Category Archives: Crochet General

Lace, anyone? Dragonfly

Ice on a bush by driveway

Ice on a bush by driveway, ice storm 12/19/08

My mind has been going in numerous directions this past week. First, I need a new sketch book. Last one is now filled… I am being cheap though, and so a 10 cent spiral notebook will have to suffice. The ideas blasted me so much that my once white, pristine sketchbook is now laden with pencil drawings and scattered notes, rampant with eraser smudges.

Everyone grows, changes, adapts as careers continue… after designing that Dragonfly Shawl, it happened. I can feel the fire within, just like it has at times before. That’s the it – in essence, the slight loss of control. You see, often I go off on tangents… especially when the “new idea” comes. On a side note, I can still hear my brother saying to me when we were little “Oh no… another one of Lisa and her big ideas…” with the roll of the eyes and a swift walk the other away. I think it was that loneliness coupled with my unelected solitude in grade school that in some way formed some crazy “idea” neuropathways…. I can always remember doing something, somewhat insane.

So this past week was a sudden surge, almost implosion of ideas. After working with that lace weight, I am in love…. The Dragonfly was my first time working with a lace yarn. Now, as stated previously, I have worked with size 10 thread, even size 30 thread before. But lace weight yarn is a whole new breed….

The magic is in the blocking… I now have a set of nifty blocking wires. Once opened, will get a photo for you. Oh, the things I want to design with more lace weight.. Must, must get my hands on more. I have now been searching at all the different types of lace yarn out there… Which to try next? I want to try them all…

So please… Lend me your thoughts or observations… What should I try? What do you like? Is there anything particular that you have come across?

Since I do not have access to lace weight in town, I cannot go out and pet some lace weight… It will have to be ordered, so if you have any ideas, let me know! In the meantime I will continue my hunt of which lace weight to try next. Will let you know what it is!

Well, it is midnight… Sorry so short! Happy Friday everyone…

I leave you one of my new workout songs of ’09! Don’t know about you, but this song always puts a smile on my face and gets me dancing in the living room……..

Song on YouTube.

PS, here are a few more photos of that ice storm we had right before the holiday, and a video… Ice storms, so incredible, yet so destructible. (Clickable twice)


Happy New Year!

Happy New year to everyone!!!

Cannot believe it- another year has gone by. I have never made New year’s Resolutions before. Not because I had not wanted to, but mostly because it alway seemed like the new year crept up without notice, and with my “all or nothing” mentality, I always felt resolutions had to be be made before the actual new year in essence for them to be executed on the very first day of the year!

Time now to disperse of my “all or nothing” way of going about things. That encompasses breaking my thought processes to what is habitual for me. But, what have I accomplished in 2008?

Stone Path Hat, Interweave Crochet - Winter 2007 issue

Stone Path Hat, Interweave Crochet - Winter 2007 issue

First, I was published. And though my first publication came out in the Winter of 2007 (Stone Path Hat, Interweave Crochet Winter 2007). I did not realize what was to come all in the subsequent year, what I would be learning, what I would accomplish. That hat was the bridge to my relationship with Interweave Crochet. Not only was the pattern a successful and popular one, but it told me, wow, I can do this, and then – wow, I REALLY want to do more!

Each issue thereafter contained a pattern of mine. The spring issue unfolded with my Bouquet Stole (Interweave Crochet Spring 2008), followed by Summer Daisy Sundress (Interweave Crochet Summer 2008), then with Oxford Town Tote (Interweave Crochet Fall 2008) and then lastly, my greatest achievement: The Dragongfly Shawl (Interweave Crochet Winter 2008).

Bouquet Stole, Interweave Crochet Spring 2008

Bouquet Stole, Interweave Crochet Spring 2008

Summer Daisy Sundress, Interweave Crochet Summer 2008

Summer Daisy Sundress, Interweave Crochet Summer 2008

Ocford Town Tote, Interweave Crochet Fall 2008

Ocford Town Tote, Interweave Crochet Fall 2008

Dragonfly Shawl, Interweave Crochet Winter 2008

Dragonfly Shawl, Interweave Crochet Winter 2008

I never thought I would be in so many issues, especially with never being formally published before. Though, I did have a few short stories and poems published as a teenager, those were definitely never included in my proposals to Interweave!

The editor, Kim Werker, saw something, and I can only be glad she did. The people at Interweave Crochet were so approachable, so incredible to work with. Never once did I feel self-conscious In fact, I was treated so well, it fueled me to challenge my skills – and thus born was the Dragonfly Shawl.

In addition to Interweave Press, soon a relationship was formed with DRG (Annie’s Attic, American School Of Needlework, House Of White Birches, Crochet! magazine, etc.) and Caron. My relationship with DRG began with a wonderful editor named Ann. Before I knew it, I was on the phone with her discussing book ideas when I thought of a new cabling technique. I did not know who to go to with any company, or even which company for that matter.

Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family

Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family, DRG 2008

I think I just went on a phone rampage with the sudden onset of this whole new world opening up to me…. Ann loved loved loved the new cables, and could not believed they were crocheted. Simultaneously, I was emailing with Caron, and just said basically, “My name is so and so, here is my site, do you take submissions?” A lady named Nancy said “Yes, your stuff is right up our alley!” Within a couple days, I had a box of yarn at my step and went to work on swatches. I sent in 4 designs thoughts, 3 of which were accepting with the 4th pending. (As far as I know they still have the 4th).

Lisa's New & Easy Cable Afghans & Throws

Lisa's New & Easy Cable Afghans & Throws

So, then I had 3 projects to work up for Caron, DRG said to me, “We do not want a book with hats, scarves and mittens with your technique. We want 2 book! One with afghans using your new technique, and another with hats scarves and mittens using the traditional cabling technique.”

So, a good portion of 2008 was deadlines slammed together, one after another… the first half I should say was the most busy, and could not believe all the work I had. More publications came after, and with more to come. I have an pattern coming out in Crochet! magazine in the spring at some point, as well as 2 patterns coming out in the next spring issue of Interweave.

Another new part of the industry opened up for me as well – tech editing. I began doing this tech editing this summer, and it has been another learning curve. I am enjoying it, and was shocked when asked to do some tech editing. I know I am pretty anal-retentive when it comes to my own patterns. So much that I tend to mull over a single instruction for hours – to the insane point of rewriting the same instruction in every form possible and then by process of elimination conclude which is the best insertion for the media intended… Yep, one of my neurotic perfectionist tendencies… Anyway, tech editing has really retrained my brain, well, not entirely, but has given me a different perspective in which to view things.

Seeing things from another point of view, and how people think about things and what makes sense to them is a real eye opener. Another thing that brings to the table is decision making.. well, before I get going too much on this (can be a post on its own), let’s get back to wrapping up 2008!

2008 also brought me my first PR! The local paper here did a write up on me, and my business at the Crochet Garden… The Macomb Journal article.

Macomb, Il icestorm

Macomb, Il icestorm

Speaking of news articles… What else did 2008 bring? It was the first time I had to stay in a shelter due to weather. Yes, on the 19th of December, my town was hit by an incredible ice storm. Here we are on the WGEM news. Somewhere on there too is a video of me and the kids in the Red Cross shelter, with my daughter handing out snacks to everyone…

Macomb, Il icestorm

Macomb, Il icestorm

2008 also brought my BIGGEST accomplishment ever, in my lifetime. Something I thought I would never, ever be able to do. Everyone has a little dirt secret, right? Soon I will be posting more about my trials with this. This may even be a shock to many, but I used to smoke. This is the year that I quit. It feels so wonderful, and I feel like a brand new person. At first it was quite surreal, but now reality has set in, and for the first time that I can remember, I call myself a non-smoker. I am no longer a slave to those horrid, nasty little life-controlling-sabotagers. Yeah. that is not a word, but I have now made it one :)

So what are some new resolutions for the new year? (These are NOT in any order of importance).

1. Blogging

First will be to blog MORE. I think it helps me in a way, and well, it is a lot of fun to share my trials as I design and continue on with my career. You can bet on seeing more blog entries!

2. Losing Weight

Yeah yeah, everyone always adds this to their list. I really am going to do it though. Since I have already quit smoking, and conquered that, I feel I can do anything. It is NOT that I do not believe big is beautiful, etc. But for me, I want to be thinner… Just like the time finally came for me to give up the smoking habit, the time has now come where I am ready and most importantly, WANT to lose weight. And at least I do not have to battle both quitting smoking and losing weight together. I REALLY want to run around the park with my daughter in the spring… I want to get one of those jogging strollers.. Not only do they look cool, they look fun! I wish my mom took me around in one of those.. haha.

