Tag Archives: hispanic heritage month 2012

2012 Year in Review: Interviews

Yep, I just tooted my own horn :).  Thanks again to Kathryn Vercillo from Crochet Concupiscence for awarding me the 2012 Awesome Crochet Blog Award for Best Interviews.  As part of my 2012 Year in Review series, today I’m sharing five of my favorite interviews from 2012.

I was surprised to see that I posted 30 interviews on the blog this year.  I enjoyed all of them, but these are the ones that were a little bit extra special for me.

Vashti Braha (interviewed here) generously shared many insights about working in the yarn industry.

Sharon Silverman (interviewed here) offered advice for emerging designers.

Carri Hammett (interviewed here) detailed all of the work involved in creating a book with step-by-step tutorials.

 

It was very hard to pick just one interview from my Hispanic Heritage Month interview series, but I decided that I found Angele Lumiere‘s philosophical approach to creativity most interesting (interview here).

 

And last but not least, Deborah Atkinson (interviewed here) talks about how she got started designing all of those snowflakes!

 

You can find links to the rest of my 2012 interviews below, organized alphabetically by the interviewee’s last name :).

Ana BC

Liz Cooper

Marsha Cunningham

Nicky Epstein

Bert and Dana Freed

Deborah Green

Catherine Hirst

Phyllis Howe

Donna Kay Lacey

Vanessa Laven

Fiona McDonald

Maru Minetto

Paola Navarro

Vivian Osborne

Sara Palacios

Nuria Pastor

Sandie Petit

Linda Pietz

Juanita Quinones

Amy Shelton

Nicki Trench

Carol Ventura

Kathryn Vercillo

Charles Voth

Linda Wyszynski

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series Roundup

Today is the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month and also the end of my interview series.  Here’s a recap in case you missed some of the interviews.  All photos are used with permission.  (Click on the photos to link to the interview.)

Angele Lumiere

Spanish crochet designer and bilingual (Spanish/French) blogger at Le flux de la creativite

Vanessa Laven

Cuban-American (mostly knitting) blogger at Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts

 Juanita Quinones

Puerto Rican crochet tech editor, known as BoricuaCrochet on Ravelry

Ana Contreras

Guatemalan crochet and knitting designer and bilingual (Spanish/English) blogger at Lanas & Hilos

Paola Navarro

Argentine crochet designer, also known as Delicious Crochet

Sara Palacios

Argentine crochet designer, also known as Arrorro en Colores/Colorful Lullabies

Nuria Pastor

Spanish ex-pat crochet and knitting designer and bilingual (Spanish/English) blogger at Bezencilla

Charles Voth

Colombian ex-pat crochet and knitting designer and tech editor, also known as StitchStud

Maru Minetto

Peruvian crochet designer and bilingual (Spanish/English) blogger at Marumin Crochet

Thanks to everyone who shared an interview, especially since my requests were made at the eleventh hour.  I learned a lot about crocheting and knitting in Latin American and Europe, as well as about how these different needle artists view the impact of their culture on their own work.  I shared my own inspiration for this series here.

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Maru Minetto from Marumin Crochet

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today is the last interview in my Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 series.  (For those who don’t know, Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15 and ends on October 15.)  I’m happy to interview Maru Minetto, the Peruvian blogger and crochet designer behind Marumin Crochet.  Maru can also be found on Ravelry as marumin and on her designer page.

Maru Minetto.

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

Maru: My grandma did the most beautiful crochet work.  She taught me the basics as a teenager, but I wasn’t any good at it.  I had difficulty holding the crochet correctly and ended up  very frustrated with my uneven results.  I tried it again several years later, before the birth of my son… I bought a few magazines and started crocheting with much better results, so I started to crochet for gifts and charities.

 

UC: You seem to enjoy making projects for babies and children.  What is it about these types of projects that you love?

Maru: I went back to crocheting because I wanted my children to have crocheted items like the ones my grandma used to make for us, (not that I could really do more than bibs and blankets), but that was what drew me back to crocheting.  Caps, booties and sweaters soon followed.

Baby projects are finished up fast, and don’t take up a lot of material.  Babies and children are a great inspiration and they can wear anything from vintage classic to colorful  modern edge items and always look cute.

Even when my kids are all grown up now, there’s always need for baby items for gift giving and especially to be donated to hospitals and children in need and I find it very rewarding to be able to give something done with my own hands.

 

Maru Minetto's White Baby Bolero pattern.

 

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Maru: I think basically the need to experiment, create and have fun.  I started by following patterns written by other designers (and I still do crochet items by other designers), but sometimes I have a specific idea and no pattern to follow, so I simply start crocheting and creating a pattern of my own.

 

UC: Tell us about the crochet scene in Peru.

Maru: As you may know, Perú is well known for its fine Alpaca wool and the excellent craftmanship of our native people.  (UC comment: This is definitely true.  I work with Galler Yarns, and they import several luscious Peruvian alpaca yarns!)  In native communities they learn to spin, knit and/or crochet as children. Several years ago it was also common for schools to teach the basics of knitting and crochet.

There is no rivalry between knitting and crochet that I know of, but knitting is more widely spread as it is almost always related to clothing items as opposed to crochet that is viewed more as a decorative labor (tablecloths, doilies, dishcloths, afghans, etc).

Also, people seem to find it easier to knit than to crochet and it is way easier to find information and patterns  related to knitting than to crochet.

Maru Minetto's My Lavender Sachet pattern.

 

UC: Your blog is bilingual.  Tell us about your decision to blog in both English and Spanish.  What do you see as the benefits and the challenges of writing a bilingual blog?

