Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winner of Book Giveaway, plus More Stitch Photos

Tunisian Shakti, "Mobi-Dickie" version in bulky yarn
The winner, according to this random number generator, is Colorful Temptations. After I complete this blog post I'll alert the book editor, Robyn Chachula, to release a downloadable copy of the new Simply Crochet book to her. 

Thank you to everyone who entered! I like that my blog visitors from outside of the USA are equally eligible to win because the prize is downloadable.

Tunisian Shakti, "Mobi-Dickie" version in bulky yarn
Meanwhile, here are more photos of the Tunisian crochet stitch I described in the previous post. This one is an experimental möbius (or moebius) cowl--in bulky wool yarn--and a large Tunisian crochet hook! Fast to crochet and pleasantly stretchy. 

Tunisian Shakti"Mobi-Dickie" version in bulky yarn
I'm adding its pattern details to the Tunisian Shakti Scarves Superpattern in case someone would like to try it.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Powerful Tunisian Crochet Stitch to Love

Neck Lattice (1 skein!) 
photo ©2011 Vashti Braha
Neck Lattice 
photo ©2011 Interweave Press
I'm giving away a full downloadable edition of the new Simply Crochet   book! 

If you don't know about the main stitch used for Neck Lattice (just published by Interweave Press) and all designs shown in this post, please read on. 

It's one of the two stitches that have liberated my Tunisian crocheting.   (See "Breaking Out of Tunisian Ruts," issue #10 of my Crochet Inspirations newsletter for the other one.)

This amazing Tunisian stitch:
A Shakti Scarf (new design)
shows both sides of fabric

  • Conserves yarnNeck lattice uses ONE SKEIN. So do my other designs based on this stitch. 
  • Loves every Tunisian crochet hook size.
  • Loves a wide range of yarn weights, thicknesses, and textures.
  • Is reversible: looks fabulous on both sides (not always the case with a Tunisian crochet stitch).
  • Is fast to crochet (not always the case with a Tunisian crochet stitch).
  • Singlehandedly creates a sheer, breezy, weightless Tunisian crochet lace. Not only that, it can be stretchy.

[Have you ever used this stitch? Leave a comment on this blog post about it and you'll be entered to win the Simply Crochet e-book. 
You have until tomorrow, Fri. Dec. 9 at 10pm EST to enter.]

Notice in these photos how different the Tunisian crochet stitch can look depending on fibers, yarn weights, hook sizes, and degree of laciness over the years. (I know the photos are arranged weirdly in this post. It's just the way Blogger is sometimes.)

When Interweave Press published the new Simply Crochet book this month, I took stock of my design journey with this unique Tunisian crochet stitch. Neck Lattice, included in this book, was a pivotal discovery for me as a crocheter

Same Neck Lattice pattern and hook size, thicker yarn!
released my early photos of it (including a prototype) this week, and I remembered the exhilaration of discovering its edge-as-you-go latticework. 

And, the wonder of using the yarn that book editor Robyn Chachula chose for me to use--it's the mottled red alpaca one in the two uppermost photos. 

I had only used fingering weight yarn (sock yarn) for it until she sent me a lace weight yarn. I worried at first, but then I loved seeing the design take shape from only one skein. It grew quickly because I used a big Tunisian crochet hook.

A Shakti Scarf (new design)
For all its power, this Tunisian stitch doesn't seem to be one of the basic stitches one learns after the Tunisian Simple Stitch (Tss), even though it's easy to do! It's not standardized: it goes by more than one name, and explanations for how to do it vary widely. I've seen it called Extended Knit Stitch, Corded Stitch, Tunisian Knit Single Crochet, Tunisian Shaker Stitch, and "Tunisian Knit Stitch with a chain-1."

Here are my other experiments with this stitch over the past year or soNOTE: several of these are "Shakti Scarves," which are all versions of the same Tunisian Shakti design
A Shakti Scarf (new design)

Tunisian Shakti Scarves crochet superpattern is now available in my DesigningVashti pattern shop, and Ravelry store
A Shakti Scarf (new design)

Islander Wrap

A Shakti Scarf (new design)

A Shakti Scarf (new design)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Undaria Flutter Scarf, New Short Row Design

Check it out: I've just done a whole new kind of blog post, right at my website, and it was easy! It's about my newest crochet pattern coming out very soon, the Undaria Slip Stitch Flutter Scarf. 

You can see a gallery of TEN ways of wearing it over there. 

