Memory Magic In A Hook

I have used the same hooks for years. Since working in crochet professionally I have learned that there are many different hooks with different subtleties and that there are many people that love them for various reasons.  However I still believe the most powerful hooks are the ones that share memories.

I am hard pressed to find a crocheter that doesn’t have a hook that shares memories, some remind me of particular projects, some remind me of people, and some remind me of times. I even have some that simply share a memory as an idea or inspiration.

I have a hook that reminds me of the time I began crocheting with wire and all the craft fairs I worked selling necklaces. I have a set of hooks that were gifted me upon a friend’s death, so obviously these hooks remind me of her. I have a hook that reminds me of my grandmother. I have a little glass jar of hooks that reminds me of my aunt while stirring my imagination about my great-grandmother. A hook that reminds me of appreciation, a hook that reminds me of a friend.

I have a hook that reminds me of an incredible trip I took, a hook that reminds me of the lunch with a friend. I have a hook that reminds me of a design that an editor of a magazine really loved. I have a hook that reminds me of student’s questions. I have a set of hooks that reminds me to be humble, a set that reminds me to be kind, a set that reminds me of friendship, and a set that reminds me of generosity; all because of the stories behind them.

These memories might be more powerful in my designing as the yarn itself. These memories somehow have become embedded in the handles and find themselves helping to create new magic. Memories can be magic, and I am in awe of how much magic sits in my jar.

Swirls That Will Brighten Your Day

Sometimes while crocheting my mind can completely wonder and I have no idea what I am stitching. This is actually a really therapeutic approach at times, it allows me to be productive and keep my hands busy while allowing my mind to day dream or work things out. My latest design Swirling Valley Circular Throw, in the August issue of I Like Crochet Magazine, actually was created this way.

Photo courtesy of I Like Crochet Magazine

I began working on a spiral motif, but then I began thinking of other things and before I knew it I had an entire throw. The stitch pattern is essentially that needed to create a flat circle, but you have to work more than one color, and thus more than one strand of yarn, in each round. This can be a bit daunting as you need to keep the strands from tangling, but I have found that by twisting the yarn in the same direction each time I switch colors that I can at least create a uniform tangle that I can easily untwist every few rounds. I know others that have easier techniques, using holders that keep the skeins apart so they cannot wrap around each other, or little finger rings that hold each color independently ready for use. However I have never really gotten the hang of these and simply just untangle as needed…this at least changes my task at various times.

Photo courtesy I Like Crochet Magazine

Swirling Valley Circular Throw is made up of only three colors but utilizes six colors per round, so if you wanted something to have a real spiral effect you could simply use six different colors in this throw instead of each color twice.

I like this design for kids, I can easily see it in bright vibrant colors to adorn a play room, or even in soft pastels to create a dazzling throw for baby.

I have an additional confession, when I started working the final rounds I was getting a bit exhausted, thinking that they would never end. This is typical of large circles, but the color changes at least kept it more interesting and manageable, so this did not become an un-finished project (UFO) in my work bag.

 

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.