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National Crochet Month
Akua Lezli Hope, AkuaDesigns
Crochetville is very proud to have designer Akua Lezli Hope with us today, March 2, as one of the featured designers on our 2015 Designer Blog Tour in honor of National Crochet Month (NatCroMo).
Three Truths and a Lie:
Take a guess as to which of the following statements isn’t true. We’ll let you know which statement is “The Lie” somewhere in this post, so keep reading to learn the truth!
- Akua once parachuted into Central Park.
- Akua has met Stevie Wonder, Vladimir Horowitz, Toni Morrison, and Spike Lee.
- Akua has studied the violin, cello, bassoon, saxophone, and voice.
- Akua has won a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship for Poetry.
If you’re not familiar with her work already, we’d like to share two of Akua’s designs with you.
Flying Dragons Bookmark, available for $2.25 on Ravelry
Akua says: “I fell in love with dragons, moved by a sf writer named Anne McCaffrey, whose Dragonriders of Pern books transported me from Queens, NY to another world, society, and relationship to environment. I read them decades before they began to appear in movies, not counting their Godzilla incarnation. The Luck Dragon of Neverending Story, Dragonheart, Eragon, Miyazaki’s Haku (Spirited Away), Drogon, of Game of Thrones, and, through a friend’s son, Toothless of How to Tame Your Dragon, rekindled my affection.”
Intertwinement, available for $3.75 on Ravelry
This lovely headband features lovely cables and texture. It might also serve as a neckwarmer/cowl. The stitch pattern yields a stretchy fabric that may easily fit head and neck sizes from children to adults.
Akua has been crocheting for 48 years, give or take a few. Her mother taught Akua to crochet, although she was primarily a knitter and seamstress. While she can’t remember a specific first crochet project, she does remember that her earliest crochet projects included scarves and hats for herself and friends. She made a lot of kufis and yarmulkes followed by a series of “hard crochet” hats.
Akua is hoping that after this blog tour, she’ll achieve the ranks of “well-known” designers. Once she achieves that goal through lots of pattern sales, she wants to buy more yarn for all the designs that are currently floating around in her head.
Although she has always improvised and revised existing patterns, Akua began designing in earnest after she became paralyzed. When she could no longer make large sculptures created from paper and hot and warm glass, Akua refocused her visual creative efforts on crochet.
Akua is a prize-winning poet, which means she is very skilled with the written word. She uses her wordsmithing skills to help her write the most concise and efficient instructions possible for her designs.
Ascension, Akua’s just-completed sweater with a raglan sleeve and densely-cabled bolero, is what she believes to be her greatest crochet accomplishment to date.
In addition to her crochet work, Akua also enjoys weaving. She owns a Mighty Wolf floor loom but hasn’t been able to use it since becoming paralyzed. She was very excited to discover straw weaving last June. Since then, she’s been on a buying spree to enhance her weaving tool collection: weaving sticks, peg loom, a couple of board looms from eBay, and a Spears rigid heddle loom. She accomplished quite a bit of weaving over the summer. She managed to exhibit a couple of her weaving creations and is hard a work on writing a weaving pattern for one of those creations.
Akua has also written a book of poems about crochet. The book concept began as an art book that would include crocheted pages as well as poems on crochet, to be printed on handmade, plant fiber papers. The poems grew, and a series of crochet limericks emerged. Akua plans to publish the book later this year.
Advice for Brand-new Crocheters:
Crochet everyday. Even if only five minutes. Holding the hook in your hand regularly makes the tool familiar and easier to use. Learn the crochet symbols with each stitch, then it will be one language in your mind and you will see the visual relationship. You will be imprinted and able to decode, decipher and progress on your own… you’ll have an international language at your command.
Predictions for the Next Big Crochet Trend:
I’m seeing more and more of beloved freeform, the Irish Crochet esthetic, in catalogs and occasionally on runways. It has already taken hold in other parts of the world as evidenced by the Niagara Falls of inspiration in Duplet and other Ukrainian magazines. Enmeshed flowers and other motifs are seen in dresser and tops, so I see that spreading.
Some of Akua’s Favorites:
- Favorite Crochet Reference Books: Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet, the Harmony Guides edited by Erika Knight, Edie Eckman’s
Crochet Bordersand Crochet Motifs, and Noreen Crone-Findlay’s Creative Crocheted Dolls
- Favorite Designers: Zenobia Bailey, Prudence Mapstone, Margaret Hubert, Patricia Kristofferson, Lillian Simpkins Bailey
- Favorite Hook: Akua’s favorites area a couple of hooks that we recarved just to suit her preferences, but she also enjoys Etimo for hook sizes A to I and Chaio Goo, Brittany, Turn of the Century, and Surina for sizes J to T.
- Favorite Yarn: Wool and alpaca, since she also likes to dye with Kool-Aid and to felt
- Favorite Thing to Crochet: Anything that answers a question in her mind
What Akua Has to Say about Her Design Process:
I get inspiration from everywhere. My brother-in-law’s photos of the New York Fashion Show, science fiction films and movies, early 20th century garb, indigenous adornments. Many of my designs are my hugs to my faraway beloveds, my way of embracing and celebrating them. I created several designs for my first niece, such as the Oxford Headband, for when she spent her junior year abroad at Oxford University. My brother-inlaw, a law-keeper, inspired several scarves and neck warmers. I’ve designed hats for my nephews, mitts for my brother, hats for friends. Literary figures and jazz greats have also inspired designs.
My processes are akin to jazz. Sometimes, ! start with a standard and then improvise. Through improvisation, I arrive at my own creation. Other times I freeform and then work out how to replicate it.
Visit Akua’s Blog: NatCroMo FREEBIE Sneak Peek
You will definitely want to visit Akua’s blog post today! She is offering a coupon code good for a few days to get her pattern, “Circle Bird, Little Parker & Chick Webb” for free!
She is also offering a coupon code good for one week for 50% off of the following patterns:
- Cat Motif Collection
- Spiral Birds
- Circle Bird, Little Parker & Chick Webb
- Zora Birds
Don’t wait too long to visit her blog and get the coupon codes!
Find Akua Online:
Ravelry: AkuaLezliHope (must be logged in to view profile)
Ravelry Designer Page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/akua-lezli-hope-akuadesigns
This post featured Akua’s crochet work so heavily that you may not have guessed yet that she has never parachuted into Central Park.
Additional Blog Tour Information: