Cover: Midsummer Night’s Shawl, Interweave Crochet, Summer 2010!

Interweave Crochet, Summer 2010

Interweave Crochet, Summer 2010

The cover! My first :) I am so exhilarated my Midsummer Night’s Shawl made the cover of the Summer issue of Interweave! I had no idea, no clue. I was also wondering when I sent it in, how it would fair. It would be up against the Dragonfly shawl. Not in the sense each one competing with one another.. But I always compare my work- what do I like about this one, and how is this compared to that one. What would I do differently… etc. When choosing what pattern to make, the decision is almost always from comparisons. In a sense, this shawl had a lot to live up to!  How would it do?

EDIT: CLICK here for the CAL thread on Ravelry!

Since the move, I kind of went into hibernation. However, during that time, I began an affair with lace weight yarn. I blame the Dragonfly :) It was as if it came to life, flew into my window, and sat upon my shoulder and commanded nothing but lace! My checkbook got a workout from lace orders :) I wanted to try every fiber, every brand…

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Midsummer Night's Shawl, Malabrigo Yarn Lace

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Midsummer Night's Shawl, Malabrigo Yarn Lace

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Midsummer Night's Shawl, Malabrigo Yarn Lace

This affair revealed something else though –I have always had a fondness for lace, and this brought that love back to the surface.  Here is one result of this path I am exploring- The Midsummer Night’s Shawl!

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Knit Picks Shadow Kettle Dyed, Altutide Kettle

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Pattern Body: This is shawl simpler than the Dragonfly. It consists of a 4-row repeat. The stitch pattern is remarkably simple.

If you can make clusters, sc, and chains, you will have little, if any problem with this shawl. In fact, if you are an expert at crochet and have always wanted to try lace, this is a great way to start :) Once you have the pattern down, it is a nice project to work in front of the TV. No counting.

Construction: The construction works like the dragonfly. You begin with a miniature triangle smaller than the palm of your hand. You then work across in rows, from corner, to center tip, to next corner. Then turn, and work present corner, to center to tip next corner, and so on. So working as long / wide as you wish is doable.

Yarn: The model (the shawl in the magazine) for this pattern uses Malabrigo Yarn Lace (100% baby merino)  The color is #98 Taureg.

The prototype (the project sent in for consideration) I used Knit Picks Shadow Kettle Dyed yarn (100% merino wool), in color Altitude Kettle. Unfortunately, this is being discontinued, as I really love this color!

Prototype, Knit Picks Shadow Kettle Dyed: Altitude Kettle

Prototype, Knit Picks Shadow Kettle Dyed: Altitude Kettle

Marcy Smith, the editor of Interweave, found the Malabrigo Yarn. Both are a lovely deep blue, and both have a very, very subtle changes in color depth – not enough to take away from the lace pattern, but just enough to enhance it.

For the past 6 months or so, I have been playing around with so many lace weight yarns, and getting a feel for the properties of each brand, each fiber. This has really helped cultivate my process when designing in lace, to really achieve what I want a design to become.

The Malabrigo yarn is very soft – definitely not an itchy wool. I have super sonic sensitive skin, and had no issues working with this lace. For example, some lace I have worked with it almost feels like I have a continuous feed of splinters infiltrating my skin when crocheting. With the Malabrigo – no problems of this kind whatsoever.

Before blocking

Before blocking

Before blocking

Before blocking

Before blocking

Before blocking

I would say the Malabrigo is a “sticky” yarn. Yes, I have my own little language and terms I associate in my mind to properties of lace. Sitcky, meaning, you have to be careful if you have to rip. It likes to stick to itself.

I would not say it is a nightmare if you need to rip out – perhaps somewhere in the middle ground. Some yarns, especially many those with fuzz and halos are hazardous to my mental well-being if I have to rip. Those yarns I just cut, and attach anew – and save insanity for those midnight hours of designing when I talk to the moon :) Some lace weight yarns, no problem ripping out.

With this, I would advise to rip slowly. Kind of like the sheep over the fence, the more you think about the more they all come over at once? Well, this, the more you pull, the more stitckies, and then, the ultimate stubborn knot. So just go slow, pull gently, and stop at the first indication of any struggle.

Blocking was beautiful. Thirty minute soak in a water bath and I began to pin. It kept its shape well, and did not relax anymore than any other lace yarn I have blocked with. Blocking is essential, as that is truly the magical part of lace shawls. I only wish I still have the model in my arms. Luckily, I still have the prototype!

I hope you enjoy making this shawl. And for those who were afraid of the Dragonfly, please give this one a try :) You are all on an adventure with me! Please do let me know if you make this, what you like, what you do not like. The more feedback I get, the better my designs will become for you!

If you have a favorite lace yarn you like to work with – let me know! I am hungry for more lace :) I want to design in every lace weight yarn there is available. Drop me a line too of your favorite colors in lace!

Thank you for sharing this magical time with me!

Also, want to make a note, another lady, Nicole, at Superior Creations, interviewed me. She posted my answers to her questions, and is having a Giveaway on her blog- a $25 gift certificate to the Crochet Garden! You can find it here: Superior Creations Blog. The Giveaway only goes until midnight Tuesday, so hurry!

Hummus – It’s Just That Good!!

hummus2Oh where have you been all my life… Hummus. All the things my mother never knew. Asparagus…. hummus… black bean chili.. No not all together- just all the new things I am trying and loving.

So on with it.. I have discovered hummus. For a while now, fire child has been eating it from the jar out of the supermarket.. Wild Garden brand or something like that. It looks good, I tried it, but it seemed to have to much lemon in it, or something. As my tonsils would cringe the first few bites- so a little too bold for me. But there was potential. So.. I went scouring through a bunch of recipes and experimented making hummus.  Doesn’t that photo look so yummy!?

Lots of celery- oh soo good. Nice crunch, and with hummus as a dip- super filling and so healthy. Kashi crackershummus1 are also to die for with this dip! I basically have been making a batch of beans a week, then turn them into hummus- and it is my impulse food in the fridge. Works magic when you need something and want it now!

I have this neat little food processor- it is only a 3 cups- so it works perfectly for me. First thing I do is soak a bag of chick peas (also known as garbanzo beans) over night. The next day, rinse them super well and put them in a pot. I bring the pot to boiling, then let the beans simmer for a couple of hours. I basically go by taste to know when they are done. They should be tender.

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My Hummus Recipe:

3 cups cooked chick peas

3 tbs of tahini

Parsley

2 garlic cloves

2 tsp of paprika

1-2 tsp cumin (try one, then taste, add more if needed)

1 tsp salt (add more to taste if needed)

1/3 cup water

1 tbs of olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced (you can start with 1/2 of a lemon juiced and work your way up)

TahiniI take 3 cups of chickpeas, maybe just a tad less and put it into my food processor. Along with that I add parsley, I am a garlic lover, so I add on most days 2 cloves of garlic. Some days 4 :) Maybe one day I will be bold and go 6… yeah, I better stay away from people on those days!!

I add in about 3 tablespoons of Tahini. Tahini is a sesame seed paste- and it is oh so yummy. It is high in fat, but at least these are good fats. Each time I make this, I start off with the basic recipe above, and then fine tune it, with the salt, the cumin, garlic. Also, when you begin to blend- go in baby steps. Let it pulse a few times until you get it up to a roaring spin. Add water as you go, but not too much! You can always add water but you cannot take away! Though, you could add extra chick peas if need be.

The water is there to help give it a smoother consistency – or else it may be too thick and break your crackers. Just add as much as you like until it is how you prefer.I also like that with the water, I add less oil. My first batch, I added lots of oil- just to make it creamier.. and while it was good, it definitely was overboard! Maybe you can add more lemon juice- but for me, more than a half of a lemon is too much. So the water turned out to be a perfect addition.

hummus6Another thing you can try (I have not yet) is maybe some vegetable broth. It would give it a veggie taste, a little more depth of flavor. I will have to try this as I am now really liking this idea of making different flavors of hummus!

You really just add things a little bit at a time, and try as you go… Keep a paper and pencil of what you change, until you get your recipe down to the way you like it. And you do not have to have a 3-cup processor. Just measure out 3 cups! The leftover beans from the bag I either make soup with, or I put in the freezer for later. Or I just leave in the fridge for a few days and add to salads and such- or keep it at hand for an emergency when I run out of hummus.

This stuff so rocks with celery. It also makes a great spread. If you cannot give up your bagels, try hummus instead of cream cheese.

Now mind you, I am no expert on any of this.. I am just a crazy crochet lady who loves to learn and implement healthy foods in life… So take what I say with a grain of salt, and toss it out the window if need be! My taste buds can be pretty wild and cover wide ranges! And, I am a veggie nut… If you make this… let me know how it turns out!!!

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And so, the “diet” begins. Different Approach.

Well, since I quit smoking, I put on some weight. Time to lose it. I figured it out- I just need to put my mind to it and figure out my strategy instead of just winging it. Just like with quitting smoking.. I made an agenda, I had a plan, and I did it. If I can quit smoking, I can do anything.

So, here it goes, we are going to transform a body… My bod, that is.

What is my plan?

1. No fast food – No more. That goes for the kids as well as myself. We really did not eat it often, but, even those few times are bad enough. Each time I eat out, I feel tired…  sometimes even sluggish.

2. Plant some veggies – I think that is going to give me a little pride, to have some fresh produce, and know I grew it myself. I did buy some seeds (toooooo many seeds). But with all things small steps seem to work for me. So I am going to pick 5, and begin growing. Others I will save for next season.

