"The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give it away." David Viscott

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Word On Copyright

 As long as I've been online, I've seen discussions concerning copyright and crochet patterns.  It tends to be a very confusing topic.  As copyright is federal law and covers all kinds of things, defining it in terms that most can understand is difficult.  An online search of "what is copyright?"  led me to this: www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf

 Basically, if you didn't write it, don't copy it for your friends or post it online.  There is a very good article on why here:  http://www.craftdesigns4you.com/stop.htm

There's nothing wrong with preserving your pattern books by photocopying the pattern you want to make so you can check off rows and circle sizes.  That is considered personal use.  Giving that photocopied pattern to a couple of friends, or worse yet, posting it online, is illegal.  Instead, tell your friends, in person and online, where you found the pattern and where they can purchase it, or purchase it for them as a gift. 

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, as any police officer will tell you.  I like to believe that most crocheters are law abiding citizens - I say most as the whole Martha Steward thing comes to mind.  Is sharing a pattern that someone else designed and wrote worth a criminal record?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some Days The World Just Gets In The Way

If you've ever had a lot of momentum and energy and motivation to get something done, only to be usurped by other things, you know exactly what I mean.  Yesterday started with the greatest of anticipation, but by noon had fizzled to wistful thinking.  I finally had the time to pick up my crochet hook in the evening, but by that time all the energy had waned.

I grew up a Navy brat, and therefore tend to plan and schedule my time.  I used to look at interruptions as major inconveniences.  At some point I realized that some things just weren't meant to be, shrug it off, and move on. Get the mundane tasks accomplished - they won't go away by themselves.  The trick seems to be rekindling the fire of energy you had before the interruption.  Sometimes that takes the form of a good night's sleep.

Not every day will be productive.  Life has a tendency to throw obstacles in the way.  It's how these obstacles are overcome that provide life experience and shape the future. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Crochet Portfolio

This is one of those things that I can't believe I didn't think of sooner.  Although I have always wanted to put together a photo album of my work, it's been on my to-do list for years now.  I read a post yesterday about a crochet portfolio that was a tremendous wake up call.

It makes sense that any aspiring crochet designer would have a portfolio to showcase their talents and provide a professional presentation of their skills to those who would purchase their designs.  A portfolio is as important to an artist as a resume is to a business person.  Even freelance writers have a portfolio of writing samples. 

What is a portfolio in this sense?  It is a collection of the artist's recent work that showcases their talents and vision.  Therefore, a crochet portfolio should have copies of recently published items as well as design proposals ready for sale.  Art portfolios are in specialty cases due to their size.  A crochet design portfolio can be in a 3-ring binder or a computer tablet. 

I think I will create mine using the 3-ring binder.  Swatches are part of the proposal, and you can't feel and stretch the fabric represented by a computer tablet or laptop.  As I am new to this, I have many more design proposals than published works.  The portfolio is going on my to-do list so it will be ready when I need it.  Maybe I'll actually get that photo album done as well...

Monday, June 27, 2011


Over the weekend, I received an email requesting more information so I can be matched with a CGOA mentor, as I requested.  I believe in mentor programs, as there are many positive outcomes from such relationships.

Think of having a one on one professional relationship with someone in your desired field.  Asking questions provides a wealth of information, and direction.  You find out about things you didn't even realize you didn't know, thus leading to more questions.  This perpetual motion allows growth of both the mentee and mentor. 

A mentor is not there to do any work for you - hire a pattern editor or pattern tester to help fix your designs.  You are expected to have already done significant research on where you can obtain the tools for your chosen career.  For example, many of the crochet magazines have the designer guidelines and editorial calendars on their websites.  If you want to be a designer, you are expected to have already found and downloaded this information.  You should already have a list of websites you reference for stitch directories and the like. 

You might wonder, if I have all that information, what do I need a mentor for?  Well, are magazines the only place you can sell your designs?  Someone created the free patterns that hang off the shelf by the yarn at the store.  Someone had to publish the latest pattern book.  Someone wrote that adorable pattern in the binder at the yarn store.  A mentor can provide the information you seek to create your own road map to a successful career.  They are industry insiders who created their own careers. 

