Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I guess I'm ending the year philosophical about crochet design. Yesterday, I did an exhaustive evaluation of all my published projects in 2009. I tried to look critically at the yarn choice, colors (though sometimes, both of those are not my choice). I looked at drape, stitch choice and overall "showstopping" quality of the design.

I was able to note some themes as I looked at my work which will definitely help me determine my design goals for 2010.

Also, it made me start thinking about 'what makes a design a showstopper'. Here are my random thoughts:

What I think of as a 'showstopper' (from now on, abbreviated as SS) may not be the same thing you think of as a SS.

Though all the designs in any given magazine are likely "nice" only a few in each issue might be a SS.

What are the common characteristics of a SS?, At least two (but not usually more of the following):

1. Complexity of construction
2. openwork
3. Awesome colorwork
4. Fantastic yarn
5. unusual or effective shape
6. A really large, think total project pattern.
7. Wearability but more than that, it has to beg to be worn. (Not just anything that fits is a SS quality).

Any others you can think of?

In the next day or two, I'll try to come up with examples of each of the above seven. Some immediately come to mind.

If you had all seven of those elements in big focus in one design, it would likely be a mess. But One or two of them can make a SS.
Personally, one of my more successful designs of 2009 was "His Best Vest" shown above on Chief. The yarn and colors were chosen by the editorial team at Crochet Today for the Sept/Oct 2009 issue. I'm not saying it was a SS. I'm saying that I'm proud of the shaping job I did for this project. The round edges at the hem and the V-neck all required math and reverse shaping. I think I did a good job. What could have pushed this to a SS? Colorwork? You wouldn't want openwork in a boy's vest, a fabulous yarn might have been too feminine, colorwork could have been too feminine, an overall pattern would not likely have worked, complexity of construction? Maybe there are a different set of SS rules for menswear.

Another project that I'm fond of is my first version of the Traveller bag. This bag was in Inside Crochet magazine, Issue 1.
I thought I did a particularly good job with the color work. And it's a very wearable bag... that I use all the time. Functionality is very important to me.


Anonymous said...

Ellen - I think one onther part of what makes a design a SS is the color choice used in the model. you can have all of the above included features, but if the model is made with less that appealing colors It wont be considered a show stopper.

However, that being said, sometimes we as designers don't have the freedom to chose the final colors... so that isn't necessarily our fault

Ellen Gormley said...

Thanks, Karen, for weighing in. I agree. I think there is one or two of my designs that could have become SS if the color chosen were different.

Sandy said...

I generally discount color when looking at anything, because color is something we all can control when we make something. It's much like the house shows on TV, I'm always amused when people looking to buy a house even consider the color a room is, that's something so easily changed.

I like the little football buttons used; but wish I could see the stitches better, when I clicked to enlarge the picture to see them, the picture didn't enlarge.

You mentioned complexity, I tend to look for easy of construction; the opposite of complexity to my way of thinking.

Good luck with your new designs.


Happy New Year

Ellen Gormley said...

Thanks for chiming in, Sandy. Generally, a showstopper makes me say, "WOW", but that isn't necessarily the criteria for choosing a pattern to follow. My Driftwood Cap as an example. Easy, easy. By definition, not a showstopper, still a successful design in terms of popularity, ease of the pattern and number of times it has been made. It makes me think, should every design be a showstopper? No, I guess not. Sometimes you just want a pattern that you can make, feel good about and use.

Crochet Renee' said...

This is a question I have been contemplating when considering my next design for the CGOA contest. I had set out to design a showstopper last year, and was delighted when I won, because there were MANY showstoppers that were entered. The issue now is, how do I top it? I think I have something awesome in mind, but I am sure that several others do as well. Therein lies the challenge, and the fun, of designing for the contest, where the designer is TOTALLY in control of all aspects of the design. Much like you, I have had yarn companies send me boxes of yarn, that when are opened, cause me to say to myself, "You're kidding, right?" But the contract is to design something that the editor will be happy with; but the greater challenge is to design something that you will be happy seeing in print, even though the colors, stitch pattern or yarn were not necessarily your personal choice. That's where the talent of a good designer can shine; much like the cooking shows where they give the chefs a strange combo of foods to prepare a gourmet quality meal. Not to mention, one person's idea of a showstopper might be someone else's idea of "what not to crochet"!

Rebekah said...

Is there any way to get the pattern for the Traveller bag? I see the issue of Inside Crochet that it is in, is sold out.