Thursday, December 10, 2009

Afghans in Crochet Today!

I recently designed two completely different afghans for the January/February issue of Crochet Today! It's finally out on the news stands, and the issue is now on their website. But, I want to show you the pictures of my two afghans - they both were fun to design and crochet.
This is the Big Love afghan.

It consists of hexagons, many hexagons. But - they get connected as they are crocheted. So there's not a lot of finishing. When you're finished with the last hexagon, you're finished. Except for weaving in all the ends. :-)

The other afghan I designed is a baby afghan. What I like about this one - I made it with one skein of Baby Blankie, a new yarn from Red Heart. One skein - only 2 ends to weave in. Oh - I did add a bottom border, so that's 2 more ends. So a total of 4 ends to weave in. The side and top borders are made along with the rest of the afghan. When you're done, you're done. And, did I mention, only 4 ends to weave in? That makes it just about the perfect baby afghan! A friend of mine, another designer (Vashti Braha) called it my "Go To Afghan". And it really is. It doesn't take long to finish so it's a great last-minute present for a shower or a new baby.
Here's the picture:

Of course, it can be worked in other colors, not just pink.
What's great about the Crochet Today web site, if you want to, you can order the magazine, along with the yarn for whatever pattern you choose, right from their site. You don't have to search for the correct yarn - it's right there.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It doesn't really matter how many times you see one of your patterns in print - even if the same pattern has been offered in a magazine, and then as a downloadable pattern. When you see it again, in a new venue, it's exciting. That's how I felt this week, when I found 2 of my patterns in places I didn't expect. Yesterday, I saw my Granny Square Shrink Vest in the on-line newsletter from Crochet! magazine, as a free pattern! Click here to get the pattern. Remember those "Shrink" vests that were so popular in the '70s? Those vests were my inspiration for this one. I made it in Lion Brand Suede, but any bulky weight yarn would work as well.
Here's a picture:

The next surprise I had this week was when I took a trip to my local bookstore, and found the Fall 2009 issue of Crochet! magazine. It's a special issue, for the holiday season, full of quick projects to make for gifts. I opened it up, and found this:

It's one of my favorite hats that I designed, with one of my favorite stitch patterns. And two interesting things about these two patterns - they are both worked in the same yarn - Lion Brand Suede, and, they both look like spiderwebs. So - they can be made as a set! What a great present to give someone special!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crochet Edgings and Trims

I just received the book, Crochet Edgings and Trims, a new Harmony Guide, by Kate Haxell. It has 150 edgings, and lots of good ideas. I know what you're probably saying - what do you need another book for? You like to make up your own edgings and trims and stitches. And don't you have enough books? Well ----- yes, I have a lot of books. (The Crochet Dude told me I have enough books to start my own reference library). But my philosophy is that one can never have too many books. Just like one can never have too much yarn. Or too many hooks. You get the idea.
And I do use my books. I look for inspiration, ideas, older stitch patterns, different stitch patterns, different stitches. I recently found some wonderful old stitches - in some new books. But, I'm digressing. Back to this book - Crochet Edgings and Trims.

I have the old Harmony Guides (300 Crochet Stitches, and 220 More Crochet Stitches) - and still use them. But, for some reason, I like having the smaller books, with the stitches, motifs, and edgings in separate books instead of all together. The older books have a total of 44 edgings, this new book has 150. And while some, maybe all, of the 44 are repeated in the newer book, it still has many more to choose from. And lots of fresh ideas. This book is a good addition to my library.

Now, you may say - who needs all those edgings? Especially when you have your favorite ones that you use whenever you need an edging. My answer -I don't just use edgings as edgings. I look at edgings, and get ideas for other things - scarves, belts, ties, and, of course, regular stitches to incorporate into my designs. And one idea leads to another and another and another. It never ceases!

Books to me are like food - I can't live without them! I'm just glad they're not fattening! :-)

On another note - Noreen Crone-Findlay recently interviewed me for her blog. So check it out to find out more about me and my crocheting!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Crochet Adorned

