As part of the original Around the World in 80 Skeins tour, stop 9 was to visit Ana Contreras, a fiber arts designer from Guatemala.
Hi, Ana! Where are you from?
I live in Guatemala, a small country in Central America.
How does where you live influence your designs?
Guatemala is called “the Land of the Eternal Spring”, that means it is never too hot nor too cold. I know we are very fortunate, but my only complaint would be that I would like it to be a little cooler in order to wear more “yarn pieces.” Because of our mild climate, I rarely use wool, but mostly cotton or light acrylics. Also, that is why my scarves, shawls and hats tend to be lighter than in other countries.
How did you get started with the fiber arts and how did it turn into designing?
My mom taught me to knit and crochet. She gave me the basics, and I have learned the rest through magazines, books and now the internet. Since I opened my blog Lanas de Ana a few years ago, I have not stopped crocheting and knitting at all. It has become a passion!
It’s so sweet that you can share crocheting and knitting with your family (and your mom makes a lovely shawl model). =) What is your favorite beverage when you are working?
Coffee is my morning companion, usually with milk and a dash of cinnamon. Usually I have tea later, or water with slices of cucumber or lemon.
What is your design process like? Do you plan it all out before you pick up your needles/hook, or do you let the yarn show you where to go?
I’d describe my design process with the popular phrase: “Need is the mother of invention.” When I need or want something, my head starts churning. And I have to be very creative because in my little country we do not have access to many kinds of yarns; I have to work with what is available, which is not much. When I travel, I try to buy special yarns (but there is a limit to how much I can travel with).
With a limited yarn selection in Guatemala, are there any local stores you like?
There are two local yarn stores that I love: Conejita and Teje Teje. They have the basics, and once in a while a special yarn. I don’t buy online because our mail service is not good. The crochet hooks they sell are good enough, but my circular needles I had to buy when I traveled.
Does Guatemala have a specialized knitting/crochet style?
Looming is the native art form, but I have not tried it.
It’s a beautiful art form that looks really complicated. If you ever take it up, please send pictures! Who are your favorite designers?
I love the crochet designers who use chart patterns. I find them easier to follow than a text pattern. When I design a crochet pattern, I tend to use charts too (which I draw by hand or with the help of MS Publisher).
What is your favorite design in your portfolio?
Even though I am single, I do knit and crochet a lot for babies, mainly for friends or relatives that are having babies. I am always making baby blankets, hats and cardigans. One of my most accessed patterns is the Baby Girl Headband, which is very cute and easy to make. I also crochet many baby items for charity, especially for a local hospital.
The Baby Girl Headband is adorable and I love that you donate handmade things for babies to your local hospital! It was really lovely talking to you – thank you so much for sharing your beautiful designs and inspirations!