Tag Archives: spain

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.


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.




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.




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.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Monica Rodriguez Fuertes from Hand Made Awards

I’m excited to interview Monica Rodriguez Fuertes, a Spanish crochet, knitting, and sewing designer.  You may be familiar with Monica’s designs from Crochet Today!, or through the Etsy shop she shares with her mom, HandMadeAwards.  (You can read more about her in this Crochet Today! Designer We Love interview.)

Monica can be found online on Etsy (through the HandMadeAwards and The Cup of Tea shops), on the HandMadeAwards Facebook page, and on Ravelry (on her designer page or in the HMA group).

By the way, Monica asked me to share a special thank you with her mom, Loly Fuertes.  Pictures are used with permission and link to the pattern pages.


Monica Rodriguez Fuertes.
Monica Rodriguez Fuertes.


Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet, knit, and sew?
Moni: When I was a little girl I was always painting and making little pompom animals and sewing dolls with fabrics.

My mom, Loly Fuertes, is an expert knitter and crocheter.  She taught to me a few years ago at her home, and my great-grandmother taught her in the garden on a summer afternoon when my mom was a little girl.

Both my mother and I started HandMadeAwards.

The art of creating lovely and unique items has been always present in my family. I grew up all around this fantastic environment.

Vincent Van Gogh Teddy Bear pattern by HandMadeAwards.
Vincent Van Gogh Teddy Bear pattern by HandMadeAwards.


UC: What inspired you to start selling your patterns on Etsy?
Moni: I thought that Etsy was the perfect site to sell my patterns because all the crafters enjoy using Etsy to find and shop for their treasures.


Fittipaldi Car Carrot pattern by HandMadeAwards.
Fittipaldi Car Carrot pattern by HandMadeAwards.

UC: In addition to selling your patterns on Etsy, you also design regularly for Crochet Today!  What do you enjoy about working with the Crochet Today! team?  How does it compare with self-publishing?
Moni: The Crochet Today! team are fantastic and really professional and I always feel very comfortable and happy working with them. They are a great support for new designers.

Crochet Today! magazine has lovely ideas, and I make the items they love in real life with my own style. The difference when I design and create a toy [for self-publishing] is that this new toy is my own idea from the beginning until the end (colors, materials, size, style…).

Solar System Mobile, published by Crochet Today!
Solar System Mobile, published by Crochet Today!

UC: You’ve had success in selling your patterns on Etsy. What tips do you have for a new Etsy seller?
Moni: The most important is believe in, love, and enjoy your own work.  This is the secret for having success.  I always try to make each handmade piece delicate and unique.

Bonnie the Striped Bunny by HandMadeAwards.
Bonnie the Striped Bunny by HandMadeAwards.

UC: You’re originally from Santander, Spain.  What was the yarn crafting scene like there when you were growing up?  Has it changed since then?
Moni: Yes, I was born in Santander, Spain, and I grew up in a big home near the beach with my adoring family: my parents and my grandparents, Cris, my little sister, and my uncle, who is a brilliant architect. My grandfather is an expert in old Hollywood movies. The women of my home were always crafting, making amazing quilts, designing clothes and dresses, cooking cakes, making new clothes for toys and dolls for my sister and me, making beautiful garlands for parties…

Alice in Wonderland Tea Cosy by HandMadeAwards.
Alice in Wonderland Tea Cosy by HandMadeAwards.

My favourite scene that I remember is the living room in the afternoons, full of colorful yarns with my mom and grandmom knitting or sewing dresses and dolls for my sister and me. I would sit on the floor, playing with some of their strands of wool for making little pompom chicks or bunnies, with chocolate cookies and a glass of milk.

My Darling Geese by HandMadeAwards.
My Darling Geese by HandMadeAwards.

I’m very lucky because nothing is different today around me, my sweet grandmom that spends her afternoons with us having a cup of tea although today she can not make all those pretty things that she usually did…but our home continues to be full of vintage treasures such as old ribbons, hundreds of colorful yarn skeins, glass beads, beautiful scraps of fabrics, and all the pretty things for crafting.

