Laurie is the woman you’d like to have living next door to you. She’s quick with a hug, generous with her boundless knowledge and as easy going as the summer breezes…and that’s not telling you a thing about her beautiful crochet work. Laurie is one of those wonderful artists who can push herself to the limit of creativity (check out her coat photograph) and yet will spend the hours necessary to teach a beginner how to create a simple edging on a wash cloth. Last year, along with her classes, she offered to be available for crochet workshops and those lucky enough to find her in the celebration tent were treated to one-on-one sessions addressing the tiny problems that can ruin the enjoyment of any project.
This year Laurie is offering two classes during Fiber College weekend: Crochet Edgings for Knitters on Saturday from 4:00 to 6:00 and returning by popular demand, her sell out class, Recycled Rag Rugs on Sunday from 12:30-2:30. We sent her our list of interview questions last week, and this is what she had to say:
Teaching takes courage and experience…and so much extra time. When you’re not teaching, what else do you like to do?
Besides the J.O.B. that pays the mortgage? My brain is always designing crochet, clothing and embroidery. I have hundreds more ideas than will ever make it into physical being. I stoke my brain with art and see art in almost everything around me. I love art exhibits and craft shows (and computer browsing when the real thing isn’t handy) and I also note patterns in nature and buildings and the way words move on the pages of a book, or the endless emails I type on that J.O.B. I mentioned.
Fill in the blanks for the following statement:
Inspiration for my work comes from other fiber artists, the spinners and dyers and designers that make the threads and yarns and fabrics that allow my mind to create. Materials are very important aspect of my work and something to which I find I am very sensitive. Whenever I create a piece, I am most pleased when someone understands the choices or the work that has gone into the materials I used to create my work.
We’d like a sense of your expertise and ability to teach the class you’re offering…so tell us how you came to feel confident about leading a group through your particular class. How long have you been practicing?
I have been a teacher since playing ‘School’ as a child. I’ve always wanted everyone to know what I know and I’m ready to teach anytime, anywhere. I have a degree in Art and Education. I learned sewing, knitting and embroidery as a child from my mom and taught myself crochet as a teenager.
If you make a knitting error (substitute your art form here) do you jump right in and frog it (rip it out) or do you call it a design feature and keep right on going? Does the mistake cause you anxiety or do you feel like it’s just one more opportunity to make the project your own?
I think I rip more than I skip. I go back (it’s really easy to undo crochet) if I’m following a pattern, even one of my own. And I often rework swatches when I’m designing as the swatches progress to become a fixed plan. And I have been know to ravel entire garments that failed in some way so I can use the yarn to better purpose. But … when I notice a mistake waaay back, and it’s not something the average non-fiber worker would catch, I let it stay. I love a quote of my mom’s about her own knitting “If you keep moving no one will notice.”
What techniques are in your bag of tricks for motivating a student to struggle through a difficult step…maybe something that’s just a bit out of his/her range…and come out the other side feeling successful?
A main secret of mine is that I have never bought into any claim that there is one perfect, absolute way of doing anything. There is always at least two or three, and probably about sixteen. Something I feel is vital to a good teacher is being able to explain and demonstrate the umpteen different angles of solving a problem.
I am an avid collector of:
Stars! Stars are my favorite motif. Whenever I get stuck for an idea, I find a star is always a good starting point. Stars can be neat and tidy or loosy goosy, elegant and refined or wonderfully uncivilized. No matter the color the size or the medium, one or one million, stars make me happy.
What is your favorite color? List three qualities of the color. Consider that these qualities apply to your work.
Every color! And the ones in between, too. The threads and yarns that first draw my eye are varigated either a little or a lot, hand painted or over-dyed, plied with another color or randomly spun. I love COLOR!!!
What do you do differently from the way you were taught? Why?
Probably most everything because I keep learning new ways and getting new tools to play with.
What’s your favorite tool? Why?
Right now my favorite tool is my swift. It is so much easier than draping a skein over my knees or the back of a chair. I still hand wind my yarn, though. I need to touch it and feel it move through my hand. Ball winders are so impersonal.
What do you like best about what you do?
Making beautiful objects and designs that make people smile. If I wasn’t working with fiber I’d be doing the same thing with glass or wood or paint.
What do you mean when you say that a piece has turned out really well?
There is an inner satisfaction that is hard to explain but I am sure most other artist must know well.