Tag Archives: yarn

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!

Crochet Countdown!

Less than a month until the retreat! Can you believe it? For two years we’ve plotted and schemed to make a crochet fantasy come true, and as this fantasy becomes reality Im too excited for words! Well, that’s not completely true or I wouldn’t be writing this blog post, so let’s just say I’m so excited!

I’ve written about the Puget Sound-Scape Project, and mentioned the afghan we’re creating for the Center for Wooden Boats auction in the spring. A huge thank you to Plymouth Yarn for donating the navy and ecru Encore to create the nautical themed afghan. I also want to thank instructor and volunteer extraordinare Deborah Burger for chosing the fillet charts to use for the colorwork and coming up with some kind of crochet magic that will make this a fabulous project to show off just how cool crochet can be!

Now to tempt you some more… Each evening we’ll have activities and speakers. The first evening is our yarn tasting which I have already blogged about, so let me write a little about the other evening events.

Monday night we are going to be blessed with the presence of Andee Graves, also known as Mamastwohands on Ravelry.com, who will give a fabulous talk on how to keep our hands and bodies healthy while crocheting. Andee is an amazingly talented massage therapist and ergonomics expert and we are so lucky to have her speak on this very important topic! After all we’ve heard the horror stories of carpel tunnel and arthritis which have hampered crocheters throughout time, let’s avoid that fate shall we?

After her talk we’ll play crochet games like the “Free Form Game” a game designed by a CLF Member for National Crochet month. It will help you grow in your free form and shake up the same ol’ same ol’ crochet habits! Plus it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll also play pass the swatch, which will end up being our souvenirs made by each other for each other ūüėÄ

We’ll have give aways each evening with wonderful goodies from hooks to kits and pattern books, and yes, yarn.

Also don’t forget you can buy CLF Gear from our online store ¬†or pick up a copy of the CLF First Ever Book from our website!¬†

If you are just too tempted and must come to the retreat (you know you want to) there are still cabin’s available!Prices range from $67 -$55 per night. ¬†Book yours today by calling 360-387-1005, don’t forget to say you’re with the crochet retreat!

Cro-magination…

Cloudy or blue skies, the power of nature is always felt at Cama Beach.

Imagine with me for a moment. It’s early in the morning on the shores of Puget Sound. You’ve bundled up for the cool October morning, cup of hot coffee or tea or what ever wakes you up in the morning, in hand you huddle with others like wise clutching their morning steam power. There is a fog bank rolling over the top of Whidbey¬†Island coming across the water towards the shores of Cama Beach. The water is still, and dark like glass.

It’s quiet, other than the murmurs¬†and shivers of the early risers, until a lone loon wails it’s¬†plaintive song. It’s cry echos against the hill-side, leaving everyone quietly in awe of the new day.

Through the fog bank, the light of the sun coming up from behind the hillside creates a miasma of pink and purple sunrise.

Shuffling off to class, bags and hooks in hand, focused on learning the new skill, or hoping to just pick up a trick or two, you find yourself draw to looking at the water. And suddenly it doesn’t matter if you are “getting it right”, you realise that you are sitting in a room with others, like yourself who love the textures of the fiber they are working with. You stop your reverie and look about the room, instead of picking up your hook you decide to watch the others. Their hands are dancing, in silent rhythms, magic is being made with a single hook and a strand of 4ply yarn.

After class you gather with a new friend to sit at a table outside and have lunch. Sure it’s misting, but the fresh marine air is crisp and clean. Worries melt away, and the early morning¬† cry of the Loon is replaced by the chattering of Bald Eagles. It’s primal, it’s touches your soul.

After lunch you gather together with your friends to enjoy a talk or a workshop, and once again the hooks come out, and the inspiration flows. You’ve figured out a new skill, or a half step that just makes it so much easier. Then you hear the shout of someone from outside, “Whale! Whale!” Hooks get dropped and people rush to the shore, and the local Orcas are playing not more than 100 feet off the shore, the Bald Eagles sing out, Kingfishers dive for fish, and some where you hear a gull laugh at the folly.

Beyond the crochet, beyond the new technique, beyond the learning about yarn and hooks, and fiber and color, you have had a time, that takes you back…no television noises, no non-stop chattering, no rush hour, no bumper to bumper shopping carts.¬† The joy and awe on everyone’s faces illuminates the afternoon, and then again the crochet hooks and yarn begin to stitch their magical threads.

