Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Making the Reversible Rowan Tree Vest


Reversible Rowan Tree Vest
Winner $1000 Grand Prize,
sponsored by Vogue Knitting Crochet
2012 CGOA Design Competition
Designed by Laurinda Reddig, in memory of my daughter Rowan

Last year was my first time entering the Crochet Guild of America's Design Competition held at one of their conferences each year. After both my entries placed among the winners, my Mystery Machine Afghan won 1st Place Afghans and the People's Choice Award, and my Vegetable Playmat won 3rd Place in Small Wonders, I began thinking about what I could make to top the Mystery Machine.

I was really looking forward to being able to attend the Knit and Crochet Show in Reno and see the Design Competition this year, and was rather disappointed when I heard not only was the competition going to be held at the summer show instead of the fall show (as it was last year), but I only had a couple months to design and execute something marvelous. I wanted to make a garment I could then wear to the Reno show, so anyone who saw it in the competition would know it was mine. But I had never designed a garment before!

Fortunately, I had taken a class with the Shibaguyz last year at the Crochet Liberation Front's retreat where I took all my measurements and learned the basics of garment construction. Then I learned a lot from Marly Bird's Curvy Crochet class on Craftsy. And finally, I actually won a copy of Dora Orenstein's Custom Crocheted Sweaters book when she was on Marly's podcast. Her section on different types of construction helped me determine that working from the bottom up would not only allow me to "paint" the picture as I worked, but to reinforce the shoulders to they could hold up to the weight of all that colorwork.
I actually had several of my first designs and an article due by the end of April, so I did not allow myself to start working on the actual vest until they were completed, leaving me only about 1 month to complete my "Masterpiece". I figured that because we do not have to write up the patterns for the design competition entries, that would be the place to submit a real art piece. Something special, in memory of my daughter Rowan. I was really inspired by the idea of a design using a Rowan Tree.

As I worked on my samples for magazines, etc..., I began to research and plan. I searched online for images of trees and "Tree of Life" until I found a sketched one I liked which I printed onto graph paper, and colored with pencils to decide where I would put branches, embroider leaves, and stitch on tiny red berries. I found crossstitch patterns for the Butterfly and Dragonfly, to represent each of my daughters, which I could adapt to my double crochet Intarsia technique.
At some point I thought of the idea for the flowers on the other side, as a rowan tree would have in the spring. Our local bead store, Bead Paradise, special ordered the swarovski crystal flowers in the smallest size they could find. I had planned on white flowers but they were not small enough, and the crystals really make the vest go from "day" to "evening" wear.
I made multiple trips to Happy Knits, a LYS in Portland, as I knew they had the biggest selection of Madelinetosh tosh merino dk yarn in the area. I love the way they hand-dye the yarn. The mottled tones would be perfect for natural shading without extra color changes. Once I selected the colorways I wanted I pulled every skein off the shelves to select just the right shades for the images I wanted to create.
By the time I had shipped off all my samples, I had everything I needed to make my dream a reality. I am still often surprised when the design I have envisioned turns out just as good or even better than I imagined. I began with the bottom cable edge, blocked the cables, then stitched the first row of green directly onto on side.

Then it was just a matter of stitching, with a size C hook, constantly (while chasing my children) for a full month. I worked on it everywhere! At the park, walking around the zoo, and even a craft show (where several people asked what I was knitting). My favorite was the couple of local knitting groups and yarn stores where I got to work on it a bit, and confound the knitters, "That's crochet?!" "I've never seen anyone crochet with tosh!"...

Both my Reversible Intarsia and Endless Reversible Cables Techniques I used in this piece will be featured in Interweave Crochet Magazine later this year. But for a preview, check out my "I Love Baby" Blanket and Washcloth Pattern now available on Ravelry, to learn the basics of the Reversible Intarsia technique used in my Reversible Rowan Tree Vest.
For more about the inspiration for this piece, check out my other post about the Rowan Tree.

19 comments:

  1. Congratulations Laurinda! Your vest is amazing!I love it!!! The most beautiful crochet work I have ever seen! You really deserved winnig the Grand Prize! I love all the little details you have ad. The little pearls and your yarn choice makes it just perfect!

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    1. Thanks so much Barbina. I pulled out every skein of yarn to choose the perfect shadings. The 2 lightest blues are actually the same colorway, called "Happiness"!

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  2. It was so amazing to watch your vest take form from an idea to a graph-paper design, to the actual gorgeousness that it became! You so richly deserved the recognition you are getting for your new technique!

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  3. Absolutely gorgeous! Congratulations!

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  4. Really, really handsome. A prize well deserved, and a technique I'd like to learn.

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  5. Thanks! I have been busy all year working on designs to teach these techniques... keep watching for when they are published! :)

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  6. gorgeous, simply stunning, so so very beautiful, what a lovely blog <3 <3

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  7. I saw your beautiful vest in Manchester where it was on display in the market after winning the "top" award and was totally blown away--and I'm not too easily impressed. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work, and hope that you plan to teach some classes for CGOA at upcoming Knit and Crochet Shows.

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    1. Thank you! I am definitely considering it. Right now I'm preparing to teach my first class on my Intarsia technique for our local Fiber Arts Festival, and will see how that goes. :)

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  8. The vest is amazing!! I love how you put the blossoms on one side and the berries on the other. Congratulations!! I had to go see the vegetable playmat too. That is so cute!! Now I'll have to check here often to see what you're up to.

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    1. Thanks, I have to say, I was so excited when I thought of the flowers. I was planning on the berries, but the flowers really gave it a reason to be reversible. Do keep checking back, the Vegetable Playmat pattern may be available soon. :)

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  9. Good work, Laurinda! I think everything fell into place for you to get where you are.

    Hope to see you soon!
    *hug*

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  10. I saw your vest in Manchester and was amazed! This is definitely a work of art!!!!

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  11. eine wunderbare Arbeit, ich bin begeistert......herzliches Kompliment und Grüsse aus der Schweiz
    a wonderful job, I'm begeistert......herzliches compliment and greetings from the Switzerland

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  12. I'm very proud of you, of your accomplishment - all the ones you've done and of all the ones upcoming as well. ;)
    Great things, m'dear.....great things...

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  13. Muchas gracias por compartir!!!! Es muy hermoso!!!!!!

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  14. Wonderful work - have nice weekend and good times ago with crochet <3

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