George Shaheen of 10 Hours or Less™ has been self-publishing knit and crochet designs for over 30 years. George’s main goal is to create designs that are inspiring and innovative while providing instructions that are clear, concise and easily executed. We’re quite pleased to have supplied yarn for his most recent mini-collection, which includes the Rope Edged Rafters knit shawl, the Antique Armor crocheted scarf, and the Rising Rainforest knit scarf patterns. Today, we have an interview with George to share more of his story with our blog readers!
For our fans who are just becoming acquainted with you, tell us about the 10 Hours or Less concept/philosophy.
10 Hours or Less™ is a collection of classic and contemporary knitting & crochet patterns that can be completed in – you guessed it – 10 hours or less! With an eye toward easy-to-intermediate level projects, the designs primarily focus on the use of novel pattern stitches with creative color combinations.
How did you get started designing?
When I was 12, I found a long-forgotten “How to Crochet” book in the living room closet and, from it, learned to crochet. Bolstered by my success, I then learned to knit from a borrowed library book.
I was fully fascinated by the process of turning string into fabric. But, after just a few months, I became bored with the published patterns on the market. So I began to use the measurement schematics from some of the patterns as a jumping off point to design my own. And less than year later, I had sold my first knitting pattern – a baby jacket – to a national yarn company!
What attracted you to Ancient Arts Yarn?
The enormous color palette! With 150+ colors in the catalog, it’s like a world class buffet for the fiber artist.
Another reason would be the master dyer herself, Caroline Sommerfeld. Prior to starting the collection, I had the pleasure of speaking with Caroline about her work and her business. And her passion was contagious! Also evident was Caroline’s great respect for and commitment to designers in our industry.
Can you tell us more about your design process for your AAY mini-collection?
Doing an inaugural collection is much like going on a first date. You want to get acquainted with the yarn, its personality, its strengths. And then you want to highlight those unique characteristics through stitch and silhouette. For me, the Ancient Arts colors are the primary source of inspiration. There’s such artistry in the way they’re dyed that I just stepped back, stared at the yarn and the “design computer” in my head was off and running!
You design for both knit and crochet. Which craft did you learn first?
I first learned to crochet and then, a few months later, to knit.
What are some of your best tips for knitters who want to learn to crochet and vice versa?
I give this advice to all beginners: Whenever you get discouraged, just think back to a time when you were learning a new skill that you’ve now mastered. We all start out as novices. But if you just keep plugging away, you’ll eventually join the ranks of the masters.
Do you have any horror stories of designs/projects gone wrong?
Ugh. Yes, I do.
Last year, I knitted a lace silk scarf in two colors: emerald green and cream. When I went to handwash it in cold water, the deeply-saturated green transferred onto the cream. I didn’t realize it until I pulled it from the wash water. Then I spent the next hour researching and rinsing to try to get the green out of the cream – to no avail. However, when it all dried, the “tinted” cream actually didn’t look that bad against the green. So all’s well that ends well!
George got his start when he found an old “How to Crochet” booklet in a closet of his home when he was 12 years old. After learning how to knit and crochet, he sold his first original knitting pattern to a yarn company when he was just 13. He then trained in Fashion Design, where he learned pattern design, drafting, and construction. However, knitting and crocheting remained his favorite mediums (although he didn’t believe he could actually make a career out of them).
George eventually obtained a BA in Business Psychology and an MBA in Finance and entered the corporate world. While working in a corporate setting, he began doing freelance design work once again. However, after two decades in administration, he started to feel like just another cog in the machine. So he decided to leave his job, move to Florida and begin House of Shaheen, Inc. publishing to produce the 10 Hours or Less™ collection of knitting and crochet patterns.