Lots of very exciting things have been happening here at Poppies & Polka Dots over that last few weeks, not least that I am now able to introduce our very first and incredibly lovely guest blogger - Emma Friedlander-Collins. For those of you that haven't come across Emma before, she is the author of the fabulous Crochet Dress-Up book:
A wonderfully original book full of delightful crochet patterns for children's dressing up costumes.
Emma has very generously agreed to create some exclusive tutorials and patterns for Poppies & Polka Dots which can be downloaded free from our website. The first two of these are going to be available from Monday 15th June!
In the meantime, I'd love to take this opportunity to introduce you a little more to Emma, so here are a few questions that I recently put to her.....
What first got you interested in crochet?
I remember seeing a little amigurumi unicorn somewhere and completely falling in love with it. I’ve always been a sewer, but knew I’d never be able to make it from fabric, so I’d just have to learn how to crochet.
When and how did you learn to crochet?
About four years ago I was on maternity leave, waiting for my littlest to arrive, I found some online tutorials, and started to teach myself. I’d tried knitting a few times and never taken to it, so was really surprised at how easily and quickly I fell for crochet, and now I think about it, am astonished at the journey it’s taken me on!
In terms of crocheting is there anyone in particular that inspires you?
I recently discovered Molla Mills, she’s the first crochet pin-up there’s ever been! Her designs are bold and graphic, and she definitely does her own thing.
How would you describe your style of crocheting to anyone that hasn’t seen what you do?
My work is quite playful. Having taught myself I’ve never been restricted by what you ‘should’ do. In my first book the editors called to say I’d been making up stitches! I like to play with shape and structure I suppose, and I also really like subverting the traditional idea of what people think crochet is like, and making it a bit edgy.
Where do you get your ideas/ inspiration for new designs and patterns?
Oh goodness, they come from everywhere, all of the time! The first book was all from things that the children could play with and in so very much driven by them, but recently I’m obsessing about colours and flowers, so lots of things are going on in my head inspired by them.
How did you come about getting your first crochet book published?
I’d been making my own patterns for ages, and it was my husband who encouraged me to write them up and get them on Etsy. I thought he was bonkers, but very quickly I started selling at least a pattern a week. Eventually there were enough patterns on there that I thought they’d make a fairly cohesive collection, so I went online to find out what I’d need to do to submit the idea to a publisher
It was a friend that suggested I try CICO, they specialise in non-fiction, arts and craftsy books, so I sent them an email and after a few weeks they got back to me and it all went from there.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your work?
Sometimes I get this sudden picture in my head of something that I just think would be so cool to make, and sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not. What I’m most proud of is when I work through a hundred different iterations of something to finally make the thing I had in my head – the fairy wings is a really good example of that, but so are some of my newer patterns like the Aztec bag or the flowercrown that I’ll be releasing for Halloween.
Do you have a favourite crocheted costume from your book? If so, which one and why?
Probably the pirate costume, because it’s the first ‘set’ I ever made and my boys wore the hell out of it, it’s still seems bonkers to see it in a book.
Where did you find inspiration for your second crochet book?
I’d bought some really chunky yarn but couldn’t find a hook big enough to get the tension I wanted, so my husband sawed the end off our broom and carved me a new, super-size hook. Then it was a case of seeing what I could find to use it on!
What’s your favourite type of yarn to work with and why?
At the moment I’m really into natural wools, but that’s because I’m learning to spin my own. The more wool you get in a yarn mix the more elastic the finish and I’m finding that really interesting to work with.
Do you have a favourite item that you’ve crocheted for yourself?
Right now I’m going over all the things I’ve made and getting excited about almost all of them. The thing I use the most though, is a tapestry crochet bag I made for myself, it’s just the right size and has a big blue block of colour above a geometric design and is just really cool.
What does the rest of the year hold for you in terms of crochet and your work?
I’m learning about the submission process for magazines at the moment, as well as working on a new collection to take to the publishers. I’m also getting a teaching qualification to start teaching adult evening classes in ‘modern’ crochet. So there’s a lot going on, but it’s all crochet based which is really rewarding.
Emma's second book, Big Hook Crochet is out in September 15 and is available at Waterstones and other good bookshops as well as Amazon.
If you'd like to follow Emma's crocheting adventures, then why not keep up to date with her blog Steel & Stitch or follow her on Instagram @steelandstitch.
Remember to pop back on Monday as we'll have two fab crochet patterns on our blog created by Emma, exclusive to Poppies & Polka Dots, so keep in touch, Katrina x