Who is a Black Brown Indigenous Melanated Person (BBIMP) who has inspired you or your work?
Toni of TL Yarn Crafts – I often ask myself WWTD (What Would Toni Do) It stops me from thinking small or as if I’m not ready for something.
How do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in geometric shapes.
Share your maker journey. How did it all begin for you?
I began crocheting as a way to prove to myself that I could do something artistic. I never considered myself artistic before and found things like drawing to be difficult. I took the challenge on right before my first daughter was born in 2015 with the hopes of making her something with my hands. I grabbed a book some yarn and a hook and failed over and over again. Weeks later I tried one last time and it slicked. I could see the stitches and everything made sense. In March 2015 I presented my daughter with the oddest shaped v stitch blanket I made. We will call it a parallelogram because it was neither a square nor a rectangle. It was a mess and she loved it. 6 years later, she sleeps with every night. From there I was pretty much hooked.
Early on I was discouraged because I didn’t see other makers that looked like me. I thought I didn’t belong or was doing something wrong. Thankfully, I found Toni of TL YarnCrafts. Seeing someone in the industry that looked like me industry and made all the difference. As I fell deeper into the crochet world I began to test patterns for designers which eventually gave me the confidence to begin designing myself.
Even through all of this, I was still unhappy with the lack of representation in the craft world. I set out to create The Makers of Color Collective. An Instagram account aimed at highlighting BBIMP fiber artists. It grew slowly and was eventually overshadowed by other projects. Recently The Makers of Color Collective has a new purpose, a directory of BBIMP pattern testers, designers & dyers. I host this on my website and am very proud of its contribution to the community.
What is your favorite design?
The Fenna Shawl
Who taught you, encouraged you in your craft?
I’m self-taught and as far as I know, no one in my family has ever dabbled in the fiber arts.
As a BBIMP, in your line of crafting, what steps do you find you need to take, to promote and share your creativity if any?
There are so many ways to promote yourself in the crochet world. This craft is so accessible there is truly no wrong way. To best reach my audience, I rely on Instagram but I am hoping to expand my audience by becoming a published designer.
Do you feel being a BBIMP has an impact on how your creativity is viewed/received?
Yes. As a black woman, I am already questioned when people find out that I’m a crocheter, let alone a crochet designer. It is unexpected because it is assumed to be a white craft. I have felt uplifted, disappointed, and tokenized by the community.
What suggestions, other than your tools, would you suggest another maker to learn or pick up?
I think it is important for every designer to test patterns. It is not just a way to give your expertise to a peer’s pattern but it keeps you in tune with what to expect from your testers.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I have a shawl in testing, I’m testing 3 patterns, and am designing Fall and Summer projects.
How does your creative work| craft help you?
Being a stay-at-home mom means that winding down is pretty difficult. Being creative allows me to produce something, rather quickly, from my hands just for me. It brings me immense joy. It allows me to relax and slow down.
Tell us a little bit about your practice or the steps you take to create your work.
Each design begins as a sketch. They are pretty rough but just detailed enough to get me started. Next, I choose a feature. This what makes it unique. I try to have no more than 3 features in each pattern. Finally, I design in my head and research the feature. I will swatch different yarns, search Ravelry to ensure uniqueness, and consult my trusted friends. If it is interesting to them. I grab the yarn and start working it up. I write the pattern as I work to ensure the pattern reflects the final product.
What’s the overall message you want your audience to take away from your work?
Crochet isn’t boring. Fiber arts aren’t white.
What is the most helpful resource for your business that you can share with us?
A good group of supportive friends to discuss ideas with.
What is a personal habit that has helped you significantly in your business?
I check Ravelry every day. I find it important to know the trends in my craft.
Where do you see your business|Crafting in 5 years?
In 5 years I hope to see The Makers Of Color Collective blossom into a resource for all designers. I hope to see more testers of color and ultimately more handmade items on BBIMP’s bodies.
What is a lesson learned, from being a designer, that you wish someone had told you when you first started?
Write as you create. Don’t try to reverse engineer your own work.
What is something that you’re passionate about and why?
I’m passionate about uplifting makers of color. I want to see them succeed.