Designer Q&A: Brenda K.B. Anderson
Brenda K.B. Anderson designs crazy-cute accessories and adorable amigurumi. Learn more about her process and inspiration below!
When and why did you start crocheting?
My mom taught my sister and me to crochet when we were very young. I’m pretty sure it was just to keep us out of trouble. I crocheted for a few years, making squeaky acrylic clothes for my Cabbage Patch dolls, then just sort of forgot about it for a while. I then re-learned when I was in my early twenties, after unpacking a box of craft stuff that had a crochet hook in it.
When did you start designing?
I guess that depends on how you define “designing.” I’ve always just made stuff up to make what I wanted. But I never wrote up a pattern until I made Mrs. Murdock’s Mittens and posted it to the Crochet Me website. I was completely shocked when I realized how many people were making projects from that pattern. But it was so exciting! It definitely inspired me to write more patterns.
Describe your first design.
The first thing I remember making up completely from scratch were a pair of red and purple striped mittens. I didn’t write down a pattern (or even any notes), so as you might imagine the second one was really not the same as the first. Since I never wrote down the pattern, let’s not count this as my first design! I prefer to think of the Mrs. Murdock’s Mittens as my first pattern. This is just a super simple basic mitten. I wrote the pattern for my sister-in-law, who was looking for an easy mitten pattern and at the time couldn’t find any that had a nice fit with a thumb gusset.
What is your favorite thing to crochet? Why?
Small projects are my favorite thing to crochet. I’m pretty experimental—I love designing to fulfill some kind of challenge. For example, I find that most crochet socks are not stretchy enough to fit around my wide feet. So I developed the Sydney’s Sideways Socks as a way to solve that problem. They are crocheted sideways and have a lot of stretch! Working on smaller projects like accessories and toys allows me to try new techniques and unusual methods of construction without spending too much on materials and time.
What passions do you have outside of crochet?
I love sewing, drawing, and painting—really any kind of art project. I don’t have much time for those things these days as my twin toddlers are keeping me super busy! But someday I hope to be able to craft with them. The other thing I REALLY love: road trips. I love to just hop in the car with a duffle bag, tent, and an atlas and just see where the road takes me. (Yes, I did say a real map. I’m old-school like that. And I love to go to those middle-of-nowhere places where you don’t get cell phone reception. But guess what: the road atlas still works.)
Do you work with yarn/fiber in other ways (like spinning or dyeing)? Has that changed the way your think about yarn/design? What have you learned about that process you wish you had known at the beginning?
I’ve dyed yarn for myself and friends before. I love the process. I used to be a professional dyer (in the costume industry) and have always had to have a scientific approach—I had a VERY specific color to match (usually a Pantone). But dyeing yarn for myself was very fun and a much more intuitive process, which I loved. Has that changed the way I think about yarn/design? Nope. Honestly my designs are less about color than they are about construction method and stitch pattern. I do love thinking about color, but it seems to be a very separate aspect of making things. I have very strong opinions about color, but It seems less relevant in my toy and accessory designs. What have I learned about that process I wish I had known at the beginning? I needed to just relax a bit more and have fun with it!
What book should every crocheter have?
There is an old book by James Walters called Crochet Workshop that was completely mind-blowing for me. He pretty much gives you the skills to make anything. His explanation on how to achieve different shapes, especially 3-D ones, is really amazing!
Anything else you would like to mention?
I just want to say how super lucky I am that people want to make these little things I think up. It really is a dream job for me to design and I try really hard not to take any of it for granted. I am always so excited to see photos of the things people make from my patterns!
Keep up with Brenda online: She teaches a Mittens class on Craftsy and you can find her on Ravelry as yarnville. She is also a regular contributor to Interweave Crochet, Love of Crochet, and Interweave’s knitting magazines.
Keep those hooks moving,
Try Some of Brenda’s Designs