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!

using an eyeglass case to carry plastic forks and spoons crochet pattern by darleen hopkins

Eco-Craft: Plastic Utensil Carrying Case

How Crochet can Reduce Single Use Plastic Waste.

reduce singl use plastic forks spoons with crochet pattern by darleen hopkins

Bringing Your Own Utensils has Never Looked So GOOD!

Do you remember when you were a kid and you always wanted to be first in line?  We all did because we all thought being first was the most important and no one wanted to be last.  The truth is in grade school it didn’t matter who was first as we were all important.   However, when it comes to the three R’s; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, while they are all important, REDUCE is probably the most important.  While all three are necessary in helping our planet, recycle should be your last resort as recycling requires energy.  If we reduce our consumption of items, there’s less to recycle.  And if we reuse what we have, there’s less to recycle.   Less to recycle means less energy used.  While recycling is good, it would be best of we all had less to recycle. Make sense?

So, what’s that got to do with a crochet blog?  Well, I’m passionate about two things, crochet and the Earth.  And when I can combine the two, I’m a real happy camper.  So I’m super excited to share with you how I have figured out how to reduce my use of disposable, single use plastic.

using an eyeglass case to carry plastic forks and spoons crochet pattern by darleen hopkins

One day I was eating lunch out at one of my favorite casual dining restaurants (Moe’s) and as I was picking up a use once and toss fork, it hit me how wasteful it was.  We all know there’s too much single use plastic trash in this world and I knew I needed to come up with a way to bring my own utensils for this type of dining.  When I got home I pulled out my eyeglass case pattern sample and voila! it was the perfect size.  I placed a variety of forks, spoons and knives in a ziploc bag and placed them in the eyeglass case. The eyeglass case, now a utensil case, went right into my purse.  The plastic bag keeps the utensils clean while the soft cushioning of the crocheted fabric keeps the plastic from breaking.  Going forward, I will always have clean utensils with me and do not have to use the restaurant’s wasteful, disposal utensils. And when I use one of the utensils, I just wrap the dirty part in a napkin and bring it home to wash.  My choice is to use plastic ware in my utensil case, however, you could easily use your regular flatware.  You just may need to make your case a little longer to accommodate the longer knives.

You can find out more about the Eyeglass Case crochet pattern here: Pretty in Pink

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

Pretty-in-Pink

International Crochet Day, Sept 12

September 12th is International Crochet Day

I’m old enough to remember what it was like before the internet; when letters were mailed and phones were attached to walls with wires.  Back then, the world seemed larger.   It was rare to know someone from another country. In elementary school I remember signing up for a Pen Pal.  My teacher used a service to match us up with a child from another country.  A child of the same age and similar interests who was able to write in English.  I remember getting my assigned Pen Pal and writing to her on special airmail paper.  This paper was so thin, it was translucent.  And I remember using special airmail envelopes to mail the letters.  Thin paper meant less weight and less cost to mail.  I remember receiving letters with such interesting stamps.  But the letters took weeks to arrive and unfortunately, I lost interest.

Fast forward 40 years and it is possible to have an online conversation with someone from across the world.  No more waiting for letters with interesting stamps.  You can interact via email or social media with anyone, instantaneously, as long as they have an internet connection.  Current technology is amazing and constantly evolving.  Not only has this opened so many opportunities for us to communicate, it has exposed us to a plethora of information to learn about other countries and cultures.  Opportunities we may not have had otherwise.

The internet has had an impact for crafters as well.  For those who crochet, we are no longer limited to designs printed in publications that arrive only a few times a year or books our local library may carry.   We have an entire world of crochet resources at our fingertips.  Ravelry is a huge resource for those who crochet.  You can search designers by their country, you can search for projects with key words and you can search designs with certain attributes, one of which is “Regional/Ethnic Styles”.

September 12 is International Crochet Day.   Using the internet, you can take the day to learn a new method of crochet that has a history with a culture that is different from yours.  Maybe try beautiful Irish lace crochet, or perhaps try some amigurimi, traditional Japanese crochet.  Or you can find a new crochet designer, one that is either from another country or whose designs are heavily influenced by a culture different from yours.  Check out patterns that are inspired by the Norwegian selburose design or work up some motifs that use the vibrant colors often found in traditional Mexican design.  Do a key word search for a country and see what you find.  Then, take the search a step further and learn the history behind the projects. For example, a key word search of “Jamaica” on Ravelry yields 5 pages of projects.  As you can guess, there are a lot of Rasta hats in that search.  With a quick internet search I learned that Rasta hats represent more than just Bob Marley’s headgear.  They have a rich history and represent members of a religion.  I didn’t know this before.  My interest in crochet has led me to learn more about another culture.

Another idea to celebrate International Crochet Day on September 12 is to learn how to read crochet charts.  Charts are universal to any language.  If you can read a chart, then you can work a charted design by any international designer regardless of the language.  Just be sure to find out if the symbols are written in US terms or UK terms.  Not sure of the difference between US crochet terms and UK crochet terms?  Research it! It’s international!

