Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Baroque Tabard" (Free Pattern); About Tabards

I really enjoyed designing this. I’ve always wondered if I could make a tabard that is more flattering and stylish than the knitted and crocheted tabards of the 1970’s. (Can't find a good pic on the 'net.) The word "tabard" brings to my mind medieval pages and troubadours, so I went for my impression of an "Eleanor of Aquitaine" look. As you can see from the original sketch, I pictured a soft gray and pink. The finished design is lovely in shades of heathery green, which adds a hint of the Irish to me. Photo on the right courtesy of Caron International Yarns.

If you google "tabard" you'll see that I've thoroughly romanticized them! Tabards used to be a humble men's outer garment, not for troubadours but for foot soldiers, peasants, monks.

It's easy to see why the tabard idea took off for women in the 1970's--it's sporty, folky-eclectic, and an easy make-it-yourself vest/pullover/tunic. Even in the medieval wiki-pics it looks like a simple drop-shoulder construction. Leaving the sides unseamed is a distinguishing feature of the tabard, dating all the way to 1300 AD.

Below is a short list of my favorite features of this "Baroque Tabard" free pattern, available here. I personally like to hear what designers think about their own designs and what the backstory is. If this is a "tooting one's horn" that you, dear reader, find annoying, then you can stop reading now and you won't miss anything, and I appreciate your visit today.
  • the tunic is worked in vertical rows of hdc so that the subtle color-striping built in to the yarn looks the same for any size including plus-sizes (when a self-striping yarn is worked in horizontal rows, the effect is not the same for plus-sizes.) The vertical lines also make the tabard style more flattering.

  • I totally invented the lace tie stitch pattern and significantly changed the classic “picot fans” stitch pattern of the sleeves. I love the super-lacy sleeves (that's where the "baroque" part comes in even though Queen Eleanor lived about 400 years prior to the Baroque period).
  • The hdc bodice works up quickly and includes simple shoulder and neck shaping. This keeps the traditional drop-shoulder tabard from looking boxy or clunky.

  • I liked being able to make the seams decorative. It is surface-crocheted reverse single crochet (aka "crab stitch").

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Published: Felted Journal Cover

Felted Crochet, the latest book in the popular Vogue Knitting's On the Go series, is due out April 1. I received my contributor's copy and it's great! The range of projects is fun and inspiring and I would have added it to my library even if I didn't have a design in it. Below is a pic of the felted piece before blocking. As you can see, it felted evenly with no wonky ruffled edges. I chalk that up partly to the yarn and partly to the design: I worked the final rounds differently so that they pull in neatly during felting instead of splaying out. By doing a rectangle in the round instead of back and forth, the height and width shrink equally so that the felted rectangle retains the original proportions.
As a designer, Louet Riverstone is my favorite felting yarn. The stitches felt beautifully and there are no odd little surprises in color, texture, or felting process. My prototype came out as fine as the published sample! It inspired this blog entry. I'm a big fan of other Louet yarns too, such as Euroflax, KidLin, and Gems. (Come to think of it, Euroflax inspired this entry.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Handmade Valentines

Here's my twist on Bella Dia's Sweet Heart Crochet Pattern, in which I find yet another way to marry crochet with 3D fabric paint LOL! (I blogged another way here, and I have more ways I'll blog about when the designs let me.) The full glittery gold effect doesn't show in this photo but in the morning sun it was ardently ablaze with my love for Mr. DesigningVashti.

Bella Dia offers her irresistible pattern as a full-color tutorial. It's an elegantly simple pattern and be sure to scroll to the end to see the color and edging variations.
I'm a big fan of handmade valentines and used to sell beribboned cloth and watercolor ones at local fairs back in the '80's. I don't know why it didn't occur to me back then to design some crocheted versions! I would have enjoyed the process more. On the other hand, I remember swooning over the fabrics and trims at the time.
I hope everyone has some close encounters with chocolate, roses, and snuggle time.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birthday Crochet from Mom

I had a birthday last week and here's a lovely thread crochet heart doily from Mom. Doilies for me reserve a spot for something special. When I received a stash-enhancing shipment of Opera thread a few days later, I knew what this sweet lacy spot was waiting to be: a threadrest. Between swatches, crochet thread accumulates "yin" (kind of like fruit ripening) while it rests until it spilleth over into another swatch. See? Doesn't it look like it's getting juicy and sweet?
If you think I'm nuts, then you don't know about stash-love. Think of it as being a visual poem.