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New Features of DesigningVashti.com

I’ve moved to WordPress hosting with layered security and a WooCommerce-driven shop. For me it’s like the self-parking Lexus of websites, and I’m saving about $500 a year in operating costs. Also, blogging is fun again!

Features of the ✨ New DesigningVashti.com ✨

Stitchmerge: How to do the classic and supremely useful double-layer crochet technique.
It’s now free. Use it to make any thick, dense, soft, strong rectangular item (cowl, afghan square, tote, hot pad, etc).

It’s a partial list—I keep discovering more features.

  • I can easily host free crochet patterns now! I’ve marked down some patterns to free.(They’re not marked down in Ravelry). You can see them in the Bargain Bin but wait: try registering an account here first (you don’t have to buy anything). I think it’s a really nice experience, especially after you download something and then use your updated account.
  • Subscribe to the blog or its RSS in the footer (scroll to the bottom of this page).
  • Two search boxes: The Search Products box is in the header at the very top of every page. The Site-wide Search box is always in the right sidebar and searches this entire blog, all the way back to 2011. I think the search boxes are found at the bottom of your screen if you’re using the mobile version. (I’m seeing older posts that have their original image captions, but the image didn’t transfer over. I’ll be updating groups of posts as time allows.)
  • Lots of clickable tags on each product page for any little feature you might want to see. For example, “Gift idea: men“, patterns that work for any type and/or amount of yarn, one ball projects, etc. Scroll to the bottom of any page to see the product tag cloud.
  • Helpful things in the right sidebar on every page. On mobile I think these are behind a menu button in the top right corner.
  • The expanded help page is a mini temporary version of the real FAQ page that I’m working on.

If you’re already familiar with my patterns, it’s not your imagination: most images and descriptions are also freshened up.

Features Still in Development

The Parakeet Perchswing free crochet pattern that uses the incomparable Jelly Yarn®.
Another simple crochet pattern, now free. I used Jelly Yarn® and I would do it again—with the glow in the dark type!

I need to:

  • Work out how to add more types of kits to the shop.
  • Learn how to include optional add-ons, like gift wrap or a crochet hook to go with a pattern.
  • Add remaining patterns from my old shop, mostly toys and bags. I also haven’t finished adding free patterns.
  • Choose the best way to organize/nest all the crochet tutorials and other resource pages. I’m eyeing the “Learn” tab in the header.
  • Learn how to do gift cards.
  • Find a good way to do online classes and other events.
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Star Stitch Crochet Scarf with Love Knots

Close up of Lovelace Ring Scarf: bands of love knot mesh alternate with star stitch bands.

Love Knot+Star Stitch Scarf: New Pattern!

A star stitch crochet scarf with love knots? (About as common as a love knot scarf with star stitches.) So beautiful together! I’m calling it Lovelace Ring Scarf.

UPDATE: Lovelace pattern is now in the Designingvashti Shop and Ravelry.

Why Star Stitches With Love Knots? The Story.

I first swatched it in 2014 for CGOA classes I would be teaching: A Star Stitch for Every Purpose (3 hours) and 21st Century Love Knot Adventures (3 hours). Back then I had to set it aside due to stitch compatibility issues. You might be able to see some of this in this first swatch.

Two years later a visitor to the DesigningVashti Facebook page requested the pattern. Again in deep crochet class prep mode, I had to put it off until after teaching and a series of seven crochet tutorials I’d agreed to do for the Cut Out & Keep site.

Double-stranded Lovelace swatch: sport weight Lotus and lace weight glittery mohair.
Alternate yarn idea: Love knots and star stitches both benefit when crocheted with two yarn strands held together. This is Satin Grey Lotus yarn with a lace weight metallic mohair.

By then the US election had just taken place. I appreciated the sweet, loving patterns crochet and knit designers were spontaneously posting. I returned to the 2014 attempts to blend stars and love knots in one pattern. It was a pleasure to finally polish it up into a fun, versatile, balanced stitch pattern. I hoped the idea of harmonizing and unifying two popular stitches of very different traditions might lift others’ spirits.

The basic stitch pattern is available here. I used it to make a 6.5″ square block with DK weight yarn and a G7/4.5 mm hook. A border would probably turn it into a 7″ block.

The Lovelace Ring Scarf design happened next because I needed a self-edging version. It came to me during Thanksgiving. As I lay there contemplating the stitch pattern I’d sent off to Cut Out & Keep, I wondered about giving the basic stitch pattern a selvage (no need to edge it later).

The start and end of the love knot section always looked a bit stringy and unstable to me. I also wanted to vary the texture bands and widen it for a lush, romantic ring scarf.

This is how Lovelace came to be.

Is a Love-Knot-to-Star-Stitch Scarf…Challenging?

Both are Intermediate-level crochet stitches but that doesn’t mean they’re difficult. I include tips and visual aids in the pattern that have worked in my classes. Most of Lovelace is rows of easy, familiar stitches like single and half double crochets (sc and hdc, or as they say in the UK: dc and htr).

These easy stitches are a backdrop to the fancy stitches. Like peacekeeping diplomats they harmonize relations between the two iconic, culturally powerful, individualistic “diva” stitches.

My experience of crocheting star stitches (stars) and love knots (LK) in the same pattern is that I get some comfort zone rows of simple stitches, then a spicy row or two, then more comfort zone.

Dramatic Differences Between Stars & Love Knots

I researched both of these two unique stitches deeply. I don’t recall ever seeing them combined in one stitch pattern. If you have, please let me know in the comments.

Love knots are reversible, star stitches are not. It was an issue with my early swatches.

Love knots are more independent than the usual crochet stitch, and star stitches are the other extreme. This shows in lots of ways. Add Love Knots anywhere like a chain stitch because it’s a type of foundation stitch. Each LK is distinct, complete, and recognizable from a distance.

Star stitches require context. The stitch just before it, after it, and often above it determine how recognizable each star is! 

Love knots likely originated as a southern lace, star stitches as a northern thermal fabric. LK were almost always crocheted in very fine cotton and silk threads for delicate and summery edgings, baby bonnets, and petite “opera bags”.

Stars have been used most often for making thick, dense coats and blankets in wool. Even when early stars looked like fine spidery lace, wool was the fiber of choice. (That’s why my unofficial name for the original swatch is “North and South stitch pattern“.)

Interesting Similarities Between Them

  • Both LK and stars are romantic, iconic, classic/old-fashioned, popular, and beloved.
  • Both originated in the early to mid-1800’s.
  • Both have long been favored for baby things. (Stars: baby blankets and coats; LK: sacques, bonnets, layette edgings.)
  • Both can be lacy. When star stitches are lacy, you’re looking at pulled loops, just like with LK.
  • Both start the same odd, non-intuitive way. I did a newsletter issue on it: “Starting a Stitch with a Backtrack“.
  • Crocheting them with two or more strands of yarn held together enhances their distinctive textures.

Hmm. Double or triple the width of Lovelace to make a stunning shrug or wrap!

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Steeked Crochet Scarf: First Look

First Photos of Today’s Steeked Crochet Scarf

Four looks for the Four-Keyhole Steeked Mesmer Veil scarf.
Four looks for the Four-Keyhole Steeked Mesmer Veil scarf.

This afternoon I added four small steeks (cut holes) in a wide Tunisian lace scarf. I’ve had this scarf for years. It’s an old oversized swatch, really. It gave rise to the Mesmer Tunisian Veils pattern and to the Maze Vest in the summer 2014 issue of Interweave Crochet Magazine.

One of my goals has been to create a “keyhole” (steeked) crochet scarf for my July Steeking Tunisian class. A keyhole scarf is just one of many reasons to steek.

Instead of crocheting a new one from scratch, I thought of this sequined pink rectangle. It has always been dear to my heart, even though it’s just a bit too small. (The only reason it’s too small is that I was trying to conserve the expensive yarn! I didn’t know then that this Tunisian net stitch uses less yarn than usual.)

Not only does adding a “keyhole” (a steeked slit) make it easy to wear now, it can be styled so many ways.

-:——————–:-

This is Day 18 out of the 50 conference prep days I have until the big event. I can cross this project off my list! I’ve been wanting to turn my pink Mesmer into a steeked crochet scarf for months.

Today is also the day that Tropical Storm Colin arrived, and I’m happy to report that it has gone easy on us (so far). The worst seems to be behind us and it has been no big deal. My son did have to miss school today—we couldn’t get to the mainland. The flooding is minor compared to what it could be, and the wind and rain have been milder than predicted. No power outages so far; no need to move the car to higher land.

