One of my favorite things about working with the Independent Designers is finding new projects for myself! So when we started up the Crochet Along, I immediatly choose Lauren Osborne‘s beautiful Adva for my project, as I’ve been eying it since we recieved it. Lauren has many beautiful patterns, both knit & crochet and I am so thrilled she is in IDP.
How long have you been crocheting?
Either eight years or just one, depending how you look at it. I first learned to crochet the summer after graduating from college, which is almost exactly eight years ago. I had just moved to a new city and was looking for employment. I crocheted—and knit—regularly for the next few years, even teaching my roommate both crafts. She struggled with knitting but immediately took off with crochet, leaving me frustrated that my own crochet abilities hadn’t improved a whole lot since I had originally learned. I decided I must just be a knitter, and let crochet go. But last year I started thinking about taking up the hook again, and when I did I was pleased to discover that not only did I remember, I wasn’t as bad as I thought! I may have knitting to thank for my improvement, though: I switched from knitting English to Continental (now holding my working yarn in my left hand rather than my right), so I had grown more accustomed to regulating the tension of my yarn with my left hand, and thus the motions of knitting were more like crochet, and vice versa.
Who taught you to crochet?
I taught myself using a Leisure Arts pamphlet I bought at a local craft store.
What was your first project?
I had learned to knit in college, and at the beginning of that post-college summer I picked up Better Homes and Gardens Knitting & Crocheting (from 1977!) for a couple dollars at a local thrift store. I’ve always loved vintage patterns, and there are some really cute handcrafted housewares in that book. I still have it, actually, and I look through it from time to time. I’m pretty sure the first thing I made from it—or, the first thing I started from it, more accurately—was the Granny Square Sampler Afghan by Jackie Curry. Each square is entirely different from all the others, and it uses a tremendous array of crochet techniques. Honestly, I’m shocked I was able to complete as much of it as I did, since I was learning to crochet as I went. I have 25 of the 38 squares checked off, actually, but I have no idea what happened to them. I still have some of the yarn I was using, but I’m afraid the squares probably got lost in one of my many moves. I’m not heartbroken over it, because even as I was working on them I was acutely aware of how wonky they all looked, and that I was using far too many colors of yarn. The result would have been really, truly hideous. I’d love to start this project again, though, now that I’m better at crochet and think more critically about my color choices.
What inspired you to start designing?
I’ve always had a little bit of a contrary, hippie, “I can do that myself!” streak. I oftentimes see things in stores or catalogs and want them, but either do not have the money or am not willing to spend it. It’s a strange mentality—I’m kind of a cheapskate when it comes to finished products, but I blow embarrassing quantities of money on craft supplies. I’m not going to pretend this makes sense to people who aren’t crafters, and even then, I fear only a portion of the community can relate. So while this explains my motivation in an ideological sense, practically speaking I got my start from a really wonderful friend who has thrown a ton of encouragement and opportunities my way in the last year.
Is there anything in particular that inspires your designs?
I would say that my designs are usually born half out of pragmatism (i.e., “I live in the Midwest and single-layer mittens are just not sufficient!”) and half out of attention to colorful graphics in the world around me. I love matching and contrasting colors, particularly in abstract graphic designs, and one of my favorite things to do is notice an abstract design in the world and imagine it in crafty form—wallpaper is a constant source of inspiration, for example.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
Oh gosh, where do I even begin! There are so many people out there creating wonderful things every day. I think since I’ve been knitting longer than I’ve been crocheting I’m more aware of designers of knitwear rather than crochet. The first name that comes to mind is Elinor Brown (of exercisebeforeknitting.com), whose Fair Isle designs are astoundingly well-executed. Another favorite is Pamela Wynne (of www.flintknits.com), whose designs evoke the “I must drop everything and make that immediately or I will just die!” reaction in me more often than any other designer. And for both knit and crochet designs my friend Minty (of pepperknit.com) is a constant source of inspiration.
How long do your designs take to create from start to finish?
It really depends on whether or not I’m working with a deadline! If the design is for a specific occasion or publication it usually has to get done within a few weeks. If it’s just me working for my own sake it may take an eternity.