Category Archives: crocheting

Interesting times…

So, there I was feeling all sad because I had to make a choice as to whether I went to Buffalo for some awesome crochet fiber fraternization, or upped the memory in the old laptop…Then I have a person PM me on Ravelry asking if I was going to go to the Sock Summit in Portland. My first thought was, “Isn’t that for knitters?”

Then I remembered that my friend, Karen Whooley, was teaching down there, and so I used the link on the front page of Ravelry to look at the website. Karen is teaching some pretty fun crochet sock classes, so there’s at least a bone being thrown to crochet. Not a big bone, but a bone and that’s something. I love crochet socks, I love designing crochet socks, in fact my best selling and favorite sock pattern (and first one that ever got published “for real”) is my Looks Knit, Great Fit Sock Pattern.

So, in reading the website, I see the vendors market…AHHHHHHHHHHH Fibery goodness. Yummy, fibery goodness, big big big vendor’s market…lots of opportunity to spread the good crochet word…And an opportunity to really bring home the point that the Crochet Liberation Front is PRO-Crochet and not anti-knit. An opporunity to wear some really awesome socks and show off the mad sock skills that crocheters possess 🙂 Ah yes, it is a true moment to evangelize the Crochet Good News! Hookaleuia I say! Let’s show em what we can do…

I’m a little sad that the sock museum doesn’t really give room for crocheted socks. Which is sad, because all through the ’30’s, 40’s and 50’s crocheted stockings were quite the thing. Beautiful lacey affairs that really were sexy and practical. But, I don’t think it’s any anti-crochet sentiment, I think it’s oversight…and like I said, I’m going to spread the good crochet news 🙂

So,  I will get to play with fiber, make a little noise, and have some fun in my favorite town on the planet. I also get to stay with my dear and awesome friends in Oregon City, and have some R&R after a very busy summer.

So, I guess things have just played out the way they were supposed to. A) I can afford this trip, B) I get to visit with my friends C) I don’t miss out on fibery fun! D) I can stir the pot even more in a heavily stick dominating arena 😉 GRIN…Oh now, I’m not going to make trouble, you know me, far too diplomatic for that, but let’s see if we can make some crochet positive change for the next Sock Summit 🙂

Hookalicious Wrap!

CLF Member adr1enne made this gorgeous wrap using Motif 6 from Edie Eckman’s book Beyond the Square.

This wrap wins our hookaclicious award! I love the motifs, I love the colors and I love the wrap.

If you haven’t checked out Beyond the Square by Edie Eckman it’s a fabulous book of motif patterns, with suggestions in cartoon for for project ideas! I bought the book when it came out, but haven’t had much chance to use it, since my daughter took it for her own use and I am probably gonna just have to knuckle under and buy myself another copy!

Once again I shall say, I LOVE THIS WRAP! It should exactly what we can do with a simple idea, some hooks and some yarn! Congratulations adr1enne!

Check out her project notes on Ravelry, for they too were excellent!

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/adr1enne/motif-6

Hunt for Crochet Today…

Ok, the world conspires against me.

It appears the distributor of many magazines in this region (NW Washington) has gone under. Magazine racks in three counties are bare, of much except muscle building magazines. (ew?)

So, I’m heading down to Lynwood and the Alderwood Mall B&N to see if I can find the damn magazine. If I can’t get it there, I will drive to Belleview and the Crossroads Mall. I want you people to understand I will have driven an accumulated 120 miles to find the damn magazine.

You know what, It’s time to just subscribe to them all. Cause I’m sick of this.

LOL…

I have hope though, I can’t wait to read the article. I’ve been teased and I want my satisfaction.