3. Walk every day – Well at least try to. Last night, I took a walk around the neighborhood with fire child. Note to self: Do not walk right after dinner. I do know this walking each day will not last when the temp rises- as I very much dislike warm humid weather. But, I did get a family pass to the YMCA. So that is when we will be putting that to use. But if I make it goal to do some sort of walking each day, not only is it good for my physically.. I felt better mentally last night after we took our walk. And ire child- she did not walk, she ran, then stopped and waited for mom.. ran, stop, wait for mom. ran, ran back, ran forward, stop and wait for mom.

4. Pilates – I realized, over this past year or two, I have lost muscle mass. I think that was a key factor in gaining weight and just feeling out of shape. Makes sense. So, got some Pilates DVDs. I will keep you posted how it goes with them.

So, I have tried to diet in the past and it just never really worked. I would gain back – not because of the diet but because of going off the diet. I have really been thinking about this – I do not think there is one solution to lose weight. It is a combination of sensible eating and exercising. So I am going to try an experiment. I am simply going to eat more whole foods, avoid processed food (almost anything out of a box is processed).

Use only Olive oil – no butter if at all possible. ALWAYS keep a stash of ready to grab celery carrots etc in the fridge. One of my problems is I work so hard and so long, that when I am hungry, I want to eat “now.” That will help with impulses. Luckily, the kids both love fruits and veggies- as I really have always had an abundance of them.. but now, they will be in “ready to go form.”

I am not going to deprive myself. If I am hungry, and I am going to eat. I will keep you all posted on how this goes… post recipes I find.

Anyone have any good lentil recipes??

Tomorrow I will be posting about Hummus – I am so addicted.. What a good thing.

Hello, again

It has been quite a while and I sort of fell out of the blogging loop. Well, time to get back and on top of things again. Some may know (if there is anyone still out there) that I moved last year. It was quite an undertaking. I am still in unpack mode, but at the end of it, and transitioning into the – Oh I need organization mode!

craft / work room

craft / work room

All I can say, is what a difference. We went from a small, (very small) place to a nice 3 bedroom (with 4th room in basement), 2 1/2 baths! It is wonderful. Water child and fire child both have their own room. Which, at the old place, there were only 2 bedrooms, and fire child and myself slept in the living room since the stairs were so treacherous for her anyway. It was so suffocating, with my mounds of yarn, fire child’s avalanche of toys, water child’s cloths, and on top of it, a 90 pound German shepherd!

I worked so hard… worked to keep my credit as best it could be. I did not think I would qualify – being a single parent, being self employed (crochet is what I do full time), during the recession. I feel relief. We have a great place to live, wonderful neighbors… It is amazing how living conditions can affect you. Not that mine were bad – they were stressful, having a galley kitchen that only 1 person could stand in.. and having to sleep on the couch- there is far worse out there. But I have to say, having space, it made such a difference. Not necessarily in my mood or anything like that, but it was like a little weight was lifted – I can breathe. And not only that- being able to decorate and paint, truly make it our own is what is amazing.

My room is going to be a certain shade of green… I wanted something calm. I also adore whitewash furniture, so eventually  that will go perfect. (I even have my own bathroom in my room!!!) Something else I wanted- all the bedrooms to be on the same floor, so I would be close to the kids. So all 3 bedrooms are upstairs. Fire child’s room right now is a shocking, bold, pink. It will soon be a lilac with floral murals and of course, with some added momma magic dust since she is the princess :) Water child is going with a deep burgundy-wine color. He has picked out black and white decor- very modern, clean lines. He also now has a queen size bed that fits his feet . I asked him has he been able to get used to not having his feet dangle off the edge of the bed- and happily, he says it is great! (He is now 6’3).

craft / work room

craft / work room

So, this spring or summer I will have lots of painting to do… I think I will hire the teen residents that sometimes make their way here and – stay here. I went with a no VOC paint for all of the rooms. Fire child’s is a low-VOC since he was very particular about the color. I will have to get before and after shots once we begin this great undertaking.

I also have a dishwasher – my first! And you know what is funny- I never use it. I still do dished by hand. But hey, I guess if I ever need it, at least I have the option! I also have central air conditioning. I have never had this before. The last couple of summers were excruciating at the old place- the window air conditioner kept blowing fuses on really hot days (when we needed it most) – and let’s just say, I should have bought stock in fans!

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craft / work room

The basement is a finished basement (yay)! It is so neat to walk down there, and say wow, this is mine! Sometimes I am still in disbelief. It is such a change. In the basement, there are actually 2 rooms. One is the utility room, with the washer, dryer, tools, etc. I can put all the laundry in there and close the door!  The 4th room in the basement, it my craft room!!  It is small, but I am happy… I have a place to get somewhat organized. I will admit, I am a VERY scatterbrained disorganized person- but I can close the door! And at least I know if I need my swift, or I need a hook, it is in there!!

Well, speaking of work, time for me to get back to it. I will post more photos of the house, and before and afters as I DIY them. And more on crochet stuff soon! :) :) Thanks for sticking around, if you are still here during my move.

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween! Water Child decided not to dress, but is taking Fire Child out tonight for trick -o – treating!

I do not have a pattern for this yet, and am not sure if I will write it up (maybe I will), but here it is…

The “Flower Fairy!”

Top was crocheted (which I will eventually maybe write pattern for), in a size 3 thread using Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Cotton, and will be crocheted into a dress for underneath the tulle. Since I was crunched for time beginning this at the last minute (long story), I sewed a cream satin piece of fabric underneath into a skirt for her. What is nice, is that she can wear jeans underneath and be warm, and no one will know! The skirt, is tulle. Ribbon was purchased at the store.

Wings are also handmade. I used 16 gauge wire, but next time will go to a 14 gauge. Top wings have a knee-high sock, and bottom wings are made with a tulle covering, the darkest of the 3 colors used for the dress.

fairy-078I then spray painted the top wings, and then hot-glued flowers to the bottom wings. The flower wand is a flower I picked up on clearance. Using a 20 gauge wite, I wrapped a ribbon in a spiral encasing the wire around to secure it, leaving random ribbons dangling down.

It was a fun mom-and-me project. Since Fire Child loves, (really) loves loves loves flowers, this is the perfect costume for her!

Later tonight I will be putting a butterfly tatoo high near her temple, and then face paint part of her forehead and high cheek with glitter paint and spirals :)

Crocheted Gifts, Publication & Twitter Event

Crocheted Gifts

Crocheted Gifts, Interweave Press 2009

Crocheted Gifts is out! I have been eagerly awaiting this publication! There are so many fabulous projects to choose from in this book! And of course, one of them, is mine – a collection of washcloths.

Simple, yet sleek… while both practical and heartwarming. Washcloths, not something you necessarily think about, but definitely something you use each day!

I wanted an all-way gift. The first thing that came to me was baskets…

The baby Basket.. filled with baby powder, a rubber ducky, safety pins, and pnk and blue handmade washcloths.

Crocheted Gifts, Organic Indulgence

Crocheted Gifts, Organic Indulgence

The Zen Basket… Think spa.. So in, so modern, trendy.. zen. Basket of essential oils, naturals soaps and organic oh-so-soft washcloths gathered with strands of twine.

The Country Basket – apple and pear scented soap bars, mixed in with washcloths tied with big bows laid upon a gingham pattern cloth.

Crocheted Gifts, Organic Indulgence

Crocheted Gifts, Organic Indulgence

The Teen Basket – Nail polish, loofahs… big colorful fruit-scented bath beads, emery boards, star and heart-shaped glycerin soaps and bright crocheted washcloths rolled up.

Her Basket – Her favorite moisturizer, a sleep mask, a CD of relaxing seascape melodies, and soothing soft handmade washcloths..

So many possibilities.. so many occasions to give, and so many reasons to just say hey, I am thinking of you. I really, really enjoyed designing these. Please let me know if you work them up!

There are other fabulous patterns in this book!! I also wanted to let you know about a Twitter Event for Crocheted Gifts, hosted by Kim Werker tomorrow August 25th, 1Pm to 2PM pacific time. Many designers will be there discussing the book, their inspirations for their designs.. You can ask any questions you have about the book too.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend :( But if you can make it, it will be a memorable time!

Bustier Top – Published

Bustier Top - Interweave Crochet, Summer 2009

Bustier Top - Interweave Crochet, Summer 2009

Weeeeee! So much in this current issue of Interweave Crochet, Summer 2009! First, we have the Bustier Top. I know it sounds cliche’ but man, I really loved designing this.

Here are a few helpful links to start us off: Bustier Top On Ravelry, Bustier Top available at Interweave Crochet.

How often do I design women’s garments? Not often enough after this. When I started designing crochet patterns, I mostly created baby items, due to fire child being an infant. I did long to create garments for the adult, but at that time, baby and tot items reigned.

It is now coming to be that she is growing older, and while I can still make things for her, I am feeling myself wanting to transition, or well not transition, but broaden my garment designing area.

So alas, we have the Bustier Top!

Bustier Top, back/side view

Bustier Top, back/side view

I wanted something feminine, but not something that screams I am a girl and then some! I wanted something that would be classy, but still be sexy. I wanted something to hide bra straps. Perhaps that is from me being your larger than the run of the mill bust sizes…But either way, for this my inclination was – no bra straps showing. They do have their place,  with the layering of camisoles and tanks that are abundant these days, (oh how I wish I could get away with that look), but for some reason, this one just said, “cover me, if just a little…”

Just like all of my baby tot wear, this garment works from the top down. It really, really is highly customizable too. And I think that can be a problem in the industry. Seeing a striking outfit, fitted on an hourglass model, and an apple shape works it up, only to be disappointed.

