Thursday, December 31, 2009

Showstoppers Continued

Yesterday, I said that there were 7 characteristics that lead to a crochet (or knit design) to be a showstopper (SS from here on out).

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).

Examples of these (mostly Ravelry links):

1. Complexity of Construction: For Crochet: Tokyo Jacket by Vashti Braha or Woodsland Tunic by Jill Hanratty
For Knit: Multi Shapes Top by Shiri Mor

2 Openwork: For Crochet: Avalon Top by Doris Chan
For Knit:

3. Awesome Colorwork: For Crochet: Spanish Tiles Blanket by Tammy Hildebrand or Kathryn in Beauly Dress by Kathy Merrick
For knit: Pompom Bolster by Kristin Nicholas, author of Color by Kristin.

4. Fantastic yarn: For Crochet: Alpine Frost Scarf by Amy O'Neill Houck or Lace Motif Cardigan by Kristin Omdahl

5. Unusual or effective Shape: For Crochet: Montauk Handbag by Amie Hirtes or Bustle Skirt by Jennifer Hansen

6. Large pattern: For Crochet: Summer by the Sea Shell for Doris Chan
For Knit: Star Motif Pullover by Kristin Omdahl

7. Wearability: (Depending on body-type, this might vary tremendously) For Crochet: RaeAnne Shawl Sweater by Robyn Chachula
For Knit: Spicy Fitted V-Neck Tee by Stefanie Japel


Now, here is a pattern that I feel is a showstopper, and according to my criteria, objectively, it's pretty good. I'm so hard on myself, allow me to be generous with myself here:

Medallion ThrowSPEAKING OF SHOWSTOPPERS.... I just found this link to a preview of Kristin Omdahl's new book, Crochet So Fine. You have to see this. HERE

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Showstoppers

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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm not quite back yet...

With Chickee and Chief home from school, and Captain home all week, I haven't quite gotten back to work yet, but this is what I've been thinking about...

I want to do a portfolio review of my work. I'm going to take all the projects I made in 2009 and critique them as if I've never seen them before. I want to see what I should have done differently, what I could have done better, what I learned on the project that I can remember for future projects. I'll be thinking drape, yarn choice, wearability, etc. I might look at the projects by putting myself in the shoes of someone I admire and guess what she might say about the projects if she were completely honest with me.

I love this time of year for the optimism I feel in setting new goals for the future. So, I'll be going over my 2009 goals this week and see what I accomplished and what I didn't. What I need to do better.

I've been working on a project for the book and I'm pretty excited about how it is turning out. I have some yarn that has been calling my name to design with, but haven't had the time.

There are some patterns I want to "launch" but my tech editor has been unavailable for personal reasons, so I'm behind where I wanted to be.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Classic Ripple Blankets Revealed!


I made these blankets for Debbie Stoller's new yarn line "Stitch Nation" 100% Natural 100% Affordable.

You may have heard me Tweet right before Christmas that I had gotten some new natural yarns! It was the promotional box for Debbie's Stitch Nation Yarn. This is what I received:

And there are my blankets in the promotional leaflet! The blankets are an easy ripple pattern made in the Bamboo Ewe yarn (wool and bamboo!). There is also "Full o'sheep" yarn and "Alpaca Love" all of which come in great bright colors. You are going to see many more of these yarns! As soon as I find out how you can get the pattern, I'll let you know.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009



Here's our Christmas photos! In the middle photo, I'm wearing the Old Shale Scarf. The kids are getting so big. Merry Christmas all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Our holiday festivities begin today, so just a short note, then I'll be taking a few days off of blogging. (I'll still be crocheting!)

My part of the The Zoe one-day dress is complete. I am having a tester test it for me. If there is anyone out there dying to make it and you have the Lion cotton-ease on hand, and you can make it by 1/2/10, send me a comment with your email address (I won't publish it) and we'll see if we can work it out.

Change in comment policy.... I will no longer be publishing comments that include links. It is just too uncertain for the readers. I don't know where the link leads. Also, there is no way to 'edit' out a link from a comment. I either have to publish it exactly as it is or don't publish it at all... You may, however list your Ravelry name, if you have one, and people can find your blog or sites if you have them listed on your Ravelry home page.

Don't forget to start making your crochet goals for 2010! That's what we'll be discussing next week. Also next week, I'll be combining all of my receipts and ledgers to see what's what for 2009.

Today, we just had chocolate chip pancakes (yum), then we have to make a quick run to the grocery store (heaven help me). Hopefully, I'll get to crochet for an hour or two before we begin the party!

I hope everyone has a blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Zoe's baby dress revealed

Here's the sneak peek...
and the reveal! This is the Zoe baby dress. I designed it for Anna's new baby, Zoe, who is expected to arrive in February. This dress is in a 3/6 months size, hopefully Zoe will be able to wear it this summer. It is made of shades of Lion Brand Cotton-Ease. This dress could probably be made in just one ball if you made it solid in the smallest size. Otherwise, it was just small amounts of each color. I didn't want to rip it out to measure!

