2010 A Crochet Oddessy

Wow! Another year has come and gone before our very eyes! Amazing how time flies when you are covered in fuzz and surrounded by hookers…um…wait, that didn’t sound quite right!

The CLF has once again shown how might the hook can be, in the classiest of ways by proving that what everyone says “can’t” be done, can and is done. You, my friends, have made me proud.

We have grown from strength to strength gaining almost 2000 people to our ranks in one year!  We began 2010 with 4300 minions, by March we numbered 5,000, as of today we number 6210 on the CLF HQ message board on Ravlery.com, and almost 2000 on our Facebook page! Not to mention our Twitter presence, but for some reason I keep losing followers who are named “HorneyBoyz342″…I think they don’t realise what kind of hookers we’re talking about!

Besides volume, we have delivered what we said could be done.

The CLF had Team Flaming Hooks in the Ravelympics, and we made our members proud earning many medals!

We partied like it was 1999 all through March during our co-sponsored NATCROMO party on Ravelry.com. As always the FreeForm game was a hit!

April 19th 2010 the 2nd annual Flamie Awards, showed record voting and listeners on the Getting Loopy Podcast. 

This summer saw a frantic Fearless Leader making sure the Crochet@Cama  2010 retreat came off, and it did! Thank you to all the sponsors, members, and our wonderful partner Center For Wooden Boats for making our retreat a memorable experience!  Without the wonderful donations of cash from supporters, yarn from Plymouth, Jelly Yarns, and Premier, as well as a generous yarn donation from Coveted Yarns owner Robert Porter (Thanks Robert!!) our yarn tasting couldn’t have happened! Pinch Knitter Yarns in Stanwood was a huge supporter offering the shop on it’s day off and helping us sell registrations! Thank you to Sirkku, Perk and June!

As summer melted into Fall, more donations rolled in from designers to a company known for it’s crochet supplies!  Boye was wonderful enough to contact me before the retreat and offered to send us some of their hooks! WOW! What a haul! no one left the retreat without multiple hooks in their hot little hands! THANK YOU BOYE!! 

On top of Boye, we got a little somethin somethin when Vicki Blizzard from Premier yarns found out about the retreat on Facebook, and offered us yarn for the goody bags & the yarn tasting! THANK YOU PREMIER!!! The yarn was great, and it helped make our yarn tasting fantastic :D Love the sparkles!

So another huge round of thanks go to: Vashti Braha (and Doris Chan!) of DesigningVashti.com, Margaret Hubert of MH Design Originals, Mary Beth Temple of Hooked for Life Publishing (and Getting Loopy Podcast), Drew “The Crochet Dude” Emborsky, Ellen Gormley of Go Crochet!, Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby ShibazGuyz Designs, Marlaina (Marly) Corbett Bird of YarnSports Designs (YarnThing Podcast), Karen Ratto Whooley of KRW Knitwear Studios, Delma Myers, Jimbo Price of Jimbo’s Front Porch, Deb Homola (Beautiful Yarn Totes!),  Lisa (Abby Normal on Ravelry) from In Stitches Emporium, Bonnie Pierce for signing the bullion hooks Jimbo made for our auction and more! Deb & Don Burger for donating some of the proceeds of the sales of the wonderful CDs at the retreat!

Special thanks go to Jeff Wheeler for baking muffins for us all, just because he loves me.  Yousif Wheeler for being a great guide and entertainer of wandering & lost crocheters. All of the great spouses who were so supportive of their crocheting other halves, I think I saw a lot of smiles on your faces…

Our Retreat was wonderful! Perfect weather, good friendships rekindled and new ones made, crochet classes that were world-class, good food and drink, laughter and song, and none of us went home empty-handed!  Participants came from as far a field as Puerto Rico, New Jersey, North Carolina, Montana,Kentucky, Tennessee, Alaska,  Texas, Oregon, and of course Washington State.

We started the Puget Sound Scape Project, a collaborative experiential art exhibit that I hope will be ready for exhibition sometime in 2013!

Not to rest on our laurels we’re hard at work planning the 2011 retreat, and already have folks reserving cabins at Cama Beach State Park to make sure they don’t miss out on a great event! (Registration beings in May 2011)

In December we began a new tradition called Pre Winter Crochet Week, just to move us from helpless negativity to positive proactive crochet goodness! It worked, you guys are awesome.

We have also started a campaign to save our favorite crochet podcasts, Getting Loopy and The YarnThing.  Here’s the deal, you know how they say crocheters are cheap? Well, pat yourselves on the back, we’re donating like fiends to both podcasts, and well YarnThing still needs more help, we’re more generous than the pointy stick listeners…hmmmmmmmmmm….cheap you say? Yay Crochet!

So as you can see 2010 was a damn fine year my fellow crocheters all and I’m proud to be standing up front running with scissors and screaming HOOK ON! LIVE LONG!

May 2010 pass into fond memory, and may 2011 surpass all of our wildest dreams…

Remember this… Fear not the dark, for always the light penetrates to illuminate and guide us. That’s what flaming hooks are for!

Avante Garde Crochet…Shake it up

Hooksters, Crochet Aficionados, Yarn Lovers…Lend me your ears or eyes as the case may be…

A wonderful member of the CLF has made a very important point on the CLF Message Board on Ravlery. There seems to be a rut in design happening. Now let’s not blame the designers over much, but we have to acknowledge that because of poor wages a designer has to crank out multiple designs at lightning speed to make any kind of earnings at all. This is not grand for creative expression, and it is a sad fact of our crochet industrial world.

On the other hand, publications are not willing to be daring and risky in the designs they publish, and back to what they are willing to pay for something HOOKALICIOUS: Not much. They are also afraid of innovation, because what worked last decade must work in this one, right? WRONG. Sad really.

One of the issues we’re facing, and not to discourage budding new designers in the least, is the amount of people with stars in their eyes to be published as a designer and they put up a rather simple double crochet (dc) or single crochet (sc) scarf or hat into the pattern upload, for free or not for free and flood the pattern searches with things that, may or may not be attractive, but aren’t innovative. Now, again I do NOT want to discourage our budding designers however I do want to encourage you, the budding new designer, to stretch your wings and do something EDGY, do something exciting, do something daring if you are going to publish. After all, we all want to be published out of some kind of desire…the desire to be known, to share our knowledge, to share our creativity, to be seen, to show off our skills and creative abilities. Find your motivation and then DARE!

Dare to be creative, avant-garde, out of the box, create fabulousness…and then…wait for it…wait for it!

                                       CHARGE FOR IT!

The internet is FLOODED with free content, some of it is great, some of it is rubbish, and some of it is just ok. I have seen free patterns that are DIVINE and frankly should NOT be free! If you want to design, that is an occupation that is worthy of compensation, if you aren’t prepared for success, then make a plan and get ready and go for it!

Crochet needs designer leaders, and we have some of those for certain! But you too could be a leader in design…you could be more, design more, and create more…we can all benefit from more creativity…from diversity…from something out of the box!

So, promise me this in 2011, GET OUT OF THE CROCHET BOX and FLY!!!

PHM…what to do?

I have heard your cry! I have your pleas! Some of you are crying boredom, some information overload, some of you still have Post Holiday Crochet Injuries (PHCI) and even worse, the Post Holiday Malaise (PHM). What to do? What to do!?

Here are a few tips that may help in any of the above cases!

Boredom

  • Everything seems same old, same old? Not likely if you’ve just come to the joys of the crochet world, but if you are a veteran, this happens. You get into a groove, and designers get into a groove and well…it can seem that your options are sparse. Here’s a quick tip for overcoming this feeling of crochet ennui without having to put down your hooks!

                * Doodle with yarn. You have stash! You know you do, lots of bits and pieces of fuzzy goodness that are muffled in some tote, bag or box waiting to be played with by your hands and hook! Take them out of confinement and allow your creativity to play! Swatch, doodle, play with hook sizes and stitches. You could call it “scrumbling” as the free formers do, but you could just play and rip, play and rip…cleanse your palette of the same ol’ same ol’! Try something new, learn a new technique…allow your mind to wander creatively.

Information Overload

  • So many patterns, so little time, 200 wips waiting to be finished, but you want more. You are overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do next. Here’s what you are going to do!!

                    * STOP! Stop looking up what other people are crocheting, take out a small wip and finish it or frog it. Then do another one, and another. Get a few projects finished. Those online pattern searches can wait. Dreaming and wishing is a good thing but it doesn’t get your crochet done.

