Designer Hailey Bailey shares her love of nature

Designer Hailey Bailey shares her love of nature

Posted by Cindy on Apr 18th 2024

Hailey Bailey, wearing one of her designsHailey Bailey is an artist, a crochet designer, and an indie yarn dyer with a fine-tuned aesthetic that appeals to all who appreciate the natural world.

We are excited to be featuring her hand-dyed Classic Sock yarn (including custom colorways she created just for our customers!) and a trunk show of her crochet designs as part of our 2024 Local Yarn Store Day celebration.

Hailey spoke with us about her design process, her muses (many of whom have feathers), and her passion for helping crocheters create one-of-a-kind pieces that fit. Read on!

How did you get started designing crochet patterns and dyeing yarn?

I started crocheting as a therapist as part of my own self-care regimen. I loved that I could crochet during my few moments of down time during breaks or staff meetings at my organization. Naturally, as someone with a visual design background in my history as an artist, this snowballed into a desire to create my own designs. The more I mastered techniques for stitches, shaping, and manipulating the stitches to achieve a desired effect, the more exciting it became. I also began designing out of need; I had followed garment patterns made by other designers and found that even when my gauge swatch matched, the standardized sizing rarely fit my body in quite the way I wanted. I imagined creating a pattern using an open concept made-to-measure metric, allowing each aspect of the garment to be completely customized. This not only helped me to create something that fit myself, but allowed me to create designs that anybody could wear. As I continued to practice, I found that this concept could be used in just about any type of pattern, from sweaters to tops to dresses. I've now been designing for just over 7 years and still have a notebook full of designs I can't crochet fast enough.

My interest in dye grew as my designs did. I would find that I had a concept in mind that needed a very specific color, but had a hard time finding the exact shade I was looking for. I have always had a passion for color theory and creating unique color combinations, so dyeing yarn perfectly fit into my world and allowed me to take my inspiration further than before. I absolutely love finding colors in nature and taking that inspiration home to replicate in wool.

I read on Ravelry that you have worked in many other art forms before landing on crochet. What is it about crochet that resonates so deeply with you?

In my history as an artist and especially in my educational journey gaining my art therapy degree, I dabbled in just about every medium from painting and drawing to sculpture and printmaking, plus all sorts of mixed-media techniques. It turned out that crochet just so happened to be one craft I learned later on in this timeline. Despite having learned to knit from my grandma at age 8, I never picked up a crochet hook. But when I finally did, something clicked in a way it never had before. I think crochet as a craft just fits so well into my combination of skills, interests, and needs. As someone with ADHD, it fulfills my need to have something productive in my hands at all times. I can work on a project while I stand in line, ride with my family on a road trip, or listen to podcasts or watch a movie at home. I love the tactile possibilities with crochet -- from yarn composition to the texture of unique stitches, just about everything about this craft is exciting to me!

Please share with us what inspires your designs and your yarn colorways.

I draw my inspiration from the nature around me in my home, the Pacific Northwest. I was raised by a mother and grandmother who loved the outdoors and spent as much time with me outside as possible. I was taught to marvel at the star-like patterns in moss, to feel its softness and be full of wonder. Naturally, this grew with me as an adult and I still fall in love with the forests, valleys, mountains, beaches, and deserts around me in Oregon. Along with this comes a love of wildlife, particularly birds. I started my designs by naming each after a bird and utilizing some element of that bird, such as the texture or colors of their feathers. I especially love to challenge myself to replicate the coloring of birds with my monthly Bird Club yarn club. I've been making a monthly bird-themed skein for almost 3 years now and don't think I'll ever run out of muses. There are just too many!

An array of yarn colorways dyed by Hailey Bailey

Do you come up with your colorways first, or the names first, or does it vary?

I always start with a specific color in mind, and because I draw so much of my inspiration from nature, usually the names come quite easily after that. For example, I created my Hellebore colorway with the deep blackened-plum hues of my favorite flower. There are times, though, when it feels like I've run out of names and I have to dig through lists of plants! Usually in those cases, I'll ask my friends and family for suggestions and those moments of brainstorming usually help me settle on the perfect name for each new colorway.

Hailey Bailey's Hellebore colorway

How does your background in Art Therapy Counseling inform your work?

I think my background as a therapist, and of course especially as an art therapist has informed so much of my work. I sought out my first career path after finding my own healing through childhood trauma with art, so naturally I wanted to work to help others find their path to using art in therapy. I think it has informed my pattern-writing even more than I could have imagined. I find that the therapeutic lens helps me to create designs that are person-centered in a way, providing supportive and strengths-based language in my instructions (especially during the trickiest parts of a pattern!) I can imagine areas where crocheters might find discouragement or frustration and intervene with a plethora of up-close images, extra notes, and of course with as many customization tips as I can possibly give. I love creating designs that allow crocheters to choose their own path. They are given all the information they need to make choices for fit or aesthetics, such as stitch multiples and specific instructions to alter the style. I love the idea that creating a garment can be a joyful, encouraging, and even healing experience and there is no better way to put a cherry on top of that process than to have a finished product that fits perfectly and is completely unique.

Do you have a favorite place to sit and crochet? (Or, if you could sit and crochet anywhere in the world, where would it be?)

Since I work at home with a toddler, I usually cram all of my crochet time into the evenings at my desk between dye batches or on the couch while he rolls his toy trucks over my WIPs. If I could crochet anywhere, it would be under a tree at Baldwin Beach in Paia, Maui, which is a place I dream of returning to just about every day.

What’s currently on your hook?

I usually have about half a dozen or more WIPs at a time. I have a hard time sticking to one project and when inspiration hits for a new design, I feel like I have to get started right away! Right now I have about 3 summery designs I'm trying to finish in time to start testing this spring, along with a few projects for gifts and a basket of unfinished selfish knitting projects we don't talk about!

Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

I think that's about me in a nutshell. I absolutely love what I do and love connecting with other fiber artists. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share!

Be sure to follow Hailey Bailey on Instagram @madebyhaileybailey!

We are now carrying Made by Hailey Bailey Classic Sock yarn in an assortment of her nature-inspired colorways. For Local Yarn Store Day (Saturday, April 27, 2024), Hailey has dyed two exclusive colorways, Sprout and Flourish, just for The Endless Skein customers!

We also have a trunk show of Hailey Bailey's gorgeous crochet designs in the store for a limited time. Come by and take a look!