As part of the original Around the World in 80 Skeins tour, stop 17 was to visit Maya Kuzman, a crochet designer living in Skopje, Macedonia.
**Maya is participating in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long on Ravelry wiith 292 other designers from 21 countries. 12 of her beautiful patterns are 25% off through November 21 @11:59pm EST with code giftalong2014 – come join us!
Hi, Maya – thanks for joining us! Where do you live and is there a big fiber arts culture there?
I live in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. In the past it was unimaginable for a girl to be raised without having mastered embroidery, knitting, crocheting and sewing. It was kind of a mandatory thing for girls. So understandably, there is a rich tradition in above mentioned crafts. Our knitting culture has as deep foundation the intricate technique of knit socks, while lace especially used as border for the traditional camises and crocheted aprons that were worn over the Macedonian traditional costumes are the things that define crochet. A thing that is of meaningful importance for my culture and tradition is the crocheted bead chain called “kostek.”
How did you get started crocheting and how did it turn into designing?
I started with crafts in general from an early childhood – both my grandmothers and mother were skilled seamstresses, knitters, crocheters and DIY-ers and crafting came naturally. I would always join them when crafting with a project given to do myself and that is how it all started. At first it was mostly imitations of what my grannies did. But one thing led to another and very soon I turned to creating my own pieces which I might say was the very beginning of my development as a designer.
What is your design process like? Do you plan it all out before you pick up your hook, or do you let the yarn show you where to go?
I usually get an idea for a future design while working on a current project. That is why I always keep a notebook close by so I can jot down the idea – either by sketch or a single word that would be the spark for the next project. Most often those ideas are just a stepping-stone and as I start working they evolve into something completely different than I originally imagined. But I think that is the best part of the designing process.
What do you eat/drink while you design and where is your favorite place to work?
Sometimes I get so immersed in my work I forget to eat! 🙂 However I love having dried fruits to snack on with a cup of mint tea or coffee. My favourite place to crochet is in my armchair in the living room throughout the year, but in summer it is definitely at the beach while I always design new pieces on my craft table.
Do you have a favorite local yarn store?
I always buy my yarn from Teteks’ shop (famous Macedonian textile producer) which is in the center of the city and sometimes from little shops in the Old Bazaar. There you can find small but well stocked shops with all kinds of craft supplies – especially haberdashery.
Who are your favorite designers (fiber arts or otherwise) and why?
I love Manon Gignoux for repurposing and reworking fabric in order to gain a whole new dimension, Jilli Blackwood for her amazing talent to transform hand dyed, weaved and embroidered pieces into stunning garments and Liz Cooksey for her fabulous nature inspired pieces that she makes using hand and machine techniques I admire.
They are all amazing textile artists – I see why they are your favorites! How does your country influence your designs?
The place where I live has an immense influence on my design. The rich, centuries old traditions along with the divine nature are the everlasting sources of inspiration for my work. I mostly get inspired by shapes and colors used in traditional embroidery and weaving which I try to resurrect in my crochet pieces as well as of the beautiful nature that I feel and experience as an inseparable part of my being.
Do you have a favorite design in your portfolio that was inspired by your culture?
I made my Ethnic Bridal Necklaces inspired by Macedonian traditionally embroidered camisoles and tunics, vests and sleeveless coats. I tried to capture the intricately and masterfully ornamented floral and colorful embroidery of the Bridal Costumes and the significant part they have in the history of our cultural heritage and traditions.