NatCroMo 2015, March 27: Brenda Stratton

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National Crochet Month:

Welcome to Crochetville’s third annual Designer Blog Tour, taking place all throughout March 2015 in celebration of National Crochet Month (NatCroMo). Each day on our blog, you will find 1) in-depth profile posts for two crochet designers, with a link to their blogs so you can see what specials (free patterns, discount coupon codes, tutorials, etc.) they may be offering for NatCroMo, 2) a daily giveaway post with entries open from 8:00 AM CST to 8:00 AM CST the following day, and 3) during the last week of the month, daily posts from a Crochet Guild of America board member. Join us each day for a new surprise!

Today’s Posts: Brenda Stratton, Brenda Stratton Designs | Tamara Kelly, Moogly Blog | Susan Lowman, CGOA Secretary | Daily Giveaway | Halos of Hope Hat Collection | Complete Designer Schedule

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Brenda Stratton, Brenda Stratton Designs

Crochetville is very proud to have designer Brenda Stratton of Brenda Stratton Designs with us today, March 27, as one of the featured designers on our 2015 Designer Blog Tour in honor of National Crochet Month (NatCroMo). Brenda has been a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America for over 11 years.

Brenda-Stratton-Headshot
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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!

  1. Brenda taught herself to crochet from a book. She later found out she was crocheting backwards, and she had to learn to crochet all over again.
  2. She does all of her crocheting and designing in her recliner in front of the TV.
  3. Brenda used to dislike half double crochet so much that she avoided using it in her designs for years. Now it’s one of her favorite stitches.
  4. She once admired an afghan on the cover of a magazine so much that she decided to buy the magazine just for that pattern. It wasn’t until she was checking out that she realized the afghan was one that she had designed!

 

Brenda’s Designs:

If you’re not familiar with her work already, we’d like to share two of Brenda’s designs with you.

Sweetheart-Rose-Baby-Afghan-Brenda-Stratton
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Sweetheart Rose Baby Afghan, published in Crochet World magazine, April 2014

Brenda says, “I originally intended to self-publish this and some other yet-to-be-revealed designs. But, when I met up with my friend, Carol Alexander (executive editor of Crochet World magazine, former co-worker, and long-time business partner), at the 2013 CGOA summer show in Indianapolis, IN, I couldn’t resist showing them to her. She was interested in purchasing all of the aforementioned designs, and the rest is history. Sweetheart Rose Baby Afghan is the first to appear in print.”

 

Vintage-Roses-Purse-Set-Brenda-Stratton
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Vintage Roses Purse Set, published in Crochet World magazine, June 2014.

This gorgeous set features patterns for a 12″ wide x 10″ long x 3″ deep purse, an eyeglasses case, and an accessory bag. The optional roses can be added to any of the items.

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About Brenda:

Getting Off to a Good Start

Brenda says she’s been crocheting for the past 55 years, continuously for the past 45! When she was a little girl, Brenda loved watching her mother crochet doilies and rugs. She learned a few basics from her mother before a friend taught her how to knit. She temporarily put her hooks away in favor of knitting needles, but rediscovered crochet in her teens and soon left knitting behind. Brenda used a Coats and Clark book, Learn to Crochet, to teach herself more about crochet building upon what her mother had already taught her.

After making what seems like miles and miles of endless chains when she first learned to crochet, Brenda remembers her first actual project as a very odd-looking jacket that she made for one of her dolls when she was only eight years old.

A Design Career Is Begun

Brenda says, “I have always loved color and texture. I also have a very strong drive to create, and learning to design fulfilled all of these things. After a half dozen or so rejection slips, I made myself look at them objectively. Then, if I thought they could benefit from it, I reworked them and submitted them elsewhere. After a few publishing successes, the editors and publishers began calling me requesting designs.”

Brenda’s Specialty

Brenda started her career designing dolls and doll clothing. Much to her surprise, she and her publishers found there was a market for it. Publishers that had never published dolls before, or at least not for a very long time, suddenly began publishing her patterns. She later moved on to other  things, and is probably most well-known today for her floral afghans. She says, “Roses are my favorites to design, but I have done many other flowers (and other types of afghans) as well. As an extension of the floral theme, I love to create floral doilies.”

It’s important to Brenda to create designs that are interesting, well-crafted, and as error-free as she can possibly make them. She may not always succeed, but she certainly tries very hard!

Sources of Inspiration

Brenda finds inspiration everywhere but especially from nature. She says, “Sometimes it is just a color, or a flower. I’ve even created afghan designs based on interesting tile work.”

The Wider World of Fiber Arts

Brenda can also knit, sew, embroider, cross-stitch, and needlepoint, although she doesn’t do any of them very often. Crochet will always be her first love!

 

Her Greatest Crochet Accomplishment:

One of the things that excited me most is getting a cover with my very first published design. There have been numerous covers since, but that one meant the most.

My time spent as a crochet book and magazine editor for Annie’s was probably my greatest accomplishment, though. It allowed me to see the design process from the other side of the desk. I learned a lot from it.

 

About Her Design Process:

My design process varies depending on what I’m working on. If it’s a design a publisher requested, they usually tell me what they want, then it’s up to me to create it to their specifications and timeline. This type of designing is more structured.

