Q&A with the designer - Hilda Steyn (session 1 of 3)

 2018-06-12 02:02 PM by

If I had R1 for every time that I sped past Yarn in a Barn's entrance I'd have a few Rands.  I'm telling you.  Every single time I went out to The Barn I would somehow miss the entrance and either have to break quite fast to turn in or turn around.  The last time I went out there I meticulously measured 4.4km from the turn and managed to not miss the entrance.  Success!

Hilda Steyn equals Yarn in a Barn and Yarn in a Barn equals Hilda Steyn.  Recently we had to forget all that!  The Barn closed down but Ilona Slow Life Creations was born and, among others, brought us the Wacky Weave Interlocking Crochet-a-long (WW1 CAL).  Boy, oh boy.  Don't just read over those last few words.  Those words are heavy with meaning.  It was a whole new technique for me (maybe it was a good thing that I didn't know about it at the time that I signed up for the CAL and ordered my yarn kit - I was just like:  oooh!  new pattern!  new yarn purchase!).  But I can proudly say that I made it through to the end.

Before I show you the final product, I want to share with you conversations that I had with Hilda about the her personal life, finding inspiration and the CAL (following in blog posts after this).

Find Hilda on her website, Facebook group and Ravelry page.  


Helène:  Earlier this year you, very generously, have shared your Asperger’s diagnoses with us.  My first thought was ‘yeah for mental health openness!’ Tell us more about your Aspergers.

Hilda:  My Aspergers come a long way. I remember as a small pre-school toddler, my mother taught me to knit to keep my hands busy. I had the typical fidgeting that you find with many a child on the Autism spectrum. It was the biggest gift ever. Knitting and crochet kept my hands and my mind occupied my entire life. Whenever I can’t cope with circumstances, I run for yarn and knitting pins. My diagnosis was the best thing ever. Finally my weirdness had a name. So many things about myself suddenly made sense:

  • my ability to offend people without meaning to (oh hell I can write volumes on this);
  • my inability to judge distance, time and volume due to a lack of spatial awareness (my husband has touch up paint in the BMW as I cannot judge the distance to the curb if I cannot see it – oops);
  • my obsession with fibre and fibre arts;
  • the battle I have to make eye contact with people;
  • the absolute hate of anything social (I will most gladly become a hermit, no really!);
  • the total lack of tact and social grace I have…

There are many more, but these are the most obvious. 

My Aspergers are definitely getting worse as I get older. This has contributed hugely to our decision to close Yarn in a Barn. I really don’t need all that stress, and coping with it, became more and more of a challenge.

Helène:  My second thought was ‘I wonder how that impact her craft?’.  You are an artist of many talents – especially when it involves yarn.  There are many bloggers that specifically write about crochet/knit as therapy for their mental health.  However I struggle to find a blog specifically mentioning how their mental health diagnosis as an adult has changed the way in which they approach their long time craft such as crochet/knitting.  Did you purposefully change the way in which you crochet/knit/weave/spin once you were diagnosed?

Hilda: Since my diagnosis, I am striving to live slower. So my craft has changed a bit. I am no longer chasing deadlines. I am enjoying every moment, of every project. I have a project going in each craft; I do whatever I feel in the mood for, whether it is knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving or sewing (quilting too). Some days I just unpack and repack my stash. It makes me happy to just cuddle all my special yarns. I don’t only craft to design anymore either. Using another person’s pattern is something I have very seldom done in my life. I always chased the pictures in my head. Now, I actually have a few patterns lined up that I want to try, just to spend time on myself, making something for me. I have to gather the courage still. I have been looking at Stephen West’s Enchanted Mesa for months. The yarn is ready. I just need to get my big girl panties on! It’s scary working from another person’s pattern!


Helène:  You advocate ‘slow living’ (you even took the time to show us how to diy handwash http://www.ilonaslowlifecreations.co.za/slow-life-tips/slow-life-living-making-your-own-handwash/!).  In fact, your social media profile is now named Ilona Slow Life Creations.  Ilona is your beautiful middle name with the most delightful meaning but why ‘Slow Life’?  What brought that on and how are you living slower?

Hilda:  Ilona is actually not my official middle name. I was born as Hilda Maud Hodgkinson. Yeah. My father was English. The name Ilona has a very special story to it. Back in 1997, I used to play piano in church. One Sunday the preacher stopped in the middle of his sermon, and asked where I was. I stood up thinking he wanted me to go play again. But instead, he gave me a scripture. Isaiah 60:1. He didn’t know what was in the passage, he just knew that it was for me. The scripture says: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you”. At the time, I didn’t understand it, but I wrote it down in my journal. Shortly after that, I lost my hearing due to Ménière's disease. Both my ears were operated and I was deaf for a couple of weeks. In that time, I read the scripture in Revelation 22:17 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” I was wondering about the new name. Hilda means battle, or war. Maud means battle maid. Believe me, I was tired of getting into trouble and always fighting (aspie always offending…. Bleh). So I thought a name change will be marvellous! I prayed and asked God for a new name. One Sunday afternoon shortly after, I took a nap, while still deaf. I woke up from a voice calling ‘Ilona’. I was shocked. When I went to sleep I couldn’t hear. I wondered if my hearing came back. I jumped out of bed, and heard it again. And then the voice said: “You have a new name”. I was shocked into total standstill for a while. When I finally got myself together, I realised I was still deaf. This had to be a supernatural experience. I wanted to know what Ilona means – Bearer of Light. That was confirmation of the scripture given to me by the preacher. Since then, I have been trying to take the light of God’s unconditional love, wherever I go. The big change in my life, gave me the courage, to at least use the name on my Facebook profile. I won’t go and change it at Home Affairs; my family will be extremely offended (again – pffffft).

When I decided to close Yarn in a Barn down, I decided at the same time, to really live out my calling. I wanted to slow down, get other woman to slow down, get them to appreciate themselves, and spread the light of Christ.

Over the next few weeks we'll explore how Hilda finds inspiration and what she wants to leave as her legacy.  Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter (click here http://eepurl.com/cWsYwn) so that we can drop you a mail when the new posts are up on the blog.

Until next time.

x Helène

Make sure to buy from me in the online store and follow me on Facebook and Instagram

But wait!  There's more!

We have a wonderful giveaway for the yarn obsessed!

This giveaway is sponsored by Hilda SteynLJ Craft Creations and Brilliantmommy.

The giveaway includes:

*12 50g balls of 4ply 100% Merino Wool Superwash dk (4 Lemon, 4 Peach, 4 Dusky Pink),

*1 LJ Craft Creations wooden hand crafted shawl pin,

*1 Brilliantmommy tote bag, and

*Free delivery to an ordinary address in South Africa

Total value of this giveaway is R1 260!

This giveaway are open for entries from the publication of this post and will close for entries on the 30th of June 2018.

How to enter:  To be eligible for this giveaway you need to be subscribed to Brilliantmommy's newsletter.  If you are not already subscribed please click here:  http://eepurl.com/cWsYwn.

hilda steyn giveaway

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