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Crochet Conference Wrap Up (with worksheet!)

The new CGOA Master's Program pin. I've earned two charms so far: Writer, and Fundamentals (because I wrote a few chapters of it).
I like this new pin for CGOA’s new Master’s Program (view full size image). These pins were given out on a special night at the conference. I earned the Writer charm for writing two sections of the Masters in Fundamentals.


Do you know what I do on the plane flight home from a conference? I fill out a simple worksheet.  It’s a nice way to reflect on everything.

I’ve done this since 2008. That’s at least ten conferences. (In some years CGOA had two conferences, a national and a regional. I’ve also attended a TNNA show here and there.) It has really come in handy so I’ve turned it into a PDF that you can download below for free.

Here’s the story on two of the six entry fields of the worksheet.

“What Got Crocheted?”

This is the first question. What it really means is “Of all the crochet supplies I packed, what did I actually get to?” Can you relate? Originally it was to help me be realistic about how many crochet projects and balls of yarn I need to stuff into my luggage! I know I’m not the only one who packs too much crochet for a trip LOL.

Nowadays I just plain enjoy reflecting on it. Sometimes I’ve even crocheted more rows on a project because I look forward to saying so on the worksheet, so it’s also motivational.

This year, what got crocheted is a swatch idea I’ve always wanted to try: to substitute the chains in a spiderweb pattern with love knots:

I also added so many more rounds to “Astrowirbel” during the 5.5 hour flight to Portland that I almost doubled its size.

“Goals Met & Unmet”

This part of the worksheet used to be more freelance minded, such as, “I finally sat down with X editor.” It has become much more, though. It’s a way to commemorate new friends I’ve made. It has also helped me see that a goal I started with wasn’t very realistic for the event, or as important in retrospect. Or, that I accomplished more than I realized while I was having so much fun.

This year, an unmet goal was to go out into Portland and see lots of roses, the Powell’s City of Books store that sounds amazing, a Peets coffeehouse, and get some supplies for my room. I was too busy teaching, or making sure I ate well between classes.

Some goals I met are: no typos in my class handouts (except a minor one in the Self-Healing Stitches class). I met and spent quality time with Dela Wilkins! I got to know CGOA’s new management company, a great group of people. I think they’re going to be a great fit with CGOA.

Post-Conference Worksheet PDF

Direct link to the PDF: Vashti’s Post-Conference Worksheet.

Keep it in mind for CGOA’s 25th Anniversary Conference July 10-13, 2019, in Manchester NH!

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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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Best Crochet Conference Shoes Ever

Updated August 7, 2020. First posted June 20, 2016.

Having attended twenty-five crochet conferences in twelve years as of 2016, I’ve found that a lot depends on my weird, favorite conference shoes. Tomorrow’s post will be about the clothes, which are partly determined by the shoes.

Conference shoes I've worn: Z-Coils, torture heels, sleek boots.
Left: Mary Jane Z-Coils (best picture I have of them). I remember being on my feet all day; this was the Buffalo Chain Link. Middle: painful high heels that I reserve for the banquet fashion shows. Here, I’m modeling member Urmie Seenarine’s kick-pleated skirt.
Right: Sleek boots. Pretty comfortable but a commitment! They’re big and heavy in luggage.

I get asked about my choice of shoes a lot. (In the future I can just refer people to this post.) I wear one ultra-comfortable pair of Z-Coils all day, and maybe fancy heels or sandals for evening. This year I’ll have a new pair of Z-Coils, the “Z-Breeze” with an enclosed heel. (That link goes to the Z-Breeze style without a cover on the heel coil. Below is how the covered heel option looks.)

I can go all out and wear sensationally uncomfortable shoes for only two hours at a time. I love fabulous-looking shoes, but I stop having fun after about two hours of wearing them if they’re uncomfortable.

Another way to say this is, I have an insane amount of fun at these conferences when I wear Z-Coils most of the time. I’m on my feet most of every day. Shoes make or break events like these.

What is this Z-Coil Sorcery?

After a month or two of wearing my first pair (the non-conference gray clog style shown below), my lower back strengthened. The shoe’s coiled heel took over the job of shock absorber. It was a revelation that my lower back had been my “shock absorber” whenever I walked on tiles and pavement, or lifted heavy things. (For other people it might be their knees, ankles, or thighs.) I could lift almost double the weight than I could before, without problems.

3 Z-Coil Styles I've owned: grey suede clog, black Mary Janes, the Z-Breeze
I wore my 1st pair, the casual gray suede clogs, around the house and fell in love. Then wore the black leather Mary Janes at conferences until they wore out. Now to do the same with the Z-Breeze (bottom).

It turns out that I have good upper body strength. It was my lower back that was limiting it.

Some people only find out about Z-Coils when they develop walking difficulties. In my case, I met a local knitter who first wore them while recovering from a knee operation. Hers looked like thick white sneakers.

She loved them so much that she continued to wear them long after. I liked how weirdly futuristic the heel looked. When I tried on a pair I was hooked! This was about ten years ago.

[Need I do a disclaimer that I’m not a doctor? Not only am I not a doctor, my lower back has never been examined by one. And while I’m disclaiming, I’m also not a representative of the Z-Coil co. and they’re not rewarding me for blogging this.]

At crochet conferences I can stand on my feet all day every day while teaching or in my market booth, and carry stuff back and forth from my hotel room to the far end of a convention center.

I can also opt to wear painful-but-pretty dress shoes in the evening, and not feel like I’m paying a price for it the next day. The Z-Coils fix that.

Long Flights

Living where I do, I’ve had to take planes to 98% of all conferences I’ve attended. I never take long flights without Z-Coils. These conference shoes come through for me even before I arrive at the event. I don’t start the conference already exhausted from carrying luggage and dashing through airports to change planes at weird hours.

By the second and third days of a conference, other people’s legs and backs are tired. They look around constantly for somewhere to sit. It’s thanks to Z-Coils that I’m looking around for a place to go dancing instead! (Doris is rolling her eyes right about now.)

[I’m adding this link to Pia Thadani’s blog post about her first time attending this conference last year. Her pointers and photos convey everything very well.]

These are significant benefits, right? Now magnify them when I don’t get enough sleep. What if I have to sleep in the airport and switch planes at 5 am? My Z-Coils “have my back”—literally. It’s such a relief to rely on their strength when travel mishaps occur.

Two Big Drawbacks

One is that I don’t feel hot in them (as in sexy). Skirts are out of the question with Z-Coils for me. Some women can make it work, but I’d always feel self conscious.

The other drawback is that Z-Coil shoes are expensive (+/- $250.) Mine have been lasting me ten years, though! Plus you can replace some parts yourself.

It’s not a big drawback when I think it through, I just get sticker shock. It’s a bargain, actually. I’m telling myself this as I prepare to buy a new pair of the best conference shoes ever.

Look at this Customized Z-Coils Pinterest board I found today!