walters, Judith Copeland. (UC comment: I love those books, too!  I shared several from my collection in my Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week series.)  I adore Japanese pattern books, and the Ukrainian magazine Duplet — I stocked up on about 100 magazines when I visited the Ukraine! I also use stitch dictionaries, any I can get my hands on, including the huge Linda Schapper book, the old Harmony Guides, and Japanese stitch dictionaries.

UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs you frequent for inspiration or community?

Dora: Pinterest and Etsy – lots of great inspiration. And Ravelry!

UC: What’s coming next for you?

Dora: I have a crochet reference book coming out in the fall of 2014 by Storey Publishing. The working title is The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Handbook. They are fantastic publishers, I’m very excited about it. A reference book not just for beginners but for intermediate crocheters too, with lots of information on working stitch patterns, shaping, construction, colorwork, and flexible tension. What I mean by the latter is the ability to control tension so you can really sculpt stitches.

Crochet Insider will get a facelift soon and I will be enlarging my indie pattern line and store at the site. I also plan to develop video classes, sort of like Craftsy, but as an indie venture so I can go direct to students.

Thanks for stopping by, Dora!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Monica Rodriguez Fuertes from Hand Made Awards

I’m excited to interview Monica Rodriguez Fuertes, a Spanish crochet, knitting, and sewing designer.  You may be familiar with Monica’s designs from Crochet Today!, or through the Etsy shop she shares with her mom, HandMadeAwards.  (You can read more about her in this Crochet Today! Designer We Love interview.)

Monica can be found online on Etsy (through the HandMadeAwards and The Cup of Tea shops), on the HandMadeAwards Facebook page, and on Ravelry (on her designer page or in the HMA group).

By the way, Monica asked me to share a special thank you with her mom, Loly Fuertes.  Pictures are used with permission and link to the pattern pages.

 

Monica Rodriguez Fuertes.

Monica Rodriguez Fuertes.

 

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet, knit, and sew?
Moni: When I was a little girl I was always painting and making little pompom animals and sewing dolls with fabrics.

My mom, Loly Fuertes, is an expert knitter and crocheter.  She taught to me a few years ago at her home, and my great-grandmother taught her in the garden on a summer afternoon when my mom was a little girl.

Both my mother and I started HandMadeAwards.

The art of creating lovely and unique items has been always present in my family. I grew up all around this fantastic environment.

Vincent Van Gogh Teddy Bear pattern by HandMadeAwards.

Vincent Van Gogh Teddy Bear pattern by HandMadeAwards.

 

UC: What inspired you to start selling your patterns on Etsy?
Moni: I thought that Etsy was the perfect site to sell my patterns because all the crafters enjoy using Etsy to find and shop for their treasures.

 

Fittipaldi Car Carrot pattern by HandMadeAwards.

Fittipaldi Car Carrot pattern by HandMadeAwards.

UC: In addition to selling your patterns on Etsy, you also design regularly for Crochet Today!  What do you enjoy about working with the Crochet Today! team?  How does it compare with self-publishing?
Moni: The Crochet Today! team are fantastic and really professional and I always feel very comfortable and happy working with them. They are a great support for new designers.

Crochet Today! magazine has lovely ideas, and I make the items they love in real life with my own style. The difference when I design and create a toy [for self-publishing] is that this new toy is my own idea from the beginning until the end (colors, materials, size, style…).

Solar System Mobile, published by Crochet Today!

Solar System Mobile, published by Crochet Today!

UC: You’ve had success in selling your patterns on Etsy. What tips do you have for a new Etsy seller?
Moni: The most important is believe in, love, and enjoy your own work.  This is the secret for having success.  I always try to make each handmade piece delicate and unique.

Bonnie the Striped Bunny by HandMadeAwards.

Bonnie the Striped Bunny by HandMadeAwards.

UC: You’re originally from Santander, Spain.  What was the yarn crafting scene like there when you were growing up?  Has it changed since then?
Moni: Yes, I was born in Santander, Spain, and I grew up in a big home near the beach with my adoring family: my parents and my grandparents, Cris, my little sister, and my uncle, who is a brilliant architect. My grandfather is an expert in old Hollywood movies. The women of my home were always crafting, making amazing quilts, designing clothes and dresses, cooking cakes, making new clothes for toys and dolls for my sister and me, making beautiful garlands for parties…

Alice in Wonderland Tea Cosy by HandMadeAwards.

