It was nice to have a week away, a break from work with a short escape to the country and a great chance to spend some quality time with family.
I didn’t hook or knit once!
Now back to reality and I shall be picking up my hook and needles tonight.
Welcome to April’s edition of Spotlight where I shine the light on a crafter/maker/artist/creative from around the world.
This month I am so thrilled to announce we have Matthew Spiers from One Man Crochet. I’ve been following Matthews work for nearly four years now and he was one of the very first crochet blogs that I came across. Every time I checked his blog there would be a new interesting and quirky piece up. He makes crochet art which I am endlessly fascinated with and inspired by, his own jumpers and socks, jewellery, incredible costumes and more. He also post about his yarn adventures locally and globally. I’m so excited that Matthew agreed to be interviewed for my blog please read on to find out more!
Hi Matt, can you introduce yourself and your work.
Hi. My name is Matthew Spiers and I’m the blogger/artist/designer known as One Man Crochet. As well as designing crochet patterns for magazines, I also dabble in crochet art, most notably the costumes I make to wear to festivals and my large scale abstract crochet wall-hangings.
What is creativity to you?
To me creativity isn’t really even a choice – it’s a force. I have to create, in some ways it’s my life blood. It doesn’t matter if it never goes anywhere, never does anything, it doesn’t even matter if it doesn’t work! If I don’t create, I feel trapped, imprisoned, out of control, that I’m wasting my life – I struggle to just sit and do nothing (which isn’t always a good thing, when I’m not being creative I’m very restless and find it difficult to relax). That might all sound over-dramatic, but creativity is very important to me, in some ways it’s my raison d’etre (whether it’s judged to be worth-while or a life-well-lived is a different question).
Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?
I get asked this question quite often and I genuinely find it quite difficult to answer. Inspiration comes to me in many different forms (art/tv/music/books/dreams/crap on the streets), but often it’s just the ideas that pop into my head randomly that have the strongest influence. Take my crochet pattern designs for example. Sometimes if I sit down and try to come up with ideas, my mind goes completely blank. But if I just start playing with my hook and some yarn, ideas just manifest from nowhere. I love the discoveries that come from the thoughts of ‘oh that kind of looks like that’ and ‘I wonder what will happen if I try this?’
What is your creative routine/process?
On the sofa, shoes off, feet up, beer open! Although that’s kind of a joke it’s also the truth. I’m a strong believer in tidy desk=tidy mind – but unfortunately I’m incredibly messy so I normally have to spend a good 10 minutes tidying up before actually doing anything at my craft area, hence a lot of my work is done on the sofa. In terms of my process, I normally start off with a quick sketch or crochet tester (or a swatch as they call it in the business), from that I’ll develop a more detailed sketch or notes that I can reference whilst working, and then I just go for it.
What do you see for yourself in 2017?
At the time of writing this, that’s very much unknown. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to set myself up for a fall, but 2017 is a year where a big change is coming. I’m hoping that in some ways it will be the year that makes me. I’m gonna have to suck it up, take some risks and work pretty hard to get to where I want. So many people in the crochet community give me so much support and have so much belief in my crochet abilities that I figure now is the time to believe in myself and really go for it.
When did you see yourself as a crochet artist? And when did you realise crochet was your medium of choice.
I’ve told the story of how I got into crochet many times, so I’ll try and answer this a little differently than I normally do. Basically I decided to learn crochet as I was feeling stifled by a lack of space and wanted to learn a craft that required a minimum of tools and work area (this is before I knew the perils of yarn hoarding!). At first it was just a case of I was learning the skill, so I would make presents for my loved ones. Then people started saying I should take pictures of the things I made, as others wanted to see them. That led to me making my blog, and then that led to interest from all kinds of people and press, and the various opportunities that come from that. So really, it was when I started writing my blog that I realised that I was doing something different, and that it had gone beyond just being a hobby. It was this point I realised that crochet was my medium and that I felt comfortable enough to call myself a crochet artist (although there are days that I feel like a fraud in using this description). I never set out to go down this path, it was never a narcissistic deliberate attempt to do ‘something different that could get me lots of attention’. It’s been a very natural and progressive exploration into a craft that has allowed me to release some artistic expression.
What is your favourite project to work on?
I think my favourite projects are the ones where I have complete freedom, very little planning and use lots of different yarns. I love experimenting and finding ways to make things work. In some ways it’s instant gratification. At the same time, there’s nothing quite like spending an eternity prepping a project and seeing it all come together at the very last minute.
What advice would you give to crochet beginners?
