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Mamruana CAL “Wrap Up”

Sleeve cuff test for the Mamruana in progress.
Mamruana (unfinished): sleeve cuff test.

I put “Wrap Up” in quotes because this is a soft ending to a crochet along, not a hard one. In fact I remain inspired by some discoveries I made about it along the way. Plus, I can’t resist a pun.

It’s easy to imagine revisiting this CAL with a springtime project with CAL participants who also intend to start or resume their Mamruanas later.

Mamruana Evaluation Day

I’m going to do a behind-the-scenes evaluation of it as a crocheter of it (the process), wearer (the product), yarn provider (yarn brand choice), designer (art and craft of it), and pattern writer (is it patternable?).

Wearing the Ruana

Mine is in fall colors and I’ll be wearing it to parties here in Florida through the winter. It’s bigger and heavier on me than I expected, but not too much. It means I made a size Large to X-Large instead of a Small to Medium.

I will love dancing in it. It drapes beautifully and the colored diamonds flicker as it moves, vaguely like confetti.

As a Crochet Project

I really enjoyed crocheting it for three reasons:

  1. The half double stitches (hdc) are crocheted into spaces, not stitch loops (helps the crocheting pace). See the stitch close up below.
  2. The rhythm of color changes kept me looking forward to the next strip, with no color juggling or managing ends.
  3. Constructing this in MAM (“mile-a-minute”) strips gave me a satisfying feeling of completion and progress.

As a Design Idea

Mamruana crochet strips in other wearable shapes and striping.
Mamruana crochet strips in some other wearable shapes. Compare how the color stripes drape with first photo of the ruana.

Several inspiring discoveries here for the designer in me!

I love that you’re just crocheting little square patches in simple rows—so elementary—but they end up being diamonds on the bias. Changing the color of each strip adds a big visual effect to the drape. A ruana shape magnifies the effect because the sleeve sections also drape on the body at an angle.

Not only is a patch reversible, it’s rotatable! This excites me because it means a series of patches could be linked up while going in different directions and still look coolly consistent. Freeform-bitmappy, chic, powerfully versatile design-wise. A gazillion options are possible for other wearable shapes and kinds of projects. It’s like each patch is a fashionable “bit” for infinite design “pixels”.

Put a Cuff on It

I’m unreasonably inspired by putting sleeve cuffs on a ruana. I like how it feels to wear it, how it updates the look, and how easy it is to do. It’s a trendy effect I’ve wanted to explore since seeing it so much in Pinterest.

The Yarn Choice

Speaking as both a designer and a yarn provider, I’m very pleased with how the design and yarn go together. (I never really know if that will be the case.) YES I always want to have new crochet patterns for DesigningVashti Lotus yarn, and to show off new colors of it. For example, the new Orange Luxe color inspired the Mamruana.

Yarn-me will ask designer-me to tinker with the final pattern because it needn’t use quite this much yarn—approx. 525 grams or 1350 yds.

As a designer I always need a good design reason for choosing one yarn over another. So, of course I fantasize about other yarns too. Besides the sport weight (CYC #2) Lotus, I think thinner yarns (lace wt./CYC #0 and fingering/CYC #1) would be wonderful; I swatched some for the CAL. I keep picturing a wool or alpaca blend as a generous cowl, for example. What about fine crochet thread for a scarf, panels of a skirt, etc. Beads?!

My takeaways from using Lotus for this Mamruana:

  • Its sheen combined with its drape is key to the whole effect! (That “I want to wear it to holiday parties and dance in it” effect.) Check out the stitch close up at right.
  • For Lotus designs I tend to vacillate between using a G-6 and G-7 (4mm, 4.5mm) crochet hook size. I used a G-7 for Mamruana. For larger sizes at least, I’m thinking it should be a G-6. Probably not an F-5 (3.75m) but I’ll investigate.
  • The color range of Lotus is a significant element in its “just one more strip!” crocheting fun and visual impact. I’d need an inspiring color range in any yarn I use for this.