Why should anyone want to mentor?  Crochet is an art form, and each individual has their own style.  This uniqueness benefits the entire industry.  Having mentored a teen for a high school course, I can say with certainty that a mentor feels good about what they do and applauds the successes of their mentee.

Mentoring is a wonderful program that challenges both individuals involved in it.  A mentee may ask a question the mentor doesn't know the answer for, but knows who to contact to find out.  This means that both of them learn something new. 

I'm looking forward to being matched with a mentor!

Friday, June 24, 2011

No Dye Lot Yarns Have Come A Long Way

As I have yet to come across an accurate formula for determining how much yarn I will need, for afghans I usually choose a "no dye lot" yarn.  That way I can run to the store and get more if necessary.  Thankfully, these yarns have come a long way.

I have in my stash some no dye lot yarn from years ago that in no way matches the same company's color today, even though the label says it should.  This was the fear in the back of my head as I went to the store yesterday to get more yarn for the Herrschner's afghan.  My trepidation was happily unfounded as I discovered a near perfect match!

Unfortunately, this yarn wasn't found until I went through 3 different stores.  It's sad that the economy has gotten to the point where inventories large enough to keep the shelves filled has become a liability to the store.  I know that it can be ordered, but that doesn't help if you need the yarn right away.  There is also absolutely no way to match the color of a no dye lot yarn until you receive it.  If the color is off, you've lost 3 days (or more!) waiting for the wrong yarn and you're back to where you started.  Very frustrating!

I am using quite a bit of my own stash for this afghan, so I have not been strictly following the general rule of "buy more yarn than you think you'll need."  My afghan is about three quarters finished at this point, and I bought six 7 ounce skeins yesterday.  I know I'll have extra yarn, and that's okay as I also know I will not have to go searching for it anymore, at least for this project!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Establishing A Routine

They say it takes 3 weeks or 21 days to make or break a habit.  Today marks the beginning of my fifth week of blogging every weekday morning.  It has become a standard part of my day to grab a cup of coffee and sit at the computer, check email and blog. 

Some days start earlier than others, thanks to summer thunderstorms and nervous animals, but the routine remains the same.  I find it peaceful and easy to channel my thoughts to writing first thing in the morning.  Once completed, I work on creating designs by sketching and writing notes as to the type of yarn, etc.  I've noticed that there does not seem to be a whole lot of time (it seems that 4-6 weeks is average) to compile a submission for publication. Therefore, I've decided to create several sketches of ideas for future projects. 

At this point in my day, the rest of the household is generally up and about.  Time to grab my crochet hook and sit in my favorite spot in the living room so I know what's going on and am available to talk to while I work.  I'll bounce future design ideas off of my family and get their input.  All the while my hook is flying in creating the finished product I'm currently working on.

I do not usually get a lot accomplished, sometimes only a row or two, before the rest of the world is open for business.  This means errands, appointments, shopping, phone calls ..... well, you get the idea. This has generated the crochet bag that goes with me absolutely everywhere!   I love weekends for the simple fact that I can remain crocheting for hours and only go out if I want to.

My next dedicated crochet time is evening, a habit I started years ago.  After dinner, I'll be in the living room crocheting away while being available for homework help and avid discussion.

I think establishing a daily routine is important, as dedicated blocks of time for certain tasks allows them to be achieved.  If you think back to when you were in school, each class for each subject was scheduled.  You knew exactly what you were supposed to be doing at any given time, and you accomplished a lot.  Transfer this idea to your life now, and you may be surprised at how well it works!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Next Step?

Part of the purpose of this blog is to chronicle my efforts at making crochet a career.  I have found very little on the web on this topic, even after searching the early years of the blogs of the famous.  I started blogging a little over a month ago, learning how to tweak it from other online how-to sites to make it more accessible.

With that in mind, I must share with you my happiness at receiving an email from the CGOA yesterday.  I had mailed my application for associate professional to them on June 13, and they accepted me via email on June 21st!  I applaud how quickly they responded, and I am thrilled at being accepted.

What does this mean?  I don't really know yet.  My name and contact information are now on the CGOA website under "Professional and Associate Professional Members", so people know how to get in touch with me.  I was given (and accepted) an invitation to join an email discussion list.  I was given an email to contact about mentoring.  Finally, I was told to watch for details about Professional Development Day.

