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.

Small Town, Small World, Big Punch in Fiber Arts

The world has ways of reminding me that it is much smaller then I think, and I have had friends recently make me think of my home town a bit differently. I grew up, currently live, and have long roots in the California gold country; a friend made a comment about living in such a historic place, and I admit I think I probably have taken that for granted. However the craziest thing isn’t how much my area has history, it is how often I learn about companies in the fiber industry that have roots here too.

 

As I was getting into the profession of crochet I began to pay a bit more attention to my surrounding in regards to other professionals. My local Fibers Guild (a groups of members that love all things yarn) I learned that there was a yarn company just a short distance from my kids school, Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks. I have worked with Lisa over the years to help create crochet designs in her beautiful yarns, as well as help work her show booth and visit various cities throughout the United States.

 

If only having a well-established yarn company in my town was enough, I also learned that a nationally recognized fiber spinning instructor and author, Lexi Boeger of Pluckyfluff, grew up in my community as well. Heck she was only a year ahead of me in high school, but my high school was large enough that I can honestly say that we did not run in the same circles. Her family owns a well-known local winery, and she has a studio just near the tasting room, that I have had the pleasure of teaching workshops at.

 

Those two connections should be more than enough, then I got into a conversation with a long time member of my Fiber Guild and when she learned where I lived she immediately assumed that I must know Lorna Miser, the creator and founder of Lorna’s Laces yarn. I did not know her, but the connection was made that as I was growing up she was starting the yarn company literally about 2 miles from my childhood home. There is even a colorway within the yarn company that features my street name, Bucks Bar. I did meet Lorna a few years later, and long after she had sold the business that is now housed in the Chicago, Illinois area, I was when working on some designs for a book that she was working on, and learned that she knew several members of my extended family. Even though up until very recently she and I only lived about thirty minutes apart, while she was starting up her latest yarn adventure, Zombie Yarns,  we would only cross paths at trade shows thousands of miles from home; but that is how it works out at times isn’t it? Never have lunch with a friend when you are in the everyday routine of home, but definitely make time when out of the ordinary grind.

 

So looking back over the connections above to my community, I thought that maybe there was something in the water or maybe every community as secret fiber artists dwelling in plain sight. Then I was at a trade show earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio when a friend and colleague escorted me over to check out a hook supplier. Honestly, I was tagging along a bit, my mind was already taking in the days discussions with various yarn companies when the gentleman, Chris Barnes, mentioned something about California. I mentioned I was from Placerville, that got him to look up, as he started he grew up there. Now I should mention that when traveling it is exciting to find someone that can pronounce the name of the town correctly (it is a short a sound), let alone know where it is without me drawing a map. We began chatting back and forth to find that we knew several of the same people and he was only two years ahead of me in high school and hung out with my cousin during his high school years. Apparently he had just taken over the business his father had started in my hometown, Brittany Needles. The company moved several years back to a little down on the northern coast that I enjoy vacationing at, Mendocino, but it started right here in my little gold rush town.

 

I know I have taken the local gold rush history for granted, but I did not realize that there was such a rich fiber arts history in the professional sense surrounding me. Honestly, since this last connection I am beginning to think I need to question the ladies at the Hangtown Fibers Guild more, as when I excitedly mention these new to me connections, they have already know everyone involved.  I wonder if there are any other industry connections hidden away in my back yard.

Batiste- Some Nice Texture and Color

What some may not realize about my yarn reviews…they are really just for me. Yes, I am a bit selfish. However I have found that by reviewing a yarn weekly, it helps me hone my skills. Don’t get me wrong I hope you, the reader, gets some insight too, but I helps me focus on a fiber that I have in my working stash and imagine its possibilities. So you will see me discuss the fiber content, as this can really effect the drape and performance of the yarn, I also will remind myself of how it feels and if it works up well. I note the weight and length of the skein so that I can keep a mental note of how many skeins it would take to work up a desired project.

www.lindadeancrochet.comI recently travels to a yarn trade show. There are many various companies and different yarns to touch hold and get inspired by. Honestly, it can be a bit overwhelming, but it has provided me with some new yarns to critique and make notes about, such as Batiste from Knit One Crochet Too.

I cannot say that I have ever worked with yarn from this company before, I have seen it and heard the name, but never had the pleasure of crossing paths with a skein before. Batiste is made up of 50% fine merino wool 30% linen and 20% silk. The soft nature of the merino really shines through, while the linen offers a bit of a heather appearance in the color. The linen also offers the yarn a bit more structure and can allow the fabric to appear wrinkled or creased if put under pressure.

Even with the heathering it still has nice stitch definition, showing texture a bit more subtly than some yarns, but still very nice. It is listed as a Fine weight yarn, but I felt really comfortable using a 5.00mm hook (size H/8) so it didn’t feel at all too fine.

I can easily see this worked up as a garment or accessory close to the skin. The hank has a decent size with 208 yards/190 meters at 50 gram/1.75oz, so a small light shawl might take only 2 hanks, but I would prefer to use at least 3 to get a nice size.

Overall, a nice yarn that spurs some ideas. If you want to check out more of my yarn thoughts select the “Yarn Play” under the website categories.

 

Crochet Really Is The Love

There are moments that crochet can remind you that how powerful and important the skill can be. One such moment happened recently, as I was repairing an afghan that was brought into my local yarn store.

Repairs can seem intimidating, but really they are just a bit time consuming. Often the most difficult part is finding yarn or thread that matches the piece being repaired. Fortunately I am a bit of a pack rat, so I have a pretty extensive yarn collection. This allows me to have some flexibility in finding a suitable yarn to use. The next really important thing is to catch all of the loose loops of the stitches still intact to ensure that they do not unravel further. This also helps to see where the damage actually stems from and helps gain insight in how to fix it.

The repair that I just completed was one that can be fairly common, any time there are many stitches worked in one place there tends to be more stress on the yarn the stitches are worked into. Sometimes these strands fail and allow all the stitches to become unsecured at the base.

When I undertook the repairs I did not know the story behind it, I did not know the special memories or meanings in these stitches. I just knew that it was important to someone. I never strive to “improve” the quality of the piece, if loose ends are not securely woven it, I just check to make sure that they are not unraveling the fabrics. I try to keep the character that the piece came to me with. I try to just bring the fabric back to whole so that it can continue to be treasured.

I often later learn the stories, some for a grandmother’s handiwork, a sister’s gift, and in the case of my last repair a wife’s final gift to be shared with the first grandchild. It is on these occasions that I really appreciate how much crochet is more than just yarn and stitches, it is love. I am fortunate that I can help that love continue to shine.

Soxy Lady Can Take You Places

It is easy to shy away from yarns that have “Sock” anywhere in its name, or on its label, after all a few crocheters work up socks, but not most. However the name really should not place a limit on its possibilities.

Sock yarn is typically a lighter weight, either a fine or lace weight and sometimes even a light weight. By weight I am meaning the diameter of the strand, the smaller the diameter the skinnier the yarn, the smaller the weight. Some yarns will identify this on a numbering system, in which case sock yarn can range from a number 1-3, with a number 2 being the most common.

Diamond Luxury Soxy Lady www.lindadeancrochet.com

Diamond Luxury Soxy Lady yarn

I have been playing with Diamond Luxury Soxy Lady, which is comprised of 60% superwash wool, 20% alpaca, and 20% nylon, with a generous yardage of 437yrd/400m/100g per hank. It is soft in the hand and creates a nice stitch definition. It has a bit of springiness yet not enough to compete with the openness of lace work.

There can be a benefit to working with a sock yarn, especially if you are not use to using “luxury” yarns. One of the most obvious benefits is price. Price per yarn makes this a very economical value. In some cases you can make a complete shawl from a hank or two of sock yarn, and feel like you have created something of heirloom quality.

Another benefit is that it is usually created with some durable fibers. Often the fibers will be machine washable, such as superwashed or boiled wools, making lit more family friendly and easy to care for. It usually contains a filament that gives added strength to the overall yarn construction and use, such as silk, nylon, or some polyesters. This fibers are strong and wear well, and when you ideally make socks you do not want to replace the heels all that often. So the yarn is designed to wear better and hold up longer.

Often the color variety is vast and the selection of yarn is great. Smaller yarn companies offer a sock weight yarn, and fun colors are always available. Some have short color repeats, some have long color repeats, some have muted tones, and others are vibrant. There really is a lot of selection.

The Soxy Lady by Diamond Luxury fit all the above characteristics, and I can see great possibilities for it in the future.