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.

Finally Celebrating Springtime

What most folks consider spring weather is a bit different from what it is like here on our mountain.  In fact we had 14 inches of snow and temperatures below freezing on May 11th and 12th.  

Spring Snow in my backyard

Today was sunny and the temperatures are on the rise.  According to our local climatologist we should be seeing real warming trends for the rest of the month.  In celebration of this I have a fun little pattern to share with all of you. 

Pretty Petunias

During those cold days I was comforted by my hanging basket of miniature petunias that my sweet boys had gotten me for Mother’s day.  They inspired me to create this little crocheted flower. 

Pretty Petunia 

Pretty Petunia

This pattern is text only currently, I may add a hand drawn stitch diagram later.  I worked the sample in some scraps of Caron’s Simply Soft with a G-6 (4 mm) hook.  My finished flower is 2 inches in diameter across the open blossom and about 1 inch deep. 

The flower is worked in the round starting with the base and creating a trumpet shape.  I began with an adjustable slip knot, though you can do Magic Ring if that is more comfortable for you.  Each round is slip stitched to the first st of the round instead of working in a spiral. 

Blossom: 

Finished Blossom

Round 1: Ch 2, 5 sc in 2nd ch from hook, sl st in first st. 

Round 2: Ch 1, 5 sc worked evenly, sl st in first st. 

Round 3: Ch 1, 2 sc in each st around, sl st in first st. [10 sc] 

Round 4: Ch 1, 10 sc worked evenly, sl st in first st. 

Round 5: Ch 1, (sc in next st, 2 sc in next st) 5 times, sl st in first st. [15 sc] 

Round 6: (hdc in next st, 3 dc in next st, hdc and sl st in next st) 5 times. Fasten off.* 

Stamen: 

Finished Stamen

Ch 2, work 5 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Fasten off. 

Finishing: 

Weave tails in both pieces.  Use needle to pull tails of stamen thru bottom of blossom trumpet.  Snug up stamen into bell of trumpet. 

Tails pulled thru Base of Blossom

*You can use a needle finish for last round of blossom for a neater look, just skip last sl st in pattern instructions.

I hope you enjoy making a garden of pretty petunias.

Lace Hat

I’m excited to announce that my Lace Hat pattern is now available on the Coats and Clark website.

Lace Hat

I designed this Hat to go with the Crochet Lace Fingerless Mitts.  The great thing is that 2 balls of the Heart & Sole yarn are just the right amount to make both patterns.  You can work the mitts first doing 2 at a time using 1 ball for each mitt, then use the left over amounts to stitch up a matching hat.

The pattern is for a deep hat that can be worn slouchy or pulled down “Cloche” style with the ribbed band providing a bit of extra warmth over your ears.  The open work of the stitch pattern in the crown means that this is a great hat for transitional seasons.  Like Colorado’s unpredictable mountain spring time.

Scan of Hat

Crochet for Crochet’s Sake

March is National Crochet Month and I’ve been giving some thought to why I love crochet so much?  

FreeForm Doodle Lace

Is it the enjoyment of the action of crocheting itself?  Or is the attraction having a lovely item to wear or use?  Do I crochet for it’s own sake or to create an object? Basically it comes down to a question of Process or Product.  

For me there is added to the concept of process the allure of designing.  Much of my design work is process.  Swatching and experimenting with various yarns, hook sizes and stitch patterns just to see what I get.  I may have absolutely nothing in mind when I start this process, my only goal is exploration.  Often times these experiments add to my knowledge, but that may be the only gain. 

Does that make the process a waste of time?  Personally I don’t view knowledge or entertainment as a waste,  so for me the process stage of design work is very rewarding.  As I like to tell my students in the various art and craft classes I’ve taught, “There is no such thing as Failure, there is only Discovery.”  

The process of crocheting is one that I have always enjoyed as well. 

My return to Crochet as my main hobby came about 12 years ago when I hurt my ankle and was forced to spend a great deal of time off my feet.  I found crocheting and it’s rhythm to be very soothing.  

I was also re-intrigued with the idea of “weaving” with a hook, using a single tool to create fabrics in a variety of dimensions and shaping.  All these years later that fascination is still fresh for me.  To suspend expectation and just revel in what comes off my hook. 

Taking your Yarn for a Walk Fragments
FreeForm fragments from Jenny's Class

Maybe this is one of the reason’s I love to play with FreeForm crochet.  Gathering up a variety of harmonious colored yarns of various textures and weights and then creating “fragments or scrumbles” is very relaxing to me. 

Often I am asked what I am making, or what will those become.  Most of the time I have no idea.  Seems I may be deeply entrenched in the process side of crochet.   Eventually I do make a product with my hours of stitching, but the joy in the process is why I continue to crochet.

If you are curious about FreeForm crochet and have never tried it there is a great CAL/Game going on in the NatCroMo Party group on Ravelry.  It’s not too late to give it a try, and it’s a wonderful introduction to freeforming.  

Or check out some of the beautiful and inspiring books out there.  I recommend, Jenny Dowde, Myra Wood, Prudence Mapstone and Renate Kirkpatrick as great authors to start with.