Welcome to Inside the Crochet Designer’s Mind with Marie of Underground Crafter
My name is Marie Segares, and I’m the Proprietress of Underground Crafter. I learned to crochet from my maternal grandmother in 1984, and I’ve been hooked ever since. She tried to teach me to knit, too, but that was far less successful. In 2010, I finally conquered my fear of knitting, and I haven’t looked back since. (Don’t tell the knitting, but crochet is still my favorite!).
I make hot process soap, quilt, sew, and embroider from time to time, too. I also do my fair share of cooking and love to bake.
You may be wondering about the Underground Crafter name. I’m not part of a secret society of crafters (though that would be pretty cool), but I do crochet and knit underground quite a bit while commuting on New York City’s subway system.
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SDC: Tell us a little bit about your crochet experience such as when did you start to crochet and how long you’ve been crocheting?
Marie: I’ve been crocheting since 1984. My maternal grandmother taught me to crochet. She tried to teach me to knit, too, but that didn’t work out so well. (I picked it up again in 2010.) I’ve been crocheting on and off since then, but until about 2002, I was limited to really basic scarves in one stitch pattern.
In 2002, I learned to read patterns and that just blew my mind. Plus the internet was exploding with patterns at that time, and it was a cool way to learn and explore. After I started teaching crochet in 2008, things really got serious – I had to always keep at least a few steps ahead of my students!
SDC: Who has influenced you either as a crocheter or designer?
Marie: My grandmother was a really accomplished needlecrafter, and I’m definitely influenced by that. My mom is also very creative (though moreso as a seamstress and with DIY-type crafts). My dad is an artist, and always encouraged me to do creative work everyday. So I had a pretty solid family foundation for being a creative person.
As far as design, I’ve been very influenced by Kim Guzman. I’ve always been amazed with how much she is willing to share with her audience in terms of the “behind the scenes” of how and why things work. I’ve never met her in real life, but I’ve learned so much from her books that I consider her a teacher.
SDC: What inspires your crochet designs?
Marie: It’s usually some combination of the yarn and a stitch pattern calling out to me. I can’t really describe it. I’m a big swatcher – so I play around with yarn and stitch patterns that never turn into anything and I just rip them out. Sometimes it works, and then I just go with it.
For freelance designs, I also take inspiration from the magazine’s mood board.
SDC: As a designer, it’s pretty hard to chose what your favorite design is, but, is there one or two that you really enjoyed creating? Tell us little about it and leave links to where they can be found.
Marie: Are you going to tell the other patterns? Because I don’t want any problems later! (smile)
I’m particularly fond of the Flirty Marvel Skirt. It was my first garment design and I was a bit nervous about it. The model, my dear friend Carlota Zimmerman, loved it so much that she asked to keep it. (That’s always a good sign in my book.) http://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2015/06/10/free-pattern-flirty-marvel-skirt/
A more recent pattern that I loved creating was the Rainbow After the Storm Shawlette. http://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2016/01/06/free-pattern-rainbow-after-the-storm-shawlette-make-it-for-me
I love projects that I can wear and use and that add a pop of color.
SDC: What are your favorite fiber types you like to work with?
Marie: I love wool and alpaca quite a lot, and for different reasons. Wool usually has such great stitch definition and elasticity, so it makes the designs pop and easy to photograph while keeping its shape over the long haul. Alpaca isn’t too elastic, so it does stretch quite a bit, but it is super soft and pretty.
SDC: Are there any sage advice you can give to a new crocheter, and a new crochet designer?
Marie: To the new crocheter, I’d say, “Stop ripping things out.” A lot of newbies don’t have confidence and always think they are “doing it wrong.” As a teacher, I’ve seen people rip out things that were actually correct! It’s hard to gain any traction when you never finish a project. It’s also nice to look back on those earlier, not-quite-perfect projects and see how far you’d come.
To a new independent designer, I’d say check into tech editing, which is the formal editing process for designs. A good tech editor will teach you a lot in the beginning that will inform how you write up error-free, easy-to-read patterns for your whole design career. A lot of people worry about “how expensive” it is, but in reality, it doesn’t cost all that much and it’s an investment in yourself. Start with a small project in one size with a tech editor a designer you admire has recommended, and it will definitely be worth it.
For newbie freelance designers, I would say always communicate any issues that may cause a delay to the publisher as soon as possible. This is something I didn’t always do at the start because I was worried about how it would look. Well, it looks a whole lot worse when you can’t make a deadline or your work isn’t up to par, so definitely stay in communication with the editor.
SDC: This is something most crocheters are curious about, what’s the size of your yarn and hook stash?
I live in a one-bedroom apartment with another adult and two cats, so I have some external limitations. With that being said, I have culled my stash over the years down to three large plastic tubs. And I have a lot of hooks, probably 6 or so in every size from E through L. And, two sets of interchangeables. And, a full set of Tunisian crochet hooks. And, a travel set of interchangeables. And, a bunch of handmade hooks. In truth, I think the hooks are more out of control, but since they are way smaller, it isn’t as much of an issue.
(Thank goodness you didn’t ask about the crochet books.)
Let us know what you think. I hope you’ve enjoyed this session of Inside the Crochet Designer’s Mind with Marie of Underground Crafter
As always, much love and happy hooking.