Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Focus: Sonja van der Wijk

It's November! Yay! I really like the month of November, that bridge into winter. Everyone begins to hunker down and get cozy in their homes preparing for winter and the holiday season. Speaking of holidays, I hope y'all had a nice Halloween yesterday. I'm not a big Halloween person so I didn't dress up (if I had, I would have been Daria). Instead, my husband and I ate dinner out and then relaxed at home to chat and eat some chocolate.

I really have been feeling like a homebody lately, spending my time doing house chores, baking, reading, and of course crocheting. The other day, as I was snuggled up on the couch with the fireplace going, I came across the work of today's featured crocheter: Sonja van der Wijk. I instantly fell in love and knew I had to share my discovery with you. Her precious creations are so delightfully classic. With their sweet details and spot-on shaping they totally remind me of the illustrations in Beatrix Potter stories, an appropriate comparison as Sonja herself is an illustrator as well as a crocheter. So dear readers, get cozy with me today and let these little fellows warm your heart. Tell us all about them, Sonja!


This is me, doing one of my favorite things, hiking. Here I’m followed by the providers of wool, lovely sheep.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it? 
About three years ago I learned to crochet and I'm self taught. I discovered crochet animals in a local gift shop and I loved the retro style and texture of them. I looked for more information about them on the internet and learned they were crocheted and that many people were making similar animals called ‘amigurumi'. I really wanted to learn to make these amigurumi and from one thing came another and eventually I started designing my own patterns. 
Discovering those crochet animals in that gift shop is one of the best things that has happened to me. Now I do something I absolutely love doing and every animal I design is special to me. I’ve always loved animals and sometimes regret that I chose to study art instead of biology. But by making crochet animals, those two worlds kind of come together. Now I can study animals and ‘make' them.

Why do you crochet?
I crochet because I love to make 3 dimensional versions of the animals I'm drawing (I’m also a professional illustrator). It's so challenging to do and when an animal is finished I feel like I have brought my drawing to life. It is a struggle sometimes and can drive me mad, especially when I have to make lots of versions to get the right shape, but the end result makes worth every effort I’ve put into it. 

Crochet Favorites
My absolute favorite yarn to work with is Lètt- Lopi. It's a 100% Icelandic wool and I'm fond of the texture and character it adds to my animals. The yarn has become an important aspect of my style and gives my animals their rustic looks. My other materials are cheap metal crochet hooks, paperclips as stitch markers, and other low budget materials. I like working with basic materials.  

What are you working on right now?
I just finished a crochet hedgehog pattern and now I'm going to design a pattern for a reindeer and a raccoon. I think I’m going to focus on making more ’seasonal’ animals. I consider hedgehogs to be autumn creatures and the reindeer pattern is perfect for winter. The raccoon is an exception but I just look very forward to making one. 

A few finished objects...
This is Falun, my crochet badger pattern. Badgers are my ultimate favorite animals. I love their attitude and habits and had to make a crochet version. 
 
Flam, the crochet fox pattern is one of the first ‘forest friends’ I designed. I love his colors and rustic looks. Like the badger he’s about 5.5 inches tall while sitting.

Finse is my wild rabbit friend. He’s a cheerful looking animal and a lovely doll. I love making animals like these. They look quite realistic, but are playful dolls at the same time. And that is most important to me. To make animals who have their own character and also do resemble the real thing.

What precious little animals. I would like to declare that these are some of the best amigurumi animals that I have ever seen, at least according to my tastes. Honestly, these are some of the best crochet objects that I've seen, period. Sonja has achieved exactly what she set out to achieve. Her darling stuffies truly do have their own character while still being very true to life. Well done!

You can learn more about Sonja, her many lovely patterns, and her illustrations on her website and her Twitter. As for me, I know that I will be making a few of these little friends in the future. Thank you so much for spending time with us today, Sonja!

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