I’ve been crocheting like a wild woman on some garments that I want to wear at the Knit & Crochet Show.
The theme for the CGOA part of the show this year is Pineapples. Which is perfect for me as I adore crocheting pineapples and love the look of them. They are one of those crochet stitch patterns that look really intimidating, but are actually much easier than you would expect.
I don’t think I would start a beginning crocheter off with a project that used them. Then again that depends on how intrepid they are. It took me a long time to tackle pineapples in crochet patterns despite my love of them.
I really found my comfort level with them when I stumbled across stitch charts. Suddenly they made complete sense to me. Since then I have had a great time playing with them and have a couple of designs coming out in the next 6 months that include pineapples.
If you have been thinking about coming to the Knit & Crochet Show in Charleston you only have a few days left to do pre-registration. It closes July 1, 2016, that’s this Friday! If you miss the pre-registration you can still register for the show, you’ll just have to do it in person at the show.
Hope you can join me in Charleston. It’s going to be lots of fun.
Can you believe it’s National Crochet Month again? Seems like the last year went by in a blur. We are going to start off our Month of Crochet celebration this March with the Crochet Guild of America.
As many of my readers know, I have been a member of the CGOA since 2008. My membership with CGOA has been a big part of my journey as a crochet designer and teacher. It also has been the way that I have met so many of my wonderful crocheting friends.
This year’s CGOA conference will be in Charleston, South Carolina July 13- 16, 2016. I’ll be going and hope to see lots of you there.
One of the fun events at the conference will be the unveiling of the entries for the 2016 CGOA Design Competition. The competition is judged at the conference and winners are announced there. It’s lots of fun to see what folks have come up with each year. There will be cash prizes for the different categories as well as for some of the special awards.
The 7 judging categories (plus a bonus category) are:
1. Fashion: garments (not accessories), including sweaters, tops, jackets, vests, skirts and dresses.
2. Accessories: including wraps, scarves, cowls, socks, mittens, hats, bags, belts and jewelry.
3. Home Décor and Afghans: items primarily for the home, including afghans and throws, baby blankets.
4. Thread Crochet: anything made in crochet thread or fine/lace weight yarn (CYC category #0/Lace); this category may overlap other categories, and includes doilies, garments, baby clothes, accessories.
5. Artistic Expression: items more artistic in nature, including free-form and mixed media pieces, wall hangings, wearable art.
6. Young Designer: anything designed with yarn and/or crochet thread by members 25 years old and younger. Designer may turn 26 in the year of the competition. As long as sometime during the year 2015 he or she was 25.
7. First Time Entrant/Non-Professional: anything designed with yarn and/or crochet thread by someone who has never entered the design competition before and is not a crochet professional. Non-professionals have not had any of their crochet designs published in print or PDF format.
Bonus Category – Pineapples: This year’s conference theme is pineapples! If your entry contains pineapples there will be a box you can check on the entry form to indicate this so your entry can also be judged in this category as well.
Remember, to be eligible to enter the Design Competition you need to be a current member of CGOA. Deadline for entries to be submitted is June 15, 2016.
You can learn more about the rules and about CGOA by visiting the website at Crochet.org or click on the Design Competition image above to go directly to the announcement page (you can see this page even if you aren’t currently a CGOA member).
When I spend time with other yarn enthusiasts I am often asked how I became a professional crochet designer.
The beginning of my journey as a designer was learning to crochet nearly 44 years ago. I loved to crochet, but never followed a pattern (which drove my mom nuts). I would just play with the yarn and stitches until an idea popped in my head for how to use what I was doing to make something I wanted. Whether that was a toy, a piece of jewelry or a garment.
By the time I was in junior high and on thru high school I was more interested in sewing, so I rarely crocheted. Instead I increased my knowledge of sewing and tailoring garments. My mother gave me my own sewing machine at age 15 and it became my favorite toy. I would sketch out ideas for garments and then modify existing sewing patterns to create the actual garments. I still sew occasionally, but as my life has become busier with motherhood and working as a crochet designer and teacher, my time for sewing has decreased.
