Posted on Leave a comment

Crochet Advice for Yarn Shops

I used a CGOA column to provide crochet advice for yarn shops in six Yarn Market News issues - five covers from 2007-2009 shown

From 2006 to 2009 I wrote six half-page “News From the CGOA” columns for a trade publication called Yarn Market News. It was mailed free of charge to all industry professionals. Its focus was on helping even the smallest yarn shop succeed.

Scroll to the end of this post for the linked list to all six full-text articles.

Crocheters nowadays might not know how CGOA professionals have worked for decades to make crochet visible in the minds of yarn shop owners and the rest of “the industry”—the yarn industry. It started with the founder, Gwen Blakely Kinsler. She and Nancy Brown, an early guild President, had a CGOA booth at annual industry events. They persisted.

When Crochet Was Sidelined

CGOA professionals spent long hours in CGOA booths at trade shows and markets, served on task forces and committees of other organizations, provided crochet for displays, and invited members of the wider industry to serve on CGOA’s board.

Maybe we need less of this kind of work nowadays. Crochet is no longer sidelined as much in favor of knitting. (Nancy Brown used to say crochet was treated like a “red-headed stepsister”.) Meanwhile the internet is a big factor in declining attendance at trade shows, and in overall ad revenues.

I have fond memories of performing this free labor with Marty Miller and with many more designing friends! Marty and I helped check in fashion show items at the The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) trade shows, for example. Truly, folks: every fashion show entry was knitted except for approximately two crocheted things.

In that climate, you can imagine that yarn shops needed crochet advice badly. I met many yarn shop people at industry events who wanted to attract and satisfy more crocheting customers, but didn’t know how. I drew on these experiences when I wrote the six “News From the CGOA” columns for Yarn Market News.

The Crochet-In

At peak exasperation we staged a crochet-in, as a result of a Crochet Summit, in the middle of the 2007 TNNA show floor. It was a gentle and upbeat protest. Isn’t it weird that it was necessary?


Wearing Crochet Matters

When I re-read this 2008 blog post it does sound like we were starting to make a difference. Even just showing up with crochet on helped at a time when crocheters were under-served by this industry that we share with knitters. I wrote about the Minuet Vest prototype during this time. Doris and I had a blast doing this! Here’s a comment she left on this 2008 post about a TNNA show:

Wearing your stuff in public at events and in your everyday life does help raise the level of crochet consciousness. I used to get annoyed when the typical response was “Oh, did you knit that?”. Can’t fault anyone for not readily discerning the differences between some knit and some crochet stitches. Nowadays I treat such comments as teachable moments…There will come a day when I won’t feel the need to do this, either! 🙂

Yarn shop owners stopped to ask us about the crochet we wore on the trade show floor and displayed in booths. The crochet classes offered at TNNA shows may have been meager at times, but they were well attended by yarn shop staff. I directly experienced yarn shop owners seeking crochet advice. The only source I knew of was the Yarn Market News column. Isn’t this also weird?

Crochet Advice for Yarn Shops: Today

If improving crochet – industry relations were all CGOA did, the annual membership dues I pay it would be worth it for me. Shop owners still need business advice about crochet and I don’t know where they can get it nowadays. Soho Publishing ceased publication of Yarn Market News with their January 2020 issue.

CGOA has offered to help local stores succeed with crochet since our founding in 1993. CGOA members have always shopped in their local yarn shops and craft stores, looking for inspiration and new products with crocheters in mind. Yarn Market News offered a way for CGOA to speak directly to yarn shop owners and I’m grateful for it.


Full text of Vashti’s “News From the CGOA” columns in Yarn Market News:

This might also interest you:

Posted on 1 Comment

An Advanced Tall Stitch Pattern

I swatched a fancy tall stitch pattern recently. It’s actually a section that I isolated from a larger all-over pattern in issue #187 of Duplet magazine (September 2016). Each of its nineteen rows is unique. This is a first-time-puzzling-through swatch, so please ignore the uppermost rows which need re-doing. I worked exclusively from the symbol diagram because I don’t know how to read Ukrainian or Russian.