My Bestest Crochet Friend…Stitch Dictionaries

I crocheted for over 25 years before I could really read a crochet pattern. Before that time, I copied my grandmother’s handwork (and other family members old doilies, table runners, and garments), and if there was a really good picture I could copy the stitch patterns. Granted, until about 15 years ago I wasn’t a “serious” crocheter, I dabbled here and there with the hook, always having it in my craft things, making “doodads” mostly, and of course copious amounts of edging for pillowcases, and hankies. I used to make those things for friends as we started out in life.
Before I was a “serious” crocheter, I was an embroiderer. Embroidery was my very first fiber love, I learned to hold needle and thread when I was very young, maybe four or five, and had French Knots mastered by seven or eight years old. I had little iron on patterns, though I never was much good at following inside the lines, I always preferred “eyeballing” my designs, as they turned out better. What can I say, I can’t and don’t want to color inside the lines either.
One of my first crafty related gifts, besides the kiddy craft kits, was a “stitch dictionary.” My great-grandmother presented me with one when I was about 10 years old. In this little tome of embroidery related goodness, I found all the inspiration a needler could want.
So, it was only logical as my craft life evolved and continued, that I sought out such things when I got more serious about crochet. Whereas, written patterns mystified me, stitch dictionaries for crochet gave me boundless inspiration.
I didn’t think of myself as an expert anything, for many years into my crafting life. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because it was just something I did, without too much thinking about it, I just made things. Sometimes they turned out, and sometimes, well…we’ve all had those projects now haven’t we? One of the reasons I didn’t feel expert was my inability to read patterns. I had never thought that I was doing the design work as I made up hats, scarves and little sweaters, dolls, purses and ornaments. I even made up my doilies straight from my own devious mind. Funny how you never take yourself seriously. I can tell you when I finally did think of myself as an expert crocheter, it was 2005 (not long ago eh?) when I was in a local craft store. Someone had a crochet question, and the owner called to me from across her store, “Laurie can you fix this?” she hollered, and then said audibly to the other person, “Laurie is our town’s crochet expert!”
As I whipped my crochet hook out of my bun (yes, I used to secure my then very long hair with a hook) and went to see how I could fix whatever hooking problem was out there to fix, I nearly stopped in my tracks…Expert? Me? Really? But, I wasn’t half as good as my late grandmother! If I can fudge weaving in ends, I do. I hide my mistakes, she didn’t make them. I mean, really … internal chuckle, expert! Hah! Sure.
I walked away that day thinking about what the lady said, and I asked a crafting buddy what she thought, and of course she told me that “Duh, of course you are.” When I protested she eye balled me, with a very loving but steely eye and said, “How can anyone do something for as long as you have and NOT be an expert?”
Well, heck and darn I hadn’t thought of it that way… Then I found the CGOA, and when I said I didn’t use patterns (and said it apologetically) I was admonished by some lovely people who said, “Oh, you’re a designer then!” (Truthfully I thought they were nuts at the time…but I knew they were well meaning nuts).
Now, do I say I’m an expert? Well, not much, but I know I am. I don’t really need to say it to know it’s true. I’m confident in my skills and my limitations. What can I say…but let me tell you, beyond the hours of creating lace as a young person, my stitch dictionaries have been my bestest crochet buddies. They are what are most responsible for my crochet expertise. (Well, that and hand spinning, because knowing your fibers is very important, but that’s another post).
To be honest, I’m still not much of a pattern user, at least not a pattern user in the keeping it inside the lines kind of way. I use patterns for ideas for shapes, and dimensions, flow and drape, I think I’ve managed to follow one to the letter, I can’t help it, I just can’t color inside the lines. When I write patterns, I secretly hope people tweak them to their own satisfaction. I like to give good construction and dimension information in the patterns, hoping to inspire someone to make the pattern their own! But hey, that’s just me.
For those of you who are beginning your crochet journey I highly suggest finding yourself a stitch dictionary. They are hardly ever entitled “Stitch Dictionary”, they are entitled things like “Bertha’s guide to 500 crochet stitches” (joke title), one of my personal favorites is the original James Walters & Sylvia Cosh, Harmony Guide to Crochet Vol. 1. I own many many stitch dictionaries, some of them small leaflets, and others large tomes of hooky goodness. They are my base line, there are the books I have closest to hand in my craft room.
Just as I can’t stand to follow patterns or color inside the lines, I don’t think I’ve made too many projects (other than those for which I write patterns) with only one or two stitches. When I make things for personal use, or gifts, I use at least four or five stitches per project! I love to mix colors and textures, as well as raised and relief stitches.
Oh and while you’re at picking up stitch dictionaries, get some books with great motifs in them! (Some people call them granny squares, but we have so much more than that available to us!)

