Teaching Inspired

It is a bit amazing all the accomplishments my crochet students have made. This last week at the El Dorado County fair in Placerville, CA they were awarded Best of Show, several Blue ribbons, and even swept entire categories. I am proud of each and every one of them, even those that did not enter.

 

Thinking back over the several years of teaching, I can remember my first student, and the lessons I learned from her. I live in a smallish community, and am multiple generations within it. I don’t look too hard for additional family as I probably have more relations or connections then one person really needs in life. So when my kindergarten age son began taking art lessons after school, it was not much of stretch when I found out the teacher was a cousin. Technically she was married to my second cousin, but why get to technical.

 

www.lindadeancrochet.comMy son took lessons all year and over the summer she invited him to her home to continue. During conversations over these lesson she learned that I had successfully completed the Crochet Guild of America’s Masters of Advanced Stitches and Techniques program.  As a result she requested that I teach her to crochet in trade for payment for the art lessons. I know that part of the reason she wanted me to teach her was to have more discussions, and help her gain insight into the childhood of her husband as he is a quiet man that doesn’t speak much on this topic.

 

She took lessons from me for about a year, encouraging me to attend the CGOA annual conference, which ended up launching my crochet career. She encouraged me to begin teaching at a local coffee shop, which I did for 4 years…one night a week with drop in lessons, until the shop moved twenty minutes away, now I teach regularly at my local yarn store as well as at national conferences and events. She was a support, she helped add a new spark to my life.

 

She passed away a few years later, only months after her pancreatic cancer diagnosis, but I remember well the lessons I learned from our crochet time, the class is about more than just the stitches. It is about the relationships, it is about the community, it is about the stories, and it is about sharing the confidence of your own ability and fostering confidence to grow in others. My current students may not realize how my teaching style was built, but they continue to help me remember the important lessons every time we meet. Thank you for the early education Judy, it will forever be with me.

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.

At Long Last Interrupted! – Knit it! Crochet it!

People can be a bit surprised at how long it can take for a design to become a pattern, even when you are self-publishing. In some cases it can take up to a year; there is the design process that has you working out all the bugs, then writing the pattern and stitching the item (or maybe you stitch it first then write up the pattern), then you send it for review with a Technical editor to make sure that everything makes sense and can be understood (not everyone does this step, but it definitively makes a difference). Then it is into the world of photography, and lay out…then it is ready to upload and announce its introduction into the world. Did I mention that this happens while you are juggling any other contracts you may have in place? Or juggle the needs of your family? Or still attempting to create new ideas? Yes, it can take time.

Interrupted Shawl, knit version wwww.lindadeancrochet.com

Knit version of Interrupted

That is a bit of the history of Interrupted. The name may be a bit foretelling in its journey to being born into the world.  This design is another of my “Two in One”, meaning you get both a knit and a crochet version in the same pattern almost like a little bit of “something for everyone”. It actually got its name from the drop stitches that break the solid fabric pattern to create an airy feel. Both patterns are worked from the small point of a triangle outward, this makes for a great pattern that you can just use along with your yarn and end it when you think the size if correct for you.

Interrupted Shawl, crochet version www.lindadeancrochet.com

Crochet version of Interrupted

The solid fabric has a bit of texture, and that is the first thing people comment about them. The texture looks much more difficult than it is to execute, but when paired with dropped stitches it has a contrast that really highlights the textural differences. Check this design out for your self at either Craftsy or Ravelry.

Once again this design is pair with a Lickin Flames shawl pin, and Lisa Souza Yarn (Baby Alpaca Silk Petite…1 skein)…I love coming up with these one skein projects, and working with these two companies is always a joy. It really helps that they are such nice people, if you haven’t checked out their work, I really recommend it.

Knit It! Crochet It! The Dialog Shawl

Creating a design that is both knit and crochet has its own set of challenges, one mainly being that I am not an expert knitter. However I have created a design with the help of a couple of friends that I think is pretty impressive.

Dialog Crochet Shawl by Linda Dean www.lindadeancrochet.com

Dialog Shawl, Crochet version

The Dialog Shawl is created with short rows with alternating panels of a solid and lace fabric. It is a fun pattern to work up as it uses basic stitches but still keeps you mentally engaged, but not so much as to cause stress. The only difference between the knit and crochet version is that the panels of the crochet version are bigger and thus there are only 4 triangles instead of the 6 that are found in the knit version.

I love that this is a one skein project. It is featured in Baby Alpaca Silk Petite Yarn from Lisa Souza Dyeworks, and I definitely draw to the color of Peacock, but I think this design can easily worked up in various colors, and may look distinctly different and fabulous in a variegated yarn. This yarn is really awesome, and I have used it for several projects over the years. It is a light/fine weight yarn that has a beautiful hand and is a pleasure to work. I also feature a shawl pin with this design, it was after all part of the inspiration for the design, and it is actually a Shawl Button from Lickin Flames. Each Shawl Button is handmade, beautiful, and completely unique. The one that inspired me was a Raku button in Bronze with a shiny black accent.

Dialog Knit Shawl by Linda Dean wwww.lindadeancrochet.com

Dialog Shawl, Knit version

I cannot say that I have ever been particularly inspired to create a design from a pin or button before, usually I attempt to create a design that can be worn independently of such items. However, recently I have come to see how this piece of art can really had to the overall effect of my crochet (or in part of this design, knit). It is like a subtle accent point that helps add to the overall effect, bringing everything to a new level.

Overall I am completely thrilled with this design, and I hope you enjoy it too. As is the case with all of my knit/crochet designs one pattern contains both versions, so if you are bi-stitchual you can work both versions, and if you prefer one craft over the other you have it right before you.

A Throw of Garden Tendrils, the Ivy on the Fence

ScannedImageThere is something about taking a simple skill, like making a crochet chain, and using it in a way that you hadn’t conceived of in the past to make you smile. That is how I feel about my latest design Tendrils Throw, in the Summer 2016 issue of Love of Crochet magazine.

Tendrils-Throw-Crochet-Pattern

Tendril Throw Photo courtesy of Love of Crochet/ Julia Vandenoever

The throw is worked with large open, airy, and join-as-you-go motifs, which look delicate, but really hold its structure together quite well.

This motif was a resulting of playing. It was a while back, but I was working with chain loops, and I was experimenting with the effect that was made by twisting these loops to work the stitches. It might not seem like this simple concept should actually do much, and if it is worked without subsequent rounds it can just make things feel, well twisted. However it creates neat negative spaces, and actually makes the open work feel a little heartier without adding bulk.

Tendrils-Throw-Afghan-All

Tendrils Throw Photo courtesy of Love of Crochet/ Julia Vandenoever

Overall the inspiration was taken from ivy that was climbing on a wrought-iron fence, I think that the shells and picots that make up the solid spaces of this resemble leaves, while the chain loops form the iron work of support.

The pattern creates a throw that is large enough to cover a twin size bed, and if placed over a solid bed cover can be reminiscent of the heritage thread bedspreads, it can also add a bit of whimsy and feminine touch to a garden space.

I like how it ultimately came together, I hope you enjoy it too.