Current W-I-P @ 25%!
Lee Mac. Twenty-eight year old fibre artist. Crochet portraits = Obsession. I am surgically attached to my Ipod and crochet hook. Pop culture addict. M&ms are as important as oxygen. Einstein hit the nail on the head with "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere."
Frequently Asked Questions
This is the place to come to ask your burning questions !!
I get asked a LOT of questions about my work and whilst most can be answered with one sentence, I really would like to help peopple out as much as I can !
Before submitting a question please be sure to have a quick scroll down to see if it has been answered.
If you have a question relating to the kind of crochet I do (because quite frankly I SUCK at any other kind !), please feel free to send your questions to
How do you make your patterns?
I first began crocheting portraits when I discovered Todd Paschall and his incredible CBN technique in late 2008. I was gobsmacked (and continue to be) by his outstanding work and did not hesitate in paying for his services in creating patterns for a few special pictures I had until I figured out a way to generate my own patterns.
The last thing I would want to do is take business away from Todd's website CROCHET BY NUMBERS, where he has worked so hard to get CBN off the ground. Which is why I won't go into step-by-step instructions about how I convert my pictures. I figure that if folks are that desperate to figure it out, they can do it on their own like I did, then I won't feel like i'm intruding on Todd's hard work.
Todd has been nothing but kind and supportive of my work, so I think it is the least I can do to support him.
Do you back your pieces?
I have made a lot of attempts at backing my pieces. I say attempts, because i'm still yet to find the perfect way, however I think it comes down to what the piece will be used for as far as choosing the right method goes.
In backing the Hogwarts Bunch Blanket, I hand-sewed black jersey (or stretchy t-shirt material) onto the back of each panel. It was tricky to keep the fabric flat, however I didn't want to add fleece or another bulky material to the back as I wanted to avoid adding weight to the final blanket. Thing thing already ways 6000 tons.
In the case of the pieces that were featured in my first public exhibition, I needed to back them onto solid boards in order to suit the needs of the hanging system in place at the cafe.
Here's cold-ridden me with a naughty labrador to try and explain how I went about it
For this piece, I made the front panel, aka. the pretty 'Erika' panel, then crocheted a backing piece for it, using the same number of stitches and rows. I then hand stitched this onto the back of the pretty panel. The effect it had on the front was FANTASTIC!!!
It smoothed and stretched it out perfectly!
In the past, including the pieces featured in the exhibition, I had attatched the jersey material to the backs of the pieces before wrapping and stappling them to the mdf boards. Crocheting a back produces MUCH better results!
After attatching the crocheted back to the front, I then crocheted a third piece to be the BACK of the pillow. Attatching it on three sides, before filling with polyfill, before stitching up the final side!
I think THIS will be the way I back my pieces in the future! Whether they are intended to be hung on the wall, used as cushions, blankets, etc. if they have a crocheted back attatched to them first, you will get a flat, flawless frontage!
Naturally I would have preffered to of professionally framed most of my pieces, but having already shelled out to frame my Freddie Mercury piece ($500 Smackers!!), short of winning the lotto or putting everything I own up for sale on Ebay, including the house and possibly a kidney, I wouldn't be able to afford it! Therefore, D-I-Y Lee to the rescue!!
Can I have a copy of your patterns?
As you've proabably noticed, most of my pieces center around Musicians/Actors/Actresses/Film and Television. I am a pop culture Freak . I do not sell any patterns or pieces I have made that fit into these genre's as in most cases I do not know if the image I have used is under copywright. Any pieces I have made, I have NOT profitted from. Any patterns I have made I have NOT profitted from. Therefore any patterns I generate will not be made available to buy.
However, if you take a stroll over to the Pattern Archive on the left-hand side menu, you will find a selection of my patterns that I have popped up for free!
How many colours do you use in your pieces?
I have used as little as 4 and as many as 15
The more colours you use the more definition and detail the piece has. However it is a good idea to have a good look about at the colour range available to you in your local area before falling in love with the idea of doing a piece all in greens, only to find that there are only really 3 shades that go well together! (I have learnt this lesson the hard way people!! lol).
What yarn do you use in your pieces?!
The wonderful Kate has put forward a question I get asked quite a lot, so I thought I would make it numero uno! Cheers Kate !!
QUESTION: "What brand/type of yarn do you use??"The MOST IMPORTANT aspect of yarn choice when it comes to colourwork is the colour !
