Independent Designer Interview - Laurie Kahn

Sugar Skulls, and Spider Webs, and Lacy Hearts, Oh My!

Laurie Kahn, aka Spider Mambo, designs amazing crochet creations from sunny Southern California.  Her signature sugar skull motifs look great on trick-or-treat bags as well as hats, jackets, and tanks.  Her striking visual style is unmistakable, and we are so pleased that she took the time to design the Asymmetrical Heart Shawl for us with the Pixile DK.  She's offering a coupon code "HEART", good through 7 February 2017, to get the shawl pattern for FREE!  

Take a look at her Ravelry page, where you will find a plethora of patterns, both free and very reasonably priced.  We asked Laurie a few questions so you could get to know her better. 

Asymmetrical Heart Shawl

Sasha for Skein Shop (SS):  I have to ask, where did you come up with the name Spider Mambo?  It’s so appropriate for your design style!

Laurie Kahn (LK):  I chose spider because they make webs, which is a little similar to crochet.  And then they do an aerial dance as they make them.  I wanted a name for the dance they do.  Ballet was too common.  Since I was working on Sugar Skulls at the time, I wanted to use a name of a Latin dance.  Spider Salsa brought the wrong picture into my head – I imagined a bowl of salsa made with spiders.  No bueno!  Mambo seemed to be a better choice.

SS:  Yes, spider salsa is not a very appealing mental image!  So how long have you been crocheting?

LK:  I have been crocheting for fifty-three years.  I was taught by my mother when I was eight.  She soon regretted ever teaching me when she discovered that I had been using the stuffing out of my mattress to fill the little crochet animals I had begun to create.

SS:  Wow, so it sounds like you were designing things almost right off the bat.  What made you start writing up and publishing your patterns?

LK:  I always had my own ideas of what things should look like.  I started out selling my custom creations, but I soon found out that more people were interesting in making the items themselves.  That’s why I began to write out the instructions and sell them as PDFs.

SS:  Do you do any other fiber arts besides crochet?

LK:  I knit, sew, and embroider, and yes all of these skills influence my designs.

SS:  But it looks like all but one of your patterns on Ravelry is crocheted.  Is there a reason you prefer to design for crochet?

LK:  Since I learned how to crochet first it is the easiest for me to design in.  However, I have also worked as a designer in a knitting store charting knitwear.

SS:  It sounds like you have a lot of experience!  Do you have any advice for prospective designers?

LK:  Find some eagle-eyed pattern testers, and treat them very well.

SS:  Those are true words of wisdom!  It’s so important to have others check your work.  Speaking of good design, whose work do you admire?

LK:  Doris Chan is a big favorite of mine for her simple, wearable designs.  I also think that Frank O’Randle is brilliant.  His afghan designs are so intricate.

SS:  Both excellent picks!  It’s so easy to forget that well-executed simplicity can be just as eye-catching as elaborate techniques.  One of my favorite questions to ask designers is whether they work on one project at a time or many.  What’s your preference?

LK:  I usually finish one project before starting the next.  However, that doesn’t stop me from making lists and drawings of the next three or four ideas that pop into my head as I work!

SS:  Well we’re certainly glad you have so many wonderful ideas!  Where can our readers follow your future work?

LK:  The best places are my Facebook page and on Ravelry.

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