Melissa Leapman is a knitting and crochet pattern designer who is best known for creating stylish knitwear. Her knitting books have helped bunches of crafters advance their color knitting skills, knit gorgeous cables and learn how to knit garments that fit well — among other things. Her numerous crochet and knitting pattern books have inspired crafters to fill their closets with their own handmade sweaters, accessories and other projects.
Recently Melissa Leapman has focused her creative energies on compiling a brand new crochet stitch dictionary intended for use by craft enthusiasts of all skill levels. The book is ideal for anyone who would benefit from knowing how to crochet interesting stitches, including…
- Knitters who have zero crochet experience but want to try adding crocheted edgings to their knitting projects
- Beginning crocheters who would like to learn more about the craft
- Intermediate level crocheters who may be getting bored with the basic crochet stitches and want to find some new and different stitches that aren’t too complex
- Advanced level crocheters who have seen it all and are hungry for something new and different to work on
- Expert crocheters who are looking for intriguing and challenging stitches to try
- Crochet designers and aspiring designers who want to save themselves the time and headaches that come along with designing and charting out new crochet stitch patterns from scratch
- Anyone who wants to dive in and learn more about crochet colorwork
In short, the book offers crochet stitches that will be of interest to crafters at every experience level.
I recently received a copy of this book, and after looking through it I had so many questions that I reached out to Melissa in search of answers. I figured I’m not the only one who’s curious about the answers to these questions, so I’m excited to announce that Melissa agreed to share some insights with us all. The following is an email interview with Melissa; I emailed her the questions you see written in boldface type below. Melissa’s answers follow each question.
Amy says, “Melissa, congrats on your new book, Melissa Leapman’s Indispensable Stitch Collection for Crocheters. I’m excited to have such a delightful new crochet stitch dictionary to work with, and I’m thrilled you’ve agreed to share some insights about the book and your thought process for creating it.
“You mentioned in the text that many of these stitches are original to this book. I’m excited about this because the stitch dictionaries I own have significant amounts of overlapping material. I’ve been telling my readers that, even if they already own several crochet stitch dictionaries and bunches of crochet pattern books, your book is going to give them some fantastic new material they don’t already have in their pattern stashes. Can you please give our readers an idea of what they’ll find in your book that isn’t available elsewhere?”
Melissa: “Thanks, Amy. I’ve drawn on twenty-five years (!!!) of experience as a designer and teacher to create this collection of stitch patterns, and many of the stitch patterns were created just for this book, so reader won’t find most of them in other stitch dictionaries.
“Another aspect of the book that is unique: the exploration of textured and multicolor chapters. Over the years, many authors and designers have played with lace and openwork crochet, but few have worked extensively with texture and color.”
Amy: “As a professional needlework designer; you must already be familiar with bunches of other stitch dictionaries, right? What did you find lacking in the others that motivated you to create this book?
Melissa: “In addition to including new and unusual stitch patterns, the way the book is organized makes it especially useful. Many crocheters want to make scarves or blankets for loved ones, and need stitch patterns that look neat and attractive from both sides, so many patterns are photographed from the right side and wrong side. A little icon on the page means a pattern has no wrong side. To make the book user-friendly for all skill levels, every stitch pattern appears in both written-out and charted form.”
Amy: “By now you’ve probably received some feedback from your readers about the book. Which stitch patterns are your readers commenting about most so far?”
Melissa: “I’ve heard many accolades about the two-color reversible patterns that are created by interlocking two pieces of fabric. They’re fascinating to crochet!”
Amy: “Which stitch pattern(s) in the book did you have the most fun designing?”
Melissa: “After writing two cable knitting books several years ago (Cables Untangled and Continuous Cables), it was great to explore crocheted cables and traditional Aran patterns. I hope folks realize that cables and other textured patterns aren’t just for knitting!
Amy: “Are there a few stitch patterns in the book that stand out in your mind as being the most wearable?”
Melissa: “I’ve included some shell and fan patterns that would be great incorporated into a cardigan or jacket pattern, even just as a border at the bottom of a garment.”
Amy: “Tell us about the unusual and fascinating colorwork techniques you’ve used to create some of the reversible stitches in this book.
Melissa: “I use primarily two different techniques to get the reversible colorwork. One uses long double crochet stitches worked over previous rows as seen in Stairsteps (below).
Another special technique uses chain-spaces to interlock two pieces of fabric, the front and the back.
These techniques aren’t hard to do, but they look amazing and show readers some of the wonderful things that crochet can do.”
Amy: “Please give us some insights about why you chose to use Cascade 220 yarn for swatching samples of all the crochet stitches presented in your book.”
Melissa: “Cascade 220 is a versatile and amazing 100% wool yarn. It has incredible stitch definition, making it ideal to use while experimenting with stitch patterns—and makes it easy to eventually photograph. It is well-priced, comes in a gazillion colors, and is distributed by a wonderful, family-owned company.”
Amy: “Which are your go-to favorite colors of Cascade 220 yarn?”
Melissa: “Hahaha. That depends on the season, since I’m in the fashion biz. Right now, cool icy tones are important, but not everybody can wear them. Heathered or tweed colors can make hard-to-wear colors more accessible and easier to wear. Color #9559 Indigo Frost Heather is especially pretty.”