Maru: I decided upon a bilingual blog as a means to reach more people, and make it easier for my followers.  I find that built in translators do not do a good job and the “translations” are almost always “confusing” to say the least.  Crochet has its very own “language” and common dictionaries/translators do not have the correct equivalents for crocheting terms.

Blogging in two languages just takes up a little more time.

 

Maru Minetto's Cute Baby Sweater pattern.

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English crochet blogs or websites to share?

Maru: There are several blogs I follow.  There are lots and lots of creative and caring people in the crochet community who love to share their knowledge of crochet.

But my all time favorite crochet blogs  are in Portuguese:

Thanks so much for stopping by Maru, and sharing your thoughts and links with us!

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Charles Voth a.k.a. Stitch Stud

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

I’m really excited to interview Charles Voth, also known as Stitch Stud, today.  Charles is a crochet and knitting designer and tech editor.  (If you’re not sure what a tech editor is, you may want to check out this interview with Juanita Quinones.  And if you get really excited about tech editing, you may want to sign up for these upcoming tech editing classes Charles is teaching at online at Crochet Insider.)  Charles is an active participant in several online forums for crochet designers, and over the years I’ve seen him generously sharing his knowledge with more junior designers (including me!).  In the past year, I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to (virtually) meet Charles when he tech edited one of my patterns.

You can find Charles online at his website, Charles Voth Designs, on Ravelry (as StitchStud and on his designer page), and on Twitter.  All photos are used with permission.

Charles Voth.

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

Charles: When I was 5, a woman visiting my mother was crocheting a blue hat. I was fascinated with the movement of her hands and that a 3-d object was appearing from a piece of yarn. I asked her to teach me. She taught me to finger chain that day, and came back another time to teach me how to use a hook. What I made after with the basic stitches I learned, I can’t recall.

 

I remember making a doily in thread following a pattern when I was 8 or 9. I had no-one to help me crack the code of pattern text and abbreviations, but somehow with the photo and the index of stitches I figured it out. When I was 10 or 11, I saw some Guambiano tribesmen knitting and spinning with drop-spindles (in Popayan, Colombia) and I asked my dad what they were doing. He explained what it was and I asked him if I could learn to knit. Fortunately, my grade 5 teacher was a knitter and my dad asked her to teach me. He bought me my first yarn and needles.

 

I am a “thrower”, and faster at it than at “picking”, but when my Russian-born grandmother saw me throwing upon my visit with her in Canada, she was dismayed, and tried to get me to knit Russian-continental. Which I can now do fairly well, but at that age, I found it hopeless to change over.

 

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Charles: The yarn store I frequented in Medellin, Colombia only had yarn, no pattern booklets. The women would sketch a schematic, do a swatch, and figure out the sweater. They taught me how to do that so I could make my mom a sweater and a vest. But I wanted to knit something for myself. Fortunately, another expat woman lent me an English pattern book with women’s patterns. I analysed the shaping, schematic, gauge, etc, and with the help of my math teacher I designed a men’s sweater based on the woman’s pattern, making it more masculine. I even got a home-ec credit for that. I just kept going from there and only stopped during the first 10 years of my kids’ lives. I was the full-time stay at home parent for half of those years and just didn’t have time.

 

Joni Kimono by Charles Voth, published in Inside Crochet, Issue 33. Photo (c) Inside Crochet 2012 via Ravelry.com.

UC: Many of your patterns are available in both English and Spanish.  Tell us about your decision to offer your patterns in both languages.  Are Spanish language patterns universally understand by Spanish speakers, or is there a great divide like we see between U.S. & U.K. terminology?  If so, how do you address that in your work.

Charles: I wish I could spend more time writing my patterns in both languages. I know that Spanish-speaking knitters and crocheters don’t cling to patterns the way English-speakers do…and seem to thrive on the “swatch, and follow a schematic” formula, but there are many learners and intermediate crocheters who perhaps haven’t benefited from a relative who could teach them the intricacies of shaping, etc, and they do look for patterns. The many Spanish groups of Ravelry who translate with designers’ permission are a testimony to this growing need.

 

While there are differences in the names of stitches, for knitting needles, the crochet hook, and even yarn, the labels do seem immaterial to Spanish-speaking crafters. Rather than stigmatizing one set of labels as incorrect or inferior, each geographic region is happy to use what they know and even to borrow from each other. It’s rather refreshing. The other mentality that I enjoy and return to often for a breath of fresh air, is that there is no knit-crochet dichotomy like in North America. In Colombia, as in many other countries, the word “tejer” is universal for “weaving, knitting, and crochet” and the tool that is used is given when the activity is being described.  So I would “weave with a loom,” “weave with 2 needles,” or “weave with a hook,” for example. I use the words that I was taught in Colombia and the terms and abbreviations I first found when I found other Hispanic  bloggers and stitchers online.

 

UC: In addition to your crochet life, you’re also an ESL teacher.  Does your teaching experience impact your design or pattern writing process, and if so, how?

Charles: Second language learners struggle constantly with accuracy and fluency, and the two aspects of language compete with each other. Either one can talk with native-like speed and tone yet have many embedded grammatical or micro-level pronunciation errors, or one can speak/write accurately, with near perfect grammar and spelling, but it takes forever and the speech is robotic and the writing painfully slow.

 

Crocheters and knitters, depending on their exposure to patterns and the time they’ve been stitching, and what kind of support they’ve had, and more importantly, what kind of learner they are (visual, aural, kinesthetic, text-biased) often struggle with the same fits and false starts when they encounter pattern instructions and charts until they are more experienced, but if a stitcher works faster than they are ready to, things get missed and frogging is more common.