I'll have more links created after Thanksgiving. For now, here's its Ravelry project page, and its online photo set.

Edited on Dec. 3, 2011 to add: 

Being able to blog right from my website is making me irrationally happy and kind of wonderstruck. I've had that website for a little over a year, and it's been slow-going for me to remember how to update it. (I'd rather be designing...) Meanwhile, I know how to blog and enjoy it, and how to create colorful newsletters. 

Wow. A Wordpress-driven website is going to be FUN! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'm Crocheting Slip Stitch Short Rows...

...and I hope every crocheter will try it. I now have a free pattern for you: 
See the bumpy short row ends along the top edge?
You can make them melt (as they did in the 2nd photo below), or you can emphasize them as a decorative texture (see 4th and last photo below)
called "Slip Slope Scarf." Even if you've already tried crocheting short rows with other stitches like single crochet (sc or UK: dc) or double crochet (dc or UK: tr), give my slip stitch way a try. 
First set of short rows completed. As you can see in the top photo, they melted in nicely
as more rows were added. I should create a mini-video to also show how thoroughly
stretchy it is: not lumpy or tight where the short rows end.
I can't stop! It's an irresistible combo of: 

I love this color effect.
I think it'll become a design
called..."Slippery Fingers"?

  • Fabulous fabric: solid - warm - soft - thin - extra-stretchy - reversible
  • Fascinating color and texture effects
  • Fun stitching progress: I get to stop in the middle of a row and turn around (instead of always going all the way across to the end). And it's easier. I don't have to manage lumps in my fabric like I do if I use taller stitches (by tapering the stitch heights or messing with the turning chains, for example.) I don't have to stop and figure out which loops to work into when I crochet over a short row (like I do when I've tried tapering rows of taller stitches). 

I just plain enjoy the look and feel of these crochet short rows as I go. Is it like this for you too? I hope you'll try it and let me know.

Slip Tectonics, a neck warmer using two kinds 
of slip stitches to create a self-shaping cowl.
See also my newsletter issue about crocheting slip stitch short rows

After I write this, I'll go over to my Crochet Pattern Companion blog and create a photo tutorial for the short row basics.

After Slip Tectonics, I have another pattern coming out using crochet short rows, so if you like the free pattern, keep an eye out for "Thaxton Hood."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

We Have a Winner of the Crochet Tote Book Giveaway

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this blog tour giveaway. I'll have to come up with more reasons to do giveaways because it's really fun. It's like hosting a party at my blog! (In fact, if you have a creative idea for one, let me know.)

Using a truly random number generator to select a commenter on my previous blog post, I discovered our winner: 
Congratulations CATLADY, it's your lucky day! 
I hope you enjoy your goodies. I've accumulated a few things from yarn conferences I've attended, so I'm including these in your package: a Della Q project bag with Lorna's Laces pin; samples of different stitch markers; new Eucalan fabric wipes; and crochet hooks from Boye, Susan Bates, and Lion Brand's commemorative pink hook for women's health awareness. I even scrounged up a Leisure Arts pen that I forgot I had! 

The white hang tags have a special significance. Marty and I found out that we both love using them for our crochet projects. I'm sending you two sizes, in case you've never used them. We like to attach the larger size to a swatch so that we can record notes about it; the smaller size is perfect for noting just the hook size used, or page number of a stitch book, or part of a sweater ("left sleeve" for example), etc.

Catlady's comment was: "I generally use a cotton for totes - my "go to" brand is Bernat Handicrafter. And my "go to" colour is pink. :) But, I may try a felted wool tote - I've knit some, but want to see how some crochet stitches felt up for totes. I bought some feltable dk weight wool in pink and grey, that I thought about trying for a tote..."
I wish I had some pink yarn or some Bernat Handicrafter to include! Pink is my "go to" color too, and I need to get more. Maybe Catlady can somehow use two skeins of a rich red Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece yarn, or knows someone who likes red.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Chance to Win: Marty Miller's TOTES FOR ALL REASONS

This is no ordinary book review here at ol' DesigningVashti! I've always wanted to do a giveaway on my blog. 
In honor of Marty Miller's new crochet tote book, Totes for All Reasons, I'm giving away a copy of the book plus some fun crochet swag to a lucky commenter on this blog post. In your comment, please describe the yarn you would use to crochet your next tote (for example color, fiber, brand). Winner will be randomly picked at the end of this Monday Sept. 5 and announced Tuesday morning, September 6. 

