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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Crochet Designer Interview: Akua Lezli Hope

Akua Lezli Hope with Akua Designs

I first met Akua when she interviewed me during the 2013 Gift-A-Long.  It was then that I realized I had long admired one of her designs, the Daisy Hat, and decided to make one as part of my 2013 Stash Bust for Charity Challenge.  Her designs are so unique and so creative.  She is an artist who designs from the heart and someone I would very much like to sit down with and share a cup of coffee.

sunrays-shrug-shawl-by-akua-lezli-hope-photo-by-knit-picks

Sun Rays Shrug/Shawl by Akua Lezli Hope photo by Knit Picks

How long have you been crocheting and how did you first learn?
I’ve been crocheting over 50 years. My mother taught me, though she said she didn’t remember doing that, which underscores for me the importance of the person to person transmission. Her forté was knitting and sewing. She was a brilliant seamstress and tailor. Having her show me the basics launched me for a lifetime of exploration.

How long have you been designing and what led you to design?
Informally, it was just something you did to get what you thought about or wanted into being. When I began as a young person, there were few books and no patterns for hats I and my friends wanted, so I just made them up. So that mindset was a precursor to formally undertaking designing – that is, creating something and then writing down the process in such a way that others may replicate it. Encoding my process for sharing is relatively recent, just 9 years.

Why knitting/crochet? What is it that interests you?  What do you enjoy most about the craft?
I used to crochet on the way to work, standing on the subway train , briefcase hanging off one arm, leaning against the door or arm wrapped around the pole — with one hook I could do it. It felt like freedom to create as I commuted, so it was self-reinforcing. A poet, I love the poetry of transmutation, transfiguring a line into a statement, a protection, a garment, a volume, a vessel, ornament, adornment. I love fiber from plant to thread, from animal to yarn and immediacy of creating that crocheting so generously offers, is healing and fulfilling.

dasiy-hat-by-akua-lexli-hope-photo-by-tangled-online-magazine

Daisy Hat by Akua Lezli Hope photo by Tangled Online Magazine

What other crafts do you enjoy? or is there another craft you would like to learn?
I enjoy weaving, sculpting, hand paper-making, glass casting, flame working, and wire working. I occasionally work in polymer clay and shrink plastic. I like making earrings and am proud of my mixed media ones — glass and fiber, wire, etc. I love but can’t afford precious metal clay –I would love to do more in that. Metal-smithing, torch work is so compelling – I would like to do more of that, too. I would also like to learn about resin.

What influences your style?
My experiences, science fiction, the cold, indigenous design.

What inspires you and/or your designs?
Indigenous peoples, science fiction and the 4 seasons ( actually more like 3 here- cold, very cold, warm) that require different garb.

I used to live in NY, yes, it is COLD!

What challenges do you face when designing and how do you overcome them?
Patience with the process —I am usually swift in making, but find the challenge in doing it again and describing what I did. The way  I think about creating an effect, or even in telling how to create an effect, is often at odds with how others describe it and do it. I am ever in search of the shortest way to achieve an effect. Testing and self-publishing eases that pain – there is no need to argue with a publication that has a ham handed way of describing a decrease or insists on loading a pattern with impenetrable jargon.

leaf-bagette-by-akua-lezli-hope

Leaf Bagette by Akua Lezli Hope photo by Knit Picks

What is your favorite design of yours, why?
Now that I’m up to about 140, that’s too hard. I’ve published 116 and I have a long list of designs that are done and may even have been out in the world in shows or competitions, but haven’t been tested.

What is your favorite project of yours, why?
It’s hard to choose among the hundreds, though I have a special affection for the sweaters I’ve designed. I’ve been unable to find testers for them, but I have great affection for them.

What pattern/design are you most proud of, why?
My sweaters, because they were so hard to write up, hard to grade and making them more than once was a long process, but alas, they remain unpublished until I can find testers.

How many WIPs do you currently have and do you think you will ever finish all of them?
I’ve lost count. I’ve come across a baby hat and sweater for a baby that is now 27. There’s finishing and there’s finishing, though …. to explain a bit, I work in freeform and so have bags of motifs and scrumbles on the way to becoming artworks or garments. There’s my 10 foot or so floral freeform door curtain that has pulled in a bit and so needs more motifs.

flying-dragon-bookmarks-by-akua-lezli-hope

Flying Dragon Bookmarks by Akua Lezli Hope

What was the last thing you crocheted/knit for yourself?
I was taken by skulls early this fall and so made a couple and then designed one and made some more. Then I made some black cats and pumpkins for window decor. Although I’m not sure if decor is what you mean by for yourself.

