How the CGOA Master Program Changed My Life

There are points in your life that you can reflect back on and realize that was where everything went in a different direction. For me one such point is the CGOA Masters Advanced Stitches & Techniques Program. Some may recognize my name as a teacher or designer or even past president of CGOA, but none of that would be true if not for that portfolio.

I remember when I first learned of the program, when Advanced Stiches & Techniques was first released in May of 2010. A group of fiber artists were discussing how they were getting master certification in weaving and yarn spinning. I was in awe that such certifications even existed, as I had never heard about it before. Then I get my first newsletter from CGOA and was thrilled to learn that they offered just such a program.

Getting started

I purchased it the day it was released, and waited patiently for it to arrive in the mail. As soon as I open the envelope I was enthralled and captivated by the 29 page document. Picking up a skein of yarn I began working each swatch as it was listed.

I will admit I was a bit apprehensive. There were times I came across stitches I had never worked. There were patterns that had no description or picture of what it should look like. However, I continued on. In honesty, I was so excited that I completed the entire 48 swatches and 13 questions in a matter of days. Not wanting to appear too eager, or speedy in my work I waited a week or so before contacting the CGOA office to set up a review. Unbeknownst to me, the course was so popular, that by the time I had requested a review it already had a four week backlog.

Over the next four weeks waiting to be assigned a reviewer, I anxiously looked over my work, practiced a few of the new stitches, and tried to stay calm. There was no point in second guessing myself.

The wait

Then the time came to send of my portfolio. I was a complete mixture of feelings. Essentially taking a test from a professor I had never met, and they were going to tell me if I could actually crochet. I am self-taught, and even though I had been crocheting for 25 years at this point I had never had someone scrutinize my work. What if they told me I was joke? What if I was only making mistakes? Then I remembered those fiber artists, and how in their discussions they had talked about how much they learned about themselves and their work through the review process for their certifications. How it improved their weaving, their spinning.

After finally passing the review process, I realized I did learn a lot about myself, and improved my crochet. The program forced me to consider things, stitches and techniques that I had just taken for granted. By understanding more about my stitching I have improved my work.

Moving Forward

The rest of my adventure grew from this. Now that I had actually completed this recognition program I had friends and family ask me to teach them to crochet. It is a bit mind boggling that people that have known me as a crocheter only now think I can actually successfully crochet because I received a certificate, but it is what it is.

Then being invited by CGOA to be recognized as a Master at a graduate ceremony at their next annual conference took me into the world of design and further professional growth. I also made lifelong friends whose diverse backgrounds create a unique tapestry in my life, it is always amazing how crochet can unite. I found another family one that understands and embraces me in an entirely different way than I had ever experienced before.

S2S- In Crochet, that is Sheep to Shawl

It is always interesting to see how different events can present themselves from contact made years earlier. This last week I was approached to help on a Sheep to Shawl team.

What is a Sheep to Shawl?

A Sheep to Shawl is an age old competition that I have seen several times at many Fiber Festivals. Each competition has slightly different rules, but only slightly. Essentially it is a team of people (usually seven) that work in a set time limit. In this time limit they prep a sheep fleece, teasing the wool and carding it. They then spin it into “singles”, then ply these “singles” together to create yarn. The yarn is then woven on a loom to create a shawl of set dimensions by the competition.

I dusted off my spinning wheel…

This is usually entirely completed in 4 hours.

A Virtual event…

With the current situation of the world most Fiber Festivals have been canceled or re-imagined. The Lambtown Festival in Dixon, California has re-imagined this competition in a virtual setting.

Teams are allowed a total of 28 hours to complete this process, but need to provide all these hours on a Zoom presentation. The 28 hours essentially creates this shawl in the same time setting as in-person, as the hours are counted from every participant.

This means that everyone is working quickly, in their own home setting,. Then figuring out how to get need supplies to the next participants to complete the steps. It is an interesting undertaking.

Where I am Invited

So in this new setting a couple of ambitious woman decided to challenge the notion of this being a woven shawl, and see if one can be crocheted instead.  I honestly am not aware of any competition that has ever worked up a crochet shawl, and we are hoping to set a new level of encouragement and interest in crochet.

This is where I was brought in. I learned to spin yarn several years ago, but I haven’t put it to practice much in the last 9 years. So, I dusted off my wheel last weekend and spun up some singles.

Join Us….

My team started out as the Stygn Gold, but with some settling in it has now become “Stitch In Time” (Sponsored by The Sacramento Crochet Guild, a Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America) will be working over the next few weekends to complete our project, and you are welcome to join us. Visit the Lambtown site for our scheduled competition times.

