Today’s interview is with crochet designer Darlene Hopkins of Crochet by Darleen Hopkins.
Who taught you to crochet/How did you learn to crochet?
My sister taught me how to chain and double crochet when I was about 10. I never did much with it then. In 2005 I picked it up again and I haven’t stopped.
How did you get started designing?
I started designing right away. I spent many months working on tension by making pot holders/trivets in various shapes. They were basic designs but my own creations. After that, every time I tried to follow a pattern I always wanted to tweak it to see what it would look like if I tried this, or tried that…
What inspires your designs?
Anything and everything. Sometimes things just pop in my head. My Christmas Tree Holiday Centerpiece was one of those. Sometimes my family suggest items. My youngest son suggested the idea behind the Baby Kitty Blanket and my mom suggested the design for the Picture Perfect Baby Blanket. And sometimes I may read about a call out for designs and try to come up for something that will fit the theme. For example, June 2015 issue of ILikeCrochet.com was looking for some wedding themed items and some baby themed items. The obvious answer, to me, was a baby bib that looked like a tuxedo! And the Pretty Spiffy Baby Bib was born.
Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
The inspiration almost always. Once I “see” it in my mind, I search for the perfect yarn.
What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I try to figure out the easiest way to make a design work. I also like to make my designs fun and unique.
What is your favourite type of item to design?
I love to make hats, silly hats, or anything silly. I also enjoy designing pretty shawls but I think my favorite is anything a little silly.
Tell me about your “fish hats”, what is the story behind these designs?
As I mentioned, I love to make silly hats. I also love to make hats for children going through chemo treatments and I have been making hats for Halos of Hope for a few years. In 2013, Halos of Hope ran a campaign to collect Under the Sea themed hats for the Atlanta area children’s hospitals. This campaign inspired me to design the Kissy, Kissy Fish Face hat. I also wanted to help collect for the campaign (I live about an hour north of Atlanta) so when I put the pattern up for testing I asked each of the testers to donate the test hat to this campaign. The test was open to any who were able to use an appropriate yarn (soft only for chemo hats please!) and able to mail it to me by the deadline. I ended up collecting 31 hats for them. I was so proud of all who helped out. After the test was over, one of the testers mentioned something about a monster fish and this lead to the Black Piranha hat
Do you have an aspirational crochet – a complicated/challenging design that you want to crochet “some day” when you feel ready?
Broomstick and hairpin lace. I tried broomstick once a number of years ago. I got the basics but it wasn’t as neat as I wanted it. I decided to put it down and try again later. I also want to learn how to crochet left-handed. That way, if I ever need to show a lefty how to crochet, I can.
What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?
Not sure. I think I’m going to spend some time making a couple hats for donation first.
Your desert island yarn? (if you could only crochet with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Pretty much any cotton with some acrylic blended in for stretchiness. I rarely use wool or other animal fibers as I’m sensitive to them. But I love soft cottons and cotton/acrylic blends. CottonEase was one of my favorites but it has been discontinued.
Which is your most under-appreciated design?
The Baby Kitty Blanket. This is my favorite design. I think some may be intimated by the size but it is really pretty easy. The pattern has links to videos on my website that illustrate the color changes for the diagonal squares for those who like visual aids. My son had the initial idea for the design and he helped me with the square placement and colors. I really enjoyed designing and making it and would love to see more FOs of it.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other crocheters?
Keep crocheting. It is a skill that you can use your whole life. Even if you stop for a few years, pick it back up and enjoy.
Any crocheting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I have a throw rug I have been wanting to make for some time now out of felted thrift store sweaters. They are already felted sitting in a box, ready to be cut into strips and crocheted. I just haven’t had the time. I also want to finish the Crochet Guild of America’s Master Crocheter program. I started it this summer and got about 1/2 way through. I put it down and became sidetracked with designing. And more designs of course.
View all of Darleen’s patterns here. All photos copyright Darleen Hopkins. All images used by permission.
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