Saturday, January 31, 2009

Design Journey: CAL purse

I've been observing shapes of bags lately. I started some sketching with some goals. On my sketch, I have notes: What kind of base do I want? What shape base? How do I introduce color and texture? Overlays? What do I want the tote to hold? A project? is it to be a day-trip bag? I'd like to do some color work. Should the colors reflect the season? I think I want to keep the handles option open. I can both design a crocheted handle and also place it so that I can purchase handles.

I need to work out closure ideas. It would be cool if I could work out some kind of magnet, strong magnets, long skinny bar magnets, that could go into that top band and hold shut. Does anyone know where I could get something like that? I guess I could do a zipper, but if it's a tote for yarn, I don't want yarn to get caught in a zipper... snaps? I like Snaps, but for a big bag, we would need a couple... flap and clasp? I've done that several times before... tie closure... done that, not sure I want to do it again on this project.... buttons? Hmm, it would have to be the right buttons. Toggle buttons? I'll have to keep thinking and thinking how it would go with the design.

Have you ever heard of Bag-e-bottoms? It's a store that makes these acrylic plates that go in the bottom of purses to help them stay flat. Do I want to design the base to fit one of these? Maybe the size "D" which is 5.5" x 11"?

Next step? Start stitching and see what I come up with. It will be interesting to see how much the finished product looks like the sketch and how much it has evolved.

Friday, January 30, 2009

This Knit Sweater

I would LOVE to make this sweater. Gorgeous. It's by Stefanie Japel, author of Fitted Knits. Oh, to find the time! (The irony is not lost on me, that if I spent less time on the computer, I might have more time to do some of the things I want to do!)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Design Journey: Chickee's Dress

I'm re-thinking the skirt design that I had swatched up for Chickee's First Communion Dress. I re-took her measurements to make sure that they hadn't changed dramatically from the first time I took them a couple of months ago.

I bought a full slip for her and she tried it on. I figure it is easier to find the slip and get the dress to fit over it, than to design a dress and try and find a slip (for a 7 yo, who will only wear it once) that will match this custom-made dress.

Even though I'm re-thinking the skirt, I want the bodice to be pretty plain, and I'm more nervous about getting the bodice right than the skirt, so I will start with the bodice in a plain stitch because the skirt will be more ornate. I'm thinking that the bodice will need buttons up the back, because it is cotton and will not likely stretch much for her to pull it over her head. Also, it will be fairly fitted, with not much ease, again, hard to pull it over the head. So, it will be like a cardigan only turned the other way so that it buttons up the back. It will be a front, and two backs. Also, it needs to be a fairly conservative neckline, again, the buttons will help. I already bought the buttons. I have six 1/2" buttons in white. While I would have preferred shank buttons so that I could crochet them in, I couldn't find white shank buttons, so these have 2 eye holes and I will likely sew them on with thread opposite the buttonholes and I won't have to worry so much about the design part making corresponding placement for the buttons opposite the holes.

I already did my math based on my swatch. Still, I'm going to make a paper pattern on graph paper, the exact finished size that I am trying for. This is so that I can double check that my gauge is matching the finished measurements, and if it's not, I can make the dress fit and then re-do the math later and change the gauge.

A sketch for the Design Journey: CAL Purse is coming on 1/31. check back and see!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Ice Cream

Clean snow, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and cocoa to make it chocolate. Yum.

Ann Scarf

I just finished this scarf for my Mother in Law. (Sorry it's late, Mom). Anyway, it will be waiting for her when she gets off the plane from Florida returning to this cold, snowy weather. Two more gifts on my to-do Gift list. Two hats for dear friends. Hopefully I will get to them before next winter.... I'm trying!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Breaking News.... It's Snowing!

The weather forecasters around here are so crazy about snow, they just turn everything into an emergency, making people rush to the grocery store for milk, eggs and salt. We, on the other hand, are just hanging out at home. The world can wait. Now, to get the brownies out of the oven and find that recipe for snow ice-cream.

To Do Lists

When I get flooded with ideas, I usually write to-do lists. This time, I'm going to do it a little different so that I don't overwhelm myself further and I put everything in perspective.

I'm breaking my list into:

Have-to-do (I'm already committed)
Want-to-do (this is the plan...)
It would be nice if I could-do (If I can find time, this is important to me)

Have To-Do:
Finish the projects I'm contracted to do.
Make Chickee's First Communion Dress
Do the CAL

Want To-Do: (This is not to say that I don't also want to do the have-to-do items. Have I confused you? LOL)
Make a booklet proposal
Design a sweater that's been rolling around in my head.
Design something to wear to TNNA in Columbus in June, or a few things to wear...

It Would be nice if I could-do:
Multiple design proposals ready for TNNA
Design something for a specific yarn company that I like.
Design something in knit and crochet together. (that would be FUN!)

There are many other ongoing goals, but for some reason, these have been bouncing around in my head so much that I felt if I wrote them down they would seem less daunting... and they do!

BY the Way!
I want to start the CAL as soon as possible! As you know, I need to design it, and we need to conceptualize it more first. Then I need to write the pattern, and show you what it is and give you time to get the yarn ready. I'm hoping we will all start stitching by March 1. Stay posted!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Purse CAL and Design Journey

WooHoo! The first CAL is about to get underway! We have some planning to do!

Your comments are critical here!

This is where I start a design... brainstorming....

What kind of bag do we want? I tend to go more for the casual everyday bag rather than an evening purse or clutch. Does that mean I should try something different?

I love tote bags, but even more, I love bags that I can carry as a purse. Which are you interested in doing? If I made a tote bag... what would it's function be? to carry WIPs? To take to the library? To take to the pool?

I'm feeling somewhat inspired by COLOR right now. So, likely, I'll want to incorporate tapestry crochet or color work in some way.

We could either go with a structured (stiff) bag or a more slouchy bag. I love backpacks, but I don't know if I want to do a backpack this time...

I love felted bags, but I'm thinking that not all of you might like a felted bag. If I designed something that could be either felted or not, that might please more people.

How do you feel about straps/handles? I like something that I can throw over my shoulder, however, maybe something with a short handle would be a nice change. Also, I have on hand a leather shoulder purse strap that I bought at theLeisureboutique that it might be good to use... Oh! use the leather strap with a felted colorwork bag.... with pockets! It's gotta have pockets. If it's felted, then it will be more like something to carry in the fall and winter. Would I rather have something I can carry right away into Spring and Summer?

Everyone interested in the Purse CAL, please comment. Do not worry about hurting my feelings, because when it all comes down to it, I won't be able to please everyone and I'll likely have to go with what inspires me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Steaming Linen

Here's me steaming some linen. This one happens to be Louet Euroflax, Wetspun Linen. I find linen to be very... "crunchy". I opened the hank, left them tied, then hovered the steam iron over them, spreading the fibers out as much as possible. This gets a little bit of the "crunch" out of the yarn so that it is more pleasant to work with. After this, I put it on the swift, untied it, and wound it into usable balls. I made my two swatches, measured them, steamed them and noted the different in sizes, the difference in how they feel. Then I actually ironed one of them to see if I could and if it made any difference. I think the ironed one is noticeably softer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chain-Free Crochet Made Easy

March 9, 2009 Judy Crow (ed.) and the House of White Birches (DRG) are revealing Chain-Free Crochet Made Easy. If you have ever wanted to learn this easy yet innovative approach to beginning a project, this book is for you! All the projects start without the dreaded "Ch...." Yes, sometimes you will still have to count, but it will be so much easier to start the next row by putting it into something other than chains! More info to come....March 9!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chickee's sewing projects

Chickee has had the benefit of our delightful next door neighbor who has an awesome sewing room with a terrific view and great skills. Dottie has given Chickee just 2 sewing lessons and has dubbed Chickee a "natural". I'm so impressed with her little quilt! It has a backing, and batting inside, it has some basic quilting on the surface it has the nice edging thing (is it called binding?). Wait until I show you what she made in her 2nd lesson. (I think I need to take some lessons....). Chickee said she wants a sewing machine of her own! I know she can't reach the pedal and Dottie had to teach her using a push-button on/off mechanism on one of her machines.

