Designer Interview | Zeens and Roger

I’m dead excited about my next designer interview because I had the pleasure of actually meeting her recently at The Crochet Sanctuary – and if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my fan girl moment in my stories. It’s the lovely Rosina aka Zeens and Roger !!!

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I’ve been following Rosina since I was told about her vlogcasts on Youtube. Her down to earth, say it like it is, podcast episodes are amongst my favourite podcasts to listen to and watch.

You will have also no doubt, if you are a crochet fan, have seen her awesome Instagram feed and come across some of her lovely designs in magazines like Inside Crochet. She has also, more recently, branched out (pun intended) into hook whittling in her new collaboration Kirk and Roger creating some beautiful handmade hooks.

Kirk and Roger Handmade Hooks
© zeensandroger.com

With so much going on I wanted to find out a bit more about Rosina, how she does it all, her inspiration and her designing process. Here’s what we chatted about…

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I grew up in Southampton but I’ve spent half my life in Devon. I moved to Exeter in the late 90’s to study Art History at uni and never left. For the last ten years I’ve lived in an old town just outside of Exeter. It’s sandwiched between the countryside and the coast. I love it!  I’ve worked at a cinema (I still love the smell of popcorn), in social housing (I was rubbish at it) and in HR (interesting stuff). I still dream about working at the cinema even though it was nearly twenty years ago.

How did you discover crochet?

Let’s not count the failed attempts as a child. Instead, I think I can really only say that it was a year after I had my first baby, so nearly 9 years ago. It’s probably a familiar story amongst crafters. Something about starting a family kick started the creativity again (after years of not doing anything crafty). My baby boy received handmade blankets from my family and I wanted in on the action! I started to crochet because I wanted my children to have things I’d made for them.  I bought a beginners book and found a YouTube video that I liked and began to make a very long and very uneven chain. 

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How did you become a crochet designer?

I don’t remember a time that didn’t have me going “off pattern”. However, the first thing I properly designed was a little granny owl decoration. It was the first time I’d written out a pattern anyway. That was around four/five years ago. I remember fretting that I’d never get another idea again. But the wondrous thing about being a crochet addict is that you always want more! The more you do it, the more ideas you get.

In the autumn of 2016 I sent out a few emails to magazines offering my ideas. I was thrilled that one of my ideas was accepted by Inside Crochet (my favourite crochet mag). It was such a buzz and a huge confidence booster!

One Way or Another Shawl
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Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

I honestly don’t have a clue half the time. Colour is a biggy as I expect it is for everyone. I’m inspired by what my peers/friends are doing too, I think we’re all influenced by the same trends and it’s fascinating to see how we all interpret them differently. My favourite ideas are often the ones that pop in my head from nowhere. But it might be a holiday, pretty wrapping paper or a bonkers conversation and all of a sudden you’re presented with an image of a thing that you have to make and you have to make it NOW!

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What does your design process look like? Do you sketch things out first, or do you just like to grab a hook and go?

It’s haphazard! I don’t have a particular routine but I do like to make sketches. The starting point might be the pretty wrapping paper but it might also be a crochet stitch I’ve never seen before. If I fall in love with it I have to use it in something. Or I might lust after some special yarn I’ve seen, which has to be turned into a shawl or blanket.

Release the Hounds Shawl
© zeensandroger.com

Do you have a favourite creation that you’ve designed?

I often end up hating the designs I’ve come up with and can’t wait to see the back of them! (I probably spend way too much time with the frog/rework process to have any love left). It’s not always true though, I do have pieces I’m very proud of. My C2C projects make me happy. All the yarn tangling of Havana Nights was worth it in the end! At the moment my favourites are two shawls, Release the Hounds and Hinterland, mostly for their simplicity. Sometimes simple is best! 

Havana Nights Blanket
© zeensandroger.com

How and why did you start making your own hooks?

