Designer Interview: Fiona Langtry

One of my favorite parts of the Indie Design Gift-a-Long is the opportunity to find new designers. Today I have the honor of introducing you to crochet designer, Fiona “Fi” Langtry.

Please tell a little bit about yourself and your designs.

I’m a crochet designer of ladies’ garments and accessories from Australia. Trevor and I have been married for almost 31 years and we live in a small town called Yass with our two teenagers.

I love to design and make gloves, scarves and beanies, along with ponchos and capes. My style is boho-shic – relaxed fit, comfortable and often colorful.  I love working with chunky, unusual and/or hand-dyed yarns.  No fiber or yarn scares me – I simply grab a big hook (9 or 10mm are often in my hand!)

Orchid Vest by Fiona Langtry

How long have you been crocheting/knitting?

I was a knitter.  I learned when I was around 10 and never stopped.  I would have said I was an intermediate level; I could make fairly intricate lacework, do color work and cables… but I was SLOW.

I became a crocheter. When I was in my 40s, a friend needed help making lots of brooches.  I discovered how fast crochet was, and I’ve never looked back!

How long have you been designing and what led you to design? 

I published my first design in May 2014.  The EasyFit Beanie was a “happy accident” that I decided to write down for others to make too.  I had already been a tester for others, and therefore knew some of the process, so I gave my own patterns a go.  I now have over 60 patterns published and another 5 in various stages of the design / testing process.

Traverse my Heart by Fiona Langtry

What is your design process?

Many times, I will hold the end of a ball of yarn in my fingers and start crocheting with little-to-no plan in place.  I may plan a hat, or some gloves or a poncho, but sometimes that will be the extent of the plan.  Often the yarn will drive the textures I choose to incorporate. 

I will usually make notes on my tablet while I create, then do the actual pattern writing on my computer.

Once a pattern is at a “certain stage”, I will send an email to my testing pool and request expressions of interest. 

The testing stage can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the size and complexity of the pattern in question.  Once my testers are happy, I send the pattern to my tech editor and publish on Ravelry and my Website.  Most patterns also end up in my Etsy shop and on LoveCrafts. 

Shell Mitts by Fiona Langtry

Do you have any other crafts or hobbies? or is there one you would like to learn?

When my teenagers “leave home”, I plan on learning how to spin.  I am deliberately NOT learning until then, because I feel like it will become an all-consuming hobby and for the moment I don’t have time for anything else J

 What was the last thing you crocheted/knit for yourself?

I designed the Senorita Shawl using 3 balls of yarn I picked up at Lincraft (an Aussie chain store for crafters).  It wasn’t intentionally for me, but this shawl/scarf became my wardrobe staple this past winter – a scarf under coats, and a shawl when the coat wasn’t required.  I love it!

 What are your favorite stitches?

I love using “cheat” stitches – I discovered “foundation” stitch and fell in love with it (no more working into chains, YAY!), and then I discovered Chainless Starting stitches – again, no more chains!  Most of my patterns include one, if not both of these amazing alternatives to traditional methods… I have customers who thank me for introducing these stitches to them, some after 30 years of crocheting!

What pattern/design are you most proud of? why?

My proudest accomplishment is the Desert Dreams Poncho – it was a “barely there” idea for nearly 18 months, and then, when I was recuperating from minor surgery in July 2018, I sat and finally worked it out.  I ran a CAL group on Facebook for my testers and we had a lot of fun getting this pattern to the final release in December 2018.  It has been my most popular pattern across all platforms in 2019 and those who complete it are really proud of the final results!

Desert Dreams Poncho by Fiona Langtry

 What is/are your favorite crochet tool(s) or notion(s)?

I love love love my Clover Amour hooks – I have 2 full sets, and they’re the only way I can complete the number of projects I make each year. 

There is a screw-top magnetic needle case that means I’m never searching for a needle to complete a project – I store all sizes in it, from giant eye needles for super chunky yarn, through to the needle I use for tiny buttons.

And… my snippers – they travel with me almost everywhere – and they’re safe because they have a lid to keep the blades from stabbing anything!

Where can we find you?
Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/stores/reve-design-co/
Website – get a free pattern: https://revedesignco.com/free-gift
IG: https://instagram.com/revedesignco

Thank you Fi! I agree, you should be proud of the Desert Dreams Poncho. It is AMAZING!

On your mark, get set, GIFT-A-LONG!

