If you don’t know already Dedri is a busy working mum / crochet artist extraordinaire! She’s not only the author of a popular blog, Look At What I Made, she’s the author of a remarkable book of Anamani Puzzle Balls and the creator of over 60 fabulous patterns – some of which are the most awesomely inspiring motifs I have ever seen such as the Sophie’s Mandalas, Sophie’s Garden and now Sophie’s Universe. Translated into seven different languages crotchet-ers all over the world (including me which I blogged about here) are enjoying joining in with the Sophie’s Universe CAL which started in January and has just finished (though that stage might be a bit longer away for some of us i.e. me!)
Hot off the back of having a go at creating my very own large motif square and with an even greater appreciation of her talents (if that’s possible!) I thought I would see if she would kindly let me grill her on the process she went into when designing Sophie’s Universe – and she said yes!!! I’m super excited to share with you what we chatted about.
What got you started on the Sophie’s Universe?
Sophie’s Universe started with Chris Simon’s Lace Petals Square. When I was making the Lace Petals Square as part of last year’s Block a Week CAL, we were visiting my parent-in-law on their farm in South Africa.
I don’t know if it was the actual pattern or the process of making and photographing it there that made it feel so special to me. I contacted Chris to see if I could modify it and use it to create a mandala. She very kindly said yes. And so I started on my Sophie-journey.
What motivated you to do Sophie’s Universe as a crochet-a-long?
Kimberly Slifer (Admin for the Official CCC Social Group on Facebook and from http://www.justagirlandahook.com/ ) approached me to ask if I would consider “growing” Sophie’s Garden into a full-size afghan for a CAL. I immediately said yes, because I had already been working on the afghan design anyway. The CAL provided a brilliant way for people to tackle the pattern bit by bit, without being daunted by the magnitude of the project.
This is particularly important to me, because this pattern is specifically aimed at beginners (despite its complexity), and had we published it as a complete pattern, a lot of beginners wouldn’t have had the guts to try it.
Do you have testers doing each part as you go along or did you do it all in one go?
Kimberly Slifer tested the whole pattern before we started with the CAL. As I do the photo tutorials (about 10 days in advance), I send them on to the rest of the testers and translators and they then test it again to make sure that the instructions are correct and easy to follow. We change whatever needs to be changed before I publish each part.
Did you have a concept in your head of the finished design or did it evolve organically?
Once I had a square, I still didn’t want to stop, but by this point lots of people had started growing their Sophie’s with optional rounds, so I knew that I would have to think outside of the box if I wanted to continue growing her in such a way that the design remained distinctive.
The actual design sort of evolved organically, but I had a general idea of what I was aiming for. I decided that I would flip the garden into a central diamond. I must admit that I was scared, right up until the CAL started, that I had made a huge mistake in doing so.
About a month before the CAL started I had to frog EVERYTHING back to the garden due to a fatal design flaw. I rewrote the whole pattern. Poor Kimberly had to frog a significant part of her work as well!
What comes first; stitches, colour or yarn?
Stitches and colour happen simultaneously. It is very hit and miss and I spend a fair bit of time frogging and re-making, both with different stitches and different colours.
In this case I made the prototype out of cheap acrylic yarn so that I wouldn’t feel bad about all the yarn I wasted during the design process. Once I’d completed it, I realized that I wanted to use a yarn that would last (and last well) for years. If I was going to invest over a thousand hours in a project, I wanted an heirloom at the end of it. I chose Scheepjeswol for all 3 my Sophie’s.
How long do you think it has taken you to design Sophie Universe altogether?
To date I have spent 1033 hours on this design and the related admin (checking videos, checking translations, designing, making, etc). That doesn’t include the time the translators, testers, Facebook admin, Jenny, and Esther have spent on it.
Do you have a favourite part of the Sophie Universe or a section that you are particular pleased with how it turned out in the end?
The corners in the original garden remain one of my favourite parts of the whole project. I am also very pleased with the central flowers on the “short sides”, the “diamond band” and the Scallops.
My most favourite part, though, and the bit that makes me smile every time I look at it, is the roses. I am absolutely thrilled with how they came out. I think they are well worth the hours (and hours) they took me to figure out.
Where do you work? Do you have a studio space or do you work from your living room chair?
Hehe…I work from my dining room table. My “photography corner” is set up in the children’s playroom (conservatory), which doubles as my “studio” and general dumping ground. In the summer it is too hot to work in, and in the winter it is too ridiculously cold!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere and anywhere! Street signs, fabric, tessellations, flowers, photographs (of anything). I always look at things and try to see what I can see in them that other people wouldn’t notice. I like thinking outside the box. Pinterest is an amazing source of inspiration and eye-candy. So is nature!
Now we’ve had Sophie’s Universe are you going to have a rest from large motif’s or do you see more in your future?
I am going to have a good long rest. I have promised the boys that I won’t be spending every Saturday and Sunday “working”. I have promised Christiaan that I won’t spend every evening “working”. So for now I am going to allow myself some time to crochet for fun. In a month or two I will start working on my next big project. I have 3 afghan designs I really want to get done, but before I do, I have to publish the rest of the Little Zoo Animals Anette Bak and I are working on. And hopefully write up a few more Amamani patterns.
I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank Dedri again for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions, I’ve really enjoyed getting a better understanding of the process and I hope you have too!