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Interview with Andrea Sanchez (Hispanic Heritage Month series)

HMM Andrea Sanchez

As part of my Hispanic Heritage Month series, I’m excited to share an interview today with Andrea Sanchez, the (mostly) knitting designer behind Andrea Sanchez Knits. In addition to her self-published patterns, Andrea’s work has been published by Holla Knits, Interweave Knits, Petite Purls, and Interweave Crochet.

Andrea is also a blogger whose work can be found on her own blog, Life on Laffer, as well as on the Craftsy blog. You can also find Andrea online on Ravelry (as peatmoss83 or on her designer page), on Facebook, on Instagram, and as @andrea_knits on Twitter. All images are used with Andrea’s permission. Click the pattern images to be brought to the Ravelry pattern page.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Andrea Sanchez, in her Adult Tide Pools knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

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

Andrea: My mom taught me to crochet first. I was about 19 and in college. We were having a lazy winter Saturday and I asked her to teach me to crochet because I had decided I wanted to make my own blanket. She made me promise that If she bought the yarn I’d actually start and finish the blanket. I’ve always had a kind of will o’ the wisp attitude towards learning new crafty things. But I learned and finished that afghan. It turned out to be about a queen size and I still use it every year. The following winter she tried to teach me to knit (with worsted weight yarn on long, metal needles, size US10.5!) and that lasted all of about half an hour. I was really frustrated and gave up.

I moved to Ohio in 2007 and in 2009 I was working for a woman who crocheted. She introduced me to Interweave Crochet magazine. I was looking though it one day and found an ad for Ravelry. I joined up and was amazed at all the crochet and knit projects. I joined a swap and my swap partner sent me a pattern for a bulky knit scarf and 2 skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande. I was so excited to have my own knit scarf I ran out that same night and bought the correct sized needles (bamboo this time) and spent the rest of the night watching YouTube videos and trying to work the first two inches of that scarf but finally figured it out. A week later I had my first scarf and I never looked back!

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Beech Street Vest knitting pattern. Image (c) Holla Knits.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Andrea: Before my son was born I started looking for some sweater patterns to make. I found that there just isn’t a big selection of sweater patterns that are more modern for little boys. I had an idea of what i wanted to knit for him and just couldn’t find the pattern. I realized that I had knit a lot of sweaters and I knew how the construction of one worked so I did a swatch and decided to give it a try. I submitted the idea to Petite Purls, it was accepted and that was the Navajo Pullover. After that, every time I had an idea of a sweater for him I just gave the idea a try on my own and that’s how I got started.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Adult Navajo Pullover knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

UC: You primarily design knit projects, with an emphasis on clothing for children and women. What do you enjoy about this type of project?

Andrea: I am very much a product knitter, meaning I’m in it for the finished products. Plenty of times I have started a sweater already knowing where I plan on wearing it or what I want to wear it with. With designing, I have found myself making things that I want to wear right away. I also really enjoy making sweaters for my son. Knowing my knitting is keeping him warm that makes me feel happy. After the successful design of the first Christmas sweater (Little Fisher Pullover) I told my husband that I would make our son a sweater for Christmas forever. So far he’s only had two Christmas’s to knit for, but I love that this is going to become our tradition. I’m already in the planning and swatching phase of the Christmas Sweater 2014.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Pugsley knitting pattern. Image (c) Andrea Sanchez.

I also tend to design mostly sweaters, because I’m a sweater knitter at heart. I love socks and accessories, but there’s something about seeing all the pieces of a sweater come together and be wearable that just gives me a lot of satisfaction.

UC: In addition to writing your own blog, Life on Laffer, you’re also a blogger for Craftsy. What tips do you have for new and emerging bloggers?

