Monday, December 25, 2006

Alert: Crochet Article in knitting magazine

It's a small article and the word "crochet" is buried, making it all the more likely that crocheters will miss this tidbit: in the Winter 2006 issue of Interweave Knits the "bobble yarn" mentioned on the cover is crocheted, then carried along the back as the Andean hats are knitted, and the bobbles show up in patterns of contrasting colors.

This method for adding bobbles of any color anywhere as-u-go merits experimentation by crocheters also!

By the way, the knitting needles used have hooks on the end. It is explained in the article that the hooked ends can be used to pull the bobbles to the front of the work. I had to think that one over for awhile because you can use a hook (i.e. crochet) to create stitches that look like knitted stitches, and I remember a lively discussion once of what defines something as crocheted; is it the tool or the technique? The majority of people went with tool. However in this article's photos, it does look like the people are knitting with two (hooked) needles.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Private Flaming, my Solution

I'm a member of a LOT of internet forums and discussion lists, and the downside is the occasional nasty email I get, sometimes privately ("offlist"). This is marginally related to crochet designing because many of these lists are crochet and/or design-related. Today I invented a way to deal with unwelcome offlist emails: I email the person back with this message, below. If you want to use it too, feel free as long as you include the last line with my name and copyright.








--irrational or inappropriate criticism

--general mean-spiritness

As a special feature of the beta version of this software, any memory of your message has been permanently deleted so that any future communications can begin with a clean slate.

If you feel your message has been blocked in error, choose your words more carefully next time and try pausing before hitting the "Send" button.

Thank you and have a better day.

Powered by Stressblocker v1.0.0 Beta
c2006 Vashti Braha

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lily Chin is SO RIGHT

At CGOA's Chain Link conference (July '06 Valley Forge PA), I took a 2-day, 12-hour designing workshop with Lily. It's one of the best, if not THE best thing I've ever done. One of the tips I learned was to use giant graph paper that comes on a giant easel pad from office supply stores. Each page is marked lightly with 1-inch squares.

THANKS TO THIS TIP, I GOT A SET-IN SLEEVE RIGHT ON THE FIRST TRY! You know, those weird-shaped sleeve pieces that have sleeve caps, and the calculations for them can be as mathematically esoteric as you want them to be? I was resigned to needing 3+ tries before getting it right so I put it off until I had the necessary patience.

Well, not only did I use the graph paper to sketch a rudimentary sleeve-cap-looking curve freehand AND IT WORKED, I could sit in my comfy chair crocheting it up the whole time while the sketch stayed on the floor at my feet. If you want to, you could crochet a bit then see how the shape is matching up to your sketch, because on 1" graph paper it becomes a paper pattern; BUT DON'T GET UP! Merely glance at your sketch, and the gauge info you've written next to it, and you can see: hmmm, looks like the sleeve cap curve is now about 8 squares (inches) wide, and 2 more stitch pattern repeats should bring the next row up to 8".

WHEN I DID GET UP, my piece magically matched my sketch. BEST OF ALL, I tried seaming it to the body of the sweater and it looks great! Like I spent a lifetime designing set-in sleeves just so that this one could come out looking effortlessly chic!

Wish I could show ya a pic of the project but it's under contract. Is it a tantalizing revelation that it involves a certain excess of collar?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"Did You Make That Yourself?"

Today, when a CPer posted about her discomfort over people's well-meaning question, "Did you make that?" I realized that for months I've been wondering what are the dead giveaways that a crocheted garment or accessory is either storebought or a one-of-a-kind handmade?

[Remaining draft deleted because it wished to become an article instead, and it will appear in the upcoming issue of Crochet me.]

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dark Side of Crochet

The Samhain issue of The Anticraft is up! (This link goes to the only crochet pattern offered in this issue and is G-rated; just in case any kids read this blog, there's a bit of profanity to avoid in the title of another pattern.)
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and despite design deadlines crowding my brain, I started the day wondering what the Dark Side of crochet might be. All I came up with was that when I design something, even if it....
  1. is a fun design to do and is likely to be fun for others
  2. looks lovely/hip/sophisticated/whatever is my goal
  3. can be used for the purpose it was intended (the sweater really does fit, the things that must lay flat really do, a handbag holds its shape and holds stuff inside, etc)
....Even if these can be counted as successes for the design, there is one more, and if it is not met, I could dramatically call it the Dark Side of Crochet:

4. Is crocheting it an improvement over using another method to create it? (Same goes for knitting!)

In other words, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But you know what? I'm not going to argue that this is the dark side of crochet unless by dark we're talking dark pink, because some of the most creative, rebellious, refreshing, and truly artistic crochet designs do not meet that last requirement. (Same goes for knitting.) So instead of posting about a Dark Side of Crochet, in honor of Halloween (one of my fav holidays) at least I can give you the link to The Anticraft. I also have a felted ghost bunny drying, like I have any time to be making ghost bunnies!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Vashtiblog on the Side

