Designer Linda Dean has 3 wonderful patterns in the October 2016 issue of Crochet World. Today we interview Linda to learn how she became a crochet designer and what a typical day looks like for her.
CW: When did you learn to crochet?
Linda: I actually taught myself from a book when I was about 10 years old. I received a stack of books from a family friend and among them was a book, “Step-by-Step Crochet” by Golden Press printed in 1972. Since I had access to a crochet hook and some yarn I decided to give it a try, and spent that summer crocheting clothes for my Barbie doll and some scarves which I actually still have. I eventually convinced my mom that I could make an afghan, so I picked out a chevron-style pattern and some yarn and undertook my first large project. I had difficulty getting my edges straight at the beginning as I kept increasing the stitches, so it has a scalloped edging along the sides to hide the mistake. It is still a well-loved and favorite afghan at my parents’ home.
CW: Do you do any other crafts?
Linda: I have, but nothing as consistent as crochet. Everything else comes and goes, such as photography, really basic quilting, repurposing things, charcoal drawing, spinning yarn, and stain glass. Since I have been restoring my 100 year old home over the last decade, I consider that a craft project in itself!
CW: How did you become a designer? What was the first design you sold?
Linda: I actually feel it was a luck of fate that I became a professional designer. I was designing for years, but never really identified myself as such. My journey began as a “stick your neck out trip”. In 2007 my dad was running for local office and I would accompany him to campaign events as my mom was ill and waiting for a transplant. During one of these fundraising events I won a drop spindle lesson from a local woman, Jean Franklin, who encouraged me to join her local Fiber Guild. It was my first experience with a guild, and I was hooked, and greatly inspired. So when I learned of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) I was eager to see what it had to offer. I jumped right in by completing the Masters of Advanced Stitches and Techniques Program, and in the summer of 2011 I was invited to attend the annual conference to be recognized at the banquet dinner for my accomplishments. With encouragement from my family and a few close friends I decided to go and see what it was all about.
I arrived in Minneapolis and took part in everything that I could. I took my first crochet class ever and I met many wonderful people. One evening while sitting in the hotel lobby, I got a jump start on my new career. I was playing with a stitch technique I was attempting to figure out, when the lady across from me asked what I was doing. After showing her what I was working on, she said that I should take it to the “Designer Meet & Greet”. I explained I had a class and then realized that the woman I was speaking to was my instructor for that class, Margaret Hubert. Margaret told me I was to leave her class early, and she made sure I did too! At the Meet & Greet I sold my very first design; Backed Broomstick Lace, to Carol Alexander, which was published in the spring 2012 issue of Crochet! magazine. The rest as they say is history.
CW: What does a typical day look like for you?
Linda: I wish there was a “typical” day, but it is easier to explain a typical week!
Now that my two kids have returned back to school, junior high and elementary, there is a bit more structure with everyday essentially beginning after getting them out the door and off to school. I then go through emails and prioritize for the day. Anything that needs a fresh mind or some concentration gets completed in the morning, things like; pattern writing, reviewing or pattern grading (sizing). Then, other items are juggled around depending upon the time available, what deadlines are approaching, and what has to be done to keep my household running.
I spend time each week, writing blog posts (www.lindadeancrochet.com), swatching, sketching, teaching weekly at my local yarn store and sometimes across the country, putting together new workshops, social media outreach, development of my own pattern line, and duties with various volunteer commitments. I volunteer several hours a week for the Crochet Guild of America reviewing portfolios for the Master’s program, coordinating writing of a new Master’s Program, as well as serving on the Board of Directors. I also volunteer with my kid’s 4H club teaching sewing, and my local Fiber Arts Guild currently planning a yearlong calendar of workshops and programs.
CW: What is your favorite part of being a designer?
Linda: My favorite part of being a designer is probably learning something completely new. Just when I think that I have figured something out, I discover a new way to do it. I get to be creative, and not just with yarn and hook. I spend creative time building new relationships with companies and finding ways to expand my business, looking for new avenues to reach people and share my ideas. I enjoy the challenge of taking something that may have been done before and making it completely new. I guess the simplest way to put it is, my favorite part of being a designer is the adventure.
CW: What do you dread or hate doing? Or do you love it all?
Linda: There is not anything that I really dislike, but that does not mean that I always want to do everything. Some days I may feel like swatching and other days it can feel like a chore. Fortunately by adjusting my work throughout the week I am usually able to get everything done and not hate doing any of it.
CW: What advice would you give to someone that wants to try their hand at designing for publications?
Linda: I think the best advice I can offer is to view yourself as a business. By that I mean remember to act professionally, communicate by asking questions when you need clarification, meet your deadlines, and take pride in your work. Put your best self forward, and then remember that not every design will make the cut for publication. It does not mean that it is a poor design, it just means that it was not the right design for this collection at this time. You need to find your niche, and not take the rejection personally.
CW: Thanks Linda for giving us a glimpse into the life of a crochet designer!
Want to crochet one of Linda’s designs featured here or see all the wonderful patterns in the October 2016 issue? Get a digital copy here or purchase the magazine at your favorite craft store or Wal-Mart.