Andrea: Just write about what you enjoy. I started blogging a few months after I started knitting. I was so excited to be learning and making new projects that I wanted to share it with everyone! I try to share my real knitting life because I think that makes me (as a blogger) more relatable, instead of just sharing all my perfect finished pieces. Obviously, I share finished objects, but also the time my dog chewed the toe off my first pair of handknit socks, and when I had to rip and reknit the body of a sweater twice because I chose the wrong size. I didn’t want people to read my blog and think my life was so perfect and I crank out all these knitted things. In reality my kitchen and laundry is often neglected so I can knit instead, and occasionally there are dogs getting tangled in yarn and projects.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Sardines knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

UC: Tell us about your cultural background. What was the yarn crafts scene like in your community when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene in Ohio?

Andrea: I am Mexican on my mother’s side. Her father immigrated to California, where I grew up, when he was 16. My father’s family is from Spain and they came to California many generations ago, back during Spanish mission days before California received statehood.

My grandmothers on all sides crocheted while I was growing up (lots of doilies!) but it was never the thing. My mother learned to crochet at school and I don’t remember any of my cousins doing it. I also wasn’t very into to crocheting when I loved there. Other than my starter blanket, I made one other blanket and that was it. In Ohio, I found that “making” made me feel more Midwestern! I joined a Stitch ‘n Bitch group right away and have found a really vibrant group of crafters. I have a good friend who is a true maker, from food to household items, to much more. I love being a part of this group of so many talented women. Our town also hosts many craft fairs and has some great locally handmade shops.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Midwinter Cardigan knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

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

Andrea: As an adult I’ve felt that I kind of missed out on having a strong Hispanic culture. My family is very assimilated to mainstream American culture so I feel like I have to make my own culture resurgence. Learning to cook was one of the things that has helped me feel a connection to my heritage. I grew up eating excellent Mexican food but never really learned to cook on my own. I taught myself to make tamales and now that’s something that I do every winter. I want my son to have a good connection to his cultural heritage and I feel like that’s going to come from my own connection to it.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Mustill knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

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

Andrea: My favorite would have to be Knitting Without Tears. It was one of the first books I received as a new knitter and the one that I have referred to most frequently. That Elizabeth Zimmermann sure knew her stuff!

Heirloom Baby Knits

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

Andrea: I have quite a few blogs in my blog roll that I visit as often as I can but I have been really into knitting podcasts lately. My new favorite is Curious Handmade. She is also a designer and has small children so I often feel like I can relate. I’m also a regular listener of The Knitmore Girls, The Doubleknit Podcast, and Knitting Pipeline. (UC comment: I love podcasts, too, and they let me crochet and knit while listening. And, I’ve recently launched my own podcast, the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show.)

UC: Do you have any upcoming projects to share?

I have a few new patterns that will be released with various companies this fall, as well as some set for late spring publication. It’s amazing how far in advance one can work when designing knitwear! I am also working on a knitwear book which makes me immensely proud, excited, and terrified all at the same time. It’s quite an undertaking and still has quite a way to go before being published.

Thank you for stopping by, Andrea, and best wishes for success with your book project!

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Hispanic Heritage Month Series)

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery) on Underground Crafter blog.

Today, I’m continuing my Hispanic Heritage Month series with an interview with Melissa Martinez, the knitting and crochet designer and maker behind Acts of Knittery Designs. Like me, Melissa grew up in New York City, but she has since moved to Philadelphia. Melissa’s patterns have been self-published as Acts of Knittery, as well as by Classic Elite and Made in America Yarns.

Melissa can be found online on her website/blog, Ravelry (as ActsofKnittery, on her designer page, or in the Acts of Knittery Designs group), Ebay, FacebookAmazonCraftsyPinterest, and Twitter. All images are copyright Acts of Knittery Designs and are used with permission. Click on pattern images to be brought to the Ravelry page.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery) on Underground Crafter blog.

Melissa Martinez

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

Melissa: My grandmother first taught me as a young child. I started learning crochet first and then went on to learn knitting shortly after that.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Melissa: I had sold finished knit and crochet accessories on both eBay and Etsy for several years. Customers would often ask me if I had patterns available as well. I figured why not start writing them down and selling the patterns.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery) on Underground Crafter blog.

Shrubbery, a knit shawlette pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: You design a lot of hats and shawls. What do you enjoy about those projects?

