A few days ago, I briefly caught up with Niamh Holcroft, from Lancashire, England, and currently residing with her husband in Canada. She is a designer, knitter, and crocheter and is active as a moderator in craft-related FB groups. Among many other interests, she is always busy testing this or that pattern while designing her own; in recent times, she has been a tester for the Scheepjes “Colour Lab CAL,” created by Texan Rachele Carmona of Cypress Textiles (CAL currently ongoing), and – most importantly – Niamh has designed a knitted hat called “Dually Beanie,” published by Scheepjes in YARN The After Party 139. Its description reads, “Cozy, comfortable, and seamless, the Dually Beanie is knitted in the round from the bottom up using the double-knitting technique. With two layers knitted simultaneously, this clever method results in a warm reversible hat.”
JS: The first question anyone frequently asks of a crafter is how long they have been knitting and crocheting. Could you start with that? I would also like to know if you prefer one over the other.
Niamh: Mum taught me to knit when I was 9 (so <cough> years ago). My mum was pregnant with my brother and was knitting stuff for him. I wanted to knit something, too, so she gathered the yarn and needles and set about showing me how to make a wee matinee coat for him. The parts were just plain knit and purl rows, and she must have been doing any shaping. I’m pretty sure she was pulling my knitting back every night and working back up to where I was because I remember my version being a lot “lacier” than the finished one. Nevertheless, my brother wore the matinee coat I made for him. Then, I started learning crochet in late 2016. I have no preference, I enjoy both, and it’s nice being bistitchual – if you will. If I’ve been crocheting for a while, knitting is a nice change and vice versa.
JS: Going right to your latest design: what inspired the “Dually Beanie”? [worn by Niamh in the feature photo]
Niamh: I am trying to remember having any specific inspiration for that. “Dually” was just a jokey thing, my husband was after a vehicle at the time, and he was looking at what they call here a dually truck – a pickup with dual rear wheels on each side, so that’s where the name came from. When I made the hat, I was messing around with double knitting. The yarn I used, Scheepjes Our Tribe, was perfect because I love the variegated versions and wanted to put a variegated with a solid. I tried a few different colorways, but as the hat came together, the two colors I liked, labeled “Motivate” and “Excitement,” were very apt.
JS: You have designed and created a few things over the years, for example, cute, crocheted chocolate orange covers typical of the holiday season and the “Clement Bell,” a decorative hanging ornament published in July 2021 in Happily Hooked Magazine. Is there one that you hold dear more than others?
Niamh: I love my “Clement Bell” pattern. Although my chocolate orange covers were the first on Ravelry, “Clement Bell” was my first ever go at designing something. I’m still so excited when I think about it. Inspiration at the time was something for Christmas, delicate, something that could be an heirloom (like a decoration my mum still has from the year she and my dad were married).
Also, Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. Among my favorite poems is “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (or “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”) written by Clement Clarke Moore.
St. Clement is also the patron saint of sailors, and anyone who knows me knows how much I love the ocean; thus, the bell was named.
JS: After testing for the Colour Lab CAL (my goodness, your colors are strikingly well working together, in theme with the random color pick invitation!) and seeing your own “Dually Beanie” design published, I am sure that you are already working on something new, right? Never known you to be idle.
Niamh: I’m working on a thing, yes. It’s a secret! I’m just tweaking it, and a couple of folks have said they’ll test it, so I’m hoping to publish it in a couple of months.
JS: I look forward to seeing what you have been up to and will patiently await. Other than crocheting and knitting: any other hobbies that keep you busy?
Niamh: I love taking photos of the ocean. I can sit there for hours in the worst weather, just waiting, clicking, and waiting and clicking. The sounds, the colors, breathing in the vitamin sea, the whole thing makes me feel alive. It feels like I’m trying to capture all that in a photo. I love a line: “Dance with the waves, move with the sea, let the rhythm of the water set your soul free.” (a short poem by Christine Ann Martine). I’d love to weave. My hubby got me a rigid heddle loom for Christmas a while ago, and I’m sorry to say that although it’s been out of its box and admired, it’s not been warped yet; I’ve not given up on that one, though!
JS: Please share some ocean photos soon! It will be an opportunity to discuss photography and your next stitch project. You know I have to ask something random, as usual. Any pet peeve or anything that brings you joy/makes you happy?
Niamh: Oh, I’ve got pet peeves – probably too many to mention, but rudeness makes me twitch. Overcoming a big “thing” or fear, however big or small, makes me happy and good friends. I take this opportunity to give a huge thanks to all the friends I’ve “met” over the last few years, without whose friendship and encouragement most of the yarny, crafty things I’ve done likely wouldn’t have happened. And thank you, too, to my hubby, who puts up with it all.