ana voog by sean smuda
crochetlab issue 2

ana voog, artist, responded to some of my questions recently. enjoy!

the eye of ana voog is upon you
crochetlab report




all material
© linda scharf
linda at
crochetlab dot com

photos used by
permission of ana voog

fashion show photo,
right, of ana by
sean smuda



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all material
© linda scharf

linda at
crochetlab dot com


 living thru experimental crochet
art and research about what happens to string when it is hooked up to a stick, turned loose and encouraged to run wild

your friend just wants to click on a question and be directed to the response. you, however, want to get the feeling for the whole interview, so you scroll down and stroll thru at your leisure. ;)

may 15, 2005

:: in the beginning...
:: ana meets pluckyfluff

:: rituals to begin/end projects
:: favorite tools
:: starting a project
:: stages of projects
:: influences 1
:: influences 2 to infinity
:: what ana's learning from crochet now
:: ana at mn textile center?
:: spinning
:: thoughts on commissions
:: fun with crochet
:: sewing
:: the feel of mohair
:: a certain red
:: mythical animals
:: forms of expression
:: string theory
:: hats
:: fashion
:: fashion shows
:: dust
:: solitary/part of community
:: voices in the head

Your fantasy/idea of crochet's beginnings...

A: you'd think i would have something to say about this, but, strangely, i don't! but whoever came up with it, i would sure like to personally thank them! who knew something so simple could yield infinite combinations of results? just with a stick and string? genius!

Ana Voog and Pluckyfluff: your introduction to Lexi's yarn?

A: i discovered pluckyfluff's yarn on ebay when i was searching for handspun, and i was completely captivated immediately! i had never seen yarn like that and it opened up a whole new world for me! she was my inspiration to take up spinning!

Any rituals to start/finish projects?

A: i do like to take the yarn i am going to use and make it into a perfect sphere by hand. by this process, i get to know each inch of the yarn before i create something with it, and it helps me to get a feeling for what the yarn wants to be :) and then it's so pretty afterwards, too, because i have a total orb fetish. sometimes i like the yarn so much as an orb, it's hard for me to want to create anything else with it!

Any favorite tools?

A: just the crochet hook and a pair of nice stainless steel scissors :) i like wooden crochet hooks best because they just feel so nice in my hand. i like to think that the crochet hook, itself, contains within it certain "frequencies/codes/vibrations" that adds to whatever it is i am making. and then the yarn itself has a "frequency", and then I have a "frequency", and then the day and the hour has it's own, too. so when you combine all of these elements together, it defines what kind of "soup" i'll be making that day :) for instance an ebony hook with white mohair might yield different results than a plastic hook with the same mohair. but then again, i am kind of a new age freak with a big imagination and it's fun to think these things, whether they be true or not :)

When you start a project, do you start with a yarn/yarns, color, texture,
a specific request of yourself, a feeling...?

A: when i first start a project i am most likely to go with colour first. like if on a day i am feeling earthy, i will pick up some earthy coloured yarn. if i'm feeling really firey, i will be more drawn to pick up red yarn. i usually have many projects going at once because the colours i want to work with change daily with my moods. it's really difficult for me to crochet with a yarn that is not a colour i am resonating with that day. then the yarn, itself, will dictate to me what it wants to be. so if i am in a fanciful mood i will pick a yarn that wants to be fanciful. if i am in a more utilitarian mood, i will go with a plainer yarn.

Describe the beginnings of a project. (And while we're at it, the "middle"
and "end", too.) Or maybe, just take us on a project journey, either the
feelings evoked in you, or IF/HOW you know something is at a particlar
point; the various awarenesses that you have along the way.