Melissa: I love how quick they are and also how most don’t require a lot of yarn (or time) to make. I also love how a relatively small accessory can make such a big impact and really transform a whole outfit and your look.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

An Ounce of Flounce, a knit scarf pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: The photos for your self-published patterns have a very consistent (branded) look. Do you take your own photographs or do you use the same photographer? How did you develop your photographic style?

Melissa: Thanks so much for that compliment! I take all of the photos myself. I guess I’ve had lots of practice with shooting product photos for when I sold on Etsy and Ebay. I just try to make sure there’s adequate light coming in from the window (natural light is definitely the best) and then when I crop my photos I try to not have all of them exactly centered. I think that adds a bit of interest.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Mesh Cowl with Flower, a crochet pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: You sell your finished objects on Ebay and individual patterns on Amazon. What do you see as the pros and cons of selling on websites that get a lot of traffic but aren’t focused on the needlecrafts?

Melissa: I think that selling on these large marketplaces definitely helps to expose your products to an entirely new audience. There may be a lot of potential customers who are looking for a hand knit item or pattern and have only heard of the major online sites Ebay and Amazon. On the other hand, I find that most of the time these customers may not be fully aware about how long it actually takes to make an item, the quality of yarn used and the great attention to detail that goes into a handmade item. A lot of people on Ebay are just looking for bargains and you can’t really blame them. On Amazon, I find that some of the more classic or generic patterns sell well but not the truly unique. That’s one area where sites devoted exclusively to the needlecrafts such as Ravelry and Craftsy excel, since customers already have more of an appreciation for hand crafted goods and unique patterns.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Wyvern Scarf, a knit pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

UC: Your parents are Argentinian with Spanish and Italian roots, but you grew up in my hometown of New York City. What was the yarn crafts scene like in your family and community when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene in Philadelphia?

Melissa: My grandmother was always knitting something and she made the most amazing knit onesies for babies I had ever seen. She would actually go out and sell them on consignment at a few local stores. My mom is also an avid knitter and crocheter. She is very DIY (do it yourself) and I think that’s where I get it from. She would sew clothes for me and my siblings growing up, bake her own bread, etc. There were a few craft stores and fabric stores that sold yarn in Queens where I grew up but when I had discovered the yarn shops in Manhattan, or “the City” as us native New Yorkers call it, I was completely blown away and my yarn addiction took on a life of its own. I really like the yarn shops in Philly as well.  (UC comment: You can read my yarn shop reviews from my trip to Philly here.) The people are really friendly here and extremely helpful. One of the yarn shops here is actually owned by a New York transplant like myself. I hope to personally get more involved in the local scene soon. Most of the time I feel like I’m the only one I know who knits. I guess I need to get out more, lol.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Chai Beanie, a knitting pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

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

Melissa: I don’t often think about, this but I guess it does. I think it’s more of the fact that previous generations and other cultures place a greater value on crafts and handmade things. I see it almost as carrying on a tradition in some ways. The only other thing I can think of is that I do adore using vibrant color when I design a piece so maybe my cultural background sneaks in that way.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Northern Belle Cloche, a knitting pattern by Acts of Knittery.

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

I only have three right now. Two were lent to me by my mom and I sort of just kept them with me but she can always have them back if she ever needs them: Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns by Sterling Publishing Co. and Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet (UC comment: reviewed here). The third book I purchased myself when I seriously started thinking about designing: The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design by Shannon Okey (UC comment: reviewed here). This last book has really helped shine the light on so many questions I had about becoming a designer. I was truly clueless and this book helped me so much. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to follow a similar path.

Interview with Melissa Martinez (Acts of Knittery Design) on Underground Crafter blog.

Cloche Hat with Two Flowers, a crochet pattern by Acts of Knittery Design.

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

Melissa: I love Design Sponge even though it’s mostly geared toward interior design. Rena Tom has some cool business tips at times, Tara Swiger is absolutely wonderful and really understands what it’s like to be a creative entrepreneur. I also enjoy reading your blog. :) I wish I did follow more blogs, especially Spanish language ones. I’m always open to suggestions.

Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview, Melissa, and for your kind words about my blog!

