As part of the original Around the World in 80 Skeins tour, stop 7 was to visit Erangi Udeshika, a crochet designer from Sri Lanka.
Hi, Erangi! Can you tell us a bit about where you live?
I’m from Sri Lanka – a small island known as the pearl of the Indian ocean. With the natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage spreading over 3000 years of history my country is the best place to travel. I love my Sri Lanka and I’m proud to be a Sri Lankan.
How did you get started crocheting and how did it turn into designing?
Well, I think my story is a little bit different. I’ve been disabled since I was 9 years old and have had to spend my life since in a wheelchair. At first, it was hard for me. I wanted to spend my time without being bored. I wanted to be busy with something – to avoid my stress and you know how it feels. So I started to crochet with my illness. My aunt taught me how and I enjoyed every minute with her. My first projects were a little dress and little hats for my dolls. I still have them all and the little pieces take me back to the past when I see them. I was encouraged by my family and friends to make more patterns and it turned into my hobby.
How does where you live influence your designs?
I just want to make pretty things. And I love everything surrounding me – nature, birds, flowers, and all the colors. The climate also influences my designs. There is no winter, the sun is up everyday here, and we have fine weather so I mostly use open work/crochet lace patterns for my clothes designs.
But I don’t like to stick to one framework – I try everything I see. The Brick Wall Crochet Fingerless Gloves pattern is an example of that and the Red Chili Bookmark was born as a result of food and travel.
Where is your favorite place to crochet and design?
If I’m designing something, I would probably work quietly in my room. The living area is also my favorite place to crochet while watching TV and chatting with my family.
What is your design process?
My mind is always filled with new ideas. I get most of my design ideas when I go to sleep – I don’t know why. I think having silence and peace helps me to awake my mind. I write the idea down, put a note on my mobile, and sometimes sketch before I forget it.
Do you have a favorite snack or beverage while you work?
I love spicy foods, Sri Lankan flavors, fruits and veggies and Sri Lankan tea as a drink.
Here is one recipe I like – it’s easy, fast, and cheap! You can pick one of these fruits: pineapple, mango, guava, ambarella or Sri Lankan olives. Then cut it into small cubes, add a teaspoon of chili powder, one teaspoon of sugar, salt to your taste, and a little water to make a paste in a bowl. Add the cubes and mix them well. That’s all!
That sounds delicious – I’ll have to try it! Does Sri Lanka have a specific fiber art tradition?
It’s called Beeralu and it’s popular on the southwestern coast. It’s one of the dying fiber crafts that was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese. I’d really like to learn it but haven’t had a chance yet.
Do you have a favorite design in your portfolio that was inspired by your homeland?
The Crochet Bird Nest is my favorite and it’s still popular. I love nature – I especially enjoy birds as I told you before. I was inspired by a tiny bird living in my country called a Baya Weaver. The nest of those little birds is very creative and amazing. I have added a little bit about the bird and a picture of their nest in the bird nest pattern instruction on my blog.