The wonderfully creative Irene Strange joins us to discuss her latest cover project and all things crochet...
IC: Hi Irene, first of all, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Irene: I guess you could say Iâ€™m a bit of a child at heart! I love cute and quirky characters, adore soft toys and will find any excuse to watch cartoons over serious grown-up TV.
At the moment I spend my days looking after my toddler who is a constant source of amusement and inspiration - itâ€™s great to see firsthand how he and his friends are discovering the world and how they interact with hand-made objects.
Being a freelance graphic designer as well gives me a lot flexibility as to what projects fill up my spare time, I love having the variety of creating my own designs one evening, then getting a challenging brief the next.Â
IC: How long have you been crocheting and when did you start designing your own patterns?
Irene: My very crafty grandma taught me to crochet when I was little but I didnâ€™t really get into it properly until I was finishing my degree â€“ crochet is a great antidote to spending too much time in front of the screen. Soon after that, I started making up my own designs pretty quickly, making small gifts for friends and family at first before 2009 came around and I stumbled across the Etsy marketplace and opened up a pattern shop there. Â
IC: What can you tell us about the design process for your version of the Moomins? What's the first thing you do when starting a new design?
Irene: What I like best about crochet is how you can create almost any 3-dimensional shape with just a single line of yarn. Iâ€™m very familiar with these characters and adored Moomin books when I was little so making a Moomin pattern was the perfect task for me.
With Moomin I started by looking at his body shape and proportions from the front and sides, imagining how it could work as a seamless piece of crochet. After a few sketches of how the pieces might come together I picked up yarn and hook and made the first prototype. Then it just needed a few tweaks to get it looking just right.Â
IC: Do you have a favourite design to date?
Irene: My tastes change with every pattern I write, at the moment Iâ€™m very into vintage-inspired designs and my pattern for Hopscotch Bunny [right] captures this quite well, heâ€™s the design Iâ€™m most pleased with right now.
IC: What other projects do you have on the go at the moment?
Irene: Iâ€™m always thinking up new critters to make and have a sketchbook full of drawings. My little one is very interested in all forms of vehicles so my next pattern will probably be a tractor or a soft and cuddly digger. There are also some dinosaurs and hedgehogs in the works, so keep an eye out for those!Â
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