Busttier Top, back view

Bustier Top, back view

Some garments are only meant to be for a pear shape, or an hourglass shape. That may be due to the nature of the style of the outfit, or the way the instructions are written not allowing much room for customization, if any at all.

With the Bustier Top, I designed in such a way that all important that all of our shapely parts can be accodomated, from a small A cup, to a DD cup, from that slim straight hip figure to the curvacious Monroes out there.

Even more, there is really no increasing and decreasing. There is, in a sense, but not in the traditional way. The traditional way of working increases does occur when working from the should along the armhole. But for the busy, hip and waist shaping, there is no change in the number of sts, only in the size of the sts!

Busttier Top, on dress form

Bustier Top, on dress form

And since this piece works from the top down, it is easy to just try as you go. Basically, the sts change in size for shaping. Using more smaller sts (instead of the bigger sts) result in a smaller area. Just as a simple example, let’s say we have 50 sts all the way around (this is just figuratively here).

When shaping around the waist, someone with a small waist may work 20 small sts and 30 large sts, and someone with little curvature may work 5 small sts and 45 large sts. Someone with your average curves may work 10 small sts and 40 large sts. And then the distance one works the amount of large sts and small sts over can be cutomized as well – and this is very important when it comes to the bust. A larger bust will need more area to be covered.

Bustier Top, edging

Bustier Top, edging

The pattern of course gives guides as a baseline, but when it comes to customization – the floor is yours!

My favorite part, aside from the customization, is the edging. Oh, how you really will see how beautiful it is when you work it up. Without closeups in the magazine, it is hard for one to really see how it brings together the whole top to a final grand finale. I call it my closed floral lace stitching. I had a lot of testers work this top up and will see about getting some of their photos posted here! If you work this top up, please let me know how it goes!

I will write in later blog  posts about the other items of interest in this issue  – Rainbow Rolls and an article!

Coupons!

Here are some ongoing coupons for the rest of March and throughout April! You can keep up to date (when I keep up to date) on coupons available through the Crochet Garden here.

Keep an eye out here for a very special coupon that will be coming. Special coupons will be limited in some special way (such as one day for use) – and may be very uber :)

Some April, March Coupons:

1. 10% off any order (no minimum) and no limit to number of uses throughout March and April and can be used on top of current sales! CODE: 10FORMARCHAPRIL
Good through April 30th, 2009

2. 20% off any order $20 or more! CODE: MARCH2020
NOTE: Limit 1 per customer. Good through March 31, 2009
Note: Keep an eye out here for April’s special coupon!

3. FREE Shipping any order through April! CODE: FREESHIPAPRIL
NOTE: This coupon can be used 3 times per customer! Good through April 30, 2009

2009 CLF Flamies Awards – A Winner

2009 CLF Flamies Awards

On March 16th, the CLF (Crochet Liberation Front) held a crochet awards ceremony. Just like on TV the Oscars :) Basically, for a while people were allowed to nominate others for particular categories. Soon, weeks later, the voting ended. March 16th was the night Mary Beth Temple hosted live on Blog Talk Radio the winners, as well as speaking with the winners.

I was nominated for 2 categories. 1) Best Crochet Design For Adults 2008, and 2) Best Crochet Designer Children 2008.

To my amazement, I won Best Crochet Design For Adults 2008! And the lovely showstopper? The Dragonfly Shawl!

You can read all about the recap of the evening at the Crochet Liberation Front on Ravelry. You can also here Mary Beth Temple’s live broadcast of the award ceremony here. What a night it was. So many big names. So much talent. That was history. The first crochet award ceremonies in history.

I never, ever thought I would win. If you happen to listen to the podcast, I am on at the very very end. Unfortunately there was a malfunction, and a lot of people got dropped from air. Fortunately, I was one of the last to be on, so I am at the very very end :) Let’s say public speaking, or well, podcast speaking is not my expertise! Hah, when asked what issue my Dragonfly shawl was in from Interweave Crochet – “uh, ummm. Ummm.” Of course I knew it was the Winter 2008 issue!! I for the life of me could not get it out. That is Lisa public speaking for you.

Dragonfly Shawl

Dragonfly Shawl

Now, I can teach a class crochet, I can talk about things to groups of people, when I have an agenda. My “thinking” part of the brain is thus paralyzed, so I just talk, no issues, no problems. Until I am conscious, that is, lol. Well, maybe I did not do too bad…

I cannot thank all those individuals who voted for the Dragonfly. The talent that night was overflowing. And there I was, up there, with those who are part of the new era of crochet, paving its new path.

THANK YOU! Really, a heartfelt thank you. I was sincerely not expecting this award.

Simply Bibs, Snuggly Hoodie, Published Interweave Crochet, Spring 2009

I have the entire year to make good on my new resolution this year of blogging regularly!

I apologize.. bad bad me. Ok, enough apologizing.. We shall begin anew! April is the new New Year.

So what has been going on?

Well first, if you are on Twitter, you can find me on there as “CrochetGarden.” Seems I have been having more luck with the tweets than the blog, so we now have the tweets showing here on the blog :)

Second, I would like to announce my latest publications in the Spring issue of Interweave Crochet! I have 2 patterns in this issue. First, is Simply Bibs.

Isn’t this baby just a little ham?? They could not have picked a happier baby! These bibs were a blast to design, especially since I was working them up in Mission Falls 1824 Cotton. I had never worked with that yarn before, and lately I have been on a huge cotton kick.

MISSION FALLS 1824 COTTON

What really makes this yarn suitable for the bibs – machine washable and machine dry on gentle cycle. Although I did not wash and dry the bibs, I do plan to order myself some and experiment with it. Gotta love a new cotton to play wit as I please!

Before embroidery

I did not see any shedding while working with this yarn, nor any pilling.  I have had some cottons begin to pill almost immediately after working with them, and some even a few days down the line. This cotton yarn passed the pill test for at least a few weeks while it was in my hands. And did I mention soft? Some cottons tend to have some “stiffness.” Not Missions Falls 1824. Definitely worthy of being next to a baby’s skin.

What really makes or breaks a yarn for me is the colors. If the colors are not appealing, forget it, I am uninspired. That does not mean that I need the perfect color to come out with a great design! Nor does it mean I have to be inspired by yarn and thus color before I can design! What this means is that I am basically just as it says, uninspired. Non-passionate. Bored. I can make something out of drab, but it is so much more fun to make something from fun! Yes, a little redundant.

Look at the colors used in these bibs. Who would have thought the colors Chili (main color of bib) and Fog (Edging) would go together or even remotely complement one another? They rock. When I was given these colors, I was told to play and go with whatever worked. The Mission Falls colors are made to work with one another… sometimes in a logical-expected way, and other times in a completely non-expected, off the beaten path way… The first instance I saw the colors, it was a mad dash into 2 piles and voila, color scheme developed.

I have to say I am very pleased with my introduction to the Mission Falls 1824 cotton. Rich, classy colors that alone one would think like to be separate, but once together seem to have a natural affinity for one another.

ABC 123 ABC 123

Would I design with this yarn for the Crochet Garden website? Yes. What would you like to see? Drop me a line anytime..

I am thinking, wouldn’t overalls with big oversized pockets be perfect? Maybe with a bucket hat to match? Make sure you are signed up to get the Crochet Garden newsletter to keep up with developments and new patterns. I will keep you all updated as well once I experiment more, and wash and dry the yarn.

SNUGGLY HOODIE

Baby > Hoodie

There’s that darling little babe again, modeling my hoodie! Now mind you, the hoodie shown is sized to fit 18 mos.. But this little guy was too good to pass up modeling the hoodie as well. That smile more than makes up for the room left over :)

It seems hoodies are in, from tots to teens, to adults… I thought it would be so stylish, and perfect for spring and fall.. and maybe even summer evenings.

Two pockets make it perfect for tot to stash little toy cars in, or little crayons. This hoodie is unisex. While the pattern is written for boy, just make the buttonholes along the other panel for a girl :)

The yarn chosen for this project could not have been any better:

LORNA’S LACES SHEPHERD SOCK

Soft.  I could definitely make oodles of socks out of this yarn and my toes would be bathing in luxury – never deprived again..  Heck, I would use for every extremity – mittens, hats, the whole works.

For the hoodie, I used 2 strands of this held together throughout. I could have gone with single strand, but that would increase the time factor, and I felt a hoodie would be better suited with 2 strands of a sock weight (fingering) weight yarn.

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock

Lorna’s Laces are all hand-dyed yarns. Luxurious yarns, with a great price, especially for the quality.  Isn’t this blue mezmerizing? I mean, it has a wee bit of turquoise to it, bold but not bright, tropical-feel but you would not feel like a peacock in it…

Colors can be bold, striking, some leave you wanting to gaze longer. I think I spent a whole morning, just browsing at all of the colors. I think my favorite is “Edgewater.” Take look at Edgewater at Jimmy Beans Wool. Oh what to make with it? The contrast is perfect, right on. Enough to catch your eye, and the perfect tones to keep you looking.

