Designer Review & Interview featuring Teresa Jimenez

For April, my featured designer is Teresa Jimenez from Harvester Products. As soon as I saw one of her newly released patterns I knew I needed a reason to bump it up on my “to-do” list of things I wanted to make.

 

Designer Review & Interview featuring Teresa Jimenez from Harvester Products

 

Designer Review & Interview
featuring Teresa Jimenez of Harvester Products

 

Throughout 2016 I am doing designer interviews and reviews. Each month I will feature one fellow designer, ask them some questions, and then I will actually make something from one of their patterns and do a review of it.

Read to the bottom of the interview to see my review of one of Teresa’s patterns, and get a discount code to use in her pattern shop.

Interview

 

K (Me): How did you get started designing?

Teresa: I was following so many amazing crochet pages on Facebook. I could follow any pattern, but really had the desire to make my own patterns. Then I just dove in!

K: Do you remember the first pattern you ever designed?

Teresa: I know the first one I ever published was the Starla Hat. I had designed some prior to that, but I don’t remember the actual first one ever. It’s funny, because I am so the “mark the memory” type of person. I wish now that I could remember. LOL

K: Where do you get your design inspiration from?

Teresa: Hmm. This is hard. I think at times it’s from seeing other crochet designs. My brain starts thinking of similar things.  Sometimes it’s a print on a fabric I see at a store, or a color scheme. But mostly, designs just kinda pop into my head randomly. But not when I want them to. When I really have the urge to crochet something new, that is usually when I have zero inspiration at all.

K: What is most important to you when choosing yarn for a design? Look? Feel? Weight?

Teresa: Coming from years of designing character hats, I always went straight to Red Heart Super Saver. It was perfect for holding shape. But now, as I am branching out with more fashion hats, look and feel is important to me. I tend also, to like heavier weights.

K: How long between when you first have an idea to the finished pattern being released?

Teresa: Well, I’d love to say that I just whip it out. But being the master perfectionist and procrastinator that I am has its downfalls. It can be anywhere from a week to months. If I hit a roadblock, it will sit there for a good long while sometimes. I actually have a gorgeous cowl/shawlette hanging on my dress form right now. It’s been there for about 2 months.

K: What makes your designs unique?

Teresa: Off the cuff, I think the way I name them is unique. I am super picky about what I name my designs. Many of them are named after characters or movies that I love.

I also set out to try to make them unique in design. I want them to stand out. I try to make them different from anything else out there. Not an easy task. I design a lot of my hats from the bottom-up. I try to combine stitches as in my Arkenstone hat or the Frost Awakens hat. Or I’ll make a different shape, like in my Grumpy Nova hat, or the Snow Queen Cowl.

K: Do you ever look at a pattern and wish you had been the one to design that?

Teresa: Oh, I do this so often!  There are so many beautifully textured designs that I get totally jealous of! Why didn’t I think of that? LOL

K: Any advice to crocheters that want to keep their work fresh and exciting?

Teresa: I’d say to keep informed of what is trending with fashion, but also look for new angles. You never know when one of your designs may become a new trend! Also, a trip to the yarn store is always inspiring! Seeing different colors and textures always gives me new ideas. My Arkenstone hat actually was inspired by a sweatshirt I bought for my daughter in the girl’s section at Target.

K: Where do you see crocheting going as an artform?

Teresa: The creativity of the art has matured so much since I first started 30 years ago. I think we will always see people added to the crochet community – learning and creating, and it’s popularity will continue to grow steadily. It’s very exciting, almost as inexhaustible as music!

 

QUICK QUESTIONS

 

K: Favorite part of designing?

Teresa: Seeing the product take shape.

K: Least favorite part of the designing?

Teresa: Typing the pattern.

K: Favorite yarn?

Teresa: Red Heart with Love

K: Do you have a crochet “hero” or someone you look up to in the industry?

Teresa: I’ll name a few: Playin’ Hooky, Elk Studio, Crochet by Jennifer.

