Designer Interview: Irina Mulyavko

Amigurumi Crochet Designer, Irina Mulyavko

When you see the designs by Irina Mulyavko, you can’t help but smile. They are not just cute, they are delightful, charming and every other cute synonym in the English language. Let’s learn more about the designer behind some of the most adorable amigurumi crochet patterns available.

Amigurumi Cat in Sweater by Irina Mulyavko

Please, tell us a little about yourself and your designs.

My name is Irina. I live in Barnaul – this is a small beautiful city in Russia. I have an engineer education. I am a big fan of handmade! I always waited for the weekend to do my favorite thing – to sew and crochet. And today I am a former engineer and I am engaged in the creation of crochet designs. And I’m really happy! I can be found on Ravelry and on Instagram @crochetgift_shop

How long have you been crocheting?

My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was a little girl. Grandma taught me simple stitches. I liked it a lot! Later I learned to crochet on my own using the book. The first thing I crocheted was clothes for a small doll (I kept these doll clothes as a keepsake and maybe in the future I will show this project on Ravelry – called “my first work”). I continued to learn how to crochet. I crocheted lace doily, clothes and much more. 

Christmas Tree Ornament by Irina Mulyavko

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

Since childhood, I did not like to crochet according to the pattern. And the design came up on their own. Unofficially, I have been designing for many years. And officially the first design appeared in 2016. It was a Christmas snowflake. The Christmas theme dragged me on and I decided to continue to create templates. 

Why crochet? What is it that interests you?

It so happened that crocheting is very easy and interesting for me. I have nothing against knitting needles. But I do not own knitting needles. A few years ago I was asked why only the hook and do not own knitting needles? I said that I would start to study knitting needles when I ran out of ideas for crocheting. I want to realize everything! Ideas still haven’t ended! And I continue to work crochet. 

Amigurumi Giraffe by Irina Mulyavko

Do you enjoy other crafts or hobbies? or is there one that you would like to learn?

Yes, I like to sew. I love the world of fashion. For more than 20 years I have been making clothes and something for home. Perhaps in the future I would learn the trapunto technique. I am also interested in weaving. 

Cute Amigurumi Cactus by Irina Mulyavko

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

I rarely have multiple WIPs. I do not like unfinished WIP. But sometimes this happens due to the lack of the required amount of yarn. Then I have several WIPs in my work. 

What was the last thing you crocheted for yourself?

The last thing I did for myself was a dress with a full skirt. I dreamed about this! Design developed independently. Hooray! In my wardrobe addition! 

Amigurumi Bear in Sweater by Irina Mulyavko

What is your favorite design of yours and why?

I can’t single out just one design. I love amigurumi. But I was always scared that it was necessary to sew a lot of parts of amigurumi. I decided to develop amigurumi, where there is little to sew parts. The first to appear was a bear in a sweater. I liked him and I made some more animals. I love them all!

When you do not crochet, what do you do?

I love nature! I like to walk through the woods – for mushrooms or just like that.I like to go to the philharmonic to a concert of classical music.I love coloring books. I fell in love with Johanna Basford magical colorful book The Mysterious Garden.

Where can we find you?

On Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/irina-mulyavko
On Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/crochetgiftsshop/
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crochetgift_shop/

Thank you, Irina. You designs are beyond cute and are sure to bring happiness to crocheters around the globe. I love them all!!!

Meet Crochet Designer Rachy Newin

Crochet Designer Rachy Newin.

Chances are if you’ve recently seen a beautiful, lacy crocheted shawl, it is one of Rachy’s. Racy is also participating in the 2019 Indie Designer Gift-A-Along and has graciously agreed to be interviewed. So…let’s get to know Rachy Newin!

Please tell a little bit about yourself and your designs.

I love crochet and I love hand-dyed yarn and my patterns are designed to pair the two together perfectly. I focus on higher end yarns and love playing around with colors and texture and lace. Lately, I’ve also been super into beads – they’re fun and deceptively easy, and I love the way it sparkles!

