Designer Interview | Eleonora from Coastal Crochet


I’m really chuffed about my next designer interview because I actually had the pleasure of meeting her in person on my recent visit to The Crochet Sanctuary.

Eleonora Tully is the designer behind the lovely blog Coastal Crochet. You may have seen some of her lovely designs in Simply Crochet magazine or you may already follow her popular Instagram feed. And if you haven’t seen her slow Seaside Stash Busting Blanket crochet-along then you should check it out! There’s still plenty of time to take part and it’s going to be amazing when it’s all finished!

When I met Eleonora I thought I would see if she would kindly let me find out more about her designing process, because I always find the stories behind the projects so interesting, and to my delight she said YES!  Here’s what we chatted about…

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Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I was born in The Netherlands 40 years ago – my mother is Dutch and my father is English but I grew up in England and currently live by the sea on the South East Coast with my husband, three children and our dog, a Miniature Schnauzer called Salty. I’m a registered nurse and at the moment I work part-time as a School Nurse.

Life is busy! There’s always something that needs doing being a working mother but I do make sure that I find time for crochet! I get so much pleasure from being creative…it’s a part of me. I also love being with my family and spending time outdoors… one of my favourite things to do apart from crochet, is to go on long walks in nature with my family and I love a challenge! Give me a trail to walk or a mountain to climb and I’m there!

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How did you first discover crocheting?

Crochet has always been a part of me, it really has! My mother crocheted her own wedding dress in 1974 and I was wrapped in crocheted blankets soon after I was born! I really did grow up in a ‘handmade home’ with little crocheted curtains above the windows made by my mother and grandmother (very popular in The Netherlands in the 1970’s), there were crocheted pot holders in the kitchen, my cardigans and jumpers were knitted, school dresses sewn and toys crocheted!

As for my own crochet, I can’t pinpoint the exact time or place when I first held a hook but it was as a teenager, helped by my mother and a good book! I knitted first but crochet soon followed. I made my own wedding dress but this was sewn. It wasn’t until 2014 when I decided to crochet a dress for my daughter that crochet really took over my life! I loved crocheting that dress. It was from a pattern by Lisa Naskrent which I found on Ravelry I enjoyed every single stitch and it looked so beautiful when it was finished. It really was a labour of love and from that moment I fell completely and utterly in love with crochet.

How did you become a crocheting designer? 

After crocheting the dress for my daughter I knew I wanted to take my crochet skills to another level and start to design and write my own patterns. I discovered the International Diploma in Crochet which is a correspondence course run by Pauline Turner. Working through the course has taught me so much and given me the confidence and skills I needed to go out and design my own crochet and to write patterns.

Having an online presence through my Blog and Instagram has also helped me to grow as a Crochet Designer. Writing regular Blog Posts and posting pictures to my Instagram is a huge motivator for me to keep designing. It has also enabled me to share my work and make connections with others which have in turn helped me to get my designs published.

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Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

For me it’s nature and being outdoors. My blog is called ‘Coastal Crochet’ because I live so close to the sea and really do draw so much inspiration from my coastal surroundings. It’s not only the colours, the textures and the themes of the seaside that inspire me, but actually walking along the beach leaves me feeling refreshed and inspired. It helps to clear my mind which in turn allows the inspiration to flow.

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What does your design process look like? Do you sketch things out first, or do you just like to grab a hook and start?

I’m a grab a hook and go person! Sometimes I wish I could be a little more structured in my design approach but it’s just not the way I work! I can get an idea in my head at any time (sometimes I get lots of ideas at the same time) and I can visualise them clearly. I’ll then just pick up a hook and some yarn and get crocheting. It’s exciting to see if my ideas take shape.

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Do you have a favourite creation you’ve designed?

If you’d asked me this a couple of months ago I would have answered differently but at the moment my absolute favourite creation has to be the ‘Seaside Stash Busting Blanket’ which I’m designing as part of the Crochet-Along I’m hosting.

I’m designing it as we go so even I don’t know what the blanket will look like at the end but I love it so much already! Not because it’s going to be a gorgeous blanket but because of the community aspect and seeing everyone’s different colour combinations. I’m publishing just 4 rows per week and as it’s a stash busting project people are choosing all kinds of colours. Some are random combinations, others are so well thought out – it’s truly amazing to see! And the connections being made between crocheters from all over the world is just wonderful. There are people taking part from over 20 countries and friendships are being made across the globe as people share their progress. It really is so special and the response to my design has genuinely blown me away!