One of my favorite things to do is to doodle. When I was in Graphic Design, I doodled with a pencil or pen. Now that I'm in Crochet Design, I doodle in yarns and hooks. One of the ways I doodle is to take "classic" stitch patterns, and change them somehow, to make them uniquely my own. Then, of course, I incorporate them into a design. :-) Or, I just do something different with a basic stitch. Or, I look at stitch dictionaries, and get ideas from them. When I work from stitch dictionaries, I like to work from stitch diagrams and/or clear photos that show the stitch pattern straight on. (Many of the older stitch dictionaries that I have just show the photos, along with the written directions.) But I am always on the lookout for more stitch dictionaries. And even if there are only one or two new-to-me stitch patterns in the book, I must add it to my library. It's worth it to me - I teach classes on various stitches at the CGOA Conferences, and I do research in my own library. And I can come up with new, invented-by-me, stitch patterns to teach my students. So, today, I was at Barnes&Noble, and as usual, I wandered over to the Needlecraft books with my decaf Americano in hand. I really didn't expect to see anything new - I had just been there on Friday, 2 days ago, and there were no new books then. But, I looked there anyway. And, what do you know, I found a new book! Crochet Adorned, by Linda Permann. I thought, oh - just another crocheted flower book. And I almost didn't look through it. After all, I was holding on to my Americano, and couldn't find a space on the shelf to put in down. But then, I saw a space on a shelf below, so I carefully set my coffee down, and picked up the book. And looked through it. And saw it was also a stitch dictionary. And Linda had included some interesting variations on standard stitches, and on not-so standard stitches. And in the first section, where the projects are, there are more stitch patterns. All kinds of motifs, flowers, trims, they're all there. And ways to use them! Plus, the book is a good book for beginners - it has a basic instruction section. It tells you how to read a crochet pattern, what all the symbols mean, and how to read a stitch symbol diagram. I'm going to enjoy having this book in my library!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chain Link 2009

This is one of the things that has been occupying my time during the past months. Preparing for the CGOA Chain Link National Conference, held in tandem with the Knit and Crochet Show. I taught 4 classes at the Chain Link conference last week, was in charge of Professional Development Day, edited a book of patterns that the CGOA Board of Directors introduced on Saturday during the day-long Knitting Meets Crochet membership drive (more about that later), and had a day-long board meeting/strategic planning session on Monday. And, of course, I met with friends I hadn't seen for a long time. It was a busy, but fun week. And yes, it was a full 7 days.
I spotted this sign in the convention center, and took my one and only picture of the conference - with Vashti, another member of the CGOA Board of Directors, and designer extraordinaire, standing beside it.

The Knit and Crochet Show - the market place - the yarn market - whatever you want to call it, was amazing. Lots of venders, lots of different yarns to see and touch and want. I saw some Silk Sari Ribbon that I had heard about, and Jelly Yarn in a great silver color - just what I wanted.
And hooks - bamboo and wood were prevalent, but regular hooks were present too. And, after being introduced to ChiaoGoo hooks at TNNA, I was happy to see them here. They make wonderful bamboo hooks and needles. They have regular hooks for crocheting, Tunisian hooks in different lengths, circular Tunisian hooks, and cable Tunisian hooks. The hooks come in all sizes - small to large. They have an in-line shape, and when I used them on a small sample of ribbon yarn, they didn't snag the ribbon. I'm in LOVE!

One of the projects that I was feverishly working on before Chain Link was a free pattern booklet, which is now being offered to new members of CGOA. I edited this booklet of patterns, by 6 of the CGOA Board Members, and we premiered it on Saturday. It is a download - only booklet for new and renewing members only. Here is a picture of the cover, so you can see the designs included. They are by Carol Alexander, Amy Shelton, Vashti Braha, Drew Emborsky, me - Marty Miller, and Lorraine Lucas.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Crochet Today!

The preview of the Sept/Oct 2009 issue of Crochet Today is on the web site. Check it out here and look at the Ripple Cloud Afghan that I designed for this issue. It was a lot of fun to do, and quick to make. I used bulky yarns, and a large hook, but the best part was that there were no ends to weave in. I incorporated the ends into the fringe! Here's a picture:

I haven't posted a lot lately - I've been busy getting my classes together for Chain Link, the CGOA conference in Buffalo, which is next week. If you're going to be there, come by and say hello. You can go shopping in the yarn market, see the fashion show and all the other festivities on Saturday night (it's CGOA's 15th Anniversary), take classes with some great teachers, and hang out and crochet in the 24/7 lounge. There will also be other special events. On Saturday, we're hosting a "knitters meet crochet" event - come and meet and greet knitters and crocheters. We'll be giving away some great prizes to those who join or renew their membership to CGOA, and there will be a lot of other fun activities going on. Don't miss the Yarn Market Preview on Thursday night. You can check out the program and events and classes by going to Knit and Crochet Show. And stay tuned - after Chain Link, I should have some great news for you! :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Crochet Kimono

I love to find my patterns for sale on-line, and this is the latest one. It's one I designed for Plymouth Yarn, using Plymouth Encore. Encore is 25% Wool, and 75% Acrylic - it's soft, machine washable, machine dryable, crochets beautifully, it has a lot of yardage in a skein, and it comes in great colors! Here's the picture of the kimono:

And here's where you can purchase the pattern:
Annies Attic

Look at all the Plymouth Yarns here:
Plymouth Yarns

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TNNA Report - June 2009

During the last few months I have been working on my pattern line, trying to get it ready for TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) trade show in June. This year, it was held in Columbus, Ohio, so my business partner, Jane, and I were able to drive. We have been going to this for the past few years, but this time, it was different. This time, we were launching our pattern lines, renting a booth, and trying to sell our patterns to the yarn shops. We decided to transport all our paraphernalia for the booth ourselves. Which meant, two cars. Two big cars. My car is too small, so we persuaded Jane's daughter, Amy, to join us, and help us with our booth. And - she has a big car! :-)
We had a great time at TNNA, and our patterns were well received. I will be posting more pictures of our booth, but wanted to first post this picture of Amy - which shows the way we were all feeling after we set everything up.
By the way, thank you to all of our friends who helped us set up, tear down, and schlep everything to and from the hotel. We do appreciate it!
More later.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Green Dream Crocheted Throw

I just got this in my email - a chance to buy the kit to make this throw! This is one of my designs, published in Crochet Today magazine. And now, just by clicking here you can purchase a kit and you, too, can make this throw. I've made many afghans in my designing career, and this is one of the few that my husband actually commented on, without me prompting him! He really liked it! Really!

It's fun, and easy to make. Just small Granny Squares sewn together. Easy!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crochet Along starts tomorrow

I thought I would show you the yarns I picked for the Crochet Along. I went into my stash to find some colors and some yarn that spoke to me, and this is what I came up with - Bernat Handicrafter Cotton, in some of the new colors, AND in huge skeins. That means no ends, unless I want them! I also thought I would see what the Lily Sugar'n Cream yarn would look like with the 2 Bernat yarns. I think the off-white SnC will look good with the blue yarn - called Country Blue - and the fading self-striping yarn - called Meadow. But, I don't know if I'll use it or not. I may just go with the Country Blue and the Meadow. I began crocheting the bag, just to see how the two colors would mix, and I like what happened. The Meadow still self-stripes, but it's more subtle. So, I think I'll just use those two yarns. By the way, the Country Blue has approximately 710 yards in a skein, and the Meadow has approximately 470 yards. The yarn is 100% cotton, and is really soft. I designed another bag using this cotton, and what was so great was that when I was finished with the bag, (and it was LARGE!), there were only 2 ends to weave in!!!!!

So I hope you're ready to start your tote tomorrow. Remember to download the pattern booklet here (you get 6 other patterns from 6 other designers in the booklet), and we'll get started!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Crochet Along will start soon

Just a short reminder - for those who want to participate in the Crochet Along mentioned in my previous post. One more day - and we'll get started. So choose your yarn, get the pattern, (see the link below), and we'll have some fun!
After much deliberation - I picked some great yarn. I'll show it to you on Friday, May 1, along with the beginning of the tote.
P.S. If you want to participate in the CAL, but are too shy to say so, don't worry, you can still take part. Just follow along with your pattern, as we all make our totes.
Remember - these totes make great bags to carry just about anything - yarn, projects, magazines, books, food - you get the idea! Don't be left out! Crochet your tote along with the rest of us!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today, April 22, 2009, is Earth Day. In honor of the day, I used my Scrap Yarn tote (see my previous entry) to carry my yarns and hooks and books and magazines. And I liked using it so much, that I vowed I would use it, and all the other bags that I've crocheted and knit, more and more. I will use them to tote yarn (of course), books, and groceries, and whatever else I can think of. Where ever I go! Tonight, I even used it to hold some yarn that I was working with. The yarn wanted to roll around on the floor, and I put it into the tote, set the tote on a chair. It stayed put, the yarn stayed put, and I discovered a new use for my totes. I also decided that this tote was a "go-to" tote - I'll make it again and again and again, trying different yarns in my stash and in my future stash. It's a great stash buster because you can use just about any cotton yarn. (But it's also a great stash enhancer - because you can use one strand of some new yarn that you just MUST try out, and the rest of the yarn can be from your stash.) I used two strands of Fantasy Naturale, just scraps that I had in my stash. But I want to make one with other cottons, and one with other colors of Fantasy Naturale (yes - that I have in my stash!). You can even make one with one strand of cotton, and one strand of another fiber. The cotton will give it strength, and won't let it stretch. As I was thinking about all the possibilities, and what yarn I'm going to use, I thought that this project would be a great Crochet Along (CAL). So - if you're interested in making one along with me, it's easy to get started. Download the pattern from the website (in the previous post), find some yarn that you want to use - either in your stash or from a store, and we can start working. And, if you work along with me, and have some difficulty with the pattern (I don't think you will - but, you know, it might happen) then, you can ask me about it, and I'll be there right with you! What could be better than that?
Let me know if you want to be in on the CAL. I thought we could get started on May 1, 2009. With just a few hours of crocheting, we can have a new tote in time for beach season! So that gives you 9 days to download the booklet (and there are 6 other great totes and bags in the booklet, all designed by independent designers) and 9 days to gather your yarns. Believe me when I tell you that once you make one of these, you'll want to make more!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Strapped For Bags - Straight From Today's Designers