Sugar Plum Shawl by Rachy Newin

How long have you been crocheting?

I’ve been on Ravelry since December 2013, so I’ve probably been crocheting since about November 2013! I’ve been crafting in various ways for my whole life, but only taught myself to crochet as an adult.

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

My first ever pattern was a super quick freebie I posted five years ago. I freehanded it and people asked for the pattern, so I wrote it out and popped it up on Ravelry. A few months later, I started getting more involved with creating my own patterns. I walked into a LYS for the first time and fell in love, but couldn’t find any patterns that would work with their yarns the way I wanted them to – so I set out to design the patterns I wanted to make.

How did you first learn to crochet?  

Libraries and YouTube! First step was hitting up the library for every book I could find on crochet and yarn. But it’s hard to follow the steps from books alone, so I spent a lot of time sitting in front of YouTube videos and watching how my hands should move.

Starlight Shawl by Rachy Newin

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

Does collecting yarn count as a separate hobby? I’d love to learn all the crafts – especially spinning and yarn dyeing – but I don’t have the time or space in my house to learn it all.

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

I refuse to count all my WIPs all at once, I’m not sure I want to face that reality, but I usually have five to seven WIPs with me at any given time. I would love to theoretically finish them all one day, but with the way I keep getting distracted by new projects, I doubt that’ll ever happened.

Keep Breathing Cowl by Rachy Newin

What was the last thing you crocheted for yourself?

Most of my design samples are for me! There’s a very short list of people I’m willing to craft for as I only crochet for people who appreciate the time and effort. I’d rather keep the gorgeous lace shawl for me than give it to someone who won’t love it.

What is your favorite stitch?

Half-double crochet! It’s solid enough to be cozy and warm, but has enough flexibility to give the project good drape. I use hdc a *lot*.

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

It’s so impossible to pick just one! Maybe the Bumps in the Road Shawl, I’m really pleased with how the technical aspects of the pattern work out. It’s a super wearable shape and the body features a modified stitch that’s fully reversible and delightfully textured. The pattern is also designed so that you don’t have to cut the yarn – there’s no ends to weave in, except for the start and end of each skein. Plus, the math is set up so you can work any number of rows in the body and add the edging at any point. I absolutely love the finished look of the shawl, but I’m especially proud of the behind-the-scenes technical bits that make it really fun to work up.

Bonfire Shawl by Rachy Newin

 What is your favorite crochet tool or notion?

Bobby pins! They’re the perfect stitch marker. Cheap, easy to slide on and off, and you can pick them up anywhere in case of emergency.

 When you aren’t knitting/crocheting, what are you doing?

I’m pretty low key. If I’m not crocheting, I’m probably hanging out with the dog, playing games on my phone, or deep in a book. My ideal afternoon is a dog on my lap, a soothing mindless project to work on, and a hardcover book so I can read while I crochet.

Where can we find you?

Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/rachy-newin
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/rachynewindesigns
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachynewindesigns/

Thanks Rachy! Your designs are beautiful!!!





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!

The 2017 Gift-A-Long is here!

The 2017 Gift-A-Long is here!

GAL 2017This is the fifth year for the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long and I’m super excited for it to begin. What is Gift-A-Long? It’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

Basically, 311 indie designers of knit and crochet patterns, have banded together to support each other and help everyone get their holiday to-do list done while having a lot of fun and possibly winning patterns and yarn and kits and lots of other fiber finds.

In a nutshell there are:
311 designers from 31 countries with lots and lots of donated free patterns to win as well as physical prizes.

There are over 18,000 patterns to knit or crochet that will make you eligible to win one (or more) of the fabulous prizes.  Of the over 18,000 patterns, 5,300+ of them will be on SALE for 25% off!  Yup! Big Savings so stock up on your favorites.  The sale runs from Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm US EST to Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 11:59 pm US EST.

