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.

 

Teaching Inspired

It is a bit amazing all the accomplishments my crochet students have made. This last week at the El Dorado County fair in Placerville, CA they were awarded Best of Show, several Blue ribbons, and even swept entire categories. I am proud of each and every one of them, even those that did not enter.

 

Thinking back over the several years of teaching, I can remember my first student, and the lessons I learned from her. I live in a smallish community, and am multiple generations within it. I don’t look too hard for additional family as I probably have more relations or connections then one person really needs in life. So when my kindergarten age son began taking art lessons after school, it was not much of stretch when I found out the teacher was a cousin. Technically she was married to my second cousin, but why get to technical.

 

www.lindadeancrochet.comMy son took lessons all year and over the summer she invited him to her home to continue. During conversations over these lesson she learned that I had successfully completed the Crochet Guild of America’s Masters of Advanced Stitches and Techniques program.  As a result she requested that I teach her to crochet in trade for payment for the art lessons. I know that part of the reason she wanted me to teach her was to have more discussions, and help her gain insight into the childhood of her husband as he is a quiet man that doesn’t speak much on this topic.

 

She took lessons from me for about a year, encouraging me to attend the CGOA annual conference, which ended up launching my crochet career. She encouraged me to begin teaching at a local coffee shop, which I did for 4 years…one night a week with drop in lessons, until the shop moved twenty minutes away, now I teach regularly at my local yarn store as well as at national conferences and events. She was a support, she helped add a new spark to my life.

 

She passed away a few years later, only months after her pancreatic cancer diagnosis, but I remember well the lessons I learned from our crochet time, the class is about more than just the stitches. It is about the relationships, it is about the community, it is about the stories, and it is about sharing the confidence of your own ability and fostering confidence to grow in others. My current students may not realize how my teaching style was built, but they continue to help me remember the important lessons every time we meet. Thank you for the early education Judy, it will forever be with me.

Teaching Crochet In Chicago!

If you would have told me a couple of years ago that I would be a crochet designer, published in several well-known magazines worldwide, I would have thought you were crazy. Then if you added to that, that I would be teaching on the National Stage at conferences, I would have asked for you to check what was in your water. I never would have seen this is the future journey that I would have been on. After all I was working in a support position for social works in cafe of the elderly. I found my job rewarding, knowing that I was making a daily difference in the lives of people in my community.

Well, changes in the structure of my job, as well as the needs of my young kids helped me envision a new path. I still have to pinch myself at times to realize that I really have accomplished these things, and that I am teaching again this year at the Crochet Guild of America’s annual Chainlink Conference, this year July 26-29, 2017 in Chicago.

www.lindadeancrochet.com

Needle Felt crochet motifs on fabric

I am teaching some classes you may not have expected. I am teaching how to Needle Felt your motifs directly onto fabric, allowing you to take your crochet into an entirely new direction with no sewing required! Barbed needles are great tools that can be used to create some fabulous projects, but using it with crochet is a direction that you may not have explored, until now.

www.lindadeancrochet.com

Convert It! Learn how to crochet your favorite knitting pattern

I am also teaching Convert It! This is a class that will overload you with information about how to take your favorite knit design and recreate it in crochet. Learn what drives you to choose your pattern, and then understand how to dismantle it and put it together for the exact look you want, while learning and understanding the basic differences between knitting and crochet and how to use the strength and weakness of each to complement each other.

www.lindadeancrochet.com

What the Pattern Does Not Say

What the Pattern Does Not Tell You covers all the things that designers, writers, and publishers assume you already know. There are many simple things that can get overlooked in the writing, but can really make a complete difference in the outcome of your success. Don’t let the lack of this information hold your crochet back.

While teaching Re-Invented Broomstick Lace, I have learned so much myself. People have an idea of the basics of Broomstick lace, but there are so many possibilities. This class offers inspiration in how to use this stitch to create stunning fabrics that will leave everyone asking how you did that. It can be your secret, and hopefully you will get inspired to invent even more new approaches to this lace technique.

www.lindadeancrochet.com

Re-Invented Broomstick Lace

It will be a fun couple of days in Chicago, and if you can join me it would be great to see you. I don’t know what crazy adventure I will be on in the next couple of years, but I have learned, NEVER, rule out anything!

A Review….A Little Early

ScannedImageI find myself a little ahead of myself. Usually during New Year’s I end up reflecting upon the last year, I am amazed at the 12 months that have past and all the things that have happened and been accomplished. I am not sure if it was caused from my cleaning up stacks of paper, that long ago should have been filed away, or my kids turning pages of their photo albums (yes, I still print photos off and place them in albums), that caused me to begin my reflection this week.

It is a little surreal to look back as it sometimes feels like a lifetime ago, or just last week. So over the last 12 months I have self-published 10 designs, bringing my own design line of Linda Dean Crochet to a total of 35. In addition I completed 16 designs for Freelance contracts, work that is in magazines or websites for yarn companies. This is slightly less than the year previous, but I have undertaken and expanded another portion of my business, teaching.

In 2016 I taught weekly at my local yarn store, with a total of 77 students taught over the year…that is 530.5 student hours. I have to admit, it is a highlight for my week. Everyone is so eager to learn and so friendly with everyone in the room. It has often been expressed to me by the store owners that my students seem to have so much fun, as the laughing and smiles spill over onto to store floor.

IMG_20160717_161155784

My tour of Charleston, SC

In addition I taught on the national level for the first time, at the Crochet Guild of America’s (CGOA) annual conference this last year in Charleston, SC (I just learned that I will be teaching again at this conference in 2017, this time in Chicago). Here I taught an additional 63 students, with 189 student hours, in my four classes.

I served on the CGOA Board of Directors, served as a co-chairperson for the Masters Committee and Social Media Committee, as well as working as a Master Program Reviewer (the Master’s Program is a program that offers some instruction and tests your crochet knowledge and skill). I also undertook the challenge of creating a new, more educational based Master Program that I hope will be available later in 2017.

Locally I served on the Board of my Hangtown Fibers Guild, I worked at ensuring that there was a program at every monthly meeting, as well as arranging workshops from nationally recognized instructors.

I also traveled quite a bit in 2016…January found me in San Diego (the National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show), February I was in Santa Clara, CA for Stitches West; May in Pasadena, CA for Vogue Knitting Live; June to Washington DC for the TNNA Winter Show; and July in Charleston, SC to teach at the CGOA conference. This was much quieter than the year before, but this is only the travel and commitments for my work in crochet.

My kids are always busy, and without the support of my husband I don’t think that I could have accomplished anything. The kids kept busy with TaeKwonDo, 4H, and band. I do not think that there has been a single weekend where we were able to sit back and relax at home.

Looking back really does help me keep things in a perspective. On any given day, I don’t feel like I accomplish much…maybe because in prior jobs I could see the stack of paper, emails and phone calls that I completed daily; crochet has a different flow, it is more artistic, and I do not have the same instant gratification of work completed. Taking stock of the work I have done, does help me to understand that I have been productive, I am contributing.

2017 is already shaping up on becoming a bit busier. This is an interesting journey.