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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.

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Fascinating Crochet Texture: Chainmaille Cowl

Bottom band of my Oct. 2018 VOTE crochet poster in our Lotus yarn.
This is the bottom band of a crochet poster. See the rest of it below. View full size.

 

Chainmaille is a downloadable DesigningVashti crochet pattern that was recently the focus of a CAL (Crochet Along) in northern Illinois. I thought you and the CAL participants would enjoy seeing a few variations I’ve swatched of this fascinating crochet texture.

The Structure of a Fascinating Crochet Fabric

Brighid's Willow afghan block contributed to a pattern booklet.
For the Brighid’s Willow afghan block I added a simple cable and contrasting edge columns.

Long chains cross over a filet surface in a herringbone-like pattern. It’s easier to see in striping colors, above and below.

It might also be easier to see in different types of yarn. The alpaca-tencel yarn adds to the scarf’s unique look. I used a cotton-acrylic blend for the afghan block at right. For the V-o-t-e poster I used two strands held together of a cotton-rayon blend.

It helps me to think of it as two layers of lace: each gives the other added dimension and visual depth. This makes it lighter to wear. It also drapes better than the solid layered and aran-style crochet fabrics.

How did Chainmaille come about?

I first saw a confusing photo of the stitch pattern in a book. I couldn’t make out what its texture was like, and the book offered no stitch diagram for it. (It turns out that a stitch diagram wouldn’t have helped me, I just had to crochet it first.) I now understand why the photo confused me: a layered crochet texture is hard to capture in a two-dimensional image. If light shows through the layers, that also adds mystery.

Tunisian crochet letters spell V-O-T-E against a rainbow aran crochet background.
This poster is approx. 12″ x 14″. Ten colors of our Lotus yarn, a cotton & rayon blend.

For me, the Chainmaille design is all about immersing oneself in a fascinating crochet fabric. There is no shaping or complicated assembly. Turning it into a cowl is simple enough: just seam it into a tube. Leave it unseamed for a neck warmer, or make it longer like I did to wear as a scarf. (Or gift to a man.)

A Chainmaille Crochet Along took place last month (July 2015) at Mosaic Yarn Studio in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. Have a look at this wrap-sized Chainmaille on display in the shop!

I met with a CAL participant, Susan Kenyon, at the Chain Link crochet conference in San Diego a few weeks ago. Susan and I seem to share the same kind of enjoyment of this fascinating crochet stitch pattern. It sounds like the CAL was fun.

Mesmer Veils Set (incl. Maze Vest)

This pattern set offers a unique experience of crocheting breezy Tunisian scarves, wraps, and vests. The Mesmer approach is a three-in-one introduction to:

  • a versatile extended Tunisian net stitch that conserves yarn
  • double-ended crocheting for a reversible and fringe-free option
  • steeking (cutting open armholes with a quick snip of one stitch loop for the vest option).

An earlier version of the vest was originally published as “Maze Vest” in the Summer 2014 issue of Interweave Crochet magazine.

Like the Weightless Tunisian Stole, the Mesmer Veil directly contradicts silly old stereotypes of Tunisian crochet as being thick, stiff, and slow to crochet. Mesmer is gossamer-thin, lacy, flexible, stretchy, collapsible, and stitches up quickly. It also conserves yarn and is reversible (front and back are equally lovely). It’s simply everything Tunisian crochet isn’t thought to be.

It’s even light on the hook: only half of the stitches in a row are held on the hook, so you can make an extra-long piece without using an extra-long hook.

Although it’s a fun way to combine scrap yarns, Mesmer is designed to make expensive yarns go twice as far.

The length and width are easy to customize for creating simple wearable shapes. Use a Tunisian hook for a wrap that collapses lengthwise into a scarf with naturally fringed ends (pink version). The hand-dyed teal version is crocheted widthwise. 

Use a double-ended Tunisian crochet hook to make a decorative solid edge instead of fringe.

Skill Level

Easy Intermediate (due to alternating yarns of contrasting weights and textures). You should have some experience using Tunisian crochet patterns. Use this blog post for a quick review: Five Basic Rules of Tunisian Crochet Patterns. Good examples of modern introductory-level Tunisian crochet patterns are ShaktithingsBurly, and Burly Bias.