 

Review

 

Designer Review & Interview featuring Teresa Jiminez from Harvester Products - This is my version of her Outlaw Queen Cowl. Read my pattern review.My version of the Outlaw Queen Cowl by Harvester Products

 

As soon as I saw her Outlaw Queen Cowl pattern I knew I needed a reason to make it. Maybe it’s the country girl in me, but I love almost anything with fringe. I was drawn to the color combo, stitches, and fringe combination.

For my review, I used Hobby Lobby “I Love This Yarn!” in Olive & Ivory. I love Teresa’s brown & cream combo, but I’m trying to use up skeins from my stash, so I switched the brown to olive green. 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

This pattern works up quick and is easy to follow. Teresa uses a special technique to overlap the “v” effect (the openwork stitches), but don’t let it scare you. Once you do the first few it’s super easy to follow. My absolute favorite feature of the scarf is the design concept. It’s designed like a poncho, but it doesn’t hang down in the back, only the front (almost like a bib), so there’s no bulk for you to try to stuff under your jacket, etc. Genius!

Overall…. I love how it came out! Whether you’re looking for a quick gift, or something to make for yourself, this is a fun and easy pattern to try.

My next pattern purchase from Teresa’s shop will be the Pirate’s Cove Cowl…. more fringe!

 

Pirate's Cove cowl by Harvester Products

 

Teresa is is offering my readers 40% off your purchase of $3.95 or more in her pattern shop. The discount will run from April 27 – May 7th. Head over to her Ravelry shop and enter code SAVE40 at checkout to receive the discounted pricing.

For more information, visit her at the links below:

Ravelry

Facebook

Teresa has a unique style that you’ll want to check out. I’m sure you will find something in her pattern shop that you love!

If you have any questions you’d like me to ask in upcoming interviews, leave a comment and let me know. Make sure you come back next month when I interview Kristin Ohmdahl!

Other designers in this series:

Jocelyn Sass

Shelby Allaho

Janet Brani

Susan Lowman

April Garwood

 

Happy Crocheting!

Read More

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.

* This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. Please note: Not all links are affiliate links, and I will never become an affiliate partner for a product or service that I don’t use and love!

 

Designer Interview & Review featuring April Garwood

 

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!)

 

 

Interview

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?!

 

QUICK QUESTIONS

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.

Review

Bitterbrush Bandit by April Garwood for Interweave CrochetBitterbrush Bandit

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

 

Designer Interview & Review featuring April Garwood - Bitterbrush Bandit pattern

 

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:

Banana Moon Studio (blog)

Ravelry

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:

Jocelyn Sass

Shelby Allaho

Janet Brani

Susan Lowman

Teresa Jiminez

 

Happy Crocheting!

Read More

Designer Interview & Review featuring Susan Lowman

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.

Designer Interview & Review featuring Susan Lowman

 

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.

Interview

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!

QUICK QUESTIONS

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.

Review

ripple infinityUnforgettable 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.

 

Designer Review - Unforgettable Infinity by Susan Lowman

 

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

Ravelry

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:

Jocelyn Sass

Shelby Allaho

Janet Brani

April Garwood

Teresa Jiminez

 

Happy Crocheting!

Read More

Designer Interview & Review Series featuring Janet Brani

Throughout 2015 I had planned to do one designer interview and review each month. With our move and then my knee surgery, I put this series on hold for the summer, but am now returning to it.

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 the pattern.

Janet Brani Interview

 

For September I am featuring Janet Brani from OneLoopShy Designs. Last fall I received my issue of Interweave Crochet (Fall 2014 issue) and I fell in love with the Canyon Cowl. I started it right away but sometimes I have too many projects going on and, well…. let’s just say it sat for a LONG time. When we moved this summer I made a decision that I was going to finish this scarf – along with my other UFO’s. I was just about done when I decided to look up the designer and ask her if I could do an interview with her along with a review of the pattern. Imagine my surprise when I looked at Janet’s shop only to realize that I already owned a couple more of her patterns! As I looked through her designs I realized she has so many more designs that I would use/wear. I love when a designer just resonates with me and I can see their style in everything they do!

 

Interview

Kristine (Me): How did you get started designing?