Crochet Magazines: A crictical eye…

We have a lot of discussions about crochet magazines in our on-line communties, and I thought to myself why not take a gander at the three that CLF members often choose to read. These three are in alphabetical order (not preference).

Crochet!
Crochet Today!
Interweave Crochet

Taking all three and really looking through them with an eye to the following I created this special Fearless Leader Report.

Art Direction (This is how pretty the pictures are, the color theory involved in the side bars etc)
Layout/Readbility (This is how the text is presented, how the photos line up, use of white space etc)
Use of charts/diagrams and how they fit into the layout scheme
Quality of patterns (are they cute/fashionable/usable/well written/easy to understeand).

Now I get nothing out of this, and I’m not going to slam anyone, I just want to make a few observations. Let’s keep this possitive.

Let’s work out of order on my list here for a second. Pattern Quality.

To be honest, all three of these magazines have good patterns. All of them share designers. I think what is the difference in presentation of the finished articles in the photos has a lot more to do with the yarn companies that commission designers than the designs themselves. Yarn companies (Especially Coats and Lion Brand) STOP giving away your UGLIEST dye lots to the designers for their crochet patterns. Color and fashion are matters of personal taste, but if I was someone who did not know how to substitute in a pattern, I’d almost never make anything out of these two companies yarns. They have LOTS of fab colorways, time to use them.

So, all three magazines have good patterns, so why do people say Interweave is better most often? (At least CLF members). I would say it’s about the fashion items. I think IC has more fashionable wearables, in better color ranges making them visually appealing. I do not think the patterns are better written than in the other three magazines, I think they are all on par.

Art Direction:

To be honest I think Crochet Today! Probably has the best art direction and layout. I find it a very easy to read, well planned magazine. It’s proprietory though, owned by Coats and Clark, and so it will always be limited to those yarns. Not that I think Coats has bad yarn, I buy my fair share, but it shall always be limited to that.

Interweave Crochet is next on my list for Art Direction, I think they have some of the very best photography though, and the magazine is always visually appealing. I think there could be more done with the white space, but in general I think IC is a beautiful magazine which aids it’s popularity.

Crochet! Ok, this is where things need to change up. The patterns in this magazine are every bit as good as what you find in the two above. And I love how they often include quick and easy projects along with fashion items. BUT and a big but, they really need to work on their art direction. The color schemes often do not work with the photographs, and it is some of the worst photography I’ve seen. You do not use the same color background as a garment in this kind of work…and it happens over and over and over. The worst offense yet was a really cute sweater with ruffles, but the photo showed NONE of the ruffles. This is a big n0-no. Crochet! Needs to understand that MOST crocheters are very visual and rely as much on the photos as they do the written words.

Crochet! Also needs a cleaner layout, and better color useage in sidebars etc. Again the QUALITY of what is in the magazine is great, if you get past the art mistdirection. And you know most people don’t have time to sit pouring over a magazine to see what I was looking for.

I think Crochet! has had some great articles on construction and crocheters, and Interweave does as well. I have a harder time finder Crochet Today! in my area, but when I do find it I enjoy reading it.

This is just my opinion, and we know that opinions are like noses, we all got ’em and they all smell 🙂 But, frankly, I do buy all three magazines when I can find them, I think all three of them offer enough different to warrant their purchases. But with a little more detail Crochet! could vastly improve it’s market share, and it’s following.

See it wasn’t too painful, and next time you get your Crochet! magazine take a closer look, because I think the patterns are lovely. (I just use other colors most of the time, especially for blankies!)

Saturday of the Crochet and Knit Show

Ok, so it’s officially Sunday early AM right now, it was a really long day, and I should be in bed right now, but you know me…le sigh 🙂

Anyway, this morning at “bleary eyed o’clock” I had Myra Wood’s Advanced Free Form class. I loved every minute of it! Now, I already knew most of the stitches, but I didn’t take the class to learn a new stitch, that’s what my stitch dictionary collection is for! No, I took the class to be in Myra’s aura, her creative spirit and energy is vast and glorious. I have never met a person, yet, who has taken her classes and left disappointed!

I got inspired to do some very useable art…yes, useable art. Art for artsake is freakin cool, but I have this real practical streak and I like to use my art…it is both amusing and fullfilling!

