Designer interview: Amy van de Laar, Baroque Purls

November 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm 3 comments

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Amy’s stunning ‘Beeswax Hat’

As part of the Ravelry Giftalong 2014, all participating designers get to interview a couple of other designers. This has been great fun, and has already given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people.

First up, let me introduce Amy van de Laar, of the beautiful and colourful Baroque Purls.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I design knitted accessory patterns – mostly hats, but also cowls, mitts, scarves, and shawls. My business (and blog) name is Baroque Purls, and I’m baroquepurls on Ravelry. I’ve lived in Melbourne, Australia for the past two years – before that I lived in Wellington, NZ. My partner Willie got a job over here, so we crossed the ditch. I’m finally, after two summers, adjusting to the heat!

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Amy’s ‘Paper Snowflake’ hat pattern was released on Friday – it’s the last in the very cute ‘Paper Hats’ series, and modelled here by Amy herself. 🙂

And how did you come up with your name?
The name combines music and knitting references – a ‘baroque pearl’ is a rough, irregular pearl, which gave its name to the Baroque era in music (roughly 1600 to 1750). The label started as an insult about music that was seen as too ornate and weird! My absolute favourite composers, Bach and Monteverdi, wrote during this time period. I sing soprano in a choir, and I also do a lot of messing around with singing and piano-playing on my own. I studied the history and literature of music at university, so it’s an ongoing obsession!

How would you describe your style?
My designs are generally brightly-coloured, and inspired by either the natural world or pop culture. So far I have designs inspired by honeycomb, Daleks, rainbows, ferns, Tetris, waves, stars, vinyl records, and origami…

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I’m going to have to make one of these – it’s a Paper Boat hat!

What got you started designing?
I have a (sometimes inconvenient) need to optimise everything, which in crafting manifests as making lots of modifications to patterns – some of which work out and some don’t! Designing is sometimes an extension of that for me. Other times, a design springs from a cool idea that I really want to work through.

What aspects of designing do you most love, and what do you find most challenging?
My favourite part of designing, hands down, is coming up with the stitch patterns and/or colourwork charts, and swatching them and refining them. The most challenging has got to be knitting the actual samples, especially when they’re large items like scarves. I have a fingering-weight scarf on the needles at the moment that’s dragging on a bit!

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Insulate! Everybody needs matching dalek mittens and hat!

What’s your design process? Where do you start?
I tend to get inspired by an idea for a stitch pattern, or some special yarn that I want to really make the most of. I start by charting the stitch pattern ideas and playing around with them.

Pattern you’ve most loved designing, or project you’ve most loved making?
One of my earlier patterns is ‘Queen of the Night’, a beaded laceweight stole. I traced star charts onto a knitting chart, and beaded all the constellations in and around the zodiac. I’ve loved astronomy since I was little, so this was a fun, nerdy exercise for me. I’d like to make Audry Nicklin’s ‘Southern Skies’ too (once I find the right yarn for it), so I can have a bead-less constellation shawl for less formal occasions…

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Queen of the Night, where knitting meets astronomy.

If someone was to knit just one of your patterns, which would you recommend?
I think my ‘Bushwalk Beanie’ hat is lovely with its fern-frond-lace pattern, but it hasn’t been knit very often! If you’re tempted to try merino-possum yarn, you’ll only need one ball to make this hat. I love possum-blend yarn.

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Fern-inspired Bushwalk Beanie.

Have you planned what will you be knitting for the GAL?
I’ve started swatching for a ‘Park Slope’ tee by Laura Aylor, which will be my main GAL project. If I have time, there are a couple of gifts I’d like to make as well.

Thanks very much Amy !

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The playful
Dyer’s Delight

The hardest part about this interview has been choosing pictures – I want to include them all!!

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Entry filed under: Spinning and Knitting.

Ravelry Giftalong fun and games! Pattern release: The Peacock’s Tale

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sandra  |  November 18, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Very informative interview Amy and Nim. Amy, honey, you will NEVER get used to the heat……

    Reply
    • 2. Amy V  |  November 19, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Noooo, don’t tell me that! Haha!

      Reply
      • 3. Sandra  |  November 19, 2014 at 10:52 am

        Sad but true. Lived here my whole life and dread summer every year. Some people seem to like it though, don’t know what’s wrong with them, they must be ill. lol

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