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Do you have a ‘go to’ for hooks and yarn?

I was given a set of ‘Tulip Etimo Rose’ hooks for my 40th birthday last year and I adore them. I’ve also tried Clover Amour hooks which are fantastic. Both these Brands are made in Japan so there’s definitely something about Japanese crochet hooks!

As for yarn, I’ll use anything depending on what it is I’m crocheting. From chunky to thin and from cheap acrylic to more luxurious wools. I love using cotton too. I have a soft spot for the brand ‘Scheepjes’ as it’s a genuine Dutch company and their yarns are just so gorgeous. I use ‘Scheepjes Catona’ a lot. It’s a beautiful cotton to work with and the colours are amazing!

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

All the above! I’ve crocheted for family and friends and of course I keep a lot of my own crochet work too. Crochet is not a quick art form and each crocheted item will have taken precious time to make, sometimes many many hours! So I like to give my crochet to people who will appreciate that.

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

I would love to have a studio space but that’s a far off dream at the moment. There are five of us living in our house and the children are getting big- they are now almost all taller than me! I have a corner on the sofa that I call ‘my corner’ only because it’s next to a light which helps when I’m crocheting in the evenings. But one of the reasons I love crochet so much is because it’s so portable. I can crochet anywhere and it really does come everywhere with me.

Finally finish the sentence … I love crochet because…

It’s a wonderful craft that can be done anywhere and by anyone and such beautiful things are created with just one hook and some yarn!

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I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Eleonora again for taking time 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.

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

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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!

 

Designer Interview | Kerry Lord from TOFT / Edward’s Menagerie


I’m thrilled about my next designer interview because I actually had the pleasure of meeting her in person!!  Kerry Lord is the author of the extremely popular Edward’s Menagerie series which feature her designs of extremely cute animals, Birds and, in her new book: Imaginarium, all sorts of fabulous creatures.  She is also a busy working mum and the founder of British luxury yarn brand TOFT which specialises in alpaca yarn.

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Recently I attended TOFTfest, which celebrated the 10th birthday of TOFT yarn (which I blogged about here), where I met Kerry and I thought I would see if she would kindly let me find out more about her designing process – to my delight she said YES!  Here’s what we chatted about…

How did you first discover crocheting and amigurumi?

When very pregnant with my first child Edward I decided to teach myself to crochet in order to distract me from going back to work. As soon as I had mastered the double crochet stitch an elephant flew off my hook and into existence. I think the Edward’s Menagerie shape had been living in my head for a while but my knitting skills didn’t allow me to achieve them.

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

My real job is running the company TOFT and everything that this involves. Designing crochet animals and clothing patterns is part of this role, but by no means all – I have to source and design the yarns first!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get lots of my inspiration from feedback, both from my family, colleagues and customers.

Tell us a bit about your design process…

I usually just pick up my yarn and start making when designing amigurumi. If designing something to wear it’s a far longer process as I sketch and swatch first before doing calculations to work out the pattern.

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Many of your animals, birds and creatures have names (like Georgina the Hippo), how do you come up with them? Do you get people requesting names?

Some of them are people I know, whereas others are truly fictional characters. This is the most fun part of my job!

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

I am very fond of Blake from Edward’s Menagerie, but Kerry the Chameleon from our recent hand-dyed project makes me feel very proud.

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Do you have go to hooks and yarn? I’m guessing TOFT yarn is your favourite; but can you pick a favourite TOFT yarn?

I am lucky enough to design my own yarns and hooks, so of course I choose our own ones. My favourite TOFT yarn to make things for myself to wear is our DK Silver.

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

The studio!! Most of my crochet goes on display, but every now and again I find the time to make something for my children.

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Now we’ve had animals, birds and imaginary characters can you tell us what might be next for Edward’s Menagerie?

I can’t let that secret slip just yet, but book four is well underway!

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

I do have my own room of yarny chaos (and lots of cacti), but more often than that I’ll work from the sofa.

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

When not at work or crocheting I am having fun with my family. We enjoy muddy walks around the farm and plenty of messy crafts.

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Finally finish the sentence … I love crochet because…

It makes other people very happy.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Kerry 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.

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

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