Expert Focus : Sarah Hazell

This month we chat to our brand-new crochet expert Sarah Hazell. Sarah will be taking a small group of crocheters out on an adventure to the stunning Austrian Tyrol this Autumn. She will be leading workshops over-looking picture postcard scenery of green pastures, onion-domed churches and craggy alpine peaks. Sarah is passionate about colour, pattern and texture. Her stand-alone collections are designed with an emphasis on the creation of sustainable clothes and accessories. Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind Sarah’s designs and what she is most looking forward to on our trip to Austria!

Who taught you to crochet and how old were you?

I was about 43 when I learnt to crochet. It was something I had always wanted to do, but couldn’t quite grasp the mechanics! I was working very closely with Rowan Yarns at the time and they encouraged me to learn. So armed with a simple ‘Learn To’ book, I sat on a beach one summer and taught myself. I had no idea that at this point that ‘Learn to crochet’ would become my most popular workshop and that I would write four books on Crochet!

What was you first ever crochet project?

My first project was a stripy scarf and I made so many mistakes! However, by the end of it I had learnt how to change colours and the purpose of turning chain. Those experiences have really helped when passing on skills to others as you find yourself breaking the task down so that others can avoid the same pitfalls!

Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?

This is always a difficult one to answer as the sources of inspiration can be so varied. I am always influenced by the colours and nature of the yarn I am working with. So I tend to use smooth linens and cottons when crocheting and wool blends for knitting. I’m a huge fan of mid-century design and often my work will reflect the patterns, shapes and colour palette from that era. I often record my sources of inspiration and design process on Pinterest (sarah-hazell.com) and via my Instagram account. You can find me at @sarahhazell6 and I hope I see you there too!

sarah design

What is your favourite yarn and why?

Impossible question to answer because so often it depends on the design itself! If pressed, I would always opt for a 4ply, but also love combining laceweights to produce interesting blends and textures. Linen is a beautiful fibre to crochet and there are lots of gradient yarns on the market now that I think are set to become very popular with crocheters.

Where is your favourite place to crochet?

Crochet has the advantage of being very portable so I am happy crocheting almost anywhere. If I am not in my big old comfy chair, then my dream place is a balcony with a sea view! I have also added a series of project bags to the website to keep your crochet safe when travelling.

Which designers do you admire?

I’m going to list these in order of discovery!

Erika Knight has been a favourite since forever. Her designs are always relevant, beautifully shaped and with great attention to detail, finishing and styling. It was her book, Simple Crochet, that helped to inspire me when I was first learning and it remains a really stylish, contemporary introduction to the craft.

I have worked with Jane Crowfoot over a number of years and her contribution to revitalising the craft is second to none. I love the energy of her designs and her technical expertise is astounding. I have learnt so much from Jane and I know that she is an inspiration to crocheters worldwide.

Steve Rousseau is a recent discovery. He produces elegant, geometric designs that will not date. You will be amazed how much you can each simply with trebles and chain spaces.

What are you most looking forward to about teaching on our Austria trip this October?

The thing I always look forward to most when teaching is making things achievable for people. This can be something really simple like advising on the best cast-on or cast-off for a project through to inspiring others to designing their own work. I’m also looking forward to sharing some ideas from the Austrian Textile tradition.

sarah exhibition

I visited the Josef Frank exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum recently. An Austrian born architect, he later became involved with the Swedish Textile Industry, so you will find a nod to him too!

What project are you working on at the moment?

As always I’m working on several commissions and also planning two more collections. I adopt a sustainable approach to my collections and like to create pieces that can be worked in different yarns and worn for more than one season. One of my most recent designs has just been published as a single leaflet and forms part of Erika Knight’s Studio Linen Collection. It has been a very proud moment for me to have my name sitting side by side with Erika’s! I hope you like the design too!

sarah project

You can find out more about Sarah’s designs on her website >>