Today’s interview is with fellow New Yorker, Diana Rivera. Diana is not only a crochet and knitting designer and yarnie, but also a mixed media artist and poet. You may also know her as Craftaholic or Arte y Poemas.
All photos are (c) Diana Rivera/Arte y Poemas and are used with permission. Click the photos to link to patterns or yarn listings.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet and knit?
Diana: I learned to knit through my musician friend, Bliss Blood. She tried to teach me to knit, and I got as far as the knit stitch. I eventually taught myself the purl stitch through the help of KnittingHelp.com.
UC: How did you start dyeing and spinning yarn?
Diana: I started dyeing yarn soon after I learned to crochet. I would buy plain cotton or wool yarn and experiment with Kool Aid and RIT. I started spinning about a year ago, when I got my spinning wheel.
UC: What inspired you to start designing and to launch your own line of art yarns?
Diana: Well, it truly came out of necessity, haha! I had to start selling some of it, since I really am spinning yarn on an almost daily basis. You should see my stash. Yikes!
UC: What’s your cultural background? What was the yarn crafts scene within your family like when you were growing up?
I wasn’t really exposed to very much art or creativity growing up. Actually in my family, I am the only artist. My grandfather was a writer, but that is as creative as they got, aside from the occasional needlepoint that my grandmother did. She taught me embroidery from a young age.
UC: How does that compare with today?
Diana: Well, today, most of the people I know are creative in one way or another. In fact, even men I date are in one way or another, creative. It’s important to me that I surround myself with creative people, as it helps the creative muse inside me to grow and flourish.
UC: You’re currently living in Brooklyn, NY, my home town. Did you grow up there or are you a transplant?
Diana: I was born and raised in Plainfield, NJ. I love Brooklyn. From the time I was a little girl, I wanted to come to the five boroughs, and here I am.
UC: What do you think of the current fiber arts scene in Brooklyn?
Diana: Well, the truth is, there are creative people everywhere in New York. There are crochet and knitting groups anywhere you go, and for almost every Brooklyn neighborhood. I love that the city I live in is surrounded by creative people. My experience with knitting groups is that there is a sort of camaraderie that from the first moment you visit a group, you’ve got best friends for life.
UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Diana: Not really. As I mentioned, no one in my family is creative at all except me, and my grandparents who have long sinced passed away. Many Latinos I know locally are creative, but I think creativity surrpasses ethnicity. You can’t put art in a box that way.
UC: How can we find your work online?
Diana: I do have a blog, and it’s Arte y Poemas. I blog in both Spanish and English, but mostly English. It’s mostly about my art and poetry, though I do post the occasional craft project.
I have an Etsy store with some art and my hand spun yarns. (I also accept custom work, if anyone wants a specific shade of yarn, etc.). And a society6 store, where people can purchase prints of my work.
Thanks for stopping by, Diana! And I can relate to the overflowing stash problem!
The next interview in the series will be posted on October 7 with Teresa Alvarez.
Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Diana Rivera from Arte y Poemas