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  • Happy [inter-]National Crochet Month


    Thanks for stopping by on my Crochetville NatCroMo blog tour day!

    I’ve created NatCroMo specials exclusively for you. These specials run from today through Monday March 20.

    It’s certainly a big weekend for us crocheters.

    1. Tomorrow is a very green holiday (St. Patrick’s Dayso here’s a coupon link to get 17% off DesigningVashti Lotus yarn in our new Emerald Deep color. This is a rich, satisfying, and inspiring green to take you from winter to spring.

    NatCroMo Emerald Green Lotus yarn special

    ‘Emerald Deep’ Lotus yarn color is perfect for a chilly St. Patrick’s Day weekend. (DJC Lotus Curaçao is here.)

    Speaking of Spring…

    What a cold snap, huh? Most of us in the US are getting a lot of snow or freezing rain. It’s cold here in Florida too.

    A chilly NatCroMo weekend!

    Brrr. Map courtesy of The Weather Channel.

    2. I’ve just returned from teaching “Big-Hook Slip Stitch Crochet”.

    Want to feel warm and cozy quickly? I urge everyone to round up their jumbo crochet hooks and superbulky yarns! Some of my slip stitch projects take only an hour or two this way.

    No superbulkies handy? Create your own: just crochet with multiple strands held together of whatever’s in your yarn stash. (Tip: throw in at least one strand of alpaca or angora because these fibers are four times warmer than wool. Add a yarn with a halo like mohair, or a textured novelty yarn, to fill in any gaps between stitches.)

    Expedient Cowl is 50% off this weekend. Warm up a big hook (size P/11.5 or 12 mm) for this toasty, speedy item. I named it “Expedient” because it took me 2 hours tops to make one during LAST year’s surprise cold snap. Enter this code: MarchC0ldSnap (that 0 is a zero). Here’s a direct link to redeem.

    NatCroMo cold snap special: Big-Hook slip stitch capelet-cowl

    Cozy capelet-like Expedient Cowl. Add a third ball and more rows to turn it into a trendy skirt!

     

    A Jumbo Crochet Hook Kit is Perfect for NatCroMo

    3. Be ready for the next cold snap with this crochet hook set & bucket pattern. (It’s already at a discount as a kit so I’m unable to discount it further for NatCroMo readers, sorry.)

    Perfect NatCroMo kit!

    It’s displayed in my studio and I use it all the time now.

    You’ll also be ready for when I release these new Big-Hook Slip Stitch crochet patterns (links go to their Ravelry project pages):

    Zumie Lace Vest  I used a size S (19 mm) hook for most of it. This one-skein lace item took only 45 minutes to crochet. Yarn: the fun Hikoo Zumie by Skacel.

    SS-Luscious Sampler  Size 12 mm (“P”) crochet hook and two skeins of luscious Berroco Noble.

    Pink kitty-ears hat with only 95 yds and an M/9 mm hook. It’s simple back loop slip stitch in rows, then seamed on the top and side. It came out smallish on me and perfect on my friend (she kept it!). No yarn left over so I’m mulling a way to get a slightly more out of about 95 yds of yarn for this.

    Slip Slab Neckwrap  This started out as the initial prototype for the Expedient Cowl. I needed only 168 yards and a P/12 mm hook.

    4. Lastly, Happy Spring Break!

    Does it start this weekend for your family? My son’s starts this afternoon.

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    • March 16th, 2017 by Vashti Braha

    Pineapple Lace and the CGOA Conference


    Pineapples are the theme for this year’s crochet conference. CGOA’s Hall of Fame Award winner happens to be a pineapple lace queen!

    You know these are freshly crocheted because these yarn colors are the new ones we just received from the mill. Even my husband is amazed. (Not shown: Lavender Ice. That’s for another day.)

    If you’ll be attending the conference this month, come by our booth #203 (on the right after you enter the market). Lots of pineapple lace to see and try on!

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    • July 2nd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    New Lotus Yarn Colors Arrived (finally)


    Five New Lotus Yarn Colors are Here!

    Now that the new yarn shipment is here I’ll make this a quick post and then go back to checking it all in. I weigh each cone and list it with its lot (a way to keep track of inventory, etc). I’ve learned it’s best to treat each raw cone from the mill as a unique item. Each has a different amount of yarn on it and is part of one particular lot.

    Here are the speediest photos I could take. I figure the best thing is to put a new color with others that it harmonizes with. These five colors all fill gaps in our existing range. That’s a total of twenty Lotus yarn colors for 2016.

