Tag Archives: design

Interview with Andres Nevarez (Hispanic Heritage Month Series)

Interview with crochet/knit blogger/designer Andy Nevarez on Underground Crafter

I’m excited to kick off my 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month series with an interview with Andres Nevarez, also known as Crafty Andy. Andy is a crochet and knitting designer and blogger. He can be found online on his Crafty Andy website and blog, Pinterest, Facebook, on Twitter as @Crafty_Andy, Flickr, and Ravelry (as CraftyAndy and on his designer page). Andy also has some great videos on YouTube, and his Tapestry crochet work was featured on Carol Ventura‘s Tapestry Crochet blog here. (I previously interviewed Carol here.)

All images are copyright Andy Nevarez unless otherwise noted, and are used with permission. Click on the photos to visit that pattern’s page on Ravelry.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with crochet/knit blogger/designer Andy Nevarez on Underground Crafter

Andy Nevarez’s Enconium, A Lace Scarf knitting pattern.

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

Andy: I honestly don’t remember when I learned to crochet, but I picked it up around the year 2000 or so. I had some help from a friend that knew how to crochet well. I did a lot of pot holders and wash cloths, then graduated to afghans.

I learned to knit around 1988, when I was on bed rest for about a month. I asked a friend to take me to Woolworth’s to get a book and some needles. I taught myself to knit, and believe it or not, my first project was a sweater.

Interview with crochet/knit blogger/designer Andy Nevarez on Underground Crafter

Andy’s Capello Di Lana crochet pattern.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Andy: The inspiration to start designing came from the fact that I love hats. My love for hats sent me into a search for men’s hats and I did not like anything that I saw that was crochet. The crochet hats that I found on the internet were very interesting, from Kufis, toques, beanies to fancy kippahs. I wanted something stylish, unique and challenging and that is how I got into designing Tapestry crochet hats.

There were a lot of knitted hat patterns, but I was only focusing on making crochet hats at the time. I started crocheting hats and decided to go into Tapestry crochet. At the time, I did not know it was called that. I was bored with just one color and decided to play with two colors in hats. Almost everyone that knows me knows me by my hats. Carol Ventura was the first Tapestry Crocheter that I was inspired by. These are some of my Tapestry crochet designs.

Interview with crochet/knit blogger/designer Andy Nevarez on Underground Crafter

Andy’s Heracles Lace Scarf knitting pattern.

UC: You have roughly an equal amount of crochet and knitting patterns. Is that something you have done intentionally or just a happy accident?

Andy: More intentionally than accident. I have so many ideas for hats in my head, either in knit or crochet. Whenever I am looking at yarn, the first thoughts that cross my mind are how can I make a hat out of these skeins, what shape will it take? The same goes with lace scarves for men. What kind of lace pattern can I make with this yarn that I want to wear.

Interview with crochet/knit blogger/designer Andy Nevarez on Underground Crafter

Pythagoras Cap, a crochet design by Andy Nevarez.

UC: You talk about living with AIDS and being a longterm HIV survivor on your blog. What kind of reaction have you received in the yarn crafts community about your status, as well as your fundraising efforts for Project Open Hand?

Andy: My status as HIV/AIDS person does not come up, unless I see it fit to come into the picture. I guess the biggest surprise is the fact that I have an AIDS diagnosis and I “look normal” or “healthy,” whatever that means. I do not complain about things unless it is to my doctor, which is the person I need to complain to or rather than complain, let him know what is up with my body, my aches and pains. I am not a complainer. I make the best out of everything in my life and being HIV/AIDS is just a piece of the 1001 pieces puzzle that is Andy.

My Project Open Hand efforts have not raised lots of money yet. My friend Kyle Kunnecke mentioned that he was making a hat called Cause and would ‘t it be nice if there was a crochet version. Well, what a great opportunity for me to give back and take a colorwork challenge. I am hoping my hat pattern will outlive me for hundreds of years or until there is a cure.

Interview with crochet/knit blogger/designer Andy Nevarez on Underground Crafter

Ribbons, a crochet hat design by Andy Nevarez.

UC: What was the yarn crafts scene like in your community in Puerto Rico when you were growing up?

Andy: Well, people – men, women and children – that craft with yarn are artisans or apprentices. There are different levels of craftsmanship and techniques.   Everyone likes to see people make things by hand. People are always curious about how things are made.

UC: How does it compare to the current scene in San Francisco?

Andy: I have had a mostly positive experience with my crafts. A lot of people look down at crochet, believe it or not. I consider myself to be the Tapestry Crochet Ambassador and nobody puts down my work. Most people that see one of my hats think that they are knit, not that it matters. San Francisco makes me feel like an Artisan. I make hats that are wearable art, sculptures made out of yarn, a mosaic of color to make the mind wander.