I am thinking of a new lace shawl in some of these laces. Maybe a really nice sophisticated hat. Maybe one of those Canadian hats the teens are all going crazy for (they are here at least). Will need to ponder and browse more…

The yarn does have a bit of spring to it.. A tad bit of stretch, which I am sure is due to the 20% nylon content- making it very sock-happy…  I like these types of yarn that have a bit of give to them. Now to add Lorna’s Laces yarns to my notebook for possible patterns to design in!

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Well, time for me to get some work done… More on that soon. Other announcements to be made and other updates. Maybe even a couple sneak peaks… Soon, soon!

Low Degrees = Tight Gauge

Well, so much for my New Year’s Resolution of blogging at least 3 times a week! Oh well.. I am still doing fairly well this year…  This was my first lapse. Need to work on that all or nothing mentality and blog, even if it is just a wee little bit!

So what caused my lapse? Well, me, of course, but what was the catalyst?

I had some tight deadlines. One was a garment (cannot say what :)). Since I was working on it when it read literally about 40-50 degrees inside the house (landlord put up insulation, thank goodness), and so my tension changed, unfortunately without me realizing it. It tightened up, most likely from being so darn cold. I should have habitually checked my gauge while working, but you know what it is like when you get a rhythm and you just keep going.. especially if you are one where rarely your tension changes.

The finished size was off by about 1 – 2 inches, depending on how one measures. And of course, sometimes an inch discrepancy will occur, since even a gauge swatch, if off by even a millimeter, when working a larger project, such as a cardigan versus a small hat, that minuscule difference will have a bigger impact.

So anyway, I had a few options. I could block it and stretch it out some. But, since I knew myself, I knew that would not suffice. The crazy insane perfectionist I was said we needed to rip. I consulted the editors, and told them the dilemma, and send a few snapshots along with it.

Luckily, I was not banished from ever working with them again (hah), and they were pretty understanding. Ultimately, I decided for myself regardless of what their response would be that I would redo, no matter what. But I wanted to keep them updated of what was transpiring.

So… there I went and began anew. Because the gauge was off throughout the garment, I knew I had to start from the beginning. While working on this, I also had 2 more projects to work up for publication, but not only work them up, had yet to design them! Eeek.

In an odd sort of way, I work well under pressure. It gives me an excuse to not be lazy and get off my duff and get some work done. Sometimes, I just sit there, staring at the paper, which is not a bad thing.. I call it my “meditation-brainstorming.” It is relaxing, but productive at the same time. Yeah, an oxymoron.

Finished the garment.. Designed the other 2 projects. I am very proud of these designs.. And one, is different. You will be surprised, as it is a bit different. Actually, all 3 are different from my normal work, and I think they will be different in a very good way. You will see these projects sometime during the summer months :)

Ok, so this is short. Need to get some work done. Some upcoming posts, I will be introducing you to a good editor friend of mine who now designs, my nifty new printer, and some other fun things!

PS, Just also want to say, I am currently working on my taxes and bookkeeping from this past year. I have surpassed my earnings from the previous year. Although I am not sure yet by how much, doing this for the 4th or 5th year in a row, I now get an inkling of how I did as I tread through the paperwork. So we end this with a woohoo!

I leave you with a pic of Water Child when he was a little one… HAH I love this photo!!!

Water Child, at age 3

Water Child, now 15

My Dirty Little Secret

Local creamery, antibitoic & hormone free milk, and CHEAPER than the store brand milk!

Local creamery, antibitoic & hormone free milk, and CHEAPER than the store brand milk!

Is this a crochet post? No. But, something about me, and maybe even you. It is my dirty little secret, and maybe yours too.

Everyone has one. Some more than one.. and some say they do not have a secret, but I bet they do…  I did mention my “dirty little secret” in a past post, very subtly, without any explanation or elaboration.

Anyway…. Since most of my social life (not all) is on the internet, or well  work-life:  talking with testers, fellow designers.. editors etc. Most have had no idea about the secret – thus is that of the internet world. We can be who we want, pretend to be who wish to be…

Most of you who have read my blog over the last few years, and the old blog before I moved here.. know that naturally, I am pretty health conscious. I still have weight to lose, but for the most part, I have always ate healthy.

I buy antibiotic & hormone free milk. Heartland Creamy is what we get- aren’t the glass bottles so cool? I get a buck fifty back on each when returning the bottle.. I have kept a few, so I filter water, then pour the water in a couple of bottles. There we go, no plastic leaking chemicals into my water stored in the fridge.

Teavana Tea

Teavana Tea

Even before the big green movement, I was big on greens, big on buying organic and local… my pancake mix has always been whole wheat. Though I drink lots of coffee, I drink lots of green tea, as well as my yerba mate. Gotta love the Yerba Mate, though I have to admit, I think I like the taste of green tea better. And you know what rocks?

Two years ago my sister and her now husband got me some tea.. This place is so awesome, you can even mix different varieties to get that perfect tea! These little tin cans are resuable too and can store future purchases of tea..

Check it out, there are even little flowers in this Rose Garden tea. MMMmmm… Check out the Teavana website, in case you do not have one in a town near you (like me).

Tea closeup

Tea closeup

So anyway. How could someone be so healthy, yet have this dirty little secret? How could this person, who eats her veggies, is health conscious, almost neurotic to a point where she had a field day with her daughter’s preschool teachers for turning an eye to paint fumes infiltrating the building from another room, do anything that could definitely harm?

I am not sure. But life is full of oddities. Well what is this secret? Knowing Fire Child’s and Water Child’s teachers sometimes read this blog… knowing work-related friends and occasionally read here.. Is the reason why I have never mentioned.. nor ever felt a need to.

So what is this dirty little secret that I have been carrying around? I used to smoke.

Some may be mortified. Other may be like, “who cares.” Either way, it is subjective to each person if it really qualifies as a “dirty little secret,” and to me, it does. Some people will smoke to oblivion and blow the smoke right in your face and not give a hoot.. Some, do not bring attention to it and just a few people close to them know. Others hide it completely – closet smokers. I was in the middle.. I tried to only smoke when by myself, and only those select few people who either smoked themselves or that I felt at ease enough to smoke around and did not mind it.

I never ever thought I would be able to quit. I really didn’t. I was such a slave to them. Whenever I would go out, had to make sure I had a pack on me… Before I went to sleep, had to make sure I had some for the morning. If I had to go on a plane, my first thought was NOT would I crash (yes I have a tiny fear of planes), but rather, my first thought was, oh no how long would I have to go without a cigarette for.

Ah! How I polluted myself.

For the past couple of years, I had in my head that I wanted to quit before my birthday this past year (my bday was in December). Of course I put it off for as long as I could. For the last 4 years, I had wisdom teeth issues. To the point that I was taking advil on a daily basis, actually more like 3-times-daily basis. Finally, a dentist opened up that would accept my card, and scheduled an appt to have them looked at. He said 1 definitely needed to come out and would talk about the others later. I said fine. So the tooth extraction was set for Nov 18th.

I think I had the living kajeebers scared out of me, as people said NOT to smoke, it would cause dry socket. Well, I had a decision to make.. I decided that would be my quit day, as I could not smoke for 48 hrs. This was all on a whim. Had I not had that appt, I am not sure I would have really set a date.

From my mother's garden

From my mother's garden, that I will REALLY be able to smell this summer

I decided that to make it easier, I would use the patch. The last couple of times I tried to quit (which lasted for a day), I had horrible mood swings, to the point I was even scolding myself for something petty. That was my strongest withdrawal symptom – mood. Not cravings, not headaches, etc.. For me, it was my mood. No patience.. maybe it was psychological and I needed something to take it out on that I could not have a cigarette and so it just boiled up even more in my head.

So, the day arrived. I had my last cigarette before going in. Like, maybe 3 mins before going in. He takes my tooth out, packs it, out I go. In an instant, ALL of the pain I had in my moth was gone.. gone gone gone. My daily advil ritual ceased right then and there. I went home, and an hour or two later, put on the patch.

Could not believe it, no withdrawal, no no nothing. This is easy I thought.

Well, it did not last long. By the 5th day, I had to remove the patch. My bones (yes my bones) in my arms could not handle it. They ached.. to the point my arm would just dangle as it was too painful to even raise my hand. I guess joint or bone pain is a possible side affect, and my body did not take it in stride, at all.

So I took the patch off, but did not have a cigarette. There were no mood swings. There were some cravings. By the first month, most of those diminished. Now, only into the 3rd month, I never think about them. I never get the “oh I really want one.” No cravings. In fact, I cannot stand the smell of smoke now. I never ever ever thought I would be this way, as I was a smoker and I really liked my cigarettes :)

I know I will never smoke again. One of Water Child’s friend’s mother is a smoker, big time. I told him next time to bring a set of clothes here I can wash and keep for him when he comes over so he can change into.. because the stench just lingers, and lingers…

Yerba Mate Tea, check out those antioxidants!

Yerba Mate Tea, check out those antioxidants!

Even in the store, in an instant, I can tell if someone is a smoker.. or was around smoke recently. The post office is the worse.. for some reason that place when a smoker walks in, the smell is intensified. No idea why.

I feel like a new person.. It is so different being able to go somewhere and not have to check to be sure I have my smokes. I feel clean. It is healthier for me. And though I never smoked indoors, I am sure it lingered on my clothes.. So it is healthier for Water & Fire Child.

I now feel like I can do anything. I even told my mom.. if she decided to quit, I would move in with her for a month to get her through it. I think she is seriously taking me up on that offer :) I hope she does.

