Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not organic vs analytic, but both together that makes success!

It is not a question of organic versus analytic…. it’s about organic AND analytic living in conjunction. Let's continue the discussion just a little more.  There has been much buzz about this and WOW it is clear that crochet designers feel an instant tug toward either the organic or analytic label.  But really, ALL of us have BOTH!  It's just a matter of how you prefer to start creating. As designers, many times we get assignments or mood boards from our buyers.  In that way, it's a more analytical approach.  It's a treat to get to design something completely from within without any suggestion about what is needed.  More often, a yarn company might have a new yarn and have an idea that they need a beginner pattern, or they need a cardigan, or they need an accessory for the yarn band (read: short pattern).  Because of this, we turn to our more analytical side and problem solve... what design wants to be made from this yarn under these parameters? 

Even during the organic approach, the instinctive grab for a yarn in a sea of yarn at the store and it calls to us, "I would make a great spring top".  Our analytical minds are already at work... which hook would be most appropriate? Does this fiber lend itself to being a more open or more closed stitch pattern? Where would I market such a design?

Our analytical parts work immediately during the organic process as I think things like: "Decreases should go on the WS rows" or "I want an even number of rows between increases", or "Choose a stitch pattern that lends itself to the right closure solution... buttons, ties, zippers, etc" and "Yes, but can I write this pattern in less than 4 pages as the magazine requires?"

Even during our problem-solving analytical beginning based on a buyer's needs, we are organic and evolving.  We say to ourselves, "well, clearly, that's not going to work" Rip it Rip it.  Or we get 10 rows in and think of a better way to do it, so we start over.

My point, my friends, is that I, nor anyone else, can label YOUR process.  (You know which one you identify most closely with!).  But to design and write and market a design, BOTH aspects of design have to be present. Crochet designers are SMART and CREATIVE. (Not just one or the other.) I think that would make a great t-shirt.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Princesses and Heroes Book now available

And here's a fun VIDEO Review from Michael Sellick at the Crochet Crowd

Thank you for the nice review! 

I absolutely need a magic wand of mine own.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blossom Blanket Revealed

The Blossom Blanket is in the new issue of Crochet Today! This fun hexagon blanket is in the May/June issue.  It's like Fruit Loops! 

Thanks for all the comments regarding 'organic' vs 'analytic' designing.  It appears that there are very few 'analytic' designers out there! I'm sure, really, that every designer has varying degrees of both.

Friday, March 25, 2011

How Designers create, the style discussion

I had a fascinating conversation with my pal, Doris Chan the other day.  She really said something so basic and validating that I had to share with you!

First, you all know that I have a background in psychology, and while I have studied why people do what they do and how to get them to do something different, and how and why they relate to the world and others the way that they do... I have never studied how people create.  And, it never really crossed my mind! (How odd!)

Apparently Doris' thinking about how people create is of course the result of her experience in her own creating of design, and seeing how her friends and peers are similar and different, but also she attended a talk of some sort with Sally Melville on the topic of creativity.  (Wouldn't that be fascinating?)

In my conversation with Doris the other day she asked me if I swatch much.  Feeling some what guilty, I said, 'not really as much as I think other designers do'.  Which is the truth. While I may have a dozen swatches, I know other designers... cough, Vashti, cough, Robyn, who probably easily have hundreds of swatches lying around.  I told Doris, no, I don't swatch much, I usually just grab hook and yarn and start.  She says to me, (this is the magic moment here....) she says to me something like, "Ah, you are an organic designer".  TA DA!  YES!  She explained that while some people are "analytic designers" who do swatches, and meticulously plan an entire design before even picking up a hook to begin the project... other designers are organic designers who "grow yarn".

This resonated so true to me.  I used to say that everything (design-wise) I did evolved from a mistake.  Which was a really self-denigrating comment, don't you think?  Over the years, I stopped saying that and instead told myself the truth: I allow designs to evolve and I make decisions that help the project be better until I decide it is finished. But, I design as I go along.