Wish us luck. It will be interesting to see if we can essentially create the yarn and crochet a shawl in a combined effort….

Crochet Connections in Pot Holders- Free Pattern

There are times when crochet shares a perspective that I was not aware existed. I was invited to join an on-line conference call of crochet enthusiasts recently, and as I was sitting back and listening to the discussions, I was struck by a topic I had never considered. The heritage of a pattern, and how it connects us to others.

This particular topic was around a pattern for a pot holder.

Some Stories of Connection

I listened to a story of how a learned family pattern has continued through generations. How even after the legacy of the pattern has passed the skill is picked up by another and still being created and shared throughout the family.  Connecting multiple generations and family tree branches, as so many had memories of this one pot holder pattern that was created by the family matriarch.

I heard another regarding a very similar pot holder pattern and how it was the captivating project that encouraged them to further their own crochet skills so as to create the pattern themselves.

Still more was the eagerness of others to learn this pattern to make the same connections with family and each other.

My Take Aways

I was in awe of how one simple pattern was connecting all of these people, and how they shared that it was a connection throughout those that they love.

Everyone may not crochet, but the legacy of a simple crochet pattern has connected these families. That to me is mesmerizing, as I have no connection to those in my family that crocheted before me. I may have some hooks that belonged to my great-grandmother, but I never met her, I have never seen any of her handiwork. There are no family patterns in my family that holds these vivid memories for me, but it a wonderful to know that these exist of others, and I feel honored to have heard their stories.

If you want to create attempt this legacy potholder, below is a similar pattern to those that were engaging the memories of others. I have used this pattern for several years to help new crocheters practice their skills.

Free Pattern

Diagonal Corners Pot Holder

Diagonal Corners Pot Holder

Materials List

  • Size J/10/6.0mm hook
  • Approximately 90yd of medium weight yarn, sample used: Lily Sugar’n Cream medium weight 100% USA Grown Cotton yarn (2oz/56.7g/95yrd/86m), 1 skein color# 102002 Mod Ombre
  • Removable Stitch Marker
  • Tapestry Needle

Details

Finished measurements: 7”x 6.5”

Gauge: is not critical for this project

Getting Started

Rnd1: Ch 30, 3sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in next 27 ch, 3 sc in last ch, working in back loops of beg ch, sc in next 27 ch.

Rnd 2: Without joining, work sc in next 2 sts, insert stitch marker in last st created, sc in each st around to marker.

Rnds 3-18: Sc in each st around.

Finishing

Leaving a long tail, cut yarn and pull through loop on hook. (Finished off.) Fold the edges of round 18 together to allow pot holder to lay flat. Thread tapestry needle through long tail and weave through both sides of Round 18, sewing seam together. Weave ends in.

You’ve Got Options- Diamond Star Square

What fun to be part of the You’ve Got Options CAL! This is a project that actually has 2 different squares, different sizes, but built upon each other. If you have missed any of them, please check out all the opportunities here.

For my part I worked a square that utilizes carrying your throughout the project, crocheting over the color you are not working. This allows for some specialized color changes without having to weave in a bunch of ends.

A little insight

It also uses a process that creates inverted V’s, by using front post double crochet stitches that are worked together. These may be new techniques for you, or stitches you may not work often, so I offer some detailed information about them, and recommend reviewing it before beginning the squares. If you want to understand more about post stitches, both front and back are used in this design, I share some insight here.  To understand more about how to work decrease stitches, I share some tips here.

After you complete the smaller 6″ square, you then really put this square on its head, by moving the corners to the sides. This causes the square to rest on its point.

Square measures 12” x 12” (at end of Round 6, square measures 6” x 6”)

Materials

  • J/10/6.00mm crochet hook
  • Lion Brand Basic Stitch Premium medium weight 100% premium acrylic yarn (3.5 oz/100g/219yrds/200m) 1 skein each color #141 Plum (MC), #98 Cream (CC)

Abbreviations:

  • Beg: Beginning
  • Bpdc: back post double crochet
  • Bphdc: back post half double crochet
  • Bpsc: back post single crochet
  • CC: contrasting color
  • Ch: chain
  • Dc: double crochet
  • Fpdc: front post double crochet
  • Fphdc: front post half double crochet
  • Hdc: half double crochet
  • MC: main color
  • Rnd: round
  • Sc: single crochet
  • Sl st: slip stitch
  • Sp: space
  • St(s): Stitch(es)

Special Stitches

Front Post Double Crochet Two Together (Fpdc2tog):  Yarn over, insert hook from front to back and then to front again around post of stitch last worked into (or around st indicated) on previous row, yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over and draw through 2 loops on hook, skip next st on rnds 2 and yarn over, insert hook from front to back and then to front again around post of next stitch (or around st indicated), yarn over and pull up a loop, yarn over and draw through 2 loops on hook, yarn over and draw through all 3 loops on hook.

Front Post Treble Crochet Two Together (Fptr2tog): Yarn over twice, insert hook from front to back and then to front again around post of indicated stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, [yarn over and draw through 2 loops on hook] twice, yarn over twice, insert hook from front to back and then to front again around post of indicated stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, [yarn over and draw through 2 loops on hook] twice, yarn over and draw through all 3 loops on hook.

Notes

Leave unused color behind your work and work over unused color when possible.

The Smaller Block

Rnd 1: With MC, ch 4 (last 3 chains count as dc), 15 dc in 4th ch from hook, join to top of beg ch. -16 dc

Rnd 2: Ch 3 (counts as tr here and throughout), dc in same st, dc in next st, change color to CC, fpdc2tog, change color to MC, [2 dc in next st (behind fpdc2tog), 1 dc in next st (used for 2nd leg of fpdc2tog), change color to CC, fpdc2tog, change color to MC] repeat around, slip stitch in top of beg ch-3 to join. – 8 fpdc2tog, 24 dc

Working stitch location of “legs” of fpdc2tog
Completed Round 2

Rnd 3: Ch 3, dc in same st, change color to CC, fpdc2tog over last and first fpdc2tog, change color to MC, skip next st, 2 dc in next st, dc in next fpdc2tog, [2 dc in next st, change color to CC, fpdc2tog over last-used and next fpdc2tog, change color to MC, sk next st, 2 dc in next st, dc in next fpdc2tog] repeat around, sl st in top of beg ch-3 to join. -8 fpdc2tog, 40 dc

Completed Round 3

Rnd 4: Ch 3, dc in same st, dc in next 3 sts, 2 dc in next st, change color to CC, fptr2tog over last and first fpdc2tog of previous row, change color to MC, [skip next st, 2 dc in next st, dc in next 3 sts, 2 dc in next st, change color to CC, fptr2tog over last-used and next fpdc2tog, change color to MC] repeat around, sl st in top of beg ch-3 to join. -8 fptr2tog, 56 dc

Working stitch location for “legs” of fptr2tog
Completed Round 4

We start making corners

Rnd 5: Ch 3, dc in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, sc in next 3 sts, change color to CC, fphdc around fptr2tog, change color to MC, sc in next 3 sts, hdc in next 2 sts, dc in next 2 sts, change color to CC, (fpdc, ch 1, fpdc) around fptr2tog (corner made), change color to MC, [dc in next 2 sts, hdc in next 2 sts, sc in next 3 sts, change color to CC, fphdc around fptr2tog, change color to MC, sc in next 3 sts, hdc in next 2 sts, dc in next 2 sts, change color to CC, (fpdc, ch 1, fpdc) around fptr2tog, change color to MC] repeat around, sl st in top of beg ch-3 to join. Fasten off CC. -4 fphdc, 4 (fpdc, ch 1, fpdc) corners, 16 dc, 16 hdc, 24 sc

Rnd 6: Ch 2 (counts as hdc), [hdc in each st across to ch-1 sp, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp] repeat around, hdc in last st, sl st in top of beg ch-2 to join. Fasten off. – 68 hdc, 4 (dc, ch 1, dc) corners, (19 sts on each side of square)

Making the Bigger Square

Rnd 7: With CC, join to any ch-1 corner sp, ch 3, (dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in same sp as join, bpdc around each st to next ch-1 sp, [(2dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in ch-1 sp, bpdc around each st to next ch-1 sp] repeat around, sl st in top of beg ch-3 to join. -76 bpdc, 4 (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) corners

Rnd 8: Ch 3, dc in next st, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, [dc in next 3 sts, change color to MC, fpdc2tog, change color to CC] five times, {dc in next 3 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, [dc in next 3 sts, change color to MC, fpdc2tog, change color to CC] five times} repeat around, dc in last st, sl st in top of beg ch-3 to join. -20 fpdc2tog, 72 dc, 4 (dc, ch 1, dc) corners

Rnd 9: Ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, {(dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, dc in next 6 sts, [change color to MC, fpdc2tog over previous and next fpdc2tog, change color to CC, sk next st, dc in next 3 sts] 4 times, dc in next 3 sts} repeat around omitting last 3 dc on last repeat, sl st in top of beg ch-3 to join. Fasten off both colors. -16 fpdc2tog, 84 dc, 4 (dc, ch 1, dc) corners

