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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Pattern Release | Pembroke Seascape Shawl


For 2017 year’s edition of Indie June LoveCrochet.com wanted to do something special so they invited a group of designers to create a collection of knitted and crocheted garments featuring The Yarn Collective yarn (which I blogged about here). The result is the Coastal Adventures Anthology – featuring eight beautiful patterns with inspiration from Scandinavian summers on the coast.

I’m really excited to now reveal what I designed with The Yarn Collective’s Pembroke Worsted Yarn.  May I introduce to you my new Pembroke Seascape Shawl!

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The rectangular Pembroke Seascape Shawl, made from the softest hand dyed merino wool, is as light as a sea breeze!

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It’s just perfect for covering up on a chilly summer evening or on an adventurous stroll around a coastal path.

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I always think shawls are fun to crochet when I’m making them (I really should make more!).  I’ve had such fun with this one adding different stitch patterns which beginner and advanced crocheters should enjoy.  The shawl’s sinuous ripples and texture, combined with the cool grey and blue variegated colours, are inspired by marbled ocean waves lapping at a pebbly beach.

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Although the pattern may look complex it is very straightforward and will be readily picked up by beginners.

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Click on the following link to purchase the pattern and add to your 💗 Favourites on lovecrochet.com or Ravelry.

Exclusive Giveaway 🎉

For your chance to win a copy of my new design simply head on over to Ravelry or LoveCrochet and add it to your favourites or show it some love by commenting below this post with your Ravelry username / or email address. 

Bonus Entry: Re-pin any of the pins above, copy & paste the URL of your re-pin in the comments below. 

Winners will be randomly chosen on Friday 23 June 2017 around 7pm GMT

And…

Enter any coastal inspired projects in the LoveCrochet Community and enter the #IndieJune2017 competition for a chance to win £100 to spend at LoveCrochet!!! So exciting!!! Can’t wait to see your finished projects.

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

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Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…


Oh what a lovely family holiday we had over the school May break! Although it’s not exactly relaxing when travelling with a baby, (so much stuff to take!), I think I speak for us all when I say that it restored our inner sense of well-being. It was just nice being together and not having to worry about work, school or nursery and a ‘change is as good as a rest’ so they say. 

We travelled down to Lincolnshire for the week which is somewhere we’d never been to before. It’s such a pretty place with a romantically English countryside and coastline. 

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View from the top of Tattershall Castle

We were blessed with beautiful weather for the whole time we were away which was amazing. It’s possibly the first time EVER I think for it not to rain for some part of a week away in England.  Some days the temperature soared to the dizzy heights of 20-23° which was practically tropical!!  We did lots of adventuring around with activities the children would enjoy but we also savoured some quieter gentler days walking around  Tattershall Castle and Gunby Hall Estate and gardens.

I do so love a pretty garden – I’m not much of an outdoor gardener myself (its more patio pots and house plants in the KCACOUK household) but I really appreciate the wealth of colour and the peaceful calming of the mind that a beautiful garden can provide. 

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Stunning poppies in the grounds of Gunby Hall Gardens

I especially love large gardens where you have to wind your way through the hedgerows and flowers. Little G and I had a great time exploring!

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We also all enjoyed glorious day out at Huttoft Beach  which is a large sandy beach with proper sand dunes (just as a beach should be).  

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At six years old Little G is getting more and more adventurous with going into the sea which delights me and terrifies me in equal measure because I’m ever the over cautious mother…  

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That said her joy at running in and out of the waves and splashing around made my heart very happy!  

And we actually saw a wild seal! We didn’t know that Lincolnshire is a bit of a seal watchers paradise. Apparently it boasts one of the largest breeding colonies of grey seals in the UK.  The one we saw was way out to sea but you could make out it’s head popping up now and again which was very exciting. Unfortunately it was too far away to take a photo of but I did take some snaps at Skegness Seal Sanctuary of some gorgeous baby seals which we all thoroughly enjoyed watching and learning more about.

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Our day out at Skegness was a busy one full of the noise and excitement of rides and amusement arcades much to the joy of both children – but who doesn’t love soft play areas and popping in the pence on the tuppenny falls?!?

