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I Wore Starwirbel as a Ponytail Lace Veil

I’ve been waiting for photos to surface from this summer’s CGOA’s Chain Link crochet conference (end of July in Manchester NH). Here’s the only one I have from the night I wore a crochet lace funnel cowl as a short veil covering my ponytail! You can barely see it in the first photo. In the second photo is Starwirbel – the flaring star stitch spiral of fine sequined mohair and silk.

It was fun and judging from the comments I received, it worked! I wouldn’t have thought of pinning a lace capelet as a veil-like hairpiece, but I was dressed in mostly black with some paisley and a sparkly silver belt. I wanted to include Starwirbel, but not as a cowl…and…voilà: un voile!

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Lab Experiment: I’m Customizing a Tank Top with Crochet

Customizing a tank top with crochet: hem in progress with pink DV Lotus yarn.
Crocheting the bottom hem. Armholes & neckline next.
Crocheting the bottom hem. Armholes & neckline next.

This is my first attempt at customizing a tank top with crochet, so I’m using a $4 scoop-neck tank top from Walmart (White Stag brand).  Update: It’s coming along well! See this followup post.

It looks dowdy on me, so I drastically cropped it and turned the neckline into a deep V. The crochet you see adds length along the bottom hem. I’m using standard sport weight yarn and a US/F (3.75 mm) crochet hook. The steel hook you see here is the largest sharp-headed crochet hook I have. I wish I had one that’s slightly bigger for pulling through loops of sport weight yarn. Crazy?

The real reason I’m doing this:

  • What is it like to crochet DesigningVashti Lotus yarn onto t-shirt fabric? Is sport weight yarn a good match? (If I have to use lace weight yarns, I might as well just crochet the whole darn thing.) What does the texture of this yarn look like with a plain cotton machine knit fabric? 
  • I have mill ends of this “Pink Sugar” color; the dyeing looks more tonal than solid (not in this photo though). Do I like it? What is it generally like to pair Lotus colors with my tee shirt colors?
  • Can I use a super sharp crochet hook when customizing a tank top with crochet? I want to be able to start crocheting right onto fabric and get a result I like. Would I enjoy doing it more than sewing along the cut edges first? (I sealed the cut edges with an invisible permanent washable no-fray liquid.)
  • How will it all hold up to wearing, machine washing and drying, and the Florida sun? Will the no-fray liquid add enough strength to the edges?
  • How will I like wearing it? Will I find I have a preference for customizing a tank top with certain kinds of crochet stitches? What if the crochet adds too much weight to the top?

Lots of what-ifs. Will I want to do something similar with my cashmere sweaters? ::gasp::

I have a few pullovers that I want to convert into cardigans. Ideally, give them a roomier fit while I’m at it. Heck, add beads. Cashmere love is a many splendored thing.

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Beaded “Delta” Types of Crochet Lace

I have some fun photos of beaded crochet swatches to share: overflow from newsletter issue #62, “Delta-Type” Crochet/Hexagonal Lace Types. Click on each photo to enlarge it and see comments.

Note: I’m using “delta crochet” to refer to a category, not for a single kind of stitch pattern, and not for triangular items such as shawls. I mean geometrically a type of lace grid. In the four-sided lacy net category we have the filet type (square/rectangular spaces that stack up in columns), and the fishnet or diamond mesh type, which have diamond-shaped spaces that are offset/staggered. “Delta” is pretty well known to mean triangle, whereas a term like “isometric” might be less helpful. If you have a better term to suggest than “delta,” please leave a comment, thanks  🙂

The gist of the newsletter is: Crochet nets of three-sided triangular lacy holes (or “spaces”) have a fundamentally different kind of lace structure, or grid. You can create them with several different kinds of crochet stitches, and they all differ from nets with four-sided spaces in looks, stretch/drape properties, and the experience of crocheting them.

When I experimented with beading delta laces, interesting things happened. Adding beads to love knots is in some ways very similar to beading chain stitches. I haven’t even tried several more ways to add beads to the ones shown here. Adding beads to the classic tall-stitch delta type, though, is more limited. It would be super tricky* to add beads to a whole post of a tall stitch.

*By “super tricky” I mean unpleasant and perhaps impossible LOL.

Check back, I’m swimming in swatches and blogging them all – my goal is a short blog post most days per week. I love comments!

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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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From Crochet Design Idea to Professional Proposal

Resources Page for Presentation given by Vashti Braha: From Crochet Design Idea to Professional Proposal  CGOA Professional Development Day, Reno NV September 12, 2012

Clickable links are listed below under four subheadings, but first!  A Gallery of Ten Crochet Photography Challenges I’ve Encountered (out of Thousands)  Click or double-click on a photo for details.

