CGOA Member Spotlight: Beth Graham

Friday, January 15, 2016

I'm Marie Segares from Underground Crafter and this is the first post in my new series for CGOA Now! Each month, I'll be shining a spotlight on a CGOA member and sharing a bit of her story with an interview.

In this month's post, I'm featuring Beth Graham. Beth is a crochet teacher and designer living in Ontario, Canada. I first "met" Beth online several years ago, and we've been virtual friends ever since! We've bonded over our love of crochet and our (prematurely) gray hair. 

Beth teaches at her local yarn shop, Shall We Knit? in Waterloo, Ontario, and on Craftsy. (CGOA members can get 50% off her Fun & Fantastic Textured Stitches Craftsy class by using this link.) You can find Beth online on Facebook, Ravelry (as BethGraham, in the Beth Graham Design group, or on her designer page), and Twitter.

All images are used with permission and, unless otherwise noted, are © Craftsy.
Beth Graham.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Beth Graham (BG): I learned to crochet 14 years ago, after moving to Canada from the United States. I’d seen my sister-in-law do lots of crochet – in fact, she’d made my son’s beautiful and beloved “yellow blankie” when he was born several years prior to our move – and thought that crochet would be just the thing to keep me occupied during my first long winter.

I’m a left-hander who had previously failed at many crafts, in part because I believed them to favor right-handers. I finally was successful after getting Mary Thomas’s First Steps in Crochet, which began with the assurance that crochet is really a two-handed activity

Something about that new information freed me to try again, and now is fundamental to my approach in teaching adults.

It's a Trap, crochet pattern by Beth Graham. Image © Anne Podlesak.
UC: When did you start teaching crochet?
BG: I began teaching crochet about 7 years ago at my local yarn shop at the same time that I returned to university for a teaching degree. The shop owner and I both assumed that my gig would be short lived, that I’d stop once I got an elementary teaching position. In that weird way that life has of twisting and turning, though, the public school thing never completely happened, and here I am, concentrating on crochet teaching and absolutely loving it!

As other teachers know, we often get as much from our students as we give them. My adult learners constantly help me improve my own crochet – as well as my teaching skills – and I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to work with them. With my new online class, Craftsy has allowed me the potential to reach even more folks who would like to learn with me.

Swirly Blanket, crochet pattern by Beth Graham. Image © Gillian Martin.
UC: How long have you been a member of the CGOA? What’s your favorite thing about being a member?
BG: I’ve only been a member of the CGOA for about five years and confess that I haven’t been an active participant to this point. My favorite thing about being a member is reading what other folks are up to throughout North America. I would love to become more active in the organization.

Scarf Theory, crochet pattern by Beth Graham. Image © Beth Graham.
UC: Has teaching influenced your design work at all? If so, how?
BG: My design work is almost entirely influenced by my teaching interests. I’m a former librarian and proofreader, so care a lot about clear communication and sharing knowledge and resources. My designs are all meant to support beginner to advanced beginner crafters and help them gain the confidence and tools to tackle more difficult projects.

(My secondary, sneakier goal in design is to persuade knitters of the beauty and utility that is crochet. Keep that under your hat!)

Bandwagon Blanket, free crochet pattern by Beth Graham. Image © Beth Graham.
UC: What are your favorite types of crochet projects for relaxing?
BG: Lately, I’ve been working almost exclusively on my Bandwagon Blanket, which consists of Tunisian crochet mitered squares made from sock yarn scraps. I am loving how patchwork-y it is! 

Playful Textures Scarf, a crochet pattern by Beth Graham from her Craftsy class, Fun & Fantastic Textured Crochet Stitches. 
UC: What are your favorite types of crochet projects for challenging yourself?
BG: I really crochet mostly to relax, and I design to challenge myself.  My overarching challenge? Offering patterns that use simple techniques and at the same time have a satisfying, classic appeal to both encourage newer crocheters and to convince knitters to give this craft a try. 

Simple Textures Dishcloth, a crochet pattern by Beth Graham from her Craftsy class, Fun & Fantastic Textured Crochet Stitches. 
UC: What are your favorite types of crochet projects to give as gifts?
BG: My favorite gifts are things that can be used – and used up – so dishcloths are my natural go-to. I recently designed the Simple Textures Dishcloth to accompany my Craftsy class, and I’m sure will be making lots more of those to give away. 

UC: What’s your crochet Resolution for 2016?
BG: I am so very close to finishing my Bandwagon Blanket, so that’s first on my list. I would also like to learn more about slip stitch crochet. (Tanja Osswald has some lovely, intricate slip-stitch designs that are on the top of my list.) As well, I want to continue to improve as a crochet teacher.

A Crinkle in Time Cowl, crochet pattern by Beth GrahamImage © Gillian Martin. 
UC: What’s next for you?
BG: I’ve got a design coming out soon in the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program and another about to be released in the latest Crochet One-Skein book from Storey Publishing. I want to continue balancing work with third-party publications and independent designs throughout 2016.

Thanks so much, Beth, for sharing your love of crochet with us.

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