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Color Pooling Developments

Some works in progress for the 2017 color pooling class.

The class material for Creative Planned Color Pooling changed me. In fact, it’s still changing me. I’ve adjusted its title to take new developments into account (more on that below).

I’d love to have taken a color pooling class like this years ago! In fact I’d rather learn it in a class than from a pattern or blog. The next time I teach this class: July 28, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. 

Crochet Rules, Questioned

Developing this topic changed me as a crocheter. It showed me what I take for granted about crochet how crochet works. I think it’s because for the first time, something else (the yarn’s color sequence) replaces crochet standards that have always worked for other kinds of crochet.

One ball of hand painted yarn, its colors intentionally "pooled" into two stitch patterns (popcorns and seed/moss/linen st) to create this "Florida Peaches Handbag"
These popcorn stitches vary but it doesn’t matter.

Here’s one: uniformly even stitches are beautiful. We aim to make uniform stitches to get a lovely, polished result, right? Beginners practice until they can be proud of how even their stitches are. Why would one question this?

When you’re intentionally pooling (I think of it as color directing), it’s the yarn’s colors that you aim to make uniform. The evenness of your stitches is second to that. A pretty distant second, which was shocking to me. Why? That brings me to a second way this class material changed me.

Primal Effect

On a bigger and more personal scale, my relationship to color changed! It was like watching my brain re-prioritize what it was seeing. My eyes rejoiced when the yarn’s next color stacked up the way I wanted it to. The stitches for making this happen became almost interchangeable. Even the stitch gauge could vary.

In other words, detecting a color pattern is riveting to the brain. (At least my brain. It feels primal.)

Especially when the pretty color pattern emerges from seemingly random chaos.

Especially when it’s like there’s a secret code in a multicolored ball of yarn and you’ve just cracked it.

The crochet stitch and gauge becomes a strategy: change the crocheting a bit to get a color to stick with the pattern and it works! The eye doesn’t see certain stitch irregularities. It’s too captivated by the color patterning. Also, the nearby stitches will adjust.

Recent Developments

Since my 2016 class, more crocheters have mostly been finding out from blogs about doing planned color pooling (a.k.a. intentional yarn pooling) with variegated craft store yarns. I’m seeing people make a cool argyle effect using the linen stitch (a.k.a. seed stitch, moss stitch, granite stitch): each row is [sc, ch 1, skip next st], and you crochet the sc of the next row into the ch-1 space of the completed row.

See this stitch in the colorful Aquarienne edging, Peaches handbag opening & handle, and Quailfeather. Accidental argyling happened with Barista. From a distance you can see a soft (but intentional!) argyle in this tweedy swatch and an argyle effect getting going in this swatch.

Colorful sock yarns custom dyed for my local yarn shop in coral reef colors.I came to this topic a completely different way, via hand dyed yarns. It’s easy to identify the dye techniques, such as hand painting and dip dyeing, because these yarns tend to be sold in the hank the dyer used, not wound into balls.

In these dyed hanks I saw “stitch games” because I’d already done other color-based and geeky experiments. For example,

  • When I learned from Marty Miller how hyperbolic crochet works (2006 or so), I crocheted her a hyperbolic coffee cozy secretly based on her birthdate.
  • A hand dyed yarn with a vivid yellow in it made me want to set it off with love knots. “Love Games” was the result.
  • I even sold a coffee cozy to a yarn company back in 2006 because I referred to it as a game.

Why “Creative Planned Color Pooling”?

Earlier versions of this class were “Stitch Games for Yarns With Short Color or Texture Changes” (2016 in Charleston SC) and “Stacked Color Pooling” (2017 in Mt. Pleasant IL). Planned pooling is becoming a recognizable term for more crocheters. I suspect that only seed stitch argyles come to mind for some. Also, some folks seem to think this is math based, but it doesn’t have to be. At all.

Creative is the important part of the new title because we’re still at the early stages of what is possible. There is way more to planned pooling than seed stitch argyles. What about lace and tall stitches? Shaping? Tunisian? I want crocheters to experience the possible! And of course to be changed by it.

The class resources page for this topic is updated as of 4/16/18.
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A Crochet Class in a Vest

The first corner of a hanky-hem love knot mesh vest in spring sunshine.
View full size image.

Want to see what I’m working on? This will be Flowerfall, a hanky-hem waterfall vest that I can wear when I teach 21st Century Love Knot Adventures this July in Portland, Oregon. I’m now two-thirds done.

