Tag Archives: crafting

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!

New Crochet Edict…Just talk about us.

Ok, back to dating analogies…

So, you’re out with this reallllly cute guy. I mean wow, jaw dropping, drooling, slaveringly handsome, voice to die for, he’s polite, employed, owns his own abode and pays his bills,he’s witty, funny, charming, (guys feel free to insert a female version of this fantasy in here), he even listens when you talk. As you get more comfortable sharing the wonderful triple chocolate and raspberry cheesecake he baked “just for you,” he starts talking about how different you are from his ex. That’s right, I mean she was a bit more flexible, but you’ll do fine, but she was double jointed, but you’ll be ok, and you know, she would rub his shoulders like this, not that you don’t do a good job… Getting a headache yet?

Every time we bring up the other yarn craft that uses hand held implements, we offer the opportunity to compare and contrast, in fact we invite it. So, no more talk about the sticks. If you must discuss crafts other than crochet, heck say you like crochet because it’s so much easier to mimic weaving than in other crafts. Woven fabric is held in much higher esteem in the fashion industry, so heck use that!

What brings on this crazy blog post? Well, ya see… I was reading a trade magazine, and though a few articles about crochet are here or there, NOT ONE of them could just discuss crochet WITHOUT letting the sticks horn in on the action. I mean for heaven’s sakes none of the articles that were purely stick orientated allowed the hook to horn in! And really, shouldn’t the hook get to horn in? After all horns have hooks! (Ok I’m being silly.)

In all seriousness, it made me mad. How on earth can we possibly tell LYSes that we want marketing to us, when the market leaders tell them what’s “hot” and “what’s not”. It’s scary to be a small business owner! You take some pretty calculated risks, and with the “experts”  telling you something is hot and something else is struggling, what the heck are you going to invest in! Even someone who was supposedly advocating for crochet, couldn’t help but mention the sticks…oh COME ON! STOP IT!!!

I am seriously considering a small industry tabloid to go out to stores we know are crochet friendly with indie designers, and book information from publishers etc…I don’t know how I can swing it. But be warned, I’m really thinking about it long and hard.

And no, there will be no compare and contrast…there will only be…LOOK HOW AWESOME CROCHET IS!

Experts make it look easy…

Regardless of the craft, event, activity, an expert is going to make something look easy. I remember watching cooking shows on PBS when I was a kid, and then “trying it at home.” I was always so frustrated when I couldn’t make those fancy icing flowers like they showed me on T.V.! In fact, I thought I wasn’t any good at making icing flowers. What I had not considered was the fact that a) it was the first time I was attempting the feat  and b) the person on the T.V. made them all the time, mostly likely on a daily basis.

So it goes with crochet. Because I learned so long ago, I have forgotten how alien yarn and hook once felt in my own hands. I do remember learning to hand spin yarn however, and that helps me to slow down, and recognise that where hook and yarn are mere extensions of my appendages, for other people that may not be the case.

It’s really hard on people who are around me all the time, watching my fingers fly and my projects get made and given away or sold. I make it look easy. Throwing bullions, making lace, whiping out flower after flower in minutes, amusing little girls like Gandalf did the hobbits with fireworks. Sure, I’m a showboat, I love making flowers to dazzle the kids, or ripply snakes for those who don’t want flowers.

So when someone who knows me, decides to pick up the hook I over see a cloud of frustration cross over their brow. Sure they learned to chain as a kid, and the basic stitches, but why oh why aren’t they zooming along. I mean, it’s JUST crochet right? It’s no more technical that cooking right? Oh wait, it’s a skill.

Part of me gets a kick out of their frustration and confusion, not in a mean way; but it does make me feel better to know that they now understand that what I do IS a skill. I practice it all the time, I still make mistakes, but I’ve learned to fix them. I still bite off more than I can chew, but I’ve learned to finish the project, I still don’t weave in my ends on my own hats, but I do on others 😉 ! But, it’s not so easy that you can just grab a hook and run with it, with out a few bumps a long the way.

Invariably, I work with people quietly and slowly. Watching what they are doing, guiding them, and empowering them. Learning what is the cause of certain problems: “Oh that’s not you, it’s the yarn, it likes to do this and thus and so…” or “There are lots of ways to hold your tension. Here are two I do, but I’ve seen other people do it this way or that way. Be comfortable.” and always, “If you are getting the results you wanted, then you did it correctly!”