What are your favorite stitches?
I like standing stitches, these have liberated crocheting for my appliqué/figure motifs, where I also delight in using extended single crochets. Earlier this year, I became enamored of tape lace and so explored stitch combinations that made quick lengths of braid. I adore cables and figure out how to do them in the round (Chemung hats) as well as in my sweater. Catherine’s Wheel and variations remains an enduring favorite. Then there’s this Russian/Ukranian rising falling form that increases and gathers/decreases across each row to create mountains and valleys…

What is/are your favorite crochet tool(s) or notion(s)?
My hooks, my hooks – hook anatomy is a subject I’ve thought and written about and researched. So my bullion hooks are beloved as are a particular Bates afghan hook that has an inline head. A Rav friend sent me some small- gauge inline head afghan hooks from Europe, so I could make e the tiny tunisian leaves and shells I designed this year. I now have hooks for particular yarn types as well as gauges. I use my Etimos for general work, but when I’m wrestling with piping and making rugs, I turn to my wood Century hooks. Sadly there are hook heads that are perfection but they may be on shafts that are too short for me as in Collage.

freeform-crochet-by-akua-lezli-hope

Freeform Crochet by Akua Lezlie Hope

How long have you been a member of the International FreeForm FiberArts Guild? What drew you to it and how has it inspired you as a designer?
I’m not sure how long, but at least 12 years. I was drawn to the Guild because I love freeform. I began doing dimensional crochet in the 90’s and found the books of James Walters and Sylvia Cosh. By this time, I was no longer in an urban area, and have been online since the late 80s, I was always in search of, or in touch with any creators I could find online. The Annual Challenge has always been a personal rallying point, to begin and complete a freeform project, be it art wear or art work. From the freeform explorations, directed by a topic have come many pattern ideas. This year’s Challenge, native flora and fauna, inspired me to design buffalo, deer, squirrels, several different birds, moose, and trees.

When you aren’t crocheting, what are you doing?
Writing poetry — my collection, THEM GONE, is due out this year; making paper — I’ve been exploring figured/shaped paper and layering using my vacuum table, watching anime, singing and dreaming.

Where can we find you?
Blog: zencrochet.blogspot.com
Website: www.akualezlihope.com
Etsy: www.etsy.com/people/akuadesigns
Raverly: www.ravelry.com/designers/akua-lezli-hope-akuadesigns

Thank you so much Akua! I LOVE your freeform representation of native flora and fauna.  I lived in the same area of NY and you have truly captured the beauty of Western NY.

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

hotpads

Happy Puppy Hat, crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

2015 Stash Bust for Charity, Mid-January update

New Challenge for 2015

It’s a new year and therefore time for a new challenge.  A couple of years ago I decided I was going to work on busting out some of my stash yarn and make hats for chemo donation.  My 2013 Stash Bust Challenge was focused on a box full of Bernat CottonTots yarn.  I ended up crocheting 5 pounds, 15.5 ounces of it into 32 hats for Halos of Hope or other charitable donation.  I had also crocheted other hats for donation in different yarn that I didn’t include in the count.  I was pretty busy with hats that year.  Last year’s challenge didn’t focus on any yarn in particular, just random yarn in my stash.  Last year I made 24 hats out of 5 pounds, 4.25 ounces!  I must have made some pretty heavy hats!

It would seem that most of my stash yarn would be close to gone at this point. Sadly, no.  I still have too many boxes of yarn.  So 2015 will once again be all about working from stash yarn for charitable causes. This year’s goal will be a minimum of 24 hats and 5 pounds of yarn.  I’ve got some funky fun fur that needs to used and a ton of cotton and cotton-blends that will be perfect for chemo hats.  I also hope to make a lapghan or two.

Let’s start this challenge off with the first 3 hats of 2015 completed!

Hat for Halos for Hope, crocheted by Darleen HopkinsThe first is called End’s Swell.  I won this pattern in the Gift-A-Long on Ravelry last month.  It is stitched with slip stitches which was totally new to me.  The final result is adorable.  The pattern is a great way to use up smaller leftovers without having to work in a million ends.  I can see making more of these in random stripes as leftovers come available.

