This is the second in a series of interviews with designers who have worked with our yarns, whether we have published their designs, they’ve published the designs themselves, or they’ve been published elsewhere.
Andee Graves used Happy Fuzzy Yarn Merino Tencel Fingering to design the Ebb and Flow Scarf.
Happy Fuzzy Yarn: How long have you been designing?
Andee Graves: I have been designing specifically in yarn crafts for approximately 20 years. I sold my first design as a professional designer in the Spring of 2009, and have been going strong for the past 7 years.
HFY: How did you get started?
AG: I took a class online with Mary Beth Temple called “Designing for Print Publication”. As part of that class I had to submit a design proposal to a magazine or yarn company. That was the first design I sold.
HFY: What does your day look like?
AG: I really don’t have a set schedule for my day. I plan my work goals over the week or month. My daily schedule needs to stay flexible as I deal with multiple responsibilities: caring for my kids, tutoring math at our elementary school, the administrative tasks of owning my own business, my design work, and teaching crochet classes at local yarn shops.
HFY: How would you describe your style?
AG: I would call my design style “Geek Chic”. I like to create designs that are interesting to crochet and challenge some of the stereotypes of what crochet can be. Geometry and math play a big role in what I create.
HFY: Does your design style match your personal style or are they different?
AG: They differ a little. I like to design lacy wearables the most. Living on a mountain in somewhat rugged conditions though means that I don’t always have an opportunity to wear some of the more delicate pieces regularly.
HFY: Tell us about your design process. How does a piece go from a glimmer of an idea to a finished garment or accessory with a published pattern?
AG: I have a number of notebooks that I scribble ideas into. I always have one with me wherever I go, since a great idea can strike anytime. Later, when I’m back in my work space, I will sit down with my notebooks and plan out the designs I want to work on for the next month. Next I’ll pick a yarn out of my stash to swatch and experiment with to see if I can make the idea into a reality. Many times I’ll discover that the original idea might not come together like I envisioned it.
Once I’m happy with my swatch, I will write out my pattern fully and check my numbers. If I need more yarn to complete the sample this is when I will contact the yarn company. Then I either crochet the sample myself or send it to one of my stitchers to complete. During the stitching process of the sample the pattern is tested and corrected if needed.
At this point it depends on if the design is going to be published by me or if it is going to another publisher. If I’m publishing it I take photos of the finished sample and create the pattern pages as it will be published. Next it goes to my technical editor to review. If the design is for another publisher I send it to them along with the sample once it is finished, generally they will do their own photography and tech editing.
HFY: Where do you find inspiration?
AG: I find inspiration in a lot of places, but my favorite source is yarn. I love looking at yarn catalogs in print or online when I’m needing to get motivated. I go to local yarn shops or dig around in my stash touching the yarn and thinking about what the yarn would work best for. I try to attend at least one TNNA trade show a year in order to see new yarns too.
HFY: What attracted you to Happy Fuzzy Yarn?
AG: The gorgeous colorways and plethora of fine-weight yarns.
HFY: What’s your favorite design?
AG: This is always such a difficult question for me to answer. Generally the design I am working on is my favorite at the moment, then I’m onto the next thing and the new design is my favorite.
HFY: Any advice for beginning designers?
AG: Keep experimenting with your work. Learn as much about your craft that you can. Work on techniques that might scare you. The more you know, the more you can do.
HFY: Where can people buy your designs?
AG: In my Ravelry shop: Andee Graves/M2H Designs.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us!