There will be Pinterest boards and Ravelry Bundles available to peruse for all the sale patterns.  Each designer has at least 5 and up to 20 patterns on sale. Once you get your sale pattern, check out the other patterns the designer offers.  All patterns are eligible for the KAL/CAL threads and all paid for patterns (self, or third party published) are eligible for prizes.  Did I mention the prizes??? Tons and tons of prizes but you gotta’ be in it to win!

Check the Ravelry group for more information.
You can find all my GAL eligible patterns here: Crochet by Darleen Hopkins on Ravelry

Confused?  Check out the FAQs!

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Aleteo Scarf a crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

New Pattern Alert! The Aleteo Scarf, crochet

 

I’m super excited to share the latest #CbyDH  pattern! The Aleteo Scarf. This crochet pattern is very easy and is a great introduction to lace crochet.  The pattern includes written instructions as well as a chart and works up really quick.  I made the sample in a couple hours.  It even includes blocking instructions and photos.

Did you know? Aleteo is Spanish for “flutter”.

While I was taking photos of the sample scarf, a baby cardinal was taking her first flight. The nest was located in the bushes next to my front porch. All spring the parents guarded the nest. When I set up my camera and white board for the photos I had no idea what was about to happen. The baby was ready to take her first flight. She flew back and forth over my head searching for a safe place to land. I could feel the flutter of her wings as she passed above me. What fun it was to witness the beauty of nature up close.

You can work this scarf in yarn weights from 1 to 3 (fingering to dk). And you can easily adjust the length and/or number of stitches.

Pattern information can be found here: The Aleteo Scarf

And, like all my patterns, the Aleteo Scarf is included in the Crochet by Darleen Hopkins Buy 2 Patterns, Get a 3rd for FREE! sale on Ravelry. No coupon needed.  Enjoy!

Shells of Love baby blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

 

Crocheted Aliens in the Western US

Annie’s Adventures

Annie the Alien went on an exciting adventure this past summer. She joined us on our road trip from Georgia to Las Vegas, NV and everywhere in between.  From the bright lights of the Vegas Strip to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the United States, Annie enjoyed them all.  She wanted to share with you some of her favorite sites.   Psst! See below for a special offer in honor of National Crochet Month, 2017!

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Somehow a pink alien fit right in at infamous Las Vegas!

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Annie the Alien LOVES Bryce Canyon.  She didn’t want to leave…. Annie will be back.  I’m sure of it.  And she will bring her brother Arnie to see it all.

annie-the-alien-enjoys-the-views-of-the-grand-canyon

Annie the Alien enjoys the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The North Rim is so peaceful.  We saw very few humans at the overlooks.   BTW, the black bean soup at the little snack bar at the North Rim Visitor’s Center is REALLY GOOD!

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Another view of Annie the Alien at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. WOW! It is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!!!

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Annie the Alien started this hike at 6am to avoid the 110 degree weather. Boy, was it worth it! The arch is HUGE!!!!!  Do you see the person in the middle of the arch and one on the left side?

Want to make your own Annie (or Arnie)? You CAN! In honor of National Crochet Month, 2017, the Arnie and Annie Baby Lovey Crochet Pattern is FREE with any Crochet by Darleen Hopkins purchase on Ravelry. Yup! With the purchase of any of my self-published patterns on Ravelry and coupon code “AnnieNatCroMo2017“, you can get the pattern for free. Happy Crocheting! Valid during the month of March 2017 only (expires 3/31/2017 11:59 PM EST)  Use this link to get started. The pattern and the coupon are already added to your cart.  You just need to figure out what other pattern you would like by clicking on “View all available items” at the top of the page. ENJOY!

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New Pattern Alert! Tiffany Scarf, crochet

New Pattern Alert! Tiffany Scarf, crochet

I’m super excited to share the latest #CbyDH  pattern! The Tiffany Scarf.  Create a beautiful lace scarf with this easy crochet pattern.  If you use the suggested yarn, you can make the scarf as it is written with just one ball!  Written for fingering weight yarn but instructions are provided to adjust the length for any gauge and any weight from lace to DK.  The scarf is stitched the lengthwise.  A chart is included with the full written instructions.  The entire scarf can be completed in just a few hours.