 

I have written patterns that bore the experienced knitter/crocheter to tears because they are full of pedagogical text, and I’ve written patterns that are so sparse that a newbie takes up hours of my time on Ravelry giving pattern support. I’m a visual learner, so I’m fine with a chart, a schematic and minimal text, yet I know that if my patterns were only like that I’d loose 75% of stitchers out there, so I now try to find a happy medium.

 

Crantini Sophisticate by Charles Voth, published on the Annie's website. Photo (c) Annie's 2010.

UC: You were born and raised in Colombia.  What was the yarn crafts scene like there when you were growing up?

Charles: From what I recall, different tribes of pre-European Colombians have a vibrant craft movement and the lore is well documented and perpetuated. Colombia is the textile centre of Latin America, and Medellin, where I grew up, has many textile corporations. The tallest sky scraper in the city is actually a stylized sewing needle. When I was there, mostly grandmothers were the knitters and depending on the social class, younger women either learned out of necessity (to make blankets and clothes for themselves and/or for sale) or if they were middle or upper class, they just dabbled in it once in a while. I’m not at all in touch with the current knitting/crochet culture in Colombia. Colombians on Ravelry appear to come from all age groups.

 

When I lived there, the main yarn purveyors were the French company Pinguoin, and Cisne yarns (from Chile), and I believe Coats had and still has a line of yarn with Spanish labels. These yarns were in the store at the mall near my house. The yarns were mostly acrylic. My favourite store was a different one, 15 blocks from my house and it was frequented mostly by little grandmothers from working class families. The store consisted of a small room with walls made of cinderblock and red-clay brick; it was poorly lit, and had a very sparse non-yarn décor. But it had wall-to-wall cones of what now would be deemed lace-weight acrylic yarn in about 100 colours. I would go there, ask for 15, 23, 60, or any number of grams of yarn, and I could specify the number of strands they would hold together and wind off into cakes. 4 yarns together worked great on my 3.5mm or 4mm needles, so it must have been somewhere been a sport or DK weight.  I’d ask for 3 strands together to make baby booties and 6 strands together to work at a worsted weight gauge. It was VERY splitty, naturally, but I think my getting control of this was what really helped me develop a very even tension.  (UC comment: This sounds like a really fun store!)

 

Mock Cable Men's Pullover by Charles Voth.

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

Charles: The deepest influence my cultural heritage gives me is my sense of colour and of proportion. I know it’s nothing unusual now, but when I first arrived in Canada and made things with orange, fuschia, and red right beside each other, I sure got looks. Naturally, when I discovered Kaffe Fasset at 19 and saw that colours transcended culture, I feel liberated.

 

I don’t know whether I can say this here, but as a teenage boy interested in the local beauties, I was drawn to girls that had curves, naturally, but it was the relative proportion that mattered. The guys and I would comment on how North American models were twiggy and sickly and we were never surprised that Miss Universe was often won by a South American beauty queen. To be beautiful in our eyes, a girl had to have calves and thighs, but it was just as important to have narrow ankles and knees, and so on—proportion was key. This definitely has influenced my design aesthetic, when designing women’s garments, because I like to accentuate curves and relative differences in proportion rather than create the baggy box or the wraith-like sack-on-a-scare-crow look. You could say that my muse for women’s designs is “la belleza latina.”  Of course, for men’s designs, I now consult my 2 teenage sons and what they and their friends would wear.

 

UC: You’ve held a lot of roles in the yarn industry, including designer, podcaster, tech editor, and magazine editor.  What advice do you have for aspiring professionals?

Charles: I would say,

  • “Don’t ever think you’re too young to start, or too old to start.
  • Don’t give up, take small steps, be humble amongst the great talent that’s around you, but don’t hide your skills and art out of sight.
  • Embrace technology.
  • Don’t have a sense of entitlement, accept rejection without tears.  A rejected design only means your creation doesn’t fit in someone else’s big picture creative concept; it doesn’t mean it’s a terrible design.
  • Act professionally, and as much as you can, don’t let emotions cloud business matters, particularly in public.
  • Befriend many, but give to many in return.
  • Find one or two trustworthy and extremely honest (even painfully so, sometimes) mentors to guide you and to listen to your emotional venting privately.
  • Most of all, enjoy creating, have a knitting or crochet project that doesn’t have a deadline, and is just there to be savoured, touched, and to fill the senses.
  • If you have a life-partner, engage in, and support his/her passion without expecting the same in return.
  • Lastly, be a life-long learner.”
All in One Cardi by Charles Voth.

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet or craft blogs to share?

Charles:

 

UC: What are you working on right now?

Charles: I’m busy tech-editing mostly. A few designs in the works, but nothing I can talk about at the moment.  (UC comment: And if you’re interested in becoming a tech editor, don’t forget to sign up for Charles’s upcoming classes at Crochet Insider!)

 

Thank you, Charles, for sharing your thoughts with us, and for giving some great advice!

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Nuria Pastor a.k.a. Bezencilla

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m interviewing crochet designer and blogger Nuria Pastor, also known as Bezencilla around the web.  Nuria is currently living in the Netherlands but she is originally from Madrid.  You can find Nuria online as Bezencilla on Ravelry, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Etsy, and Flickr, as well as on her website, blog, and Ravelry designer page.  All images are used with her permission.  Nuria has been kind enough to offer a discount in her Ravelry shop for my readers, so continue on for details!

Nuria Pastor, also known as Bezencilla.

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

Nuria: When I was a kid my aunt, Paqui, taught me how to make the “little sticks” – that’s the name she uses for double crochet. She used to sit on her sofa and crochet white tablecloths and beautiful bedspreads for hours and hours.