A: well, i kind of started to explain the beginning of it in the previous
questions. first i ascertain what the yarn wants to be. then i choose the yarn which resonates most with how i feel that day...happy, sad, daring, elaborate, simple, crazed, illogical, focused... and i have many projects going on at once to suit my mood, so i can jump back and forth between them depending on how i am feeling day to day.

and then sometimes i have a basic idea of what i want it to be. but really basic. like i will know i want it to be big or small, elaborate or simple, lopsided or symmetrical. i will know if i want it to be more about strong shapes like tubes, orbs, squares, or more ruffly and intricate like a piece of coral. and then i will just start from there, but very often what i started will just start doing it's own "thing" and surprise me and that is why i love freeform crochet so much, because i am the one who is being surprised by what i am making. if i could just make exactly what i see in my head, then i probably would lose interest because then that is like reading a book you've already read or seeing a movie you've already seen.

a lot of times i get really stumped and even disgusted by what i am making and i have to just put it away in a drawer for a few months and then later on, sometimes my most hated things end up being my favourite things when it is revealed to me months later how i should finish them. sometimes 5 separate pieces might come together to form one single piece. basically, i just don't know what on earth i'm doing, i go by pure instinct.

You've mentioned undersea creatures as one of the influences on your hats.
Are these from photographs or TV, actual contact, imagination/dreams,
childhood memories, something else?

A: photographs and tv. i wish i lived by the ocean! i'm also very into plants and things, too. so i pay attention to roots and how things sprout, and i love weird gourds and pumpkins. and when i am on a plane i love to see how the look of the land from above seems to reflect the inside of bodies.

the meat section of the grocery store can be really inspiring. like the other day i discovered tripe, which is cow stomach and it looked like the most beautiul sea creature! and veins and layers of fat look like rivers. i love how the macrocosm is the microcosm. it seems there is beauty in everything, even in decay, death, and violence. i see the same patterns everywhere, but no one pattern ever repeats itself, like snowflakes.

i think i like to make awkward organic looking hats because it's my way of expressing being ok with the awkwardness i feel within myself. the awkwardness and absurdity of life. like how gourds are so beautiful but so many of them also look like deformities. i did have a great dream about this giant onion and a giant potato that was growing sprouts, and it was a dream about a future version of myself, and i had these giant vegetables in my house on display as sculptures and now i really want to make a potato hat with roots coming out of it.
yes, i'm weird.

Do you have an idea of how your reading/research influences your work?

A: everything i do influences everything i do!

What are you learning from crochet right now? Do you have any thoughts
about what you want to learn next?

A: i haven't crocheted much this year, sadly, due to a bunch of personal family tragedies that really sucked up a lot of my energy. but i'm trying to get back into the swing of things now. what i learn from crochet and keep relearning, is that i need to take things one step at a time and to be patient. and that if i just keep making small baby steps, one stitch at a time, i will eventually arrive somewhere. crochet says to me, slow down and be in the "now". because now is all we have.

i'd like to learn someday how to read patterns. but i don't know if i ever will because my mind sort of shuts off when i have to concentrate in that way. but i'd like to just figure it out so i could make a really cool doily, just to learn from that kind of symmetrical kind of crocheting. i love lace and doilies and i sigh at the beauty of it and wish i had the discipline to make that sort of thing.

Do you do anything (teach, workshop, hang around) at The Minneapolis
Textile Center?

A: no, i haven't taught anything yet. maybe i will someday. i did take my spinning class with my fiber partner-in-crime, fuzzybumblebee :) she teaches things there. you should interview her next! i might write a book about freeform crochet someday and just teach that way.

Tell us something about your spinning adventures. Specifics: how did you
learn, what did you note at the beginning (joys, frustrations?), things
you noticed as you progressed. Do you still spin? Do you do any dyeing?

A: ah, i just answered that question in the previous questions :) but basically, again, fuzzybumblebee and i were so inspired by pluckyfluff's yarn that we had to learn! so we took a class at the textile center :)

i love to spin, but haven't been doing much of that either. i think because the things i want to crochet need very thin even yarn, at this time, because i am into making these very intricate shapes, and thin even yarn is best for that. and when i spin, i couldn't make a thin even yarn to save my life :) but yes, i will always spin. it's very relaxing! i find that i can never sell what i spin, tho, because i am just too curious to crochet with it myself!

i don't dye because i live in a really small apartment and i don't have anywhere to make that big of a watery mess, especially with my 3 little dogs around. but i did dye some stuff with koolaid once in my bathtub and that worked out really well! if i ever live in a bigger place, i would LOVE to get into dyeing all my own fiber. especially since i have a very difficult time finding the PERFECT shade of red which i desire so much.

