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 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.
Posted on Leave a comment

First Look: Yveline, a Tunisian Wrap

Photos by Daniel Shanken
All Images © 2018.  Photographer: Daniel Shanken for Stackpole Books. View hi-res.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing some sneak peeks! You’re looking at Tunisian crochet eyelets on the diagonal, frilled ? with love knots ?. I used our Lotus yarn in these colors: Carbonite, Pearly Pearl, Satin Grey, and Lustrous Tan.

Yveline is one of two new crochet patterns I contributed to a forthcoming book. It’s called Delicate Crochet: 23 Light and Pretty Designs for Shawls, Tops and More by Sharon Hernes Silverman. The book’s official publication date is December 1, but look for it as early as October. 

Yveline Goes to Class

I’ll be traveling with Yveline to the CGOA crochet conference in Portland OR next month because she wants to meet everyone who is taking the Tunisian Crochet on the Diagonal class AND 21st Century Love Knot Adventures.

If you’re going to the conference and you took one of my earlier Tunisian lace classes, Yveline will want to meet you too. I brought swatches to those earlier classes that have since come of age in the form of the lovely Yveline.

Her Story

First, the name. It started out “Lean In” because that’s what I called the early swatches. It fascinated me how much some Tunisian stitches liked to lean with a little encouragement. Not just how much, but the kind of movement; sometimes it’s like Tunisian lace stitches have hinges or ball joints.

When it came time for a grown up name, I was in a dual swoon from binge-watching the Versailles series while adding the love knot frills! I looked for names associated with Versailles and learned that the city is located in a département called Yvelines.

About Those Love Knots

Wallet-sized beige cashmere bag of Tunisian crochet, embellished with double ruffles, woven with grey satin ribbons.
A small bag I designed 9 years ago inspired the ruffle idea. Image missing? View it here.

I’m still swooning a bit from using love knots for surface embellishment. I haven’t seen anyone else do this and it’s just the kind of odd new thing I like to try each time I teach 21st Century Love Knot Adventures. (I mean, look at what I called the class.)

It did take several swatches. Remember last year when I did a newsletter on ruffles? It was shortly after I shipped Yveline to Sharon, the book author. I’d been swatching and meditating on the essence of a crocheted ruffle for a few months.

The Tunisian eyelet fabric is so airy and “flexy” (another name I gave to the early swatches) that most of the ruffles I tried were too heavy. I love how airy the love knot frills are! Love!

About the Ruffle Idea

The urge to frill has a story too. Years ago I crocheted the cutest little bag. It’s Tunisian simple stitch with ruffles surface-crocheted on it.

So that’s my Delicate Crochet story of Yveline. I have a very different story coming up about the other design I did for the book!

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on 1 Comment

My Ideal Crochet Conference Clothes

Sleeveless fine black knit top outlined with big pink crystals!
Updated August 7, 2020.

Pictured above: two views of my favorite top, dating from 2006-2008. I wore it to the evening banquets until I wore it out! On the left I’m modeling the Giant Roses Wrap and Smart Set With Swing skirt for Crochet! magazine, January 2007 issue. On the right is the Spun Sugar Cocoon in the 2006 book New Ideas for Today’s Crochet by Jean Leinhauser & Rita Weiss [link goes to my project page for it in Ravelry].

Conference Clothes to Pack

I’ve re-committed to the Z-CoiL® shoes so now I can focus on the conference clothes. At home in Florida I wear jeans and light-colored t-shirts (with or without Z-Coils). For the past 25 crochet conferences I’ve packed almost no jeans or t-shirts.

Lots of crochet conference attendees wear their most comfortable jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers and that’s great! That’s the easiest packing of all. (People do tend to dress up for the Saturday night banquet.)

Please don’t let what I’m about to say worry you if you’re a first-timer and you want to wear t-shirts and jeans! My choices are based on how I want to wear my crochet designs, and on all the professional, organizational, and event roles I play. (Designer, teacher, presenter, model, director, officer, etc.) So, ideally my conference clothes meet several needs at once.

