Each issue of Your Crochet & Knitting we learn about how some of our favourite designers got started on their yarn adventures. First up, we spoke to the inspirational Dedri Uys – well known for her stunning Sophie’s Universe crochet-along.
When did you first learn to crochet?
My granny taught me to crochet when I was about seven years old. I made a few simple granny squares, ticked ‘crochet’ off my things-to-learn list, and thought I would probably never do it again.
What inspired you to take up crochet?
When I was pregnant with my second son we were really struggling with our finances. Halfway through my pregnancy, I realised we wouldn’t be able to buy him anything new for his arrival. I wanted him to have something special, so I decided to crochet a blanket with the cheapest acrylic I could find. It was a simple linen stitch in hideously bright colours, but it remains one of my favourite blankets. I found it so rewarding, sitting there crocheting with my arms resting on my stomach.
What did you find most difficult to start?
There are a few things I struggled with, the most important of which is not knowing my stitch anatomy. I would count my stitches by counting the posts and would fudge things wherever needed, never quite understanding why I would be a stitch short or one too many. I didn’t even think I should probably know which loops belong to which post. Once I really started looking at my stitches and figured it out, it was as if someone had flicked a switch. Once you understand your stitch anatomy, a whole new world of understanding opens up.
What benefits do you feel crochet has had for you?
I am artistic, but cannot draw or paint very well. Crochet has allowed me to express my creativity and feed my artistic soul. Whether I am following someone else’s pattern or designing my own, I am creating art. It helps me calm down when I am stressed or upset; looking at my progress reminds me I have done something on the days when I feel I have accomplished nothing – it has rewarded me with a wonderful online community and many new and dear friends, it keeps me sane.
What advice would you give to our readers who are crocheting for the first time?
We live in a digital age, so it’s easy to find step-by-step tutorials for just about everything. Esther Dijkstra from It’s All in a Nutshell has a brilliant library of crochet tutorials, not just for individual stitches, but also for some of the more popular crochet-alongs. If someone is new to crochet, I highly recommend jumping in at the deep end with a complex pattern that has both photo tutorials and video tutorials. It is the best way to learn good habits and techniques in a short time. My Sophie’s Universe looks daunting and it is safe to say it is an advanced pattern, but it has been written specifically for beginners. Many people have made Sophie as their first project (it’s quite a crash-course, let me tell you). Once you can make and understand the five basic stitches (ch, dc, htr, tr, dtr), you can make anything!
You can find out more about Dedri’s crochet exploits and check out her patterns and crochet-alongs at www.lookatwhatimade.net