I now have a lot more web resources to explore and learn from.  It looks like I've got a lot of work to do!  My next step is to email the mentor coordinator, then explore the website and discussion group, and of course, continue work on my own designs!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making Wasted Time Productive

I have read many posts and heard people talk about how much crochet they get done while waiting in doctor's offices, etc., so I decided to do an experiment.  Trying to work time in to crochet for me never seems to happen.  I printed up a sock pattern I liked, threw it in a zip lock bag with a skein of Paton's Stretch Socks with the appropriate crochet hook, and put the bag in my purse. 

It has taken just over 2 months, but the first sock is complete.  I worked on it at:

-the parent pick up line
-the doctor's office (both before being brought to the exam room and in the exam room)
-the physical therapy waiting room
-the drive-thru
-construction zones where traffic was stopped
-the movie theater waiting for the lights to go down and the movie to start
-the parking lot when someone else had to run into a store to pick up "just a few things".
 (Note:  I once met a woman who was crocheting in the checkout line from a wrist bag - what a great idea!)
-the chairs outside the fitting room at clothes stores
-the mall sitting areas
-the passenger seat of the car
-the picnic table at the park
-the car mechanic's waiting area

Two months for one sock certainly is not breakneck speed; however, considering it was made during time dedicated toward something else, I find it somewhat amazing.  I'd be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me "what a great idea" when they saw me crocheting while waiting.

My little experiment just goes to show that even the busiest schedule can fit time to crochet.  Now to get started on that second sock.....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fathers Day and Flea Markets

It has become almost traditional to spend a portion of Father's Day at open air flea markets.  Both being on Sunday, this works out pretty well.  Flea markets and garage sales have both good and bad in regards to crochet.

The Good

I have purchased many many yards of yarn at flea markets and garage sales.  For some reason, I can almost always find someone selling ends, skeins, or cones of acrylic.  Spend $10 and get an entire box full of yarn that takes up half the trunk of the car! 

It's harder to find pattern books and hooks, but not impossible.  I have had the best luck finding these items at estate sales, and sometimes yard sales.  It's wonderful to find a pattern book that retails at $25.95 for a dollar or two!

The Bad

It always saddens me to find finished crochet projects at these sales.  Someone put a lot of time and love into making it, and now it's thrown on a tarp on the ground for next to nothing.  Afghans are the most prevalent for some reason, but I've also seen baby things.

Knowing that someone made that item for a reason holds me back from purchasing it for recycling.  I know I would hate to see something that I made end up at a flea market or yard sale.  I shudder at the thought of someone pulling out and re-skeining all of my work on something that I made, and I feel for the crafter whose work was so callously disregarded.

If you keep your eyes on the lookout for yarn, hooks, and patterns you are likely to find something.  Yarn and books are usually in a box on a tarp or under a table.  Hooks may be bound together by an elastic band on the table.  You can get some really good deals on these items at flea markets and yard sales.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Musings and Deadlines

Today being Friday, I tend to reflect upon the past week and make goals for the next.  I know the experts say to make monthly goals, but to keep myself on track, weekly reviews work best for me.

After mailing out the application to the CGOA, I passed the halfway point on the Herrschner's afghan.  That afghan has gotten to the point of "I want it done already!", so I keep plugging away at it.  If I don't work on it every day, the temptation is there to put it in the closet as a UFO (unfinished object).  I know that once I can see the end is near, my motivation will dramatically increase to finish it. 

A quick peek at my crochet calendar tells me I've got to get going if I am planning on a submission to Crochet Today for their winter edition.  I have the idea and basic sketch, but it looks like a trip to the yarn shop is in order this weekend to get the materials I need.  The deadline is July 1, which means I will either have to get it in the mail next week or make my very first email submission.

While at the store, I plan to pick up the summer editions of my favorite crochet magazines.  I really need to start filling in the project ideas for the fall/winter onslaught of gift giving. 

Surprisingly, I haven't gotten a lot of inventory completed for the fall craft fairs.  Well, maybe it's not all that surprising - I haven't really decided if I want to do the fairs this year.  My husband is urging me to, but I know the amount of work that is involved, and there's a whole lot of other stuff going on in our lives right now.  Maybe a compromise is in order - sign up for 2 or 3 craft fairs and that's it.  Hmmm, something to think about.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Crochet and Summer Heat

It's the middle of June, and the heat of summer is just starting.  It can be difficult to motivate yourself to crochet when it's hot.  Therefore, I have come up with a few tips to keep those projects from being put in the closet and actually finished!


If you want to make afghans as Christmas gifts, you really should be working on them.  They take a lot of time, and you do not want your holiday spirit dampened by worry that it won't be completed.  Therefore I suggest making squares.  There are literally hundreds of different afghan squares to choose from, they are portable, and do not cover your lap while you're working on them.

Sweaters/Jackets/Large Wool Items

Save these projects for early morning, before the day heats up.  Even if you only complete a row or two each day, you'll be much more likely to have it done before it's needed when the weather turns cold again.


These are probably the most popular of summer projects, as they are small and extremely portable.  Best of all, they make excellent gifts!

Baby Items

A baby won't wait until your project is done to be born.  Go ahead and get it done over the summer!  Baby-weight yarn is notably light and therefore easy to work with when it's hot.

In general small items are easiest to work on when the weather gets uncomfortably warm.  It's okay to have several projects going at the same time, and think of how much you can accomplish!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Word About Crochet Hooks

I have three basic kinds of crochet hooks in my collection - wood, metal, and plastic.  Each has properties and traits that work well with some fibers, not so well with others.


By far the most expensive option, they are worth the investment.  Crochet hooks can be found made of bamboo, walnut, and birch in most commercial stores.  Wooden hooks are great as they retain the warmth of your hand, which is said to help those with arthritis.  They are strong and durable and not likely to break while you are working with them.  Wooden hooks are primarily size C/3 and larger.  I have found that they work great with most fibers, but not cotton.  For some reason, cotton tends to "stick" and not slide easily on the hook.


Steel hooks for thread and aluminum hooks for yarn are made by both Boye and Susan Bates, among others.  Be aware when choosing a metal hook that different manufacturers can have different sizes of the same hook, which can seriously affect gauge.  For example, as Susan Bates F/6 has a 3.75mm shaft while a Boye F/6 is 4.0mm.  Metal hooks can be found in almost any size up to K/10.  Most any store that sells crochet supplies will have them, so they are readily available.  They work well with all fibers.  Be aware that they can be bent out of shape, and it's not always easy to bend them back. 


These hooks can be white or a rainbow of colors.   They are usually less expensive than other kinds of hooks, but tend to break fairly easily, especially in the smaller sizes.  For this reason, I believe, they are only manufactured in yarn sizes.  The largest sized hooks, N through S, I have only ever seen made of plastic, probably due to the fact that it is so lightweight.  You may have to run a little sandpaper over it before you can use it as it will catch ANY fiber if it is not entirely smooth.

Choosing a hook for your project is as important as choosing the yarn.  You want the hook to work with you, not be fighting with you the entire way.  You don't want the hook to break halfway down a row, or constantly get snagged on the yarn.  With a little practice and patience, you will find what works best for you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Afghan Update

Tomorrow is the deadline for entry into the Herrschner's Afghan Contest.  I had mailed my entry request on May 23rd, and received the submission package approximately a week later.  The final afghan is not due until July 15th, but the more time you leave for it to get there, the less expensive the shipping cost.

This brings to mind one of the most agonizing parts of crochet submission for me - what I call lag time.  This is the time between when you send out your entry or proposal and when you hear something back from someone about it.  Lag time can last for months and cause anxiety if you let it.

I have therefore adopted a personal policy of jotting down the date I sent my submission in my crochet calendar and moving on to the next project.  I make a copy of everything I'm sending in and put it in a report cover in my 3-ring binder so I can easily find it again.  Don't get me wrong - it's always in the back of my mind, but this is one of those things that is out of my control until I receive a response.  It's better to use the energy towards the next project than worrying yourself sick about the one you just sent in.