I added turning chains and opted to link the first tall stitch to them. It’s easier to see this in the extreme close up further down. Also, the first row of very tall stitches (quadruple trebles) along the bottom is not in the Duplet pattern; I started off by testing very tall foundation stitches.

Arch-shaped swatch of a framed folk-style heart with a flower at the center, all in very tall crochet stitch combinations.

Tall Stitch Pattern Symbols

Something I love about symbols for very tall stitches is that the initial yarn overs required show as small lines crossing the long vertical line of the stitch post. You just count the wee hashes. Even nicer for UK and Australian crocheters, the number of them also tells you the name of the stitch. (American crocheters: just use the name for the next shorter stitch.)

Below is a sampling of Duplet’s symbols for the very tall stitches. Notice the four longest vertical lines at the far right edge, with five little hash marks: it means you yarn over five times to begin the stitch. These are quintuple trebles in the UK & AUS, or call them quadruple trebles in the US.

According to the symbols, crochet these four very tall stitches into four tall stitches that have only two hash marks: they are double trebles in UK/AUS or just trebles in US terminology.

An Upside Down Y-Stitch

Cover of Ukrainian Russian Duplet magazine issue 187 (shows yellow sunflowers, and model wears summery Irish crochet top)
Duplet 187

See that symbol in the upper left that looks like an upside-down Y with hash marks ? See how its right leg stands over a sort of horizontal line? That line is some number of chains (4 in my swatch). The other leg skips some stitches that are mostly outside of the picture. This symbol means you begin with five yarn overs, then insert the crochet hook into a chain or the chain space. Work two of the five yarn overs off of your hook, as if to make a treble (UK/AUS dtr). Then, yarn over twice to begin the other leg of the stitch while the 3 unused yarn overs are still waiting on the hook. Work the treble of the other leg into another chain space, and then finish working the remaining 3 yarn overs off of the hook.

A variety of clusters and shell stitches flow into each other to give the crocheting an undulating feeling. It’s exciting to see it take shape, and it kept me on my toes. I’d do a few things differently if I swatch it again. Duplet and Zhurnal magazines offer many expressive patterns and innovative ways to use very tall stitches.

As Class Material

This particular tall stitch pattern is mainly research for me. It’s too involved for the Tall Stitch Virtuosity class, but of course I’ll bring the swatch and magazine with me. When there’s time in class we can take a closer look at examples like this.

It’s not too involved, however, for…my Pinterest board called Tall Stitch Artistry!

Posted on 1 Comment

Starry Crochet for Wire Mesh Panel Decor

Crochet DIY for Wire Mesh Panel Decor!

I have a fun summer crochet project to share. I’ve been bitten by the DIY wire mesh panel decor trend and have made several styles. Today’s focus is a cosmic one: wire mesh panel as Starry Firmament.

Unique crochet stars for wire mesh panel decor
Half of these were made with the pattern below, or a simple variation of it (described in the pattern).

Shown above is a cosmic condominium for air plants, but it could just as easily be a photo memo board. Or see below for other decor ideas.

There’s a free crochet pattern for the stars below.

Wire mesh panels are not hard to come by at all. Not only are they easy to find, they’re a bargain: just a dollar or two for strong, durable, and very serviceable 14-inch {35.5 cm} square panels. In fact, they’re so low-priced and common that it costs more to ship them across the US than it does to buy new ones locally. Hence my problem.

I have stacks of them because they’re great for building show booths, like I’ve done at crochet conferences over the years. It only makes sense to keep them if I do show booths I can drive to. Some panels are getting a bit of surface rust here in the subtropics.

Most people would throw the panels away. I know because that’s the advice I’ve gotten. There’s a creative DIY decorating trend going on with wire mesh panels though! Why spend $15-$50 on one when you could spray paint it rose gold yourself? Or do like I did: add a constellation of stars?