Congratulations to Marty on her new book! These crochet totes were carefully designed for this collection to be fun to crochet and to use. I can see Marty's personality all over it and I know it was a blast for her to design these totes. 
When I see this I think YES. I need more fresh flowers
 AND a way to tote them!

I've been yarn shopping with Marty in craft stores and in yarn shops. She has this knack for seeing the tote that a new yarn wants to become. It's remarkable. I've also crocheted with her side by side, and you should see how fast and enthusiastically she can whip up a new tote, right off the top of her head.

Come to think of it, at conferences I've helped lug her crochet class materials to her classes--USING HER TOTES--and I can attest to the strength and comfort of the tote handles she designs. I can't imagine a better designer for a book of crochet totes. Period. 

Also, the photography is beautiful. This is a 24-page Leisure Arts publication, so you can expect clear images, clean layout, and easy to follow instructions. You can expect accuracy because Marty's an expert technical editor of other designers' crochet patterns, including mine

After me, there's one more stop on the blog tour. Please visit Kate Steinke's blog tomorrow (Sunday). And also see Marty's blog tour post about the totes she crocheted. She made me want to go and pick up a crochet hook and find a good tote yarn in my stash! Here's the complete tour schedule:

August 29: Marty Miller
August 30: Ellen Gormley
August 31: Drew Emborsky
September 1: Kimberly McAlindin
September 2: Doris Chan
September 3: Vashti Braha (c'est moi)
September 4: Kate Steinke

DON'T FORGET to leave a comment for a chance to win this book and some extra goodies. What yarn would YOU use to crochet your next tote?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Free Crochet Patterns by Vashti Braha: Index

New pdf format for my
free crochet patterns
This is the most current and complete clickable list of my crochet freebies. I'm in the midst of a website upgrade because the more official Free DesigningVashti Crochet Patterns section of my website needs to be reconfigured--I've learned this the hard way LOL. Giving (and receiving) free crochet designs is fun for me, but if I have to jump through a lot of hoops to offer them, they cease being fun and free! Get this: right now, if I add free downloadable pdfs to my website, Paypal tries to charge me a fee each time someone downloads one! If I add them as html pages, they don't print out for each person the way they should. If I host them only in my Ravelry store, then people leave my website!

My crochet patterns for "components" are included here--a flourishing pattern category in Ravelry for the building blocks of crochet projects. It's an important category because it's where a lot of the juicy bits of crochet can happen: cultural subtleties, skill refining, artful customizing, and creative problem-solving. Components are things like: stitch patterns, edgings, insertions, fastenings, appliqués, embellishments, afghan blocks, and miscellaneous tutorials. I seem to naturally enjoy designing these also, and have been putting them in my free biweekly Crochet Inspirations Newsletters.

A. Free Crochet Components (stitch patterns, edgings, insertions, fastenings, appliqués, embellishments, afghan blocks, miscellaneous tutorials, etc)

Why & How to Crochet Limpet Stitches & Half HitchesIssue #3 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "A Very Different Kind of Crochet Stitch." 

How to Crochet Three Valuable Alternatives to the Foundation ChainIssue #18 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Deep Crochet Research."
3 Slim Foundation Stitches

How to Do the Classic Single Crochet Version of the Double-Faced StitchIssue #6 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Thick Enough Crochet (The 'Helena' Stitches)."

Twisted Front Loop Single Crochet (Twflosc)Issue #12 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Twist Some Loops."

The Tunisian Yarn Over (Tyo), A Valuable Stitch to KnowIssue #10 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Tunisian Crochet: Breaking Out of Ruts."

Twisted Loops
How to Do the Classic V-Stitch (with pointers to a few simple variations, and charts of increases)Issue #15 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Unpacking the V-Stitch."

The Speedy Offset Filet Stitch: How to Crochet It and Graph (aka Chart) ItIssue #4 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Graphing Waterlilies." 

The Popular 'Seed Stitch' and Elongated Sc Variation: How to Crochet It, and Graph (aka Chart) It for ColorworkIssue #4 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Graphing Waterlilies." 

