12 Nov 2020
I grew up in a very creative family, so I was natural drawn to art and craft throughout my childhood. My grandmother was a seamstress for a company who made foundation garments in the 1920s-30s, and my great uncle was a prolific artist in his spare time, painting in oils and watercolours. My mum is very artistic and also made a lot of our clothes when we were small. Throughout my life my dad has built intricate scale models, often creating pieces from scratch. I was always drawing and making things as a child. My grandmother taught me to crochet simple granny squares and whilst Mum taught me to sew and make my own clothes. I studied fashion and textiles at college and made clothes and toys for my children. One of my favourite pastimes is to collect old craft books and patterns that I refer to for practical information and are a great source of inspiration to me. I started making a number of small accessories and sold them in shops and at craft fairs and open houses. I would keep a record of the patterns I designed and eventually, these were published in a book, Crocheted Accessories.
I was asked by my publisher to write a book of 10 crocheted dog projects. I was given a list of dogs that are amongst the most popular breeds, including a poodle, spaniel and border terrier. Using a combination of stitches and textured yarns to create the variety of coats and markings was so enjoyable. They each have embroidered features and will make ideal toys for children.
The projects in the book are designed to suit all levels, from the beginner to the experienced crocheter. There is an illustrated step-by-step guide at the back of the book on getting started, how to do the crochet stitches used in the projects and working with multiple colours. There is also information on stuffing and sewing the pieces together, and adding the finishing touches.
The dogs featured are based around the same basic pattern and are quite simple in style. My previous books have used more complex methods for shaping, but I wanted to make these projects less complicated. The patterns can easily be adapted to make a portrait of your own pet by matching the yarn shade and adding any additional distinctive markings with embroidery. There are illustrated instructions for simple embroidery stitches at the back of the book.
I had contributed to a couple of craft books for GMC before they published Crocheted Accessories. Since then, they have published all of my craft books. They are a lovely company to work with. Everyone is so friendly and supportive. It’s such a thrill to see my work in print. There is so much more to publishing the book than the designing of the projects and writing out the patterns. When I have handed over the work, there is a whole team involved in finishing the book before it goes off to print and they have made them all look wonderful.
I find a lot of inspiration in nature and from animals, the colours, pattern and textures translate beautifully to a knitted or crocheted piece. Pets make wonderful, comforting companions. We have chickens, ducks, cats and a tortoise at home. I get very distracted by them and could sit watching them running around the garden for hours. They all have inspired ideas for my craft projects.
When we went through lockdown earlier this year I was busy working on my forthcoming book. Luckily, as I work from home, I was able to continue designing and writing the patterns as usual. However, I was made aware of how lockdown was affecting the knitting and crochet market when I was ordering the materials I needed, as stocks were selling out and orders were delayed due to the high demand. Knitting and crochet is very therapeutic and to have something creative to keep our minds busy can improve our mental wellbeing, which is very important, especially during this time.
The past few months have prompted a lot of people to rethink how they are living and working. There is a lot of awareness around slow fashion, making your own clothes and buying or reworking pre-owned garments, and many people who have found comfort and pleasure in knitting and crochet during lockdown will be inspired to continue creating.
On my Instagram page I mainly post images of projects I am working on and my published work. It’s lovely to see the posts of projects that have been made from my patterns and the wonderful, inventive adaptations that have transformed the original design to make something unique to the maker. I often post photos of my designs in progress which I think people who follow my work would find interesting. I find the creative process very interesting, especially how a design can change and evolve during the making of it.
I have just finished working on a book of crocheted animal rug patterns which will be published next year. There are 10 designs including a crocodile, rhinoceros and zebra. The rugs have a crocheted lining and the heads are stuffed. The projects feature a variety of stitches and colourwork, and can be used as a blanket or throw, as well as a fun floor covering. I will be starting a new book on a much smaller scale in the New Year. I’m designing a collection of crocheted bug patterns that can be made to wear as accessories, or mounted in frames to display.
Crocheted Dogs by Vanessa Mooncie is published by GMC Books. RRP £14.99.
To read more about our fascinating interview withVanessa, including in-depth publisher insights, download the October/November issue of Craft Business now! To find out more about Vanessa Mooncie’s work go to her official website.