Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fabric Strip Crochet

This topic came up in one of my favorite chat groups, Crochet Partners, and it reminded me of a shoulderbag I crocheted back in the 1980's from every kind of fabric I had on hand at the time.

The cream-colored fabric is from an old vintage bedsheet, the burgundy is a satin ribbon, the white is storebought lace, the dark gray is velveteen. You can see metallic gold from some braid trim I crocheted in. Everything else is a mix of cotton, rayon, poly blend-type fabrics that I had on hand for sewing. The strap has crocheted-along string for reinforcement. Below is the front view with flap open, and the back view.

All were lightweight fabrics (except the velveteen) but some still crocheted up stiffer than others. My favorite fabric to crochet is old silk, but I haven't tried a bouncy/stretchy type fabric such as t-shirt strips or lycra-content sport fabrics. I tried crocheting polar fleece and it's not my thing, but maybe it would be if we got a severe winter.
By the way, this bag shows no age. Fabric strip crochet so durable!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

CGOA Conference: The Fashion Show

Or, There's a Story Behind Them Chaps".

These lacy leggings are repurposed sleeves, rescued from my personal Swatchpile of Obscurity after being asked to remake them in a different color just before I left for the conference. Who knew that they would also be the perfect size for leggings? I wanted to wear them in the fashion show as pants legs because the color would show up on the runway and I rarely see crocheted pants. (Captioned photo taken by designer Mary Jane Hall. Thanks so much MJ, it's a keeper!)

I don't know what made me think I'd crochet the upper part of the pants while at the conference. I went to the Tahki Stacy Charles -sponsored 24-hour crochet lounge to make progress but of course gabbed the whole time with friends. Heck, strangers too.

By the afternoon of the fashion show, I was disappointed in my progress and mentioned it in Joan Davis' Merry Go Round the Pi class to Dee Stanziano. Nancy Cornell, sitting on the other side of me, saw me bring out the sleeves and put them over my pants legs. (I don't think I was being disruptive, the class went on break.) They started making the GROOVIEST suggestions! The moment Nancy suggested the garter idea my fashion show dream revived like a phoenix from the ashes. No problem crocheting garters and a garter belt in an hour or two! (Although I was frantically weaving in ends minutes before I went on.) Not only that but crocheted-garter-belt-as-outerwear? Trendsetting!

I just LOVE what Noreen Crone-Findlay wrote about them in her blog. She's a witness that I did try to make progress on the pants. And check out Dee's photos at her blog where she said I "rocked the house"! Like Doris said, "Yee-haw!" It was really fun.

I'm starting to get comfortable with being on a raised runway with hundreds of people looking at me (well, looking at what I'm wearing). Nancy Cornell helped me with this too. She said, "There's always plenty of Beautiful up there. What everyone remembers though is the Outrageous. Go ahead, be Outrageous."

Monday, July 23, 2007

CGOA Conference: The Free Yarn, The Classes

Or, Goody Bag Swatchin'.
Seriously thanks to Coats & Clark, conference attendees received plump goody bags when they registered. As you can see, the new yarns were so touchable that I got right to swatching. My first class was "The Savvy Single Crochet" taught by Karen Whooley. Yeah, sure, I brought suitable yarns from home for the class, but I preferred using these new goodies:

Moda Dea Washable Wool. Very soft and bouncy! No scratchiness and no squeaky-plasticky feeling that washable wool can have. It's my favorite washable wool, period. The swatch is one of SIX stitch patterns using the "Savvy" technique. It became a coffee cozy. Click on the photo to enlarge but you might not be able to tell how different the stitches are from standard single crochet. You can get fascinating effects from the technique and I recommend this class AND teacher (Karen Whooley) highly. I'm so glad she is teaching nationally again.

Moda Dea Tweedle Dee. Not only is it sooo soooft, it has mellow color shifts. (Two more "Savvy" swatches, one I turned into a wrist cuff.)

Moda Dea Fashionista. You wouldn't believe what this one feels like either, and the sheen is beautifully stylish.

I started a hat in the Red Heart Hula while in Joan Davis' [sold out!] "Go Round the Pi: Creating Perfect Hats" etc class but didn't get far because of the Chaps (for another blog post).

