Interview with Tanis Galik, intermeshing crochet designer

Underground Crafter's Crochet Specialty of the Month: January 2015 intermeshing crochet

 

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.

This post contains affiliate links.

Tanis Galik is probably the crochet designer most associated with contemporary intermeshing crochet, so I’m thrilled to share an interview with her today as part of my January focus on this crochet technique. I first was introduced to Tanis’s work through her book, Interlocking Crochet, which I reviewed here (along with 20+ other crochet stitch guides). 

You can find Tanis online on her website, Interlocking Crochet, on Pinterest, YouTube, and Ravelry (as tanisgalik, in the Interlocking Crochet group, and on her designer page). She has a wide collection of video tutorials on the intermeshing technique if you are excited to dive in! You can find links to her 3 starter videos in this roundup of 4 free online resources to learn intermeshing.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter
Tanis Galik.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?

Tanis: My paternal grandmother taught me. It seems there is a long line of crocheters on my father’s side of the family. (My father remembered his grandmother crocheting all the time.) Of course, back then it was mostly doilies my grandmother made. Her house was covered with them. Each had tiny colorful fruits incorporated into the doily. They also had delicate ruffled edges starched with sugar water to make the ruffles stand up. The most amazing thing (which I did not realize until much later) was the yarn she used. It was like fine thread. How did she see it? Or work with that tiny metal hook? Unfortunately, I never thought to ask for a doily.
I stopped crocheting; however, in high school crochet fashions started becoming popular so I picked up a pattern and began re-teaching myself. I think grandma’s training and my family “crochet gene” helped me to pick it up easily. Once I started, I never stopped.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter
Watermelon Parfait Baby Blanket by Tanis Galik. Published in Crochet! Image (c) Annie’s.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Tanis: I’ve often taken a crochet pattern and adjusted it for my preference or taken a basic crochet stitch pattern and used it for something else so I guess that was the beginning. However, it was really learning the basic Interlocking or intermeshing crochet technique that started me designing and submitting to publishers.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter
Diamond Baby Blanket, free intermeshing crochet pattern by Tanis Galik.

UC: Since your book, Interlocking Crochet: 80 Original Stitch Patterns Plus Techniques and Projects, was published, you’ve been strongly associated with that technique (also known as intermeshing crochet). How did you begin working with this method and what do you enjoy about designing with it?

Tanis: Several decades ago I took a CGOA class from Sylvia Cosh and James Walters. They had been crochet innovators for decades when I met them. At the time they were just beginning to experiment with intermeshing crochet. I learned the basics and a few designs. They said they were going to publish a book. I went home and experimented myself, continuing to come up with various designs. I waited for a book to be published. When the Internet became popular, I searched for a book and never found one. I decided even though I had never been published, I had better try so this technique could be shared with others before it was lost.

I enjoy coming up with new designs, especially those that have a different pattern and dominate color on each side. I used to go to baby showers and watch the seasoned crocheters turn the blanket (usually with three or four panels of double-sided designs) over and over again, trying to figure out how I had done it.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter
Irish Blossoms Baby Blanket by Tanis Galik. Published in Crochet World. Image (c) Annie’s.

UC: What are your favorite projects to design?

Tanis: I tend to do accessories – scarves, hats, bags, ponchos and comforting items – baby blankets, afghans, lap throws, dog mats. Since I donate most of my crochet to charities, these items are the ones they usually want.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books (besides yours, of course) in your collection?

Tanis:  Needless to say, I have a large library of crochet books since I have been collecting them for decades.

I tend to like books that have a large selection of crochet stitch designs, including granny squares. Many of them are older books from England that have 200 – 300 stitch patterns. These give me ideas of some different stitches to use in my designs.

I’m beginning to collect Tunisian Crochet books and Irish Crochet books since I want to work more with both of these techniques.

I’m also the first to buy any “new” crochet technique book for my library. I love looking at and trying these different crochet approaches.

3-in-1 Double Crochet Woven Scarf, free crochet pattern by Tanis Galik.
3-in-1 Double Crochet Woven Scarf, free crochet pattern by Tanis Galik.

UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Tanis:  I do have a place on Pinterest and Ravelry. I’m one of the moderators on a Ravelry group called Interlocking Crochet.

