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  • 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

    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

    Color Pooling Crochet Stitch Games-Class


    Planned vs. Accidental Color “Pooling” Fun

    Last summer’s Get Your Geek On CGOA event inspired my new three-hour crochet class in Charleston SC (July 13, 2016); some new booklets and patterns too. Many of us have been seeking insight into using hand-painted yarns. These yarns are often boldly variegated with short color changes and other indie dyeing methods. Color pooling can be exciting!

    Planned Pooling Stitch Games Crochet Class CGOA Vashti Braha

                                  This is the class webposter at the CGOA event headquarters.

    You’re looking at stitch game projects I designed from 2009 to a month ago. (There are more but they don’t all fit in this image.) Pattern for the vivid blue striped scarf (Jempool) releases this week.

    Use crochet stitches to turn the color volume up or down (or both, selectively!). Exaggerate the element of chance (accidental pooling). Or, eliminate it! (i.e. planned pooling).

    What’s Color Pooling?

    Variegated (multi-colored) yarns appear to have randomly and evenly mixed colors in one skein. It’s like a party in a ball—unless the colors stop looking well-blended when crocheted or knitted. A color might repeat too often, or pile (pool) up on itself row after row in a blotchy way.

    Texture pooling is a variation of color pooling. Ever use a yarn with dramatic thick and thin areas, and find that these texture contrasts clump together awkwardly? They’re pooling. That happened with an expensive mohair yarn I bought because of its intermittent tinsel sections (see it above). I thought it would look magical. Instead, the tinsel just looked lumpy and stiff when I crocheted it. Love Knots retain the otherworldly look of the yarn by giving the tinsel more room. Sprinkling Love Knots among simple double crochets {UK: tr} is an exhilarating experience.

    “Stitch Pooling” Turns Color Pooling into a Game

    A simple stitch game I like, especially with crochet, is what I call stitch pooling. I switch to a contrasting crochet stitch when a certain color comes up as I crochet. Knitters do this when they switch from stockinette to garter whenever a certain color comes up, for example. Crochet gives us so many texture choices for creating a simple game, or a wildly challenging one! You can heighten or de-emphasize colors too. This is accidental color pooling that’s fresh and interesting. Just use familiar crochet stitches.

    Pictured below are three examples of beginner-level stitch games in a pattern booklet:

    Color Pooling Booklet: Crochet to the Colors Playbook, Level 1

           Crochet to the Colors Playbook: simple stitch pooling to alter color pooling. Table of Contents here.

    Color Pooling According to Plan

    Eliminate the element of chance and you get regular, coordinated patterns of color. The game here is to identify the unique color code of a variegated yarn. You decide where they show up in your project. (See my newsletter issue #77, Find the Color Code of Short Striping Yarns.) Then, choose the crochet stitch, gauge, and number of stitches to get the color patterning you want.

    Two examples of this very different crochet experience are shown in the photo at the top: Jempool (the blue striped scarf) and the basketweave look in the top left corner.

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    • April 19th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Simple Pleasures Crochet Bling Bangles


    Crochet *Bling* Bangles: My Cheerful Distraction

    I’ve had several stressful challenges this month. Each evening I curl up with super sparkly yarn, crochet hooks, and simple stitches. I go to bed in a merry mood and drift asleep picturing other stitches or color combinations to try.

    As I described in yesterday’s post, these slip-on crochet bling bangles are based on the simplest ribbing stitches. The red one is rows of single crochet in the back loop only (outside of the USA it’s a double crochet). The silvery one in progress is rows of slip stitch in the back loop only.

    * Twinkly * sequined * ribbing * is very satisfying.

    I added sequined carry-along metallic threads to my yarn stash months ago. Now is the perfect time to crochet a *bling* strand of Premier Yarns Enchant with a strand of…my Lotus yarn! I chose Lotus for its cheerful colors that can stand up to all the bright bling action.

    I also chose Lotus because it’s sport weight: once you crochet double-stranded (with two strands of yarn held together), you naturally make thicker stitches. I didn’t want super thick stitches for these small crochet bling bangles. The Enchant bling yarn is slightly thinner (“fingering weight”).

    The yarn math: Add 1 sport strand + 1 fingering strand and you get “DK wt,” a.k.a. “light worsted.” A G-7 (4.5 mm) hook is a good all-purpose size to use for this weight.

    Sequin Management for Crochet Bling Bangles

    Sequins can get in the way while crocheting. Fun crochet means being able to pull loops through loops smoothly, but sequins can catch on a loop, slowing things down. Pairing a thick enough yarn with a bling strand can buffer or neutralize the sequins. To me, “thick enough” means it matches the diameter of the sequins. The tiny sequins in the Enchant yarn match the thickness of my Lotus yarn; the Lotus gives the stitch loops smooth passage through other loops. Result: the sequins are only piling on more joy. No interruption of the joy.

    The Right Kind of Stretchy for Crochet Bling Bangles

    One last thing I considered is how stretchy each yarn is. The bling yarn (Enchant) has zero elasticity. I expected this, but I don’t know its strength and durability yet. So to reduce the stress that could be put on the Enchant strand, I avoided stretchy yarns like wool. Lotus has no stretch either, so these two yarns are nicely matched for this. Lotus won’t let my crochet project stretch more than the Enchant strand will, so both yarns will share the wear and tear equally.

    By letting the ribbed crochet stitches provide all the necessary stretchiness of a slip-on bangle, I can use whatever yarns I wish.

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    • December 18th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Bam-Bam Crochet Bangle


    The Original Bam Bam Crochet Bangle, 2012. From its "art gallery" photoshoot.

    The Original Bam Bam Crochet Bangle, “art gallery” photoshoot, 2012. See the whole set in better resolution here

    Crochet Bangle from the Archives

    It makes me giggle. “Bam-Bam” began as a test of ribbing stitches for a simple crochet bangle.

    I remember reasoning that if a crochet bracelet is stretchy enough, a clasp is optional. You can just slide it on and off your wrist—i.e., a crochet bangle.

    A back-loop slip stitch rib (Bss) version was planned after this back-loop single crochet rib (BLsc) one. I did NOT plan to add the “Bam-Bam” part.

    The “Bam-Bam” Part

    Remember Pebbles and Bamm Bamm? Back in September 2012, I was preparing to teach a crochet jewelry class at a CGOA conference in Reno NV.

    I don’t remember where my head was at, but after completing the BLsc band, I amused myself by free-forming the fake clasp. It made me think of Bamm Bamm Rubble, the baby boy who hit everything with a stone club in the The Flintstones cartoon.

    Then I photographed it as if it’s an art gallery piece, which amuses me even more!

    This is its project page in Ravelry. I’m writing a holiday pattern for the Bam-Bam Crochet Bangle now. It makes me giggle too much to keep it to myself.

    By the way, the Lucky Twists Boot Cuffs pattern that I posted about earlier is being tested now. I expect to release it in a day or two.

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    • December 17th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Selling Crochet Items Based on DesigningVashti Patterns


    Selling crochet items based on my patterns? Please do.

    If you like to crochet things to sell at craft fairs or in a shop, please enjoy using my crochet patterns for that. I really appreciate that some crocheters care to ask a designer first! I love that about our crochet community. Not only is it your right in the USA, please also know that I feel honored that my designs inspire you to make and sell finished items.

    I now state officially in several places that crocheters are welcome to sell the items they make from my patterns. (Patterns I’ve already published lack this notice. I’m updating each one as time allows.)

    I’ve been a maker too, most recently in March 2014.

    Ananda, a dear friend I’ve known for forever, has an indie natural perfume business. Her cool idea for a trade: she would create a limited edition perfume with pure essential Lotus blossom oil.* In return, I would crochet special little Lotus perfume pouches just for her and her best customers! The photos above are the pouches I made.

    *She even named it Vashti.  :swoon:

    It was good timing for me to revisit being a maker—not a designer, teacher, editor, etc. I say “revisit” because I had a macramé jewelry business back in the 1980’s. After that I had a calligraphy business. I loved being an indie maker and selling at fairs.

    Why would designers object to people selling crochet items from their patterns?

    In forums, makers complain that some designers and publishers try to limit how their patterns are used, and can’t imagine a good reason for it. I think it’s understandable. Here’s why:

    Back when I first launched my own pattern website, craft bloggers were reporting instances of large companies taking advantage of “the little guy” (indie designers). These companies were allegedly looking online for designs and then copying them as their own.

    Whether or not the law would side with the indie designers in any of these cases, 1) These watchdog bloggers revealed publicly that stealing intellectual property isn’t victimless nor is it invisible on the internet; and 2) It scared me as a new owner of a web-based pattern line.

    I did not start out encouraging people to use my patterns for selling crochet items. (I hope I didn’t discourage anyone!) I figured I’d hear from someone on a case by case basis. It’s because I didn’t know there were so many indie makers looking for inspiring crochet patterns. Turns out I was only hearing from a tiny percentage.

    One last thing: crediting me as the designer of the pattern, or listing my DesigningVashti.com URL on your labels, is greatly appreciated, but not required. Let me know how your items sell, or show me some pics. It inspires me to design more!

    Now: if you wish to use my designs to produce crochet items on a mass scale, contact me: vashti AT designingvashti.com . Thank you.

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    • December 1st, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Preview: Aery Faery Lacy Tunisian Crochet Scarf


    I’m looking over the photos I’ve taken so far of my newest Tunisian crochet design. Lately, the weather here has created some moody lighting. Have a look at these!

    Aery Faery Lacy Tunisian Crochet Scarf End

    My first filet-like Tunisian crochet lace in opalescent mohair and silk.

    I’m calling it Aery-Faery because it is faerie-like and diaphanous, like fairy wings. I’ve crocheted most of it while watching the first season of Once Upon a Time. In fact, I’m pretty sure the idea for this design first came to me while watching the show.

    Aery Faery Lacy Tunisian Crochet Scarf/Stole

    Scarf shown draped like a stole. It’s very stretchy!

    The yarn is divine for a lacy Tunisian crochet scarf.

    It’s Artyarns Silk Mohair Glitter; a strand of Lurex is plied with the silk and mohair. It’s particularly fine and smooth. The dyeing is gorgeous. You can’t tell from some of the photos, but it’s the subtle colors of a milky opal. The colors shift like they do in an opal, too.

    The Aery-Faery pattern draft is done. I’m testing a variation tonight and have the final proofreading to do before sending it off for tech editing and testing.

     

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    • November 16th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Yarn Tests for a New Tunisian Crochet Filet Design


    This blog post is third in a short series about the development of a new Tunisian crochet pattern pdf.

    I did two kinds of yarn tests for my new Tunisian crochet filet scarf (first blogged here).

    1. I needed a good yarn for photo tutorial close ups. I’ve learned that I have the best luck with a single ply yarn. More than one ply could add a possibly distracting texture. I love the look and colors of the purple yarn in the first photo, but its plies worried me.

    A thicker yarn is better for close ups than a skinny one so that their individual fibers don’t show up too much! See the two close ups in the second row.

    A yarn’s colors also matter for Tunisian crochet filet close ups. Strong contrasting color shifts are distracting, but subtle color shifts can be a real plus.


    Soft tonal dyeing makes a stitch or row easier for someone to distinguish right away. It’s easier for my camera too. One solid light color is great for in-person classes, but not always for extreme close ups. Sometimes my camera thinks the stitches are just fuzzy blobs no matter what I do. (Maybe it’s user error, shhhh.)

    2. Wool. I fell in love with my first Tunisian crochet filet design in wool. That would be…Warm Aeroette! (Hence the “warm” part.) Until Aeroette I’d only had Tunisian crochet filet thoughts in bamboo (Ennis), silk (Aero), and cotton (dishcloth test in my Lotus yarn). Traditional filet lace has mostly been a cotton thread kind of crochet project. Maybe that’s why I didn’t reach for the wool.

    I needed to know if I loved Aeroette because the yarn I used is not a thick wooly wool. It’s a fingering weight fine-micron merino wool. Fine-micron merino has an almost silky drape. The thinner fingering weight (like a sock yarn) gives the stitches a fine-grained texture. In a thick wool like the Mochi Plus (blue photo above), the filet-style lacy eyelets could look clunky or lumpy as a scarf. Would be a lovely afghan border though.

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    • October 30th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    New Tunisian Crochet Pattern PDF: What Takes So Long?


    This blog post is the second part of a short series about the birth of a new crochet pattern pdf. The third is here.

    Behind the scenes of a new Tunisian crochet pattern

    Pictured is draft #4 of Warm Aeroette Tunisian Crochet Scarf.

    I’m a slow, deliberate pattern publisher. I love crocheting and so I think I chronically underestimate how much work it really is! Not only does a step almost always take longer than I expect – I also don’t always know when I need to recharge. (Each of these is a “step”: a stitch diagram, a photo tutorial, pattern testing, sizing, tech editing, etc.)

