Saturday 13 February 2010

Leanda Xavian - crochet and colour

With all the crochet going on here at chaincreative I should be beginning to look like a crochet hook. Preparations for the makedomend are going apace and the granny square workshop is full to bursting and waiting for all the lovely patterns we've devised for them. I wanted to introduce the workshop, not only to the more simple methods of making squares, but to the more challenging and interesting. I felt it was important that we introduced everyone as to how to make the designs really zing. As you know, Sarah London is a big favourite here so we shall certainly be checking out her work. Emma Lamb is another new discovery and we shall be definitely exploring all her beautiful crochet. In addition, we'll take a peek at the designs of a good crochet friend of chaincreative, Leanda Xavian, of One Loop Short and her new persona, One Little Bird. Her inspirations are beautifully illustrated in one of her many lovely mosaics above. Leanda certainly knows how to photograph her work to make it really leap out from the screen and drive you to the yarns you've been saving and get going on yet another blanket.
She very kindly agreed to jot down some thoughts on crochet and her inspirations which I think you'll find very instructive and may ring some bells for you. How many of us learnt some of our skills from a member of the family only to find that there were more things to learn and not enough time.

'I’ve wanted to be able to crochet since I can’t remember. Both my grandmothers crocheted, but they lived too far away for me to sit down with them and watch. My mother taught me to knit a bit. But I always wanted to learn crochet, but thought it was just too difficult.'

Teaching yourself crochet is a minefield. Alot of the students I teach are refugees from their own attempts to learn on their own. Doing so can lead to disappointment and a sense of failure and frustration.
'Every time I picked up a ‘learn-to-crochet’ book I was throwing my hook down in frustration after 5 minutes. That’s because a lot of these ‘teach yourself’ books start with a foundation chain, which you are then supposed to build on with single crochets and double crochets and so on. Not only is working back along a chain one of the hardest things to do in crochet, it’s also boring to work row upon row of the same stitch.'
So using a book or having tuition are one way into the craft. The starting point can be in a variety of ways but Leanda has some suggestions for that.
'If you are learning to crochet you must start with a granny square, as a child would. Working in the round is so much easier than row work and if you end up with something pretty after half an hour you feel like you’ve really achieved something. And this is good news if you have always hankered to make a doily. It’s a lot easier than it looks. Crochet is easier than knitting full stop.'

Now for some design tips. Listen up and really get some inspiration.
'The other advantages of crochet are the amount of yarn you use compared to knitting. Much less that’s for sure. You can make something beautiful from the merest scrap of yarn. And what is particularly exciting about crochet is that there are absolutely no rules when it comes to colour combinations. Just go for it! Just look at all those amazing vintage blankets that your grannies made. They used anything that was to hand. And it just works. So experiment, go wild. You will be pleasantly surprised!'
The next few tips are straight out of chaincreative wish-list. Thank you, Leanda, you've listed all the most important advise I would offer any serious student of crochet. Look and learn!!! I've italicised the bits I particularly love.

'I don’t have any particular method when I’m starting a project. I just remember wanting to be able to do everything at first, so I pushed myself to use a tiny hook very early on. I thought if I could make a vintage doily I could make anything. So I’m very into thread crochet and how beautiful and delicate it is. But I equally love big chunky yarns so it just depends on my mood. I discovered Japanese pattern books, which are simply amazing and they’ve inspired me greatly. And if you can I would advise you to learn to read symbol charts early on. They really are so much easier to follow than written instructions so persevere if they seem alien at first.'
Thank you again, Leanda, for your kind words and help on writing this blog and for the use of all your beautiful images.
I love these designer interviews as they open up a windown on how people go about a skill that I think can give endless possiblilities to your creative instincts. I never thought that after so many years of writing this blog I would still be discovering new designers and ideas. I'm hooked!!


Frances said...

Thank you so much for the introduction to the very talented Leanda Xavian!

What a pleasure to see her original take on crochet and graphic design.

Best wishes!

Bee Creative said...

Frances- you're so right. I love to find people using crochet in beautiful ways and seeing it through their eyes.

Anonymous said...

Hi there
I love your blog and I have read it for an age, and I hope you do not mind but I have added your blog to my blogroll on my new site. :)
Melanie xxxx

MrsGKnits said...

hi Bee!
I always eagerly await your blog posts and you never disappoint! I've always been inspired by your choice of artists or resources you write about. I've awarded you a Sunshine Blog Award. Details of what it is and how to pass it on are up on my blog. Agnes xx

Bee Creative said...

Thank you so much, Agnes, you're a star. Crocheted, of course!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pep talk. I started my lessons today and have begun my project. I have 4 finished circles. Hurray.