Several Class Skills in a Vest

I’m designing Flowerfall to be a visual aid for several skill levels. I’ll also be adding the pattern to my shop for those who can’t attend the class.

Love Knot Beginner Skills

Another view of this diamond mesh would be the love knot sections of Lovelace. (It’s so iconic that the stitch is synonymous with the mesh in some how-to sources from the 1800’s to now.) Then, compare it with the Electra Wrap’s triangular love knot mesh.

For Students With a Bit of Experience

  • How to increase and decrease this mesh, and add picots as one way to finish the edges as you go.
  • The when, why, and the how-to: making love knots with slip stitches instead of single crochets (UK: dc).
  • My new favorite way to keep love knots from loosening later if the yarn is slippery.
  • A new way to crochet into love knots that I recommend for a project like this one.

For Those With More Experience

  • How to do corner to corner (C-2-C) love knot mesh in which you start in one corner and end in the opposite one.
  • How to sprinkle in other stitches with the classic love knot mesh to create lacy new stitch patterns!

Multi-Purpose Visual Aids = Ideal

This is my seventh year shipping teaching aids across the USA for crochet classes. I teach four to six different topics per event. Visual aids are everything! I always end up with a lot of crochet items to ship.

In the past few years I’ve started designing class items that combine several points of information in one. Not only do I cut down on the shipping this way, it’s a fun design challenge. I also love coming up with how a design for one class topic can double or triple as a visual aid for other topics I’m also teaching.

Self-Healing Stitch Alert

An example of this is I’ll be adding armholes to Flowerfall by cutting them open. Know what this means? It’ll also be a great visual aid for the Self Healing Stitches and How to Cut Them class! I might even bring it to the Tunisian on the Diagonal class if I don’t make a Tunisian one in time. Even though Flowerfall isn’t Tunisian, it’s an example of an easy shape to crochet from corner to corner in any stitch. (Flowerfall is even relevant to my slip stitch classes. It’s the first design I’ve done with slip stitch love knots.)

I’ll post again about this design so that you can see its modified diamond shape, how its armholes happen, and different ways to wear it. I’m smitten ? . Flowerfall’s Flickr album has three photos so far.

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Yarn Overs, Yarn Unders (Newsletter Overflow)

If an image is missing, view it herehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/vashtirama/

Close-ups of Yarn Overs, Yarn Unders, and Yarn-to-Front.
If image is not displaying, go to https://flic.kr/p/DyV1A3.

Yesterday’s issue 88 of Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter had only enough room for yarn over highlights. Who knew I’d discover too much material for a newsletter?

Here’s the rest of the story.

More on Yarn Over Basics

I described the basics of yarn overs and yarn unders in the issue already, but that only goes so far. Yarn overs are actually kind of tricky—at least when you think about them and watch yourself in slow motion. I see this in classes. Yarning over is one our most ingrained habits. Prefer a video to the close-ups above? I like PlanetJune’s.

“Clockwise” Depends on Your Point of View

Mixed yarn overs in a foundation chain.
This can also happen if the loop falls off the hook while crocheting the chains and twists before you place it back on the hook. If image isn’t displaying, see it at https://flic.kr/p/DyXB97

Another thing about yarn overs is the rotational movement. It would be easier to describe them if they were linear (just move your hook along a line from point A to B). Instead, we describe what the hook’s motion is, or focus on the yarn’s motion: a “yarn under” is also a “hook over”.

Some describe the motion as clockwise vs. counter (anti-)clockwise, which adds its own ambiguity. The motion your hook and yarn make for a yarn over is counterclockwise…IF you’re looking at it from the shaft end of the hook and IF you’re crocheting right-handed. The same motion suddenly appears clockwise if you watch it head on (from the head end of the hook).

Yarn Unders For Simple Stitches

I’ve swatched several kinds of familiar stitches with yarn unders instead of yarn overs. The stitch didn’t always look different, but in every case, it’s denser and tighter. I struggled at times to maintain an even gauge and to loosen up, depending on the stitch and yarn.

When I’ve preferred the feeling of using yarn unders, they seem lean and efficient, like taking a shortcut. It’s tempting to use yarn unders when finger crocheting and when completing reverse single crochets and loop/fur stitches.  I’m sure a large project with them uses up less yarn! Usually I prefer yarn overs though. I’m used to rhythm of it and the control they give me over my gauge. Sometimes they feel sort of “luxe” or fancy, compared to yarn unders.