I returned to crocheting about 15 years ago when I tripped over my dog and severely sprained my ankle. To avoid going out of my mind with boredom, while stuck on the sofa with my foot elevated, I started playing with yarn and hook again. I wasn’t great at reading patterns, but I could look at photos of garments or other crochet projects and get the gist of the pattern. After a month I was up and about again, but I was hooked on crocheting again.
I made lots of afghans for my house as well as for many members of my extended family. I made a blanket for our King Size Bed, which was a massive undertaking. There were also lots of scarves. Finally I decided to try tackling some shaping and made a hat, I kept messing with the stitches and working in the round until I had a hat I liked. In all my experiments I would write down what I did, but it wasn’t in the conventional sense of a pattern.
One day at the grocery store I discovered some crochet magazines on the newsstand beside the check-0ut. Someone else must have been looking at them and decided not to purchase them. Instead they went home with me. One of those magazines was “Crochet Today” which had stitch diagrams accompanying the patterns.
I had always found text instructions for crochet patterns to be rather tricky to follow, but the stitch diagrams made immediate sense to me. By using the stitch diagram I could finally figure out the text instructions. Suddenly it was all coming together for me.
I began to write down my creations in more conventional crochet pattern styles. And I would draw up my design notes in rough hand drawn stitch diagrams. These notes were not organized in any real way and often were on odds and ends of scrap paper tucked into a project bag with the yarn and hook.
In the back of my mind was the thought that someone had to be writing these patterns in the crochet magazines. I thought it would be great to be one of the people doing that. Then I discovered Ravelry.com, and joined the site in April 2008.
Because of Ravelry I discovered all sorts of wonderful crochet artists and designers and became very interested in Free Form Crochet. One of the artists that I met on Raverly was Jenny Dowde from Australia. I purchased her books on Free Form Crochet and when I heard she was going to be teaching in the United States that Autumn I was very excited.
It turned out that one of the places she would be teaching was the Fall Knit & Crochet Show in Portland, Oregon. That was a short plane ride from Denver, so I decided I would go take classes with her there. That show really did change my life.
When I signed up for Jenny’s classes I discovered the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and joined it in order to get the discounts for the class fees, little knowing that a whole new world was about to open up for me. I was excited to go to the show even though I was traveling alone for the first time in 10 years. I was excited to meet other Ravelers and had even made arrangements to meet one of my Ravelry friends there.
In my first class with Jenny, I met Pam Shore and Janet Bates, both who have become two of my very dearest crochet friends. We kept bumping into each other around the show. They were very bad influences when perusing yarn and/or hooks on the market floor. I had such a wonderful and inspiring time at the show, it really marked the end of me “crocheting alone”.
Pam recommended that I join the live chat room during Mary Beth Temple’s “Getting Loopy” podcast on Monday evenings. So I did and became one of the “Loopy Groupies” plugging in my headphones and typing away for 45 minutes each show. Then Mary Beth offered a class thru Crochetville called “Designing for Print Publishing”.
I decided to take the class, even though I wasn’t 100% sure how to even write a pattern yet. The class was about how to put together a proposal and present it to potential markets. As part of the class we had to create a proposal and send it out to a potential market.
I sent my proposal to “Crochet! Magazine” where Carol Alexander was the editor. I was very excited when I got an email from her saying that they weren’t able to use it in the issue that I had submitted it for, but wanted to hold it for consideration for their next issue. I contacted Mary Beth to see if this was the good news I thought it was. She said it was. A couple of months later I had sold my first design to Carol.
