Ok, now for something completely different. You may know I don't crochet, at least very, very seldom. Anyhow, many of the visitors that find their way to worsted-knitt.net via a search machine, are actually looking for "crochet pencil case pattern"! Why is that? Quite simple: in a fundraising action for Sudan in 2008 I coordinated, the crochet designer Donna Childs designed a pencil case pattern in crochet and allowed me to host it on worsted-knitt.net. So there's definitely a link between crochet and worsted-knitt.net. Perhaps it's time for another one?
Let me introduce you to my first-ever crochet Designer of the Month: Cris Porter. She's a rather new crochet designer from the USA, who likes to use all her spare time with crochet and arts. Read her blog at http://crochet-with-cris.blogspot.com/ or look up her designs on Ravelry! Let's hear what she has to say!
WorstedKnitt (WK): What got you into designing in the first place?
Cris Porter (CP): I think that in some capacity I have always been a designer. As a small child I found it very difficult to just follow a pattern as it was written. I was constantly coming up with some modification to suit my needs better. As I grew up, I found it much easier to think a pattern through on my own than to go look for one. Of course, it wasn't like it is today with thousands of free patterns at our fingertips via the internet. It was not until this passed year when I decided to share some of my more practical designs on my blog.
WK: What are your favourite materials to work with?
CP: It is hard to say but I can tell you what my least favorite material is - thread. There are so many talented and patient people that can design and work with cotton thread and I am left amazed every time. I can safely say that if you ever see a thread pattern from me someone has either hacked my account or you can call it a small miracle. *laughs*
WK: We'll keep an eye on that :D Now, who or what was your earliest inspiration that started you on your way to being the designer you are today?
CP: I would have to say that my mother was integral as one of the first inspirational people as far as design is concerned. She did some crochet; however, her real craft of choice was sewing. I remember sitting in her room, my arms over the back of her wooden sewing chair, watching her cut sheets and sheets of butcher paper - she was making her own patterns, sewing her own designs - and I will tell you now, they were spectacular. I don't know if she knew or not, but I took that as a lesson in that just because it doesn't exist doesn't mean you can't create it.
WK: That sounds like a really valuable lesson to heart at a young age. How do you usually design – how would you describe your designing process?
CP: I think my design process is pretty standard. Obviously I need to be inspired. Usually I am inspired by a need. Then I sit down, yarn in hand, and start fiddling. I take notes as I go along - scratching what doesn't work, marking things that do. I make it once as the first draft and then make it one more time for good measure, making more necessary tweaks. Usually after 2 or 3 attempts, I am pleased with the item (or not, in which case the whole thing gets trashed - notes and all). It is then I sit back down with my notes and make the item - testing my own pattern.
WK: A practical approach, many of the knitwear designers I interviewed work in a similar manner. Now tell us, how does your “typical day” when designing look like?
CP: Because I work full time, the time left to craft is minimal and designing is even less - so that is why I tend to combine my creation time and my craft time. I'm working along in my head, with my hands, and on paper. I usually sit scrunched up in the corner of the couch with classical music on the television. There isn't anything too spectacular about my process.
WK: Where do you get your inspiration?
CP: I get inspired everywhere. Because I tend to keep an eye out for more practical, household type item needs, it is easy to see a need anywhere. I have several ideas from the Farmer's Market and others from my house. My husband has also spoke up a few times with the statement "Hey, you know what would be really cool to make...." of course - he says that for me. He's not crafty in any sense of the word.
WK: My husband does that sometimes, too! How do you nurture your creative spirit?
CP: I think that the creative spirit is just as important as the analytical/logical. My parents were critical in this - they believed someone who is well-rounded is better adjusted to life and change in general. As an adult, I work as an analyst and am going to school for a Master's in Public Health with a graduate certificate in epidemiology. There isn't much room there for the creative spirit - so I try to take as much free time as possible to be creative and harvest a sense of creativity in my children. We have an activity room full of kits and raw materials. I believe music and art are just as important to the soul as math and English. I have always enjoyed writing and painting along with a host of various crafting hobbies.
WK: I agree - creativity, arts and crafts are important, no matter what age you are. Moving on: what do you think is your "that one thing" that makes you a great designer?
CP: Honestly, I don't know if there is. I look at myself and wonder why I haven't done more to get designs published and I look at other more prominent designers. I'm not sure there will ever be anything as far as me personally - but I think the "one thing" that makes my designs stick out is that they tend to be practical and solutions to every day problems.
WK: Oh, don't be too shy! I do agree your designs are really useful, though. So last but not least: what advice would you give to aspiring designers?
CP: Just do it. I know it sounds cliche but the only way you will know if your designs are good or if you enjoy designing is if you design and share. If you have a hiccup, don't worry about it. The process is supposed to be fun and allow you to express yourself. Don't get hung up on the technical stuff. Remember - you should be doing it because you enjoy it, not because you feel obligated.
WK: Thanks for the interview, Cris! I think we can all see that crochet designing doesn't much differ from knitwear designing when it comes to the inspiration and process. Different technique, the same path. I personally find that facinating!