Post Holiday Crochet Injuries

  • Woah Nelly! This isn’t good! Crochet is supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable! Did you out crochet your capacity? Andee Graves (Mama2Hands on Ravelry) is a health writer and retired Licensed Massage Therapist, counseled us at the retreat  to LYB: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!

                     *If you have any pain in your joints, you need to stop, drink water and stretch. You may want to put the hooks down for a little while, and contemplate what hand or wrist movements cause you pain. You may need to change your grip, or get an ergonomic set of handles. You may need to get a massage and tell them you need your neck, back, hands and arms worked on. This is serious! You do not want injuries to cease your ability to crochet!   If you have any kind of numbness or pain get this checked out by a medical practitioner!

Post Holiday Malaise

  • So you aren’t bored, you aren’t injured, you crocheted like a mad fiend all year, and the holidays came and went. It isn’t even like your gifts were appreciated, people may have adored them…so why the let down? Well maybe it’s not the crochet at all, maybe it’s the anti-climax of the holiday season coming to the end…Like the song, “Now the parties over…” Maybe it’s like the baby blues, and when you create a lot of things…that’s alot of babies…here’s what I like to do.

                   * Take a break for a few days. Set the hook down, and do something else. Get outside if the weather allows, go for a walk, or go shopping, buy some new yarn, or hooks, or non crochet related things even! Then, after a few days, start a project for YOU. Yes, that’s right, you’ve been making things for others for so long, that maybe, just maybe you need to take care of you and make yourself a present! Did some very thoughtful relative or friend buy you yarn? Or give a gift card? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try, or have that you haven’t done yet? Well, why not start now!

Remember, we crochet because we love it…but as in all relationships sometimes things need to be approached from a fresh angle, sometimes we need a change and sometimes we need a break.

But before this blog post ends….I want to inspire you further!

First of all, I’m working diligently on producing our 2011 year in review video! It shall be entertaining and informative I promise!  Secondly, and drum roll please…Get ready for 2011!

The CLF is going places, in a big way! Are you ready for it? Are you ready to see us really become all that we can be? I’m working hard behind the scenes with a fabulously tech savvy Fairy Godmother to transform us into a “Real Boy”. That’s right, no longer shall we be a talking wooden puppet…but in the flesh and in your face! Ok..well, we’ve always been in your face… but that’s besides the point. Stay tuned!!

And don’t forget to take a look at the CLF First Ever Book, available in hard copy or pdf version! Special rates still apply! You know you want it!

Cro-therapy

For those of you who celebrate the holiday, Christmas I wish you a very merry one indeed. For those of who you do not, I wish you well and hope that what ever you do celebrate, when ever it is celebrated is all that for which you could hope…

 If you didn’t notice, I try not to do a whole lot of Holly Jolly on this blog, not because I’m a bah humbug kind of gal, but because I am quite aware that for many in our community the holidays (which ever there are) can be a very sad and difficult time.

Just like many other holidays, this kind of season or day that offers happy memories, often makes our less than positive experiences in life feel more raw. I know that feeling so well. Every Christmas morning I get up, and I have my yearly sniffle thinking of those whom I love very much that I have lost through distance, time or death. It’s just a wee sniffle, but I like to get it out of my system, and frankly I miss them all the time, but on special days, it is just more intense.

So for those of you who do not find joy in the season, remember that each stitch can ease our tension, and that there is no shame in tears.

This is my first Christmas in my whole life without my grandmother, Irene, and yes, I’m a bit teary thinking of it. It has been weird not to get a Christmas card, or hear her voice on the phone, and it will be really sad on Christmas Eve, because that’s when we celebrated. I’ll crochet to move through it, well that and I’ll make her shrimp/avacado salad, cause well it’s just that damn good.

Left to Right: Fearless Leader, Fearless Son, Fearless Grandma Irene, and MegaFearless Daughter

Coping through loss in these festive times, can be hard. So, if you are facing a time like this please, please know that you aren’t alone. Many others are going through hard times too. Your situation is your own, it is private, it is painful, but there are those who will love and support you, even if only virtually. Crochet, cook, cry, reach out. There’s a really lovely group on Ravelry, called One Stitch at a Time. Many of the people there crochet (and knit) to help keep their sanity together, they understand. You are also welcome to post on the CLF Board at any time, because the great thing about having over 6000 members, is that you are not alone, ever.