I’d seen other crocheters explore the idea and fancied having a hook for myself. I asked my friend, Paul to make one for me as his hobby is woodwork. He showed me how to make them and also suggested selling them. It’s quite addictive but I break a lot of sticks trying to make the perfect hook (and I get blisters!). I really should leave the hook making to him and I’ll stick to crochet! Kirk & Roger is a small sideline for us both, it’s fun and no pressure. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed working with someone else. We’re a good team!

What made you decide to start your own podcast?

The number one reason was because my friends in real life reeaalllly weren’t interested in hearing me blather on about crochet all the time. I get way too excited about yarn, patterns, design work etc and you can see eyes begin to glaze over. I thought it’d be a nice outlet for me to find like-minded people to engage with. For me it’s easier than blogging; I just sit down and hit record. I’m more of a talker than a writer. 

How do you fit everything in that you want to? Are you strict with yourself and your time or is it a struggle to juggle?

I don’t fit everything in. Not by a long shot. I’m a world class procrastinator and am not strict on myself at all. I reckon I could double my output if I only learned how to be more disciplined. It can be very tricky to stay motivated when you work from home. I force myself to sit at the computer and write those patterns! It’s much easier when working to a deadline for a magazine, there’s an end goal… But I’ll still leave it to the last minute.

© zeensandroger.com

What advice would you have for any budding crochet designer, small business owner or podcaster who might like to follow in your footsteps?

Just do it. Start today. If you want to do it, just give it a go!  I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I can confirm that there is never a right time. None of what I do ever looks as good as the next person’s, there is always someone out there who does it way better. But I love it, so I do it anyway. I’ve definitely improved since I hit publish on that first episode, but I am always working towards getting better.

Tomorrow you step outside and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning £100 million. What would you do?

Buy a house big enough to have a craft room. Pay someone to write up my patterns and pay another person to sew in ends. I’d also like to have a yarn and craft shop, supporting local makers and creatives. Oh, and it would be amazing to go to all the yarn shops, all over the world. I want to see what’s out there.

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Rosina again for taking time 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!

You can follow Rosina everywhere on the web:  BLOG, YOUTUBE, INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK and you can buy her patterns on RAVELRY and ETSY

Until next time – keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Simply Crochet 81 | Hook to Hook Challenge

If you are a fan of Simply Crochet magazine then you are probably familiar with their ‘Hook to Hook Challenges’ where two designers compete to come up with a unique pattern, to a given brief, using the same yarn.  I always love seeing these challenges as the results are always so different! So I was super excited to be asked to be one of the challengers for Issue 81. And this is what I came up with…

Butterfly-Card

© Intermediate Publishing

The theme for this challenge was ‘Mother’s Day Card’ and I was given five 10g mini balls of Scheepjes Catona and some card with which to design some motifs suitable to create a card to give on that special day.

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I actually came up with a few different ideas for card designs but in the end I settled on creating some butterfly motifs. I love butterflies, I just think they are wondrous creatures and always delight in seeing them so it was fun to come up with some small designs in keeping with my card idea.

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I also decided to add an extra handmade twist of embroidering with the yarn directly onto the card. That was really fun to do and it produced exactly the effect I was looking for with the card.

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As it was my mum that taught me how to crochet this Mother’s Day card would just be perfect for her! 

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I did laugh when I saw that my competitor was none other than Eleonora from Coastal Crochet! You may remember that I’ve met her a couple of times and interviewed her here on the blog too (read that here). It’s so fun to be up against someone I know and I certainly wouldn’t mind if she won.  I love Eleonora’s cat and floral motif card – it certainly is purrrfect for Mother’s day too! 

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One of the fun bits of the Hook to Hook Challenge is that YOU can vote for your favourite of the two designs on the Simply Crochet Instagram page. To vote, simply double tap and comment on the design you prefer, and one lucky reader will win all the yarn that you need to make the project.

