Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's On the Hook/Needles Today?

I do have lots of crochet projects on the hook, but none that I can tell you about. So . . .

I am a confessed “sockaholic”, and I always have a pair of socks in play.  I was thumbing through one of my stitch dictionaries and saw a swatch that called to me for a sock (a knitted sock). I like to make socks from the toe-up, 2-at-a-time. I selected a colorful yarn—Tofutsies (lots of green, yellow and blue; quite cheerful) and started working on the toes.  I was quite excited when the toes were done and it was time to start the pattern on the instep. 
                Knit, knit, knit . . . . purl, purl, purl

                                Round and round I went . . . .

Do you see the lovely pattern stitch?

Me either.

All I see are the stripes.

Hmmm, beautiful yarn, but I must go back to the drawing board and find a stitch pattern that will let the stripes strut their stuff (why do all that work and not have it show up?). AND, I must look around my yarn cubicle for a solid or less-self-striping yarn for the stitch pattern that I am dreaming of.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Designs Out!

The October 2011 issue of Crochet World should be arriving soon in your mailbox, and on the newsstands. The preview of the items in this issue is up on their website. I am excited to show you 3 of those designs!

First, the Autumn Bobbles Rug.  The bobbles are offset by tracks (highs and lows) and are just downright fun.

Next up is the Massaging Back Scrubber. This fun little piece is worked with alternating post stitches and makes a great gift.

Finally, the Tunisian Lace Cardigan is sure to be a staple in any wardrobe. The bodice uses the Tunisian Knit stitch, while the skirt is done in an easy Tunisian Lace stitch.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pom-Pom Scarf

Our LYS had a sale this summer and my oldest decided to spend her money on pom-pom yarn. Once home, we researched the yarn on Ravelry and found a simple pattern. We got out the size 13 needles (almost as big as she is), and cast on. After a few rows, I turned the reins over to her.  She's doing well, but slowed by her desire to rub the scarf on her cheek, a look of pure rapture on her face.

The pattern is very easy and would normally work up rather quickly. It can be adjusted for length or width. For a wider or narrower scarf, add stitches or subtract stitches. Knit 2 stitches for each pom-pom. In her scarf, we chose 3 pom-poms and cast on 6 stitches; we cast on and worked the scarf in the following order:

1 st, pom-pom, 2 sts, pom-pom, 2 sts, pom-pom, 1 st

These would be good gifts for teachers or class-mates.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to School Earrings

Six months ago, the oldest daughter finally put aside her fear and decided to have her ears pierced.

The protocol for taking care of her ears called for her to wear post earrings for 6 months. After that time, she would be able to wear drops (or hangy-downs, as we call them). As it turns out, the 6 months is up just as she is ready to go back to school. To mark this momentus occasion, I pulled out thread, a steel hook and Edie Eckman's book Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs. Due to size, I worked one less round than the motif called for, but the result is quite cute and I will be making more of these.

And here is my little lovely modeling the new earrings.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Next Thing

My hiatus didn't last long! It's hard for me not to have hook or needles in hand.

While at Chain Link 2011, I took a class taught by Lily Chin on Circular Tunisian Tapestry Crochet.  It was quite facinating and once I realized that the dress she was wearing was made using this technique, I lost all of my focus for the topic she was teaching in the morning class I was in!

Annie's Attic has a book titled Double-ended Hook Crochet and I had worked with that technique before taking Lily's class.  Items can be worked in the round (such as socks, hats, mittens or gloves) and the concept is much like that of using double-pointed needles--several double-ended hooks are required.

Lily's technique is different and uses contrasting colors to the max.  Supplies for the class included 2 balls of contrasting yarn and a double-ended hook.  For the class, I bought a short double-ended crochet hook, made by Clover.  These hooks come in sizes G through J.

Lily started by showing us how to join our chain to make a circle, and then how to begin using the double-ended hook.  Basically, you should pick up stitches with one end of the hook (the traditional forward pass of Tunisian crochet), then turn the same hook and work those stitches off with the contrasting color (the traditional return pass of Tunisian crochet). This process is repeated around (and around) the work.

