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  • Crochet Conference Prep, the Aftermath


    This past June and July I blogged fifty days of crochet conference prep. I returned home from the conference on July 17. Today is August 18. What happened between then and now?

    crochet conference prep: swatch buntings

    I crocheted together lacy Tunisian Lotus swatches in the car. It reminds me of Mexican “papel picado”. Worked out well for teaching!

    This is the first day that I could imagine sitting down to compose a blog post and enjoy it. That’s a full month of recovery from having a booth while also teaching several new crochet topics.

    Here’s how the past 30 days went:

    • I needed an immediate inventory of what I came home with, so the first thing I did was unpack a gazillion boxes of booth and teaching stuff.
    • After counting everything, I put away what I could. This left me with five big heaps that had to be sorted and packed up carefully for future events. It took two weeks to work through these heaps step by step.
    • It also took about two weeks to completely unpack suitcases and get through all of the laundry only because I felt like such a zombie.
    • Filled lots of orders that continued to come in every day from my website. (I love this about conferences: so many visitors to my website!)
    • Discussed new color #20 of Lotus yarn with our mill.
    • Slept and slept. Slept some more.
    • Sat still happily without my mind racing. No adrenaline rushes, worries, or multitasking. Enjoyed what others were posting about their conference experiences.
    • It took days to go through all of my emails.
    • It took a full four weeks for all incoming and outgoing booth and teaching monies to be settled. (This would surprise me except that it took longer last year.)
    • Thoughts: “I could maybe blog this. Or, tomorrow.” “What do I want to crochet next. No idea.” “What about next year? Not sure.”

    Crochet Conference Prep Results

    How it was better than last year’s:

    I was careful to keep a more accurate and readable list of starting inventory. This way, after returning home, it was easy to compare with the ending inventory (and trust the numbers!). I had to force myself to be disciplined about this. While packing up the merchandise to ship up to the show, I could see when my starting amounts got fuzzier last year.

    This year we shipped by UPS to a nearby UPS store, not to the event or show management company. It worked great this time: fast, cheap, and convenient.

    Thanks to a tip from Doris who used to transport and manage the entire CGOA Design Contest, I purchased some giant clear blue zippered storage cubes. These are perfect for loading up every inch of a car with soft items (yarns and crocheted items).

    Last year I felt like a zombie for much longer—months. A 2015 creative slump lasted for so long that I started to fear I was done with crochet designing altogether. This year I took endurance-building tonic herbs and nutrients for the weeks before and after the event. Maybe they worked! The creative slump only lasted 3 weeks this time. (Last year I also had jet lag.)

    I like the pattern info tags I created at the last minute for the three shawls that George Shaheen of 10 Hours or Less designed in my Lotus yarn.

    The “papel picado”-style swatch buntings (pictured above) that I crocheted on the way to Charleston worked out really well for me in classes because I grouped them by technique and theme. I’m going to do this with more Lotus swatches.

    *Blogging those fifty days of prep kept me focused on the present next step while also accountable to an observer (my blogging self). Plus it leaves me with tips for my future self.

    How might crochet conference prep be even better next time?

     

    This post is getting long so I’m moving this part to a future post.

     

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    • August 18th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    My Ideal Crochet Conference Clothes


    Next Packing Step: Conference Clothes 2016

    Now that I’ve re-committed to the Z-CoiL® shoes 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.

    For these reasons the tops I pack are mostly plain stretchy black in different sleeve lengths and neckline styles. The best ones 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
    • shedding yarn fibers won’t cling to it!

    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. In crochet classes I think people don’t want to look at a lot of black all the time. Nowadays I feel good teaching in soft, breezy tunics with fine details.

    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.

    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.

    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!

    By the way, I’ve also resumed editing and refining the class handouts now that my houseguest Annie has left. We had a fantastic week rollerskating, tracking night blooming cereus, and visiting the mermaids of Weeki Wachee.

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    • June 21st, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Class Yarn Sponsor: Lorna’s Laces!


    Why is a crochet class yarn a big deal?

    Crochet classes at national CGOA conferences are a big deal. In fact, they have been the raison d’être of the event since the first one in 1994. Of all the places I’ve taught crochet, this event is my first choice. These classes are unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced–as a student in many of them too, not just a teacher. Each one is intensive and three hours long (sometimes double that). They’re not cheap but you get what you pay for and more. I’ve also made life-long friends in these classes.

    For some in-depth CGOA classes, the yarn either helps make the most of the 3 precious hours, or it can actually add obstacles. Conference attendees have to try to pack the best yarns and crochet hooks for the classes ahead of time, and it’s not easy. You can’t even buy the right yarn in the conference market if the class takes place before the market opens. Stitch Games is one of these classes this year.

    The crochet class yarn for Stitch Games could make or break that class! Lorna’s Laces really came through. They are graciously (can I say heroically) providing enough of the perfect hand dyed yarn for everyone in the class to use.

