Gift A Long

This is my first time taking part in the independent designers Gift A Long on Ravelry! There are so many amazing designers taking part and even though the promotional discount code has expired now, there’s still lots of fun to be had with kals, cals, games and prizes!

I have been interviewed on a fellow Gift A Longer’s blog here and I’ve interviewed Akua Lezli Hope below.

When did you learn to knit/crochet?

My mother taught me the fundamentals when I was about 11/12 years old. She was an avid machine knitter and a brilliant seamstress.  Decades later, she asked me how had I learned to crochet. I had created a coat of dimensional flower squares for her.  I reminded her that she had shown me how.  She was working on something and asked me to show her how to double crochet. I showed her how to  make a dc and when she did it – with a swoop and a flare, my whole practice was transformed. So she taught me again, by showing me the soul of movement, by teaching how to see.

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How did you get into designing?

Designing is a continuum, an outgrowth of crocheting. Necessity is the mother of invention and desire is its fuel.  When I was a kid, I didn’t know there were patterns beyond the occasional article in women’s magazines, so I made up accessories—wild hats for myself and friends, scarves and tops.  Then my crocheting waned. The discovery of dimensional crochet and then freeform back in the ‘90s reignited my interest in crocheting.  And as before, nearly everything I made was adapted, adopted, improvised.  I’ve always designed, though in 2006 I began to design formally and sustainedly, that is, think about structures, and objects; create them, and record how to replicate them.

What’s your favourite part of the job? 

Problem solving and discovery are my favourite parts of the design process.  Often, once a problem is solved, it’s hard for me to trudge on.  I’ve taken myself in hand and made a list of the unfinished projects.  These 34 all have prototypes and written patterns but they haven’t been tested, proof read or edited. I’m happiest creating, initiating, conceptualizing, and devising, but the part I like least is editing, grading, testing, proofing, refining .

What’s your least favourite part of the job?

The administrivia of the process, testing, fluffing, getting models, spelling out all the little details that are critical for the successful transmission of information.

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What inspires you to design and how do you turn your inspiration into a finished design?

I am a creator and crochet design is one of my expressions. Life is my inspiration. My design process includes a lot of words because I am a poet and fiction writer, so I maintain two sketchbooks – one a formal sketchbook and the other, a kind of oversized blank book, so that there’s room around the words for drawings. My process has many variables but nearly always begins with these scribbles.

Which of your designs are you most proud of and why?

Chemung, my newest design, is a cabled crochet hat that is about where I live in the Chemung Valley near the Chemung River. The hat has the river and the hills and broad flat land around. It delights me because it manifests a feeling and an image. I solved how to render cables in the round, after having only worked them in rows. I’m proud of my Bird Jacket, Cat Vest and Spirit Vest, because they function at the junction of the patterned and freeform. They use motifs that I created and then improvised on and made into garments, wearable art with meaning. I’m also enamored of my science fiction hat series for connecting my lifelong love of SF with crochet.

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Is there anything you’d like to design but haven’t done yet?

My list of unpublished patterns includes things that aren’t yet represented in my store: a couple of garments, a rug, gloves, and shoes, so I’ve done a bit of everything in terms of wearables. I would like to design some more in that connects freeform with the patterned, customizeable. I’ve created an alphabet, but I would like to create poetry in crochet to accompany my poems about crocheting. And I would like to create more artwear. If one is engaged in crocheting something, the utility of the object should be imbued with the transcendent and sublime. I would like to design in such a way that everything expresses an incandescent insight, a sense joy for both the maker and the wearer.

Which of the Gift-A-Long 2014 designers are your favourite or which design would you most like to knit?

There is such a bounty of delicious delights, I can’t choose. But then again I’m a Gemini and watersnake, first born on a one day, so I am constitutionally unable to choose just one. There are 292 other kindred dreamers for folks to explore and get to know.

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