Sunday, August 31, 2008

Strapped For Bags

When I am playing with yarn, one of my favorite projects is making bags - all sorts of bags - totes, shopping bags, purses, carry-alls, etc. I make them in all different shapes and sizes, using all different kinds of yarns and fibers. I felt them, or crochet them with a tight stitch, or make them lacy. It's fun to experiment, and it's fun to use other designers' patterns. And I know that I'm not the only one who does this. And, now, the good news is - the same designers who gave you Straight from the Hip are now giving you 3 volumes (Yes, 3 volumes!) of Strapped for Bags. It's our newest self-publishing venture. Our first volume, featuring 7 designs, is available NOW. We plan to publish one volume a month for the next 2 months. Check out the bags on the cover, and go to for more info!
Available for downloading now!

Monday, August 25, 2008

beyond the square Crochet Motifs

If you like stitch pattern books with lots of swatches to look at, if you like looking at lots of well-made swatches, if you like to follow stitch diagrams, if you like to follow well written directions, if you like hints for novice and not-so-novice crocheters, if you like "how-tos" that go beyond the usual, if you like to experiment and tailor stitches and motifs to suit yourself and your designs and welcome some advice about how to do that, if you like pictures and ideas of what to design with all the motifs, if you like help with solving problems, and information about how to solve other problems you might have, if you like a book that will lie flat, if you want a book with a lot of motifs that are not found in other stitch dictionaries, if you want motifs in all different shapes - what are you waiting for? You need to get Beyond the Square, Crochet Motifs, by Edie Eckman, who wrote another wonderful book that I recommend to all my students - The Crochet Answer Book.

If you just look at the cover of this book, you'll see many of the motifs that are presented. Open it up, and you get all of the information above, and more. The motifs are grouped into shapes, circles, hexagons, triangles, squares, and unusual shapes, and each chapter has a color theme. There is much more in the book, though. The beginning is a mini-crochet motif workshop, and includes information on how to join the motifs, how to get them flat, how to make them uniquely your own, how to end the rounds so that you don't see where the ending is, and much more.

I got my copy almost 2 weeks ago, and I've been looking and drooling over all the patterns - wishing I had some time right now to swatch and play. But, alas, that will have to wait! Portland, Oregon, and the CGOA Regional conference is in less than 2 weeks. I'll be teaching 6 classes there - and I have all my stuff to pack and send - class handouts, swatches and samples, and all the other goodies I've collected for my classes. And I'm trying to finish some new garments for me to wear during the week in Portland. That's what's fun about these conferences - seeing what each designer has made for herself/himself to wear! Check out the classes at Knit and Crochet Show, and don't forget, even though on-line registration is over, you can still register for classes at the conference. And don't forget to check out the vendors who will be at the yarn market! Can't wait!

Click below to find out more about Beyond the Square!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

R & R and Classes I taught at Chain Link

I'm on a much needed R & R this week - spending a week at the beach/coast (depending on where you're from, it's called by different names - including "the shore". I call it the beach - does anyone know where I was raised?) But I'm not completely relaxing. I am working - on some projects that need to be finished for certain publications. And to wear at the CGOA/TKGA conference in Portland, in less than 4 weeks. And some tech editing jobs that I promised would be finished this week. The good news is that I'm getting the stuff done. And relaxing at the same time. Take a look at my view from the deck. This is what I am seeing while I'm crocheting!

This picture was taken at twilight -

and this one just a few minutes later - looking at the sunset over the neighboring roofs.

I do want to tell you about the great experience I had in New Hampshire, at the CGOA Chain Link Conference - teaching 7 classes! That's almost a full load. The one time I wasn't teaching, I was at the CGOA Board meeting. I took my camera to classes, but never remembered to take pictures! So I can't share with you any visuals, but I can sure share some memories!
My first class was Crochet by the Numbers, always the toughest class to teach - mainly because so many people are afraid of math. But, I hope, I showed the class that math can be your friend. If you see anyone at future conferences walking around with a "hyper-plane" flower on their name-tag, you'll know that they took my math class.
The next class was Design Your Own Stitch Pattern - always a fun class. I get to see the creativity come out in the students. I loved seeing them just staring into space, and when I asked if they had a problem, they always said "No, I'm just thinking of how to create this new pattern." It was exciting!
And then I taught Crochet in Bits and Pieces. Another fun class - how to make rectangles, circles, triangles, and other shapes, from all different directions - bottom up, top down, inside to outside, outside to inside, corner to corner, etc.
Crocheting on the Edge was great fun, too. I talked about making corners, and showed many variations of the crab stitch, and fringes that were crocheted, and shaped edgings, and lots more.
Foundation Stitches and Linked Stitches is one class that changes people's lives, at least their crocheting lives! Foundation stitches are great to know, to eliminate that dreaded foundation chain. The class learned the basic stitches, and then how to do some pattern foundation stitches. The second half of class was devoted to linked stitches - and then I challenged the class with a project that started out with linked foundation stitches!
Pattern Writing School was intense - we talked about a lot of ways to write patterns, and then I gave them a swatch to write a pattern from.
In my "Going Around in Circles" class (it was my last class, on Sunday afternoon, and you know I was feeling like I was going around in circles!) I taught the students the "rule of thumb" for making circles. And then they made circles with many different stitches, half circles, circles from the outside in, circles using short rows, and spiral circles with one and two colors of yarn. Before I knew it, the class was over. And so was the conference! And the yarn market was closed!
It was time to say goodbye to many of my old friends, and new friends, until the next conference.
If any of my classes interest you, I'll be teaching the same ones in Portland, Oregon, this September, at the TKGA/CGOA conference. Go to The Knit and Crochet Show to check out the schedule and learn how you can take part in this conference. If you have never been to a conference, you don't know what you're missing! If you have been to one, you know what a learning experience it is, as well as a fun time!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Catching up - CGOA Chain Link, Manchester, NH

I KNEW if I waited long enough, I wouldn't have to post much about the CGOA Chain Link conference - everyone else who was there would do it for me. :-) Check these out: Designing Vashti, The Crochet Dude, Everyday Crochet, and Crochet with Dee. The Crochet Dude was in charge of Professional Development Day, and did a bang-up job! Read about it on his blog. Vashti and Doris tell what it was like to be there. Dee gives a blow-by-blow description of the whole conference, including video of the great fashion show on Saturday night - which included kids, and a "runway strut" by Brian. (One lesson to remember - never follow kids or Brian on a runway!) I was there - but oh, so busy. Seven classes, board meeting, Market preview, Saturday night dinner and fashion show, meeting with the new Professional Development Chair, membership meeting, and many other meetings, including the "Musketeers and friends" meetings. We had one at least every day! Oh, I did get to go to the market, and I did get to purchase some yarn. Many times! But look at our official office sign, along with our official lamp - anybody remember lava lamps?

One thing I didn't do - I did miss out on a side trip to Maine - for the best lobsters, I understand, because I had to teach on Sunday! But - I did get to go to WEBS, twice! Once going to New Hampshire on the way to Chain Link, and once coming back. And, because we drove (well really, Jane drove, I crocheted) we got to visit 2 other yarn shops on the way home. And one even had a 20% off sale on everything in the store. Check out Jane's blog, Yarn Adventures, to find out more about those two shops.

Let me tell you about WEBS.
The outside - well, it was not too exciting. Looked like just another big store. Well, the store WAS BIG! Huge, as a matter of fact.

When I walked in, I was not prepared for what I saw. Rows and rows of yarns, yarns, and more yarns. And, I understand, needles, hooks, and buttons. (I was so mesmerized by the yarns, I didn't even look at the hooks!) This is a view of the store when you first enter it. Notice how the shelves of yarn just seem to stretch for miles!

This is a picture of just one part of one of the aisles in WEBS. Now you can see why I completely missed the hooks, needles, and buttons!

In the back of the store - which was a good distance from the front - there was a warehouse - and it was open to the public. More aisles and aisles of yarns. It was like a candy store! Only better! I discovered their Valley Yarns in the warehouse, and immediately fell in love with the various worsted weight cottons. I'm into cotton yarns right now (maybe because of the hot summer weather) and I was able to get some cones and skeins of Valley Yarns, and other cottons that looked intriguing. And that was just the first visit. On the second visit, on the way home, of course I had to get more. The only thing stopping me was that, between the two of us, there was limited room for more yarn!
This is just one aisle of many in the warehouse!