Getting to Know: Joanne Scrace

Following with our classes here at Knit With Attitude, we have another interview! This time it is with Joanne Scrace, a designer, teacher and writer of the blog Not So Granny. She will be leading a class on how to crochet a shawl from her books The Shawl Project Books One and Two on Saturday January 10th, from 12-3pm. You can read more about the class and book your spot here.

In the mean time we have asked Joanne a few questions about her career and crochet. Thanks so much!

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Missed Kingfisher pattern from the Shawl Project Book Two.

How long have you been knitting and crocheting?
I learnt to knit as a child and picked it up again in my early twenties (fifteen years ago – can that really be right?!) I only started to crochet about seven years ago.

What inspired you to get into teaching?
I love passing on skills and I am very patient. Teaching is a constant reminder of what my customers need when I design so it is the perfect pairing.

You have been championing modern crochet for a few years. What is it about crochet that you love vs knitting?
Its fast! And very easy to rip out when it goes wrong! I think I find crochet more inspiring because fewer people are using it in interesting ways and I feel like there is less known about the technical side of the craft. I enjoy subverting crochet to make it look like knitting and playing with stitches to get crochet to behave in new and interesting ways.There is a lot of untapped potential there.

What are the challenges that crochet is facing that knitting has not?
The dual languages and different ways of writing patterns – it really confuses beginners. If I could wave a magic wand I would make crochet pattern writing as standardized as knitting. 

Shawls from The Shawl Project.

Shawls from The Shawl Project.

You have written two crochet shawl books, can you tell us about your journey to self-publishing?
At the start of my designing career I published through magazines a lot so I didn’t have to deal with photography, layout and technical editing. Then I met my business partner Kat Goldin and between us we had the perfect skill set to do the self publishing end to end. I prefer to self publish as it allows me to explore the pattern writing and topics that I want to look at and I keep complete creative control of how my work is presented.

Are you a process or product knitter/crocheter?
I enjoy making very much, always look for patterns that teach me something and don’t feel truly happy unless there is a hook or pair of needles in my hand so in that sense I am a process maker. But I do love to wear what I make; every design is to fill a little gap in my wardrobe – completely inspired by the finish object. I will stay up till the early hours finishing then steam block so I can wear something the next day. SO in that sens I am a product maker.

What are you currently making?
I’ve just started on one of the cardigans for my next book.

The Anniversary Collection – Pumpkin Legwarmers

The Anniversary Collection And then there are three! We are so pleased to present to you the third pattern in our Anniversary Collection, and let me tell you, this is the cutest little quick fix ever!!! These little baby leg warmers are perfect snugglers for the upcoming chill, and heart warming gifts for those special little limbs.

Pumpkin Baby Legwarmers

This time we’ve collaborated with the lovely crochet designer Mitucha Ford – the woman behind  This Little…, a haven for handmade booties for those tots you love the most – really, go check out her baby booties! When doing this design especially for us, Mitucha says she was inspired by Knit with attitude’s love for all things ethical and a burst of colour in celebration of our delicious yarns, making these little beauties in the yummy WATG Wooly Bully Alpaca.

The Pumpkin Legwarmers are available as a digital pattern on Ravelry, as a single printed pattern or as a kit over in our online shop. And that’s not all – Mitucha has even made this brilliant video tutorial to teach you all the stitches used in the pattern!

 

Getting to Know: Clare Devine

One of our guest teachers is Clare Devine, who is teaching ‘Two at a Time Anything’ on Saturday November 14th from 12-3pm here at the shop. Clare is about to swap windy UK for sunny Australia, and will be moving overseas at the end of the year. We are so glad she found time in her schedule to do a workshop with us – and what a cool workshop this is! Do you live in fear of encountering second sock / mitt / sleeve syndrome? Why not learn to knit two at a time. This technique is perfect for socks but works equally well with mittens and sleeves.

Working on Clare’s Crumpet Mitt pattern you will in this class learn how to cast on and knit two circular items at once on a long circular needle and how to create a pair of mittens with afterthought thumbs. There is more information about the class on the website, and you can call the shop to book your spot.

We thought we would do a little interview with Clare to find out more about her inspirations as a knitter and as a teacher.

Crumpet_1

How long have you been knitting?
I started knitting when I was travelling in Australia during 2010. The story goes that I wanted to buy a hand knitted hat in this cute little shop but my budget conscious husband suggested it might not be the best use of my limited dollars. He was probably right – although at the time my stubborn streak stepped in and I decided I was going to knit my own hat, and I did. The rest, as they say, is history.

My grandmother was a very talented knitter but we lived at opposite ends of the globe (she was in the UK and I grew up in South Africa) so while there was a little bit of childhood knitting I only really caught the knitting bug later on in life.

What inspired you to get into teaching?
I love teaching. While we were in Australia I taught English as an additional language and in South Africa I qualified as a high school English and History teacher. Education is such a huge part of my life. When we moved to Scotland I wanted something that would fit alongside caring for my little girl – teaching knitting part time seemed like a natural progression. I love nothing more than helping people learn new skills and watching them enjoy their knitting more.

You grew up in South Africa, then lived in Australia, then Scotland and now England. Do you feel like there are differences in the knitting culture in these different places?
In all honesty there isn’t a huge knitting culture in South Africa. It is pretty warm most of the year and while people do knit there is not the same range of knitwear wearing opportunities as there are in the colder northern climes. My grandma used to send us cosy Aran jumpers but we never really got to wear them. The knitting community in South Africa is certainly growing though and there are many interesting indy dyers and designers emerging.

My experience of the knitting community in Australia is limited but I cannot wait to start finding a new fibre community there next year once we have settled (we are moving in early 2016).

One thing I will miss about the UK knitting scene is the wide range of fibres and yarns available. Coming from South Africa I was truly spoiled for choice here.

Through designing patterns you have worked with a wide variety of companies. Can you tell us about how collaboration is important to you and your business?
Collaboration is key for me – I love working with other people. It is always so inspiring forming bonds with other creative folk. Often this work can be quite isolating as being a freelancer I tend to work from home alone a lot. Working with other like-minded fibre lovers keeps me sane and provides a constant source of inspiration and motivation.

We are seeing more and more online shops dominating the market. You have collaborated quite a lot with Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh. What role do you think bricks ’n mortars shops play with modern knitters?
There is nothing like having a local yarn shop. When we arrived in Edinburgh the first thing I did was look for a local yarn shop – finding Ginger Twist Studio quite literally changed my life! The community that grows from a great local yarn store can’t be compared to online. That said, online communities are so important too. The community I have found online has shaped and formed my life over the last few years. I have met so many inspiring, knowledgeable and kind people connected to the fibre community through online channels – many who are now ‘real life’ friends. As with all things it is about balance. That said ….. long live the local yarn store!!!

Are you a process or product knitter?
I think it depends what I am knitting and when. The process of designing is what I love most. Finding a way to make the yarn shine or to incorporate a stitch pattern that doesn’t just slot in are part and parcel of that process. I also love construction, especially sock construction and that is all about the process. Then there are times when I want something quick and easy because I have fallen in love with a skein and want to wear it, or more likely have decided I am freezing and need some new knitwear.