Claire is not only a fellow lover of strong coffee, but she loves knitting and crocheting with chunky yarn! Her patterns use traditional techniques styled with a modern minimalist twist that will help conscious makers avoid excessive waste! She’s been featured in well-known publications, and her work tells a story. She’d love to help you create your story, so without feather ado, let’s chat with Claire King! Oh, and stick around until the end! Claire is sharing with all Sweet Bird Crochet readers a FREE crochet cardigan pattern!!
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When did you learn to crochet, and what was your “why” for learning crochet?
I learned to crochet when a friend was teaching classes in 2014, and that was that – I was instantly addicted!
What was your first crochet design? Could you share the inspiration behind the design?
My first design was a simple mobius-shaped cowl, which used different weight scrap yarn from my stash to create stitches in various gauges and colours. I’ve come a long way since then!
Could you describe your design process?
I get inspiration from all over the place! I’ve always loved fashion (including dressing up in my parent’s clothes when I was a toddler!) But in today’s fast fashion culture, it can be difficult to find the high-quality handcrafted products that you’re searching for to create a unique and luxurious look for your home and your wardrobe.
Sometimes, I see something as I’m out walking or when I’m shopping with my teenage daughter (a regular occurrence!) in magazines or social media, and I spend far too much time on Pinterest!
Once I have an idea in my head, it may be a small detail that inspires a stitch pattern, the drape of a fabric, or the way that leaves are moving in the breeze. I let my imagination go mad and sketch out some ideas – it’s important not to constrict your creativity here. Just sketch anything that pops up in your head. My favourite ideas are then translated into swatches to see if I can replicate them in yarn. Often, I have beautiful swatches, but they would not be easy for a beginner to crochet, so they are put to one side to concentrate on simple but modern designs that anyone can create.
Tell us about a time when you got “stuck” in the creative process. How did it challenge you, and what was hatched from it?
Sweaters and cardigans are what light my fire when it comes to crochet design. Moving from simple designs with boatnecks to creating designs with interesting shapes or techniques that will fit the crocheter well but are still very easy to make was a big step. I took a very in-depth sweater design course, which was written for knitters, but I could transfer the treasury of skills I learned to crochet too. It really built my confidence in how garments can be constructed for all body shapes and in different styles, so now I’m able to let my imagination run more freely without worrying that I may not be able to recreate the idea in my head.
Do you have a small business? If so, share about your business.
I set up my business to help me deal with the grief of losing my beloved dad very suddenly in 2016. We had a special connection, and the sudden hole left me adrift.
KingAndEye is my way of helping me to focus; I’m able to do something I love while still feeling connected with my dad, who always encouraged me to be creative. His mum also created patterns that were published in the 1960s and 70s, so it’s great to know I’m following in her footsteps.
Do you teach others how to crochet? Do you teach online or in person?
I have tutorials as part of the free patterns on the blog (www.kingandeye.co.uk), and there are video tutorials for my paid patterns on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb7c1ZYSA66GzORaRk1eSmw
What’s your favorite item to crochet?
I’m always cold, so chunky sweaters and cardigans are my go-to favourites. More recently, I have created some lighter summer tees and sweaters, which are exciting my imagination in another way. You might see more of these in the future!
What are your favorite resources in your crochet toolbox?
It really depends on what I’m working on at the time, and it could be anything from technical websites such as the Craft Yarn Council to ensure I’m working to industry standards to simple stitch markers that can be endlessly useful when working out stitch placement on a new design.
What’s the most challenging part of being a small business owner?
Many of us work as solopreneurs and have to play all the roles in a business, some of which we excel at, some we aren’t so great at. It can be difficult to balance these demands with family life. Don’t feel as though you need to do everything at the beginning, and it can be very disconcerting to see other businesses growing successfully. Just remember, you’re probably only seeing the gloss and not the chaos and failures that are going on behind the scenes. We all take it one small step at a time.
Have you ever dealt with disappointment in the crochet industry? If so, how did you work through it?
I’m very lucky that the crochet industry is such a welcoming place. I’ve made some wonderful friends and collaborated with some very talented people. I find that everyone I’ve come across, whether customers or designers are positive and will encourage others to challenge themselves to try new skills.
