Designer Interview | Irene Strange


It’s time for my first Designer Showcase of 2017! Even before I started creating my own patterns I was curious about the process of designing crochet patterns and in previous posts I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some other fabulous fibre artists!

Today I’m excited to be speaking to Irina aka Irene Strange.

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Irina is a bit of a amigurumi expert whose fabulous designs have featured in the popular Zoomigurumi books (1, 4, 5 and 6!) and in popular publications like Let’s Get Crafting: Knitting and Crochet, Inside Crochet and Crochet Now magazines.

Irina has a wonderful eye for amigurumi and creates wonderfully cute characters – I recently completed her little ‘Blossom Bunny’  for Little Miss and I’m seriously in love with her Clara The Unicorn pattern and her free Gracey the hippo ballerina

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It was great to get to speak to her and here’s what we chatted about…

Why are you called Irene Strange?

I used this name when signing up for my first email address all the way back in 2000,
my step-dad’s family name is Strange (what a cool name, right?) and Irene is an English version of Irina – we just moved to England and at the time it felt like a fresh start in a new millennium and a new land. I guess it just stuck! 

How did you first discover crocheting and amigurumi?

My grandmother taught me to knit and crochet when I was little, I picked it up again
when studying for my degree. I was writing a paper on how brands use mascots and characters and came across some crochet toys on Flickr. People kept referring to them as ‘amigurumi’ so naturally I had to find out more about that! I tried making my own, a funny little mouse, and discovered I really enjoyed crocheting toys – from then on I was hooked.

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How did you become a crocheting designer? Is it your real job?

To start with I released a few patterns on Etsy just to see what happens, then an editor from a crochet magazine approached me and asked to feature some of my work. Then another editor asked if I’d be interested in writing some patterns to which I said yes, of course! At the time there wasn’t as many amigurumi designers in UK, at least not on-line, so one commission followed another quite fast. For a good few years I was writing as a hobby alongside a day job. After having kids I wanted to focus on crochet more, so now I write patterns in between playing with Lego and watching cartoons.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

It’s quite hard to pinpoint what inspires me most; I collect all sorts of objects, prints and photographs of animals or dolls – anything curious. I have to say seeing what other designers and artists share on Instagram across different crafts is also very inspiring, it is amazing how many creative people are out there.

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Tell us a bit about your design process…

When designing something for my pattern shop I might get an idea seemingly out of nowhere, which I will then sketch and mull over for days or even months. I will sketch the design many times, thinking about best way to make it. Then I make prototypes and sometimes get it right on first or second try.

Often a particular project will stay in my head for weeks, almost like an obsession – where I’ll keep coming back to it in-between different makes, trying something out and abandoning it, until I get it right.

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Many of your creations are animal themed amigurumis – are they your favourite things to make?

Oh yes, I adore all animals! Growing up in a big city not many people we knew had pets, so encounters with animals became very special. I love watching documentaries about the Earth, it’s simply amazing how many different creatures call it home!

Do you have a favourite creation that you’ve designed?

I’m still exploring different styles and ways to make an amigurumi, looking for a balance of an object that’s interesting to look at but not too complicated for others to make. I think Hopscotch Bunny is the closest to what I like making.   

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Do you have go to hooks and yarn?

I have a strong preference for natural fibres, especially alpaca and cotton. Cotton is so durable and versatile, but alpaca gives the make a much more natural and soft look. As for hooks, I always use Clover Soft Touch.

Who gets your creations; you, your family, your friends?

At the moment my daughter is very quick to claim anything I make, often even before it’s finished. The rest gets given away to friends and family. If a visitor likes a particular toy most of the time they take it home with them.

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Where do you work? Do you have a studio space or do you work from your living room chair?

I’m a bit of a messy creative (just ask my husband!) so things end up scattered all over the house. We share a room as a studio where I have a wall of yarn to inspire me, and a desk for pattern writing and research. Curling up on a sofa with a cup of tea, a sketchbook and a film in the background is my favourite way to work.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m planning to make many more cute and unusual animals, but also some home accessories and decorations – there’s a book full of ideas just waiting to be made into new patterns.