That was how my “Lace with a Twist Wrap” came to be in the March 2010 issue of Crochet! Magazine. Of course there were other adventures with this as it was my first time writing a pattern. I think it was assumed by the Technical Editor, since I was a “new” designer, that I wouldn’t write the pattern correctly. Unfortunately the corrections that were made to the pattern actually introduced errors to it. Fortunately, many folks have successfully made this wrap and it spawned one of my most popular posts on my blog: “The Twists and Turns of a Mobius”
I had to turn in the sample and pattern in July of 2009 for that design, so as soon as it was out of the way Mary Beth was telling me not to sit on my laurels. She advised that I keep working on proposals for other designs and encouraged me to attend the Knit & Crochet Show that August in Buffalo, New York. I put together some ideas in a notebook and despite some nervousness went to the Meet & Greet at the show, where designers can meet magazine editors and others from the publishing business.
While waiting in line I met a number of my colleagues who have become good friends over the years since. This show was also the first time that Mary Beth Temple and I got to meet face to face. I had only met her online before then.
I got leads on selling 3 different designs at that event, and made the contacts that led to many other publication opportunities later on. My first ever published design was sold to Bobbie Matela of Coats at the Meet & Greet. My “Crochet Lace Fingerless Mitts” this pattern came out in October 2009.
And Michele Maks (who was with Crochet World at the time) was very interested in my “Field the Spring Lamb” who went on to be on the cover of the April 2011 Issue.
I felt pretty confident at the end of that show that I could call myself a professional designer. Since then I have had over 100 designs published in magazines, Ezines, yarn company websites and my own pattern line: M2H Designs available thru my Ravelry shop or on this blog.
At the Knit and Crochet Show I saw one of my yarn company friends that I had just seen at the TNNA trade show in May. Jennifer from Holiday Yarns. Jennifer dyes yarn and her booth is always a visual feast for the eyes.
We have been talking about me creating some crochet designs using her lovely yarns and decided that there was no time like the present. After some conferring we settled on a simple cowl design worked up in a bulky yarn.
As you can see in the above photo, I bought a few hanks of her lovely yarns for my own enjoyment. She also sent me off with a hank of her Bea-Ewe-tiful Bulky to design the cowl from. Of course the big challenge would be to see if I could get the pattern written, tech-edited, the sample crocheted and sent off to her in time for her to have it in her booth at Stitches Midwest. Challenge Accepted!
I spent most of my time on the flight home to Colorado swatching. I tried a couple of stitch patterns but finally found myself returning to an old favorite: The V-stitch. Of course I had to make this a moebius.
Something I always enjoy at the conference is doing a little shopping (okay, maybe I should say a Lot). Though it can result in an interesting challenge for packing my suitcases to fly home. This year my time at the conference was book-ended with shopping.
Jan and I had decided, since we were driving up to Manchester from her home in New Jersey, we should figure out a way to go visit WEBS during our trip. Usually Wednesday is Professional Development Day, this year there were other events happening, but we decided to spend our Wednesday at WEBS.
If you’ve never heard of WEBS, you can check out their website at www.yarn.com. They have great yarns and wonderful sales on yarns, as well as a fabulous selection of tools.
Jan’s GPS took us on a interesting route to get there, but eventually we did make to our destination. I was having so much fun I didn’t really get much in the way of photos. We ate our lunch at a little picnic area that was across the parking lot from the store.
I exercised a bit of self-control shopping at WEBS because I knew that there would be lots of shopping to explore at the show as well. I did manage to find a few things I couldn’t live without. Some yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks and point protectors for knitting needles.
Jan was very focused on getting yarn for particular projects she wanted to tackle and of course she added to her crochet hook collection.
Thursday evening was the market preview and I purchased a few things. These cute little sheep for my boys and a sheep pillow/pin-cushion for me.
Ellen Gormley was having a book-signing in the Crochetville booth so I purchased her latest book “Marvelous Crochet Motifs”. I really like that this book includes text and stitch diagrams for the instructions. There are 24 motifs and 24 half motifs, as well as pattern instructions for making 4 projects.
I spent most of the time at the preview saying “hi” to friends and exploring all the various booths with an eye toward serious shopping on Sunday. After all my classes and socializing of the previous 3 days, Sunday was my day to get down to some real shopping. As always, Jan was available to help me find everything I might have missed.
