LP: There were several reasons I wanted to do a book for kids—one of the big ones was my nephew. Due to some tragic circumstances, I spent many months helping my sister to raise him in the first year of his life, and even when I wasn’t in the same state, I was always thinking of him and making little toys and sweaters for him. I realized that there weren’t a lot of cute patterns for boys, I always had to modify things, and I thought this was a great jumping off point for a book.
VH: I noticed that like me, you tend to veer away from using traditional, pale colors when designing for children. How do you think this choice speaks to modern design?
LP: I’m trained as a painter, and color is very important to me—but I think that sometimes people are afraid of it because they aren’t sure how to use it or visualize it. Choosing a pastel is a safe, sometimes arbitrary way for a crafter to narrow down the overwhelming amount of choices they have to make about any given project—color, yarn weight, fiber content, pattern style, size, etc.
I like all colors—including pale ones—and I use them in the book, but I made color choices (and swatches showing alternate colorways) to help people visualize how lovely the results can be when they venture out of that traditional comfort zone. If you take a look at the kid’s section at any department store, there is a lot of variety in color and style—and that feels very modern. When I design, I use colors that I enjoy seeing every day—while I am working on the item, and while it is being used.
VH: Did you have someone who used to crochet for you, when you were a child? If so, do you still have any of those pieces?
LP: Both of my grandmothers crocheted, although my dad’s mom was the more prolific of the two. When she died, each of us got a bag full of things she had made for us, mostly lace work like doilies and edged dish towels. I can vaguely remember some dresses she made for our Barbie dolls as well. I still have all of the doilies, and I also have a crocheted baby set that was made for my mom when she was a baby (although I’m not sure who made it). I actually asked her if it was for a doll because the pieces were so tiny!
VH: What do you look for in a yarn when designing for children?
LP: I look for yarn that’s durable, fun to work with, available in a wide array of color choices, and that makes practical sense when it comes to laundering—depending on the recipient. I’m so drawn to the richness of dyes in wool, but I tried to use superwash where possibe, although drying is not much of an issue for me because we don’t even own a clothes dryer. I also look for lighter weight yarns that are made to last—like sock yarns—they flatter small bodies so well in comparison to worsted weights. I love the finer weights because they give me a little more space to design in. If I’m making a dress with a 4 row repeat, I might only have room for 2 repeats if I use a worsted weight yarn—but I can create a much more delicate, fluid piece with thinner yarn.
LP: For those who are short on time and heavy on stashed worsted weight yarn, a combination of the Star Booties and either the Beanie or Bonnet would be a great last-minute gift.
For a special new baby that still doesn’t make you want to work a foundation chain, the Sunshine Blanket (seen above) makes a great useable heirloom. I love this one because it is worked in the round, and the diagrams make crocheting it a breeze.
And if you’re not sure what the stork will bring, the Boat Neck Sweater (seen above) is an easy first garment project that would look great in gender neutral colors. It’s shown in stripes but for pure simplicity, make it in a solid. You can always add some Tiny Tee appliqués to the sweater once the baby is born.