Still, somehow, hearing how other designers plan out designs to the last stitch before they begin, how the projects are so planned out that they can hire others to make it for them.... that just blows my mind!  How is that possible?  It's a right brain/left brain thing.  While most successful designers, Doris says, have a good amount of both organic and analytical, it seems we have a preferred side when creating.  Of course neither style is right or wrong, but I'm thinking it's kinda like having curly vs. straight hair... whichever one you have, you'd like to have the other and maybe even try really hard to make it happen with all sorts of exercises in curling and straightening, but really, you're just fighting nature and eventually nature wins.  Your hair is just going to be what it is going to be.  GO WITH IT. I've tried to be an analytic designer, making a swatch and doing math and writing patterns with Excel before making the project.  It doesn't flow with me because after all that work, I make a different decision that takes the project in a new direction and all that time has been lost.

Doris, me, Vashti, at TNNA 2010.
So, from now on, instead of comparing apples to oranges, or in this case, organic vs. analytical, I'm going to be proud to be my organic design self, and continue to grow designs one at a time.

PS. Doris is an organic designer and I'm thrilled to be in her esteemed company. Thank you, Doris!

Knit and Crochet Now!

The PBS show, Knit and Crochet Now, needs your help! This Emmy nominated show needs support to do another season!  I was on the show in Season 3 and I can attest first hand to the shoestring budget. I was not paid for my appearance.  Candi was constantly on set "in the trenches" with the team, doing whatever task needed to be done.

Read about the money nitty gritty on Kristin Nicholas' blog, Getting Stitched on the Farm.

Read Robyn Chachula's perspective on her blog, Crochet by Faye

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Frog "siren"

Let's see if I can post this video here!

The other night a Deputy sheriff came to our house to investigate 4 reports of an alarm sounding... as he got closer to our pond he learned that the "alarm sound" was really frogs in our pond.  Here's a video as I take Chickee out at dusk to try and capture the sound on video.

Tomorrow, a post on 'organic design' vs 'analytical design' the result of a conversation with Doris Chan.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Are you adjusting?

Are you adjusting to Daylight Savings Time yet? LOL.  Charlie seems to be sleeping an awful lot lately!  Aw, what a cute kitty! Ok, back to work.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chicken photos!

As planned, March is proving to be a crochet revolution of sorts!  I has been an extremely productive month in terms of design, creativity and energy. I can't wait to see who buys what and where it will be placed!

See the kids on top of the chicken coop?  Through the coop, the chickens can enter the barn where they have a much more spacious area with roosts and shelves. Their food and water is in the barn.  They have poles to perch on. The photo of me above, I usually hold the chickens more snuggly like babies, but Chief was taking a really long time to take the photo and I was afraid she'd poop on me if I held her too close for too long!  Oh the glamor!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Delivery!

Yesterday, my advance copy of the book arrived!  I waited for HOURS for the family to all be home when I opened the package.  It's a spiral bound book with a hard cover. (The spiral is covered by the cover, so it's not exposed). The book opens and lays flat while you work!  The colors are vibrant and cheerful. There is a stitch diagram for every motif and project.  It's FULL of photos.  So much fun!  I can't wait for you to see it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The Captain and I each have a bit of Irish ancestry though the truth is that we each have so much of other cultures too that we have become a bit "mutt-ish" LOL  It's hard to ascribe to anyone culture when you are a mix of several.  If we feel particularly attached to anyone of our parts, it's our Irish. Though we won't likely be having corned beef and cabbage for dinner, I might try to fix some potatoes... not very authentic, huh?  The kids will be wearing green to school to avoid getting pinched. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Simply Crochet

Simply Crochet, by Robyn Chachula, with guest designers, is now up for pre-order. (psst... I'm IN).  Look at the list of contents... I'll give you a clue, mine is in the "5 balls or fewer" category. Which project name is mine? Can you guess? The names of all the designers are not listed here, but I've seen it and you are going to be BLOWN AWAY.  But, alas, you'll have to wait for DECEMBER to get it. :(  But sneak peeks will be doled out as the year progresses.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Voting is now open for the Crochet Liberation Front "Flamie" Crochet Awards!

Here's the link, click on the words "Vote Now".  Thanks for participating. Every vote shows the world how many people approve and support of crochet as a fun, creative, worthwhile process! 