This dress can be made in just one day! Very easy, very quick. Soon I will be selling the PDF. But first, I just HAVE to make it in another set of colors. They are just calling to me to make again. So, I'll reveal it again and I want to have it tech edited before I release it. Of course, at some point, I'll have to stop tweaking it.

Thanks, again, to everyone who has either donated or prayed for Tammy Hildebrand and her family.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Creature 2009

Just to remind you... the Captain and the kids sculpt snow creatures every winter. As soon as there is a good snow, the shovels and buckets come out. Here is Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks from March 2008.


Here is the snow dog from February 2009.

And here is the 2009 snow Cockatoo! He is so funny, he just makes me laugh. Chickee is wearing a 'Snowman hat'. See the gallery page link the right sidebar for more details.

Tomorrow there will be a reveal!

Friday, December 18, 2009

LAST CHANCE!!!

Don't forget about the opportunity to win great patterns and finished items on the Help Tammy website.

My dear friend and mentor, crochet designer Tammy Hildebrand needs relief. Hear her (and her family's) struggle with Chronic Lyme Disease. Make a donation and instantly be placed in a drawing to win all the fabulous prizes from designers like Kim Guzman, Drew Emborsky, Bendy Carter, Mary Jane Hall, Margaret Hubert, Doris Chan, Myra Wood, and many, many more.

The Drawings will be this Sunday, December 20, 2009.

Etsy stores and the designing life


Here's an interesting article in the NY Times about turning your hobby into a money-making venture. Click link here.

I can identify with some of the artists who were quoted. I agree the thing about working from home is that there is no "off time", no specific time to "clock out". The work very easily bleeds into every aspect of your life.

The photo is a "Blast from the past", the "Mosaic Throw" from Crochet Today Mar/April 2008.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just another day...


The Crochet world seems to be slowing down just a little as the end of the year approaches. I have a blanket on my hooks, finishing up a couple of patterns. I may have time to squeeze in gift before Christmas? maybe. We'll see. Today I'm blocking the Shale scarf, I have a few submissions that I want to design.

But also, I have to come up with a craft for Chief's class by Tuesday. The rest of the week is going to be crazy with a family birthday party, a baby shower, soccer games, parties Friday and Saturday nights, etc. I'm also not quite done shopping yet. At least all the baking is done, thanks to Chief and Chickee.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sunny Spread to Sand dollar



I finished the Sunny Spread in white, for my friend Susan's granddaughter. I think in honor of the white, it should be renamed the "Sand dollar blanket". The blanket was originally published in Jan/Feb 2008 Crochet Today. Several people have made the blanket, link here on Ravelry for the project pages. I can't help it, I just love this pattern. It's one of the best ones I have ever done. I love the simplicity and the texture. I feel like this blanket is definitive of my style.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm interviewed by Noreen Crone-Findlay


Read it here!

Crafty designer and author Noreen Crone-Findlay interviewed me on Hankering for Yarn. I call her a crafty designer because she does more than crochet. Soon, I will return the favor and introduce her to you, dear blog readers.

This is a photo of Chief showing off his dollar coin that he received for losing his tooth.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chickee Making Cookies

It's been baking central at our house! Chief got in on the action too, but here is Chickee making sugar cookies. We also made 2 kinds of chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered Oreo's and chocolate covered marshmallows (are you noticing a theme here?) LOL. We also made several batches of banana bread...am I missing some? It's just fun. We send a big box assortment of everything... oh yeah! Buckeyes... that's what I was forgetting! Those of you not from the midwest may not recognize Buckeyes. You may know the dark brown (poisonous) nut from the Buckeye tree that is native to Ohio (hence the 'Buckeye state'). We make a candy that is peanut butter, butter, powered sugar, rolled into a ball and dipped in chocolate, leaving just the top peanut butter exposed so that it resembles the Buckeye nut. Think Reese' cup only more rich.

Anyway, we send a big boxed assortment of candies and cookies to Captain's work every year for him to share. The rest just gets sampled through the season.

Never fear, I crocheted a great deal over the weekend as well. A little of this, a little of that. I'm making a Sunny Spread blanket, in white, for a friend to give her granddaughter as a Christmas gift. Only one more square to go then I can start assembly. The Sunny Spread blankets is one of the most popular of my blanket designs and you can see it here, on my gallery page. It's more than halfway down, the yellow blanket on the white bed. All the photos on the gallery page you can click for more information and if it is available for PDF purchase.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Driftwood Cap for Chickee


It looks like we have started a new trend... Chickee wants a new Driftwood Cap each year. Here is this year's hat. I made it out of Patons Classic Wool in Denim marl. It has a slightly bigger brim than previous hats, mainly because I wanted to use up the rest of the ball. She didn't want a flower or anything on it. She wears one of her 3 Driftwood Caps everyday. I think we are up to 5 or 6 that we have in the house.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Zoe Vest Revealed

