Thursday, September 04, 2014

My Lotus Yarn in Magazines: What It's Like!

Pin-Setter Cardigan by Dora Ohrenstein
(Scroll to the end of this post for the hook size needed and other details.)
Photo © 2014 Interweave Press.

I get to see my yarn brought to life by other designers, and then showcased in magazines! 

Dora Ohrenstein chose Lotus yarn for her retro-stripy "Pin-Setter Cardigan." It's in Crochetscene, a new special issue from Interweave Press currently on newsstands.
Pearly Pearl, Peachy Sheen, Sapphire

It's a fun chance for me to see the Pearly Pearl, Peachy Sheen, and Sapphire colors together in one sweater.

I still remember when I met Dora: we became friends when we sat next to each other in Lily Chin's Crochet Tips and Tricks class at a CGOA conference. That was in 2004, when we were both new designers. 

Ten years later I get to see Dora interpret her design sensibility with my first yarn, so it has special significance for me. I also love how this magazine issue fitted the design and yarn colors in its throwback bowling alley theme - especially the model's beehive hairdo!
Dora's original swatch in 
White Blaze, Teal Glimmer
Grenadine.

I'm grateful to the editor of Interweave's crochet magazines, Marcy Smith, for her interest in DesigningVashti.com Lotus yarn. Her encouragement means so much for a startup yarn company like meDoris Chan designed lace boxer shorts and long pants in Lotus yarn for the summer issue of Interweave Crochet magazine. (I have more to post about those later!) 
Doris used Pearly Pearl for the 
Gypsy Boxers (Ravelry link)
Photo © 2014 Interweave Press.

DesignersAnyone is welcome to submit design proposals using Lotus to Marcy. Not just Marcy! Other editors too! I'm not at liberty to give details yet, but I'll let you know when designs in Lotus appear in more magazines, and books... 

Can you imagine how immensely relieved I am to learn this? Designs using new yarns by new companies have a chance to be published in magazines. 

The Gypsy Pants in Satin Grey Lotus
(Ravelry design page) Photo © 2014 Interweave Press
As a crocheter, I'm glad too. I've been an avid crochet magazine reader (and collector!) for over ten years. I don't remember thinking much about the yarns used in the designs. If asked, I'd want to see a refreshing range of different yarns. 

One of my favorite Lotus colors: 
Satin Grey used for Gypsy Pants!
A familiar crochet stitch pattern can look so different sometimes, depending on the yarn, color, dyeing process, fiber content, thickness. Yarns can make the same design look different with a change in drape, stretch, luster.
For a polished summery drape that would also hold up to wear, Lotus is Doris' first choice for skirts and pants. For the lace shorts she used the same Pearly Pearl color that Dora did, and Satin Grey Lotus for the pants.

-:------------:-

This post is part of a series about what it's like to start my own yarn company, as a crochet designer. Here's the first post, where you can also see a list of the other ones in this series.

About the Pin-Setter Cardigan pattern in Crochetscene:
(For more, click here): A great first sweater project, this classic cardigan is worked top down with raglan sleeves. Stripes in alternating colors keep it interesting, and picots embellish two stripes.
Yarn DesigningVashti Lotus (52% cotton, 48% rayon; 256 yd [234 m]/3½ oz [100 g]): pearly pearl (A), 5 (6, 7, 8, 9) balls; sapphire (B), 2 (2, 2, 3, 3) balls; peachy sheen (C), 1 (1, 1, 2, 2) ball(s).
Hook Size D/3 (3.25 mm).

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

How (Not) to Sell New Yarn at a Crochet Conference

This post is the fifth installment in an ongoing series about an exclusive yarn I developed with my friend Doris Chan. This is the first postClick to go to the new tab I created about everything Lotus.
L to R: Kathryn White, Vashti,
Haley Zimmerman. Photo: Nancy Smith

 © 2014 Manchester NH

I've just returned from a spectacular crochet conference blow out! (The CGOA's's 20th annual Chain Link conference in Manchester NH, July 23-27 2014.)


This was the first crochet conference I've attended as a yarn company owner


It's the fifth one I've attended as a teacher. Six months or so of class prep led up to this event! I taught eighteen hours of six large classes in three days. It is a blur to me now.

