Friday, December 28, 2012

My Year of Crochet

Since this post will be my last in 2012, I thought it would be nice to reflect on the great year I have had and talk about my hopes for 2013.

There were many highlights in my crochet world this year!

-My designs were included in the Summer, Fall, Accessories, and Winter issues of Interweave Crochet.

-I purchased software for making crochet diagrams, and learned how to use it.

-I self published a design that I am very proud of, and in the process, I found out that there are some wonderful people in Ravelry's pattern testing group.

-I taught my daughter how to crochet.

-I got to meet up with 2 wonderful friends in the crochet industry.

-I learned to spin yarn with a drop spindle.

-I put together tutorials on how to make a twisted fringe, bold bobbles, and a slip stitch cord.

-My Marseille Necklace won a prize in the Crochet Guild of America's annual design competition.

-I was asked to be part of some exciting projects that are still under wraps, AND I signed the most important contract of my crochet career!

I have been working hard these past few months, and can't wait until the time when I can reveal everything to you. My crochet wish for 2013 is that I will have the time to work on other techniques, such as hairpin lace, Tunisian crochet, and extreme crochet. Maybe the days will be longer and more productive next year...A girl can dream can't she!

Crochet just keeps getting more exciting for me, and I feel so lucky that I am able to do work that I love. Thank you to all of my readers for your interest in my work and for your support. May 2013 be a wonderful year for you all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Quick Crochet Gift Idea!

I just realized haven't ever mentioned the Dreaming of Spring Bracelet pattern. I designed it way back when, before I ever thought I would have a crochet blog. It has generously been offered as a free pattern by Potter Craft Publishing. It is a fun project you can crochet in a short time, with a small amount of yarn or pearl cotton thread. I have given several as gifts to young girls as well as women. For the original version, I used a light sport weight yarn that I bought in Kuwait. For the book sample, they wanted a yarn that was available in the USA and Canada, so I went searching for a substitution. Unfortunately at that time, I couldn't find any variegated yarns in the right weight. So I ended up using 2 strands of DMC Pearl Cotton 8. I made the flower on the bracelet on the left with one strand of black and one strand of off white. I made the flower on the other bracelet with 2 strands of the same variegated thread. 

This is a version I made for my daughter when she was a newborn. I used only one strand of pearl cotton for the wristband and a soft fingering weight yarn for the flower. I also shortened the length of the wrist band. I only wish I had thought to take a photo of her wearing it. She is 6 now and I can't believe she was ever that tiny!

The two photos below, are of the samples I made to submit to the book. It originally had beads on the wristband, but the final samples were simplified for young beginning crocheters. The center of the flowers can be embellished with a single bead, or a cluster of beads, or beads and sequins.

So if you are in need of a gift, you can whip this up in no time with a little yarn from your stash!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Hobnail Milk-Glass Crochet Trend of the 1950's

Crochet in the 1950's was subject to various trends, and home decor projects were very popular. I recently came across this fun issue of Smart Crochet magazine, featuring hobnail milk-glass crochet.

Hobnail glass was invented by the Fenton Art Glass company in 1939 and was originally produced in translucent colors. In the 1950's, it was produced in solid white, referred to as "milk-glass". I have fond memories of staying in my grandparent's guest room with a hobnail glass lamp. It definitely has an unmistakable charm.

The hobnail trend caught on, and a special plastic finishing paint was even produced to keep the pieces rigid and soil resistant. The pieces were made in Lily "Double Quick" mercerized cotton. The same cotton used to create Wrought Iron Crochet.

In the magazine article, they write:"Beautiful milk-glass in hobnail and fretted designs have been interpreted in this new medium, to give you bowls, candlesticks, candy or fruit dishes of a lacy delicacy and unbreakable beauty you never imagined".

Lovely bobbles can be made in crochet, and crochet lends itself very well to 3-dimensional items, so it seems that hobnail milk-glass crochet was somehow meant to be.

Lamp with a Hobnail Milk-Glass Crochet Base

Authentic Milk-Glass
I was thinking about what might be a modern day equivalent of Hobnail Milk-Glass, one that would be successful in crochet, and I thought that these beautiful Nambe pieces might fit the bill. They are luxury items that would be interesting to emulate in crochet...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Fire Whirl Hat For Interweave Crochet!

Photo by Harper Point
I hadn't designed a hat for a long time, and when Interweave put out a call for submissions for the Winter issue, I felt it was the perfect time to create one! I did a lot of experimenting with hook placement and stitch height to get the grey sections to stand up like steps. This hat is simple to crochet, and will keep you interested with the changes in hook placement. I originally named it the "Concentric Hat", because of the way I blocked it. I made it collapse flat into neat concentric circles, then I sprayed it with water and made sure to accentuate the steps so they would have more of a pronounced shape when they were dry.

