Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.
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Today, I’m sharing an interview with Liz McQueen, the crochet designer from Playin’ Hooky Designs. Liz focuses on hats for an active lifestyle, and she also has a series of graphed tapestry crochet designs. I thought she’d be a great person to interview about tapestry crochet! I also included a roundup of five of my favorite patterns from Liz’s collection.
You can find Liz online on the Playin’ Hooky Designs website and blog, on Craftsy, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Ravelry (as PlayinHooky and on her designer page), and Twitter. You can sign up for her newsletter here. All images are copyright Liz McQueen and used with permission.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?
Liz: My sister-in-law introduced me to crochet during Thanksgiving break, 2006. I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and doing my best to avoid scraping the sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce off all the dirty dishes.
Technically she taught me to knit first but my mind wouldn’t wrap around the whole “two needles” thing. So I picked up one of her hooks. I mastered a few basic stitches and literally didn’t put down my little yellow swatch for the rest of the weekend.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Liz: When I first started, I stuck to flat things, scarves and blankets mostly. But I got bored. I latched onto hats pretty early. They’re versatile, fun, and most importantly (for those of us with kids) they don’t take a month to finish! Within the year I was designing my own patterns. Originally I started making and selling hats for babies and kids. I came to realize there was a gap in the market for fun, ski-inspired beanies for grown-ups and kids. I knew I could have a LOT of fun, and it turns out I was right!
I wanted to create a brand that would stand out. The name “Playin’ Hooky Designs” came to me as I was playing around with crochet-type words (for you non-yarnies, crocheters use one hook, while knitters use two needles). As soon as I said it to myself I knew it was perfect. The skull and cross hooks followed as a way to represent my exciting, edgy style.
UC: Several of your hat designs are graphed and use the tapestry crochet technique. How were you introduced to graphs and tapestry crochet, and why did you start designing with these methods?
Liz: I’ve always had fun playing with color and different texture. My first tapestry crochet endeavor was my Old School Beanie. But I’ve fallen in love with it through my Graph Beanie. Kimberly Ragsdale from Oikos Handmade and I teamed up to write the pattern and then separately create our own color graphs for every occasion. I love being able to create a new graph for a totally different look to the hat. I’ve also played with using tapestry crochet on my Playin’ Hooky Discs (Frisbees).
UC: Most of your designs are for hats. What do you enjoy about designing hats?
Liz: It all comes down to attention span, haha. My first real project was a baby blanket for my daughter. Finishing it made me realize that I have a bad case of crochet ADD. I like too many different textures and colors to spend more than a day or two on a single item. I’m also too organized (some call it OCD) to have more than one WIP at a time. So I stick to my hats, headbands, and the occasional cowl. And as much as I hate to admit it, I actually really like figuring out the math of patterns in the round.
UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?
Liz: My favorite books are Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller – the one that made me fall in love with crochet – and Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain – something I love seeing and wish I had more time to do.
UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story with us, Liz!