Crochet Ups & Downs

How is it that WIPs (Works In Progress) can multiply and haunt you? How is it I can love to crochet yet not have the desire to do one more stitch on the afghan? Why is it that time can stand still with some projects?

I think we have all had these questions, I know I find them popping up in projects that are not even crochet related. In the beginning I have a plan, I am completely excited…the something happens. I don’t know what it is exactly, maybe I get bored, or I hit a snag in my plan. Maybe the next project just looks so much more exciting.

Yes, this is a challenge, even as I crochet for a living. In some cases if it wasn’t for a deadline some designs may not get completed. Not that they are not good designs or that I don’t love them but they sometimes fall into a rut and have to get put into time out.

Sometimes I think I am a bit manic in my crochet, I will crochet for non-stop for hours finishing project after project…then I hit a spell where I cannot even pick up a hook. My yarn and hook just stare at me, causing me guilt…I should be working on that project…I want to complete that idea…but I am stalled. I really do set goals every morning about what project needs to get done, and how far I need to get, but some days work a bit better than others.

I shouldn’t beat myself up too much, this is not the only area in my life this can appear nor am I the only one afflicted. There are always some home improvement projects around the house that haven’t quite been finished. There are always some art or craft projects that are half done; the garden seems to get partially started every year but never really finished. Some of it is that plans change part way through, others that the skill might exceed the ability.

Fortunately the slump always passes and the projects always get finished. Fortunately somehow everything balances out. So I will try and be a little nicer to myself when I just cannot pick up a hook. It is not a reflection of my love of craft it is just finding balance.

Crochet in the Groove

To find something in crochet that I have never seen before takes some doing, but I was fortunate enough to have one such product find me.

The Groove by Chetnanigans is a hand crafted tool designed to make the creation of broomstick lace quicker and easier. My understanding of its origins involves a woodworking husband fulfilling the dreams of his crocheting wife. This couple has created many creative products to fulfill the needs of crocheters including, but not limited to; hook and notion organizers, blocking boards, and hair pin lace looms. But the groove is something unlike anything else I have seen.

Sean and Holly of Chetnanigans reached out to me earlier this summer, after noticing that I was teaching a Broomstick Lace Technique class at the CGOA national Chainlink conference. They asked if I would give the Groove a try and give them some feedback. Well I found it unique enough to even share it with my students, many of which ordered their own.

Traditional broomstick lace has been done with a knitting needles. By working loops over a knitting needle and then working the loops back off to create a stitch that sometimes is noted as resembling the eye of a peacock tail. One of the biggest drawbacks to this techniques is that it is a bit awkward…it feels like you need a third hand to hold everything.

The Groove addresses this issue by putting a base on the “needle” so that it can actually stand upright on a table, so simple it becomes a “why didn’t I think of that?” kind of thing. However the Groove doesn’t just stop there, it then has…well…a groove at its tip. It is this groove that sets the Groove apart.

A crochet hook slips into this slit and under the loops that have been added to ease the removal and really make the process faster. When using a traditional knitting needle you move these loops to the tip and work your crochet hook between the loops and needle, it is not particularly difficult, but it is a slow process when compared to using the Groove.

The Groove is equivalent of a 25mm knitting needle, or in other terms has a 1” diameter shaft, so it is a perfect size for light to medium weight yarns. It has a nice weight, not feeling to light or flimsy or to heavy and clumsy. The only drawback I have found is that my kids think it would be a great spike to kill vampires or even club someone, so I have to keep an eye on its location to ensure that it is only used for its intended purpose. But if I find some vampires I guess I am prepared, and in the mean time I will have a great time crocheting up some broomstick lace.

Worth a Routine Change

Settling back into a routine can be a bit of a challenge, but teaching at the Crochet Guild of America annual Chainlink conference is really worth the change of schedule.

This is my second year teaching at CGOA, and this year went by faster than I thought possible. I blinked and it was over.

