How do you get Ideas?

This is the first question many of my crochet and knitting pals ask when they find out that I’m a designer.  Funny thing is…ideas are rarely the problem for me.  Just looking at yarn and hooks in my stash or flipping thru stitch dictionaries can start up my creative engine.

Some of my Inspiration

But–keeping the focus to make those ideas grow into designs is a whole nuther story for me.

In fact, I’m currently working on finishing the sample and pattern for a design I have already sold, while constantly fighting the distraction of new ideas.  For me,  handling the material is often the medium for growing new ideas (sort of my own version of a petri dish).

Back when I was doing lots of art work with polymer clay, I’d approach the studio with dread, thinking I had no ideas to work up.  Then I would start conditioning some clay.  Just running it thru the pasta machine and mooshing it around with my fingers would often start an avalanche of creativity that lasted for hours.

The same goes for yarn inspiration.  Simply working with the yarn is almost guaranteed to get my strange geeky brain throwing off all kinds of sparks. 

Fortunately I do have some self-control these days, although I do have to grab one of my sketch pads and jot down some quick notes before promising myself I can revisit them as soon as I finish what I am supposed to be doing!

Now if I could just come up with such will-power regarding chocolate….

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Chainless Fears

Crocheted All Shawl worked in Rayon multi-colored yarn
My First All Shawl

My favorite foundation to use in my designs is the Foundation Single Crochet (FSC).  And it’s all Doris Chan’s fault–since I first discovered this technique in her books “Amazing Crochet Lace” and “Everyday Crochet.”

I had a deuce of a time getting the hang of the FSC,  as I had never worked a foundation the way Doris described. But I persisted because I REALLY wanted to make some of Doris’s gorgeous garments.

Doris’s All-Shawl pattern was to be my “ah ha!” moment.  I figured I could manage  the eight foundation single crochet stitches necessary to make my own All-Shawl.  Although I have to admit I first tried working SC into the back bump of the chains as a substitute– it didn’t work.

The real beauty of starting your projects with the foundation single crochet is that it produces a wonderfully elastic edge.  In contrast, a chained foundation gives you a rigid and constricted edge. While that might work for some projects, an elastic foundation is critical for garments like a skirt or gloves, which need to be able to stretch over various body parts.

I’ll be the first to admit that the FSC  is not the easiest technique to learn.  But  once you figure it out it is FanTasTic!

If you learn techniques better by viewing a video this is a good one to check out.  Or this one is helpful as well. 

If written instructions are best for you, Doris’s books have wonderful illustrations and instructions in them, or the glossary pages in the back of the “Interweave Crochet” magazine has both the FSC and FDC instructions and illustrations.

If you are on Ravelry.com visit the Everyday Crochet Group where this thread has awesome advice from Doris Chan herself as well as helpful suggestions from other folks on how they have gotten the hang of the FSC.

The Twists and Turns of a Moebius

I am a geek.  I freely admit this.  So it is fitting that the first design I ever sold would reflect my geekery.

Lace With A Twist Wrap – DRG Publishing Photo

I had thought a lot about making  a Crocheted Moebius as a sort of Poncho/wrap.  I had seen many patterns, but most were having you make a rectangle then add the twist and seam the ends together.

One of the lovely things about crocheting a moebius is that you can make a “true” moebius.  Taking a flat foundation, you twist it 180 degrees before joining in a ring.  That twist is the trick.

In case you aren’t certain what a moebius is, here is a photo of one made from a strip of paper.

Paper Moebius Strip

In Geometrical language a Moebius is an object with only one side and one edge.  Though, as you can see from the photo,  it appears to have 2 sides and 2 edges.

If you make a moebius yourself with a strip of paper you can test this.  Cut a strip about 1 inch wide and 10 or 12 inches long.  Twist the strip once and staple the ends together.  You can use a pencil to draw a continuous line that will meet up with the beginning point.

That line is drawn on the one side of the moebius.  When I made my moebius for these photos I used pinking shears on one edge so you can see how the edge becomes continuous.

That continuous edge works to your advantage when crocheting a moebius .  Each crocheted round creates what appears as a row on either side of your foundation round.  So it gives the look of 2 sides.  It’s a bit mind-boggling at times (one of the reasons I like geometry) and looking at the finished garment you would be certain there are 2 separately worked sides.

One trick with working rounds this way is to turn each round, otherwise you end up with one side of the foundation that is the “Right side” and the other the “Wrong side”.   By turning at the end of each round and working back the way you came you avoid that problem and the finished garment will appear more balanced.

Being the geek that I am, crocheting a moebius is a great deal of fun.  I find it lovely to work 1 round and end up with double the fabric length.  I know that technically I am not really doing less stitches for the accomplishment…but it is still a fun illusion.  For “Lace With A Twist Wrap” after 13 rounds from foundation to finishing it’s a wrap.

Addendum January 3, 2013: I’ve had requests for this pattern from a number of folks. I don’t own the pattern, it belongs to Crochet! Magazine/Annie’s Publishing. You may be able to acquire a back issue of the March 2010 magazine or if you get a digital subscription. Or contact Crochet! Magazine thru their website www.crochetmagazine.com. Hope that helps those of you on the search for this pattern. 

2010 – A Yarn Odessy

Here I am a few days into 2010 and trying to fulfill one of my New Year’s Resolutions–namely, to update my blog every week.  We will see how well I’ll pull this off.

January should be a good testing ground to see if I can master the time management skills needed to stay on top of submitting design proposals, swatching for new designs,  and meeting deadlines for designs that have sold.  And these are  just the work related items on my to-do list.

A piile of various Big Box and LYS yarns from my stash
A few skeins from the Stash

Another personal resolution is related to the quantity of yarn that is slowly taking over every corner of my home.  Thus the Yarn Odessy title of this post.

The yarn stash needs to be inventoried.  I have a bad habit of purchasing yarn because I have no idea what I actually have on hand.  Then there are the times when the “Oh Shiny!” reaction kicks in and I have to adopt at least one ball of that yarn.

The yarn stash needs to be sorted into storage containers and matched with the inventory.  I have attempted this  numerous times in the past with minimal success….Okay truth be told, it only stayed manageable for about 3 weeks…then it all started to unravel (and the stash  has never been matched with any sort of inventory).

The yarn stash needs to be sorted by usage-Free Form projects, design swatching, and project completion.  This is the point where I completely lose momentum, even when I make progress with the other 2 ideas.

It’s a faulty system.  Digging thru the yarn to decide its ultimate destination becomes far too seductive.  All I really want to do is start playing with the yarn.  Before I know it, the 2 hours I scheduled to sort are past and it is time to make dinner for the family.

Well, now you see why I call this an Odessy.  Ulysses had better luck with Homer than I likely will have with my Yarn.  At least I will have a great time.