UC: If you’re still in touch with crafters on the island, do you know anything about the current yarn crafts scene there?

Andy: The times that I have knit or crochet in public on the Island, I get so many people that come to take a closer look at what I am doing. They ask me questions and admire my work, and they talk to me with a silent kind of respect. People actually acknowledge the fact that I am Artisan. People in San Francisco are very kind as well. They are not really surprised that I am a man that crafts, they are more surprised that a lot of my pieces are crochet.

The one thing I know about the craft scene on the Island is mundillo. This is a craft of handmade bobbin lace and is mostly done by women. I have never seen a man making mundillo.

Interview with crochet/knit blogger/designer Andy Nevarez on Underground Crafter

Thermopylae Scarf, a crochet pattern by Andy Nevarez.

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

Andy: Of course it does. There are some [Hispanic] artisans that have inspired me and I still get inspiration from: Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo.

I like to think outside the box, I like to be daring, creative and make people think about the beauty that can be created. These artists had to think outside the box. Part of me likes earth tones, but there is that part of me that likes bright contrasting colors, orange and blue, teal and fuchsia.

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

Andy: Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Without Tears, Barbara G. Walker‘s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns book collection, and More Tapestry Crochet by Carol Ventura.

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

Andy: I visit Tapestry Crochet, Men Who Knit, TECHKnitting, and Ravelry. I get a lot of inspiration from what surrounds me as well. Even though my first language is Spanish, I have no idea how to crochet or knit in Spanish yet.

Interview with crochet/knit blogger/designer Andy Nevarez on Underground Crafter

Andy’s Tempo Crochet Caps, published by Skacel. (Image (c) Skacel.)

UC: What’s next for Crafty Andy?

Andy: I want to share my love of crafts with other people. I am an introvert of sorts, yet my desire to connect with people is bigger than my introversion. I live life to the fullest and live without regrets. There are plenty of pattern ideas for hats and scarves in my head, waiting to come out and see the light. I can say there will be more knitted lace scarves and stoles from me. There will be more Tapestry crochet hats and knitted hats.

I have been featured at the Malabrigo website  and I have a pattern published by Skacel. Is there a book in my future? Probably so, but the way that it will probably happen is that I will start writing and will not stop until it’s done. It will be in spurts, which is kind of a contradiction to what I just said, but that is my kind of energy. I work when I am inspired, and in the meantime I collect data.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Andy, and for sharing your designs and artistry with us!

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 with crochet designer, Julie Yeager

Today, I’m happy to share an interview with crochet designer, Julie Yeager. Though we’ve never met in real life, Julie and I share a love of crocheting squares and blankets, and of participating in crochet related swaps. (And, I learned from the interview that we also both grew up shopping for yarn at Woolworth’s in New York City!)

Julie can be found online on Ravelry (as JulieAnny, on her designer page, in the Julie Yeager Designs group), Facebook, and Etsy. Julie also founded and co-moderates the Vanna’s Choice Fan Club group on Ravelry, where you can exchange squares and share pictures of your Vanna’s Choice creations. All photos are copyright Julie Yeager and are used with permission.

This post contains affiliate links.

Julie Yeager

Julie Yeager.

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

Julie: I’m honored to talk to the readers of Underground Crafter, Marie.  Thanks for having me. (UC comment: Thanks so much, Julie! It’s great to have you stop by.) I’ve been knitting and crocheting since I was about 8; learned from my Irish mom. I would buy sparkly crochet thread at Woolworth’s in the Bronx, NY and crochet clothes for my Barbies. I also made my share of granny square tote bags. I didn’t do much crafting in my 20s, maybe an occasional baby blanket, but then when I became a stay at home mom I got back into knitting and machine knitting for my daughter. When I discovered Ravelry I got into crocheting afghan squares and blankets and I haven’t stopped.

Stained Glass Afghan Square

Stained Glass Afghan Square, available as a 12″ block pattern.

UC: What inspired you to start designing? 

Julie: I’ve always changed patterns to my taste and would put together the yoke from one sweater with the sleeves from another so I guess I’ve been “designing” a little for years.
I joined some afghan square swap groups on Ravelry and perfected my technique using the patterns of many great designers. Interweave Crochet magazine and the Crochet Me website sponsored a contest in which readers could submit afghan square patterns and the winners would become part of a published pattern called the Chain Reaction Afghan Project. I just picked up my hook and started playing around and submitted a few designs. Three of my designs were chosen and appeared in Interweave Crochet in 2010 – 2011. It was very exciting and the start of my designing career. With Ravelry, I had a great tool to share my work.

Hexaghan

The Hexaghan, including 6 different hexagon designs joined together into one 61 hexagon blanket.

