Sanita (“Sany”) Brensone is a crochet artist who loves to make blankets in bold, beautiful colors with great graphic designs. She can be found on Instagram @brightbag. In this interview she shares more about her life, work and process.
When and how did you learn to crochet?
The first few stitches were probably shown by my mom and grandma, and then I learned some more at school in home ec classes. I liked the craft but I chose to study IT so for awhile crocheting (and crafting generally) fell to the wayside. Then five years ago I was expecting my first child and I wanted to crochet him a blanket. I picked up the hook and yarn but realized that I had forgotten how to crochet. I read some blogs and watched a few video tutorials … and after that I was hooked!
What is a favorite crochet memory of yours?
I love thinking about my kids running around, jumping over, and hiding under some unfinished blanket of mine. They tell me to pick different colors; Oli asks for pinks and Sam for blues.
If I try to remember something not kids-related, the thing that comes to mind is the joy I felt after some crochet accomplishments. For example, the first time that someone actually shared what they had made out of my pattern:
The first time that someone saw and purchased a pattern from me:
The first time I got featured on craftastherapy wall:
The first time my picture was liked by more than thousand people and lots of other small happy crafty moments!
What is your favorite yarn / fiber for crochet?
I like colors! Sometimes I drool over the hand-dyed extravagant (and no doubt pricey) yarns, but then I remember the thickness of my wallet and I am able to restrain. Usually I just pick the acrylic DK thickness yarn of any colour that speaks to me at that point and then when I get to my quiet time in my corner of the house magic happens.
How about crochet hooks?
With hooks there is a lot to learn; as I found out this year – size matters!!! When I started off I just used a 2.5 hook for everything – can you believe it? I’ve learned that I need to use at least half size bigger hooks than is said on the yarn label, because I tend to pull yarn too much so it looks good but doesn’t always comes out squishy and soft. I have improved already, but I plan to get better at this.
Oh and for my birthday next year I plan to buy at least one hook from Bridgette Smith of HenPeckedHooks. I have to decide on the size that will suit me best (4 or 5 or in between?). And I also have to pick the colors: and pink, green, blue?
What role has crochet letters (text) played in your work recently? What’s the power of words combined with visual art?
I am obsessed with Harry Potter … (that is where the quote came from) .. but the letter crocheting in general started quite innocently with a need for daily letters of up-cycled jean pocket calendar (a project that is still not entirely finished but I hope soon). Then I got carried away a little; I just had to make the whole alphabet!
Did you design the letters yourself?
Yes, I liked the crochet letters by Handy Kitty but they came up too small. The ones by Moogly were almost right. But apparently I like to reinvent the wheel so I designed my own. I do plan to share my crochet alphabet pattern for free on my blog, but I haven’t written it up yet.
When did you begin to design crochet patterns?
After I made my BigBrightBlanket, it seemed I had made every cute square there is and it sort of felt like I had grown enough to make something entirely mine. I did stumble a bit because I can crochet and try out new things “on the go”, but unfortunately writing down patterns takes a lot of undivided attention at my computer, which is something I can get to only at nights or when both kids are in kindergarten. (You can’t take pictures at night and the kids are only rarely both in kindergarten.)
What are the pros and cons of designing your own work?
It takes a lot of time, but I love doing it. I like to figure things out and I get really excited when something I’m trying comes out right.
What motivates the decision to offer free vs paid patterns?
As my kids have grown to the age of kindergarten (and I no longer have the maternity wages, nor do I qualify for unemployment benefits any more), I have to decided to sell the patterns so I can have material reward for doing crafty stuff I like.
What items do you most enjoy crocheting?
Blankets. Definitely blankets.
What tips can you offer for choosing unique color palettes like you do?
Honestly, I usually just choose colors that suit my mood at that moment and crochet away. Usually after a while I try them together to see how it feels. Sometimes it looks better just rearranging the pieces but there are times that some pieces are discarded and end up in my top secret drawer of unfinished things. I just pick what feels right and if I want to go from let’s say pink to green then I put something neutral in between (white,yellow, brown, grey, black). And of course sometimes my clients will request specific colors; for example my most recent Granny Diamond was to be made with pinks, although I sneaked some orange, yellow and purple in there too.
What would you like to learn next in crochet?
Overlay crochet mandalas … I love the ones made by Amanda Williams, and there are probably more out there, but I am restraining myself at least for a bit so I can finish some of the started projects.
Do you do any other crafts / art forms?
I do knit sometimes and I like to experiment while baking pies (sweet as well as savory):
You mentioned your children. Do you make things for them?
Yes I have two kids. Oli is 5 and Sam is 3 so they don’t crochet yet. I have made them blankets (although the blanket I made for Oli is way too small for him now and the blanket I started for Sam somehow never got finished, although we use it anyway when they play around. I have made some scarfs and little things, like the letters to teach them alphabet … Sam was so happy with her letter S that she made me make one in quite a few colors!
You mentioned that you have to balance crochet design with the responsibilities of motherhood. Any tips?
Balance is something I have not found yet. The kids come first; I like to play hide and seek, build lego towers, and read books with them. But because I can be overexcited with a crochet project I can forget to clean, start meal preparations at the right time, hang the laundry, organise the mess we can make in no time, I am trying to constrain myself a bit by making a rule that I an crochet after the chores are done; but it doesn’t always work out that way.
In what way(s) has crocheted healed, helped or otherwise improved your life?
When I am with my crochet hook and creating I feel calm (or at least calmer 😛 ) It is my way to express myself daily without actually talking. I feel so much happier on the days I have managed to make something special.
When I picked up crochet again, we had moved to new city I was about to “pop” and I didn’t know anyone here except of some of my husband’s relatives. It was a tough spot, but then I found Instagram and the loving virtual comunity and felt at home. Quite a few of the people there are people I consider friends although I have never met them and sometimes I even don’t know their real names. Crochet actually helped me to find great friends – crafting buddies – over here (meaning that new strange city) in real life as well.
Who are some of your favorite crochet designers, makers or artists?
There are so many inspiring people out there! It’s hard to name just a few but if I must:
- Kate of Signed with an Owl was the first idol of mine . When I had just started crocheting again and had trouble with a simple granny square, she made everything look easy peasy with her great tutorials.
- Dedri – Creator of Sophies Universe … her creations are magical. I was hooked on Sophie’s Universe back at spring 2015; that was actually supposed to be Sam’s blanket, but when it did not longer lay flat without blocking I lost motivation to keep at it.
- Rachele and her beautiful blankets made me think I could write up patterns and sell them as well
- Blairs … her upycycling are daily inspiration for me
Anything else we should know?
Me and my kids can be seen over at on the Instagram account where I attempt to do yoga … and the kids try to climb me, hide under me, mirror me or simply have fun while mum is going nuts.
Crochet madness forever