I’m sharing the first in interview in this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month series with Sonia Gallo from El Gallo Bermejo. Sonia is a computer engineer and part-time crochet designer living in Madrid, Spain with her family. She loves amigurumi and toys. I’ll also be including a roundup of my 5 favorite free crochet patterns from Sonia’s collection!
Sonia can be found online on her website, El Gallo Bermejo, as well as on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter. All images are used with permission are are copyright El Gallo Bermejo.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?
Sonia: I learned to crochet when I was in college (I think I was nineteen or twenty). I was studying computer engineering and was on vacation. It was one of those hot, summer afternoons, and I was bored and looking for something to do. My mother is an excellent crocheter and knitter and so had left some crochet magazines, yarn, and hooks on a table. I started to have a look to the graphics in the magazines and suddenly I though those graphics couldn’t be more difficult than my programming algorithms so I decided to try.
Several hours later, I realized that crocheting was something very relaxing and a very creative process. I started to crochet lots of things during the next five or six years but finally I stopped because I loved crocheting but I didn’t like the things I made (bedspreads, tablecloths, washcloths, etc). I spent several years without crocheting anything at all until one year my sister gave me a monsters amigurumi book as a present. I loved it! I became reconciled with crochet again. A short time after that, my first child was born (Diego, he is 6 years old) and three years later Guille was born (he is 2 years old). With two children in the house I find lots of inspiration and motivation to continue crocheting amigurumi.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Sonia: After crocheting hundreds of designs by other people, I wanted to create my own designs as an even more creative process. I have always been a bit frustrated because I am an awful painter. And designing an amigurumi pattern is somehow a way to create something “similar” to drawing a beautiful puppet or teddy.
Sonia: What I love about designing amigurumi is that I have two small little children in my house, and the dolls, puppets and stuffed animals are a part of their wonderful world.
UC: Your designs are entirely self-published. What do you enjoy about the self-publishing process?
Sonia: I enjoy the fact that I can publish my designs and other people can enjoy them if they want to. I mean, everything depends on me, I don’t have to wait for a publishing house or similar to contact me in order to publish my works. I think this is a very powerful tool we have nowadays.
UC: All of your patterns are available in both English and Spanish. What do you see as the challenges and benefits of writing bilingual patterns?
Sonia: Spanish is my mother tongue, so the natural way for me is to write the patterns in Spanish. And my English is good enough to write a pattern other people can understand, so I always make the effort of translating the patterns to English in order to get to more people (English is the universal language in the crochet world). I would love to translate my patterns to French, but my French is very poor, and I don’t feel comfortable. Maybe some day I’ll try the French!
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Sonia: In my house, with my two children, of course! For instance, Diego had to study in school about castles for three months. We spent those 3 months talking, drawing and dreaming with castles, knights and princess. So I had the idea to design a castle crochet pattern for my Houses collection and so I did (I haven’t written the pattern yet, by the way, but I have the firm intention to do it). (UC comment: You can find the rest of the patterns in the Houses collection here in Sonia’s online pattern shop.)
Another example of my inspiration is my pattern of Crabbie the crab. Guille, my younger child, is in love with a softie crab – he calls it “caguejo”, which is a phonetic sound for the Spanish word Cangrejo, (crab) – Guille sleeps with “caguejo”, eats with “caguejo”, and “caguejo” is the first thing he is looking for when we get home every day. So I wanted to obtain a crochet pattern of “caguejo”, being the little crab something so important in the life of my kid. And this is how the pattern of Crabbie the crab was born.
UC: What was the crochet scene like in Spain when you were growing up?
Sonia: Nearly all the moms of my friends (and mine too, of course) used to crochet or knit. And if their moms didn’t use to, surely their grandmothers did. Crocheting was a very common activity.
UC: How does that compare to the crochet/yarn crafts scene in Madrid today?
Sonia: Today the crochet scene is very different, very few young people know how to crochet. But it is true that in the last few years, things are changing and there are more and more videos, tutorials, and courses for the people to learn to crochet.
UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Sonia: Of course it does. In my memories when I was a child, my mother and my grandmothers were always with a needle and a ball of yarn in their hands.
UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection?
Sonia: I have a lot of them. Some of my favourites:
- Edward’s Menagerie by Kerry Lord
- Sweet Crochet by Tournicote… à cloche-pied
- Amigurumi Toy Box by Ana Paula Rímoli
- Crochet with bigunki: Amigurumi patterns by Begoña Sanchez-Sauthier Berrojalbiz
- El mundo de Pica Pau by Yan Schenkel
UC: Are there any Spanish- or English-language crochet/crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
- Sonia: Yes, there are a lot. Those are a few of them:
- All about Ami
- Creativa Atelier
- Miga de pan
- Tournicote… à cloche-pied (French, but very beautiful photos and work)