Saturday, September 25, 2010

Celebrating Drew Emborsky, The Crochet Dude (r)

Today's post might normally be a book review (because I get to be part of a blog tour event this month), except that my reaction to Drew's new book Crochet It. Love It. Wear It! goes beyond the usual bounds of book reviewing! So I'm just going to lay it all out there. I get to build on what other bloggers have already said over the past few weeks.
Laurie Wheeler, me, Drew, Portland OR 2008
Drew is a dear friend and is one of the amazing people I've gotten to know while being a part of today's crochet world, and why I feel so lucky to be designing. We would be good friends even if neither of us crocheted, but then how would we have met? (photo was taken when his previous book, Crochet Dude's Designs for Guys, had just come out)

I toasted Drew the day Crochet It. Love It. Wear It! arrived in the mail. I remember when he talked about the process of choosing a book title for it that will pull him forward like a beacon through the long solitary process of hammering out that final book draft. It was once just a great idea and now I hold it in my hands.
As a fellow designer I love to see how Drew explores crochet stitch textures for fashion. It's interesting what he said about this over at Marty's blog stop a few days ago. He gives post stitches a new language and this makes them fresh for me (not an easy feat--I'm one of those "seen it all" crocheters--and there are so many of us....). 
 A perfect example is "Investing": check out how he used the post stitch texture as a fashion fabric. Also in "Hesperas" and the texture-virtuosic "Budapest Nights," both of them getting raves on many other blogs. (Clicking on these links go to Drew's Flickr set where you can enlarge the photos much more.) 

A few bloggers mentioned being a bit nervous about learning post stitches; I hope that newer crocheters will just jump in and use Drew's book as an opportunity to try them. Some crocheters find them to be easier than regular stitches. This is my favorite Drew quote from Stefanie's blog: "I want the crafter's experience to be fun and enjoyable from beginning to end. Let me do the hard part and figure it all out, you just relax with your project and enjoy yourself." 
All right, I'm ready to address the Matter of the "Vashti" Skirt. Drew went and named one of the designs in this book after me. It's not a coincidence, he comes right out and says it, and frankly, it's like getting a spectacular valentine. Especially because it's awfully pretty! It's made of linen, one of my fav fibers! I wear that color a lot! Enough about me except to say that it's awesome to have a design named after you and I can recommend it with no hesitation. None.

One more thing about the skirt though. It's constructed in long strips, and the seams are the airiest laciest part of the design. Isn't that cool? This skirt is full of crocheted seams, people. Who thinks of seams as ethereal? Check out the enchanting thing these seams do at the bottom hem.
If you've read this far, you deserve a secret clue, so today's mystery word is lacy seams.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Weightless Tunisian Crochet Stole

Name on birth certificate: Weightless Tunisian Stole

Birthdate: April 18, 2009

Takes after: 'Wicker stitch' sisters, thread crochet aunts, and lace knitting cousins.

Designers will tell you that when it comes to naming a design, it's really nice when crocheters AND knitters AND everyone else all "get" the name. This is true for Weightless.

Having the right name is a gift bestowed by her fairy godmother. (I had been calling her "Frosted Wicker" because she was conceived in frost-like lace weight mohair right after I created her Tunisian stitch pattern, which is called "Wicker stitch." But then the fairy godmother stepped in.)

Weightless has been having a grand time. Her weightless quality makes her Little Miss Popularity in school, and it disarms and charms those who might normally hold it against her that she's crocheted instead of knitted. She even gets invited to tea parties at yarn shops. This weekend will be her sixth! 

Thanks to another fairy godmother, she 'came out' as a debutante this past July at CGOA's Chain Link conference in Manchester NH. She was written up in Crochetville to critical acclaim.

This second fairy godmother, in the form of a good friend of mine, urged me to enter something in CGOA's 2010 design contest. She cajoled and flitted about my thoughts like Tinkerbell, sprinkling pixie dust all over my crochet projects until I agreed to enter something....and Weightless looks lovely with pixie dust. Good thing I listened because Weightless won Third Prize in the Special Occasion category!

Official CGOA Design Contest Photo
So far it sounds too good to be true, and it is. You should hear what a third fairy godmother did! She gave Weightless a Cinderella-like (or ugly duckling-to-swan-like) destiny by decreeing at birth that her true beauty will be forever invisible unless:
  1. a crocheter heeds the pattern by waving a much larger Tunisian wand than usual over the yarn, AND
  2. by the stroke of midnight, a crocheter must wield the magical Blocking Instrument of Lacy Excellence (spritz with water, spread out all stitches of Stole evenly and leave to dry completely on a flat toweled surface.)
The Scrapbook of Weightless
(Like a doting Mom, I'll update this section whenever newsy items occur.)
  • To learn more about the Weightless Tunisian crochet pattern, or to purchase and instantly download it, go to my pattern website here. To do the same in my Ravelry Store, go here. (If you go to my website, you can see lots more patterns--by me, and by Doris Chan, before they appear in Ravelry.)
  • The glowing review of the Weightless pattern by the founder of Crochetville can be read here.
  • Weightless has her own Crochet-Along! If you'd like to join in, please visit here and see where everyone's at.
  • About Weightless' award: see photo below of her in the contest with her ribbon. My girl is beaming! Thank you for the photo, Donna. This is what was read aloud as Weightless was presented with her prize: "When I think of this stole, I remember the first time I wore it. It was a special night, breezy and cool, and I felt beautiful. The Tunisian stitch pattern is my own combination of eyelet, slip, and twisted Tunisian stitches. I have not found this kind of eyelet lace used anywhere else so I've named it “Wicker Stitch". I like that the return rows settle into enough of a diagonal grain that the fabric acquires more stretch than the usual Tunisian stitch pattern. Yarn is a 75% kid mohair and 25% silk lightweight yarn called Ovation by S.R. Kertzer."
  • Weightless has a social life over in Ravelry. Even if you don't visit her page to purchase the pattern, look at the tabs across the top and you can see the Weightless projects other Ravelers make, when she pops up as a topic in forums, Ravelers' comments, and yarn ideas.
  • Weightless has her own Flickr set here. Actually she has two. One is public, and one can be accessed only by using a special pass found in her pattern!  
  • On Sharon Silverman's Contemporary Crochet Facebook page, Sharon wrote: "Yay, Vashti! She won third prize in the Crochet Guild of American 2010 design competition in the "Special Occasion" category for her Weightless Tunisian Stole--the contest was this summer but the winners' names are published in the current Crochet! mag. Gorgeous work." (September 20, 2010) Thank you, Sharon.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    New Free Crochet Newsletter is Taking Shape

    I didn't expect the newsletter creating process to feel magical. Producing each issue on a regular publishing schedule is my top priority, so I waited to launch it until I knew I was ready for that. I didn't know how exciting and fun it would be! Actually, I'd like it to be weekly but for now I can commit to biweekly, every other Thursday.

    I'm finishing up issue #2 now and it goes out to subscribers tomorrow. I sent out the first issue 13 days ago, so....tomorrow's the big day! If you haven't subscribed yet, you can start receiving it starting with tomorrow's automatically if you subscribe before I send out the next issue (otherwise, I think I can see who subbed after, and can send a link to the archived issue or something):

    Instant subscribe:   (Free, no strings--I don't sell subscriber addresses, etc. My purpose is inspiration, information, and community. I'll provide news of DesigningVashti website happenings in a separate section of the newsletter for those who want to know--especially those who want to be the first to know.) Here's where that short URL goes to so that you know what you're clicking on!:

    It's called Vashti's Crochet Inspirations. This is because I have a grand ol' time every day with my hooks and yarn, and like many crocheters, I mostly keep it to myself. The exception is when I talk with other crochet designers, visit Ravelry, or meet with students at a local yarn shop. Sometimes I listen to what we crocheters discover about crochet and think, "How come I never see this stuff in print?" To me, crochet continues to be a wonderland of nuances, surprises, and new frontiers.  Much of what we think or talk about isn't written for some reason.

    Maybe I just have an unusual way of looking at things. Or, maybe I'm not alone in wanting different ways of looking at crochet that aren't too simplistic. So if you'd like to share in my particular crochet headspace, you're welcome to join us.

    You can see the first issue here: 
    (and here's where that short URL goes to so that you know what you're clicking on: )