Q&A with Author Amy Palanjian
Meet Amy Palanjian, author of So Pretty! Crochet: Inspiration and Instructions for 24 Stylish Projects. Amy is former deputy editor of ReadyMade magazine, a mother, and a crafter extraordinaire, with an eye for eclectic crochet talent around the world. Amy, thank you for taking us behind the scenes and sharing your experiences!
So Pretty! Crochet presents a range of projects, from snuggly wearables and dainty jewelry to accessories for the home, like rag rugs and throw pillows. My personal favorite is the crochet-covered stone [below, left] which is such a unique way to bring nature indoors. Do you have a favorite crochet project, or a signature, hotly-requested item among your friends & family?
Amy: From the book, I love the Nesting Bowls by Rae. After we did the photo shoot, I returned all of the projects, but I purchased the nesting bowls [below, middle] from Rae because I couldn’t bear to part with them. I use them to hold jewelry and sewing notions, depending on where I have them in my house. I love that they are sturdy yet delicate, and feminine yet universally appealing. (My husband likes them too.) My friends and family members love the necklaces by Victoria [below, right], and the rings and bracelet from Maria, all of which feature unexpected ways to use crochet in jewelry.
Left: Web of Life Crochet-Covered Stone, by Margaret Ooman (Ontario, Canada)
Middle: Crochet Nesting Bowls, by Rae Ritchie (Minneapolis, MI)
Right: Pastelito Necklace, Victoria Letemendia Kouparis (Lofos Tala Pafos, Cyprus)
In the book’s Introduction, you mention that you see hundreds of craft projects, products and patterns each week, due to your magazine and blog work. What’s the most unusual crochet project you’ve ever encountered?
Amy: Once at ReadyMade, there was a reader who crocheted a dress and then covered it with googly eyes… That was extremely unusual!
The book features contributors from all over the world. How did you find them?
Amy: I explored blogs of talented, crafty ladies to see which crocheters they were following. I hunted around Ravelry, and I went through my favorites on Etsy to see which crochet products I had admired in the past. Mostly, I looked for women who were doing things with crochet that made me pause, take a second look, and want to buy or make the item for friends. If Pinterest had been around when I was doing the research, it would have been a helpful resource.
Wearable projects include the Scalloped-Edged Neck Warmer [left], the Mary Jane Slippers [middle], and the Lillian Mittens [right].
Despite the many commonalities of knitting and crochet – luxurious yarns, exciting versatility, the repetitive and soothing handwork – most crafters seem to prefer one or the other. What would you say to a knitter who has never learned to crochet? How would you entice them to give it a try?
Amy: I myself learned to knit before I learned to crochet, and I always found knitting to be a little more challenging for the simple fact that the yarn is worked with two needles at once. So, using just one crochet hook was a relief to me. But for someone who doesn’t find two needles challenging, I would say that you can do things with a crochet hook that you can’t do with yarn needles in terms of basic stitches; and that with crochet, it’s easier to make more complicated and complex-looking stitches. These qualities make crochet an excellent craft for beginners. The two crafts are definitely related as you say, so mainly it’s just fun to see how yarn can be manipulated in slightly different ways.
Home décor projects range from small to large scale, like the Coconut Ice Coasters [left] and the Jersey Cotton Rag Rug [right].
You credit your grandmothers Mildred and Mary for inspiring your lifelong crafting hobbies. What are your earliest memories of them and what is the most fun craft they shared with you?
Amy: My grandmother Mildred taught me how to needlepoint when I was little, using kid-friendly tools like oversized plastic canvas and large needles. She needlepointed decorations for every holiday – window adornments, tissue box holders, ornaments, etc. – and I loved helping her. But the best project we ever made together was my Halloween costume when I was in the 4th grade. I was a princess and we made a pink satin dress overlaid in tulle. On top of the tulle were reflective circles that caught the light and made the dress seem very fancy. I remember that the elastic on the sleeves was a little tight, but I didn’t care because I thought it was the prettiest thing I’d ever owned. My grandmother Mary was an incredibly talented seamstress who worked in a local bridal shop. She made my first communion veil and basically could do any kind of craft, from retiling a kitchen floor to sewing a dress. Her creativity had no boundaries, and that continues to inspire me.
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