International English equivalents for American terms are included.

?After using this pattern, you will know (if you didn’t already):

  • How to create a special filet-like ethereal Tunisian net
  • How to use a nonstandard Return Pass
  • How to add stretch and drape to Tunisian crochet fabric
  • How to combine yarns and colors that emphasize either the forward pass, or the return pass, for a unique effect.
  • How to add armholes, and scarf keyholes, with truly easy steeks (cuts)

Finished Dimensions of Projects Shown

  • Vest is written in standard sizes XSmall (Small, Medium, Large, XLarge). Sample shown is size Small.
    • Finished bust/chest circumference: 33 (38, 42, 48, 52)”. When worn with fronts overlapped, wearing ease is approx. 4” (proportional to standard sizes) with approx. 5″ of overlap.
    • Finished Back Length: 19 (20, 21, 21.5, 22)”.
  • Original Mesmer Scarf (Pink) is 54” {137 cm} long (excluding 6” {15.25 cm} fringed ends) and 14” {35.5 cm} wide, measured hung after blocking. Pattern includes simple information for adding length and width to the scarf. Based on the amount of leftover yarn and projections from the Misty Wrap below, the scarf size could likely be increased to as much as 60” {152.5 cm} long and 15” {38 cm} wide without requiring an additional skein.
  • Misty Mesmer Wrap (Teal) is 56” {142.25 cm} long X 22” {55.75 cm} wide.

Materials

Tunisian Crochet Hook: size K/10.5/6.5mm, 13″ {33 cm} long was used for all fringed projects shown. A double-ended Tunisian hook of the same size was used for the non-fringed projects.

Used for brown vest:

  1. S. Charles Collezione Luna (71% Super Kid Mohair, 20% Silk, 9% Lurex; 232yd/212.5m per .88oz/25g; CYCA #0): #41 chestnut, 1 (1, 2, 2, 2) skeins. The “thin yarn” in pattern.
  2. S. Charles Collezione Stella (74% Silk, 26% Lurex; 76.5yd/70m per .88oz/25g; CYCA #4): #41 chestnut, 3 (3, 4, 4, 5) skeins. The “thick yarn” in pattern.

Crochet hook for brown vest: US double-ended flexible Tunisian hook size K/10.5 (6.5mm), 13″ long. For the main pattern, a rigid double-ended hook can be used instead. A stopper for one end is needed to edge the armholes. Adjust hook size if necessary to obtain correct gauge.

Notions: Four stitch markers (m) to mark sleeves; yarn needle.

Used for Original Mesmer (Fringed Pink Scarf)

  1. Thicker Yarn: Tilli Tomas Disco Lights (90% Spun Silk, 10% Petite Sequins; 225yds/206m per 3.5oz/100g skein), Dusty Pink: 1 ball.
  2. Thinner Yarn: S.R. Kertzer Ovation (75% Kid Mohair, 25% Silk, 233yds/212m per .88oz/25g ball), color #2142, 1 ball.

Crochet hook for pink scarf: US Tunisian hook size K/10.5 (6.5mm), 13″ long. Adjust hook size if necessary to obtain correct gauge.

Yarns Used for Misty Mesmer Wrap (Teal Wrap)

  1. Thicker Yarn: Tilli Tomas Disco Lights (90% Spun Silk, 10% Petite Sequins; 225yds/206m per 3.5oz/100g skein), color Jade: 1 ball.
  2. Thinner Yarn: Blue Ridge Yarns Shadow Mini (100% brushed mohair; 225yds/205m per 45g mini skein), Blue Lagoon, 1 skein.

Crochet hook for teal stole: US double-ended Tunisian hook size K/10.5 (6.5mm), 13″ long. If you decide to add armholes later, you’ll also need a stopper for one end to edge the armholes. Adjust hook size if necessary to obtain correct gauge.

Choosing Yarns:
Mesmer’s veil quality results mainly from alternating a lace weight kid mohair yarn with a medium weight glossy sequined silk yarn. You can get other special effects by trying other very different yarns.

