Tissue Paper Yarn Dyeing

Dyeing yarn with tissue paper? Yeah, it sounds a bit unusual, however I have been busy playing with all kinds of dyeing approaches this last week as I get ready for a class I am teaching in two weeks at the Crochet Guild of America’s Chainlink Conference.

I have been working with food coloring and Easter egg dyes, while dabbling with Kool Aid. I have been playing with multiple protein based fibers (yarns that are made from animal fibers, like wool, alpaca, silk, mohair, etc.), but it was trying to find something in my closet that sparked me in a little different direction.

I tend to be a person that doesn’t really throw much out, if I can find another purpose for it I will hold on to it to use it in the future, so tissue paper from gifts gets saved. When digging through the closet I found a stack of this saved tissue paper and I began to wonder….Can I dye with this?

The answer…YES!

I began by soaking the yarn in a bath of water and citric acid (1 teaspoon citric acid to 4 cups of water), you can use white vinegar instead of citric acid if you like (1/4 cup white vinegar to 4 cups of water), then I wrapped various pieces of colored tissue around the yarn. After covering the yarn with paper I placed it in a microwavable bowl and added some of the water/acid solution. I placed it in the microwave for 2 minutes, took it out and waited.

I have to wait after removing it from the microwave, frankly because I do not like to burn myself. After it cooled down a bit I removed the tissue paper and rinsed out the yarn. I was impressed. Some colors bonded to the yarn better than others, but that could be because I had some different quality papers. There was some white space, and different colors in different patches. Offering a bit of a kaleidoscope of possibilities.

I am continuing to play with this technique, and currently find a vast amount of ideas just bubbling to the surface. I am sure that by the time my workshop comes around in a few weeks I will have a very contagious attitude to share with my students!

Teaching and Still Learning

Why do I still take crochet classes? That was a question I was asked recently, and apparently many people do not easily understand the reason.

I must first admit, that I took my first crochet class in 2011, thirty years after I taught myself to crochet. I took the class because I happened to be invited to attend a Crochet Guild of America conference, and figured I would try everything it had to offer. I actually took a few classes at that conference, and realized that even though I knew quite a bit about crochet there was so much more to learn.

Crochet does not just have to be the working of a couple of stitches to create an afghan, which was my long standing practice with the craft, it can be an experience of bonding, an experience of growth, an experience of connecting. Taking my first class opened this world to me.

In each and every class I take I learn something new, even if it is a topic I thought that I knew really well. Every teacher has a different way to bring the material and information alive, in this process I see crochet from a different angle, and different history, and different life.

Yes, I might be going a bit deep, but crochet is so unique to each individual. Not only is all crochet handmade, as there is no machine crochet, but it is often learned from one generation to another. I often find students are unsure of their abilities in crochet, and I think this is due to the nature of learning in a personal setting from an older relative or neighbor. This might intimidate students from taking classes, it did for me for too many years, but overcoming the awkward discomfort I thought I would have has shown me more than I could have imagined.

Even as I teach more, I continue to take classes to retain and re-imagine what crochet can be. If you haven’t adventured into a crochet class, I really recommend you do. You will meet interesting people, learn stories and connect….everything that I realize I need.

Life’s Journey- A Crochet Job

As I attend several graduations I ponder my days of completing high school and where I thought my life would go, and if someone told me that I would be designing and teaching crochet I seriously would have laughed at them. I even remember telling a friend my senior year of high school, after he was in awe of an afghan I had created that I should make and sell them for a living, that there was no money in such an endeavor.

Granted all these years later, I will not say that the money in crochet is great, but it is now my profession, even if it took an odd journey to get there.

Like most students graduating high school, or even college, I was never able to answer the question “where do you see yourself in five years?”. A great question, but one that always felt like I could not adequately answer.

I worked the food industry, I worked retail, I worked for startup companies and local government before finding myself currently in crochet. In reality I would probably still be working local government if there was not a change in the direction of the management that no longer wanted to employ part time workers. I had been working part time for a few years juggling the typical family demands of running a household and raising kids, and the costs that I would incur in the additional child care did not justify working full time.

When these management decision were made, I was fortunate to have already had an opportunity to sell my first crochet design. It began just a couple of years earlier, when I was attending an event with a silent auction and I won lessons on using a drop spindle.

I had already been crocheting for decades, but due to the speed of completing my projects I was wanting to find a way to enjoy the process longer, so learning how to make yarn on a drop spindle was an exciting adventure. During the lessons my instructor was telling me all about her local guild, and invited me to attend a meeting.

I admit I was a bit apprehensive, but after finally taking her up on her invitation, I met so many interesting people that fostered a new desire to learn and grow in all crafts related to fiber.

