I’m extremely excited about my next designer interview!! It’s with the one and only Lucy Collin!!!
Lucy Collin aka Lucy Ravenscar of lucyravenscar.blogspot.co.uk is well known for her cute fantasy and science fiction themed Amigurumi many of which feature on her blog. She’s the author of the VERY popular book Star Wars Crochet, which pretty much sold out on Amazon UK as soon as it was listed (thank goodness I got my copy!), and the creator of over 70 fabulous patterns. She also published another book called Hollywood Crochet which includes instructions on how to make your very own crochet celebrities like Marilyn, Audrey Hepburn, Leo and Kate in Titanic, James Bond and Elvis and had patterns published Inside Crochet & Crochet Gifts magazines.
Recently I have made LOTS of the fabulous Star Wars characters from her book (which I reviewed here) and I thought I would see if she would kindly let me find out more about her designing world – and she said YES! Here’s what we chatted about…
How did you first discover crocheting and amigurumi?
I learned to crochet when I was about 8 years old, taught by my grandmother, and I had a go at making a few things, including a cardigan I designed myself when I was about 12. Then I forgot all about it until I wanted to make things for my children’s school Christmas bazaar about ten years ago. I was searching for ideas online when I came across some cute little crocheted animals. I found it surprisingly easy to start crocheting again, and after following a few patterns to get the hang of the amigurumi style, I started creating things myself.
How did you become a crocheting designer? Is it your real job?
The internet has a lot to do with this. I found sites like Craftster where I could look at things other people had made, and share the creatures I made. Then people started asking if I had patterns for them, so I tried writing them out and posted them online. They were very popular, and I came to realise that people would actually pay for amigurumi patterns, so I started to put them up for sale on sites like Etsy and Ravelry. I was doing all this when I’d stopped work to have children, so it was easy to fit in designing and selling patterns around whatever I was doing with the kids. They’re older now, and designing is my job, but it’s flexible enough that I can still be available at home.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Initially my children, or at least they gave me the impetus to make cute little toys that they would like. I love science fiction and fantasy, so I would introduce them to my favourite films and TV shows, and then they would ask me to make a character that they liked. That evolved into making classic fantasy creatures such as dragons, and creating my own fantastical creatures. I also love animals, so I really enjoy making crocheted versions of my favourite wildlife.
Tell us a bit about your design process…
I have a very long list of ideas that I want to make that I’m constantly thinking about, so first I have to decide which idea I’m going to work on first. Depending on how clear the idea is in my head, I might do a few sketches of how I want it to look, then I start crocheting, writing down every step. There may be a lot of false starts getting the shape and size right, but once I’m happy with what I’ve made I’ll turn my notes into a proper pattern. I work from that pattern and make the toy one or more times until I’m totally satisfied with the design. I tend to like to make quite a few variations, so I might go through the whole process several times.
Do you have a favourite creation that you’ve designed?
One of my first designs, that I made available for free, was the Fierce Little Dragon, and I’m really fond of this design. I love dragons, and he sits on top of my computer screen and keeps me company. What’s really nice is that so many people have made dragons using the pattern, and I love seeing all the different yarns they used to make them when they post photos up on Ravelry.
I’m also very fond of my fantasy character designs, particularly the Dwarf patterns that I finished fairly recently. I ended up making five different versions, both male and female, with different looks, and I really enjoyed the way they came out, especially the female warrior dwarf.
Do you have go to hooks and yarn?
I started off using basic aluminium hooks, the ones my grandmother gave me in fact, but in the last year or so I’ve upgraded to Tulip hooks in the sizes I use most often, and a full set of Clover soft touch hooks. For small amigurumi, and ones with lots of colour changes, like the fantasy characters, I use decent but fairly cheap acrylic yarn, particularly Hayfield Bonus and Robin DK because they’ve got lots of colour choices, and acrylic works well to make toys with. For larger figures, especially animals, I like to use acrylic yarns with some wool or alpaca in the mix, such as Hayfield Bonus with wool, Sirdar Country Style DK and Stylecraft Alpaca DK, which worked beautifully for my Bracken the Fox pattern.
Who gets your creations; you, your family, your friends?
I used to make them for my children, then when I started turning my designs into patterns I would keep the things I made in case I needed to photograph them again, or check them if anyone had any questions. I would give the unsuccessful versions to my younger son, and he would get quite upset when I would refer to them as ‘rejects’! I’ve also made quite a few, especially of the Star Wars characters, as presents for friends and family.
Now we’ve had Hollywood Celebrities and Star Wars figures are we going to see other well known characters in the future?
I’m quite keen to come up with my own designs for patterns to sell online, but I’d love to make more famous characters if a publisher asks me to do another book. It would be great to do Star Wars designs from the new film, and it would be fun to do a book of Game of Thrones patterns.
Where do you work? Do you have a studio space or do you work from your living room chair?
Living room chair, I like to be as comfortable as possible, and I have all my bits and pieces nearby. I’ve recently got all my yarn organised into a spare room so it’s easy to find what I want, and when I start a project I get all the yarn I need and put it in a large bag so I can have it close to hand in the living room. At the moment I’ve got several projects on the go – new patterns, presents, a blanket for my son – so the room is a bit full with bags of yarn!
Tell us a bit about yourself- what do you do when you’re not crocheting?
As I already said I’m a big fan of all sorts of SF and fantasy, so I like to watch films and TV, but I can crochet at the same time, so maybe that doesn’t count! I try to read as well, but it’s difficult to find the time when the crochet is calling me… I love taking my dog for a walk every day, it’s great to get out in nature, whatever the weather.
Finally finish the sentence … I love crochet because…
With just a hook and some yarn I can turn the ideas in my head into reality.
I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Lucy for taking time out of her busy life to answer these questions, I’ve really enjoyed getting a better understanding of what’s involved with in her designing process and hope you have too.