    Pattern Draft #4: "Warm Aeroette Tunisian Crochet Scarf."

    Draft #4 of Warm Aeroette Tunisian Crochet Scarf.

    I don’t just call it “Aeroette” because this is a downloadable single pattern. The title needs to tell crocheters (and search engines) as much as possible in one line.

    Three things can slow down new Tunisian crochet patterns for me:

    1. Each design seems to bring unique issues! For Aeroette, starting the scarf in one corner is a biggie. It merits a nice step by step photo tutorial. It’s a rare construction method for Tunisian crochet. Also, the best pattern wording evolves slowly sometimes. For Aeroette I’ve revised the wording of how and where the beginning and ending picots go a few times for clarity. Tunisian crochet pattern language has its own conventions.

    2. Meanwhile, I’m always mulling design details. Doris is the same way and we laugh about this. Maybe I could optimize X, or add Y feature. What about this or that variation? I’d better swatch it in a very different yarn to make sure the design is not dependent on the yarn I’m using.

    3. A third publishing speed bump is how educational it is. Aeroette started out originally as a practice project for a class on the Aero Tunisian Filet Lace Wrap. My goal with Aeroette is that it serve as a new Tunisian crochet skill building experience.

    Sometimes I print a 2-to-a-page draft like you see here, to save paper. To save printer ink, the photos and captions are temporarily tiny. Most images are step-by-step tutorial photos that will all go on a back page. That will make printing them optional to save everyone’s printer ink.

    Update: Downloadable PDF for the new Tunisian crochet Warm Aeroette Scarf is officially in the shop.

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    • October 27th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Not Tunisian Crochet Stitches: a Converted Filet Swatch


    This is the first of 3 blog posts on the release of a new Tunisian crochet pattern. The 2nd is here and the third is here.

    I used no Tunisian crochet stitches for the swatch on the left only.

    Instead, I used single crochet, double crochets, and chains. (US abbreviations: sc, dc, and ch. Outside of the US: dc, tr, ch). The chs and dcs create lacy open spaces in the style of filet crochet. I alternated each filet row with a row of sc. Not traditional for filet crochet, but it does follow filet logic. (This is one reason I wanted to swatch it; see this newsletter issue about a similar experiment.)

    Not Tunisian crochet stitches vs Tunisian crochet (filet-style Aeroette Scarf)

    No Tunisian crochet stitches at left, converted from the Tunisian crochet Aeroette scarf at right.

    The sc rows give the spaces thicker top and bottom “walls” around the spaces. This matches the thicker side “walls” created by the dc pairs.

    This stitch pattern is converted from the Warm Aeroette Scarf on the right, which is 100% Tunisian crochet stitches. I was curious to see how much these two would differ in looks, surface texture, and drape.

    Single Crochets versus Tunisian Crochet Stitches

    The first thing I notice about the left swatch is the single crochets. Specifically, the backs of them. They’re raised, bumpy, and have a distinctive look. To me they emphasize a horizontal grain of the left swatch.

    Unlike the rows of Tunisian crochet stitches on the right, I turned after every row of the left swatch. We’re looking at the right side of a dc row alternated with a wrong side of a sc row. The bumpy sc backs also cause the dc rows to recede a bit. This adds to the effect of the sc rows standing out, almost ridge-like.

    This effect is mostly absent from the Tunisian swatch on the right. Its surface is uniformly flatter. Tunisian crochet stitches do have their own horizontal texture. They get it from the return passes – that second part of a complete Tunisian row when you crochet the loops off of the hook. In this pattern, the return pass textures are no more raised than the vertical stitch textures created during the forward passes.

    Differences I’m Not Seeing

    I expected to see a difference in how the yarn’s color changes look, but I don’t really. Maybe the swatch on the left needs to be much bigger. I also expected the Tunisian one to drape more. Perhaps it doesn’t because this is wool, and the hook size is smaller than I usually use for lacy Tunisian crochet stitches. I used a G-7 (4.5 mm) hook. For the non-Tunisian swatch I used a G-6 (4 mm) crochet hook.

    The Warm Aeroette Scarf on the right is the next pattern I’ll be adding to the shop. I’ll announce it in my newsletter. You can also track its project page in Ravelry.

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    • October 26th, 2014 by Vashti Braha


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