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.

 

Jogged Edges- Just Finish the Job

I have mentioned in the past that I had been crocheting for quite a few years before I ever attempted to a sweater. I actually remember the exact “awe ha” moment that spurred me to consider it, I was feeling under the weather, and was grabbing a quick bit at a deli before my work shift began at the local drugstore. A conversation with the sandwich artist behind the counter somehow came around to crochet. He had asked about how to make a sweater, if it was all on piece of pieces put together. My mind automatically shifted to sewing patterns from my days in my 4H sewing project, and it then hit me…I had been crocheting fabric all along. I only needed to crochet the fabric to the shape of the pattern and put it together.

I mention this as I have received some questions lately about the shaping of pieces to create a sweater, and that I often design them with jogged edges. The art of crochet, I have found, is a bit more forgiving than sewing with fabric (granted, I can sew, but it has never been my favorite past time). I have found that crocheting the most basic of shape of the fabric, without worrying about matching the lines exactly, but getting the basic shape, is all that is really necessary to be successful.

My jogging edges are most frequently found in neckline shaping, and the “bell” shaping at the top of set in sleeves. Yet, in the finished garment these jogs are not noticeable, simply because of seaming and edging. Edgings smooth over these jogs, creating a nice completed finish, while seaming pieces together the jogs can actually allow for a bit more stretch. In the seaming I am usually whip stitching (the act of inserting the needle from only 1 side of the fabric and pushing through to the opposite side, bringing the needle and thread over the seam and reinserting the needle from the same side).

The edges do not match up perfectly on the sleeve seaming, however, you are not usually seaming the top of a stitch to a matching top of stitch. In this process you are often seaming tops of stitches to the sides if rows, and the jogs help you better fit this together.

Basically, don’t worry about over thinking your crochet, minor tweaks and simple tricks can smooth it out and get the result you are hoping for.

 

 

Tips for the Mundane

There are some truths about crochet that no one ever seems to share, we all hit a period where we are bored. This could be a stitch pattern, the act of moving the hook, the feel of the yarn. Everyone I have ever met does put things down from time to time, but they never really admit it.

It does not matter if you crochet for a living or just as a hobby, sometimes we find a mundane point. However, I have found a couple of ways through this period.

Ask yourself why. Is it that the stitch is not exciting? Is pattern is taking too long to finish? Is my attention being pulled in another direction?

We have all been there, and there is no shame in it. I have found a couple of approaches to get through it and still actually end up loving crochet again.

First, take a break. This is not a bad word and it does not mean that you are done with the craft, it simply means that you need a point of rejuvenation. Usually when I put my hook down, I find that I still need something to keep my hands busy and fidgety in the evenings when sitting with the family in front of the television. For me I then pick up work puzzles, maybe some Sudoku or word searches, I don’t quite have the disposition for crosswords but there are plenty of different puzzles to keep me entertained.

However, sometimes you need to get a project finished, there is a deadline…maybe you need that gift for the baby shower in 3 days. In this case, I have to set small goals. It can be as simple as completing a set number of rows of the pattern every time I sit down with it in my hand. This really depends upon that stitch pattern, but maybe it is as simple as getting through one of the row pattern repeats. Maybe it is getting to the next color change, or the next color change in the yarn. I set myself a visual point and work toward it. I find that this helps even more if I have a small reward for myself at the end, maybe I get a cookie or such, maybe then I get a nice stretch. It does not have to be anything big, it just has to be something to break up the monotony.

Sometimes it is as simple as changing projects and putting one in “time out”. I find this happens most on projects that I was first intrigued by, but then quickly discovered that the design was a really rather simple stitch repeat, like an entire afghan worked in only double crochet rows. There is nothing wrong with it, it just is not very exciting, and frankly if I do not have a reason or deadline to actually complete it, I might not get it finished. In this case I just have to be honest with myself. There is no harm in using the yarn in another project.

I wish I could say that I never put down my hook, that I have endless creative energy, but alas that is not what works for me. There are times I need to find another focus to help but my love of crochet back in focus.

Serene Spring Long Cardigan- The Name Says It All

It seems like a cardigan season! I say that as I have created quite a few cardigans as of late, and the latest one to be released, Serene Spring Long Cardigan found in the April 2018 issue of I Like Crochet, is one of my favorites.

I think that long cardigans offer a great shape, as well as keeping that draft off of my waist as a bend over. I enjoy them most with a length about mid-thigh, or at very least just below my hip bone. Yet when it is created with a simple stitch, which looks fabulous, it is fun to create too. Serene Spring fits this bill.

It is worked from the bottom up, and seamed at the sides, and if you feel that the length is a bit long for your liking, simply reduce the number of rows worked before reaching the underarm. The corner pockets are attached as you seam the sides, and then fully encased when you work the edging.

The shaping in minimal, making it easy for a beginner to feel successful.

The yarn, Knit One Crochet Too Batiste is a delight to work with as well. It is a blend of wool, linen and silk in a sport weight. It is light and airy, while just being heavy enough to take off the chill. I actually did a review of this yarn, I share more insights about it here.

I still remember when I made my first sweater, it took me several years to work up the courage to make one as I had done afghans for years, but when I realized it was all just fabric it was groundbreaking for me. If you have this same dilemma, don’t let it stop you. The best tip I can provide is to check your gauge so you know that you are coming up with the same fabric as what you see in the photo. Here are some tips to working with gauge. 

 

Memory In Crochet

March every year is a month long celebration of crochet, as it is recognized as “National Crochet Month”. You will find “National Craft Week” in there to, but I do tend to focus on crochet. Lately, however, I have taking a bit of an introspective look.

Usually when someone talks about the memories crochet creates they are usually referring something someone made. Maybe it is an afghan that grandma made, or a dishtowel that a favorite aunt created. However there is another crochet memory that crocheters sometime get to experience, and it is found in the yarn.

It is true that when crocheters create something special for a loved one or friend that they take time to figure out the right color, the right pattern, and think of this person often when creating the stitches. This is the process that some refer to as adding the love. However, this last week I have been reminded of another way to stitch, while looking at someone else’s thoughts and dreams.

I have been crocheting with yarn that was inherited by be from one of my students that lost her battle with cancer this last year. I have had similar experiences in the past, making stitches from yarn chosen by someone else, for some perfect project that I am unaware of. I do not know why this color, or why this weight. I don’t know what the inspiration was. I only know that this was something that inspired her, something that wanted to be created.

I may not know what the original intended creation for the yarns, so I simply pick a stitch and make an afghan. I later donate this afghan to various charitable organizations. I spend the time stitching, being remembering a friend.

I wish I could say that this was the first such time I have stitched this afghan, but it’s not. It is a memorial for me, a bit cathartic, and bit therapeutic, and a bit of a tribute.

Crochet continues to amaze me, how it is such an emotional part of life.