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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: Celia Diaz from Abejitas

Today, I’m sharing an interview with Celia Diaz, an emerging Spanish crochet designer, also known as Abejitas.

You can find Celia online at her website, Abejitas, and on Facebook, TwitterPinterestGoogle+, and YouTube.  She’s also on Ravelry (as abejitasorg, on her designer page, and in the Abejitas group).

All photos are used with permission and are copyright Abejitas.  Click on the pictures to link to the pattern pages.

Celia Abejitas

Celia Diaz.

 

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

Celia: When I was a teenager, a friend from high school taught me the basic stitches. Then I bought some magazines and I was learning some more stitches and different ways to combine them to create lace. When my grandmother and my aunts knew about it, they gave me an amazing used book with lots of stitches (around 200) and I began to crochet “by inspiration,” not necessary following an actual pattern.

Gorro Anna/Anna Hat.

Gorro Anna/Anna Hat.

 

 

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Celia: I have been designing all the time since I learned to crochet, but I hadn’t realized at that moment.  I enjoy creating my own projects. It’s a challenge every time I take the hook and let my hands work out what is on my mind.

 

But I had never thought about my way of doing it until last year. I went to a knitting and crochet meeting and I showed a new hat (Anna hat) and everybody there fell in love with it. I was really shocked! They all asked me about how I did it and I decided to write the pattern so they all could make their own Anna hat. The feedback was terrific and I decided to write the patterns of my designs from then on.

Helical.

Helical.

 

 

UC: All of your patterns are self-published. What do you enjoy about self-publishing? What are some of the challenges?

Celia: I hadn’t thought about publishing until a few months ago. And I hadn’t thought about how to do it. I just write a pattern and release it. What I love most is the instantaneous feedback and the direct interaction with other crocheters.

Elephant amigurumi.

Elephant amigurumi.

 

 

UC: All of your patterns are available in English and Spanish. What do you see as the benefits of offering your patterns in two languages, and what are some of the difficulties?

Celia: I wrote my first pattern in Spanish and there were many people who asked for an English version. I translated that one and all the new patterns since then. Patterns available in two languages are easier to share than if it is written only in Spanish.

 

It’s not always easy for me to write in English because it is not my first language and there are words and expressions that I don’t know and I can’t use it properly. This is an additional reason to test my patterns in some groups (like Abejitas). By testing it, I can be sure that the instructions are clear and that the English expressions are right.

 

I’m adding pictures to the patterns to make them easier to understand, regardless of language. I’m also starting to record videos so I’m really excited about the results!

 

Rosette earrings.

Rosette earrings.

 

UC: You live in Seville, Spain. Is that also where you grew up? What was the yarn crafts scene like when you were growing up? How does it compare to the yarn crafts scene in Seville today?

Celia: I grew up and live in Seville. Crafts were just for a few people and they all were made at home. I liked all kind of crafts since I was a child.  I think I’m influenced by my mother, who sewed my dresses when I was younger. And I can remember my paternal grandma sewing, too, and knitting with my aunts for all the children on the family.

 

When I began crocheting, my brothers used to laugh and tell me I looked like a grandma because of my hobbies. Now you can see people of all ages doing these kinds of crafts everywhere: on the bus, in cafes or in the streets. And from time to time you’re asked to be photographed.

 

Butterfly earrings.

Butterfly earrings.

 

Since crafts and DIY are trendy, young people are picking up needles and hooks, too. A year ago, the first urban knitting took place in Seville. I was astonished seeing so many people there, knitting and crocheting together, having a really great time.

 

Until few years ago, there were just some yarn shops in Seville, without much variety of yarn brands. Lately, it is possible to find new fibers, and many craft shops are opening. Some of them are offering courses and kits for many kinds of crafts.

 

The Internet is making it easier to find different brands and materials, offering a huge variety of yarns and tools you couldn’t find here.

 

Gilb socks.

Gilb socks.

 

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

Celia: I liked all kind of crafts since I was a child. I think I’m influenced by my maternal grandpa and my paternal grandma. He was a very handy and careful craft worker and she had wonderful hands for everything (from the kitchen to embroidery).

