Designers Profiles by Lamira Fields
Introducing our CrochetDad, Gene Saunders. Before placing our request for an interview, we put out a few social plug-ins here and there that we where looking for men who crochet. Guess what, the very same day we began to receive emails to do an interview of Gene. So we put out a missing persons per se- via Facebook and Gene responded. It was the funniest thing ever- we had people looking for Gene and literally said, “Hey if any of you know Gene, please tell him to get in contact with us”…It was great. So it is our pleasure to bring to you, Gene Saunders- The CrochetDad!
Q) Where did you grow up and how long have you been crocheting?
A) I grew up in Southern California – born in San Diego (I’m 71 years old) and raised in Fallbrook, California, a small community in North Sn Diego County. I’ve been crocheting for over 60 years, but my most active as been just before my second marriage (1982) when my soon-to-be wife showed me a granny square she had made at work. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect: I had been totally immersed in my work, having few outside interests, and had just recently begun having dreams about my work. I said to myself: “I’ve GOT to get a hobby”. When I saw the granny square, I said “I can do that!”. I went out to get a “Teach Yourself to Crochet” book to refresh my skills. We both crocheted a few projects, but she soon lost interest.
Q) What prompted you to get started? How did you learn to crochet and who inspired you to start crocheting??
A) As a child, we would visit my grandparents every summer. I used to watch my paternal grandmother crochet – sitting for hours at a time with her hook and thread. One day, she asked if I wanted to learn how to do it. I enthusiastically answered “Yes!”. My earliest memory of crocheting was in the first or second grade – I was 7 or 8 years old. Our teacher encouraged anyone with a non-disruptive hobby to bring it to school and do the activity during crafting time. Several girls brought knitting and crochet projects. So I brought a hook and some yarn.
A) If you count patterns that I never finished to my satisfaction, the number is much greater, but my current count of patterns I sell, offer for free, or have been published by magazines or yarn companies is around 15 or so. This count includes a few tutorials from my blog in that count.
Q) What challenges, if any, have you encountered as a designer?
A) If you’re referring to challenges a full-time designer has, it is inspiration. If you’re talking about challenges I personally have encountered, it is dedicating enough time to complete a pattern. I love to crochet, so I have difficulty putting it down in order to do the hard work of documenting the process for others.
Q) What is your greatest crochet accomplishment?
A) If you’re asking about the project I’m most proud of, then it would be a bedspread for a queen sized I made for my son to match the colors of the wall. He picked out the pattern from one of the many crochet books I had at the time. I crocheted the
bedspread with 3 strands of yarn to blend the colors which matched the walls perfectly. The pattern itself was also one of the most challenging I’ve done – if I recall, the pattern repeat was about 14 stitches by 20 rows.
Q) I noticed that you have a website, selling products on Etsy, and post photos of Pinterest. What inspired you to get involved in these various communities?
A) As far as selling: when I became involved in the online crochet community on Crochetville, I did a show and tell with one of the hats I had made. It was a cabled cap with a bill like a baseball cap. Along with the typical praise one hears, someone said “you should write down how you did that and sell the pattern on Etsy”. I had never considered selling, but that is the one event that got me started.
As for sharing on Pinterest or Flickr, et. al., I loved to see what others liked, which might inspire a new project or learn a new technique, so I decided to share my favorites and things I’ve done with others, as well – hoping to inspire others as I had been inspired.
Q) Have you ever been featured in any other publications or shows?
Yes, I’ve been featured in the April 2010 issue of Crochet World magazine.
Q) Gene, we love your work and the fact that you are obviously a man doing while many women get more credit and showcase in our craft. How do you feel being in a predominantly female industry?
A) First, I feel lucky to have found an activity that is rewarding in that I enjoy doing it and others enjoy seeing my work. As far as being the minority gender, since there are only two, one of them would be predominate, don’t you think?
I’ve never been one to NOT do something just because it isn’t the norm.
Q )Have you been treated differently as a male that crochet? If so, what has been your experience?
A) My online experience is that, since those who see my work are already familiar with the craft, they seem to be surprised that a male would be crocheting, or maybe doing it as well as I do, but I don’t think I’m treated any differently, except that it DOES put me in a more elite group. By “elite” I don’t mean special or above the norm, just in a unique position.
Since I love to crochet in public, I’m often approached with something like “I didn’t know men did that” or “what are you knitting?”. I treat both with the same attitude: I offer information. In the first case, I point out that crocheting is just a skill, NOT a gender-specific skill. I try to show an example of things women do that are typical male activities, like mowing the lawn, changing a tire, building cabinets, etc. In the second case, I just point out that “this is crochet” adding that knitting uses two needles, where crochet involves a hook.
Q) Some men may be reluctant in getting involved with crocheting because it is a predominantly female industry. What advise would you give men that want to crochet?
A) My advice to those who would be reluctant, is that if you find something you love, DO IT! If you’re the ONLY male who does it, it doesn’t make you less manly, it only shows that you love it.
Q) Who are your crochet heroes and / or heroines?
A) Anyone who crochets and can make a living at it are my heroes. I’m fortunate in that I don’t sell my crochet items or patterns to make a living, only to enable me to feed my stash of yarn, hooks, etc. 😉
If you’re looking for names, both men and women come to mind. If I mentioned anyone in particular, I’d feel I was slighting the others.
Q) If our readers would like to contact you or view your work, where would you send them online?
As you know, I sell my patterns and some crocheted items on Etsy as well as Ravelry:
My Flickr pictures:
My Facebook page:
Thank you Gene for allowing us the pleasure of showcasing you in our “All About Men” issue of our magazine. We also love your work. Make sure to go to his Etsy store and on Ravelry to buy his patterns, especially the hats!