I’m sharing an interview with crochet and knitting designer, author, and teacher, Sara Delaney, as part of the blog tour for her new book. If you’ve ever thought about designing your own crochet projects for yourself or to share your patterns with other people, you’ll definitely want to read it! I’ve also included a roundup of 10 of my favorite crochet patterns from Sara’s collection, and you’ll also get your chance to win a copy of her new book, so read on for details!
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. A free review copy of Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves by Sara Delaney was provided to me by Storey. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. Images are copyright Sara Delaney unless otherwise noted and are used with permission.
Interview with Sara Delaney
Sara Delaney is a crochet and knitting designer, teacher, and author. You can find her on her blog, Chicken Betty: A Life from Scratch, or on Craftsy, Facebook, Instagram, Ravelry, or Twitter.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet and knit?
Sara: My Memaire taught me to knit and crochet when I was young, between 7 and 9. I was surrounded by women who were makers, but she took the time to sit with me and start my journey. My first book How to Crochet is actually dedicated to her, I wouldn’t be doing what I do without her!
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Sara: I was interested in clothing and costume design as a teenager, and had studied a bit in high school and college. I found the history fascinating, and I liked making clothes, but I wasn’t inspired to design anything. Then I had the great privilege to work at WEBS for a decade. They have a wonderful design manager on staff, Kirsten Hipsky, who encouraged me to get some of my own ideas and projects down on paper so they’d be repeatable, and it just skyrocketed from there. With yarn I found the inspiration I hadn’t with fabric.
UC: When did you start teaching?
Sara: I’ve always been someone who encourages and enables people who want to craft, or learn to craft. After my daughters were born I went back to school to become a primary school teacher, but found I couldn’t handle that many kids! At about the same time I started working at WEBS and they needed a crochet teacher…it was kind of serendipity. I was comfortable in a classroom of adults in a way that I hadn’t been with kids, and I found that I loved sharing my own love of crochet in a classroom setting.
UC: You teach online and in person. What do you like and find challenging about each method of teaching?
Sara: They certainly do come with their own set of challenges! With an IRL course each class is a little different. The pacing and information shared depends on the unique set of students, and how they function as a whole. I may find that I need to speed up the pace of the class and throw additional, interesting tid-bits and challenges their way to keep them engaged. I love seeing the community that evolves when neighboring students help to talk each other through challenges, or get together between classes to work through homework. And the realization that they are not alone in their challenges!
With a pre-recorded, online class I miss out on individually connecting with my students. I don’t get to scan their faces as we go along looking for frustration points that they don’t yet know how to articulate, but that I can see in their knitted eyebrows, or looks of confusion. But the consistency of the teaching is there. I know that none of those students will get any less of me because I’m under the weather, or just having the worst week.
UC: Where do you generally find creative inspiration?
Sara: Sometimes it’s in an afternoon spent making dinner for my family, or a quick jaunt to the craft store. Sometimes my teenagers’ random Instagram messages will inspire something. But mostly it’s in the doing of things. If I am actively being creative, I find that it flows more easily in all aspects of my life.
UC: As a multi-crafter, how do you divide your time between knitting and crochet?
Sara: It’s often project driven, though I tend to gravitate to crochet more readily than knitting. I’ve been crocheting longer, and have spent far more time with my hook than with needles. In the end it depends on the project, sometimes one form fits the needs of the finished object better than the other.
UC: Your new book is Design Your Own Crochet Projects. What was the process of developing this book?
Sara: It originally grew out of a class that I taught. I had been teaching beginning and intermediate crochet classes for a few years and had so many students ask me for a next level class. So I developed a beginning design class to help them to think more about swatching and yarn choice, as well as stitch choice and some basic shaping, while designing their own cowls. After teaching the class a few times I realized how valuable all of that information was and how easily it applied to designing in general. I was also watching new designers come up through the ranks in the Ravelry forums were so many times one would make a mistake or misstep and wonder why there wasn’t a manual of sorts to walk you through this stuff…and now there is!
UC: What message would you like to share with crocheters who are trying to design their own projects for the first time?
Sara: Any former student of mine will recognize this one, patience and practice. Have patience with yourself, it likely won’t turn out right the first time. Have patience for the project. I’ve found that most of my projects have their own voice, and when I ignore it, it’s usually to my own detriment. Pay attention to how you’re feeling about the project as it’s being created. Are you loving working with the yarn? Is this stitch pattern your jam?! Is this not the best hook ever invented by man?! If you’re not enjoying all aspects of your project, walk away for a bit and come back to it. Maybe changing one of those 3 things can alter everything for the better! And if not then frog it all and move on. I don’t torture myself with yarn and neither should you!
UC: Besides your own books, what are your favorite craft books in your collection?
Sara: The Barbara Walker collection, all 4 volumes. Sometimes I just like to look through the pages and look for texture inspiration, even for crochet! The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs by Linda P. Schapper, as well as the volumes on edges and motifs. The Knitter’s Book of Wool and The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes are an incomparable resource for understanding the fibers we all love to work with. The Crocheter’s Skill Building Workshop by Dora Ohrenstein is such a great volume packed with so many eureka moments.
UC: Are there any crochet, knitting, or craft blogs that you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
Sara: I have always enjoyed the incredible color sense of Lucy at Attic24. Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane has a child-like sense of wonder and whimsy that is enviable. Getting Stitched on the Farm with Kristin Nicholas is just inspiring. She has a way of making you feel as though she’s welcoming you into her home and crafting space with each post, and then there’s her magic with color! The Shibaguyz: Shannon and Jason are just killlin it! It’s incredible to see how the two of them have combined their passions. And as a girl who started blogging back in 2005, it has been wonderful to see the resurgence of Mason Dixon Knitting.
Now that you’ve gotten to know Sara a little better, you’re probably wondering about Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves. I get asked all the time by fledgling crochet designers if I can recommend a book that will help them get started. I can now refer them to Sara’s Design Your Own Crochet Projects! The book includes a ton of information on yarns, swatching and gauge, and the sizing details of different types of projects that most designers learn through trial and error. You can find actual pattern formulas for scarves, cowls, hats, socks, mittens, and gloves in the book. Just add your own stitches, choose your own measurements, and you’ll be cranking out customized patterns in no time. In addition, the book includes 18 actual patterns, so it isn’t just a technique book. You can see the patterns from the book on its Ravelry source page here and you can try an online calculator that does all the math in the pattern formulas for you here.
If you’re ready to get your hands on a copy of Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves, you’re in luck! The nice folks at Storey have set aside a copy for one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to readers with mailing addresses in the United States or Canada, except where prohibited by law. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, November 8, 2017. One winner will be chosen at random from the entries submitted via the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will receive 1 copy of Design Your Own Crochet Projects: Magic Formulas for Creating Custom Scarves, Cowls, Hats, Socks, Mittens & Gloves by Sara Delaney, courtesy of Storey.
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