 

And, as I said, I’ve always seen my mother sewing above all, but knitting, too. She taught me the first knitting stitches and I sewed some purses and knitted very little blankets for my dolls. I didn’t feel like doing anything else – I would have needed more time to make something I could use.

 

When I learned to crochet I discovered that I could make little projects. I could start and finish a whole project in just one day!  Then I started crocheting to customize my t-shirts and I joked with my mother to become partners: she sewed and I adorned. We haven’t done it yet but we still have time.  Later, I crocheted gifts for friends and their babies. I made my first hat and a granny poncho for Marta, my niece, when she was three.

 

Everilda.

Everilda.

 

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

Celia: I have been subscribed to no8das since many years ago and now I’m one of them. This is the blog of a very kind group of knitters and crocheters in Seville.

I like Pinterest very much. I take a look every day to see what’s trendy.

Some others blogs I usually read:

Thanks so much for stopping by, Celia!  

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Ruth Garcia-Alcantud from rock+purl

Today, I’m interviewing designer, tech editor, and writer Ruth Garcia-Alcantud.  Ruth’s designs have been published in magazines including Interweave Knits, Knit Edge, Knit Now, Knitscene, knit.wear, and Vogue Knitting, as well as in books and by yarn companies.

Ruth can be found online through her rock+purl website and blog, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Ravelry (as rockandpurl, in the rock+purl group, and on her designer page).  Photos are used with permission, and unless otherwise noted are (c) Ruth Garcia-Alcantud/rock+purl.  Click on photos to link to the design.

Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, wearing her new Chopped! design.  (Click picture to link to pattern.)

Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, wearing her new Chopped! design.

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

Ruth: My grandmother taught me when I was little. It’s the usual way, isn’t it?? I actually started with crochet first, I made a VERY long chain. I learnt to single crochet, double crochet, etc, on that chain. My grandmother cast on some stitches and I made a scarf with a lot of holes. I believe she still has it.Her tools now live with me – I got all her needles and her small table-top swift (about the size of a coffee tumbler when folded up!).
Anchored, published by rock+purl.

Anchored, published by rock+purl.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Ruth: It was a synergy of sorts. I was about to become unemployed and I was disillusioned with the corporate world I’d been working in for 8 years. I had also cultivated great friendships with some dyers, LYS owners and spinners, which fed my creativity.When it came time to choose how I’d move on with my life, I thought I’d try my hand at designing, since my father has worked in fashion forever and I was always very art-inclined, mixed a bit of my mathematical skills and love for creation, et voila. I’m a full-time self-employed designer now. Not so bad!
Calista, published by Juniper Moon Farm.  Photo (c) Susan Gibbs.

Calista, published by Juniper Moon Farm. Photo (c) Susan Gibbs.

UC: In addition to designing, you are also a tech editor and teacher.  Can you talk more about how you got started and what you enjoy about these aspects of your work in the yarn industry?
Ruth: I started teaching on a small one-on-one scale in my town, as a way to boost up my income when I started designing. I love the “a-ha” moments when teaching people a special technique, or one of the tricks I’ve accumulated since I started knitting (like how I don’t twist my sts when casting on in the round!). I no longer take individual students, my timetable doesn’t allow it, but I’m teaching at shows and that proves very rewarding since the people are brand new every single time.
Glacial, published in rock+purl.  Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

Glacial, published in rock+purl. Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

Tech editing started once I knew a lot more about pattern-writing and sizing. It needs a special set of skills – proof-reading, print-correcting, spelling and flow are just as important as accurate numbers. You need the spatial ability to “flip” things in your head, visualise the way things are constructed, and be able to anticipate how things can/may change. The eye for detail is crucial: one single number off can destroy an entire pattern.
Libelula Shawl, currently an exclusive pattern for Pret-A-Tricoter Brit Knit Kit.

Libelula Shawl, currently an exclusive pattern for Pret-A-Tricoter Brit Knit Kit.

UC: Your designs have been published by yarn companies, in books, in U.S. and U.K. magazines, and through rock+purl.  Are you intentionally diversifying your publication venues, or has this just been happenstance?