    I’m pleasantly surprised by the rich and elegant look of the new colors. The orange could have been bright; instead it’s warm and rich. The emerald green is a full jewel tone. Even the neutrals are rich-looking and make my fingers itch to crochet them (it takes a lot for a neutral to hit that spot for me).

    New Lotus Yarn Colors Need New Names. Hmm.

    The ideal name for each color meets three priorities in this order:

    1. The color name has a maximum of 12 characters so that it fits well within the space I’ve left for it on the ball band.
    2. The name conveys the spirit of the exact color. Like our “Bamboo Green”: it is not minty just because it’s a light green; it’s more pistachio, and clean like a new spring shoot: bamboo. “Satin Grey” is exactly that. So is “Dark Roast”, and “Rose Red” (it’s not a hot fire red). A mental picture of the color can help correct whatever it looks like on someone’s monitor.
    3. It’s nice when the color name refers to the signature sheen and drape that makes this yarn a keeper for us.

    The final Lotus color names I’m considering:

    • Pale Violet or Lavender Ice or Smoky Lilac or Icy Amethyst
    • Emerald, Emerald, or Emerald
    • Soft Caramel or Mushroom Bisque or Cafe au Lait or Honey Taupe or something
    • Carbonite or Slate Patina or Graphite or Charcoal or Gunmetal Glint
    • Orange Riche or Persimmon or Tangerine
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    • June 27th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    CGOA Award Event Plans


    I’ve mostly blogged lately about getting ready to teach and have a market booth at the big crochet conference next month. Here and there I’ve mentioned some special events I also plan for, such as the fashion show banquet and design contest. This year I’m making special preparations for the Hall of Fame event when my friend accepts the CGOA award. 

    The CGOA Hall of Fame recipient for 2016 is my close friend Doris Chan. We met at CGOA’s 2004 conference in Manchester NH. There could be no Lotus yarn if we’d never met.

    For the past few days I’ve been tracking down which of Doris’ earliest designs I have. My mom has the most important one of all, and she’s in Iowa. Back in March 2004 I used a pattern by Doris called Celebration Shawl to crochet a Mother’s Day gift.

    Back then I had no idea who designed the shawl I made. I just leafed through my issue of Crochet! magazine and thought it looked like fun to make. The yarn was soft, cheerful and warm. I knew my mom would enjoy wearing it in a dreary Iowa winter.

    Doris didn’t know that her design had been published somewhere. When she saw the bag I made to go with it, that really threw her off. The bag wasn’t part of her pattern. I just crocheted it on the plane from the leftover yarn.

    Of course she had to ask me about it, and the rest is history. The next year I crocheted her a silver wire bracelet that is a miniature replica of her shawl pattern. (Blue bugle beads kind of look like Fun Fur yarn, right?)

    Twelve years later, Doris gets the Hall of Famer CGOA award! This will be a very special conference.

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    • June 25th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Project Tests for New Crochet Classes


    I’m still testing new crochet designs…

    …for the five classes I teach next month! This started months ago. It never stops, actually.

    I have other new crochet ideas in progress for this year’s classes too. For Tunisian Eyelet Meshes I have a draping collapsible “Leanin’ Loopholes” wrap to finally start when the new Lotus colors arrive. Another project in motion for the Stitch Games class is an argyle (only a few rows done, no photos yet).

    When CGOA puts out a call for class topic proposals in the fall, I submit more than enough: all the topics that I’ve enjoyed teaching in the past, plus interesting variations on them, plus new ones. Designing new crochet examples starts the moment I find out which ones I’ll be teaching. (Not on purpose, it just happens.)

    Meanwhile

    Meanwhile I stand ready (with camera) to receive a giant new lot of Lotus yarn. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new colors. Doris has her designing cones already so I know UPS will be here any day. Once the yarn arrives–on giant cones–I get some of it turned into Z-Bombes (1-pounders). A bit of it becomes Magnum cones (2-pounders). A lot of it will be “pull cakesASAP.

    I also stand ready to design with it. I’ll need some new crochet for the road trip up to the conference, right? Doris got started immediately with a new design in emerald green. This reminds me that I also need to lock in the new color names for the ball bands and snip cards.

    I’m on Day 35 of my 50 blogging days of crochet conference prep and I’m feeling behind! I still need to get some crochet patterns reformatted into print versions (for some of my classes and for kits in the market booth).

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    • June 23rd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Best Crochet Conference Shoes Ever


    Having attended twenty-five crochet conferences in twelve years, 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.

    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.

    When I go all out and wear sensationally uncomfortable shoes, it’s 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 mostly Z-Coils. Shoes make or break events like these.