Slip Stitches and Single Crochets

Swatch shows single crochet stitches crocheted with yarn-unders only, in rounds with no turning, and with variations: some rounds are moss stitch (chain 1, sc), some are extended sc.If you want to do the old style slip stitch crochet that is so dense it’s waterproof, use yarn unders!

The single crochet stitch (sc, or UK: dc) requires just two yarn overs and is visibly affected by changing just one of them to a yarn under. I expected to find yarn unders in Mark Dittrick’s Hard Crochet book on sculpturally stiff sc.

Change the first yarn over and you get sc with crossed or twisted fronts that look very much like my variation pictured here.The 1886 crossed stitch is significant to me because it was in the influential Complete Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont. I’ve seen the same stitch repeated in other crochet books since. (I don’t know if it occurs before 1886.)

Change just the second yarn over and you get what Rebecca Medina‘s modified sc for tapestry crochet.

Here’s another interesting reason to use some yarn unders for your sc. In her Freeform Knitting and Crochet book, Jenny Dowde recommends alternating a yarn over with a yarn under when starting a surface sc. Doing this prevents the raised row of sc from slanting to the left or right.

Two other stitches that show off yarn unders nicely are half doubles (hdc or UK: htr) and love knots. See the issue for more on those. View the hdc swatch diagram from the issue in high resolution.

A newsletter subscriber mentioned to me that the designer Aoibhe Ni uses yarn unders for special texture effects in her lovely Tunisian crochet designs.

How Many Types of Yarn Overs?

Two crossed loops (half hitches) have been "cast on" at the end of a Tunisian forward pass row.
A method I used for the Five Peaks Shawl.

I think of yarn over types in terms of how to get more yarn on the hook for making stitches. So we have the two obvious types: wrap it one way (Yarn Over), or the other way (Yarn Under).

A third way to add loops to the hook is the crossed loop, which is a simple cast-on in knitting. It’s also a half hitch in macramé. This loop has a twist in one direction or the other, so there are actually two types of them. I used them for Tunisian crochet to increase stitches along one edge of the Five Peaks Shawl.

This kind of loop was the subject of one of my earliest newsletter issues: “A Very Different Kind of Crochet Stitch“. I love Sue Perez’ “Forward Loop Chain” blog post about them.

The yarn-to-front (ytf) shows at the top of this page with the two yarn over types even though strictly speaking it isn’t one. It’s easily confused with the yarn under.

The Yarn Over in other Languages

I found this handy information in the 1989 Vogue Dictionary of Crochet Stitches by Anne Matthews. Here are the non-English pattern equivalents listed for Yarn Over (US) and Yarn Over Hook (UK):

  • Jeté (French)
  • Umschlag (German)
  • Gettato, abbreviated gett (Italian)
  • Arrollado (Spanish)

One More Thing!

I mentioned Jane Rimmer in the issue because I want to make sure you know about her two-part article for CGOA’s Chain Link newsletter: “Yarn Over History and Technique” (Autumn 2014) and “Yarn Overs Part 2: Techniques” (Summer 2015).

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On the Hook: New Tunisian Crochet Design

Last week I started a new design that I need to wear soon. I’ll be attending a daytime memorial service in Florida. My plain black sleeveless dress just needs a light covering for my upper arms and chest. That’s why this project is in all black Lotus yarn. (It’s purely a coincidence that I’ll finish in time for Halloween tomorrow.)

Its tentative name is Graven because I first thought of raven’s wings, and it has an engraved-looking texture. I think the last all-black thing I designed was a 2007 mini skirt of single crochet for Caron yarns in their Simply Soft yarn.

Story—its Style and Texture

Early (earliest?) Wicker variation swatched
Early (earliest?) Wicker variation swatched.

The main stitch pattern is similar to one I created for Weightless and Liebling. I’ve planned to design with it for years. I chose short rows to shape it instead of steadily increasing in the round from the neck down, or gathering the neckline. This made it an interesting process.

Sleek black lace crew-neck capelet for daytime urban streetwear (Oct. 2016 Valentino ad for "Glamgloss" sunglasses)
Oct. 2016 Valentino ad for “Glamgloss”

A recent “Glamgloss” ad by Valentino inspired the design idea. Originally I was going to name it “Glaze” or “Lotus Glaze”. It evolved and now will probably be more of a capelet to be worn open in the front or closed in the back.

