Today, Ellen Gormley joins us for ten questions, including how she gets inspired in a creative slump and her best advice for a new crocheter. Ellen is the author of Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook, which features fifty crochet motifs and ten afghan designs that are completely portable, so you can whip up an afghan in no time!
Q: When did you start crafting? What craft did you start with?
Ellen: I don’t know when I started crafting, but my Mom always had a fiber craft in process. She dabbled in all of them, from cross-stitch and macrame to knitting, crochet and sewing. One summer in particular, Mom bought me several craft “kits” to keep me occupied. I think I had them all made in the first week!
Q: What other crafts do you do besides crochet?
E: I have basic skills in sewing, knitting and paper quilling. In the past I have cross-stitched, embroidered and quilted. But I am so busy with crochet that I don’t often have the luxury of pursuing other crafts.
Q: What made you decide to write a book?
E: I have always had a strong desire to write a book but was always looking for what I had to share. Writing a book was a challenge to conquer, not unlike running a marathon or earning a degree. I really love the idea that my children will have my book to show their children one day.
Q: What is the best part about writing a book? What is the most difficult?
E: The best part of writing a book is the sense of achievement. I loved the process of creating, making the decisions about what should go in and what should wait. Choosing yarns and colors for the projects was like being in a candy store with a full wallet. The most difficult part of the book was the editing. By the time we got to the editing stage, I was so familiar with every word that it took great discipline to look at it again critically.
Q: How do you get inspired when you’re feeling a lack of creativity?
E: Being around other crafters, taking classes, diving into my yarn stash . . . all these things never cease to get my mind moving. Often when I’m not feeling creative, I give myself permission to fail. I tell myself just to play without worrying about the end result. I get out the yarn and play until something comes to me, or a project accidentally develops into something worth keeping. If nothing comes of it, I put it aside. My first attempts might get my mind inspired on another day when I have a different mood or perspective.
Q: What is the skill or technique that most intimidates you?
E: I believe that given enough patience and instruction, anyone can learn anything, but the idea of crocheting with wire makes me tense up just thinking about it.
Q: What’s the best advice you could give to a new crocheter?
E: Don’t expect your first attempts to be projects you will give as gifts, but keep them for yourself as a record of how much you have progressed. Learn in short, frequent 10-15 minute lessons. Take a break before getting frustrated.
Q: What’s your favorite crochet blog, and why?
E: I read several blogs, but I find Vashti Braha’s blog (http://designingvashti.blogspot.com) the one I look forward to most. In the most complimentary way, I consider her a student of crochet in that she is always pushing to learn more about our craft . . . then she becomes the teacher and shares what she has discovered. I, too, am always learning, and I appreciate her journeys into the how and why of crochet.
Q: What tool, notion or material can you not live without?
E: I can’t live without an “I” hook. I wouldn’t have as much fun without my digital camera. Clover locking stitch markers make my work enormously more convenient. Smooth worsted weight yarn is a go-to standard. Put all those items in a bag and I’m happy anywhere.
Q: How has crocheting changed your life?
E: Crochet has allowed me to create gifts for my loved ones. It has kept me company in hospital waiting rooms. Crochet has allowed me to be an artist without the paint fumes. Crochet has allowed me to work from home and be flexible to the needs of my children and husband without sacrificing my identity.