As part of the original Around the World in 80 Skeins tour, stop 23 was to visit Rebeckah Ferger, a crochet designer living in Panama.
Hi, Rebeckah! Where do you live and where are you originally from? What do you miss most about home?
Presently, I reside in Panama, but I am a Canadian/Norwegian who was born in Sweden. I lived there for the first few years of my life before moving to Canada, my Mother’s home country, where I spent the majority of my childhood. When I was 15, my mother moved us to Panama, and when my family returned to Canada a couple years ago, I stayed to be with the love of my life. I love the warm year-round weather, but I do miss the changing of the seasons – especially fall. I also miss being able to go to the library, and having access to other little things like running hot water, proper craft stores, and yummy chocolate.
How did you get started crocheting and why did it turn into designing?
My mother taught me to crochet when I was 10, and I really took to it. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I really started to get into creating my own designs, and only a couple years ago did I decide to make them available to others. I really got into crocheting more because I had a lot more free time on my hands, and I wanted something creative and fun to pass the time. Only when people started asking for my chess pattern, did I decided to become a full time designer. I don’t know why the idea never occurred to me before, but I just knew I had to go for it!
Your chess pattern is so clever – I love it! How does where you live influence your designs?
I love the culture and music here, but I can’t really say whether or not those things have influenced my designs since I mainly make toys and accessories. I can say that the environment has played a part, since the only good quality yarn available is cotton thread. I imagine the constant year-round summer weather and humidity has something to do with this. I am just so grateful that it comes in a huge array of colours. It all works out because my first crochet love is making things for Barbie dolls, and thread is perfect for it!
Where is your favorite place to work?
I love the idea of sitting outside to crochet, but here it is not always ideal. So instead, I will often sit at my desk with my feet propped up on another chair.
What is your design process like?
First, an idea will come to me – either from something I see, or a current project. Afterwards, I paint a picture in my mind of how I would like it to be, and then I just let the yarn do the magic! The most planning I ever do for a design is taking a few notes of what I would like to see. This does lead to a lot of frogging here and there, but more often than not, I crochet what I pictured the first time around.
What do you drink and snack on while you work?
I always have water beside me – day and night, but I love drinking coconut water, cane juice and homemade ice tea lemonade whenever I can get my hands on them!
For my iced tea lemonade, I like to brew jasmine tea. As the water is heating up, I squeeze around 4 of my little lemons that look like limes from our lemon tree onto whatever sweetener I have on hand – usually raspadura (unprocessed cane sugar) or cane sugar. Next, I pour the water over the tea leaves and the lemon juice and let it sit for several minutes. I like to drink some hot right away, but to the rest, I’ll add ice to cool it down and save for later. I don’t use specific measurements, I just go with what I feel at the time.
I don’t do too much snacking as I prefer to stick to my eating during my main meal times, but when I do, I love fruits, crackers, pumpkin seeds, and as a special treat – homemade chewy granola bars. The normal way of making pumpkin seeds is to spread them out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle some olive oil, salt and seasonings on them, and then stick them into the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes. However, I recently discovered a quicker way to prepare them. First, I heat up a stainless steel frying pan with some olive oil. Next, I place the pumpkin seeds into it along with a little bit of salt. I cover it with a lid and pretend I am making popcorn. Within a minute or two of shaking the pan over the burner, they are ready to eat! As for the granola bars… Using this great recipe from Joyful Abodes as a base, I grab whatever yummy goodness I have on hand like nuts, seeds, dried fruits, molasses, honey, oats, wheat germ, flax seed, butter, peanut butter, and chocolate, and I whip them up together into the most deliciously nutritious bars ever! 😀
Do you have a favorite design in your portfolio that was inspired by your culture/environment?
One day, I should very much like to design some things that are inspired by each of my cultures – Canada, Norway and Panama, but for now, my main focus is toys, fashion doll clothes and accessories.
Who are your favorite designers (fiber arts or otherwise) and why?
I have several designers that I absolutely adore, but my most favourite ones are Carol Ventura, Sharon Ojala, Heidi Yates and Dedri Uys. I really admire Carol because she introduced me to tapestry crochet, which has become one of my most favourite crochet techniques. I absolutely adore Sharon because it was through her Little Bigfoot Patterns that I fell in love with and was inspired to try my hand at designing amigurumi! I love Heidi for her really colourful and whimsical patterns. I have yet to try any of them for myself, but they are really cool! I love Dedri for her colourful and clever toy patterns. I especially love her puzzle balls and I can’t wait to have babies, so that I have a proper excuse to make them!
Do you have a favorite local yarn store?
Here in Panama, we don’t have the luxury of a yarn store or even a proper craft store of any kind. What we do have are these little Chinese-run shops called Sederías that carry small selections of craft and party supplies along with a few other things. I have two go-to ones nearby. One I prefer to go to if I only need my threads, and the other I like going to when I need notations on top of threads.
Is there a big fiber arts culture where you live?
As far as I know, there isn’t a big knitting/crochet culture here. I have only met a few people here that crochet, and they mostly crochet baby booties or hair accessories. It is a dream of mine to help grow the industry here and to teach local girls and boys to crochet.
That is a lovely dream and I hope you fulfill it someday! Thank you for joining us on the tour and sharing your home with us!