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Interview with Sonia Gallo from El Gallo Bermejo and crochet pattern roundup

Interview with crochet designer, Sonia Gallo from El Gallo Bermejo and crochet pattern roundup on Underground CrafterI’m sharing the first in interview in this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month series with Sonia Gallo from El Gallo Bermejo. Sonia is a computer engineer and part-time crochet designer living in Madrid, Spain with her family. She loves amigurumi and toys. I’ll also be including a roundup of my 5 favorite free crochet patterns from Sonia’s collection!

Sonia can be found online on her website, El Gallo Bermejo, as well as on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter. All images are used with permission are are copyright El Gallo Bermejo.

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Interview with crochet designer, Sonia Gallo from El Gallo Bermejo and crochet pattern roundup on Underground Crafter

Sonia Gallo.

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

Sonia: I learned to crochet when I was in college (I think I was nineteen or twenty). I was studying computer engineering and was on vacation. It was one of those hot, summer afternoons, and I was bored and looking for something to do. My mother is an excellent crocheter and knitter and so had left some crochet magazines, yarn, and hooks on a table. I started to have a look to the graphics in the magazines and suddenly I though those graphics couldn’t be more difficult than my programming algorithms so I decided to try.

Several hours later, I realized that crocheting was something very relaxing and a very creative process. I started to crochet lots of things during the next five or six years but finally I stopped because I loved crocheting but I didn’t like the things I made (bedspreads, tablecloths, washcloths, etc). I spent several years without crocheting anything at all until one year my sister gave me a monsters amigurumi book as a present. I loved it! I became reconciled with crochet again. A short time after that, my first child was born (Diego, he is 6 years old) and three years later Guille was born (he is 2 years old). With two children in the house I find lots of inspiration and motivation to continue crocheting amigurumi.

Mouse Pin, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

Mouse Pin, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Sonia: After crocheting hundreds of designs by other people, I wanted to create my own designs as an even more creative process. I have always been a bit frustrated because I am an awful painter. And designing an amigurumi pattern is somehow a way to create something “similar” to drawing a beautiful puppet or teddy.

CraftsyUC: Your designs to date are all amigurumi. What do you love about designing amigurumi?

Sonia: What I love about designing amigurumi is that I have two small little children in my house, and the dolls, puppets and stuffed animals are a part of their wonderful world.

Skyler Gray, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

Skyler Gray, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

UC: Your designs are entirely self-published. What do you enjoy about the self-publishing process?

Sonia: I enjoy the fact that I can publish my designs and other people can enjoy them if they want to. I mean, everything depends on me, I don’t have to wait for a publishing house or similar to contact me in order to publish my works. I think this is a very powerful tool we have nowadays.

UC: All of your patterns are available in both English and Spanish. What do you see as the challenges and benefits of writing bilingual patterns?

Sonia: Spanish is my mother tongue, so the natural way for me is to write the patterns in Spanish. And my English is good enough to write a pattern other people can understand, so I always make the effort of translating the patterns to English in order to get to more people (English is the universal language in the crochet world). I would love to translate my patterns to French, but my French is very poor, and I don’t feel comfortable. Maybe some day I’ll try the French!

Doguie the Dog, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

Doguie the Dog, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Sonia: In my house, with my two children, of course! For instance, Diego had to study in school about castles for three months. We spent those 3 months talking, drawing and dreaming with castles, knights and princess. So I had the idea to design a castle crochet pattern for my Houses collection and so I did (I haven’t written the pattern yet, by the way, but I have the firm intention to do it). (UC comment: You can find the rest of the patterns in the Houses collection here in Sonia’s online pattern shop.)

Another example of my inspiration is my pattern of Crabbie the crab. Guille, my younger child, is in love with a softie crab – he calls it “caguejo”, which is a phonetic sound for the Spanish word Cangrejo, (crab) – Guille sleeps with “caguejo”, eats with “caguejo”, and “caguejo” is the first thing he is looking for when we get home every day. So I wanted to obtain a crochet pattern of “caguejo”, being the little crab something so important in the life of my kid. And this is how the pattern of Crabbie the crab was born.

Yarns on Sale – Hundreds of yarns to choose from at Hancock Fabrics!

UC: What was the crochet scene like in Spain when you were growing up?

Sonia: Nearly all the moms of my friends (and mine too, of course) used to crochet or knit. And if their moms didn’t use to, surely their grandmothers did. Crocheting was a very common activity.

A Snowman, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

A Snowman, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

UC: How does that compare to the crochet/yarn crafts scene in Madrid today?

Sonia: Today the crochet scene is very different, very few young people know how to crochet. But it is true that in the last few years, things are changing and there are more and more videos, tutorials, and courses for the people to learn to crochet.

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

Sonia: Of course it does. In my memories when I was a child, my mother and my grandmothers were always with a needle and a ball of yarn in their hands.

Blue Ears Bunny, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

Blue Ears Bunny, free crochet pattern in English and Spanish by El Gallo Bermejo.

UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection?

Sonia: I have a lot of them. Some of my favourites:

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

Thanks so much for stopping by, Sonia, and sharing your work with us. What’s your favorite design by Sonia? You can find all of her patterns here on Ravelry.

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.