Commissions: do you enjoy them, and if so, why? What is the process; do
people ask for a specific thing? If so, how do they define what it is that
they want, or do they leave it up to you?

A: so far, i haven't really enjoyed doing commissions. i get really stressed out that it won't be good enough or won't meet the expectations for the person i am making it for, and that kind of paralyzes me. and also because i can't make the same thing twice and a lot of the time people want a reproduction of something i have made previously. although i do have things in my head i would like to make for certain people. like i know exactly what i would want to make for bjork and i have this great crocheted funky jumpsuit thing in my head for andre 3000 :) and if sun ra were still alive, i certainly could have made him a LOT of outfits!

Have you ever worked on a project with someone else - say where they
crochet some, then you, or some variation of that?

A: yes, i've done this with fuzzybumblebee :) i love to do that :)

What's the motivation in branching out to sewing?

A: i've been wanting to sew for decades which is why i drag that machine with me everywhere and keep it out it in a place of prominence and why i've dragged 200 pounds worth of fabric with me for the last several decades, because i knew that SOMEDAY i would want to sew really amazing things. and the time for me to sew them, finally, is upon me now as the creations are being solidified. or actually not the creations so much as the PROCESS of the creations. and it's because of crocheting and the process of crocheting which allowed me and taught me and brought me to this point, finally, where i am able to let go and not worry i am going to "ruin" my fabric by sewing something awful.

i see the process now where i do not see a final "creation" in my head but rather bits and pieces of things that perhaps will sort themselves out into garments (or something) in a totally organic and intuitive way. before i always thought i'd have to see the finished piece in my head and then try and create that exactly. and that is why for all these decades i could never start sewing. because i cannot work that way. that paralyzes me.

Do you have a special feeling/relationship with mohair (or another fiber)
and why?

A: i really love mohair, but then i also love silk and flax! and tencel...and....chenille... man, i just love so much about all those. i love them all for different reasons. i will always be drawn to touch the mohair first because i like things that are fuzzy because it's so fun to touch! i'm still looking for the perfect fiber for me. what i actually want is something that will keep it's shape like acrylic, but will not shrink or felt, and will still be soft, like silk. i will probably have to buy myself a drum carder someday and come up with the perfect combination of fibers for myself to do what i want.

You've talked about a certain red that you love. Can you convey to us the
unique quality it has for you?

A: the perfect red is just like sex to me when i find it. it's the red that is the a coca cola can. a blueish red, not an orange red or a burgundy red or a purpely or pinkish red. it's so hard to find! but when i find it i just feel like yummmmmm. it's so powerful. it gives me strength to see it. it kind of says to me "fuck me but don't fuck with me". ha :) well, there is a little insight into the state of my mind right now :)

Is there a mythical animal/creature's fiber you'd like to work with?

A: fuzzybumblee asked me this a few months ago. and i think my answer was...a sort of alpaca type creature with silver fur that is as strong as steel, and keeps it's shape like wire, but is as soft as angora. but part of it would be this special silver alpaca would live on a planet where a certain plant would grow that had pods on it that would stick into the alpaca's fur like burrs, and if ever one of these pods would break open a little pleasant sound would come out like a little "ooo" or "ahhh" or "purrr", and so this would be part of the fiber because it would be an integral part of the fur you could not remove. so that after you crocheted with it and wore whatever it is you made with it, once in awhile one of these pods would break open and give off a little happy sound.

Your expression takes many forms. Is it always clear to you what form
something needs to take? How do you know, if so? And if you've narrowed it
down to crochet at a particular space/time, do you further narrow it down
to hat/neckpiece, whatever, or do you let it tell you? If so, HOW does it
tell you?