I crochet toys with glee so I started a glee blog called "ToyDesigningVashti" which should be an easy name for me to remember....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hat Yoga: the Photos that Wouldn't Upload

These photos go with the Hat Yoga post dated Oct 21::
The Oct 21 entry has all the details on the lefthand hat. The blue one on the right is the Stitch Diva design.
My hat guru is pleased.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Caps for the Capital: Makin' it Easy

Today I meet up with my local "Knit'n'Bitch" group at a British tearoom--my favorite place to meet, right up there with meeting in a yarn shop or bookstore. Some of the members have had trouble downloading the Save the Children packet (see link above) so today I'm bringing address labels, gift tags, some hat patterns and some large envelopes. I have great home office supplies including a new color laser printer, so hopefully making these things handy will spur more folks to just make a cap and send it in soon.

Hat Yoga

My friend Kalli has become my hat muse. In fact, it was partly due to a hat that we met over 10 years ago. I've made 2 so far, the one pictured here is my design. The other is/will be pictured soon at Stitch Diva Studios because Jennifer Hansen designed it. See below for more on it.

There are people in the world who know how to wear hats and for whom wearable art manifests its highest destiny; and if Kalli were merely such a person she would be a sufficient muse. Spending her life deeply committed to supporting fiber artists and living her life as Art itself elevates her to hat guru. Therefore it is my yoga (i.e. a spiritual path) to design for her a series of crocheted hats. Like fruit and flowers one brings to a puja (spiritual ceremony), I seek out the finest yarns spun from the finest fibers.

Since my hat guru lives on the other side of the country, Buddha has agreed to sit for fittings.
A superbulky handspun-handdyed-merino-boucled mohair mantra (i.e. design) entered my awareness while meditating in my ashram (i.e. petting my yarn stash) one day. The yarn (Tochay's, no website but see Crochet Dude's entry) wishes to be worn by Kalli. While I watch the mail for handspun angora, I have a soma-dripping (i.e. lustrous) pure silk 'Cascade' worsted weight yarn handdyed by Tess. I evolve along my hat yoga path by using increasingly finer wt yarns and by getting progressively more creative and expressive--something my hat guru embraces about me.

I also like the Tochay Toque trimmed.

The 2nd hat I made, from Stitch Diva's "Downtown Cloche" pattern, is 1 full ball Berroco Pleasure for a night sky, and a partial ball Crystal Palace Party for the full moons. (Isn't the Katherine's Wheel stitch pattern fun?) I used a K hook so that it would come out a slightly larger size for Kosmo-Kalli, who, like Buddha, prefers a 24" circumference made adjustable by the vintage crocheted lace trim.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Audiobooks in Vogue Knitting Article

Welcome, Vogue Knitting readers!
The Holiday 2006 issue of Vogue Knitting has an article by Joanne Seiff about listening to audiobooks while knitting (or in my case, crocheting). On p. 50 I'm quoted as saying, "...Once I made a winter cardigan of hand-painted smoky-mauve shades while listening to a novel about a modern-day Englishwoman who keeps having longer and longer past-life flashbacks of medieval Wales. That sweater takes me back to medieval times even now."

The full book info: Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine. I listened to an unabridged version narrated by Judith Boyd; Clipper Audio dist. by Recorded Books p1999, c1997, ISBN 1841970271.

In the article I go on to say, "I made another sweater with a particularly opulent and luxurious yarn while listening to a sumptuous biographical novel of the last empress of China."

The full book info: Empress Orchid by Anchee Min. The version I listened to is narrated by Alexandra O'Karma; Recorded Books, unabridged, p2004, ISBN 1402574959.

In case you're curious, the audiobook I'm about to begin is: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, unabridged and narr. by Laural Merlington, Brilliance Audio Library Editions, ISBN-13: 978-1-4233-0778-5.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New Way to Organize my Design Ideas

It was a big job because I have too many ideas on postits and scraps, and when I brainstorm, I fill up full sheets of paper. I never forget a brainstorm and need to be able to locate those pages fast when I'm swatchin'n'sketchin'.

A big accordion file makes sense but the risk is Idea Death: I would use the contents less.

I'm very happy now: a clear plastic sheet protector for every meaningful category, and these go into a 3-ring binder. I used 35+ clear plastic sheet protectors. VERY happy! I can SEE everything, I can flip fast, I can add tabs. They naturally fall into 3 basic categories and below are 9 examples of the 35+ :

1. Ideas for Stitches and Techniques
- Love knots in pattern stitches
- Linked stitches
- Corner starts

2. Ideas by Project Type (often brainstormed in response to calls for proposals)
- 2-4 ball wearables
- Teens, tweens
- Boys, men

3. Ideas Specific to Fiber Type
- Wire
- Jelly Yarn
- Lycra content