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 my last interview in this month’s series on intermeshing crochet. Barbara Mann, also known as mulenga, is a designer, teacher, and all around advocate for double filet. (Nickerjac, a fellow member of the East London Crochet Group, shares her thoughts on the difference between double filet and intermeshing crochet in this interview.)
Barbara lives in London and can be found online as mulenga on Ravelry, or via the Double Filet website of the East London Crochet Group. Images are copyright Barbara Mann and are used with permission.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?
Barbara: My Dad learned to crochet while a prisoner of war, and taught my Mum and me after his release, when I was about 7. I remember knitting the body of my school cardigan while my Mum knitted the sleeves. My motto through the years has been Each one teach one, and my two daughters are competent knitters, crocheters and designers – and teachers.
UC: How did you become involved with the East London Crochet Group?
Barbara: It started around our kitchen table with a group of friends exploring Double Filet crochet! We decided to put on a workshop in our local church hall, which became a regular three-monthly fixture. We called ourselves the East London Crochet Group because that’s where most of us came from to start with, but people started coming from all over London and further afield, one even from Scotland. Several years on, from 2003 we added a 3-day residential workshop. We are affiliated to the Knitting and Crochet Guild, some of our contacts came that way, others through SkipNorth, others in manners lost in the mists of history.
UC: Your group seems to have developed a strong interest in intermeshing crochet, or double filet. How did you learn this technique and what do you enjoy about it?
Barbara: I attended a free-form crochet course in 1991 with Sylvia Cosh and James Walters. James showed us an experimental sample of Double Filet crochet (similar to the first sample here – ironically about as far from free-form crochet as you can get). I was hooked, and knew immediately where my next twenty years were going! What do I enjoy about it? Creativity, colour, texture, practical results (dramatic capes and afghans), designing …
UC: Do you design your own projects or do you mostly work from patterns?
Barbara: I rarely work from patterns unless from one our design team! Between workshops a group of close colleagues meet round our kitchen table twice a month to plan the next workshop, and we normally come up with a dozen or so pages of ideas and drawings suitable for different levels of experience, or to encourage folk to design their own. Each year we pick a different region as a source of inspiration (the Celtic world, the Mediterranean, Russia, Africa …), developing designs from all manner of crafts.
UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?
Barbara: [Laughs]. Barbara Walker‘s Mosaic Knitting. Not crochet, but adaptable. Our crochet Bible is the Harmony Guide to Crochet Stitches compiled by James Walters and Sylvia Cosh. But usually we have a pile of books around our theme, e.g., for Japan: some 10 books on traditional gardens, embroidery (sashiko), kimonos, amigurumi, Japanese prints, bonsai, heraldic motifs …
UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?
Barbara: I am beginning to be more computer literate, and am thoroughly enjoying Ravelry. No doubt this blog is one that I should start to follow!
Thanks so much for sharing your time with us, Barbara, and for your kind words about my blog!