Tag Archives: Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves: 9 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers!

Interview with crochet designer and teacher, Beth Graham

This post contains affiliate links.

Today, I’m really excited to share an interview with Beth Graham, a fellow crochet designer and teacher.  Like me, Beth is also participating in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long.  In addition to her self-published works, her designs have appeared in Crochet One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects from Crocheters around the WorldCrochet World, and Quick & Simple Crochet for the Home.

Beth can be found online on Ravelry (as zagraham and on her designer page) and on her design and teaching Facebook page.  If you’re in the Ontario area, you may also find her at her local yarn shop, Shall We Knit?

All photos are (c) Beth Graham (except where noted) and are used with Beth’s permission.  Click on the pictures to link to the pattern page.
Beth Graham, modeling her A Crinkle in Time Cowl.

Beth Graham, modeling her A Crinkle in Time Cowl.

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

Beth: I grew up believing myself to be completely incapable of anything the least bit crafty. I am left-handed, after all. My mom half-heartedly tried to teach me how to knit at one point by demonstrating the movements facing me (mirror image), but I just couldn’t get it, so we both gave up.

Later, as I started working as a librarian, I borrowed a book on left-handed knitting from the library. It was so complicated, and I had no one to help me, so, again, I quickly gave it up. There it was: confirmation that I couldn’t do crafty things!

Years later, my family moved from the United States to Canada, and I was in work limbo for a bit while I was waiting to get permanent residence status. I remembered that I’d always admired a baby blanket that my sister-in-law had made for my son and thought that maybe I’d give crochet a shot. So that first cold, dark winter, not really believing I could do it, I bought Mary Thomas’s First Steps In Crochet and was finally on my way!

You see, this somewhat dated booklet included a “Note for Left Handers” that started, “We strongly recommend that left handers learn the right-handed way. It may seem awkward at first, but this is true for all beginning crocheters.

Something clicked. Crochet is really a two-handed activity! It’s going to be awkward starting out no matter what! I could do this!

This is one of the first things I tell my beginning crochet students: I could do it! And they can, too.

 

Stitch Sampler Runner.

Stitch Sampler Runner.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Beth: Karen Crouch, the owner of Shall We Knit? in Waterloo, Ontario, where I work part-time, inspired me to start designing. As the resident “crochet guru,” I teach beginner crochet classes, and Karen persuaded me to try my hand at a few designs for those courses.

Things kind of exploded from there. I discovered, for example, that designs I thought of as “too easy” actually found an audience, and that even my knitter friends were interested in them! That sort of encouragement has been enough to keep me working toward finding my design voice.

I love teaching and I love learning. For me, design work has been all about learning: about good writing, about how to design, and about how to teach most effectively.

 

Criss-Cross Applesauce Cloth.

Criss-Cross Applesauce Cloth.

 

UC: Most of your patterns are for neckwear and dishcloths.  What do you enjoy about designing these types of projects? 

Beth: My crochet design is informed by my teaching, mostly. I want to offer students – along with knitters dipping their toe for the first time in the crochet waters! – easily managed, quickly accomplished projects. My goal, always, is to write simply and clearly, while offering the crafter enough interesting tidbits along the way to keep them hooked.

As well, I really enjoy making one-skein projects and utilitarian objects. Dishcloths are a fabulous way of exploring new techniques without having to commit to a lengthy project. And, even if your cloth ends up a little wonky, who cares? It’ll still get used – and may even give you a bit of a lift as you tackle those dreaded chores!

 

Stitch Sampler Cowl.

Stitch Sampler Cowl.

 

UC: You work a lot in Tunisian crochet (one of my favorite techniques!).  How did you get started with Tunisian?

Beth: My crochet mentor, Judith Butterworth, introduced me to Tunisian crochet. Its “bicraftual” nature really appeals to me. It’s a little bit like knitting, with its two-part method of picking up stitches and then, essentially, binding them off on each return pass. It’s more than a little like crochet, though, too, in the manner in which yarn and hook are managed.

And, if you get the gauge just right? It produces a fantastically tailored-looking fabric. (See, for example, my Practice Makes Perfect Scarf – one skein of Smooshy wonderfulness!)  UC comment: Smooshy is one of my favorite yarns!

 

Practice Makes Perfect Scarf, photo (c) Gillian Martin.

Practice Makes Perfect Scarf, photo (c) Gillian Martin.

 

UC: What’s your favorite crochet book in your collection (besides the ones you’re featured in, of course)?  

That’s really a toughie. I love books and value having lots of information at my fingertips. The book I’ve been recommending the most lately, though, has got to be Edie Eckman’s The Crochet Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask.

 

UC: Tell me about another crochet designer you discovered through participation in the GAL.  What attracted you that designer’s work?

Beth: I’ve organized a wee CAL with some friends locally using Yuliya Tkacheva’s Metro Kerchief that is coinciding with the Ravelry GAL. I’m a big fan of classically tailored patterns (ones that are, dare I say, “knitterly” in their design?), and Yuliya’s scarf is just right!

 

Wedgie Blanket.

Wedgie Blanket.

UC: Do you have any favorite crochet related websites or blogs that you read regularly?

Sad to say, I really don’t. I’m on Ravelry all the time, though.

 

UC: What’s next for you?

Beth: I’ve got two pieces in slip stitch crochet coming out on December 30 in the Knit Picks Under 100 Crochet Collection that I’m pretty excited about. As well, look for some Tunisian crochet dishcloth patterns in Cooperative Press’s Fresh Designs Crochet series and in the Knit Picks IDP in the new year.