Sorry so long winded.. It is  just such a big thing to me, that I actually did it. I really, really did it. And I know because I told  myself I would not announce it anywhere until I was 100% sure I was a quit done never smoke again.

Child’s Play – A New Idea

I do not think I ever mentioned, but Fire Child is a little artist. She loves to be creative – from playing with yarn, to painting oceans. (By the way, she turned 4 not too long ago). I remember one instance, at Christmas time, we were watching a tv special, a santa one, and she saw the reindeer flying. Although a totally different situation, still the same completely… She said “I need to go draw a reindeer!”  I watched her very adamantly get off the couch with a confirmed little gallop to her desk. A few moments later, a new masterpiece – a sleigh of reindeer.

A Butterfly

A Butterfly

I saw myself.. I could be in the middle of dishes, and all of a sudden, see a design in the bubbly water, and jump to the living in my yellow rubber gloves and sketch out the picture in my mind – yellow gloves still there, little droplets of water span the paper – but my newest idea for a masterpiece…

So.. this new idea came to me, to involve my daughter…  Why not design a design together? Maybe it is crazy… but what better way to really create a memory, or even a design, than an icon of her present mindset?

Her drawings are so free… Sure, maybe not proportionate… Sure, maybe silly colors or little scribbles in unexpected places. But that is where the magic unfolds…  Her mind, unmolded, her eyes, visions unrestrained…  Completely undisturbed. I see her focus, but only so slightly… as her crayons move as swiftly as her mind, but with fluidity.

A Unicorn

A Unicorn

Whether it be intarsia… or bobbins. So many ways to have color work play into an afghan… or onto anything really for that matter. Why not incorporate some of Fire Child’s art? I can see a little afghan with maybe large squares… each having a design within it… Or maybe a large afghan with a picture on it. Maybe, a little purse, with a butterfly cross stitched on it.

An Elephant

This line of patterns would be entitled “Child’s Play?” or maybe “Through A Child’s Eyes?” Now, wouldn’t it be neat… to maybe come up with some 12 X 12 squares… for charity purposes? I think I may just do that.. Come up with a couple of squares, with Fire Child’s designs incorporated into them..

Maybe one of her flowers… Maybe one of her puppies… Now I do not think that has been done before! And what a personal touch it would be to have that kind of square added to an afghan… What do you think?

Unicorn, with wings wearing a necklace, smelling a flower. Drawn on computer.

Unicorn, with wings wearing a necklace, smelling a flower. Drawn on computer.

Yes.. we must think outside of the box.. Guess sometimes I fall off the box :) Sometimes it takes me a little while to get back. And yes, I can hear my brother saying “oh no.. here she goes with another idea…” But it is unique, is it not?? I think it would be incredible.. Of course with many ideas, there is always tweaking needed…

I think she would love it as well… I have a large bin that I keep each and every one of her “masterpieces” in. And each day, about 10 more are added, and some days, many many more…

What is so great, is that the drawings are perfect! It is the imperfections that make them perfect… And that is why they are so suitable to put on an afghan.. to put on a square.. to put on a tote or lapghan.. Each one has its own character, its own personality. I don’t know about you, but I would love to have something not machine generated… but something intrinsic, unique, and perfect from imperfectness – and what better than from the mind of a child?

Niters all!

So like, it was cold. Oh, and a new pattern!

Well, we got hit again, of course… The cold.. oh so very cold. The other day woke up and it was reading 52 degrees in the house. Called the landlord. We had 2 pipes frozen… even the dog’s water bowl was frozen solid, if that tells you anything! So he came over, and we worked on defrosting the pipes (they froze despite leaving the water dripping, etc).

So, finally, we have water, yay! I put the oven on to get at least some relief from the cold. Landlord is going to get someone to put some insulation in the basement celing (you see, the floorboards are open to the basement, at least somewhat.. you can see speckles of light when peaking through)!

Yesterday, no water. Today, no drainage. Yeah, can you believe it? The drains are now frozen! But I do have running water.. :) Just no where to put the running water! When it rains, it pours, when it pours, it overflows.

Tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 30s.. thank goodness… I am not fond of this frigid cold. I do like cool weather, much more than heat (oh how I really hate humidity in the summer).. but this cold, was too cold.. even the dog can attest to that!

So I am rushing, 2 deadlines looming, for 3 projects to be made, designed, worked up… and one of my testers posts about seeing one of my patterns in a newsletter… (Thank you Carolyn!!!!)

I was wondering what had happened with this pattern! I sent it to Caron, thinking first, it would be on the tear sheets in Walmart (maybe it will be still), and then thinking it would be in a magazine.. Well, tonight alas, I find it to be on the Caron website!

I really love this pattern! It is simple, fun and quick.. You can work it while watching tv, with only an occasional glance at the TV. The color possibilities are endless..

What do you think…

Circles, Stripes & Squares

Circles, Stripes & Squares, for Caron International

Circles, Stripes & Squares, for Caron International

I really wanted something simple, but not plain and boring… Something fun, that when you smile at it, it really does smile back.

It says, come snuggle with me and we will play and giggle the afternoon away.. See what I mean, I tell you, my patterns have stories to tell!

Anyway, this pattern is available for FREE. It is on the Caron website.. and here you go in case you want to queue it on Ravlery

Circles, Stripes & Squares for Caron International

This blanket was made using Caron international’s Simply Soft Eco. I really love this yarn. It is just as soft as their regular Simply Soft line..

But what is nicer, is that this consists of recycled plastic bottles – something like every 10 skeins saves 6 bottles. So now, make your creations, while helping the environment! I really love the colors too in this line. First, so many to choose from… Second, they all go together so well. The colors in this afghan reminds me of Taffy… doesn’t it? Maybe that is the “fun” part of the giggles story… Just like at a carnival with popcorn and taffy…  It is almost like a color glow.. if you look at the large motifs, how the stripes of green pink and purple seem to have a glow-like effect against the yellow background, doesn’t it?

Some people have been concerned about the yarn showing some kind of “lint” in some of the colors. I have not found this to be problematic. The company Caron explained this is not lint or any type of “dirt.” It is part of the recycled material. I personally have not found this to be problematic. I have seen it in some of the skeins, and it seems more pronounced than in others – for what reason I am not sure. But the yarn is definitely just as soft, and the colors just as remarkable as the the Simply Soft line. If I were you, I would give it a try. I was pleased with how the yarn felt in my hands, how it worked up, and the end result :)

Anyway, be sure to let me know if you make this blanket. I would love to see what colors you choose and see how it turns out! And for those of you looking for easy patterns, this is definitely one of the few I have designed that are skill level Easy! :)

Niters.. off to visit the sandman.

Criticize My Submission Proposal!

Blossoming Beauty Sundress

Blossoming Beauty Sundress

Have you always wondered what other designer’s submissions look like? Are you a new designer wanting to submit something somewhere? Are you a seasoned designer, but with a curiosity of how others “do it?” Are you a customer who always wondered what all of this is about? Maybe at some point you have pondered about what this process entails.

I put myself out in the open here, and show and describe one of my first proposals in my career. But first, I wanted to talk a little but about submitting a proposal.

There are many ways to make a proposal when submitting a design. Some companies have their own guidelines. First, just like a job interview, you research the company. I repeat, do your homework. Find out if there is indeed a procedure to follow when submitting. Some companies may have a set file or email that they will pass on to you that spells everything out – what to do, how to do it, and in what order. Some companies, especially yarn companies, can vastly differ in procedures.

Here are some things to think about…

Is there an editorial calender?

Some companies may have what kind of themes they have going for each issue, from projects sought, sometimes right down to the colors. Some companies have no calendar.

Do they want just a swatch, or an entire project?

Some companies, and this seems to be more often lately, want a swatch, but accompanied by a sketch. (More on sketch/swatch proposals this later in this post). It makes sense, that most companies want a sketch (nothing elaborate) of your basic idea. This can be simple stick figure drawings, simple squares, triangles. No need to go to art school. Something basic to convey your idea across.

Anything you send – whether a swatch or a full garment, if you want it back, do include return postage! If anything, to me, in my little opinion regardless whether it is required or not, it is only courtesy. And do not forget your address! The outside box may be tossed upon opening.

So anyway, many companies to request a swatch to be included in your submission. The swatch is for them to see the execution of your design. They most likely are asking many questions whilst examining your swatch:

1. How is the drape? If they are seeking a nice drape, skim-the-body slinky tunic type of garment, and your swatch is in a tight sc stitch, this would most definitely need to be remedied.

2. Is this stitch appropriate for the design? Choosing an open work lace scarf accompanied with the description of it being a warm scarf to protect from the elements would not mesh. Either the stitching would need to change, or the description and practicality of the scarf would need adjustment.

3. Is this fiber appropriate for the design? When making garments for babies and toddlers, think comfortable. Do not choose an itchy wool (unless of course we are talking soakers. Although not always, it is nice for things to be machine washable for these little ones. Is this a bikini to sunbathe in, or to actually swim in? If to swim in, forgo the cotton- unless these are intended for swimming exhibitionists! (Cotton will sag… sag, sag, sag….). If this is a summer top, do not use alpaca! Yes, it is sooo soft, but eh, unless you are looking for a substitute of those losing-weight-sweatin’-space-suits…

4. Not only is the stitch and fiber appropriate for the design, is the stitch and fiber a happy couple? For example, if you are creating cablework, working in a variegated yarn will take away from the stitch detail. If you are aiming for a lacy affect, thinner yarns are more effective than heavier yarns, as well as using a larger hook than usual. If working cables, is this the best fiber to really show the definition?

