Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Focus: Regina Rioux

Guess what? My husband has been acting weird lately... asking me what I'm doing this weekend, telling me I shouldn't make plans... and now I know why! My best friend Brianne (the namesake of the Bri Leigh Infinity Cowl) made secrets plans with him to fly in and surprise me for a visit this weekend! She just arrived last night! Hooray! It's been almost two years since we've gotten to see each other, which is way too long. We have been friends since 7th grade and man have we had some amazing times. I love her so much. She is loyal, charismatic, talented, fun, and bold. We're going to have an amazing weekend together! By the by, if you need an awesome hair stylist and/or colorist in the Boise area, she's the best. Oh the fun we had when she (successfully!) cut my hair in her parent's kitchen when we were 13...

You know what else is fun and bold? The crochet designs of Regina Rioux, today's featured designer. Her work has been featured in several publications, one of which is called Kooky Crochet. You know she's gotta be awesome to be featured in a book with a name like that! From giant crabs and meat shawls to seashells and poinsettias, Regina's patterns go from the peculiar to the pretty and everywhere in-between. It takes a special crocheter to be so good at so many different types of projects. Let's learn more about Regina and her varied designs.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
My maternal grandmother taught me to crochet at the age of 7. I'm pretty darn old at this point, which puts me with hook and yarn for 37 years.

Why do you crochet?
The short answer is that I crochet because I have to. I don't mean that crocheting is an obligation. Rather, I mean it is more of a bodily function for me like breathing, sleeping or eating. Crocheting and making things is just a part of who I am. I have never been a person who can just while away the evenings vegging in front of the television. My hands need to be doing something. Therefore, I crochet (or alternately knit, weave, or spin) while spending my evenings sitting in front of the tube. 

Crochet Favorites
Because I crochet so much, I use hooks with a substantial handle (regular hooks cause me to have hand pain after repeated usage). Even my steel hooks have handmade wooden handles (courtesy of this amazing guy). I love working with thread and I just couldn't use those little steel guys without the wooden support. In addition, I have a set of Clover hooks in the standard sizes that I generally use when working with yarns larger than thread.
In terms of yarn, I like the lighter weights (DK and below). I LOVE Malabrigo and Noro. Those two are my favorites, but when designing I need a lot of bang for my buck, so I often buy yarn from Knit Picks. In addition, I am a spinner/dyer and use my own handspun a lot. I also couldn't live without DMC perle cotton in size 8. Yay, thread! LOVE.
As far as books go, I am a collector of vintage needlework magazines. I have stacks of vintage McCall's Needlework magazines. I also really love the Japanese crochet and knit pattern books and magazines. I am lucky enough to live in a city (Los Angeles) with several Japanese bookstores. I frequent those establishments often, perusing the craft sections for hours.
What are you working on right now?
Primarily, I am designing a crocheted shawlette for an Interweave publication. However, I have stacks of WIPs (utilizing a variety of techniques) that I work on in between design assignments. Here's a sampling of what I'm currently trying to tackle: a crocheted thread "painting" which is part of a larger body of work to be shown at a gallery here in Los Angeles next year, a shawl constructed from tropical flower thread motifs that is based upon a previous shawl design I worked up in worsted weight yarn, a summer hued shawl/scarf weaving project (using a floor loom) sampling a variety of twill patterns and lace weight knitted shawl that is begging to be finished. I'm not going to even tell you how many items are currently sitting in my "to be blocked" pile. It's staggering. 

A few finished objects...
Poinsettia Shawl - In December of 2013, I participated in and released a book of holiday crochet patterns for the Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project. My favorite pattern in the book is the Poinsettia Shawl, which is constructed from several Tunisian crochet poinsettia motifs. It's one of those designs that went from paper to reality looking exactly as I had originally envisioned. 

Flower Power Shawl - I was really inspired by my childhood when designing the flower power motif. I wanted the motif to resemble the plastic flower stickers that people used to adhere to their vehicles (think the VW bus) in the 1970's. Although this shawl was crocheted with worsted weight yarn, I am currently sizing it down in a thread version.

Technicolor Cube Ottoman - Over the years, I've been asked to design a lot of items for the home. I generally like these assignments because they tend to be items I would never think of designing for myself or my home. As such, I tend to think of these projects as experiments and I try to push myself outside of my familiar technical box when working up these designs. Hence, the woven top of this ottoman, which was fun to construct.

Neat! As a designer myself I can completely appreciate the imagination that drives the creation of such different patterns. I also understand the motivation. The crochet world is so large and diverse that it's no fun to stick to the same thing over and over! It's so nice to feature the work of someone so versatile. You can check out more of Regina's designs and ideas on Ravelryher website, and her blog. Thanks for visiting with us today, Regina! 

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