Where did the dedication to crochê came from?
It came from the need to get rid of stress and have some sort of therapy for my patience, as if such thing exists!
I'm one of those people that when I say I'm going to relax watching a movie, halfway through it I start to feel a "hitch" on my hands and the need to do something else simultaneously, unless I'm really tired and or sleepy.
SInce that feeling of lack of quiet was frustrating me so much, I automatically thought of using crochet of a way to keep my hands occupied while seated on my couch. I still a couple of hooks from my first tries with my grandma. I was around 11 or 12, if I still recall it, and in that time the interest for this art didn't kick in. I'd risk saying that I didn't had the patience, as most crochet works take time until you have the finished product when I was in that age where I would get too anxious to see results straight away. But I'm happy that now I'd rather do nothing else than crochet all day long.
Was is hard to start over? Was there a moment when you wanted to quit again?
In the beginning I would feel a bit frustrated because I hadn't the knowledge about yarn tension, which made my stitches so uneven and misaligned, ahahahah! There were some loose stitches that looked like holes and others so tight that I had a hard time crossing the hook through it, making my hands hurt after a while. Haa, when I started it was a hell of a journey, while I held to the last strand of patience and persistence in the world.
But it never crossed my mind quitting again, ever!
Crochet came up in my life as a way of relieving the stress, the perfect therapy, and became an indispensable hobby!
As you mentioned before, your grandma thought you the basics years ago... so the memory of that remained, right?
Yes and no. You never forget the basics, it's like riding a bike. As for the rest, it was all about spending some time in front of the computer, looking for simples free patterns, in my case, I wanted to learn the art of the amigurumi and had to learn the spiral technique.
I confess that it wasn't that easy, and right on the start of it I skipped an essential step and went ahead on making my own toys. Obviously it didn't end well, and I had to learn a few increasing an decreasing techniques first and above all.
Learn with my mistake: have patience on learning how to crochet balls and basic dolls; trust me when I say that it's quite easy to learn increasing and decreasing, so easy that it was stupid of me not to give it a try first!
What are, for you, the main elements to enjoy crochet and avoid mistakes?
Although I already said this many times before, patience, for both learning and making. Time is another important factor to consider since some projects may take months to produce.
As for the most technical stuff in crochet, here are a few points I consider important:.
. there no need to make just one project at a time. I like to combine two projects or even 3, maximum. The idea is to work on a long project like a blanket, alongside with a short one, like one or a bunch of small amigurumi, just to take a break from the repetitiveness of a blanket.
. If working on a long project, I advise making short pauses to rest my wrists, hands and fingers. This is to avoid a LED injury, or just simply relax my hand muscles. I had a situation, not that long ago, where I had to stop crocheting for a couple of days because my right thumb was hurting, especially the chubby muscle right below it.
. adding to the point above, we have the yarn tension, the tension with give to the yarn the more tight the crochet will be and the more pressure you put into your hands making them hurt.
. I love crocheting amigurumi, but not a big fan of sewing the pieces together. I procrastinate a lot about that part, but improving. Well, sewing in general is not my favorite part, being the reason why I end up making a bunch of amigurumi and sew everything all at once in the end.
Where do you get inspiration for your creations?
Some of the pieces come up out of need, like small pouches to organize stuff such as all the GoPro equipment that's lying around in ugly plastic bags, a coin wallet because I can barely have room in my wallet for the volume of coins I force into it.
Then, we have the yarn leftovers. It's yarn with which you're quite limited, so I use it to make keychain decoration or tiny dolls.
Although most of the inspiration I get is from looking around my house and see what decor/storage I'd like to have around, and of course, I search for most of my ideas on Pinterest. Where else?!
Pinterest is like a swiss knife for a lot of people, and I'm no exception. I got my board where I collect a huge amount of different ideas for themed projects, future challenges and experiments. It's a good way to always have a source when your creativity is going through a blurry day. We all have those.
I haven't explored much the magazine shops around Lisbon, or available nation wide, while I was living in Dublin I discovered two magazines: Simply Crochet, which I subscribed the digital version for the iPad, and Inside Crochet. If you want you can buy both magazines, but since I found enough information and ideas on one of them, I thought it's best not to get overwhelmed with a lot of stuff or you won't be able to focus on the projects you really want to work on.
Speaking of yarns and materials, can you share a bit about your supply sources?
Sure thing! Because I would to see more people involved in crochet.
When I was leaving in Ireland I used to go to this nice little crafts shop close to my apartment. Here I would buy all the essentials: hooks, needles, cotton yarn of all sizes and colors, stitch markers, row counters and other sporadic materials I would need.
As I was reading Simply Crochet I learned about woolwarehouse.co.uk which became my favorite online shop. And here's why: buying in bulk is cheapper, they're loyal to certain yarn brands so if you run out of yarn for a blanket, you can buy more of the same brand, color and dye, there are sales and discounts to save some money.
I say this because, since I returned to Portugal I don't have much craft shops around me, some shops sell random brands and don't restock them or are just too expensive. To avoid issues and risk losing a project, I relying on good fixed sources of supplies
There's a cute shop on a second floor in downtown Lisbon, that I'm dying to visit called Retrosaria Rosa Pomar. And as soon as i find a good excuse to take a walk downtown, this is going to be a mandatory stop. For those who don't know this shop too, you can take a look at what is sold here: https://retrosaria.rosapomar.com/.
In a previous question, you mentioned that you avoid overloading with inspiration. Don't you think that there's no such thing as too much inspiration?
Of course, not at all! Inspiration is never too much for no one, the thing is that it's easy to lose focus when you have so much stuff to work with in your hands and you want to do it all. After all I only have a pair of hands, so I need to take one at a time. The ideal is to dedicate myself to 2 projects, 3 maximum, but there's always the chance to organize and manage future projects.
Example A: I got supplies to crochet some t-shirt yarn that I saw on Pinterest. So, I take measurements to see how many can I make and combine with Pinterest's suggestions.
Example B: I'm crocheting a blanket or a cardigan using a basic stitch but it's going to take a while to finish. So, I look for projects to work on in the middle, they either have to be small or challenging, like learning a new stitch. The last one I tried was the star stitch.
At the moment my focus goes to creating usable objects: pouches, bags and handbags of different sizes and shapes. For each bag I create I can apply techniques I want to learn such as: working 2 colors simultaneously, using a complex stitch, spiral technique, and so on.
I could spend hours talking about all this, my routines, the way I keep improving the way I organize my work and projects, but I have the feeling that I've only scratched the top of the iceberg and there's way much more stuff to learn about crochet. In all honesty, I don't want to know how to do everything in crochet, I just want to find my own style and way of work.
And lastly, what message would you like to leave to those you follow you and want to give crochet a shot?
Just give it a try! Get yourself some yarn and hook and start with the basic stitches. Don't give up if you miss it at first, just think that you win it with practice. Even though I had my grandma teaching me, I consider myself a self-taught person and evolved on my own. I spend many hours watching tutorial videos, experimenting, endless countings and exploring patterns, not to mention the countless times I had to undo and redo projects over and over again, until the final product was "perfectly" done.
When you do it with please and/or fun, there's no way you'll lose interest or patience for it. Sometimes I may feel tired and not in the mood for it, like everyone else, but besides that, I can't stay away from my hooks for too long.
By the way, if anyone knows about Portuguese crochet communities, please feel free to drop me a message with the link, or leave a comment below. Most of what I find is in english and a few Brazilian sites, but would also be happy to be part of a community of my native language and share some ideas!
I hope you liked this kind of interview created by my friend M. for the blog, in the attempt to expose a bit more about me and what draws me to crochet. - I don't think I ever used the crochet word so many times as now!