Ruth: Oh, it’s absolutely intentional. I like to pick and mix, so to speak. The more publishers you try, the more you figure out whose style “gels” better with yours, while adapting to certain needs the publisher may try. I also like the thrill of trying to prepare a submission that I know in my heart will be selected. Rock & Purl is the avenue where anything goes, it’s my style, 100%.
Moore, published in rock+purl.  Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

Moore, published in rock+purl. Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

UC: You’re originally from Spain.  What was the yarn crafts scene like when you were growing up?  How does that compare with today?
Ruth: Oh gosh, it’s SO different!!! I remember going to shops with my grandmother and the only thing they had was acrylic yarn and #5 crochet, coupled with intarsia-cowboy sweater patterns!! If you wanted to learn you were taught at home, and nobody “wanted” to learn, it was a “this is what you do in the summer” thing. Nowadays there’s small shops with oodles of European and American yarns, interesting blends, fashion-forward designs and classes to teach students from scratch. It’s a lot different.
Sincerely Yours, published in rock+purl.  Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

Sincerely Yours, published in rock+purl. Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

UC: You’re currently living in West Sussex, UK.  How would you compare the yarn crafting scene there with the current scene in Spain?

Ruth: I recently took some time to write an article for Yarn Market News, the industry-only magazine. I wrote about Valencia, my hometown. It’s a very cosmopolitan city with fantastic tucked-away corners and lots to discover. It’s the complete opposite of where I live now :).

West Sussex is a mostly-suburban county, with lots of green spaces, and small towns. Don’t get me wrong, I love it very much, the peace and quiet are fantastic for a job like mine, but sometimes I need the buzz of a city to kickstart some projects in my head. Craft-wise, Valencia has more shops and craft groups in the city centre than West Sussex has in its entire expansion.

Viridian, published in rock+purl.  Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

Viridian, published in rock+purl. Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Ruth: I think so. There are certain “flavours” of Spanish culture and fashion that I apply to my designs. From fitting and styling to colour choice. I do, however, need to go for thicker garments in winter ;).  Coming from a place which is decidedly almost-tropical to a place where summer lasts all of 2 weeks was a bit of a shock!
Vitamin C, published in rock+purl.  Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

Vitamin C, published in rock+purl. Photo (c) Valerie Boissel.

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language knitting or craft blogs to share?
Ruth: Oh wow, let’s see.
  • I like reading Knitting Kninja. Her take on knitwear photography turned me into an analytical-eye kind of person!
  • Wasel Wasel is my friend Gemma and she’s super crafty, I love seeing her projects.
  • Stephanie, at Space Cadet Creations, has the coolest yarns and a lovely take on life!
  • Andi Satterlund from Untangling Knots makes me feel like I should live forever wrapped in 50s vintage clothes (and I’m currently in jeans and an old t-shirt!).
  • In the non-knitting area, try I’m A Ginger Monkey for amazing quilting stuff.
Fallen Petals, the rock+purl summer, 2013 mystery KAL.

Fallen Petals, the rock+purl summer, 2013 mystery KAL.

UC: What are you working on now?
Ruth: I’ve been so busy recently! My tech editing business has boomed, and my book is slowly but surely making progress. The pieces I’m creating for it are so special and carefully designed, I couldn’t even think I’d be able to make something like it.

I’ve also tried to keep steady releases so my customers and fans are kept happy: I released a Mystery Shawl with 2 different versions (Fallen Petals), a summer wrap-around top in a luxe blend (Mediterranean), a Fall-is-just-around-the-corner cowl (Chopped) and I’m working on a special holiday-themed sock ebook and KAL with my BFF Joeli where we will each show you Halloween and Christmas colourway socks, as well as a relaxing vanilla sock.

I’d strongly recommend you follow both of us on Instagram and Twitter for sneak previews of the colours and the looks of the socks :).  (UC comment: Ruth’s Twitter and Instagram links are at the top of this post.  You can find Joeli on Twitter here.)

 Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us, Ruth!

The next interview in the series will be posted on October 3 with Karen Abarca/knitbypearl.