As Lily pointed out, you are really working in a spiral, like Tapestry crochet.  She showed us how to increase and decrease, as well as which kind of Tunisian stitch to use to control the color of each stitch.  In the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Crochet, she has demonstrated the technique in the Mesa Pullover

Here is a picture of something I've worked on with this new technique:

I know that I'm going to be spending lots of time with this new technique!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Lull

I've just finished one project and taken it to the post office. I still have to make some revisions to the pattern before I e-mail it.

So, what is next . . .? I always have a period of aimlessness between projects.  My mind races through ideas and my hands wander over my stash of yarn.  I don't know if I am waiting for a yarn to speak to  me, or if I'm just feeling the freedom to go out with others.  This lull can be frustrating rather than liberating. I am eager to get on with the next thing, whatever that next thing might be.

In the meantime, I'm putting away all of the materials related to the last project, cleaning up my work area (putting all of my stray stitch markers back into their box, putting away balls of yarn that served as a diversion during my "down" time), and trying to get my desk cleaned off so I can digest all of the information that I brought back from Chain Link.

A few cool things I've noticed on the internet . . .

April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio has posted pictures of skirts that she made for her girls. Adorable!

Ellen Gormley of Go Crochet! has posted pictures from the fashion show on Saturday night at Chain Link. She and Haley Zimm both looked outstanding!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Do we really need to plan?

There seem to be (at least) 2 kinds of designers -- organic and planners.  During Lily Chin's workshops at Chain Link 2011, she emphasized the benefits of planning before stitching, one being the loss of time due to stitching, stitching, stitching only to find out that all of that stitching was done in vain.  During those workshops, I nodded my head in agreement because I am a planner, especially a visual planner.  I make drawings, I make notes, I use software to plot out "things", and being a lover-of-all-things-math, I calculate until the cows come home.

Yesterday, I received a model back with notes about adjustments that need to be made. Of course, I am mortified that I have turned in a project that has to be "adjusted".  That certainly goes against the advice that Margaret Hubert gave us on Professional Development Day-quality.

So, what happened.  There are no excuses, but there are reasons--the children are home for the summer, my father-in-law was visiting and I was enjoying having time with him, I was getting ready for Chain Link . . .

But the main reason is that I didn't take time to review the design between proposal and stitching. I jumped in because I loved the colors that the editor picked, I loved the design and I couldn't wait to see it materialize.

Now what? I have spent the morning with my software working out the adjustments. The result will be a much better product, one I think the editor will be pleased with.

And Lily, I'm still nodding my head in agreement.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chain Link 2011

The Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) held its national conference (Chain Link) in Minneapolis MN last week. Each day was so awesome, it's hard to decide where to start . . .

Wednesday was Professional Development Day. The morning speakers were Ellen Gormley of Go Crochet!, Margaret Hubert, and Vickie Howell.

Ellen's speech was about the characteristics that make a project a showstopper or a project maker. A showstopper is a project that makes you go "WOW!" when you see it; it reaches from the pages of the book or magazine and grabs you. A project maker is one that people will make over and over; one that is their go-to project. It is the type of project that makes the crocheter feel successful.

I thought it was interesting that Ellen said that not all showstoppers are project makers. At first thought, all designers probably want that showstopper, that pattern that will possibly grace the cover. But, having a pattern that is a project maker is just as important.  From the feedback I've received, my Adirondack Socks is just that kind of pattern.  They are not complex, yet there are some stitches that make them interesting.  They also look great in any type of varigated or self-striping yarn.

Margaret Hubert's speech was about what it takes to survive in the crochet publishing world.  She certainly should know because she has been designing since 1975.  Margaret gave us 7 things that were most important for survival. Many centered around quality: quality of ideas, quality of proposals and finished products, and quality of the written patterns. She also advised us to be flexible and pro-active, but the final piece of advice fits Margaret to a T -- be nice. 

Vickie Howell was the last speaker of the morning and she wowed us all with her knowledge and tips for using social media.  My head was swimming with all the ideas that she gave me! I must say that my roommate and awesome designer, April Garwood, taught me how to use Twitter before we left on Saturday night.

Tidbits:  both April and Ellen have give-aways on their websites, so click on the links above and register to win.

More about the conference later . . . .