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is BAAAACCKKK! #GAL2019 #giftalong2019

I’m super excited to announce I’m participating in the Indie Gift-a-Long again this year (year 7!!) so….What is a Gift-a-Long.? I believe it is best stated from source, the Indie Design Gift-a-Long group on Ravelry, so…

What is the Indie Design Gift-A-Long?
It’s prepping for the holidays as only fiber folks can, with special deals from hundreds of indie designers!

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is a 5 week long KAL/CAL of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by almost 300 independent designers. From November 26th at 8pm (US-EST) through December 1st at 11:59 pm (US-EST) these indie designers will be discounting between 10 – 20 of their patterns by 25% for this event.

There are eight KAL/CALs to participate in, prizes of all sorts given out, games, and generally a lot of fun! The Gift-A-Long KAL/CALs will run from November 26th at 8pm US EST through – December 31, 2019 at 11:59pm US EST. All patterns by the participating designers are eligible for the KAL/CALs and projects made from all not-free patterns by the participating designers are eligible to win prizes. Please note that all prize winners must be group members to be eligible to win a prize.

Join in the fun, discover new designers and patterns and win lots of prizes. It’s FREE, you just need to join Ravelry, free, and then join the Indie Design Gift-a-Long group, also free. It’s that simple. See you there!!

New Pattern Alert! Cute as a Button Baby Blanket

Cute as a Button Baby Blanket crochet pattern now available!

Cute as a Button Baby Blanket crochet patternCrochet pattern for a baby blanket Cute as a ButtonThe Cute as Button Baby Blanket crochet pattern is now available! The pattern is easy and written for worsted weight yarn.  I used Knit Picks Mighty Stitch for the sample.  Pattern includes full written instructions, charts and a tutorial for sewing on the buttons.

You can find out more about the pattern here: Cute as a Button Baby Blanket

This pattern is included in my Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE sale! No coupon needed, Ravelry will automatically deduct the lowest priced pattern from your purchase.

Happy Crocheting!

Christmas-Tree-Pillows-crochet-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins-1

Crocheting can renew the spirit and calm the mind.

Yarn and crocheting with cat on porch to calm the mind and renew the spirit.

Crocheting can renew the spirit and calm the mind.

It is late summer and in the southeast and that means thunderstorms with threats of severe storms and tornadoes. More often than not, the threat is just that, a threat and we only have a mild storm with a brilliant show of lightening high in the sky. I look forward to rainy days and often find myself sitting on my screened-in-porch during these thunderstorms. I turn on my twinkle lights*, put my feet up, crochet and listen.

I relish the sound of the rolling thunder in the distance and when the rain comes, the sound as it falls through the trees. My cat joins me on the loveseat, curls up next to me after receiving her mandatory three minutes of petting, and falls fast asleep surely dreaming of the yarn just out of her reach. The sounds of her purring and the rain, combined with my silent counting, calm me and quiet my mind. All the stresses of the week fade away and I lose myself in the repetition of the stitches.

It is in these peaceful and meditative moments that I am able re-center myself and restore my energy for the busy weeks ahead. Like the trees and all the natural beauty that surrounds us, I, too, am renewed by the rain.

Before I know it the rain begins to subside and the summer bugs and birds return to their songs. I’ll hear the muted television from inside where my husband is on the couch most likely sleeping through a televised sporting event. And I’ll hear an occasional laugh as one of my sons plays video games online with a friend, and the chink of weights while the other son is working out. Now I am not just renewed but full of love and thankfulness for my amazing family.

I have spent many weekends on my porch crocheting and working on new designs. It is the one place where I sit and am able to concentrate on my projects without the distractions of dishes in the sink or paperwork next to my computer. Many of those weekends have been spent listening to not just the sounds of the rain but the neighborhood as well; grass being mowed in the distance, an occasional dog barking and the abundance of wildlife with buzzing cicadas, birds singing their mating songs, squirrels chattering and leaping through the trees, and the deer rummaging for food while crunching the leaves beneath their hooves.

I am so very thankful for these peaceful moments in my life. It is precious time to reflect and time when I can stitch my designs with love and happiness in my heart.

Happy Crocheting,
Darleen

*If you keep clear holiday lights up year round they are called twinkle lights.

Crochet pattern for a fruit fly trap

The Prettiest Fly Catcher EVER!