As the sun begins to set behind the Olympic Mountains, the orange ball radiates out shafts of light that begin to paint the clouded sky in an artists’ palette¬†of purples, reds, tangerine and it is outlined in gray and white. Everyone stops to look, to take a photo. The Eagle cries one last time as it heads to its nest, and the Raven child says “kerplunk”, you hear a distant Great Horned Owl hoot in the distance, and then the Loon once again sounds its plaintive cry…

Time for dinner, everyone decides to make it a potluck. The gathering of kindred souls has created a bubble that no one wants to break. Sitting in the old building, warm and cozy, good home cooked food to share with friends. Laughter, and more hooks and yarn it’s almost surreal in how good the experience is…

Now for the evening program. Not just a speaker full of hot air, but an interactive event, no one cares if you’re crocheting while they talk. No one admonishes you, you’re on a roll, everyone gets that. The instruments come out and songs are song both silly and sad, fun and heartwarming. The sounds of a dulcimer echo off the hills, and you are transported to a time further back still, when humans enjoyed simpler pleasures.

At last it’s time for bed so another day can begin a fresh. You wash, and change and scramble into your warm blanket, and as you rest your head on your pillow the visions of the day pass through your mind’s eye. You’ve never felt so relaxed, you’ve never been so inspired, you never expected life to be this good.

Yeah, I’m pitching the retreat…but I thought instead of telling you how reasonably priced it is, and how much work we’re putting into it, that I would share my end goal with you. The above story is exactly my vision for people coming to the retreat. I have a little piece of Heaven here on Camano Island; I want to share it with you.

Around the table at the LYS

So yesterday¬†afternoon I went in to speak with Sirkku, the owner of the LYS who is most local to me. She is a huge supporter of my endeavors. I’ve known her for about 9 years, pre-LYS days even, and she is an amazing person to know.

She and June (the knitting instructor) and I often sit and work at the table in her 1600 sq. ft shop, and discuss the troubles of dealing clients and students. Of course not when they are in the shop mind you, but we all have our war stories.

We swap technique information, and teaching techniques, and problem solve together, it doesn’t matter which craft mind you, because some of this stuff is just universal. Anyway, as we were working on our projects and chatting, the subject of yarn purchases came up.

Funny this, they get as many knitters¬†asking for cheap acrylic yarns in there as they do crocheters. They have as many knitters¬†afraid to try things beyond¬†wash cloths and scarves as they do crocheters. Hmmmm. Really? Of course that doesn’t surprise me at all, if you look on Ravelry, amongst the stellar and beautiful projects in both crafts, the majority are either more utilitarian, or less expertly made. Nothing wrong with that, everyone has to learn some time, but crochet does not have the corner on the ugly market. Just sayin’.

It is so validating to sit with these expert knitters¬†and have them voice the same frustrations I do about my students. Which is mostly that people are afraid to rib out mistakes as if it were a failure. I was watching June, who is a phenomenal knit artist, rip out an entire row of 4 color Fair Isle, in a very fine and fuzzy yarn. Yeah, she’s good. I rip out my mistakes in the shop all the time. Ripping out doesn’t mean you’re bad at what you do, it means you’re good enough to catch mistakes that will really alter the final outcome of your project.

One of my other frustrations is my students expect to crochet as fast as I do. No matter how much I explain I’ve been at this for over 35 years, and that there are many experienced crocheters who don’t crochet as fast as I do. Then there is the person who is so worried about looking foolish that they won’t try a new stitch pattern, or project because they don’t want to make mistakes.

Mistakes are what we learn from the most. No one learned a dang thing from being perfect people. Oddly, June has the same frustrations.

You know what’s the most refreshing thing about chatting at the table in the LYS. We have found that although our techniques work differently, we have a lot in common. June wants to learn to crochet more, and I have agreed to pick up the sticks. She wants it for edging and embellishments, and me? I want to knit to make a plain knit sweater back. That’s it. That’s all I want to be able to do. I can crochet it, but it might be cool to make a plain sweater back just once and then decided which technique I’d rather do. I have no interest in learning knit lace, I can crochet lace in my sleep. I have no desire to learn knit cables, I can crochet those too. We’ll teach each other cause we can, and probably understand how to teach folks even more effectively.

