Category Archives: yarn

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

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Kitschalicious Cozy!


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Originally uploaded by kristyashmore

Call it a cozy, call it a bag, this is so darn cute!

CLF Member KAshmore makes these really cute bags to hold your Gadgets! The pattern is available for download at her Etsy store,
http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5772656

KAshmore pat yourself on the back! These bags have earned you the Kitschalicious Award for awesome crochet kitsch!

Hooks Raised, CLF Salute!

Fuzzy logic; Economics and Crochet

So, I’ve been reading this book called “Banker to the poor” by Mohammed Yunis. If you don’t know who this guy is, you should. Professor Yunis is the man who founded Grameen bank, the only micro-lending bank of it’s kind. And, read that sentence again, the ONLY micro-lending bank of it’s kind.

This man was a professor of economics around the time Bangladesh gained it’s independance from Pakistan in the 1970’s. He noted the extreme poverty in the villages surrounding the university where he taught, and began to think about how to “fix” the problem of extreme (and I mean extreme) poverty. I won’t detail how he started Grameen Bank, or his economic theories. What I do want to do, is state that what I have observed in his writing (and I’m half way through the very thoughtfully written tome) is two fold:

1) Dr. Saif, whereever you are, can you PLEASE change my grade in economics now? I know it’s been twenty years, but really, this guy has done exactly what I was talking about in 1989 and it’s working. I would like that C marring my GPA change to at least a B+.

2) Much of what Professor Yunis has done is address not just the money side of poverty but the social side of poverty. And this is where my thoughts are turning.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH CROCHET? A lot.

1)  Go into any department store and you will see crocheted garments and accessories (you will also see hand knit items)., these are made most often in third world countries by the poor. Unless it is a special fair trade organization where the workers are allowed to both acrue and re-invest their earnings, most of the goods are made by people who make less than a sustaining wage. Forget living wage, most of those people end up owing the factories for their room and board, and never ever have a chance of succeeding in feeding their families or educating their children. This ensures future generations of poverty.

2) Even in the USA where our poor have a much higher standard of living and a better “quality” of life, the majority of people who make handmade items make very little if anything from their labors. Most of them are female, and most often their work is discounted and devalued because it does not meet the current world view on what is and is not worthy of due payment and wealth.

The problem for us as crocheters isn’t the fact that knitters exist, that never has been the problem. They are equally mistreated economically, and in truth they may have a better rep in the handworking world, but all handworkers are looked down upon by the “real world.’

Whatever this “real world” is saying is frankly b.s. and DOES NOT WORK.

Any system (economic or otherwise) that only benefits a minor percentage of any population group or demographic, is a failing system.

Now, we’ve identified the problem. The next step is to figure out what to do about it.

1) Support your local handworkers.

2) Do not accept the lies that what you do is not of value.

3) Buy locally, think globally.

4) Do NOT by sweatshop created projects. Believe it or not people are far better off in their local villages than going into big cities to be indentured or slaves. And yes, that is very much how people are treated. They do not ever have a chance at living, they die young, poor and in bad health; leaving their children to the same fate. Believe me, I have seen these things first hand, ugly and brutal are poor adjectives to describe it.

5) Find an NGO (non-governmental agency) to support that works in fair trade, and then support them.

6) Price your own work above free. What you do has value.

I’m hopping off the soapbox for a little while, but be prepared I’ll be getting back on it as I read through the book. Because it’s making my brain tick. Crochet is a very small part of the world, but I can’t change the big picture. I can work at changing just a small part of this little microcosm. We don’t have to change the world anyway, we can just change our own world.

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!)

Off to the CGOA Regional in Portland, Oregon!

I’m excited!

Tomorrow morning my daughter and I head up to Mt. Vernon, WA. in order to take a train to Portland, Oregon. Our destination is the CGOA Regional event at the Doubletree Hotel in Portland, Oregon. It’s also called the “Knit and Crochet Show” and well, I have protested the name in the past (what else who you have me do), but the name of the show has nothing to do with the Crochet Guild of America, the “show” is owned by Offinger Management. But, they’ve done better listing crochet in their literature, and class notes. So, I give them a crochet nod.

I am taking a class on broomstick (jiffy) lace from Jennifer Hansen of Stitchdiva Design Studio, and a class on advance free form with Myra Wood.