Will they accept emailed photos?

I think this will soon come to be the norm, or at least accepted simultaneously alongside with snail mailed swatches, especially how everything is going digital and everywhere you go, technology is catching up, or well, people are catching up.

Deadlines?

Even freelance designing you have deadlines. Learn their deadlines for submissions if they have them, and respect them. Be on time.

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The bottom line is do your research. You will not caught off guard if you know what is expected and you do it, conforming to their wishes. Treat it like any job interview. It is after all, a job, and like in the real world, it is their impression of you – make it a strong one!

Proposal from 2007

Proposa

DISCLAIMER:

This proposal example and this post is NOT a “How to submit a crochet design.” Do NOT not Not NoT think that.

The purpose of this post is for you to think for yourself and to give you the opportunity to compare, and then examine your own procedures, past experiences, and future encounters. You are to actively decide for yourself what you would do, what you would not do… Think about what you would do better, and what you can improve upon.

You should not be reading this post passively as though it is the grail to proposals, absorbing each and every word through osmosis! Be critical. Say it how it is. What is wrong? What is right? If you have never submitted before, what would you definitely not do?  There are things knowing what I know now, I would change. Some things I would keep, others not. Be an active reader in this, and criticize not only me, but be critical of yourself (in a constructive way).

Ok… so here is one of my submissions that I just happened to find last night and took some photos of this morning. Not that I was looking for it.. my place is in a disarray, as usual, and I looked down and there it was. A little beaten up, but still functional for tonight’s purpose :)

Submission Background Info: This was my second submission, ever. I never had any advice how to submit a proposal, what to include, etc. My first submission proposal was similar to this.

This submission was to a magazine, and it was one of I think 2 in the same package. One submission was accepted, with this one being held onto for a possible future publication. Eventually, this dress was sent back to me with the nice rejection letter, but with another design chosen in its stead.

As you see, I have numbers scattered all over the place. Here is a little synopsis of each area that I included.

The size of paper I chose for this was about the size of 2 standard sheets of paper. It was a poster board weight.

#1: Stapled unstitched samples of yarn to proposal page

#1 Samples of yarn attached to proposal

#1 Samples of yarn attached to proposal

What I would do again:

I would give swatches of the yarn again of what I used in my example. When not stitched, the editor can see (and you know, all us creative types feel with our hands) it in its lone state. He/she can study the yarn, in case he/she would like to substitute. And, I think it just looks nice and professional. Most likely, the editor is familiar with the yarn your swatching with, but to me, it never hurts to be a little detailed.

What I would not do again, or do differently:

Instead of stapling it to the paper, I think I would staple it to an index card, and then tie that to the garment/swatch, and then write on the index card the yardage, weight, color(s), etc. But then again, maybe not, I do not see this as being a detriment if this were to go on the proposal itself.

#2 Wrote down material properties & size of model

Yarn proposed/used in swatch, size

Yarn proposed/used in swatch, size

Here you see I wrote down the name of the yarn I used, the amount in yards and grams per ball, and the size of the model. You may not have a model size, as most often, a swatch and a sketch will be sent. But sometimes, you may have the model complete, for whatever reason, and I would include this information.

What I would do again:

I would definitely give the information on the ball/skein, such as the amount of yards and grams. I would also definitely include the size of the model (s).

What I would not do again, or do differently:

To include next time

To include next time

Looks messy to me :) I think I would just present it in a more concise manner. For example, underlining “Sample Size” as I did to the name of the yarn. I would also maybe make a list such as what is shown to the right.

I am thinking maybe more along the lines the feel of a real pattern already in the making, but not. As you know, patterns at the beginning list the materials, sizes, etc. So I would think it would be best (unless otherwise instructed to you by a company) to include vital information, and then some.

Why? Well, it could be that I am highly detail oriented so much that I can be anal retentive this way… And it could very well be my tendency to be a perfectionist. But I think about if I did the accepting and rejecting. I would want to know some information. I would want to know the designer is intimate with his/her project. I think this also conveys confidence, and a willingness to get things right. If anything, what can it hurt? Maybe that last line is a copout – but only for the quick and hasty who just “want to get it done.”

#3 Wrote down color number of each yarn used, usage, written directly below corresponding to yarn sample.

Color numbers, amounts used

Color numbers, amounts used

What I would do again:

If I had the project completed, I would definitely write down the amount of yarn used. If I only had a sample, I would give an estimate, if I felt confident. If anything, a range of an estimate. In one of my publications of another source, they took into account the amount it would cost the consumer to make the project. In the end, they chose a different yarn to be more budget-friendly. This is not always the case. If anything, it gives an editor an idea of the amount needed, for whatever reason- and hopefully ordering reasons! :)

What I would not do again, or do differently:

If I could, I would estimate the amount needed for other sizes.. but then this would be pushing it, and is not really needed.

#4 What is included in set, sizes, skill lvl, uniqueness, versatility

Information about project

What's included, sizes, skill lvl, uniqueness, versatility

What I would do again:

Include all the information. I do like how I underlined certain words, to bring attention to them.  Just as in example #2, I would make a list, underline, or somehow bring emphasis to the title (such as Sizes, Skill, etc) in a list form, and then fill in the information.

One thing that I really like and ALWAYS do is include versatility of the garment, and what makes it unique.

Unique: I firmly believe this is so important! Ask yourself this, what makes your project different. What makes it stand out. What did you do that is clever, catchy, or off the beaten path per se? That I know will catch the eye of all editors. A common theme I have seen, is they want something different. And this does not necessarily mean something crazy and totally off the wall (though it could), but basically, what makes your design not a “run of the mill” design?

Versatility: When it comes to getting published, or anything in life, flexibility.. with adaptability is the key. What I try and do with my projects whenever possible, is include how the pattern can be changed. Whether it is the sizes included, the number of colors used (for example – This pattern colorwork can use any multiple of number of colors except for 3 – Such as was the case with my Borealis pattern).

What I would not do again, or do differently:

Make it neater, and more organized.

#5 Swatch

Here, I stapled a swatch. Always include a swatch. For this, I included a finished flower applique in addition for examination. Since it was small, I wanted it affixed to the proposal. I think this worked just fine, but would not with a larger swatch, as it would make handling the proposal paper bulky and thus awkward. Some may omit this and assume just a swatch of the main stitch is enough, but for me, I like to go that little extra mile, if at all possible.

#6 Extra Info

Additional Info

Additional Info

Here I included extra information such asthe dress can be worn many seasons, a sundress in the summer, and a jumper with a top underneath in the fall. The button straps make it adjustable (another plus).  The band of flowers around the dress match the band of flowers around the hat…

What I would do again:

I would include all all of this information

What I would not do again, or do differently:

I do like how I underlined many key words – “adjustable,” “match,” “jumper.” But, I think I would again, make it flower better and organize it. Some of these could be included in the section on what makes this pattern stand out, what makes it unique.. what are its highlights… I guess one thing I had going was the columns?

#7 Include sketches

Sketch of purse/bag

Sketch of purse/bag

When you do not have the entire garment/project made, do include a sketch. We are talking basic shapes. Many may even look at this little sketch of mine, and theirs will either pale in comparison, or blow mine out of the water. Now this I do know.. ask any editor – they are not grading artwork! They just want a basic idea of what you are proposing.

What I would do again:

Always include sketches

What I would not do again or do differently:

Draw the sketch bigger.

#8 Include contact info

Contact info

Contact info

Include your name, address, and email. I used one of those address labels, and then added in my email addy. Include as much contact info as you wish, but I definitely do recommend at least an email, and then definitely an address if you want your proposal back!

#9 Model in action

Printed photos

Printed photos

I have no idea if this is a standard, but this is what I did. I included photos (I printed off my printer) of a model in the dress and hat. I thought it would help to see the fit, see the sizing, to see the model live. To get it all to fit on one paper, I stapled it like a booklet, but binding on opposite side (I got creative:)) Now, this most definitely will not be possible with designs that are not complete. But, if you have a prototype of a hat, or mittens, or even a scarf, I would put it on someone and take a photo. This is just my opinion and something I did for an added factor to the proposal.

IN CONCLUSION

I am sure most companies would want a proposal on a regular 8 X 11 sheet of paper. Again, this was one of my first submissions. It is nice though to go back, and analyze it, and think about what I would do differently… What I would do again. If anything, it folded nicely, and opened like a book! I thought at the time that was pretty creative!

You may have learned a lot. You may have learned nothing. Your proposals may have blown mine away. There are some general characteristics that good proposals include.. but really- you are the true authority. What???? You may be saying…

Ultimately, who sends in that proposal? You.

You need to research. There is no fail-safe-fill-in-the-blank template for you to make the perfect proposal. What one editor prefers can be the complement to what another despises!

I am not an authority on proposals. Who is? Is it the editor behind the desk? Sure, but remember she/she is only privy to her company’s procedures (all the more reason to find if a company has such guidelines in existence). Another company may accept or reject that very same submission for completely different reasons! A time this is crucial is when this editor is the particular company you are sending your submission to! Definitely follow their guidelines if they have them.

Is the authority that designer friend who has been published and rejected a thousand times whom you have put upon a pedestal? He/she will have valuable experience to offer that you most definitely should listen to, but when it comes down to it, that individual will never know why he/she was accepted or rejected, unless specifically told by the specific editor, for that specific project, at that specific time. See what I am getting at?

