We felt so very lucky when Beth Major, aka Crochet Gypsy, a Fredericton New Brunswick based crochet designer contacted us. I do not know how to crochet so must confess that until that point the possibility of having crochet patterns designed for Les Belles Bouclettes yarns had not occurred to me. However, soon as the idea was suggested Isabelle was as enthusiastic as I was, and within days Beth had her package of Amelia yarn, Les belles Bouclettes 60/40 mohair/wool sportsweight. (The Belles Bouclettes line of sport and dk weight yarns are named for famous women from the first part of the twentieth century. Amelia is in commemoration of Amelia Earhart, world famous aviatrix.) After working with Amelia for a week Beth wrote to tell me that her “hands think they are in heaven“!
Just last week she sent us these terrific photos for a sneak peak at the beautiful infinity cowl she is designing.
Canary Cowl in progress
Canary Cowl in progress
Canary Cowl in progress
Her latest update included her choice of name for this gorgeous accessory, “Since the stitch pattern of the cowl can be reminiscent of feathers, I am naming the Cowl “Canary Cowl” in honour of Amelia Earhart’s first plane to go with the theme of the yarn.”
Or visit her on her Facebook page at:
What first drew you to crocheting and when did you learn to crochet?
I have been crocheting as long as I can remember. When I was a young child my Gramma taught me to knit and crochet. I must have been maybe 6 or 7 because I remember sitting in her chair in her old house while she was teaching me, a house she moved out of when I was 8. Even though she taught me both knitting and crocheting, crochet is what ‘stuck’. I have often wanted to learn how to knit but could never get the hang of it, I always seemed to be doing it ‘wrong’. It was just recently I realized that I wasn’t doing it wrong, Gramma taught me the Continental style (picking the yarn) and since most knitters use the English style (throwing the yarn), I never could grasp it. However, since there always seems to be something new I could learn with crochet, I didn’t pursue knitting. When I was a teenager, a friend taught me the Granny Square which fascinated me for quite sometime, everything I made was a Granny Square! In my late teens/early 20’s, I picked up a small book that has been pivotal to my crochet endeavors, 63 Easy-to-Crochet Pattern Stitches by Darla Sims (Leisure Arts #555). This book I use to this day for all my Crochet Fundamentals courses. This is the book that taught me to read patterns. Previous to getting this book, I was a ‘freestyler’ I created as I went along.
How did you progress to designing your own patterns?
Because I was a freestyler first and learned pattern reading second, I was able to start writing down the things I was making into (very) rough draft type ‘patterns’. These initial ‘patterns’ were more cues to myself so I could duplicate my work and have 2 things the same size. I did this for years. I also never took pictures of any of my work and I gave most of it away. About 12 years ago, (around the time facebook started becoming popular and accessible) I thought I should start taking pictures of the things I made so I could post them. The response was great and I started taking orders for things.
Baby boy set with blanket
Pink camo set 12 months
I got quickly overwhelmed and struggled to keep up, so after about 3 to 4 years I decided that this form of crochet ‘work’ wasn’t for me. I kept making the same things over and over again and, I hate to say it, but I got bored with crochet and wasn’t enjoying the process of making things anymore. Around the same time, I enrolled in the Craft Yarn Councils Crochet Instructor course. I began working as a Crochet Instructor at Spun Fibre Arts, a local yarn shop in Burlington, Ontario. It was there I met my good friend Karen Marlatt of KDM Creative. She was a hopeless knitter as much as I was a hopeless crocheter, we were a good pairing at Spun. Karen was already publishing her designs and she encouraged me to start publishing mine. My very first patterns (other than a couple of self published on Ravelry) were published by Knit Picks in their Independent Designer Program. I was ‘hooked’ and haven’t stopped designing since!
Flare brim hat
Afghan and pillow
Tunisian Entralac Cowl
Which fibres do you prefer to work with and why?
I hate to say it, but I have become a yarn snob 🙂 I love natural fibres! Alpaca, Angora, Mohair and silk blends are my favourites. With that being said, some acrylics have come a long way in recent years and there are some that are wonderful to work with too.
Are there specific types of garments and/or stitches you enjoy working more?
I generally tend to prefer smaller to medium sized accessories only because I like to see projects completed. I do enjoy making blankets occasionally but I often finish many smaller pieces while working on the larger piece, just so I have the feeling of completion. I don’t really have a favourite stitch or stitches but when I’m really not paying attention to what my hands are doing, regardless of what stitch the design is calling for, I always default to double crochet.
What inspires your pattern designs?
Before I started creating my own designs, I would look at other designers work and try to copy it. Now before I ruffle any feathers, most of the patterns accessible at the time were knit patterns. I still look at knit patterns and say “I could crochet that!” But mostly now I love to play with the stitches and look for new ways to make the same old stitches or new ways to apply the same old stitches. It might sound strange, but I often let the yarn tell me what it wants to be and the design generally evolves from there.
Is there a particular part of the process that appeals to you or do you enjoy it all from project conception to lifting the blocked item up and trying it on (when possible)?
I love the lost in thought, dreaming about what could be created, idea conception part of the design process. Then playing with the yarn to see what it has to say to me. Most of my designs do not include colourwork as I am not a fan of weaving in ends. I will admit that the gauge swatch and the blocking are the parts I like the least … unless I’m blocking lace patterns, I do love seeing how the lace blooms and is brought to glory during blocking.
Do you have favourite tools (specific crochet hook brands for example) that you prefer to work with?
The crochet tools I enjoy using tend to depend on the fibre I am working with. I prefer wooden or bamboo hooks for working with natural fibres and the metal hooks for acrylics. Hands down, my favourite band is Chiagoo bamboo hooks.
Do you make other crafts?
When not crocheting, I enjoy making jams and preserves, creating homemade soaps and gardening.
What do you do when you aren’t designing gorgeous patterns?
My current ‘day job’ is working as a Pet Care Specialist at an interactive, cage-free boarding and doggie daycare facility. I recently retired from a career as a Registered Massage Therapist and, in what seems like ancient history to me, I was an Archaeologist working mainly in Ontario.
I also currently teach crochet at my awesome crochet-friendly LYS, Yarns on York
in Fredericton NB, and offer private lessons.
More recently published designs
Daya Lace Throw
Squared Away Throw (photo copyright Knitpicks)
Ginger Scarf (Interweave Crochetscene Summer 2014)
Sweetcharlotte shawl (photo copyright ilikecrochet.com) published October 2015
We think Beth is a delight, and it has been such a pleasure to introduce her to you all! Working with her over the past month has been a real treat, and we thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about her!
If things continue on schedule her Canary Cowl pattern will be available for sale on Les Belles Bouclettes and Beth’s Ravelry page before Christmas. The yarn and pattern will also be available as a kit from Belles Bouclettes. Wouldn’t it be a fantastic Christmas present to tuck under the tree for your favourite crocheter?!