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I’m sure you’ve seen these beautiful dolls before. It’s easy to see that they come from the same brilliant creative mind with their colourful sweetness. Lalylala dolls are all over visual social media platforms such as Instagram & Pinterest, and they get their fair share of attention on Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter & Google+ as well.
I’ve made my own, and plan on making more some time soon. I can vouch for the quality of the patterns – easy to follow, detailed… my students too have gotten through them pretty easily.
Lydia Tresselt, the designer behind the Lalylala doll collection agreed to an interview with me.
How did Lalylala come to be, and how did you choose the name?
To be honest: the whole crochet thing has taken me very much by surprise. It’s like stumbling into that rabbit hole and finding yourself entering a whole new world. I never really intended to be a textile designer. I work as graphic designer and illustrator for my day job.
When my brother told me that I’d become an aunt to a little girl, I wanted to give her a very special friend right from the start … someone who’d be brave and always on her side. So I dove deep down into my yarn stash and found a perfect little ball of brown tweed with funny colorful spots perfect for a cuddly bear-ish fellow. That’s how the idea for the very first doll – BINA the bear – was born. With long arms to give many hugs, and a body even baby-hands could easily grab and hold, he was the definition of a Big City Berlin bear.
Since then I’ve probably become kind of addicted to making more and more of these little fellows. Crocheting these creatures makes me so happy that I permanently catch myself grinning broadly when bringing one of them to life. I eventually started writing the patterns down so others would have a reason to smile a bit more too!
To find a name for my crochet stuff was easy. Laly is my nickname. Ever since my teenage years, my family and friends have called me Laly. Embarrassingly, this is related to my loud teenage voice, and my preference for Clever & Smart comics, where often and loudly a “lalülala”-hooter speech bubble announcing the next mission appeared. Following my name – Lydia – “lalü” was turned into “laly” and where a “laly” is, a “lala” can not be far away!
Where or what do you draw your inspiration from?
Everything can be inspiring: a book or tale, a song, a graffiti, a movie or a comic. I’m a big fan of Japanese aesthetics and the minimalistic way that kawaii style can be. But first of all the inspiration for my dolls comes from the protagonists themselves.
All animals, plants, and other creatures that act as the models for my amigurumi have certain traits that make up their nature. For example, the raccoon. He is certainly clumsy and cute, but doesn’t he also hide some kind of mysterious alter ego behind the black mask? ROCO the raccoon is exactly like that. He’s kind of a heroic outlaw, a fuzzy-tailed Zorro, the Robin Hood of Lalyland’s magic forest … with a penchant for candy heists indeed, but most often for absolutely altruistic reasons!
Or CARL the cactus, whose Grenadier Guards-inspired uniform slightly reminds one of a cactus – only better shaved, as it is proper for a decent marching band drummer!
Talk a little about how you learned to crochet and how long you’ve been at it. What are your favorite pieces to work on, and favorite fibers to work with?
I’ve always been into crafts. When I was a very little girl there was nothing more exciting than to dive down into the infinite depths of my great-grandmother’s needlework cabinet and discover the many little hidden treasures in there. From her I inherited some sort of strange fondness for collecting buttons, and also some skills in crocheting and knitting.
In fact, I’ve probably always knotted and tied anything that seemed to be suitable to be tied or knotted, initially without a system, until my great-grandmother taught me how to do that with intent. It was a surprise to me when the entire thing was named for me: crocheting and knitting! From that day, I entered a brand new universe made of yarn balls, needles and hooks, and also discovered an amazing opportunity to extend my favourite plushies, and to supply my family with all sorts of useful and totally useless accessories.
I like to use almost any yarn, but I avoid purely synthetic fiber yarns. I prefer wool, silk, or cotton, and I’m totally obsessed with tweed wool. I love those pretty colored sprinklings! They just look exciting and unique. Whenever I come across a mottled yarn I didn’t know before, it mysteriously jumps into my shopping cart and I really can’t leave my favourite yarn store without taking 3 or 4 new balls of tweed with me. Good for the store, good for me … very bad for my crammed yarn cabinet which has to be replaced with another way bigger one very soon!
What do you crochet for YOU?
Most of all, I really love to give all the little fantasy characters who live in my head a material body and a new home in Lalylaland where they experience a lot of bizarre adventures and live happily ever after. In between, there’s always time and yarn enough to make a cuddly crochet blanket! So blankets and amigurumi! You can never ever have enough blankets or cuddly friends!
Can you tell us a little bit about your family, your pets, and where you live?
I’m a wife to my wonderful man and a mom to my beloved baby boy. Currently, my family and I live in Leipzig in the middle of Germany. We share our home with the most exciting pet ever: Gary, the glass shrimp. In fact he’s not seen very often since he’s transparent and quite small. Gary lives in a goldfish jaw on our kitchen table and every time we eat some sort of seafood I feel very guilty and insensitive. Gary’s hobbies are swimming, sitting underneth a waterplant right next to a stone and eating shrimp food.
What goes into the creation of a new Lalylala doll pattern?
Well, first there must be an idea (fortunately there’s always an idea)… it literally appears out of nothing and burns a clear picture of what I absolutely want to try next into my brain. That’s the point when I open my wonderful xxl bag to pull out my notebook and capture a sketch.
And once an idea is spellbound in my notebook it teases me, giggling until I grab my crochet hook and some yarn to give it a try before it starts to behave definitely mischievously.
Some further doodles, days and weeks of trial and error, uncountable miles of crocheted yarn and multiple cramps later, the doll finally looks like what I want it to look like (…hopefully! If not, the trial and error and crap continues a bit longer and there’s more fogging and starting again).
What follows is trying to decode all the notes I made while crocheting (that part can be very confusing because I make notes on everything you can write on – yarn labels, business cards, sales slips, tissues, the back of my hand… ). Then comes writing down the pattern, testing it, making corrections, testing it again. When everything seems fine, I do the first translation of the pattern, with further translations to follow (short break to say “Thank You!” to all my dear ladies who make amazing translations into all the languages in which you can get the Lalylala patterns!). And then there is also the photoshoot, pattern layout, story writing about the doll and her character, illustrating, and trying not to burst because of the thrill and sparkling anticipation of finally publishing the finished product.
Which has been your best selling Lalylala doll pattern?
Hard to say. I guess it’s a kind of head-to-head race between KIRA the kangaroo and LUPO the lamb. Maybe Kira wins because she can jump much further then Lupo can!
And finally, tell me a secret or something people would never guess about you…!
Unlike my dolls you’ll never see me dressed in colors other than black and all shades of gray (with the exception of blue jeans, of course). The most colorful piece in my closet is a nice trenchcoat in dark navy. An exception to this rule are bags and shoes.
Thank you SO much for for your time, Lydia!
Keep up with the lovely Lydia & her Lalylala dolls :