A New Book

One of the fun things I got to do at TNNA in Phoenix was meet Dora Ohrenstein. We were talking about crocheted fabric and the wonderful fun things one can create with hook and yarn.  And even better, Dora had a book signing on Sunday at the show, and I got a copy of her latest book “Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments That Really Fit”.

This is an awesome book!  Visually it is gorgeous. It is filled with beautiful clear photography, including close-ups of fabric construction. As well as stitch diagrams and schematics that compliment the concise text on making and modifying garments for an ideal fit.  I haven’t had time to read thru the book fully yet, but I’ve read enough to know this will be a favorite and well-used book in my own crochet adventures.

If you want a copy for yourself you can purchase the book online at Amazon.com or request that your local yarn store order it in.  Currently there is also a give-away being held by the lovely Jocelyn Sass on her blog Cute Crochet Chat, but you need to leave a comment on her post by Wednesday, February 1st to be entered in the contest.

Design Evolution

Have you ever wondered what the process is from conception to publication of crochet designs?  I hadn’t really thought about it much until 3 years ago when I decided I’d like to try selling some of my designs to magazines.

Photo from DRG Publishing

My most recent published design, Plum’s the Word Shawlette, is available now on the Crochet! website as a web Extra to their Winter 2011 print edition.  You can see more details on page 79 of the magazine, or if you are a digital subscriber go to Crochetmagazine.com/EXTRA.

The beginning of this design was born during my family’s Spring Break road-trip in March 2011.  As always for a road trip I made sure to pack one of my suitcases full of yarn, hooks and stitch dictionaries. One of the yarns I had packed was Premier’s Alpaca Dance. 

As I have freely confessed many times, I have a bit of a thing for unusual yarns (sometimes called “novelty” yarns).  If it is fluffy or sparkly it is very likely to catch my eye.  I am particularly fond of soft fluffy yarns.  Though they can be a bit of a trial when having to frog back stitches (I have a few helpful hints in this post on working with these types of yarns).

When I design with yarns like that I want to use stitch patterns that are less likely to cause grinding of teeth. So I knew I wanted something that allowed the majority of the stitches to be worked into chain spaces instead of actual stitches.  Using a big hook is also helpful. 

I worked my swatches with my Laurel Hill M and L size hooks, deciding in the end that I was happiest with the swatch I had made with the L hook. 

I had been looking at the popularity of ruffled wraps, and started playing with Hyperbolic Planes as I swatched.

Because the fluffy yarn has a lovely halo effect, I knew that a lacy open stitch pattern would look very delicate and still make a warm fabric.  Ideal characteristics for a feminine scarf or shoulder wrap. 

Since this was a fairly small project idea, I decided to work a larger swatch to check my increase calculations and made an actual shawlette. 

This photo was one I included to show the shawlette in my proposal for a “Fluffy Ruffles” Shawlette/Scarf to Crochet! Magazine.  I also used Universal Yarns’ Swiss Mohair to create a swatch of the stitch pattern as another suggested yarn for this pattern.

When the editors reviewed my proposal they thought the lighter weight yarn would be a better match and they wanted to use the design in the “Winter 2011” issue of the magazine.  I finished the final sample in the chosen yarn and wrote up the pattern, then sent them off to the magazine staff at the end May 2011.

After that my focus was swatching and working on other design ideas.  I was excited when my CGOA copy of the Winter Issue came in the mail as I  remembered I had a design in it.  But when I looked at the design names I didn’t see “Fluffy Ruffles”.  Then I spotted the information and photo on page 79.  My design now had a new name, and was one of the Web Bonuses available to Crochet! readers.

And that my dear readers is my part of the story of  design evolution.

17 Days of Silence

Wow! January is nearly over and that Bang I was talking about in the last post has created a sonic Boom.

I came home yesterday from Phoenix, Arizona where this past weekend I attended my first ever TNNA show.  And that dear readers is why I have been so quiet.

Even though I was only there Friday afternoon thru Tuesday morning, there was a lot happening before I left home.  Simple family life stuff, like making sure the laundry was caught up enough that my husband wouldn’t send the boys to school in garments that can stand on their own.  And not so simple household emergencies; like the water pressure dropping so laundry, showers and baths became challenging to schedule.

