You Can Do It!

As part of  National Crochet Month I thought it would be very appropriate to talk about something very dear to my heart as an active member of the CGOA: The CGOA Design Competition.

Last year was the first year that I played a major role in the Design Competition. Shari White and I were asked by Doris Chan at the 2011  Greensboro, NC show to step in as Co-chairs for 2012 with an eye toward Doris reducing her involvement (or more rightly, maintaining her sanity, Shari and I are still scratching our heads about how much Doris had been doing on her own).

It has been a wonderful experience as well as very educational. One of the things that I have learnt is how hard we can all be on ourselves.  Lots of folks seem to be afraid to enter the Design Competition because they feel they can’t compete with professional designers.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight. You can do it! If you want to enter the Design Competition do it. Even if you don’t win your entry will be on display with all the other entries at the Charlotte, NC Knit & Crochet Show this October.

One thing to keep in mind, many of our winners are not professional designers.  In fact most of them just love crochet. And even the professionals enjoy entering the competition because it gives them a chance to design something without the limitations that are often in place when designing for publication.

The main point of the Design Competition is to show the public the incredible things that can be made with crochet. And that leaves room for non-professionals to shine right beside professionals.

In some ways the amateurs have an advantage. Most of us full-time professional designers have a pretty crowded schedule as far as crochet time goes. Amateurs can put all their attention on that stellar piece they plan to enter in the competition.

My 2009 Entry
Time to Dance Evening Bag
My 2009 Entry

Speaking as a professional I can tell you that we are nothing extra special. I know I put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. I may have talent, but that isn’t because I’m a professional designer, that is just the luck of the draw.  But talent isn’t everything,  determination to see a project thru to completion is most important.

Some of our winners became professionals by entering the Design Competition. Before their first time in the competition they hadn’t sold any designs, maybe hadn’t even thought to try. But entering a piece that was their original work got the attention of an editor or creative director. Heck, some of the folks that became designers because of entering the competition didn’t even win a prize.

Alpaca Hug Neck CozyMy 2010 Entry
Alpaca Hug Neck Cozy
My 2010 Entry

Even if you aren’t interested in being a professional designer you still have a good chance of winning one of our many cash prizes.  You don’t need to write a pattern for your entry.  You just need to be a current member of the CGOA,  your entry must be your original design and primarily crocheted. The deadline for entries is September 6, 2013.

We have 6 judging categories this year:

  1. Fashion: garments fitted to the body, including sweaters, tops, jackets, skirts, gowns and dresses.
  2. Accessories: larger fashion accessories not fitted to the body, including wraps, shawls, and capes.
  3. Small Accessories: anything small scale, socks, scarves, cowls, hats, bags, belts and jewelry.
  4. Afghans and Home Decor: any and all afghans, throws, blankets and bed or sofa covers and any décor items not in thread.
  5. Thread Crochet: anything made with crochet thread or lace/fine weight yarns, including doilies, baby items, garments and accessories.
  6. Artistic Expressions: designs more artistic rather than functional in nature, including free-form and mixed media pieces, hangings, sculpture, wearable art, amigurumi and novelty items.

You can find out further information about the Design Competition online at the CGOA website (www.crochet.org), at the CGOA Now blog (http://cgoanow.blogspot.com/), or the CGOA Design Competition Facebook page. The Information Package can be reached thru links at the CGOA website.

Now it’s time to get out your yarn and hooks and create something spectacular to share with the rest of us. You can do it!

A Tour Through Crochet Country

I am honored to be part of the “Tour thru Crochet Country” blog tour organized by Amy Shelton and Donna Hulke of Crochetville. I love that this is a great way to celebrate National Crochet Month and the CGOA (Crochet Guild of America).

I’ve been a CGOA member since the summer of 2008 and it has been the way I’ve met all sorts of crochet friends. Before CGOA I was crocheting and creating in a vacuum, now I get to share my love of crochet with thousands of folks. You can find out more about CGOA and join this wonderful organization at their website: Crochet.org.

As my gift to all you wonderful folks stopping by for the tour I wanted to offer a new heart pattern. I’ve been posting a heart pattern the last couple of years for Valentine’s Day, but this February got away from me.  Seems quite appropriate to celebrate NatCroMo with a heart pattern though, since we all love crochet.

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Crocheted Love Sample photo

Crocheted Love

designed by Andee Graves

Pattern is in US terminology.

Finished size will depend on the size of yarn and hook you use. The heart in the photo was made with Cascade 220 Superwash and a Size G-6/4mm hook.

Start with an adjustable slip knot

Round 1: Ch 4, 12 dc in 4th ch from hook, sl st in top of ch-4.

Round 2: Sk 2 sts, 7 Tr in next st, dc next st, 2 dc next 2 sts, (2 dc, ch 1, sl st in top of previous dc, 2 dc) in next st, 2 dc next 2 sts, dc next st, 7 Tr next st, sl st between last dc and join of Round 1. Fasten off, pull beginning tail to close center snugly, weave in ends.

Crocheted Love Diagram copy

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Now that you are making quick little hearts, how about using some to embellish simple crocheted blankets for Project Night Night.

Project Night Night is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides over 25,000 Night Night Packages each year to homeless children. Each package consists of a new sturdy tote bag with a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book, and a stuffed animal. These comfort objects help to reduce the trauma of homelessness for the children served by Project Night Night. Both the handmade blankets and stuffed animals provide the children with objects of love and security.

You can help all of us on this tour help Project Night Night by making and sending in new crocheted blankets (50” x 60” or smaller) and/or making financial donations. A group effort will help us do more for Project Night Night than any of us could possibly do on our own.

For more information about Donating a Blanket to Project Night Night visit this webpage.

For more information about Donating Money to Project Night Night visit this webpage.

And please stop by here to add your donations to our group tally.

Thanks for stopping by today. Remember to visit the other stops (listed below) on the Tour through Crochet Country all during March.

List of Stops Along the Tour

Click on any designer’s name to go directly to their blog.

While you are invited to visit any site at any time, a designer’s post created specifically for A Tour through Crochet Country will not be posted until his or her scheduled date.

March 1 Jenny King Shelby Allaho
March 2 Ellen Gormley Nancy Nehring
March 3 Phyllis Serbes Mona Muhammad
March 4 Amy O’Neill Houck Akua Hope
March 5 Mary Jane Hall Lindsey Stephens
March 6 Edie Eckman Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby
March 7 Jennifer Cirka Annette Stewart
March 8 Andrea Graciarena LeAnna Lyons
March 9 Dawn Cogger Angela Whisnant
March 10 Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten Renee Rodgers
March 11 Joy Prescott Donna Childs
March 12 Pam Daley Deb Burger
March 13 Tammy Hildebrand Marty Miller
March 14 Jocelyn Sass Jennifer E Ryan
March 15 Andee Graves Kimberly McAlindin
March 16 Laurinda Reddig
March 17 Brenda Bourg
March 18 Rhonda Davis
March 19 Julie Oparka
March 20 April Garwood
March 21 Alaina Klug
March 22 Erin Boland
March 23 Margaret Hubert
March 24 Bonnie Barker
March 25 Kim Guzman Susan Huxley
March 26 Susan Lowman Michele Maks
March 27 Marie Segares Brenda Stratton
March 28 Kathy White Lori Carlson
March 29 Amy Shelton Donna Hulka
March 30 Linda Dean Kristin Dragos
March 31 Karen C K Ballard Gwen Blakley-Kinsler

Happy Pi Day

Today is March 14 or 3.14, the short version of Pi. I’m not sure when folks starting celebrating Pi day. I am sure it was some geeky types that got it going.

Pi

Pi is actually much longer than 3.14. Figuring the decimal digits of Pi is a math problem without a final solution. Mathematically Pi is referred to by the number of decimal digits, ie… 3.14159 is referred to as “Pi to the 5th degree.

A couple of years ago I posted my “Pi recipe”.  Where I showed you step-by-step how to make crown down hats that fit using Pi.

So if you want, today you can crochet a hat as part of celebrating Pi Day. Have fun.

Keeping it Simple

I always enjoy creating designs that beginning crocheters can tackle and my latest published designs are examples of this.

Photo courtesy of Crochet 1-2-3/Valu Publishing
Photo courtesy of Crochet 1-2-3

You can find my  “Seasonless Wrap”  in Issue #4 of Crochet 1-2-3 Magazine. This simple wrap is worked with Lion Brand Homespun in rows of V-stitches off a central/neck foundation. I love V-stitches for working with fuzzy or fluffy yarns like Homespun.

Photo courtesy of Crochet! Magazine/Annies Publishing
Photo courtesy of Crochet! Magazine

You can find my “Big Beads Necklace” in the Spring 2013 issue of Crochet! Magazine. The hardest part of working this pattern are how tiny the stitches are. But if you are comfortable working with Size #10 crochet thread you’ll have no trouble at all. You don’t really need to count the number of rounds worked, just keep going til you reach the length you want.  I found making the sample to be very meditative.

Even if you are an experienced crocheter, these are both fun “mindless” crochet projects for those days you just want to play with the hooks.

Pointy Hooks

Orig 5 w Set

In May of 2009 I went to my second Knit & Crochet Show. It was there that I first saw Laurel Hill Hooks in person and tried them out. I ended up purchasing 5 hooks in my favorite sizes.