As the holidays approach like a derailed train, take it easy on yourself if you are a beginner/ocassional crocheter. Don’t worry if you can only get a hat or two done. After a few years of practice you too, can be your own mini crochet sweatshop.  And, yes, those of us who do it all the time, we do make it look easier than it is, but unlike many reality tv show stunts, I urge you to: TRY THIS AT HOME!

Creativity knows no bounds…

I’m of two minds about rules.

On the one hand I am at heart an academic, I love to study and learning the rules to any given matter is exhilarating to me. To delve as deep as possible into the knowledge base of a matter is intoxicating; I adore knowing things. Even better, I am fueled by using that knowledge, and better yet? Passing that knowledge on to others.

On the other hand, I have this rebellious streak. Once I learn as much as humanly possible about a subject, I MUST test the waters and see how strictly those rules must be obeyed. Why are those rules there? What else could be done to improve upon a standard set long before I (little jackanape that I am) came along?

When it comes to crochet, I was taught a set of rules by older relatives, who themselves were taught rules by others. No one questioned those rules, either due to respect of age or skill. I didn’t start questioning the creative rules until less than a decade ago. Until then for me crochet was lace, all manner of lace, and the occasional novelty item. Yet, deep inside of me was that little girl who broke the rules, but once mind you, asking how to crochet a sweater. She got told, “Oh no, you knit sweaters. If you want to make a sweater you have to learn to knit.” 

The rule was, crochet was lace.

Part of me still sees crochet that way, the part of me that has crocheted so much lace over the years, that invariably most of my projects have some kind of lace like element. My hands and fingers know lace, lace and I are friends. I KNOW lace, and it knows me. Then I broke the rules…I made a crocheted sweater. Heck it was just a blankie with sleeves!  It wasn’t hard, there was no mystery to it, and it was and is comfy, and pretty in an organically hippie kinda way. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but on a cold and damp September morning it sure feels good.

Often being of two minds on various issues, I long ago sought to integrate my thinking. It doesn’t have to be rules or no rules. I still hold by learning as much technical knowledge as possible, because it makes breaking the rules that much better!

So when I taught my own daughter to crochet four years ago, I didn’t tell her crochet was only for lace. When she asked what could and couldn’t be done, I asked her what she thought. When she wanted to know how to hold her hook and yarn we found a way that was comfortable for her. Then, when it came to what fibers can and can’t do, I told her the basic information, then handed her scads of small balls of my hand-spun in every fiber imaginable for her to play with…Oh the results were amazing. Watching her freely create, and only imbibing her with the rules of the craft when she asked for them, or when she was having more trial and error than necessary to that fragile beginners ego, I gained a new sense of my own creativity.

Today she still likes “Mom” to make most of her things, but she has made her fair share of projects…these fingerless gloves she made herself are some of my favorites.

Sara made these up as she crocheted along

 

 

She made them in the winter months when we were snowed in, they aren’t “matching”, they are her “funk-tional” gloves…

 

Brother kindly models sister's hat.

Brother kindly models sister's hat.

The hats she and her brother are wearing were also made by her, she learned a few things about hats in making them…she was so proud when she finally understood the shaping from the crown, without needing me to tell her “one more time” how to decrease, but not “too much”.

She ignored my “rules” about color changing, and did her own thing, which ended up showing on the one hat, but not the other. Live and learn…sometimes being creative and learning the rules, requires trial and error.

 

My favorites are still the gloves (and they are her favorites too!): I like that in those gloves I see the rules and breaking the rules…and her creativity will only blossom further, we do not know it’s bounds…

Of course, do any of us? Do we really know the bounds of our creativity?

If you know a few of the rules in crochet, see how many you can purposely break today and let your creativity flow!

Apple Blossom Stole Set’s Our Picot Free!


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Originally uploaded by mooncobress

CLF Member MoonCobress made this stunning stole! And her Ravelry project notes are excellent! She used Kal Mistry’s Apple Blossom Stole pattern which is available for free here http://www.theinsideloop.com/Issue2/Patterns/appleblossom.html

MoonCobress I adore this piece, I would so wear this piece, you have set my imagination and my picot free! Congratulations, you are duly awarded the Set My Picot Free award for stunning crochet!