Mamruana as a Downloadable Pattern?

I’ve learned that you never know what it will be like to write up a design until you’re in too deep, but I’m not worried about this one. No red flags. Nothing that would require a video to be understandable. Unlike, say, a Bosnian color-pooled moebius.

It’s so Plus-sizable. Good Plus Size patterns are another thing I always want more of in my shop.

A nice thing about this CAL is that I wrote up the main pattern in sections and created visual aids as we went.

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New Features of

I’ve moved to WordPress hosting with layered security and a WooCommerce-driven shop. For me it’s like the self-parking Lexus of websites, and I’m saving about $500 a year in operating costs. Also, blogging is fun again!

Features of the ✨ New ✨

Stitchmerge: How to do the classic and supremely useful double-layer crochet technique.
It’s now free. Use it to make any thick, dense, soft, strong rectangular item (cowl, afghan square, tote, hot pad, etc).

It’s a partial list—I keep discovering more features.

  • I can easily host free crochet patterns now! I’ve marked down some patterns to free.(They’re not marked down in Ravelry). You can see them in the Bargain Bin but wait: try registering an account here first (you don’t have to buy anything). I think it’s a really nice experience, especially after you download something and then use your updated account.
  • Subscribe to the blog or its RSS in the footer (scroll to the bottom of this page).
  • Two search boxes: The Search Products box is in the header at the very top of every page. The Site-wide Search box is always in the right sidebar and searches this entire blog, all the way back to 2011. I think the search boxes are found at the bottom of your screen if you’re using the mobile version. (I’m seeing older posts that have their original image captions, but the image didn’t transfer over. I’ll be updating groups of posts as time allows.)
  • Lots of clickable tags on each product page for any little feature you might want to see. For example, “Gift idea: men“, patterns that work for any type and/or amount of yarn, one ball projects, etc. Scroll to the bottom of any page to see the product tag cloud.
  • Helpful things in the right sidebar on every page. On mobile I think these are behind a menu button in the top right corner.
  • The expanded help page is a mini temporary version of the real FAQ page that I’m working on.

If you’re already familiar with my patterns, it’s not your imagination: most images and descriptions are also freshened up.

Features Still in Development

The Parakeet Perchswing free crochet pattern that uses the incomparable Jelly Yarn®.
Another simple crochet pattern, now free. I used Jelly Yarn® and I would do it again—with the glow in the dark type!

I need to:

  • Work out how to add more types of kits to the shop.
  • Learn how to include optional add-ons, like gift wrap or a crochet hook to go with a pattern.
  • Add remaining patterns from my old shop, mostly toys and bags. I also haven’t finished adding free patterns.
  • Choose the best way to organize/nest all the crochet tutorials and other resource pages. I’m eyeing the “Learn” tab in the header.
  • Learn how to do gift cards.
  • Find a good way to do online classes and other events.
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DesigningVashti News Roundup

Hello from the Other Side

…of the Great Website Overhaul of 2017. ? RIP sweet old DesigningVashti site from 2010. ?

For this first blog post at my new ‘n improved, I’ll firm up loose loops by bringing you up to date.

Crochet Inspirations Newsletter

Freshly fallen mango tree in our front yard. Hurricane Irma
Freshly fallen mango tree in our front yard from Hurricane Irma.

Top of mind is the next issue (#88). Now that this website is up and working smoothly, I can focus on it again. I’ve mulled topic #88 since the week before Hurricane Irma grazed us. This site now has a respectable About the Newsletter page. (On my list is to put a sign-up form on it.)

You know, people have told me over the years that I should charge a subscription fee for the newsletter. I don’t know if they’re right, but I can tell you that if I had been, it would have weighed on me heavily while trying to get back up to speed after the storm!

We evacuated for Irma and that’s mighty rare. It was so nerve-wracking that the only crocheting I could muster was a swatch for the newsletter. Fortunately I didn’t lose it amidst the upheaval because that one swatch gave me a lot to think about.

omg, the Mamruana CAL-DAL

Mamruana Crochet-Along edging test: 3-inch fringe.
Mamruana Crochet-Along edging test: 3-inch fringe.

