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Project Tests for New Crochet Classes

Love knot hexagonal mesh is beaded in such a way that a cluster of them looks like a sea urchin.
View project page for this “Bead Urchins Cuff” in Ravelry.

I’m still testing new crochet designs…

…for the five classes I teach next month! This started months ago. It never stops, actually.

I have other new crochet ideas in progress for this year’s classes too. For Tunisian Eyelet Meshes I have a draping collapsible “Leanin’ Loopholes” wrap to finally start when the new Lotus colors arrive. Another project in motion for the Stitch Games class is an argyle (only a few rows done, no photos yet).

When CGOA puts out a call for class topic proposals in the fall, I send more than enough: all the topics that I’ve enjoyed teaching in the past, plus interesting variations on them, plus new ones. Designing new crochet examples starts the moment I find out which ones I’ll be teaching. (Not on purpose, it just happens.)

Meanwhile

Meanwhile I stand ready (with camera) to receive a giant new lot of Lotus yarn. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new colors. Doris has her designing cones already so I know UPS will be here any day. Once the yarn arrives–on giant cones–I get some of it turned into Z-Bombes (1-pounders). A lot of it will be “pull cakesASAP.

I also stand ready to design with it. I’ll need some new crochet for the road trip up to the conference, right? Doris got started immediately with a new design in emerald green. This reminds me that I also need to lock in the new color names for the ball bands and snip cards.

I’m on Day 35 of my 50 blogging days of crochet conference prep and I’m feeling behind! I still need to get some crochet patterns reformatted into print versions (for some of my classes and for kits in the market booth).

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Best Crochet Conference Shoes Ever

Having attended twenty-five crochet conferences in twelve years, I’ve found that a lot depends on my weird, favorite conference shoes. Tomorrow’s post will be about the clothes, which are partly determined by the shoes.

I get asked about my choice of shoes a lot. (In the future I can just refer people to this post.) I wear one ultra-comfortable pair of Z-Coils all day, and maybe fancy heels or sandals for evening. This year I’ll have a new pair of Z-Coils, the “Z-Breeze” with an enclosed heel.

When I go all out and wear sensationally uncomfortable shoes, it’s for only two hours at a time. I love fabulous-looking shoes, but I stop having fun after about two hours of wearing them if they’re uncomfortable. Another way to say this is, I have an insane amount of fun at these conferences when I wear mostly Z-Coils. Shoes make or break events like these.

Here’s a little gallery I created of Z-Coils from around the ‘net:

 

Benefits (and a few drawbacks) of these Conference Shoes: 

After a month or two of wearing them, my lower back strengthened as the shoe’s coiled heel took over the job of shock absorber. Until then, I didn’t even know that my lower back had been my “shock absorber” whenever I walked on tiles and pavement, or lifted heavy things. (For other people it might be their knees, ankles, or thighs.) I could lift almost double the weight than I could before, without problems. It turns out that I have good upper body strength. It was my lower back that was limiting it.

Some people only find out about Z-Coils when they develop walking difficulties. In my case, I met a local knitter who first wore them while recovering from a knee operation. She loved them so much that she continued to wear them long after. I liked how weirdly futuristic they looked on her. When I tried on a pair I was hooked! This was about ten years ago.

[Do I have to do a disclaimer that I’m not a doctor? Not only am I not a doctor, my lower back has never been examined by one. And while I’m disclaiming, I’m also not a representative of the Z-Coil co. and they’re not rewarding me for blogging this.]

What this means at crochet conferences is that I can stand on my feet all day every day while teaching or in my market booth, and carry stuff from my hotel room to the far end of a convention center and back.

I don’t start the conference already exhausted from carrying luggage and dashing through airports to change planes in the middle of the night. I never take long flights without Z-Coils. These conference shoes come through for me even before I arrive at the event.

By the second and third days of a conference, other people’s legs and backs are tired. They look around constantly for somewhere to sit. It’s thanks to Z-Coils that I’m looking around for a place to go dancing instead! (Doris is rolling her eyes right about now.)

[I’m adding this link to Pia Thadani’s blog post about her first time attending this conference last year. Her pointers and photos convey everything very well.]

These are significant benefits, right? Now magnify them when I don’t get enough sleep. What if I have to sleep in the airport and switch planes at 5 am? My Z-Coils “have my back”. It’s such a relief to rely on their strength when travel mishaps occur.

