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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

    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

    National Crochet Month Specials


    National Crochet Month 2016! I've got my ticket!

     I’ve got my ticket!

    Welcome, Natcromo Blog Tour Visitors!

    In honor of (Inter-)National Crochet Month, I’ve added a FREE lacy spring scarf pattern to my Ravelry shop: the double-flounced Emdash Scarf. It’s free for one week.

    I thought I’d show you Emdash’s crochet story in pictures. National Crochet Month is for crochet stories, right? Especially about lacy spring scarves. First, the design sketches:

    Original Emdash Sketches for National Crochet Month spring scarf

    Emdash has two design sisters.

    Antoinette is the eldest (I published her popular pattern in Nov. 2011). She loves lace weight metallic mohair with sequins and other holiday party yarns. Cantina is the youngest, even though her pattern was published before Emdash’s (in Dec. 2015). Cantina is a freewheeling hippie girl who likes color parties, scrap yarns, and beads. Below are front page snippets of the three designs. It’s easier to show some alternate views of them this way.

    Emdash Scarf Sister Designs: National Crochet Month 2016 spring scarf freebie

    How did Emdash get her name?

    While I was exploring special characters on my keyboard, I kept seeing the scarf draped on my mannequin. The columns of tall stitches are grouped with vertical spacers. (I like the slightly different crocheting rhythm of it.) They started reminding me of emdashes, yes—a type of punctuation. It shortens so nicely to “Emmy.”

    The last part of her design story is that I learned how to format and print out kit patterns with the Emdash Scarf, for the show booth I had last summer. This means Emdash is also available as a printed pattern here.

    Since you’ve read this far, you can also take 15% off anything in my shop by clicking this link. Remember, shipping is already free to US addresses, so 15% off really is 15% off.Emdash Kit Story for National Crochet Month 2016

    Enjoy your free crochet pattern! And Happy National Crochet Month!

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    • March 30th, 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

    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

    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

    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

    Tunisian Lace Crochet Pattern Test


    Filet lace crochet pattern for summer top

    My son and me, circa 2003. I love green and lilac together! He loved fiery tie dye.

    About twelve years ago I crocheted myself a top in an easy lace crochet pattern.

    It was in Sandra, a European pattern magazine. I used apple green sport weight cotton yarn from my stash. These are regular ol’ double crochet and chain stitches. See next photo below for close up view. My sparky son there in the photo with me was probably four or five years old (he’s fifteen now!).

    The double crochet stitches  [abbreviated dc, or tr in the UK] are grouped into three-row blocks of six stitches each. These are alternated with lacy spaces (i.e., eight-chain bars, to use another Filet Crochet term). For a fun texture change, some of the solid blocks alternate with “blocks” of V-stitch instead. In this case, the V-stitch is [dc, chain 1, dc] in the next stitch twice. (Some V-stitches don’t have a chain-1 between the two dc; you might like this popular newsletter issue, “Unpacking V-Stitches.”)

    Personally, I consider this lace crochet pattern to be based loosely on a filet crochet structure. It uses the same logic of double crochets and chain spaces. It’s easy to memorize and feels like filet crochet to me while crocheting it. I like the lacy gingham plaid effect!

    Tunisian Lace Crochet Pattern vs Regular Crochet

    Tunisian crochet (red), regular crochet (green)

    Now for the Tunisian Lace Crochet Pattern Version.

    Now compare the dark red Tunisian lace pattern swatch. I crocheted this a few months ago for my class on Tunisian Filet Crochet technique. Like the earlier green swatch, I used a sport weight cotton yarn — a test of the DesigningVashti Lotus yarn in Grenadine.

    I used Tunisian double crochets (Tdc) in place of the regular dc, and Tunisian yarn overs (Tyo) in place of chains.

    One interesting difference is how rope-like the Tyo bars are, compared with the chain-8 bars in green. They look a lot like very tall stitches running horizontally, don’t they? Like double treble crochet stitches, perhaps.

    Another difference is how much taller the Tdc blocks are. Here’s an important thing to keep in mind, though: twelve years ago I was still making my dc stitches kind of short and compact. In other words, I used to be a “Rider.” Since then, I’ve gradually altered my crocheting style to be more of a “Lifter.” This is such an important thing to keep in mind about double crochets! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please see this post.

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    • October 2nd, 2014 by Vashti Braha


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