I'm getting excited about the CAL. I'm thinking of questions to ask you to help guide the design (to some degree). I will do quick 1-2 day polls on different directions a "purse" could go, so you'll need to read everyday if you want to offer input. That is, if the purse option wins. There is still a couple days left to vote!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

White and Pink Driftwwod cap

I guess I surprised her when I snuck up after church and took this photo, huh? It matches her coat rather well! I'm glad I decided to make white the main color. It is very hard to match perfectly the shade of pink. Looks like she has already been wearing it, the poor flowers are looking a little droopy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

3 Million Stitches, but I'm not counting

Sometimes, I am my father's daughter. My dad is an accountant and just like him, occasionally math amuses me. In the 'Let it Snow Winter Throw' pictured above, there is 173 rows of 152 sts each = 26,296 sts of just the blue. (not counting the white). I have photos of 106 afghans that I have made since 1994. Now, I'm not counting sweaters, purses, toys, hats, scarves, swatches, times I've frogged and restitched, times I have made items multiple times, and things that I never took photos of, I'm counting JUST AFGHANS. If I take 106 afghans times 26, 296 sts, that means I have made 2,787,376 sts. Yes, I know some afghans are bigger than others, some have more stitches and some have less, some have more "holes" and some are more solid. But since I'm not counting the purses, garments, hats, scarves, toys, swatches, and times that I've frogged and restitched... I'm rounding up to an even 3 million. Got a problem with that? LOL. Frankly, 3 million seems a little low...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tea Party

Chickee got a tea set from Grandma Glenda (Hi GG!) for Christmas, so she was anxious to have a tea party. She and her two same-aged cousins came over for sandwiches and cookies and fruit. They each had one tiny small taste of warm tea and decided they'd rather have chocolate milk. Oh well, I tried. I ended up drinking the tea and putting the rest in the fridge for iced tea tomorrow. They polished off all that food and asked for more. I wrote a pattern while they played. Playdates are awesome for getting things done. Chief went with a cousin to a basketball game. He said that he enjoyed it because he got to eat pizza. Back to crochet talk tomorrow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rings of Fire aka The Heat is On...

Have I shown you this one before? I called it "Rings of fire" in honor of the Johnny Cash song, but the editors of the American School of Needlecraft book, entitled "Warm and Fuzzy Crochet" (2006?) renamed it "The Heat is on Afghan". I had much fun trying to name this one, I kept thinking of the Target logo, and maybe it should have been called, "Ode to Target". Oh, if only Target carried yarn... I would be there even more often!

Wow! The poll is heating up! The purse and hat options are tied with 10 votes and only 6 more days until the poll closes! Which will it be? Hmmm? Which ever one we do first, I'll try to do the other one later in the year. If you haven't voted and are remotely interested, get on it! :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Natalie's bag

Finally, a little felted bag for our Niece. This is to hold her new MP3 player she got for Christmas. I made one for my SIL (the Niece's mom) last year to use when walking the dog, easy to hold the leash and the keys and Id at the same time. But, Niece was taking SIL's mini bag, so I made her one of her own... I love this little bag. So cute. You may remember seeing this before... I made it in black with beads to wear at a cocktail party... but I can't find the post right now.... I wonder if I could just re-paste the photo? Ok, I found the photo of the one I made for my SIL, but Blogger won't let me move photos around today for some reason? It's the lighter blue one. The darker one I made for our Niece.

Friday, January 16, 2009

2 NEW PDFs available!

I just added two new patterns to the PDF pattern holdings. The first is the Baby 4 Square blanket. It is made using 4 strands of yarn held together while making simple stitches. It results in a warm and squishy quilt-like fabric. It's an Easy pattern. I hope you like it!