Two big drawbacks. One is that I don’t feel hot in them (as in sexy). Skirts are out of the question with Z-Coils for me. Some women can make it work, but I’d always feel self conscious. I love how I look in delicate, ultra feminine shoes and dresses, but I can only happily wear girly shoes for a few hours at a time.

The other drawback is that Z-Coil shoes are expensive (+/- $250.) Mine lasted me ten years, though! Plus you can replace some parts yourself. It’s not a big drawback when I think it through, I just get sticker shock. It’s a bargain, actually. I’m telling myself this as I prepare to buy a new pair of the best conference shoes ever.

Interested? Then you must see the Customized Z-Coils Pinterest board I found today!

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Two-Color Tunisian Crochet Swatches

One Color or Two?

Want to see some stitch patterns change when the yarn color changes?

The two-color Tunisian crochet swatches are for my class handout (yes, still working on them!). I needed to clearly distinguish the forward row from the return row, so I color-coded them. I didn’t expect to like them so much! The one-yarn versions are below their two-color swatches.

Extended Tunisian stitch patterns in 2-color swatches compared with a one-yarn (softly variegated) version
Top row: two-color swatches. Bottom row: their one-yarn versions.

(Note that the one on the bottom left is a slightly different stitch pattern from the one above it. I was thinking they were the same until after I created this graphic and I don’t have a better substitute. The difference is, in the top left photo, there is an extra chain stitch in the red return row after every blue stitch. That spaces the blue stitches apart more than the stitches are in the one below it.)

Isn’t it fun to see how just alternating colors in a simple stitch pattern can give it a fresh look?

Sometimes a swatch needs to convey more than words when space is a premium (such as in a class handout). Color-coding really helps.

Progress Update

on my crochet conference readiness: only ONE class handout left to send to the tech editor! That’s FOUR down, one to go. My goal is the end of this week. Then you’ll start seeing blog posts of other topics like new Lotus yarn colors, or Charleston.

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Steeked Crochet Scarf: First Look

First Photos of Today’s Steeked Crochet Scarf

Four looks for the Four-Keyhole Steeked Mesmer Veil scarf.
Four looks for the Four-Keyhole Steeked Mesmer Veil scarf.

This afternoon I added four small steeks (cut holes) in a wide Tunisian lace scarf. I’ve had this scarf for years. It’s an old oversized swatch, really. It gave rise to the Mesmer Tunisian Veils pattern and to the Maze Vest in the summer 2014 issue of Interweave Crochet Magazine.

One of my goals has been to create a “keyhole” (steeked) crochet scarf for my July Steeking Tunisian class. A keyhole scarf is just one of many reasons to steek.

Instead of crocheting a new one from scratch, I thought of this sequined pink rectangle. It has always been dear to my heart, even though it’s just a bit too small. (The only reason it’s too small is that I was trying to conserve the expensive yarn! I didn’t know then that this Tunisian net stitch uses less yarn than usual.)

Not only does adding a “keyhole” (a steeked slit) make it easy to wear now, it can be styled so many ways.

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This is Day 18 out of the 50 conference prep days I have until the big event. I can cross this project off my list! I’ve been wanting to turn my pink Mesmer into a steeked crochet scarf for months.

Today is also the day that Tropical Storm Colin arrived, and I’m happy to report that it has gone easy on us (so far). The worst seems to be behind us and it has been no big deal. My son did have to miss school today—we couldn’t get to the mainland. The flooding is minor compared to what it could be, and the wind and rain have been milder than predicted. No power outages so far; no need to move the car to higher land.

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Hand Dyed Yarn Three Ways

Misti Alpaca Hand Paint yarn in Tunisian, freeform love knots game, and color-stacked slip stitch mobius!

Three Looks for a Unique Hand Dyed Yarn

Today I present three very different crochet textures in the SAME. EXACT. YARN. View image full size.

These projects span about seven years. The particular hand dyed yarn is Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock.

The 2016 design on the right was such a different experience of this yarn that it felt like a new purchase from the yarn shop. I had crocheted a whole shawl with the same yarn, though, seven years ago.

I thought it was just me. When I showed the two projects in a Stitch Games class yesterday, others were also noticeably surprised that it’s the same yarn.

Hope you’ve had a great weekend! If you don’t see a new blog post from me tomorrow, it will only be because we lost power due to the tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico. It hits sometime tonight or in the early morning.