Goody bag aside, those bottom two balls of thread were were generously donated by Skacel for Professional Development Day and the Chapter Tea. The Optima thread came in a gorgeous array of colors. I made the flower in the class I took with McKenzie, taught by Kathie Earle (see earlier blog entry; see some of Kathie's work here). McKenzie coveted my ball of pale green Optima so I had to give it to her. Speaking of Skacel, be sure to see Dora's interview with Karen Skacel-Haack in the latest issue of Crochet Insider.

I took another class, Single Crochet Entrelac taught by Joyce Renee Wyatt, but that's for another post because I need to take a photo of the swatch!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

CGOA Conference: The Handbag Silent Auction

For the Helping Hands Silent Auction I entered the "Caged Tote" published in 100 Purses to Knit and Crochet ed. by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss. It's fully lined, in fact it has a vintage Indian lining that doesn't show in these photos. I've included a few pics I took during the interlining process and a photo of the finished bag befor sending it off to the publisher.

I've never participated in a silent auction before and wasn't prepared for seeing lists of bidders and their bids for the duration of the conference! I was squirmy and self-conscious about that at first, but then I recognized two of the bidders as designers I looked forward to meeting and did during Professional Development Day: Sharon Mann and Phyllis Sandford. That somehow made it seem more fun, like a game.

And then, it was a wonderful feeling when the winner of the bag was announced because she would be taking my bag home and using it. I sure hope she puts it to use: I knew the publisher would be returning to me the 6 bags I made for the book. They are all well-finished so that they can hold a good amount of stuff without it poking through or pulling it out of shape.
I went over immediately to thank her for her winning bid and it was definitely worth it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Three Crocheters with something in common....

....they're all exactly TEN YEARS OLD and attended the 2007 National CGOA Chain Link Conference in Manchester NH! (In fact, Casey's birthday is only ten days away from McKenzie's; I don't know when Katie's is.) All three became good friends in a short time. Casey and Katie were fabulous models in the fashion show. It was short notice for McKenzie this year but she might want to try it next year. I do know McKenzie wanted to be backstage more than she was so we can arrange that next July, right, Katie's mom? (Above photo taken by McKenzie's mom; below by Casey's mom.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

CGOA Conference: Meet McKenzie

McKenzie is a remarkable 10-year old crocheter whose mother and grandmother are such close friends of mine that "close friend" feels odd to say and "family" feels better. Not only do McKenzie and I have a serious interest in crochet in common but I just found out that Ananda is a long-time crocheter just like her mom, Lucy!! This was their first crochet conference, which was a short road trip for them. Since the conference will likely be in Manchester next year, I'm betting that Lucy will be coming with Ananda and McKenzie if she doesn't want to miss out on any more hugs than she already has. (That's Ananda on the right and a very sleep-deprived me on the left.)

There's a pack of 10-year-old crocheting girls who roam the conferences now (McKenzie makes 3). I don't have permission from all of the moms to post a photo of the three so you just have to imagine it!

One thing that McKenzie wanted to learn was how to make a popcorn. People: she learns so fast, she could have been a professional crocheter who invented stitches in a past life. After working a small swatch of popcorns, we turned it into a wrist cuff, and she never took it off, even to sleep. We put 2 "buttons" (Clones Knots) on it. She learned that stitch so well that she did the 2nd one, and swooped that hook through all the loops in one fast pass. The first time.

She witnessed the frantic completion of the Chaps I wore in the fashion show (I need to blog about that!) and wanted to know what some of the less common stitches were that I was doing, so get this: she learned how to do a foundation sc, foundation dc, a split sc, and a linked dc! Ananda too!

That's not all. Then McKenzie and I did a special class together the next day with the amazing Kathie Earle of Ireland, our international teacher for 2007. Here's a pic of McKenzie and me in the market after class and she's wearing a gift from Kathie pinned to her shirt.
I had taken one of Kathie's classes a long time ago and knew she'd be wonderful for McKenzie (patient, flexible, creatively freeing, among many other stellar qualities). This was McKenzie's first time crocheting with thread and a tiny steel hook and she set about it with her signature competent focus and left that class a threadie with TWO completed Irish roses. By the way, this means she also reads and follows patterns--I'm a witness.