The second pattern is a beginner felting project. It is the Felted Wool/Acrylic Purse. The wool felts, the acrylic doesn't. The bag is made from simple stitches, felted, then the handles and snaps are attached after felting.
The PDF's are $3.00 each and can be found on the right side bar of the page.

Keep voting on that CAL poll on the right! It's getting close, afghans and scarves, and purses are very close to even. There's several more days to vote then we'll get started on the design journey. I've got my thinking cap on! My brain is already click-clicking with possibilities for you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chief's puzzle

I declare this "Design Day". Today I'm going to play and see what happens. Wish me luck!

When I was growing up, we always had a puzzle going at Christmas time. Usually it was a huge puzzle of intricate Victorian Christmas trees with the story of 'Twas the night before Christmas' on it. Legend has it that my brother has that puzzle now (I'll have to remember to ask him). But, I have acquired a few Christmas puzzles over the years and this is the one Chief chose for this year. Chief is really good a puzzles, still this one took a little help from Nanny, and Grandpa Joe and me to get it done during the holidays. Chief, of course, got to put in the last piece.

I can't think of a good tie-in for crochet. I guess you could think of a crochet project with the stitches like "pieces" and on a larger scale, the pieces of a garment like larger pieces of a puzzle and how they go together. Definitely motifs are like pieces, especially when the color pattern makes different visual illusions when they are turned different ways.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chickee in the middle

They are so cute! Here's Chickee in the middle at her first basketball game! She's the one with sass. (big surprise, lol).

The Crochet and Chat at the library is officially over, but we are meeting one Tuesday per month still to continue. Last night, two new students showed up!

Don't forget to vote in the CAL poll if you are interested. On the "other" option, it looks like those people are interested in doing a shawl pattern. I'll continue to watch it and we'll go from there. I still have to decide if I am going to do it as a 'design journey' with you, or if I'll just design it and then show you, because I'm sure that no matter what we choose, it won't please everyone's taste. What do you think, would you like me to make it a 'design journey' where I let you in on all stages of the design, or doesn't it matter?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Charlie massaging wool

Yep, I admit it, I often prepare my posts ahead of time. Often when I am preparing the 'Sneak peek' post, I go ahead and do the 'Reveal post'. Right now I have approximately 25 reveal posts ready to show you, but I can't show you any of them! So, I am forced to just chat in a meandering way with no particular purpose.

Some great yarn catalogs came out last week, did you notice? I received KnitPicks, Lion Brand, and Herrschner's yarn collection catalog all in one day. In the Herrschners' Yarn collection catalog, I saw 4 or 5 of my designs that are now being sold as kits. The Fiesta Throw, the Summertime Tote, uh what else was in there? Now I can't remember! Oh yeah, my Oh My Throw is now a kit. And also the Connect the Dots throw is in there too!

I do love the colors in the Lion Brand catalog. They really have a style that appeals to me.

And KnitPicks, well, who doesn't love Knitpicks?

Monday, January 12, 2009

I need some yarn!

Hey! Does anyone have 2 balls of Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL in a manly color? I can't even find where to buy it online though Yarndex lists it as still available. There aren't any Ravelers (who have responded to my requests) who have any. Let me know! Leave me a comment! Thanks!

Chief's treasures

Captain took Chief and Chickee hiking and they found these. Cool huh? That turtle shell is intriguing. No wonder designers have been inspired by the turtle and tortoise shells for years. Most often found in jewelry and eyeglass frames, that mixture of dark brownish marbled with a lighter brown is really a classic combination.

I don't have much to say this week. I'm plugging away at a much more comfortable pace than the past few weeks. I have much waiting in the wings to show you, but nothing I'm allowed to reveal yet.

I will say that one of the coolest things about being a crochet designer is that I get to work with many more luxurious fibers that I wouldn't know about and wouldn't be able to afford without the publishing and yarn companies' sponsorship. 99% of the time, the yarn company donates the yarn for the item to be made. It's publicity for the yarn shop to have their yarn used in a magazine, so they are glad to do it. Still, many of the domestic, easily accessible yarns have gotten very, very good. Before I became a designer I had never even heard of the yarn companies I am using now. It makes me feel very cosmopolitan, without leaving Ohio. LOL.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Driftwood Cap for a little one...

