Thursday, October 29, 2009

Romanian Point Lace

Until I saw a class offered through the Kuwait Textile Arts Association, I had never heard of the beautiful craft of Romanian point lace.  To begin, you must first crochet a cord,  then you baste it to a piece of fabric that has the design outline drawn on it. ("Sunshine's Creations" has generously put up a tutorial on her blog, if you are interested in learning how to make the cord) .  Finally, you fill in the spaces with various embroidery stitches.  The white sample is the piece that I made in the class.  The red variegated sample is one I did later as a color experiment.  I am planning to use this technique with yarn instead of thread to include in my freeform crochet work.  I haven't found too many resources about learning to make this type of lace.  However, there is a how-to video, with step by step instructions, available for sale here.  The best book I have seen is "Romanian Point Lace" by Angela Thompson and Kathleen Waller.  Unfortunately, it is out of print.  I was lucky to get a copy before it went out of print.  It must be rare, as the price of the book now, if you can find it, ranges from $199-$250.  It is a beautiful book.  If you see a copy at a reasonable price, snap it up!

Monday, October 26, 2009

When life gives you scraps .....

When I am working on a project, I accumulate a lot of yarn scraps.  If they are longer than 3", I save them to make a "magic ball" by randomly tieing them all together. I like to use the the Russian join for this.   You don't have to use the Russian join, but it gives you a neat finish and keeps the tails from getting in your way as you work. A magic ball is a great way to kick start your creativity when beginning a freeform crochet project. 

When I am teaching freeform, I have the students make a magic ball at home, and then we draw stitch types from a basket and roll dice to see how many to make. Then, we write it out like a pattern to follow.  The only thing the student has to decide, is where to put the stitches.  Most of the time they put the "pattern" aside after they see the piece developing (which I encourage), creativity takes over and a unique piece is made.   This freeform game gives them the confidence to be more free with their crochet.  Students that are more comfortable with a pattern can still create a freeform piece as well, by continuing with our written "pattern".  It is an activity that works for all types of students and it is very exciting to see their freeform style emerge.

These photos are of a cuff that I made using a magic ball while playing the freeform game.  I was so pleased with how it turned out, that I embellished it with sequins and beads.  I didn't know I was making a cuff when I started,  that is just what it became!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Studio colors!

I haven't finished cleaning out the studio space, but to keep myself motivated, I have bought some paint colors to try on the wall.  I know that I want a pear color.  I have chosen three different paints to sample. One is more green, one is more gold, and one is in the middle of the two.  I think the middle one (the largest sample) is my favorite.  I have mostly magnolia walls in my house, so I decided to splash out with some color in the studio!  I think the "Altogether Charming Wools" (yarn man) print will sit well on this color.  It is bright and cheerful, without being an obvious choice.  I can't wait to see the entire space painted.  I have to remember to take some "before" photos before it is too late!  Next, I get to decide on the flooring.  I am going to try to finish the cleanout this weekend.  Woodworking dirt requires a lot of cleaning...  I am keeping my eye on the big prize though!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The right place at the right time!

I was enjoying a recent "Getting Loopy" podcast on Monday, and the host Mary Beth Temple, mentioned that she was teaching a new online class called "Self-Publishing Crochet and Knit Patterns". Since I have a few patterns that I want to publish, this announcement came at the perfect time!  The class started yesterday and I got the last spot!  I think this is the help I need to get my patterns out there.  I am hoping by the end of the three week class, I will have a pattern ready to sell.  I am so thankful for the internet for making the world a little smaller and making it possible to attend a virtual class from anywhere in the world.

Mary Beth also teaches an online class called "Designing for Print Publication" if you are interested, you can find more information here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Crochet memory lane

While cleaning out the future studio space, I came across a suitcase filled with all of my daughter's baby things that I have saved.  It hasn't been that long since she was a baby, but I have forgotten about so many things.  Including some things I crocheted for her!  My favorite thing is this bunting.  Here in Kuwait, they are very popular to carry new babies and to pass them around to adoring family and friends.

