Monday, December 24, 2007

Yarn Club Update: Free Form Crochet Club

Remember when I posted about the 3 yarn-of-the-month clubs I've been enjoying? And then in a later post I compared how far the yarn samples get me from two of those clubs, by working up some coffee cozies?

Well: just in time for Christmas I worked up a Coffee Cozy du Cheer using two samples from the Free Form Crochet Club's handspun yarns. I used a blended yarn with giant red nubbies*, which I then edged with a blended chenille yarn that has giant white nubbies**. I did the chenille in giant picots to amp up the texture theme going on. The reds are so intense that they vibrate!

Since the cheer is just baking off of this thing, I've used it for lots of mochas and I'm happy to report that the yarns are showing zero pilling, abrasion, sagging, fading, etc.

I love what Laurie says about her yarn: "As a crocheter who spins I have learned the secret to creating functional, beautiful works of art that any crocheter can use to then create NEW orginal works of art. That's right BEAUTY GROWS!"
*Spuntastik! Naughty Fine Yarn Crochet Cotton
**Spuntastik! Knaughty Yarn Chenille/Pearl Cotton

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Icy Bling for Warm Climes

Crocheted this up and wore it with a white shirt and white shimmery eyeshadow for my first day of holiday shopping, humming "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" even though it was 82 degrees. Had worn its prototype to the CGOA conference and Deanna vanAssche said, "WILMA FLINTSTONE!!" and so we did a deal and she took it home. Made another, wore it to my son's school, and all the third-grade girls were mesmerized and asked if they were real (I said yes....). Made another with red and green crystal drops, and my neighbor, Kathy, took that one home.

I MISS SNOW! It's HOT here. I'm sorry to complain but it's been summer all year. People here are actually getting heatstroke and heat exhaustion. I have to remind myself to drink enough water. We need the A/C on to be able to sleep at night.

I have some mighty-fine alpacas, merinos, and cashmeres in my yarn stash but am nowhere near able to enjoy crocheting them or wearing them. I keep eyeing the linens and cottons.

Anne blogged the best list I've ever read of what is lovable about snow. I grew up in Wisconsin and her list brought back memories!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

German Crochet Magazines: Hakelmode

The new Diana magazine is on the newsstands in Europe for 2008; the two Lea magazines pictured are from 2004 and 2005. My friends are visiting from Switzerland right now and they were kind enough to bring me these three issues, after much sifting through knitting magazines in yarn shops. One of them was found at the last minute in the Zurich airport!
The yarns used are brands like Austermann, Junghans, Lana Grossa, Lang, Online, Schachenmayr, and Schoeller + Stahl. The Diana issue has 15 women's fashions, about 9 of them crocheted. The average hook size is 5-6mm and the garments look chunky and more casual, bringing to mind American crochet patterns. The poncho in the second photo, for example, is described as youthful and trendy; it calls for a 12mm hook.
The 2004 Lea issue (top photo, far left) has 34 designs, all of them crochet, most also in medium-weight yarns. There's a pullover in tunisian (Tunesischer Hakelei) and two wraps in "schlingenmuster"--it looks like drop stitch rather than loop stitch, so maybe it uses a broomstick? (not pictured)

One of the magazines is mostly stitch patterns with fashion sketches offering ideas for how to use the stitch pattern in one's own design.
I'm happy to add these Lea and Diana magazines to my collection of Sandra and Sabrina issues. If there are any Rebecca issues with more crochet than knit in them, please let me know!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Free Yarn Company E-Newsletters

I subscribe by email to free newsletters published by yarn companies and yesterday I received five. FIVE. Usually they're spread out throughout the month. Hearing from so many yarn companies in one day brings out the blogger in me. In case you aren't aware of these newsletters, I'll list them below in alphabetical order.

Why sub?
-Trendwatching: I keep up with what floats knitters' boats because it's interesting to me when it differs from crocheters; for example, both groups fell for felting, but the next big thing for knitters seems to be lace knitting, whereas I'm not seeing crocheters go whole hog for lace crochet. (More than usual, I mean. It's hard to ever fully separate lace from crochet.)

-To learn about new yarns, patterns, colors, and color combos.

-Many newsletters provide helpful tips that are often as useful to crocheters as to knitters, even if the tip is written only with knitters in mind.

-The suspense of never knowing when some GREAT crochet will show up in the knitcentric newsletters. I'd like to thank the yarn companies that do remember the crocheters and don't make us sigh and whimper and beg and cajole!

The list:
Berroco's KnitBits (every Friday)
Caron Yarn's Caron Connections (daily for 12 days in Dec.)
Classic Elite's CEY Web-Letters (3-4 times a month)
Coats and Clark's Keep in the Loop (monthly)
Garnstudio's Drops Design Newsletter
K1C2's Knit One Crochet Too Newsletter (monthly)
Lion Brand's Lion Brand Newsletter (weekly)

If you know of one that should be on this list, please let me know in the comments, thanks!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pop Tops and Crochet: A Fashion Alliance?

Feast your eyes upon this actual runway design by Ronaldo Fraga for the 2006 Brasilia fashion week!
There's something about pop tops that makes people want to crochet them together, like here and here. A remarkable Brazilian site (in English) offers stylish bags of pop tops crocheted together. The same site offers a poptopflower tutorial here and you've GOT to see these pop top fashions of the '70's!

I'm speechless, almost; I just have to point out that ok yeah, "being green" (in the eco-recycling sense) might be the in thing now, but crocheters have always had an irascible green streak--we crochet plastic bags into coasters, totes, rugs, ropes, hats, welcome mats, outdoor decor, incredible objets d'art, and even indestructible mattresses for the homeless (some with built-in air pockets)! We crochet fabric strips into rugs, video and cassette tape into evening purses and doll clothes, butcher's twine or other reclaimed string into market bags, clothesline into baskets, bottlecaps into trivets (video here), Christmas cards into boxes and ornaments, and used CD's into room dividers (Jen Hansen's), coasters, hotpads, and bottoms for purses and baskets. Crocheters were cool long before the planet got too hot.
Now I'm speechless.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Orlando Needlework Show Wrap-up

Took two excellent classes at the show and realized I didn't blog about them: Lily Chin's Color, Composition, Scale, Stitch and Pattern in 2-Dimensional Design and Darla Fanton's Tunisian Entrelac-to Felt or Not; Part 1-In the Round.
I've never seen this one offered by Lily before, so I had to take it out of curiosity. Within in the first 5 minutes I knew I was in the right class when she asked, "What is the difference between Art and Design?" I spent the rest of the conference mulling over our discussion!

It's funny to me now to type "Tunisian Entrelac in the Round" because before I took Darla's class it sounded exotic and advanced. I had never done any kind of tunisian crochet in the round, let alone entrelac. Yet it was perfectly easy to learn in class and I never once thought, "Holy cow, this tunisian entrelac in the round is crazy stuff". It seems more natural than working flat, actually.

I finished my project in class: a bowl to felt (see above photo). Now that I have it home, though, it's very soft and is the perfect size for my Hat Guru, so I think instead of felting it I'll edge the brim and let it be a hat!

The last bit of news is: YES Floridians! There WILL be another Orlando Needlework Show in September 2008!
UPDATE (Dec. 7): Dates for 2008 are being revised.