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.

 

Bringing Home From Conference

ScannedImage I managed to bring a little of the annual CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) conference home with me. I have many memories, and learned much, but then there were the prizes and giveaways.

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Night of Jazz Wrap 2nd Place Accessories in the CGOA 2016 Design Competition

I entered the CGOA Design Competition and took 2nd Place in the Accessories Category with my Night of Jazz Wrap. (See all the winners on a slide show here) The Wrap was inspired by a pattern I found for curtain trimming in a Needleworks publication from the 1920’s. I used two skeins of Designing Vashti Lotus yarn in Red Rose color and accented it with #6 Czech beads from Bead Biz, it is essentially crochet rings that are join as you go. Then they are bordered and have centers inserted in the rings, and tassels added. I always seem to design items for this contest that are hard to display, but come alive when worn. This was re-affirmed to me after the winners were announced, I had one of the judges approach me and express that no one was sure about it until they had a model put it on, then they knew it was a winner. I hope to have this pattern available sometime next year, so that I can share the enjoyment of the creation more.

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With my purchase of raffle tickets I won the set of Furl Odyssey Hooks with bowl & stand. I won the Knitter Pride Interchangable Crochet hooks as a door prize at the CGOA Banquet

The CGOA was very successful in securing great door prizes and giveaways for the conference, they even offered 2 goody bag nights with bags stuffed with yarns, books, and notions. There were so many more people in attendance then expected that the goody bags ran out early and I neglected bring home any of their content. However I did purchase tickets for an entire set of Furls Odyssey Hooks, with holder and bowl. I was completely surprised when my ticket was drawn, so now I get to enjoy a great new set of hooks, in addition to the Knitters Pride set of Tunisian Crochet hooks that I won as a door prize at the banquet dinner.

I did do a little shopping at the Market Place, Compression Support Socks and a Massage Pillow, both of which I put to immediate use on my swollen feet, but the pillow has become a family favorite at home, and I think it now belongs to my husband.

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On the buggy tour…so many flowering trees.

After my board meeting on Sunday after the conference, my friend Karen McKenna, took me to downtown Charleston to see some sights. It was nice drizzling weather, I was happy for this as it meant that it was cooler than the typical day which I had experienced as hot and muggy. We took a buggy ride and learned a little more of the city’s history. I had to focus to understand the accent of our guide and some of the terms used in conversation, but found everything quite interesting. Every tree seemed to have flowers and everything was green, 2 traits I do not see much at home in California, especially in July. We stopped at a little bistro where I actually had fried green tomatoes and grits that I found quite tasty. It was a very enjoyable day and I am grateful that I actually got to see some of the local charm of places I visit.

I could easily take day by day of the conference and write several posts about the happening, the people I met and the adventures I had, but I should probably begin focusing on the next adventure.

Ideas for the Crocheter on your Gift Giving List

ScannedImageSo this is the time of giving. I often feel a little overwhelmed with feeling obligated to purchase gifts. Often the people in my life really do not need anything, and choosing a “special”, “you probably wouldn’t buy it for yourself, but you will love it gifts” are feel daunting to find. So I thought I would offer a little help in purchasing for that favorite crocheter.

I know the people in my life feel that they cannot purchase anything for my craft as they don’t know as much about as I do, and they think I probably already have everything I want or need, but I have been surprised over the last year from friends that have given me crochet gifts that I find really impressive. So here is what as impressed me, and hopefully will help you shop for that favorite crocheter, even if that is yourself.

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My beautiful set of Tulip hooks. Everything I need all in one place .

An actual set of hooks. This sounds a little odd, since I have been crocheting for over years, I should have hooks…and I do, but receiving them in a case where they all match and are coordinated, that is something special. I received a set of Tulip hooks, I had never really used Tulip hooks before, but I will admit I was pleasantly surprised. The set included 10 hooks ranging from 2mm- 6mm (they did not have the standard US letters, but as most every pattern now lists that millimeters of the hook within the pattern, it does not really affect the usage). The handles on each were ergonomically correct with cushioned handles, which are pleasant, and there is absolutely no weird plastic smell that I have noticed with some other plastic handles (there is nothing worse than having your hands smell odd after you have been crocheting). The set also came in a nice case, which also had yarn needles and small scissors, so it included everything I need to take a project on the go. The hooks are not going anywhere and it looks a lot better than the zip lock bag I use to carry things in. The price can look a little overwhelming at a first glance, but there are other size kits and sets, so prices can vary, but when you figure that a good -crochet hook alone can cost between $7-12 US dollars, purchasing a full set can give a price break on the overall cost of the hooks, and then give some added bonuses. (You can check out some Tulip sets, including the one I have here)

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My “paint it yourself” Yarn Bowl gift. Fun, practical, and keeps memories alive.

Another gift I received this year was a yarn bowl. I had never had one before, and then I received two as gifts this year. I find that I use them all the time now. One was actually part of an additional gift from a “paint it yourself” Ceramic store, where the gift included me getting the opportunity to paint it and have it fired. This was a fun gift that brings extra memories to heart when I use it. The second is a ceramic bowl that is handmade and fired with a beautiful lustered sheen. Now, I know that it might sound odd that I use two yarn bowls now, but it is an easy way to keep multiple projected contained and organized, and looks beautiful. (Find your own handmade and fired yarn bowl here) 

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Yarn is always a great gift for crochet lovers, especially if it is something that they do not usually purchase for themselves.

Other lovely gifts can easily include good yarn. I know that it can seem difficult to purchase yarn, especially if you do not usually use it yourself, but if you visit a local yarn store the staff can usually address any questions you have and steer you to something in your price range and give you an idea about quantities needed. You should not really worry about how much yarn you purchase for a gift, as there are websites that can easily assist the recipient to patterns and ideas for the yarn. One such website is Ravelry.com. The recipient can simply do a search for patterns using the yarn and the quantity, so any yarn, in any amount is a great thing! (You can not find either of these in your local yarn store, but find some beautiful natural fiber, hand dyed yarn with Lisa Souza here, or if you like some beautiful cottons or Jelly Yarn check out Designing Vashti here)

Speaking of Ravelry, you can actually purchase patterns as a gift and have them downloaded to the receipts account or email. Selecting a pattern for someone can also seem like a challenge, but if you have seen that things that they currently create, be it afghans, hats, scarves, toys, garments, etc. you have a point to start from. You can search patterns and books similar to what they currently work and choose things that you feel fits their style. I guarantee that none of these go to waste. Even if the recipient never actually works that pattern you gave them, it does give them a new level of inspiration, a new idea, which you have shared with them. (Check out my pattern store on Ravelry here)

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Crocheting with beads is a nice addition to a crochet project that many stitchers do not think about, thus making beads a nice gift.

Some gifts that are completely unexpected are beads. I know this can sound a little off base since I am discussing crochet gifts, but beads can bring a new challenge and help the recipient undertake a new approach to their skill. There are several ways to incorporate beads into crochet projects, and it offers a little something extra, and many crocheters never take the time to go bead hunting for themselves, so it make a great gift. (Here is a link to great online provided)

I would be remised if I did not mention that you could give the gift of membership with the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). This organization promotes all things crochet and the recipient would receive a subscription to Crochet! Magazine with the membership, as well as discounts to conferences, opportunities educational programs such as the Master’s Program, as well as explore the various ways that they can utilize crochet as a possible career, it really can be a gift that keeps on giving. (See what CGOA has to offer here)

So, if you have a crocheter in your life (they use one hook with yarn, not two needles, in case you were not sure which craft you were dealing with), I hope this gives you a couple of ideas for things that your crocheter really will use, and enjoy, even if they never realized for themselves.

Crochet -Creating Opportunities and Communities

ScannedImageI enjoy March. How can you not, it is a month long celebration of crochet! This is the third year that Crochetville has put this fabulous blog tour together, highlighting a least 2 different crochet designers each day (if you missed any make sure and spend some time catching up with them from the interviews at Crochetville) and Thank you Amy & Donna for once again putting this together.

halosofhopeFor me I always realize something about the world through crochet, and one of the reoccurring themes is community. This blog tour also brings attention to great service organizations, like Halos of Hope, that use crochet items to better society. Crochetville is taking up a collection for Halos of Hope, please consider contributing.

Crochetville_Designer_Blog_Tour_Promo-e1427303900438Community can be large like the Crochet Guild of America, many crocheters from around the world coming together in one organization, or small like your own local guild (mine is the Hangtown Fibers Guild, you can find one near you here), or crochet group, or coffee chat. But community can be quite unique and sometime taken for granted. So I wanted to share the store of how my Empress Wide Scarf (my free pattern as a gift to you for National Crochet Month), came into being. It is an interesting network that was connected and brought together by crochet.

IMG_6799.1My rural life has me in an area that is great for growing wine grapes, I should preface this by informing you that I have very little knowledge of wine; I know there is red & white, but much more than that and I am lost. With that said I believe the majority of the wine varieties in my area are more reminiscent of Italy then France as it is a region with a Tuscany climate, as a result there are many award winning wineries nearby. So my children go to school with, and are friends with, the children of winery owners and workers. One day I was approached by the mother of one of my daughter’s friends, she has admired my crochet work and was hoping I could create something for her daughter’s birthday. She had some rough idea that she might like a scarf or something that she could wrap around her head in a dramatic fashion like a Hepburn. She would love it to have the feel of a particular shawl I wear often (the Five Peaks Shawl by Vashti Braha), created in a fingering weight hand painted bamboo.