About the Edging

New Tunisian Crochet Mesh Design in Progress

Last night I tried out the edging you see here. It blocked overnight and today I’m very happy with how it resolved some issues.

Edging priorities:

  • Prevent flaring or ruffling at the hem
  • Add a bit of length because I made it too short for me
  • Give it a restrained but special design detail.

I hope it’s restrained enough! (I struggle with that.)

The stitch choices are very carefully picked to deal with how the hem hangs. This is my top priority because I feel like a little girl if something ruffles even slightly over my upper arms. Some of the stitches recede to create a subtle ribbing effect that pull the hem in just enough. I like the vertical texture they add.

The tiny twisted loops (the shortest I could make them) are actually energy coils that add resilience to the flexy rib, since this yarn has no wool or other stretchy fiber in it. The picots I tried didn’t do this. It’s also dense enough overall to weigh down the hem without the need for beads or a hidden chain.

Close up of the change in stitch pattern for the collar, in progress. These are twisted Tunisian crochet stitches in DesigningVashti Lotus yarn, "Black Gleam" color. (It's inky, glossy, deep black but doesn't look like it in this lightened photo.)
Close up of the change in stitch pattern for the collar, in progress. These are twisted Tunisian crochet stitches.

I first used a twisty loop edging for Aquarienne, my newest published pattern. For that design they’re beaded and a bit longer.

For the neck edge I used a different stitch pattern while crocheting the main piece. You’re looking at twisted Tunisian extended stitches. Interesting texture! I haven’t used them like this before.

As a Crochet Pattern

If/when I write up Graven as a downloadable pattern, it will be for an Experienced skill level and with a video. This is mainly due to what it’s like to do the main Tunisian mesh in short rows. Graven has a project page in Ravelry where I’ll post updates.

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Vashti’s Crochet Archives are Coming Online

“Crochet Archives”?

Four 2008 photos from my crochet archives: the crochet is a cardigan in Tunisian crochet strips. An unpublished pattern; the yarn is unusual and discontinued (a felted spaghetti-like texture due to the lycra), but you can see it complete and modeled on its project page in Ravelry. The flower became the Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front’s Flower of Power Ring!

In the latest newsletter (#84 Crochet Ruffles Old and New) I briefly mentioned upcoming posts (and videos! Yay soon!). Here’s why: I’ve built up extensive crochet archives over thirteen years of professional crocheting. For example, my Flickr albums alone contain 1.5 million crochet photos.

The most important reason is that I’ll be able to digitize and tag the paper-based bits I’ve filed. This is so important for easy retrieval. It’s also protective: I live at sea level in a hurricane zone. In between hurricanes, it gives me easy posting ideas for this blog (& social media places) that could help or inspire other crocheters.

My crochet friend Julie M. inspired me to take stock of it all when she saw all the materials I’d brought to a class and asked, “How do you organize all your swatches and files?!” Some of it is digital and the rest is stored in my house. Is it working for me?

The ultimate test of my filing system is how quickly and easily I can retrieve everything I need for a new newsletter topic, a crochet class topic to develop, or a call for design proposals to answer. All of these have themes that cut across several kinds of materials and details. Tags work the best for this, and tagging is a digital thing. So the more my crochet archives are digitized and tagged, the better. (Safer from hurricanes too.)

Shared Crochet Archives: Places

Want to follow along with my crochet archive sharing? I’ve test-posted two other things so far: both to Twitter first, then to Pinterest and Facebook, although I may shift how/where/when these get posted. As always, updates on anything Designing Vashti will appear in the right-hand column of my newsletters, and here in this blog.

The two other test-posts are crochet tips with associated images. My goal is that they are worth liking, saving, and sharing by many crocheters. These illustrated tips will likely fall into “tracks”, such as Tips for Beginners posted on “Newbie Tuesday” (catchy!–wish I’d invented it), Skill Refiners (tips for Intermediate or Experienced skill levels), and “Crochet Pro Tips” (more for aspiring crochet designers etc.).

I also have quotations from fashion designers, artists, writers who inspire me with their wisdom and approach to their work. I think of them as my mentors and might post some of these bits to my Tumblr account.

Today’s post above is not a crochet tip, just pure charm. Maybe on Fridays?, or maybe as a Sunday/Monday boost. I love when other crocheters and knitters post pure eye candy: stitches close up in fibers and colors that make me want to pick up my hook. It’s instantly replenishing, as if I’ve just emerged from a spa!