Monday, June 29, 2015

CROCHET SO LOVELY - 21 carefree lace designs by Kristin Omdahl

Recently, I was asked by Interweave/F+W to review Kristin Omdahl's newest book - "CROCHET SO LOVELY - 21 carefree lace designs". I'm always interested in new books, especially from designers whom I know and whose work I admire. So, I said "Yes, of course!" When I received the book, and looked through it, I brought it to my Crochet class to show my students. Some of these students have been with me since I started teaching at this local yarn shop - just about 15 years ago. The class is a "do what project you want to do" class, where they can work on whatever they want to work on. Many times I will suggest something that they could do to bring their skills forward a notch or two, (otherwise, some will just do the same thing over and over), and I like to suggest books that have projects that they may think they're not ready for, but I think they could do. That's where Kristin's book comes in. I noticed that the projects in her book used yarn weights that many of my students hadn't used before - #1, #2, and #3, but wanted to try. So my students and I thought of a question I could ask her about how to go about trying different weights of yarns.  Then, I guess, I was curious about her design process – and so were my students –  so we thought of another question. The last 2 questions – just some more things that we were all curious about. In the past, I have told my students about my design process, and how hard it was for me to pick and choose patterns that would go in to my books and proposals, and self-published pattern line. And also, how my most popular pattern in my self-published pattern line is the one pattern that was rejected whenever I proposed it to a book or magazine or yarn company! And we were all curious about Kristin's design process.

So, here are the questions, and Kristin's answers.
1. In your book Crochet So Lovely, you have 21 designs: 8 are worked with super fine/fingering #1 lace weight yarn, 8 are worked with sport weight #2 fine yarn, 1 is worked with DK weight #3 light, 3 are worked with worsted weight #4 medium, and 1 is worked in chunky weight #5 bulky.
Hook sizes vary from a C2/2.75mm to an M13/8mm.

What would you suggest to a crocheter who wants to make the designs in your book, but really doesn't like working (or know how to work) with any yarn less than DK weight, and any hook that's smaller than a G/6 4mm? Which project should she/he do first?

And this is Kristin's answer:

The concept of lace for me is to use an extraordinarily larger hook than the yarn calls for so the overly loose stitchwork blossoms into a beautiful marriage between the geometric stitch patterning its corresponding negative space. The easiest way to learn to do this is to practice the stitches first on appropriately sized hooks. Then the exaggerated hook size will be the only concept you are learning when you do the lace. I think it is best learned as a two-step process. Not that an adventurous crocheter couldn't do it all at once ;)
My comment: I think this is a great idea! Practice the stitches and stitch patterns first with your usual weight yarn and usual hook. And then go to the yarn and hook size designated in the pattern. You won't have to worry about the stitch pattern, because you practiced it. All you'll have to get used to is using a larger hook with lighter weight yarn.

2. When you were writing this book, which came first? The specific pattern, or the yarn? In other words, when you design, do you think of the pattern, then go looking for the yarn that would work with the pattern and stitches? Or do you have the yarn, and let it "tell" you what it wants to become?
Here's what Kristin said:
Yes to both, but not for this particular book. My main focus was to make figure flattering crochet garments and accessories that would lay beautifully on the skin, layer without bulk, and make you feel beautiful. So it was the concept that came first for Crochet So Lovely. I told my editor every piece should be something you would want to wear on an important date or event, even if money were no object and you could buy it at the store. I wanted to feel luxuruious, beautiful and confident in this collection. As a conceptual designer it is very difficult to ride the thin line of “Wow thats an awesome technique/concept/project” and wanting to wear it too. I can go CRAZY with a design and it can be fascinating to make, but if it is bulky and not figure flattering, who really wants to wear it?

3. Did you have any patterns that just didn't "make the cut?" For one reason or another. Why? 
And Kristin replied:
Yes! The corset tied gauntlets were originally thigh high leg warmers that were corset tied. Imagine the same exact tube but big enough for your legs. They are GORGEOUS. And the next winter show I attend where I can wear them over skinny jeans or tights and a dress, I will! But my editors thought they were a tad too sexy for the book.
(Here's a picture of the gauntlets.)

4. I know it's difficult to pick a favorite pattern, but if you had to choose one pattern, from the 21 in the book, that you think most crocheters will choose to make, which one would it be, and why?
Here's Kristin's reply:

Oh that is a tough question! As a designer and author, I WISH I knew what people wanted to make! All I can tell you is which projects I loved making the most. The felted flower bag is one of my favorite projects of my entire career. They are not appliqu├ęd onto the bag. They are a seamless component to the motifs! And the mesh crochet motif was my attempt at replicating the laser cut leather bags I admire at department stores. So from an experimental standpoint, to try something crazy AND have it work AND love the beauty of the finished project, this is a total success to me. I love that leaving it unlined, you can use it as a project bag and see your beautiful yarn from inside. Or, as a purse you could line it with a beautiful contrasting yarn to create pops of color through the little holes. And finishing a felted bag with leather handles makes it look so rich, polished and professional.

The Deep Sea Tunic is another favorite of mine. I used lace weight yarn and a C/2 hook to create the lightest, thinnest fabric I could muster. From the pictures you’d never tell it is a box cut pullover (NO SHAPING) because I added elements of illusion to suggest shaping! The body has a gorgeous lace design that tapers into a V to suggest waist shaping, the arms have cut outs in them (I think exposed bits of shoulders and arms are so sexy without being overtly sexy), and the side vents offer hip ease (with lace trim of course) to further accentuate an hourglass shape.

This sweater is on a very tiny hook with a very fine yarn. It is going to take you longer to make this sweater than a traditional worsted weight yarn and H hook. But guess what? This will be a treasured wardrobe staple that looks good on, feels good on, and you will wear it over and over again with confidence. And the construction style makes it interesting and relatively quick. I didn’t find myself dying over the process. The design elements kept me interested the entire time. This one was a lot of fun to make.

Honestly, though, I could go on and on about all of the designs. I love each and every one BECAUSE I love to wear them. They are all so light and drapey, don’t add bulk to my figure, and make me feel good.
The Trapeze Tank? That barely made it into the book. Why? Because it belongs in my closet! I wear this one a lot over white cropped jeans and a tank top.

The Rosetta wrap sweater is my go-to layer over a maxi-dress. 

Lapis Wesek Tunic is PERFECT over leggings and a tank top with chunky bracelets.

And I could go on and on and on… LOL

Finally, Kristin asked you - my readers this:

"What are your favorite pieces? Tell me which you are making first? And second? And third?
I’d love to hear from YOU!"
I would love to hear from you, too. Are you used to crocheting with yarns that are lighter than worsted weight (#4)? Will you try Kristin's suggestions about practicing the stitch first on yarn you are used to working with, and appropriately sized hooks, before tackling the patterns? Or are you an adventurous crocheter who will  go directly to the exaggerated sized hook with the lace yarn? Which items in Kristin's book are your favorites? Which ones will you crochet first? 

I do want to thank Kristin for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. And if you're interested in following Kristin on her blog - this is it:
If you want to order the book from Interweave - here is the page:
Interweave Crochet So Fine