Anyone in Macomb area need a workout buddy?? On my testing forum, we have a Healthy Living area.. Well, time for me to revisit that and give that a major jump start! Come by and join up at the forum if you wish to join us in our endeavor. It does not matter if you have 1 lb to lose, 100 lbs, or just want to get healthy. No need to test patterns or anything.. Fellow designers, everyone, join on in!!! I am also going to start up a quit smoking section in that forum. Anyway, register at the board, and give me a day to organize those forums and get them going. When you register, send me a PM letting me know you are interested in joining the Healthy Living forums!

3. Move

I know it sounds silly to put this down as a goal, but man, we need to move! Not only do we need more room, I think it will be better for a change, something different…

4. More Time For Myself

Though my career did take off, at least on the publishing aspect.. and many more patterns were added to the Crochet Garden website..Though I love what I do, and I would be lost without it, I need to spent my time more efficiently. Not cram everything I can into a specific time period.. But to realize there will be times of utter chaos with deadlines amassing to no end… It is those times, that I need to take a little bit of time out. Getting away, even if for that 20 minutes, I think will in all actuality create time, rather than zap it, it a round about sort of way. Little breaks will make me feel more charged and rested thus making my subsequent working time more efficient. My mind will work more effectively, thus getting more done in less time, therefore resulting in more time.

There are more, and in attempts to rid myself of that who-knows-who-made-the-rule everyone-must-make-resolutions-before-the-new-year, I am going to allow myself to make up some new resolutions in the coming days! I think my new motto for the year will be, “break more rules,” shhh, my teenage son musn’t know that!

Happy New Year! I leave you with some Christmas photos that bring smiles to my face :) (Clickable)

A Big Book? What do you think?

I had a customer write me the other day… Here is what she wrote:

My husband bought me the rugged mountain pattern collection a few years ago
and I absolutely LOVE them! I would love for you to publish a book with only
your patterns in it! I am a huge fan of your work! Keep it up Lisa! You
rock!

I actually have been contemplating this for a while. Although I have a couple of smaller books out: Lisa’s New & Easy Cable Afghans & Throws, and Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family, a big hardcover book is very enticing.

Lisa's New & Easy Cable Afghans & Throws

4 cable designs utilizing a new cable technique

Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family

Hats, Scarves & Mittens For The Family

P.S. These books are now available for purchase through the Crochet Garden, along with a few others!

What kind of book would you like to see? I actually have started on some swatches and sketches for a possible book.. and have a couple of themes in mind.

Book with just baby patterns? A book with baby and tot patterns? A book with a mix of things? Maybe, “best of the Crochet Garden?” What do you want to see in a book? What books do you have that you love? Out of the books you like, what is it about them that you like?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

On another note… Garden Lullaby

Sizes Newborn - 12 mos

Sizes Newborn - 12 mos

has now been released! It comes in sizes Newborn to 12 mos.. I think it is a darling little dress… When I see this dress, I think of a little one, “helping” mom out on the laundry line.. It has been such a while since I did a thread dress. What next, maybe a Christening dress?

Oh, I wish there was more time in the day. I am now up to 3 binders full of designs and sketches. Each time I think of a new idea, out the binders come, and in goes another piece of paper… I am so worried about not remembering a design later- with how scatterbrained I am.

It is nice though, having them. Sometimes, I have editors come to me needing a design in a specific yarn. Sometimes I think of an idea right there on the spot. Other times, I just pull out my binder, photograph a few pages, then email them to the editor. I like having numerous ideas at my fingertips.. and so far, editors like it, or well, at least I think they do!

So.. about this big, book idea. I am feeling confident enough that I could pull off designing an incredible book. I do have things in motion. I am not yet ready though to propose the idea, as I feel I need to greatly cultivate it. So, please, lend me your thoughts! The biggest thing though, and not that it is an absolute when writing a book, but something that gave me even more of a drive to work on this book idea:

A while ago (not that long ago), I started to tech-edit some crochet patterns. Now, one does not need to be a tech editor to write a successful book proposal. I just feel that it adds to my skills. When I was asked to do tech editing, I was quite shocked. However, a multitude of reasons contributed… I was told I am highly detail oriented.. Which, I will have to agree, but only on a certain level. See, my desk, is a disaster :) I lose things all the time. I have notes here and there, hooks falling down.. towers of binders and papers trying to reach a new definition of “balancing act,” along with paperclips and safety pins.. Now, give me one piece of paper and ask me to solve a complex math problem, no problem! Give me a photo to edit and my eye zones in on each and every detail. Ask me to read a book, and I will remember in Chapter 1 what color shirt the protagonist was wearing (that is, if the author mentioned this).

