I got a WhatsApp message two weeks ago from Cornel, who wanted to show me some really gorgeous crochet patterns for tops she wanted to buy. Up to that point, I’d never heard of Brenda Grobler. Well, I was amazed and intrigued all at the same time. It’s always so refreshing to meet individuals that are energised and passionate about what they do. I remember when I still had my décor store, how exciting it was to meet an artist who put heart and soul into their work. When an item is made with loving care and you know that many hours have been spent perfecting the final product, there is something magic about it. As Alan Moore said: “There is very little difference between magic and art. To me, the ultimate act of magic is to create something from nothing: It’s like when the stage magician pulls the rabbit from the hat.”
I hope you enjoy reading my interview with Brenda Grobler, as it illustrates magic in the making…
What inspires you?
Pictures of beautiful interiors, especially French Country-style, rustic environments, the colours and textures in a Spring garden, women that escape a less than fortunate background and manage to achieve successful and happy lives, muted colours, the texture and feel of natural fibres, my children, positive people.
When did you start crafting and who taught you?
I must have been around 5 when my mother showed me how to do a treble. With that one little stitch, dozens of coat hanger covers were made. A couple of years later, doilies were the must-have item in most homes. I made a lot of extra cash hooking up different ones and selling them to family members. My mother firmly believed that you can only learn if you try something for yourself. I basically taught myself how to read patterns and do all the other stitches.
Tell me about your crochet work?
I’ve done a lot of pattern design work for Saprotex, a few patterns for African Expressions and I’m currently doing a lot of work for Vinnis Colours. Apart from designing, I also teach crochet. There is nothing more satisfying than helping someone master this beautiful craft. Every Wednesday and Saturday morning I get to spend time with really awesome women, helping them explore their own creativity, while teaching them the do’s and don’ts along the way. I’m so passionate about crochet, it is an absolute thrill to teach newbies and instill a love of crochet in them. That very first time when they master a stitch/pattern/block is priceless. It’s also wonderful to see that the age of my students are dropping. It’s wonderful to know that a whole new generation of crocheters are out there.
How did it all begin?
A friend of mine, Annemie, owns Die Wolnessie in Paarl. Three years ago, she badgered me to start designing and also introduced me to the Head Designer at Saprotex. After Tanya from Saprotex saw what I could do, she asked me to design for them. Up to that point I’ve always only done more décor related items. Garment making was a total new experience, but from the word go, I realised that this was ‘my thing’. I absolutely LOVE doing garments. When Vinni Nielsen from Vinnis Colours approached me at the beginning of the year to do work for her, I literally did back-flips. Her cotton yarn, Nikkim, has long been an absolute favourite of mine, so what could be better than using your fave yarn to design anything?! Vinni gives me carte blanche. I can literally do whatever I want. It’s been a fabulous year, and I’m so looking forward to our new releases around October. Our first patterns were very well received, and I can’t wait to share our new stuff.
What do you think will be the next big thing in the world of craft?
I honestly believe that crocheting will only continue to grow and grow. Examples of crocheted décor items are featured quite prominently in glossy décor magazines. Through teaching I’ve noticed that the ages of women wanting to learn have dropped quite substantially. These women will be the trailblazers of a future generation of crocheters. They will also demand more natural fibres. There is a definite trend of people moving away from the old traditional acrylic yarns. Big yarns will also play a bigger role as it is so very suitable to creating bulkier home décor items.
Who on the international craft scene do you admire most and why?
I absolute adore the work Natalia Kononova does. Her design aesthetic is very similar to mine. I love her use of muted colours and clean lines.
Another favourite is Vendulka Maderska. She brings a stunning, fresh and colourful happiness to crochet. You can’t help but smile when you look at her designs.
What is your favourite blog and magazine and why?
Haak & Stekie (www.haak-en-stekie.blogspot.com) I adore Christelle’s writing style and I love following her crochet adventures. Le Monde De Sucrette (http://www.lemondedesucrette.com/) Her personality always shines through in her posts, it actually feel as if you’re having a cup of tea with her. I love conversational blogs, ones where the honesty and sincerity of the person shines through. Favourite mag is definitely Home Magazine. Apart from being a crochet junky, I’m a total décor/DIY ‘uberfan’. I love that they do real homes with real people.
What is your favourite yarn store / craft store and why?
I don’t really have one. I buy a lot of yarn online, so the current favourite would totally depend on what they have available. If I have to choose, it would probably be Skapie.www.skapie.co.za
Brenda has published a number of patterns and I cannot wait to see them featured in another magazine. I always love seeing individuals reach their full potential and having a look at Brenda’s work you will see she has achieved so much. Yet, you also know that there is so much more wonderful crochet concepts and ideas that she has up her sleeve. I cannot wait to see what she conjures up next.