I launched the Mamruana Crochet Along/Design-Along Aug. 24 in my Ravelry forum. The “design-

along” part is a new kind of medium for me. The CAL-DAL was humming along by the time Irma was aiming for our area.

Fortunately, the DAL part gives a CAL a more open-ended timeline and direction, because a series of hurricanes and fires put a damper on the momentum. Any work I could do had to go to the website. I couldn’t even blog about the CAL; the blog part of the site was down the longest.

After this blog post I can add a fringe update to the forum thread!

Crochet Videos

Rosepuff crochet videos by Vashti
Crochet Rosepuff videos (in-depth one for owners of the pattern).

I had just begun creating videos before Irma. I have some raw clips waiting, in fact. YouTube even emailed me and said, “Hey, do you need encouragement? You’re doing great.”

We tore down my home filming “studio” in preparation to evacuate for the hurricane. I can set it up again now that this new website is live.

Ideally, the next newsletter issue will have a short video clip or gif.

Vashti’s Crochet Archives

In May I announced that I was going to start putting my crochet stuff online. Weird little obstacles cropped up at various sites as I did so. It turns out the updated features of this website are perfect! I did not foresee this! Also probably ideal for others who would be interested in my crochet archives because it will be all in one place, tightly interlinked.

New Crochet Patterns

It’s true, there have never been more new patterns in various stages of completion. Wonderful tech editors and diagram makers are still standing by to help me too (I hope). I’m anxious to get back to pattern writing as well as to newsletter #88. I’m also working on a new Tunisian design.

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Happy [inter-]National Crochet Month

This is my Crochetville NatCroMo blogging day.

Larger wrap size of DJC Curaçao Wrap in Emerald Deep Lotus yarn
New pineapple crochet lace wrap pattern for Lotus by Doris Chan in Emerald Deep Lotus yarn.

Thanks for stopping by! It’s certainly a big weekend for us crocheters.

Tomorrow is a very green holiday (St. Patrick’s Dayso check out our DesigningVashti Lotus yarn in the new Emerald Deep color. This is a rich, satisfying, inspiring green to take you from winter to spring.

Want to feel warm and cozy quickly? 

I’ve just returned from teaching “Big-Hook Slip Stitch Crochet” in icy Chicago. I urge everyone to gather up their jumbo crochet hooks and super bulky yarns! Some of my slip stitch projects take only an hour or two this way.

Expedient Cowl Took Only Two Hours to Make.

Beginner slip stitch crochet with a big hook!
Cozy Expedient Cowl: Use beginner slip stitches and a big hook. (Add a third ball and more rows for a trendy skirt!)

Warm up a big hook (size P/11.5 or 12 mm) for this toasty, speedy item. I named it “Expedient” because it took me just two hours tops to make one during LAST year’s surprise cold snap.

No super-bulkies handy? Create your own: just crochet with multiple strands held together of whatever’s in your yarn stash.

Tip: throw in at least one strand of alpaca or angora. These fibers are four times warmer than wool. Add a yarn with a halo like mohair, or a textured novelty yarn, to fill in any gaps between stitches.

Set of 5 Big Crochet Hooks: Perfect for NatCroMo

Set of 5 sizes of jumbo wood crochet hooks, and the crocheted "bucket" caddy for them showing the base that's reinforced by crocheting around a recycled plastic ring.
It’s displayed in my studio and I use it all the time now.

Be ready for the next cold snap with this set of five jumbo crochet hooks—sizes Q, R, S, T, and U—bundled with a free Big Hook Bucket pattern. (It’s already at a discount as a kit so I’m unable to discount it further for NatCroMo readers, sorry.) You can buy these crochet hooks individually here.