I spent the last week of July just outside of Chicago sharing my love of crochet with other like-minded individuals. I taught 4 classes, and as there are so many great crochet instructors I vary my topics to help set me apart. This event I taught Needle Felting Applique, Converting Knitting to Crochet, Variations of Broomstick Lace and Things that the Pattern Assumes you Know. I feel like every class I teach is a test; Can I share everything in a manner that everyone will understand? Am I giving the students what they need/want/deserve/expect?

In a respect I think I gain just as much as my students from a good class, which I think each of these were. I get inspired by the work they do and the questions they ask. It helps me explore things in a different way, and I hope that helps me grow as a teacher.

This was the first conference since 2004 that the CGOA did a conference alone. In the recent past CGOA partnered with The Knitting Guild Association for the Knit & Crochet Show, this year the knitting association decided to try something different and CGOA decided to proceed on its own. As a result the show was a bit smaller but this allowed it to have everything much more inclusive, with all the class rooms in the hotel. So no trekking to a large convention center. I could leave my class room and join groups of crocheters working on their latest projects in the lobby. It was really nice.

I also had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make a couple of new ones. It is like a battery being recharged, but recharged while it is being completely run to empty. I enjoy this show and look forward to next year in Portland, OR.

 

Memory Magic In A Hook

I have used the same hooks for years. Since working in crochet professionally I have learned that there are many different hooks with different subtleties and that there are many people that love them for various reasons.  However I still believe the most powerful hooks are the ones that share memories.

I am hard pressed to find a crocheter that doesn’t have a hook that shares memories, some remind me of particular projects, some remind me of people, and some remind me of times. I even have some that simply share a memory as an idea or inspiration.

I have a hook that reminds me of the time I began crocheting with wire and all the craft fairs I worked selling necklaces. I have a set of hooks that were gifted me upon a friend’s death, so obviously these hooks remind me of her. I have a hook that reminds me of my grandmother. I have a little glass jar of hooks that reminds me of my aunt while stirring my imagination about my great-grandmother. A hook that reminds me of appreciation, a hook that reminds me of a friend.

I have a hook that reminds me of an incredible trip I took, a hook that reminds me of the lunch with a friend. I have a hook that reminds me of a design that an editor of a magazine really loved. I have a hook that reminds me of student’s questions. I have a set of hooks that reminds me to be humble, a set that reminds me to be kind, a set that reminds me of friendship, and a set that reminds me of generosity; all because of the stories behind them.

These memories might be more powerful in my designing as the yarn itself. These memories somehow have become embedded in the handles and find themselves helping to create new magic. Memories can be magic, and I am in awe of how much magic sits in my jar.

Crochet Attachment, or Attached to Me

When I was younger crochet was an emotional outlet, I do not know if I could say the same thing today. Maybe crochet has grown up with me, or maybe it has just become ingrained to my every day.

I remember when I was in high school that my brother use to joke that is anyone was cold and needed a blanket, then find a guy for me to date then break up with me. Not that I dated much at all, but break-ups did through me into an afghan making frenzy. Everyone in my family has at least one, friends from the time can probably say the same.

It was not necessarily that I was filling my stitches with tears, as much as it kept my hands busy and helped to let my mind focus. I guess in a sense it was my meditation. I am not sure if it applies the same today.

I crochet daily, but now it has a different focus, it is part of my work. I keep more notes about the stitches I am working, I am deciding the best way to highlight a yarn, I am thinking of things for blog posts, I am exploring different ways to explain techniques in teaching, basically I have lost my mind wandering. I am not completely sure that this has come from the position of it being my work, or the many years that I have been doing it, over ¾ of my life.

I also am not working nearly as many afghans. I made many blankets over the years, I really only started making garments about a decade ago. In all things relative that is very short amount of time. So maybe that has taken to my change of my crochet experience, that I have expanded the scope of my outlet.

I may not recognize it as my emotional outlet, but nearly twenty years of marriage could have curbed that need. I still am not sure what I would do with my hands while seated just about anywhere, so maybe crochet has grown into something more primal, maybe it is just a part of me that I cannot see as separate.