Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's New Wednesday: Sierra Sweater

Have you seen my Sierra Sweater in the recent Crochetscene issue out from Interweave Crochet? This one is for those who saw the Dancette Dress I did for the summer issue, and asked for an adult version. I was actually so inspired by making the original dress for my daughter that I wanted to make myself a top using the same top-down chevron style.

My original used only two colors, skipping the changes in the middle. But when they suggested 3-colors, I wanted the zig-zags of the first color changes to begin lower than they did on the dress, so they would fall well below the bust line. I also considered adding some of the lower colors on the sleeves, but decided I like the simplicity of one color on the sleeves.

Another big difference from the girl's dress are the sleeves. I wanted to provide a little more coverage than simple sleeve-caps for an adult top. When Interweave first posted the preview photos of this issue, I was so excited to see how well the sleeves fit the model! I am nowhere near the size small of the sample, and trying a sample on my dress form as I go is nothing like seeing it on an actual human.

This was actually my first garment design with sleeves. I made my original version in a larger size for myself. But the yarn was a bit heavier weight, so I had to make several adjustments.

All Photos © Interweave/F&W
The biggest adjustment was the waist shaping (another design first for me). I have always understood the basic concepts of shaping, but my first few garments have been for little girls and lacy tanks with a lot of stretch that did not need shaping.

The fun challenge of shaping in chevrons (or really any stitch pattern) is working out how and where to decrease and increase your stitches without interfering with the look and feel of the fabric. In this case, I did all the shaping in just the chevron right under each armhole, where it is far less noticeable and often covered by your arms. Although if you look closely at the photo above, can you spot the slightly smaller chevron second from the right?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tour Tuesday: California Bay Area this Week!

On Thursday I am hitting the road again. This time all the way down to northern California. I am hitting 2 yarn stores for book signings and trunk shows this weekend and would love to see some of you there!

On Friday afternoon I will be at K2TOG in Albany, CA. I met the ladies from this shop when they were ordering my books at the Interweave booth during TNNA. They were very excited about the technique, and especially Tyler's Space Adventure blanket. I believe they plan to hold classes on the technique in the near future. So come out and see the designs up close and personal.

I will be signing books 3pm to 5pm, and be teaching a one-hour Make-n-Take as a basic introduction to the Reversible Intarsia Technique, all materials and instruction for just $15.

On Saturday, 11am to 1pm, I will be visiting the Stitch'N It Meetup Group held every month at Exclamation Point in Santa Clara, CA. This is a group for all sorts of stitchers from knitters and crocheters to cross stitch and needlepoint. I'm looking forward to sharing my Trunk Show and Books with their wide variety of customers. Some of my intarsia patterns were even inspired by cross stitch patterns.

I was planning to visit a third shop down in Aptos, CA (near my old college stomping grounds of Santa Cruz). But sadly, Yarns by the Sea is dealing with water damage and the shop is closed until they can repair the damage. If you live in the area, be sure to visit their shop when they reopen and buy some yarn. They will need some love to make up for this unfortunately loss of business.

Hope to see you at one of my other events!

Monday, September 15, 2014

World Wide Artist Blog Hop

The awesome Jessie Rayot of invited me to join in the World Wide Artist Blog Hop. I met Jessie last year at the Knit and Crochet Show in Concord, and have enjoyed seeing her career blossom as her colorful designs are featured all over the web.

Here's how the blog hop works…
Artists around the world post answers to four questions on their blogs and link to a minimum of one, maximum of three artists who post their answers the following Monday. The next Blog Hop post will be September 22.

Here are the 4 questions:
Why do I do what I do?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
How does my creative process work?
What am I working on now?

Some Previous Participants:
Kim Guzman
Crochet Memories
Look At What I Made
I have invited the following Participants for next week’s entry:
(still have to nail down my next participants. Any Volunteers?)

  Why do I do what I do?
When I was younger I thought my hobby was learning new crafts, but I always came back to crochet. There is always something new to learn in crochet, and even more to learn through experimentation, and sometimes by accident. I had dreamed of maybe some day getting a pattern published in a crochet magazine. But it was not until I had children and started crocheting for them that I seriously considered submitting. After the Mystery Machine Afghan I designed for my son won awards at the CGOA's Design Competition in September of 2011, I began submitting designs and haven't looked back.

That same year, I had done a crochet along on my blog, to encourage others to learn to crochet and make blankets to donate to their local NICUs. One year later, I independently published that CAL as part of my first book, in memory of my daughter Rowan. I started my blog and published the book, to not only help others learn to crochet, but to share my story so others who have lost a baby know they are not alone. I also designed my Reversible Rowan Tree Vest in her honor, which helped me hone the technique that would lead to my next book.