I am slightly concerned as I am only halfway done crocheting my afghan for Herrschner's.  Thankfully I have a fairly clear schedule this week, so I'm hoping to devote more than the usual amount of time to it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Finding the Right Words

Yesterday I finally had the time to sit down and fill out the CGOA application for Crochet Associate Professional.  It took me about 3 hours from start to finish.  Most of that time was spent in trying to find the right words to express what I wanted to say without writing a book about it.

In my real world experience, when asked questions like "what do you feel..." or "what do you think about.."  short, concise answers work best.  Not a couple of words short, but short as in a paragraph or bulleted list several items long.  I got hung up on the first response to "describe your efforts to work professional so far."

I learned to crochet when I was 7, but didn't really get into it until my late teens.  By my early twenties I had mastered most of the stitches.  I was modifying patterns to fit my taste and needs throughout my late twenties.  In my thirties I was writing my own patterns for me.

I dabbled with submitting to magazines.  That is, I would mail off an entry every few months or so.  I only had a few hours a week to crochet, and that was spent primarily making gifts for family and friends.  I hadn't a clue as to how to make crochet into a career, so it remained a hobby.

How does one describe a series of events in life that act as a wake up call?  Karma?  Coincidence?  I'm not sure, but I find myself now with both the time and the desire to pursue crochet more seriously. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tying Up Loose Ends

When finishing a project, one thing you should never ever do is tie up loose ends.  Knots are bad, as they are unreliable and leave a hard little nub in the work.  If the knot comes undone, there is not sufficient yarn to reattach it.  Instead the ends should be woven in.

What exactly does that mean?  When ending one skein of yarn and starting another mid-row, leave the ends, or tails, at least 2 inches long on the outside of your work.  There are many videos on the web describing exactly how to thread these tails, one at a time, into a yarn needle and weave it in.  An important note is that the idea of doing this is to not see this end when you are done.

I saw a beautiful full size afghan at a county fair last year that they offering as a prize for a raffle.  It was apparent that a lot of work had been put into it.  Yet the ends, although woven in, were painfully obvious as they were woven into the adjoining color.  The red yarn end was woven into the adjoining yellow, etc.  This distracted from the final effect.  I couldn't believe that someone would put that much time and effort into something and not finish it properly.

Another fair entry was a nicely crocheted sweater.  It appeared to have holes in it that upon close inspection were actually where the ends were pulled too tightly before weaving.  There is a simple solution to this error - hold the stitch the tail is coming from between your thumb and finger while weaving.

You want a finished crochet work to have continuity.  Stitches of the same type should all be the same size.  Ends should not peek out.  It may take time and practice to find a technique that works for you, but the end result is well worth it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another Crochet Contest

While browsing the web, I came across another crochet contest going on.  It's for the Pattern-A-Day calendars, and there's one for knit and one for crochet.  While the chances of being one of the three chosen to receive a prize out of 365 are only 1:121.6 you retain the rights to your pattern.  It seems to be comparable to posting a free pattern on your website, with a chance that you might get some cash for it.  They are giving away $1000 total:  $500 first prize, $350 second, and $150 for third.

It appears to be a way to get published in print in a non-digital format.  Your name is published with the design.  These calendars are marketed to yarn stores across the country.  You can enter as many times as you wish, thereby associating you name with crochet design. 

Pictures, if you haven't noticed, are not my forte.  The website stresses the importance of quality images included with submission.  Thankfully they give you the option of sending them the finished product for them to photograph!  They'll return your item to you if you include return postage materials.

I have a pattern that I made years ago sitting in my designer notebook that I think might be a good fit as it is quick and easy.  Maybe you'll see my name in the 2012 calendar!  I simply have to type it up.  Another thing to add to my "to do" list.....

Check it out for yourself at http://www.knittingpatternaday.com/knittingcrochetcontestrules.htm

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Worsted Weight Acrylic and Crochet

Like many people, when I started to crochet it was primarily with worsted weight acrylic yarn.  It's comparatively inexpensive, machine washable, easy to find, and comes in a great variety of colors.

While designing this afghan for the Herrschner's contest, I chose to use Red Heart Super Saver.  As I have not yet mastered the math involved in figuring out exactly how much yarn I will need for this project, I found myself running to the store to get a couple of more skeins yesterday.  The "no dye lot" attribute of Red Heart has saved my project this time.  There is no noticeable difference between the color of the yarn I was using from my stash and the yarn I bought yesterday.

