Hi Raynor, can you tell us about The Shy Lion.
Well, the name came from two of my all-time favorite characters ever - Aslan from Narnia and the Cowardly Lion of Oz. So, I made up something in between and came up with The Shy Lion. Basically, it's just my little space on the internet to share my crafty escapades. It started as a blog and now it's my Etsy store and my patterns as well and who knows what it else it will begin to include.
What led you to take up crochet?
Well, I've known how to crochet since I was pretty young. I had the greatest parents ever; my Pa taught me how to work with wood and tinker with things to see how they work, and my Ma taught me how to sew and crochet and knit and things like that. So, I learnt how to do it ages ago, but it was just a random thing that I did on every now and then. How I came back to it was after I'd been studying and working in theater. I got burnt out doing show after show and decided that it wasn't really for me. I loved making costumes and sets but the spark had gone for me. I still needed to have something creative to do or I would have gone totally crazy, and I started crocheting and knitting again on a whim and my inside voice started screaming "WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEEN DOING THIS FOREVER!? MAKE ALL THE THINGS!" and I haven't stopped.
What are your biggest inspirations?
I think Jared Flood, Ysolda Teague, Kristen Tendyke and Eunny Jang make the most awesome knitted stuff. They're probably my faves; I'm a bit of a knit-lebrity fan boy. Because with crochet I tend to make toys, I'm more inspired by ridiculously cute Japanese stuff. I can't get enough of it; I'm basically an eight year old. I'm also constantly surrounded by incredibly talented people so that also makes it easy to find new things to do and get great ideas. Also, I get a lot of inspiration from movies (mostly period dramas and stuff; it's fun to play "Spot The Knitwear") and historical examples of the old crafts. The cool thing is that knitting and crochet have been around and a part of people's lives forever and have such a rich history. It really blows my mind.
Tell us a little about the things you make.
When I crochet, I mostly make toys like little bears and cats and things like that. I just really like how easy it is to makes things up as you go with crochet; it's like Lego, except yarn. I rarely know what something is going to be until I start putting the face and ears on. With knitting, I knit more from patterns and I like to make hats and smaller things (because, instant gratification. You can't beat it), but I like anything with some nice patterned or textured stitches and interesting construction.
What are your 'must have' tools?
The great thing about crochet is that you literally just need a hook and some yarn and you're good to go. You don't need stitch markers or needles or anything else really. I mean, they're all handy to have, but you don't NEED them. That said, I never leave the house without safety-pin-style stitch markers or tapestry needles. If you've got at least those things, you're actually crochet's boss. And, it's not so much a tool, but project bags are my most favourite crafty accessory to hoard, because they keep your projects all safe and sound and clean and lets you take them with you everywhere.
Do you have any advice for those wanting to take up crochet?
Well, everyone's a bit different, but generally I say try to pick a project that looks fun and is small, and pick a delicious, good quality yarn. A lot of people start with scarves, but I find the problem with that is that they can take a long time to finish and get quite boring. They're great in terms of practice, sure... because you're doing the same thing for several feet. Some people love that but I lose interest pretty quickly. If you pick a simple, fun hat and have a weekend free, before you know it you've made your first thing!
As far as yarn goes, I'm saying you have to empty your wallet or sell your first born or anything, but I don't think there's any point picking cheap'n'nasty yarn because sometimes it can be less of a help and more of a hindrance. If you're going to put hours into making something, isn't it better to make it with something you just wanna smoosh all over your face?
And finally, "I can't learn anything from YouTube" said no-one ever. It's an excellent resource! Video tutorials are your friend. Also, I'm your friend. I'll totally teach you... like, in a class at The Handmaker's Factory? Haha, see what I did there...
Thanks Raynor. We look forward to your class!
If you'd like to learn to crochet you can book a spot in Raynors Granny Square class on October 26th from 1-4pm. You will learn all the basics of crochet that are needed to put you on the right track to make all sorts of yarny creations.