Janet: I worked for several years at a yarn shop, and a good friend and coworker encouraged me to write out the patterns I created for my crochet students. I began submitting to magazines after attending a CGOA conference, where I was able to meet with several magazine editors and take classes from published designers. There was no one time where I thought “I want to be a crochet designer” . . . it just evolved rather organically. And, fortunately for me, at a time when crochet was resurfacing as the hot trend it is!

Kristine: Do you remember the first pattern you ever designed?

Janet: I’m pretty sure it was my “Nine-to-Five Convertible Cowl”, which is a free pattern on my Ravelry site. The purpose for this pattern was to use one skein of a silk/wool blend for a simple cowl that my beginning crochet students could do.

Kristine: Where do you get your design inspiration from?

Janet: I love to browse through the catalogs I get in the mail (Sundance, Anthropologie) and enjoy looking in the trendy shops at the mall (Lucky, Free People, etc.) I have a huge folder of pages I’ve torn from fashion magazines and a big, system-crashing file of photos I’ve saved on my Mac over the years.

Kristine: How long between when you first have an idea to the finished pattern being released?

Janet: I would love to know the answer to this one! I don’t track how much time I spend on any one design (it would probably be a bit depressing!) and I tend to have multiple projects in the works. Releasing a pattern now, with all the digital options available (I sell on Ravelry, Craftsy, Etsy and LoveKnitting/Crochet) is so easy to do. My biggest stumbling blocks are photography and editing . . . there’s always one more thing I want to tweak or change. (I agree with Janet on this! The amount of hours designers spend on new designs from beginning to end is staggering!)

Kristine: What makes your designs unique?

Janet: For most of my designs, I work hard to achieve a look and drape that is usually associated with knitwear. So, I avoid some of the typical stitch patterns and incorporate techniques such as slip stitch, tunisian, and linked stitches (my current obsession). I love it when a knitter asks what size “needles” I used for one of my samples!

Kristine: Any advice to crocheters that want to keep their work fresh and exciting?

Janet: Try some wonderful natural fiber yarns, especially in the smaller sizes . . . lace, fingering and dk weights. Size up your hook and then see what magic happens when you block your project! Reserved Seating Wrap, Surround Sound, and Countervail are patterns of mine with simple stitches that block out looking like lace. (I’ve linked to those patterns for those that would like to check them out.)

 

QUICK QUESTIONS

Kristine: Favorite part of designing?

Janet: The crocheting!

Kristine: Least favorite part of the designing?

Janet: The pattern writing!

Kristine: Favorite yarn?

Janet: Anzula Yarns “Cricket”, Phydeaux Yarns “Soie”

Kristine: Do you have a crochet “hero” or someone you look up to in the industry?

Janet: I will always be grateful for my grandmother, who taught me when I was 8. She did not have any of the resources I take for granted (a library of books, youTube videos, Ravelry) yet she was so skilled, creative and best of all, eager to share her love of it with me.

Review

 

canyon cowlMy finished Canyon Cowl.

For my review, I used Hobby Lobby “I Love This Yarn!” in Brown, Hot Rose, and Ivory. I’m still on my fiber diet, so I used skeins from my stash. The only thing I was cautious about was making sure I had more than enough. There’s nothing worse than running out and not being able to match the dye lot! 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.

I love how the scarf turned out! I don’t wear a lot of pink, but it’s just the right amount so that it’s not overpowering to the overall effect. And I’m a fringe girl. I love anything with a western and/or cowgirl feel to it. The pattern was super easy to read, and once you get the pattern and color changes down you can work on it while watching tv, at your child’s sports events, etc. It’s perfect for those times when you want something to work on but don’t want to have to try to focus too much on the pattern itself. The only thing I changed was that I left my fringe at 10″, which is slightly longer than the 8″ that pattern calls for.

Because I love so many of Janet’s designs I want to make something else! There are so many to choose from but I think my favorites are her boot cuff patterns. I bought her Swift Kick Book Cuffs pattern last year, so I’m thinking that will be my next project. I’m wonder if I use the same colors as the cowl if it might make a good set? What do you think?

janet brani - swift kickSwift Kick Boot Cuffs

For more information, you can visit Janet at the links below:

Facebook

Ravelry

Etsy

If you have any questions you’d like me to ask in upcoming interviews, leave a comment and let me know. Make sure you come back next month!

