Designer Spotlight

Jennifer L. Chapman

Spring Fling Cowl
Jennifer L. Chapman

Unlike the majority of crocheters, I didn't learn to crochet as a child. I am a "lefty" and despite the efforts of my right-handed mom, it just did not click for me. In grade school, I spent my free time weaving friendship bracelets; in high school, I started making jewelry. After college, I became proficient at making custom jewelry sets and local bridal shops sold my pieces. I really enjoyed working with brides to design pieces for their bridesmaids or something special for the bride to wear on her wedding day.

Unfortunately, one day out of the blue, I experienced stroke symptoms including weakness and tremors on my left side. I was admitted to a hospital, underwent a battery of tests and was diagnosed with MS. The next couple of years were a blur of doctors' appointments, therapy and hospital stays. I could not get the weakness and tremors in my left hand under control. As a "lefty", this was a really big deal for me. I could no longer work with tiny jump rings and crystals to assemble a simple necklace. I packed up my jewelry supplies and felt like I was packing up a part of myself at the same time.

After a while, I knew I had to find something that would allow me to express myself creatively. I stumbled back onto crochet one day at my mom's house. Watching her crochet beautiful items for my daughter with just a hook and a ball of yarn, I knew I wanted to be able to make attractive things for my grandchildren some day. I called around for crochet classes for "lefties" and found one at my local Jo-Ann store. After two classes, I was hooked.

I must have made a hundred scarves and blankets that first year. As time went on, I started learning new stitches, worked with different types of yarn and learned to read patterns. Before long, I was writing my own patterns and friends asked if I could teach them to crochet. Wanting to do more, I became a member of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and helped organize crochet and knit events for local charities. I even started teaching classes at my local yarn shop!

I love designing shawls, wraps and cowls that can dress up an outfit. I'm still in shock that my patterns are published in magazines and on Ravelry (see jlcreations) and that I've paired with local indie dyers. My dreams are all coming true and I could not be happier.

My passion for crochet goes beyond just working with hooks; it allows me to express myself artistically and helps me heal. Crocheting is more than a hobby. It is my lifestyle and I rarely sit still without a hook in my hand. As wonderful and rewarding as that is, the best thing about learning to crochet is that my left hand has gotten stronger in the process.

Good advice from Jennifer:
Before starting a new project, I recommend reading over the entire pattern to make sure you understand the stitches and the special notes about how the pattern is worked. I keep erasable pens and highlighters nearby to keep track of where I am in the pattern and to mark anything I need to remember. Highlighting the rows in the Spring Fling Cowl that have stitch count changes will ensure that you do not miss an increase or decrease.

Spring Fling Cowl
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