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Editorial blog

Loopy for Crochet & Nuts About Knitting!

16 Oct 2019

Angela Sara West chats with influential crocheters and knitters about their passion for the crafts, pushing the boundaries, their success secrets and talk-of-the-town trends.

Looking for some yarnspiration?

The crochet and knitting worlds are overflowing with inspiring new trends this year and, with the comeback crafts of crochet and knitting now officially über-cool, modern crochet has kicked off its 1970s vibe garment heritage, while knitting has a whole new celebrity fanbase getting their knit on, and more and more designers are creating garments inspired by today’s catwalk.

Now frequently referred to as “yoga for yarn lovers”, crochet’s finally gone contemporary, with experts experimenting with every different kind of yarn, from cool cotton and jersey tape yarns and the finest of mohair, to super chunky brights, beautiful ribbons and sparkling tinsel, all bursting onto the craft scene and being impressively combined.

Knitters have also been getting us in a spin with their ultra-creative knits, introducing terrifically complex stitches to create new texture and drama.

And it’s not just garments crocheters and knitters are having lots of fun with – it’s also accessories and homeware.

Designers are busy adding exciting embellishments to anything and everything, and there’s some fabulous mosaic colour work out there, too!

Edward Griffith – LoveCrafts

After seeing the makers he loved struggling to find materials and patterns online, Edward Griffith, along with co-founders Cherry Freeman & Nigel Whiteoak, launched the unique e-commerce and dynamic craft platforms LoveCrochet and LoveKnitting, which have now been brought together to form LoveCrafts. com. “Many of our makers reached out to us to ask for other crafts and to be able to shop, learn and be inspired in one place,” Edward, explains. “As we were already known as LoveCrafts behind the scenes, it just made sense! We’ve kicked our new craft world off by welcoming embroidery and cross stitch to the family and, as we add more crafts, our makers will be able to shop more of the crafts they love in one place.”

The London-based crafting community and marketplace is known for its “disruptive business model”, reviving the crochet, knitting, cross stitch and embroidery scenes for today’s digital audiences. “We focus on the joy that making brings to crafters. From learning the basics and drawing inspiration from designers, to choosing yarn, threads and supplies and sharing with other makers around the world on the Community platforms, our ethos is simple; be inspired, connect, share and create!”

At the centre of the crafting community, the world’s first dedicated crochet, knitting, sewing, cross stitch and embroidery site profiles popular knitting and crochet brands and suppliers, along with independent designers, offering crafters not only inspiration, but over 50,000 patterns and more than 30,000 yarns, needles, hooks and accessories.

Their new home,, attracts millions of visitors every month, while with a thriving community of 365K Instagram followers and 450K Facebook fans, the team constantly collaborates with amazing designers on their social channels @lovecraftscom, @lovecraftscrochet and @lovecraftsknitting.

Instagram followers: 365K

Facebook followers: 450K


Alberto Bravo – We Are Knitters

We Are Knitters (WAK) wants the world to slow down. The manufacturer and provider of knitting kits, patterns, videos and more is an international source for knitting kits and yarn, great-quality clothes, and an active, online community for knitters and DIY lovers - a much-loved fashion and lifestyle brand which revolves around the “experience” of knitting.

In fact, the international company has helped transform the ancient craft of knitting into an accessible, fashion-forward hobby for the modern woman (and man), who now see it as stylish and cool. Promising ‘All the Happiness in a Kit’, it’s a go-to resource for 100 per cent wool and cotton knitting kits and so much more for the modern and cosmopolitan crafter.

Founded by Pepita Marín and Alberto Bravo in 2011, their ‘passion project’ evolved into a thriving multi-million-pound global business and online community in just a few short years. With a whopping one million fans on Facebook, and boasting over 450k followers on Instagram, in 2018, they were included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list, recognising the influence and impact their brand has had on so many people’s lives. “One of the things we are more proud of is the community we have created around the brand,” says Alberto. “People are not used to making things with their hands any more, so when you realise that you can knit and actually wear what you have created or even gift it to someone, you feel so proud of yourself that the first thing you want to do is to share it on Instagram. This has helped us a lot to grow and make the brand well-known among crafters, and most importantly, non-crafters. We’ve taken care of our followers since the very beginning, so that has led to a very engaged WAK community on social media.”

What’s next for WAK? “We have a lot of things planned for the coming season! We don’t want to give away a lot since we need to have some surprises, but we are very excited to announce that we will publish our first ever book of patterns in the autumn!” Entitled ‘We Are Knitters - Knitspiration to Take Anywhere and Everywhere’ (published by Abrams & Chronicle and distributed by Search Press).

