Throughout 2015 I will be doing designer interviews and reviews. Each month I will feature one industry designer, ask them some questions, and then I will actually make something from one of their patterns and do a review of it.
For October I am featuring designer Susan Lowman from The Crochet Architect. When I first joined CGOA as an associate professional, Susan became my mentor. She was an invaluable help to me when I first started working more professionally in the industry. (For more information on the CGOA Mentor program click here.)
Susan is so involved in the crochet industry that I’m not sure I can list everything she is behind the scenes with. But there are a couple of places I would highly suggest you seek her out. First, she teaches a couple classes over at Annie’s Attic. (You can find the list of classes she offers here). In addition to all that she offers us in regards to patterns and teaching crochet she is also a CGOA board member and is Co-chairman of the CGOA Master’s Program. (I highly recommend the Master’s Program!)
(Please note: CGOA & Annie’s Craft Store are NOT affiliate links. I get no commission if you visit their sites. I’m just providing links if you would like more info.)
Susan is a wealth of knowledge and her interview has some great insight. At the bottom of the interview I made, and reviewed, one of her patterns. Make sure you read all the way through because Susan is offering 25% discount to my readers.
K (Me): How did you get started designing?
Susan: I’ve always loved to make things with my hands, ever since I was a little girl. I started designing crochet patterns long before I sold my first pattern. However, it wasn’t until the late 90’s when I met 2 crochet designers in my small town that I learned how to go about selling my designs for publication. The 2 designers were Nanette Seale and Lucille LaFlamme. I’m very grateful for the encouragement and knowledge that they shared with me. I joined CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) in 2002 and started attending their annual conference. It was there that I learned more about the professional crochet industry and met some crochet magazine editors. I also attended a craft trade show in 2002, where I met Jean Leinhauser, Rita Weiss and Bobbie Matela, who were the creative force (at that time) behind the American School of Needlework. After meeting many professionals in the crochet industry face-to-face, my designing career took off!
K: Do you remember the first pattern you ever designed?
Susan: Yes. It was my “Baby Blocks” afghan, which was published in Jan. 2000 in the Leisure Arts book, “Contest Favorites Baby Afghans”. I designed that afghan for one of my babies in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Of course, since my babies had used the original afghan quite a bit, I had to crochet a new afghan for the publisher to photograph in the leaflet!
K: Where do you get your design inspiration from?
Susan: I get design inspiration from many places. Sometimes it’s from a design made in another medium, such as knitting, sewing or quilting. Other times it’s from something I’ve seen in a catalog or in a store. Many times, a design idea just pops into my head and I can’t rest until I’ve made it (or at least gotten started on it)! And one design idea often morphs into many design ideas!
K: What is most important to you when choosing yarn for a design? Look? Feel? Weight?
Susan: The colors are definitely the most important thing for me! The colors have to look good together. If they don’t look good to me, I don’t enjoy the designing process. The feel of the yarn comes in a close second to the color.
K: What makes your designs unique?
Susan: Many of them are not your average, run-of-the-mill designs. I like to challenge myself with new techniques and designs that make people say “wow”! And I try very hard to make my patterns easy to understand and follow. I hope crocheters enjoy making them, as well as challenging themselves to make something new. I believe that my creativity is a gift from God. I thoroughly enjoy using this gift and sharing it with others through my crochet designs and teaching various crochet classes, as time allows.
K: Any advice to crocheters that want to keep their work fresh and exciting?
Susan: Learn a new crochet technique or make something you’ve never made before. Try new colors or yarns that you’ve never worked with. Join a local or national crochet group to learn from others and see what they’re making. I love to push myself to learn something new. It can really get my creative juices flowing! If I make the same thing too many times, I get bored with it! Continually making or learning something new keeps crochet exciting for me!
K: Where do you see crocheting going as an art form?
Susan: As one of the co-chairs in this year’s CGOA Design Competition, I saw a lot more crochet designers challenging themselves to create more intricate designs. Some of the design entries this year were very artistic, creative, and inspiring. There are some designers/artists around the world who are doing huge sculptural crochet pieces that are amazing! Crochet definitely isn’t just granny squares anymore! The sky’s the limit! If you can imagine it, you can create it in crochet!
K: Favorite part of designing?
Susan: The challenge of creating what I envision in my head with yarn and/or crochet thread!
K: Least favorite part of the designing?
Susan: Deadlines, and the stress that sometimes comes with trying to meet them.
K: Favorite yarn?
Susan: Do I have to pick just one? My favorite yarn changes as often as the wind changes. Sometimes when I try a new yarn, it instantly becomes my favorite (until I try another new yarn)!
K: Do you have a crochet “hero” or someone you look up to in the industry?
Susan: There are so many people I look up to in the crochet industry: too many to list them all. Rita Weiss and the late Jean Leinhauser are at the top of my list. Rita and Jean are some of the “pioneers” in the crochet industry.
Unforgettable Ripple Cowl
I really wanted to try one of Susan’s wiggly crochet patterns but I was worried about not having enough time to finish it (I wanted to try her Wiggly Hearts Rug!). Instead I decided to make the Unforgettable Ripple Cowl so I would have a completed project for you to see. As most of you know I’m doing my best to work through my stash and not buy any yarn. The pattern called for Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable, which I actually had in my stash. I had the color Petunia, so I made it with that.
You do have to pay attention the first couple rows, but once you get the pattern down you’ll be able to take this project anywhere and work on it without having to constantly look and see what’s coming next. This kind of project is great for mom’s sitting at sports events, watching TV, etc. It worked up quickly and I was done in just a couple nights in front of the TV with hubby.
My one piece of advice in regards to the pattern (and it has nothing to do with Susan’s pattern)….
Consider your yarn before you begin. Susan chose a variegated yarn. I chose an purple ombre that just changed shades. While I love how mine came out, I think I like Susan’s better. The colors were bolder which helped make the stitch pattern pop. If I were to make this again I would either choose a more vibrant yarn, or one with a solid color.
TIP: If you’re going to substitute the yarn called for, check the yardage on the yarn label and make sure you will have enough. Read these 2 articles I’ve written for more info and help.
5 Tips for Substituting Yarn – overall help for choosing a different yarn
Tips for Substituting Yarn – info based on yarn label
All-in-all, I have to say that I love the end result! Considering it’s made with a #4 worsted weight yarn, the scarf feels light, like you could wear it on a crisp fall day. Or pair it with a jacket on colder days.
Susan is offering a 25% discount to my readers. Please visit her pattern shop on her website – The Crochet Architect pattern shop and use coupon code AmbCro2015 at checkout. Coupon code is good through Nov. 15.
For more information about Susan and/or her patterns, visit her at the links below:
The Crochet Architect – Blog
If you have any questions you’d like me to ask in upcoming interviews, or someone you’d love to see featured, leave a comment and let me know. Make sure you come back next month when I interview April Garwood from Banana Moon Studio!
Other designers in this series: