Crochet Craftvent- Sugar Plum Fairy

It is hard to believe that the holiday season is fast approaching. I already have students working on crochet gifts, and have friends making holiday plans; I am in awe of this organization. I really use to be on top of the calendar many years ago, but somehow have lost this skill as I have gotten older.

Fortunately this year I have an easy count down, I designed the first Crochet Craftvent for Jimmy Beans Wool, Sugar Plum Fairy. So, if you are like me the first question is …what is Craftvent? Well in a nut shell it is like an advent calendar but with yarn and yarn related treats!

The shawl is broken up to manageable sizes and the yarn is balled up in just the right size amount so that you can open a new square on the countdown to Christmas. Just like when you were a kids and had the little boxes with pieces of chocolate; okay, my sweet tooth usually meant that I would break into several day ahead, but it was still a treat.

There are 8 different yarns highlighted in this shawl, as a result it becomes a bit of a “yarn taste” treat for the user. You get to play with many different yarn that may not be in your everyday stash of yarns. There are yarns with sparkle, yarns with great stitch definition, yarns with beautiful colors, it is a special gift with every day supply of yarn.

In addition Jimmy Beans Wool has “extra” notion treats placed throughout the calendar. What a great gift for yourself, or your favorite crocheter.

The shawl itself begins at the narrow points and increases along one edge. It is an essentially 2 different sets of patterns, one a bit lacy, one with a bit of texture. Both patterns are simple row repeats, and it is the combination of these with the color changes that creates such a dynamic piece.

Once you wrap this shawl around your shoulders it really comes to life, it really frames the face well with the colors and texture. It is stunning on everyone.

Get yours HERE! Quantities are limited!

Destination Shawl- Simple and Bold

Often times it is something simple that makes the boldest statement. This has taken me some time to learn, that a design does not need to be super busy or flashy; just take away everything that is unnecessary and it will shine.

Destination Shawl

I probably do not always follow this simple statement, but in the case of Destination Shawl, I think it works.

This triangle shawl is worked center neck outward, in a simple stitch pattern, and with simple very fine yarn. The yarn is Mondofil Japon, a super fine weight 60% Rayon/40% Japanese Paper yarn/thread that is found on a cone. It has an interesting texture a bit like a linen, but gets softer when it gets wet.

The Destination Shawl is light and airy, reminding me of a day at the ocean as it only offers a hint of being there yet still offers a statement. The color bands are a bit deceptive as they are actually staggered in width to provide an artistic balance and to draw the eye outward.

Destination as it is, is perfect for warm weather, but my simply changing the yarn to a light wool or mohair and this becomes a great cold weather wrap.

If you have never made a shawl before, or if you are a seasoned veteran at the skill, this shawl will be one you will enjoy.

 

A Crochet High- Returning from Conference

Last week I was teaching at the Crochet Guild of America annual Chainlink conference in Portland, Oregon, and you know it had to be a good time when it takes you 4 days to finally unpack. Okay 4 days may not seem like long to some, but I am usually unpacked the same day I arrive home with the laundry in the washer….however this time I just didn’t have the energy, I left it in Portland.

I taught a variety of classes, interestingly enough, I taught 4 classes at a crochet conference and none of them were actually crochet. Well one was, but it was about understanding patterns and how to read them better, the other 3 were not nearly as crochet focused.

I taught how to use beads in your work in my Beads 3 Ways class. It was a room full and everyone put their own style and twist on the necklace we were creating. There were definitely some talented and creative people in that room. They took silk, and threads (from Kreinik threads), and beads (from Bead Biz) and learned different applications to add them to their crochet (or knitting) projects.

Then I spent the entire day teaching people how to actually make yarn in my Drop Spindle class. Everyone made yarn, which is an exciting prospect just in itself. We worked with some different fibers (from Weaver Creek Fibers), and got the hang of drafting, spinning, and parking. We then plied our works and got to experience how to card wool. I haven’t taught that class in a while, and I have to say I was so impressed with what the students created.

The next morning was the class that caused me to drive 12 hours to Portland…Home Dyeing…how to safely dye your own yarn. I am pretty sure everyone had fun in this class. I had to drive to ensure that all  the equipment needed was there for me, so it allowed us to set up dyeing stations and play with all kinds of fiber (from Lisa Souza Dyeworks), with a variety of dyes and techniques. The artistic expression of the students really came out when we just jumped right into all the colors and combinations. There may have been some trash talk, completely in jest, with the class next door as they were learning how to color pool yarn. I had to put forth a challenge that were we dyeing yarn that they could not pool, my fellow instructor and friend, Vashti Braha was up for the challenge. She and I really had brainstormed ways we could work our classes together, but that didn’t come together so this little challenge was a nice addition.

Then I blinked and just like that all my classes were taught. Granted there were plenty of other events that helped cause my days to fly by, there was the member meeting I lead, and the recognition of all the Master Program graduates and Design Competition winners, then the Fastest Fingers Competition where I judged the finals, and you can never forget the CGOA Banquet and Fashion Show. It really is a whirl wind, and I didn’t even join in the actives of the first day.

I have to admit, I have been hooked since I attended my first Chainlink conference in 2011, it just feels like home.

 

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!

Excursion Wrap! This Is A Show Stopper!

I love when a design comes out like I was hoping! Excursion Wrap came out just as I envisioned, okay, better than I could have hoped. I saw this design in my mind as soon as I laid hands on the yarn, it just came to me and I had to find a way to get it worked up in the stitches.

Excursion Wrap

That is not to say that it came out perfectly in just one try, I ripped things back several times. I played with some different combinations of stitches and color sequins before finally landing on the perfection, and the difficulty of using multiple color rows and designing like this is when ripping back I end up with many more ends to weave in….some right in the middle of rows, as I ensure the use of all the yarn.

The wrap is worked in 2 contrasting colors, which offer a bold definition of the design. The yarn is Silk Baby Camel by Lisa Souza Dyeworks, and is lusciously yummy! It is soft, but with nice structure, making it a dream to work with. Being that the pattern only takes 2 skeins, it is manageable in both crocheting and in cost.

The lacy ripple pattern is worked as a 3 row repeat, so it is simple to memorize yet keeps the pattern engaging. So you can work the stitch pattern successfully without getting bored with it.

The color sequencing is what really brings this design to life, it demands the eye to transverse the entire piece and then to look again. The altering of the stitch pattern and the colors offers a cascading effect of interest that will definitely have you garnering praise.

This wrap is a show stopper, one that makes people stop and admire your handiwork. I already have plans to work up this design a couple of more times….once is just not enough!

Get your pattern here!