This month we have something really special here! We sat down with Margo Bauman, crochet designer extraordinaire. She designed this month’s Elocin shawl among many others for Knotions. Read on to learn a bit more about Margo and her inspiration. And, like many of us, she admits to having achieved SABLE!
Tell us a bit more about yourself. Where do you live? How did you end up there? Where are you from originally?
I live in Southern Maryland, on 20 acres of wooded land. When you look at a map of the state, it tapers off to a point on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay – that’s Southern Maryland. The area is both very rural and very technologically advanced.
We have Amish & Mennonite Communities with horse drawn transportation and farm equipment plus the latest in aviation technology being developed by the Navy.
I worked as a civilian engineer at a Navy facility in New Jersey. I moved to my current location when I transferred to the Navy facility here. I grew up near the Jersey Shore.
What are your favorite things?
It’s safe to say my favorite is COLORS! I love gradients. I love neutrals. I love brights. My all-time favorite is the way purples and blue-greens and bright greens look together.
Yarn weight depends on what I’m making – fingering is my fav for shawls, hats are worsted or bulky, mitts are aran or worsted.
I like NICE acrylics for hats, mitts and baby items – things that are frequently washed. For shawls, I use merino, alpaca or cashmere blends, cotton and nice acrylics.
I really like wearable items. Its great conversation starter! When asked “did you make that?” we can go on to talk about crochet, knitting, weaving, and all sorts of other creative endeavors.
Why do you like to design?
For me, designing is “doodling in yarn” and is a very rewarding and peaceful activity (except when I procrastinate and end up tight against a deadline). I let the yarn talk to me and flow into patterns with both the stitch work and color-play playing leading roles.
As you know, Knotions is both a knitting and crochet magazine. What do you think are the advantages of crochet?
For me, the advantage of crochet is that I’ve been doing it almost all of my life, having learned from my Grandmother. I can’t remember the actual learning part – my Mother tells me stories of my Grandmother sitting in a chair crocheting with me sitting on the floor near her making chains.
Crochet can be solid or lacy. There is a basic set of stitches that can be grouped in infinite ways. I never get tired working with different stitch combinations.
Also, the hook can be removed from a current project without fear of dropping stitches.
Also, as you know, Knotions has more knitters than crocheters. For the knitting crowd, what would you suggest that they look at or try to use in their knitting? (And yes, I’m trying to get knitters more into crochet)
A crochet border on a knit piece adds beautiful texture and is a great way to bring the two types of needlework together.
Tunisian Crochet (which is not from Tunisia) uses one long crochet hook. A piece is worked by picking up loops on a forward pass, much like the knitting process. The difference is that the piece is not turned, and the stitches are closed one at a time on the return pass. It gives a very different finished item than either crochet or knit. It is a style of needlecraft that appeals to both crochet and knit enthusiasts.
What made you originally choose to submit to Knotions?
Word of mouth. One of the designers that I was doing a lot of testing for published with Knotions. It was her wonderful experience that encouraged me to submit a pattern for the January 2017 issue. I’m still here, loving every moment!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get inspiration from things around me – a tile on a restaurant wall, a pattern of shadows, a turn of phrase. I love going to thrift stores and rescuing old crochet pieces – I work some of the stitch combinations into my designs. Doilies have especially nice textures. I look at knit pieces and try to replicate some portion of them with crochet techniques. The yarn developed by Indie dyers is wonderful to work with – its fun to listen to the yarn tell me how to proceed with the stitch combinations.
Can you tell us about your process when you design? I’m curious about your inspiration and how you bring that to life.
As I said before, I doodle with yarn. My designs are all done “on the hook” and then transferred to a written pattern. When I’m focused on producing a design, I make notes as I go. Sometimes I’ll be playing and realize that what is in my hand should be shared. At that point I have to remember what I’ve done or reverse engineer the piece.
What is your nemesis? The thing that makes you want to run and hide when you think about it.
Socks, with stuffed critters coming in a close second. I’ve tried my hand at crochet socks, but the texture is just not to my liking. Knitters of the world rejoice – you are sock royalty!
I like to crochet with a light hand and loose tension, so working stuffed critters tight enough to keep the stuffing in is frustrating.
What do you do in addition to being a designer?
Crochet – LOL! It’s unusual to find me without my crochet hook in my hand. I’m part of a group of local women (New View Fiberworks) and we have a shop where we sell our creations and teach.
I love to go thrift shopping – the thrill of the hunt, the satisfaction of gathering, the comradery of sharing the time with other like-minded souls. A number of the shops in the area employ developmentally impaired adults. We exchange news, give hugs, and share a lot of smiles.
What does a typical Margo-day entail?
Wake up, check the news, do some crochet (sometimes while binge watching Call the Midwife, Father Brown or other streamable shows), eat, do more crochet.
I spend a few days each month at the shop (New View Fiberworks – a cooperative of Southern Maryland women who all create with fiber in some way).
I throw in trips to the thrift shops for inspiration and materials (I’m currently working with deconstructed sweaters, T-shirts and denim jeans).
Other than crocheting and designing, do you have any other creative endeavors?
I grew up doing all sorts of needle work and crafts – crewel embroidery, counted cross stitch, needlepoint, sewing (hand & machine), paper crafts. I still play with most of them. Recently I’ve been making paper beads to incorporate into wall hangings made with the jeans and T-shirts. I was accepted to be part of Artists in Action – a nationally juried show/studio time at Annmarie Gardens in Dowell, MD. Unfortunately, the current virus crises put a stop to the in-person studio time.
Do you have a stash? Or if you buy it you make it up pretty quickly?
I have SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy)!!! Over the years I’ve ended up “rescuing” many “orphan” skeins.
I’ve been working on “shopping” my stash and only buying new yarn to extend what I already have.