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The Frostyflakes Crochet-Along Gallery of Winter Cheer!

Almost all of these projects were crocheted with fingering weight yarns; several of them were Madeline Tosh yarn.

What’s a “Frosty Flake”? Why, Frostyflakes is a way to crochet groups of harmless-ol’ double crochets in a gently increasing manner to a triangular point; then, gently decrease the frosty flakes to create the other end of a shallow triangular wrap. It’s addictive and it’s flexible because you can use any kind of yarn, any amount of yarn, and end up with something that looks fabulous several ways.

The Frostyflakes Crochet Along has been a warm cheerful spot during this year’s extended winter-into-spring season. (It’s been cold and dim in Florida too.) The great thing about hosting a CAL in a Ravelry forum is that anyone can start eh same project at any time, and be able to refer to the discussion thread as if were taking place today. Discussion threads about projects have a wealth of information and inspiration. Please visit and join Vashti’s Crochet Lounge to see all the lovely projects and meet new friends!

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Why We’re Excited About Our New Lotus Yarn

Two crochet designers — Doris Chan and Vashti Braha — asked each other,
“What if we could create just one yarn. What would it be?” Lotus is the answer.

Lotus has an inner glow that makes captivating crochet stitches as they come off of the hook. Then, watch what happens when you spritz with water later: simple blocking brings out a full drape, and plumps up the stitches just enough to make them pearly cute!

Why we love it:

– It’s spun in a final “Z-Twist” (counterclockwise) direction for superior compatibility with crochet! For most crocheters this reduces “splitting” (that’s when the crochet hook splits the plies – catches on only some of its strands during crocheting). Crocheting with a z-twisted yarn speeds up crocheting, looks prettier, and the yarn stays new-looking longer. The average plied yarn available in the US today is spun with a final “S-Twist” instead (clockwise direction).

– Almost NO Mill Knots! It’s proudly made in an American mill that also serves the fashion industry.

– The starting yarn end at the center of each ball is HOOK READY: It’s waiting for you because we’ve attached it to the yarn label. No more fishing around for it and ending up with “yarn barf.”

– It blends 52% Cotton with 48% Rayon in a special way. The rayon (a.k.a. viscose, which is derived from plant fibers) contributes a fine-grained shimmer, and the cotton keeps it from feeling too limp and slippery. Then, watch what happens when you spritz with water later: simple blocking brings out the rayon’s silky drape, while the cotton fibers plump and soften a bit to create cute, snug, pearly stitches!

The fiber blending and plying characteristics of Lotus interact so beautifully with crochet stitches.

– It’s a double-size ball. (And 1-pound cones are coming soon!) Each 3.5 oz/100g ball has 256 yds/235 m.

– Lotus is a versatile “sport weight” thickness (equivalent to #2 Fine Weight; “Light DK” or “5-Ply” in the UK). It can be used for many of your favorite patterns; see below.

– It’s available in fourteen colors! Best of all, we never have to worry about someone discontinuing this yarn. In fact, more colors are planned.

– Machine wash and dry Lotus on a gentle setting with like colors, although as with most fashion fabrics, hand washing and air drying will extend its life.

Patterns to Use With Lotus Yarn

We’re designing up a storm with Lotus! To find out about new patterns, subscribe to Crochet Inspirations newsletter.

How to Substitute Lotus Yarn: Start with the crochet hook size called for in the pattern. If it falls in a range of US-5 (F/3.75 mm) to US-7 (G/4.50 mm), then look next at the type of yarn. If it’s primarily cotton or rayon (a.k.a. viscose, bamboo, tencel) and looks smooth, chances are great that Lotus will give you the results you’re looking for.

This yarn can also work well for some fashion patterns calling for a “DK” or “Light Worsted Weight” (CYC #3 Light) yarn. Doris successfully crocheted her Jolimar Skirt with Lotus and a US-8 (H) hook. It was originally designed with Naturallycaron Spa (a discontinued yarn) and a US-9 (I/6 mm) hook. Even larger crochet hook sizes often work better for Tunisian and slip stitch crochet lace.