Other designers in this series:

Jocelyn Sass

Shelby Allaho

Susan Lowman

April Garwood

Teresa Jiminez

 

Happy Crocheting!

Read More

Designer Interview & Review Series featuring Shelby Allaho

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.

Interview with Shelby Allaho

For February I am feauturing Shelby Allaho from Stitch-Story. I first met Shelby at the Knit & Crochet Show in NH this past summer. When we were introduced I instantly recognized her name from some publication work I have done, and was aware of some of her designs. Shelby is super friendly and has a very unique style that she adds to the crochet community. While I know every designer has a different approach to designing, I definitely had some a-ha moments as I read her responses in our interview.

Interview

K (Me): How did you get started designing?

Shelby: Although I learned to crochet at an early age, I became even more interested in it after receiving a beautiful crocheted bracelet from a dear friend. It came from Paris and was unlike any crochet I had ever seen. This completely revived my interest in crochet and I began to see it in a completely new light. I started taking courses to learn more about it. Then I discovered Freeform Crochet, which is essentially crocheting without a pattern. I loved being able to doodle with a crochet hook to create pieces that were rich with color and texture. I found a community online that was passionate about Freeform Crochet and I became a very active member. One of the members, Bonnie Pierce, was assigned to be the editor of a crochet pattern a day calendar, and asked me if I would be willing to submit patterns for it. I had never actually written a pattern, but I decided to give it a try. I fell in love with designing crochet patterns and wanted to submit to more publications. After that, I submitted a few more patterns that were published online, while continuing to create freeform crochet pieces for exhibitions. I took a few years off when I had my daughter, then I became serious about becoming a crochet designer in 2009.  I joined the Crochet Guild of America and I was assigned a wonderful mentor, Margaret Hubert, who helped me reach my goal of becoming a professional designer. Since then, I have been fortunate to design for various yarn companies, magazines, and books. I recently co-authored a book of children’s crochet patterns for Creative Publishing International, entitled “Crocheting Clothes Kids Love”.  (Please note: CGOA & Creative Publishing International are NOT affiliate links. I get no commission if you visit their sites. I’m just providing links if you would like more info.)

K: Do you remember the first pattern you ever designed?

Shelby: Yes, it was the Blossom Necklace for the 2006 Crochet Pattern a Day Calendar. I now offer it as a free pattern, and it is my most downloaded free pattern with over 11,500 downloads recorded on Ravelry.

K: Where do you get your design inspiration from?

Shelby: I am very inspired by vintage pieces and things I find in nature, and I love translating them into crochet.

K: What is most important to you when choosing yarn for a design? Look? Feel? Weight?

Shelby: The success of a design often depends on the yarn choice. Choosing the right yarn and hook size is so important to the look of the finished piece. I usually swatch in several different yarns to see what type looks the best. Many times I am surprised at what looks best! I rarely end up using the first one I try, unless I am doing a project that is similar to one I have done previously.

K: How long between when you first have an idea to the finished pattern being released?

Shelby: Actually that is hard for me to say. It varies by design. I often start with a sketch or a paper mock-up, and then I start trying to create it in crochet. Sometimes it doesn’t look the way I intended it to, and I am taken down a completely different road. Sometimes I will end up using just one element of my original idea. For example a floral motif I designed to be an embellishment on a handbag, ended up being the main element of a cowl! When I work in this freeform manner, I come up with my most creative designs. That is why I have a hard time submitting a sketch to an editor. I prefer to design the piece and make a full sample before I submit. Most designers would tell you not to do this, but I feel the most comfortable working this way, and I think editors are happy knowing what they will actually be getting from me.

K: What makes your designs unique?

Shelby: I try to use simple techniques to create something that looks more complex, and has an unusual twist or detail.

K: Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?

Shelby: Put your heart into your designs. Strive to be original and find your niche. (Note: I personally love this and think it’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve every read.)

QUICK QUESTIONS

K: Favorite part of designing?

Shelby: The beginning when I have an idea that I am excited about, blocking the finished piece(s), seeing the finished sample, and is when it is published!