I'm gently teasing myself with the title of this post. Throughout the conference I'd suddenly see this or that missed opportunity for my yarn and could only shake my head at myself.  For example:
  • I could have had a yarn sample or coupon or something in the goody bags!
    One of the printing pages I created
    of yarn labels ("ball bands")
    for 60 sample Lotus balls.
  • I could have printed up the simplest Lotus yarn thing for people to pick up from the info table at Registration. A ball band with a URL, a yarn snip, whatever, right? After all, I designed the yarn ball bands. I might think that's cool if a guild member I knew did that.
  • I could have shipped bags of Lotus to a market vendor! Wouldn't it be fun for Lotus to be a part of the market excitement? Plus, I'd have a booth number to tell all the people who asked about Lotus. 
In truth, a few "missed opportunities" occurred to me months before, and I had to set them aside as too complicated or impractical for this conference. Ship Lotus to a vendor? Well, this is wholesaling. My costs are not actually low enough yet for me to be able to wholesale Lotus. (By the way, another way of saying this is that the price of Lotus at my website is below full retail!)


Why not just bring an extra suitcase of Lotus and sell it in my hotel room, in class, or in the crochet lounge? 


Seems like an easy solution, doesn't it? Nope. Not only did I sign a contract prohibiting this, it's unwise. I wouldn't want to risk creating a bad impression of a seller or product instead of good.
I spy Lotus Snacks sample balls! You're
also seeing one of my favorite attendees,
Janet Bates, and part of the portable full
spectrum lamp she brings to conferences.
(Cropped close up of classroom photo by
Deb Seda © 2014, Manchester NH.)

As a guild member and attendee at fourteen of these conferences, I'm grateful for this rule. Who wants to be marketed to in classes and fellowship areas? We have the fun market for that.

As a teacher, dealing with commerce in a class is weirdly distracting. The "Class Angels" are angelic because they collect and track any materials fees so that I don't have to switch gears.


I DID actually have Lotus with me. Wait, what?


In each of my Tunisian lace classes I gave out "Lotus Snacks." (I loved being the yarn sponsor of my own classes!) I designed a special ball band for them (see photo above), and the way the band wrapped around them reminded me of cupcakes. My friend Linda helped me label them in my hotel room, which was fun. (See photo of Lotus sighting above.)  I'm lucky I even got them made, and I'm happy that I have none left over!

The Lotus in my project tote had crochet attached because I foolishly thought I might have time to sit and crochet at this conference.
Some Lotus Chips
& Charms patterns.

I did bring all Lotus Chips and Candied Charms to wear and display in classes. Amazing to think of it now but I could not get it together to wear them. Just too busy. I didn't even mention the love knot ones ("Lovebud Vines"). The event was truly a blur!

I did bring free color samples to give out. At some point I dimly thought, "I refuse to take these back home. Must give them out." A designer friend said, "Ooh! Is this your yarn? Can I use some for yarn bombing?" I just gave her the whole bag. Yes, this is what a maxed out Vashti does.

I DID bring an extra suitcase full of Lotus...in the form of visual aids for the six classes. I always bring lots of swatches and visual aids for classes; this year I crocheted a gazillion with Lotus. After all, it's Lotus that made me fall in love all over again with the Star stitch*.

OK so maybe I could have mentioned that it was Lotus that I was passing around in a class, but then if I'd done that, it might have sounded like advertising, and that's not what teaching is about anyway.

So Lotus did actually get to meet lots of old and new friends! What am I worried about?

Yarn marketing is like developing a new muscle - for me, anyway. I took plenty of notes about what I could do in the future. I'm planning to have my own booth at next year's crochet conference in San Diego!

*Star Stitch Class Resources page.

Issues #59 and #60 of Crochet Inspirations Newsletter: "Star Stitch Lace Pretties" and "Star Stitch, the Tunisian Connection."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Birth of a Yarn Company, About Five Months In

New: Please see the new tab I created about everything Lotus.This post is part of a series about my exclusive new yarn, developed together with my friend Doris Chan. For more on this series, see this first post.             
-:-----:-
I've only now felt like I could imagine blogging again about launching
A behind the scenes example
of a popular pattern, the
Pallas Scarf, redesigned in
Lotus yarn. (I'm updating
the pattern to include this
 new version.)
Lotus yarn! I last blogged about becoming a yarn company months ago. Those were no ordinary months: the big December shopping season followed by a milestone birthday, wedding anniversary, son's birthday, peak tourist season around here...blah blah blah.

Sounds like the usual stuff that can postpone blogging, but doesn't have to, right? It's also been a time of several unfamiliar - if mundane - procedures. 

