Page 26

Summer Lace

a

s a child, I was fascinated by the sight of my mother knitting and begged her to teach me. By the time I was seven, I had ‘mastered’ garter stitch - meaning there were hardly any wavy edges on my dolls’ scarves from accidental increases and decreases or holes from dropped stitches. So, I moved onto sweaters for my tiny family. Eventually, I learned that gauge is not just a suggestion. Once I learned that important lesson, my dolls wore sweaters that actually fit them.

In my early 20s, I fell in love with a crocheted baby shawl pattern and decided that our soon-to-be baby simply had to have it. The fact that I couldn’t crochet was no deterrent. I would teach myself. I soon learned this was easier said than done! My natural awkwardness at learning a new skill was compounded by the fact that I chose to learn with bedspread weight cotton and a small steel hook. The stitches were small and hard to see and the hook and fine thread were difficult to manipulate. I spent many frustrating summer days on our apartment balcony learning to crochet, complicated by the ball of cotton occasionally bouncing through the railings and onto other balconies. My husband made several new friends in the building chasing that elusive ball of cotton for me! However, I persevered and eventually became confident enough to buy the yarn for the shawl and complete it before our son was born. I was amazed at how much easier it was to crochet with a larger hook and thicker yarn - a lesson my students today are probably very glad I learned! I tried out other needle arts over the years - cross stitch, needlepoint, macramé, sewing, rug hooking - but knitting and crocheting are still my favourites. It’s, perhaps, natural that after I left my career in the business world I turned more and more to my favourite hobbies. Then, I had of a brilliant idea - why not make some money using my skills? Thus, my career as a craftsperson was born. I quickly learned two things. One, that I get bored making the same item over and over again (try crocheting and starching 250 snowflakes in a week and you may see why!) and, two local craft fairs in my area were not the best venues for selling labourintensive items. There ended my career as a craftsperson. About this time, I was thumbing through a crochet magazine when I saw an invitation to designers to send for the editorial guidelines. This sounded like an interesting career opportunity so I decided to give designing a try. I’ve since learned that many designers have formal training in art or fashion design. If I’d known that at the time I might not have been bold enough to send for the guidelines.

26

A NEEDLE PULLING THREAD

free sample issue

I sold my very first design, a starched pineapple angel, two months later. Encouraged by this early success, I submitted several more items to various crochet magazines and was able to sell most of them also. I kept thinking I would run out of ideas but that hasn’t happened yet, thank goodness. Inspiration can strike at any time though so I carry a notebook and pencil with me always and jot down or quick-sketch ideas when they come to me. I design items for all skill levels from beginner to advanced, in thread and yarn, knit and crochet, Tunisian crochet, broomstick lace - you name it and I’ll give it a shot. I’ve designed doll clothes, baby layettes, afghans and home décor items. My favourite designs are wearables for children and adults. My garments are more classic than trendy and I enjoy playing with textures, patterns and colours. Fortunately for me and my short attention span, there really is no typical day in designing. A day could involve working up samples for photography, trying out new yarns from various companies, sketching design ideas for future presentations, writing patterns or articles for publication, preparing lessons for future classes or researching fashion and colour trends. I’m also planning a website where my published work can be viewed, but I tend to be impatient with anything that takes away from my designing time so this is a back burner item. I don’t currently sell designs or patterns directly to the public but this may be a future possibility, especially if that website ever gets set up! Most of my design samples are given to charities such as seniors’ residences and shelters for abused women or the homeless, but I occasionally give them to family members or friends who request a particular item. I’ve kept a few of my personal favourites. I’ve taught knitting and crochet classes and seminars for several years at local yarn shops, at night school and at the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival. I’m also a member of the Toronto Hookups Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and a professional member of CGOA. These activities provide great opportunities to connect with supportive people who are interested in the same things I am and to learn from others - after all, designing is a very solitary business. I’ve been a freelance designer of crochet and knitting patterns for 10 years now and I still get a thrill out of opening a book or magazine and seeing how my design looks professionally photographed. Every day I’m grateful to be self-employed and able to work from my home at something I love to do. z

ANPTmag FREE Sample Issue!  

Here's a sampling of the creativity, inspiration, projects, and articles that you'll find in every issue of ANPTmag. In the full issue, you’...

ANPTmag FREE Sample Issue!  

Here's a sampling of the creativity, inspiration, projects, and articles that you'll find in every issue of ANPTmag. In the full issue, you’...