Instagram: 450k+

Facebook: 1M

Sarah-Jayne Fragola – Bella Coco Crochet

Happily hooked on arts and crafts since childhood, Nottingham-based content creator, Sarah-Jayne Fragola, is the brains behind Bella Coco, a comprehensive hub for “all of your crochet needs.” She says she has always enjoyed experimenting. “I’ve tried my hand at crochet, sewing, knitting, card making and jewellery making. I find inspiration in pretty much anything! I love reading other blogs, browsing Pinterest and interacting with the lovely world of Instagram.”

Her much-loved YouTube crochet tutorials have made her a favourite of the crochet world, and she’s racked up over 580k subscribers and an impressive 65m views since 2014. With a further 45k followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and a Facebook group with 60k fans and growing, the Bella Coco crochet community is teeming with creative and inspiring people. Her lifestyle blog about her personal life, meanwhile, inspires over 70k followers across Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. “My viewers often say that they like my style and speed, which is what keeps them coming back for more. I was also one of the first online teachers to include both UK and US crochet terms, which I feel was a great advantage as it can be very confusing for beginners.”

Accolades include winner of ‘Best Lifestyle Blog’ and ‘Content Creator of the Year’ at the 2017 UK Blog awards, along with finalist for ‘Best Lifestyle Influencer’ at the Cosmopolitan Influencer Awards 2016. Having clinched third place in 2017 and 2018, Sarah-Jayne has this year been shortlisted for ‘Best Crochet Blog’ at the British Knitting Awards for the third year running.

She’s particularly proud of her new collaboration with the Crochet Society. “It’s a dream come true for me!” she says. “Each month, I invite some of my favourite designers in the community to design for a subscription box for the Crochet Society. Collaborating with them has been great!”

YouTube: 585k subscribers & 65m views

Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: 130k+ combined followers (both crochet and lifestyle) (crochet) (lifestyle)

Rohn Strong - Rohn Strong Designs

Award-winning American crochet designer/author/ instructor/broadcast personality/internationally-renowned blogger, Rohn Strong, says 2019 “has been quite the year!” Not only is he now a JOANN Brand Influencer, he’s collaborated with Lion Brand Yarn on new crochet kits, and is currently writing his sixth book. “I’ve also filmed a number of episodes for Annie’s Creative Studio, which is a wonderful online streaming platform, perfect for all kinds of makers. I’ve had the honour of working with Debbie Macomber on her ‘Knit One, Bless Two’ campaign, too. It was such a joy!”

He’s also started a new chapter in his crafting adventure, by launching the Rohn Strong Book Club. “July 2019 was our first month and, so far, it’s been great! I came up with the idea while working with Debbie Macomber on my ‘Listen While You Stitch’ blog post. I had such a great response that I decided to make an audio/ physical book club!” Rohn’s new Punch Needle Rug Hooking kits have added yet another crafty string to his busy bow. “Punch needle is my new love and it’s caught my business eye as well. I started selling punch needle rug hooking kits in June 2019, and will continue through the publishing of my next book, also on punch needle!”

With over 300 designs, four online classes and five bestselling books, he’s loved for his accessible, inclusive and patient approach to motivating, nurturing and inspiring via print, video and social media. Published in practically every crochet magazine Stateside, he’s also the crochet and loom knitting expert on PBS’s Emmy-nominated ‘Knit and Crochet Now!’ TV series with Deborah Norville and is a designer for major brands including Red Heart Yarns and Premier Yarns.

Inspired by Japanese crochet and knitting, he’s continuing to enjoy the resurgence of Tunisian crochet. “Tunisian crochet is seeing such a boom! While its roots may be mostly unknown, its future is bright! I’m excited to see that crocheters and knitters are pushing their limits to learn advanced techniques and complex designs.”

What’s next for Rohn Strong Designs? “Along with my new punch needle book, due out in autumn 2020, I’m working on launching my new line of quilt patterns. 2020 is the year of quilting for Rohn Strong Designs!”

Instagram: 7.5k

Facebook: 3.6k / 900 group members

Mari-Liis Lille – lilleliis

Former piano teacher, Mari- Liis Lille’s amazing journey with amigurumi began when she fell in love with the craft while expecting her third child. “Having played the piano all my life, I never imagined I could do anything else,” she says. But her life changed completely when, having tried knitting and sewing as a hobby, she brought home her first crochet hook and a book teaching the basic stitches. “That was the beginning of a passion… It was love at first sight!” She soon discovered amigurumi, along with the “endless joy” of creating gorgeous toys for her children.

