Designer Review & Interview featuring April Garwood
Throughout 2016 I will be doing more 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.
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For February I am featuring designer April Garwood from Banana Moon Studio. I have followed April’s patterns since I first saw her Bella Dress in Interweave. Since then I have come to love the flair and style she brings to women’s accessories (plus she has some really cute girl’s accessories too!)
K (Me): How did you get started designing?
April: I picked up my first copy of Interweave Crochet in 2009. Before that, I had never seen a crocheted garment that I would actually wear. I had never heard of, or seen, luxury yarn. I did not know that the world of crochet included so much awesomeness. I began following designers online, including Robyn Chachula and Ellen Gormley. A few months later I decided to crochet a blessing dress (like a christening gown) for the baby girl I was expecting. I could not find a pattern that I liked, so I decided to design my own. I did, and I thought it turned out pretty great, so I submitted the design to Interweave Crochet. My submission was accepted! Talk about beginner’s luck!
K: Do you remember the first pattern you ever designed?
April: (Continued from above) This became the Bella Dress, published in Interweave Crochet, Spring 2010. I submitted the design in hot pink yarn with a black and white floral lining material under the skirt. I was surprised to open the box of yarn that arrived for the design and find that it was blue. I had expected to make it in the same colors and fabrics that I had used in my submission. I can remember feeling so nervous about even beginning to stitch anything with that yarn. I was afraid to touch it, as though I would mess it up. That first design was so hard! It’s gotten a lot easier now that I have lots more experience under my belt.
K: What is most important to you when choosing yarn for a design? Look? Feel? Weight?
April: I have to consider the weight and the fiber of the yarn whenever I design. It has to be right for the piece. Feel is extremely important to me in a yarn. I don’t want to wear anything scratchy, so I’m not likely to design a wearable in a scratchy yarn, but sometimes the publisher chooses the yarn, so I don’t always have control over that.
K: How long between when you first have an idea to the finished pattern being released?
April: Oh goodness. Sometimes it’s years! For instance, I designed a simple lace scarf around 4 years ago, and it is just coming out this summer. In that case, I didn’t actually submit that design anywhere until this past January. Most of the time if it’s for a magazine, the time is around 6 months to a year. If it is a self-publish pattern, it’s more likely to take 1-6 months.
K: Do you ever look at a pattern and wish you had been the one to design that?
April: Absolutely! In particular, I remember “Piper’s Chain Scarf” by Shelby Allaho from Interweave Crochet, Accessories 2010. When I first saw that, I looked at it and thought, Now why didn’t I think of that?!
K: Favorite part of designing?
April: Actually making the item. I still just love crocheting!
K: Least favorite part of the designing?
April: All the waiting!
K: Favorite yarn?
April: Really anything with natural animal fibers and beautiful colors. I’m a sucker for handpainted colorways.
K: Do you have a crochet “hero” or someone you look up to in the industry?
April: Ellen Gormley was one of those first designers that I began following. Since then, we’ve met and become friends. I’ve been inspired by following her career. She is now an editor and I’ve worked with her by designing for Crochet! magazine. Also, Robyn Chachula. I love her designs. We’ve still never met, and I’m afraid that if we ever do, I’m likely to go all fan girl and make her think I’m crazy. Also, Jocelyn Sass, who was my CGOA professional mentor when I began designing, joined CGOA, and registered as an associate professional. I appreciated her willingness to answer all my questions and be my cheerleader. She still is, and we’ve still never met either.
There are so many of April’s patterns that I want to try….I think my favorite two are the Scamp Bandana and Beautiful Arches Bolero! (Her bolero pattern is my all-time favorite and I can’t wait until she re-releases it so I can finally make it for myself!)
I had a few deadlines this month and was feeling crunched for time, so I went with something I knew I would be able to finish. The Bitterbrush Bandit has been on my “someday” list since Interweave published it, so I thought now would be the perfect time.
Because I have myself on a fiber diet (no new yarn purchases) I picked something from my stash that would make this design pop. I was asked to donate an item for a fundraiser for my girls’ dance competition team so I thought shimmery yarn and sparkles would be the perfect combo for the pattern and dance put together. I decided to use Caron Simply Soft Party by Yarnspirations.
The pattern is very straightforward and once you get past the first few rows. Once you learn where the increases will be you can do it on the go, in front of the TV, etc. It’s definitely a great pattern, even for beginners.
I chose to skip the beads for a couple reasons. First, I didn’t have any. I was going to run to the store and grab some but then I wondered if it might take away from the sparkle of the yarn. If I had planned better I may have picked a more subdued yarn and then the beads would have been a perfect addition.
TIP: If you’re going to substitute the yarn called for in a pattern, 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
April is offering a 50% discount to my readers. Please visit her Ravelry shop to purchase and use coupon code BITTERBRUSH at checkout. Coupon code is good through March 2nd.
For more information about April and/or her patterns, visit her at the links below:
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 Teresa Jimenez from Harvester Products!
Other designers in this series: