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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!

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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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A Crochet Year in Review (2017)

Long term projects define my life in crochet.

Sure, a crocheted item can be quick and easy, but I mean producing patterns, teaching, and other business-oriented projects. For example, I completed two interesting Tunisian crochet patterns in 2017 that will appear in a 2018 book.

I should do this review every year​! It’s easy to lose sight of the wins when so many projects are complex or long-term.

Favorite discoveries in 2017

Discoveries about crochet are what motivate me to design and teach!

  • Crocheting a twisted loop fringe edging at the start of a row is so promising! Make it any length. Add beads to it without stringing them on first. I discovered this with Aquarienne. It was also the perfect thing for the border of Graven.
  • Discovering which crochet stitches are “self-healing” when you cut them (and why) is a game changer! See Zumie. Scroll down to see Lovatar.
  • My experimental yoke worked! The yoke of the Tripuff Tunic is just a draped scarf.
  • Rosepuff inspired new clustered puff swatches that make me swoon, like the one above.
  • I made too many discoveries that are too technical to go into while covering bangles with crochet in December and January! It was completely inspiring and rejuvenating.
  • When I matched my yarn stash to a favorite silk skirt I discovered two things. First, using the skirt’s colors is a tribute to a favorite thing that can inspire me indefinitely (past the life of the skirt). Second, I also matched my yarn colors to a favorite painting and realized chances are good that the yarns you add to your stash also correspond to the colors of favorite items because you are the common denominator.

​DesigningVashti 2017 by the Numbers

  • Our Lotus yarn in magazines: Morning Dew Wrap by Kristin Lynn and  I Do Shawl by Cindy Adams, both in Crochet! Magazine. I published two of my new Lotus patterns, Rosepuff Shawlette and Aquarienne. Two new Tunisian designs coming out in a 2018 book will also feature Lotus yarn.
  • 12 blog posts in 2017 (monthly is ok but my overall average is 17.5 posts per year and I’d like it higher than that).
  • 6 newsletters, so they came out bimonthly in 2017. Originally (2010) they came out every other Thursday. Overall, the average frequency is monthly. The six topics in 2017 were Hidden Pictures in Cut Stitches, Crocheted Ruffles, New/Favorite Stitch Patterns, Edgings That Multitask, Announcing a Ruana DAL-CAL, and Yarn Overs & Yarn Unders.
  • Posted 18 different crochet tips for new crocheters in Facebook and Twitter. One of them became a full blog post.

​Favorite Designs in Development

These favorites link to their project pages in Ravelry if I haven’t blogged about them yet.
Mamruana, Lovatar, Laluna (and the Tripuff Tunic and Graven mentioned above) are all crocheted in our Lotus yarn.
SS-LusciousQuailfeather, FunweltyZumie Vest, and Jumbo Heart Cushion launched 2017 and were all inspired by the weekend workshop I taught in March 2017.

2017: Big Year for Business Improvements​

  • Renovated a seven years old website. I’m still cleaning up broken links and stuff. This 2017 project is spilling over into 2018.
  • Found someone who makes wonderfully intuitive stitch diagrams for my patterns. An easy win!
  • Acquired what we affectionately call a ‘warehouse’ for my shop yarns and hooks (it’s a small Rubbermaid shed). Did important maintenance on my Lotus yarn equipment myself. Got some helpful IKEA office items.
  • Taught a weekend crochet workshop at Mosaic Yarn Studio and got up to speed using Airplay instead of an overhead projector. I loved using that set up.
  • Videos -deep breath- learned how to edit footage, and what filming equipment I wish I had, so I’m further along than in 2016; a hurricane put a dent in that momentum. For 2018 I figure I’ll try again keeping it simple, short, casual. Otherwise I’ll never get anywhere! Ellen Gormley and Mary Beth Temple inspire me.
  • Digitized crochet archives: In 2017 I started a process that works for me. (It also helped me during Hurricane Irma!) Here are my stats: I have 4 or 5 shelves of stuff to digitize; each shelf is 20″ wide. If I’m getting 15 to 18 images per shelf inch, I’ll need 4.5 to 8 gigabytes of storage.

A Year’s Worth of Crochet

I can see why bloggers do a year-end review now that I’ve done it. It feels good to see a year’s worth of highlights–you’ve always done more than you remember. I appreciate everything more. It’s easier to be objective about what is significant. I can see what obstacles I overcame, and what it took to do so, instead of expectations I had at the time that I didn’t meet.

I love to see the glimmerings of 2018 crochet in 2017.

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Wearing Crochet to a Memorial Service

Four views of Graven worn with its buttons in front or back.

I traveled over the weekend to attend a memorial service for the sudden death of a beloved uncle.

The chapel accommodates 280 people, and 360 attended. Fortunately the weather was ideal (around 80º and sunny) so that the building could be open on two (maybe three? sides. The overflow of people could sit comfortably outside and feel included.

I designed something specifically to wear to this event and had two weeks to make it. That includes all swatching, blocking, and any do-overs.

The Challenge: Accepted.

Wearing crochet to this event meant meeting three strict requirements.

The short, fixed deadline.

I had to rule out my very first idea: to crochet a Chanel-style jacket. Instead I started imagining something that would take two balls of yarn or less.

Result: The finished Graven weighs 108g (slightly over one 256-yd ball).

The second limit was its style and color.

The 3-button front Graven capelet and black dress and pearls.
A stop at Starbucks after the memorial.

Graven would have to be far more subdued than my default personal style, so I ruled out several initial ideas. It also had to be solid black; a challenge because that’s not what I tend to crochet. Sure, I often wear black clothing as a plain first layer that forms a background to a (sometimes crocheted) lighter-colored layer. I struggled at first to picture wearing crochet in solid black on a sunny Florida morning, not for evening, or in a northern office.

Result: I wore Graven all day. It was mostly easy and comfortable to wear, and felt elegant and proper style wise. I did have to adjust it periodically so that the buttons stayed centered. (I think this is because I accidentally increased some rows unevenly.)

It had to work with my dress and high heels.

The dress was a simple sleeveless deep V-front shift made of an inky black pima-modal fabric. Its surface had a woven linen look but it was actually a fine knit. Very comfortable to wear in Florida! It needed a dressy covering for the upper arms and chest though.

Result: Armed with these three requirements, I narrowed down my project to a fairly traditional shoulder covering, crocheted in a fairly tame lace stitch texture, with a polished-looking yarn that’s not too thin or thick: a capelet in Tunisian crochet with Lotus. (Our “Black Gleam” color matched the dress! whew.)

Other Requirements I Hoped to Meet

Half of the capelet shown flat along its hem while it blocks.
Half of the capelet shown flat along its hem while it blocks.

Learn something new about crochet: this was the first time I tried doing a Tunisian “wicker” mesh in short rows with a built-in shaped collar, and a distinctive twisted-loop edging at the hem.

Use yarn already in my stash, ideally my Lotus yarn. I try to feature a different Lotus color each time I design with it. This was the first time I designed with the black.

Try out a trendy style: The trend of using mesh textures in a modern, sort of sporty way inspired the stitch pattern. (The edging later added more of a medieval-ish wrought iron look.)

Give my handmade item the kind of polish that could even make someone wonder if it was a store-bought designer label. (I don’t know if this actually happened).

Wearing Crochet to Memorials

I’d do it again. It was a tangible comfort to me.

Although I don’t think I caught sight of all 360 people individually, I feel confident in saying that I was the only one wearing crochet, or even a hand knit item.

To me, fabric has a language, and crochet adds a necessary voice to the conversation, at memorials too. Time spent crocheting Graven was also time spent contemplating the uncle I will miss so much. Crochet caught and is holding my feelings for him.

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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.