Our first stop of the day was to attend Mary Beth Temple’s demonstration of “Arm Knitting”. I managed to take this photo of her with her eyes closed, but it is so easy to arm knit, that you can do it with your eyes closed.
I purchased her book “Arm Knitting” from her booth. The book has clear instructions on how to arm-knit as well as 15 patterns for various fun projects.
Then Jan and I got down to some serious shopping. We both had things we had been looking at thru-out the market days and now it was time to make decisions. There were many booths with yarn, but it was a little harder to find things like hooks or buttons.
I did splurge on this 18 inch Tunisian hook, it’s a size N (10mm).
By the end of my shopping on Sunday I had a nice pile of yarn (plus I had Wednesday’s purchases).
There was also my new “Hooked for Life” bag, a few tools, buttons, beads and other miscellaneous goodies. The little sheep are missing from this photo because the boys would not return them to me for photography purposes.
There was some very nice yarn in my goodie bags from the show as well.
I’m looking forward to next summer’s conference in San Diego. I’m hoping with the show being on the West Coast we will be seeing some new vendors and fun stuff happening in the show marketplace.
I decided to take this class with Karen Whooley on a bit of a lark. I was curious about knooking and I love taking classes with Karen. As a teacher myself, observing other teachers’ class room styles is very educational to me…and Karen is a fabulous teacher. But this class turned out to be so much more for me than I had expected.
My issue with knitting has always been that I feel like the needle in my right hand is lacking something. That’s right, it needs a hook! So this knooking thing was way cool for me. Finally, everything I understood about knitting could be applied to a craft that used a hook. The fabric created with knooking is true “knit” fabric, the tools to create it are just a little different.
Leisure Arts very kindly supplied the kits for all the students in Karen’s class. So that made it easy for us all to get started. The kits held 3 hooks of different sizes, 3 satin cords and a handy sized booklet with everything you needed to know to begin knooking. Having taken my knitting class the day before also helped me. I was rocking along very quickly with my knooking and having a great time.
I got a lot further along with my swatch in this class than I had in my knitting class.
Didn’t bind off very well though, the top of my swatch had a serious curling problem.
One thing I’ve always struggled with in my knitting is twisting stitches and if I pull out a needle accidentally I often put the stitches back on the needle wrong. What I was really enjoying about knooking was I wasn’t struggling to keep stitches from slipping off the needles when making them and could focus more on what was happening with them.
I think knooking is going to be the “doorway” craft for me to improve my knitting skills. In fact Karen said that lots of folks that take to knooking eventually end up feeling more comfortable knitting with 2 needles. She helped me see how the way I was wrapping my yarn would make a difference in my knit stitches and whether they would “twist”.
As you work each row in knooking the cord holding the previous row of stitches allows you to correct the new row (if needed) without making a mess of the previous row. Somewhat like using “life lines” in lace knitting. I think it is easiest to knook with a hook that has a fairly pointed hook end, especially since you are working into stitches that also have a cord in them. I actually have some wooden hooks that have very pointed tops I’m considering modifying so I can knook with them. Just need to make the tail-end of the hook a little flatter and put a hole in it.
Karen has also published a book with Leisure Arts called “Easy Knit Projects”. It’s geared toward kids, but is really great for crocheters that don’t knit and want to try out knooking. In the back of the book are 8 pages that have illustrations and information reviewing the basics of knooking. It contains 9 fun projects to try out once you have the hang of knooking.
After taking this class I can highly recommend it to anyone that has ever wanted to learn to knit, but found 2 pointy sticks to be too intimidating.
This year at the Knit and Crochet Show I was stretching my yarn crafting skills, so I decided to take a knitting class. Not only did I take a knitting class, but a knitting class with Galina Khmeleva.
I was feeling a bit intimidated before heading to the class, a couple of my non-knitting crochet friends were saying “Whoa, your first knitting class and you are taking it with Galina?! You believe in jumping in the deep-end.” This did not help my nerves.