The CBN technique relies on you choosing progressive shades in the colour palette of your choice, be it greys, blues, pinks, etc...
Typically a pattern will instruct which brand of yarn to use, and for those folks who find it frustrating or get a little overwhelmed when it comes to choosing colours, Todd has A LIST of blue and brown shades that work in the Red Heart range which may make life easier for you !
As for my yarn choices - they do tend to change with every piece!
After much browsing I have found a palette of greys that I am very happy with, however it does vary depending on whether i'd like the piece to have a black & white feel or a slight blue tinge running through it. It really does come down to trial and error for me!
I have never made a piece using the same brand of yarn for all colours. I always use many different kinds!
I get yarn from craft supply stores, discount stores, Kmart, Woolworths, my Mum's accumulated stash over the past 30 years, freebies from friends old stashes, etc...
Then it really is a case of mixing and matching to get the right degree of shading
The size of the ply I use also varies! For instance, in my GWTW piece, one of the lighter blues I really really wanted to use only came in 5 ply, much thinner than all the other colours that were 8 ply. So I bought 2 balls and worked two strands of the colour every time I used it, in order to balance the thickness. The important thing was that it was the RIGHT COLOUR for the job
Hence the reason as to why I cannot give brand names of the yarn I use in each pattern as it really is an eclectic ever-changing mix!
I guess the biggest barrier a lot of people have in giving work like this a go is the risky business of choosing colours and being afraid that they won't work as well as they want them too. Trust me, i've had my fair share of disasters!
I thought I was on a winner with my choices for a piece featuring Danny Jones from McFly I attempted a while ago...
So far so good...decided to keep going...
Yup! Loving that shine on the retro microphone! Kept going...
WAY TOO DARK!!! BIGGEST BUMMER!!!
So the best advice I can give is to take your time in comparing and contrasting your shades! Sometimes projects will fail, sometimes you may have to put a project on hold until the right shade turns up in stock, sometimes you may have to change your entire palette depending on the colours you have available to you. Ply size you can work around, brands you can mix and match, but it's the colour choices that will be the difference between a good piece and one that POPS!
Aching Hands and Wrists?!?!?
The lovely Donna sent in a question!
QUESTION: " You work on so many different projects and seem to get them out uber quick, do your hands hurt? The muscle around my thumb hurts and I'm actually noticing rub marks from my hook on my fingers. What do you do for your busy hands?"Ah yes! The dreaded hand cramps !
Here are some tips that help me BUCKETLOADS when it comes to hand cramps!
Take a break ! Over time I have learnt to rest my fingers before going overboard. I start to get tingly sensations in my fingers and my wrists start to click, which is my flashing warning sign to give it a rest The worst thing you could do is try to push through the pain, even if you only have one row left! I was so eager to finish my AC/DC piece, I remember pushing through the clicks and cracks to knock off the last 12 rows and by god, I could hardly bend my fingers without searing pain for the next week, rendering me useless!! Pretzel-finger syndrome!!!
I now crochet in 15 minute blocks. After 15 mins, I stop, stand up, and do some basic hand exercises
Hand Exercises - after a quick search for "finger stretches, hand stretches, etc," I compiled a series of finger, hand and wrist stretches that I do in between 15 minute blocks of crocheting. First I tend to splay my fingers out, stretching them as far as they can go, before then curling them up to form a fist (repeat x 10), I then gently massage the palms of my hands, working from the middle of the palm out to the end of each finger. That usually takes about 5 mins for both hands. I then bend my wrists backwards and then forwards using my other hand like this...
Funnily enough, I don't tend to get too much pain in my crocheting hand. I actually get the most pain in the index finger of my left hand ! I tend to stick out my index finger as I hold my working yarn, which leaves it a bit stiff and sore! Which leads me to think that maybe trying a different grip on your hook may alleviate any pain your experienceing in your crocheting hand.
I've also noticed that MY NECK gets extremely stiff!! After I complete a row i'm finding that I have to do a few simple neck exercises (which make me look like a pidgeon...so attractive...)
I must get into the crocheting zone and look like a bloody statue sitting there cause my neck is completely set in stone sometimes! Very strange!
So as long as you don't push yourself too hard and you take lots of little breaks, hopefully some simple exercises should help ease the pain and it'll be smooth sailing from here on in !