Mary E. Nolfi
Do you crochet and/or knit?
I crochet and knit. I also love to do hand embroidery, needlepoint, and hand stitching of any kind. But, my first love is definitely crochet.
How did you learn crochet (or knitting)?
I learned to crochet from a crochet kit that my mother bought for me when I was 7 years old. The kit was for a small stuffed Toy Poodle. My mother thought I was too young to take responsibility for a real Toy Poodle (which I wanted with a passion. . . I just loved Toy Poodles, and I still do.) The kit taught me all of the basic crochet stitches, how to crochet in the round, how to do a “loop” stitch, and how to put it all together. I learned without any help from my mom. And because I read all the directions myself, I actually learned toread a crochet pattern at the same time I was learning all of the stitches. I learned to knit when I was 11 years old. A very nice neighbor taught me. But it never replaced the passion I immediately felt for crochet.
How did you become a designer?
I suppose you might say I became an instant designer (at Age 7) as soon as I completed the Toy Poodle from the kit. I knew instantly that I could make anything in my imagination when I saw the first “end result” that I accomplished from working that kit. I started to make my own patterns even back then. I made very simple projects, like scarves, hats, and small flat purses. I was making my own designs, even though they were very simple and amateurish. I also taught a few other friends how to crochet. They were all jealous of my little Toy Poodle.
But, from a professional standpoint, I first became a professional designer around 1974. I started my own business that involved designing and making one-of-a-kind bags, hats, and other fashion accessories which I sold at craft galleries and juried Art and Craft Shows. I also designed a couple of crochet kits which I marketed in advertisements back in the Ladies Home Journal Crafts magazines, etc.
How long have you been designing?
When I got burned out trying to keep up with shows and galleries (around 2004), I became interested in getting published and I got a few designs accepted by several crochet publications (including Vogue Knitting, Crochet! Magazine, Knit One, and Knit Simple, as well as Caron International Yarn Company. I also established a good “contract” relationship with Leisure Arts, where I have had five crochet booklets published with my name on the cover, as well as a few designs published in books shared with other designers. I have also been selling my own patterns online. So, you could say that I have been a professional “published” designer since around 2004; but my professional status as a designer started back in 1974 when I designed for the galleries and shows. I just can’t believe I have been designing crochet projects for almost 40 years. The time has gone by so fast. . . like it has only been 10 years or so.
Do you design full time?
I would say I have been in “the business” of designing in a full-time capacity. But that involves doing so many other tasks that are not necessarily “designing”. I wear many hats. . . I am a photographer (very amateur); I am a retailer on the web; I am a newly established publisher, creating my very first hard back fashion crochet book; I am a self-publisher of patterns that I designed specifically for use with Paper Raffia; and I wear the “hat” of the marketing/public relations rep all of the time. Plus, I spend an awful lot of time on the computer, as I know so many other designers in this business do.
Describe your typical day.
A typical day for me involves many tasks. But I try to start all of my days with some kind of exercise. I walk, or I go to the gym, or I (at least) do about 20 minutes of stretching and simple yoga poses. Then I spend time outside, watering about 50 plants and shrubs that my husband and I planted in our backyard. (We live in the California desert, so the plants need watering if they want to survive.) Then I take about the next hour to package any orders from my website. (I make a trip to the Post Office 3 or 4 times a week.) I also fit in any photography that I need to do for the website in the morning or early afternoon. (That only happens about once every month or so.)
I reserve the afternoons for designing or crocheting the designs; and I also do any other “design” tasks that involve working on the computer (for the publishing part of my business OR for the website part of my business.) I always try to reserve Saturday OR Sunday as a “day of rest”. But, somehow, my mind seems to gravitate to “thinking” about crochet in some way, shape, or form. And, by the way, the weekday afternoons are also reserved for housework, and any other non-crochet things that need doing.
What is your favorite type of design to create?
I love doing any fashion accessory. I am particularly passionate about hats and handbags. But I also LOVE designing any type of topper like pullovers, jackets, wraps, shrugs, shawls, and anything else that can be considered a “topper”.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get inspiration from just about anywhere. I have a formal education in advertising as well as architectural design; so I catch myself daydreaming about crochet stitches that can be interpreted into anything I happen to be looking at in any given moment, whether it’s architectural or some Old World art work, or something organic. Mother nature, of course, is a good place for anyone to get “inspired”, and I have been blessed with a wonderful imagination that leads me to endless creative inspiration.
What is your favorite yarn?
I am absolutely “mad” about any of the natural fibers. Especially cotton, silk, or linen. I also like any of the newer natural “blends” that are available, along with any specialty yarn (like the fur yarns, or any of the boucles that are in the marketplace right now.) Plus, I have become very attached to Wraphia II Paper Raffia, which I sell on my website along with the patterns that I created for use with Paper Raffia.
Do you have a favorite stitch?
Any stitch that creates a “texture” to any project I am working on. I love Front Post/Back Post stitches; I also like any cluster or popcorn stitch; I am also crazy about cables, or any stitch that creates a “twisted” texture in a pattern. I guess I love any stitch that will give loads of texture, texture, and more texture to whatever I am working on.
What design are you most proud of?
I really like any of the patterns I have designed, especially if the pattern turns out to be a “user-friendly” pattern thatlooks more complicated than it is. I think I am actually more proud of the resulting instructions. I don’t think my feelings have anything to do with “pride” in myself. I just love the act of creating a design that can be interpreted into a pattern which can then be made by someone else who also loves the art of crochet.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on several projects. The most important is the “first” hard cover fashion crochet book that my company Holly Berry Press is compiling for a publication date in May of 2013. This first book will have 16 crochet patterns and a few “other” surprises. Holly Berry Press is also working on four Portfolio Collections™ which will feature 12 designs per collection.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Yes. I’d love to mention the URL address for my website. It’s www.CrochetAsylum.com. I’d love for all of the crochet fanatics out there to visit and send me an email (if they would like to). Also, click on Holly Berry Press in the navigation bar to read more about my publishing company and the goals I wish to accomplish.
Please list all of your designs currently in print.
I have three booklets (still in print) and published by Leisure Arts. They are Crochet Hip Hats, Crochet Hats for the Beginner, and Learn a Stitch, Create a Scarf. I also have two designs currently in the Crochet Prayer Shawls book that was published by Leisure Arts in 2010. It is still in print. Any of these books can be purchased on my website, or at the Leisure Arts website.
I also have 12 patterns for Paper Raffia hats and bags in the M.E. Nolfi Designs category on my website. (P.S.-My website also carries an inventory of 25 beautiful colors in the Paper Raffia. . . in 100 yd spools.)