Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
In the first photo, the 4 swatches on the right are my experiments. On the far left is a swatch of some rows of standard dc and tr for comparison. Click on each pic to enlarge.
Part of the fun of having stitch dictionaries and patterns designed by different crocheters is learning new stitches. Some stitches have more than one name, some have no name, and others are so standardized that they always go by the same name and are always made the same way.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
1. I used an obscure stash yarn that worked out great for tunisian crochet. It's Austermann Marco Stretch in "Winterberry" (a warm heathered rose). I've never used a bulky wool with a lot of lycra in it for a sweater so I didn't know what kind of drape I could expect, and whether I'd even be able to block it to my measurements. (Not much info on the 'net from users of this yarn, not even in Ravelry.)
2. The yarn is discontinued so I had a finite amount: would 10 skeins be enough for a jacket? To be on the safe side I went with cropped and shaped sleeves, cropped length, and minimal collar and front overlap. The yarn seemed sporty to me so I pictured a zip-front hoodie style, and would add pockets and a hood with leftover yarn. It ended up reminiscent of a boxy Chanel jacket style when I edged it. That's Yvette trying it on backstage after the conference fashion show.
3. The yarn was like felted spaghetti to work with and looked lumpy in every crochet swatch I tried except tunisian simple stitch (tss). The tunisian fabric came out stretchy, smooth, and soft & spongy enough for my kitten! I was not in the mood for long or cabled tunisian hooks, so....panels, right? I haven't seen many sweaters done this way lately. Making the panels was great fun, but how did I want to join them? I decided to make the seams a decorative element, so more swatching! (But check out ARNie's join-as-you-go tutorial) Correction added 9/30: See ARNie's comment on this entry; this link is part of Cindy's Crochet Pages. Great job Cindy! Thank you.
4. The last experiment concerned shaping. I wanted to do it all--tapered set-in sleeves, back neck drop, shoulder slope, waist. I knew it would help streamline the yarn's bouncy bulk, but this amount of shaping and shortrowing in tunisian was new to me. Using a 12mm hook and big yarn made it fun because some shaping was accomplished with merely adding or subtracting a few jumbo stitches.
I'm very pleased with the results, although I wish the yarn blocked better. There's a pic of me wearing it on Margaret's blog--scroll down to the 2nd photo. At the conference people especially liked the contrasting stitch textures, and some thought the seams were cables :-)
I would definitely construct a garment with tunisian panels again. I created a way to make "panel maps" in Garment Designer, which should simplify writing the pattern for many sizes. (Here's a hazy pic of the map I worked from.)
I had about 1 ball's worth of yarn left over. I paid $3.19/ball for this yarn about 4 years ago at http://www.elann.com/, so not bad for a $30 sweater, huh?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Although I had learned how to do this intriguing technique months ago thanks to Bonnie Pierce's downloads (scroll halfway down) and James Walters' excellent material generously made available via the internet, intermeshing is a type of crochet that is also exciting in a class setting. When I saw that Margaret was offering this class, I knew I had to be there.
I brought enough yarn for two very different swatches: one is that new Glow in the Dark yarn (white) by Bernat paired with a ball of blue discontinued Debbie Bliss yarn; my son loves how brightly the Bernat yarn glows in the dark, so I plan to turn this swatch into a small pillow that doubles as a nightlight. This yarn glows all night long! It glows brighter and less green than my camera captured here.
Margaret's class project was a simple bag and that's what I'll turn my second swatch into, so I brought colors for me: a deep rich red chenille (discontinued Reynolds Paris) paired with charcoal Lion Brand Cotton Ease. (see first photo, above.)
Intermeshing requires a certain kind of focus at first. I find that after awhile I can get into a comfortable rhythm, but until then, the logic of it is tricky for me--especially the beginning and ending of rows. Can you spot all the errors? Keep in mind that the edge is meant to end with a solid vertical bar of blue....
