The 8th stop is to visit Elena Fedotova, a fiber art designer living in Montenegro.
**Lena is participating in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long on Ravelry wiith 292 other designers from 21 countries. 20 of her beautiful patterns are 25% off through November 21 @11:59pm EST with code giftalong2014 – come join us!
Hi, Lena! Where are you from originally and where do you live now? What do you miss most about your hometown?
I am from Kiev, Ukraine, but as soon as an old wooden sailing boat became our home, we (my husband, the cats and I) moved to “big water”. We had a great journey sailing down the Dnipro river to the Black sea, then to the Mediterranean sea, up until the time we learned that our boat was too old to keep moving and needed major repairs. So we threw the anchor in Montenegro, where we have been living ever since (while repairing our home for future journeys!).
How did you get started crocheting and knitting and how did it turn into designing?
I learned how to knit as a child, and a friend showed me how to crochet when I was about 19. In Ukrainian reality hand knit/crochet designing is not something people would consider a job. Ten years ago, if someone had told me that my favorite hobby would become my professional occupation, it would have sounded as impossible as traveling in time. No Ravelry-like experience, no self-published patterns, no magazine/yarn company partnerships – there was simply nothing to even imagine such a job as a possibility. The hardest thing on my way to designing was to break out of this stereotype, open my eyes and start discovering a huge and exciting world of designing. Even now, a few years later, I still feel like a crazy happy Cinderella! 🙂
I visited Montenegro a few years ago, and it is still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. How does where you live inspire you?
Montenegro is full of ancient history and old architecture: stone houses, tiled roofs, streets paved with stones. I love geometric patterns and love finding them around me. Inspiration is everywhere!
How does your home country influence your designs?
Ukraine has strong needlework traditions and Ukrainians are really fond of different styles of embroidery. I have been surrounded by this craft since childhood and this accumulated experience must be affecting my work in some way. For example, my Bargello Blanket is a crochet interpretation of Bargello needlework and the Ink Ripples wrap is an imitation of the “richelieu” technique.
Do you have a favorite local yarn store?
Montenegro is a small country and there is only one local yarn shop in my area, which carries a very modest selection of yarn. It is also quite a distance from me. But this doesn’t really present a problem, since I am a huge fan of e-shops. I love the idea of doing my yarn shopping virtually in different places all over the world.
Where is your favorite place to work?
On the boat! I cannot imagine my life without the sea. Or without my cats, who are my designing team. 🙂
Your cats seem very sweet – and helpful! =) What is your design process like?
I let my ideas brew, so quite a bit of time passes between my frantic swatching (eureka!) and the actual design execution. Sometimes a couple of years.
What do you like to eat and drink while you are working?
I always drink mint tea while working on any designing task. Montenegro is famous for its natural herbs (and bakeries with tons of tasty buns!).
The Montenegrin baked goods look so delicious! Do you have a favorite design in your portfolio that was inspired by your culture/environment?
My latest design, Cookies Cardigan, combines Ukrainian love of embroidered fabric and the sweet spirit of Montenegrin bakeries. My upcoming November design will be full of memories of how my mom taught me the hem-stitch. I will be diving further into Ukrainian traditions in the future.
Is there a big knitting/crochet culture where you live?
What both Ukrainian and Montenegrin crochet traditions have in common is using small (even tiny) hook sizes to create dazzling white and weightless lace pieces. It took me some time to get used to hook sizes larger than 3mm.
Thank you for being part of this tour and for sharing your designs and inspirations with us!