Tangled Winter

Tangled's Winter Issue is now up. I don't have anything in it, but I very much appreciate what the editors are doing by pairing both knit and crochet in one innovative online magazine. The patterns can be purchased a la carte.

Look at this beautiful "Peanut Butter" sweater by Linda Permann!  Great job Linda!

Monday, March 14, 2011

St. Patrick's Day parade

The St. Patrick's Day parade was this weekend in Cincinnati.  

I couldn't help but be amused by the extra set of drumsticks stuck in this drummer's boot. 
Ah, the sound of bagpipes. 

And a quick trip to Graeter's on Fountain Square. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Project Linus

At Crochet & Chat yesterday, LibrariAnna did an inventory of the Project Linus squares.... We're almost there!  Monica stepped up to the plate and pledged at least 4 squares and began right then and there! Thank you Anna and Monica!

Thank you also, to the numerous square makers who have contributed to these TWO blankets that will go to Project Linus. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reader's Question: Tara's Tunisian Scarf

Hi Ellen--I love Tara's Tunisian scarf design in Crochet Accessories, but have a problem with the Row 2 forward pick up--since it is a decrease row, I don't get 14 loops, but more like 7 or 8, depending upon how you count. From the photo, it looks as though there would be 14 lps if it were crossed stitch--eg skip one bar, pick up and then go back and pick up. The gauge doesn't work out, even with a 6.0mm hook. I've made a couple of garments in Tunisian (remember the old Exciting Crochet from the UK?) and a number of items with double-ended crochet hooks, so I am not new to the technique. I just can't figure out what is meant by the instructions in Row 2--please let me know what I am missing.
Cheers Susan

Hi Susan,

Thanks for reading. Looks like we have two different questions here. First gauge: with a scarf, the gauge is less critical than for a garment. The goal of the right gauge for a scarf is to offer the best drape with just the right amount of openness. Choose the hook that gives you the best result.

The second issue is of the pattern itself.  On the second forward pass... you call it a decrease row, but really it's not a decrease at all.  It is a lace pattern, so every decrease is paired with an increase so that the stitch count remains the same.  I'm guessing that you have missed the most important two letters in the instructions, "yo".  The instructions call for inserting the hook under two vertical bars (decrease by one), then YO (increase by one).  By the end of the forward pass, the pattern is still worked evenly. 

Hope that helps!

I know it can be hard to ask questions on the blog in the comments.  Please visit my Ravelry group and post your questions there. That way I won't accidentally miss them and we have a couple hundred friends who could also benefit from the answers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

This is going to be a hassle ....

Ok, apparently I can upload photos but I have to do it in a longer round-about way....

Here's the Grand-cat, Toby:

And here's the shelter cat that Chickee fell in love with...


Ok, I can upload old photos, photos from other places online, and photos from my Flikr account but not from my computer :(

Here's me with my pal, designer, Rebecca Velasquez

Problems with photos

grr, only somethings are working.  Photos I have taken recently won't post but old ones will... In the meantime, take a gander at these luscious raspberries while I continue to work on it.


Ok, real quick....

The Captain's parents just adopted a new cat!  Here is Toby!

And here is another adorable one that was at the shelter, Chickee took his photo.

Photos aren't uploading again today .... grrr.  I'll keep trying.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Chickee made this yarn holder for me and called it the "Blueberry".  It's made of an Oat container.  The straw out the top is where you thread the yarn through and continue working with it.  Inside that container right now... Patons Angora Silk. 

Friday, March 4, 2011


Yes, this is Charlie on the back of my chair, biting my ponytail... why does he do this? Is he mad?

Life is good

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Giveaway Winner! and Sneak Peek

Congratulations to:
Margie H.
Lansdowne, PA

Margie wins the copy of Karen Ratto-Whooley's new book, "I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting Socks!"  Margie, please email me with your mailing address by Monday.  ellen at sign gocrochet dot com  or private message me on Ravelry (GoCrochet).

Another Sneaky Sneak Peek

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2010 Crochet Liberation Front "Flamie" Awards

And the nominees are.... Check it out here for the full list, on the CLF blog.

Thank you everyone, I was nominated for Best Crochet Designer (Accessories).