My Bicycle by HandMadeAwards.
My Bicycle by HandMadeAwards.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Moni: Absolutely yes! I grew up in a family that loves art in all the expressions, and the person that I’m today is a reflection off all of that. Finally, I decided to study Applied Arts and I’m an interior architect.

My sister and I owned a fashion shop for several years with the most beautiful dresses and bags that we bought in Milan, Italy, and our shop was recommended in Vogue magazine six times.

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

 The next interview in the series will be posted on September 26 with Daniela Montelongo/Pompon’s Party.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Cristina Mershon

Today, I’m pleased to interview crochet designer, Cristina Mershon. Cristina is originally from Galicia, Spain, and she currently lives in Oklahoma. Although she has only been publishing her designs since 2011, she has been quite prolific.  You can find Cristina on Ravelry as CristinaMershon or through her designer page.

Each photo is linked to the pattern page on Ravelry.

Cristina Mershon.
Cristina Mershon.

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

Cristina: It seems like avid crocheters have similar beginnings: mom or grandma taught them around 8 years old, and my story is no different. I loved seeing my mom knitting and crocheting beautiful things. Knitting used to be my favorite thing to do when I was younger back in Galicia, but with time crochet became my obsession. My mom and her friends only crocheted with white thread that they bought in big skeins from a factory in Portugal, and they would only do household items. Knitting was for wearing, and crochet for the home.


Alpine Shawl, published by Cascade Yarns.
Alpine Shawl, published by Cascade Yarns.

When I first come to the United States, I was shocked at the new world of crochet in front of me. I could do anything and everything with yarn and a hook!


I am graphic designer during the day, working on book covers, web layouts, logos and all kinds of promotional materials, trying to make my clients happy with the use of color and fun shapes. But at night, when I am home, after spending time with my hubby and 4 little kids, it’s my time to create crochet items with a modern twist.


St. Tropez Tunic, published by Interweave Crochet.
St. Tropez Tunic, published by Interweave Crochet.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Cristina: A lot of my inspiration comes from knitting. I love the seamless flow of the knitted fabric, and the intricate detail of the lace. So when I stared designing, I wanted to accomplish a knitting look using a crochet hook. One of my first published works was a series of shawls, but not your old school grandma ones. I wanted to do modern style shawls for everyday use, for the office, or to take your kids to school. In fact, I wear them all the time, and they make any everyday outfit into a sophisticated look.

Designing helps me create what I really want and I cannot find. I love creating super easy to make items, nothing complicated, easy shapes, simple stitches… all combined to created something really special.

Cristina's designs on her baby, Sedora.
Cristina’s designs on little Sedora.


UC: You have many great designs for children as well as lovely accessories for women. What appeals to you about crocheting wearables?

Cristina: I reconnected to crochet when I first got pregnant with my first baby. Something in me (crazy hormones!!) pushed me to make things all the time, a nesting instinct that wouldn’t go away. So that’s when I began to crochet baby items. I started with lacy edges for receiving blankets and it just went off from there.

I got pregnant again with my second (they are only 1 year apart!), so I made everything from jackets, to blankets, to towel edges, and booties… and then baby number 3 and number 4 came along… then my collection of baby hats and jackets was so big, that my friends asked to me sell some to them.

Then, I went to a baby boutique and the owner asked where did I buy my baby’s hats… so I started to sell those too. All of that while working full time in the advertising agency.  Those were a few crazy years!

Melania Dress, published by Interweave Crochet.
Melania Dress, published by Interweave Crochet.

And one day I realized that I never did anything for me, so I started designing shawls and shrugs, and anything that would inspire me to use basic shapes, like circles, squares, rectangles, and hexagons, to create one of a kind items. A great example of that was my first work for Vogue Crochet, where they asked me to design two different projects.  It was an amazing experience.

Grace Shrug, published by Inside Crochet.
Grace Shrug, published by Inside Crochet.


UC: How did you make the shift from designing finished objects to designing patterns?