Many many variables play into a project being accepted or rejected. Timing. Project (too many thongs already for this issue!). Project compatibility (we like toilet paper toppers, not padded bikini toppers)… trend is ending (no more fun fur please). Too many to list! A fantastic proposal can result in acceptance, as well as rejection. There is really no way to know, unless the person responsible for the fate of your submission sits down and tells you exactly why you were rejected.

No, this does not mean a proposal does not matter.. It is not just what is in the proposal, but it is also how it is presented. It is a reflection of you, your style, your carelessness or lack thereof, your haste or attention to detail, etc. Your effort…

I am also not saying there are no rules to follow or tips to take into account. There are things one should definitely do. And there are things one should not do that range from the most blatant to the absurd.

I am not saying to decline taking advice either, quite the contrary. Take all the advice you can. Especially from established designers and editors!  Just do not rely upon once source. If there is a guide from a company, follow that, and then where needed fill in the gaps based on what you have learned. Do your homework and compare your notes… then develop your own proposal style; be active, not passive.

PS, this is the Blossoming Beauty Sundress that was recently published a few months ago :)

PSS, And unlike me who write this in one shot and is going to sleep and not looking over this post until I have visited dreamland, do check over your proposal and check for spelling errors! Niters all… 1 am dreams call! Hope I have frazzled at least one mind with this post.

Give a little bit…

Remember this song from Supertramp? Here are some of the lyrics:

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
Give a little bit
Ill give a little bit of my love to you
Theres so much that we need to share
So send a smile and show you care

Anyway, a lovely lady Linda Permann, a crafter, is raising funds for her brother-in-law with cancer. ALL profits go to the fundraiser. In her Etsy shop, you will find certificates to the Crochet Garden. There are only 5 total. Get a $20 certificate for $10. So, get them while you can or tell someone else about them!

Hope For Jasenn

Lace, lace, I want More.

Fire Child with the yummy goods, from Knit Picks

Fire Child with the yummy goods, from Knit Picks

Yesterday I spoke about lace weight yarn… I ordered some from Knit Picks not too long ago, right when I knew for sure I wanted to experiment making more garments with lace yarn. Fire child is happily displaying the goods. Water child was at swim practice, so he was unable to see the treasure.

Alpaca Cloud Lace, from Knit Picks, in a shade that is discontinued (The line of yarn still remains in different colors)

I was really torn when ordering. I wanted it all. Can’t I have it all? I suppose I could, and then would have the credit card companies after me. Everything in life after all is within reach, it’s merely a subjective opinion to what degree of good or bad one finds the consequences to be. And since I am looking to buy a house come spring, we needn’t go down amassing all the lace weight yarn possible! Yes, looking to buy a house.. more on that later.

This yarn rocks. I have already begun working with it.. swatching. I have 2 swatches that will make kick-hiney lacy shawls. One of them is really unique, and I am on the hunt for some beands to go with it. It will definitely be very earthy looking.. Not necessarily trendy, maybe a tad, but I definitely do think it will be something in the closet one can back to again and again.

Shadow Lace yarn

Shadow Lace yarn, "Oregon Coast Heather," from Knit Picks

This was actually my second time ordering from Knit Picks. About 4 yrs ago or so, someone gave me a gift certificate to use there. I finally used it, maybe a year or so later (Knit Picks certificates do not expire), and since this was in the infancy of my career, I did not really know what I was ordering, or what to do with it. I think I primarily purchased it based on weight and color. At that time, (and still for the most part) I like finer weight yarns (though at the time I did not know just how find this would be), and the color just blew me away. Something about those pale, icy-like colors.

It was the Alpaca Cloud Lace I had ordered, in a pale baby blue (a color that I love but has been discontinued), and then some Peppermint Heather (which they do still have). I must have had good taste. It is 100% baby alpaca, and oh so worthy being next to the skin. The Peppermint Heather I used as my experiment for the prototype of the Dragonfly Shawl. I love, love love the Alpaca Cloud Lace yarn. When ordering from Knit Picks this go around, I wanted to try some different lace… Take a look at the close-ups of the winners. As always images are clickable!

The first one is from their Shadow Lace yarn line, in the color “Oregon Coast Heather.” It is 100% Merino Wool and is very soft. It is definitely not as lacy/stringy as the Lacey Lamb that I used for the Dragonfly Shawl (I did love that about the Lacy Lamb), but I loved this just as much in its own way. It is though just as springy as the Lacey Lamb, and I can tell right now it will block just as beautifully too.  It would definitely lend itself a different way in design, making a personality all its own. This is the yarn I am using for one of the swatches that will eventually turn into a shawl, and the one I am the hunt for the perfect beads for. I will be using, at this point, wooden beads for this, hence, the earthy look. Even the stitches chosen for this shawl, though somewhat lacy, complement each other nicely contributing to the character of this shawl in its final form. Oh, I cannot wait!

Shadow Lace Yarn, "Snorkel Heather," from Knit Picks

Shadow Lace Yarn, "Snorkel Heather," from Knit Picks

Another I ordered out of this same line of yarn is the color “Snorkel Heather.” I LOVE this color. Can I say that again? I LOVE love love this color. First, I am NOT generally one to like variegated yarn. (This is not a variegated yarn, by the way). The only reason I bring up variegated yarn is that one may think in general if a person does not like variegated, he/she would not like any yarn with color changes of any sort.

I am very very choosy when it comes to yarns that have color changes, but I definitely have an attraction to these kinds of yarns. I think the affinity comes from  all of the gorgeous, hand painted yarns appearing with the advent of Ravelry, and of course the growing of Etsy. In fact, it is on Etsy I am hoping to find the “perfect” wooden beads for my shawl with the Orgeon Coast Heather lace… Let me know if you are a bead maker, or know of any nice wooden beads!

The color changes in this Snorkel Heather are in perfect harmony. Which though is why it is called a “heather.” If you click on the photo, you can really see how beautifully blended these colors are, one just melting into the next. I think for this shawl since the heathered look is not stark, but simply subtle, and will lend itself to a beautiful, open lace garment..

I can just see this being worn as a shawl, or even sarong, at sunset when walking along the boulevard, or even the beach…. a gorgeous, alluring lace, with these deep rich colors that accent the ocean. Now, if only I had an ocean by me, I could photograph it there! Oh wait, we have snow. Hmmm. Ok, well, we will figure something out.. still have yet to design with it! Can’t you see this being a very popular color this year? I can.. the deep rich colors of teal, turquioise, etc. I do not follow color trends too much, I just sort of go with what seems right for me at the time, and thankfully, the color choices always have been in sync with the times!

Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace Yarn, "Cumulus," from Knit Picks

Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace Yarn, "Cumulus," from Knit Picks

Ok, the third lace weight yarn is Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace yarn, from Knit Picks, in the color “Cumulus.” This color speaks serenity to me. Very calm, endearing.. I can see a beautiful, intricate lace pattern with this.. Maybe some small, hint-of-shimmer beads. I can see this being very elegant, or casual enough to be worn with a white tank and vintage skirt, with a gentle wind sweeping by. Can you see it?

See, I am a nut. When I see a yarn, it talks to me. Yes, it talks to me… I begin painting pictures in my head of what comes to me.. out comes the sketch book, and scratch notes about the “inspirational yarn.” I will draw what I envision in my head.

Though I am very logical, I am quite emotional too. Not in the sense I am a basketcase, quite the contrary, but in the sense that I am super empathetic, and so in touch with what I see and feel that it conveys itself through my writing, through my art and through my designs.

So anyway… time to get moving on this Saturday, get some cleaning and work done. I will leave you with a little sneak peak of something that is in testing… Happy weekend! Oh, and if you are in Level 1 on the Testing Forum, this project is open to you!

Sneak Peak

Sneak Peak

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)

Dragonfly Shawl – Published, Interweave Crochet Winter 2008

The Dragonfly Shawl has now made its appearance in the Winter Issue of Interweave Crochet. I have been cautiously waiting for its release. Why cautious? I think perhaps it is more a reserved excitement… as I do not think this creation has completely made its way through my brain that it is complete, that I finally finished it.

And here it is, the Dragonfly Shawl. For some, here is the Dragonfly Shawl on Ravelry. Each time I look at it, and I know it sounds bad since I am the designer, but each time I look at it, I wish I still had it with me to wrap around and admire it. I have always had a love for little winged creatures.. whether butterflies (and yes, butterflies especially), dragonflies, ladybugs…

And while I am quite frightened of dragonflies, I admire them from afar. Kind of like when you admire something or someone that intimidates you, but not in a bad or condescending way, but in a way in which your admiration is due to a longing of finding yourself and really honing in on what you would like to become. No, I do not want to become a dragonfly…

The beauty, the grace – that is what I wanted in this shawl… I wanted it to sway in the breeze effortlessly with grace off of one’s shoulders… I wanted the beauty to be delicate, yet strong. I wanted it to portray the passion – the flight of the dragonfly, to flutter, then soar right past and leave one’s heart pounding. I hope it does just that…

Dragonfly Shawl

Dragonfly Shawl

This design was a DIP (Design In Progress – how I refer to them as) for 6 or 8 months. I really admired knitted shawls. There are some pretty fantabulous (yes, another Lisa word) shawls out there in crochet! But I wanted something that would literally, take one’s breath away, for a moment… At the same time, I did not want it to be so difficult, that not even a master crocheter would not be able to do it. Then, there was also the task of keeping the pattern at a relatively decent length (that will be another post, length of patterns).

