Guest Column in Simply Crochet Magazine
Simply Crochet Magazine in the UK asked me to write a 2-page guest column for their December 2016 issue. I was traveling in Japan at the time and wrote about where to find inspiration.
Full text is below.
Get Inspired – in Tokyo!
by Twinkie Chan
For me, the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to think about my craft goals and where I might seek out some fresh ideas. One of the most common questions I’m asked in interviews is where my inspiration comes from. My favorite and most honest answer is that inspiration – or being inspired – is a state of mind.
I don’t often go to a specific location or website to look for crochet inspiration. I just always like to keep my eyes open for objects, colors, and/or feelings that I love and that I can somehow incorporate organically into my work. The world provides an endless source of inspiration for our projects, and all we have to do is remain receptive with all of our senses.
When I started designing crochet projects back in 2005, I decided that I wanted all of my work to be food-themed. I’ve always loved faux food toys and retro food advertisements, and I felt that in order to build a brand, my work should be recognizable and focused. I pulled from familiar food ideas for my very first set of scarves: toast with butter, green salad, bacon and eggs, cupcakes, sugar cookies. I’ve gone on to design tons of wearable items resembling pizza, burgers, ice cream, popsicles, and even once, an Easter ham! As you’re starting to see, this list can go on forever, even though “wearable food-themed crochet” can seem like such a niche category!
I recently traveled to Tokyo for the first time in nearly two decades. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit local yarn shops or see what the fiber arts scene was like. However, my travel path was filled with millions of adorable toys and a tasty array of desserts and delights that I don’t see at home in San Francisco. I took photos of everything that caught my eye. I even took photos of ads, menus, or plastic representations of cute food when I wasn’t able to see the actual food in person; still cute! Since I’m not the only one interested in Japan’s novelty food scene, the lines were often quite long at theme cafes, so a random snap of the sign outside had to suffice. These little visual tidbits were still perfect for my inspiration folder.
One aspect of Japan’s cute food culture that I’m really drawn to is any food decorated to look like an animal, such as a sweet bun that looks like a cat, a macaron that looks like a bunny, or a burger that looks like Mickey Mouse. This adds a somewhat strange dimension to crochet because my work has to make a leap from crochet-that-looks-like-food to crochet-that-looks-like-food-that-looks-like-an-animal. But I’m definitely up for the challenge! I am also crazy about food-inspired plastic toys and accessories, and there is no shortage of that in Japan.
I realize that a column in a crochet magazine filled with photos of adorable food and trinkets might seem strange, but I think this is all a great example of how my mind works and what types of visuals speak to me as a designer. I’m still a little disappointed that I didn’t plan enough time to snap some photos of overseas yarn shops (I missed an amigurumi art show, too, by one day, but shhhhhh, I can’t dwell on it or I’ll feel too sad!), but I also loved sharing a bit of my travels with you as well as how I see the world.
What will inspire your crocheting in 2017? Remember to keep a notebook in your bag to jot down all your ideas, start a folder on your laptop for your favorite online images, and think of unique ways you can interpret – or cover – the world with your fabulous crochet.