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  • Crochet for the Easter Weekend (Check-in)


    Happy Crochet Easter! Today I’m taking a break from lots of behind the scenes crochet work to post a quick update. Here’s a long silk skirt I’ve worn every spring for years. It’s one of my all-time favorites. This weekend I mused on its colors.

    This “Vashti’s Silk Skirt” color combo would make a striking crochet Easter/springtime project, wouldn’t it? Perhaps a wrap, shrug, or bolero to go with the skirt? I can picture multicolored motifs. Or, a cream and lavender thing, with the darker colors as a contrasting border–little flowers, maybe. In fact I’m going to create a project page for this in Ravelry after I finish this post.

    I’ll be able to send out a newsletter issue after I meet a big design deadline this week. So close! I’ll also be able to keep moving forward on new blogging and *crochet video* plans I’m excited to share.

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    • April 16th, 2017 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Mini Skirt Hem Tests


    Four Crochet Skirt Hems So Far

    I’m working on a crochet mini skirt! The last time I crocheted a mini skirt was in 2006 for Crochet! Magazine (March 2007 issue). Today I completed the third and fourth ideas I have for a decorative hem.

    Crochet Mini Skirt in DesigningVashti Lotus ayrn, 4 hem ideas

    Maybe seeing all four photos together like this will help me decide which one I want to wear.

    Finally a Crochet Mini Skirt for Fall!

    It happens to be a trendy item this year, but every fall I want a crochet mini skirt to wear with leggings and boots. I need it to be in a neutral color. This dark grey is perfect for me.

    I’m calling this design Carbonite after the name of this newest color of our Lotus yarn.

    Crochet Stitches for Skirts

    My goal was a solid stitch pattern with a brocade-like texture and a nice drape.

    Does the stitch pattern look familiar? It’s a modified “Catherine Wheel”, a.k.a. “sunburst stitch”. This popular crochet stitch pattern is often used for thick wool scarves and afghans. I tweaked it a bit to prevent gaps that commonly happen between the tall stitches of the “wheels”.

    I have a few more idea for hems I’d like to try but I don’t want them to slow me down too much. Each time I try a hem idea, I block it, let it dry, style and photograph it. Then I have to edit each photo a bit so that the tones and light levels match ok. Each photo is taken on a different day and time of day. A few were taken during Hurricane Hermine!

    Next I’ll make decisions about the waistband, and write the pattern for several sizes.

    Carbonite crochet mini skirt design has a Ravelry project page that you can check to see more updates.

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    • September 5th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Steek Crochet With Pattern Schematics in Any Language


    Pattern schematics inspire me to steek crochet.

    I wish every crochet garment pattern offered a schematic. It outlines the sections of a garment, like puzzle pieces. Schematics cut through illusions cast by fashion photography and lovely models. A single pattern schematic can distill a fancy design to its simplest essence. I created two Pinterest boards of things that inspire me to steek crochet: Steeks: Ideas and Wearable Simple Shapes.

    Schematics also cut through language barriers. I can understand a non-English pattern if it includes a schematic.

    I created a few sample schematics for the Tunisian steek crochet class handout and realized how much I get out of them. This would be the next newsletter issue if I had time to do one! (Too much conference prep.)

    Steek crochet using pattern schematics from around the 'net

    Some simple squares and rectangles from my Tunisian class handout. Add a steek where you see a pink bar, fold on the dotted line, et voilà!—instant garment.

    A schematic is sensational to me when a garment that looks chic on a model, yet its schematic reveals that it’s made of simple shapes, such as rectangles. This is exciting because every crocheter or knitter first learns how to make rectangles, right?

    Sometimes all you need is a rectangle that drapes, or is clingy/stretchy (or all of these). Sometimes weightlessness brings it home, other times it’s a luxuriously weighty swing. The schematic tells you what’s what when you know what to look for.

    Sometimes the key to chic is a well-placed seam on a simple shape. Sometimes it’s a special edging. And sometimes it’s the where and how of the steek. Steek crochet for the easy chic of it.

    I love this conference prep blogging because it makes me aware of things that I’ve done for years, like collect pattern schematics.

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    • June 24th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    DesigningVashti Lotus Yarn: Magazine Gallery


    Designing Vashti Lotus Yarn in the Magazines!

    Click each gallery image for complete information about the pattern, designer, magazine issue, and more.

    Crochet Pattern Magazines Have Been Awesome for DesigningVashti Lotus Yarn

    Each time I hear that a magazine editor has chosen to include a design using Designing Vashti Lotus yarn, it’s like getting a surprise Valentine. The designs you see above are published in the following crochet magazines, in order of appearance:

    • Interweave Crochet: Spring 2015; also Summer 2014. Designer: Doris Chan.
    • Crochet! Magazine: Spring 2015. Designers: Jennifer E. Ryan, Doris Chan.
    • Crochetscene: 2014. Designer: Dora Ohrenstein.

    It’s a slow and steady roll out, and that’s good. Here’s why. Crochet designers started requesting Designing Vashti Lotus yarn to swatch with in 2014. When a designer likes a swatch, s/he has two professional directions to go with it:

    1. Create a design proposal with it. Designers submit their proposals when a magazine editor sends out a call for designs. These calls go out several months in advance of a magazine issue’s publication, especially the print magazines. For example, a call for winter designs might go out in the spring. A digital-only magazine can sometimes have faster production times than print magazines, but speed isn’t everything. There’s nothing like holding a print magazine in your hands or rolling it up in your tote and dashing out the door. I leisurely page through mine several times and save them all.
    2. Produce a complete project pattern for it and self publish it as a downloadable single pattern online. This can be in Ravelry or on one’s own site, for example. Doris Chan and I both tried to get indie (self published) patterns out quickly for Designing Vashti Lotus yarn this way. This is often the fastest route, depending on the design and the designer.  (It’s about time I created a gallery for those too! In the meantime, checkout this gallery in Ravelry.)

    As a designer and also as a yarn company owner, I think a combination of print magazine designs and quick single pattern downloads is perfect support for a young yarn. Not only that, the print magazines are now supplementing their beautiful print production values with downloadable magazine formats and single pattern options.

    Designing Vashti Lotus yarn: a Youngster Design-Wise

    As I’ve journaled over at another blog, Designing Vashti Lotus yarn celebrated its first birthday a few months ago. I have to remind myself that it’s still a new yarn, considering that many of the those first months of its life happen behind the scenes. Designs for it are being swatched, submitted, written and edited, photo styled, etc.

    Yarn companies can sometimes shorten this lead time. The yarn company might be able to get a small advance shipment of a new yarn. Then they get it into the hands of a few designers a.s.a.p. This way, the designers can be:

    • Answering calls for designs with swatches of it
    • Crocheting up complete projects for photo styling, or for industry trade show displays.

    I experienced this as a designer a few times back when I worked primarily with magazines and yarn companies. It was exciting. One brand-new yarn didn’t even have a label yet!  The color was whatever the company could get a hold of quickly. Sometimes it was also a little confusing. For example, the design was accepted—great!—but the yarn took longer to ship from the mill than expected. The production deadlines had to be readjusted and squeezed in. Occasionally a design contract had to be deferred, or canceled, or a different yarn substituted at the last minute.

    After these experiences, when I hear from magazine staff that they’ve chosen to include Designing Vashti Lotus yarn in a future issue, I immediately ship it to the lucky designer!

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    • February 27th, 2015 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Cable Boot Cuff Pattern in Progress


    New Crochet Cable Boot Cuff Pattern: Almost Done.

    A few days ago I sent out issue #65 of my Crochet Inspirations newsletter: “Mock Cables in Slip Stitch Crochet.” I’m getting questions from readers about the dark brown crochet cable boot cuff photo (shown below). I crocheted that one in November 2012. The gray striped one is fresh off the hook.

    The 2012 brown one is actually a prototype of the new crochet slip stitch Lucky Twist Mitts. It’s my newest downloadable pattern. A matching Lucky Twist crochet cable boot cuff pattern is almost done.

    The early Lucky Twist swatch as a boot cuff helped me test lots of things. For example, how stretchy this limp five-ply merino yarn would be as a mitt (not enough). How much to taper the ribbed edge with short rows. I wondered about the speckled dyeing and overall dark brown tones.

    As I mentioned in the newsletter, I had to dramatically brighten these photos just so that the cabled stitch textures would show up! So I don’t recommend dark brown for cabled cuff visibility in real life. The short amber color flecks are pretty, but in real life they distract from the cables.

    This was also the first boot cuff prototype I’d ever crocheted. So I learned about:

    • Finished dimensions for a good crochet cable boot cuff pattern. (Still testing that.)
    • Stitch surface textures and yarn colors that show up well in that area of the body. (Lighter colors help.)
    • Should one or both edges of a boot cuff taper? (I prefer it tapered at one end only.)
    • How much yarn and time does it take to crochet boot cuffs? (About as long as crocheting a 14-inch scarf, then seaming it into a tube.)
    • Thickness of yarn and of stitches that fit inside the boot top. (Medium weight yarn seems fine for the boots I own.)
    • Folded, unfolded, scrunched. All ways are fun!

    Crochet Boot Cuffs, 2012 and beyond

    Back in 2012, crochet boot cuffs were such a new trend that they might have just been a one-season fad. That November I traveled to northern Illinois to teach a crochet retreat. It was a boot-wearing opportunity that I don’t often get here in Florida.

    It was in Illinois that I started the brown crochet cable boot cuff pattern prototype. I’d be able to test how much warmth they add, and if I enjoy wearing them.

    I discovered that crochet boot cuffs feel great! I wore them over dark tights with skirts. They stayed put. I enjoyed wearing them all ways – scrunched, folded over the boot, and unfolded. Down low into the boot or up near the knee. I did find that I wanted longer ones that covered more of my legs for warmth.

    Please check back. I’ll update this post when the crochet cable boot cuff pattern is ready.

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    • December 8th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Customized Tank Top with Crochet: Update


    Remember I started to customize a tank top with crochet?

    I cut a tank top to crop it and to give it a deep V-neck. Then I added crochet to it to customize it.

    It’s mostly done now, and I like it. This is a size Medium tank top on a Small-size mannequin. In standard sizing, Lindsay the mannequin is on the Extra-Small side of Small. I’m on the Large side of Medium. On me, the waistline of the top sits higher, like an Empire-waist top. Also, on me there is no ruffling where the crochet meets the cut hem.

    Customized tank top with crochet.

    My new tank top customized with crochet.

    I uploaded a bunch of photos of this project to its Ravelry project page. (If I take a selfie I’ll add it there too. Maybe even here on the blog if I’m not too shy.)

    This is my first attempt at a customized tank top with crochet. Thank goodness for a timely email I received from designer Sue Perez! She shared with me her sewing experience: a V-shaped neckline needs special reinforcing. I took that into account when I chose the crochet stitches and gauge for the neckline.

    This experience of refashioning store bought clothes answered lots of questions I had. For example:

    1. The thickness of the yarn is fine. It’s standard sport weight, very smooth, and is a cotton mixed with rayon for drape. In crochet thread sizing this would be a Size #3.

    I wouldn’t want to go with a yarn that’s any thicker than this, or that has any fleecy loft or friction on the yarn’s surface.

    A thinner yarn (a.k.a. a crochet thread Size #5 or #10) would work great, especially for fancier, fussier garments. This sport weight thickness works for the casual nature of a daytime tank top, or for a tee shirt. It also gave me the feeling of making progress quickly enough to stick with it.

    2. Amount of yarn: I’d say it took up to 1.5 balls of Lotus yarn; that’s 325-375 yds.

    3. Attaching the crochet: Worked out so far. It will also have to hold up to washing and wear. Crocheting right onto tee shirt fabric like this? Yes, it can be done. I used a needle-sharp steel crochet hook. It was the largest I have and was not quite large enough for the yarn. A larger one might have left noticeably big holes in the fabric though.

    I didn’t loooove doing the first row. Funny thing about crochet – it’s often the case. Crocheting into the foundation chains isn’t my favorite thing either, nor is crocheting foundation stitches. I usually want to get whatever the first row is, over with. Same with this top.

    I mostly don’t want to look at the holes where the crochet stitches meet the fabric, but I don’t notice it at the hem when it’s on me (only in this photo because it’s rippling a bit). At the neckline, though, I added a row that covers the holes.

    A customized tank top with crochet looks pretty nice, doesn’t it? I super love the hem. Those are split clusters of triple trebles.

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    • October 8th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    I Fixed Adjustable Straps of a Bra Top with Crochet


    This easy crochet fix for adjustable straps wins a five year test.

    The adjustable straps of my bra tops usually loosen. They should just stay where I put them! Some of these straps are slippery or satiny. My thinking was to use crochet to add more friction to the strap, but still be adjustable when and if I choose. Can I have it my way? The answer turns out to be YES!

    I took the first two photos in December 2008 – over five years ago. (I thought I might want to blog about it.) These were a few hurried shots with my new camera, while also making Christmas and Hanukkah gifts. In the holiday rush I forgot about the photos until…yesterday. Meanwhile, I wore this hard working garment almost daily for about five years.

    After these three photos (click each to enlarge and see more info) I list the steps of how I did this fix.

    The simple steps I took to improve these adjustable straps with crochet:

    I chose a size #10 cotton crochet thread in a matching color. In this case, a light blue Coats Opera thread. You can see it in this photo.

    With a #7 steel crochet hook, I chained about 50 and then fastened off.

    Applied a layer of any fabric glue to the relevant area of the strap. Before it dried I arranged the crochet chain in the wavy pattern you see here. Note: it stays in place best if the bottom of the chain stitches is facing up. The top loops of the chains form the flattest side of the chain. So if you look closely at these strap photos, you might see that you’re looking at the “bump” loops of the chain stitches (At this blog it’s called the “back ridge.”)

    When dry enough, I sewed along each edge of the strap with the zigzag setting of my sewing machine. Using the glue first made this step super quick and low-stress. That’s it!

    The zigzag stitch is very important. You need to include flex in your stitches because the straps need to retain their elastic range. Otherwise you risk breaking the sewing thread during wear.

    This is another benefit of using crochet chains. The crochet stitches build in just a bit of flex, especially when arranged the way they are here.

    I’m 100% pleased with this diy crochet fix. I would do this again with the adjustable straps of my other tops. (Did you notice the paws of my kitten in the first photo? I didn’t until today.)

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    • October 6th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Mobius Cowl Wearing Styles


    Simply add a mobius twist to an infinity scarf to multiply the ways it drapes.

    A crochet mobius cowl pattern adds an easy mobius twist to a crochet infinity scarf (a.k.a. long loop scarf). This instantly increases the stylish ways to wear it!

    Have a look at this image I created for the downloadable Starlooper Mobius Cowl crochet pattern. It’s a new design that I added to the shop yesterday. This montage of NINE images means I don’t have to pick just ONE wearing style to display.

    Starlooper Crochet Cowl Scarf: Directory of Styles (montage)

    If you had to pick only ONE of these nine images, which would it be?

    I love a good crochet mobius cowl pattern because it flatters the face and neck effortlessly, no matter how it settles on the shoulders. Plus, of course, they offer easy warmth. (Click here to see an early newsletter issue I wrote called “A Fever for Crocheting Cowls” LOL!)

    For Starlooper I used a special kind of crochet star stitch pattern. It’s naturally a bit offset, reversible, and has accordion-like pleats. It’s also fast, soft, and warm for fall. (Click here to see many more star stitches!)

    I’ve been learning ways to create draping montages like this image for years. Want to see earlier ones? Click here for Shakti Scarfythings and here for Undaria.

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    • September 27th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    On The CGOA Runway: Doris Chan’s Lotus Bolero and Lace Pants


    Vashti Braha in Doris Chan designs, CGOA runway ©Alex Iannelli 2014

    Vashti Braha models Doris Chan’s crochet designs in Lotus yarn. Photo © Alex Iannelli

    CGOA member Irene Iannelli brings her photography-savvy husband, Alex, to Chain Link conferences. Here’s one Alex snapped at this summer’s fashion show banquet, during the guild’s 20th anniversary crochet conference.

    Doris Chan designed the lace pants and the bolero in her signature construction method of crocheting in the round from the top down. The drape and fit feel naturally comfortable and sleek. She waited to design these garments until we developed the Lotus yarn for them. They’re made for each other.

    Click on the photo for more details on the patterns.

    Even Alex and Irene’s adorable toddling daughter modeled on the runway for the first time! July 26, 2014 at the Radisson in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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    • September 26th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Lab Experiment: I’m Customizing a Tank Top with Crochet


    Customizing a tank top with crochet: hem in progress with pink DV Lotus yarn.

    Crocheting the bottom hem. Armholes & neckline next.

    Crocheting the bottom hem. Armholes & neckline next.

    This is my first attempt at customizing a tank top with crochet, so I’m using a $4 scoop-neck tank top from Walmart (White Stag brand).  Update: It’s coming along well! See this followup post.

    It looks dowdy on me, so I drastically cropped it and turned the neckline into a deep V. The crochet you see adds length along the bottom hem. I’m using standard sport weight yarn and a US/F (3.75 mm) crochet hook. The steel hook you see here is the largest sharp-headed crochet hook I have. I wish I had one that’s slightly bigger for pulling through loops of sport weight yarn. Crazy?

    The real reason I’m doing this:

    • What is it like to crochet DesigningVashti Lotus yarn onto t-shirt fabric? Is sport weight yarn a good match? (If I have to use lace weight yarns, I might as well just crochet the whole darn thing.) What does the texture of this yarn look like with a plain cotton machine knit fabric? 
    • I have mill ends of this “Pink Sugar” color; the dyeing looks more tonal than solid (not in this photo though). Do I like it? What is it generally like to pair Lotus colors with my tee shirt colors?
    • Can I use a super sharp crochet hook when customizing a tank top with crochet? I want to be able to start crocheting right onto fabric and get a result I like. Would I enjoy doing it more than sewing along the cut edges first? (I sealed the cut edges with an invisible permanent washable no-fray liquid.)
    • How will it all hold up to wearing, machine washing and drying, and the Florida sun? Will the no-fray liquid add enough strength to the edges?
    • How will I like wearing it? Will I find I have a preference for customizing a tank top with certain kinds of crochet stitches? What if the crochet adds too much weight to the top?

    Lots of what-ifs. Will I want to do something similar with my cashmere sweaters? ::gasp::

    I have a few pullovers that I want to convert into cardigans. Ideally, give them a roomier fit while I’m at it. Heck, add beads. Cashmere love is a many splendored thing.

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    • September 16th, 2014 by Vashti Braha


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