Below is my first swatch from months ago, in size 10 threads, turned into a wrist cuff. I was curious how it would look to pair a variegated thread (Manuela) with a solid neutral color (Cebelia). I wear it often because it goes great with jeans, but as a jewelry design I think it would have more punch if both colors were solid instead of variegated. Photos of it "in action" can be seen here.
I recommend Margaret's class to anyone interested in learning intermeshing. She brought some inspiring samples and her class handout is first-rate. I haven't shown any variations here, but Margaret had an afghan with a combination of intermeshing variations. Check out her blog entries about the class (scroll down to Sept. 16 and Aug. 3).
Update: see also this site about "Double Filet" as intermeshing is called in the UK (thank you, nic): http://www.craftgroupsevenoaks.co.uk/dfCrochet.php
In the US for 2010, Susan Lowman will be teaching a class on this technique at CGOA's Chain Link conference (July, Manchester NH).
Sunday, August 24, 2008
(Pictured: a delicious 10-ball box of Coats Opera #5 thread)
If I can, I'll buy the number of skeins it takes to make a full mill "bag", if I can get the yarn in its original bag. Yarn companies ship most yarns divided neatly into clear bags. Many of the yarns sold in local yarn shops (LYS) come in 10-skein bags. Some yarns carried in craft chains might be shipped in 3-skein bags or 6-skein bags. I've found that if I buy a 10-skein bag at a yarn shop or online, there are lots of benefits:
- If I change my mind down the road about using the yarn, it's very easy to sell a full 10-skein bag (in its original bag) on the internet, even long after it has been discontinued. Occasionally a LYS will take it back for store credit.
- An intact bag of 10 makes a great gift for a yarn lover!
(10-ball bag of Rowan Linen Drape at left; click pic to see the official label on the bag)
- It's easy to figure out in your head the total yards you have: 10 x yards in each ball = a good amount for a sweater (note that depending on the design, there might only be enough yarn for mid-length sleeves.) So, say each ball has 125 yards, you know that a 10-ball bag gives you 1250 yards total. Ten skeins gives me enough to experiment with some and still have enough to make a summer top, shrug, wrap, hat and scarf, tote, throw pillows, multiple gifts, or a matching set of something.
- It comes home in its own storage bag! 10-ball bags stack on each other well and slide under beds perfectly. The balls stay new-looking because they don't tumble around; instead they're packed neatly like sardines in their mill bags. I'm making two sweaters right now, both with stash yarns that I bought in 10-ball bags about 5 years ago. The yarn is so fresh it's like I bought it yesterday!
- The dye lot is automatically the same for each ball.
- It helps the LYS because they're not left with stray skeins of a dye lot. By the way, if you want to special order a yarn from a LYS, ordering 10 balls of it makes it very easy for the shop.
- Given these benefits, if you find 10-ball bags of a discontinued yarn, the closeout price is a true bargain. Consider my latest acquisition: Artful Yarns Fable, $55 for the bag. That's $5.50 per ball of a premium pima cotton & silk blend, all one dye lot, pristine condition; 184yards ea. = 1840 yds total!
Many of these benefits might also be true for the 3-ball and 6-ball bags at chain stores.
The Caron Pizazz at right came in 3-ball bags.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Before I leave for the big exciting national CGOA conference thatIwouldn'tmissfortheworld I'm proud to officially announce a new kind of crochet pattern book.
NINETEEN designers rode the publishing rapids together and survived the adventure! We've learned what it's like to put together an instant-download e-book as a group, get a website for it, get it reviewed, and choose the topic for our next one. Many of us will meet up again at the conference this week so who knows what will come of that!
We call our group "Straight From Today's Designers", or SFTDonline.com.
For the book I did a "Barbed Wire Belt" in silver Jelly Yarn. I was able to include a story about the design because I'm one of the publishers. Feels good!
Don't miss Tammy Hildebrand's daughter modeling her belt!