UC: You primarily design crocheted squares. What is it about square motifs that you enjoy designing? 

Julie: I love designing 12-inch squares in aran weight yarn and I have an obsession with Vanna’s Choice. I like the modern look of large scale stitching and I feel like a sculptor with my hook in hand. Fitting my idea into a 12-inch square and getting it to square is very satisfying. My squares are small enough to design and crochet quickly, and I enjoy writing a clear pattern that is easy to follow. I also like an unfussy and repetitive design; as a pattern-user I do not like to have to constantly refer to the instructions and I want my customers to enjoy themselves. Also, there are no fitting problems with blankets.

Catalina Afghan Square

Catalina Afghan Square, a free pattern available in both 9″ and 12″ sizes.

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

Julie: With Ravelry and Paypal and a head full of ideas, it is easy and stress-free to work this business around my life. I have a full-time job as a Registered Nurse and am raising a 16-year-old, so I can write and publish patterns around my schedule. Although I would love to have my patterns in magazines and books, for now I find this a great outlet for my creativity and am very happy with how it’s going. It is not for everyone; you have to be a jack-of-all-trades and competent with designing, writing, proof-reading, and know your way around the internet. No editors or publicists on my staff, haha.

Tangled Web Afghan Block

Tangled Web Afghan Block, a 12″ square design.

UC: You’ve hosted several Mystery Crochet-a-Longs. What do you enjoy about using this format to release your patterns? Do you have any tips for designers who want to dip their toes into the MCAL waters? 

Julie: Mystery Crochet-a-Longs are a fun way to draw interest to my patterns. I am lucky to have a base of fans who trust me and are willing to blindly follow where I go! I can only do it about once a year because designing, crocheting, and writing and proofreading a pattern for a whole blanket is very time-consuming! I need a compelling idea to keep my interest through the work! My fans seem to enjoy it and it keeps them interested in my new work. It also brings new fans. I’ve kept the Mystery’ghan free for participants and then later I put the pattern up for sale. The finished projects become a marketing tool. I’m always a little nervous hoping that people will like it after they’ve invested their time and money into a “Mystery.” My only advice is that you have your pattern fully tested before you start.

Garden State Afghan

Garden State Afghan, which Julie originally offered in June, 2013 as a MCAL design, includes eight 4″ squares, four 8″ squares, and two 12″ square patterns.

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

Julie: When I first started swapping afghan squares, Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans was my favorite. I also worked my way through a few other square reference books, like 101 Crochet Squares by Jean Leinhauser. I love Edie Eckman’s Around the Corner Crochet Borders for finishing after I have a pile of squares to join! I sometimes use The Crochet Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden for stitch inspiration. I try to invent my own stitches these days!

Sun Catcher Afghan Square

 

Sun Catcher Afghan Square, a 12″ block.

UC: Are there any crafty websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Julie: I am a Ravelry addict and check in there several times a day. I like to check the Hot Right Now pattern list and I also check in with my group to see if anyone has any questions or if anyone has posted an awesome photo. :)

In Treble Afghan Square

In Treble Afghan Square, a 12″ block.

UC: What projects do you have coming up this year?

Julie: I am currently working on the pattern for my next Mystery-Ghan and hope to have that ready for a June 2014 start. Stay tuned to my Ravelry board for information on that. Clues will be given out over a six-week period and you will have a complete afghan finished!

Thanks again for stopping by, Julie, and I wish you and your fans the best for a fun summer Mystery-Ghan!

Interview with Tamara Kelly from Moogly

I can’t believe the last day of March is already here! I had so much fun celebrating National Crochet Month, and I’m happy to end the festivities with an interview with crochet designer and blogger, Tamara Kelly.

You may know Tamara from her blog, Moogly, or from crocheting one of the more than 130 designs she has published since 2008. Besides her blog, you can also find her online on Ravelry (as tamarairene or on her designer page), on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on Twitter as @mooglyblog.

All photos are used with permission and are copyright Tamara Kelly unless otherwise noted.

This post contains affiliate links.

Tamara Bio Photo 2013

Tamara Kelly. Photo (c) RSH Photography.

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

Tamara: I tried to teach myself in my early twenties from a pamphlet I’d picked up at a craft store – what a disaster! And it didn’t help that I’d decided on a super fuzzy chunky boucle and a Tunisian hook (not that I knew the difference). I set it aside, thinking crochet wasn’t for me, until a few years later. At that point I’d gained a baby, as well as a sister-in-law who’d been crocheting for years. She showed me how to chain and single crochet, and in those 5 minutes I was “hooked!” I taught myself the rest from a stitch dictionary, and crochet quickly became my favorite craft!