I have concluded, my scattered-brainedness had to with the physical location of objects! And I am thinking, it is due to my over-detailed part of the brain.. so this other part of brain is squeezed out. Yes.. that is it. (Or maybe my rational of why I am always late because I can never find the keys?!

Well, more on the tech editing another time, maybe tomorrow. It was a very new experience for me, one I feel deserves a post all its own.. and well, gives me something new to write about so I do not neglect my poor blog!

Buttonholes, I aim for odd…

You know.. I was born on a Tuesday. So was my son… They say Tuesday’s baby is full of grace..

When I first began designing, I really had no idea what I was doing, and dove in blind. Now, with the last 3 years behind me (this year, I think will be my 4th?) I have learned so much. I think also getting published, during that 6 mos of nonstop working up patterns for publication companies, I learned much much more. There are so many different ways to write up patterns, and now, after reviewing my old style, and then all the styles of each company (each has their own guidelines), I now can say I have found my own little voice of style of writing. I do not know if that makes sense, but I now have a good sense, even during the designing process, of how one little detail change could have a minor affect on a pattern outcome, but a big impact on the length and complexity of the written word.

For example, I like to make my buttonholes within the pattern as I go, not afterwards making a buttonband. Well, because I work my patterns from the top down, and with a no seam sewing style, it pays to have an odd number of rows between each buttonhole. So let’s say I am working the panel with the buttonholes. And Let’s say I have a buttonhole on Row 2. The buttonhole let’s say is at the end of the row. So, if I have a buttonhole on Row 6 (3 rows in between, an odd number), I can simply say repeat Row 2. If my buttonhole is on Row 3, I would put another say on Row 7 (that leaves 3 rows in between, an odd number), which again would save space and complexity. Now let’s say I have a buttonhole on Row 2 (the initial example), and I decided to have one every 5 rows, so the next one would occur on Row 7. What happens? I have to write a new row, because we are working on the other side, the buttonhole would have to be at the beginning of the row in order to not end up on the side of the panel that contains the underarm! That means a whole instruction written up.

So then, I would have:

Row 1: “instructions”

Row 2: “instructions, at end work button hole”

Rows 3-5: Rep Row 1.

Rows 6-13: Rep Rows 2-5 twice.

Not having an odd number of rows between each button hole row would yield:

Row 1: “instructions”

Row 2: “instructions, at end work button hole”

Rows 3-5: Rep Row 1.

Row 6: “work button hole, instructions”

Rows 7-9: Rep Row 1.

Rows 10-13: Rep Rows 2-5.

So, the second version added 2 rows. Not that big of a deal, but that could domino affect with the more complex a pattern is…. and this is the bare bones… In different situations, such as when you have arm shaping on some rows, and no arm shaping on other rows, you could end up writing out each and every line individually, which would make for a much longer pattern than it would need to be.

And then, take into consideration sizes! Armholes are different for different sizes, so one will have more rows in a larger size than a smaller size. What to do with the button holes? Well, we want all sizes to have the buttons on odd numbered rows or even numbered rows. Just think, if we didn’t. Try sketching out. Draw (stick drawings- remember I’m no artist). Use graph paper if you can. And make oh say 15 rows for one size and 19 rows for another size. Then “plot” out where your buttons will be. Then think, where you place the button holes, and how they will affect the pattern text.

So when designing, I tend to think ahead of how what I am doing will affect the write up. And then I evaluate, would it be that big of an impact to say, do an increase here, or a buttonhole there, yada yada, for sake of making the pattern shorter? Will it have a negative impact on the output of the project? If no, then I work the pattern to have the writing be as simple to follow as possible, and as short as possible, without sacrificing clarity.

So, a lot of these little things I have picked up along the way as I learn more and more. I have a little hand side spiral notebook, that I keep all these little “ureka” moments in… Then when I am starting to design a pattern, and begin working it up, I am mentally working forward and backwards at the same time. Are you exhausted yet? lol, maybe I think too much? Anyway, I thought I would share one of my quirks when designing. Maybe I am doing everything not backwards and forwards, but inside out! Maybe there are easier ways, but the logic is all the same.. or well, the desired outcome is all the same.

Now, this is only one way of designing a pattern- from the top down using panels.. which is my primary way of designing, without seam sewing. There are so many other ways, and this technique would not really even apply. Some patterns are designed to be worked sideways… Some from the top down, but each piece is made separately then sewn together. Some work the button hole band after the garment is made.. But, I do believe thinking ahead, and how the design will affect the text, can be beneficial to any designer when designing.

Time for dinner!