Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Focus: Justine Gerns

Another week has flown by! *fwoosh* I hope your week has been a great one and that you've taken some time to appreciate the little things in life. Little things are the wave of the future, you know. You've heard of microchips, micro-mini skirts, and even micro pigs... but have you heard of micro crochet? This Friday the 13th, our featured crocheter has got the sweetest tiny charms to ward off any bad luck that may come your way. Justine Gerns designs and crafts adorable earrings, cell phone charms, and more out of thread. Thread! They are so detailed and unique. Let's get the scoop on Justine.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it? 
My crochet journey did not actually start with crochet, it started with knitting. My grandmother's been knitting since my dad was a boy and continues today, and every time she visits she is working on another knitting project. To me, as an adult, I've always thought it's magic to create so many things out of nothing but string! I suppose that must have also fascinated me even as a small child because, when I was 5 years old, my grandma taught me how to knit. It was my Christmas present. A skein of pink yarn, two needles, and knitting lessons. I've been unable to stop knitting since, and I'm fine with that because I love it!

In the summer of 2012 I became captivated by three-dimensional crochet, specifically the style referred to as Amigurumi. I knew that while knitting was great, it couldn't do what was needed to properly create the art I was now obsessed with. I found that I needed to learn how to crochet, but with my grandmother nowhere near to teach me, I prowled the internet and simply had to teach myself! Within a few days of learning the basic stitches I was already breaking away from the patterns I had found, rewriting and adapting them to let them lead me to my desired results. I'd always experimented with knitting, with or without patterns, so it came easily and naturally.

To answer the second question directly, I've been crocheting since June of 2012, for about a year and two months. Just a little over one year.

Why do you crochet?
I'm going to take this question a bit further into why I crochet tiny things because that might be easier for me to answer.

I crochet in order to create the styles and types of amigurumi I'm interested in. For both crochet and knitting, I gain immense amounts of satisfaction just from having made something. Something that someone can hopefully love and enjoy, or that will just maybe bring them a giggle whenever they see it. Additionally, I have always been fascinated by miniature things. They are just so darn nifty and cute, and while the virtually unlimited possibilities locked up in 3D crochet "modeling" are exciting, combining the two things that I'm fascinated in takes it all further. Plus, anyone can make normal sized things, and that's great! Amazing things can be made that fit in the average sized section of the human scale. However, tiny things can be so much harder to make, and maybe that is part of why I love them. They are harder to make, which to me, presents a real challenge and can push for strong problem solving. It's not easy for my brain or my hands and I like feeling them work with those challenges. Then after, knowing all of the work and complexities that went into making the tiny thing, makes it that much cooler. They are hard to make, they aren't nearly as easy to duplicate, and as a result there aren't nearly as many. It makes each one so unique and special! Anyone can make something normal sized, but something tiny? It's a challenge most crocheters won't take on and it's a challenge that I'm loving. And again, the tiny things are just so nifty and cute!

Crochet Favorites
Designer - Mohu and Hanasaurusrex on Etsy
Needle - Size 10/1.30mm Boye needle

Thread - DMC Embroidery Thread
Book - Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi: More Than 40 Itty-Bitty Minis to Knit, Wear, and Give by Anna Hrachovec (All of the patterns in this book or for knitting, most of which I completed or experimented with before I decided to learn crochet.)
What are you working on right now?
Because I just relocated abroad to Ireland, I took a short break from crochet and revisited knitting to occupy myself during the flight over. Now, I have two new lovely pairs of leg warmers! For crochet I'm currently working on a several projects at once. On the list are lace bookmarks (I just finished a Celtic shamrock one), and various amigurumi including macaroons, ghosts, acorns, ******** for my sister's birthday (that one's a secret!), and lace snowflakes. I actually have a five page list of the things I want to make. Each time I finish a project I check the list and pick one or two things that seem most interesting at the time and just go with it.

A few finished objects...
Because each of my products are so small, all existing patterns are for making large or normal sized items. Every pattern that I used was used for inspiration and maybe some hints in the right direction. What I mean to say is, while there were many patterns that inspired me, any pattern I drew from had to be entirely rewritten from scratch in order to make my baubles bitty. Each item is therefore made from an original pattern. Here are some of my favorite items.

Totoro Amigurumi Keychain: Heard of Hayao Miazaki? Then you probably recognize this little guy as the white Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro. This Studio Ghibli inspired amigurumi is joined on the keychain by an acorn and a leaf. ^_^ This tiny Totoro measures about 3/4 inches (~ 2cm) tall, 1/2 inches (~ 1.3cm) wide, and has itty-bitty black beads for eyes. The leaf measures about 3/4 inches (~ 2cm) tall, 1/2 inches (~ 1.3cm) wide, and the acorn is a mere 2/8 of an inch (~ .5cm). This is the third, (fourth, and fifth), piece of crochet and amigurumi I ever made and the keychain in the photo is the original. To me this piece is very special, first because I love Studio Ghibli, and second because to me it is truly my first original piece of amigurumi.

Wild-berry Pop-Tart Earrings: This is another one of my dearest for a few reasons. First, the idea seems simple but it came to me in one of those moments that feel like a profound revelation. Next, this is based off of no pattern at all. The idea popped into my head and I spent several days trying different things until I got what I wanted, something that looked just right. Lastly this was my first item I sold on Etsy. For me it was like my huge break! My first sale, hooray! I love how these turned out and visually this is one of my favorite pieces. Not sure why, but I just love 'em! These treats measure about 3/4 inch long (~ 2cm) and 1/2 across (~1.2cm).

My Tiny Cheeseburgers: Another one of my visual favorites are my teeny tiny cheeseburgers. This project was one I was slightly obsessed with. I spent several days just thinking up how to make them and then several days actually trying to make them. Really the only hard parts, aside from their size, was creating the lettuce and tomato toppings. Now, you would never know this unless you took the key chain apart, but the tomato and lettuce are actually kind of intricate (again, intricate given the tininess). The tomatoes look like slices of tomato, they aren't just a flat circle, I used triple crochets, and the lettuce leaf took several tries to get the ruffles just right. It was tougher than I expected, but so worth it. The deluxe cheeseburger comes with all of the fixings: buns, patty, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. These treats measure about 1/2 inch wide (~ 1.3cm) and 1 inch tall (~2.5cm). 

So kawaii. As a blogger who is interested in presenting thoughtful and meaningful information about crochet to my readers, I want to thank Justine for being as detailed in her responses as she is in her creations. You can score your own bitty baubles or simply browse the awesomeness by visiting her Etsy store. I'm a big fan of the crab earrings, in keeping with my love of the ocean. Thanks for visiting with us, Justine!

By the way, yes the blog got a new look :)

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