Q&A with Hook ‘n’ Learn designer Lucy Croft

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Lucy Croft is the talented designer behind our Hook ‘n’ Learn crochet-along, as well as our previous Pick ‘n’ Mix CAL and many other popular Simply Crochet patterns.

Lucy took the time from her busy schedule to answer these questions asked by members of our Hook ‘n’ Learn Facebook group!

When designing a cal. Do you start with a theme then colour. Or do you know exactly what you want to make and go from there – in other words where do you actually start?

For this CAL I had a very clear idea in my mind that I wanted to do something using lots of different stitch patterns, all the ones I never manage to incorporate into other designs. I also knew I wanted the block sizes to vary to add a bit more interest. So I’d say I start with the theme and the colours come next. I’m very drawn to bright hues so that’s my usual colour palette, it’s a rare occasion I’ll make something in neutral tones unless it’s grey with a pop of colour. Because this CAL is a year long project, it wouldn’t have been appropriate to choose seasonal colours so I selected contrasting brights which help highlight the stitch patterns. Once I have a rough idea of what I want to design in my head, I like to use pen and paper to scribble out the ideas and then transfer the info to digital so I can’t lose it.

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Do you have a ‘go to’ or favourite yarn?

Absolutely. I love, love, love a dk merino wool. Great for blankets and woolly jumpers and oh so soft and not at all itchy.

What’s your biggest challenge when designing a CAL?

It’s probably hardest to think it through to the final stages. Working out how best to join blocks and what kind of border might work before you’ve started is a challenge. Because of the big variety of stitches in this CAL I opted for simple sewing for the joins, but the previous CAL I worked on for Simply Crochet involved making sure each block ended up with the same number of stitches in the final round in order to make the lacy join work…. but I love the mathematical side of designing.

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As you’re designing a new project, how much trial & error is in the process? Do you find yourself frogging pieces and trying again and again, or does the piece on your hook usually turn out like the one in your mind?

I’m a bit eager to get going once I’ve got the design in my head so don’t always swatch. Consequently at least 1 or 2 of these blocks were frogged and redone and a couple got ditched in favour of other stitch patterns, as I felt they didn’t work in the overall design.

In the case of this CAL, the finished concept is exactly what I had in mind and it’s a great feeling when that happens. At the same time I hadn’t made concrete decisions on all of the stitches I wanted to use so there’s an element of the design evolving as I work.

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Roughly how long does it take for you to design and make a CAL from start to finish?

The design is often a lightbulb moment and takes seconds to come up with. Taking it from there to a workable pattern can be a big step, choosing the right yarns, colour palette and stitches etc. Then ‘the making’ happens in short bursts nowadays as I have 2 little people in my life to look after. That’s the beauty of a CAL, it’s naturally broken down into small chunks!

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Our Hook ‘n’ Learn CAL is nearing it’s end, but you can still catch up as all of the previous parts are available on Ravelry. The first 3 parts are available for free, and each part after that is available for the very reasonable price of just 99p each. You can find all of our Hook ‘n’ Learn parts on Ravelry here.

Lucy also designed the Pick ‘n’ Mix crochet-along blanket., which is made up of 12 vibrant squares in total (each worked in two different colourways). You can find the full pattern for Lucy’s Pick ‘n’ Mix CAL here