It's available! Straight From Today's Designers, their new Bag Book - Strapped for Bags, Vol. 3. Seven fun, original bag designs from seven designers. All for $10.00. That's all. $10.00 will get you seven bags from seven designers - including Vashti Braha, Doris Chan, Noreen Crone-FIndlay, Dee Stanziano, Tammy Hildebrand, Amy O'Neill Houck, and me - Marty Miller. We, the designers in Straight From Today's Designers, put this book, and our other 3 books, together by ourselves - doing all the tech editing, writing, photography, and everything else that goes into producing a book.

This booklet is no longer available - however, the individual patterns may be available from the designers. I know mine is. Check out the pattern at:
Emerald Isle Designs

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hooked for Life - Adventures of a Crochet Zealot

I have been haunting the bookstores lately - waiting for this book to get published - Hooked for Life: Adventures of a Crochet Zealot, by Mary Beth Temple. It finally appeared this weekend - a week or so ahead of the scheduled publication date, and I grabbed it up. Which was a good thing - because what with the pollen this past weekend, and my itchy eyes and my sneezing, I just didn't feel like crocheting. (I know - when that happens, I MUST be sick!) I read it in no time - devoured it, is more like it. It is funny, interesting, funny, and did I say funny? Whether you crochet, or knit, or both, or do neither, I think you'll enjoy it. Especially if you crochet and think that no one else has a stash as big as yours. Or if you knit, and think that no one else has a stash as big as yours. Or if you are a yarn snob. Or if you aren't a yarn snob and like all yarns. And if you want to learn new terms - I won't give them away here, but there are a lot of them in the book. Read this book! And then, if you haven't already done so, read her previous book, The Secret Language of Knitters. (You can read and enjoy it even if you just crochet! It's all about Yarn!)

Check out Hooked for Life here;

And check out The Secret Language of Knitters here:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chain-Free Crochet Made Easy

A great new book was just published by House of White Birches - Chain-Free Crochet Made Easy. If you want to know how to work all different kinds of foundation stitches, this is the book for you! Yes - some of my patterns are in the book - but this is the kind of book that I would acquire for my book collection. Even if my designs weren't in there. :-) The different techniques for making foundation stitches (you make the foundation chain and the first row of stitches at the same time) make the book a valuable learning tool. With the techniques you will learn from this book you can work just about any pattern using foundation stitches. Check the book out here:

Now - as great as the book is, I did find one slight error in one of my patterns - the Rectangular Granny Afghan, on page 66. The directions tell you to make a dc eyelet, but they don't tell you how. So, here is the way to make a dc eyelet:
*Ch 3, dc in 3rd ch from hook. Repeat from * as many times as stated.

Also, the directions don't tell you how many to make. Make 3 dc eyelets.

If you do buy the book, and make any of my patterns, please send me a picture. I love to see what other crocheters do with my patterns.

And check out the close-up pictures of my place mat on pages 148 and 149. These are awesome!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Issue of Crochet! Magazine

No - I don't have it yet! BUT - the pictures of the projects are here: Crochet!.
And the very first picture is my project - a bandanna bag.

I started crocheting with bandannas because my husband and I had a bunch of them from our days of hiking and canoeing and kayaking and camping. I even had some bandannas with my son's name on them - I guess he took them to camp. I found all of these one day when I was cleaning out a cabinet full of old clothes. The bandannas were soft and worn; we didn't need them anymore, but I didn't want to give them away. Too much history involved with them. So - I washed them, and cut them into strips, and started crocheting. I had many different colors, and I crocheted with them randomly. I made a great big basket - of course, as with any stashbuster project that's worth it's salt, I had to buy more bandannas to finish it! :-)

The bandanna bag that's in Crochet! is a new design - worked in bandannas of one color. New bandannas. :-)
By the way, one word of warning - crocheting with bandannas can be VERY addicting.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sugar'n Cream - good old friend

