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National Crochet Month:
Andee Graves, M2H Designs
Crochetville is very proud to have designer Andee Graves, M2H Designs with us today, March 25, as one of the featured designers on our 2015 Designer Blog Tour in honor of National Crochet Month (NatCroMo). Andee has been a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America since June 2011.
Three Truths and a Lie:
Take a guess as to which of the following statements isn’t true. We’ll try to let you know which statement is “The Lie” somewhere in this post. If we just can’t work it in, we’ll post the truth at the bottom of the post!
- Andee used to train horses for barrel racing.
- She once broke her pinky toe doing a round house kick while sparring with a karate partner.
- Andee comes from a family of very tall people.
- She has never traveled outside the United States.
If you’re not familiar with her work already, we’d like to share two of Andee’s designs with you.
“A simple mesh stitch pattern is perfect for showcasing colorful yarns in this easy top down shawlette. Included is the pattern for a lovely elaborate lace border to dress up your shawlette.” The pattern also includes stitch charts for both the shawlette and the lace border.
These adorable fingerless mitts will keep your hands warm yet still allow you to work on your smartphone and tablet.
A Look at the Real Andee
Andee grew up on a farm in Kansas with horses, pigs and an orchard. She started riding when she was only four years old. As a teenager, she helped train our neighbor’s horses for barrel racing. Sadly, she hasn’t ridden in years and no longer owns any horses.
Andee has been a student of the martial arts since her late teenage years. She has studied Tae Kwan Do, Karate, andn Akido. She no longer had time for the Dojo after she went to massage school in her late 30s. She’s hoping to get back in to Akido soon as she says it’s a great work-out.
She may have needed the self-defense skills she learned as she is the shortest person in her immediate family (and her extended family as well). All her siblings are taller than she is, even the two youngest ones. She says the average height for men in her family is 6’2″ and the average height for women is 5’8″. The only people shorter than Andee are under 15 years of age!
Getting Off to a Good Crochet Start
Andee’s mother taught her to crochet when she was only six years old. Andee says, “Being a mother myself now, I think she taught me in desperation to find a way to kept me still during the “cabin fever” months of winter. Later on my maternal grandmother taught me to work with thread and how to “read” fabric by re-creating some of the crochet motifs and doilies that she had in her antique shop.”
Her first project was making lengths of crochet chains to decorate the family Christmas tree. She and her older brother would have contests to see who could crochet their skein of yarn the fastest. After Christmas, they would unravel the chains and wind the yarn into balls so it could be reused in other craft projects.
A Design Career Is Begun
Andee says she has always wanted to create her own version of things so she’s never been much for following patterns. So she was creating her own designs years before she even thought about the possibility of a crochet career. In early 2009, she took a class on Crochetville (Designing for Print Publication taught by Mary Beth Temple) that really got the ball rolling for her. She sold her first design to Carol Alexander for Crochet! magazine that May.
Later that year, Andee attended the Knit & Crochet Show / Crochet Guild of America annual conference in Buffalo New York in August. She attended the Designer Meet and Greet, where she met with a number of editors, sold three more designs, and made the contacts that would continue to send work her way.
Andee has recently been focusing more on creating patterns that she is self-publishing through her independent line, M2H Designs, and on teaching crochet at local shops and national fiber arts events.
Andee is a bit of a math geek. She likes to incorporate a lot of geometrical oddities into her designs, although that might not always be obvious to those crocheting her designs. Andee also loves to design wearables with unique construction methods. She loves to create projects that aren’t difficult yet are still interesting for crocheters to make.
Sources of Inspiration
Andee says, “Sometimes the oddest things will get my design brain fired up. I especially look outside the fiber arts world. My family and friends have learned to be tolerant, since I will suddenly need to stop whatever I am doing to make a note so I don’t forget the idea I just had.”
Her Greatest Crochet Accomplishment
“I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet. I am always looking to challenge myself further,” says Andee.
Predictions for the Next Big Trend
Andee thinks we’ll be seeing more and more beautiful, wearable clothing designs.
The Wider World of Fiber Arts
Andee can knit and spin, but says she’s only at an early novice level with both. She’s working on improving her knitting skills so that when she teaches crochet to knitters, she has a better understanding of how they are used to handling and working with yarn. She also enjoys needle-felting, despite a tendency to jab herself with the needles. She can sew and do embroidery, but she usually utilizes those skills only in relation to her crochet work. She recently acquired a Zoom Loom, and she’s having a great time learning about pin loom weaving with it.
About Her Design Process:
My favorite way to design starts with some serious experimental swatching. Once I know what the yarn is going to do in the fabric I’m creating, I decide what type of project it will become. I usually have the pattern completely written up before the design sample is crocheted, this allows for a second check on the pattern instructions before publication (or in the case of my indie line, before it goes to the tech editor).
Advice for New Designers:
Join CGOA and go to a Knit & Crochet Show. Take classes that challenge your skill set. If you are looking to sell your designs to magazines or yarn companies, don’t take it personally when they reject your ideas. You have to believe in yourself and be willing to hear criticism. Most important for those wanting to design, be original. Don’t just echo the designs you have seen already.
Advice for New Crocheters:
Don’t worry about making mistakes. Keep your first project, or at least photos of it, then you can really see how you have grown in your skills. It’s easy to forget how much we have improved when we can only see where we want to get to next.
Some of Andee’s Favorites:
- Favorite Crochet Books: She has a pretty extensive library, but she has seven Japanese stitch dictionaries. At least one or two are usually in her work bag when she’s on the go.
- Designers: Edie Eckman, Mary Beth Temple, Karen Whooley, Kim Guzman, Jessie Rayot, Lorene Haythorn Eppolite, Tammy Hildebrand, Doris Chan, Robin Chachula, Jennifer Hansen
- Favorite Hook: Andee is a big fan of ergonomic hooks and her current favorites are the Clover Amour hooks.
- Favorite Yarn: Andee says, “Recently I have been working with fingering weight yarns a lot. I like pretty much all yarn weights and fibers though. I like mixing it up, it’s another way to keep my hands and arms happy. I usually have at least one project or swatching experiment going in every yarn weight so I can change around what I’m working on thru-out the day.”
- Favorite Thing to Crochet: When she’s working with a yarn for the first time or needs a fast gift item, she loves to make hats and short cowls/scarves.
Visit Andee’s Blog: NatCroMo FREEBIE Sneak Peek
You will definitely want to visit Andee’s blog post today! She will be offering a FREE intermediate-level pattern for a fun springtime headband/earwarmer with a tutorial on puff stitches and cluster stitches.
Find Andee Online:
Crochetville: mamas2hands (must be logged in to see profile)
Ravelry: mamas2hands (must be logged in to see profile)
Mamas 2 Hands Blog: http://www.mamas2hands.com
Ravelry Designer Page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/andee-graves
Andee is actually a well-seasoned world traveler. She has been to Great Britain three times, to France twice, and she’s spent a day each in the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, and Cozumel, Mexico while on a cruise. She loves to travel and hopes to take more trips in coming years.
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