When I got to the class I was comforted to see that I wasn’t the only crocheter that had ventured into a knitting class. My friends Amy D. and Susan Lowman were there as well as Haley Zimmerman and 2 other crocheters. It was a well-filled class.
Galina started off the class introducing herself and her background with the needle-arts. I could tell that I was going to love the class, even if I didn’t remember anything. Galina had a warm and humorous approach to her subject and students that I found immediately engaging and re-assuring.
I had been concerned that I hadn’t even cast-on to knit for months. Fortunately Galina started us off with teaching her favorite cast on method. The hand-out for this was illustrations from the book she learnt from in Russian. The captions on the illustrations were in Russian. I can’t read them, but it is rather amusing to look at them. Except for the very beginning of the cast-on, which created the slip knot, this method was very similar to the method I have learnt called the “sling-shot cast-on”.
Once we all had 15 stitches cast on, Galina walked us thru the steps of how to wrap the yarn on our left hand and hold the left needle (for all us righties in the room, I don’t know if we had any lefties as I was very focused on my knitting). Then she showed us how to knit the working yarn.
I swear it was like magic. For the very first time in my experience of knitting my hands didn’t begin to ache. No. Pain. At. All. I was thrilled. This method encourages one to keep the hands completely relaxed. I have always had difficulty with pain when knitting, and knew there had to be a way to do it that wouldn’t hurt.
Biggest problem all of us crocheters were having was that our left pointer finger kept wanting to creep up off the needle. Galina would walk around the inside of the U-shape table and to almost every one of the crocheters she would say, “Finger down”.
I don’t have much to show for my tiny little swatch I made in the class. But I was very pleased with my progress. It will take many more hours of practice to develop any real proficiency with this method of knitting. Since my hands don’t hurt when I am knitting this way I might actually be able to put in the hours to improve.
I’ve cast on 20 stitches and have been knitting a few rows each day. I’m still really pleased with this method of knitting. Best of all I now have a method of knitting I can recommend to knitters that are have hand-pain or problems when knitting.
I’m very glad I had the courage to take this class, and would highly recommend taking a class with Galina, especially to my knitting friends that are more skilled than I am. If you want to take a class with Galina and are too impatient to wait til next summer’s Knit & Crochet Show, you can check out her DVD “Orenberg Knitting: Knitting Gossamer Webs” available thru Interweave. Or visit her website: Skaska.com to find out her teaching schedule.
This year at the Chain Link conference I decided to challenge myself and take classes that really stretched my yarn crafting boundaries.
My first 2 classes were on Thursday with the talented Vashti Braha. “Tunisian Eyelet Meshes: How to turn TSS into Lace” and “Tunisian Filet Lace: Skill Building Basics”. I’ve always struggled with Tunisian crochet but thought that taking a class with Vashti could change that.
2 years ago I took her “All About Love Knots” class and finally felt I had a basic mastery of a stitch that had always mystified me. In fact Vashti made the love knot seem incredibly easy in that class, so I hoped for the same result taking Tunisian classes with her.
I was not disappointed.
Once again Vashti presented the work in such a way that it really made sense to me, and though my “Ah Ha!” moment took a little longer this time, by the end of each 3 hour class I felt confident in my ability to re-create the techniques she was showing us.
The only homework we had for either class was to review the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS). I hadn’t really gotten a chance to do that and I’ve never been all that happy with my TSS fabric. Fortunately Vashti got us started with our class swatch doing TSS, and that helped.
My dear friend Jan was taking the class as well, and she was able to point out some simple tricks that improved my TSS, so I was ready to tackle the techniques that Vashti was introducing. I confess there was a little time there that I began to think Tunisian crochet and I were never going to make friends.
One of the funniest moments in class happened when Vashti was talking about the lovely vest she was wearing. She told us that it was made with 1 ball each of 2 very expensive yarns. She wasn’t sure how large a piece of fabric she was going to be able to make. So she made a length of fabric, then cut the armholes for the vest. The entire room gasped in tandem, and Vashti giggled. She assured us that it wasn’t as drastic as it sounds.