Rainbow in the Clouds Pillow

Rainbow in the Clouds Pillow.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Tamara: I made many projects from other people’s patterns, but I often found I was making my own changes and improvements. When I started doing commission crochet work, other crocheters asked me to share my patterns – and I found I liked the design side better! With designing, I get to crochet what I want, when I want it, and never have to make the same thing twice if I don’t want to.

Riley Cross Body Bag

Riley Cross Body Bag.

UC: You self-publish all of your work. What do you see as the advantages and challenges of self-publishing?

Tamara: The advantage is definitely control – I love being my own boss! All my deadlines are ones I set, and if I need to take a week off, or scrap an idea completely, or change directions, there’s no one telling me no. The challenge is not having a team – people to bounce ideas off of, people who are media and promotion experts. Luckily, I’ve been able to join a community of other crochet bloggers, and we support each other and help each other out.

Moroccan Midnight Cowl

Moroccan Midnight Cowl.  (Tamara also designed a matching pair of fingerless mitts and slouch hat.)

UC: You’ve undergone a few transformations online – from a mommy blogger, to a maker, to a designer/blogger. How did you make the decision to focus on designs, and then to offer your patterns free on your blog?

Tamara: I love new challenges, and I love being my own boss. When I tried mommy blogging, I got bored – it just wasn’t for me. When I started taking commission work, I loved getting paid for my hobby, but I didn’t love making the same things over and over again – and suddenly I had a whole bunch of bosses, with their own unique demands! When I design, I design for myself, for my kids, to my own tastes. I always love what I’m doing, and I think that that’s what comes through on the blog! I decided to make most of my patterns free, for several reasons. During the 10 years I spent crocheting as a hobby, free patterns were almost all I could afford. Additionally, I have a husband who works in the advertising field, so that model was familiar to me. By having ads on my blog, I’m able to provide free patterns, and give back to the community, while still earning a much needed income for my family – everybody wins! And that makes me happy.

Easter Lily

Easter Lily (November Lily).

UC: Do you see yourself primarily as a blogger, designer, or publisher, or do you wear all three hats equally?

Tamara: Definitely a blogger and a designer – and blogging and social media certainly take more actual hours of the day… but I’m always designing in the back of my head at the same time. I crochet in my sleep! Publishing is a side effect of running a blog I suppose, but it’s not something I think about too much. I just love putting together a great blog and fun patterns, and sharing them with others!

Circle of Love Afghan

Circle of Love Afghan.

UC: What tips or advice do you have for emerging crochet bloggers?

Tamara: Keep it positive, and be true to yourself and your own voice. Don’t worry too much about what will “sell” – share the things you love, and let that love show. Be generous with your time and talents, and find like-minded bloggers to network with. If you have a question, someone else has likely had it too!

Wavy Baby Blanket

Wavy Baby Blanket.

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

Tamara: Hands down my favorites have to be my stitch dictionaries. I have big ones, little specialized ones, and I hope to get some Japanese ones soon! The Harmony Guides 300 Crochet Stitches Volume 6 is what taught me how to read a pattern, how to read charts, and what amazing things crochet can do! (UC comment: This is one of my favorites, too, because it is so thorough. I’m also a stitch dictionary junkie, and you can see my reviews of this book and 20+ other crochet stitch guides here.) It is sadly out of print, so I had my copy specially spiral bound to preserve it. I still use it regularly!

Magic Spike Mandala Square

Magic Spike Mandala Square.

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

Tamara: So many! Ravelry is a great go-to of course, as well as The Yarn Box and All Free Crochet. I visit dozens of other crochet blogs every week, including Stitch 11, Repeat Crafter Me, Petals to Picots, Fiber Flux, The Crochet Lounge… and so many more!

Blackberry Salad Striped Baby Blanket

Blackberry Salad Striped Baby Blanket.

UC: What plans do you have for the rest of 2014?

Tamara: There’s so many exciting things happening this year – not all of which I can talk about yet! I’m always planning new crochet and yarn related giveaways – and I love promoting small businesses that might be interested in giveaways, including other designers, indie yarn dyers, hook makers, you name it! Also in 2014, I’m leading the Moogly Afghan Crochet-a-Long, where we crochet a different 12″ square every 2 weeks from now until November – that will give us enough for a 4′ x 6′ afghan at the end of the year, and the month of December to put it all together in time for gift giving! It’s not too late to join up, and it’s all free. (UC comment: There’s an unofficial Moogly Afghan CAL 2014 group started by fans on Ravelry, too.)

Thanks for stopping by for an interview, Tamara! 

Interview with crochet designer, Sarah Jane

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.

Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane.

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

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!

Perennial Bag

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

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

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

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

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 :D ….

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Ravelry looking at all the pretty pictures.

Cottage Garden Beanie

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!