Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Crochet Hero

Inspiration comes when and where we least expect it. At least that's been my experience. The person I am about to introduce to you I first met in that now-infamous tunisian crochet course at Stitches West in 2009 (that alone would be reason enough for her to be my hero - who'd of thunk we would be in the same crochet course?). The course was quite enjoyable; at one point we were all talking about men we found attractive (ok, I apologize to any male readers - it was an all-female class). When I mentioned I thought Michael Bublé was quite hot (jazz singing and good looks all in one package), the instructor had no clue who he was. My crochet hero stepped right in and came to my rescue, agreeing with me and allowing me to beat embarrassment on a public, class-wide scale.

Needless to say, she's been a favorite of mine ever since. It helps that she's got several popular crochet books under her belt, and is one heck of a writer to boot. So, without further ado, I present to you another installment of The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire, as answered by my crochet hero - Doris J. Chan.

The Artfully Voie de Vie Questionnaire
With Crochet Designer Doris J. Chan

Can you tell us a little bit about your background before you started to design crochet garments and accessories?

My life BC (before crochet) was less focused than today; that much I can say.  Having dabbled for many years in other fields - music, radio announcing, commercial copy writing, and following the emptying of my nest after nurturing two sons - I listened to my inner calling and turned my hobby into a career.

When was the moment you knew you wanted to become a crochet designer?

It took a while to sink in.  Even during the production of my first design book, Amazing Crochet Lace, I resisted calling myself a professional crochet designer until it seemed pointless and disingenuous to keep denying it.  There was no ah-ha moment at all, but more of a slow burn.

Please describe your personal crochet design philosophy?

Please see Crochet Rules; that sort of sums it up.

What is your greatest crochet (or design) memory?
Doris, modeling her latest design,
the Spirals Top.
My greatest (fondest) memory connected to crochet is that CGOA summer conference in Oakland, California, 2005, particularly those evenings hanging out at the Atrium bar and swapping crochet clothes with the Musketeers. The friendships and connections I made during those earliest events have enriched my life immeasurably.

On the other end of the teeter-totter, the absolute worst crochet memory is a 36-hour marathon a few months earlier in spring of 2005; through horrible miscalculation I was obliged to pull an all-nighter in order to finish a project, which I then threw in the car and hand delivered to a photo shoot in New York.

If you could have dinner with any three designers, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

Elizabeth Hiddleson, one of the most innovative and prolific thread crochet designers of the 20th century; her personal story is lost to time and who can say if she’d be enjoyable company, but I’d love to find out about her life and career; Vashti Braha, because we never have enough time together and because there would be wine and crazy fun; and Jean Leinhauser, not primarily a designer but a publisher; because I never got to say goodbye.

My version of Doris's Lacy Top Cardigan, a
design published by Tahki Stacy Charles in 2007.

Pencil or knife grip?


It’s your last object to design (or make). What is it, and what fiber do you use?

Star Fleet uniform dress (from the 2009 film reboot of the Star Trek universe), in red Louisa Harding Mulberry silk.

What trait do you most admire in designers?

Gracious generosity of spirit

What trait do you most detest in designers?


You are recommending a design gift in response to a friend’s inquiry. Other than your own designs (which, as everyone knows, are quite beautiful!), what would you recommend?
The Undaria Ruffle Scarf, designed by Vashti Braha.  As the reigning champion of slip stitch techniques, Vashti’s work is lovely, shapely and fascinating. Here’s what she says about it:
This 100% slip stitch crochet ruffled scarf pattern features short rowing. Crochet ruffle scarf edging as you go: Undaria is self-edging, thanks to a 2nd type of slip stitch that helps to create a pearly scallop. Fine yarn gives it a delicate fluttery weight. Using a large hook size means you make progress faster than you might expect. These slip stitches have uncommon drape and translucency.
If I had time to crochet gifts using another designer’s pattern I might do this one myself! 

My sincere thank you to Doris for being so gracious - and I think Louisa Harding would be pleased with this inspired use of her Mulberry Silk.


  1. LOL love this - especially the Star trek uniform

  2. What a great interview! Thanks for sharing. (I don't know who Michael Buble is either lol.)

  3. Cool! interviewing your hero! Great interview - her patterns are lovely aren't they?!

  4. I think it was Jen Hansen's Hairpin class we were taking. I do recall how she encouraged off-topic discussions and took informal polls concerning a wide range of pop culture issues... all the while she was timing our classwork progress with a stopwatch! And I also think I was totally obsessed with Hugh Jackman at the time. :-) Thanks for the play, Denise.

  5. How cool and cute you got to interview her! I've fav'd some of her designs on Rav. Hope to try them one day. Plus I love how there's an established, Asian designer out there in the crochet world.

  6. That is so cool! Doris' designs are ones I find myself coming back to if I need inspiration (or at least one of my regulars I look at). Man, it's such a small world sometimes.

  7. Great interview -- thank you! What an amazing talent.

  8. Nice, I have noticed her designs and have favorited a few. How cool to have met her and taken a class together. The interview was great! Thanks!