Interlocking Crochet Reversible Placemat, free crochet pattern by Tanis Galik. Published in Knit and Crochet Now! Season 5. Image (c) Annie's.
Interlocking Crochet Reversible Placemat, free intermeshing crochet pattern by Tanis Galik. Published in Knit and Crochet Now! Season 5. Image (c) Annie’s.

UC: What are some recent designs you’re excited about?

Tanis: I was very happy to have two projects included on Knit & Crochet Now! Season 5. One of them was an Interlocking Crochet placemat. This month (January 2015) I have Irish Blossoms Baby Blanket in the current Crochet World magazine.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story with us, Tanis!

Knit and Crochet Now! Season 6 giveaway

I’m excited to share an announcement and giveaway with you today! Knit and Crochet Now! is entering it’s sixth season this month, and the folks at Annie’s are sponsoring a giveaway for a complete set of DVDs for the season to one lucky U.S. winner, so read on for details!

Knit and Crochet Now! airs through local public broadcasting stations. You can find your local schedule here by entering your zip code or state. My local station plays two episodes a week, and each episode is also repeated in a different time slot.

Season 6 includes 13 episodes and 43 new patterns, including 14 scarf and cowl patterns (perfect for the bitter cold!) in the “Scarf of the Week” segment.

Some of my favorite sneak peeks from Season 6!
Some of my favorite sneak peeks from Season 6! At left: Butterfly Tee. At right, top: Stripes and Short Rows, and bottom: Star Stitch Long Cowl.

This season, a new designer, Lena Skvagerson, joins the existing team of host Brett Bara and designers Robyn Chachula, Ellen Gormley, and Kristin Nicholas. Jenny King and Drew Emborsky (the Crochet Dude) will also make guest appearances.

You can find all kinds of fun projects and tutorials on the show, and each 30 minute episode is commercial free! And, all of the patterns can be downloaded for free here once you create a free account.

Giveaway

As I mentioned, Annie’s is providing one lucky winner with a full set of Knit and Crochet Now! Season 6 DVDs! To enter, leave a comment letting me know when your local station airs Knit and Crochet Now! and whether you’ve seen it before. You can earn extra points by sharing on social media. But remember, I only count entries logged into the Rafflecopter widget below, so be sure to let me know how you’ve entered!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog tour interview: Tammy Hildebrand, author of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way

This post contains affiliate links.

Today, I’m thrilled to share an interview with Tammy Hildebrand as part of the blog tour for her latest book, Crochet Wraps Every Which Way: 18 Original Patterns in 6 Techniques, published by Stackpole Books.  The nice folks at Stackpole have also shared a giveaway copy of the book with me, so read on for more details on how to enter for your chance to win a copy.

Tammy is a crochet designer, author, and teacher, as well as the current Vice President of the Crochet Guild of America.  Her three previous booklets, Wheelchair Afghans & BagsEasy Bead As You Go, and Easy Side-to-Side Jackets & Shrugs, were published by Annie’s.  Her patterns have appeared in numerous collections including Unexpected Afghans and 50 Sensational Crochet Afghans & Throws, and magazines such as Crochet World, Interweave Crochet, and Crochet!

Tammy is sometimes known as Hot Lava Crochet – hmm, I wonder why? 😉 – and you can find her online on her Facebook pageblog, on Ravelry (as Tammystreasures or on her designer page), on Pinterest, on Twitter, and on Craftsy.  You can also learn more from this recent interview with her on the Red Heart blog.  Updated to add: You can find my review of Tammy’s new book on the CGOA blog here.

Tammy Hildebrand

All project pictures are from Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, are copyright of Stackpole Books, and are used with permission.  You can find pictures of all 18 patterns here in the Stackpole lookbook.

Interview

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?

Tammy: My second grade teacher offered to teach crochet to anyone in our class that wished to stay after school. I was the only one that stayed! My first project was a floppy, purple hat that we worked on together sitting at her big wooden desk.

cascading rivers

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Tammy: We moved to North Carolina from Niagara Falls when my kids were babies. I saw an ad in the newspaper for crocheters and thought it would be a great way to make a little money while I stayed home with my girls. After a couple weeks a light bulb went off and I thought “Wow! I could do this!” and so I started designing myself.

chica mala

UC: You’ve held a variety of positions in the Crochet Guild of America. Can you talk about why you become involved with CGOA, and share any advice for professional crocheters who are interested in becoming more involved?