So, how do I plan to spend the day?  Not sure but one of my favorite Mexican inspired designs are crocheted sugar skulls.  Sugar skulls are used in the Mexican celebration, the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) and are used to celebrate, not mourn, those who have passed.  Perhaps I will spend International Crochet Day making a sugar skull or two.

How will you celebrate?

Spiced Cider-autumn capture the beauty

Stash Bust Update, Second Quarter, 2018

Busting out some stash at a snail’s pace.

Just when I think things can’t get any busier, they do.  April, May and June 2018 have been nuts and I’m sure it is not going to slow down any in the very near future. That’s OK, because it is the nuttiness, the “life that happens”, that makes our time on this big blue marble an adventure.  Most of the past quarter’s busyness was good.  My oldest graduated high school and is preparing for his freshman year of college, my parents came for visit and were able to attend his graduation, my youngest is now driving,  we’ve had prom, college visits, awards night and all the other end-of-school year activities.  In addition, both mine and my husband’s jobs continue to grow and demand more of our time, my in-laws are moving out of their home where they have lived the past 30+ years and have needed some assistance and, just to make things interesting, I’ve decided that about 80% of the interior of our house needs to be painted.  Sprinkle in a two week vacation to the Pacific Coast, a trip we have been planning for at least two years, and you have a very busy second quarter.

My crocheting has taken a back seat to all of the items on the to-do list.  However, I was able to get a few projects completed and bust out some stash.  And I purchased ZERO yarn this past quarter (yay me!).

I mentioned above that my parents came for a visit.  They live in Florida but decided to rent an apartment this summer in upstate New York where my brother and sister live.  Since they will be “snowbirds”, I made the following potholder, Red Bird in the Snow Potholder by Doni Speigle, for them.  The pattern is adorable.  You can read my notes and suggestions on my Ravelry project page.
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Next, I finished up the UNsquared Granny, Tea for ME! mug cozy.  Love this.  It keeps my tea nice and hot.  Perfect for work.
Tea_for_Me_Mug_Cozy_crochet_pattern_by_Darleen_Hopkins_WEB_medium

I also finished It’s Just a Granny throw blanket/baby blanket/lapghan.  This project was started in January.  I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do with it.
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The next project was for charity.  I plan to write a post about it soon so I won’t go into much detail right now.  This is Chief and he was made for the Mother Bear Project.
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Another potholder and a couple dishcloths for The Snowbirds.  Flower Dishcloth by Lily / Sugar’n Cream.
IMG_1488_medium2_medium

And last, another adorable potholder design by Doni Speigle called Dinnertime!.  This was for the May potholder exchange.  Once I have the time, I can think of a number of cat people, myself included, who would love one of these.
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It is already July and my crochet time for the last three weeks has been zip, zero, zilch.  I’m hopeful I will have a couple projects to share with you for third quarter 2018.  But if I’m too busy with life’s adventures to crochet much, that’s good too.

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

Psst! Start now on your holiday crocheting!

Hot Pads Snowman Gingerbread Man Peppermint Facebook

Stash bust update, First Quarter, 2018

Busting out some stash

March Pot Luck2018 began with a post announcing my goal to reduce my yarn stash.  3 months have passed and I’ve made some progress.  A good bit of progress.  I gave away a full box of felted sweaters to someone on Ravelry.  I sold 16 hanks on eBay.  I gave away 2 skeins in my pot-holder swap group and donated almost 2 full boxes of yarn and misc. craft supplies to a local thrift store.  In addition, I completed 3 potholders, 2 scarves, 3 hats, 5 dryer balls and 1 votive cover.  My only yarn purchases were 2 teeny tiny skeins of cotton yarn as I needed them for one of the hats.  So, with all that, you would think I would only have about 8 boxes of yarn remaining, right? Nope. I have 10 boxes and at least 1 box worth of loose yarn that is not boxed up.  UGH. Apparently I significantly underestimated the amount of yarn I had scattered about the house and in project bags and such.  So, I DID clear out about 4 boxes worth, I just refilled those empty boxes with yarn that wasn’t boxed up. Oh well.  It is still progress and I’m happy to be reducing my stash.  I addition to the completed projects shown below, I have a few WIPS.  Hopefully they will be completed by June 1 and I can share photos in my next update.  Jan Pot Luck

Click on the photos for more information about each project. Patterns used are linked below.

UNsquared granny scarfFeb Pot LuckBentley #1

Bentley #2Bently#3yarnballs4Zinnia votive

 

Happy Crocheting all!!

 

Pretty-in-Pink

Crochet Designer Interview: Susan Carlson

Crochet Designer Interview: Susan Carlson with Felted Button

One of the many great things about the Indie Gift-A-Long is discovering new (to me) designers.  I took one look at Susan’s designer page, Felted Button, and I knew I had to feature her on my blog.  Her use of color is phenomenal.  Let’s learn more about Susan.

Star Fruit Blanket or Rug by Susan Carlson

Star Fruit Blanket or Rug crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Hi! Susan Carlson of Felted Button here. I’m a former science teacher turned full-time crochet designer. I feel extraordinarily grateful that I can do this crochet gig every day! It’s such a blast!