Especially with jewelry, bags, belts, and kitchen projects, Lotus Yarn also works great in a tighter gauge, for example, Vashti successfully substituted Lotus colors for her Aran Rozsanas Wristcuff pattern. We recommend crochet hook sizes as small as US-4 (E/3.5 mm) for jewelry, bags, and sturdy home decor, and from US-5 (F/3.75 mm) to as large as US-8 (H/5 mm) for fashion projects, depending on the amount of structure and drape needed, and the specific crochet technique used.

We carefully tailored Lotus Yarn to crochet for exciting crochet results, but of course you will love knitting and weaving with it too!

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How to Produce Crochet Newsletters: Class Resources

Interested in emailing your own newsletters, and building your own readership? Then sign up to attend my presentation during Professional Development Day at the Crochet Guild of America’s (CGOA) Chain Link Conference this October 2, 2013 in Concord (Charlotte), North Carolina. Please note: this conference is held jointly with the Knitting Guild conference (TKGA). Together the event tends to be known to the larger public as The Knit and Crochet Show.

Below is a list of additional information for those who attend my presentation. If you can’t attend, I hope you’ll also find something of use here. The list below is divided into seven sections:

  1. Some Notable Crochet Newsletters
  2. Starting Off Right
  3. Promote Your Newsletter
  4. Take Your Newsletter to the Next Level
  5. ESP Providers (and the companies that use them)
  6. More Crochet-Relevant Newsletters
  7. Email Newsletter…or Sales Flyer?

Producing Crochet Newsletters: Resources

I. Some Notable Crochet Newsletters 

To help you bring your own newsletter into focus, subscribe to some of these below. Pay attention to the design of its subscribe form, any triggered welcome emails, special offers, etc. Watch when an issue arrives in your inbox (day, time of day, frequency). See which topics, formatting, or images get your attention. If you unsubscribe, note any “sorry to see you go” emails.

  1. Focus on content (article style): Annette Petavy, Annette Petavy Design: http://www.annettepetavy.com/pages/en/newsletter/2012/09.html
  2. Digest Type (A roundup of blog posts and other links in interesting categories): Ellen Gormley, GoCrochet archives: http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=5133fbb5647a595b35f277792&id=d523b15acd
  3. Newly revised to complement a daily blog: Stacey Trock, Fresh Stitches http://www.freshstitches.com/free-amigurumi-crochet-tips-ebook-newsletter/
  4. 19,623 readers, several writers: Rachel Choi’s Crochet Spot: http://www.crochetspot.com
  5. Trendy style: Linda Skuja’s Eleven Handmadehttp://www.lindaskuja.com/p/newsletter.html
  6. Jocelyn Sass, Cute Crochethttp://www.cutecrochet.com/orderinformation/mailinglist.html
  7. Deb Richey, CraftyDebhttp://www.craftydeb.com/newsletter
  8. Uses PHPList service: June Gilbank’s PlanetJunehttp://www.planetjune.com/list/
  9. My own DesigningVashti newsletter, since 2010: Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=8d9b0b0df0b73f0fdcb7f4729&id=9c8df8dd87 (An example of the handy archives and click-to-subscribe page that is available from MailChimp, the email service I use.)
  10. Three long-running crochet newsletters:

 

II. Starting Off Right: helpful online articles

  1. Common terms associated with email newsletters: http://www.mailermailer.com/resources/email-dictionary.rwp
  2. Name Your Newsletter: http://writtent.com/blog/6-tips-on-creating-compelling-newsletter-titles/
  3. Importance of Subject Lines: http://www.mequoda.com/articles/email-marketing/3-email-subject-line-formulas-proven-to-increase-open-rates/
  4. Create an Email Newsletter Calendar: http://www.mequoda.com/articles/email-marketing/create-a-calendar-for-better-email-marketing-management/
  5. About the Can-Spam Act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM

 

III. Promote Your Newsletter

You can’t promote it enough.