I then learned of the Crochet Guild of America, and that it had a Masters program. I decided to test my skills in this program, of which I graduated. I was then invited to attend the annual conference of this organization, with the encouragement of my family I attended. I met so many people and gained so much insight. With a determined new friend’s guidance I sold my first design, it was published the same week I left my job in government.

You never really know when life can completely change, you never know when a skill you used as a child will now become your income source. I do not know “where I will be in five years”, but I will continue to support the twists on turns of life’s journey.

Testing Myself- Teaching Crochet

I am getting ready for my latest test…oh, I mean teaching opportunity! I am teaching this July in Portland, Oregon, at the Crochet Guild of America’s annual crochet conference (also known as Chainlink).

I say I am getting ready for my latest test, because ready that is how I feel, and the way I treat it. I put a lot of work in behind the scenes for my classes, to ensure that I cover the topic in the most approachable way, and then have a couple of back up approaches in case the explanation doesn’t resonate with the audience.

So, I am brushing up on a couple of different topics for Portland, like Drop Spindle. I will be teaching a 6 hour class on creating your own yarn using a drop spindle. I am doing extra research on various drop spindles, various fibers, the history, and different approaches to spinning, to make sure I am not missing any information.

I am acquiring all of the materials a student needs to learn with and then some. I have a material fee for the class, because I want to make sure that my students get the best materials to learn with. I personally hate taking a course and attempt to get the items needed, get to the class and find that I found products that were not necessarily best for understanding the concept. Fortunately, when I procure materials for my class I can often get a discount for bulk purchase and pass that saving on to my students.

I am also testing and investigate more ways to dye yarn for my course Home Dyeing –Safe & Simple. There are always so many ideas that come when diving down a rabbit hole of content, and this class offers that as well. I find myself adding more approaches and techniques every time I teach this course, as so many new ideas have been generated and various artists are cultivating new techniques. Often times questions that student generate in class can add to the material of future classes, giving me new areas to research.

Beads are another skill that can be ever evolving, my course Beading Three Ways, really should be renamed at this point, as I have added a few other ways over the years. From student questions, to new books on the market, to revisiting older techniques, this class probably covers at least 5 ways to work with beads now.

Probably my historically best attended class is What the Pattern Does Not Say. This class also is constantly revisited by me to add more content and update the terms. I find that the most daunting things for crocheters in understanding patterns, and I offer a fresh approach to understanding how to read a pattern, while pointing out tips and tricks that maybe causing you to fail, even before you start.

So even though this is only 4 classes, I will spend countless hours, days and weeks preparing.  Then during the event of teaching the real test begins, ensuring that my students feel comfortable, that they feel inspired, and that they feel accomplished when they walk out of the door. Then it starts all over for my next teaching engagement.

Consider joining me, you can find the class listings at crochet.org.

 

Crochet is Everywhere

I have been traveling quite a bit as of late, and have had the welcoming surprise of seeing crochet so well accepted.

The first weekend in April I was invited to offer instruction for the Crochet Guild of America at the DFW Fiber Fest, and teach the CGOA Master’s Day course. DFW Fiber Fest is in its 13th year, and includes all fiber skills; knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning, etc. It feels very much like a family, and there is so much diversity of skills and craft that it really engages the imaginations.

After teaching my course I had a table in the vendor hall to inform people of the opportunities of CGOA, and found my table inundated with people so astonished to find an organization solely focused on crochet, and loved the fact that crochet was at this show.

There were crochet samples in the vendor booths, and the lobby of the convention center was even yarn bombed with crochet. It is always nice to see.

The following week I was in attendance at a blogging conference, SNAP, in Salt Lake City. A crochet class was even offered here, teaching bloggers and crafters the basics to amigurumi (crochet toys). Of the 350 in attendance, 13 specifically focused their writing on crochet. This is among food bloggers, craft bloggers, family bloggers, travel bloggers, makeup bloggers, and such, and there were 13 bloggers that loved crochet. I must admit that I was even surprised by the substantial number of crocheters represented.

During these travel events, I was reminded what an ice breaker crochet is. On my flights I met other crocheters, everyone was happy to talk about their latest projects and the direction this craft was taking them on; making gifts for loved ones, charity projects, projects for sale, the first time attempts, the multiple successes. Crochet brings out the stories that we can all relate to.

I often find that crocheters feel alone in their craft, they might believe that they love a small craft hobby, but the numbers don’t support that. We may crochet alone, but there are many of us, and more places are recognizing this and inviting crochet. Check out your nearest fiber related event, if they are not specifically highlighting crochet, attend anyway and bring your hook, you might be surprised to find how many people open up and relate their crochet stories just by your asking.