Sometimes when I’m inspired to design something, I have a picture in my mind of what I want it to look like. It’s similar to the process of creating something for a publisher, but without the deadlines and from my own vision.

Then there are the times where I just start working and let the yarn or thread tell me what it wants to be, which is my favorite kind of designing. My free pattern for the blog tour this year is the result of the latter. It started out to be a mini doily, but it grew!

 

Advice for New Designers:

1. Always be professional. (Always be nice, and do what you say you are going to do exactly when you say you will do it. )
2. Ask for (and follow!) submission guidelines and editorial calendars.
3. Be sure your instructions are clear and concise. Also, make sure your crochet work is neat and pristine.
4. Look at your designs objectively. Try to see them through an editor’s eyes. Do they meet the standards of the publication you are trying to get published in? Is there something about your design that sets it apart from others like it?
5. Don’t get too attached to your designs. There are more where they came from! If you get too invested in them, you won’t be able to bear to sell them.
6. Surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you.
7. Never give up! After all, someone has to fill the demand for new crochet designs. Why not you?

Advice for New Crocheters:

1. Read your pattern all the way through and be sure you understand the terminology before beginning to crochet.
2. If a pattern seems too hard, lay it aside and come back to it later when you have a little more experience.
3. Don’t try to learn everything at once. I’ve been crocheting for more than 50 years, and I’m still learning! While working for Annie’s, I wrote a short article for beginning crocheters.

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Some of Brenda’s Favorites:

 

Visit Brenda’s Blog: NatCroMo FREEBIE Sneak Peek

You will definitely want to visit Brenda’s blog post today! Brenda will be offering her brand-new floral doily, My Wild Irish Rose, FREE for a limited-time only. This design was intended to be a mini-doily. But remember how Brenda said earlier that sometimes this yarn tells her what it wants to be? Well, in this case, the thread decided it needed to be a full-size doily!

 

Find Brenda Online:

Crochetville: BrendaSt (must be logged in to see profile)

Ravelry: BrendaSt (must be logged in to see profile)

Brenda Stratton Designs Blog: http://www.brendastratton.com

Ravelry Designer Page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/brenda-stratton

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaStrattonDesigns

The Truth:

The truth is, Brenda doesn’t always sit in front of her TV to crochet and design. She may do some designing there, as well as in the car, on her screened porch, at doctor’s offices, and other places, but most of her design work is done in her home office in front of her computer, so she can write the pattern as she stitches. When the weather’s really nice, though, she’ll take her iPad out onto the porch and design out there.

Remember that magazine Brenda was about to buy because she didn’t recognize the afghan pattern on the cover was her own design? Publishers sometimes adjust the color levels in photos.  In this case, the photo had been lightened so much, the afghan really no longer resembled the colors Brenda had used in her design. She did end up buying the magazine, and laughed the whole way home!

 

Additional Blog Tour Information:

Icons via icons8.com and iconsmind.com.

 

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50 thoughts on “NatCroMo 2015, March 27: Brenda Stratton”

  1. The floral motifs are gorgeous! And having to re-learn to crochet…well, I was knitting for about 15 years before I realized I was doing purl stitches incorrectly, which was a bit of a letdown–but explained why my flat stockinette stitch always looked so wobbly. Luckily, readjusting took surprisingly little effort!
    Rubra Baronissa recently posted…Designer Diaries, Part IMy Profile

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  2. Love your advice about you never stop learning, that makes so much sense coming from someone who has created and is still creating such wonderful creations.

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  3. I love her designs and have seen and admired them in Crochet World – nice to be given an in-depth look at a wonderful designer.

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  4. I love Brenda’s roses. I have several of her patterns. I just left a thank you for her for the lovely doily pattern with roses that she offered free on her blog.

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  5. I like the design of the Sweetheart Rose Baby Afghan. It is one of the patterns I have tagged in my copy of the magazine.

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  6. I love your story Brenda! I too learned a few things from my mother as a young girl about crochet. I ended up picking it up again after trying knitting. I was 18 years old, had just graduated high school and found out I was pregnant with my first son that summer. I jumped right into crocheting blankets for him. And a few years later while pregnant with my second son, I went back to crochet to make blankets for him. I’ve mostly made blankets, but also have made alot of scarves and hats. And most recently I’ve ventured into dresses and headbands for little girls. Although I’m void a daughter or niece, I do have cousins that have daughters, so I’ll be gifting them these for holidays and just because. Thank you for being such an inspiration!

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  7. I love the bag, and I love the Irish Rose Doily. O am going to make several of these for myself and my daughter. Thank you so much for sharing this! Love your work!

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  8. Brenda seems to enjoy her work tremendously and it shows in her work! When you have a passion for something, that comes through. Very talented lady!

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  9. That’s a cool story about the cover on the magazine. Reminds me of when a school art project of mine was entered to the local museum for the city schools; the piece was on display but I didn’t realize it was mine. I was actually drawn to it cause it was so pretty and then I saw my name as I approached. I was like, what? that’s mine! It was an amazing experience. It’s different when you see your own work not right in your face, through the struggle of creating something from nothing, and see it some what how others see it, from fresh eyes.

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