Some wire mesh panel decor ideas I’ve found are: hang them over a desk to organize photos, memos, etc; string fairy lights into them and add a small shelf. Especially inspiring: sprinkle on some quirky air plants.

Crochet Pattern: Basic Firmament Star

I’ve used only the most elementary crochet stitches for this pattern. A new crocheter might struggle with it, though, if s/he isn’t accustomed to using very fine crochet thread yet.

Materials

I used a size #20 white crochet thread by DMC call Cordonnet Special. It’s on the stiff side because it has many plies that are highly twisted. This makes for crisp-looking stars that will hold their shape. If you can’t find it, Handy Hands Tatting make a cordonnet type called Lizbeth in many different sizes and colors. If you don’t have size #20, the next thinner/finer size, #30, seems to give me very similar results.

It doesn’t matter what steel crochet hook size you use. Choose the smallest size that still makes crocheting with the thread easy. For me it’s a size 1.25 mm in the brand I had at hand. For the thinner size #30 thread I needed a slightly smaller hook size. Psst, you might like what I wrote about steel crochet hook sizes!

Three thread sizes are represented here: the pink one in progress is size #10, and the two middle ones are the thinnest: size #30. The star on the far left and far right: size #20.

Pattern

Leave the thread ends 4 inches {10 cm} long.

Make a slip knot and place the loop on your crochet hook. Chain 5, slip stitch in the second chain from your hook to make a tiny picot, chain 2 or 3, double crochet in the first chain of this spoke (the chain that’s nearest the slip knot). In the photo above, two pink spokes have been completed. *Chain 5, slip stitch in the second chain from your hook, chain 2 or 3, double crochet in the first chain of this spoke.* Repeat from * to * one or more times, depending on how many spokes you wish the star to have. Then slip stitch in the first stitch nearest the slip knot. Fasten off.

To vary the appearance:

  • Use half double crochets in place of the double crochets.
  • Add another stitch (a slip stitch, or single crochet) in the next chain after the picot, then chain one less before finishing the spoke with a tall stitch.
  • Begin each spoke with 4 looser chains instead of 5 (then chain one less before finishing the spoke with a tall stitch). Or begin with more than 5 chains and add more chains after the picot.

To finish and use the star:

  1. With a fine needle, weave one of the ends to the opposite edge of the star. Notice in the photo above that the ends of the two outermost white stars are opposite each other while the middle two have ends coming from the same place of the star.
  2. Wet it, stretch, pinch the spokes, and allow to dry perfectly flat and as symmetrical as you can get it. Meanwhile prepare your wire mesh panel by sanding off rust if necessary, spraying with a primer and then a dark glossy blue. I then sprayed on a fine multicolored glitter too.)
  3. Tie each star onto a place where the grid wires intersect. Tie one direction and then the other tightly around the intersection. This keeps them stationary. Snip the ends close to the final knot on the back of the panel and apply a drop of glue to the knot.
  4. My one additional step was to spray a light coat of clear acrylic sealer onto the back of the panel. Mod Podge makes one that did not cause the stars to yellow, unlike a few other sealers I tested. Have a toothpick handy to smooth down the sealer where it shows on the stars (it will look hairy or like tiny dew drops in places). This helps keep them crisply starry.
  5. Now add air plants, or use those tiny wood clothespins to clip photos and things to it.

See more images of the Starry Firmament wire mesh panel decor at its Ravelry project page.

Posted on Leave a comment

Crochet Life Lists: the PDF

Here is the full downloadable PDF version of the crochet life lists in issue #97 of my Crochet Inspirations Newsletter. There were seven short life lists by topic in that issue.

DesigningVashti Crochet Life Lists PDF thumbnail cover
First page of the five-page Crochet Life Lists PDF.

The seven topics are preserved and expanded a bit in the PDF. I also had more room for adding checkboxes, and blank lines so that you can customize them.