  1. Example of a Newsletter Pinboard: Vashti Braha, DesigningVashti: http://pinterest.com/vashtibraha/vashti-s-crochet-newsletters/
  2. Example of a dedicated blog page tab (Blogger): http://designingvashti.blogspot.com/p/crochet-inspirations-newsletter.html
  3. Example of a dedicated information page for a Ravelry Group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/vashtis-crochet-lounge/pages/Crochet-Inspirations-Newsletter-FAQ
  4. Example of a dedicated Facebook Page for your newsletter: https://www.facebook.com/pages/DesigningVashti-Crochet-Inspirations/156608107685576
  5. Inspiring example: A yarn company’s promotional design elements: Lion Brand produces 3 weekly and monthly newsletters, such as The Weekly Stitch. See the information-rich newsletter page here: http://www.lionbrand.com/cgi-bin/newsletters.cgi (archives too). Note how each newsletter issue is formatted. The top right corner has a table of contents, while tabs across the left just under header link to key website pages (OUR YARNS –  PATTERNS – SHOP). Also see the footer of each newsletter.

 

IV. Take Your Newsletter to the Next Level

  1. Berroco may have been the first to regularly embeds videos in their long-running KnitBits issues: http://www.berroco.com/knitbits-newsletter
  2. Knit designer Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer displays her longtime newsletter experience in the fine-tuned elements of her Heartstrings newsletter: http://www.heartstringsfiberarts.com/newsletterarchive.shtm
  3. Online articles about newsletter refinements:
  4. Some examples of newsletter segmentation:

V. ESP Providers and Companies Who Use Them (incomplete list, alphabetical)

Be sure to subscribe to the newsletters of ESP providers that interest you; or explore their online resources. I especially like AWeber’s, MailChimp’s, and Mailermailer’s resources.

  1. Aweber (Rachel Choi/Crochet Spot, Jackie E-S/Heartstrings): http://www.aweber.com
  2. Constant Contact (Maggie’s Crochet, Berroco, Classic Elite Yarns, Cotton Clouds, Crystal Palace Yarns, elann.com, Katherine Lee/Sweaterbabe, Linda Cortright/Wild Fibers):  http://www.constantcontact.com/home/signup.jsp?s_tnt=48655:19:0
  3. Get Response: http://www.getresponse.com
  4. iContact (Jen Hansen/Stitch Diva Studios, Tanis Galik/Interlocking Crochet): http://www.icontact.com
  5. MailChimp (Vashti Braha/DesigningVashti, Dora Ohrenstein/Crochet Insider, Ellen Gormley/GoCrochet, Stacey Trock/Fresh Stitches, Loop/Loop Scoop, Linda Skuja/ElevenHandmade, Leisure Arts, Martingale, Tamara Kelly/moogly, Mikey/The Crochet Crowd, Lianka Azulay/BonitaPatterns, Nancy Queen/Noble Knits, Brenda Lavell/Phydeaux): http://mailchimp.com
  6. Mailermailer (Cathe Ray/Needlestack): http://www.mailermailer.com/index.rwp
  7. PHPList (June Gilbank/PlanetJune, Josi Madera/Art of Crochet): http://www.phplist.com

 