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We also enjoyed the Skegness Aquarium, where Little G was overjoyed to have her face painted with a glittery mermaid and Little Miss was just entranced by the jellyfish tube! It was followed by ice-cream and obligatory donkey rides on the beach. Little G is just mad on animals / horses / unicorns so this was a definite highlight for her! We were all shattered at the end of that jam packed day I can tell you.

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And did I fit any crochet in? You bet ya! I did take a gianormous bag of yarn with me much to my husbands disbelief (horror) when I kept giving him more stuff to pack into the car (you surely don’t need all this? Well actually yes, yes I do). And on the still light evenings when Little Miss decided to sleep and in the early mornings when we were awake (but no one else was) I took full advantage of hooking away. 

I can’t give away too much about the projects I was working on (though all will be revealed here when ready) but I’ll give you a little glimpse at my work bag where you can see some lovely bright primary colours of Stylecraft Special DK.

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All too soon it was time to come home, back to reality, rain and mountains of laundry. I’m completely counting down the days until we can go away again!

Until next time! Keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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I Like Crochet Magazine | June Sale


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, when you make a purchase through these links I do receive a small commission – thank you so much for supporting my blog! 💗


From 12 June  to 18 June US e-magazine I Like Crochet is having a limited time special sale where YOU can save 43% on your subscription price! 

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Included in the subscription you will receive all 19 of their back issues for free as well as:

  • 100+ exclusive patterns in the one year subscription
  • zero advertisements
  • instant access to their pattern archives
  • available on computer or tablet
  • exclusive patterns from top designers
  • exclusive top-rated projects
  • step-by-step tutorials

1 year membership starts at as little as $19.97 / £15.87. If you like crochet…you’ll love I Like Crochet so subscribe before the 18 June and save! 

And if you fancy having a go at any of the patterns or reading the articles I have written for various editions of the magazine then you can get all the details of particular issues here.

Until next time folks! Happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Moroccan Window | Nuts About Squares CAL


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So we are now up to week 10 on the Nuts About Squares CAL and I’m delighted that my Moroccan Window block (originally designed for my 2015 CAL) has been featured alongside ‘Sweet and Fair‘ by the wonderfully talented designer Julie Yeager (I love her block designs!).

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Don’t worry if this is the first time you are hearing about the CAL you can find all the information about it HERE on the It’s All in A Nutshell website. 

Once again the very talented Esther has created an accompanying step-by-step video showing how to crochet my square. 

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And once again I’m in LOVE with how the block looks in different Earth, Sea and Sky colourways! Esther and her helpers have done such beautiful work…

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And the Moroccan Window block has now also been translated into Dutch too! The update for this translation is now available in my Ravelry store.

I hope those of you that are making the block for the first time enjoy this square as much as I enjoyed designing it.  If you are joining in with the CAL please share your squares on social media using #NutsAboutSquares and #kcacouk  #moroccanwindow too – can’t wait to see your projects.

Until next time! Keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Margaret’s Hug Healing Prayer Shawl | Free Crochet Chart


I think I have said before that one of the patterns I am most proud of is my Margaret’s Hug Healing / Prayer Shawl. Since I shared this free pattern, and the story of it’s creation, in February 2014 on Ravelry alone it has now been downloaded over 40 thousand times!

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Some of you have asked after my mother-in-law, after who the shawl was named, and I’m sorry to say that she lost her battle with cancer nearly two years ago.  Margaret was a midwife / nurse all her working life and a kinder, more caring person you couldn’t wish to meet – she is very much missed by us all everyday! But I believe her legacy lives on in the idea of this shawl; I’m sure she would love the idea of her namesake being used to support people in need.

Many of you have shared your your own projects and your own stories about making the shawl for yourselves and for others. I want to thank you all for sharing details of what has often been a challenging time for you, friends and family – and for anyone still struggling I send you much love and well wishes. 

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I have had a few people contact me to say they have had trouble making up the shawl, I did make a rather shaky video (available here) to try and help. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the best demonstration and I will hopefully be working on making a better video as soon as I’m able! But in the interim I thought charting up the pattern for you might help. 

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The downloadable pattern has now been updated with the chart and is available for download from Ravelry and LoveCrochet.com.

This shawl will always be a free pattern so others can make a hug for someone in need; however if you would like to pass on the couple of pounds/dollars you would have paid for this pattern to Cancer Research then that would make you extremely awesome!

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

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