1. Creating, Choosing, Sharing Images of Swatches, Sketches, and Designs

 

2. Why Photography Skills for all Crochet Professionals are Important

Photography has been a challenging journey for me. I’m a crochet designer and teacher first. Perhaps this is why I was slow to realize that every photo I take is also my intellectual property (therefore a business asset) with the same potential infinite value as a crochet design. The more rights one retains to each type of original crochet-related content (whether photo, diagram, text, video, etc.), the more capital one has. Forever. Content to be used as the rights holder sees fit, especially in the unforeseen opportunities the future holds. In other words, do yourself a big favor: err on the side of sitting on the full rights to too much content, because chances are your future self will be glad you did. I speak from experience already! Regarding photography for example, I only waited 2 years to learn how saving my seemingly superfluous photos pays off.

I may never see myself as a professional photographer, but everything I’ve learned about it has been worth the effort, both personally and professionally. Understanding how cameras and light and angles work is nice; even better are the unexpectedly deeper and almost spiritual things photography is teaching me, like: the kinds of beauty I used to overlook; what I want to see and what’s most ‘real’ to me; choices of visual subtexts (those ‘1000 words’ that pictures speak), and just plain what’s important to me about crochet. A surprise fringe benefit is that as I page through the latest crochet magazine or book, I now also detect other points of view non-crocheting pro photographers take, either by default or by direction.

As a crochet designer who finds project photography challenging, the best thing I’ve done is to allow myself the time to take baby steps:

  • If all I do is keep the camera very still, I’m already ahead. It can singlehandedly produce a great raw photo for isolating key details later at the editing stage. Sounds obvious, but it’s a special skill to do this for certain kinds of shots. Surprisingly, it has also taken me a long time to recognize when a photo is subtly out of focus.
  • I block everything, even jewelry. Otherwise the camera will blab loudly to everyone that I didn’t, and I’ll have to retake the photo {shudder}.
  • Having at least one mannequin is fabulous, mainly because using live models for any kind of crochet photography is overwhelmingly complicated for me. Photographing crochet on/with live models require a whole different skill set. I’m going easy on myself and still learning so much with still photography. Another surprise for me has been the strong opinions I hear FOR or AGAINST crochet or knit designs photographed on live models!
  • I refuse to obsess about perfect light. There’s no way I’m getting up at dawn to photograph anything! No way am I delaying a new pattern release just because a tropical storm is brewing! However, the more I’ve thought about this, the more I wonder if this is a luxury I have in Florida, where I usually deal with too much light. The more photos I take of crochet, the less light I need, especially when my priority is to emphasize a stitch texture, or the intricate interaction between fiber type, yarn construction, stitch pattern and drape. I can add light during photo editing, but taking away too much light is trickier.
    • As a result, I avoid buying specialized paraphernalia that clutters up my house or makes it feel too much like a photographer’s studio. I often just put up a low three-fold cardboard screen to mute the Florida sun. Having a range of simple light modifying tools and backgrounds at hand, such as folding foam-core boards, frees me from waiting for only one ideal hour of indirect sunlight or a weather-perfect day.
  • Photoshop will just have to wait its turn. Until more non-photographers’ faces relax when they talk about using Photoshop, I’m making the most of iPhoto and supplementing with iWatermark and whatever the current incarnation of the online Picnik is – and enjoying myself while mastering the basics.
  • I learn a new setting on my camera when I’m good ‘n’ ready. My favorite option so far is the macro setting (on my Canon it looks like a flower symbol). It’s especially great for any beaded crochet, fancy stitches, and step outs (tutorials). I practiced for months with different close up ranges to recognize the macro ‘sweet spot.’ I wish I’d taken a few macro pics of the beaded seam of Tunisian Petals (see my blog link below about this)
  • I turn a crochet photo session into a relaxing event. I do a batch at a time. I often jot down a specific shot I need for a pattern or blog post, because I don’t always remember by the time it’s ‘photo shoot day.’ Depending on the time of day, I may turn up the music, pour a glass of wine, and relax into the job. Or in the morning I may get all sporty and aerobic about it, especially if I’m cleaning up the room reaching to get artsy angled shots, changing backgrounds, moving mannequins around etc. I might chat on the phone, or listen to my husband’s TV show. I avoid a lot of caffeine, though, for a steadier hand.

Helpful Links for Crochet Photography Newbies:

 

3. Submissions Guidelines for Crochet Pattern Magazines:

Submissions Guidelines for Pattern Book Publishers:

 

4. Recommended Miscellaneous Resources for New/Aspiring Professional Crochet Designers:

Note: even though some of these links offer advice about expired calls for proposals, the information is still relevant for future calls.