Hooking With …. Allison Bostrom
In this edition of Hooking With we are meeting Allison Bostrom from Clair De Lune Fiber Art. I have gotten to know Allison a little bit over recent months. We ‘met’ while participating in some of the events over the summer. She is a gorgeous human being with a big heart and I am so pleased that she has agreed to be interviewed. Now you can meet her too!
Say hello to Allison!
I’m Allison Bostrom, the designer, creator, and very-much-still-learning photographer/social media manager behind Clair de Lune Fiber Art. I design stimulating crochet and knit patterns for everything from garments and accessories to homewares. My goal in writing patterns is to encourage makers to learn new stitches and construction techniques, or to reconsider the ones they know. Though working with yarn is always relaxing for me, I find a real joy in pushing myself to do something new and different with it. Wherever possible, I include photo tutorials for both lefties and righties to make my patterns more approachable.
When I’m not crocheting or knitting, I’m juggling a bunch of other identities. Last year, I decided to go back to school for International Development, so I spend a lot of time reading and writing and wrestling with challenging ideas (good for the soul, that!). I hope to have a career working on refugee issues someday, although I’m still deciding exactly what I want to do. While in school, I work as a tutor and also help out with childcare for relatives. I have chronic migraines, so a fair amount of my time is spent managing my health as well. My non-yarn hobbies include cooking, baking, gardening, doing puzzles, and playing piano and guitar. I occasionally dabble in painting, although I’m not very good at it. Before I decided to pursue a career in humanitarian/development work, I was in a PhD program for Astronomy & Astrophysics. It’s been nice to have my yarny hobbies to fall back on during a pretty hectic time in my life!
When did you start designing?
I started designing about a year ago. For about a year prior to that, I had been trying to sell finished products, and it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t like making multiples of the same item, and I found the whole process discouraging. I had been designing my own little patterns for many years before that, but it was only as I was marketing finished products made from my own designs that I realized there was nothing stopping me from writing up the patterns! Once I switched to designing, I was so much happier.
Do you have a blog?
I don’t have a blog as of now. My patterns are on four different platforms (Ravelry, Etsy, LoveCrafts, and Ribblr), which is a lot of work, but I still feel that I have a good deal of control over when/how much I work on my little side business. I haven’t ruled out starting a blog, but for now I’m nervous about the idea of committing that much to it. (My life feels very full right now!).
What was your initial plan with your designs?
Like many designers, I sort of fell into it backward since I was designing finished items to sell at first. I imagined that I’d formally write up the designs I had already made based off the notes that I’d taken in my phone, but instead I got really excited about the whole process and I found I had lots of new ideas. I’m really frugal, so a lot of my early designs (and some recent ones!) were made to use up yarn I already had.
How have your designs and designing process evolved?
Interestingly, I was designing a lot of baby items to sell, and I have yet to publish a single pattern for any of them! Once I decided to sell patterns, I focused more on what I wanted to make for myself, so it’s been mostly garments, accessories, and home items. I still enjoy making baby gifts, so I do plan to eventually write up those patterns. I don’t want to abandon that other stuff, though. There are some more garments in various stages of planning that I’m very “stresscited” about.
What designs do you specialize in?
Right now, I’d say accessories. For me they strike a nice balance – they don’t take a huge amount of yarn typically, so they’re fairly budget-friendly, but they’re still big enough that I can really play around with texture. Plus, I love having handmade wearables. Someday I hope to be known for garments as well, but as of now I’ve only got a handful of those.
Do you have a favorite few stitches you like to use or do you always try to do new ones?
I’m a huge fan of texture. I really enjoy using post stitches and puff stitches, and I love a nice picot or crab stitch edge. I do tend to get bored, though, so if I find myself relying a lot on one or two techniques I try to push myself to do something new. This makes it hard to develop a “brand”, but I’m a bit of an intellectual and I like to experiment and branch out. I guess you could say I’m still finding my brand.
When you come up with an idea, does it come first from yarn you have or do you find yarn to fit the idea?
Ooh…this is a great question. I think for me it’s a mix of both. As I mentioned above, I often try to design patterns that use yarn I have lying around. In those cases, the yarn definitely informs my ideas about the pattern rather than the other way around.
However, as I’ve gotten more confident in my designing capabilities, I have started to make yarn purchases based on the idea in my head. It’s definitely a little scarier that way, particularly if you’re making garments, because you’ve got a thousand yards of yarn staring you in the face, waiting to be used! In either case, there have been times that I’ve had what I thought was a great idea for the yarn (or yarn for the idea) and it just didn’t work.
I’m getting better at critically evaluating my own work and deciding whether to start over with new yarn or a new stitch pattern, even though it hurts!
When did you start crocheting?
My mom taught me when I was about 10 years old (I’m 27 now). When I was little, we used to go with my grandparents to a Christmas brunch every December. We had over an hour in the car and I had been begging my mom to teach me, so we sat cramped together in the backseat and she showed me the ropes. Looking back, I imagine it was probably not very fun for her, but I had a great time!
What made you decide to become a designer?