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Tell us a bit about yourself – what do you do when you’re not crocheting?

When I’m not crocheting… I love going riding my bicycle, foraging around local woods for berries, visiting museums and fairs or just spending the day holed up out of the way somewhere reading a good book.

Finally finish the sentence … I love crochet because…

I can make anything that comes into my head with just a thread and hook – it’s a bit like magic!

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Irina again for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. I’ve really enjoyed getting a better understanding of what’s involved with in her designing process and hope you have too. I hope you will pop along to her website and ravelry page to see all of her great designs!

 

LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine | Retro Milkshakes


Issue 92 of LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine is out now just full to bursting with bright summery yarn and super fun crochet and knitting patterns. 

If you are not familiar with LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine it’s readily available in major supermarkets and stores across the UK.  The magazine is complete with six balls of yarn, a pair of needles and a hook so that you can get started straight away! 

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And I’m really excited to tell you that I’ve got a new pattern in this month’s edition! Why not head on down to the diner to make my retro strawberry and banana milkshakes!

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This summer you can whip up your own milkshakes with my easy recipe! All you need to do is blend yarn with a pinch of hooking and add a dollop of crochet!

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I hope you enjoy my new designs – I know I had great fun designing these little milkshakes!

Well until next time, happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine | Seahorse Duo


So I’ve just finished telling you that Issue 91 of LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine is out now with TWO brand new patterns from me – it’s all very exciting! For my next design in the magazine we are heading off under the sea! What say we dive down and join my duo of friendly seahorse amigurumis…

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Why not plunge into the crochet pool and let your hook do the swimming with some vibrant summery yarns and simple stitches in this fun sea-worthy project!

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And do you want some really exciting news!! You can get the Seahorse Duo for FREE over on topcrochetpatterns.com or why not save him to your 💗 Favourites and Ravelry Queue here to hook up later.

There are loads of options of how you could use different colours to make your own little Poseidon’s steeds – I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my both my new designs, I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you!

Well until next time, happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine | Tearrific Set


Issue 91 of LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine is out now with TWO brand new patterns in it from me! I’m so excited about them both that I’m going to have to do TWO separate blog posts so I can tell you all about them…

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So let me tell you about my first design. Now I would class myself as quintessentially British when it comes to tea! I love the stuff! Never mind the English nation – I am probably well within the quota of consuming 32 billion cups a year just by myself. BUT you don’t have to be a fan of that particular hot beverage to enjoy my latest pattern! The Teariffic Teaset amigurumi is the perfect pattern for any cuppa lover – be it tea, coffee or hot chocolate! And with the release of the new Beauty and the Beast movie, where all of the household objects are ‘alive’, wouldn’t it just make the perfect pretend play toy for any movie loving little one.

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The set includes instructions for the teacup, separate saucer and movable spoon.

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I had such fun designing this little tea set and it’s definitely one of my favourite patterns I’ve worked on so far. And I love the colour combination of the Blue Ripple and Fresh Mint colours together from the poolside themed yarn pack in this issue.

If you are not familiar with LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine it’s readily available in major supermarkets and stores across the UK.  The magazine complete with six balls of yarn, a pair of needles and a hook so that you can get started straight away! Why not make yourself a cuppa and hook yourself up one at the same time.

Stay tuned for my next under water themed pattern release update coming NEXT!

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The Adventures of Little Adam | Part 4


It’s been awhile since we caught up with Little Adam, that lovable travelling amigurumi isn’t it. What’s he been up to I hear you cry?

Well if you remember his previous adventures have taken him to Greece (B) and Dubai (C), Rhodes (D) and Lanzarote (E). This time he’s stayed a little closer to home and travelled to Edinburgh (F) in Scotland. 