Ok, here was the sneak peek...
Here's the preliminary sketch....
And here it is on me...
And here it is on Cory...And here it is in Interweave Crochet Winter 2009. I was really excited about seeing this one come out! I hope you like it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peek for you! I'm planning on revealing this pattern later this month. This pattern makes me want to make more! More versions, more colors, more, more, more!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Skinny Patina scarf

This is how I proposed the scarf originally, thinner and in this luscious pink/yellow colorway called Sherbet by Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb. This scarf was much wider, in the same yarn, but in a green/blue color for Inside Crochet magazine, Issue 5. I don't remember the name of the color, I think it was the Huron.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas gifts

I wasn't planning on crocheting any Christmas gifts, but I keep getting inspired....
I started knitting this scarf for my SIL, but decided it's too wide for the amount of fuchsia yarn I have, so I frogged it and now I'm making it one repeat less. It's about 5" wide now. Of course I made a mistake about 10" in and didn't know how to fix it, so it's staying. This is the Old Shale Scarf, free pattern on Ravlery, designed by Tiennie. I'm making it out of Blue Sky Alpacas Sportweight 100% baby alpaca in Hibiscus.

I'm crocheting a small item for a certain someone who reads this blog... so mum's the word.

Also, did I tell you my cousin over Facebook requested a scarf for her birthday this month? I had to laugh and say, "If the Mother of God herself came down and requested I crochet her a scarf, I'd be hard pressed to find the time!". But then, I got to thinking, "What would the Mother of God want?" "What would be worthy of her?" and so my designing mind started clicking and now I'm in the early stages of trying to come up with something. Yes, I'd send it to my cousin if I can actually get something stitched, even if it's too late for her birthday.

Oh, and I'm working on getting the First Communion Dress pattern written up (finally). The teacher's aren't getting crocheted gifts this year. I just don't feel that I have the time. If I knew they wanted a handmade crocheted item, then that would be a different story. I just don't know.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fiction (and 1 non-fiction)

Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa MayAlcott
What a surprising book! It was not at all like what I remembered of Little Women and Little Men. Apparently this is a book that Louisa May Alcott was unable to publish during her lifetime. It wasn't until after her death that a publisher bought it, edited it and got it into print. This is a story about what the lead character will do as she learns that the love of her life is not who she had hoped he was. Do you stay with someone when you find out that they are not so nice? Through the story, I was wondering... will she stay? will she go?

Thousand Splendid Suns? Khaled Hosseini
A story of women in Afghanistan, this story is both depressing and compelling. How they cope, how they managed. It's been a while since I read this one, and I can't remember the two main character's names but they were both so interesting. Unfortunately it's about dreams they had and dreams they lost. Still, the relationship between the two women made the whole book worthwhile.

Little Heathens
by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
Set during the 1930's, this is the true story of Mildred and her large family as a child in Iowa. Such an interesting, descriptive and complete picture of how they managed daily tasks with limited resources. It has many little gems of information everything from home remedies to beauty care tips to how to make the best biscuits. I enjoyed it, but I didn't rush to go read it every night.

The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum
The joy of this book was that it was a love story with some substance. The story begins with Emily breaking up with her long-time love. She goes through a long interesting evolution throughout the book. I loved that they showed her in therapy. (an aside...As a therapist myself, I enjoyed the concept of having a client who was just going through 'normal stuff' without the realities of poverty, health problems, drug use, abuse, etc all entwined in the issues. This girl had a lot less to wade through than the average client I ever met... Oh, if only therapy were that easy!) I appreciated how Emily had to work to be better at managing her life.

And I listened to The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory on CD
This one was interesting. Read by three different actresses, I enjoyed hearing the story from the three different perspectives. It is the story of Ann Boleyn's sister, after Ann Boleyn was executed. The sister, Jane, is in the King's court when the next queen arrives. Full of plotting and deception and intrigue. I immediately went to find another CD by Phillipa Gregory.

And I listened to The Front by Patricia Cornwell
I was pretty underwhelmed by this one. I have read many of Patricia Cornwell's books and have enjoyed them. This one was not a Scarpetta novel, first. It was ok, it didn't hold my attention very well. Still, I wouldn't let this discourage me from reading more of her books. I might not listen to another one...

Someone asked me when I find the time to read. I read every night before bed 20-30 minutes and usually everyday while I blow-dry my hair, I prop the book open with the toothpaste tube... I hate drying my hair and it makes the time go faster! LOL.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sneak peek Earth and Sky

This is such a tease, it is nothing like what you are going to see when the whole thing is revealed! Giggle.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crochet Story Time Snuggie revealed!

On Chickee... in the summer... when it was hot... and here it is now in the Snuggle Up! booklet, found here. There are several designs in this booklet, both knit and crochet.