Alice in Wonderland Tea Cosy by HandMadeAwards.

My favourite scene that I remember is the living room in the afternoons, full of colorful yarns with my mom and grandmom knitting or sewing dresses and dolls for my sister and me. I would sit on the floor, playing with some of their strands of wool for making little pompom chicks or bunnies, with chocolate cookies and a glass of milk.

My Darling Geese by HandMadeAwards.

My Darling Geese by HandMadeAwards.

I’m very lucky because nothing is different today around me, my sweet grandmom that spends her afternoons with us having a cup of tea although today she can not make all those pretty things that she usually did…but our home continues to be full of vintage treasures such as old ribbons, hundreds of colorful yarn skeins, glass beads, beautiful scraps of fabrics, and all the pretty things for crafting.

My Bicycle by HandMadeAwards.

My Bicycle by HandMadeAwards.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Moni: Absolutely yes! I grew up in a family that loves art in all the expressions, and the person that I’m today is a reflection off all of that. Finally, I decided to study Applied Arts and I’m an interior architect.

My sister and I owned a fashion shop for several years with the most beautiful dresses and bags that we bought in Milan, Italy, and our shop was recommended in Vogue magazine six times.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Moni, and sharing your story!

 The next interview in the series will be posted on September 26 with Daniela Montelongo/Pompon’s Party.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Cristina Mershon

Today, I’m pleased to interview crochet designer, Cristina Mershon. Cristina is originally from Galicia, Spain, and she currently lives in Oklahoma. Although she has only been publishing her designs since 2011, she has been quite prolific.  You can find Cristina on Ravelry as CristinaMershon or through her designer page.

Each photo is linked to the pattern page on Ravelry. 

This post contains affiliate links.

Cristina Mershon.

Cristina Mershon.

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

Cristina: It seems like avid crocheters have similar beginnings: mom or grandma taught them around 8 years old, and my story is no different. I loved seeing my mom knitting and crocheting beautiful things. Knitting used to be my favorite thing to do when I was younger back in Galicia, but with time crochet became my obsession. My mom and her friends only crocheted with white thread that they bought in big skeins from a factory in Portugal, and they would only do household items. Knitting was for wearing, and crochet for the home.

 

Alpine Shawl, published by Cascade Yarns.

Alpine Shawl, published by Cascade Yarns.

When I first come to the United States, I was shocked at the new world of crochet in front of me. I could do anything and everything with yarn and a hook!

I am graphic designer during the day, working on book covers, web layouts, logos and all kinds of promotional materials, trying to make my clients happy with the use of color and fun shapes. But at night, when I am home, after spending time with my hubby and 4 little kids, it’s my time to create crochet items with a modern twist.

St. Tropez Tunic, published by Interweave Crochet.

St. Tropez Tunic, published by Interweave Crochet.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Cristina: A lot of my inspiration comes from knitting. I love the seamless flow of the knitted fabric, and the intricate detail of the lace. So when I stared designing, I wanted to accomplish a knitting look using a crochet hook. One of my first published works was a series of shawls, but not your old school grandma ones. I wanted to do modern style shawls for everyday use, for the office, or to take your kids to school. In fact, I wear them all the time, and they make any everyday outfit into a sophisticated look.

Designing helps me create what I really want and I cannot find. I love creating super easy to make items, nothing complicated, easy shapes, simple stitches… all combined to created something really special.

Cristina's designs on her baby, Sedora.

Cristina’s designs on little Sedora.

UC: You have many great designs for children as well as lovely accessories for women. What appeals to you about crocheting wearables?

Cristina: I reconnected to crochet when I first got pregnant with my first baby. Something in me (crazy hormones!!) pushed me to make things all the time, a nesting instinct that wouldn’t go away. So that’s when I began to crochet baby items. I started with lacy edges for receiving blankets and it just went off from there.

I got pregnant again with my second (they are only 1 year apart!), so I made everything from jackets, to blankets, to towel edges, and booties… and then baby number 3 and number 4 came along… then my collection of baby hats and jackets was so big, that my friends asked to me sell some to them.