K: Least favorite part of the designing?

Shelby: Writing the romance copy to describe the design. (more about romance copy in an upcoming post)

K: Favorite yarn?

Shelby: I always love working with a wool and silk blend!

K: Do you have a crochet “hero” or someone you look up to in the industry?

Shelby: I would have to say my CGOA Mentor, Margaret Hubert. She is so prolific, and has a wonderful personality that makes her a favorite in the industry.

Review

Ruffles Scarf - Shelby AllahoRuffles Scarf (photo by Harper Point)

Because I do editing work through a publisher I have seen Shelby’s patterns in the raw (unedited). I can tell you, she writes a very good pattern! She takes time to make them easy and readable for the crocheter. I have wanted to make many of her patterns for over a year now, and it’s always hard for me to choose just one pattern to make, but I’m a sucker for scarves, so I decided to maker her Ruffles Scarf.  Made with worsted weight yarn, this scarf is practical and pretty all at the same time.

For my review, I used Hobby Lobby “I Love This Yarn!” in Cranberry. Once again I grabbed a skein from my stash and ran out! I only had about 10 stitches left to go. SO frustrating! But, because it was from my stash I may have used some of the skein for something else previously. (or the skein may have been a little shorter than estimated on the label). 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

Either way, it came out gorgeous! I love the deep color to contrast all the snow we have here in New England. This feels like the perfect, pretty accessory to keep me warm. The pattern was easy to read and once I got the pattern down I could do it without having to keep referring to the pattern. Great for those times when you don’t want something hard that needs your constant attention!

Ruffles Scarf pattern by Shelby Allaho

It has a natural curl to it that make it fit perfectly around the neck!

Ruffles Scarf - pattern by Shelby Allaho

Next I will be making her Nouveau Necklace Kit that I purchased at the Knit & Crochet Show. Isn’t it gorgeous?!

wood necklace shelby allahoNouveau Necklace Kit

Click the link below the photo, or the photo itself, to see her blog post about the jewelry.

jewelry collection - shelbyJewelry Collection by Stitch Story

For more information, visit her at the links below:

Blog

Ravelry

Etsy – (eWood Story – etsy shop by Shelby & Emad Allaho)

Shelby has a unique style that she adds to the crochet industry. I’m sure you will love her patterns!

If you have any questions you’d like me to ask in upcoming interviews, leave a comment and let me know. Make sure ou come back next month when I interview April Garwood from Banana Moon Studio!

Other designers in this series:

Jocelyn Sass

Janet Brani

Susan Lowman

April Garwood

Teresa Jiminez

 

Happy Crocheting!

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Designer Interview & Review Series featuring Jocelyn Sass

I have a few new things planned for 2015, and one of them is a monthly designer interview and review. Each month I will feature one industry designer and ask some questions, then I will actually make something from one of their patterns and do a review of it.

jocelyn interview

I asked Jocelyn from Jocelyn Designs & Too Cute Crochet to be my January designer. Jocelyn has become a good friend in the past couple years and I was looking forward to getting to know more about her crochet journey. (Read to the bottom of the interview to see my review of one of her patterns.)

Interview

K (Me): How did you get started designing?

J: Many years ago, I was a knitter who fell in love with crochet and actually crocheted every free moment I had. Eventually, I started dramatically changing the patterns I was crocheting from, to improve the design. When I started doing that quite often, I realized that maybe I could start creating my own!

K: Do you remember the first pattern you ever designed?

J: The first actual pattern I designed was a set of Cabbage Patch Doll clothes for my daughters. I sold the set to TD Creations and was on my way!

K: Where do you get your design inspiration from?

J: My inspiration can come from many places, but I love browsing through fashion magazines and home décor magazines. Necessity (such as warm scarves for Winter) is also a great inspiration!

K: How long between when you first have an idea to the finished pattern being released?

