I had the unique pleasure of meeting Teresa in Portland at the Fall Knit and Crochet Show in 2008. Teresa was there to launch her design company, Divine Women. Teresa has a quiet elegance, and a definate love and affinitity for adroit color choices. A few months ago I asked her if I could do an interview on the CLF blog, because I love her simple elegance and whimiscal designs. I also adore the fact that her designs are CROCHET, she may expand into the stick patterns later, but thus far she is focusing on crochet and teaching people about how to use color.
Here’s a photo of one of her from this past Spring’s Knit and Crochet Show in Portland! I don’t know that she even knew I took this picture, so SURPRISE Teresa. I was so thrilled to read the answers to the interview questions. I have to say I’m not very scientific about who I approach etc, to befriend, or get to know at conferences. Sometimes, I am just drawn to someone, for what ever reason, and I really felt drawn to Teresa before even speaking to her! After reading the interview, I had to chuckle, intuition was right on again! I like her even more now!
You can find the wonderful work of Divine Women at www.DivineWomenCreativeStudio.com
Question: How long have you been designing?
I suppose I could say I have been designing since I was 9 or 10 years old. My mother gave me an old treadle sewing machine – which was an antique even then! – and I started making clothes for myself, my sisters and my dolls. We lived in rural Brazil on a pig farm, so there were lots and lots of muslin pig feed sacks. Some were finer than others, but most of them were pretty rough and had printing all over them, which I could cut around, or use the printing to add color here and there. There were no sewing patterns, so I just ‘eyeballed’ and cut what I thought the shape ought to be. Then I would use thread and yarns to embellish. Oddly, however, my mother — who made all our clothes — would not let me wear any of my own creations off the farm!
Question: What do you love about crochet most?
I love the meditative quality of it. It is restful, also — often times, when I’m very tired, I sit down with my crochet and soon find myself relaxed, my energy renewed. I also love the fact that I can create my own fabrics, textures and color combinations through crochet.
Question: What is your favorite fiber?
I love working with cotton. Not terribly exciting, I know, but I love the variety of textures one can achieve with it. In addition, it is a natural fiber which happens to be extremely versatile, wearable and practical. I’m excited about the new organic cottons coming out, as well as the bamboo combinations.
Question: You love color and it’s use, where did you get your interest in color?
I remember lying on the grass as a young child, framing different bits of my view with my hands and wondering if everyone saw color in the same way. After a while, in my child-like unscientific way, I concluded that people must not – for, if they did, everyone would like the same colors! Still, it seemed to me that there were plenty to go around, particularly in tropical Brazil!
I soon noticed, however, a definitive preference for certain colors, and definitive versions of them. Once, while shopping for sewing and crafts supplies in a “Armarinhos” store in Sao Paulo with my mother, I fell in love with a sheet of very simply, gorgeously turquoise little buttons. I simply had to have them, but could not give my mother a good reason. She must have seen the need in me, because she bought them. I’ve used a few here and there over the years, and there are still a few left in my button box 40 odd years later.
It wasn’t, however, until I was in my late twenties and living in Alaska that I really got interested in the process of combining colors. I had my own business doing custom machine knitting and was called upon to suggest color combinations for customers. Some worked well, and others didn’t, so I began to study color, its symbolism, its psychology. This became an ongoing study which continues to today. Just last month I completed a teacher certification course at Colour Affects, UK in London to become their only certified teacher, as well as consultant, in North America. At the moment I am working on refining the definitions of the psychological and emotional effects of individual colors.
Question: Why did you choose to use the female myths as a theme in your designing?
Myths, legends and fairy tales, like color and needle arts, have always fascinated me. Although I was attending Brazilian schools, I taught myself to read English so that I could read the myth and fairy tale books that my parents had taken to Brazil with us when we moved there. This interest remained with me all along, but it got quite a boost nearly a decade ago, when, while living in England, I completed a three and a half year diploma program in psychotherapeutic counseling. My favorite unit was on mythology. The course brought myths to life, clearly showing how they apply to our own lives here and now, and particularly to the psychotherapeutic process.
Eventually, two things occurred to me: first, that the myths as they have come down to us usually have a decidedly patriarchal skew, which inherently minimizes the feminine aspect. Second, why keep them in the psychotherapeutic process? Why not bring myths into our daily lives and activities, so that we can benefit from their wisdom without going into therapy? What better than to connect them to, and ground them through, very physical and creative activities such as crochet? And, of course, since the great majority of crocheters are women, I imagined that most of us would rather focus on the long neglected feminine aspects of the myths. So that is what I do: I take a portion of a myth or story, put myself in the female protagonist’s shoes and retell the story from her perspective, with particular attention to the psychological, heartfelt aspects of the experience.
Question: What is your favorite design?
Whichever design I’m working on! I have to be absolutely in love with a design in order to get it from concept through to pattern — while making at least four samples along the way! (All Divine Women products come in four colorways, so four samples need to be made.)
Question: What inspires you to create?
It is difficult to define just what inspires me to create. I have noticed, however, that I may have a long list of ‘to-dos’ (which I usually do), projects to finish, samples to make, etc – and in the middle of it all I get this urge to figure out what I can do with the gorgeous blue yarn that has been sitting there patiently, tempting and taunting me to make something with it… It’s as if it has been waiting for me to figure out what it’s supposed to become and finally says ‘enough already’, and I have to get on with discovering what it’s meant to become.
Question: When did you start crocheting?
I don’t quite remember when I learned to crochet – my mother taught me along with sewing and knitting when I was quite young. I did more sewing during my teenage years than anything else, however. It wasn’t until I was in my junior year in college, and an exchange student in France, that I started crocheting in earnest. I bought a little paperback book in French called “Guide du Crochet” which I treasure to this day. It contains nearly 400 pages of crochet stitches with simple, clear directions on how to execute them, each one illustrated with black and white photos. It’s my little crochet bible, very dog-eared, but holding up amazingly well after 30+ years! I’m afraid it has rather spoiled me for crochet directions in English, which I actually find difficult to follow – which is a decided challenge for me when writing patterns, causing me to try all that much harder to make the directions really, really clear!
Question: If you could offer one piece of advice to other crocheters, what would that be?
Be adventurous. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. As they say in Brazil, there is always a ‘jeitinho’ – a way to do it, adjust it, or go around it!
Question: If you could say one thing to the world, what would that be?
Feel. Create. Be Divine!