After class, my dear friends Gabrielle and Thomas Chavez, met up with me, and I went to the Portland Raw Food Meetup’s potluck. That was a great deal of fun, and met a lovely lady who knits, and told her about the show, and showed off a little crochet goodness, she may now be tempted by the hook 😉

After that little bit for Crochet-Evangelism, I came back to the hotel with daughter and we relaxed for a while. WHOOT…

Then came the dinner and fashion show. Oh my, what a nice show it was too. Garments both crocheted and knit festooned our evening and tickled our eyeballs (and brains, lots of inspiration).

What was the coolest part of the show, to me, was how many crocheters there were! In fact when the “raffle prizes” were drawn folks were asked for their preference in the prizes! “Knit or Crochet” was the call about half of the lucky winners were heard to shout proudly and in a distinguished manner, “Crochet!” I had to root and cheer for each one! YAY for Crochet!

I am too tired to take photos off camera and get them on the blog at the moment, but I will most definately be doing that either later this morning, OR Monday 🙂

Tomorrow holds checking out from the hotel, seeing if I have enough cash to do one last dash through the market, and then off to the Museum of Contemporary Crafts because of this exhibit!

Then it’s to the Batmob… I mean the train station and back to Camano Island where my hubby, son, cats and dog are waiting for us!

It was sure fun (if not a little too warm for me)…but it was a HOOKALICIOUS convention, I’d say it rates hand over fist from last year! Live and learn I always say, but thank you Portland you were a fabulous host as always!

25 Reasons I love Crochet…

1) I can make anything I can imagine with a simple instrument (hook) and something that can wind around it (fiber, wire, plastic, roving, feathers, yarn, string, twine, fabric).

2) I love the reactions I get from others when I wear my hats, scarves, sweaters.

3) I love the reactions I get when I gift my loved ones with my “latest” and “greatest” creations.

4) In less than 10 minutes I can mystify a child by making a wiggly worm or a hair scrunchy.

5) I love how my husband watching me as I take yarn and hook, and whispers “It’s like magic when you do that…”

6) I love how it eases my stress levels and gives me yoga like levels of relaxation.

7) I love that when I was a struggling single mother of two small babies, I could afford some thread and a steel hook and make their Christmas happen. (I couldn’t afford ornaments for the tree).

8) I love that now I can afford exotic fibers and get to use my glass hook with my camel/silk yarn…and it feels orgasmic as the hook slides through the soft, delicate fibers.

9) I love that I am never bored.

10) I love that I can whip up an instant gift when I have a birthday/wedding/anniversary/baby gift I’ve forgotten to buy.

11) I love that young children ask me to teach them how to crochet…

12) I love that I can make socks that look like socks, feel like socks and act like socks.

13) I love that crochet has helped me meet some of the most generous, creative, talented, and loving people.

14) I love that I am doing something that women have done in my family for more than four generations.

15) I love that I taught my daughter and she loves crochet as much as I do.

16) I love that my daughter and I had the common ground of crochet to get through the worst of the early teen snarky stage without killing each other.

17) I love that each time I pick up a hook, I feel like I’m sitting with the woman who first put one in my hands. My great grandmother.

18) I love that I don’t have to use a pattern to have something turn out fabulous.

19) I love that I can use a pattern if I’m feeling lazy.

20) I love that with over 32 years of crocheting experience that I can still learn something new.

21) I love crochet because it taught me patience, perspective, and helped me find my artform.

22) I love crochet because it allows me that “me” time, I wouldn’t normally take in my daily life.

23) I love that I can make son laugh by making him puppets.

24) I love the feel of a hook in my hands.

25) I love knowing that I am doing something she did, even though I never got to meet her, her work inspired me to be every bit as good as she was…

Who is she? My grandmother, Grace Rogers, she died in 1956 when my mother was 8 years old. People say I look like her, sound like her and act like her, she was only 36 when she died. When times were hard crochet helped feed my uncles, aunt and mom. I have some of her things, they have always inspired me. She is one of my favorite reasons that I love crochet, because through the hook I have a connection to the woman I supposedly resemble in many ways, but never got to meet.