 

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Beth!

Giveaways: Quick & Simple Crochet Booklets

F+W Media was kind enough to provide two contributor copies of each Quick & Simple pattern booklet that I had a pattern published in, so I’m hosting giveaways for the extra copies!

I usually share a book review with my giveaways, but I didn’t dare review these booklets because, ya know, it would be hard to be unbiased about my own pattern ;).

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Quick and Simple Crochet Hats: 8 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers! includes my Twisted Cable Hat, the Turnbuckle Cap and Cardinal Hat by Barb Mastre-Stanford, the Slouchy Pompom Hat and the Fair Isle Hat by Anastasia Popova, and the Side Button Hat by Jennifer J. Cirka, along with patterns by Melissa Armstrong and Ava Lynne Greene.


Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves: 9 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers! includes my Wide Ripple Scarf and the Rustically Elegant Shoulder Warmer by Denise from Voie de Vie,  along with patterns by Tanis GalikMelissa Armstrong, and Anastasia Popova.

Any of these would make great “for me” projects in January once the flurry of holiday gift knitting is over.

Giveaways

I’m giving away my contributor copies of Quick and Simple Crochet Hats and Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves courtesy of F+W Media.  These giveaways are open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, December 31, 2012.

Good news!

This past week, I’ve gotten great news on several different fronts, and I really wanted to share the excitement with my readers!

This post contains affiliate links.

New Patterns

On Tuesday, two of my designs were released in new pattern books: Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves: 9 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers! and Quick and Simple Crochet Hats: 8 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers!  I have one design in each book.  You can buy the books through Jo-ann Fabric and Craft Stores or online.  The interesting thing about this book series is that it features indie designers and the designers retain the rights to sell the patterns individually online.

© F+W Media (Photos by Corrie Shaffeld of 1326 Studios)

The Wide Ripple Scarf is one of my first self-published patterns.  I made this version using just over two skeins of Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe in Periwinkle.  I love the long length, and you may have noticed that I’m a big fan of ripples.

I designed the Twisted Cable Hat because I love the look of mini cables and twisted stitches.  My version was made with just over one skein of Patons Classic Wool in Leaf Green.  It is super warm and thick because of the way it is crocheted.  I haven’t decided yet when I’ll offer a PDF version of this pattern.

Kollabora also published another one of the secret projects I made for their display at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago.

(C) Kollabora. The pattern is actually crocheted even though the model is holding knitting needles ;).

The Lattice Shell Tunic is available as a free pattern on their website.  (Side note: The schematic hasn’t been uploaded yet, so if you’re getting started on the project, let me know and I can email it to you.)  The small is a great one skein project using a jumbo skein of Kollabora’s Nora’s Pantry yarn, which is a soft alpaca.

It’s always fun to see your designs published, but there was other great news this week…

 

Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival

I’ll be teaching two classes at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival in March, and my mom and I have decided to make it a weekend road trip!  I’m really looking forward to spending a few days out of town with my mom.  I booked the hotel this week and am already thinking about what to pack.  (Can you tell I don’t travel much??)  I’ve been wanting to check out Pittsburgh for a while, so this is a great opportunity.   And, since my mom is driving us up, we’ll have a car to get around town with, too.

Knitting Cables 101 (left) and Bruges Lace Basics (right).

If you’re in the area (or are planning a road trip, like me), I’d love to see you at either of my classes: Knitting Cables 101 on Saturday morning or the Bruges Lace Basics Stitch Sampler on Sunday afternoon.  Also, if you have any Pittsburgh tourist suggestions, let me know!

But wait, there’s more good news!

 

Press Pass

 

I was granted a press pass to Vogue Knitting Live in New York City!  You may remember that I went last year and had a lot of fun.  I later interviewed two vendors I met in the Marketplace: Liz Cooper from Seabury Organizers (here) and Vivian Osborne from Arctic Qiviut (here).  I’m thrilled to be able to spend three days focused on yarn in my home town.  I’m looking forward to blogging and Tweeting from the event!

Awesome Crochet Blog Award

And as if I hadn’t already had enough excitement for the week, yesterday I learned that I won the 2012 Awesome Crochet Blog Award for Best Interviews from Kathryn at Crochet Concupiscence!

When I won the award last year, I was thrilled, but this year I’m even more excited.  It may not be evident, but I put a lot of work into my interviews – probably more time than for any other type of post.  But (even without these two awesome awards!!) it is completely worth it because I learn so much from the interviewees and I’ve been able to “meet” some of my crochet heroes by contacting them for an interview.

When I started blogging, I naively thought interviews would be a good way to have content on days when I didn’t know what to blog about.  You know how they say that ignorance is bliss?  If I would have known then what I know now about interviewing, I might have never started ;).  About half of the people I contact may never respond while others may be interested but aren’t available to answer the questions for months because their schedules are so tight.  Each interview can require hours of research before I even write the questions – everything from reading the interviewee’s books to searching the web for information about their background.  Once the interview answers are returned, taking the time to organize the pictures and links for the posts, as well as editing out typos and adding in my own comments, adds in another hour or two.  I feel so honored that Kathryn would highlight my interviews again this year, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed them.  You can find all my interviews here.  (I’m also planning a recap of my favorite interviews from this year later this month.)

This has been an amazing week for me, and I hope yours has gone just as well!