At first, it didn't even occur to me to blog about them, but there's actually quite a lot going on under the surface!
I'm really happy with the clear
six-ball bags I use for storing 

the Lotus balls, but am
searching for a different source
with 
lower freight charges.

Here's just a partial list of new-to-me procedures that I already rejected as being too unremarkable to blog about:
  • How the Dymo printer I use for shipping has been working out. (It's fabulous! One of those simple things in life that makes me smile every day.)
  • The compact little shipping station I set up in my studio that accommodates a wildly unpredictable range of daily yarn orders from zero to a last-minute flood of them.
  • What "the last minute" really means - during peak tourist season especially...
  • How to store the yarn in a way that keeps it new yet easy to access (and what that means: no risk of squashing, abrasion, dust, you get the idea.)
  • Favorite label printer!
  • The best way to keep track of when we need to order another big batch from the mill.

A small Lotus package.
The self-seal "poly mailers"
I went with seem to be
working out very well, plus,
my mailman is impressed. 
Underneath these humdrum biznessy things is a nervous mixture of worry and excitement! It's just like being a new parent: what if something goes horribly wrong? Any minute I might...discover massive hidden costs I hadn't taken into account. What if everyone stops buying yarn forever? (That's kind of like, "What if my baby is kidnapped, or gets a terrible illness or something?")

I get it now: I'm a new "yarn parent." The first months of any newborn's life are eventful -- with seemingly mundane things (like choosing the best stroller), and I haven't been able to blog about it as often as I expected I would. Typical new parent talk, right? 

I'll never have a first yarn again. Isn't that something! Thanks for reading this and sharing a unique time with me as it unfolds. I'm probably going to enjoy reading this years from now.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Crochet Book Review: Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler

The long-awaited Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler is an important and exciting book. It's not only an essential addition to every crocheter's library, it's a must-read for the non-crocheting artists and art/craft critics who think they already know about crochet as a medium. 
Buy this book at Amazon.com.


An exciting element of this book for me is reading each professional artist's own words: the specifics of why s/he chooses it, and the lived experience of employing it for artistic expression--often over decades. Gwen allows each artist a considered, intimate, introspective space. I've gained insights that are going to enrich my own crocheting experiences. These windows into the artists' process leave me feeling a kinship with them. I will hear their voices now (along with my mother's, who taught me) as I crochet.

Gwen's book is a gift and a valuable reference. We get to see the big picture of how crochet is breaking new ground -- and has been all along

I like to read theoretical and historical material about art world issues, such as "Fine Art" versus "Craft" (etc.) and I usually have to mentally include crochet as I read about the significance of weaving, sculpture, art quilts, etc. Fine Art of Crochet fills in gaps!

Part of the thrill of knowing how to crochet is sensing the incredible potential built into even the most basic crochet stitches. We know that each new crocheter has the tools to create anything and we know what that feels like! I see this look dawn on the faces of students and I hear it in comments like, "With crochet you can just turn and make stitches go anywhere any time." I heard this same idea in some of the reasons why seasoned professional artists also choose crochet as their medium.

An unexpected benefit of reading this book for me is a nuanced sense of the birth of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Gwen, who founded the CGOA in 1994, was spearheading crochet art exhibits in CGOA's earliest days. I'd heard about these events over the years, but seeing a full recounting of them in the fuller context of this book gives them, and Gwen, the credit due. Yet another reason to celebrate the guild's 20th anniversary this year!

If you like to think about the creative possibilities of crochet, see how crochet has been breaking new ground right under our noses all this time, and want hints to crochet's future, get this book. I found out about classes these crochet artists have been teaching that I didn't know about, and modern crochet art happenings. 
Gwen (right) & Vashti (left) February 2014


Thank you, Gwen! Fine Art of Crochet fills in the sometimes huge gaps in the existing literature about modern developments in art and craft, while serving as a road map for crocheters and others to the ongoing crochet revolution. 
-:-----:-
Edited to add: Holy cow, now go check out this image-heavy review. Love it!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

How My Lotus Yarn Got Its Name

This post is part of a series about an exclusive new yarn I developed with my friend Doris Chan. For more on this series, see this first post. Also see: the newsletter issue (#55) I just sent out about Lotus, and my guest post at Gwen's Royal Ramblings for a crochet-historical context for Lotus yarn.

I've been asked why my first yarn at DesigningVashti.com is called Lotus.
Lotus Engraving from 1877
Here's the scoop! 