 

Nuria's Yellow Submarine Baby Boots, available on Etsy.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Nuria: A few years ago, during some sleepless nights, I started crocheting little flowers, cases, coasters… any kind of small projects just to relax myself a little bit. By that time some friends and family were expecting babies, and then I started crocheting baby boots and socks with cotton and a 2mm hook! But it was too conventional, classic, boring and a lot of work.  All that lead me to design my own projects inspired by animals and toys, that the parents-to-be would love, like the Yellow Submarine Booties, inspired by a couple of friends that love The Beatles.

 

Nuria's Yellow Submarine Baby Boots pattern is available on Ravelry.

 

UC: Tell us about your heritage and the crochet scene in the Netherlands, where you currently live.

Nuria: I grow up very close to my aunt, she has been crocheting since I remember.  It was very nice and amusing looking at her making enormous pieces of fabric from a little strand of yarn.

 

I’m originally from Madrid, learnt English at school and a few years ago moved to Ireland to study.  I love their heritage and culture. Then a couple of years back moved to the Netherlands. Currently I’m learning Dutch, and I know it will take me a while. But I belong to this group of crafters, Stitch ‘n Bitch De Pijp.  Most of them are Dutch and they are kindly helping me out with the language. Also, I guess the craft scene here is bigger than in Spain, so I’m very happy with it.

Actually, since I joined this group I’m becoming a knitter more than a crocheter.  I’m learning a lot and improving my design skills day by day. It’s really encouraging for me. Sharing knowledge, experience, doubts… is absolutely wonderful.

 

Nuria's knitted baby boots with handles. (Pattern forthcoming.)

UC: You are multi-craftual. What is your favorite “go to” craft these days?

Nuria: Knitting, definitely.

 

UC: Tell us about your blog. Why did you decide on blogging in English and Spanish?

Nuria: I love sharing my experiences and creations with everybody; English language is critical for that. Of course, it’s challenging but very important when you are living abroad.

 

Nuria's Dog Hat. (Pattern forthcoming.)

UC: Do you have any tips for aspiring bloggers?

Nuria: Yes, enjoy what you do and be proud of your work; the rest will come slowly, so be patient too ;).

 

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet or craft blogs to share?

Nuria: Yes, La Maison Bijoux and Madrid Knits!, in Spanish.  In English, I love the Cast-On and Electric Sheep podcasts, which are very useful and inspiring to me.

 

Nuria's Luisa Dancing Booties. (Pattern forthcoming.)

UC: What’s next for Bezencilla?

Nuria: I’m planning on releasing a few patterns soon: my new Luisa Dancing Booties, an alien and a dog hat, and my first knitting design of two baby booties with handles, rainy boots style.

Thanks for stopping by, Nuria, and sharing your enthusiasm with us!  And, for sharing a 15% discount in your Ravelry shop from now until Sunday, October 14, 2012 using coupon code under15.

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Sara Palacios from Arrorró en Colores

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m interviewing Argentinian crochet designer Sara Palacios, the mind behind Arrorro en Colores (known as Colorful Lullabies in English).  Sara can be found online on her website, Ravelry (as SaraBea and in the Colorful Lullabies store), Etsy, Facebook, and Flickr.  All pictures are used with her permission.

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

Sara: I’ve liked handicrafts since I was a child. My mother was a dressmaker and I grew up watching her as she created new things, being passionate about fabrics, textures, shapes, and colors. When I was 10, she taught me the basics of crochet, knitting and embroidery. I also learned a lot from my aunts, who where always crocheting doilies, and from the craft magazines that they used to give me: they were the best gift I could get!

UC: When did you first become passionate about afghans?

Sara: At age 15, I crocheted a multicolor granny square using yarn remains and made a pillow with it. It was then that I discovered the magic of harmonizing colors and I wanted to crochet a blanket for my bed. This time I made it with new brightly colored wool. Since then, I came up with several ideas that I kept as projects to do some day, such as the illusions of stacked cubes. During the following 27 years, I crocheted some simple blankets and other things, but I did not realize any of these early projects because there was always something missing: time or money.

In 2008, I could make the first of the blankets I had been planning to do for so long. After that I could never stop imagining new things.

 

Hexagon Spiral pattern.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Sara: To copy other people’s models in an exact way – as beautiful as the model may have been – bored me. For example, I needed to combine the design of a pattern with a different stitch from another, and the colors of a flower in my garden. In other words, I needed to add something personal to it. And so, unexpected things started to come up. Any aspect of life that makes me feel passionate or that suggests beauty or excellence to me can be the source of inspiration for a crochet design: nature, art, dreams, maths, science or everyday experiences.

 

Flower Rug pattern.

UC: Tell us about crochet in Argentina.

Sara: In general, crochet is picked up within the family as grandmothers, mothers and aunts teach you. However, today it is also learned through the Internet. In some places, they teach courses to learn or perfect crochet techniques. Usually, we learn both knitting and crochet but, as time goes by, we tend to choose crochet.

I believe that in the last years we, crocheters, are becoming more and more well-known, and we have started meeting in groups mostly thanks to social networks. In addition, there are also more young people crocheting nowadays.

This increasing popularity in crochet has to do in part with initiatives for solidarity that consist in getting granny squares of a certain size so as to make blankets to donate to hospitals and retirement homes. In particular the group Tejiendo por un Sueño (Knitting/Crocheting for a Dream) on Facebook gets thousands of knitters and crocheters together, and it also provokes an infectious enthusiasm that is both enriching and motivating. In this way more people want to crochet again which, the way I see it, has to do with the ‘magic’ of the granny squares: The possibility of combining colors, of giving new life and use to the leftovers of other handicrafts, of getting unique products and also of working with and for the community.