I’ve previously taught people how to crochet and there are a lot of stumbling blocks that can catch a beginner out. Also, some people just plain don’t have the patience. But if you’ve got the basics down, my one piece of advice is this – never stop learning. I may be breaking somewhat of an unwritten rule by saying this, but there are so many tricks that designers use but don’t always tell you. Sometimes this is because it’s just taken for granted, sometimes because it’s too complicated to write, and sometimes it’s just a matter of personal taste. Basically if you make something from a pattern and end up thinking ‘why doesn’t mine look like the one in the picture’, it’s probably because they’ve done something ever so slightly differently. Keep your mind open and seek out different techniques, the internet is a treasure trove of knowledge when it comes to this.
Will we be seeing your artwork in a gallery soon?
I would love to say yes, but at the moment there’s nothing planned. I hope to one day finish my collection of large scale wall hangings and exhibit them all together as a series, but it’s always kind of on the back burner. I’ll complete them one day, there’s such a mammoth amount of work that has gone into them that I refuse to give up. But at the same time I have to wait until I am content that the collection is complete – until then my artwork sits patiently waiting in a box under my desk. Creating crochet art is a dream, but dreams take hard work, if you force them they can become nightmares!
Do you have a travel bag kit for crochet when travelling?
I don’t have a travel bag/kit, but I am never without my Swiss army knife – very specifically the ‘ladies’ model of Swiss army knife. I’m always using the super sharp scissors for cutting yarn and the nail file for smoothing out any bits that might catch on the crochet work.
Which artists inspire you?
Oooh tough question. In the knitting/crochet design world – Georgia Farrell, Elena Fedotova, Kath Webber and Ilaria Caliri are all killing it at the moment in my opinion. Obviously Joanna Vasconcelos and Olek are my big-time modern textile art heroes. But in the wider art world, Goya, Pollock and Magritte are some of my favourites, and rather stereotypically for anyone who’s done an art degree, Duchamp holds a bit of a special place in my heart. But as a rule I’m a big fan of the Dada, Surrealist, Constructivist, Abstraction-Création and Bauhaus movements – anything abstract is cool with me.
How did you develop your crochet style?
As I said earlier, my crochet experience has been a very natural progression. That said, it’s taught me a lot about myself and my style. Anyone that knows my work will know that I’m all about bright bold colours, the brighter the better. But in some ways, this was an unexpected evolution for me and really shows how much crochet has affected my life. People look at colourful work, and it makes them happy, or they think that it conveys a message or feeling of fun. In all honesty, day to day, that’s not how I think of myself. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and am a natural pessimist and cynic. But crochet makes me happy, if fulfils me, and it brings out the best in me. I think my work projects the person that I want to be, someone that does what they want and doesn’t worry about the opinions of others, while showing me that I am that person at the same time.
Did fine art influence/help your crochet?
Doing a fine art degree didn’t help my crochet directly, as it wasn’t till many years afterwards that I picked up the hook. But it did certainly affect the way I think and the way I look at things, and allowed me to embrace and be comfortable with my creativity. It taught me the importance of valuing yourself as an artist, and that whether it is good or bad art is subjective, it is the belief in yourself and your practice that truly defines whether it is art or not.
Thank you so much for that Matthew. I found it a fascinating read!
See below for other Spotlight Interviews!
Welcome to March’s edition of Spotlight where I shine the light on a crafter/maker/artist/creative from around the world.
This month I couldn’t help but be captivated by the wonderful knotting of Lucy Snowden. On Instagram Lucy posts about her macramé makes, from delicate wall hangings to plant hangers, and also the stunning views of her local area. I particularly like the intermittent pops of colour Lucy uses in her work that really adds a wonderful bit of detail.
Please introduce yourself and your creative pursuits.
Hi, I’m Lucy. I live in the Mountains of North East of Victoria in Australia with my husband and two daughters. I feel like I’ve always been a maker although its probably only recently that I really realized the extent of this. In primary school I got the prizes for craft and some of my really strong memories are of needlework lessons and making an embroidered bag that I still have and love. I also got really into making my own soft toys and cross stitch embroidery. In my twenties I didn’t make so many things and pursued my other love of all things outdoors. It was when I became pregnant that I suddenly started to feel a real urge to be creative again, discovered sewing blogs and really started sewing again in earnest, making most of my clothes (not baby ones though just to fiddly for me!). Last year we moved across the country and as winter drew in I felt the urge to start weaving and to try out macramé. Actually I’d been wanting to try for ages but the time and the place just felt right.
Did anyone teach you macrame or was it self taught?
I learnt macramé from books and patterns and a tiny bit of Youtube. We used to sail a lot when I was a kid so I learnt a few knots from my Dad back then. I could tie and knew when to use a bowline, reef knot and a half hitch. I love that many knots also have a very practical function as well as being decorative. Despite this it took me a long while to get into macramé. I had a very unreasonable fear about cutting rope! I borrowed a macramé book from the library and made my 1st very basic hanging and a little plant hanger. Then a few months later I finally brought some patterns from Reform Fibers and haven’t looked back from there. Now I just don’t worry and err on the side of cutting too much.
For your macrame pieces do you follow patterns or is it random?