It took from May to October 2013 to settle on the name from a list of 20 or so. I looked at how other yarns are named (see my list of five yarn name categories below) and bounced names around with Doris and my husband. Three key factors made "Lotus" stick: very personal symbolism, right-brained/poetic impressions of the flower, and the timing of seeing Doris at the CGOA Chain Link conference in Oct. 2013.
On the CGOA runway Oct. 2013 

Doris crocheted pajamas with Lotus yarn! Yeah! A baby doll top, lace shorts, lace capri pants, a lovely swing top (all of these in Pearly Pearl), and some flared leggings for me in the Grenadine color. She also did a micro-capelet in Peachy Sheen. She imagined all of these things modeled as an ensemble for the CGOA Fashion Show in October--a great idea. The only catch is, the yarn needed a name!


Five days before the fashion show I had to use a limo service to get from the airport to the conference hotel. It was called "Lotus Limo." A rush of childhood associations with the name came back to me, so I toyed with "Lotus" as a yarn name until the fashion show. Doris was OK with it.

I'm basically a midwestern white girl from Wisconsin, raised Catholic until the age of nine; I then spent the rest of my childhood experiencing Eastern spiritual stuff with my Mom in an international meditation community in Iowa. We learned Hindu-style meditation, yoga, and vegetarianism, and fascinating concepts like sattwa, karma, soma, mantras. I learned some Sanskrit (a little Hindi helps too when blending one's own curries).

Today I feel safe enough talking about it in this public way. Back then, though, this was freakishly weird for most people (and most of my relatives too!). Imagine a place and time when Dannon yogurt was totally new. No one you knew even wanted to try it, yet your Mom was making her own. Imagine never having heard of yoga or karma, or a meal without red meat. Dude: no yoga mats on sale anywhere.

The lotus flower is a very lofty symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism. It represents sublime ideals of the human spirit. This pristine blossom rises above the water and, symbolically, the "mud of earthly existence." The Buddha and goddesses like Lakshmi are seated on them. When I worked in a health food store, I ordered products from a catalog called Lotus Light. 
Lotus Seed Pod (1877)

Aside from high philosophy, the lotus is just a really cool and slightly oddball flower. Most westerners don't know that you can eat the pleasant tasting roots and seeds. (See my Lotus board in Pinterest for moon cakes and other lovely examples!) The fascinating dried seed pods show up in flower arrangements occasionally.

When I crochet with Lotus yarn, I feel like it uplifts my experience and the stitches have an inner glow. It takes my crochet to another level. I think of it as "crochet enlightenment." So now you know.

Have you ever really paid attention to the name of a yarn? By now I've noticed that yarn names fall into categories.

Waterlily Layer design
1. Some yarns are named straightforwardly for their fiber content, weight, and/or dyeing: "Washable Wool," "Alpaca Lace," "Silk Handpaint." 
I thought, "So my yarn could be named a combination of words from this list: Sport, Cotton, Rayon, Z-Twist, Solid (color)..." Hmm, not inspiring for me. When I've designed with a yarn named this way, I have to keep its label close by because I have trouble remembering the exact name ("Uh, is this one 'Merino-Something-DK'?").

2. Fancy versions of #1, like "Kid Seta" ("seta" is Italian for silk; "kid" is short for soft mohair); "Micro Chic" (microfiber nylon); "Mulberry" (i.e. silk); "Washable Ewe" (super wash wool). 
I guess I could have named it "Silky Bombax" instead. Or how about "Soft Twisted Plants" just kidding.
A Lotus Symbol in
Tunisian Filet Crochet

3. Like #2 but refers to an appealing or distinctive quality (The name Lotus indirectly falls into this category): "Shine" (rayon content); "Homespun" (thick bumpy plies); "Paillettes" (has sequins); "Glisten" (some metallic); "Magnum" (super bulky thick!). 
 could have named Lotus "Shimmer Z-Twist," for example; or how about "Sporty Zee"? "Crochet Drape" :-) I kept wanting to name it for way it reflects light when crocheted. The very first name I considered was "Pearl." I also wanted to refer to its luxurious drape; "Sari" was another idea (also captures the rich colors and shine).

4. Situations: places, seasons, and hints at its intended uses: "Summer Tweed," "Venezia," "Sausalito," "Weekend," "Sock," "Stork" (baby items). 
Since I expect my yarn to be used for a lot of warmer weather items, I considered names like: "Siesta Key," "Hibiscus," "Spring Break."

