Friday, December 31, 2010

The Beseme Scarf is in the Top 30 Designs!

This year has been a wonderful year for me as a designer.  I am so happy to be doing what I love!  I met many of my goals this year, and was so fortunate to work with Berroco Yarn company.  One of my most popular designs for them has been the Beseme scarf.  It is thrilling that several people have made it, and that more are planning to.  I was so excited that Norah Gaughan chose Beseme as one of her top 10 favorite patterns of 2010.  You can see all 30 of the Berroco design team's favorites, here.   It has been a perfect end to the year!   Happy New Year, dear readers, may 2011 be happy, healthy and prosperous for all!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Use for Your Crochet Work!

While I was preparing to teach a freeform crochet class, I decided that everything I used in the class would have a crochet theme.  I wanted to have extra hooks and pencils available on the table, so I had the idea to cover a container with crochet.  I didn't have time to crochet a custom cover, so I took the freeform pillow that I designed for a CGOA design contest and made a color copy of the front of the pillow.  Then, I cut a piece to fit the container and glued it on.  It is a great way to decorate with crochet without actually doing any crochet work!  You can enjoy your favorite pieces in a new way.

Photocopied freeform crochet pieces are especially successful, as there are many areas of interest.  I have also made book covers and greeting cards with this method.  The possibilities are endless!  I have an HP all in one printer with a color copier, so luckily I am able to do the copying at home.  I am not sure what Kinkos would think about me bringing in a pillow to photocopy!  Give it a try, have a look at your crochet projects with new eyes!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Love the Chibi!

I am a little late to the Chibi party, but I say better late than never!  The main reason I bought a Chibi is because I always seem to lose my yarn darning needles when I need them most, and I thought it would be great to be able to have them in a nifty case that I can toss in my crochet project bag.  

After I had the chance to use the needles, I was amazed at how smooth the surface of them is.  It reminds me of the first time I used an Etimo crochet hook!  They make light work of weaving in ends and seaming because of the ingenious bent tip.  They are perfectly blunt, so you can avoid splitting your yarn and yet they are sharp enough to find their way through small stitches.

Here is a list I started of useful tools for crochet work.  I will add to it as I find more things I love!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Invisible Fasten Off (one of my favorite crochet techniques)

Lately I have been doing a lot of crocheting in the round, and have been exploring techniques to make the pieces look their best.  I wanted the join of the end to the beginning of the round to be seamless.  The regular method of fastening off  leaves an unsightly bump.

(Example illustrating the bump resulting from a regular fasten off)

After searching and experimenting, I began using the method that I call "the invisible fasten off".

Since I have been using it in several of my patterns lately, namely "Piper's Chain Scarf" and "Genevieve's Belt" from Interweave Crochet Accessories 2010,  I thought it might be helpful to offer a tutorial here.

Step 1:  Complete the last stitch in the round.

Step 2:  Cut the yarn, leaving a 3" tail.  Insert hook into the BACK LOOP ONLY of the first stitch in the round, yo, and pull all the way through as if to fasten off in the usual way.

Step 3:  Insert hook into BOTH LOOPS of the second stitch in the round, yo, and pull all the way through again.

Step 4:  Insert hook into the FRONT LOOP ONLY of the last stitch in the round, yo and pull down through.

Step 5:  Weave in the tail end, and admire your invisible fasten off!
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Mini Masterpiece Rings- a Mixed Media Crochet Experiment!

As I have mentioned before, I love to go to antique shops when I visit America, and it is always more fun when you are on a hunt for something.  On one of my recent trips, I was looking for damaged antique plates that I could break up to make jewelry.  We went to a cute little shop on the Oregon coast, and I found the most beautiful hand painted plate with a floral design.  Now I wish I had taken a photo of the plate before I broke it up, so I could show you!  Anyway, the store owner was first surprised that I was happy that it was damaged, and then horrified that I was going to break it up into pieces!  She almost didn't want to sell it to me.  Thankfully, she was more interested in my $10 than the plate!

It did take a little while for me to sum up the courage to break up the plate, especially since the shop owner was upset about it, but once I had all my yarns and beads assembled, the prospect of making the plate into a collection of rings was very appealing.  So I went ahead and put the plate in a zip lock bag, and broke the plate into pieces with my hammer.  It was fun sifting through them to choose the best pieces.  This was a perfect plate to use as the entire surface was painted, so there was no waste.  

They are true multimedia pieces.  I crocheted "cases" for the broken china pieces and then I embellished them with  embroidery, beads, sequins, French felt appliques and velvet flowers.   I also used novelty yarn bits I had, to crochet small flowers and leaves.  I wanted to create frames to highlight the beautiful painting and make each one into its own picture.

I sold some of them, and have given some as gifts.  I also saved a few, as I love to wear a simple outfit with a unique accessory.  Rings are great for any occasion!