Crochet pattern for a fruit fly trap

Crochet a Fruit Fly Death Trap

Every summer we have an issue with fruit flies. As soon as the weather turns warm POOF they appear. And this summer was no different. Most years they aren’t too bad but for some reason they were worse this year. I did some research online and found a few do-it-yourself options for fruit fly control. One that stood out was to make your own trap with apple cider vinegar. The site suggested pouring apple cider vinegar in a bowl and adding a few pieces of fruit. It then said to cover the top with saran and poke a couple of holes in it. The idea was that the vinegar and fruit would attract the flies, they would enter via the holes and then get stuck. Well, this worked for a few days and it seemed like the flies were going away. Then we started seeing more and more and more flies. What the heck? So I looked at my “trap” and realized I WAS BREEDING FRUIT FLIES! The buggers had laid eggs on the fruit and enough had figured out how to get out of the “trap”. So much for that idea. At this point the amount of fruit flies in my kitchen was so bad that I broke down and purchased fly ribbon. You know the stuff. Flies are attracted to the icky sticky goo on the ribbon, get stuck to it and die. Tacky, both literally and figuratively. But desperate times call for desperate measures and I hung a couple strips up in the kitchen. Within 24 hours they were full. Thankfully I was able to get rid of most of the flies but the sight of those nasty strips was beyond GROSS. So I had to come up with a better solution. And back to the inter-webs I went. This time I found a site that suggested a similar method but omitted the fruit (duh) and added a couple drops of dish soap to the apple cider vinegar. I tried this method and it worked! This time the buggers drowned, sorry little guys, and most certainly were not breeding. Yippee! But it was still ugly to look at. Not near as bad as the fly strips, but still, ugly. This is where crochet comes to the rescue.

The Zinnia Votive is a pattern for a sleeve that covers a small jelly jar. I pulled mine off the shelf, replaced the votive inside with apple cider vinegar, added a couple drops of dish soap, covered the top with saran, secured with a rubber band, poked a couple holes in the top and now I have a the prettiest fruit fly death trap that has ever existed. 🙂

Fruit flies enter this pretty trap and never, ever leave.

I keep my Zinnia Fruit Fly Death Trap on my kitchen counter, just behind my bananas. Every couple of days I check it and sure enough, there are fruit fly corpses floating in it. I change the solution inside weekly because dead flies are gross. And I put in just enough solution to catch the files but isn’t visible above the bottom band. If you find yourself with one too many fruit flies in your home, you may want to give this pretty trap a try.

Happy Crocheting,
Darleen

Organizing Scrap Yarn

Organizing Scrap Yarn for Easy Use

I’ve mentioned before that I am trying to use up my much too large yarn collection. While I’m not near the end of it yet, I had noticed I was getting more and more partial skeins and bits and pieces. I also had a collection of swatches, unsuccessful design WIPS and projects that were abandoned when I realized I didn’t have enough yarn to finish. So I took some time this weekend to work on my scrap yarn stash. I pulled out all the scraps, partial WIPS, design fails and swatches of yarn that had been discontinued. Everything was frogged and balled up. I’ve been inspired by Grace’s Bits and Bobs Mother Bears so I put all the tiny scraps in one bin and the even tinier ones in another. I’ll need to make a magic ball with them at a later date. It was like going down memory lane frogging some of those items. Some dated back to my very first published design, the I Do Blanket, where I was working out different ways to attach the rings.

I’m excited to have this section organized. When a yarn is discontinued, I won’t use it for a new design. The discontinued yarn is what I use when I make Mother Bears or other small items for personal use. Having them all together and ready to use will make it a lot easier when I’m ready to start a new project. I haven’t yet dived into the partial skeins, unsuccessful design WIPS, abandoned projects or swatches of current yarn, but I’ll get to it. For now, they are in the appropriate stash box with full skeins of the same yarn.

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

using scrap yarn for a crochet embellishment

A Crocheted Tribute to a Loved One.

Memorialize a Loved One with Crochet.

I belong to a few groups on Ravelry. I love how groups have themes and I love when someone in the group starts a thread with a theme. In honor of Earth Day, one of the groups started a thread called Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and I was super excited to see what others would post. I wasn’t disappointed when KristyRecycles posted about three hot pads she made out of tarn (T-shirt yarn = tarn). While I have seen a lot of projects made with recycled t-shirts, I was really touched by her motivation for the project.

