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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

    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

    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

    Answers: The Electra Wrap Love Knot Pattern


    I’m seeing new questions in new places about my Electra Wrap love knot pattern.

    The Electra crochet design continues to attract attention and I’m really happy about that. I’ve blogged questions and answers about Electra here so that people can find them easily when they Google the pattern.

    Q: What is this design? I’m having trouble figuring it out!

    A: Maybe you’re seeing only a photo with no source (such as in Pinterest or Tumblr). Probably it’s one of the photos below. This is the Electra Wrap love knot pattern. It was designed by Vashti Braha (me) in 2012, and published in Interweave Crochet Magazine in 2013. A newly updated version of the Electra pattern was released by me in September 2014.

    Maybe you mean that you’re having trouble figuring out how it was crocheted. Well, the Electra Wrap is all about visual illusions. It’s actually just a simple rectangular wrap. The stitch pattern is 100% crochet love knots. A big reason for the Electra effect is the triangular grid structure. This is an uncommon look for this stitch. A square mesh grid of love knots, on the other hand, is so common that it’s practically a stereotype. My newsletter issue #62 contrasts these two basic types of crochet lace grids.

    Q: Yes but it looks like more than just that! Why?

    A: Three reasons:

    1. The flowery stars. A beautiful feature of triangular lace grids is how triangles tile into hexagonal six-spoked shapes.
    2. This starry flowery lace is love knots. You can crochet triangular lace grids with many different stitches. Love knots bring their own unique magic. They also show off special yarns…see #3.
    3. I used yarn that is so elegant it dazzles the eye. I’m serious! I’ve worn the Electra Wrap in conferences, guild meetings, yarn shops, and love knot classes. Even when a person is familiar with crocheting triangular lace grids – and the love knot stitch, and sees it up close in person, Electra is still a bit mysterious. The yarn’s a factor.

    Q: How did you add all those tiny sequins?

    A: I paid the yarn to do that! Tiny sequins were spun right into the yarn for me. (I’d personally never add the sequins by hand because this would interrupt how quick love knots are to crochet.)

    Here’s the deal with the yarn. A mystery-enhancing effect of the Electra Wrap love knot pattern is it’s crocheted double-stranded. Each love knot shows off two yarn strands. Each strand plumps up and doubles the 3-D loft. That’s why I included that last photo of the Lovepods Boa.

    I held one strand of fine mohair yarn together with one sequined strand while I crocheted. Electra’s yarn specs:

    • Glossy sequined strand: S. Charles Collezione Crystal (85% polyester, 15% cotton; 144 yd {131 m} per .88 oz {25 g}; CYC “#0 Lace Weight”): color #11, 3 skeins.
    • Glittery mohair strand: S. Charles Collezione Luna (71% super kid mohair, 20% silk, 9% lurex; 232 yd {212.5 m} per .88 oz {25 g}; CYC “#0 Lace Weight”): color #25, 2 skeins.

    Even the tiniest sequins can be hard to crochet with. They catch on yarn strands as you pull loops through loops. The solution is to buffer the sequins with fibers. Mohair is great for this.

    Q: I need to use different yarn, though. Can I? Should I?

    A: YES you can, absolutely. The proof is in all the different yarns people have used for their lovely Electras. See this Electra project gallery in Ravelry.

    I can think of lots of reasons why one should use a different yarn, and why one should not.

    Definitely use the yarns I used if:

    • …You want that ethereal, fairy godmother, fashion couture mystique. I can’t imagine a better yarn combination for this. The yarns I used are top of the line fashion yarns from a venerable Italian mill. They are pricy and yet they’re a bargain. Their high quality is clearly evident in the finished Electra Wrap. It’s part of the mystique. (Hint: it’s the ultimate gift.)
    • …You’re susceptible to swooning while you’re crocheting. I’m not exaggerating when I say that crocheting Electra kept taking my breath away. I finished two of them quickly. I didn’t want to set down my crochet hook! I fantasized about Electra when I was away from it! If you’ve ever “pined” for a crochet project you’ve fallen for, then you know what I mean. The rest of you might be laughing at me right now 🙂
    • …You want practical warmth as well as maximum magic and weightlessness. The mohair in this yarn combo gives other practical benefits, too. (I wrote a newsletter issue about this.)

    Use different yarns if:

    • …You’re allergic to mohair. Mohair and love knots have a special affinity. Both add a weightless magical something. One way to get a mohair effect is with a brushed synthetic yarn. Other natural fibers can also add a halo. Angora is an obvious example. Halo is a laceweight brushed baby alpaca yarn.
    • …You’ve stashed some skinny yarns and bling threads that are difficult to crochet with by themselves. Electra can be a great stashbuster project for these. See this blog post about fun with double stranding.
    • …You want more of a casual daytime layer. Use thicker yarns – two strands held together, or singly. Maybe you want more of a boho artsy look. Try artisan space-dyed torn silk ribbon yarns, or irregular hand spun textures.

    Q: I’m confused about the Electra Wrap love knot pattern in the magazine. Can you help me with that?

    A. If you have the 2013 magazine version of the pattern and need help with it:

    1. Contact the magazine. The company has pattern support staff for their patterns. They also have a forum called Crochet me.
    2. Ask a question any time in Vashti’s Crochet Lounge – lots of friendly, helpful crocheters there. It’s a Ravelry group. Chances are good that your question has already been answered there. Interweave Crochet magazine fans also have a Ravelry group.
    3. I urge you to buy & download my expanded 2014 edition of this Electra Wrap love knot pattern from the DesigningVashti shop, or my Ravelry shop. It has a stitch diagram, how-to photos, and other details that help students in my love knot classes.

    A stitch diagram is essential for this design. Due to space limitations of printed magazines, the 2013 Electra pattern version is missing a stitch diagram and other helpful info. A stitch diagram reveals how simple the construction really is. It breaks the spell (those multiple visual illusions I’ve described above).

    Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter where I announce discount codes for new patterns and yarns. Get your feet wet with my three-part series on Love Knot basics and tweaks. (Link goes to the third in the series, and links to the first two are at the top of the entry.)

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    • October 23rd, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    More on Double Strand Crocheting


    Still quite inspired by the whole double strand crocheting topic.

    It’s way too big for a measly newsletter issue! Double strand crocheting is a whole world of fun. It tames wild yarn textures. It welcomes glitzy bling threads. It speeds up big projects, recycles yarn scraps, and adds warmth to winter accessories. All this, plus it comes with its own specialized gadgets and filaments. You can get exotic reeling stands to manage multiple threads. Reflective filaments can turn a crocheted beanie into nighttime safety garb.

    If you’re just coming in on this topic, be sure to also see the newsletter issue that launched it, “Fun With Double Stranding.” Then see the gallery of overflow images I blogged here yesterday.

    In the past 24 hours I created a new Pinterest board.

    I’m so glad I did. It already has 55 pins! (I’m holding myself back from pinning everything I see.) Visit it here: “Double Strand Crochet.” Also, here are a few more images I found today in my hard drive. They would have been included in yesterday’s overflow gallery:

    It’s really the perfect way to do lots of timely things:

    1. Double stranding says, “I’m ready for the fall crochet season!” Hats and scarves are instantly thicker and warmer.
    2. I’m thinking multi-strand slip stitch crochet could be pretty interesting.
    3. My old yarn stash is too big. As mentioned in the newsletter, tinting and “upcycling” a plain yarn with a fancy one is a creative way to make old stash new again. Crocheting two or more strands of yarn together is a classic way to use up scrap yarns.
    4. Double strand crocheting is perfect for winter holiday BLING! I can’t imagine an easier way to throw in all kinds sparkle. Some of the fanciest yarns are designed to be carry along threads. They may be unpleasant to crochet with by themselves, but dreamy to crochet along with another yarn.

     It makes sense that double strand crocheting is lighting up my weekend, now that I think about it.

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    • October 4th, 2014 by Vashti Braha

    Double Strand Crochet: Oh, The Overflow


    I found too many double strand crochet images to show in issue #63 of my newsletter!

    The topic is crocheting with two (or more) strands of yarn held together. Here’s a gallery of my double strand crochet projects and designs over the years:

    Please leave a comment, I love comments! Especially as I tinker with new upgrades to this blog.

    To scroll through more recent posts, click here: Quickposts.

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    • October 3rd, 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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