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Color Pooling Crochet Stitch Games-Class

Planned vs. Accidental Color “Pooling”

 

2016 collage for "Stitch Games" CGOA class
This is the 2016 class web-poster at the CGOA event headquarters.

Last summer’s Get Your Geek On CGOA event inspired my new three-hour crochet class in Charleston SC (July 13, 2016); some new booklets and patterns too. Many of us have sought insight into using hand-painted yarns. These yarns are often boldly variegated with short color changes and other indie dyeing methods. Color pooling is exciting!

You’re looking at stitch game projects I designed from 2009 to a month ago. (There are more but they don’t all fit in this image.) Pattern for the vivid blue striped scarf (Jempool) releases this week.

Use crochet stitches to turn the color volume up or down (or both, selectively!). Exaggerate the element of chance: accidental pooling. Or, eliminate it: planned pooling.

What’s Color Pooling?

Variegated (multi-colored) yarns seem to have randomly and evenly mixed colors in one skein. It’s like a party in a ball…unless the colors stop looking well-blended when crocheted or knitted. A color might repeat too often, or pile (pool) up on itself row after row in a blotchy way. That’s pooling in a bad way.

Texture pooling is a variation of color pooling. Ever use a yarn with dramatic thick and thin areas, and find that these texture contrasts clump together awkwardly? The texture changes are pooling. That also happened with the intermittent tinsel sections of an expensive mohair yarn. I thought it would look magical! Instead, the tinsel just looked lumpy and stiff when I crocheted it.

Sprinkling Love Knots among simple double crochets {UK: tr} retained the otherworldly look of the yarn by giving the tinsel more room. The result was Marisa Artwalk, an exhilarating discovery.

“Stitch Pooling” Makes Color Pooling a Game

Lcustrine Cowl, Tea Lights, and Bare Bones scarves.
The three patterns in the Crochet to the Colors Playbook. This is simple stitch pooling that alters color pooling.

A simple stitch game I like, especially with crochet, is what I call stitch pooling. I switch to a contrasting crochet stitch when a certain color comes up as I crochet. Knitters do this when they switch from stockinette to garter whenever a certain color comes up, for example. Crochet gives us so many texture choices for creating a simple game, or a wildly challenging one! You can heighten or de-emphasize colors too. This is accidental color pooling that’s fresh, interesting, and each result is unique. Just use familiar crochet stitches.

Pictured at right are three examples of beginner-level stitch games in a pattern booklet.

Color Pooling According to Plan

Eliminate chance and you get regular coordinated patterns of color. The game here is to identify the unique color code of a variegated yarn. You decide where they show up in your project. (See my newsletter issue #77, Find the Color Code of Short Striping Yarns.) Then, choose the crochet stitch, gauge, and number of stitches to get the color patterning you want.

To see when this class is offered next, check the Upcoming Classes & Events page. It’s updated regularly.

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National Crochet Month Specials

Sister filet scarves: Antoinette Sparklescarf, Emdash, and Cantina Party Flounces

Welcome, Natcromo Blog Tour Visitors!

In honor of (Inter-)National Crochet Month, I’ve added a lacy spring scarf pattern to my Ravelry shop: the double-flounced Emdash Scarf. It’s free for one week.

I thought I’d show you Emdash’s crochet story in pictures. National Crochet Month is for crochet stories, right? Especially about lacy spring scarves. First, the design sketches:

Emdash has two design sisters.

There they are all together at the top of this post. It’s easier to show some alternate views of them this way.  Antoinette is the eldest (I published her popular pattern in Nov. 2011). She loves lace weight metallic mohair with sequins and other holiday party yarns. Cantina is the youngest, even though her pattern was published before Emdash’s (in Dec. 2015). Cantina is a freewheeling hippie girl who likes color parties, scrap yarns, and beads.

How did Emdash get her name?

While I was exploring special characters on my keyboard, I kept seeing the scarf draped on my mannequin. The columns of tall stitches are grouped with vertical spacers. (I like the slightly different crocheting rhythm of it.) They started reminding me of emdashes, yes—a type of punctuation. It shortens so nicely to “Emmy.”

The last part of her design story is that I learned how to format and print out kit patterns with the Emdash Scarf, for the show booth I had last summer. This means Emdash is also available as a printed pattern while they last.

Happy National Crochet Month!