Tammy: I have served as the mentor coordinator, the professional development chairperson and I currently serve as the vice president. Initially I became involved because I wanted to give back to CGOA after how beneficial the organization had been for me but with each new opportunity, I find myself learning and receiving even more. To anyone that wishes to be involved, contact me or anyone of our board of directors and let us know. Each person has wonderful talents and strengths which are such a huge asset when we all work together as a team.

you are my sunshine

UC: Tell me about the development process for Crochet Wraps Every Which Way. How was it similar or different from the process of developing your previous booklets?

Tammy: I’m not much of a planner so in typical fashion, I learn as I go and tackle obstacles as they present themselves. The photography was done by a local photographer so it was my first time participating in the styling and photo shoots. That was a lot of fun!

perfect pineapples

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection (besides yours, of course)?

Tammy: My Harmony Guides as well as a Japanese stitch dictionary are always on my desk and I refer to them all the time.

UC: What’s next for you?

Tammy: I am scheduled to teach my first two classes at Crochetville‘s 10th anniversary retreat in February. The details are here.  (UC comment: If you can get to Huntsville, Alabama in February, this looks like a great event!)

Tammy, thanks so much for stopping by for the interview.  We wish you the best for the rest of the blog tour!

Giveaway

crochet wraps every which way

Are you ready to win your copy of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, courtesy of Stackpole Books? This giveaway is open to all readers with an email address.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, January 26, 2014.

Interview with Kim Guzman, a.k.a. CrochetKim

I am so incredibly pleased to share an interview with Kim Guzman today.  As a lover of Tunisian crochet and a member of the very active Yahoo group that she co-moderates with Angela “ARNie” Grabowskitunisiancrochet, I’ve been a big fan of Kim’s work for years.  (Kim also does a lot of “regular” crochet design, too, as she discusses in this recent blog post.)

Kim is incredibly prolific as a designer, author, and teacher, and always seems to me to be the hardest working woman in show (er, um, yarn) business.  Yet if you are active on Crochetville, Ravelry, or almost any other social network where crochet is being discussed, you have probably interacted with Kim, who is very generous about sharing tips, advice, and her knowledge of crochet.

You can find Kim online through her main website (which links to her Crochet Kim/free pattern website and her Kimane Designs/self-published pattern website) and her blog, WIPs ‘n Chains.  Kim’s free videos can be found on her YouTube page and on the website of the new crochet magazine, Crochet 1-2-3 here.  She also teaches online classes at Annie’s and Crochetville.  Kim is also on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Ravelry (as crochetkim, in her group, and on her designer page).  All pictures are used with Kim’s permission and, unless otherwise noted, are copyright Kim Guzman.

 

Kim Guzman.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?

Kim: When I was about 9 years’ old, my parents joined the Army together. During their basic training, my sister and I stayed with my grandparents. It was quite a long stay with grandparents and I believe that she taught us to crochet just to give us something to do while away from home. She started us off with granny squares and I learned from verbal instruction only. It wasn’t until I was about 18 years old that I purchased my first patterns. I wasn’t even aware of patterns and had been designing my own for all that time.

 

Sunday Best Sweater, one of Kim’s self-published designs.

UC: When were you first introduced to Tunisian crochet, and how did you come to work with it so often?

Kim: In about 2000, Darla Fanton had turned the crochet world on its ears with her double-ended Tunisian crochet designs. She did a lot of books, but the publishers wanted more. Annie’s Attic sent me some double-ended hooks and asked me to try my hand at double-ended Tunisian. I had never done it before, but I immediately set to work. My double-ended designs weren’t accepted. I found that I preferred the look of regular one-sided Tunisian and I had three books commissioned within six months.

 

 

Kansas City Cowl. Photo (c) Caron.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Kim: I have been designing since I learned to crochet. It was at least 10 years of crocheting before I sat down with a pattern and taught myself how to read it. Not knowing about patterns was the key to my “no fear” attitude toward design. My grandmother’s doilies inspired me to design my own when I was only 10 years’ old.

 

Lacy Bobbles Scarf and Wristlets. Photo (c) DRG Publishing (Annie’s).