Supporting our Community

Over the past few days the internet crochet community has been buzzing about our podcasters and their fates! Podcasting is going to start to really cost, many of our beloved casters don’t want to take sponsorship in order to retain their creative freedom…which means we the listeners need to help them out!

You can find Getting Loopy, host of the CLF’s Annual Crochet Awards (The Flamies), at http://www.gettingloopy.com   . Reluctantly, Mary Beth Temple has put a donate now button on her site (cause the community badgered her to! We love the show!), if you can donate please do!

The Yarn Thing Podcast also faces a similar dilema, and Marly could also use donations! You can find the Yarn Thing Podcast on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/yarnthing .

We need to support those who support us! If you can’t donate anything, at least help get the message out there, any help is good help! Thank you so much in advance for anything you do in this great effort to keep crochet represented on the web!

CLF Evolution…

“You say you want a revolution…well ya know…we all wanna change the world…”  Recognize the song? I bet you’d be shocked to know it’s one of my favorite songs ever, and has been since I was about six years old. Have you ever listened to the words carefully?

It’s a protest against the call for violent and I would also say, negative, movements for change. It’s showing how silly we can be sometimes as humans as we look at things in terms of black and white.

What the HECK does that have to do with the CLF?

Well my friends, much like my son’s beloved favorite pokemon, I believe in Evolution vs Revolution any day. This is a heads up (if you didn’t notice the blog looks slightly different) that the CLF is getting ready to evolve AGAIN…isn’t that exciting? Nothing too rash at first mind you, but I think it’s time we move upwards a bit…

We have impacted so many changes, many of them small details, and important details. From seeing more and more inclusive crafting language, to seeing the changes in patterns, and the push for more innovation showing results, the CLF has become a force for positive, and proactive change. We should all be proud of ourselves!

I am proud of us :D Now that being said, I am working with someone to help us grow, and come February or March I am just gonna say this…you’d better crochet some strings onto your hats, because baby I don’t think we’ll be able to hold on to ’em!!

Are you ready for the next step?

Me too.

All about the Yarn…

There is so much we can do with crochet! I am constantly in awe of the thousands of projects in the CLF group pages (and pages and pages).

As I scan through the images, I can’t but be filled with wonder at the creativity and talent that comprises our membership! From our beginners who are boldly and bravely trying new things and taking that scary step of showing the world their very first or second or third project…to our designers and master crocheters who display such a high level of artisanship and creativity that one just has to sit and take in the visual for a while…

Often when I see projects, I take a look at the construction and the yarn, now one could argue that many of the proejcts aren’t “good”…I would argue that they are all as good as they can be, and that the difference between crafted and artisan work is the level of knowledge, whether concrete or intuitive regarding tools and materials.

Knowing what various yarns do in various stitches makes all the difference in the world! For example, textured yarn is best used in very simple stitches, often with a hook diameter that is slightly larger than the widest part of the yarn circumference (for those that hate math, in English it means that you use a way bigger hook than the width of the yarn)… To create well constructed lace you want to use a smaller hook and keep tight tension…One hook is not enough to meet all of your yarn needs. Everyone should have a set or at the very least four or five different sizes, that way you can play with your tension, play with your yarn!

Once you have your hook/yarn ratio figured out, then you need to play with fiber content! Silk and wool are NOT the same beast…and yes, Merino is wool but it has a different quality to it than most other wools, it has a minimal stretch memory compared to many other wools, which is why it is so very soft and drapey…soft and drapey often equate to a fabric that has little stretch memory…but hey we’re crocheters and we can play with stitches to add to our stretch memory…think of front post/back post stitches, or adding a bit of chained meshing in a tight tension…

You know I’ve been promising you that book, yeah, the one on yarn and crochet…I’ll let you know a little secret…I’m writing it. Yup, I am…slowly but surely, with concrete information that will be helpful to your project and design needs. When will I be done? I dont’ know yet, still working on it. But I can promise you it will have charts, and pictures and graphs…all kinds of neato stuff… It is a work in progress and I think you’ll love it.

In the mean time you can for a VERY affordable price download the Secrets of Yarn Guide, and have a quick reference for all of your yarn crafting needs. 

Now…speaking of LOVE …Karen Whooley has announced the winners of the Etimo Hook Drawing on her blog! Check it out to see if you won!