Cristina: I am always going to be very thankful to Cascade Yarns and Crochet Today! They gave me my first opportunity to create crochet patterns. I didn’t even know I could do that, or that anybody would ever like them. I knew how to crochet visually, but I didn’t have any idea of how to follow a pattern. Everything I did before then was by looking at a existing finished piece or graphic pattern.

I remember working on my first design ever for Cascade Yarns, the Alpine Shawl, and trying to figure out how to write a pattern.  It was very very hard! After that pattern was published and liked by hundreds of people within a few weeks, I started getting requests for designs. I couldn’t believe that a hobby like mine could translate into a little career, but how exiting.


Galician Sea Shawl, published by Annie's in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.
Galician Sea Shawl, published by Annie’s in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.

UC: In 2012, you published your first booklet, Exquisite Crochet Shawls.  Tell us about what that was like and what the design process was like for those shawls.

Cristina: When I got the opportunity to create the shawls for Annie’s, Exquisite Crochet Shawls, I was delighted. Every shawl in that book is inspired by my country of Spain. I am from the Northwest region of Galicia, a very magical place where knitting and crochet were not just a hobby a few years back, but the only way to create wearables and items for the home. My mom used to get the whole fleece from her own sheep, wash it, card it, rove it, spin it and wind it all by herself.

Alborada Shawl, published by Annie's in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.
Alborada Shawl, published by Annie’s in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.

So the Alborada Shawl (meaning  “dawn”) has the purple tones of the sun coming up in the morning, with beautiful pineapple lace motifs. The green Celtic Nature Shawl was inspired by the round markings by the Celts found in ancient stones; the blue Galician Sea Shawl shows the ripples and waves of the wild Atlantic ocean; the Volvoreta Stole (meaning “butterfly”) is light and airy; and the Art Deco Shawl is a mix of structured and freeform crochet, if that even exists.

Shades of Blue Shawl by Cristina Mershon.  Photo (c) Soho Publishing.
Shades of Blue Shawl, published by Soho Publishing in Crochet Noro.

UC: Last year, your design also graced the cover of Crochet Noro.  Tell us about that experience.

Cristina: The cover of Crochet Noro: 30 Dazzling Designs was a huge surprise. I never though the shawl would make to the cover since all of these incredible crocheters were a part of it.

The Art Major: Color Wheel Cowl and Beret by Cristina Mershon.  Image (c) Crochet Today!
The Art Major: Color Wheel Cowl and Beret, published by Crochet Today!

One day I stumbled onto the book on Amazon.com before it was published, and I thought that the shawl looked very familiar.  When I realized it was my own design, that was a great feeling. The same thing happened with my first cover of Crochet Today!: I couldn’t believe my first ever magazine project would make it to the cover.

Vogue was very unexpected, to the point that when I got the email to be a part of it, I though it was a joke. I felt so blessed.

Buttoned Cowl by Cristina Mershon.  Picture (c) Rose Callahan/Soho Publishing.
Buttoned Cowl, published by Soho Publishing in Vogue Crochet.

UC: How does your background influence your design process?

Cristina: My art and design background definitely influence my crochet design. I want to push the envelope with every design. Right now, I am working on a series of crochet wearable patterns that I will be selling on my own through Ravelry. I think it’s time to work on patterns where I get create what I really want to wear, maybe pushing the envelope a little bit.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Cristina!

 The next interview in the series will be posted on September 23 with Monica Rodriguez Fuertes/Hand Made Awards.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Marisa Munoz from al-abrigo

Today, I’m interviewing Spanish knitwear designer Marisa Munoz, also known as al-abrigo.  Marisa can be found online through her Spanish language blog, Al Abrigo; her Facebook page; her Pinterest page; and on Ravelry (as al-abrigo, on her designer page, or in the al-abrigo designs group).

All images are copyright al-abrigo and used with permission.  Click on design photos to link to pattern pages.

Marisa Munoz, known as al-abrigo.

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

Marisa: I’m self-taught. I learned the basic notions from books, magazines and reference sites such as Ravelry or KnittingHelp. And I’ve improved on my technique experimenting and knitting much.


UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Marisa: The day I realized that I was analyzing the construction of clothing of people (on the street, in the subway, on TV…) I knew I had to be inevitably a knitting designer. That was the turning point!


Scabiosa Top by al-abrigo.
Scabiosa Top by al-abrigo.

UC: You have such great footwear patterns.  What is it about designing for the feet that appeals to you?

Marisa: My first designs were baby booties. I didn’t find modern and fun models in baby shops, so I decided to design them. Since then I haven’t stopped! They’re sweet and very fast to knit. The perfect gift for future moms!

Schoolboy Baby Sandals by al-abrigo.
Schoolboy Baby Sandals by al-abrigo.


UC: You’re hosting your first mystery knit a long this fall.  Tell us about your decision to do that, and what participants can expect.

Marisa: I was looking for a fun way to promote my designs when I happened to organize a MKAL. And there are already over 700 knitters attracted by curiosity! (UC comment: You can find out more about the Los Lirios MKAL here.)


UC: Some of your patterns are available in multiple languages, but all are available in English.  Tell us about how you decide what language to offer each pattern in.

Marisa: I write all my patterns in English because I think that knitting terms and abbreviations are much more visual and easier to understand than other languages. Then I translate them into Spanish because many knitters here ask me for the patterns in our language. And because it’s my mother tongue!

Wendy by al-abrigo.
Wendy by al-abrigo.


UC: You grew up in Valencia, Spain, where you currently live.  What was the yarn crafts scene like there when you were growing up?  How does it compare to the yarn crafts today?
Knitting was an activity for grandmothers when I was a little girl, but now young people are interested in learning craft as a hobby. There are several yarn shops, street markets are held regularly and crafters meet up to sew or knit. This change makes me happy!

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

Marisa: I think that everything we’ve made and learned throughout our lives affects unconsciously to the “here and now”.


Scabiosa Shawl by al-abrigo.
Scabiosa Shawl by al-abrigo.

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

Marisa: Aventuras de CosturasCajón Desastre, and Noodlehead.


Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Marisa.  Good luck with your first MKAL!

The next interview in the series will be posted on September 19 with Christina Mershon.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Angele Lumiere

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

Today, I’m very excited to interview Spanish crochet designer and blogger, Angele Lumiere.  You may have seen Angele’s designs on her Ravelry page or her French/Spanish bilingual blog, Le flux de la creativite.  You can also find Angele online on Ravelry, on Artabus, or in her DaWanda shop, L’Atelier d’Angele.  All images are used with Angele’s permission.

Angele Lumiere with some crocheted goodies.

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

Angele: Some of my earliest memories related to wool and crochet are of a small yarn store near my house.  There my mother bought wool for various knit clothing. The saleswoman helped her with knitting since she was not an expert. I keep fondly a red wool skirt from when I was 6 or 7 years old.

My mother taught me to crochet when I was 10.  My mother was taught by her ​​grandmother. I remember making dresses for our dolls together with my cousin.  Little by little, I taught myself more.  With some 1980s crochet magazines, I learned the symbols and how to interpret the charts.

Another woman was important, too – my husband’s grandmother.  She was a crochet expert who had worked for a textile company in the 1930s, crocheting garments. We shared our passion for crochet, and learned and shared many things together.

When I was a college student, and then, when I started working as a professor of philosophy, in my spare time, I crocheted to avoid anxiety and to relax.

Primavera bag design by Angele Lumiere. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Angele: I am by nature very curious and creative. I have always felt the need to create things with my hands. I try to be as creative as possible in everything I do. I do not like to repeat things in my work as a teacher of philosophy or as a painter (I also paint) or crocheter.

My crochet and my painting cannot be separated from my other passion, philosophy.   Philosophy is the creation of concepts and crochet and painting are the creation of visual sensations. For me, both to live and to create are essential. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche: “Without art, life would be a mistake.”

One day, I thought it would be interesting to share my crochet designs. I set the challenge to draw and explain my creations and patterns in three languages ​​(Spanish, French, and English), using international symbols to reach as many people as possible that are interested in crochet. My first pattern was a beret I posted on Ravelry in February, 2011.