Armed with these hooks you’ll also be ready for when I release these new Big-Hook Slip Stitch crochet patterns (links currently go to their Ravelry project pages):

Zumie Lace Vest  I used a size S (19 mm) hook for most of it. This one-skein lace item took only 45 minutes to crochet. Yarn: the fun Hikoo Zumie by Skacel.

SS-Luscious Sampler  Size 12 mm (“P”) crochet hook and two skeins of luscious Berroco Noble.

Pink kitty-ears hat with only 95 yds and an M/9 mm hook. It’s simple back loop slip stitch in rows, then seamed on the top and side. It came out smallish on me and perfect on my friend (she kept it!). No yarn left over so I’m mulling a way to get a slightly more out of about 95 yds of yarn for this.

Slip Slab Neckwrap  It was the first prototype for the Expedient Cowl. I needed only 168 yards and a P/12 mm hook.

Also: Happy Spring Break!

Does it start this weekend for your family? My son’s starts this afternoon.

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Crochet Conference Prep, the Aftermath

Lacy Tunisian crochet swatches crocheted together to form a Mexican 'papel picado' style bunting. It's hung in the car during our road trip to the CGOA conference.
I crocheted together lacy Tunisian Lotus swatches in the car. It reminds me of Mexican “papel picado”. Worked out well for teaching! View full size.


This past June and July I blogged fifty days of crochet conference prep. I returned home from the conference on July 17. Today is August 18. What happened between then and now?

This is the first day that I could imagine sitting down to compose a blog post and enjoy it. That’s a full month of recovery from having a booth while also teaching several new crochet topics.

Here’s how the past 30 days went:

  • I needed an immediate inventory of what I came home with, so the first thing I did was unpack a gazillion boxes of booth and teaching stuff.
  • After counting everything, I put away what I could. This left me with five big heaps to sort and pack up carefully for future events. It took two weeks to work through these heaps step by step.
  • It also took about two weeks to completely unpack suitcases and get through all the laundry only because I felt like such a zombie.
  • Filled lots of orders that continued to come in every day from my website. (I love this about conferences: so many visitors to my website!)
  • Discussed new color #20 of Lotus yarn with our mill.
  • Slept and slept. Slept some more.
  • Sat still happily without my mind racing. No adrenaline rushes, worries, or multitasking. Enjoyed what others were posting about their conference experiences.
  • It took days to go through all of my emails.
  • It took a full four weeks to settle all incoming and outgoing booth and teaching monies. (This would surprise me except that it took longer last year.)
  • Thoughts: “I could maybe blog this. Or, tomorrow.” “What do I want to crochet next. No idea.” “What about next year? Not sure.”

Crochet Conference Prep Results

How it was better than last year’s:

I was careful to keep a more accurate and readable list of starting inventory. This way, after returning home, it was easy to compare with the ending inventory (and trust the numbers!). I had to force myself to be disciplined about this. While packing up the merchandise to ship up to the show, I could see when my starting amounts got fuzzier last year.

This year we shipped by UPS to a nearby UPS store, not to the event or show management company. It worked great this time: fast, cheap, and convenient.

Thanks to a tip from Doris who used to transport and manage the entire CGOA Design Contest, I purchased some giant clear blue zippered storage cubes. These are perfect for loading up every inch of a car with soft items (yarns and crocheted items).

Last year I felt like a zombie for months. A 2015 creative slump lasted for so long that I started to fear I was done with crochet designing altogether. This year I took endurance-building tonic herbs and vitamins for the weeks before and after the event. Maybe they worked! The creative slump only lasted 3 weeks this time. (Last year I also had jet lag.)

I like the pattern info tags I created at the last minute for the three shawls that George Shaheen of 10 Hours or Less designed in my Lotus yarn.

The “papel picado”-style swatch buntings (pictured above) that I crocheted on the way to Charleston worked out really well for me in classes because I could group them by technique and theme. I’m going to do this with more Lotus swatches.

*Blogging those fifty days of prep kept me focused on the present next step while also accountable to an observer (my blogging self). Plus it leaves me with tips for my future self.