The last two pages of the PDF (it’s five pages in all) list additional items to give you ideas for what to add to your lists. Curious what are on my own crochet life lists? Look for the red boxes on those last two pages!

Posted on 72 Comments

Delicate Crochet Book Giveaway

Update: I’m so inspired by your comments! Your comment may take a few hours to show because they go into a moderation queue. 

I’m giving away a copy of the new Delicate Crochet book by Sharon Silverman to a randomly chosen commenter on this post. You’re welcome to enter even if you live outside of the USA. If you win and you have a non-USA shipping address, you’ll receive a free downloadable crochet pattern of your choice instead. Scroll down for the book giveaway details.

 

Pattern Riffing

Over the holidays I “riffed” on the patterns I wrote for Delicate Crochet. I’ll explain how, in case you have (OR WIN!!) this book and want to riff too.

Meet Zegue

Tunisian ripple stitch Ziggy Vest with its variation Zegue
Zegue (left) with Delicate Crochet’s Ziggy Vest on the right.

Zegue is a simple wrap version of the Ziggy Vest. I used up scraps of fancy yarns in my stash. In Ziggy’s case the armholes are cut into the self-healing stitch pattern. I omitted that step for Zegue. (I could still add a hole later, such as for a one-sleeve wrap, or for a keyhole scarf style like I did for the pink Mesmer. Or go with my original idea: add a seam at each end of the long sides to create tubes (sleeves) for a shrug.)

Yarn: I had one small ball each of the four Stacy Charles Fine fashion yarns I used. (See Zegue’s project page in Ravelry for the yarn facts.) One of them has sequins so I had to use it. Using a mix of yarns for the Ziggy stitch pattern was really fun! I’ve always wanted to do a stripy scrappy ripple, especially in Tunisian stitches.

Crochet Hook: I used the 7.0 mm Addi Tunisian crochet hook from my shop; the Ziggy Vest calls for a 6.0 mm size. A 6.5 mm for Zegue would probably be just as lacy though you might need a few more rows and additional stitch repeat or two.

Finished Dimensions: 14″ x 57″ (35.6 x 144.8 cm), measured flat and blocked. I like wearing it as a wrap. For a shrug option I might add buttons. It weighs 71 g. and I had about a quarter of the Luna mohair and Crystal left over.

I chose the length of each row to match the length from my wrist over the shoulders and across the back to the other wrist while my arms hang at my sides—an easy measurement (57″/144.8 cm). This is because I thought I was going to turn it into a shrug. I just kept adding rows until my forearm would fit through the sleeve tube if I seamed part of the first and last row together; I’d need a minimum of about 9″ (22.9 cm). I figured the yarn amount would get me at least this far.

Foundation and Row Repeats: You’ll need the Delicate Crochet book for the actual Ziggy pattern (starts on page 140). Here are my changes for Zegue:

  • I chained 178 with Color A (Stella).
  • Row 1 forward pass (FP) is also Stella, and then I changed to Color B (Luna) for the return pass (RP) and the Row 2 FP. Fasten off every time you change yarns.
  • Row 2 RP and Row 3 FP: Change to Color C (Céline).
  • Row 3 RP and Row 4 FP: Change to Color B (Luna).
  • Row 4 RP and Row 5 FP: Change to Colors C+D (Céline & Crystal held together).
  • Repeat the color sequence of B, C, B, C+D for a total of 16 rows; for Row 16 RP change to Stella. Complete Row 17 FP and RP with Stella and then fasten off.
  • Edge Row 17 with a strand of Luna and Crystal held together: Single crochet (sc) in first FP stitch, chain 1, slip stitch (ss) in same sc, sc in same stitch, *chain (ch) 1, sc in next FP stitch, ch 1, sc in next stitch group, ch 1, sc in next FP stitch, [sc, ch 1, ss in same sc, sc] in next FP stitch, repeat from * in each remaining FP stitch of row. Fasten off.
  • Attach Stella to first foundation ch. Working along the other side of the foundation, sc in first ch, ch 1 and skip next ch that was not used by a FP stitch, sc in available loop of next used foundation ch, repeat from * in each remaining stitch of row. Fasten off.
  • Attach Luna and Crystal to first sc of Stella. Edge this row the same way you edged Row 17.