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Kim: My creative inspiration is usually in the yarn itself. I bond with a yarn for awhile by swatching with it. When I come up with a stitch pattern and drape that I find pleasing, I bond with it awhile until it tells me what it wants to be. While I do browse the internet and catalogs for trendy clothing, I don’t usually have the ability to see something in fabric and be able to translate their shapes into crochet. Well, I take that back. I don’t usually find myself doing that. But, publishers will sometimes choose a photo of something in a pleasing shape and then ask that I translate that shape or construction into crochet. It’s design-on-demand. I never feel like my design-on-demand work is very good. It doesn’t come from the heart.

 

 

Cabled Mitts from the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet. Photo (c) Leisure Arts.

UC: Your four latest books, the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet, Tunisian Cables to CrochetShort Row Tunisian Fashion, and the forthcoming Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide, all focus on Tunisian crochet. What was the design process like for these books?

Kim: You act as if I’m organized. ha! I am the furthest thing from organized.

For the Beginner’s Guide, I thought about yarns and projects. I thought about beginner projects and intermediate projects. And, I just started crocheting and writing. I put every little trick I know about Tunisian crochet in that book. It includes things normally not found in Tunisian crochet books like seaming horizontally or vertically, how to change colors, how to work with a lot of colors, step-by-step on how to felt projects and so much more. Everything that I had seen over the years which I had seen caused some questions. Even how to work with a self-striping yarn so that wide pieces of the body of a garment match the same sort of striping in the upper pieces around the arms and neck is included. It was the very first time I was given full control over what went into the book and I went all out.  (UC comment: I highly recommend this book for Tunisian crochet newbies!  You can read my review on the Crochet Guild of America’s blog here.  Ravelry members can see all the projects from this book here.)

 

Dublin Owl Hat and Mitts from Tunisian Cables to Crochet. Photo (c) Annie’s.

For the Cables book, I did it right after I finished my Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide.  (UC note: This book is expected to be published in March.)  When I was working on the stitch guide, I did a swatch of a cable, then I did another, and another. I had about 10 cables in next to no time. I wanted to somehow keep the cables together, but I had already done the required number of stitch patterns for the Stitch Guide (65). This would have put me over the expected number by ten, so I decided to pull those cable stitch patterns from my proposed stitch patterns and create a separate book. Since the cables required special instruction, I didn’t want to put them in a book with only charted stitch patterns. I wanted them to have a further instruction.  (UC comment: Ravelry members can see all the projects from this book here.)

 

Sapphire Wrap from Short Row Tunisian Fashion. Photo (c) Leisure Arts.

In Short Row Tunisian Fashion, which is currently available in hard copy and download, I have six projects which use the short row technique in Tunisian. But, the real surprise is the crescent wrap which includes a pineapple stitch pattern. No, not a regular crochet pineapple stitch pattern. It’s Tunisian crochet from start to finish. I believe it to be the first ever published pineapple stitch pattern in Tunisian crochet.  (UC comment: Ravelry members can see all the projects from this book here.)

Then, in March, my new Stitch Guide will be available. It’s already available on Amazon for pre-order. I’ve never done a full stitch pattern book before. But, I’m especially pleased with it because, although there are some classic Tunisian crochet stitch patterns, most of them are completely out of my head. I wanted a charted book and this book really challenged me because I had to draw out all the symbols myself. But, it was well worth it and I feel that this book is my biggest contribution to crochet yet.

 

UC: You’ve had a variety of roles in the crochet industry, including designer, writer, teacher, and social networker/community builder. What advice do you have for aspiring professionals?

Kim: I think the sweetheart, Margaret Hubert, put it best: “Don’t quit your day job.” While I have somehow been able to do these wonderful things as my career, as a single mother, it has been tough! There isn’t a lot of money in it. Most times, we’re just barely surviving and we’ve had to make numerous sacrifices. But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve been able to stay at home with my kids and do a job that I love. I can’t think of a better way to go through life.

 

 

Luna Sweater. Photo (c) Interweave.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection (besides your own, of course)?

Kim: I am especially fond of the Japanese stitch pattern books. They have spent more time with me on the couch than in the book shelf.

 

UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites to share?

Kim: Well, I’m just going to look at my computer and see what websites I always have up there.