Every once in a while, I have to go back to visit some old friends. When I was in San Diego, this past January, I did just that. I saw an old friend of mine. We met when we were in grammar school - we took ballet classes together. We stayed friends and kept in touch throughout high school and college. Then - marriage. She moved to the west coast. I moved to the east coast. But, I looked her up some years ago when I was going to San Diego, and since then, whenever I'm there, we try to get together. When we do, it's as if we never were apart! It's so much fun.
So what does this have to do with crochet? Some yarns are like old friends! And every once in a while, I just have to visit them again. That's what I did yesterday and today. I'm working on a project, and I needed to use Chain Store yarns. I wanted something sturdy, substantial, and in my stash already. I thought about Sugar'n Cream, and decided that it would be the perfect yarn for what I wanted to do. So I went "stash shopping". I looked through my stash in the family room, in the storage room, and in my studio. And I found some. I wasn't sure which color would be best, so I picked out a couple of colors that I would have enough of in one dye lot to do my project. I also realized that I had a couple of the gigantic skeins of Sugar'n Cream that are sold as Confectionary Colors - 14 ounces, approximately 710 yards. Yep - that would be enough for my project, AND (and this is a BIG PLUS) there would be no ends to weave in - except at the beginning and the end. (You DO know that I hate to weave in ends, don't you?)
I picked out one color that I had of this yarn - it's called Pistachio - it's a muted green - and I started crocheting. And I didn't want to stop! I loved working with it. The yarn seemed softer than what I remembered. The color was gorgeous. The stitch pattern that I developed worked well - the stitches were well defined, and easy to work. The yarn didn't split. It didn't untwist. It didn't do any bad stuff. It did just what I wanted it to do! I fell in love all over again with Sugar'n Cream.
Check out this sample:

Friday, January 23, 2009

The KnitKit (for Crochet, too)

I don't know about you - but I am constantly looking for my crochet tools - my scissors, stitch markers, tape measure, and everything else I like to keep with me. They keep falling down to the bottom of my crochet bag. And I would dearly love to pack some in my purse (I already have a bunch of crochet hooks, just in case I see a yarn that I HAVE to try!). But, until now, I just didn't want to put ANOTHER organizer in my purse, to get mixed up with all the other organizers I already have for everything. Really! Enough is enough! But, I just came back from TNNA - the National Needlearts trade show, in warm San Diego, and saw a product there that I absolutely MUST have. (By the way, I left San Diego and the temperature must have been near 80 degrees. When I arrived home, I saw from the plane that it was snowing! And when I walked out, I realized that it was cold! What a shock to my system!)
But, back to this product that I covet! It's called the KnitKit, and you can probably get it from your local yarn shop really soon, because it was the big hit of the TNNA show! Everyone was talking about it! Barbara Berry, who created this, introduced herself to us when she saw us crocheting and knitting in public at our hotel. She told us how and why she came up with this - it was because she was always looking for her knitting stuff, and wanted one place to keep everything. As soon as we saw the KnitKit, we knew it would be a hit!
Here's a picture of it:

You can also check out their web site: theKnitKit

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Glamorous Life.........of a Crochet Designer

Some people think that the life of a crochet designer and teacher is really glamorous! Crocheting all day long, whenever and whatever you want to, traveling to different conferences to teach classes, meeting all the crochet "stars", getting published in books and magazines, getting to do what you love to do - crochet! What could be better?
Well, there is nothing better! I love what I do - I love to crochet, I love to design, I love to write patterns, I love to teach crochet, I love to plan my classes, I love to tech edit! I love everything about crochet and being a crochet designer and teacher - except one thing! Weaving in ends! As my students will tell you - I don't like that part! If I could, I would forever banish ends from my projects. Or figure out some way to make them disappear.
I am always telling a story about a baby Granny Afghan I made a long time ago - for a friend's baby. It had 100 granny squares - 3 rounds, 3 different colors. 6 ends to weave in for each square. And 6 x 100 is 600 ends! I never finished it. I never wove those ends in. I never gave it to the baby. I still have the blanket, and use it as a throw in my family room. The ends are still there, and I call them a "design decision". :-)
Well, I now have another story to tell about how I hate weaving in ends. But I can't tell it yet - you'll all have to wait awhile for that. But I can tell you that I had MORE ends to weave in. About 658 the way I figure! And I did it! I wove them all in, and I saved most of them. I even took a picture of them, so you can see how many there were. (And how glamorous this designer's life really is!)
Don't bother counting them, just trust me! There were a gazilliion of them. But I did it! I wove them all in!
I think I'm going to save these and put them in a safe place, so that whenever I have ends to weave in, and I'm not looking forward to it, I can look at these ends, and tell myself that I did it once, I can do it again!