An In­ter­view With Bon­nie Barker De­signer, Teacher & Author Cro­chet World: Bon­nie, tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self. When did you learn to cro­chet? Bon­nie Barker: CW: What types of projects did you first like to cro­chet? BB: CW: Cro­chet teacher or de­sig

Crochet World - - The Colors Of Autumn -

Re­cently, I had the change to talk with Bon­nie Barker, whose lat­est book, Ca­ble Cro­chet Made Easy, fea­tures her love of tex­tured ca­ble de­signs and her unique teach­ing style. What a joy to get to know Bon­nie and catch her en­thu­si­asm for cro­chet ca­bles!

I’m a re­tired home­school ed­u­ca­tor, a mother of five won­der­ful young adults and wife to a great guy. I learned to cro­chet when I was 7 years old af­ter watch­ing my next-door neigh­bors’ mom cro­chet a huge granny square afghan—the type that is just one big square. I was mes­mer­ized by watch­ing her hook and yarn move. Af­ter many days of watch­ing her progress, she sat down and started a granny square for me. I’ve been cro­chet­ing ever since!

At first, I worked on that big granny square afghan, and fi­nally fin­ished it when I was 9. Later, I learned to read cro­chet pat­terns with the help of my best friend’s mom. At that point I would make just about any­thing from any pat­tern I could get my hands on, in­clud­ing a granny square bikini I found in one of my Cro­chet World mag­a­zines back in the ’70s! ( Well, I did live in south Florida, but this is one de­sign I prom­ise never to model!)

Def­i­nitely teacher! I’ve been teach­ing cro­chet for decades to folks of all ages. It never en­tered my mind to de­sign my own un­til I couldn’t find the pat­terns I re­ally wanted to cro­chet.

I’ve al­ways loved the way ca­bles look in knit de­signs, but I pre­fer cro­chet over knit­ting. I think that’s where it started. One day I found a couple of Leisure Arts leaflets by An­nie Ought, pub­lished in the late 1970s/early 1980s that cre­ated lovely cro­chet ca­bled de­signs. I made all the de­signs in those leaflets mul­ti­ple times. I wanted more de­signs like them, but they just weren’t avail­able. This was be­fore the Internet, so the only pat­terns avail­able were what you could find in de­part­ment stores.

It has a lot to do with the county fair. The first time I won “Best of Show” for one of my Aran afghans I re­ceived a call from a woman in New Jer­sey who had seen my afghan on dis­play at the fair. She called me to in­quire as to where she could pur­chase the pat­tern. I was flab­ber­gasted be­cause it was my own original de­sign and there was not a writ­ten pat­tern avail­able, at least not yet. This prompted me to pho­to­graph the afghan, along with four oth­ers and send an in­quiry to Leisure Arts. To my sur­prise they were in­ter­ested in my work!

They both were a LOT of hard work, but I en­joyed it very much. I was so thank­ful that the edi­tor of my first book al­lowed me to in­clude some pho­tos I took of the beau­ti­ful coun­try of Ire­land, which in­spired the de­signs. In the process, I learned a lot too—about yarns, de­sign­ing, siz­ing, writ­ing, edit­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing.

I wanted to have more cre­ative con­trol of this book in a few ar­eas of the pub­li­ca­tion process. The first was in choos­ing the mod­els for the de­signs. I wanted to in­clude some of my friends and fam­ily, es­pe­cially those whose body size was more, dare I say, “nor­mal.” True beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and I wanted my mod­els to re­flect that. I was es­pe­cially blessed that Va­lerie “Val­ley” Ennis was able to be one of my mod­els. Val­ley was born with Down syn­drome and has the most con­ta­gious, beau­ti­ful smile I have ever seen. Her beauty tran­scends what can be cap­tured with a cam­era, and she is a joy in ev­ery sense of the word. I also wanted more con­trol over how the pat­terns were writ­ten, es­pe­cially since they needed to cor­re­spond to the in­struc­tional videos. My two edi­tors, Becky Barker and Christy Barker—both with ex­cel­lent edit­ing skills as writ­ers and cro­cheters—did an ex­cel­lent job help­ing me to make this pos­si­ble! This is some­thing I’ve wanted to do from the very be­gin­ning. I didn’t want cro­cheters to be held

back from these fun stitches be­cause of not un­der­stand­ing a writ­ten pat­tern or by the false be­lief that these stitches are “too hard to cro­chet.” Also, I find that there are two types of cro­cheters: those who read pat­terns and those who pri­mar­ily cro­chet us­ing videos be­cause they don’t un­der­stand writ­ten pat­terns. You could say that as an ed­u­ca­tor I am on a quest to help those in the sec­ond cat­e­gory to be­come more com­fort­able and con­fi­dent at read­ing pat­terns. How­ever, I am find­ing that there are many ex­cel­lent cro­cheters out there who don’t read pat­terns. They will still be able to cro­chet ev­ery pat­tern in this book by fol­low­ing the videos.

Ev­ery day starts the same, yet ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent! I take my hubby to his bus stop early in the morn­ing, come home, fix my tea, spend some time read­ing my Bi­ble and pray­ing. Af­ter­ward, I usu­ally spend some time an­swer­ing email, YouTube and Face­book ques­tions, and work­ing on so­cial me­dia posts. If I am fac­ing a dead­line on a de­sign, I may spend some time writ­ing or edit­ing a pat­tern to get it ready for pub­li­ca­tion. This may in­clude tak­ing pho­to­graphs of the de­sign, or per­haps even film­ing an in­struc­tional video. Other days I spend many hours edit­ing the videos and up­load­ing them. So you may be won­der­ing, “Do you ever just sit down and cro­chet?” Well, yes, but not as much as you would think be­cause of all the other tasks that need to get done in this process. Of course, I have other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties such as car­ing for my mom, our adult chil­dren, meal prepa­ra­tion and car­ing for the home. Some days I work out­side as a sub­sti­tute teacher at a lo­cal school. Life is full, but very, very good! I truly love the va­ri­ety.

Wow! That’s a tough ques­tion. Be­ing a strong gen­er­al­ist (some­one who likes to do a lot of dif­fer­ent things rather than just one), I truly en­joy the va­ri­ety of what I do in each of these roles. If I had to pick just one, I be­lieve I en­joy de­sign­ing the very best. There is some­thing about cre­at­ing a new de­sign or even a new stitch that is very deeply sat­is­fy­ing. Af­ter rais­ing and home­school­ing five chil­dren, I so ap­pre­ci­ate the soli­tude that de­sign­ing pro­vides at times.

That’s a great ques­tion. Only the Lord truly knows, but I would like to con­tinue to work to build my Bon­nie

Bay Cro­chet YouTube chan­nel and con­tinue de­vel­op­ing new cro­chet ca­bled de­signs. I would love to teach and travel on a broader scale as op­por­tu­ni­ties arise. One dream is to travel to the UK and per­haps even back to Ire­land to teach ca­ble cro­chet!

A few years ago I re­ally en­joyed de­sign­ing/cro­chet­ing a for­mal tea-length dress, com­bin­ing a sub­tle Aran/Celtic de­sign bodice us­ing fine merino/silk yarn, trimmed us­ing pearls and a del­i­cate chif­fon fab­ric (for sleeves and skirt). I would love to do more projects like this, and per­haps even a wed­ding dress some­day.

Beau­ti­ful ca­ble de­signs from Ca­ble Cro­chet Made Easy

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