Since those 1st ones which I used one for I haven’t followed a pattern. The knots you tie are quite simple so for me it’s making up the combinations which is the creative part. Unlike making clothes where the end product has to fit you, macramé feels very free, you are just making something that you like the look of. I find that very satisfying.
Do you have a creative routine, if so what is it?
Not really. My two girls are both at school now for the 1st time this year so I am hoping I will be able to get into more of a routine. I prefer to work on things for a few hours at a time if I can to really get into the flow of it. I will normally put on a podcast or two or listen to some nice folk music on spotify. That’s kind of my perfect day…… home alone, creating, with a good cup of coffee, a good podcast and the beautiful mountain view out the window. If it’s winter and I can have the log burner on then even better.
What do you see for 2017?
I hope to turn my macramé from a glorified hobby into more of a business.
How do you feel when you’re creating?
Happy, absorbed, peaceful…..like I don’t want to be anywhere else.
Do you have any other creative pursuits?
I love to sew too, otherwise parenting is a pretty creative pursuit if you ask me. My other hobbies are paragliding, yoga, snowboarding, and hiking. Kind of hard to fit these all. The outdoor ones are pretty weather dependent so if the weather is right you will probably find me outside doing one of these.
Any advice for those interested in or learning macrame?
Don’t stress. What’s the worst that could happen? You waste a bit of rope? You can always get more. I’m still learning. Keep making and experimenting. I’ve tried a few different styles and feel like I am slowly finding my own voice.
What do you know that you wish you’d known when you began?
Just that rope cutting thing again. Otherwise nothing, it’s the learning which is half of the fun.
Thanks for that Lucy, I look forward to seeing your pursuits and makes in 2017.
You can find other Spotlight interviews below:
Look out for another amazing creative in April!
Thanks for reading crafters, hookers, knitters, makers, artists and creatives!
I enjoyed cycling on my lunch break down to the local high street and I am definitely making this a regular feature in my week. A breath of fresh air and escaping from the computer screen is just what I need in the middle of the day.
Spent an evening at Sop’s flat, she cooked me a lovely dinner and showed me all her crafty goodies including her weaving! So easy and unique, another project has found it’s way onto my to-do list.
Finding inspiration wherever I go! Loved these decorative lamps, did a little sketch and busted out some ideas.
Escaping the city.
Reflecting on Sunday.
WIP wednesday is always a time that I stop, look around and think “oh wow, I have far too many unfinished projects”. It’s also a time where I can checkstep my progress and see where I’m at.
It’s all crochet this week! The first image is my actual WIP. I’m working on a crochet pouffe for my living room, which at the minute is distinctly lacking in homemade goodness. The second image was of the first attempt at a pouffe but I stopped because I really disliked the colour choice. It looked like something out of That 70s Show… And I just couldn’t be having that – maybe something to do with the yellow and green combo. So I left it, didn’t weave in the ends and now it’s a plant pot coaster with a fringe.
I took a bit more time to choose the next colour palette and as my living room has a couple of pops of blue and yellow I thought I should vaguely match that. I prefer the grey/yellow/blue theme it feels a bit more…. Contemporary. So that’s my big scale project at the moment and I’ll update that when I get a little further with it.
Now you may have seen some of my rainbow stripes on Instagram…. And that is now not a WIP. It’s finished! Yay! I hooked up a very simple Pride flag as it LGBT month here in the UK and I wanted a little flag to hang on my desk.
I must say looking at these images makes me realize they’re all very similar… And stripey…. Must do something about that, must get out of comfort zone, must experiment! Ideas bubbling.
So for this WIP Wednesday that’s it. I don’t have too many ongoing projects, in fact I only have one! Mainly because I’m busy with the 9-5 and also currently coordinating two exhibitions at Surface (more on those later) so crafting has had to take a backseat for now.
How are your WIPs? How is your Wednesday? How is your week?
Sundays are often a day we like to prepare for the week ahead. The end of a week has rolledaround and we gear ourselves up to take on another one.
Sundays are also a day to look back over the week gone by and remember time with friends, family and one’s self.
I’ll be (attempting) to do a simple Sunday post of my reflections.
This is me and E! He’d worked a late shift and I went to meet him afterwards so we could spend some time together.
We love cooking and cooking for friends is something we try to do on a semi regular basis. Last Sunday we had Mexican!
Working on a little stash bust! Yet to be revealed.
I was at Surface Gallery a lot last week. I’m co-coordinator of the next two exhibitions, a Jane Walker show and the NTU festival. The flyer above is a call for submissions for an exhibition in April.
Writing group!! One of the creative highlights of my month. I’ve got lots to be working on for March so I’ve been setting time aside to write over the last few days and have scheduled some time in next week .
More stash busting!
Even more stash busting…..
So there was a little glimpse of my week.
How did your week go and what do you have planned for the week ahead?