B. Free Crochet Patterns for Projects

Eva Scarf (see photo at top left corner of this post)
This free pattern download is a great example of how I publish my premium crochet patterns that you can purchase at DesigningVashti and in Ravelry.
The scarf was first published as Ribbed Slip Stitch 'Classico' Scarf in Issue #9 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Slip Stitch for Style."
Scrappy Posing as a Toy

Scrappy the Draft Snake
This free pattern download is also a great example of how I publish my premium crochet patterns that you can purchase at DesigningVashti and in Ravelry.
Love Knot Embracelet
The most popular free crochet pattern of this blog! I'm looking forward to publishing it in the new and pretty pdf format that I created for my premium indie-published designs. (See Eva Scarf for an example.) Ravelry Design Page
Cowl-Ready Stitch Pattern

Start a Cowl in the Round (How to Crochet an Easy Cowl)Issue #5 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "A Fever for Crocheting Cowls." 

Cowl-Ready Crochet Stitch Pattern #1, and Cowl-Ready Crochet Stitch Pattern #2Issue #5 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "A Fever for Crocheting Cowls." 

Pampering Pebble Pockets
Pampering Pebbles Makeup Removal Pockets: Issue #21 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Wee Pebbly Stitches."

Two Simple Clasps for Crochet Jewelry: Wavy Donut Button and Plump Star ButtonIssue #1 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "New Crochet Talk (Inaugural Issue)." 

Spring Buds Cord
Beginner's Necklace Cord, and Spring Buds Cord, both in issue #17 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Crocheting Fancy Cords."

Simple Jelly Yarn 'Braid': Issue #11 of Vashti's Crochet Inspirations Newsletter, "Spring Loaded Stitches."

C. Free Crochet Patterns for Kids and Their Parents at my ToyDesigningVashti Blog

Glee Worms
Glee Worm Cousins
The first free pattern I ever published as a blog post, in October 2006.

Hippie Hemp Teacher's Bracelets

Book Bling Bungee

D. Caron Yarns Deluxe Free Crochet Fashion Patterns:
Tokyo Jacket
Tokyo Jacket

Renaissance Tunic
Ravelry Design Page
Pattern page at

E. Remember the original Crochet me online crochet magazine? Here are direct links to my two patterns in the archived issues: 
Rosebud Shrug

Rosebud Shrug (March 2006)

Wire Hotplate Doily (June 2005)

F. Berroco Knit Bits newsletter:
Java Jammie (a coffee cozy that replaces those cardboard sleeves.) I think of the pattern as a "stitch game." Published in the Berroco Knit Bits newsletter issue #142 (June 30, 2006); scroll to the end for story and link to updated pattern page. (For some reason, these two links no longer link to the original Knit Bits issue: Ravelry Design Page and

G. Lion Brand:
Fancy Fur Kimono
Ravelry Design Page(Ravelry page contains link which goes to the Lion Brand Yarn site, where you will encounter a sign-in page)

V-Stitch Cocoon Shrug
Ravelry Design Page(Ravelry page contains link which goes to the Lion Brand Yarn site, where you will encounter a sign-in page)

I have plenty more free crochet patterns and I want to format them all into pretty pdf's when I can. I'll update this post as they happen, and of course let you know when I come up with an official database of all free DesigningVashti crochet patterns.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Crochet Designing and TNNA 2011

If I'm a sailboat on a sea of creativity, the waters have been choppy lately! The schedule of my son's summer camp is like a big speedboat that leaves a big wake for my sailboat. He loves the camp and I'm getting the hang of those waves. There's also the TNNA conference I've just attended: it's an unexpected air current that keeps catching my sails! (OK, I'll stop the analogy here.)

'Twas great to see Linda Permann, Doris Chan, and
Ellen Gormley crocheting simultaneously!
(Click here to see one with me in it.)
I've attended and blogged about The National Needlearts Association trade shows ("TNNA shows") every June since 2006. The attendees are primarily needle arts and yarn shop owners, and the exhibitors are businesses that offer yarns, tools, books, etc. for these shops. As a crochet designer I experience the yarn side of the show much more than the needlepoint-cross stitch-embroidery side. 

This year, warm appreciation and abundant new opportunities flowed toward designers! It was wonderful. Almost every business responded with a sparkling 'Yes!' when I asked if they work with indie {crochet} designers, which wasn't so much the case in previous years. I think that as social media and other online resources develop, helping each other succeed just keeps getting easier.
Fun picture of Marly and me taken at the
Ravelry Ice Cream Social, TNNA 2010.
Click here for Marly's original photo
(less grainy resolution than mine)

At a designer dinner I received a remarkable goody bag of everything from a stylish Namaste messenger bag to a coveted skein of pure buffalo yarn. Like I told Marly (see photo at left) who organized the dinner, it's had a great effect on my creativity. 

