Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Focus: Renate Kirkpatrick

Every craft has unique strengths. One of crochet's greatest strengths is its versatility. You can pretty much place your hook in any location you please as you work. This translates to an increased ability to transcend the traditional. When you go completely off-grid in crochet it is sometimes called 'freeform', meaning that you aren't necessarily paying close attention to convention. You allow the shape that you want your item to take to guide you in the right direction as you work. Due to its nature, freeform crochet doesn't really have associated patterns or guidelines.

Freeform crochet art can be quite interesting. Renate Kirkpatrick takes freeform to a new level with her vibrant work. A crochet author as well as artist, she is here with us today to share her story.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it? Why do you crochet?
I mainly crochet… However, I have been crafting in one form or another since forever. I was one of those weird kids that spent hours collecting wondrous fibrous things, always on the lookout for interesting shapes & textures, then cutting, shredding, stitching & gluing them into something new… so I guess you can say I’m self-taught.

My earliest memory of crochet is as a child often sitting with an elderly neighbor on her doorstep as she crocheted slippers & how overjoyed I was when she gave me my very own pair… Both, my grandmother & great-grandmother were wonderful crocheters/knitters &, although I never knew them, I have a box filled with their beautiful works that I treasure.

I made my first granny square in my mid-teens from an old tattered ‘How to crochet’ pamphlet that I found in an opportunity shop & I was as proud as punch with the wonky shoulder bag I managed to piece together…
It was in my late twenties after the children were asleep when I really started to crochet more often - mostly granny square rugs (afghans) for fun, relaxation & gifts. Over time, I guess I became bored with the repetition & became interested in searching out more challenging patterns. Although, at the time, I had never read a pattern, let alone deciphered what the heck all those odd abbreviations, dots & dashes meant, nevertheless, I persevered &, over the years, through trial & error, gained confidence & experience.

Freeform was introduced to me by a student while teaching at a local craft shop & has become my passion & creative joy &, at the risk of sounding pretentious, I now consider myself a Freeform Fibre Artist

Crochet Favorites
As a ‘Freeformer’ I don’t really have a particular favorite yarn or hook. I try to leave my mind open to everything & give anything a go to see what effects I can achieve – felting, weaving, embroidery

As to books, of course, I have to say that my own published books are my favorites… but seriously, I think I may have more craft books & magazines than the local library, & can’t say I prefer one more than another. I do, however, like to crawl the opportunity shops for old, old, patterns & books but these are very hard to come by nowadays. & then there’s Internet – it’s probably the best resource for inspiration & gathering knowledge there is today

What are you working on right now?
At this very moment in time, I’m in a self-enforced hiatus. My husband & I recently sold our home of 30 years & purchased an older house that we are presently renovating… we are coming to the end of this 6 month challenge & hopefully, if all goes to plan, I will have a small showroom & a spacious studio/classroom & I’ll be able to continue to create & teach as before… until then I must be patient…

A few finished objects...
Crème de Menth: begin with a freestyle knitted scarf/shawl by increasing & decreasing at will them filling the uneven edges with crochet motifs, adding tassels & beads to finish.

Flame: felted crochet crown, cold hand-dyed & heavily beaded. Crochet band with freeformed wet-felted coronet attached. Made for the Alice Springs Beanie Festival 2011.

Beaches: a cheerful piece evoking Sun, Surf & Sand, I used assorted natural and synthetic yarns & glass seed beads worked over a mesh bag base & added plastic handles.

In my opinion, one of the coolest things about freeform is its one-of-a-kind nature. Each of Renate's items is the only one like it in the whole world! If your interest in freeform crochet has been piqued, you can learn more abut Renate and view her work on her website, Facebook, Ravelry, Etsy, Zibbit, and the TAFA list. Thank you for sharing your art with us today, Renate!

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