Okay so is there anything about crochet that McKenzie finds daunting? In the market a vendor showed her a book and she said, "No thanks, it's too easy for me." She chose Sasha Kagan's lovely new Crochet Inspiration and found the next thing she wanted to learn: a ripple stitch pattern so that she could make a headband. I looked at the page and thought, "Wouldn't it be so much better if she could use the symbol diagram for it? She does great with written instructions though. I don't want to overload her, but I don't want to underestimate her." So I explained what the symbols were there for and I told her why I prefer them, and it was up to her. She opted to try the symbols and I'd say it took her 5-7 real minutes of concentrating on them and trying them out to say, "I like them better too." And that was it.

I can't imagine bullions would be daunting because clones knots weren't. I bet she's freeforming right now. A freeform book was her first purchase (I think it was Jenny Dowde's but was possibly Prudence's?) and was already acquainted with everyone in the freeformers' booth by the time I found her and her Mom!

I learned to crochet around 8 or 9 and was completely immersed in it at 10. I can't fathom what it would have been like to attend a crochet conference at that age!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

CGOA Conference: The Shopping

Or, "Which Yarns Did a Designer Buy at Full Retail?"
My yarn buying habits have gradually changed since I began designing professionally. Yarn accumulates in my house regularly whether I buy yarn or not, because yarn companies send me yarn to play (design) with and extra skeins for sold designs.
This doesn't stop me from buying yarn, though it does slow me down. It does change what I buy. For example:

1. I don't buy the yarn of a company I design for unless I know that it's a project that's only for myself or a gift.

2. I hesitate to buy yarn that is discontinued or seems likely to be soon, because if it inspires a design out of me, I won't be able to sell it as is. (Occasionally I can talk myself into buying it anyway.)

3. This one's dangerous: If I have a vague design idea, or am curious about a theme or a developing trend, I'll start buying a ball of this or that if it has anything to do with what's on my mind. For example: bamboo. I now have a ball of every kind of bamboo yarn that has crossed my path.

4. There are yarns that I really want to see and touch before I buy them, even for designing, rather than formally request yarn from the company or purchase it online or wait for my yarn shop to stock it.

In the photo above, you might detect an organic and color grown cotton theme developing (see #3). I'd have bought some O-Wool if I'd seen it too. I bought the Patagonia handpainted cotton because it was a very good sale price! All of the above came from Elegant Ewe's booth. I also bought some beautiful hooks.

In the 2nd photo, Gene Ann was having a last day sale of 4 for 3. You see, when I love a yarn, I want an excuse to buy more than 1 skein but how many more? Gene Ann guided me.

These are all Kollage yarns, and the designer in me welcomes getting to know a new-to-me yarn company. The stripey yarns on the far left are stretchy and I have a thing about stretchy. So of course I had to buy one, or make that 4. The plum Scrumptious is 70/30 angora/silk and I was sold when Gene Ann showed me her scarf in progress: zero airborne fuzzies and the stitches were softly and evenly blooming. This says to me that someone knows how to spin angora! On the far right is Yummy, 80/20 bamboo/merino. My stitches are going to be YUMMY. The color is "Foggy Dew"--I have a thing for silvery shades but I could have picked any color of this yarn. The lone blue skein is Kollage's corn fiber and the lone novelty yarn is full of squiggly butterflies so how could I not try it?

What I WOULD have bought:
- A bunch of Tilli Tomas silk skeins (a friend bought them for me instead, yay!)
- A Grafton Fibers hook (also a gift from a friend! More on her later! More on the hook too!)
- A complete set of the "Crochet Lites" but I had trouble getting a straight story from attendees whether a vendor had them or was just taking orders, where exactly the vendor was, and whether they were like the Clover hooks, or like the heavy fully-lit ones.
-Some Noro Kureyon. I have to leave it around the house so that I pick it up and invent new things. It does that to me.
-7 or 9 balls of Rowan Natural Silk Aran for a specific sweater for moi and no one had it, so I'll get it at my yarn shop.
- A hook holder IF: it has clear vinyl pockets labeled with mm sizes. Don't know if it exists.
- Giant tunisian hooks.
- A crochet-themed tshirt or bag or jewelry.
- DMC Cordonnet in sizes from #10-#30, poss. #50.
- Any yarn with Lycra-type content.

I will finish my conference shopping online, buying first from businesses who were in the Market, and I'll ask them to consider my purchases as part of the conference event. If any of these things were in the Market, I couldn't find them in time because I couldn't shop until the last day, when the Market closed at 3pm.

How did I do?