Yvelino the Paneled Ring Scarf

Icelandic wool ring scarf vs DesigningVashti Lotus wrap of Bias-crocheted Tunisian net, surface-crocheted with love knots.
Yvelino Ring (left) with Delicate Crochet‘s Yveline Wrap on the right.

 

For this version of the Yveline Wrap I used four colors of lace weight Icelandic wool, one ball per color. See its project page for the yarn deets. I loved this yarn; it’s very “sticky” and almost bristly or wiry in a way that works great with this airy bias-worked net.

Crochet Hooks: 5.0 mm (H) Tunisian hook; for the surface-crochet I used a regular 3.5 mm (E) crochet hook.

Finished Dimensions: 13″ wide with a 58″ circumference (33 x 147.3 cm). It weighs 100 g. so I used only half of each ball. (I thought I might want to add a lot of surface crochet, so I reserved yarn for that.) Instead, I like the texture contrast zones.

Foundation and Row Repeats: You’ll need the Delicate Crochet book (starting on page 133) for the actual Yveline pattern. Here are my changes for Yvelino:

  • Chain 58 in Color A. Complete 33 rows. Edge the last row with sc.
  • Slip stitch Color B to the bottom right corner foundation chain of the previous panel. Chain 58. At the end of the Row 1 FP, slip stitch in the first FP stitch of Row 1 of the previous panel and then complete the RP as usual.
  • Repeat this join-as-you-go process at the end of every FP until you’ve completed 33 rows. Edge it with sc like the previous panel.
  • Repeat the above with two more panels. For the last panel, also join-as-you-go the first FP stitch of each row to the last FP stitch of the first panel you completed to create a ring. (Or you could seam the first and last panel sides together to for the ring as a separate step.)

Adding the Frills: The only thing different from the book is that I used a 3.5 mm (E) crochet hook, and surface crocheted a column on each side of the joins.

Oh the Resources Buried in Crochet Patterns

I hold onto lots of crochet pattern books and “mine” them for interesting stitch patterns (love those stitch symbols!), shapes (love those schematics!), and construction methods (love the rare assembly diagram!).

The stitch texture combinationscolor contrasts, or styling ideas in pattern books are also inspiring.

Ravelry takes this into account so I know I’m not the only one who uses books this way. (When creating a new project page, there used to be a box you checked if you improvised from an existing pattern. Now you can choose additional patterns if you’ve incorporated elements from them.)

Delicate Crochet offers hours and hours of riffing on its interesting stitch patterns, shapes, and styles, thanks to the range of designers represented—and thanks to all the stitch diagrams and schematics.

Book Giveaway Details!

You could win this! Delicate Crochet by Sharon Silverman with 23 patterns by 10 designers.
  • I’ll use a random number generator no earlier than February 18 (Monday, President’s Day) to choose from among the commenters to this post.
  • There may be two winners: one with a shipping address outside of the USA as well as within it. If the first winner has a non-USA shipping address, the prize will be a free downloadable crochet pattern (winner’s choice). I will then draw a new number randomly until the new winner has a USA address to which I can ship the book.
  • To contact the winner(s) I will do these three things: comment on your comment with the news, and announce the winner’s name (as it appears on your comment) in my Ravelry group, and at my Facebook page. I suggest you opt-in to receive alerts of responses to your comment in case you’re a winner.
  • Your comment may respond to my question, “What crochet book would you like me to write?” (as explained in my newsletter #97), or at least be crochet-related. I reserve the right to remove spammy comments as always.
  • Commenting more than once does not improve your chance of winning.