  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I have been told, "You don't just think outside the box, you can't even find the box." Perhaps because I am left-handed, I tend to think everything should be reversible. This concept led me to experiment with Reversible Intarsia and Reversible Cables in crochet in ways that no one else seems to be doing (or at least no one else is crazy enough to try to explain). My new book Reversible Color Crochet: A New Technique explains the intarsia technique, and I am excited to see how people choose to use the technique to create their own designs.

  How does my creative process work?

A World Too Wide used 10 color Cotton Fleece
I am very much a process designer. I usually start with a general idea of the shape I am going for, get an idea into my head, and dive into my stash, hoping I have the perfect yarn at my fingertips. Sometimes it is the yarn that tell me what it wants to be. I do not sketch a lot before I get started, but prefer to sit down with a ball of yarn and hook and just play with the stitches until they do what I want them to. Because I do so much colorwork, there are some yarns, like Brown Sheep's Cotton Fleece, that I want to have every shade of in my stash. These are my paints, my artists' palette.

If I want a lace or a textured stitch, I will pour over my Japanese Stitch Dictionaries and my classic Harmony Guide to Crochet. Then can spend hours playing with the stitch combinations working out how to work increases or shaping, or combine the stitch patterns to get them to look like I want them to. The final stitch pattern is seldom just like the ones I began with.

   What am I working on now?

Everything? This month I am in the midst of a book tour for my new book, and getting ready to start teaching classes on the technique. So I have not been getting to crochet nearly as much as I wish I was. But, I still have many projects in the works, including ideas for another book. I have also been working with a lot of hand dyed yarn makers, profiling them here on my blog each month, and releasing patterns using one of their yarns.
Rowan Berry Shawlette - A Hooked on Hand Dyed Pattern

Friday, September 12, 2014

Favorite Things Fridays: Hiya Hiya Snips

Now that my book tour is in full swing, it is time to share some of the AWESOME  items I will be giving away to lucky raffle winners at most of my events!

I approached Hiya Hiya (distributed through The Knitting Zone) about donating a few items for book tour raffles because I love and use so many of their products. They was very generous, donating Kitty and Doggie "Snips" as well as Crochet Hooks for the kits for my Reversible Intarsia Make'n'Take at the CGOA Conference in July.

I discovered these handy little scissors during the Rose City Yarn Crawl (in Portland) a couple of years ago. I had just gotten all the yarn in for my book blanket samples (that was a LOT of yarn), so I tried to buy tools at each shop instead of more yarn. I loved them so much that I kept buying new ones, and now have them attached to every one of my larger project bags so I am never hunting for scissors.

These cute little scissors have the head and arms of a cat or dog with a little chain to attach to your project bag (or purse, mine are one and the same since I take a project everywhere I go). The tiny little scissors form the legs of the animal, with the blades locking right into the shoulders for safe keeping. I love the convenience of having them attached wherever I go, as long as I remember to pop the scissors back into their holder. They are so inexpensive I can always buy another pair (and now have them to match each of my Offhand Designs bags).

The only drawback I have found is that every now and then the little scissors do not lock properly into the holder and will slip out because they were too loose. So, I simply recommend taking them out of the package before you purchase them, to give the scissors a tug and make sure they lock into place.

I especially recommend these for intarsia work, since you will be cutting off ends whenever you finish a color, and do not have to hunt for scissors! Come on out to one of my book tour events for a chance to win your very own pair of Doggie or Kitty snips. I usually give away one pair of each!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's New Wednesday: Magazines and Dancette Dress


This week I finally made it in to Barnes and Noble to see all four magazines on the newsstands right now with my designs in them! Left to right: Crochetscene (Interweave Special Issue), CrochetMORE (Love of Crochet's Special Issue), Interweave Crochet Summer 2014, and Crochet! Magazine Fall 2014. They include three garments, a new article on Reversible Intarsia and a scarf to teach the technique.

Here is my latest girl's dress, the "Dancette Dress", featured in the Interweave Crochet Summer issue. I was inspired by a bottom up chevron baby dress I saw in an old Japanese magazine, but decided to turn it on it's head and start from the top down instead. The folks over at Interweave clearly had a lot of fun with the photoshoots and locations in this issue.

The pattern is available in 5 sizes ranging from 3-6 months all the way up to 7-8 years (pictured).  Due to the nature of working with chevrons, I had to adjust the sizes to work with the necessary increases, so you may not see the size you are looking for. But the great thing about little girl dresses is that they tend to fit for a long time. My daughter still wears a few of the dresses she wore as a toddler as a top with pants. So, if you are not sure what size to make, you may want to go with the larger size (also giving you more time to complete the project and still have it fit).