JD Wolfe of Craft Gossip reviewed it here and Lime & Violet reviewed it here. So far, these contributors have blogged it: Angela Best of La Vonne's Knot Just Knits, Doris Chan, Robyn Chachula, Noreen Crone Findlay, Lisa Gentry, Pam Gillette of Knotty Generation, Kim Guzman of Kimane Designs, Amie Hirtes of Nexstitch,Margaret Hubert, and Marty Miller.
Monday, June 30, 2008
At the same time that I've been researching upcoming color trends for the Trendy Crochet class, color came up in the International Freeform yahoo group. This summer I just want to play with colors. I can't name a favorite color because of how they change in combination with others. Below are my favorite links.
Colorcube has lots of color games. My favorite is "Color Scrambles" because I love competing with myself to distinguish subtle shades. See also the articles and screensavers.
Colorjack is great for sophisticated color combinations. Many interesting options.
Wellstyled has a color wheel that is so well designed that it seemed simplistic to me at first. Then I looked closer and saw the refinements possible. Nicely designed, concise. I learned what my color combining biases are.
Colr.org uses actual random Flickr images (or others images of your choice) for real-life color schemes. It took me awhile to figure it out. Includes the ability to tag colors and if I understand correctly, the tags are communal.
Check out Lollygirl's Project Spectrum. It's not just for knitters anymore.
Lines and Colors blog has a pretty cool discussion of the color wheel and its development.
I bookmarked this list of color names because I learned such things as, I've had heliotrope (not neon yellow), olivine (not acid olive-green), and puce (not dirty caramel-chartreuse) wrong all my life! And, that I'm probably not the only one confused by "indigo" which sometimes appears as a deep herby edgy teal, and other times as a vivid violet. Check out all of the lavenders. How many people know what "zinnwaldite" looks like? Or Mountbatten pink??
And here's Rosebud, Queen of the Couch, circa 1999 (full name Rosebud Fu Fu Shen). If she could speak: "We both know that I'm not supposed to be on the couch, but I was just about to take a delicious nap, so you could waive that rule just once, right? I won't make a regular practice of it."
Rosebud was the most beautiful dog I ever had and probably the most intelligent. Also the closest thing to a tawny pet lion.
Friday, June 27, 2008
What was I doing 10 years ago?
That was a big year: defended a multidisciplinary thesis on "gender essentialism" so that I could graduate from New College. Succeeded in getting pregnant. Got a puppy, named her Rosebud (nope, not because of the movie). Started paying a mortgage instead of rent. Please check back for a pic of beautiful Rosebud.
Five things on my non-work to do list today:
- Make apptmts for check ups--eye, dental, general physical, blah blah blah.
- Light grocery shopping. Am craving me some fruit and a layer cake.
- Finish cleaning out a closet.
- Get just enough sun.
- Call up a long distance friend.
Snacks I enjoy:
- Cherry pie--I miss my grandmother's made-from-scratch pies. She made her own egg noodles too.
- All nuts except brazilnuts and filberts.
- Chocolate chip cookies from scratch (code for real butter, whole eggs, dark choc)
- DH's hummus
Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
- Create huge prestigious juried cash prizes for crochet design, innovation, & development, you know, like scientists have.
- Spend months at a time living abroad.
- Fund the education of girls worldwide; in some cases this has to include feeding and clothing them. Seems to me that educating women nips many socioeconomic & environmental problems in the bud!
- Create a "Stitchbrain"--a digital bank of every crochet stitch pattern in the world, totally cross-ref'd and indexed and searchable by stitch symbol sequences, clickable alternate formats (full text vs abbrevs vs symbols etc), linked to designs featuring them, zoomable & flippable & rotatable, clickable infinite colorwork combinations yes, swatch uploadability from the crocheting citizens of the planet (with gauge and fiber info). It would be beautiful and cheerful and fun and revolutionary.
Places I've lived (in reverse order):
Seattle WA (my all-time fav place)
Governors Harbor, The Bahamas (I really did move from the Bahamas to Maine. In autumn!)