A: it's not always clear. at first everything ended up being a hat even when i tried to make it into something else! i have about 3 sweaters i have been working on for the past year, but i never seem to finish them. i've made a lot of sleeves to things...that i don't know what they belong to yet. it just seems that so far almost everything i've made turns into a hat. i just don't have a clue why! if i dig any deeper into this question i might drive myself crazy. ha :)

You keep a crochet journal, "String Theory". Does this serve as a record
of finished creations for you or is it more to record the process of
crochet while you're doing it or something else?

A: it's both. just a documentation of my process and also my finished projects and a way to share this with the public in case they are interested :) it's also my place to share links to other cool fibery things i've found. just a place to share information. btw, i just hate the word "fiber". we need to come up with a new word for it. everytime i say "fiber" i think of metamucil or something!

What's a HAT in the most special sense?

A: a hat is so many things. it can be a crown, it can be beacon, it can be a thing you use for protection, to hide, something to comfort, something to announce.

i think the main reason i started making hats is just that i don't have to worry about sizes so much. usually the hats i make will fit just about everyone. i don't have to worry about waist sizes or think about how tall someone is, etc. but i'm really wanting to make some things that are not hats now. for instance, i've really been getting into making collar things lately, now, like elizabethan type collars. i also want to make a lot of coats, but those will take a long time to make. i also have 2 big bedspreads i want to create.

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Fashion/clothing: differences as you see them.

A: i don't really see the difference between these 2 things.

Do fashion shows let you see your creations in a different light than when
they had been gathered in your studio? What do you learn from a fashion

A: oh yes, it's very interesting for me to see my hats on people as opposed to my mannequins. they become different on each person who wears it. i also love to put my hats on men and show men that they can break out and be more daring in their clothing choices. i also love how people see themselves in a new light when they try on my hats. when i put my hats on my models for the first time it was just a joy to see them all giggling and going "wow" and seeing themselves in this new way.

a hat will transform you in the way a new haircut or wig will. and to see people's definitions of who they are or who they could be stretched as they try on one of my hats was an unexpected pleasure :) when i put my "decontructing babar" hat on my male model agwa (you can see that hat on my main hat page, he is the one big picture you see first) i really saw that hat in a totally new way. all of a sudden it became this regal crown for an african king, and i hadn't even considered it to be that until i put it on him. when i put it on him i just took a few steps back and went "wow!". that was a cool moment :) he was also very pleased!

You've mentioned dust as one of the things you like. What's DUST?

A. dust, just ordinary dust. it's fascinating to think of all it contains, all the particles from all around the world from all the things. cars, dogs, couches, shoes, skin, fish, pollution...just all combined together. it's everything returning to a primitive state before it begins the cycle of life again. and it's a nice word. it sounds like it is.

Do you feel yourself to be part of a crochet/artist community or do you
feel more solitary? Benefits of either?

A. i feel solitary mostly. i've always been that way. it's like i am always SORT of a part of "something" but i'm always on the fringe of it, never really a part of it. like in high school i had a friend in every clique but wasn't a part of any one clique. i never really fit in anywhere completely. i'm always the oddball on the outskirts. not by choice. i'd like to belong to something. that would be wonderful! maybe someday i will find my tribe or my tribe will find me? i hope so. that would feel nice :)

Do you ever have to deal with the overly critical, negative voice in the
head while crocheting/designing a hat? If so, what are some of the ways
you've worked with it?

A. oh surely. often i'm just like "what on EARTH or you making? this thing is INSANE looking and not in a GOOD way." the way i deal with it is to not take myself too seriously and to have a good sense of humour in everything i do. everything i make doesn't have to be some sort of masterpiece or even be "good". and if i DO end up making something i feel is pointless and ugly, it's hardly the end of the world, you know? it's about the process (journey), not the destination. you learn from everything and then just keep moving on. my world will not end because i made an ugly hat :) and sometimes it's ugly things that are the most endearing, anyway...i mean look at the duckbilled platypus! what's up with that thing? but heck, the world is a much better place that it exists! i laugh my ass off whenever i see one and laughter is the best medicine :)

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