5. Colors or dyeing styles: "Degradé" and "Tonos" (mild shifts from lighter to deeper shades of one color); "Kaffe Fassett" (dramatic striping). 
For Lotus, I did consider a reference to its rich hibiscus-like color range, like "Hibiscus," "Blossom," "Bloom," "Bouquet."

I wonder what my next yarn will be called?

Next post in this series: 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Creating the Color Cards for a New Yarn

Scan of official Lotus yarn color card.
You can enlarge it here
This post is part of a series: I'm blogging what it's like to start a yarn company as a crochet designerIt's an adventure with unexpected - ah - twists, and an odd sensation that I'm transgressing industry categories/roles. A new Crochet Inspirations Newsletter issue goes out soon; subscribe to be alerted when I add new posts to this blog series.
If I have color cards made for Lotus, the yarn must be available for purchase soon, right? YES!! In just a day or two! Right NOW!! In the meantime you can see all the colors and test swatches and labeled balls of yarn here. Adding them to Ravelry right now too.

So what's a "color card"? It's a yarn industry thing: an official "B2B" (business to business) fact sheet. Color cards display the available colors of a yarn as accurately as possible. A printed card is traditionally large with actual yarn samples of each color attached. Nowadays, the online equivalent might just be a close up of photographed colors. 

You've seen color cards if you have looked up yarns at Yarndex. You might even own some if you have ever:
- Paid for one while ordering yarn from a website or mail-order catalog.
- Been taken seriously enough as a designer by a yarn company. 
- Owned or worked in a yarn shop.


Tassels from the first mock-up of the Lotus color card.
These are actual Lotus colors (the four neutral colors are missing).
It's an important reference. Color cards often seem to be created by the yarn mill or packager/distributor to help a yarn shop owner order the best colors for her/his shop. A magazine editor can use the same color cards to plan a unified color theme for an issue, and to quote the correct color names and numbers when ordering yarn for the designer. The magazine's technical editor might check yarn facts in the patterns against what the color cards say, before the issue goes to press.

Before creating a short stack of color cards for Lotus, I compared a range of
Exhibit A: Glued Yarn Snips
color cards that have accumulated in my studio over the years. Some yarn companies add "glam copy" (persuasive, even flowery descriptions of the yarn's features). Others provide terse "product specs." As you can see in "Exhibit A" at right, some yarn snips are glued down to the card. This is very common. Maybe it's the fastest and easiest way to mass produce them. 



Exhibit B: These 6" tassels are the longest of
any examples I have on hand.
Another common type of yarn snip is a tassel. I like shorter tassels, almost as short as the ones I made in the centered photo above. 

As a designer, I remember wishing sometimes that I could pull out a small length of the yarn to see how smooth and even it really is, and to just chain it to quickly experience crocheting it. I'm trying out a 30-inch length doubled up a few times, as shown in the top left photo above. 

I also designed the complete card to fit in a 3-ring binder in such a way that the yarn snips don't flop around beyond the edge of the binder (this has always bugged me about some color cards).

Next in this series: How My Lotus Yarn Got its Name.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

On Becoming a...Yarn Company?

Lotus Yarn in "White Blaze"
Developing yarns to add to my DesigningVashti.com site is having a powerful affect on me as a crochet designer. This blog has been about the designing journey since 2005, so I thought I’d blog a series of journal-like posts about my yarn-designing adventure here.


An Aran Rozsana Bracelet color combo
For the first time ever, I can design with a yarn that I already know I love, that I understand intimately, and over which I have complete control. I don't have to worry that someone will suddenly discontinue it, and this has happened a lot. Freelance designers do not get paid for all the time it takes to get to know a yarn, yet this is one reason that creating design proposals, especially for yarn companies, is so time consuming. (For magazines, this task is delayed until you find out which yarn gets assigned to your design proposal.)
Big ol' cones of Rosy Lotus
Over the past few months I’ve been developing two new yarns, and I mean new: not offered elsewhere. The first is called Lotus, and it's nearly ready for purchase! It's a z-twisted sport weight blend of cotton and rayon. The yarn labels are currently being printed, and the last of the fourteen colors is being dyed right now. now available! (My second yarn doesn't have a name yet; I'm still finding out if I found the right mill for it or not). 
My Tunisian Wicker Stitch in "Satin Grey" Lotus



DesigningVashti Lotus Yarn in "Crystal Blue"
I’m going directly to yarn mills with some ideas for yarns that are not already available. I’ve been an avid yarn user (consumer, swatcher, stasher) for years. It's fascinating how fibers, plying, twist, dyeing, etc. add to my love of crochet and pattern designing! I pay attention to differences between yarns, and so by now it's easy for me to envision my own ideal yarns.