Corinto purse design by Angele Lumiere. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: You use a lot of circles and waves in your designs. What inspires you about these geometric shapes?

Angele: The geometric shapes are everywhere in nature. I love the harmony of nature and its beauty. I am inspired by the sea, the ebb and flow of the waves, flowing water, the leaves of plants and trees, dancing in the clouds…

To the Greek philosophers, the circle was a perfect figure because it has no beginning or end, and represents life itself.  I use circles and waves in my designs because they are natural and essential figures.


UC: Tell us about crochet in Spain. 

Angele: In Spain, at present, there is the same general interest in crochet and knitting that exists in other European countries, such as France or England, or in the U.S. There are no crochet magazines published in Spain, there are a few books (most are translations of American or English books), there is no major wool industry. It is considered a thing of grandmothers. This art is not valued, but even despised.

Unfortunately, grandmothers who knew crochet disappear before their daughters and granddaughters learned to crochet. It isn’t taught in schools. I admire the U.S. interest in the art of crochet and knitting. I find it really important to value creativity.

In the last 4 years, thanks to the Internet and access to French, British and American blogs, crocheters have emerged in small groups of interested people who struggle to spread this art. They have opened new stores that make wool and offer small workshops and classes.

In the main Spanish cities - Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, and Vigo - groups typically meet one day a week to share the passion of crochet and knitting.

I am part of a group that meets every Saturday morning.  The group includes women who are between 20 years and 66 years old. I like that there are young people who are interested in this art. Most of the material online is purchased from other countries, and most of the patterns that people follow are written in English.  Thanks to the people in this group, Valencia Knits, I discovered Ravelry.

There is no rivalry between knitters and crocheters in Spain.  On the contrary, we are woven together in a very nice and friendly way, and people teach each other and share many things.


Granade scarf by Angele Lumiere. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: Many of your patterns are available in Spanish, French, and English, and some are charted with international stitch symbols. Your blog is in Spanish and French. Tell us about your decision to offer multilingual patterns and write a bilingual blog. 

Angele: Over 3 years ago, I created my blog because I had the need to share my creations and I felt very isolated.

I decided that the blog was bilingual: Spanish and French. In Spain, as I have explained before, there were no crochet blogs. I speak French and I knew there were a lot of crochet blogs in French. For example, I participated in and am a member of a blog specializing in crocheted grannies, Granny Mania.

Over 70% of the followers of my blog are from French speaking countries and 20% of my followers are Spanish-speaking fans.  I believe that blogs written in various languages ​​have many advantages.  They are a very rewarding.


Jaleo shawl by Angele Lumiere. (Click for blog post.)

UC: How do you share your love of crochet with others?
Angele: For two years, I’ve taught crochet to my fellow teachers. Working with adolescents as a young teacher is hard work that can produce anxiety and even lead to depression.  Female colleagues attend my class, once a week, and I share tips and crochet techniques. Crochet is good therapy for anxiety.

Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, said that “philosophy was the medicine of the soul.”  I think that crochet is, too.  It is a kind of “meditation” that helps us feel better and be happier. My colleagues and students enjoy the course and have made several blankets and shawls in the past. And, they keep doing new projects.

I have a friend who is battling cancer. I advised him to crochet. Crochet helps you feel better when you create beautiful works with your hands. (Edited to add UC comment: For more on the healing power of crochet, check out my interview with Kathryn Vercillo about her book, Crochet Saved My Life.) My friend gives her crochet creations to nurses, doctors and caretakers. She lives far from my hometown, but in the summer, we crochet together. This summer, I taught her to crochet mittens. Now my friend is excited, crocheting mittens for Christmas gifts for her daughters and friends.

UC: What are your future plans?

Angele: Another of my projects is to continue designing crochet patterns. I have many ideas for new scarves, shawls, and handbags.  I also started to learn to knit. I knitted two shawls of which I am proud.

And finally, in the future I want to write a book linking philosophy and crochet.


Thank you for stopping by for an interview, Angele, and sharing your perspective on crochet with us!