Divine Hat for Halos of Hope, crocheted by Darleen HopkinsNext is another Divine Hat.  This is a great pattern and my third one.  I used Caron Simply Soft for this one.  It looks great but, going forward, I’ll use thinner yarns when making this pattern.  I loved it in Caron Spa.

Happy Puppy Hat, crochet pattern by Darleen HopkinsLast is a Happy Puppy.  Last month I re-worked the pattern in Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand.  I also re-formatted the pattern and took new pictures.  The pattern was originally written with Bernat  Denim Style-a great cotton/acrylic blend.  Unfortunately this yarn has been discontinued.  I (of course) have a few skeins of it in my stash and found this hat partially finished.  Because Denim Style is super soft and perfect for chemo hats, I finished it and will include it in my next batch of hats to Halos of Hope.

This 2015 challenge is on and off for a good start!

The three hats weigh 7 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 3

Total weight of yarn used in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 7 ounces

CrochetForMen

 

Gift-A-Long Designer, Sarah Jane Jackson

Sarah Jane Jackson, Crochet Designer

Frostberry Hat crochet pattern by Sarah Jane

The Frostberry Hat Crochet Pattern by Sarah Jane

I’ve not had the opportunity to meet Sarah in person (I’m in Georgia, USA she’s in Queensland, Australia) but  was first introduced to her when I tested The Acacia Cloche pattern of hers in 2011.  She was so sweet and friendly during the test that I was more than excited when I had an opportunity to get to know her a little bit better through an online designer forum.  In the last year, I’ve made two more of her patterns, The Winter Tracks Hat and The Frostberry Hat.  Her designs are beautiful and stylish and always current with today’s trends.  And of course, exquisitely modeled on her lovely children.

Let’s get to know a little more about Sarah.

The biggest thing about me I guess is that we have 8 children! 7 of them at home, the kids at home range in age from 23 down to 4 and 5 of them are boys (which always leaves me short of models!). It’s busy but housework seems to have become more optional as I get older, leaving me enough time to crochet ;). My youngest starts school next year and I am hoping to turn designing into a decent part time job…..we will see how that goes!

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

Evening Delight Shawl by Sarah Jane

When I first learned to crochet I only knew chain, so I used to design things made with chains and find a way to link them together. I didn’t learn to read patterns until I was about 20 so I have always designed. A few years ago I came across a little ad on a website looking for sample knitters/crocheters and designers, I sent off an email and haven’t looked back since…..I stumbled across Ravelry about 6 months later and that was a match made in heaven, I couldn’t believe that there was actually somewhere I could sell my own designs!

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

I have crocheted as long as I can remember with a few breaks for other types of craft. I always come back to crochet because I love the portability and convenience, Also the sheer creativity in being able to take a piece of string and a hook then being able to turn it into something beautiful, it thrills me every time!

What inspires you and/or your designs?

Steam Punk Corset Crochet Pattern by Sarah JaneJust about anything, colour, fashion and yarn I think would be the top 3. I am often inspired by a stitch pattern I love and want to find a way to use and I often want to create a certain ‘look’ with what I am making. My steampunk collection was the result of chasing a type of style or ‘look’.

How many WIPs do you currently have and do you think you will ever finish all of them?

Hmmmm I am not counting my wip’s…I might give myself a heart attack.  I am sure I have more than I actually remember! I always have at least 3 things on the go at a time and there are a few that are in time out or hibernation. I am pretty ruthless though, if I get bored with them or decide I won’t finish then I rip them out.  I am often ripping something out if I am not happy with it. The ladies in my craft group have been known to almost cry when I start ripping something that is almost completed (this happens more often than I like to admit).

What was the last thing you crocheted for yourself?

Winter Tracks crochet hat pattern by Sarah Jane

Unfortunately here in Brisbane most of my style of crochet is not really wearable although I try and wear at least some of my hats. I haven’t finished anything specifically for myself yet but I am in the (very slow) process of making myself a summer top. I’m not quite sure I will ever get it finished though as the colour isn’t thrilling me at the moment.

Thanks Sarah!  I anxiously await some more of  your designs.

