Tag Archives: puerto rico

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!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series Roundup

Today is the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month and also the end of this year’s 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 interviews.)

 

Karla Sandoval

Karla Sandoval, the Mexican crochet designer behind Cute Little Crafts.

Marisa Munoz al-abrigo

Marisa Munoz, the Spanish knitwear designer behind al abrigo.

Cristina Mershon

Cristina Mershon, a Galician expat crochet designer.

Monica Rodriguez Fuertes

Monica Rodriguez Fuertes, the Spanish crochet, knitting, and sewing designer and co-owner of Hand Made Awards.

Daniela Montelongo

Daniela Montelongo, the Mexican crafter behind Pompon’s Party.

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Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, the Spanish expat knitting designer, teacher, and tech editor, also known as rock+purl.

Karen Abarca

Karen Abarca, the Mexican-American crafter behind Knit By Pearl.

Diana Rivera

Diana Rivera, the Puerto Rican/Colombian-American fiber artist behind Arte y Poemas.

Teresa Alvarez

Spanish crochet designer, Teresa Alvarez.

Cirilia Rose Harpa

Cirilia Rose, a Mexican/Irish/Italian-American knitting designer, author, and creative director, also known as bricoleur knits.

Paula Prado

Paula Prado, the Chilean yarnie behind De Origen Chile.

Celia Abejitas

Celia Diaz, the Spanish crochet designer behind Abejitas.

I’d like to extend my thanks to each of these twelve talented women.  It is very difficult to find time for extra activities when running a small business, so I really appreciate your responsiveness!  You can find links to the 9 yarn crafters I interviewed for the 2012 series here.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Diana Rivera from Arte y Poemas

Today’s interview is with fellow New Yorker, Diana Rivera.  Diana is not only a crochet and knitting designer and yarnie, but also a mixed media artist and poet.  You may also know her as Craftaholic or Arte y Poemas.

Diana can be found online on her website and blog, Arte y Poemas.  She’s also on Ravelry (as TheCraftaholic or on her designer page), has shops on Etsy and society6, and has a presence on FacebookFlickrTwitter, and Pinterest.

All photos are (c) Diana Rivera/Arte y Poemas and are used with permission.  Click the photos to link to patterns or yarn listings.

 

Diana Rivera.

Diana Rivera.

 

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet and knit?
Diana: I learned to knit through my musician friend, Bliss Blood. She tried to teach me to knit, and I got as far as the knit stitch. I eventually taught myself the purl stitch through the help of KnittingHelp.com.

The New Yorker Cowl knitting pattern.

UC: How did you start dyeing and spinning yarn?
Diana: I started dyeing yarn soon after I learned to crochet. I would buy plain cotton or wool yarn and experiment with Kool Aid and RIT. I started spinning about a year ago, when I got my spinning wheel.

Dante's Inferno, handspun wool yarn.

UC: What inspired you to start designing and to launch your own line of art yarns?
Diana: Well, it truly came out of necessity, haha! I had to start selling some of it, since I really am spinning yarn on an almost daily basis. You should see my stash. Yikes!

The Gibson, hand spun and hand dyed alpaca and wool blend yarn, inspired by the '80s and Debbie Gibson.

UC: What’s your cultural background?  What was the yarn crafts scene within your family like when you were growing up?
Diana: My father was born and raised in Isabella, Puerto Rico, and my mother was born and raised Bogota, Colombia.
I wasn’t really exposed to very much art or creativity growing up. Actually in my family, I am the only artist. My grandfather was a writer, but that is as creative as they got, aside from the occasional needlepoint that my grandmother did. She taught me embroidery from a young age.

The Dawn Treader Capelet, a crochet pattern.

UC: How does that compare with today?
Diana: Well, today, most of the people I know are creative in one way or another. In fact, even men I date are in one way or another, creative. It’s important to me that I surround myself with creative people, as it helps the creative muse inside me to grow and flourish.

La Sirena, hand dyed and hand spun bamboo yarn.

UC: You’re currently living in Brooklyn, NY, my home town.  Did you grow up there or are you a transplant?
Diana: I was born and raised in Plainfield, NJ. I love Brooklyn. From the time I was a little girl, I wanted to come to the five boroughs, and here I am.

The Color of Autumn, hand spun merino wool yarn.

UC: What do you think of the current fiber arts scene in Brooklyn?
Diana: Well, the truth is, there are creative people everywhere in New York. There are crochet and knitting groups anywhere you go, and for almost every Brooklyn neighborhood. I love that the city I live in is surrounded by creative people. My experience with knitting groups is that there is a sort of camaraderie that from the first moment you visit a group, you’ve got best friends for life.

Lacy Mohair Cowl, a knitting pattern.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Diana: Not really. As I mentioned, no one in my family is creative at all except me, and my grandparents who have long sinced passed away. Many Latinos I know locally are creative, but I think creativity surrpasses ethnicity. You can’t put art in a box that way.
UC: How can we find your work online?
Diana: I do have a blog, and it’s Arte y Poemas.  I blog in both Spanish and English, but mostly English. It’s mostly about my art and poetry, though I do post the occasional craft project.
I have an Etsy store with some art and my hand spun yarns. (I also accept custom work, if anyone wants a specific shade of yarn, etc.).  And a society6 store, where people can purchase prints of my work.
Thanks for stopping by, Diana!  And I can relate to the overflowing stash problem!

 

The next interview in the series will be posted on October 7 with Teresa Alvarez.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Juanita Quinones

This post contains affiliate links.

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!