I'm already using and loving:

Looking forward to using: 

In addition to the buffalo yarn, I'm looking forward to swatching up: 

I have more experiences with new tools and yarns to report when time permits. Until then, I have issue #22 of my Crochet Inspirations newsletter to prepare this week (it won't have anything to do with TNNA, unlike issue #20), and my first-ever crochet videos to upload! 
Plus, the usual stream of crochet patterns to complete and publish. 
I've been adding charts to some published patterns and I announce stuff like that in my newsletters so please subscribe here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tunisian Crochet Lace: New Habits

After designing several lacy Tunisian crochet wraps, and teaching how to crochet Tunisian lace to both knitters and crocheters in local yarn shops, I've noticed a few things. I thought I'd blog them below as a way of listing my tips, strategies, and observations in one place.
My newest Tunisian crochet lace design!

The #1 most remarkable thing to me about Tunisian crochet: it can be super-lacy, but rarely is. I suspect that a lot of people don't know just how lacy it can be. Instead, a huge amount of Tunisian crochet that I see is perfect for keeping someone warm. For me, Tunisian crochet can also be breezy, weightless, and super-lacy: perfect for a Florida summer! 

Sequined Tunisian Net for Evening
In my Tunisian crochet lace classes, I find that many crocheters start out expecting to use a tighter gauge with Tunisian stitches--even if they have experience making other kinds of lacy items. Some think that their Tunisian stitches are done correctly if they look and feel like they have no 'breathing room' (no extra ease built in). 

I've seen some people make lacy Tunisian stitches, then assume that they need to rip them out and start over with a smaller crochet hook size to firm up the stitches. (This would be true for making sweaters and blankets.) Actually, they might only need to spritz with water to dampen and block
Sneak Peek of Rivuline

When I look at looser Tunisian stitches, I see room for the lace to open up and "blossom," with flexible joints for beautiful draping. 

I suspect three possible reasons for non-lacy approaches to Tunisian crochet:
My Petals Tunisian stitch pattern.

1. When many crocheters and knitters learned how to do Tunisian crochet, they made afghans first. These students need to see the familiar stitches (such as Tss) in a new way: more open, with room to breathe and drape.

2. Each Tunisian crochet stitch tends to be shorter and smaller than most regular crochet stitches, especially when making lace. So, viewed up close, looser Tunisian stitches can look too loose, even sloppy to some, but will look elegant and stylish as clothing, especially after blocking.

Shaktism, a sneak peek
As a designer, another way I'd put it is, the fine-grained smaller scale of Tunisian stitches inclines one to lose sight of the larger perspective, which is how these stitches look together from a distance as a larger piece of fabric.

3. The unique Tunisian crochet process of adding all loops of a new row onto the crochet hook during the Forward Pass, and then working them all off during the Return Pass, might make some people want to "yank" their loops too tightly, rather than too loosely.
Most of all what I see in my classes is a habit, or comfort zone, of working Tunisian crochet so that the stitches are snug and dense. This is fabulous for afghans and winter sweaters, hats, and scarves. If this is true for you, don't worry. It doesn't take long at all for your fingers and eyes to start experiencing Tunisian stitches in a new, lacy form.

Here are some tips:

If it's your first experience with a Tunisian crochet lace pattern, really try to match the designer's gauge as a way of learning a new way of perceiving, and a new feeling for the stitching fingers. (Normally, matching a designer's stitch and row gauge exactly might not be essential for wearing a loose-fitting, gorgeous swath of Tunisian crochet lace, unless you want to match the finished dimensions and yarn amounts stated in the pattern as closely as possible.)
Ennis Wrap: Tunisian Filet Crochet

- I suggest swatching with a yarn that has gentle color changes if this is your first Tunisian project featuring multiple Tyo. The color changes make it easier to distinguish a Tyo loop from the nearby vertical bar of a Tss.

- When making three or more Tyo (Tunisian Yarn Over) in a row, tug on them a bit to firm up how they're wrapped around the hook during the Forward pass. (If they don't slide easily along your hook though, then you've tightened them too much). 
- When working multiple Tyo loops off of your hook during the Return pass, use longer stitches. I stretch them a bit as I work them off of my hook.

- Spritz your stitches with water as you crochet anytime and gently stretch open the lacy holes to see how the extra ease of a looser gauge allows the lace to open up.