How long have you been crocheting and how did you first learn?

I first learned to crochet from my grandmother who came for a short visit when I was 9. She was making granny squares and taught me to make one. I thought it was fun, but got really distracted with other things for many years until I discovered some lovely blogs and decided to pick up the hook again. It’s been about 11 years now.

Toddle Tee Pee crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Toddler Tee Pee crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

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

I have been designing now for just over 4 years. When I first began crocheting I tried lots of different patterns and techniques to build my skill base. But eventually I had so many crocheted items around that my house was overflowing. (You can only give so many hats, scarves and bags to friends and family, right?) So I opened an Etsy store to sell off my extras. Surprisingly they began to sell. But the stress of shipping, meeting customer deadlines, etc., made the whole process stressful for me. I had already begun to create my own designs and realized that with my technical writing skills, teaching and experience with so many patterns, I could write up my own! So Felted Button officially began then.

Why knitting/crochet? What is it that interests you? What do you enjoy most about the craft?

Hands down the best part of designing is seeing something that began as an idea in my head translated through my hook and hands, through a pattern, to someone else’s head, hook and hands! It’s magical, I tell ya! Playing with yarn, color and textures also gives me a thrill. Regarding the benefits of crochet’s calming effect on my head and heart—well, it’s just the ticket. I have a very noisy brain and through crochet am able to focus and quiet my brain. It’s very cathartic to me.

Gifted Blanket crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Gifted Blanket crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

What other crafts do you enjoy? or is there another craft you would like to learn?

I am very much a beginning knitter and would love to become more skilled at it! It does such wonderful things, that honestly crochet doesn’t do nearly as well. But I’m having a tough time balancing my business, busy family and other life obligations to squeeze it in. I will, though! I will!

What influences your style?

I have always been crazy for color. Always. Rainbow bedding as a child, a desire for purple shag carpeting as a kid (you now know how old I am, huh?), bright and bold flowers for my wedding. I just love color. My house looks like a crazy person lives here. If you use all of the colors, nothing has to match, right?

What inspires you and/or your designs?

I find inspiration from nature, photographs, quilts, graphic images, ceramics, yarn, color…

Abacus Blanket crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Abacus Blanket crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

What is your favorite design of yours, why?

It is hard to pick my favorite from over 100 designs, but I am really pleased with my Abacus Blanket. I like the options it has for color, its texture and that the “mock” bullion is so much easier and quicker than a regular bullion. Plus, it is clean.  I like clean designs.

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

This would have to be my Monet’s Garden Throw. I started with 10 disparately colored balls of yarn and challenged myself to make them look beautiful together. I think I pulled it off and am really tickled about how it all came together.

What are your favorite stitches?

It is hard to pick a favorite since they all have a place, depending on the design, and I don’t want to leave any out. But if I had to pick one, it would be the hdc (US). It’s so nice and tidy from the back and front, good height so things grow quickly, but leaves no gaps. I like it.

Monet's Garden Throw, crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Monet’s Garden Throw, crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

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

My Clover Amour hooks. And buttons, of course.

Where can we find you?

Website: http://www.feltedbutton.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/feltedbutton

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/susan-carlson

Instagram: @FeltedButton

Thank you Susan!!!  Your bright, fun colors are truly an extension of your personality.  🙂

Would you like to learn more about other crochet designers?  Check out this link and be sure to follow CrochetByDarleenHopkins.com!

Spiffy

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Handmade Holidays-Winter Crochetvolution is a great place to start

If you are like me, and if you are reading this blog about crochet, it’s likely you are, you like to include handmade items in your holiday gift giving.  I’m always looking for something unique to make and to give.  It’s also nice to be able to gift something special that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.  One great place to start looking for gift pattern ideas is Crochetvolution (it’s FREE!).  This “new” eMag has been growing over the last 14 months; both in readership and in pattern offerings.  The latest issue, Winter 2012 is fantastic (yes,  I’m a little biased as I contributed an article and a pattern).  But I’m talking about the other fantastic patterns, beside mine.

There are too many patterns to highlight them all here, so you’ll just have to take a look yourself, but here a few of my favorites and the ones I hope to incorporate in my gift making this holiday season.

Mitten Bookmarks!  Adorable!!!! 

I’m making 4 sets of these to give as teacher gifts.   Best part, each one uses only about 5 yards of yarn!

Anastacia’s Textured Scarf is a unique twist on a warm winter scarf.  The yarn she chose for this project is gorgeous and works wonderfully with the pattern.

Sarah Jane’s Cowl is gorgeous too!  How can I choose which one to make???  And she has a fingerless mitt pattern to match  (see above), both can be made with just one skein of yarn, fantastic!

Last, but not least, my contribution to the issue, the Snowflake Ice Scraper Mitt.  The mitt part is made from a damaged wool sweater (instructions on felting here) and the snowflake can be made with just scrap yarn. Upcycle an old sweater and give a great gift!

This issue is jam-packed with fantastic gift giving ideas, from quick projects to larger ones for the very special individuals in your life.  Check it out, read the articles too and sign up to be on the mailing list (it’s FREE).