Tops That Work

A comfortable and flattering black top with colorful embroidery served me well
Wore this top to many events too; it’s a Chico’s
“Travelers” fabric so it always looked and felt great.

For these reasons the tops I pack are mostly plain stretchy black (or other neutral color), with different sleeve lengths and neckline styles. You can see many of them in the photos further down.

The best conference tops work great under a striking crochet vest, wrap, or cardigan and:

  • are made of a breathable material that travels well
  • look stylish enough
  • work for both daytime and evening
  • don’t hold on to shedding yarn fibers!
A close up of the top on my mannequin. On display: Lotus Color Chips.

These tops are perfect for modeling and I pack extras for attendees who didn’t plan to model on banquet night. Other neutral colors can work too, like charcoal, navy, tan. I had a favorite conference top in charcoal. Still trying to find its replacement.

It’s surprising how hard it is for me to find simple classic conference clothes like these in neutral colors other than black. I think people don’t want to look at a lot of black all the time in crochet classes.

Nowadays for teaching I look for softly colored breezy tunics to wear.

Tops for Crochet Activism

Conference clothes to make this vest pop from a distance as crochet activism!
Minuet: designed to make crochet
very visible at a knit-centric event.

When I want the maximum spotlight on a crocheted garment, I wear it over black. There’s just no better background and frame for crochet textures and colors. It really makes the crochet pop from a distance, such as a fashion runway.

Crochet activists know that we need in-your-face crochet magnificence that pops even across a city-block-long convention center walkway. Why?

Non-CGOA yarn industry events have long been knit-centric. You betcha I’ve brought all the inkiest-black clothing to wear under high-contrast crochet. I’ve watched people lock eyes on it a block away. I blogged more about the Crochet-In and other crochet activism we’ve done out of exasperation with the sidelining.

The Bottom Half

Good decisions about conference clothes depend on the level of air conditioning in the hotel, and in conference center rooms. It can fluctuate dramatically from room to room and by time of day. Crocheted shawls won’t keep my ankles from freezing.

Pants: I look for the same qualities as in tops. Additionally, I love a wide waistband that sits a bit below my waist. A long boot cut in a structured fabric looks best with the Z-Coils. I have a clear picture of what works the best for me, but sometimes I have to shop too much to find it.

Skirts and dresses can work for evenings. (Few look good with Z-Coils for daytime). A pair of semi-sheer black pantyhose/tights has often come in handy when I’m asked to model a skirt or dress for the banquet fashion show. For example, I wore them under the crocheted pants I’m modeling, below. In yesterday’s post I’m wearing them with high heels to model Urmie’s kick-pleat skirt.


Five Kinds of Belts?

Not all at one conference! The photos below span many years. I’m normally not a belt wearer, but…I wear a lot of things at conferences that I rarely wear at home.

5 views of belts I wear with my conference clothes
That wrapped tie belt (4th from left) is my crocheted Barbed Wire Belt in silver glitter Jelly Yarn! (Here it is in black.)
That’s the Weightless Tunisian Wrap on the far left. Then our own Lotus yarn in Grenadine that Doris crocheted into a Lotus Bolero and fitted pants. On the far right I’m toting Quencher and the free V-Stitch Cocoon Shrug.

Not everything goes with the shoes. Too bad! I won’t compromise there, despite my stylish friend Annie’s consternation. If ever there were a time when Z-CoiL® shoes are indispensable, this epic conference is it—the teaching (15 hours over 3.5 days), the show booth, and of course helping the Hall of Fame committee celebrate the wonderfulness that is Doris J. Chan!

Some years I get lucky with these brands: White House/Black Market, Ann Taylor, Chico’s. I found almost nothing I can use the other day, though—only capri pants, lovely skirts, and prints. I’m all ears if you have other brand suggestions for me.


By the way, I’ve also resumed editing and refining the class handouts now that my houseguest has left. We had a fantastic week rollerskating, tracking night blooming cereus, and visiting the mermaids of Weeki Wachee.