VI. More Crochet-Relevant Newsletters:

  1. Tamara Kelly, Moogly: Weekly via MailChimp; takes advertising (Craftsy, Zulily, Annie’s), and the rest of newsletter is blog post snippets. Includes polls. Archive: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=9929d1e9575d4f0e2936a8743&id=0b2d00989e
  2. Tanis Galik/Interlocking Crochet: http://www.interlockingcrochet.com/index.php?option=com_users&view=registration
  3. Amie Hirtes/NexStitch: http://www.nexstitch.com/newsletter.html
  4. Dora Ohrenstein, Crochet Insider archives: http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=c96b913e7af278f634924518a&id=f4d2cd72ee
  5. Lisa van Klaveren, Holland Designshttp://etsy.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=9dd325c3d57ba71c22622eece&id=8c9695b735
  6. Annie Modesitt, Modeknithttp://app.expressemailmarketing.com/Survey.aspx?SFID=161138 Previous newsletters since 2006: http://anniemodesitt.com/news/
  7. New Stitch a Day: http://newstitchaday.com/blog/
  8. Linda Cortright’s Wild Fibers: http://visitor.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001nFupVrVrNd7iTi7p6_MGYQ==
  9. My favorite example of a blog-to-newsletter email: Martingale’s crochet & knit Fridays, 3 or 4 staff writers: http://blog.shopmartingale.com/crochet-knitting/crochet-and-knitting-museum-becoming-a-reality/ Some interesting topics. I actually prefer the look & feel of the emailed version. It inspires me to use the blog-to-newsletter features of MailChimp!
  10. Red Heart Yarns, blog (scroll to very bottom for newsletter subscribe box): http://www.redheart.com/blog
  11. Some newsletters produced by local yarn shops:
  12. A Good Yarn Sarasota (rapidly growing readership): http://www.agoodyarnsarasota.com
  13. Loops Scoop archives: http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=f97d5ff1f8ea5c331757403a9&id=50768198b4
  14. String: http://www.stringyarns.com/subscribe.php
  15. Natural Stitches Newsletter: Archives: http://www.naturalstitches.com/Newsletter.html
  16. Jimmy Beans Wool: http://www.jimmybeanswool.com/newslettersHome.asp

VII. Email Newsletter or…Sales Flyer?

“Newsletter” implies enough usable content to avoid the “sales promotion” category. A bulk email is often a mix of the two. Even if an email has a newsletter-like format, at least 60% of it needs to be real non-sales usable content for an email to count as a “newsletter.” 

If you can imagine the information in a bulk email as a magazine article, column, or part of a book chapter, it counts as real content!

  1. An example of a sales flyer (rather than a “newsletter”): Knitpicks http://www.knitpicks.com/images/promo/email/bem/BE130722.html?media=BE130722&elink=0–HTM
  2. Jen Hansen, Stitch Diva Studios: http://www.stitchdiva.com/newsletters/
  3. Lianka Azulay, Bonita Patternshttp://etsy.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=eda7d3f5fe05c649e086e1f0c&id=973aaa93b7
  4. Kristin Omdahl, StyledbyKristin archivehttp://us2.campaign-archive2.com/home/?u=dc23e5addd7fc32bc5e710d55&id=d93c5b50da
  5. A sales flyer I enjoy. Why? The design photos inspire me in ten seconds before I delete the email — even though none of them are crochet!: Nancy Queen’s NobleKnits sample issue: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=74c9a5fe681619d5a82b98f3c&id=fb504eff2b&e=7507824e09

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mesmer Veil Effects with Easy Tunisian Crochet Stitches

It’s been over three years since I crocheted the original Mesmer design prototype and I’m as entranced by it as ever. The crocheting experience feels magical, and I still get a bit wonderstruck when I wrap myself with it. Click on each photo to enlarge it and see its story.

The Mesmer Tunisian Crochet Veil pattern PDF is now in the DesigningVashti SHOP as an instant download.

You can also find the pattern for it, and projects, in Ravelry.

Recommended! Crochet Inspirations Newsletter #49: ‘TEKSplorations’ for Tunisian Lace

Mesmer is fun project because not only is it fast, it’s an unusual experience of Tunisian crochet and of yarn combining. It’s rare that the Return Pass has the starring role in a Tunisian crochet fabric; in fact, it’s more common for designers to downplay it, or try to work around it. One reason is that it has the least amount of stretch, like the foundation chain in regular crochet. Another reason is its texture doesn’t blend in readily, so it gives a strong texture. Although this design is a fun way to combine scrap yarns, I designed it to make fancy, pricy yarns last longer.