Since conceiving her own craft business, lilleliis, in 2009, she has also been busy making for many others. Her company is the first, and probably largest, specialising in crochet toys and patterns in her native Estonia, with parents all over the globe flocking to purchase her well-known lilleliis toys and patterns. “Initially, the main focus was on the handmade toys but, under the pressure of my fans, I soon started writing instructions in both Estonian and English to sell worldwide,” she explains. “My patterns were a great success, so the focus slowly moved towards more designing and pattern writing.”

In 2014, her first amigurumi and crochet book, ‘Magical Amigurumi Toys’, in collaboration with small international publishing house, Meteoor Books, was born. Following the international success of her first book, the designer dreamt up 15 brand-new animal toys for another title for Meteoor, and ‘Cuddly Amigurumi Toys’ was published in January 2018. She seamlessly showcased step-bystep how to create cute cuddly companions for babies, toddlers and schoolchildren. From starry-eyed Sara the horse and Lars the little dragon, to Klaus the bashful bunny, Teddy Theodore and Teele the elephant, Mari-Liis says the sensational soft animals spark so much love and fun.

Her latest super-cute bird rattles designs have been flying off the shelves, following a difficult launch. “I was so happy with the design, I immediately started writing the pattern and finished it in a week. I was about to send it to the pattern tester when my computer crashed and I lost all the materials… It was devastating. I simply couldn’t pick up my hook and start all over again. It took several weeks until I found enough strength in myself to continue with it.”

Facebook: 23K

Instagram: 40K

Tatsiana Kupryianchyk - Lilla Björn Crochet

Belarus-born Tatsiana Kupryianchyk is the talented crochet designer and fibre artist behind Lilla Björn Crochet. Taught to crochet at kindergarten at just five years-old, she says her inspiration lies in graphic art, architecture, paintings, photography and textile prints. “I mainly design interior decorations. Making mandalas is my greatest obsession, but I’ve recently been looking into garment design more.”

Tatsiana’s original crochet patterns are available via Ravelry, Etsy and LoveCrafts, and she runs a blog from her home in the Czech Republic, which she moved to 11 years ago. Offering articles and insights into her creative process, it also gives crochet tips and tricks, tutorials, free patterns and reviews of books, magazines, yarns and crochet tools.

Recently, she has translated mandala making into garment design and released several round-yoked top down sweaters and cardigans. She combines overlay and mosaic crochet with knit-look crochet stitches for a modern look and gorgeous drape.”

In her quest to live her own creative life, she tries not to compare her work to other designers’. “For me, success stems from the true passion and strong belief in what you do, without looking elsewhere. From the very beginning, I’ve been using the overlay crochet technique (introduced to the crochet world by Melody McDuffee in 2003) and mandala art helped me to stand out from other crochet offerings on the market at the time. Even now, after four years of intense designing, overlay crochet mandalas remain my most popular patterns.”

Tatsiana says working with the right people has also been key to her success. “I’ve been collaborating with Scheepjes yarn company for five years, giving me a massive push in both the designing and marketing aspects. I have also found my “own tribe” of crochet and knitting designers and craft bloggers, who give me friendly support and inspiration!”

Blog subscribers: 28K+

Facebook: 32K+ followers

Instagram: 36.9K+ followers

Julie Desjardins - ACCROchet

French Canadian fibre artist Julie Desjardins is totally devoted to crochet. Based in Montréal, Québec, she quit her job in advertising a few years ago so that her entire world could revolve around crochet and communications. “On my terms! I’m super excited about where that’s leading,” she says. “Crochet gives me an excuse to watch a lot of Netflix and not feel guilty about it because I have an item or two to show for the binge! I’m a huge fan of crochet socks – fell into them after knitters tried to convince me they couldn’t be as cool or comfortable as knitted ones.”

ACCROchet is Julie’s crochet design, instructor and communications business, offering crochet patterns, book and tool reviews. “ACCROchet was born because crochet was regarded as the ‘ugly’ craft. That’s now changed and the focus is now on the beauty of our stitches, the magic we create with beautiful yarn, and that moment of delight when a new completed crochet project enters the world.”

“My original goal was to bring crochet into its own in my own province. Francophone crocheters had few resources when I came on the scene. That goal has changed and evolved over time, and while I still have a soft spot for my French crocheters & designers, I now aim to be a resource for crocheters everywhere.”

And her crochet company is ever evolving. “In the last year or so, I have grown my collective of French-speaking crochet designers to 21, with a public group of 3,300 members on Facebook. My business has grown into a tech-editing, translation and coaching business to accompany the design side.”

