Meet Natasha Robarge

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Natasha Robarge. She is an incredibly talented crochet designer.  You probably have come across her work in Interweave Crochet.  And if you did, you definitely stopped and said, WOW.  All her designs are modern, and showcase how creative you can be with crochet.

She designed two projects in Vintage Modern Crochet.  The Guipure Top is an Irish Lace Netting masterpiece.  It takes the netting or background to typical Irish Lace and makes it the star of the project.  It is just a stunning piece, and the cotton yarn really makes it a fabulous top to wear.  The Carefree Pullover is secretly a Filet Lace project. It looks so complex, but its actually just made from solid and void areas.  The linen yarn really transforms the project.  Its the perfect summer top, light and airy, and easy for us all to wear.

This week Natasha and I got to chat a bit about crochet.  Here is our conversation:

Guipure Top

RC: What is it about crochet that inspires you to design in it?

NR: I'm thrilled by the expressive possibilities of crochet and its technical versatility. Crochet fabric can easily take any shape from squares to hexes to flowers to freeform. The range of textural effects is huge: from sturdy post stitches to spider web lace. I have been crocheting and knitting for a long time but only crochet inspired me to design due to its vast creative potential. My designs celebrate crochet and I try to create the look which is not achievable through any other craft. 

RC: What is one of your favorite techniques in crochet?

NR: I really like to explore them all: I have published designs in filet and Irish lace, hairpin lace, broomstick lace, motifs, Tunisian, intarsia. I still need to figure out how to create a pattern for freeform. Some techniques are harder to adapt to patterns in multiple sizes or give a definitive explanation where to insert hook. 

RC: What was the last item that you made for yourself (in any craft)?

Guipure Top
NR: I wear all the crochet sample shawls I designed (fortunately no size limitations apply). A work colleague of mine called them "sweater-shawls" as I find them a perfect layer for a business casual style. I also made a couple of knit tops: a sleeveless top for the office to wear under a jacket or a cardi and a short-sleeve weekend top. I typically alternate my knit and crochet projects, and recently have been craving some sewing. I'm thinking of a summer skirt. As a matter of fact, as I'm writing this, I will sew a simple long gathered skirt with a wide rich crochet border for an overall clean linen look which is popular now in the stores. 

RC: What other crafts do you love?

NR: I mentioned crochet, knitting, sewing. I've also enjoyed embroidery. Anything with knots. My grandmother told me that when I was an infant she would tie a bunch of knots on a string and I would carefully untie them and then cry for more. I still never cut knots, untying them is like a puzzle for me. In fact I prefer to hand-wind my yarn too. This is just part of the fun. 

RC: What was your inspiration behind your designs in Vintage Modern Crochet?

Carefree Pullover
NR: Carefree Pullover is the result of the design evolution which started with a Chico's catalogue. The catalogue was full of bright flowing ponchos with striking color patterns. I wanted to make one in crochet. Linen yarn gives the ability to create large stitches with skinny yarn and the resulting garment is light. It is important not to weigh down a wide piece of fabric. Then a selected a large scale stitch pattern and made a swatch in bright stripes. Robyn suggested that the book will be more monochromatic and we agreed on just one complementary stripe at the bottom. It was a good decision. However, if you see yourself in a bright striking summer cover-up, make this pullover at half-length and go for some orange, white, and azure stripes. 

The inspiration process for Guipure Top was the opposite. Robyn asked for repeatable Irish lace vs. Irish lace motifs with freeform netting. So I looked at dozens of guipure lace ribbons online to just get an idea of what they might look like. Then I came up with my own stitch pattern which did not really look like the ribbons I saw but still maintained the same spirit. A simple top shape which fits easily with the stitch pattern completed the design. I must say the fabric of this top is quite amazing. Even if you don't make an entire top, just try to crochet a few rounds in the same yarn or other perle cotton yarn. You will be fascinated. 

RC: What is next for you?  Where can people see more of your work?

NR: I have three goals for this year: 
- Continue to submit my designs to F&W. One of my designs will be published in Interweave Crochet Summer 2016 and one in Crochetscene 2016. 
- Learn to use software for crochet charts. I love charts and hand-draw them in a jiffy, but computer generating them is a different story. I will be looking for a teacher. 
- Find time to self-publish at least one more pattern. Don't we all want to squeeze 48 hours into 24? I publish all of my indie designs on Ravelry. 
Carefree Pullover, Bottom Edge
You can see more of  Natasha's work over at Ravelry or on her website.  Natasha is hosting a Crochet-A-Long over in her Love for Contemporary Crochet Group.  She will be doing a giveaway of one copy of the book in the CAL, so be sure to sign up for a chance to win!

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