One of the pleasures of writing Hankering for Yarn is that it gives me a chance to talk with neat people.
I love doing interviews
with other designers
and hearing about
the design process in their lives.
Today, I am interviewing
the lovely and talented Ellen Gormley.
My questions are in green
and Ellen’s answers are in black:
1. How did you create your life as a designer?
Like everything else, my design career has evolved. Long before I quit my “real job” my co-workers and I would talk about what we would do if we could do any profession we wanted. I used to say, “I want to get paid to crochet!”. When the kids came along and we decided I would stay home with them, I decided that I would spend $100 pursuing crochet. I made decision charts about various ways of crocheting for profit… craft fairs, custom orders, publishing, etc. And I decided to see if I could sell patterns so that I wouldn’t have to sit in a booth all day (who would watch the kids with DH busy working?). Also, I knew I didn’t have the time or temperament to mass produce items for sale.
2. Do you have a favorite aspect of all that you do?
I’m a compliment junkie. Time and resources are limited for our hobbies, so when someone chooses to spend her (or his) free-time on one of my patterns, it is a huge, huge compliment. What a thrill!
3. What aspect of being a designer
is most challenging to you?
The most challenging part of designing is grading garments.
When I do math, I have to “show my work”
so that I can follow what I’m doing.
It is very easy to get myself confused.
I find that if I write out my rationale long hand, it’s a little easier (but still hard!).
4. What part of designing
is the most rewarding to you?
When I see photos posted
of projects that crafters
have made from my patterns,
it’s the best thing
in the whole experience.
5. How long have you been designing professionally?
I began designing in 2004. I have been crocheting on and off since I was 10 or so. I have been crocheting steadily since 1994.
6. What triggers your creativity? What is most inspiring to you?
It is really inspiring to make a gift for a specific person. What looks good on her? What colors does she like? How will she use it? I find smooth yarns more inspiring than textured ones. Smooth yarn feels like more of a blank canvas with limitless possibilities.
7. Are the fiber arts your main focus?
Yes, the last few years I am all stitching. As a child I was obsessed with spiral-graph drawings. I was a photography major in college, until the world went digital at the same time I got busy with family. Growing up, my Mom and I were always doing some sort of stitchery, embroidery, macrame’, basic sewing, cross-stitch, etc. But since 1994, I have been consumed with crochet expanding to knit.
8. What is your favorite way of getting your work out into the world?
While I love Ravelry, I’m having much fun posting about my work on Facebook and Twitter because it allows my Aunts and Cousins, high school friends, to be exposed to the art that I love.
9. Does where you live
influence your work in any way?
We live in Southern Ohio
where winters can be cold
and summers are hot.
The winter necessity for fun hats and scarves
has really influenced
the projects I make.
10. Where can people buy your work?
My blog and Ravelry.
11. Do you maintain a blog or website? If so, what are their urls?
www.GoCrochet.com is my blog and there is a gallery link from it.
12. Do you have a crafting or arts community that influences you and is important to you? (online or ‘real life’). Is it important to you to be in touch with your peers?
I participate in a ‘Crochet and Chat’ at our local library. Online, I participate as much as I can. Participating with others in person is really important. Designing can be very isolating. It’s so secretive until the project is published. There is so much that can’t be said. Meeting with friends in person alleviates much of this and the common love for the craft is very inspiring. It is also humbling because there are so many very talented crafters out there!
13. Do you have an all time favorite
piece that you designed?
I have a soft spot for
my daughter’s First Communion Dress.
I thought about that dress for months before I started.
Still there are things I would do differently,
but she liked it
and it’s now part of our family history.
14. Is there a project or product that has ever flumoxed you and just refused to work out?
I’m sure there is, but everything evolves so much from the initial idea. Oh, I know one, there was a tote bag once that just didn’t want to be structured like I wanted it to be! No matter what I did, it was floppy.
15. Many designers are immersing themselves in self publishing. Is this part of the way that you work?
I do have several patterns for sale as PDFs. I definitely see advantages to self-publishing. Many of the technical aspects of self-publishing; charts, graphics, etc are somewhat intimidating. Right now, I’m content to let others work all of that out and let me spend my time designing and stitching. It is also fun to be part of a publication with others so that you can share and talk about the experience. There is camaraderie in being part of a traditional publication that is missing from self-publishing.
16. Is there anything that I have missed that you would like to share with the readers of Hankering for Yarn?
I’m a mom. I crochet at soccer games and swim practice. I design because I love it, but it also contributes to our family’s income. This is a business and without business people creating, there would be much less crochet to consume and inspire.
1. Ellen has a book coming out in Spring 2011.
2. An interview with Ellen can be seen in the upcoming season of Knit and Crochet Today/Now
Thanks, Ellen! wishing you even greater success with ‘Go Crochet!’