Today I'm talking to crochet designer Joanne Scrace also known as Not So Granny about her love for crochet, her current and future projects.
Tell us about yourself...
I am Joanne Scrace. I work in the yarn industry as a crochet designer, technical editor, writer and teacher. I'm based in a studio at my home just outside Cambridge in beautiful East Anglia in the UK.
I live with my husband and three children (two boys and a girl aged 11, 7 and 5) and it's because of the children and wanting to work flexibly that I moved from my Computer Science background to crochet.
My other interests are mostly crafty: anything and everything but especially knitting, spinning and baking. I'm trying to discover my creative side by learning about sketching and photography. I read a lot and also like to run to keep fit.
Joanne Scrace modelling Tenbury Hat from Crochet Yeah!
How did you learn to crochet?
I got a couple of books out of the library and cobbled it together from there. It was back in 2009 and there was some help available online but no you-tube and crochet wasn't as big then so I couldn't find any classes locally.
Reverse Gear from The Shawl Project : Book Two
How did you get into design?
Once I'd worked through all the patterns I liked in the library books (a couple) I was struggling to find anything else I liked to make. I found that, as crochet is so easy to rip back if you aren't happy with it, I could design as I went and just try ideas out. I read a lot of knitting design books and resources to work out how to design for crochet.
In 2011 I started blogging about crochet and writing up patterns for the blog which soon led to magazine commissions, self publishing and teaching. Designing was a happy accident.
How would you describe your design style?
Thoughtful, wearable and knitterly.
I think its thoughtful because I put a lot of effort into making sure the fabric suits the purpose (crochet and knitted fabrics have different properties so mimicing knitting often doesn't work well) and I think a lot about whether the design can be successfully and easily communicated to the reader.
Wearability is very important to me, I don't much like to design homewares and I think that crochet is often relegated to “best for blankets.” I don't think that traditional crochet stitches and motifs are particularly wearable but with thought and care in choosing the yarn and stitches you can make crochet that is beautiful to wear.
I've added knitterly as it is something that has been said about my work a lot lately and I think I'd like to own it! A lot of times people think my designs are knitted not crocheted. I like that kind of subversion a lot.
Missing Kingfisher by Joanne Scrace from the Shawl Project : Book One
Tell us about The Crochet Project and how it all began..
Kat and I met on a Ravelry forum and really seemed to get each other. When I decided I wanted to learn how to do technical editing I asked her if I could practice on her patterns which led to me being the editor for her first book “ Crochet at Play.”
Working on the book together was a really intense process and we spoke daily during it. When the book was wrapped up we knew we wanted to carry on working together so we dreamt up The Crochet Project.
Initially the idea was that we would use our skills to publish other people's designs but we struggled to make that financially viable for us so we decided to focus on our own designs with the idea that our two personal design aesthetics complement each other's as well as Kat's strong visual skills (layout and photography) complement my analytical skills (editing and best practice in crochet pattern writing.)
I love working with Kat and being part of a design team rather than a lone designer has so many benefits: from running the stall at shows to having someone to be accountable to and so many things inbetween.
Can you recommend one of your patterns for somebody who is new to crochet?
I think the Malvern Cowl from Crochet Yeah has to be the simplest thing I've ever designed but it looks really complicated.
Joanne's Malvern Cowl from Crochet Yeah!
I love your new book Crochet Yeah! Tell us about the collection and what did you think of Rachel Coopey’s Socks Yeah...
Rachel's yarn is just beautiful and it was the leaping off point for the collection. I really enjoyed using the yarn, it's just perfect for crochet; it never splits, its smooth and soft and the beautiful kettle-dyed effect make even the ordinary look amazing.
The collection is really a fan letter to Rachel and her style. We knew that she was learning to crochet and we wanted to make a book of patterns that would appeal to her sense of style, be accessible to a beginner yet stylish enough to tempt you. Each project had to be easy to do a little bit here and there and be portable to fit into a busy lifestyle. We knew that so many other people have the same requirements for their crafting too.
What design plans do you have for the coming year?
We release a book of cardigans at Wonderwool in April, so at the moment we are putting the finishing touches to that book. The cardigans are all simple, classic, seamless styles and are written in a wide range of sizes from baby to a 60in chest. We are hoping to tempt people to try crochet garments and get them confident making them.
After that I am working on some single pattern releases for the summer months and we will hopefully be launching another new book at Yarndale in September – its a collaboration with Blacker Yarns but I can't tell you too much more about it yet.