Julia Vaconsin burst onto the crochet scene in 2008, with lovely, wearable garments that beg to be made just for you. Her designs have graced the cover of Interweave Crochet in Winter 2008 and Summer 2009. Of late, she's been busy raising three children at her home in France. And now you can explore a collection of Julia's designs in a new Designer eBook. Inside, you'll also find a profile of Julia, so you can learn more about what inspires her crochet design. I caught up with Julia recently to gather her thoughts on these patterns, her latest inspirations, and the zen of single crochet.
Each pattern in your eBook explores a different aspect of crochet. What common element holds them together?
common element in my designs is the use of simple stitches. I always
try to keep the base of a design very simple and then add some spice to
it. If you overdo it in one design, it might be more fun to crochet it,
but it would affect the wearability I personally am looking for.
What inspired the bow for the Big Bow Cardigan?
Big Bow Cardigan (left) was inspired by pictures of a runway
collection that used a lot of coats and dresses with chunky yarn. I
still have some pictures, but I can't remember the name of the
designer. Also, I wanted to make a beginner-friendly project (it's only
crochet and easy construction), but with a twist. Despite its
simplicity it's kind of a statement piece which, by simply leaving off
the dramatic bow, turns into a simple everyday cardigan.
What are your top three crochet stitches for designing a garment?
Single crochet through the back loop, double crochet and shells.
You crochet and knit—what do you love about each?
For me crochet is about the excitement of coming up with something by myself, from the initial drawing to the finished garment. It's the creativity I love about it. Knitting is about relaxing, about mindless simple stitches while watching a DVD I really want to pay attention to. This is how it is at the moment, but I am sure priorities will shift at some point. I just might design a complicated knitted sweater and do mindless single crochet to relax, you never know.
You've done quite a few lovely sewing projects lately. What do you love about sewing?
Crochet is all about work and creativity, knitting is all about relaxing, sewing is all about learning. I am still a novice at sewing and I am enjoying the fact that I can still learn so much, although I am bit frustrated that it takes me so long. Also, just think about the possibilities when you know how to sew, to knit and to crochet! All the lovely things you can make for yourself and your family, it's quite exciting.
What's your primary consideration when making a garment?
Mostly the question if I (or an imaginary woman I like) would wear it.
With the Northern Dreams Pullover (at left), I love how you translated the Fair-Isle-style yoke into crochet. It seems that tapestry crochet would be the natural translation, but that would be so heavy. What inspired the use of shells to create this look?
You could use tapestry crochet as well, and I was debating if I wanted to use some in this design. But in the end, I decided I wanted to keep things simple and work with just one color per round. In crochet, you can so easily create a look that suggests the use of several colors at a time, but actually doesn't. That's what I wanted to showcase, the use of a simple technique to maximum effect.
The liberal use of single crochet makes your garments so lovely and wearable. Do you have a zen trick to share for working the many rows of single crochet?
I often think it has to be with being a knitter as well. Rows and rows of stockinet stitch make up many knitted garments and most people find it soothing and easy to work them. I try to have the same state of mind for those rows of single crochet. I think it has to do with the old stereotype that crochet has to be faster than knitting that makes us more impatient somehow (it happens to me, too). It's the perfect stitch to do while watching a DVD. Try to get into a good rhythm and enjoy the movement; do not look for fast results.
What do you love most about crochet design?
What I love most about crochet design is the fact that there's so much territory left to conquer. When I have an idea and look for similar designs, I almost never find exactly what I have in mind for my design. That's what stops me from designing in knitting, the feeling that whatever I could come up with has already been done by so many (and much better). Also, on a more personal level, I feel that I could design for many many years without running out of ideas or new things to try. I only scratched the surface of what is possible, of what I want to do.
We're excited to see what Julia discovers as she continues her crochet exploration. You can keep up with her at http://www.juliavaconsin.com/. And you can explore her designs with her new designer eBook.