    Here’s a little gallery I created of Z-Coils from around the ‘net:

     

    Benefits (and a few drawbacks) of these Conference Shoes: 

    After a month or two of wearing them, my lower back strengthened as the shoe’s coiled heel took over the job of shock absorber. Until then, I didn’t even know 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. 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. She loved them so much that she continued to wear them long after. I liked how weirdly futuristic they looked on her. When I tried on a pair I was hooked! This was about ten years ago.

    [Do I have to 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.]

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

    I don’t start the conference already exhausted from carrying luggage and dashing through airports to change planes in the middle of the night. I never take long flights without Z-Coils. These conference shoes come through for me even before I arrive at the event.

    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”. 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. I love how I look in delicate, ultra feminine shoes and dresses, but I can only happily wear girly shoes for a few hours at a time.

    The other drawback is that Z-Coil shoes are expensive (+/- $250.) Mine lasted 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.

    Interested? Then you must see the Customized Z-Coils Pinterest board I found today!

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    • June 20th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Two-Color Tunisian Crochet Swatches


    One Color or Two?

    Want to see some stitch patterns change when the yarn color changes?

    The two-color Tunisian crochet swatches are for my class handout (yes, still working on them!). I needed to clearly distinguish the forward row from the return row, so I color-coded them. The one-yarn versions are below their two-color swatches.

    Isn’t it surprising how different the same stitch pattern can look when you alternate yarn colors?

    Sometimes a swatch needs to convey more than words when space is a premium (such as in a class handout).

    Progress update on my crochet conference readiness: only ONE class handout left to send to the tech editor! That’s FOUR down, one to go. My goal is the end of this week. Then you’ll start seeing blog posts of other topics. Like, new Lotus yarn colors. Charleston. Etc.

     

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    • June 8th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Steeked Crochet Scarf: First Look


    First Photos of Today’s Steeked Crochet 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 that is published in the summer 2014 issue of Interweave Crochet Magazine.

    (If these photos look shadowy, it’s because I took them during Tropical Storm Colin today.)

    Steeked crochet scarf: 4-keyhole Tunisian Mesmer

    Four looks for the Four-Keyhole Steeked Tunisian Net.

    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 things a steek can offer.

    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 we’ve gotten off easy with this one (so far). The worst is supposed to be behind us and it has been no big deal. My son did have to miss school today–we couldn’t get onto 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. We haven’t had to move our car to higher land.

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    • June 6th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Hand Dyed Yarn Three Ways


    Three Looks for a Unique Hand Dyed Yarn

    Today I present three very different crochet textures in the SAME. EXACT. YARN.

    hand dyed yarn three ways

    At Left, Tunisian Islander Wrap; center, random Love Knots (stitch game test); at right, color stacked slip stitch mobius.

    These photos span about seven years. This particular hand dyed yarn is Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock.

    The 2016 design on the right was such a different experience of this yarn that it felt like a new purchase from the yarn shop. I had crocheted a whole shawl with the same yarn, though, seven years ago.

    I thought it was just me. When I showed the two projects in a Stitch Games class yesterday, others were also noticeably surprised that it’s the same yarn.

    Hope you’ve had a great weekend! If you don’t see a new blog post from me tomorrow, it will only be because we lost power due to the tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico. It hits sometime tonight or in the early morning.

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    • June 5th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Today’s Sarasota Yarn Shop Class


    I taught a small, intimate two-hour crochet class in my favorite Sarasota yarn shop today. It was a test of a few ideas I have for next month’s Stitch Games class in Charleston.

    Color-POP-corns for the Sarasota Yarn Shop

    A few days ago I imagined using the popcorn stitch to illustrate a way to group colors of a bold variegated yarn. I’m glad I crocheted a swatch in time for this class! It was perfect. I think I’ll turn it into a summer handbag.

     

    Some of the students were amazed that you could get the look of alternating two or more yarns with just one yarn. I hadn’t thought of this advantage, but it’s true. (Sometimes, alternating different strands of yarn in a project interrupts the crochet flow.) It’s great to have this option built in to just one ball of yarn.

    The swatch on the right was crocheted by one of the students today. Susie is actually the resident crochet teacher for the shop! Isn’t it beautiful?

    Both of these yarns are exclusive custom colorways hand dyed for this Sarasota yarn shop, A Good Yarn. I’ve used several of their custom yarns for Stitch Games class samples: Seshen, Bonefish, Bare Bones, Tunisian Spoonbill, and Slip Stitch Ikat Cowl.

    I’ve tested many CGOA crochet class topics at A Good Yarn over the years, and a tropical theme always seems to work well 🙂 The popcorns swatch looks just like Florida peaches against the Florida sky.

    Florida Peaches 2016

    Florida Peaches 2016

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    • June 4th, 2016 by Vashti Braha


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