First L hook

One of the fun thing about purchasing the hooks there was looking through all the available hooks to find the ones I considered the most beautiful. There was a variety of color changes in the woods and I really liked the ebony hooks that had some lighter color mixed in with them. My first purchase was this L hook, the beauty of the wood drew me in, plus it is a size that was a bit more difficult to find at that time.

I have used my Laurel Hill hooks quite a bit since I obtained them. They are very pointed on the end, which means that they work nicely when doing tight stitch work as well as when working with fluffy yarns. The shape of the hook is very comfortable in my hand as well.

My dear friend Jan has often heard me bemoan the fact that I didn’t purchase a full set when I had the chance. I’ve been searching the market floors at every yarn enthusiast type event I’ve gone to since then.

Jan & I both have H.A.S. (Hook Acquisition Syndrome, for those of you outside the addiction).  This isn’t really an issue since neither of us have any desire to be cured, but it does mean I have a sympathetic shoulder to cry on about missed opportunities for hook purchases.

Case closed

Recently a box arrived at my house, when I opened it this was inside (with a note about the number of birthdays this covered).

All my LH hooks

Thanks to my dear Jan, I now have a full set of Laurel Hill Hooks as well as 5 duplicates.

Comp Old n New

It is very interesting to note the difference between the hooks I purchased in 2009 and these newer Laurel Hill hooks. Can you spot all the differences in the photo?

Older hook on top
Older hook on top

It seems a lot of hook manufacturers change their products over time. If you are a fan of Bates and Boye hooks for the past 30 years you will have seen this too. The changes are not necessarily bad, but they do tend to be a bit disconcerting if you are in love with the original design.

I still like the Laurel Hill hooks even with the changes, though I think they have lost a bit of their “beauty” with some of the changes.  Now if Laurel Hill would just make their hooks in a size “P” life would be very good.

Angels

My newest technology acquisition is my Samsung Galaxy Note II phone. This phone is a bit larger than my old phone, but it is lighter in weight. It is very useful.

Pen View

This lovely new phone has a “pen” that is housed in the phone itself, so it is readily available when needed. Best of all, when I pull the pen out the phone automaticially opens up the SNote app that allows me to choose a page type to write on. I’m still working on the learning curve with this. But am already having lots of fun with it.

There is a little app that I’ve been using for some doodling, Paper Artist. Using it and the SNote app I made a series of Angel drawings.

Sm Ornament Photo

I started out with a photograph of this little Angel ornament.

Sm Beginning Drawing

Then I pulled it into Paper Artist to make some changes.

Sm Angel SNote

After that I brought it over to the SNote app to add color and further refine the image.

Then it was time for the real fun to begin. I pulled the colored image back into Paper Artist and had all sorts of fun with the various effects.

Sm Angel Drawing 1 Sm Angel Drawing 2 Sm Angel Drawing 3 Sm Angel Drawing 4 Sm Angel Drawing 5 Sm Angel Drawing 6 Sm Angel Drawing 7 Sm Angel Drawing 8

It is going to be great having a handy little art studio with me that fits in my coat pocket. I don’t think it will completely replace my beloved sketch pads, but it will be very convenient for quickly jotting down ideas and inspiration when I am on the go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candy Shell

And one last photo for you. The hard shell case I purchased to protect my new investment is of course…Hot Pink (like anyone is surprised about that).

Wonderful Yarn Store

It took me awhile to get to Longmont to check it out, but I am very excited that there is a new yarn store there.  The store opened back in September 2012, but things have been so busy I only recently got to visit it.

Brenda and I

My fellow designer and CGOA pal, Brenda Bourg, joined me for this outing.  Longmont is somewhat a mid-point between where the 2 of us live in Colorado, so it was ideal to find a place to meet there. Being we are both yarn nuts a yarn shop is perfect.

Outside Window

The name of the shop makes me smile, Longmont Yarn Shoppe. LYS is the acronym used in the online yarn communities for “Local Yarn Store”, so it is very fitting.

Wall w Signs and Yarn

The store owner, Gail, welcomed us in warmly as she was just opening her doors for the day’s business. Brenda and I both thought the shop was really beautiful. It has a very open feeling with tall ceilings and skylights that provide lots of natural lighting.  There is a nice big work table where stitchers can gather to visit while playing with yarn.  And the store even has a sweet friendly “shop dog”, who adds to the overall homey welcoming feel.

This shop does more than give lip-service to the idea of “crochet-friendly”. Everything from the wonderful big sign on the wall that says “Crochet”, to offering a variety of interesting crochet classes with a CYCA certified instructor.

Brenda and I both purchased some yarn and visited with other shoppers while sitting at the work table getting some stitching in. We’ll definitely be visiting this store more in the future. If you are in the Longmont area you should stop by to play with some yarn there too.