This month I’m once again talking Tanja Osswald, a prolific crochet designer. Noted for her use of slip stitches and horizontal cables Tanja creates beautiful pieces.
These monthly features of other creative businesses are a way for all of us to get to know these wonderful makers; it has been a long-time interest of mine to explore how other creative people make their way as professionals.
Welcome Back, Tanja Osswald!
photo credit: Andrea Rompa
Tanja, welcome back! I invite people back whose work and process intrigues me. I’m intrigued and I want to know more.
Q: Tell us about a person who led you to being a crochet designer?
A: Back in the pre-Ravelry days (oh my, that’s ten years ago now…), before I became a designer, I connected to other crafters on Flickr and that’s where I met Sanhita Kar. She’s one of the most encouraging persons I know. She does some designing herself but mostly, she writes wonderful project notes, giving you a story with each project. Besides, she’s a wonderful photographer, I especially love her close-ups of flowers and insects. She always makes me wish to crochet something as beautiful as her photos.
Q: You are very prolific these days! Tell us how you keep yourself going as a creative person.
A: Recently I started to have art mornings. In the beginning, my idea was to have a 30-day challenge, like drawing artists have, with a clue every day. But then I changed it to be more free. So, every morning, I take some time (less than half an hour, most times) and do something aimlessly creative. As I’m a crochet designer, I mostly make crochet swatches, try out new techniques and play with stitches. But I’ve done drawing too, and wrote mini stories. My art mornings don’t have a goal but I like the frame of mind they put me into. It makes the rest of the day more focus on the fun aspects instead of the tedious ones.
Tanja, I am always amazed at your ability to be both organized and creative. I’m sure that helps with the productivity. For anyone who doesn’t know, Patreon is a way to support artists (see end of post for link to Tanja’s Patreon Page). I love how you related your crochet to a piece of art!
A: My work is always about exploring. That can mean to explore new crochet techniques or new constructions but it can also mean to explore, say, in how many different ways a rectangle can be turned into an animal that you’ll instantly recognize (which resulted in my book of softies, Mein gehäkelter Kuschelzoo). Sometimes, I like to explore under constraints, like how do you make something visually striking without using more than, say, chains and dc? That question resulted in my optical illusion blanket and shawl.
Goal accomplished with that one! I am so interested in how we ask ourselves questions creatively. It always seems to come down to “what if”!
Q: Where do you create–or what places inspire you to create?
A: I do most of my work at home, so I always enjoy getting out of the house – and going to a LYS for a stitch’n’bitch (“Stricktreffen” in German) is one of my favorite things to do. In Hagen, there’s a neat LYS called Wollbonbon (“yarn candy”). She opens just twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday but during opening hours, she has an all-day Stricktreffen. You can buy yarn and notions, chat with friends and continue with your own project – and you get a lot of inspirations. Plus, there’s always a coffee or tea ready for you. Lot of people are regular customers but the group is always open to newcomers. Once, I even met someone from Japan.
Q: Please tell me what is going on in your business now, and any exciting projects you have going on or coming up.
A: This year, I’m running my first ever pattern subscription: My Year of Mitts. Each month, I publish a new finger-less glove pattern.
Besides that, my theme for this year seems to be collaborations. I’m participating in two CAL/KALs, both staring on June first. One is the #happiness the other #indiejune. And in a couple of month, I’ll publish a collaborative book, my crochet shawls together with knitted shawls from dyer/ designer Sabine Fritz.
Thanks Tanja! Sounds like you are having a year of creative exercise.