East Troy & Mukwonago WI
Jobs I have had:
Buyer/purchaser for a specialty market--fun!!
"Herb Goddess" (the title became quasi-official at a health food store)
French and Biology tutor at a community college
"Credit Associate" of a department store
Office Manager of a dessert company (ohhhh yes)
People I want to know more about:
I'd love to know what Pam was doing 10 years ago and all that!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
An article that I wrote for Yarn Market News (May'08, page 36) about CGOA's commemorative crochet hooks has been reprinted in full here (scroll down to June 16 entry). If you don't know what "HAS" is, the article will fill you in.
It's an honor to see my article on Dee Stanziano's blog! A big thank you to the YMN editor, Karin Strom, for giving permission to reprint it, and a big hug to Dee. (Can you tell from her photo how huggable she is?)You can see the classes she'll be teaching at the CGOA conference here (scroll down to "Stanziano").
This is a great time to thank Dee also for being CGOA's Volunteer Email Correspondent for six years. If anyone had a crochet question, Dee was there to answer! But that's not all. This amazing CGOA member also moderates the Hook Collector's Group forum (this is a special group within CGOA), has a large and happily active CGOA Chapter in Connecticut, is active in a wide variety of crochet forums, and has agreed to lead one of the guild's most important committees. Not only that but her husband and kids are delightful.
If you haven't yet met Dee, attend the conference next month and sign up for one of her classes!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Steady yourself for the name avalanche: I had remarkable first-time conversations with these new friends: Sandi Wiseheart, Maggie Pace, and Clara Parkes. I treasure the quality time I got to spend with Ellen, Kristin, Amy O'Neill Houck, and Annie Modesitt, in addition to the usual suspects (Marty Miller, Jane Schwartz, Mary Beth Temple, Doris, Drew, Dora, Diane). Finally got to meet Jess and Casey and Mary-Heather! I've come to count on seeing Stitchdiva groove a conference! Can you believe Prudence Mapstone's biz trip to Columbus overlapped with TNNA for a few hours before her flight back to Oz? I wish I'd been able to get an espresso (or something) with Robyn Chachula, Kim Werker, Nancy Brown, and Karin Strom (to name a few) and don't worry, I did get espressos, but always when none of these folks was nearby. I kept wishing I could see TNNA regulars Margaret Hubert, Gwen Blakley Kinsler, Mary Jane Hall, Kathleen Greco, and Cari Clement but they couldn't make it this time. Should I list more people I loved meeting or wish that I'd met at TNNA? Because I'm afraid I'm leaving someone out. I haven't even mentioned the cool yarn shop owners I met. Nor have I really talked about the published sweaters walking the show in living breathing 3D.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Not TNNA's fashion show, which was composed of the same ratio of crochet to knit as the other two years I've attended (oh, about 1% crochet content). What gets shown on the runway is the result of many factors though, so I'll just leave it at that.
Crocheted garments were sprinkled into many show booths, so crochet fairies have been working hard. These garments ranged from magically delicious to practical classics. Some draped more than the knits; some knit sweaters weighed more than the crocheted ones. [There will come a day when I won't feel the need to point this out] One might be tempted to say that this is what causes my "crochet's on the rise" tingles, but not really--there was some great crochet last year. Tinkerbell is a crocheter.
Here's where something truly new is going on: a new attitude among enough knitting attendees to matter, whether they be yarn shop owners or even 'knit establishment' insiders. Knit blinders are off! People are looking at crochet in its own right, not mentally comparing it to knits [and then coming out with a biased verbal gaff]. Crochet designers as a group [not just big names] seem to have earned some credibility somewhere along the line. An open-minded interest is replacing the closed-minded stony-face that crocheters have encountered for years.
I wish I could go into some specifics that reinforce my impressions but I'm sorry I have to be discreet else how will someone be able trust me with secrets in the future? :-)
Crochet's stock is going up. Isn't it great?