For a long time, I think I felt there was some magic “something” that you had to have in order to be a designer. At some point, I guess I realized that the only difference between them and me was that designers write down their patterns and put them out in the world. I think it helped that I had been posting my original creations on Instagram and sometimes people would comment nice things. Getting that positive feedback gave me the confidence to give designing a shot.
Are there any patterns not your own that you just love?
Oh boy, there are loads. I haven’t been working off other people’s patterns as much since I started designing, but I definitely do still use them. I’m a huge fan of Polly Plum’s afghan blocks. I made myself an Alchemy Cardigan (by Make & Do Crew) in the spring and I’ve been loving that. My mom actually asked me to make her one, so we’ll match once I get that done! I tested the Lunar Lace Tunic by Desert Blossom Crafts, and it’s one of the most comfortable handmade garments I own. Those are just some of the ones I’ve made – if we get into the patterns I own but haven’t made yet (including quite a few on this site!), I’ll really get into the weeds!
Who/what inspired you?Does this still inspire you? Why?
Partially my inspiration comes from thinking about things that I want to use/wear. Sometimes I can’t find what I want in a store, and other times I just enjoy the challenge of trying to create what’s in my head. However, I also draw a lot of inspiration from other designers. I spend probably more time than I should on Instagram, but I love seeing what other people are up to! I really enjoy taking a concept that I’ve seen used in other people’s work and making it my own.
Of your patterns, which is your favorite and why?
This feels a bit like being asked to pick a favorite child, but I’m going to do my best! I’ll go with the Sunny Skies Circle Bag, which I published last month. I use my bag all the time, but the reason it’s my favorite is because I’m proud of the thought and time that went into it. I’ve made a real effort since I started designing to pay careful attention to details, and I think I did that well in this pattern. I love the way the embossed design came out, and the chunky crocheted button on the backside is really functional but also (I think) very cute.
Are there any crochet techniques/stitches you wish to learn this year?
I feel like I should say Tunisian crochet since it’s been so big lately, but since I know how to knit I always think to myself that I’ll just knit when I want to get that stockinette look (hopefully that doesn’t sound arrogant – Tunisian is very cool!). For me, I think it’s mosaic crochet. I’ve dabbled, but I’ve never actually done a project with it. I think the visual effect is really striking, and I’d love to try my hand at designing my own mosaic motif.
What are your biggest crochet challenges and how do you plan on overcoming that?
Confidence was definitely a big one for me, and still is sometimes. If I have a design that I really love and it doesn’t do well on Ravelry/Etsy/social media, I start to wonder if I’m just biased and it’s really not very good. In reality, I know that it’s usually the algorithms that prevent people from seeing my posts, so it’s not that people don’t like it – they’re not even seeing it. I try to remind myself that for me, designing isn’t a career, so it should be fun and not stressful. I have to remember that if I’m happy with how it turned out, that’s the most important thing.
My other challenge is getting 90% of the way through a project and then getting bored – I’m really awful with that. I try for a mixed carrot/stick approach on that one. Depending on how the project is going and how soon my self-imposed deadline is, I’ll either allow myself to start another project for a set period of time and hope to return refreshed, or I will prohibit myself from starting a new one until I’m done. I probably sound crazy, but it works for me!
Have you ever lost your crojo and how did you overcome that?
When I do, it usually doesn’t last long, but I find that it is really helpful to have other hobbies. Frankly, I have far too many hobbies. More hobbies than anyone could meaningfully pursue in a lifetime. It’s kind of ridiculous. But the nice thing is that if I lose my crojo (or my…knit-jo? Or any other mojos), I can always pick up something else that gives me the same sense of satisfaction. Taking a little break usually does the trick. I also think it can be helpful to pick a small project that you’re excited about, either because it’s something you want to wear/use or because it looks like fun to make. Quick gratification can be a good way to remind yourself of why you enjoy crocheting in the first place.
What three tips can you offer to anyone that crochets?
- My first tip is to follow your style. Maybe it’s just because I’m embedded so deeply in the crochet world, but it does seem that crochet is especially susceptible to trends that spread like wildfire. And hey – if you love pocket shawls or fur pom poms, go for it! But if you don’t, that’s cool, too. I think maintaining diversity in crochet (both people-diversity and project-diversity) makes the community better.
- My second tip is that there is no “wrong” way to crochet. If you do a stitch differently, but you like the way it looks, that’s not only okay, it’s awesome! New ideas are made that way, and we can always use more of those. I think a lot more crocheters could be designers, even if just for themselves, if they felt a bit more liberated from the perceived rules of the game.
- My final tip stems from a personal pet peeve. Crocheting should not be a competition sport. I’m a very competitive person, but there’s no place for that in crafting. It drives me crazy when I see people being shamed for the yarn they use, or any other personal choice they make for their crochet projects. I encourage all crafters to practice kindness in their crafting community!
A special Surprise – or two – just for you readers!!
Allison has given you all a thank you for reading and getting to know her a little better! She is giving you all a link to her mermaid scales cowl and headband set which is free on Joy of Motion but also 30% off if you want to purchase the pdf version of it!! Just use the code SUNFLOWER on her Etsy or Ravelry listing below.
Free pattern here