UC: Most of your patterns are available in English (both US and UK terms) and in Spanish.  What made you decide to sell bilingual patterns?

Sara: I had always wanted to write patters, but I had never imagined myself doing it in English. I opened my shop on Etsy with the intention of selling blankets, but people started to ask me for the patterns, and so I decided to write them in both languages. I am happy to be able to share them with more people.

Joy: Hexagon and Triangle Blanket pattern.

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet or craft blogs to share?

Sara: Crochet soñado by Claudia Daneu is an Argentine blog with many video crochet patterns that explain very nice stitches and interesting variations.  Tejido Crochet is another Argentine crochet blog with original designs and graphics.  Mi Sala de Costura is a Spanish patchwork and craft blog, which also includes beautiful crochet patterns.

In English, I like Fiddlesticks and the crochet techniques of Vashti Braha, among other blogs.  (UC comment: I’m a huge fan of Vashti’s blog and newsletter, and I also interviewed her back in January.)

 

Wonder, crochet flower blanket pattern.

UC: What’s next for Arroro en Colores?

Sara: I have a lot of projects. Most of my patterns are still in my head or in a draft. I crochet and write when I have free time to do it. I make my living working on computing with computers and crochet is just a hobby.  I would like to be able to spend more hours on it, although I don’t want to hurry: crocheting is precisely about going slowly step by step.

 

Thanks so much, Sara, for stopping by to share your thoughts with us!

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

 

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Paola Navarro from Delicious Crochet

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m interviewing Argentinian crochet designer Paola Navarro, also known as Delicious Crochet.  She has been selling her signature style of amigurumi patterns in her Etsy shop since 2007, and can also be found on Ravelry (as DeliciousCrochet and on her designer page), as well as on her website, Flickr, Craftsy, and Twitter.  All pictures are used with Paola’s permission.

 

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

Paola: When I was a kid, my mom and grandma taught me the basic crochet stitches. But back then, I wasn’t too interested in crocheting or knitting.  Then, as a teenager, I became more attracted to this craft and some years ago, I just completely felt for it!

 

Granny by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: When did you first become interested in amigurumi?
Paola: I always loved designing toys! Even as a kid, I used to sew some dolls and teddies! Then, just by accident, I stumbled across amigurumis and discovered they were just perfect for me, because they give me the possibility of combining two passions: crochet and toy design.

 

Randy the Raccoon by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Paola: In fact, I always did my own designs, and not just for crochet. And everything inspires me, specially my hubby and nieces.

 

American Bison by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC:  Tell us about crochet in Argentina.

Paola: In Argentina, both crochet and knitting are almost exclusively practiced by women. Most women learned from a family member, like their grannies, moms, or old aunts. And to a lesser extent, at school.

A couple of years ago, some yarn sellers started teaching adults and kids how to crochet and knit in their stores on Saturday afternoons and this was a great success. Also, you can see some grown women crocheting in doctor’s waiting rooms, parks, while waiting in bank lines, and even in buses!  (UC comment: I crochet on the subway all the time, so I guess I’d fit in if I moved to Argentina!) Not so the young women. They prefer crocheting or knitting in their homes.  Just some people know how to do both, but knitting is more common among Argentinian women.

Caveman by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: Can you tell me about your decision to offer your patterns in English and Spanish?

Paola: Well, as I can speak both, I thought this was a great idea to help my designs reach more people across the world. Most of my buyers are used to crochet patterns written in English, but Spanish speakers are somewhat reluctant to use patterns in a foreign language, specially if they are crochet beginners. And having the possibility of using a pattern in their own language gives them more confidence.

Angie the Pig by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

 

UC: Your pattern photos have a signature style with a white outline and a solid background. How did you start using that style?

Paola: This is a way of giving my photos, as well as my amigurumis, the same signature style and more consistency to my shop. Then, when someone sees an amigurumi photo with this style, they will think: this MUST be from DeliciousCrochet.

Coquena the Llama by Delicious Crochet. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: You have over 15,000 Etsy sales. (WOW!)  Can you share some tips for new Etsy sellers?

Paola: All my designs are original and have my own style. When you see one of my designs, you know its mine even before seeing its name or my signature elsewhere. I think finding your own personal style instead of trying to imitate others and printing it in your creations is something buyers really value.

There are no secrets for running a shop. Just do what you love the best way possible and always take good care of your buyers.

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing, Paola!

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Ana BC from Lanas & Hilos

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m interviewing Guatemalan crocheter Ana Contreras, the bilingual blogger behind Lanas & Hilos.  I’m a big fan of Ana’s blog and the great pictures she shares of her projects.  Ana, also known online as AnaBC on Ravelry, is also a crochet (and, occasionally, knitting) designer.    Her patterns can be found online here.  All pictures are used with Ana’s permission.

Ana BC.

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

Ana: My mom taught me how to crochet and knit when I was a teenager. I continued learning through books and magazines.  The funny thing is that now my mom calls me “teacher,” because I am sharing with her new techniques that I have been learning through my reading and internet research, which is mostly in English (and my mom is not so fluent in it).

Lately I have been crocheting more than knitting, maybe because I find it easier and faster.  But I actually love both.  Each has its own charm.

 

Ana's Circles and Stripes Blanket. (Click for blog post.)

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Ana: I would define my inspiration in two words: easy and modern.

EASY.  I confess I don’t like “difficult” when it comes my yarn crafts.  It has to pleasurable for me…it is a hobby, not torture.  Therefore, I am always looking for ways to make things easier and likable.