After my Grandma past away (a few years ago), my aunts, mom, and I were going through her things. Any t-shirts that didn’t have a side seam I took home and made tarn out of. When not working on it, I kept it in a sealed bag so that her smell stayed on it. I made these hot pads from one of the shirts, and gave them to my mom and 2 of my aunts for Christmas.

Hot pads Kristy made with tarn from her grandmother’s clothing.

I asked Kristy if she would like to interviewed for my blog and she graciously said yes. Please read about this eco-concious crafter.

How long have you been crocheting and/or knitting?

I have been crocheting for 33 years, knitting for 17 years, and weaving for 24 years.

Was your grandmother a crafter?

My grandma was a quilter and a sewer. I own a couple of quilts that my great-grandma pieced from my mom and her siblings’ clothing, and my grandma quilted. My grandma sadly had to stop sewing when her arthritis got to bad. When she passed away, the family agreed that I could keep her mother’s singer sewing machine, because I am the only quilter in the family (blood relative that is…and it’s a very large family). One of my childhood memories is of her letting me raid her fabric stash, which I made some Barbie clothes and clothes for myself from.

What was your inspiration to make the hot pads from your grandmother’s t-shirts?

The day after her funeral, my mom, some of my aunts, and I went to her trailer and were going through her bedroom. We were sorting items to be given to different family members, to be donated, and things to be thrown away. There was a shirt that didn’t have any side seams, which is perfect for making tarn (t-shirt yarn) from. I asked if I could have it, which got a few surprised looks from my aunts (because who asks to keep a brown t-shirt). When I told them that I planned on making something from it, then they put aside all of her t-shirts for me to pick through before adding them to the donation box. Sadly I think that that was the only non-seamed shirt in the bunch.

Do you use the hot pads or gift them?

I was only able to get 3 hot pads out of the tarn that I had made, so I was only able to gift them to my mom and 2 of my aunts. My mom is one of 8 surviving siblings, so I had some unhappy family members that Christmas.

How else have you incorporated Reduce, Reuse, Recycle into your crochet or knitting?

For Reduce, I try to only buy yarn and craft supplies as I need it and not buying it just because. The exception to this is souvenir yarn, but I do have a go-to pattern for that yarn (and I usually make it soon after the purchase).

For Reuse: I do a lot more sewing projects under the Reuse heading, but I think that my use of scraps might fit in this group. Not only do I save all of my “too small to use” scraps of yarn, but my friends and crochet students save theirs for me as well. On a weekly to monthly basis I use them as stitch holders. Around Christmas I put them into clear ornaments and give them to friends and family. During the off season, I like to add them to shadow boxes to make fun pieces of art for my home.

After Christmas I like to crochet around my Christmas cards and turn them into ornaments. It’s a great way to have the card and to see them (and the sweet words written in them) every year. I use the inside of the card as the back of the ornament.

One trick that I learned from some knitters at the yarn shop that I use to work at (and which I have passed on to a lot of other people) is to reuse the plastic bread tags to wrap up my yarn tails so that they stay out of the way. This prevents me from accidentally working with the tail instead of the ball of yarn. I make a lot of amigurumi which require me to start with a long tail to use when the section is finished (for sewing with).

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I’ve used found sticks for weavings and for coiling string and embroidery floss around. I have also used cardboard food boxes to create the cards used in card weaving, and shuttles for weaving with. Once I even made a weaving shed out of a coral box.