J: When designing crochet patterns for magazine or book publication, guidelines and deadlines are given for you to follow, so you always know how long you have to complete the process. When I self-publish a design, though, the process can vary greatly! Some of the designs that I have in my Etsy shops literally took only a week or two to complete the whole process before they were ready for release. It all depends on my design ‘mojo’ and how quickly I want to see the finished crocheted item and put it up for sale. Seasons of the year can make a big difference in how quickly a design gets to completion and is ready for sale. I will put a design through the process quickly if it is a Christmas design, for instance, because I know there is a limited time that the pattern will be purchased for that year. On the other hand, I have quite a few designs in my office that I have finished crocheting and writing the pattern for, yet I still haven’t formatted the pattern or had them photographed!

K: Do you ever look at a pattern and wish you had been the one to design that?

J: LOL, I think all designers have probably done that at one time or another! We usually have so many ideas floating in our heads or sketched on paper, that there is not enough time to complete them all! So many times, as a designer, you see something that has been created in crochet that you planned and hoped to do! Sometimes, though, the items are so generic, that there is plenty of room for everyone! Each designer can bring their own unique style to the crochet design. One example would be a teddy bear. There are literally thousands of crochet designs for bears, and while some of them can be similar, most designers can put their own ‘mark’ on the design to make it look unique.

K: What makes your designs unique?

J: I would say that it is the simplicity of the design process itself. Most of the time, less is more. I love creating quick and easy designs! I have been told many times by editors and publishers that my designs have a simple, light-hearted style and that I have an eye for color.

K: Any advice to crocheters that want to keep their work fresh and exciting?

J: First and foremost, KNOW YOUR MARKET!  Keep abreast of the trends NOT ONLY FOR FASHION, BUT FOR HOME DÉCOR AS WELL. Study home décor catalogs and look for innovative colors and designs. If you really want to know what is going to be the next ‘in thing’, buy a single issue (such as in Barnes and Noble) of a European fashion and/or home décor magazine or purchase a subscription to one. What is currently ‘in’ around Europe right now, will probably be what is sweeping America the following year. You should also regularly visit the color website, Pantone.com, to see which colors are in vogue and which are on the horizon for the future. The only problem with this, is that crochet and knitting designers are ‘limited’ to what color schemes yarn manufacturers are putting in their yarns that we buy in the stores. Yarn colors usually follow trends but are not always as up-to-date as some designers would like. Good yarn companies will try to be, though.

K: What is most important to you when choosing yarn for a design? Look? Feel? Weight?

J: I would say all three of those aspects play into the yarn that I choose for a design. Color is also a very important part of the process. After I have narrowed down the weight and feel of the yarn, if I have two or more similar yarns to choose from, color will always be the deciding factor.

 

QUICK QUESTIONS

K: Favorite part of designing?

J: My favorite part of designing is when I get the item to look exactly as I had originally envisioned it!

K: Least favorite part of the designing?

J: Most designers would say that it was writing the pattern, but I think for me it would be if and when I need to remake any aspect of the pattern to re-check it. Once I have figured out how I am going to execute a design, I don’t want to make it again! It is the actual challenge of the design process that I like the most. So when I have achieved this, I want to get on to the next design!

Review

One thing I know about Jocelyn is that she tries to write her patterns in such a way that anyone can do it! I have a similar philosophy, so that was something that attracted me to her patterns right away. I have wanted to make many items from her shop for over a year, so it was hard to pick just one to review. I ended up choosing “The Boston” which is a chunky chevron infinity cowl. I chose this because it’s versatile, so I can either wear to church, or with a pair of jeans. Perfect!

jocelyn - the bostonThe Boston

The pattern called for #5 bulky, and Jocelyn used Bernat Softee Chunky for the one in the photo. This year, I put myself on a “stash only” yarn diet (I will be holding myself accountable in a monthly post), and I didn’t have that in my stash, so I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick (also #5). I grabbed the only 2 balls I had in my stash and ran out the door to take my girls to dance.

Note: Here are 5 Tips for Substituting Yarn

The pattern was perfect!….and easy. I had the scarf done in less than 24 hrs. (and that was doing many other things during that time.) Perfect for that last minute gift! Or like me, you just want something new (and warm) to wear to church on Sunday.

The Boston WrapWrapped twice

The Boston Infinity Scarf   Wrapped 3 times

Here was my only downfall….. (This has nothing to do with Jocelyn’s pattern!)