I like the way the hat can look different if it is pulled down, letting the steps flatten out, or if you wear it pulled down and off to the side, you get steps on just the top. The way the magazine described the hat, really fits it perfectly: "This architectural crochet hat can be playful or elegant at your whim". I think it is more playful when it is worn loosely with all 3 of the grey sections acting as steps. It isn't every day you see a crocheted hat with a flat top! When I was designing the hat, I was inspired by the top step. It reminded me of a little straw hat in my collection of vintage hats. I liked the step so much, I decided to carry the theme through the rest of the hat. I think it has a more elegant look when it is pulled down a little and worn off to one side a little, as I styled the original submission sample.

I really appreciated professional photographers and models when I tried to model the hat myself, and direct my husband as to the exact angle I wanted the shot. It took two photo sessions to get an angle I was happy with. I tried photographing the hat on my head form, but hats just look better on a real head!

I considered having a delicate motif at the top, but I wanted the focus to be on the steps. I am very glad that I didn't, because Interweave decided to have it sized to fit men, women, and children. This streamlined version works for all three!

This pattern is now available for download from the Interweave Store for $5.50.
Photo by Harper Point
Photo by Harper Point
Photo by Harper Point

Original submission photo, shown worn at an angle, in a neutral color combination.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Quest For Yarn in Saudi Arabia

When my husband suggested a road trip to Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia, the first thing I did was troll the internet looking for places to visit. One of the first things I like to search for in a new country, is where to buy yarn and craft supplies. I was thrilled when I found Al Zamil Stores mentioned on an expat forum. It is a family owned business which has been in operation since 1964. It is 4 floors including fabrics, notions, patterns, needle craft accessories, scrapbooking supplies, costumes, a custom styrofoam department, and much more! A truly fascinating place to visit!  I love vintage haberdashery items, and I think some things in the store had been in that store for 30 years or more! A great place to treasure hunt! I just wish I had been looking for something in particular. I also wish I had this store in my area. I would be a frequent customer!

 There was one aisle of yarn, mostly from Turkey, in solid colors and a few novelty yarns.

I don't think sewing patterns are purchased very often. It was quite a vintage collection. I  don't think there was a pattern there more current than 1980! They even had them covered with plastic so they don't get dusty.

I found this section so unique. I have never seen such a variety of looms before. They seemed quite popular, too. People were buying them for their children to use in a class.

I love rick rack, and am always on the lookout for unusual types. I haven't ever seen any like this before. It could be stunning on the right project. At this moment, I am really wishing I had bought them both!

This was very unusual knitted jersey yarn from Italy. I woke up in the middle of the night with a vision of crochet motifs made from this. We stopped by on our way out of town, but they had just closed a few minutes before! They close for noon prayer, and don't reopen until 4pm. Unfortunately we couldn't stay longer, to wait for them to reopen! Maybe the yarn will still be there if we make another road trip there... In the future I think I need to schedule two visits to places like this, when we are on a trip. One to get the feel of the place and take it all in, and a second after I have had a chance to think about all of the possible uses for what I have seen. A lesson learned!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hairpin Lace- a Fashionable Crochet Trend!

This past weekend, my family decided to pack up and take a road trip to Al Khobar, in Saudi Arabia. It was quite an adventure, and an interesting weekend getaway. One that we will never forget! It was my first time visiting Saudi, and searching for crochet was high on my to do list. The first day I didn't find any crochet, and I was getting a little discouraged. Fortunately, we struck gold the next day at the Mall of Dharan. Interestingly, all of the stunning crochet I found was hairpin lace! I would definitely say it is a fashion trend at the moment, and well worth trying a hand at. I need to get out my Jenkins hairpin lace loom again, and really try getting creative with it. I need an extra day added to the week, just for practicing new crochet techniques!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Announcing the Winner...

And the winner of my new favorite things for knitting and crochet is: GildersHooked! I will contact you via Ravelry to get your mailing address.

Thank you to all who visited my blog and entered the contest!

It is the weekend here in Kuwait, and I have plans to finish up an extra special crochet project. I hope you all have stitching plans as well!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Giveaway: My New Favorite Things For Crochet!