Monday, June 09, 2008
Unusual fiber content:
Silver (yes, the metal, though it doesn't look at all metallic): Zaol BioRope contains "mirawave" which is a silver-content fiber that is supposed to lend the yarn special properties such as being antimicrobial and conducting heat away from the body.
Jadeite (yes, the rock known as jade!) SWTC's "Therapi" is 30% jadeite.
Vicuna, Qiviuk, Guanaco yarns and blends: the yarns were heavenly and so were the first-rate crocheted samples in the booth! (At the website some of the crocheted designs are called "knit".) Here's a hairpin crochet wrap in handspun qiviuk and silk; here's a qiviuk wedding dress.
Milk fiber: Kollage's "Creamy" in icecreamy colors!
Recycled soda bottles? There is a new polar fleece yarn and I can't remember its name nor could I make it to that booth but Marty did and I love the projects she crocheted up already. The yarn looks great crocheted and has all the best qualities of chenille with none of the drawbacks! Hopefully she'll comment here or blog about it herself.
Z-twisted yarns: the yarn is plied with a counterclockwise twist, whereas many yarns (in the US anyway) are s-twisted, which is clockwise. Yeah, I'm the only one I know who actually has a thing for z-twisted yarns. Call me weird, but when I really like the way the yarn makes my stitches look and there's zero splitting, the z-twist is often the reason. (Lefties might prefer s-twist.) When I spot a z-twisted yarn I buy it because I know that even 20 years from now, if it's still in my stash, I'll still enjoy crocheting it.-Two ShibuiKnits yarns: Highland Wool Alpaca; Merino Alpaca.
-Plymouth's Oceanside Organic.
-Be Sweet's Bamboo. 100% Bamboo yarns usually split on me so I've been anxious to try a z-twisted one. There's also a z-twisted bamboo blend called Naturallycaron.com Spa.
-Two Zaol yarns: the silver-content BioRope (see above) and the lace weight 100% tencel Olive.
After attending previous TNNA shows where designer inquiries were not always welcome (as Stefanie mentioned in her blog today), I didn't even bother asking for samples of the above yarns to swatch with. Now that I've blogged about them I wish I had!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
If you enjoy seeing new crochet patterns and other creative work (whether or not you design them yourself), an easy way to speak out about this bill if you're a U.S. citizen is to do a "click and send" here or here. Non-U.S. citizens can make a difference too.
Artists and designers everywhere thank you.
You can read the text of the bill here.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
3. Continue my marathon swatching for designs I have in mind to wear to TNNA in 3 weeks. This is the first time in 3 years that I have the chance to do this; usually I'm too busy working up designs for editors to make something special and new for myself. The last time I did this the Mermaid Shrug, my favorite, happened. Of course I have 5 projects in mind and that's just crazy.
4. Make decisions clustered around the issue of branding, which affects how I'll upload new patterns to Ravelry, how my site map would be laid out, etc.
5. Complete the teacher's gift I designed which will also become a pdf pattern that I'll offer for sale in Ravelry. (I always procrastinate when I have to put a face on something. The face is everything, you know?)
Monday, May 12, 2008
(Peacock at top of page: adult male at end of mating season--tail feathers are getting ready to fall out. Peacock at right: young male practicing his dance for when he has real tail feathers to show off.)
Thursday, May 08, 2008
I remember grooving on the tinted self-darkening lenses for the ethno-hippie look I was going for in Wisconsin in 1980. I slept with my hair in 16 braids to get that crimp, people. I wore moccasins to school and macramed the sphinx necklace in the pic.
In 1981 I moved to Iowa and apparently chose bigger Big Glasses to complete my fresh, almost sporty look. It feels good to get some closure around this personal fashion issue so here's a Homecoming pic, still 1981:
Yeah. It's a Gunne Sax dress. I knew in my heart that the Big Glasses had reached a dead end for me. Soon after I got my first pair of contacts.
