Spotlight: Ira Rott, Fiber Artist, Pattern Designer and Author
Ira Rott is a fiber artist, pattern designer, and author from Southern Ontario, Canada. Raised in a home with textile enthusiasts, and learning to crochet from her grandmother, Ira has always been fearless in trying different fiber and needle art projects. Her new book, Crochet Animal Rugs, shares her love of crochet and whimsical approach to design.
How long have you been crocheting? How did you get started?
Since I can remember, I was always fearless of trying different needle crafts. It’s hard to say when I learned my first crochet stitches, but I explored my love to crochet when I was in middle school. My first crochet projects were doilies from thread. I also enjoyed crocheting rag rugs with my grandmother. She was my role model, a wise teacher, and my inspiration.
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What is the most important takeaway you want readers to gain from your book, Crochet Animal Rugs?
Crochet is an old craft that brings so much fun into our modern world. Just with a few skeins of yarn and a crochet hook, you can make lasting memories for your family. Kids like to be entertained and they often want to make those cool things that mom creates. There is no better time to teach crafts to the next generation; as you know, monkey see – monkey do!
You not only are a master at crochet, you knit and quilt and sew. Tell us more about the different mediums you play around with.
Knitting, crocheting, sewing, and quilting have a huge impact on my life. As a child of textile engineers, I have always been surrounded by fabrics and yarns. I fell in love with sewing when I bought my first sewing machine at the age of 12. By my late teens I learned to sew custom clothing and draft my own patterns from measurements; I had only just begun quilting at the time. A few years ago I picked up quilting again and just recently I started designing my own quilting patterns. I now have 2 blogs where I write about my passion for fiber arts: Knit / Crochet Blog & Sewing / Quilting Blog. Here is one of my latest quilting designs, Cuddles The Hexi Bear. It was inspired by my Crochet Animal Rugs and I hope to continue this quilting theme.
When and how did you discover your talent? When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
At the beginning of my creative journey, I thought that everyone could sew, knit, crochet, and improvise since everyone in my family could do that…until I started noticing impressions from my friends, their families, and other crafters. I am so thankful for my parents and all of the people in my life who believed in me and who helped me believe in myself as well. Right after I received an accounting degree, I decided to change my entire career and become a fiber artist. By my mid-20s, I started publishing my designs in knit and crochet magazines.
Does creativity come naturally or do you have to work on it? What is creativity to you? Do you consider yourself to be creative? Why or why not? Do you think that creativity is part of human nature or is it something that must be nurtured and learned?
Creativity is not magic, it’s a combination of artistic mind, skill, and hard work. I always work on building my skills to be able to develop new techniques, which makes my creative process more efficient. I hesitate to show imperfection when it comes to final finishing, and that’s why I never stop learning and practicing.
How many projects do you have going at once? Or are you one of those kinds of people who only works on one creative project at a time?
I rarely work on just one project, but I do not like to overwhelm myself with too many WIPs either. I am a finisher, so UFOs are not really my cup of tea. Normally, I work on 2-4 projects at a time, so when I need a break from crocheting, I enjoy my quilting or knitting projects. They fulfill me in different ways and help me to relax.
When embarking upon a project, do you pre-plan your entire endeavor or do you simply follow where your inspiration takes you? Do you plan your work out all ahead of time, or do you just dive in with your materials and start playing?
Each of my designs has it’s own unique story. Some projects are planned ahead and some are totally spontaneous. I love to follow my inspiration using materials I have on hand or from materials that I buy just because I love them. But sometimes I need to work with numbers and ideas before I start a project to be able to order the correct amount of yarn and to make sure I have all needed colors. It’s not always easy but it helps with controlling my yarn stash. I could easily run out of space if I did not monitor the amount of yarn I am ordering for each project.
What does your studio look like? Where does the magic happen?
The most magical and exciting place in our house is my Quilting – Photo studio. It has a lot of natural light, plus my studio lights that are very helpful for creating new tutorials. Every new design is being finished here in front of my camera.
I also have an office where I answer emails, update my shops and social media, draw diagrams, write new patterns and blogs. I like my standing desk and a high chair so I can change positions between standing and sitting while doing computer work. Part of the office includes my sewing machines and cutting / pressing stations.
Knitting and crocheting are very portable crafts, so I carry them around anywhere I like. In the warm months of the year I enjoy crocheting outside while sitting in the back yard. When it’s cold outside, I like to sit by the fireplace and crochet while watching movies.
What are your favorite storage tips for all of your supplies?
I store my yarns and fabrics in the built-in closets in my studio & office. Plastic bins help with sorting everything by weight or by type. The top shelves usually store finished projects. When I am ready for a new project, I load my rolling cart with all needed materials and supplies. I also have a few baskets for additional WIPs.
How has your work changed over time?
My earlier designs include lace parasols, dresses, skirts, tops, and other garments. I worked with thread and light fingering yarns to create wearable crochet art inspired by Irish Crochet, Bruges Crochet, and Free Form. Here are are some of these designs.
After the big transatlantic move to Canada in 2008, my design aesthetic has been transformed into a new style that I can describe as “fun creations inspired by animals”. I love making people smile!
What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
I think the greatest accomplishment in North America is my recently published book Crochet Animal Rugs that was done with the help of F&W Media International. I am also very proud of my crochet wedding dress, made from very thin mohair yarn using the free form method. It’s been almost 12 years since I finished it and I still cherish and admire this design.
What else would you like to share with us today?
My husband Maurice is my best friend and my greatest support, I could not have made it this far without him being by my side all the time. He helps me to run my craft business, organizes events, and constantly encourages me. This year we will be celebrating 8 year of IraRott.com website & our Facebook page (which currently has over 180K amazing followers). I have also started socializing on Instagram, please feel free to tag me @IraRott and use hashtags #IraRott & #CrochetAnimalRugs when posting your creations. I can’t wait to see what you make from my patterns. Happy crafting!
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