I didn’t check the weight, or the yardage, of the skeins I grabbed. The skeins were slightly smaller than the Bernat Softee that Jocelyn used. So I ran out before I had the right number of rows. 

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. Here are some Tips for Yarn Substitutions to make sure you’re going to have enough.

You will love Jocelyn’s patterns! Whether you’re picking something from her Too Cute Crochet shop or Jocelyn Designs, you will have no trouble with the pattern you choose.

For more info on Jocelyn, visit her at the links below:

Blog

Ravelry 

Etsy – Jocelyn Designs (stylish accessories)

Etsy – Too Cute Crochet (patterns for baby, children, and photographers)

If you have any questions you’d like me to ask in upcoming interviews, leave a comment and let me know.

Other designers in this series:

Shelby Allaho

Janet Brani

Susan Lowman

April Garwood

Teresa Jiminez

 

Happy Crocheting!

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The Crochet Awards, “Tag Ur It Game”

flamies crochet awards

Have you heard of The Crochet Awards called the FLAMIES? If you’ve never heard of them, here is an explanation straight from their website:

“The Flamies are the Flaming Hook of Justice Awards, also known as The Crochet Awards. Created by Founder and Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front, Laurie Wheeler, the awards are a celebration of the best of what the crochet universe has to offer.
These coveted awards are a collective voice to show appreciation to the makers, designers, publishers, and suppliers of crochet tools and yarn.  They are voted on by the passionate crochet community to show their pride and celebrate excellence.”
 
First I have to say, Jocelyn over at Cute Crochet Chat just about made me cry when she said she tagged me and said she was going to nominate me for Best Tech Editor. It is truly my passion, and I absolutely love tech editing. Just being nominated would make my year! (You can check out her post here.) 
 
I plan on doing a couple nominations of my own for The Crochet Awards.  To keep the flame going I’m tagging Shelby Allaho and nominating her for Best Crochet Designer for Accessories
shelby allaho bow necklace
 
shelby allaho cowlI couldn’t narrow it down to just one favorite.
 
Her designs are unique and fresh. Every time I see one of her scarves or necklaces, I think to myself, “Wow, I like that. That’s something I would actually make and wear.”  – and then I realize the designer is Shelby. You can check out her Ravelry shop here. Her blog Stitch-Story has some great tips, tutorials, and more.
 
Do you have someone you’d like to add to the tag game? Here’s how: Tag Ur It Game.
For general info visit The Crochet Awards. Nominations start Oct. 1st, so pass it on.
 
   
 
 
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Modern Baby Crochet Review

I recently had the opportunity to review a new crochet book called Modern Baby Crochet.

Author Stacey Trock, aka FreshStitches, is well known for her amigurumi patterns, but in her newest release by Martingale she goes beyond just amigurumi. There is something for every skill level from easy to experienced. Below are some of my favorites.*

Mondrian-Inspired Afghan

Zabby the Giggle Monster

Colorful Wiggle Pillow

Oakley the Owl

Buzzy Bee Mobile

Asymmetrical Basket-Weave Blanket

The patterns are sectioned off by colors used. So whether you’re looking for something Bright & Bold, Pretty in Pastel, or Naturally Neutral you’ll be able to easily find a pattern that will appeal to you.

Not only does this book have some adorable patterns, but it has a wealth of information on hooks and yarn, tips for new crocheter’s, tips for specific projects in the book, and help for beginners; including stitches and technique help sections.

Please visit the Martingale website for more photos of projects. (Click here to view all photos from Modern Baby Crochet)

Happy Crocheting!

 *Disclaimer* – This book was provided to me for a review, but all opinions are strictly my own.

*Photographer: Brent Kane; photos used with permission from Martingale.

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Crochet Wraps Every Which Way

crochet wraps

When you purchase a book, or open a crochet magazine, do you pay attention to the pattern designers? I am one of those who reads every designer name…on every pattern. Each designer has their own style and over the years I have found that I lean towards certain designer’s patterns.

When I received my copy of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way by Tammy Hildebrand I was SO excited! Tammy is one of those designers that I have admired from the beginning of my crochet journey. Her designers are fashionable, fun, and always easy to read and understand. She is also the Vice President of the Crochet Guild of America. I decided to take this opportunity to ask Tammy a few questions.

