Joanne is new to designing for Moorit, but we knew we couldn’t pass up her ideas for our Sweet Shop Issue. Her boxy striped tee is just the perfect make for summer, complete with a fringe of heart shapes along the hem.
So, if you’d like to learn about Joanne’s first foray into crochet, her design inspiration and future plans, read on!
Let’s start with the obvious question: how long have you been crocheting?
I started crocheting in June 2007 after buying a couple of vintage crochet books and a few chunky cotton pullovers to unpick. I’d been knitting for about six months and thought crochet had a more summery feel. I wanted to make a lace shrug with a frilly edging and cuffs. It’s not perfect (the sleeves aren’t the same!) but I loved the shrug and was thrilled at how easy I found it to crochet something fancy compared to knitting something similar; it felt like cheating!
Amazing! We love a crochet origin story. What got you into crochet designing?
Right from that first shrug I was often working to my own designs. I’d already learnt from dressmaking and knitting that clothes made from standard patterns don’t fit any better than shop bought clothes and owning well fitting garments that allowed me, for example, to lift my arms up without the underarm seam tearing, was why I was making my own clothes. I have a large bust on a small ribcage and I’m not very tall, so my full bust is exactly at underarm level. This makes it hard to find ready made clothes with sufficient fabric both to go around the bust and up into the armpit to allow arm movement (the opening of an armhole gets lower as sizes increase and limits my movement). I’d studied pattern cutting for woven fabric garments and knew the shapes I needed to create and it was just easier to start from scratch than to make complicated amendments to a ready made pattern.
Ah, the beauty of making clothes that fit. Did your love for well-fitting crochet designs manifest into a full-time job?
Made with Love and Fibres is my day job. Until I had my second child I was working in various education roles (including a learning technologist in a university). I took a career break to look after both children until the younger one started to attend pre-school and was then looking for a career where I could work freelance and mainly from home to suit our family circumstances. I had wondered about writing up patterns from my designs before but thought they might be too personalised to my shape and style or too complex for people to enjoy.
I also felt that the crossover of my day job skills and pattern writing was huge and I probably needed a change of activity when I got home from work each day; I was worried I’d ruin a good hobby by turning it into a chore. Now that I wasn’t doing that day job, I felt I could put those skills to good use in a new direction. I was really thrilled and surprised at how fast things took off for me and to find I could make a career out of creating patterns both for independent publication and for craft publications worldwide.
We’re so happy to hear how that worked out so well for you! Where did you find the inspiration for Sweet Talk?
The lovely moodboard of colourful sweets that had been prepared for the submission call and the fact that Moorit magazine is based in Scotland brought to mind the delicious Edinburgh rock that friends sometimes brought back from Scotland, with the sticks of pastel coloured rock arranged side by side in a box like colourful stripes. Love Hearts are such a popular and recognisable sweet and all of my family enjoy them, so I thought it would be nice to combine the two in one design.
While looking for yarn to swatch with, I encountered a swatch I’d made in knitting with a heart on the end of a strip of stocking stitch and wondered if I could recreate that in crochet on repeated strips. Just like my initial encounter with crochet, I discovered that not only could I crochet what I had in mind, but it was easier to make and looked better than my knitted version too!
Who doesn’t love a Love Heart sweet? We know what we love about Sweet Talk, but if you had to pick one special thing about your design, what would it be?
It comes with three bust fittings: one with a little shaping in the front that is intended to fit someone who generally gets a good fit in the standard sizes used by most shops and yarncraft patterns; one without shaping that is for someone who has a smaller bust or who finds standard sized clothing which fits most of their torso and arms is too loose in the bust area; and one with extra shaping for someone who finds standard sized clothing that fits elsewhere is too tight over the bust. It made me so happy to be able to write a pattern for publication in that way, to ensure it should work for more people. Even non-fitted tops like this can have annoying aspects if they don’t fit well, like being too short or long in front or not sitting/draping well or ending up with a bunch of crumpled fabric sitting around the wearer’s hips.
We adore that you included three different bust fittings in your pattern! It’s really important to us that patterns featured in our magazine fit every shape and size of body. With that in mind, how would you describe your design style?
Well, my goal is to create patterns for shapely, colourful, crocheted and knitted wearables with eye-catching details that are interesting and enjoyable to make. I like to include instructions for different versions and adaptations so makers can create something individual that suits and fits them well.
We completely agree, it’s the perfect mix of fun and easy to wear. Are there any other designer’s work that you really love?
Lots and not just crochet designers either. Anyone who designs or makes clothing for fashion or costume can be an inspiration. I love pretty, lacy textures, like those created by Kirsten Holloway Designs, interesting fabrics like those created by Klara Nilsson and designers who don’t feel bound by the conventions of how garments and their construction typically work, such as Olga Buraya-Kefelian. I also love seeing bold colour combinations and there are so many designers and makers who are fantastic at that: Moorit’s issue 4 includes some great examples.
We’re so nosey - do you have any future designing plans you can share with us?
Yes! Whilst I can’t share the details of patterns that I’m currently creating for book and magazine publishers or yarn suppliers until close to the publication date, I do have a few designs I’m hoping to publish independently over the next few months. Some will be available for free on my website or YouTube channel and others as downloadable files in my Ravelry and Etsy shops. They include a convertible pullover/cardigan; a decorative lace design that be used to create a hairband, choker or belt; several granny square designs with instructions for accessory projects included in each pattern; and a pattern in Tunisian crochet which has several garment options, including a corset, a belt and a waistcoat.
The part I enjoy most about working on a design that I’ll publish independently is being able to share my work in progress with those who enjoy my designs, for example in my newsletter and social media. My mailing list subscribers recently told me they wanted more insight into what I actually do day to day as a designer, so I’m considering ways to do that too, e.g. interactive live streaming with discussion as I make swatches and samples or do other aspects of my work.
Joanne, we’ve loved picking your brain and learning more about the inspiration and making process behind the delicious Sweet Talk!
Thank you so much for your time and such wonderful answers.