Part of the fun for me with this design has been combining different yarn textures, weights, and colors. Every combination I tried (except dishcloth cottons and other very plain yarns) looked great, so I hope you will be inspired to experiment.

Aero Wrap

Crocheting and wearing Aero is an elegant experience of Tunisian crochet lace. With fine silk yarn and the add-as-you-go beading option, the beauty of the lacy stitches hanging from your hook will inspire “just one more row!”

I developed this point-to-point stitch pattern and love it because I can build up more stitching speed than usual with Tunisian crochet. I also found its filet logic easy to memorize.

Tall stitches and open spaces create a Tunisian version of traditional filet crochet. Writing my newsletter on lacy nets inspired it. And, the stitch pattern looks nice enough on both sides to call it reversible.

Crocheting a triangular wrap from point to point makes it easy to use any amount of light weight yarn you have on hand. If you use a smaller amount of yarn than I did, the wide, shallow triangular shape will come out scarf-sized. (The pattern is created the same no matter how much yarn you use.)

Skill Level

Advanced Intermediate. Aero combines Tunisian stitches that may be familiar to those who have already ventured beyond the Tunisian Simple Stitch: the Tunisian Yarn Over (Tyo), Tunisian Double Treble {UK: Tunisian Triple Treble} (Tdtr), and twisted stitches. To see if you’re ready for an Intermediate-level Tunisian pattern, review this quick checklist.

It’s best if you have crocheted at least one Beginner or Easy level Tunisian crochet pattern first. Warm Aeroette started out as a practice swatch for students in my Aero classes! Other good stepping stones to Aero would be Ennis Revelation and Aery Faery. I’ve kept pattern abbreviations to a minimum and include International English equivalents for American terms.

?After using this pattern you will know (if you didn’t already):

  • How to create dramatic new filet lace with Tunisian crochet stitches
  • How to crochet a triangular scarf or wrap from point to point and the delightful convenience of crocheting the edging as you go
  • How to add beads to the as-you-go edging without pre-stringing them
  • The power of simple blocking to transform Tunisian crochet lace

Finished Dimensions

The pictured green wrap is 21″ at deepest center point and 61″ wide from point to point {53 X 155 cm}. Crocheting a shawl or scarf from point to point makes it easy to use any amount of yarn you have on hand, and to make it the size you wish.

Materials

Crochet Hook: Size F/US5/3.75 mm Tunisian hook, at least 13″/33 cm long. You can use a shorter Tunisian hook for the shortest beginning rows, and then switch to a longer hook as it becomes necessary for comfortably holding all loops on the hook. If you are going to add beads, you’ll need a steel crochet hook that is small enough to fit through the bead holes and pull through a loop of your yarn. (I used a .75mm Tulip hook labeled #10. Other brands may label the same mm size with a different number.)

Yarn used for pictured scarf: Handmaiden Sea Silk (70% Silk, 30% Seacell® 437 yds/400 m per 3.5 oz/100 g ball), 1 full skein.

Yarn substituting advice: This pattern will work with any amount and weight of yarn. To match the effect of the pictured wrap, look for a yarn weight of #1 Super Fine (“Fingering”) {UK & AUS 3 Ply}; or one recommending a needle or hook size range of B/US1/2.25 mm – D/US3/3.25 mm on its label. If this is your first time crocheting into the loops of Tunisian Yarn Over stitches, try to find a yarn that has subtle color changes like the tonal hand-dyed one shown. It was a bit challenging at first to make tall stitches with slippery yarn, but I quickly grew used to it.

Small scale for weighing yarn: recommended if you’re using an odd number of skeins of yarn, or partial skeins.

Beads (optional): At least 50 size 6/0 (“E Bead”) beads and a steel crochet hook small enough to fit through the bead hole and pull a loop of yarn through it. Triple your quantity of beads if you’ll be adding 3 beads to a stitch at a time (see photo in pattern). For the green Aero I used 1 bead per 2-row repeat for a total of 44 beads; I had to discard a few that had small holes. The number of beads you need will vary because the usable holes of your beads are likely to vary, and because you may get fewer, or more, row repeats from your yarn.