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A winner will be announced on Wednesday 20th February 2019 at 1pm (GMT) on the Simply Crochet Instagram page, the competition is open to UK entrants only and T&C’s will apply.

So please, go check out the challenge, vote, and then I hope you’ll pop to the shops to pick up your copy of Simply Crochet Magazine for both Mother’s Day card patterns so you can have a go at making them yourself!

Until next time folks! Happy hooking and keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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2017 in a Nutshell + Giveaway Advanced Notice

I umm’d and ahh’d about doing an end of year review but I decided that I quite like looking back at the year in this way. 

2017 for me was the year I had my tenth wedding anniversary and when I watched my youngest daughter take her first wobbly steps, when she finally said ‘Mama’ for the first time (and then never stopped saying it) and when my eldest daughter won first prize in a talent show that she’d entered herself into – so much pride for my family this year!

08And 2017 has been quite a crochet year for me! Not only did I immortalise myself in crochet when I reviewed the Edwards Doll Emporium book but it’s the year where I made the very scary choice of trying to see how far I could really go on my crochet design journey.  And it turned out to be further than I ever thought it would be! I got to work with some fabulous magazines both in the UK and the US and I’ve had the chance to collaborate with some awesome people and companies. 

Sometimes I have to remind myself (and pinch myself) that it’s only since January this year that I started working with Let’s Get Crafting magazine as I’ve had such fun collaborating with them now for several fun designs.

MagFrontI can’t even try to explain to you the overwhelming joy I felt when my first ever design with them appeared on the front cover – I’d never even contemplated the fact that it was a possibility. And what made it really great was the folks of the magazine saved the surprise so I didn’t know about until issue 88 was released. 

Using set yarns amounts, colours and hooks for each project has really developed the way I look at things as a designer. I would have never thought it but I’ve found that I really quite enjoy the challenge of ‘making it work’ under, what others might see as, these types of constraint.

And I love how bright and colourful all the designs have been. I thought I’d do a little collage of all my makes that have featured in Let’s Get Crafting issues from January to December 2017 (Issues 88 to 97).

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And I also got to work with Simply Crochet Magazine twice this year and, as you will remember from my last post, I got to have the Crochet Edits supplement all to myself – again there really are no words to describe how it felt to see that for the first time.  

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I feel so lucky that both Let’s Get Crafting  and Simply Crochet Magazine have been so supportive and have believed in me enough to publish my work!

And I was feeling the love from across the pond too as I worked with both Happily Hooked magazine…

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and I Like Crochet magazine again. 

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I’ve also had the delight of seeing two of my designs turned into crochet kits with CraftStore UK 

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and I’ve also done a fair bit of yarny visiting with trips to the Knitting and Stitching Show in London, the Scheepjes day at Black Sheep Yarns, the Nottingham Yarn Expo and also some how found the time to visit the first Wool@Jct13 Yarn Festival!

and I also managed to crochet some things from other peoples patterns…

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and designed a few more things…

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And entered a design competition – (and I’m working on getting these patterns tested behind the scenes for folks that asked about them)…

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And in a nutshell, that was 2017! It does makes my heart happy to see all my crochet projects together. But blooming heck! When you add it all together it seems like sooooo much! I’ve just worked out that I completed 68 projects altogether in 2017 which is a bit crazy… I go to work, I have a social life and I enjoy time with my family, I’m not actually sure how I’ve fitted all that in?!

But’s it time to look forward to 2018 – and I AM really looking forward to 2018! I’ve already got some exciting things in store AND in a couple of weeks I’m going to be holding a BIG giveaway to celebrate the fact that I’ve been blogging for FOUR whole years now.

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AND there are going to be some AMAZING prizes in the giveaway kindly donated by lots of the lovely people who I’ve worked with in 2017 including:

It’s going to awesome!!! It’s all starting from 31 January (which is my blog’s birthday) so make sure you are subscribed (if you aren’t already) so you don’t miss any of the details.

Until next time, keep calm and crochet on my friends x

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