One thing I love about living in Kuwait, is that you can find such unique things in the market. My local supermarket has a stationery store that never disappoints! When shopping for back to school items for my daughter, I found these amazing mesh bags. Of course the colors caught my eye first, then I got the idea to use them as project bags. I was in a hurry that day, and I couldn't decide what color to buy, so I left without one. For the next few days, they were on my mind. When I had the chance to go back for one, they were gone! Of course that made me want one even more! I asked the manager if they were going to get them in again and I guess I was lucky, because he had a few left that were in the back. I bought all 4 of them! They are great for carting small projects around with you. I love that it zips, (no fear of losing my precious Etimo hooks or scissors), and that you can see what is inside. I used to put my projects in regular bags, and I would forget what was in them, and not want to dig through, because often there would be small pieces in them that I didn't want to lose or mix up. I would end up starting a new bag. It was getting out of control! This new bag is helping me to be more organized. It is light-weight and can easily be made more compact to fit into a purse if needed. I usually carry it by the little rope loop on the zipper. I keep it packed at all times, so it is ready anytime I will be going out. You never know when you might have even 5 minutes to crochet when you are waiting somewhere!

I bought one extra, large red bag, and since I love them so much, I want to give one away to one of my dear readers! Along with a handy counter, (my other new favorite thing) that can be worn on your finger like a ring, to keep count of your rows and repeats when you are crocheting. I will announce the randomly chosen winner here, in next Thursday's blog post. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. If you are on Ravelry/ Twitter, you can leave your username so I can contact you there as well, if you are the winner!

This is how I use the bag,  a few balls of yarn, hook, and a tape measure, and I  am all set!

Digital counter for keeping track of rows and repeats.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me, a New Domain For the Blog!

Well, yesterday was my birthday and I couldn't think of a thing that I wanted or needed. Then, it hit me. I need yarn storage and I want a proper blog domain! I found a place in my studio that I could put wooden cubby holes for yarn, and my lovely husband said he could build them. When that project is complete, I will post about it, and hopefully my yarn will be organized and easy to access!

Today's news is about the blog domain. I have thought about getting a customized domain for a long time, but I always thought it would be complicated since I have had the blog for a while. It turns out, it is as simple as paying $10.00 a year. Blogger takes care of the rest! I read many posts this morning about how important it is, for a professional blog, to lose the from your web address. I decided to listen, and the above is my new address!  It is like moving into a new home and getting married all in one day! The good thing is that Blogger packs and moves all your blog posts, but still keeps them available at their old addresses as well! My biggest fear was that my old blog posts and new blog posts would be divided. I have been having fun changing my name all over the web. It reminded me of changing my name when I got married. This turned out to be a great job for me, as it is my 15th wedding anniversary today!

Here's to hoping this new address will be easy to remember, and bring even more readers to follow my crochet adventures!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Natalie Cowl for Interweave Crochet Accessories 2012

I have been on the edge of my seat, waiting for the Natalie Cowl to be published in the latest issue of Interweave Crochet Accessories. I very proud of this design, and am glad I finally get to talk about it! It is the type of accessory that could really transform a simple sweater into an entirely new garment! I originally named it the "Portrait Cowl", because the neckbands reminded me of an antique picture frame my parents have, and I thought they framed the motif so nicely.

It is interesting how this design came to be. My original idea was to have 3 ribbed bands in steps. I cut the bands out of fabric, and played around with them on my dress form to see how they would look and to determine the best width for each band. I took the middle band off to make it smaller, and I noticed that I liked the look of two bands even better! I just needed to figure out a way to fill the space inbetween. After much thought, I decided that a motif would look the best. I made a paper pattern for the shape of the opening and then set to work to design a motif to fit the pattern. It was a bit of trial and error, but it came together much quicker than I expected it to. One of those meant to be moments!

The construction of this cowl is unique because the motif is crocheted into the opening as you join the upper and lower neckbands together.

The top photo, is one that I took of the cowl before sending it off to Interweave. In the magazine photos they pulled the second neckband down flat, so here is another way to wear it. You can also turn the band up at the back of the neck, as shown in the photo below of the original cowl that I submitted. The original cowl has a dark motif with lighter color neckbands. I thought I would show you both light and dark combinations, so you can choose which you like best, if you decide to make the cowl...and I hope you will!

This pattern is now available for download from the Interweave Store for $5.50.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More About the Monarch Necklace

Pictured above, is the original version of the Monarch Necklace. I submitted this version to Tangled Magazine, and when they accepted the design, they asked that I remake the necklace in colors that went with the theme of that particular issue. They wanted it to be in pink, green, and orange. When I tried making the necklace in those colors, I found it completely changed the personality of the necklace. We came to a compromise, and I ended up making bright orange motifs with a black background. For me, the black background is a key element in this necklace. I experimented with many lighter background colors (I have a whole bag of samples to prove it!), and I kept going back to the black.

The color scheme of the original is still my favorite. I think it has an Asian feel, and the green links remind me of jade. The other element that I feel is important for this necklace to be a success, is the variegated thread used for the motifs. I think it adds interest and depth.

The moral of this story, is that color tells the story and color can change the story very quickly!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Combining Different Crochet Pattern Elements

As well as finding other uses for single crochet patterns, I also like to combine my patterns.