A very early protoype, which was soon ripped and not part of the later infant prototypes. The striations were a go, but how ti shape and mold them into the beloved dragonfly?

A very early prototype, which was soon ripped and not part of the later infant prototypes. The striations were a go, but how to shape and mold them into the beloved dragonfly?

I had to constantly think ahead (and yet again, thinking ahead in pattern writing, due out in another blog post), because the action of what I do in one row could effect greatly another row and its wording, and thus the domino effect.. before you know it, your pattern cold be 10 to the 10th power pages long (well, not literally, I hope), but you get the meaning.

I also do confess.. this was my first time ever working with a laceweight yarn. I am not a stranger though to size 10 thread, or even size 30 thread. The only wool I had ever been in contact with was Lion Brand Wool-Ease (worsted weight blend which I dearly love) for my Rugged Mountain Hat & Mitten Collection and Schoeller + Stahl Baby Micro (fingering weight wool -a dream to work with), that I used for the Stone Path Hat, Interweave Crochet, Winter 2007 issue.

So, though I have worked with wool before, and I have worked with everything from a size 30 thread with a size 10 steel hook through a wool fingering weight.. I had never worked with a laceweight wool before, except for what I was swatching that shawl with. The yarn used for the Dragonfly Shawl was a dream to work with – Jade Sapphire Exotic Fibres, Lacey Lamb. Talk about an induction into laceweight yarn… Silky soft.. the yarn glided and moved with hook harmoniously… I will be making many more shawls now that I have had a taste of laceweight yarn, and Lacey Lamb will be at the top of my list. What colors??

While working on the Oxford Town Bag for Interweave Crochet (Fall 2008 issue), here is the infant shawl in the background, still in its infancy stages. To get a chance of pace from the tote, I would sometimes work on the shawl before putting it back in the DIP pile.

While working on the Oxford Town Bag for Interweave Crochet (Fall 2008 issue), here is the infant shawl in the background, still in its infancy stages. To get a chance of pace from the tote, I would sometimes work on the shawl before putting it back in the DIP pile.

So.. how did this shawl really come to be. I never thought it would come to be anything. I had it as a DIP for a long while. I would take it, only to put it back in hibernation until I felt the urge to play around with it again. I was emailing Kim Werker (Editor of Interweave Crochet) some photos of possible propositions of submissions. (I intended to send in a swatch later if any were remotely interesting). That is enough detail on that. So.. here I am rummaging through my computer of my DIPS. It was quite late, maybe past midnight. I sent numerous photos and every so often I would email her saying, I do have a *partial* shawl DIP.

I did not send it. I sent a couple more.

Again, I said I do have a photo somewhere of a shawl I have been sort of working on, but it is a piece of art that has been in the works a LONG, long time. *Sent off a few more photos of other DIPS.*

Then, I cannot even find the photo of the shawl on my computer.. Yes, me and my scatterbrainedness (a Lisa word). Finally, I find it. Now, this shawl had been in the works for many many maaannnyy months.

Shawl in infancy

Shawl in infancy

Do I dare send it? I am sure it would illicit no response. What the heck. So I send her this goofey photo. Unblocked of course, showing no detail of the possibilities it *could* have.

I cannot tell you how many times this shawl was ripped out and reworked. And I will say, laceweight is not always that easy to rip out. I really needs the gentle touch… Kind of like with a toddler, you need to be gently, but firm. Too gentle, and nothing changes.. too firm, well, you may have throbbing ears for a while from that resistant one :)

I also had a photo up against the miniblinds in my kitchen. This one at least showed a bit more detail. But still, nowhere near the vision I had. It was still all crinkled up. Since the photo was only for my own benefit, I never bothered to smooth out the progression of the shawl, or “what could be.”

Shawl in infancy, photo 2

This photo though was the one that did it. Kim was interested. She saw something alive there. She saw the potential. It was like she immediately read my mind and knew what I was trying to do with this shawl. I credit her eye for detail, her gift for seeing the beauty beneath the chaos… her ability to envision the possibilities… So, it was a done deal after all was just that, said and done. She asked, can you hash out this design on such and such tight deadline? “Sure I said!….” After that, shaking my head but not surprised.

Sometimes I need a good kick in the hiney to get a project off its feet. This one had been in the works much too long.. it was time for it to be developed. I was

Sun pic! Taken on porch.. Not sure if I was trying to fly at the angle this photo was taken??

Sun pic! Taken on porch.. Not sure if I was trying to fly at the angle this photo was taken??

worried, but excited. Excited to finish it, worried of how I would in such limited time. I work pretty well both under pressure and at leisure.. And if I knew myself, I knew that I would still churn out a quality design.. I just wondered, am I sure this time I would?? After all, it has been a design under my desk since dawn of the last creepy crawlers.

Before Edging

Before Edging

Yeah, can you tell I love my clothespins?? I swear, those things are the GREATEST invention.. In a pinch they are wonderful for pinning hair up in a bun for a midnight run to the corner store.

You see, working up a pattern is much, much different, or well, takes less thought when not in pattern-writing mode. Basically, it is almost like free-form.. You are following a guide (say your guide may be a triangle shape) and you just continue crocheting and working and trying on as you go etc.

When writing a pattern, for me at least, I am always thinking one step ahead. As I said earlier, something done in Row 5 can have a cascading effect in Rows 6-30. This shawl works not from tip, not side to side, but begins with a mini triangle. Think of a triangle having 2 tips and one point. The point is the central part (see bottom of shawl in photo) with a tip at the other 2 corners of the shawl (by one’s arms). So this shawl worked from one tip, to point, to next tip. That way, one can work until length and width are as desired.

So anyway… You see the diagonal heavy lines, and then the open airy diagonal lines? Those coincide with the stacking diamond spine. If you look closely, a heavy line occurs at the center side of each diamond. This is where the writing became tricky. When space is a concern, I HAD to take into account and somehow form a repeat. This was VERY difficult and well, think I went through major carb overdose with the amount my brain neurons were firing… See, the shawl is symmetrical.

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press

So, going up one side of the shawl, to the point, and then going back down the next side, this increases the number of heavy lines and airy lines each subsequent row. When writing one side before the point, I had to be careful that the rebound (the side on the other side of the point) would not take up too many words.

I really tried to get it so I could eventually say rep rows “X through Y” until such and such. Getting distance between X and Y a minimal number was a task.. with instructions on one side along with different instructions on the rebound, and getting all of those rows to eventually repeat themselves so as to not have a 20 page or more pattern, was a whole new endeavor.

This pattern really refined my writing skills. Not only did I have to make this pattern’s instructions compact while designing it, I also had to keep in mind clarity for crocheters. It would be nice, if I could have had nested repeats (a repeat within a repeat, within a repeat), but alas, I would definitely end up with many upset crocheters :)

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press

Then came the edging. And I say, then came the edging. I looked at my shriveled, decrepit looking piece of “art,” wondering how I was going to pull the edging off without it being a mountain of a pattern.

You see, I had a thing going.. my dragonfly theme. My plan was a play on negative space. See the strong striations coming from the diamond spine? At first, I was thinking of doing something overlapping.. And then I thought, do I want there to be a division line between the body of the shawl and the edging? I played around, but a stark division line would ruin my idea of having the negative space aspect to it….

So I had the heavy striations meet, creating wings… then between those slender wings, would again, be wings, with a pointy scalloped tips. I am not sure how long it really took me to come to this decision, but it was a lot of sketching, a lot of ripping, a lot of redoing, a lot of stretching, all the while praying I would not break the yarn too many times.

A contemplated edging. I was on to something I though as I continued to experiment and try different things... Photo taken right on my knee, so in case I ripped, I would have a moment to refer back to :)

Now my next quest was, how to get a REALLY lacey-but soul-grasping lace effect? Something not done before.. Something different. Something that would leave a wing-print, so to speak…

Well, you will need to see and work the pattern to see the technique I came up with to really cultivate a lace that cannot be deciphered solely upon a simple glance. It was fun trying to figure this out… Almost like a challenge was bestowed upon me, where the prize would be the intrinsic satisfaction of knowing that I figure out how to put in hand and yarn what I envisioned in my mind.

Blocking, take 1. It did what it needed to do, but of course, blocking wasn't perfect. Soon transferred onto a blanket on floor.. Worked much better. Now what to do with all of this strofoam??

Blocking, take 1. Blocking soon transferred to a blanket on floor. What to do with all the styrofoam?

Designing this shawl in laceweight yarn has opened up a whole new realm for me. I now want to design a whole case of shawls in laceweight! I was hooked at the start.. but for some reason, it felt wrong if I were to design a laceweight shawl before this coming out… I am not sure why, but I did not feel right. So, to satisfy my eagerness to design more shawls, I sketched. So now, I am unleashed!

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press.

Photo posted with permission from Interweave Press.

I will let you know, this pattern is not for those who are seeking a quick and easy pattern. This pattern will challenge the intermediate (though in a good way), and will give those advanced crafters something different to work. This is a piece of art you are making… This is not your sit in front of the tube and work mindlessly.

This is an heirloom project. Not only will the material be delicate, but it will take a careful and watchful eye. I am always here to help.

When working up this project, think of it not as just that- a project… Think of it as a path to the dragonfly within you, whatever your dragonfly is.

Where your hook comes alive!