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.
As part of this month’s focus on broomstick lace, I’m sharing an interview today with Jennifer Raymond (formerly Jennifer Crowley) from Tinking Turtle Designs. Jennifer is Virginia-based crochet and knitting designer and teacher, and she happens to have a great fondness for the broomstick lace technique!
You can find Jennifer online on the Tinking Turtle Designs website, and on Facebook, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter. I’m also sharing a roundup of my seven favorite crochet patterns (and one free knitting pattern) from Jennifer’s collection. All photos are used with permission, and are copyright Jennifer Raymond/Tinking Turtle Designs unless otherwise noted.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?
Jennifer: I first learned to crochet when I was 6 or 7, from a babysitter that used to help my mother. She taught me. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I learned about things like gauge and patterns. I just looked at what I wanted to make and then made things.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Jennifer: My husband (then boyfriend) started encouraging me after college to look into how I could take my passion and make it my career. I’d just finished working for an office job that didn’t quite work, and I began to start researching how I could make it work. You see, I’ve always been the sort of person to deviate from the directions, even when I don’t know what I’m doing.
About the same time I was lucky to stumble across someone who had been in the industry in the late 80’s and early 90’s, who was willing to help guide me and help me present myself as a professional.
UC: Several of your patterns include broomstick lace. How were you introduced to broomstick lace, and what do you enjoy about designing with it?
Jennifer: I first learned to work broomstick lace in college. I’ve always been hungry to learn new things, and I was reading up on obscure crochet techniques. I came across it, and taught myself. Later I availed myself of others who knew more about broomstick.
I love the way broomstick is so approachable to beginners: truly, if you know how to chain and single crochet, you can learn how to work broomstick. I also love how it makes it look like you know how to do more difficult techniques than what it actually is. I also simply love the look of the lace. Hence my two patterns, Horn of the Moon and Sunburst Shawl. I have several other patterns with broomstick I’m working on!
UC: You’re multi-craftual. Do you have a favorite craft or does that depend on the project or season?
Jennifer: I love knitting and crochet for different reasons: they both do different things well. They also speak to different parts of my designing brain. My crochet designs tend to play with color and simple shapes, in addition to fun riffs on older techniques. Meanwhile, my knit designs tend to be playing more with stitches and how they relate to each other.
As a businesswoman, knowing how to knit and crochet means I’m able to work between two markets, and be able to function and speak to both knitters and crocheters. Instructors who are very strong in both crafts are rare, and designers even more-so. I think it gives me an edge. I also get bored easily, so being able to do both means I can follow where my curiosity leads.
UC: You teach knitting and crochet, as well as a class on making a duct tape dress form! Tell us what inspired you to create that class and where we might see it this year?
Jennifer: The duct tape dress form class is a skill that is more common in the sewing world. I often find there are great things to learn from other crafts to bring back to knitting and crochet – this is one of them. Using a dress form for your knitting or crochet work can open up a bunch of opportunities. It also helps a lot of people “get real” with their measurements – which only means that people are able to make garments that look better on them!
I’ll be teaching the Duct Tape Dress Form class this spring in a variety of places: Fibre Space, in Old Town Alexandria, VA as well as at the Carolina Fiber Fest. If you’re interested in it, or any of my other classes, you should check out my calendar… I’m currently filling in my spring dates!
UC: What are your favorite crochet and knitting books in your collection?
I also love historical knitting patterns, and have a huge collection. It’s great inspiration to look at the old patterns and then create interesting riffs on them – like I did with Mary’s Rose Camisole.
UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
Jennifer: Ravelry is the big one. I love Ravelry so much for both the community and also for information. I love it so much, I taught an electronic class on Interweave titled Ravelry 101. I’ll be teaching a second class, also on Ravelry. The best part? They both are accessible to watch whenever you want.
I also find a variety of blogs particularly helpful, though it’s hard to pick out just one.
UC: What’s the tool you use the most when crocheting or knitting?
Jennifer: I love locking stitch markers, and I’ve talked about it on my blog quite a bit. I find them immeasurably helpful for a variety of tasks both related to knitting and crochet, and those outside of the craft zone. Pinning things together, holding your crochet stitch so it doesn’t unravel, holding a dropped stitch in knitting, using them as a cable needle… I just think they’re a perfect little tool that makes your life so much easier.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Jennifer, and for sharing your story and your love of broomstick lace!