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Empress Wide Scarf – Free Pattern (click link below)

Now this mother knows about as much about crochet and yarn as I know about wine. I know that I cannot find a comparable yarn in the local box store; my local yarn store did not even carry such a fiber, so I began playing with various fibers to see if I could get a similar feel and drape. Then I happened to run into a fiber friend, she is an independent dyer that I have done some other crochet designs for in the past. I did not think to use her yarn at first, but after looking over the stock I found something that would fit perfectly. As it happens the dyer, Lisa Souza, loves that wine that the mother creates, Holly’s Hill Vineyards, so trades were able to be arranged so that everyone benefited. As a result I have been able to take this birthday present and share it with you.

My larger take away from this is how small the world can really be. By not hiding my work, I was able to bring others together in a completely different way, and I am reminded that I have a skill that I can share. Crochet can create a community that may not have been created otherwise, as it creates “ice breaker” opportunities; people are brought to fond memories when they see the fiber arts. (I discussed this more in the blog post Thankful Crochet…Not What You Might Expect)

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Empress Scarf- Free Pattern (click link below)

So the Empress Wide Scarf is created using Tunisian Simple Stitch, but what makes this pattern stand out is that it changes color on the Forward & Return Pass. The effects are very nice. So that the colors do not get too muted together in the Tunisian work, it is edged with standard crochet in defining bands of color.

Visit my Ravelry Store and download your pattern for FREE. If you are so inclined, please feel free to use coupon code “natcromo15” to receive a 15% discount on any order of at least two patterns until April 15, 2015.

I hope you make your own communities, as often as possible.

Designs that Will Ring in Spring

ScannedImageSpring is in the air; the ground is beginning to warm and release the blooms of daffodils. The days are getting longer and spending time outside is a greater joy. So it has made it a nice time to release 2 of my latest designs, they help take a little chill out of the air and dress up a casual look.

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Summer Rays Drop Stitch Wrap

The first is the Summer Rays Drop Stitch Wrap; it is created with a simple 3 row repeat, and 1 skein of Lisa Souza Sylvie 100% Bombyx Silk yarn. The highlight of this wrap is a unique stitch that is created free hand, of long loops, a technique that was originally featured in my article in the Summer 2012 issue of Crochet! Magazine, with the Drop Stitch Short Scarf. I really enjoy this technique as it gives the appearance of hairpin lace without the loom, or the joining of strips. It is worked as one continuous piece, and when you finish, you only have 2 ends to weave in.

This pattern includes the details on how to complete this technique, and I have to say that the silk gives it such a great drape that it adds IMG_6150 - Copyelegance to the work.

What inspired me to put this design together was actually the yarn. I had a skein, and I made it a personal challenge to see what I could create with it, and the Drop Stitch lends itself to this non-stretch yarn very well. The openness of the stitch with the smooth surface of the yarn, allows both to be featured in a positive way with this design, creating a classic style.

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Fiji Flowers on Flowers Shrug/Wrap

The second design I am releasing is the Honorable Mention Winner of the 2013 Crochet Guild of America Design Contest, Accessories category; the Fiji Flowers on Flowers Shrug/Wrap. This is a uniquely constructed piece that is comprised of 3 large pentagon motifs created with Tunisian Crochet. These motifs create a negative space design that is enhanced with additional motifs, thus creating flowers inside of flowers. All motifs are joined as you go, requiring no sewing.

One of the original features of this design is the “floral buttons” these are added embellishments that allow the fabric to be secured together to create air sleeves of a shrug, or left unsecured for an interesting wrap. This versatile piece is also worked in Lisa Souza Sylvie 100% Bombyx Silk yarn, which has beautiful color and gives great drape to this piece. This is a fun shrug that can be paired with jeans or a simple black dress, can be a nice compliment for a day at the beach, or a night on the town. It fills a very unique niche in any wardrobe, and trust me, it is fun.

#My inspiration for this design was born out of a watermark I saw in a magazine advertisement. It was a flower that was actually featured in a negative space (the space that is not the color, but the blank background), and I began daydreaming of how to create this in crochet, thus the large motifs were created. However they lacked structure and did not allow for a stable fabric, until the addition of contrasting motifs within them. This the negative space flower grow to have an addition of flowers within its petals. 

Both of these designs are available for sale on Ravelry.com or Crochetville.com for the simple price of $5. Check them out and let me know what you think of them.

Summer Rays Drop Stitch Wrap (RavelryCrochetville)

Fiji Flowers on Flowers Shrug/Wrap (RavelryCrochetville)