How old were you when you learned to crochet?  I learned to crochet from my second grade teacher. One day she offered to teach anyone that wished to stay after school. I was the only one that stayed and I remember it like it was yesterday. We would sit at her big wooden desk working on a floppy, purple “hippy” hat. We are now friends on Facebook and I sent her a copy of my book!

Do you have a favorite stitch or technique? I love so many different stitches and techniques. I enjoy being able to jump around from one thing to another and never get bored but if I could only pick one, it would be lacy motifs assembled with a join-as-you-go technique.

Where do you get your ideas from?  They just pop into my head. Crocheting and designing are truly my gift from God and it just comes naturally for me.

What are your favorite items to crochet/design? If I don’t have to write a pattern or do sizing then I love making something lacy for me! Motifs and large lace patterns can be tricky to size. My favorite project just to relax and enjoy making while watching a good movie is an afghan.

Do you plan out your designs, then crochet them? Or do you sit down with a hook and “play” until a design forms? I never plan ahead which can be a very bad thing! I like to just grab some yarn and make it happen. Over the years I have learned that sometimes you do have to do a little planning in advance or you could run into big trouble when you go to do the sizing. But my favorite is to just wing it.

Do you have a favorite design in your new book? I really love “Waiting for Willow”. It is my favorite kind of design – lacy motifs using join-as-you-go to assemble it in a color that I wear often. I designed it while we were waiting for my first granddaughter, Willow, to be born so that makes it special too. (see photo below)

One crochet tip you have learned, that you wish you had known sooner? (maybe some simple thing that helps a lot?) The biggest thing that I have learned and this applies not only to crochet but life in general, is that you never stop learning. I’ve been crocheting for more than 40 years but I still don’t know all there is to know. I stress in my book to experiment and have fun. Sometimes people get so hung up on following a pattern to a tee that they lose some of the creativity. You need learn the stitches and techniques but then move on and apply them in new and exciting ways!

Below are just a few of the designs in the book.

Waiting for Willow

Waiting for Willow

Water lily Wrap

Water Lily

Aqua Marine

Aqua Marine

Cascading Rivers

Cascading Rivers

Purple Passion

Purple Passion

There are so many great designs in this book! I had a hard time deciding which pictures to include. I didn’t include my favorite because I wanted to see your choices! The book includes everything from tips & hints to photo tutorials of the different techniques so you can try something new! I particularly like the fact that the patterns are in sections by technique. The sections include: Traditional Crochet, Motifs, Hairpin Lace, Broomstick Lace, Tunisian Crochet, & Double-Ended Crochet.

Head over to Stackpole Books to see all the designs. I would love to hear what your favorite is.

Happy Crocheting!

 

 *Disclaimer* – This book was provided to me for a review, but all opinions are strictly my own.
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A Crochet Designer in the Making

This is how the conversation started, “Mom, do you have any yarn with all different fall colors?”

My response, “What do you want to make with it?”

Her reply was simple, “Josephina’s shawl.”

Josephina is an American Girl doll. And while our daughters don’t own any AG dolls, they do have knock-off versions.  You see, we have a larger family than most (6 children), and we just can’t afford the actual dolls, or their outfits and accessories.  So she had devised her own plan to make one that looked like Josephina’s. (pretty smart girl!)

I knew I had something that might work for what she was describing, so we headed downstairs to my yarn store stash and we found some Vanna’s Choice Autumn Print .

In less than 24 hours, my 9 year old daughter had made this. 24 hours may seem like a long time for something so little, but sometimes the smallest things are the biggest accomplishments.  She asked for no help with figuring out the number of chains to begin with, or how many rows she would need.  She did this 100% on her own.

Rachael's doll scarf logo

What makes me even more proud is that, because of her low vision, it was a struggle for her to learn to crochet.  I went out and got her a larger hook and that helped immensely, but this is still a huge accomplishment for her (actually for any child).

This is AG Josephina, and her shawl if you’re interested in the original where she got the idea from. You can click on the picture to take you to the AG site.

introChar

Happy Crocheting!

 

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