MODERN.  I am always looking for modern options of classic or old-fashioned styles.  Yarn pieces don’t have to be boring.

Both goals have kept my mind in a creative mode.

 

Ana's Wave Blanket pattern. (Click for free download.)

UC: Tell us about the crochet scene in Guatemala. 

Ana: In general, here in Guatemala, crocheting and knitting are considered crafts for grandmothers and older people.  But I think things are changing.  Younger people are wanting to learn to knit or crochet, because nowadays there are more modern patterns and options in the yarn crafts.  The yarn stores are now offering classes.

The problem that we have here in my country is that there are not many yarn stores; and the variety of yarn available is very poor.  But we learn to work with what we have, and make the most of it.  Personally, when I have the chance to travel, I love to make a stop at a yarn store and buy something special.  (But, how much yarn can you bring in a suitcase?  Not much!)   (UC comment: I love visiting yarn shops when I travel, too!  You can find shop reviews from my last trip here and here, and my Visitor’s Guide to New York City Yarn Shops here.)

 

Detail from Ana's Circle in a Granny project, along with her inspiration. (Click for blog post.)

UC: Tell us about your blog. Why did you decide on blogging in English and Spanish, and what are some of the challenges associated with bilingual blogging?

Ana: I started my blog a few years ago.  I named it “Lanas & Hilos” which is Spanish for “Yarn and Thread.”  I started blogging in Spanish, my native language. But later I started to connect and follow other bloggers in the world (from England, Germany, Holland, U.S., Canada, Israel, and Greece).  Then I thought of adding an English version to connect and share with them.

I kept the Spanish version because I know many of my Latin friends don´t speak English.  But adding English opened up the world for me.

 

Ana's Plaid Granny pattern. (Click for blog post with pattern & tutorial.)

UC: You have some great photos on your blog, and your own style of watermarking them that doesn’t look tacky. Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers, especially on photography for those who struggle with capturing those perfect pictures?

Ana: From experience, I have a few tips for new bloggers:

  1. Keep it clean and simple.
  2. Show big pictures and keep the text short.  Most people don’t have the time to read long posts.
  3. Take your photos with lots of light, but not direct light.  Later, you can always PhotoShop them.  If you don´t have a computer program, there are a few free photo editors online, such as FotoFlexer, LunaPic, and PicMonkey (this last one is the one I usually use, and I love it).   (UC comment: I use PicMonkey a lot too, and it is really fun!)
  4. Watermark your photos (with the photo editor), preferably with a fading effect in order not to spoil the picture.  Believe it or not, people “steal” photos in the internet, and the watermarks is a deterrent.
  5. Share details of the pieces you are showing that might be interesting to readers, such as the pattern you used, and where you can get it, as well as yarn type, hook number, colors, etc.

 

Ana's Baby Boy Booties project. (Click for blog post.)

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet or craft blogs to share?

Ana: There are too many to even mention.  Among my favorites are the ones I have on the sidebar of my blog.

I highly recommend searching blogs beyond “your circle of friends,” because there are a lot of new and interesting blogs opening every day.  Side bars are very useful in this way.  When you visit blogs, leave a comment.  Many of them will visit your blog in turn, and that is a great way to meet new bloggers and make new friends.  (UC comment: I completely agree.  It’s actually through a German blogger, Barbara from Made in K-Town, that I discovered Ana’s blog.  Barbara hosts a great monthly link party on The Crochet Boulevard and it is a great way to find crochet bloggers from all over the world.)

 

Ana's Baby Blanket Nina knit pattern. (Click for free download.)

UC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Ana: Probably most people think of me as a crocheter, but I love knitting as well.  Actually I have been working on a knit scarf pattern, and I will share it with all of you soon!

Thanks for stopping by, Ana, and we’re looking forward to seeing that new knitting pattern soon!

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Juanita Quinones

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m interviewing Juanita Quinones, also known as BoricuaCrochet, a crocheter I met on Ravelry who is also a crochet tech editor.  Originally from Puerto Rico, Juanita moved to the mainland U.S. about 20 years ago and now lives in Pennsylvania.  Her projects can be found on Ravelry here.  All pictures are used with her permission.

BoricuaCrochet's version of #15 Lace Pullover by Dora Ohrenstein. (Click for project page.)

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

Juanita: My journey began by watching a neighbor making doilies when I was about six years old. After that, I picked up a stitch dictionary, Mon Tricot Knitting Dictionary Stitches Patterns Knitting & Crochet, that my mother had and learned each of the stitches. It is my preferred stitch dictionary, and I do still keep that copy. I always wanted to make wearable projects. I remember and still have my first poncho done when I was 13 years old. (UC comment: Wow, that’s impressive!  As much as I love stitch dictionaries, I’ve never worked my way entirely through one.)


UC: Can you tell us about your involvement with the Home work project through the Cyber Crochet chapter of the Crochet Guild of America?

Juanita: This group has taken the task of creating samples of the patterns provided in the Home work publication that is available online.  (UC comment: I love the full title of this book – Home work: a choice collection of useful designs for the crochet and knitting needle, also, valuable recipes for the toilet.  It was published in 1891 and is now in the public domain.)

It is a collection of vintage patterns of stitches, motifs, edgings, insertions, and other patterns both in knit and crochet. We are making the crochet samples. I’ve taken the task of coordinating these efforts and adding the patterns to Ravelry with pictures from several volunteers. We hope to have the samples available for display at one of the future CGOA conferences. We hope they inspire crocheters and designers alike to incorporate in future projects.  It is always better when you have a picture of what these patterns look like. It is a big project and we have completed about a third of the samples.  (UC comment: Thanks for your work on this great project which has benefits for the entire crochet community!)

 

BoricuaCrochet's Mikado Lace, from Home work. (Click for project page.)

UC: You are a crochet tech editor. For my readers who don’t know, can you explain what a tech editor is and tell us how you got started tech editing?

Juanita: In a nutshell, a tech editor revises patterns from designers in an attempt to make them error-free before they are published. The tech editor makes sure the pattern is accurate and complete in how it uses the correct abbreviations, follows standards, and/or provides explanation for new or uncommon stitches used. We don’t need to make the item to know when something is missing, needs more clarification, or needs consistency.

 

I don’t know why – perhaps because of my mathematical background and/or experience writing technical documents – but it has always been easy to identify when a pattern has an error. Always, I’ve sent the comment(s) to the publisher and/or designer. It was after submitting several corrections that a well-known designer influenced me to pursue the career.

 

UC: Tell us about the crochet scene in Puerto Rico.

Juanita: There are a lot of artisans in Puerto Rico that work with thread, in what is called “Mundillo” (a bobbin lace). There are only a few yarn stores in Puerto Rico. There are classes offered by different groups for both knit and crochet, but they are scarce.  My passion for the craft increased when I moved to the States about 19 years ago as there were more yarns readily available.

I don’t think there is rivalry amongst crocheters and knitters in Puerto Rico. I think most learn to do both even when they prefer one or the other. Like I prefer crochet and my mother prefers knitting, but we know both.

 

BoricuaCrochet's Prim Wheel Lace from Home work. (Click for project page.)

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

Juanita: I think my cultural background influenced the type of yarn that I prefer to work with. I prefer to crochet with cotton, bamboo, linen, or silk, but not wool (although at times I do use wool for felting). Since we don’t have changes in seasons, I do prefer colorful yarns all the time, and not according to seasons.

 

UC: What are some of your favorite Spanish or English language craft blogs to share?

Juanita: I prefer to read from the groups available in Ravelry. There are only a few blogs that I read, for example, Laughing Purple Goldfish Designs and Jimmy Beans Wool.  I also like the Talking Crochet newsletter and Crochet Insider.

 

Thank you so much for stopping by to share your experiences with us, BoricuaCrochet! 

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Vanessa Laven

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

 

I’m thrilled to interview blogger Vanessa Laven today.  Vanessa was actually the first person I interviewed on my blog and I’m a regular read of her own wonderful blog, Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts.  Vanessa is also Cuban-American and from the NYC area, so I feel a strong connection to a lot of the stories that she shares about growing up and her family life.  In addition to her blog, you can find Vanessa online on Ravelry, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter.

Vanessa Laven in one of her knit cowls. (Click for blog post.)


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

Vanessa: My mother had taught me how to knit but it never really stuck, ditto for crocheting. I picked up the Klutz book about crochet and suddenly it clicked with me. I fell in love and I joined a Stitch n Bitch group. I decided to give knitting another try and this time my mom’s advice stuck. My sister, Maritza, taught me how to embroider when I was in the fourth grade but again, it never really stuck. My mom kept nagging me to not embroider all the time because it would ruin my eye sight, so I dropped it. In college, I bought Jenny Hart’s book and kit and this time it stuck. I embroidered a bunch of doodles on to a pair of old jeans and while it looked super cool, I never wore them after that. Plus my hands were killing me. I didn’t know at the time that I should have used a better needle!

 

Vanessa's multi-crafty Frida Kahlo doll. (Click for blog post.)

UC: You are multi-craftual. What is your favorite “go to” craft these days?

Vanessa: I find my knitting to be the most portable project, so it’s the one I do the most often. While I do like to crochet, I find that sometimes my crochet stitches end up coming undone if I try to tote it around with me. Plus, I have to look where I’m crocheting. I knit so much that I can do it by feel now, which has become a “party trick” of mine. I once managed to play Texas Hold ‘em Poker and knit at the same time. It was less impressive than it sounds because I really don’t know how to play poker all that well. Embroidery has become a sort of “in between projects” project, mostly because I tend to make much smaller pieces. Plus, it satisfies that part of me that still likes to color in coloring books.

 

Vanessa's Lily Owl. (Click for blog post.)

UC: We both have parents who were born and raised in Cuba.  Tell us a bit about your background and the crafting scene at that time.

Vanessa: I grew up in Union City, NJ. At one point, Union City was called “Havana on the Hudson” because we had more Cubans living here than in Havana. (UC comment: Yes, this is where most of my Cuban extended family lives!) When I was growing up, I would say that 98% of my classmates were Hispanic. We had a few Indian and Egyptian students but they were the exception rather than the rule. I don’t remember many people outside of my family crafting, but there were a few businesses advertising hand painted signs. My niece Olivia took a bunch of photos of these signs.

Apparently, most of them have been taken down. I love the look of the lettering but I’ve never really seen them outside of the greater NYC area.  (UC comment: Olivia has a great website of her own here.) 

My town does have an interesting crafty history. Starting in the late 1880s up until the 1990s, there were tons of embroidery factories. My parents worked a few, actually, particularly during the Viet Nam war. The factory they worked at made military insignias like company badges and rank stripes. They would take the big sheets of these home to cut out and got paid for so many that they cut.

My mom also worked in clothing factories. It’s where and how she learned to sew. My father was part of the book binder’s union thanks to one of the places he worked at. He later stopped factory work and became the superintendent of the buildings we lived in. He wasn’t the best handyman but I think part of him really enjoyed it. He used to build and set up model trains and also enjoyed photography, though he was terrible at it.

 

 

 

Vanessa's Featherweight Cardigan. (Click for blog post.)


