Catarina Pereira, aka Kawool, is a crochet fiber artist who makes exquisite colorful jewelry along with other whimsical items. I first found the Portugal-based artist on Instagram and later had fun exploring her blog, Facebook and Pinterest accounts. She truly loves what she does and it comes through in the design, quality and pure essence of everything that she creates. Learn more about her beautiful work from this artist interview.
When and how did you learn to crochet?
I have been fascinated with the act of creating since I was a child. At school we were introduced to a variety of techniques and undoubtedly the textiles were my favorites. At home and in my inner circle, I saw my grandmother sewing, my mother doing crochet and knitting, family and neighbors also crafting in these areas. Gradually, I started doing the same and trying to improve, sometimes without much success. Sadly, despite my mother’s natural talent, she wasn’t built for teaching me. Years later, about the age of 22, when I attended the Fashion Design course, my interest turned into passion and I started practicing and learning as much as I could from the resources available to me. I used YouTube and the rest of the Internet as well as books from my mother and ones that I purchased myself, doing and undoing small projects over and over again until I got the hang of it.
What do you like about crochet?
The multiplicity of the technique, whether in form, in artistic concepts or in the most diverse items we can create, in combination with the possibility of mixing crochet with other techniques and materials.
Crochet is a form of expression, of therapy. At particularly difficult times in my life the hooks and threads were essential. They were my motivation, inspiration, comfort, my focus – as they are today.
What other craft work / art do you do?
My journey actually started with traditional felting, where I included some detail in crochet, mostly in the sleeves and jackets of some dolls and figures; I still do this but not as regularly. I create Echarpes (scarves) with the Nuno Felting technique, scarves and felting jewelry with some crochet included, and inversely include felting in my pieces that have crochet as the baseline technique since they complement each other.
In 2014 i started a different project on Facebook – Rathazanas de Nimh – consisting of pieces aimed towards small pets, mostly rodents, but I’m open to offers for other animals. I use sewing to create accessories and I include some pieces in crochet. I have had pet rats for over 10 years and started making accessories for them, a friend of mine that shares the passion for rats asked me to create some pieces for her and the project started from there. I have 3 pet rats now, as well as 1 dwarf Russian hamster and 2 cats.
What is your favorite thread for crochet?
In Portugal we have excellent suppliers with many years of experience that make our lives easier due to the quality and variety of the thread available to us, just like regular stores that provide us with national and international high quality material. Personally, I like creating with cotton that has a good torque to it. It’s essential that the piece doesn’t lose its shape and durability. For these reasons, cotton is definitely my choice.
How do you approach the process of creating a freeform crochet piece?
Most people agree that freeform is easier, something that I disagree with. Maybe to some people freeform can seem easier since anybody can create anything and just call it freeform, but I always put a lot of thought into the design. Despite the mutations in my creative process, I do not always draw the pieces; sometimes I’ve got the mental image of what I want to create, sometimes I just let ideas flow into something as I create, but there is always a reflection regarding the colors, shapes and elements to include in the piece, which can happen before or during its execution.
For commission work the creative process can’t be as free but it ends up still being just as challenging. In a way, it challenges my intuition to match my creativity with the client’s requests; on the other hand, there’s a certain tension while creating because I can never know if I got it right until it’s done.
I particularly remember a piece where the client wanted a hummingbird, which turned out to be one of my biggest challenges. Deconstructing the physical idea of a hummingbird and building the whole concept in freeform crochet (with other elements) into a necklace turned into a few long days. It was worth it in the end as the feedback was great and made up for all the anxiety the comission generated. I do take custom requests but I’d rather save myself from the trouble around it. Music is also always present when I’m creating.
Do you wear the pieces that you make?
Yes! I’ve got some pieces that I created specifically for me; they’re simple and less colorful than my usual work. My pieces reflect a lot of what I am, not only my personal taste but mostly my inner experience.
What role does color play in your design choices?
Color plays a key role in my pieces. I try to limit the use of tinted threads to a bare minimum, because I like to be the one who creates the fusion of colors. I often say that the hook is my brush and the threads are my paint, because I quite like to create the right color combinations, even those that I, after much careful reflection, choose to use and those that I was reticent at first.
Colors also have a lot of influence on our state of mind, thus, a more colorful piece or a simple coloring in a more sober piece can trigger confidence, joy, positive energy, serenity, etc., and I try to pass it to my pieces.
In what ways is jewelry an art form?
If we look at history and its various concepts of what art is and what is considered art, I conclude that it mostly depends on the artist – how the piece is felt, imagined, its originality. But also on the other side is in the eyes of the beholder – something that I consider art may not be considered art by someone else.
Jewelry is no different from other orders of aesthetic manifestations, but it can sometimes be limited in its conception. To be more specific (and please girls, don’t take me wrong) there are people that follow patterns over and over again, and people who aim beyond that and create unique and original pieces, this makes all the difference to me when it comes to art.
What tips can you offer a crocheter who is new to making jewelry?
Practice, practice, practice. Start off with simple projects to give you a sense of security and then follow your heart. Create what you love and always make sure that you leave your personal mark.
What do you hope people see when they look at your work?
I’m not a conventional “artist”, so obviously not everyone will see at my work in the same light. But even for those who do not identify themselves with my creations, it would still be possible for them to feel the love and commitment I put into each piece, that they are unique pieces for unique people, and the quality that I put into my creations, which I intend to be highlighted in every piece.
I love what I do, and feeling that there is a deep connection not only on the outside, with the adorment in itself, but also on the inside of those who wear my creations, is undoubtedly very gratifying. We live in a standardized, mass production time where we often forget how unique and special we are. I strive to create what makes me happy, contributing in the best possible way so that everyone feels special using my pieces.
Where can someone buy your work?
I still don’t have a store on Etsy, maybe soon. For now, you can contact me through my Facebook page or through my blog.
What else would you like us to know?
I just want to emphasize my philosophy with a Greek word that has been a constant for me, both in meaning and purpose: Meraki (Μεράκι) It means, do something with soul, creativity or love, leaving a piece of yourself into what you do.