I have found that this is not always the case, however.  I have found that the colors have changed over time, especially reds and yellows.  There is little that is quite as frustrating as running out of yarn when you are almost done a project and not being able to match the yarn to finish the project.  That is why, when purchasing yarn for a project, I always get one or two more skeins than is called for in the pattern.  You can return unused skeins to most retailers, or simply add them to your stash. 

I prefer Red Heart when working with 100% acrylic as it is usually tightly wound.  This makes it easier to work with, as you are not as likely to "split" the yarn making your stitches.  If you catch only some, but not all, of the plys of yarn, you end up with little nubs that don't belong and make the work look messy.  If you don't catch the error immediately, it can be difficult to pull out as it tends to knot.

I once made a hoodie out of Caron One Pound 100% acrylic.  It worked up okay, but after one wash it looked horrible.  It had pilled and needed a sweater shaver to look acceptable.  I've never had that problem with Red Heart.  Conversely, Caron One Pound worked up well into many afghans that have had multiple washings.  Perhaps it was simply a problem with that one batch, who knows? 

At any rate, I highly recommend using 100% acrylic on afghans so they are easily washable.  It wears well, but tends to stretch a bit.  Keep this in mind if making bags or purses.  I do not think it is the best option for apparel, as there are much better options out there that drape better, look better, and wear better.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Crochet Guild of America

I have decided to use this blog not only for tips and tricks, but to chronicle my journey into the world of professional crochet.  That being said, yesterday I once again joined the Crochet Guild of America. 

The first time I joined was long ago.  They were hosting the first CGOA conference in Manchester, NH and a friend and I wanted to check it out.  You needed to be a member to get in, but they were giving away goody bags if you joined, so we decided why not?  We spent a few hours strolling the vendor area, watching the speed competitions, and peeking in on the classes in progress.  It was all very interesting, but the classes were out of my budget range.  When I went home, I read many rave reviews about the conference, the classes, and the fashion show on my favorite discussion board, Crochet Partners.

Fast forward to 2011.  If you check out their website crochet.org you will see that the CGOA has blossomed into a true guild.  A one year membership costs $35, slightly more than a crochet pattern book, and I believe it is worth the investment.  After applying for membership online I printed up the contract crochet form and mailed it in.  I received an email this morning from them with a welcome letter and printable ID card.  I plan on filling out the application for Crochet Associate Professional and sending that in either today or tomorrow.  Perhaps I will request a mentor as well.

I lost touch with Crochet Partners when my day job changed from desk to field.  I understand that Ravelry.com is all the rage now for online discussion, but I personally find it to be a bit overwhelming.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Darn Good Yarn

The amount of philanthropy associated with crocheters is amazing.  There are countless sites developed for charity that host a plethora of free patterns for items that can be made and donated.  Every once in a while there is one that goes a bit further.  Darn Good Yarn is one of those.

Made from the scraps of sari manufacturing, Darn Good Yarn provides women in India and Tibet a source of fair income.  They bring the scrap from the manufacturing process home, sew it in strips and spin it, then sell it to the co-op.  Darn Good Yarn takes it from there and distributes it to the world.  It's a terrific "no waste" idea applied to clothing manufacturing.

Although I have never personally worked with it, I have had the opportunity to see and touch it.  It's best described as a super silky kind of ribbon yarn.  Large projects with ribbon yarn tend to end up quite heavy, especially if you tend to crochet tightly, so I would use it as an accent or trim on apparel.  The bright and rich colors of saris are part of this unique yarn, so it would work wonderfully in this regard.  Their website offers free patterns for both crochet and knit, and can be found here.

If you would like a chance to try this yarn for free, check out http://www.allfreecrochet.com/index.php/hct/Book-Reviews-and-Giveaways.  While you are there, browse through the site.  All Free Crochet is great for inspiration, free patterns and crochet tips.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Crochet and Cross Stitch

For the first time in a long time, I'm working on a project that combines crochet and cross stitch.  The look it provides is positively beautiful!  Yet it definitely has its own challenges.