    How Does a Crochet Class Get Sponsored?

    When a yarn company donates yarn for a CGOA class, it means the teacher has carefully selected that yarn as being the ideal way to experience the class topic. S/he then contacts the yarn company personally.

    For Stitch Games I’ve swatched and designed with a gazillion yarns since 2009. I’m happy to say that Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in bolder colorways, is the ideal crochet class yarn. We’ll have a full three hours-worth for everyone in the room.

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    • June 10th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Beaded Tunisian Crochet Test


    I love preparing to teach crochet classes for the big CGOA conferences every year because I try things I’ve been meaning to for months. Like yesterday. Today I’m testing instructions in my class handout for Steeked Tunisian Lace. I figured while I’m at it, I might as well throw in some beads.

    Beaded Tunisian crochet

    [this blog post is in progress please check back]

    Beads aren’t part of the class, but if someone asks, I’ll have the swatch handy.

    I will probably come back and add a little more to this post when I can. Gotta run for now.

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    • June 7th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Vashti’s Crochet Classes in 2016


    Here’s everything there is to know about Vashti’s crochet classes in 2016. (Who’s Vashti, though? Is she a good teacher? See what others say–scroll down.)

    Vashti’s Crochet Classes, the Five 2016 Topics

    Each class is three hours long and held at the national crochet conference of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Everyone’s welcome to attend this July 13-16, 2016 at the Embassy Suites North Charleston Airport/Hotel & Convention Center in North Charleston, South Carolina.

    1. Stitch Games for Multicolored Yarns: Click here for its resource page of links. Click here for the CGOA description.
    2. Steek (Cut) Tunisian Lace for Fun Fast FashionsClick here for its resource page of links. Click here for the CGOA description.
    3. The Starwirbel Way, How to Shape Spiraling Star Stitch LaceClick here for its resource page of links. Click here for the CGOA description.
    4. Tunisian Eyelet Meshes 101Click here for its resource page of links. Click here for the CGOA description.
    5. 21st Century Love Knot MeshesClick here for its resource page of links. Click here for the CGOA description.

    Have a look at the new “Vashti’s Crochet Classes” Pinterest board.

     

    What are Vashti’s Crochet Classes Like?

    These classes consistently sell out! Read what lots of students have said about them here. For example:

    • Not only is Vashti very knowledgeable but her very fun and friendly character adds so much to the class and inspiration.
    • I have learned more than I ever imagined possible in 3 hours. Vashti is an amazing teacher, so generous and very, very talented in the teaching department. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    • Vashti is very calm and that makes her very easy to listen to. She does an awesome job!
    • Fabulous! Instructor made me feel as an equal – which was delightful. Super friendly and passionate.
    • Vashti is a natural teacher – very organized and clear!

    About Vashti Braha

    I. Love. Teaching. Crochet.

    As of 2004, I’m a full-time professional crochet thinker and tinkerer. I produce industry-standard crochet patterns, classes, articles, and other materials to promote crochet as many things: an art, hobby, learning tool, and practical medium. If I were you, I’d sign up for my newsletter because I try to write about what I don’t see others writing about crochet.

    Email me directly: VashtiBraha@gmail.com or visit Vashti’s Crochet Lounge, an open forum in Ravelry where the friendly members and moderators are first-rate. Find in Facebook   Friend in Ravelry  Follow in Pinterest .

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    • June 3rd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Starwirbel Class Resources (Spiraling Star Stitches)


    Clickable resources for my 2016 Starwirbel class (How to Shape Spiraling Star Stitches). Includes patterns for designs shown, and inspiration for new projects and variations. Also articles & books recommended in class. Click an image to enlarge it.

    Note: sorry, this class SOLD OUT in April, but keep checking back at the registration page. Sometimes a space opens up. 

    Crochet Patterns & Crochet Alongs:

    Recommended Issues of Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter:

    Starwirbel Class, Blogged:

    Inspiration Boards for this Class

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    • June 3rd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    2016 Crochet Stitch Games: Class Resources Page


    Clickable resources for my 2016 Crochet Stitch Games with Colorful Yarns class. Includes patterns for designs shown, and inspiration for new games. Also articles & books recommended in class. Click an image to enlarge it.

    Crochet Patterns & Crochet Alongs:

    Recommended Issues of Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter:

    2016 Crochet Stitch Games, Blogged:

    Inspiration

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    • June 2nd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    2010 CGOA Runway: Tunisian Weightless Wrap


    Found this photo I’d forgotten about! It was taken at a crochet conference in 2010. I’m modeling the Tunisian Weightless Wrap because it won an award in the CGOA Design Contest.

    Tunisian Eyelet mesh pattern: "Weightless Wrap"

    2010 CGOA runway photo of Vashti by Doris Chan.

    CGOA Design Contest, 2010

    I think 2010 was the very first year of the contest. It has since become an exciting annual event, thanks to Doris Chan’s tireless efforts in the first 3-4 years of it.

    The Weightless Wrap is the inspiration for one of my longest running crochet classes on Tunisian eyelet meshes. I’ve just completed the 2016 class resource page for it–that’s how I stumbled upon this photo.

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    • June 1st, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Tunisian Eyelet Meshes: Class Resources Page


    A clickable list of resources for my 2016 Tunisian Eyelet Meshes class: patterns for designs shown, books mentioned, & articles recommended in class. Also, inspiration for new Tunisian eyelet variations. Click an image to enlarge it.

    Story of the Tunisian Wicker Stitch (an eyelet mesh) featured in the Weightless Wrap:

    Recommended Issues of Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter:

    Blogged:

    Some Inspiring Tunisian Crochet Books

    You might see a lacy stitch variation to try.

    • 1997: Basics of Tunisian Crochet for Beginners, N. Seto, Japan. ISBN 978-4-529-029285
    • 2000 (1991), Rebecca Jones: Tricot Crochet The Complete Book, Lacis Pubs., Berkeley CA. ISBN 978-1-891656-28-6
    • 2004, Angela “ARNie” Grabowski: Encyclopedia of Tunisian Crochet, LoneStar Abilene Pubg LLC, TX. ISBN 978-0-974972-55-8
    • 2004, Carolyn Christmas and Dorris Brooks: 101 Easy Tunisian StitchesTM, Annies Attic, IN. ISBN 978-1-931171-74-8
    • 2008: Tunisian Crochet Patterns 100, Nihon Amimono Bunka Kyo-kai, Japan ISBN 978-4-529-04484-4
    • 2009, Kim Guzman: Learn to Do Tunisian Lace Stitches, Annie’s Attic, IN. ISBN 978-1-59635-264-3
    • 2009, Sharon Hernes Silverman: Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg PA. ISBN 978-0-811704-84-7
    • 2014, Kim Guzman: Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide.
    • Duplet magazine issue #61.
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    • June 1st, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Steeked Tunisian Lace: Class Resources Page


    A clickable list of resources for my 2016 Steeked Tunisian Crochet Lace class: patterns for designs shown, books mentioned, & articles recommended in class. Also, fashion inspiration for taking this topic in expressive new directions. Click an image to enlarge it.

    Designs & Patterns Shown in Class

    Steeked Tunisian Lace Designs by Others

    The “Fun Fast Fashions” Part!

    The full title of this class is Steek (Cut) Tunisian Crochet Lace for Fun, Fast Fashions. I felt the need to differentiate this topic from steeking knit fair isle sweaters and other existing reasons for steeks. Three strong fashion trends converge in this 3-hour class: Clean net lace, graphic/linear texture, and fringe. I’ve created a Pinterest board for each trend:

    • To Try with Tunisian Crochet Nets (linear, visually directional fabric grain as design element)
    • Steeks: Ideas These are often simple shapes that become magically wearable and trendy with just a steek or two.
    • Trend: the New Fringe (I thought today’s fringe was a passing fad but it continues to have a lot of mojo! That’s great for us. Many steeked Tunisian lace nets beg to be fringed.)
    • Trend: Simple Crochet Mesh Nets It’s a classic fabric with fresh boho looks. It’ll be a long-term trend because it’s also now going urbane-futuristic-techie.

    Recommended issues of Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter:

    Blogged:

    Books re: Steeked Tunisian Lace?

    I could find nothing in books about steeking Tunisian crochet, even though it is so fun, easy, and versatile! (If you know of a source, please leave a comment.) Below are a few books that include some extended stitch patterns.

    • 2000 (1991), Rebecca Jones: Tricot Crochet The Complete Book, Lacis Pubs., Berkeley CA. ISBN 978-1-891656-28-6.
      • Offers three interesting variations of the Tunisian extended stitch net I used for Mesmer: “Open Mesh”, “Josephine Stitch”, and “Point de Chantilly”.
      • The author states, “This makes a very open stitch which grows very quickly. It’s a good stitch to use with a long-fibre mohair for scarfs and stoles.”
    • 2004, Angela “ARNie” Grabowski: Encyclopedia of Tunisian Crochet, LoneStar Abilene Pubg LLC, TX. ISBN 978-0-974972-55-8
      • The author shows several swatches of extended Tunisian stitches! See pages 34-43.
    • 2004, Carolyn Christmas and Dorris Brooks: 101 Easy Tunisian StitchesTM, Annies Attic, IN. ISBN 978-1-931171-74-8
    • 2008: Tunisian Crochet Patterns 100, Nihon Amimono Bunka Kyo-kai, Japan ISBN 978-4-529-04484-4
    • 2009, Kim Guzman: Learn to Do Tunisian Lace Stitches, Annie’s Attic, IN. ISBN 978-1-59635-264-3
    • 2014, Kim Guzman: Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide.
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    • June 1st, 2016 by Vashti Braha


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