Amy: “I’ve begun recommending your book to my readers who are just getting started with crochet, since I think it is an excellent reference that begins logically at the beginning. Do you agree this is a good book to start beginners off with?”
Melissa: “Absolutely! We’ve included step-by-step technical illustrations for all the basic crochet stitches in the resource section at the back of the book. And again, since all instructions are written in both text and chart for, crocheters of all levels will be able to read—and use—the patterns.”
Amy: “Are there any particular crochet hooks that you would recommend to crafters who are just getting started with crochet?”
Melissa: “I learned to crochet from my paternal grandmother when I was 4 years old. She used Susan Bates hooks, so that shape was the one I was exposed to first. The “in-line” silhouette is easier for me to use, but that’s probably because it was the type I learned with. The hook you use is a personal thing; just choose the one that allows you to stitch smoothly and evenly.”
Amy: “I’ve also begun recommending your book to experienced crochet enthusiasts who are interested in designing their own patterns. I think your book is an excellent resource for both aspiring and accomplished crochet designers. I appreciate it that you’ve briefly given readers some guidance regarding the process for designing crochet patterns in this book. On behalf of our readers who are aspiring crochet pattern designers, I’d like to ask you to give us some insights about which resources, tools and /or methods you use for keeping your design work organized and on track.”
Melissa: “Every designer has worked out their own individualized system, so I think aspiring designers should play around with different methods to see what works best for them. No matter what, it’s important that you treat the process seriously and as a professional. That means meeting deadlines, staying in touch with editors about progress, and managing deadlines.”
Amy: “Who are your crochet heroines and / or heroes? What is it about their work that inspires you?”
Melissa: “I’m a huge fan of Doris Chan. Her work is elegant, innovative and makes the most of the airiness of crochet. Margaret Hubert has been producing wonderful books and designs for as long as I can remember – she’s like the Energizer Bunny! And I also love Edie Eckman. She has a great crochet answer book that came out last year in a revised edition that’s wonderful.
Amy: “You’re a prolific author, aren’t you Melissa? How many books have you written so far? Can you please tell us briefly about your other most recent book(s)?”
Melissa: “So far, as amazing as it seems, I’ve written more than 25 books in the knitting and crochet field. In addition to The Knit Stitch Pattern Handbook, which I mentioned earlier, other recent books are Knitting the Perfect Fit, which helps knitters flatter their figures with their needles and yarn, Cool Crochet, a collection of fun wearables and accessories for women, and Knit It!, which is a great book for beginner knitters.
Amy: “I’m sure you’ve learned a significant amount from researching, designing, swatching, charting and writing the instructions for this crochet stitch dictionary. What’s one main takeaway that stands out in your mind now that the book is finished?”
Melissa: “Researching this book helped to remind me how varied the world of crochet stitches is. It’s easy to think only of basic stitches like single crochet or other commonly-used stitches like shells, but there are so many amazing and unique crochet stitches to try. You can experiment with two-color crochet, with cable and Aran-style stitches, play with texture, and you can blend these more adventurous types of crochet with more familiar ones.”
Amy: “What’s next for you, Melissa?”
Melissa: “I always have a busy schedule of teaching and appearing at knitting events (just ask my cat!), and I’ll be at Vogue Knitting Live in New York and Austin in early 2017, as well as at the Madison Knitting Guild in April, and on my annual knitting cruise.
“I’m also eagerly awaiting the release of my new book of woman’s accessories, called Melissa Leapman’s Designer Crochet Accessories, and putting the finishing touches on a book of interchangeable sweater patterns entitled 6000+ Pullover Possibilities that will be released in February.
Update: Amy says, The book is now available, and I think those of you who knit are going to be really excited about it. I invite all of you to check out my book review. The short version: 6,000+ Pullover Possibilities is absolutely fantastic, and it is well worth owning. I’ll look forward to checking out Melissa Leapman’s Designer Crochet Accessories, which is also available now. Thanks, Melissa, for giving us more interesting reading material to further our crafting skills. Thanks also for taking the time to share your thoughts about your brand new crochet stitch dictionary. I found all these insights interesting, and I hope our readers did as well.
“To everyone reading along: I’ve compiled the following list of quick links you all are invited to use if you’re interested in checking out any of the books and other resources Melissa Leapman mentioned in this interview:
- Click here to buy Melissa Leapman’s Indispensable Stitch Collection for Crocheters at Amazon.com.
- Click here to check out my book review of Melissa Leapman’s Indispensable Stitch Collection for Crocheters at crochet-books.com. This book is at the top of the list of best crochet stitch dictionaries at crochet-books.com.
- Click here to check out Melissa Leapman’s Designer Crochet Accessories book at Amazon.com.
- Click here to check out 6000+ Pullover Possibilities or find more information about the book at Amazon.com.
- Click here to buy Cascade 220 Indigo Frost, or click here to check out more Cascade Yarns at Amazon.
- Click here to check out Melissa’s knitting stitch dictionary called The Knit Stitch Pattern Handbook.
- Click here to learn more about Melissa’s book called Cables Untangled.
- Click here to find more info about Melissa’s book, Continuous Cables.
- Click here to check out Melissa’s book called Knitting the Perfect Fit.
- Click here to take a look at the product page for Melissa’s Knit It! book.
- Check out a Susan Bates crochet hook kit at Blitsy
- Click here to get more info about Vogue Knitting Live.
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