This brooch is a combination of my Rosette Belt, and Vine Lasso Necklace patterns. I used the flower from the belt pattern and the vines and berries from the necklace. The only thing I added was the embroidery embellished leaves.

This is an example of how versatile crochet can be. Your favorite pattern elements can be combined to make something new and exciting!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tendril Wrap Pattern Now For Sale

Photo By Harper Point

Interweave has just made the Tendril Wrap pattern available for individual sale. It can now be purchased from their website. It is an interesting project to crochet, and it works up quickly in chunky weight yarn. 

I made a child's version of this wrap for my daughter, and she loves that she and I have the same wrap. She is waiting for the cold weather to return, so we can wear them again this year.

I would also like to experiment making a scarf by using a DK weight yarn, and doing just one repeat of the pattern. I just need a few more hours added to the day, to make all my ideas come to life!

Photo By Harper Point

Monday, September 24, 2012

A New Turkish Crochet Treasure

My sister-in-law recently traveled to Turkey, and knowing my passion for crochet, she is always on the lookout for unique pieces to bring me. When I saw her for the first time after she returned, she handed me a sweet little mylar envelope. Then the excitement hit me. I knew it was a special crocheted gift, and judging by what she brought me last time, I couldn't wait to see what it was! 

She said she was strolling on the sea front, and she found a bazaar with many hand-crafted items. When she saw this necklace, she said she knew it was meant for me. She knows me so well! It is made of the same lovely fine thread as the piece she brought me before. It is so nice for making jewelry, I almost think it is worth traveling to Turkey to find some. I heard there is an entire street filled with yarn shops, in Istanbul. One day I intend to visit that street!

I love the combination of the stones with the crochet. It is actually very light to wear, and will be a great statement piece to add to my collection. Now, I just have to raid my wardrobe to find the perfect top or dress that will complement it...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Crochet a Signet Ring!

I have always loved signet rings, and I thought it might be fun to try crocheting one! I used my Antointette Ring pattern (which is available as a free download courtesy of Ravelry) for the ring band, and I modified the shape of the ring top to be round instead of oval. It can be made in minutes, with just a snip of yarn! 

Here are the instructions to make the ring: 

Hook: C/2 (2.75mm)
Supplies: Yarn needle, embroidery thread, embroidery needle.

Ring Band
Using yarn A, ch 21.

Row1: Beg in 2nd ch from hook, sc in this st and foll 3 sts, ch 10, sk 12 sts, sc in last 4 sts. Ch 1, turn.

Row2: Beg in 2nd st from hook, sc in this st and foll 3 sts, ch 12, sk 10 sts, sc in last 4 sts. Fasten off. 

Ring Top

Wrap yarn twice around your finger to form a magic ring. Insert hook into ring and pull up a loop, then ch 3. 

Rnd 1: Make 9 dc into ring. Cut yarn leaving a 2" (5cm) tail. Insert hook into the back loop only of the first st in rnd, yo, and pull it all the way through loop on hook, as if to fasten off in the usual way. Insert hook in both loops of next st, yo with tail end and pull through st. Finally, insert hook in the front loop only of last st in rnd, yo, pull yarn tail down through.

With a yarn needle, stitch the ends of the Ring Band together. Then, neatly weave in all loose ends. With embroidery thread and needle, embroider your chosen initial with a stem stitch onto the Ring Top. Stitch the Ring Top to the middle of the Ring Band. To block the ring, spray it with water, and place it on something that is close to the size and shape of your finger. Flatten the Ring Top and straighten the Ring Band. Leave it to dry. Finally, wear and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Dozen Ways to Wear the Ruffles Scarf

When I revealed the Ruffles Scarf in my last post, I promised to show you a dozen different ways to wear it. Before shipping any completed project, I take a few photos. It is nice to have them, because often the magazine styles the project quite differently. This way I am able to show more ways the piece can be worn. I had so much fun playing with this scarf. It wasn't until the scarf was finished, that I actually knew how versatile it was! The following photos are 12 ways the scarf could be worn. I am sure there are more, but this is how many I came up with while waiting for DHL to com and pick it up! 

The look changes quite a bit, based on how many times it is wrapped, which direction and where you start wrapping, if you wrap it at all! Some versions have the narrow ruffle at the bottom, some at the top. It is the perfect length for wrapping without too much hanging down. It has a lovely drape that really allows the scarf to have a life of its own. If any of you dear readers make the scarf, I would love to see the ways you find to wear it!

These 2 versions would be great on top of a plain crew neck sweater. They would transform a fall sweater  into a winter one.

For the version on the left: I would love to see a large brooch put through the two holes at the points of the "collar" that would attach to the bottom band.

This pattern is now available for download from Interweave's online store for $5.50.