Calling all Crafters…

We interupt the regular scheduled programming of the Blog for an important announcement!

As you know I have offered to help Candi Jensen, Executive Producer of Knit and Crochet Today bring awareness to the public about the need for underwriting dollars and private donations.

Folks we’re starting to get down to the wire, and yes Candi has secured some new underwriting dollars, and yes the donations are beginning, but we are only about half way to where we need to be in order for Season 3 to hit the airwaves in January! By the middle of September we need to be fully funded! So, crocheters, knitters, yarn lovers if you can donate $5, $10, $20 or heck $50 to the show, you will be listed as a donor on the website and make history!

Did you know that the show is the number one rated of it’s kind in the USA? And it even got nominated for a Regional Emmy!

If you haven’t been able to see the show, you can check it out on the Detroit PBS Website! If you want a sneak peak of Season 3 check out this interview with Debbie Maccomber on the Knit and Crochet Today Website!

And to donate? Easy peasy just go here! http://www.knitandcrochettoday.com/donate.html

You can also sign up for the upcoming newsletter and register to get free patterns! YAY! Check it out!

If you can help please do! This is such a great show and Candi Jensen is a brave and talented woman for tackling such a great venture!

Crochet Conversations…

Yes, the CLF Blog has been quiet, so why am I losing my voice? AH HAH! Because, I’m at the Stanwood Camano Community Fair , being all official like. No, not as Fearless Leader, well…not for the CLF, I have my All Fiber Arts hat on this week, as the Superintendent of the Handspinning and Fleece Dept.

So, besides running around making sure the entries get judged, clerked and recorded, and make sure all the ribbons are correct and accounted for, organize the spinning, felting, and handworking contests, oh yes, lest we forget making sure the MORE THAN 50 FLEECE ENTRIES get judged tomorrow; I get to sit and spin awhile, and possibly crochet for a bit. (Oh and hang out with some of the lovliest, kindest, and talented people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.)

I was taking a break from being all official like, and just sitting with my friend and teacher, she was making a braided cord, and I was crocheting a miniature sock (which I shall sport proudly on a pin at the crochet summit), when a little girl of no more than 11 came up to me.

“Oh that’s beautiful”, she whispered with the brightest of eyes shining.

“Thank you, I’m crocheting.” I replied.

“Oh I know, I crochet too! But not with thread that tiny, or with a hook so small. I just work with yarn.” She said rather humbly.

I looked up at her over my work, and said, “Well, then you can do this, it just takes counting and practice.” I showed her that I was just using half double crochets and single crochets. Then her face lit up like the Forth of July.

“Well, actually I’m not too bad. I just made a pattern for my own purse.” She then proceeded to explain to me in “crochet speak” how she made it. She doesn’t know the stitch names, she learned from her grandmother, but as she described her “pattern”, I knew exactly what she was doing. Why? Because until 5 years ago that’s exactly how I would have written a pattern.

Then, head to head, no age difference involved, I showed her how to do a 2tog decrease (she was skipping stitches to decrease, which is how I was originally taught, but makes for a holey fabric), and I showed her how to increase. She caught on in two seconds. I completely forgot to ask her if I was making her mother wait, or if she was on her own, the two us had just sat down to design a hat pattern to her specifications in a “language” she could understand.  I even quickly mocked up a miniature hat with all the stitches she would need to do. (It looked like a finger puppet, but she’ll be able to remember from the stitches in it.) She wasn’t sure she knew what the stitches meant, but I assured her that her grandmother would know (all single crochets and half doubles), and I didn’t use abbreviations.

Then she said her grandma had trouble finding good patterns, and she was trying to find them. I asked is she was able to access the internet, and she said she could but that “Grandma” didn’t know how. “But, I could download them for her!” So, I gave her a list of websites, and of course a link to ours, and told her that she was definately a member of the CLF.

She made my fair. We talked about how people don’t get crochet, and how versatile it is, and she told me her dreams of making sweaters and other things later. “But, I don’t really read patterns, I just make it up.”

“You, my dear, are a designer. You could learn to read patterns  to write them, and make really great ones!Or you can just make really fabulous things!”

Cheyanne, where ever you are, you made this matronly lady’s day! It was an honor and a pleasure to meet you and just sit and speak crochet!