Here's the finished Driftwood Cap (with brim and flowers) for the granddaughter of a friend (she's 3) and likes hats and pink and has dark hair. I think she's going to like it!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Interested in a 'GoCrochet' Crochet-ALong?

Here's what I'm thinking.... if enough of you are interested, vote in the poll to the right. Choose the type of item you would like to CAL. Whatever gets the most votes, I'll design. I'll post the pattern for purchase. If you like it and want to join in, I'll set a date and a schedule and we'll do it together!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Crochet news

Lots of news my friends! KAL media is putting out a new Crochet magazine called "Inside Crochet". We can never have enough crochet magazines, just ask the periodicals guy at the library (NOT!). Check out the news here. Just to let you know, you might be hearing me talk about this magazine again in the future.

Also in the news, Doris Chan and Kristin Omdahl have a great new crochet booklet out for Tahki Stacy Charles, take a gander at the eye candy on Doris' blog.

In less exciting news, there is a story-line on the Bold and the Beautiful soap opera on CBS that has a crochet designer who just designed some great crocheted bikinis. Nevermind that they make the designer out to be a goofy old woman who's got mental health problems.... but they keep raving about how awesome the designs are.

In the new Current Catalog, there is a design of a starched thread "bowl", find it here

One tree put away, one more to go! The good news is that I was able to start crocheting today after 2 days of self-imposed rest for the elbow! I made a few small items on the to-do list. I'll try to take photos in the next day or two. I made a tiny MP-3 player bag holder thingy for my Niece for a belated addition to her birthday gift. I want to felt it. I also am about 1/2 through with a Driftwood Cap with brim for the granddaughter of a dear friend. Tomorrow I start a major new project for publication.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

No crochet?

Yep, I've had to take a few days off from crochet to give my sore elbow a rest. I can afford a few days without a hook before my next deadline. Instead, I'm making submissions, making sketches, getting all my crochet "business" stuff done, you know, all that tedious end of the year stuff. I set up my bookkeeping for 2009, wrote out my 2009 goals, reported on my 2008 goals, etc.

I might even do something around the house... (LOL) like take the holiday decorations's time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas Presents

Here's Charlie using one of my Christmas presents as a pillow... it's 101 Stitches to Crochet edited by Erika Knight for Interweave Press. I haven't done more than glance through it, but it appears that the first third of the cards are very basic. It appears that the last third is motifs. I make up all my motifs, so it's not likely that I would use these. Still, I'm such a book fan that I won't return it, besides, it makes a good pillow, apparently....

Monday, January 5, 2009

Random thoughts as I design...

Thoughts as I random, with no particular project in mind....

The ultimate in stitch definition is thread. It is totally unforgiving and shows every stitch, every break in gauge every gap. Even weaving in ends is hard to disguise.

It's one thing to make a pattern work.... it's another thing to write it all down in a coherent manner and make it work for multiple sizes.... designers really deserve more money and time for this magic. I often make less than minimum wage per hour on many projects... especially when you factor in design time, and shipping.

I have a pattern in front of me from the 1970's? the 60's? Anyway, there is really very little detail on this pattern "work like the other pieces, making them X inches long". Note, there is no foundation ch count, no "x (x, x, x)". This is interesting because there is a little bit of a difference between knit designers (who get to write less detail in their patterns) and crochet designers (who are pushed to offer more and more detail in their patterns). It makes me wonder what is the trend? Are crocheters going to be able to offer less detail in the future or are knitters going to be pushed to offer more? That's all, just an observation.

The thing with asking for a deadline extension is that it could possibly push back the following projects against their deadlines as well.

These random thoughts make me think of... was it Saturday Night Live that used to have the "Deep Thoughts" thing with who was it? Jack Hanna? is who pops into my mind, but he's the Animal guy, was it Jack Handy?

Friday, January 2, 2009