I am also looking forward to going to Voodoo Donoughts because even though I grew up in the Portland Area, I have never been there, and I don’t know how on earth I ever missed such a place! I mean donoughts shaped like voodoo dolls? With red “blood” filling? I mean really! Me, who loves the first Shrek movie specifically because of the “Gingerbreadman” getting tortured? “No, NO! Not the MILK!”

I digress.

So, it’s a good thing that as part of my last minute preparations for the trip, that I have double checked what I need for the class. Um…Yeah. Sure I had it memorized, NOT!

So, I don’t think I have the correct sticks for Jennifer’s class, nor do I have the kind of yarn Myra called for in her class. Sigh…I barely EVER work with worsted weight yarn, so now I have to go digging through my stash one more time.

Yes, I will blog from the event! Yes, I’m taking pics! Yes, I have cool stuff to wear! I even made special elven slippers for crocheted yarnie goodness to wear in the halls 😉

Craft Marketeers & Suppliers Listen Up!

Ok, there is a general misperception in the world of marketing and the craft supply industry. Crocheters feel this a lot because we are constantly being maligned by the industry we support in our purchases. Yet, it’s not just we who wield the hook who are so maligned, it’s all of us who craft.

If they would a) stop working off myths and actually do some real marketing research (aka get out from behind a desk and go talk to people) and b) pay attention to supply/demand the craft market would be a better place for all of us.

Myth 1: People who craft are older, retired, or poor, or have too many kids to count.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? What the hell is that about? I mean for goodness sakes we are not living in a Dickens novel. Here’s the real world. Crafters come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all kinds of interests.

Why just in crochet alone you have many different genre which appeal to different kinds of people. Amigurumi is a super trend that’s getting more and more interesting all of the time! Younger people are into it, though they aren’t the only folks who like to make these trendy dolls. There are blanket/afghan makers, pillow puff stitchers, and others who like to make socks, slippers, hats and scarves, others work with beads, make tapestry or curtains, others still make fashion items. Some folks are poor, some are rich, some are old, some are grannies, some are grampies, some are young, some are rich, most are female but not all.

Dudes and dudettes who do the marketing, my hand is on my hip, and I’m shaking my head in dismay at your lack of attention to detail.

Pay someone to do market research for you. Crap if you paid me to go to the conventions, and do marketing research I’d do it in a heart beat. Unbiased, honest to goodness research. Because, lordy these myths are what is busting the craft industry as a whole.

If you do not market well, your business is a bust.

Getting Down To Crochet Biznez

Internet Buzz is an interesting phenomena, one little linky in a forum and masses will flock to check out the newest, latest, greatest thing on the block.

Recently such an event happened on the CLF Message Board on Ravelry.com. One of the many minions and ring leaders put up the link to a new “Crochet Site”. Anime sounding “WHAAAAAAAA?”

So, like everyone else who saw the link I popped over to take a look at this “CROCHET SITE”…

Leisure Arts has launched it’s own site called “Crochet Soiree” I have joined and am CLFFearless there if you feel like friending me. I’ll keep my eye on the site, I see it has some interesting potentials.

It’s not exactly a social networking site, though it has a little of that aspect. It’s a lot more like CrochetMe, only it’s propietory to Leisure Arts. I did like that I could find Aunt Lydias crochet cotton in their store though, because finding it locally has been difficult as of late. I like that company, and can’t find anywhere close (within 35 minutes) to purchase it. Nice to have a place I can find it.

I’ll let the public decide what they will think of this site, for now I’m pleasantly sitting at warm 🙂 I don’t think it’s the hottest thing ever, but neither do I think it completely sucks and blows. Let’s see how they do. I like, no, I adore, Leisure Arts publications, not just because of their dedication to crochet, but beause I have heard absolute love stories from designers about how they are treated by that company.

So we’ll give it a chance.

But I want LA to understand if the site isn’t everything they hoped it would be, it has a lot more to do with a proprietory approach to social networking (never works all that well) and a lot less to do with “cheap crocheters”…My worry is that if it doesn’t meet expectations they will blame the crochet community. Thanks for marketing to us, I think that’s cool, but remember you have to know your audience. The same audience on the street and online may be two separate animals.