Share how you organize your week or how you balance life and yarny things.
I work full-time, so King & Eye is mainly a weekend thing. My children are teenagers now, so they don’t need me as much (although mum’s taxi is always in demand!) I try to work on admin jobs for an hour or so each morning before I start my full-time role, which means I can spend my weekends doing what I love with yarn.
How are you hoping to grow over the next few years?
I think I have found my niche of helping others learn the mental health benefits of crafting, and I would certainly like to grow that aspect of the business. Mental health is more important than ever at the moment, and self-care plays an integral part in that, especially when people have lost out on their social lives during the current situation.
What advice or encouragement would you give to aspiring or new designers?
Just go for it! Very few of us have formal training, and your skills will evolve over time. Every time I develop a new pattern, I change the way I do things, or add more detail. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. Every designer creates in their own way and teaches in their own unique style.
Do you know how to knit, cross stitch, weave, or spin?
Yes! I also design knitting patterns for beginners as well as crochet.
Do you have a bucket list? If so, what are the top 5 things you want to accomplish?
I really should! I think it’s easy as a parent to focus on your family and forget your own dreams.
If you could travel anywhere in the world (all expenses paid), where would it be?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Australia and the US (my brother lives in Washington), and it’s easy for us to get to Europe from the UK, so I would love to visit either Africa or South America – they would offer so much inspiration for crochet designs!
If you could have a craft party, what three people (living or dead, real or fictional) would you invite?
Elizabeth Zimmerman would be top of my list; she was such a talented knitter, and her books are full of wry humour.
I really admire Tony Lipsy of TL Yarn Crafts. She instantly lifts my mood with her joyful approach to life.
Hannah of HanJan Crochet is one of my first crochet friends, and it is wonderful to watch how her career is developing now she is working with crochet full time. She is such a kind and gentle person whose calm persona really helps in her teaching.
What’s your favorite quote, verse, or saying?
There’s always a solution to every problem.
To find out more about Claire or to follow her on social media, please click the links below:
Would you like to be the next guest on the Sweet Bird Crochet Blog?
Lindisfarne Crochet Cardigan
The ridged appearance of this super chunky cardigan gives an edgy look, making it the ideal partner for jeans and a tee, but it also looks smart when dressed up as a jacket over a dress for date night too.
Skill Level: Easy
Yarn Weight: Super Bulky (size 6)
Yarn Used: King and Eye Merino (Shade Ash)
Hook Size: 12mm (Size O)
Other Items: Scissors, measuring tape, 4 stitch makers
Stitches: (US Terms) Chain, Half Double Crochet, Half Double Crochet through 3rd Loop, Half Double Crochet Decrease, Single Crochet Slip Stitch
Sizing and Yarn Requirements:
This chunky cardigan is available in 9 sizes from 80cm/31 inch chest through to 155cm/61 inch chest). Shoulder to waist is approximately 50cm (20 inches), ease around the bust is approximately 10cm (4 inches).
The FREE pattern that Claire graciously provided on the Sweet Bird Crochet Blog is ONLY for Size 3 (95cm/37 in bust). To purchase the downloadable PDF for all sizes, please visit her RAVELRY shop or her WEBSITE and use code ‘Lindisfarne10’ for 10% off!!
Approx 670m/732 yds
I usually recommend making a swatch that measures at least 15 x 15cm / 6 x 6 inches using the stitch in the pattern the gauge is given for (see below). Measure your gauge across the central 10 x 10cm / 4 x 4 inches to give you an accurate number of stitches.
Double Crochet 3rd Loop Only = 8 stitches x 6 rows in 10×10 cm (4×4 inch)
Ch – Chain
Ch-sp – Chain Space
HDC – Half Double Crochet
HDC 3rd loop – Half Double
Crochet into 3rd loop only
SC – Single Crochet
Sk – Skip
Sl St – Slip Stitch
St(s) – Stitch(es)
- The cardigan is worked in one piece, starting at the neckline with increases added for the shoulders and body. The sleeves are added once the body section is complete. A decorative edge is added at the end.
- If you would like a longer or shorter body, then rows can be added or subtracted when crocheting the body sections. Remember, the yarn amount will differ!
- All measurements given are taken after blocking.