First, I selected the cheerful spotted fabric, and then I was lucky enough to find coordinating yarn colors in the same store.  Kuwait isn't known for its yarn shops, so this was very fortunate!  I sewed and quilted the main part of the bunting all by hand, since I have yet to buy a sewing machine. ( I am hoping to buy one to grace the studio once it is finished).  Then, I crocheted a shell edging and the hanging bits and bobs.  I think the combination of yarn and shaded pink pearl cotton work well together.  I might convert it into a bag by folding the top over (as shown in the photo above) and adding a strap and a button and loop closure.  For now, my daughter is enjoying using it for her baby dolls and marveling that she used to fit in it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Amazing widget!

I just got this new translator widget from widgetbox.  I love useful widgets (although I didn't know what they were until I started a blog)!   I also like that it doesn't take up much room on my sidebar as I am planning to add some patterns for sale soon (time permitting).  It is such a thrill to see my words instantly transformed into any language I choose!  I hope this will make my blog more accessible to the world.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My fairy shawl

This is a bit of a diversion from crochet, but I thought it was relevant as I very often embellish my crochet projects with embroidery.  In a recent post , I  mentioned some fairy embroidery transfers I got in a vintage magazine.  I had the idea to embroider them on a wool shawl.  It was quite a challenge because I couldn't iron them on as you would on cotton fabric.  I also wanted to keep the transfers intact.  So, I traced them onto a water soluble material and basted them onto the shawl.  I stitched through the material, and then carefully cut it off after I finished.  I was going to use water to remove it, but that proved too messy.  It wasn't an easy job, but I was determined to have these lovely fairies on my shawl!  I get the most comments on the hair.  I did a series of French knots to achieve this look.  I used Brazilian embroidery thread as I had quite a stash of it from a class I took.  I am glad that I still have the transfers intact, because I would like to use them again for some greeting card making.  Either drawn to look like embroidery, or with an actual embroidered piece that can be used in some manner by the person who receives the card.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Better luck next time!

Congratulations to all of the winners of the Berroco Sock Star Design Contest!   I was hoping to be one of them, but it wasn't in the cards for me this time.  It was thrilling to be chosen as a finalist, and I did get some wonderful feedback on my design.  I plan to offer the necklace pattern along with a bonus matching ring pattern for sale in my Ravelry shop as soon as I get it ready.

To cheer myself up a little, I have ordered myself a deluxe set of Etimo crochet hooks from Knitty City, the only retailer that sells them in the US.  I have been told that they are the "Cadillac of crochet hooks", and that they are sheer heaven to crochet with.  After I have had a chance to use them, I will post a review!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My studio mascot

Until the studio space is ready, I am putting together a collection of things for it.  When I was studying fashion design in London, I used to love to go to "jumble sales" on the weekends.  One lucky day, I came across a wonderful Needlecraft magazine from the 1950's.  Inside, there were embroidery transfers for  the cutest whimsical fairies, which is really why I bought the magazine and made a shawl that I still wear.  I will take photos of it for another blog post!

After I got it home, I discovered this "charming" yarn ad and I have saved it to hang in a special place.  I never knew where that would be until now.  I want to hang this yarn man in a prominent place to watch over me as I work.  Now, I just need to find a great frame for it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New family members

I have been wanting a dress form for a long time.  My niece is willing to be a model for me which I am thankful for, but I need someone who is able to stand for hours as my designs evolve.  Luckily, I came across these while I was shopping for supplies for my latest design submission for Interweave Crochet.  I was excited to find the child's form as well.  They aren't the quality I was hoping for, but they are definitely better than pinning on myself or bothering a real person!  I have named the lady form "Layla", as my dear friend Layla got me started on the path to crochet design when she sent me a surprise gift of a French crocheted bracelet that I had admired in a shop window while visiting her in London.  I am going to let my daughter name the child form.  She tried making her first garment on it yesterday and I was amazed at what she put together.

They are the first addition to the design studio that my husband and I are planning to arrange.  He is into woodworking and is moving his workshop to a new space, so that will free up some room for our design studio.  I have big plans, but I am not sure how much space we will have until all of the woodworking equipment gets moved into the new workshop.  At least I will have a dedicated place to design, and I am hoping to buy a sewing machine, now that I will have a place to put one.  Now I just need to decide what is essential for a design studio.  Good lighting, drafting table, filing cabinet.....  I can't wait to move in!