Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Counting Down to the Release of Interweave Crochet Accessories Issue!

I am so excited about this issue because I have 2 designs in it, and it is my first time to appear in an Interweave publication.  I believe it is to be on newsstands on October 26th, but you can pre-order it here.  It is a special issue so if you are a subscriber, it won't be part of your subscription, but it will include 43 new patterns.  I think that people were worried that the patterns would be a compilation of accessories from previous issues, so this is good news!  I am intrigued by the scarf on the cover and am looking forward to seeing a photo of it laid flat to see all of the details.  As soon as the magazine is out I will post details of my designs; a child's scarf and a women's belt.  I can't wait to see how they were photographed!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mixing Multimedia with Crochet

The first type of needlework I learned was embroidery.  I still remember my first embroidery class, taken during summer vacation from school at my local recreation center.  I chose a Cookie Monster printed canvas which might give you some indication of my age at the time!  After I learned embroidery, I added knitting and sewing to my skills and much later, crochet.  I love it when I can combine my skills in one project. 

I have always loved wool felt because it makes such amazing flowers.  I came across some beautiful felt at a store on the Oregon coast, and was inspired to create these bracelets.  I had also just been given some antique silk thread that belonged to my great grandmother, and I was able to use it on some of them, which made them extra special.  My favorite embroidery stitches to use are the stem, buttonhole, and especially the lazy daisy, sometimes referred to as the detached chain stitch.  You will notice that I use the lazy daisy frequently to embellish my crochet work.  In fact, I have to stop myself from using it more often!  

I used some velvet appliques as well.  I really love these as they have a vintage look.  I bought them from one of my favorite stores in London; VV Rouleaux.  If you are ever in London, it is such an inspirational place to visit!

A single crocheted base is such a wonderful canvas for embellishment!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chinese Lantern Purse Pattern is Available Again!

A few months back, I did a blog post about my pattern from the book 100 Purses to Knit and Crochet, being made available for free by the publisher.  After some time, I discovered that the link no longer worked, so I removed the post and the link from my blog.  Today, I  discovered that it is back up, here, along with a few other patterns from the book.  You can scroll up and down to see all the wonderful patterns by top designers that are available.  Very generous publisher!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Importance of Blocking Crochet

Several years ago I realized the importance of blocking a finished project.   I crocheted a shawl made up of many motifs that were sewn together.  When it was all finished, I was so disappointed.  It looked nothing like the photo in the book I was using.  I was thinking that I would never wear it.  I put it away for a few days while I was trying to decide its fate.  I went ahead and tried blocking it, hoping that it would open up the motifs and keep the tail ends from curling up.  I was ecstatic when it was time to remove the pins and I saw that my objective had been achieved and, as an added bonus, the stitches had a more even texture and the shawl had a finished look.  It was at that moment that I discovered the magic of blocking!  Now I look forward to the blocking process as I know it will only make the project look betterl!  I am always surprised when I talk to people about blocking and they don't believe it is worth the time.  It helps the piece to lay exactly as you want it to and it can also stretch areas where your tension may have been tighter.  To show what blocking can do for a piece, I have taken before and after photos of my Blossom Necklace design.  The difference in them is like night and day!

I like to spritz or spray block my pieces on a padded ironing board. I prefer this gentle method over steam blocking, especially for jewelry as it is easy to damage a piece if the steam is too hot for the yarn.  After weaving in all of the loose ends, I spray the piece with a little water, and then I pin it into the desired shape with rust-proof pins.  Next, I spray it with a little more water to make sure I have wet all areas of the piece.  Finally, I simply leave the piece to dry before removing the pins to see the transformation!  I find that most of the yarn I work with is able to come in contact with water, but do check the care label before trying this method of blocking.

So, if you have never tried blocking your work,  please give it a try, you won't be sorry!
(Pinned Into Shape and Drying on the Ironing Board)

Monday, September 13, 2010

How to Combine Woodworking with Crochet?

As I mentioned in a previous post about my new studio door, my husband is a woodworker.  One of his first indoor projects was this doll sized replica of our daughter's bed.  I was going to go over the top and make replicas of all of her furniture, but I soon realized there wasn't going to be anywhere to put them.  Maybe when we build our house;)

When I am between design projects, I crochet things my daughter requests.  I crocheted this doll blanket for one of her more colorful dolls.  It was a fun day project using up bits from my yarn stash.  I used simple stitches to let the yarn do the talking.  Notice the surface crochet I used on the shell stitch edging.

My husband says he is trying to think of a way to combine the two crafts of woodworking and crochet.   I think if he gets the CNC machine he has been dreaming about, there could be some interesting possiblities!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Antique Shop Find + Crochet= Lovely Jewelry

I love browsing antique shops and flea markets, but rarely get to do so now that I live in Kuwait.  When I travel, I am always on the lookout for things I can use in my work.  When I was living in England a few years back, I was planning on doing a mosaic project and collected many slightly damaged plates.  I was inspired by the brilliant work of Kaffe Fassett, and remembered reading about how he found bits of antique china in a park near his home in London.  I wanted to "frame" the broken bits of china in crochet as each part of the plate is its own picture.   Each piece is a different shape and I think that adds to the charm of the bracelet.  I used tapestry wool for the background, which I find I use a lot for jewelry, as I only need a small quantity and it comes in a myriad of colors.  I made each of the frames separately, and then played with them until I had the most visually appealing arrangement.  The finishing touch was the brushed silver sequins and seed beads sprinkled around the china pieces.  It is thrilling to be able to give new life to a broken plate and create a one of a kind bracelet. My hooks and I are looking forward to my next treasure hunt!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Have You Seen the New Knit AND Crochet Magazine?

This past friday was an exciting day in the knit AND crochet world!  It was the launch day for the premier issue of the online magazine, "Tangled", run by the creative team of Tracy St. John and Brittany Tyler.

If you haven't already seen it, you must go now and and have a look at this stunning magazine!  I counted an equal number of knit and crochet patterns, with both crafts given equal billing.  There are a selection of garments, accessories, and home decor patterns.  Something for everyone!  I knew the magazine was going to be good even before the first issue, when I saw the wonderful free patterns they were offering to introduce the magazine.

In addition to the patterns, they have an interesting feature called "Cross Threaded" in which they offer a knit and crochet version of the same pattern.  In this issue they are featuring a pretty floral motif skirt.  What I find really interesting is that usually, when you see knit and crochet versions of a pattern, the crochet version is trying to look like the knit.  In this case, the knit version is worked to look like crochet motifs, and each version has its own charm.

There is also a feature on "Tarn"- yarn made from recycled t-shirts, and how to make your own "Tarn".  I like the idea of working with strips of a knit fabric and I have a vision of a giant granny square rug made from some t-shirts dyed to match my decor. 

I am really excited about the future of this magazine, and I am eagerly awaiting their Winter issue, as I  have a design appearing in it that I am quite excited about!  I guess I will experiment with some "Tarn" while I wait:)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Etimo Hooks Are Now Available Online!!!

Yeah, I have been waiting for this day for months now!  I needed sizes B and C, the sizes that don't come in the sets.  I just visited Caron, and their Etimo hooks are now in stock.  Only the individual hooks are available at the moment.  The sets still say "available soon".  I treated myself to these 2 hooks, and can't wait until they arrive as I seem to be using size C a lot lately!  The added bonus is that they are 20% off until September 12th!  So if you have been waiting to buy them too, rush over and get yours now!