  • Yahoo Mail. Yep, always there.
  • Yahoo Groups. I’m a moderator of the Tunisian Crochet group, so I always have that up.
  • Facebook. Seriously, I think I would go into withdrawals if I didn’t have my Facebook peeps. 😉
  • Crochetville. Staying on top of the students’ questions for my classes and responding to any pattern questions asked in the forums.
  • Annie’s. Also, staying on top of the students’ questions. I like to respond to questions immediately. I respond as quickly as I possibly can. If I was doing a project, and I had a question, it would really be bothersome to have to set it down and wait for a week to get a response. Sometimes, it can’t be helped, but I really do my best to get to questions immediately.
  • Pinterest. Oh, the crochet pretties!
  • Tweetdeck: I like to stalk my friends. 🙂

 

Laced Cables, a pattern from Kim’s online Tunisian Cables and Lace class at Annie’s. Photo (c) Annie’s.

 

UC: You’ve been teaching online for years.  Tell me about your experiences as an online teacher. 

Kim: I prefer teaching online over teaching in live venues. Like I said, I’m a single mother. I have a small child. I want to stay home with him and I don’t want to leave him for a week at a time. Online teaching allows me to stay at home with him. But, it’s more than that. Online teaching gives me the opportunity to give well-thought-out answers to my students. And, I don’t walk out suddenly remembering that I forgot to teach something.

I have been teaching online for over 10 years. I’ve been teaching project classes, but I’ve just started adding some design classes to the mix which will begin in February at Crochetville.

 

Thank you for stopping by, Kim, and sharing your answers with us!

Giveaway and Book Review: Modular Mix by Edie Eckman

 This post contains affiliate links.

I recently received a review copy of Modular Mix: 12 Knitted Mitered Squares to Mix & Match by Edie Eckman from Annie’s.  If you’re interested in learning more about mitered squares or modular (or domino) knitting, or if you like to knit sampler projects, this may be the booklet for you.

The booklet opens with a three-page section called Mixed Miters which walks readers through the basics of creating mitered square projects including materials, gauge, and techniques for casting on, decreasing, and joining squares.  Fans of Edie know that she likes to include the knitting math, and in this section you will also learn how to design your own mitered squares and determine the appropriate number of stitches to cast on.  Edie also explains why you might want to use different cast on methods, which is helpful for other projects, too.

The next several pages are devoted to the Modular Mix Afghan, made up of 20 blocks (some of which are formed by 4 to 16 smaller blocks).  Because modular projects are joined as you work, this overview is helpful before diving into the square patterns if you plan to recreate the sampler featured on the cover.

The 12 module patterns are presented in the next section.  Each pattern includes a brief introduction, information on the stitch multiples in case the knitter wants to adjust the size, the color sequence, and the pattern.  The patterns are simple, but Edie doesn’t do as much handholding as some modern knitters may expect.  These patterns are written like recipes, not as line by line instructions.  I found them easy to understand, but a beginner (or beginning pattern reader) might be confused when reaching the last set of decreases, for example.  Each square is also clearly photographed, so it is easy to see the differences in the patterns.  Each square is available in 3 sizes (3 inch, 6 inch, and 12 inch).  The projects all use medium (worsted) weight yarn and size 9 (5.5 mm) knitting needles, but of course could be adapted to other size yarn and needles for a different effect.

The book closes with a list of knitting abbreviations used in the booklet, charts showing recommended needle sizes for different yarn weights and conversions from inches to metric measurements, and an illustrated Knitting Basics section.  There is also a photo index in the back that makes it easy to find patterns in the book.  Like other Annie’s booklets, this lays flat and is easy to read while knitting.

Overall, this is a fun pattern booklet for anyone interested in exploring mitered squares.  While the booklet is brief (only 28 pages), Edie does pack in a lot of information, so it is suitable for knitters with a range of abilities.  An adventurous beginner would have fun learning new stitch patterns, decreases, and increases, and a more advanced knitter could follow Edie’s tips to design their own mitered squares.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Full disclosure: A free electronic review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.

Giveaway

I’m giving away my review copy of Modular Mix: 12 Knitted Mitered Squares to Mix & Match by Edie Eckman, courtesy of Annie’s.  This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, January 5, 2013.