Yarn mill folks seem to appreciate that I study yarns and have some ideas to try. This is a great relief to me! I was afraid I’d get blank looks, or “Well, that’ll cost you!” responses. Instead, they seem more relieved and curious.
Brushed Shells in color "Peachy Sheen"


I’m getting ahead of myself, though. 
Today, what brings me to my blog is that I’m in a design slump! NOT a crochet slump, just a design slump (it happens every time I return from teaching a lot of classes at a national conference.) Being surrounded by my Lotus yarn in rainbow colors makes this slump a fun experience.
(By the way, I never know how the colors are going to show up on different computer screens, so I try different kinds of lighting and add various photos to my shop pages.)


This year, shipments of my new yarn were arriving from the mill while I was preparing to teach. Now that I'm home from teaching, I feel like a mother with her newborn baby. I spend every day trying out new stitch patterns with different colors of LotusI take photos of Lotus at different angles and times of day. I've dug out my early designs for which I used favorite stitch patterns. I'm going through my old books and trying stitches that have always intrigued me. 

It turns out that designing a YARN and making it a reality is like having a baby, in several ways: the months of anticipation, choosing a name, and the "labor." I even had to prepare a new room for its arrival. 


Zenobia Palm Stitch in color "Pearly Pearl"
I love that my early years as a freelance designer have taught me that the best thing I could be doing right now is swatching up different crochet stitches with Lotus! Crocheting with a yarn is like getting to know a new person. Each has a distinct temperament, unique strengths & weaknesses, and preferences. The better one knows a yarn, the better a design will work for it. 

As a crochet designer with my own yarn company, I don’t have to go on blind dates with yarns I may never design with again. Lotus is family!

-:-------:-

Other posts in this series (in chronological order):


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Crochet Flowers and Hearts Make Great Test Shapes!

Two Hearts, Two Stitches: Back-Loop Slsts & Front-Loop Slsts
Back-loop Slip Stitch Heart & Front Loop Slip Stitch Heart
I'm testing shaping methods for my upcoming Slip Stitch Crochet Shapes FX class. (Info on the date-place-time here.) A sweet surprise is that heart shapes, roses, and other flowers are especially useful ways to try out shaping methods!

Crochet slip stitches can give different effects to rose petals.
Different Slip Stitches in a Variety of Rose Petal Shapes
Not only are hearts and flowers distinctively shaped, they can also be: 

  • Scaled up or down to the swatch size I prefer,
  • A two-dimensional rendition, or as 3-D sculpted as I wish,
  • Recycled later into appliqués, jewelry, patch pockets, pincushions, coasters, etc.


I've also been curious about how the various slip stitches respond to the shaping methods. Here are hearts in four different slip stitch patterns:
Inverse and regular slip stitches in different loops, and different row directions.
Four Kinds of Slip Stitches, Crocheted Diagonally and Vertically


Some of them have a strong natural curl or textural grain. The heart in the lower left corner is the oddest-looking one, and retains a slight curl even after blocking. I'd need to tweak the starting row of this one also. 

This same inverse slip stitch type - which doesn't work so well for heart shapes - is perfect for the special kind of curling that a rose petal does! 

In this blog post I'm using newer photos taken after I sent out the most recent Crochet Inspirations Newsletter issue #53. The topic overlaps a bit with this blog post, so visit the archived issue for more photos. It includes a free crochet pattern for a simple slip-stitch-strip rose. See photo of wee cashmere roses below!
These rose petals have a natural curve, thanks to slip stitches.
These rose petals have a natural
curve, thanks to slip stitches.

Socks, hats, mittens, and bags as shapes for testing are certainly useful. They're also more time-consuming. So, I start with a heart or a flower swatch that shows promise, and then I try applying the shaping method to a sock heel, or toe, for example.
Miniature Cashmere Roses, just in time for the Fall floral fashion trend.
Miniature Cashmere Roses

Right now I'm looking for the best class projects and swatches for students to experience. After that, I'll be able to turn some of the new designs for socks, hats and mittens into crochet patterns for my site. Flowers designs too.