- Note that measurements are rounded to the nearest cm. Your tension & technique might give variations in the result, but that’s what makes it unique!
- If you are unsure of the stitches, I have video tutorials on YouTube.
- Ch2 does not count as your first stitch.
The pattern is worked back and forth in rows, Ch 2, and turn your work at the end of each row. Both sides are identical, so there is no right and wrong side.
Chain 43. SC in 2nd Ch from hook in each and every Ch across. Ch1, turn your work and work one SC into each St to the end of the row. Ch2 and work 1HDC 3rd loop only into each St to the end of the row to form your collar.
Set up row – place a marker after 7 Sts (this will be the front of your
Place a second marker after 6 Sts (this will mark the back of your sleeve).
Place a third marker after 14 Sts (this will mark the back of your second sleeve).
Place a fourth marker after 6 Sts (this will be the front of your second sleeve).
There will be 7 Sts remaining.
Row 1 – Ch2 and *work 1HDC 3rd loop only into each St until you reach your 1st marker. Work [2HDC, Ch2, 2HDC] into the St with the marker. Move the marker into the Ch-2 space you have just created*. Repeat from * to * across. Once you have worked your last Ch-2 space, then work 1HDC 3rd loop only into each St to the end of the row. Your stitch count will have increased by 8 (plus 4 chain spaces). Ch2 and turn your work. (51).
Row 2 – Work * 1HDC 3rd loop only into each St until you reach the Ch-2 space. Work [2HDC, Ch2, 2HDC] into the Ch-2 space*. Repeat from * to* across then work 1HDC 3rd loop only into the remaining Sts. Your stitch count will increase by 8 (plus 4 chain spaces). Ch2 and turn your work. (59).
Repeat Row 2 (11) more times. Your stitch count will increase by 8 (plus 4 chain spaces) with each row.
You should have 138 stitches with 4 Ch-2 spaces.
Split Your Body & Sleeves
Now, we’ll create the body section.
Work 1 HDC 3rd Loop only into each St until you reach your first Ch-2 space. Work 1HDC into the Ch-2 space. Ch 5. Sk all of the sleeve Sts and work 1HDC into the next Ch-2 space. This will join your front section to your back section, leaving the shoulder section unworked.
Work 1HDC 3rd loop only into each St across the back section. Work 1HDC into the Ch-2 space. Ch 5. Sk all of the sleeve Sts and work 1HDC into the last Ch-2 Sp. Work 1 HDC 3rd loop only into the remaining Sts to the front edge. Ch2 and turn your work.
You will have 86 stitches.
Row 1 – Work 1HDC 3rd loop only into each St, Ch2 and turn your work.
Row 2 – 17 Work 1HDC 3rd loop only into each St across. Ch2 and turn your work.
Fasten off and leave a tail of approximately 400cm/155 inches to create your decorative edge.
Create Your Sleeves
Join your yarn at the left underarm. Place a marker so you know where the round begins, and move your marker up each round.
Round 1 – Ch2 and work 1HDC 3rd loop only into each St around the circumference of the sleeve. Move your marker up one row.
Round 2 – repeat Round 1.
You will have 30 Sts.
Round 3 – (decrease round) Ch 2 and work 2HDCtog, work 1HDC 3rd loop only until you have 2 Sts remaining before your marker. Work 2HDCtog. Your stitch count should have reduced by 2 (28).
Repeat Rounds 2-3 (3) more times.
You will have 22 Sts.
To create your cuff, work 1 HDC 3rd loop only for 10 rounds.
Fasten off and weave in your ends.
Using the 400cm/155 inch long tail you left at the front edge of the body, work a Sl St edging up along the front of your cardigan towards the collar.
(I worked one St into the ridge and one St into each of the two rows between the ridges to get an even distribution).
When you reach the top of the collar, work 3 Sl St into the corner St, then work 1 Sl St into the top of each St around the neck. Work 3 Sl St into the corner St at the opposite edge of the collar.
Continue working down the opposite front edge with 1 Sl St in the ridge and 1 Sl St into each of the two rows between.
Block your cardigan after weaving in the ends, and take yourself out for a coffee to show off your amazing crochet skills – and your fabulous outfit, of course!