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So what do we know about Edinburgh? Well it’s the capital city of Scotland and the seventh most populated city in the United Kingdom.  It is also the home to the Scottish Parliament and is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth‘s southern shore…

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Human’s have habit-ed the Edinburgh area since 8500 BC and so it’s long past due a visit by a amigurumi!  But first a haggis (*bacon*) butty to fortify him for the 1.5 hour flight…

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A small crocheted doll in a big city…well it can be a little overwhelming! Luckily Little Adam found himself a stereotypical wee red headed tartan-ed beauty to help show him the sites…which he forgot to take of photo of himself with…before snuggling down for the night! 

Little Adam is off to Europe in his next adventure! I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing Little Adam’s travels as much as I have! 😄  Wonder where he’ll turn up next – maybe near you!

Oppps and I almost forgot to say we have a giveaway winner for The Breton Bag pattern giveaway. Congratulations to Rebekah! Your pattern will be winging it’s way to you shortly!

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine | Speedy the Sloth


Love sloths? Well I hope you’ll love my new Speedy Sloth design out now in Issue 90 of LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine! Make sure you don’t ‘hang around’ and pick up your copy today!

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I always love the styling that the magazine do with my designs – just look how cute Speedy looks hanging around in the bamboo!

Speedy’s arms and legs pop open with snap fasteners so he can flit between trees or simply take a seat somewhere comfy.  

If you are not familiar with LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine it comes as an exclusive pack containing six balls of yarn, a pair of needles and a hook so that you can get started straight away. Deputy Editor Jessica talks you through the latest issue in a great little video below.

LGC Knitting & Crochet Magazine can be found in major supermarkets and stores across the UK. So pop down the shop and get your copy now or you can find out about more about the magazine over on their website here.

And the very exciting news I have to share with you is that you can get Speedy the Sloth for FREE over on topcrochetpatterns.com or why not save him to your 💗 Favourites and Ravelry Queue here to hook up later.

Well until next time, happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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The Little Yellow Duck Project


Back in February 2015 I blogged about The Little Yellow Duck Project which I had just learnt about.  If you haven’t heard about the project before it involves people around the world handcrafting little yellow duck gifts as random acts of kindness that are then left in public places for others to find. A special tag on each one of the ducks invites the finder to take their gift home to brighten their day and to visit the  The Little Yellow Duck Project website to register where they found their gift. The Little Yellow Duck Project is a global initiative highlighting the life-saving donation of blood, bone marrow, and organ and tissue. 

Little-Yellow-DuckI made ten little ducks to support the project and hid them all over everywhere – even taking some with me to hide when I went away for a couple of weekends so that they would be spread out far and wide.  You can see all the ducks I made in my original post here.

Excitingly a couple of months later someone posted a photo to say that they had found one of my ducks which had prompted them to fill in an application form to be a blood donor! What an amazing feeling that was! And so nice to find out what had happened to a duck that had been hidden.

After I had finished making and hiding my pledge of little ducks I offered my services as a designer to The Little Yellow Duck Project to create a new free duckling crochet pattern which they could use…and not long after Doodle the Duckling was born! 

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Well one of the lovely people at the project contacted me this week to say that the pattern had never gone live on their website (although they thought it had). Needless to say they were mortified – but I know only too well how technology can be a fickle mistress (as I find out ever time I schedule a post when I’m on holiday…every. single. time!).  All is now fixed however and you can now find Doodle the Duckling under the Crochet Pattern section of their website. If you want to add Doodle the Duckling to your Ravelry queue or favourite him so you can make him later then use this link here

I hope you do check out The Little Yellow Duck Project when you get a moment – as well as crochet patterns they have knitting, sewing and machine embroidery patterns you use to support them if you fancy a different craft.

And just to finish off I’ll end with a photo of Little G from a year or so ago when she got to meet some real life little yellow ducklings…because too cute right! 

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Until next time, happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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