UC: Tell us about your blog. How did you get started blogging?

Vanessa: My husband bought a “Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts” t-shirt for me and thought the name would make a great blog for me. I had just finished up chemo two months before and I needed an outlet. He encouraged me to blog about the things I made during treatment. I was really shy about it at first but I quickly dove in. I had a Live Journal account for years so the idea of blogging wasn’t new to me. I’m glad that I listened to hubby because I love to blog like this! It’s given me both an outlet and a sense of purpose which is what I needed especially so soon after being so sick. (UC comment: I’m glad you listened to him, too, because your blog has a really unique perspective to offer!)

 

Vanessa's hexipuffs. (Click for blog post.)

UC: You share some of your personal life, including your experience as a cancer survivor and posts about your family, on your blog.  A lot of crafty bloggers struggle with how much is enough/too much to share of your personal life.  How do you find the balance between being part of a community and maintaining your privacy?

Vanessa: I try to keep my personal stories focused on either crafting or cancer. With my cancer experience, I felt best to share the good, the bad and the really ugly because I wasn’t prepared for most of what happened. And if I felt that way, chances are good that someone else does and hopefully I can better prepare them.

I do share a lot about my family’s history partly because I think it’s a unique story, particularly how my parents met. And it’s the easiest way to share with the rest of my family since we’re all around the world at this point. Thanks to Facebook, lots of cousins and uncles (my father’s half brothers) are coming out of the woodwork and finding us. Most of them are still in Cuba but a few are in Miami and Venezuela. My mother’s family are in Cuba but do have internet access so it’s been nice to share with them as well. I’ve often thought about turning some of their stories into a novel, so I try to write those entries as creatively as possible. I also feel like everyone has a great story. Hopefully, I can encourage other people to put the tales of the past down on paper to preserve them. I do regret that I didn’t get more memories out of my father before he passed away.

 

Vanessa's Wurm Hat for Olivia. (Click for blog post.)

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

Vanessa: I’m not sure if I can say that there is a direct influence, but it certainly is a passive influence. Whenever I pick up my needles (be it to knit or sew or crochet) I feel like I’m part of the past. My mother remembers that her mother, sister, and later, her step-mother, would spend time making bobbin lace when they weren’t busy making clothing for the family. Her friends tell me that they were all taught to knit socks before they were taught the alphabet!  My parents didn’t have a lot of schooling (my mother left school around the 4th grade and my father the 6th) but they both learned trades. My mother’s was more domestic (making clothing for the family and housewares and how to cook) but my father was a cobbler. I think about them when I’m working away and I laugh. What today is considered “hip” and “novel” and “crafty” was, once upon a time, part of a normal education. I remember trying to sign up for Home Ec in High School only to be told that they changed the class format. It was now a parenting class for the girls (and boys) who were expecting. I’m very sad to hear that this isn’t something that was unique to my public school system. If we bring back these skills, I’m sure we’ll see an overall increase in math and reading scores. (UC comment: I agree, Vanessa. We use math all the time in the needlecrafts!)

 

 

Some of Vanessa's embroidery. (Click for blog post.)

UC: You recently moved to Hermitage, Tennessee from the Northeast.  What’s the crafting scene like down there?  Do you have any favorite spots to share?

Vanessa: I’ve noticed that quilting tends to be a lot more popular in the South. I’ve been able to find more fabric shops than local yarn stores. Also, the big box stores like Joann’s tend to rule. Since I’m not really a quilter, it’s been difficult for me to find my niche.

 

 

Vanessa's childhood kung-fu ID card. (Click for blog post.)

 

UC: One of the things that’s unique about your blog is your combination of needlecrafts with martial arts and self-defense.  (One of my favorite guest posts on your blog is by Packing Pretty.  Thanks for introducing me to someone who so stylishly conceals weapons for personal protection!)  Tell us about your interest in martial arts.

 

Vanessa: I started martial arts when I was in the first grade. My parents put me in ballet and I hated it. Then they tried tap dancing and I hated that, too. The last thing on their list was the kung-fu studio that was near. My brother had taken lessons with Sifu Vizzio and suggested that they sign me up. They did and I loved it! I was finally in training to become a Ninja Turtle. Unfortunately, I had to stop thanks to homework overload but I always carried that regret. I tried some other styles as an adult but it wasn’t the same. I missed Sifu and I missed Fu Jow Pai.

 

For me, martial arts helps me relax and focus on my goals. The philosophical aspect of it has also spoken deeply to me. I’m not sure I’ve discovered the meaning of life but it’s helped me really think about what I’m doing here. I come out of class feeling like I’ve honed both my body and my mind and I’ve got them working together.

UC: What are some of your favorite Spanish or English language craft blogs to share?
Vanessa: In Spanish, I love Che Crochet. She’s an Argintine crocheter and makes some really nice stuff. Of course, I also have to mention FreshStitches as an English crochet counterpart. Stacey’s designs are fun and really modern. Mighty Distractable also makes me feel better for having a thousand interests and a short attention span.

I also read Craftzine to keep up to date on the latest crafting news. And I love to listen to CraftLit while I’m busy. Heather Ordover is a great hostess and knitwear designer in her own right. She’ll be starting Jane Eyre (my favorite book), which has wonderful knitting references, in October. I think I’ll work on something lacey and fancy while I listen.

 

UC: What’s next for Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts?
Vanessa: I do have some pieces in the works of my own. I’m currently designing a cancer awareness hat that should be released in November. And I’ve got some more book reviews and tutorials in the pipeline so keep your eyes peeled in the next few weeks! I’m not quite sure what next year has in store for Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts, but I’m always open to suggestions.

 

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