Good Bye to NatCroMo 2017

Wow! What a month. I had some grand plans for NatCroMo and some came together, others…not so much. 2017 seems determined to keep me on my toes with surprises around every corner. Thanks to all my wonderful friends and family I think I’ll continue to meet the challenges, I definitely couldn’t do it alone. I am so grateful for all the kind messages and the folks that took a bit of my burden from my shoulders.

I had wanted to post on the blog every day of this month. Despite all the madness, I got pretty darn close to success. The purple stars above are the days I posted. I only missed 3.  I would be interested to know what you all thought of it.

Experiencing it from my side of the computer it was really a challenge. The more time I spend working on the blog the less time I have to develop crochet designs, work on exciting art/craft projects or create new classes. So I think I am going to stick to my 2 times a week schedule. That is usually challenge enough. I still may do a solid month of blogging here and there, but I’ll hopefully plan it out ahead of time better.

I thought I would end NatCroMo with a re-vamped Stitch Chart of my Crochet Love heart. You can find the original pattern for the first 2 rounds on my blog post here, and the border round is in my blog post from this February here.

How did everyone’s crochet month go? Did you learn something new about your yarn art? Maybe this was the year that you learned to crochet, if so, a big welcome to you. I hope whatever your crochet status you had a month that gave you a bit of time to celebrate playing with hook and yarn.

We are driving again today, so I’ll be putting in some serious crochet time. Road trips are a great time for me to crochet. At least while I have daylight.

Today I was clever and also packed a booklight for crocheting after dark. We’ll see if that works out for me. Either way, it seems an appropriate way to end NatCroMo.  Be sure to stop by regularly and see what new crochet and crafting fun I have for you.

Pet the yarn and hug your loved ones.

Oh my Goodness!!!

Life is still being crazy. Yesterday got away from me without a chance to do a blog post at all. It’s been a near thing for today.

Yesterday, the little bit of working time was actually spent writing class proposals for the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Festival. I’ll be teaching there again this coming September. Still in the process of figuring out which classes I’ll be teaching.

Some of the classes I’m offering to the education committee are crochet, but I am also developing some needle-felting classes. In aid of that I was needle-felting pieces to photograph yesterday.

Today I got quite a bit of crochet time in while we visited with family. This morning was Baba’s funeral service. It was very nice and my boys each lit a candle for their Baba as part of the service.

Baba and J (6 mos)

Nana and my sister-in-law had created a wonderful collage of Baba for the service as well. The large central photo was this one you’ve seen already.

It was good to be with all the family and friends who loved Baba, and to share stories and our memories of our time with a very dear and special man. There were tears, laughter and lots of hugs. Sometimes we need to be reminded of our mortality to recall how special all our loved ones are to us.

Tomorrow we will be back on the road, I’ll be crocheting in the car again. I’m hoping to have a least one of my projects I brought along finished before I make it back to the mountain. Looks like we will be headed back to some real winter weather again.

My house-sitter says we had about a foot of snow the other day and that the plow blocked the end of our driveway when they cleared the roads. Of course the weather took a snowy turn, I didn’t pack my big coat or my snow boots for this trip.

On the Road Again

20170328_162336Well today involved some crocheting as we are on the road again. I do have Willie Nelson’s song playing in my head (if you don’t know the song you can check it out on YouTube {Warning – You may have it stuck in your head after listening}).

I’d hoped to do some drawing during our stops along the way. I’ve had a couple ideas percolating around in my head for awhile and would love to get them on paper. I managed to leave my drawing pens at home so I had to make a quick trip to Michaels last night to get some replacements. I was so excited, for once I actually had my coupon with me in my wallet. I picked out these Staedler pens partly because I loved the little case they came in. Things to keep the pens corralled together are always a good plan in my book.

I haven’t gotten much drawing time today so far, though I will do more tomorrow once we are at Nana’s house. I tend to take a back-seat and let Nana have full reign with the boys. It’s fun for everyone.

A No Crochet Day

What?!!!

Yes dear readers, you are seeing that correctly. I did not crochet today at all. My boys are on their Spring Break from school and today was all about spending time with cousins, uncles and grandpa. I thought I might get a little crochet time, I even had my project with me just-in-case. But nope. There was no time to crochet.

There was lots of laughter.

Some really big hugs.

Kitten cuddles and baby snuggles.

But no crochet.

That’s alright, there will be time for crochet again tomorrow. Today was pretty perfect despite the lack of yarn entertainment.

18 Patterns in 2016

I was talking with a crochet friend the other day about how many patterns I had published in 2016, and I wasn’t sure. I knew I had been doing a lot of work in 2016. So today I decided to take a tally. Turns out I had 18 patterns published, counting the 6 that were in my newest book: “Wraps for All Seasons”.

There were 5 decorative neckwear patterns:

Sophisticated Simplicity Necklace – this pattern is available here on my blog.

Springtime Cowl – this pattern is available here on my blog.

Loopy de Loop Necklace – this pattern is available here on my blog and I have a video tutorial for it on my YouTube channel.

Sweet Song Decorative Scarf – this pattern is available here on my blog.

Photo courtesy of Red Heart

Beaded Crochet Necklace – this pattern is available on the Red Heart website.

There were 3 Hat patterns:

Mountain Top Beanie – the pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop.

Simple DC Hat – the pattern is available here on my blog.

Whirlwind Hat – the pattern is available here on my blog.

There were 2 fun little projects in Thread crochet:

Simple Victorian Earrings – the pattern is available here on my blog.

Frozen Star Snowflake – the pattern is available here on my blog.

One afghan square:

Fans & Lace Afghan Square – the pattern is available here on my blog as well as tutorial videos on my YouTube Channel .

There were 7 wraps patterns:

The 6 in my book from Annie’s Publishing – “Wraps for All Seasons”, which you can purchase on Amazon or at the Annie’s website.

Playing with Triangles Shawl

Playing with Triangles Shawl – the pattern is available here on my blog as well as an informative video on my YouTube Channel.

Let’s see if I can double the number of patterns in 2017.

Whispering Wind Cowl

I enjoy creating moebius style cowls but decided to challenge myself with designing a simple tube style cowl with this design. I wanted to create a crocheted cowl that would have a very graceful drape and would be a lovely accent piece to wear indoors, but could also serve nicely as a warm layer under a coat or jacket.

First order of business was chosing a yarn, I picked Berroco’s “Folio” yarn. This luxurious yarn is an Alpaca/Rayon blend that feels like cashmere, with marvelous drape and warmth. I paired the yarn with a simple mesh stitch pattern to allow the yarn to really shine.

Collette’s first modeling gig

Next I gave some serious thought to how I wanted to work the foundation and how to finish the opposite end of the tube to compliment the foundation. I usually like everything to be very precisely matched. It’s probably the math part of my brain dictating terms. I decided to give myself permission to have the finishing edge be different from the foundation.

Freedom!

Funnily enough, the 2 edges don’t look all that different. But never fear, I will be playing with this some more and there will be some very different edges in the future. I just wanted to get my toe wet this time around.  I have definitely found a new fascination. Throwing out the idea of precise matching has stirred up all sorts of creativity in my brain.

I used my stacked row foundation to start this cowl, then the rounds of mesh stitch are worked off one side to the desired length. In this pattern I have written the instructions, and worked the sample to be 31 inches around and 13 inches wide from foundation to finished edging. I’ve also included instructions on how to modify the pattern to make a wider cowl (deep enough to be pulled up as a hood), or a longer cowl that makes it more like an infinity scarf.

You can purchase the pattern in my Ravelry Shop for $4.99.

You can use a different yarn than I chose for the sample, but I would strongly recommend a yarn with a large percentage of fine alpaca fiber or rayon. You want the yarn to be very fluid to get the fantastic drape you see in the photos.

 

All Those Tails!!!

Whenever I talk about Free Form Crochet to other crocheters, they all bring up the dread part of yarn work: Tails!

They are correct, there are a lot of tails to contend with when doing Free Form work. I am not terribly fond of weaving in tails myself. Years of working as a designer have taught me some patience with the task.

Way back in the mists of time I remember learning to embroider and my Grandmother telling me that the back of your work should look as neat as the front. Seemed like an impossible task at the time, but it became something I strove for with all my making. Whether I am embroidering, sewing, crocheting or knitting.

I actually find crocheting to be the easiest to create a tidy back to my projects. As a rule the fabric creation has enough body to it that there are always good places to tuck away the tails. When I weave in ends I always pick one side of the project to be the “right” side and look at that side after I’ve woven in my needle to be sure it doesn’t show. I use a bright silver colored needle because it is easy to see a glint of it on the right-side if I’ve woven wrong. I also try to weave my tails in different places on the scrumble so I don’t create a stiff or thick spot.

In Free Form there is also the option of using the tails to sew pieces together. In the scrumble above I wove in all the ends, but left 2 of the longest at the edges to use later when I am joining them to others in my final project.

This photo is the same scrumble from the back after I finished weaving in my ends. This is also the same scrumble that you see from the back in the very first picture.

I was left with quite a pile of tails after I finished the weaving in for all 3 of my little scrumbles. I save these bits to use as stuffing for dimensional projects. When they are wool or mostly wool I also save them as filler for my needle-felting projects, or to use to add color to the outside of those projects.

Other ways I’ve seen Freeformers deal with tails: Tie them together using knots and cut off close to the knot (You want a good tight surgeon’s knot if that is what you chose), or bring the tails to the front of their work and use them as design elements in the finished project.

There really are a lot of choices in Free Form for dealing with tails, they don’t have to be a terror. I hope you will give Free Form a try, for me it is the pinnacle of “Zen” crochet. A bit like coloring with color pencils.

 

 

Coloring with Pencils, and with Yarn

I’ve made some progress on the page I was coloring in Franklin’s “I Dream of Yarn” book. For those of you that have asked, you can purchase this wonderful coloring book online or in some brick-n-mortar stores. When I Googled: “Franklin Habit, I Dream of Yarn” I found it available thru Target, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Knitpicks. You also might want to check your local yarn shop to see if they are carrying it.

I’ve also been doing a little coloring with yarn this week. I’ve been playing with some Free Form crochet.  Some of these are going to a new home with a yarnie friend, once I figure out which ones make the cut. The others will become a pillow for my big comfy papasen chair in my design office. A few of you may recognize the yarn from my post about picking colors for Free Form.

Tomorrow I’ll show you what I do about the mess of tails that is part of the Free Form creative process.

Beads in the Middle

I love adding beads to my crochet projects, both large and small. They add wonderful sparkle and give the fabric a lovely fluid drape.

Sophisticated Simplicity Necklace

 

Here on the blog, I’ve shown you beads strung on your yarn (or thread) then crocheted;

 

I’ve shown you beads “hoisted on” to embellish the edging of an earring, headband or shawl;

Springtime Cowl – Small PWT Shawl

Most recently I have shown you beads “hoisted on” within the fabric of a shawl, as well as on the edging.

When deciding on bead placement into the body of your fabric, think about where your next row (or round) of stitches will connect with the beaded row. You don’t want the bead to be covered or obscured by another stitch.

You also want to consider if the bead will be visible from both sides of the fabric. I like to place my beads in the fabric so they are framed in an opening in the stitch pattern. This helps make them show up no matter which side of the fabric is worn as the “right-side”.

In my latest project, the little PWT Shawl that I’m calling Springtime Cowl, I made sure that all my beads were on an even number row. Crochet stitches bias slightly, this isn’t as noticeable when working in rows, but it makes a difference in how the bead sits on the top of the stitches.  By adding my beads to the even numbered rows I was specifying those as the “right” side of my fabric.

You can add beads to any crochet project, it’s up to you to decide which will be the “right” side of your project for showing off your beading. If you are adding beads to a pattern that didn’t include them, you will want to be sure that the beads are added to rows that correspond with the “right” side of the fabric as written in the pattern.

I hope this inspires you to try adding beads to some of your crochet projects. If you need help with the “hoist-on” method of adding beads hop on over to my blog post: “Making a Pendant” for a photo tutorial on using the “hoist-on” method.

 

 

Time out to Color

Today was a very busy day. Sadly there was not much crochet in it. There was yarn, the sorting of and moving of, but no yarn with hook action. Sometimes in the life of a crochet designer and busy mom, the background grunt-work has to take over a day. Even if that day is during National Crochet Month.

I took a little time to relax this evening though and play. Instead of hook and yarn I decided to play with color pencils and my lovely Franklin Habit book “I Dream of Yarn”. This was my first time actually coloring in it. I’ve sat down with it numerous times since acquiring it, just looking at all the lovely drawings has been happy making for me.

But to be honest I have been a bit afraid to put color to them because then they would be done. Or, gasp, I might “ruin” them. Yup, even I have that nasty little voice sometimes that beats me up and tells me I’ll do it “wrong”. Today I told the little voice to pack her bags and go on a long trip. With everything that has been going on for me and my family the past month I needed some soothing coloring time with my buddy Franklin.

I decided to start with this wonderful drawing of lots of people knitting and crocheting. It reminded me a bit of crochet motifs with just the shaping of it, and the wonderful support I have from other yarnie friends from all around the world.

I think this picture will end up being extremely colorful, I want to make each of the little people have different color garments and projects.

If you haven’t gotten into the whole adult coloring book scene I understand. I haven’t been doing a lot of it, I usually want to draw my own pictures to color. But there is something very relaxing about taking a half hour to color a picture that is already there. I enjoy making color choices and playing with how I will texture and shade my colors.

Of course, when the drawings are fun fantastical versions of Franklin’s dreams of yarn (that really could be mine as well, though mine would have loads more crochet hooks) it is even more fun. Afterall, yarn is our common thread.