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National Crochet Month:
Anastacia Zittel, Anastacia Knits Designs
Crochetville is very proud to have designer Anastacia Zittel of Anastacia Knits Designs with us today, March 6, 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!
- Anastacia is afraid of dogs.
- Her father knows how to crochet.
- Anastacia uses acrylic yarn in some of her designs — and not just for afghans!
- She is an only child.
If you’re not familiar with her work already, we’d like to share two of Anastacia’s designs with you.
Twists & Turns Ripple Throw, published in Crochet World magazine, February 2015
Summer Drop Shawl, free pattern on her blog
Anastacia learned to crochet from her mom and her grandmother when she was about 8 or 9, then her mom taught her to read patterns when she was 14. She still remember it was a granny square pattern from the back of a yarn label. Her first “real” project was a double crochet afghan in five colors, which she still has. As she ran out of one color, she would just start the next color. Her gauge got much, much tighter by the end, so each stripe ended up being a different size, resulting in a very funny-looking afghan.
If you take a look at Anastacia’s pattern collection, you’ll see that her designs have a strong focus on easy accessories that can be made in any size, with any weight of yarn, and at any gauge, giving the customer an infinite variety of looks from one pattern. When she self-publishes an afghan design, she tries to include multiple sizes, which you often don’t see with afghan patterns. Anastacia thinks most people would be about as interested in a one-size-fits-all afghan as they are in a one-size-fits-all sweater, which is not very interested at all. She never had a lot of money to buy patterns in the past, so she tries her best to give her customers as much “bang for their buck” as she possibly can, so they’ll have a pattern they want to make over and over again.
Anastacia is most proud of her Twists and Turns afghan, which was published in the February 2015 issue of Crochet World magazine. The design was inspired by both of her grandmothers. The lacy interior was inspired by her grandmother who loved to make doilies. The outer ripple rows were inspired by her other grandmother who loved to crochet ripple afghans. The first magazine Anastacia ever received was a copy of Crochet World, given to her by her doily-loving grandmother. So this particular design is quite special to her in a number of ways.
Anastacia is not just a crocheter, but a true fiber artist. She also knits, spins on a drop spindle, weaves on a rigid heddle loom, dyes yarn, embroiders, does cross stitch, and has even done a bit of plastic canvas work. She also loves the art of zentangle!
For the past several years, she has made a crocheted afghan every year using ripples and granny squares that is raffled off to raise money for Alzheimer’s. Her grandmother was diagnosed with and later died from Alzheimer’s. Her uncle Joel, who is only in his 50s, is living in a nursing home because of the extra care he needs due to the disease. Last year was the first time she designed the afghan she made for donation. Anastacia also donates all the money from sales of that pattern and of a knit pattern to Alzheimer’s.
About Her Design Process:
I always messed around with patterns: made them easier, or used a different weight of yarn, or changed up this detail or that. I always just made stuff out of my head. I had no idea that not everyone could do it. With the advent of Ravelry, I was able to talk to a lot of other designers, and I gained the confidence to start writing down my ideas. With the help of a lot of tech editors, proofreaders, other designers & testers, I learned how to really write a pattern well, and learned that being a designer really has very little to do with actually designing!
When I’m designing, I probably waste a lot of time, but my process works for me. I always make the first, oh, dozen or so samples, using acrylic yarn. I frog a LOT, and end up with a dozen swatches that are all similar but different to each other. I like to hang on to all of them, because I’ve learned from each one of them, and I often refer back to them – “Oh, did I try that edging already?” or “I should try that stitch instead”. I can look back and actually feel the swatches – as compared to swatching and photographing them. Sometimes I go back, and one of the swatches that didn’t work for the original design, will end up as a starting point for a totally new design. I have baskets of swatches all over the place – just ask my hubby!
After I have the rough idea of a design in my head, I then crochet a much larger swatch in acrylic, writing the directions as I go. When I get the final yarn for the design, I then hold the large swatch by my side, along with the directions I’ve started to write up, and start crocheting the final sample while editing / rewriting the final directions. I sometimes will make a third sample to get all the bugs out – often while my testers are working on a design, I’ll work on another sample at the same time to look at the pattern with fresh eyes.
Suggestions for Newbie Designers:
Don’t just jump into it. Do the research, find capable tech editors, and listen to their advice! Don’t think you don’t need them – because they will always, always make your patterns 1000% better!
Some of Anastacia’s Favorites:
Favorite books: Out-of-print foreign language doily leaflets from the 40s and 50s
Favorite designers: Margaret Hubert and Michele DuNaier
Favorite Yarn: fingering weight wool and alpaca blends
Favorite Thing to Crochet: shawls and afghans
Visit Anastacia’s Blog: NatCroMo FREEBIE Sneak Peek
You will definitely want to visit Anastacia’s blog post today! She’ll be offering a very limited time coupon code for 40% off in her Ravelry or Etsy shop. She’ll also be posting a FREE cowl pattern. And, she’ll be offering a shawl patter, free for the month of March only. Visit her blog to get the details.
Anastacia loves all animals, especially dogs and cats. She’d own a zoo if she could.
Find Anastacia Online:
Crochetville: anastaciaknits (must be logged in to view profile)
Ravelry: anastaciaknits (must be logged in to view profile)
Anastacia Knits Designs blog: http://anastaciaknitsdesigns.blogspot.com
Ravelry Designer Page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/anastacia-zittel