Little Wing Shawlette

My latest pattern is available now at the E-zine site Crochet Uncut.

This little mini shawl is perfect for a quick bit of  warmth to wear as the weather gets colder, designed in Naturally Caron’s Country it has just enough wool to allow lace to block open beautifully.

Christmas Crochet

Oh boy, it’s time for some quick work with the hooks.  Christmas gift making season seems to have snuck up on me once again.  Though I had thought about it earlier.  In fact, was happily reminded when the Special Newstand issue of Crochet! Magazine came out the end of August.

It was particularly exciting for me as the hat  on the cover is my design, Roundabout Hat (thanks to Carol Alexander, the talented editor of Crochet! Magazine for the name).

Fortunately, I already have a hat done for my beloved because of this design, the hat below was actually the proto-type and will be one of his Christmas presents this year.

I had the ball of Universal Yarns Classic Worsted Long Print in the Black Heathers colorway for ages, intending it for a hat for my beloved.  When Carol asked me for a warm earflap hat design for this issue my mind went to that yarn right away.  

One thing I really love about this design is the simplicity of the color work as the yarn does all the heavy lifting.  The hat is worked top down in half double crochet for a lovely stretchy fabric.  The earflaps are worked in the round as well so there is a cozy extra layer over the ears, which is super handy in cold winter weather.

I may be making a few of these hats this Christmas as they are quick to stitch up and can be embellished to make them more feminine or fun.   There are loads of other fun gift projects in this magazine as well.  So if you are looking for some inspiration for your gift list, this issue is a great place to start.

Fallin’ Behind

According to the calendar Autumn began a week ago, and according to the Aspen trees in my neighborhood it may have crept up on me even earlier. 

Whatever the case may be, I’m a bit behind on my plans for my independent pattern line.  I’ve said that I would be launching it in Fall 2010.  Now, technically that means that if I launch it before December 21st it is still Fall. 

I’ve benn kept away from working on my indie line by the wonderful good fortune of being busy with designs for magazines and yarn companies.  I am getting caught up though and hope to be back on track with my work on my pattern line very soon. I won’t make any promises of exactly when the launch will really happen, but it will be before the official start of winter.

New Foundations

As many of you that have worked my designs know, I love simple foundations.  Any pattern that asks me to chain more than 50 to start out tends to make me cranky.  A cranky Andee is not that fun to be around, just ask my family.

My favorite designs begin with what I like to call “small starts”.  Nothing makes me happier than to have the beginning directions in a crochet pattern say, “Chain 2, single crochet in 2nd chain from hook.”  Or a variant of that. Which is one of the many reasons I love the foundation single crochet (FSC) for my designs.

But, I know not everyone has my fondness for the FSC.  In fact, it took me a very long time to become friends with the FSC.  I purchased Doris Chan’s books “Amazing Crocheted Lace” and “Everyday Crochet” years before I felt able to tackle the FSC.

I would drool over her patterns and attempt over and over to do the FSC.  Finally one day it all came together and I have mastered the FSC (or at least have a good handle on it).

Recently, I wanted to do a shawl design that would require a long foundation to work off of.  The idea of starting a pattern with nearly 200 chain stitches made me break out in a cold sweat.

I also knew there were quite a few folks that would not be too happy with me if I started it off with that number of FSC (I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to make a foundation with that many FSC). What to do?

I wanted a foundation that wasn’t a complete pain to work, that would look attractive on its own.  Something that wouldn’t need an additional edging to seem complete.

I started looking at single crochet stitches.  What would happen if I worked a bunch of single crochets one on top of the other, then worked into the side of them for the rest of the garment?

Now, I’m pretty sure some other designer has done this at some time or another, though I can’t recall having seen it.  Happily the resulting foundation is stretchy and attractive. Basically everything I was looking for.

One thing I did observe is that with my style of crochet the foundation made this way seems a bit too loose.  I adjusted for this by working the foundation with a smaller hook than that used for the body of the shawl.  Knitters have been casting on for ages with different size needles than the rest of their project is worked with.  So I was borrowing from that tradition.

It could also work to just be very aware and crochet the foundation stitches a bit tightly with the larger hook, then work with a more relaxed gauge for the remainder of the garment.

Either way, this may become one of my favorite new techniques for foundations.

Super Secret Projects

I know I’ve been a bit slow posting lately.  My recent blog posts could convince you that I never crochet anymore.  It isn’t true. 

Piles of Work

I’m actually working on 7 different crochet projects, but as is often the case for designers, I can’t tell anything about them. I am really looking forward to being able to share the stories of each of them and celebrate with my stitching friends once the designs are published. 

Also I still have lots of work to do for getting my Design Office and Art Studio spaces in order.  Hopefully then I’ll be working smarter instead of harder. Of course, everything was a bit side-lined with the wildfire excitement, but I’m back on task again. 

Thanks for popping in once and awhile.

Progress

Well, things are going a bit slower than I like, but progress is happening with the Design office. 

 The shelves are all in place.  The Bulletin Boards are installed.  Now it is becoming more of an issue of sorting thru the accumulations of “stuff” that seems to be coming out of the woodwork.

One of the largest projects is taking an inventory of all my yarn.

Yep, that is a scary one.  Fortunately help is arriving in a few minutes in the form of my friend Laura.  She’ll keep me on track, she’s not a yarnie like me.

Of course the good news is I may be sending some yarn to new homes once I have a better handle on how much I really have.

Then there is all the fabric, the thread, the beads, drawing and sketching materials.  Okay, I’m tired again.

Note to self:  Sort thru and pitch (or donate) stuff regularly to avoid this monumental task in the future.

Lovely Laceweight and Beautious Beads

My gorgeous yarn and beads from the Chain Link 2010 Market.

One of my favorite vendors to see again was Leslie Pope of Twisted Sistah Beads.  She always has a beautiful array of beads in every color you can imagine.  As well as the perfect sizes for using with yarns.  I actually ended up making 3 visits to her booth.  I bought beads all 3 times, but the third visit I also couldn’t resist these wonderful charms.

Those hands were too cool.  Remind you of anything?

The rest of the charms I purchased for some fun gift making (I’m thinking about Christmas gift giving already).

I also made a search for some laceweight yarns as there is a sad lack of laceweight in my stash. Habu Textiles had so many beautiful ones to choose from.  But the lovely colors of the Bamboo Lace finally won the place of honor. 

Then I stopped into another booth to purchase a funny mug with goofy sheep on it, and spotted the Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace.  I decided the laceweight would pack down fairly tightly so purchased 2 balls.  Of course once I got it home and read the label closer I did have a bit of a giggle.

No matter….I think I’ll get good results with crocheting it too.

Flat Fuzzy Friend

My first published toy design is available in the Summer 2010 issue of Crochet Uncut.

Flat Fuzzy Friend

Everyone needs a cuddly little friend to keep them company.  I was inspired to create this design by my 2 sons.  They love having a toy along on our hikes and this fella fits nicely in their back packs.  He is also washable, a definite plus with my little mud monsters.

This is a quick crochet project that only takes a bit of yarn.  The sample for the pattern has 45 yards of Lion Brand Jiffy (bulky) and 40 yards of Vanna’s Choice (worsted).  Scrap substitution is fine too, though I would recommend double stranding for the body circle if using worsted to sub the bulky weight yarn.

I’m thinking I’m going to be making a bunch of these little guys in the next few months.  With embroidered eyes they would be fabby baby toys and wouldn’t take up a lot of room in a diaper bag.

I hope everyone enjoys making their own Flat Fuzzy Friends and shares photos on Ravelry.

Kid Cuddle Test

Also, if you are looking for a way to make your favorite hook more comfortable I have an article on modifying hooks in this same issue.

Lace Embrace Shawl

So back in January when I ended up in my wrist brace for a time, it was because I was crocheting like a fiend on this project: 

Lace Embrace Shawl

And now the secret is out.  My lovely shawl is just one design in the new line of Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection yarns being offered from Universal Yarn.  It is crocheted from 6 balls of “Rosebud” a lovely DK weight superwash fine merino yarn that blocks like a dream. 

If you would like to get in on the action early you can pre-order the  Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection – Book 1.

Three Things I Love

I may not be the most knowledgable person on these three things, but I am passionately interested in all of them.

Crochet, Math, and Healthy Crafting

Everyday I am thrilled to discover there is more to learn and explore in each of these subjects.  Very likely I will spend the rest of my life happily doing just that.

In the world of Crochet I am growing as a designer.  Yet there are still stitches and techniques I’ve not mastered. In fact, there are many I haven’t even tried— Hairpin Lace comes quickly to mind.

That’s why I enjoy going to conferences like the Knit and Crochet Show in New Hampshire this July (AKA Chain Link). It is great fun taking classes and talking with other crocheters.  I am so inspired by seeing the work of others and learning new techniques and approaches to crochet.

In the world of Math I am a dilettante.  I haven’t any mathematical degrees or other honors attached to my name.  I just love exploring math theory, especially quantum physics and applicable geometries.  I am not a human calculator; in fact it is shameful that I often have to grab the calculator to do fairly simple equations.

Much of my passion for math and geometry has been revived by my work as a crochet designer.  I use math for figuring yardage requirements, shaping and garment sizing almost every day.  Geometry is also often a source of inspiration for me in creating designs.  A prime example of this is my “Lace with a Twist” wrap, which is a mobius.

In the world of Healthy Crafting I love to discover ways to maintain the health of my hands and body and then to  share that information with my fellow crafters and artists.

Ever since I took my basic anatomy and physiology classes in massage school I have been fascinated with how the human body functions and malfunctions.  During my time in school I found myself thinking that someone needed to translate the technical information so that everyone could understand simple and effective ways to maximize personal  health.  I retired from massage therapy this Spring with the goal being to concentrate further on this mission.

My career as a massage therapist enforced the value of taking good care of my body and particularly my hands.  My hands are still important tools in my work as without them typing and crocheting would be difficult.  Working with yarn and at the computer can challenge the  strength and endurance of anyone’s hands.

One could say that some of my expertise in healthy crafting has come about thru my own pain.  I’ve frequently overworked my hands while crafting.  Then halfway thru my pregnancy with my oldest child I started developing carpal tunnel symptoms.  I had to modify my lifestyle fairly severely and that included advice from my doctor that I would have to stop crocheting.

I did take a sabbatical from my massage work, but there was no way I was giving up my crochet (!!).  The solutions I came up with during that time are the foundation that I am building on now.  Writing and teaching on these methods is a passion, because I know how much richer my life is having crochet in it…and I want to help other’s avoid losing crochet (or knitting) from their own lives.

I have been writing articles on healthy crafting for the online quarterly magazine “Crochet Uncut” for a year now, and hope to one day publish a book.  You can find links to my articles here.

Tomorrow evening I will be talking with Mary Beth Temple on her Getting Loopy Podcast about Healthy Crafting, so come have a listen.  If you miss the show you can always download it later.