Facebook: 15k

Instagram: 2.5k

Newsletter subscribers: 400 French, 250 Englishspeaking following a re-start this year.

Claire Gelder – Wool Couture Company

Having spun a great yarn on BBC Two’s ‘Dragons’ Den’, former NHS Director Claire Gelder’s successful pitch enabled her brand to expand exponentially and iron out any woolly issues. “We increased our business turnover by 75 per cent in the following 12 months!” she says.

Claire left her career as an NHS Director in 2015 to launch her new business, Wool Couture, which specialises in knitting, crochet, weaving and macramé. She soon delivered her DIY craft kits to the shelves of retail giant John Lewis and, in 2017, secured two Dragons’ Den investors, Touker Suleyman and Tej Lalvani, to help her pass on her passion of crafting to the next generation. “I now have my very own business encyclopaedia. Both Dragons gave me a team that I can access for anything I need, and I can literally pick up the ‘phone and ask ‘How do I’? They are amazing!”

Living and working in Wakefield, Claire is proud to be continuing Yorkshire’s textile tradition, with passion, integrity and a ‘can do’ attitude.

Since setting up her first online store with Etsy, she has successfully combined her business acumen with a pastime she is passionate about and now heads up the UK’s leading chunky and giant knitting company. Standing out from the crowd with their supersize range of knitting needles, crochet hooks and weaving looms, Wool Couture makes traditional crafts modern and fun, inspiring artisans all around the world to take up the centuries-old pastimes of knitting, crochet, weaving and macramé by giving these timeless hobbies a 21st-century makeover.

Adding her own contemporary twist to age-old crafts, Claire uses giant, chunky yarn and oversized knitting needles made in her own factory. “It’s all about taking a traditional craft and saying, ‘So, how does this look today? What is today’s take on, for example, needle felting? We’ve just created a needle felting range, and it’s a little funky range with rainbows and clouds, octopus and gnomes. It’s great, it’s different and it’s quirky!”

Instagram: 23k

Facebook: 5.5k

Twitter: 2k

Vanessa Mooncie - Kissy Suzuki

Itching to express your inner animal instincts? We know the very crafter to bring out the ‘beast’ in you! Known in the craft world as Kissy Suzuki, celebrated crafter, Vanessa Mooncie’s awe-inspiring creations enchant both children and adults alike. The East Sussex-based contemporary craftsperson, artist and author studied fashion and textile design and has worked as a children’s wear designer, illustrator and interior designer. She specialises in silkscreen work and designing contemporary crochet jewellery and producing modern accessories for the wardrobe and home.

Producing contemporary pieces inspired by the rich tradition of knitting, crochet and stitching through the history of fashion, she’s most recently been making her mark on the crochet world with her countless creations and books on crocheted animals, sea creatures and monsters to adorn and brighten up our walls, injecting lots of loopy fun into our lives!

She also works with the Guild of Master Craftsman Publications, producing a range of craft books covering a variety of creative disciplines. Vanessa’s impressive titles for GMC include ‘Tea Cozies’ and her bestselling book ‘Animal Hats’. A follow-up full of fun’n’fabulous crochet projects to top off your outfit with more adorable animal magic, ‘Crocheted Animal Hats’ presented 15 projects to keep cool heads warm’n’toasty in the form of eye-catching creatures. The extensive techniques section includes how to add a fleecy lining for extra cosiness. Her ‘Monster Hats: 15 scary head warmers to knit’, meanwhile went down a monster storm. ‘Crocheted Wild Animals’ was another roaring success, offering no fewer than 14 feral friends from all around the globe to choose from, complete with fascinating facts to learn about these untamed beasts along the way.

Instagram: 5.4k


Susie Johns

London-based artist and stitcher Susie Johns is a hugely-successful author of crochet, knitting, sewing and craft titles, with dozens of books under her creative belt. The wonderfully-inventive designer also has articles published regularly in mainstream crafting magazines.

How does it feel to be an influencer? “I enjoy passing on my knowledge, skills and ideas through books and magazine articles that I have written, and also through teaching and running workshops at places like Kew Gardens and Cambridge Botanical Gardens and demonstrating at various events. Being an author is quite a solitary pastime, but teaching and demonstrating gets you face-to-face with your audience.”

Susie’s latest book, ‘Fat Quarter: Vintage’, is published in September. “So, I’ll be promoting my latest book on Sewing Quarter and I’m currently working on an embroidery book for the same publishers, GMC Publications, due out next spring. I’ve also been doing a series of workshops at Kew Gardens, making knitted vegetables inspired by their allotments, and I’m teaching an embroidery course in the autumn.”

