Dedri of Look At What I Made has shared with us the ins and outs of her creative process, the inspiration behind her projects and much more...

Linen Stitch Manghan

Lynda Blanket

Sophie's Universe

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself - your background, general day to day life, hobbies (other than crafting).

I am a radiotherapist and have worked in the radiotherapy department at Charing Cross Hospital for almost fifteen years now. I am married with three boys, and as their needs have changed, so has my working schedule. I am now in the fortunate position of working part-time so that I can spend two days a week focusing on my crochet, blogging and spending time with the boys.



Christiaan and the boys have all learned to crochet (to varying degrees) and it brings me such joy to share this passion with them. My middle son has already asked me how much I will pay him to make stuff for me if he gets really good.

Crochet and I didn't really get along until a decade ago. In fact, as a child, I avoided both knitting and crochet like the plague. My preferred craft was sewing and I learned to do so on a hand-crank Singer at a very young age. I like to tell people that I learned to sew before I learned to walk, but that isn't strictly true. I used to love designing my own clothes and making outfits for my fake Barbie.


2. When and why did you start crafting?


I started crocheting again when I was pregnant with my second son. We were going through a difficult time financially and hadn't been able to buy this baby anything new. I wanted to make him something that would be just his, so I bought 5 balls of super-bright acrylic and crocheted him a rainbow linen stitch blanket with the largest hook I could find (it's VERY lacy). I crocheted the blanket sitting cross-legged on our bed, resting my arms on my enormous belly. The sense of connection I felt with the baby through this process is hard to explain. We still use that blanket daily, and it always reminds me of where this whole journey (and my love for this craft) started.

After that blanket, I decided to crochet some vehicles (a car, a tractor, and a digger-loader). I couldn't find patterns that resembled what was in my mind, so I wrote my own (quite badly, I'll be the first to admit). Those toys were soon followed by a crochet Amish puzzle ball, which, in turn, led to a series of puzzle animals and my first book.



From there, I jumped straight into Sophie's Universe: an ambitious and massively popular 113-round, continuous square blanket shared as a step-by-step crochet-along in 2015. That was when I knew that I had found my "thing". I am passionate about encouraging other people to try things they might not think they are capable of and showing them how to do it so that they, too, can have a look at what I made moment.

3. Do you have specific inspiration behind any of your projects?

I do. Not necessarily profound, but meaningful to me. Every project has a story to tell. Sometimes they tell a story about me, where I come from, or the people I love. If I am very fortunate, they end up telling the story of the person making them – the joy as well as the sadness.

Summer in Swanage, for example, was inspired by the beach huts of my youth. It is colourful and whimsical. I think every person that spent a part of their childhood at the seaside will know the reminiscence and joy that even the thought of beach huts can invoke.



The 'My Voyage Shawl' was inspired by the Australia/New Zealand cruise I designed it for in February 2019. I chose colours and stitches that echoed the sea, the surf, and the ship.

My Memory Lane blanket led me on a journey of discovery. I couldn't pinpoint the inspiration behind the colours, so I started looking through my photos to try and see if I could figure out why the colourway spoke to me so much. What I realised was that the colours painted a story spanning years and decades, continents and oceans… hundreds of snapshots over the last 20 years that all feature these specific colours. It was a surprise revelation, realising that my conscious colour choice is always bold rainbow colours, but the story of my life, when looked back on, is filled with dusky pastels.


4. What is your favourite piece you've done so far?

Sophie's Universe. Hands down! She's my yarny baby girl.


5. What does your creative process look like?

I have to admit that my creative process tends to be messy, but fun. It is a constant adventure waiting to see which images, words and colours will marry when I pick up a ball of yarn with the intention to create. There is very little method involved. More often than not, my designs come about through happy coincidence.

When I designed the square for Charlotte's Dream, for example, I had agreed to do so for a charity in South Africa. When I started the design, I picked up a ball of Scheepjes Aquarel. It was an unassuming ball of yarn and not my usual bright choice at all. But, it was a yarn I hadn't worked with before, so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and test the yarn as I worked out the design. It was a marriage made in heaven! The yarn was gorgeous when worked up, giving the square an elegant vintage feel. This not only inspired the name but also determined how the design evolved. I couldn't have planned it better had I tried. This unpredictability is probably the thing that I enjoy the most about the design process.


6. Does your home reflect your crafting passion?

Oh yes!

Our house is a celebration of crochet projects. There are rugs and blankets and baskets everywhere. You will find most of them hoarded in my youngest son's bed. He's a magpie for anything hand-made.


7. What designers are you loving at the moment?

Jane Crowfoot and Tatsiana Kupryianchyk, to name but two. Their work is iconic and unique, and they both have a gentleness that makes anyone who meets them feel special and at ease.

........


8. Do you have any tips for readers developing a passion for crafting?

Can I be crochet specific? Familiarise yourself with stitch anatomy. Learn which loops belong to which posts, learn to recognise the front and the back of your work. When you can 'read' your stitches, you can solve any mistake! Every stitch is JUST a stitch. If you can do the basic stitches, you already have all the tools you need to create epic ones, as long as you take it slow and break it down into steps.

Count, count, and count! If your stitch count is off, take the time to figure out why. You'd be amazed at how much you will learn from this exercise. Stitch markers are your friend! I love using running stitch markers (a piece of scrap yarn flicked back and forth over your work at the start of each round and removed once you are done).

Buy decent hooks! They will change your relationship with crochet forever!!


9. Describe your style in 3 words.

Colourful. Nostalgic. Playful.

10. What yarns do you like using the most?

My favourite yarn is Scheepjes Stonewashed (both the DK and the XL versions). I love working with it. I love the fullness of it and the slight fluff. I love the dappled colours. I love everything about it! It's almost always the first yarn I reach for when I have an idea that needs exploring. This is closely followed by any and every shade of Scheepjes Whirl. There is something intensely rewarding about 'chasing the colours' as your project grows.

Jeanette At Sunset

Lydia Blanket

Sophie's Dream

To finish off this wonderful interview with Dedri, we asked:

What are your future plans with Look At What I Made?

I honestly don't know!
I guess I will just keep on crocheting and see what happens?
I do have some exciting workshops lined up for 2020 and 2021, most notable of which are two crochet cruises organized by Crafty Adventures: one is a Spain/Portugal one, the other is an Australia/Singapore one. Having already done one of these cruises, I am extremely excited to do more.

You can follow Dedri and see all of her projects on her Blog, Instagram and Facebook.