I like that Sirkku¬†and June are honest about their customers instead of pretending they all gravitate to the silk/merino blend and purchase bags at a time. At least they can be honest. It doesn’t matter which fiber art you do, there are those who will spend money and those who won’t. There are the adventurous and then there are those who are not. They invited me to promote the retreat at the local knitting guild. I’m going to, we’ll see if I make it out alive or not (joking)…June and Sirkku¬†will have my back, and are really intrigued to see what we come up with there at the retreat.

Yarn Tasting: What the heck is that?

Surely you’ve heard of a wine tasting?¬† Various wines are on display and you get to taste them, cleanse your pallette and move on to the next. Well, a yarn tasting is not that different, only it doesn’t involve wine, spitting or crackers.

At the retreat our opening night will feature a yarn tasting. In the spirit of fun yarns of various fibers, weights and textures will be on display, with various wooden hooks to use to test drive the yarn. You can try out your favorite stitches, or decorative stitches as you move about the room playing with hooks and yarns.

We’ll be using Laurell Hill hooks, because those are some of my absolute favorites, plus I just adore those guys! There company model is open, intelligent and sensitive to the needs of their consumers and the producers of their products. They are a local NW company based out of Eugene, Oregon. I love how they market their products at shows, having the hooks available to test drive with yarn! Rick gave me a killer deal on the hooks, and I can pass that on to the retreat goers after the activities that will require hooks! And someone may get very lucky and win one of these fabulous hooks!

I can’t wait to use my nice serving platters to display the yarn! It’s going to be too much fun!

Retreat News & Blog Forecast

Well, I finally have a moment to blog. I tell you the middle of July through August are crazy times for this crochet fanatic!

It’s even more crazy as I scramble through the late stages of the retreat planning. I would like to remind you all that I have NEVER organized¬†a retreat before, but I have done lots of work with groups. I hear getting the place is the hardest part, but for me that was the easiest beings I live next door practically to Cama¬†Beach State Park. (No you will not be camping! I swear it! It’s way too comfy a place. I do NOT do camping.)

We still have room for about 10 more people, and if we want those morning classes to happen we need to get registered. You KNOW you want to!

This retreat will be a mix of education and expansion of crochet skills. Building community, and friendships and bolstering our creativity. Did I mention how fun it’s going to be? I’m thrilled and excited to be able to do this with people. I’ve kept the prices low to make sure people of all income brackets can participate.

On top of that I have some friends with some pretty special talents wanting to come up and offer massage and other self care techniques; I still have to work out the details, but if this is of interest to you let me know.

Please remember even if you are staying outside of the park, that the retreat fee is in place, this covers the cost of renting buildings and some other fun little perks.

My local yarn store is hosting a party for us on Monday. In fact remind me to change the schedule, we’re going to do that during the lunch break, and I’ll have a separate yarn tasting that evening. Sirkku¬†just brought in some fabulous crochet stitch markers that are awesomely made and priced! (Can you say pretty and affordable? I knew you could.)

Anyway, if you haven’t registered PLEASE PLEASE Do check out the retreat here, contact me with questions!

Also, I just got my review copy of Linda Permann’s book, Crochet Adorned today. I’ve only had about ten minutes to flip through it, but wow…great photos and from my initial glances some really cute projects. I’ll delve into it tonight and let the daughter weigh in her two cents as well. She is a great critic ūüėÄ

So stay tuned, that review is on it’s way!

Beautiful Crochet! Florine Empire Waist Shell

After a short hiatus, I’m back to blogging the BEST of crochet. From amigurumi to garments, household to accessories, this is how I show YOU the yarn enthusiasts of the world just how fabulous crochet is and can be!

Sharon Silverman pulls out all the stops in this gorgeous shell design!

You can find her pattern here, worked in Tunisian crochet with Louet yarns, this is a perfect example of just how finished and polished crochet can look. You can see more of Sharon’s work on her Facebook page!

Congratulations Sharon, I award you the Set My Picot Free award for stunning and outstanding crochet design!!

The CLF is proud of crochet and the people who wield the hook! Don’t forget to sign up for our Retreat¬†, Crochet @ Cama Oct. 17-21 on Camano Island in WA. I’m reworking the web pages today, so you’ll at least want to check them out! Also, don’t forget that you can order the CLF book as a hard copy or .pdf download from the CLF Website!!