Then, I went to a baby boutique and the owner asked where did I buy my baby’s hats… so I started to sell those too. All of that while working full time in the advertising agency.  Those were a few crazy years!

Melania Dress, published by Interweave Crochet.

Melania Dress, published by Interweave Crochet.

And one day I realized that I never did anything for me, so I started designing shawls and shrugs, and anything that would inspire me to use basic shapes, like circles, squares, rectangles, and hexagons, to create one of a kind items. A great example of that was my first work for Vogue Crochet, where they asked me to design two different projects.  It was an amazing experience.

Grace Shrug, published by Inside Crochet.

Grace Shrug, published by Inside Crochet.

UC: How did you make the shift from designing finished objects to designing patterns?

Cristina: I am always going to be very thankful to Cascade Yarns and Crochet Today! They gave me my first opportunity to create crochet patterns. I didn’t even know I could do that, or that anybody would ever like them. I knew how to crochet visually, but I didn’t have any idea of how to follow a pattern. Everything I did before then was by looking at a existing finished piece or graphic pattern.

I remember working on my first design ever for Cascade Yarns, the Alpine Shawl, and trying to figure out how to write a pattern.  It was very very hard! After that pattern was published and liked by hundreds of people within a few weeks, I started getting requests for designs. I couldn’t believe that a hobby like mine could translate into a little career, but how exiting.

Galician Sea Shawl, published by Annie's in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.

Galician Sea Shawl, published by Annie’s in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.

UC: In 2012, you published your first booklet, Exquisite Crochet Shawls.  Tell us about what that was like and what the design process was like for those shawls.

Cristina: When I got the opportunity to create the shawls for Annie’s, Exquisite Crochet Shawls, I was delighted. Every shawl in that book is inspired by my country of Spain. I am from the Northwest region of Galicia, a very magical place where knitting and crochet were not just a hobby a few years back, but the only way to create wearables and items for the home. My mom used to get the whole fleece from her own sheep, wash it, card it, rove it, spin it and wind it all by herself.

Alborada Shawl, published by Annie's in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.

Alborada Shawl, published by Annie’s in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.

So the Alborada Shawl (meaning  “dawn”) has the purple tones of the sun coming up in the morning, with beautiful pineapple lace motifs. The green Celtic Nature Shawl was inspired by the round markings by the Celts found in ancient stones; the blue Galician Sea Shawl shows the ripples and waves of the wild Atlantic ocean; the Volvoreta Stole (meaning “butterfly”) is light and airy; and the Art Deco Shawl is a mix of structured and freeform crochet, if that even exists.

Shades of Blue Shawl by Cristina Mershon.  Photo (c) Soho Publishing.

Shades of Blue Shawl, published by Soho Publishing in Crochet Noro.

UC: Last year, your design also graced the cover of Crochet Noro.  Tell us about that experience.

Cristina: The cover of Crochet Noro: 30 Dazzling Designs was a huge surprise. I never though the shawl would make to the cover since all of these incredible crocheters were a part of it.

The Art Major: Color Wheel Cowl and Beret by Cristina Mershon.  Image (c) Crochet Today!

The Art Major: Color Wheel Cowl and Beret, published by Crochet Today!

One day I stumbled onto the book on Amazon.com before it was published, and I thought that the shawl looked very familiar.  When I realized it was my own design, that was a great feeling. The same thing happened with my first cover of Crochet Today!: I couldn’t believe my first ever magazine project would make it to the cover.

Vogue was very unexpected, to the point that when I got the email to be a part of it, I though it was a joke. I felt so blessed.

Buttoned Cowl by Cristina Mershon.  Picture (c) Rose Callahan/Soho Publishing.

Buttoned Cowl, published by Soho Publishing in Vogue Crochet.

UC: How does your background influence your design process?

Cristina: My art and design background definitely influence my crochet design. I want to push the envelope with every design. Right now, I am working on a series of crochet wearable patterns that I will be selling on my own through Ravelry. I think it’s time to work on patterns where I get create what I really want to wear, maybe pushing the envelope a little bit.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Cristina!

 The next interview in the series will be posted on September 23 with Monica Rodriguez Fuertes/Hand Made Awards.