Tell us a bit about yourself…
I live in a little village on the South Downs with my husband, 12 chickens, five ducks, two cats and a tortoise. We have four children who have all now left home, and three grandchildren who live nearby.
Could you tell us what you do?
I knit, crochet and sew, and design patterns for books and various craft magazines. I am also a printmaker, inspired by vintage children’s books and fashion illustration and photography of the 1930s–50s.
How did you get into crochet design?
I collect vintage craft books and patterns and one evening, around 18 years ago, I was browsing through some doily patterns and found one trimmed with pansies, which inspired me to start crocheting again. My mother and grandmother taught me when I was a little girl, but I hadn’t crocheted for years. I started experimenting with the pansy pattern, and then started adapting the pattern by trying different stitches and working beads or sequins into the fabric. I made my own version of the pansies and other flowers into brooches and necklaces that I sold in local shops and at open houses. I gradually learned about shaping and how I could translate an idea from a simple sketch into a threedimensional crocheted piece.
What inspires your designs?
I am inspired by nature. I love the detail and colours. I think a lot of my crochet work is unintentionally influenced by the illustrations in vintage children’s books. The yarns I use depend on the projects I’m working on, but I loved the jewellike colours of the yarns and threads I used for my new book, Crocheted Bees, Bugs & Butterflies.
What are your most popular designs?
My crocheted animal heads and the birds have been the most popular. As for my favourites, I designed a beaded elephant head a few years ago which I was very proud of. I also have the barn owl and swan from my book Crocheted Birds by my desk. I absolutely loved the challenge of designing the intricate bugs for my latest book though. These are my top favourite pieces, so far!
What achievements are you most proud of?
I am very proud of the books I have written. When I started making the crocheted brooches I never imagined my work would ever be published. Crocheted Accessories was my first solo book, which also featured my screen prints.
What is your favourite part of the design process?
Turning the idea into a finished piece. I write the pattern as I crochet and often have to unpick and rework elements of the design. I find it exciting, challenging and rewarding, and I learn a lot each time I work on a new project.
What are the best and worst aspects of running your own business?
I’m very lucky to work from home doing something I’m passionate about. I’m not very good at time management, so the couple of weeks leading up to a deadline can get quite hectic.
Any advice for an aspiring crochet designer?
Have fun experimenting with different yarns, hooks and stitches. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake as it can often lead to an even better finished result. Also, doing a tension swatch can be very helpful, to work out the dimensions and stitch count, before you start making your design to a specific size.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not crafting?
I enjoy pottering in the garden. We have a vegetable patch and have been growing some veg from seed. If I need a little break, I’ll go out and water the plants or pull out some weeds!
What are your future plans and projects?
I’m hoping to start building a new collection of pieces that may be part of an exhibition, or perhaps some new patterns. I haven’t done any printmaking for a long time, so would love to get back to creating some new artwork. I’m also currently working on a book of crocheted cats, following on from Crocheted Dogs in 2020.
Crocheted Bees, Bugs & Butterflies (GMC,
£14.99) is available now, along with previous books. Some of Vanessa’s patterns
can be purchased on Ravelry. Follow her on Instagram @vanessamooncie.