A few of my 2010 Accessories designs were:

 Tara's Tunisian Scarf in Interweave Crochet Accessories issue
Mobius Cowl in Inside Crochet Magazine

 Lake House Hat and Scarf Set for Stitch Nation yarn
 Earflap hat for Coats & Clark
 Ammonite Scarf for Inside Crochet
 Carolyn's Cabled Purse for Interweave Crochet Accessories issue.
Blossom Trio for Interweave Crochet, Spring 2010
 Whisper Wrap Shawl
Striped Shoulder Bag for Knit n' Style magazine, June 2010.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Basics for Crocheting Socks! and GIVEAWAY

Thank you Ellen for allowing me to do a guess post on your blog!  Socks are a passion of mine, and I am thrilled to share a bit about them with everyone.

I, like most crocheters, was really intimidated by socks.  Knitters seemed to make them by the dozens, but there weren’t many patterns for crocheters out there that could actually be called socks.  Most were made with sport or worsted weight yarns and, in my humble opinion, they looked like slippers more than socks.
A few years ago, while looking through a box of items from my grandmother, I found the sock pattern that she used to knit for the family.  I decided I needed to make that pattern because it was hers.  Once I knitted it up, I knew I could translate it to crochet!  My very first sock pattern, Toe-Up Socks ( was created from the techniques I discovered in Grandma Bessie’s pattern.
Working with Grandma’s pattern, and creating my own, I realized several things I would like to share with all of you. I am hoping these ideas will not only turn you on to crocheting socks, but give you some tips to help make your socks turn out flawlessly.

1.       Select the right yarn.  This is really important.  Most crocheters don’t like the “sock” patterns out there because they are too thick and won’t fit in their shoes! So first, head off to the actual sock yarn section of your local yarn shop or box store.  The preferred weight is the #1 (Super Fine) or #2 (Fine).  Also make sure you select a yarn with some stretch.  Wools, acrylics are the most elastic.  If you must have cotton or silk, both of which have little to no elasticity, make sure they are blended with a wool or acrylic so that you have enough stretch.

2.       Sizing is important. The best place to measure your foot is around the widest part of your foot. (usually the ball of the foot) The way my patterns are written, the heel takes into consideration how the ankle is formed. The gusset in the case of a heel flap, or the way I do the short row heel will give you more room to get the foot into a sock if needed.

3.       Start simple! In the book, the first pattern is a cuff down sock with a heel flap.  I used #3 Light Weight Yarn on purpose because it is larger yarn and a larger hook. If you never made a sock before, start with that one. It is a basic recipe for a sock that will help you really understand what goes on in the construction of a sock. The best part is that the sock will still fit in your shoes!
4.       Don’t be afraid of the smaller weights of yarn. Many crocheters stay away from socks because they don’t want to work with thinner, lighter weight yarns.  Don’t be afraid!  To make socks you are actually using a bit larger of a hook that you would normally with that yarn. Definitely larger than what the label says too!  This does two things: 1) your stitches are larger so you can see them, and 2) it makes the crochet stitches less dense so you have drape and elasticity in your fabric.

5.       If you struggle at first, switch to a heavier weight yarn. When I teach sock classes, many people struggle because they have never used sock yarn before, and they have a hard time seeing the stitches. This is especially true when starting from the toe-up. What I have them do is take out worsted weight yarn and a Size I (5.5 mm) hook.  Then I have them work the pattern in that yarn first.  If you find you are struggling too, try this tip!  Once you know what you are looking for, going down to the sock yarn and smaller hook will be a snap!
I hope that the five tips above will help motivate you to try your hand at crocheting socks.  And if you do, let me know about it!  I would love to see photos of what you have created with my patterns or even what you might have done on your own!  Drop me a note on my website at
Happy Sock Making!

Karen generously gave me a copy of her book to GIVEAWAY.  Leave a comment for us here on this post with your first name and last initial plus your city before 11:00 pm EST on Wednesday night.  I'll randomly select a winner.  I'll announce the winner in Thursday's post.  The winner will need to email me at Ellen at sign GoCrochet dot com  with the mailing address. Thanks, Karen!