Meet Valerie Bracegirdle from Agrarian Artisan!
Valerie Bracegirdle is the inspirational designer behind Agrarian Artisan, technical editor for Mollie Makes and Inside Crochet and several independent designers – but does she prefer crochet to knitting? Find out more…
Hello Valerie! You work with so many magazines, how did you get started as a designer and tech editor?
It all started by accident, which is why I call myself an accidental designer! I learnt to knit and crochet when I was very young and, like so many, my leisure time reduced as work took over my life. When I picked up again, after a longish break, I started using Ravelry.com and my first design was a free pattern on there – I wanted to give something back because I felt I had gained so much from the newly expanding craft community that I found there. And it all grew from that first free pattern. My magazine tech editing also came about by accident, I queried a crochet pattern in one magazine and ended up drafting the errata!
Semi Chevron Scarf by Agrarian Artisan
Who taught you to crochet and can you remember your first project?
You design under the name Agrarian Artisan – that’s a very interesting name, where does it come from?
It’s a very long story, so I’ll try to shorten it. I wanted a name that would be at the beginning of the alphabet (with a name like Valerie I always ended up almost last on any register and I wanted that to change!). Agrarian, put simply, means ‘of the country’ and as I had moved to live more rurally (I now live in a converted sheep shed) it seemed a good name which very happily started with the letter A.
What are your favourite projects to design?
That depends on my mood. My mind is bursting with ideas and concepts all the time, and I like to test each concept fully, for example this year I have explored mandalas and that is reflected in this year’s designs. Perhaps my most favourite design projects include hexagons – from simple snowflakes to large blankets – I just love the shape!
Buxton Mandala by Agrarian Artisan
What do you prefer – crochet or knitting?
I find this a tough question as I love both, but crochet has the edge because it is more portable, you can stop at any point, it grows quickly and it uses more yarn (which helps me fight my stash mountain!).
Do you have favourite yarns and fibres to work with?
Absolutely any natural fibres, but especially those with merino, silk and alpaca.
Christmas bunting by Agrarian Artisan
What are your top tips?
My two top tips apply to both crochet and knitting. The first is stitch markers: you can’t have too many in your kit as they have so many uses – to help count a cast on or foundation chain, to hold your work, to mark stitches you need to remember, to help you mark and repair dropped stitches…….. The second is blocking: just about everything you make will benefit from blocking, I was happily surprised the first time I blocked a shawl – my spaghetti turned into a thing of beauty.
What are you working on at the moment?
Too many things to list! I like variety so can never have just one project on the go. The biggest project I am working on is the Frances crochet blanket by Sarah Hazell – it destined to be a present and is made in Rowan pure linen and kidsilk haze, two gorgeous fibres which work very well together. The biggest project I am designing is also a blanket, but that’s a secret!
If you were a yarn, which one would you be?!
I’ve just discovered a blend of de-haired yak and silk, which is lusciously soft – I’d like to be that yarn!
Check back tomorrow for this exclusive FREE pattern from Agrarian Artisan!
Introducing the Love Lace & Texture cowl!