So, why is it called the Tiffany Scarf?  I don’t know!  I just thought it fit. 🙂

Pattern information can be found here: The Tiffany Scarf

And, like all my patterns, the Tiffany Scarf is included in the Crochet by Darleen Hopkins Buy 2 Patterns, Get a 3rd for FREE! sale on Ravelry. No coupon needed.

Black Raspberry Shawl Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

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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!

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The Christmas Pickle, a fun holiday tradition

The Christmas Pickle

Every family has holiday traditions; some large, some small.  Some traditions focus on family gatherings; Easter egg hunt at Grandma’s after a sunrise church service, travel to visit family every year at Thanksgiving or a large Christmas dinner for fifteen with the in-laws (be sure to bring your famous mac-n-cheese!).  Some traditions are smaller, more personal to mom, dad and the kids.  Maybe you decorate your Christmas tree together on Thanksgiving, celebrate half-birthdays or hide some really hard to find Easter eggs with special prizes inside that take a good hour of searching to locate.  One tradition I have enjoyed is making my boys a special, crocheted Christmas gift.  Over the years I have crocheted stuffed monsters, cats, gnomes, popular characters, and most recently, stuffed dragons playing my kids’ favorite sports.

christmas-pickle-holliday-tradition-crochet-patternThere is one holiday custom I recently discovered that I believe will become a new tradition in our home.  The Christmas Pickle.  This custom is so silly that I feel it will be welcomed with open arms in my household.  If you haven’t heard of it, it is pretty simple.  A Christmas ornament in the shape of a pickle is placed upon the Christmas tree.  The first child to find the ornament on Christmas morning receives a special gift or will have extra good luck for the year.  That is it.  The pickle, being green, is hard to see and therefore a type of treasure hunt.   But why a pickle?  That is what is so silly.  What do pickles have to do with Christmas?  There is no connection to the religious celebration for Christians or the Santa Claus/St. Nick aspect of it.   It is totally random.

Surely there must be a reason for the pickle.  A quick internet search will yield a few different theories as to the origin of the custom.  It was originally thought to be a German tradition but that seems to have been disproved.  One theory as to the origin is about a dying prisoner of war who asked a guard for one last pickle.  His wish was granted and the pickle gave him enough strength and the will to live.  The prisoner survived and was able to return home to his family.  True or not, it is a touching story about how a little act of kindness in an awful situation could inspire an individual.  Another theory is that the custom was fabricated by a creative glass Christmas ornament salesman in the late 1800s in order to sell his pickle shaped ornaments!

I don’t know what the origin of the custom may be.  I do know it can be a lot of fun to hide the pickle and have the kids search for it.  Something silly and quick that they will look forward to each year.  I am really excited to introduce The Christmas Pickle to my family.  I love the story of how one individual’s kindness in a horrific environment inspired a man to survive.   It is a tradition that at first seems a little silly but has meaning that will inspire.  I hope my boys enjoy the story, the pickle and the hunt, and continue this family tradition for many years.

It is never too late to start a new tradition with your family.  You can buy a Christmas Pickle ornament, or like us crocheters love to do, make your own.  Choose a yarn that is as close to the color of your tree as possible.  Or, if you tend to have a different live tree every year, make a couple of pickles in different shades of green.  You will always have one that can be easily camouflaged deep within the branches.

The Christmas Pickle would make a fun gift for new families just starting out.  Perhaps a family member or close friend was recently married or engaged, or maybe a new baby arrived.  Make your loved one a Christmas Pickle ornament, enclose the story of kindness and continue the tradition.

The Christmas Pickle Gift Set includes both a crochet pattern and a gift card explaining the tradition.  Print the included Christmas Pickle story and enclose with your hand-crocheted Christmas Pickle ornament.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_pickle

http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/christmaspickle

http://german.about.com/library/blgermyth11.htm

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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