The hat at above is Sarah’s Winter Tracks Hat.  It is the second time I made this hat.  I accidentally left the brim off this one but it still looks fantastic anyway.  See below for links to where you can find Sarah and her designs.

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/sarah-jane
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sjack44/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarahjaneDesignscrochet
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/Sarahsshoppe

 

Whispers Crochet Shawl Pattern

Stash Bust 2014, First December Update

Another Winter Tracks by Sarah Jane Made for Halos of Hope

Winter Tracks crochet hat pattern by Sarah JaneI’m still plugging away at my Stash Bust Challenge.  I’m beginning to realize I won’t be making 7 pounds worth of hats but that’s OK.  I’ll make what I can.  This is my second Winter Tracks hat, designed by Sarah Jane.  The hat is written to have a brim.  I was so tired and so excited to finish the hat last night that I completely forgot to add it.  Oh well, I think it looks great with and without so I’m going to leave it as it.  Great pattern!  Gotta go, I need to get stitching…

This hat weighs 4.75 ounces.

Total hats made in the
2014 Stash Bust Challenge: 22
Total weight of the
hats to date: 4 pounds, 12.5 ounces.

Whispers, Crochet by Darleen Hopkins http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/whispers-shawl-shawlette-or-scarf

Gift-A-Long Designer, Denise Balvanz

Denise Balvanz, Knitting Designer

Reindeer hat crochet pattern by Denise BalvanzI had the pleasure to interview Denise for my second post in the Designer Interview Series.  Most of her designs are knit although she does have the cutest little crochet reindeer hat I have ever seen.  Seriously, do they get any cuter than this? Denise is also participating in the Gift-A-Long this year and has hand-picked a couple of her favorite designs that would make great gift ideas for the holiday season.  I am in awe of her colorwork and a huge fan of the Roses Christmas Stockings series, see photo below.  With great pleasure, I’d like to introduce Denise Balvanz!

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Amaliya Knit Pattern Set includes caplet, hat, mittens and fingerless mitts.

Amaliya Knit Pattern Set includes caplet, hat, mittens and fingerless mitts. Modeled by one of Denise’s beautiful daughters.

Most people who meet me remember first that we have 8 children! Most of them are grown now but we still have 7th and 12th graders that we are homeschooling. I have sewn and knit a lot of clothes for growing children! Over the past 10 years I have taught at my LYS, spent 3+ years working with a small US-based Norwegian yarn distributor where I packed orders, set up a retail website, helped proofread/tech-edit the patterns she was translating and ran the business when she was out of the country, and most recently, spent more time designing patterns and knitting for fun!

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

My love of fiber crafts started when I was quite young, maybe 6 or 7 years old. I remember a friend of my mom’s helping me learn to knit when we were on vacation. My grandmother was a knitter and crocheter too but mostly I am self-taught.

What other crafts do you enjoy?

If it involves fiber I have probably given it a try; embroidery, counted cross stitch, needlepoint, macramé (hey, it was the 70’s). My biggest loves though are knitting, crocheting and sewing.

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

I have a bent toward entrepreneurism. I was a custom dressmaker/alterationist for 25 years as my children were growing. Then about 10 years ago, I walked into the LYS and was asked if I would like to teach some classes. Some of my designs were patterns for the classes I taught at there.

I have never been good at following a pattern without making at least a few changes to it. My first designs for my own use came about because of that. Except for the stranded patterns that I generally chart first, I design a lot of things on the needles as I knit. My knitting friends are always amazed at that. I have the ability to “see” the knitting in my head as I knit and even as I read a pattern.

What inspires you and/or your designs?

Endless Roses Christmas Stocking knitting pattern set by Denise BalvanzI love clean, classic styles; cables and textures; and the 2-color Norwegian designs. Working with a Norwegian yarn line and visiting Norway in 2010 were highlights of my designing career. I am hoping to use more of the ideas from the Norwegian traditions in my future designs.

Thank you so much Denise!  You can find out more about Denise and her beautiful patterns at the following links:

Ravelry — DeniseInIowa,
http://www.ravelry.com/designers/denise-balvanz
Website — http://denisesneedleworks.com
Blog — http://denisesneedleworks.blogspot.com/
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/DenisesNeedleworks
Pinterest — http://www.pinterest.com/DeniseInIowa/

Shawls B2G1