Tag Archives: talking crochet

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Juanita Quinones

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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! 

An interview with crochet’s queen regnant, Gwen Blakley Kinsler

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I’m excited to be joined today by Gwen Blakley Kinsler, founder of the Crochet Guild of America, as part of my ongoing series about teaching needlecrafts. I met Gwen (online, of course) in the Crochet Instructors Lounge group on Ravelry.  In addition to being a nationally known crochet teacher, Gwen is a designer, a crochet artist, author of Crocheting (Kids Can Do It), and the editor of DRG’s Talking Crochet newsletter.

Gwen, also known as Crochet Queen, can be found on her website, her blog, her Flickr photostream, her Facebook page, her Twitter page, or on Ravelry (as crochetkween or in her Rav group, Cro-Kween Designs).  She is a proud lifetime member of the Crochet Guild of America.  (All images in this post are viewable on Gwen’s Flickr photostream and are used with her permission.)

Gwen, the Crochet Queen (or Kween, as the setting dictates).

Underground Crafter (UC): What first inspired you to teach crochet?

Gwen: My passion for crochet got me started.  In 1982, I had two little children and decided to offer crochet classes at a local park district.  It was something I knew a lot about and cared about and it got me out of the house a little bit.

Gwen’s “garden path rock.”


UC: Has teaching crochet impacted your own personal crafting?

Gwen: Oh, most definitely!  I learn so much from my students.  I keep my ears open and listen to what they share.  There is often crossover in their interests in crochet and other crafts.  I think mixed-media work is the “hot” new thing right now and it is my new “frontier.”  (UC comment: Gwen has some very interesting mixed media work for sale on her website.  In particular, I was struck by her pieces incorporating photos of Frida Kahlo and prints of Kahlo’s paintings.)

UC: Do you have plans for expanding your teaching?  What goals do you have for the next year?

Gwen: I plan to search out a new venue, such as a fiber fest or sheep and wool fest.  I like teaching at venues that are bi-stitchural.  The students come with good handwork skills and also a sense of mystique about how to crochet.  I like to birth new crocheters into the world!  (UC comment: Note to self: Now I will have to find some sentences to use “bi-stitchural” in… here’s my first one:  In addition to Gwen’s classes at various regional and national venues, she teaches at her local bi-stitchural yarn shop, Fuzzy Wuzzy Yarns.  If you are in the Chicago area, stop by for one of Gwen’s bead crochet, flatwork bead crochet, symbol crochet, or crochet socks classes this fall.)

Gwen will also be teaching “Bead Crochet Basics” as a Market Session class at Stitches Midwest.

UC: What are your favorite things to teach?

Gwen: Bead crochet and freeform crochet.

Another example of Gwen’s freeform work.

UC: What are you hoping no one will ask to learn? :)

Gwen: Fridgies!!  (UC comment: Gwen and I must be kindred spirits.  We both love to crochet, we appreciate the work of Frida Kahlo, and we are both, er, um, disinterested in fridgies.)

UC: You are a CYC certified crochet instructor.  What did you find most useful about the program and how did it prepare you to teach?

Gwen: I have been CYCA certified since 1996 and it is kind of hard to remember what was most useful.  Back then, the teacher came to us and it was a group class and 2-day session.  I think the manual and the practice teaching, plus the use of the certification beside my name, have been the most useful.

There is still work to be done, though.  No one ever asked me if I am certified or otherwise qualified in any way in all the places I have taught.  I think CYC needs to promote the importance of teachers who are certified and educate the venues to expect this level of quality in the teachers they hire.

UC: You founded the Crochet Guild of America (and, as a member, let me say thanks!).  Tell me about that.

Gwen: I was at the right place at the right time with a little entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance thrown in for good measure!  I wanted to be able to share and to be part of a group with other crocheters.  I wanted to learn from experts.  I had a crochet party and 90 crocheters came to the first conference (1994).  Those in attendance voted to create a national organization.  More details are at www.crochet.org.

Gwen’s “Alan rock.”

UC: What advice do you have for emerging crochet professional designers and teachers?

Gwen: Do your homework and don’t jump in before you are ready.  Hone your crochet skills and specialize in one aspect of crochet and strive to make a name for yourself in that arena.

Bead crochet is one of Gwen’s teaching specialties.

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Gwen!  In addition to the two Market Session classes mentioned above, Gwen will also be teaching Irish Crochet on Steroids and the Posh Post Stitch at STITCHES Midwest in August.  If you are in the area, you should check out one of these classes and support crochet at the STITCHES events.