Of course, life isn’t complete if amongst the household mayhem we don’t have some wild shifting design and writing deadlines.  Packing for the trip to TNNA also added its own flavor as well.

Fortunately all was not lost, everything was taken care of as needed and I left bright and early Friday morning for the Denver International Airport.  Flight delays and travel adventures aside, I was thrilled to make it to my hotel in Phoenix.  A quick change into warm-weather clothing, a brisk walk to the Convention Center and I was officially at TNNA.

The main reason I was there was to help the talented Mary Beth Temple by setting up her display for her pattern line “Hooked for Life Publishing”  in the Bryson booth, whilst she was occupied teaching classes.  Which is why my badges say “Hooked for Life Publishing” and “Bryson Distributing, LLC”. Of course it was a bit confusing because people kept asking me where Tenafly, New Jersey is.  The first time I was baffled.

Once things were set up I was on my own until Monday afternoon to take things down.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday during the show hours were all about traveling the show floor and exploring the variety of products that vendors were offering to retail outlets to sell.

There was yarn, yaRN, and YARN everywhere I looked.  Colorful, beautiful, touchable yarn. In my opinion this was pretty darn close to heaven.  A vertriable visual feast.  I made a very long list of yarns I will be encouraging my favorite LYSs to get in store so I can swatch like a mad thing.

Every evening after the show floor was closed I spent going out to dinner and hanging out with my designer friends that were there.  It was great fun to talk yarn and design challenges with others who share my obsession.

Clearly sleep was not a priority during this weekend. Once I’ve caught up a bit and recovered the missing brain cells, I will be posting some exciting stuff.  Including reviewing some goodies that I was given at the show.

Bang! 2012 is Rocking Already

Here we are one week into 2012 and I’m looking at my resolutions and goals once again. Didn’t we just do this?

I know I’m marking myself as gaining in years with this comment, but it does really seem like every year is passing by more quickly than it’s predecessor.  Of course it could be explained mathematically.  Yeah, like you didn’t see that one coming.

It’s all about proportionate relative POV (point of view).  For a child 5 years old, 1 year is equal to only 1/5 of his life experience. So that year seems to pass slowly as he anxiously awaits each of the markers of the passing year: Halloween, Christmas, his 6th Birthday.  Where for me at 48 years, 1 year is equal to 1/48 of my life experience and those same markers seem to come along at warp speed.

This New Year started off with a bang, work and family life were both keeping me on my toes, so getting to the blog has been a bit delayed.  Finally found a moment to think about what my resolutions are for this year.

#1 – Make time every week to play with my children. This has actually been going pretty well as the boys got lots of Legos and some board games for Christmas. I figure I need to make the effort to play with them while they want me to, as they are growing up so fast.

#2 – Do more volunteer work with organizations that matter to me.  I love going to the CGOA conferences each year to learn new techniques, spend time with crocheting and designing buddies and shopping the unique offerings at the marketplace.  I’ll be doing more with the CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) this year than ever before.  Because I’ve agreed to work with Doris Chan and Shari White as part of the CGOA Design Competition committee.

#3 – Purge my household and creative “stuff” to create more space in my home and office. Yes, I seem to have this resolution every year (or some version of it) but it is a never-ending process as more “stuff” seems to come in on a daily basis.

M2H Designs: Tumbling Leaves Scarf

#4 – Publish at least 8 crochet designs in my M2H Designs line.  Just this week I published the first one of the year, Tumbling Leaves Scarf.  If I can manage to do that at least every month I’ll fulfill this goal easily.

#5 – Finish 2 fine art pieces of a good size. Say at least 1 foot by 2 feet. With all the design and writing work I’ve been doing recently, my art studio and art supplies have been getting lonely. I’ve also been wanting to make time to explore using more textile pieces and techniques in my “fine art” work.

#6 – Get back into a regular Yoga practice again, working up to doing an hour of yoga 3 times a week by the end of the year.  I have found my life more sedentary with the work I do now (design and writing), so making myself stick to regular exercise is becoming more important to my overall well-being.