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National Crochet Month:
Donna Hulka, Crochetville
Today I’m writing about myself, yours truly, Donna Hulka, on Crochetville’s 2015 Designer Blog Tour in honor of National Crochet Month (NatCroMo). I’ve been a member of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) since 2004 and a professional member since 2010.
This photo was taken at the Red Heart / Crochetville booth at the Knit and Crochet Show 2013. I’m wearing the Best in Hoodie Vest crocheted with Red Heart Boutique Changes (now discontinued) in colorways Jade and Amethyst. You can see more photos of it on my Ravelry project page for it.
If you’re not familiar with my work already, I’d like to share two of my designs with you.
When I was eight years old, my now sister-in-law taught me to crochet. I remember a lot of early projects, like arm rest covers, a wallet, a poncho, and a pillow that ended up being a holder for yarn-label patterns. But I’m not sure which was my actual first. Not too long ago, my sister-in-law gave me some of my old projects she’d saved — what a trip down memory lane! I plan on photographing them some time.
Becoming a Designer
Back in 2004, there was no online gathering place for crocheters, no online community. There weren’t any crochet bloggers. No Ravelry. No Etsy. No Craftsy. Facebook had just been started and was for college kids. As a matter of fact, Facebook, Crochetville, and Crochet me were all founded in February 2004.
I feel lucky to have been one of the people buzzing around online when all this was happening, that is, when crocheters started finding each other online. Knitters were already entrenched in knitting blogs, but not so for crocheters. With the advent of the first online crochet magazine, Crochet me, the brainchild of Kim Werker (now owned by Interweave), I realized, “Hey, I make up stuff all the time when I crochet. I could write it down. I could write patterns!”
My first patterns were published in Crochet me, and that’s how a book publisher found me online. He was looking for patterns for an upcoming book and I was so excited!
Even though I don’t design very often, I think I constantly collect ideas from my surroundings — whether it’s nature or tiles or art or the shape of everyday objects. I really enjoy brainstorming design ideas based on a theme (say, a dinner party, or quick gifts, or beachy summer accessories).
Greatest Crochet Accomplishment
I hope I have a lot more accomplishments ahead of me, but so far I’m really proud of building and growing Crochetville with Amy. Even though Crochetville is my adopted project, I was there to see it born, and took it on as my own not long afterwards. It wouldn’t have been possible without the people who’ve helped me along the way, especially Amy, who is my friend and business partner and a crazy go-getter.
By the way, Happy Birthday to Amy today!
I spent a lot of time doing small cross-stitch projects in the late 1980s. I taught myself to knit using onine videos but I don’t care for it much.
Advice for New Crocheters:
Learning anything new that requires physical and mental coordination takes effort and repetition. To do something fluidly, you need to develop your muscle memory for that task. It doesn’t happen overnight, nor after one class. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to get good at it.
One of my favorite stories about learning to crochet is from Franklin Habit. While traveling in Greece, he stumbled upon “the most exquisite pictoral laces” he’d ever seen. It was filet crochet. Once he realized it was crochet, he figured he’d master it in about a week. Here’s what really happened:
“After two hours, my total output was a slipknot, a kinky snarl of sweaty yarn, and thoroughly shattered nerves. When you are an experienced lace knitter who has been inclined to smirk at your hook-wielding comrades, it is extremely humbling to discover that you are unable to produce twenty reasonably even chain stitches without popping a blood vessel.” (Source: Filet of Soul: One Man’s Journey into Crochet by Franklin Habit, Interweave Crochet, Fall 2009.)
Advice for New Designers:
Encourage yourself. Always be professional. Meet deadlines. Proofread. Measure. Keep good notes. Know your stuff — if you don’t, then do research until you do. Don’t take rejections to heart — but use them as constructive criticism.
Some of My Favorites:
Favorite Hooks: My #1 favorite hook is a handmade size K chophook by Jimbo! Other than that one hook, my favorite is Tulip Etimo. I learned on inline hooks (like Susan Bates) and later switched to tapered hooks (like Boye). I never thought I’d like hooks with a thick, soft grip, but after getting a size H Tulip Etimo as a goodie at a CGOA Dinner & Fashion show, I was hooked! (Pun intended.) After being a lifelong pencil hold (and a quite fast one at that), I switched to the knife hold (and Tulip Etimo) and never looked back.
Favorite Yarn: For garments: anything DK weight with great drape. For home decor: wire, jute twine, and other non-yarn.
Favorite Thing to Crochet: Stylish home decor.
Find Me Online:
Crochetville Profile: crochetville.com/community/user/1-donna
Ravelry Designer Page: ravelry.com/designers/donna-hulka
Ravelry Profile: ravelry.com/people/yarntomato (must be logged in to view profile)
Facebook Group — A Daily Dose of Fiber: facebook.com/groups/Crochetville
Facebook Group 2016 — National Crochet Month: facebook.com/groups/nationalcrochetmonth