Though she’s a keen Instagrammer, Susie says she hasn’t yet built up a big following. “But I’m working on it! I tend to rely on my books and magazine articles to communicate with like-minded people and spread my enthusiasm for knitting, crochet and sewing.”

Sarah Shrimpton - Annaboo’s House

Sussex-based blogger, freelance crochet designer and author Sarah Shrimpton has been described as a “crochet rock star”. Designing for DMC Creative World and some of the UK’s leading crochet and craft magazines, along with monthly crochet subscription service Little Box of Crochet, she has also featured in The Sunday Telegraph’s Crafting and Collecting series and on Craft Daily TV.

“After teaching myself to crochet a few years ago, I quickly realised that I liked to tinker around with patterns and, before long, was designing for myself. People seemed to like what I was making and I started writing the patterns and selling them.” Alongside patterns, she sells natural hand-dyed yarn in her Etsy shop. “But I still like to offer free patterns on my blog; it’s my way of thanking my loyal followers and customers.”

Her blog about all things crochet, Annaboo’s House, was recently voted in the Top 100 Crochet Blogs by Feedspot. How did it feel to make the HIBS100 TOP 10, and to win the Top Blog Award and been voted a Top 10 Instagram Influencer by Feedspot last year? “A bit overwhelming, to be honest!! I’m completely thrilled, of course, and I’m just so glad that people enjoy what I love doing.”

She has contributed to Hobbycraft, SewandSo and blogs, too. “I’m still thrilled to be working with Stylecraft as one of their Blogstars, and I’ve got a great project lined up for the Blogtour this year!!”

Sarah’s YouTube tutorials for beginners demonstrate how to make the basic crochet stitches, while her Amigurumi Monkey tutorial is guaranteed to give you a cheeky crochet kick!

The author of ‘Beginner’s Guide to Crochet’ and ‘Supersize Crochet’, her forthcoming book, ‘Modern Crochet Bible: Over 100 contemporary crochet techniques and stitches’ is out this November with SewandSo. “So far, things are looking great. I’m so proud of this next one and can’t wait to see it in print!” She says readers can expect “everything you’d ever want to know about modern crochet – tips and tricks, stitches and exclusive patterns, of course”.

Along with other designers Anna Fazakerley, Claire Wilson and Medus, Sarah also contributed to the title ‘Crochet Barefoot Sandals: 8 Crochet Patterns to Make Your Feet Happy’, published by David and Charles a few years ago. She recently launched a new online publication - Instagram’s first crochet magazine.

“‘CrochetZine’ has been amazing and we are thrilled at how people love it! We’ve already hit 10k followers and can’t wait to publish every month.”

Instagram: over 53k

Jessica Carey – The Hook Nook

Oregon-based Jessica Carey is the founder, owner and creative designer behind The Hook Nook. She began her business after viewing various YouTube videos on her mission to learn to crochet. “After several months of growing my skill, and friends and family asking to purchase my products, I opened up an Etsy shop in February 2012, selling my finished goods. After a couple of successful years, I chose to cease production of finished items to focus on pattern designing.”

The crochet fashion designer has since grown a loyal Instagram fan base of over 100k followers, alongside establishing great working relationships with several well-known brands and companies, including JOANN stores, We Are Knitters, Lion Brand Yarn and Furls Crochet. She also posts on Pinterest and has a Ravelry store.

Jessica loves making for the modern woman. “Creating pieces that are far from the crochet traditions most people are accustomed to, and more geared towards today’s styles. Crocheting isn’t just for your grandma anymore!” And she boasts a very fashionable famous fan. “Sutton Foster from Younger even made one of my designs - The Jessica Top - and wore it to a Vogue Knitting Live event!”

From crochet patterns and DIY projects, to words of wisdom and relatable life stories, The Hook Nook is a “maker community”, featuring makers from all over the world on the THNLife blog, who enjoy sharing their crochet or knit patterns, craft projects, maker stories and more. “We have officially worked with over 100 makers since February 2018, inviting them through our quarterly Maker Calls. I’m so excited to work with many of these talents to create this platform where everyone can gather, inspire and learn from one another in ways that can truly make a difference.”

As a collective body, Jessica donates a portion of proceeds to local charities such as Liberty House and ABC House, who work with children, youth and their families to overcome the crisis of abuse and neglect.

Instagram: 121k

Facebook group members: 10.5k

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