Monday, May 05, 2008
In honor of my freeformin' buddies, here's a "shell game" that I've been playing lately. Like many crocheters I start out enjoying shell (or fan) stitch patterns, but after awhile I get a tad rebellious. I think, "5 double crochets all in this stitch? Let's mix it up a bit." I swatched up two stitch patterns: a widely available one (called "Peacock Fan Stitch" in the Harmony Guides) consisting of stacked shells of 13 double trebles (dtr). The other is less common: offset shells of 7 triple trebles (trtr) each separated by a chain stitch (ch).
In the case of the Peacock Fan Stitch, the shells are dramatically solid, and the fact that they stack up in columns helps direct the eye. In the blue swatch I took out some wedges, asymmetrically. Where I removed 4 dtrs I replaced them with 4 chs. There are many things I did not try, such as linked stitches, piggybacks, and more wedges.
In the white swatch, a shell of 7 trtr and 6 chs means I have a total of 13 stitches (sts) to mess with. This pattern starts out more lacy, so the variety of changes don't show up so well. The swatch will serve as a handy shell menu for me though. I tried a variety of linked st combos, and the 3-trtr/10ch shell catches my eye. I wonder how a fabric would look of linked shells mixed with some 2-trtr/11ch shells!
While swatching I noticed the following:
- the asymmetry is more dramatic and effective when there is a bold contrast between open and solid space. The eye needs to be able to organize all of the details that crochet fabric brings to the table.
- the grid gets smudged out the most if the center stitch of a shell or fan is eliminated; in other words, retaining the center stitch of a shell helps everything look regular and balanced. I think of the center stitch of a shell pattern as the Grid Keeper.
- The thinner and smoother the yarn and the larger the shells, the bigger the effect.
Classic stitch patterns are basically grids with symmetry and predictability as part of their charm, but I like to deconstruct them and see crochet also get subtly asymmetrical and random. Surely others have already done this kind of shell subversion and if so I hope someone will leave a comment and let me know. It has been a fun experiment.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
It's a thick, small cork board that I covered with felt. It's for macrame and so the pins are able to hold the weight of the larger glass beads. I can carry the board around to where I daydream and swatch up designs for them.
While I'm here, how about some tips* for creating your own metal-free crochet jewelry? These ideas come from a post I wrote for a Crochetpartners Yahoo group regarding crochet jewelry for a girl who's allergic to metal.
- I love crocheting my own metal-free jewelry fasteners and findings! Or, sew on a pretty button.
- Kids love Jelly Yarn® for jewelry.
- Take a bookmark pattern that you like and turn it into a bracelet or choker by make it longer, then add a button.
- Some belt patterns could make great bracelets or chokers if you use thread and beads instead of yarn.
- Take a pretty edging pattern and make it long enough for suspending a pendant. I'm often complimented on mine. I used size #20 crochet thread in modern colors.
- Just crochet a chain and feed it through big-holed beads. The craft stores have some exciting new beads and more of them now have big enough holes for crochet. Use thread that is strong and durable, and beads without rough hole edges. (A bead reamer--available at craft stores--will smooth the edges.)
- Take an interesting pattern from a stitch dictionary and do it in tiny thread; sprinkle in some seed beads. Sometimes just the first few rows of a fancy stitch pattern look beautiful as jewelry. Sometimes the opposite is true: many rows with just 1 or 2 or 3 stitch repeats in each row create a special jewelry look.
- Crochet some flowers and slide them onto ribbon. You can do this with any crochet motif, or vintage insertion pattern that is already designed to have a ribbon woven through the middle of it.
- When445t54ee you don't need your crochet jewelry to be metal-free, try any of the above with fine wire (28 gauge or finer) for a special effect and instant style.
Some of my jewelry blog posts:
*These tips are for readers who are making jewelry for private, nonprofessional, noncommercial use. For other uses, please consult current intellectual property laws in your country.