A Crochet High- Returning from Conference

Last week I was teaching at the Crochet Guild of America annual Chainlink conference in Portland, Oregon, and you know it had to be a good time when it takes you 4 days to finally unpack. Okay 4 days may not seem like long to some, but I am usually unpacked the same day I arrive home with the laundry in the washer….however this time I just didn’t have the energy, I left it in Portland.

I taught a variety of classes, interestingly enough, I taught 4 classes at a crochet conference and none of them were actually crochet. Well one was, but it was about understanding patterns and how to read them better, the other 3 were not nearly as crochet focused.

I taught how to use beads in your work in my Beads 3 Ways class. It was a room full and everyone put their own style and twist on the necklace we were creating. There were definitely some talented and creative people in that room. They took silk, and threads (from Kreinik threads), and beads (from Bead Biz) and learned different applications to add them to their crochet (or knitting) projects.

Then I spent the entire day teaching people how to actually make yarn in my Drop Spindle class. Everyone made yarn, which is an exciting prospect just in itself. We worked with some different fibers (from Weaver Creek Fibers), and got the hang of drafting, spinning, and parking. We then plied our works and got to experience how to card wool. I haven’t taught that class in a while, and I have to say I was so impressed with what the students created.

The next morning was the class that caused me to drive 12 hours to Portland…Home Dyeing…how to safely dye your own yarn. I am pretty sure everyone had fun in this class. I had to drive to ensure that all  the equipment needed was there for me, so it allowed us to set up dyeing stations and play with all kinds of fiber (from Lisa Souza Dyeworks), with a variety of dyes and techniques. The artistic expression of the students really came out when we just jumped right into all the colors and combinations. There may have been some trash talk, completely in jest, with the class next door as they were learning how to color pool yarn. I had to put forth a challenge that were we dyeing yarn that they could not pool, my fellow instructor and friend, Vashti Braha was up for the challenge. She and I really had brainstormed ways we could work our classes together, but that didn’t come together so this little challenge was a nice addition.

Then I blinked and just like that all my classes were taught. Granted there were plenty of other events that helped cause my days to fly by, there was the member meeting I lead, and the recognition of all the Master Program graduates and Design Competition winners, then the Fastest Fingers Competition where I judged the finals, and you can never forget the CGOA Banquet and Fashion Show. It really is a whirl wind, and I didn’t even join in the actives of the first day.

I have to admit, I have been hooked since I attended my first Chainlink conference in 2011, it just feels like home.

 

Subtle Twist- Sets Lotus Apart

There are always subtleties that create a difference in yarn. One is something that is mostly taken for granted, the direction of the ply. This might seem like a moot point for a topic to discuss, as most all yarn is spun in a similar fashion, the individual strands are spun in a counter-clockwise direction, then plied together in a clockwise direction (this opposite direction of spinning creates the tension that makes a yarn stable). However, just because almost every yarn is spun in this manner does it make a difference if you spin in it reverse?

Essentially all yarn is spun in this method, sometimes referred to as “S” twist, I am not sure if there is any real particular reason for this except that it has been done that way. There are a couple of yarns available that are spun opposite of the “S twist”, meaning that the beginning strands are spun clockwise and then plied together counter clockwise, this is known as “Z” twist. Yarns spun this way will indicate this on their labels, as it is a subtlety that differentiates it from others.

Lotus from Designing Vashti www.lindadeancrochet.com

Lotus from Designing Vashti

So why consider a “Z twist”, there are those that find it reduces yarn splitting  for right handed crocheters, as the traditional method of crocheting the yarn overs can either add or subtract the twist in a yarn. As traditional yarn is spun with a clockwise finish, and right handed crochet yarn overs in a counterclockwise direction, twist can be taken out of a yarn causing it to split. So with “Z twist” being the opposite the right handed crocheter will add twist to the yarn.

Honestly, I have not noticed too much difference in my work between the twist directions, with the exception of yarns that are loosely plied together and thus unply, or split quite easily. However I do notice a bit of a visual difference in the way my stitches look, it is subtle, and if I wasn’t really paying attention I may not completely understand why it looks different. This difference is because of the lines that I see in the yarn due to the ply. The “Z twist” lines are in the opposite direction.

Now that I have told you more then you hoped to know about the direction of twist within yarn, there is a yarn that I find I quite enjoy that is a “Z twist”. Lotus by Designing Vashti is a 52% cotton, 48% rayon, fine weight yarn that is perfect for summer. I find that I create garments, wraps, shawls, and even hand backs out of this yarn. It has a nice drape, and I love the slight shimmer that the rayon gives it. For me it is this rayon that really allows me to see the “Z twist”. I have used this yarn several times and have found that it really “blooms” after being washing, meaning that it fluffs up and fills in the space between stitches.

The combination of cotton and rayon make it perfect for warm weather, that is probably I always tend to pick it up in Spring as I am getting ready for the warm weather of summer.

Now I Need My Top- Let the Lace Go

ScannedImageDesigns come to me in many different ways. Let the Lace Go Top, actually came into being because I wanted to wear it!

The summer of 2015, my good friend Vashti Braha was debuting her yarn, Designing Vashti Lotus to the world in her first show floor booth. I wanted to support her, and since I really like her cotton/rayon yarn, I wanted to make something for myself to wear.

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Let the Lace Go Top Autumn 2016 Crochet! Magazine Photo courtesy of Annie’s

I began working the vertical body, and almost had it together, when I received a call for submissions for Crochet! Magazine. Even though I liked the top for myself, I decided to submit the idea to the magazine. Ultimately it would benefit my friend more to have my design shared with the world, so others can see what a great yarn she has.

Ellen Gormley loved the top, and so I set my personal top aside to complete the project for the magazine. It 8is now available to you in the Autumn 2016 issue of Crochet! Magazine.

I think it came out great! I like working the fabric vertically as I feel it lends itself to a more slimming line, and the lace on top gives it a lighter feel. There is some interesting construction in this design, as you work the solid body first, then begin the lace in to round. After the lace is a couple of inches long, you attach it to the solid body and continue toward the neck, working in decreases to come over the shoulders to the neck.

CoverI added beads to the lace edging, as a little extra highlight, but also for the practice purpose of helping to keep the lace draping in a manner I like.

Personally I love the color, but it can easily shine in any color. I still haven’t actually finished one for myself…but hopefully soon…it just happens to be another project that is resting on my hook.

Sweet Memories with Sato Sugar Shawl

ScannedImageI have some fond memories of my latest design.

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Original version in blue, published in cream.

Sato Sugar Shawl originally entered the world at a fashion show in San Diego, at the annual Crochet Guild of America Chainlink (or otherwise referred to as the Knit & Crochet Show). I had created it from 1 skein of a new yarn from Lisa Souza Dyeworks, Aurora, and seriously just finished it on my way to the show. I hadn’t even formally given it a name or anything.

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Sato Sugar Shawl, photo courtesy of Annie’s

I was encouraged to enter it in the annual members fashion show that happens at the banquet dinner. I agreed to model it, as I was already assisting in modeling other items for the show. I was hastily writing up its description in the back of the staging area, to be read by Ellen Gormley, editor of Crochet! Magazine. Not only was I attempting to put together a nice write up that I would have to walk on stage with, but I also had to make sure that Ellen could actually read my hand writing, which is no small feat.

I was getting input, ideas, and guidance from a wide variety of people that were modeling as well, with designer Vashti Braha giving me some excellent “romance” for the description. One of the things that struck me was a comment that Vashti made about how she had never seen the Love Knot stitch used in the way I had in this wrap. That took me back a little, as Vashti teaches classes on the Love Knot, she has researched its many ways of being made, when it was historically used and such, so to hear her mention that it was completely new to her caught me a little off guard, in a good way.

Summer2016_Crochet!Later that night Ellen pulled me aside and said “submit it, I want it”, and the Sato Sugar Wrap made its way to the pages of Crochet! Magazine for the current Spring 2016 issue. Only the yarn and color were changed for the publication, everything else remains true to the original, I think it worked up nicely in the Berroco Folio Luxe.

It is always fun to see me designs newly released, they often have some story and memory with them, maybe not as all-encompassing as this one, but still they all have stories. Much like each gift I have created over the years, the memories that I have of choosing the yarn or the pattern for “so-and-so for that event and such”. The release time is often a while after I created it, so seeing the latest issue of a magazine can transport me back in time a little, bringing up memories and fostering new ideas.

Not All Patterns are Created Equal

ScannedImageI have taken a small journey this week, and I thought I would at least touch base talking about it, I plan on doing more research and writing more in the future….but the evolution of the crochet pattern can be an interesting thing.

This came about when i was talking to another designer, she primarily works with knit designs, but was have questions about a crochet pattern she had written. What she had written was fine, but it was not in the standard formats that you see today, and this got me thinking and looking at older patterns.

The way she had wrote the pattern was similar to ones I had seen growing up, it didn’t give stitch counts at the end of the row, it talks about working “along the working edge”. When today all of this would be much more specific. IMG_5622

I pulled out some older patterns, I mean like things from 1914, and found that they did not even specify a hook size or even the yarn. the pattern was written like you were talking to your friend…like, “just skip the next stitch and work in the next, one the next row work in to the stitches and make boxes”, it does not tell you how big the final item is to be. there was a lot that you had to understand about crochet in order to create a successful product, or at least one that is exactly like the original one created.

Then later patterns began address crochet hook size. I can not take credit for any of this particular research, as I learned it from a conversation with my friend Vashti Braha. She does a lot of research on every topic that she covers in her newsletter (I highly recommend if you are not on the subscription, do it. She gives you so much insight to the structure of crochet that it is inspiring) Vashti explained that patterns began noting hook size about the 1950-60’s, yet only specified “use what yarn feels most comfortable with the hook”. Things became a little more structured during this time, and the terms and description eventually worked up to the pattern the started me on this quest.

DSCF0993However, I think that after the internet patterns have become much more detailed, and much more precise in the descriptions of locations. This is mostly found in professional print publications and magazines, a just downloading a pattern on-line can definitely be a gamble of any of the writing styles found before. Why is this a change after the internet if pattern downloads can be a crap-shoot, because it is easier to reach out and ask questions of the designers, the publishers, and the technical editors. So if it is well written the first time, less questions are there to be answered.

I definitely want to look more into the ever evolving writing of patterns, but it might take some time….so at least now it is some food for fodder….

So the next time you think you might be going crazy, it might just be the pattern, not all patterns are created equal.