From this adventurous experiment was born the “Maze Vest” and the pattern is available in the 2014 Summer Issue of Interweave Crochet Magazine. You can see photos of the vest from the magazine and find out more info on Ravelry.com.
The afternoon class was “Tunisian Filet Lace: Skill Building Basics”. It was really fun seeing all the ways Vashti had applied her ideas of using Tunisian style crochet to create traditional filet stitch patterns. She had loads of swatches to show us and some beautiful designs as well. Check out her “Aero” wrap.
I worked successfully on my swatch in class, but have to admit I’m not sure how I did it now. One of the best things about taking a class with Vashti though is that she always provides a good hand-out that helps jog my memory once I am re-covered from “conference brain” and I get a chance to sit down and play with the techniques again.
Vashti very generously shared “Lotus Snacks” with her students, these were 80 yard balls of her new “Lotus” yarn from Designing Vashti. This yarn has a Z-twist making it ideal for crochet with terrific stitch definition. The yarn comes in 14 colors and you can order it on Vashti’s Website. I ended up with 2 balls since I took 2 classes, I picked the “Rose Red” colorway. It was the most popular color in the class. I really liked the color as it is a cool red shading more into the violet spectrum than orange.
She also handed out a Tunisian hook in each class. These were provided by ChiaoGoo which was very kind of them. Vashti showed us a wonderful thing about Bamboo hooks is you can adjust the shape of the hook easily with an emery board if you want.
If you get an opportunity to take a class with Vashti I highly recommend doing so. She is a talented teacher who continues to explore the boundaries of crochet and share that with her students. 2015’s Chain Link Conference (aka The Knit & Crochet Show) will be held in San Diego, California July 22nd thru 26th and there will be lots of wonderful classes to take.
For me the very best part of going to the Chain Link conferences is hanging out with my various friends and meeting new friends. I was really trying to be better about taking photos this time, but there are still many that I didn’t get. Next year I may need to go with a check list to be sure that I get photos of all my yarnie buddies.
The following are a few photos of many of my wonderful friends that were fellow attendees. A few are “selfie” photos, still trying to get the hang of that, so forgive me if they came out strangely. I got a lot of these photos the last night of the conference, since many folks were leaving the next day, that’s why so many with me in them I’m wearing my sparkly top (more about it later).
2015’s conference is going to be in San Diego, California. Dates are July 22-26. I am really excited about having another conference closer to my end of the country. I’m hoping we can get lots of folks to come and play. So many of my yarnie friends in the Southwest and West Coast aren’t able to make it all the way back East for those conferences. This will be a great chance for them to make it to a show to take classes, shop for goodies at the market and hang out with fellow yarn enthusiasts .
I know my family is super excited because we will be making this a combined family vacation/conference for mom trip. Should be a big adventure.
It’s been a busy week since I got back from my trip east. But this will be the first of a number of posts to catch my readers up on what I’ve been doing.
Jan and I decided this year to have another road-trip adventure to get to the Knit & Crochet Show (or as it is fondly referred to by many of us CGOA members, “Chain Link”). I flew out to New Jersey the Saturday before the show and Jan met me at Newark Airport. We spent a few days hanging out at her house then Tuesday morning we packed up the car to drive up to Manchester, New Hampshire.
This is all of our luggage before I packed the car. No one ever believes me it will all fit.
And here it all is neatly and snugly in the car. Ha!
There was even room for more stuff if we had it, which we did for the return trip. I didn’t get any pictures for that part of the adventure, but I had Jan’s little car packed to the max, and we could still see out the windows.
I had a lot of fun driving Jan’s car. We named her Parsippany, it was a name we saw on one of the many signs along the road during our drive. When Jan and spoke on the phone this weekend she told me that Parsippany actually averaged 40 mpg on our journey. Quite good mileage considering I have a bit of a lead foot.
Tuesday I’ll show you all my “loot” from the trip. We went to WEBS and I managed to do a some retail therapy on the Vendor floor at the show.