For example, when I learned to cross stitch, I always used a hoop to stretch the fabric so the stitches were more visible.  I found it impossible to put a hoop over a worsted weight afghan - it was simply too thick!  That's OK, though, as the stitches are plainly visible.

I do have to wrestle with the afghan in order to get a clean stitch.  When using cross stitch fabric, if your needle catches a little bit of it while making a stitch, you might put a bit of fuzz or a thread or two out.  Catching the yarn of the afghan while stitching seems to pull the whole thing out of whack, and that bit of fuzz becomes MUCH more noticeable.

If you look at a crocheted piece closely, adjoining rows do not appear to EXACTLY line up.  This creates a challenge in regards to counting.  My solution is to always use the same row to count from.  Sometimes it doesn't look right when I'm doing it, but it's perfect when I hold it at arms length.

There are times that the floss rolls over itself and creates a knot on the back.  When cross stitching crochet, it is imperative that the back stays knot free.  The back side of an afghan cannot be covered up with a frame.

Cross stitch over crochet is a wonderful technique to embellish and accent a true piece of needlework.  Take the time required to keep it clean and neat, and you may surprise yourself at the beauty of the thing you've created.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crochet and Father's Day

I must admit I enjoy the crochet gift idea lists that appear on the web prior to most holidays.  The most recent are all about Father's Day, which I believe is on June 18th this year.  That gives just over 2 weeks to complete something at this point.

Men in general are difficult to find crochet projects for.  With Father's Day in June, on the cusp of summer, it's not generally a time when hats, scarves, and sweaters are needed or wanted.  I asked my husband if there was anything that I could crochet for him for Father's Day.  Without missing a beat, he suggested a fishing hat.  His thought is that it could have loops around it to store hooks and lures.

After doing some research online, I discovered there are basically 3 types of fishing hat:  baseball cap, double-brimmed baseball cap, and bucket style.  They should have a roll-up "cape" to protect the back of the neck and ears from the sun; a wide brim to protect the face and shield from glare; be waterproof, or better yet, float; have mesh in the crown for cooling, AND have some sort of built in sweat band.  It's no wonder I could not find any crochet pattern anywhere on the web for such a thing!

I have decided to accept the challenge.  I'm thinking of maybe bamboo yarn for the shell and testing to see if it floats.  It's worth a try, anyway!  I'm hoping bamboo can endure the kind of abuse caused by fishing hooks and lures.  I think a cotton thread would work for the "cape" part, as long as it is not too heavy.  Cotton absorbs water and therefore would become a heavy, soggy mess should it rain.

At any rate, I do not believe it can possibly be done in 2 weeks.  With any luck, I'll have it figured out by Father's Day 2012.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Time and Thought Management

I find this is a very difficult time of year for crochet.  The weather is getting nicer, and sometimes altogether too hot and sticky.  These are not the conditions in which you really want to be working with wool, or any large heavy crochet project. Add to that all the other things you could be doing outside and even with the longer days, there just isn't enough time.  No wonder that small, portable crochet projects have become synonymous with summer.

Yet spring/summer is exactly the time a crochet designer needs to be thinking of warm, winter things.  Magazines have to have time to collect content before publication.  This equates to their editorial calendar submission deadlines being several months in advance.  Therefore, if you design, plan on making that wool coat in the heat of summer. 

As a child, I would often wake up at 6am in the summer to find my grandmother in the kitchen just finishing all of the baking.  She chose the early morning hours to do this because it was "when it was coolest."  Now I find myself crocheting the warmest things in the early hours of the morning.  Planning, sketching, and all the other things that have to be done on paper or the computer are done during the warmest hours of the day. 

As far as thought management, here's a trick I learned in the corporate world:  Have ONLY ONE calendar.  Penciling everything in a day planner or calendar helps avoid scheduling conflicts.  What about the crochet calendar I talked about a few posts ago?  I use that for the details.  Whereas my personal calendar will have an entry like "start birthday gift", the crochet calendar will have the pattern, materials, etc. needed to complete it.

Just as it is difficult to go to a 9 to 5 job when it is so nice outside, it is every bit as difficult to keep yourself motivated to complete crochet projects.  Think about how you will feel when your project has been completed, add a little self-discipline, and you will manage to get it done.