All those Sizes!

One of the challenging things about designing garments is writing all the changes to a pattern for the various sizes. This particular task has been known to reduce otherwise sane designers to raving lunatics, yours truly included (and I love math).

Sparkling Lace Shrug - Annie's Publishing
Sparkling Lace Shrug – Annie’s Publishing

My “Sparkling Lace Shrug” that I designed for Crochet! Magazine was many hours of hair pulling and tears as I worked and re-worked the calculations. I learnt my lesson though.  I took a Pattern Grading class with Kim Guzman thru Crochetville a couple of years ago and it was a great investment in my business (as well as my sanity).

ClassPhoto

553745_4684103338287_44048893_nThe class is available again and enrollment is now. If you are an aspiring designer, or a designer that wants to take the fuss out of pattern grading here is your chance. Zip on over to Crochetville and sign up for the class.

You can watch a preview of what her class covers on YouTube just click here.

Kim helps you learn the methods for making your task much easier by using Excel spreadsheets to do the math for you. As well as explaining many of the sizing pit-falls that can snare the un-wary designer.

You will be very glad you invested the time and money, I know I am.

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The New Routine

Seems like this last month has gone screaming by. I’ve been adjusting to my new routine with the boys going to school in town. We are starting our mornings bright and early, this past week we were up before the sun was and it will be trailing us more as the Autumn moves forward.

Outside Window

I’m still exploring my options for getting work done while I’m down off the mountain. One of my new routines is spending my Wednesdays from 10a – 1:30p at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe.

My little spot at the table.
My little spot at the table.

It is a very appropriate space for me to hang out, surrounded by yarn and inspiration, as well as the lovely company of the owner, Gail and her lovely “shop dog” Kit.

Shop Dog Kit (who doesn't like to sit still for photos)
Shop Dog Kit (who doesn’t like to sit still for photos)

 

Classes Corner
Classes Corner

Gail has the shop set up beautifully. Here is the class section, where there are samples of the various class projects for the myriad classes that will be taught this Fall at the shop.

Cuff Sample

I’m modeling my little wrister cuff that my students will be making this Saturday afternoon (September 13th, 1p-4p) in my Crochet Wristers class. The students will learn all the techniques they will need to make the wrister cuff and will go home with the pattern for my “Spiraling Crosses Gauntlet”.

Spiraling Xst Gauntlet

The Gauntlet was designed in Crystal Palace Yarns’ Sausalito sock yarn. I love this yarn, the gradual and subtle color changes make for interesting striping effects. There is still room in the class if you are in the area and want to join us. Just call the shop at (303) 678-8242 or stop by at 454 Main Street in Longmont, Colorado and they will get you signed up.

Today is chilly and wet,  so I’m hanging out at the Boulder Public Library. Not as quiet as I had hoped here, there is a big construction project underway, but it is warmer than sitting in my car. This might be an option later on as the school year goes along, but I don’t think I’ll be utilizing the library as a work place until the construction is done. I may do some investigating to see if I can find a corner in a friend’s office to rent for a few hours each day.

 

Russian Coninental Knitting

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.

Galina Khlmeleva

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”.

Swatch from Galinas Class

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.

My new Knitting Project

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.

Vashti’s Magicial Tunisian Classes

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.

Vashtis Class Vest

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.

My Swatches, hooks and yarn from Vashti's class.
My Swatches, hooks and yarn from Vashti’s class.

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.

 

Always Learning

Education is on my brain big time lately.

I took 4 awesome classes at the conference this year. 2 with the amazing Vashti Braha; “Tunisian Eyelet Meshes” and “Tunisian Filet Lace”.  My other classes were knitting and knooking. The knitting class was “Russian Style Continental Knitting” with Galina Khmeleva. My Saturday morning class was the eponymously named “Knooking” with my good friend and enthusiastic teacher, Karen Whooley. I’ll be posting more about all the great stuff I learnt in these wonderful classes soon.

The main reason education is on my brain right now is that in less than 2 weeks I will be on the adventure of having a middle-school student. This also means either my husband or myself will be driving the boys down to Boulder every school day. That is anywhere from a 35 minute to hour-long drive. Just found out yesterday that my youngest’s school day will start at 7:50 a.m. Ouch! This means we will have to be on the road by 6:50 a.m. every morning.

Now to some of you that might not seem such a big deal. Clearly you are morning people. I can not be described as such and neither can my oldest son. Himself and the youngest do a little better with mornings, but even they enjoy a later start to the day.  This means I am giving a great deal of thought to the best ways to organize myself. The goal being to make mornings the least painful for all involved.