For Recycle: For a while recycling was a big part of my crafting world. I even had a local t.v. show based on it. I use recycled materials in all sorts of crafts. For knitting and crochet I mainly focus on making and using plarn (plastic bag yarn) and tarn, plastic bottle caps, metal jar lids, plastic bottles, pull tabs, plastic bottle rings, corks, and toilet paper tubes. I have knit and crochet plarn bags, a hat, and an amigurumi jellyfish. I really like spinning with it, especially plying novelty yarn that I no longer care for with it, because the crochet bags from it look really cool. Since moving to California I haven’t made any plarn, because plastic bags are hard to come by here. With tarn (t-shirt yarn) I have crochet bags, a walker bag, hot pads, and a rug. With the pull tabs I have crochet bracelets, purses (one used over 800 tabs), earrings, flowers, and garland. With plastic bottles, I have crochet drawstring bags where the top is crochet and the bottom is the bottle. I have also made a tool caddy out of several 16 oz soda bottles. With the plastic bottle rings (that are just under the bottle cap), I crochet around them to create mini wreath ornaments and brooches. Those rings and the pull tabs also make great ways to hang the wreaths that I have made. I have knitted little hats and outfits to put on the wine corks so that they look like little people. My husband and I don’t drink, but I have a large collection of corks because of friends and family. Right now I actually keep them and the pull tabs in shadow boxes so that they can serve as a fun decorations until I get around to crafting with them. Last but not least are the plastic bottle caps and metal jar lids. I don’t actually knit or crochet with them, instead I make pincushions out of them which I used daily. The caps and lids are the base of the pincushions. I sew felt around them, and have the stuffing (inside of felt) on top of them. The jar lid ones I use for my sewing pins, and the bottle cap ones I use for my yarn needles. The bottle cap pincushion that looks like a mushroom is the one that is in my yarn tool kit that goes in my current project bag. I like to make hat ornaments with the toilet paper tubes. They aren’t knitted or crochet, but they do use yarn and make great gifts for my yarn friends.

How else have you memorialized someone with your crochet, knitting or other crafts?

A friend had asked me to use her grandmother’s nightgowns to make pillows for her and her family members as well as 2 little purses for her daughters.

I’ve used the buttons off of my grandpa’s shirt to use as eyes on a sock plushie for my youngest son.

When my grandma passed away, I got back most of the things that I had made for her (crochet and sewn). In a way that is a memory in and of itself. Every time I see them I think of her.

In college we learned how to make paper. I embedded some childhood family pictures in the paper. You could still see the image.

I have a box of t-shirts that contain their own memories that I plan on turning into a quilt.

A few years ago I started knitting a California King sized afghan. It’s one of my movie watching projects. Each colored stripe is a whole skein of yarn. It is actually inspired by a crochet afghan that I remember my mom making for years when I was a kid. She would crochet the length of the blanket until she ran out of yarn, and then she would start with another color. It became this warm colorfully striped afghan on my parents’ bed. She still makes versions of this on a wooden knitting board. She doesn’t really care about if the colors match or even if the yarn weight is the same, its about the process for her (about relaxing). I can’t be random like her, but this afghan is an ode to her.

Once I did an exquisite corpse drawing of my grandma with family members. I’ve drawn and painted lots of pictures of friends, family, and myself over the years.

I still think of a college friend every time I look at some small woven bags that I made in college, because I used her waste yarn (cut from the warp) from a hand dyed floor loom project that she did. I used my tiny table loom to weave the scraps with.

I have also dedicated several bears for the Mother Bear Project to family and friends. The one most like the person is my Swiss Bear, which is named after my dad. Once he saw the picture of the bear with his forever friend, he asked me to make him an identical one for his birthday.

What is your environmentally favorite crafting item (crochet/knit/other)?

My favorite one to craft with are pull tabs. I love it when people don’t realize until closer inspection that that’s what the metal part is. But the 2 things that I use the most when crafting are bread tags and my bottle cap pincushion. They are a staple in my yarn tool bag.

What else have you made with tarn?

Here is a link to the tarn items on my project page. There aren’t too many things, because shirts that work the best, and that you don’t mind cutting up, are not usually easy to come by. I have made a large market bag (my favorite one to use), hotpads, a walker bag, and a rug. Surprisingly the tarn rug is not very absorbent. I do plan on making a dog toy out of tarn in the future.

Any tips or tricks when working with tarn?

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When making tarn (t-shirt yarn), look for a shirt that does not have a side seam (see the first 3 images). Also when it is time to cut the inch of the un-cut t-shirt so that you have a continuous piece of yarn, I like to lay that part on my leg so that the cut lines are very clear (See images 6 & 7). A suggestion when making the tarn is to make it outside while wearing clothes that you don’t mind changing out of afterwards. This is because little bits of the t-shirt (like fuzz) go all over the place, especially when stretching the tarn and winding it into a yarn cake. 

Thank you Kristy!! Kristy is VERY EXPERIENCED in the world of eco-crafting. She sold her eco-crafts at different craft fairs for years, had an environmental local tv show for a few years, ran her town’s Earth Fair for 5 years and several years ago was the runner up in an environmental contest run by TerraCycle!

You can find Kristy on Instagram and Facebook as Textiles4you. And she has a recycling tab on her Ravelry project page.

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

crocheted eyeglass case used to hold plastic utensils