We are moving the corner…

Rnd 10: Note corner location will shift in this round. With MC, join to any ch-1 sp, ch 1, sc in same sp, bpsc around next 4 sts, bphdc around next 4 sts, bpdc around next 5 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in next st, bpdc around next 5 sts, bphdc around next 4 sts, bpsc around next 4 sts, [sc in ch-1 sp, bpsc around next 4 sts, bphdc around next 4 sts, bpdc around next 5 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in next st, bpdc around next 5 sts, bphdc around next 4 sts, bpsc around next 4 sts] repeat around, sl st in first sc to join. –32 bpsc, 32 bphdc, 40bpdc, 4 sc, 4 (dc, ch 1, dc) corners

Rnd 11: Ch 1, sc in same st, sc in next 4 sts, [hdc in next 5 sts, dc in next 5 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, dc in next 5 sts, hdc in next 5 sts, sc in next 9 sts] 3 times, hdc in next 5 sts, dc in next 5 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, dc in next 5 sts, hdc in next 5 sts, sc in last 4 sts, sl st in first sc to join. -36 sc, 40 hdc, 40 dc, 4 (dc, ch 1, dc) corners

Rnd 12: Ch 1, sc in same st, sc in next 10 sts, [hdc in next 5 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, hdc in next 5 sts, sc in next 21 sts] 3 times, hdc in next 5 sts, (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 sp, hdc in next 5 sts, sc in next 10 sts, sl st in first sc to join. Fasten off. -84 sc, 40 hdc, 4 (dc, ch 1, dc) corners

Rnd 13: With CC, join to any ch-1 sp, ch 2 (counts as hdc), (hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) in same sp as join, bphdc in each st across to next ch-sp, [(2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) in ch-1 sp, bphdc in each st across to next ch-sp] repeat around, sl st to join. Fasten off. Block. –132 bphdc, 4 (2 hdc, ch 1, 2 hdc) corners (37 stitches on each side of square)

The wrong side of the Diamond Star Square

Eventful Crochet Year and New Opportunities

This is always the time of year that I take stock of what the last year has brought. Honestly, it helps me realize that I am not just spinning my wheels, I really am doing things!

Teaching

For example, this year I have taught 53 classes at my local yarn store (not including private lessons), I have taught 16 classes at 5 different national events. Four classes at DFW Fiber Fest in April (find me there this year teaching the CGOA Masters Day), four classes at the Jimmy Beans Wool annual retreat in June, two classes for the Northern Illinois Chapter of CGOA in May, five classes at the Crochet Guild of America annual Chainlink Conference, and a class for a unique on-line conference, Stitch Markers Live.

This is part of the contributing factors of my 10 trips in 26 weeks that really kept me on my toes. Some were business networking, some were educational, and some were teaching. But all were really enjoyable.

Retreats

I also started day long crochet retreats. Celebrating my first event at a local winery; getting a tour, enjoying learning about wine and crocheting, a grat day was had by all. I have the second event is already on the calendar for the end of January this time at a chocolate shop. Find information to join me here.

Crochet with Linda at the Winery, August 2019

Designs

I didn’t just sit back when it came to designing. I only had 8 designs in freelance publications, but I created 15 designs, 4 for sale in my pattern line, the rest are either free patterns on my website or available for purchase in kits with various retailers.

Charity

I also started an afghan block pattern line to encourage people to learn a crochet stitch and help a national non-profit, Warm Up America. Warm Up America utilizes volunteers to put these blocks together and donate afghans to those in need. I have created 7 blocks this year, and continue to strive to create a new block design every few weeks.

Newsletter

Another large event for me, was actually pulling it together and creating a monthly newsletter. I highlight what has been happening in the month prior and what I am excited about in the month to come. This has really helped me to stay focused and reflective. If you haven’t already, sign up to receive it here.

Volunteering

Then in the midst of all this teaching and creating, I have continued to lead the Crochet Guild of America, as its President. That means monthly Board meetings, and keeping volunteers moving forward with various initiatives and undertakings. Working with 6 other Board members to help spread the word of crochet, preserve its heritage, and encourage more learning.

Home Life

I have juggled this with scheduled power outages to prevent forest fires. With the busy calendars of my two kids, be it sports, band or 4H there is never a dull moment. In addition I have juggled all the running of a household as my husband has had to work increasingly demanding work hours. I know that this is nothing new for women, but it is worth remembering that it takes time and has value.

The Decade

I was considering taking a look at where life has taken me in the last 10 years, but really a decade ago to now, is almost not recognizable. I made new friends, I lost people I care about. I was working in the field of Social Work for the older adults. My children were just starting school, my husband had human being work hours, and I was not in a position to even imagine that I would be self-employed in working in crochet. It is like a completely different world, and leaves me really wondering where the next ten years will take me.