Boys BTS supplies

There is a fun bit to all this back-to-school madness though. Going shopping for school supplies. We’ve acquired pretty much everything on the lists provided by the boys’ schools. I’m thinking I might need a trolley to convey it all to the schools on the first day.

Mom's Goodies BTS

As always when the back-to-school sales are happening I acquire a few supplies for myself. I especially like to get small scissors that I can take with me when I’m out and about and especially for air travel.

My Favorite Fiskars
My Favorite Fiskars

Then if TSA decides to take my scissors I won’t weep because they are my favorite Fiskars.

I will be learning a great deal along with my boys. Both of their new schools are going to be a huge change for them as well as me. Afterall, going from a school with a total enrollment of 25 students (at its largest) to one with anywhere between 500 – 650 students is going to be an adjustment.

I’m hopeful that having this more regulated schedule will contribute to me being more productive. One of the benefits of being down off the mountain so frequently; I will be able to spend more time at my favorite local yarn store, Longmont Yarn Shoppe. I’m planning on being there most Wednesdays during the school year from 10a – 2p. I’ll be teaching some classes on Wednesday’s as well as facilitating the daytime CGOA Chapter meetings on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

More information about the classes available at Longmont Yarn Shoppe can be found at the website: LongmontYarn.com.  I’ll be teaching 4 classes, 2 will be offered on Wednesdays and 2 will be offered on Saturdays.

Class Project Cuff

Saturday, September 13th; 1p-4p:  Crochet Wrister

Purple Hat on Table Model small-1

Saturday, October 11th; 12p-3p: Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat

Shawlette cropped photo small

Wednesdays, November 5 & 12; 10a-12p: Eleonora Shawlette

Lace Border Class Promo shot 3

Wednesday, November 19; 10a-1p: Lovely Crocheted Lace Border

So if you are local to the area, come join me for some fun classes or just stop by Longmont Yarn Shoppe. And if you aren’t local but want to take a class with me, plan a trip out to Colorful Colorado and have some crochet fun while enjoying my beautiful state.

 

Fair Isle Crochet with Karen Whooley

For those of you that have been following my blog for a while, you have read about Karen Whooley on here before. I was very fortunate when I signed up to become a CGOA Associate Professional (in 2009) that I got Karen as my mentor. It was a somewhat random pairing that turned out to be very fortuitous.  We have so much in common and get along great. I graduated from being Karen’s mentee, but she has become a good friend and colleague in the crochet business.

Title Card for Blog

Today I’m pleased to be a part of the blog tour for Karen’s new class with Craftsy.com, Fair Isle Crochet: Demystifying Colorwork. I’ve taken classes with Karen at the Knit & Crochet Show and the Crochet at Cama Retreat. She is an amazing teacher with a comprehensive understanding of her craft and endless kindness and patience in teaching it to others.

And Karen has provided a fabulous gift for you my dear readers, you can use this link: 50% off the fee for the Fair Isle Crochet at Craftsy.com

The wonderful Karen Whooley photo courtesy of Craftsy.com
The wonderful Karen Whooley
photo courtesy of Craftsy.com

I’ll definitely be taking this class at Craftsy myself very soon, but for this blog tour I wanted to interview Karen. It’s always fun to interview my friends in the industry because I learn about aspects of their crochet (or knitting) journey that I hadn’t known before. So without further fanfare, here is my interview with Karen:

When did you learn to crochet and who taught you?

I learned to crochet in 1974! My Italian Grandmother who was way ahead of her time thought my sister and I watched too much TV.  I was 7 years old when she put that hook in my hand. In 2 hours I had made a covered coat hanger with the traditional colors of the 70s – greens and golds.

Are you willing to tell us how long you’ve been crocheting? And if Yes, how long has it been?

This summer it will be 40 years! ACK!

How long have you been teaching Crochet?

I’ve been actively teaching crochet since about 1998 or 1999.  At first it was with smaller groups in the San Fransisco Bay area, then in 2000 my family moved to Washington state and I started teaching at local shops in 2001.  I started teaching on a national level in 2004!

Who were your first students?

My first students were friends in my neighborhood in California. When I got to WA, I took over teaching at a local store called Pacific Fabrics and Crafts from a fellow Guild member and designer who decided to retire. You may have heard her name, Bev Dillon

What inspires you to teach crochet?

I grew up in a teacher’s household.  My mom taught 1st grade for 9 years before I was born. Then she returned to teaching (the 3rd grade) once I got to High School. So teaching is in my blood!  But I specifically teach Crochet because it is a craft I want to see go on forever!

When I learned to crochet, my grandmother and I were the only two people I knew that crocheted.  In 1996, when I became a stay at home mom after the birth of my first child, I discovered the whole world of crochet out there on a Compuserve List-Serve group called Crochet Partners! (Am I dating myself?) But all those years of not knowing many people in the world that crocheted, when I was given the opportunity to teach… I did!

Did your mom give you advice on teaching when you started teaching crochet?

Mom didn’t so much give me tips as much as my watching her in action in the classroom. Though growing up, she did tell me stories about how nervous she was that first year of teaching, not so much with the students but dealing with the parents. She just pushed through and got over the stage fright.

When I was working full-time as a System Support Engineer for a Company that developed Software for Dental Offices, however, I was asked to teach classes to our field personnel on the system.  I was put in a class to help me get comfortable with that.

What inspired you to explore Fair Isle techniques in Crochet?

When I was a teenager, I had this beautiful bulky knit fair isle sweater. It just fascinated me.  At the time, I didn’t know how to knit, but I was dying to learn so I could make my own sweaters using the Fair Isle motifs. It wasnt until I was 37 when I learned to knit, and then a couple of years later I learned stranded knitting. It was at that point I knew I could replicate fair Isle knitting in crochet!  So after lots of trial and error (which I talk about in the class with samples!) I hit upon what I felt was the best replication I could get of Fair Isle stranded Knitting in crochet.

You knit and crochet, do you find Fair Isle easier in crochet or knitting?

Well, honestly it depends. Because I have been crocheting longer than knitting, I find it easier to crochet but knitting isn’t hard. The difference for me is that in knitting I have all those live stitches with the potential of dropping one or more.  In crochet that isn’t a factor. Because both charts are the same and are read the same way, either one works for me and depending on the look I am going for, I will swap out one for the other.

I love the hat in the promotional photos for the class, was there a particular inspiration for that design?

Mostly it was that I wanted something that looked like a traditional Fair Isle knit hat.  After pouring through Fair Isle motif dictionaries, I put together some of my favorites.  I chose traditional greens and greys of the Shetland Islands and there was my hat!

The hat looks like something that would appeal to the teenagers in your house, are there requests being put in for hats from your family? 

Funny you should ask. That hat is my 15-year-old daughter’s favorite piece from the class. Teal green is her favorite color.  But she doesn’t want me to make it now as summer is coming.  Probably for next year!

I know you must be really excited about offering classes thru Craftsy.com, what do you like the best about this style of teaching?

I think what I like the most is that the class is there forever. Students have the class to go back to for help or just to remind them of some part of Fair Isle Crochet they may have forgotten. The Computer geek in me loves the platform. The fact that they can take notes right on the video for themselves is just amazing. And those notes are there for them to access forever too!

I also love the fact that I can reach students all over the world!  I don’t have that opportunity with teaching live. Lots of times I’ve gotten emails from potential students telling me that they cannot attend an event because it is just too far or too costly. They want to know if I am ever coming to their area. That isn’t always going to happen, so this way they can actually have me teach them in their living room! Or office, or even on the couch next to them!

Do you have a preference of designing or teaching?

That is a hard question because I love them both.  Because of the way I was taught to crochet, by a non-English speaking grandmother, the techie in me loves the challenge of creating something from scratch. But there is something about that light bulb moment students get that gives me great satisfaction. It’s like a visual confirmation that the craft will continue.

Do you dream about crochet? About yarn?

Oh gosh, all the time!  Some of my best design concepts come from dreams! Sometimes when a particular pattern is not working out, I get the solution in a dream. I cannot tell you how often that happens.  In dreams and on the treadmill walking.  Those are my two go to places when I need to work out something in crochet (or knit too!).

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today Karen, I was wondering if you have any final words of encouragement for those that might be intimidated by Fair Isle and this class?

Thanks Andee for having me!

For those of you who may be intimidated by colorwork, this is definitely the class for you! During the class I break down every piece of the pattern, along with having tips in there for you. I have already had students who bought my Fair Isle books, only to be intimidated by all the color changing, send me photos of their swatches from the class. They are excited about how I walked them through the process.

The cool thing about these Craftsy classes is the platform. The “Pause” and “30 second repeat” options allow you to go back and see once again what I just showed you. And you can do that as many times as you need until you get the idea down.  You can also ask me a question at any time, and I will be answering! So don’t be afraid to try it!  I’m there to help along the way!