This was my original sample that I submitted and became the Dancette Dress. Get out a camera and my daughter is a little ham, but she certainly helped sell the design! I made the original in Brown Sheep’s Cotton Fleece (#3 or dk weight), which is much heavier than the Cotton Fine (#1 wt) used in the magazine sample. But I found that the same pattern size worked in the lighter weight yarn worked perfectly down to the smallest size, a 3 to 6 months.

As a result of the added chevrons and increases in the skirt for each size, the final version has a lot more flare in the skirt, and I was really pleased with the way the lighter weight yarn drapes. But I wanted to share the original so you know there are options if you so not feel up to making a whole dress in a fingering weight yarn. And if you do not have a little girl to crochet for, stay tuned next week for the adult top inspired by making this dress!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tour Tuesday: Yarn Crawl 101 this Weekend!

I have my busiest few weeks coming up for my LYS Book Tour this month....

First, I have to tell you about the newest Yarn Crawl to hit the Pacific Northwest! What's a yarn crawl you say? Just an excuse to visit every yarn store in a certain area, check out new shops and yarns you may not have seen before, and get to know other crocheters and knitters along the way. You can hit every store on the list or just a few. For Yarn Crawl 101, each shop you visit will enter you for a chance to win a raffle basket (including 50% off any of my patterns on Ravelry). But if you visit EVERY shop, you will be entered for the grand prize basket (including signed copies of BOTH my books!).

This new Yarn Crawl will hit 14 yarn shops from Ocean Park, WA to Brookings, OR in 3 days! Next weekend, I will be taking part in Yarn Crawl 101 by doing a Trunk Show and Book Signing at Coastal Yarns in Cannon Beach, OR. Drop in and see me anytime on Saturday, September 13th between 2pm and 6pm.

I actually did my own mini yarn crawl last summer, driving up Highway 101 from camping on the Coast. So I have visited many of these shops, and had a delightful chat with the owner of Coastal Yarns, who crochets as well as knits. It is a cute little shop on the main road through Cannon Beach. Parking can be at a premium, but there is a parking lot and street parking behind the building.

I will also be doing another Trunk Show at La Favorites in Kelso, WA this coming Sunday. I will have all 10 blanket samples and books to be signed between 10am and 4pm. This is also where the local Crochet Guild of America group meets, so you can find out more about the CGOA!

So, mark your calendars! If you cannot make it this weekend, or happen to live in Northern California, be sure to check out the rest of my events coming up this month: Cannon Beach and Kelso WA this coming weekend; 3 shops near the California Bay Area next week; and signing, teaching and judging at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival at the end of the month! (check the website out today if you are interested in sending in items for the Crochet Competition! They have to be postmarked by tomorrow - or you can bring them late at the site, before noon Friday, Sept. 26th)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What's New Wednesday: Mira Shell

I have had such a busy summer I have gotten behind on sharing all my new patterns that have come out recently. But now that the kids have returned to school, I will try to post about one of my new patterns each week.

Let's start with the Mira Shell and Tea Time Fascinator in Love of Crochet's summer Special Issue, Crochet MORE. Both designs were made with just 2 skeins of La Jolla by Baah! Yarns. This hand dyed fingering weight yarn is just gorgeous and a delight to work with.

The Mira Shell was my first design to get on the cover of a magazine, and only my second adult garment design to get published.

I actually started working on the shell the week before I headed to TNNA last January. I had swatched up this lovely lacey pattern which was so stretchy I had been dying to make a garment with it. I knew I would be seeing the folks from Baah! that weekend and wanted to finish it in time to show them.

This year TNNA was in my hometown, San Diego, so I visited a lot of friends and family. I was having dinner with my friend Andrea on the first night when I needed to decide where to put the armholes, so I made her try it on. Two days later, I met the editor of Love of Crochet and she said she was looking for 1 to 3 skein projects for a special issue. I showed her the sample I had just finished on the spot and she picked up the design.

The Tea Time Fascinator was something I had made a while back, inspired by a headband I had seen someone wearing at the local Farmer's Market. I loved the idea of a collection of various shaped and textured flowers crocheted all in one shade of this beautiful hand dyed yarn to give them more depth of color.

I think they chose a great model to show off this one. The various textures of the flowers sit so nicely in her curly hair! Or you could take any one of these flower patterns on it's own to adorn an accessory or garment.