Posted on Leave a comment

Holiday Crochet Project Habits

This blog post is part of today’s newsletter issue #96. That issue has a storewide 25% off coupon code in it as a thank you to my subscribers. Look for it in your inbox later today. Also check your spam folder because this is a high-volume week for email. (Not a subscriber? It’s not too late.)

The clean, bold holiday template I used for issue #96 limits how I want to write, so here’s the rest of the story. This year I look at my holiday crochet project habits over the years. (By “holidays” I mean from Thanksgiving in the USA to New Years Day.)

Holiday Crochet Project Types

It turns out I look for about eight kinds of holiday crochet projects! Sounds like a lot but they usually overlap. I wonder if you are the same way? I’ve compressed my list into three in no special order.

Feel the Peace of the Season

Relaxing & rejuvenating holiday crochet projects of Decembers past (2011-2017)
Image #1. View full size.

Crochet is my go-to to relax and recharge, and it has been ever since I was nine years old. (When I learned how to do Transcendental Meditation, my first thought was, “This is like crocheting.”)

The crochet that replenishes me during the holidays is an instinctive thing and unique to each year. I loved looking back at these!

Clockwise from top left of image #1:

  • Big Hook Bucket of 2016 (I made three). Seeing it daily in my studio makes me happy.
  • Luckyslip Mitts of 2013: I just kept making ’em in all kinds of yarns, sizes, and stitch accents.
  • Antoinette Sparklescarf of 2011: The one shown is made with the same breathtaking yarn that inspired Starwirbel later. I made about ten and turned some into reusable gift wrapping ribbon.
  • Solstice Bangles of 2017. I really needed a lot of gem-like bling last year. Each was a tiny retreat: I got totally immersed for short moments because the materials were tricky, but each bangle was quick to complete.
  • Bling Bam Bangles of 2014: Took me by surprise. I wondered what it would be like to crochet Lotus yarn with a strand of sequined thread and I couldn’t stop. Very simple. A mindless, familiar rhythm.

Last-Minute Gift Making

I’m easily inspired by great new gift ideas to crochet, but I typically don’t have a sense of occasion until the last minute. (Fortunately crocheting smaller items is fun. They often become new designs instead of gifts though.) I greatly admire event planners and others who can plan ahead well, like those who have crochet gift lists they work through months ahead.

Last minute gift crocheting puts a burden on a crochet pattern to be easy to understand, and to call for no-fuss materials. It’s sort of like freelance crocheting for magazines in the sense that it’s tight deadline crochet.

If the item is a crowd pleaser, then it’s production crochet territory. Ideally the pattern is easy to memorize for make multiple items from it, efficiently (and still be fun).

Niche Crochet Gifts

Crochet patterns for niche gifts: no-fuss materials, easy pleasers.
Image #2, Niche Gifts. View full size.

Niche items are about specialized appeal and could be the perfect thing for someone. I focused on some in the newsletter: men, boys, teens, tweens, teachers, and mothers-in-law. These are the patterns shown clockwise from top left of image #2:

  • Expedient Cowl: Has trend appeal for teens and 20-somethings, including as a skirt! What makes it fast and easy enough is the super-bulky yarn, big hook size, and simple stitches.
  • Aran Rozsana cuff: Folk-boho jewelry trend. A mood boost to crochet with fingering or sport yarns and embroidery flosses because of the colors. Mostly single crochet (UK/AUS: dc).
  • Petticoat Cozy: Just a token gift item. It’s the double layer of lace that appeals to people. Same yarns as Aran Rozsana.
  • Frostyflakes: A really popular pattern and addictive to crochet! It has special appeal to women over 30. Use any yarn; I even made a bookmark with size 20 thread.
  • Gallon Friend: This curio is very niche. Make them for grade school and ESL school teachers, children, and for home cooks. I’ve always wanted to try a keychain size in thread!
  • Lucky Twist Mitts: One of the patterns that comes to mind for men. Has sizing for both sexes, same with Luckyslip Mitts.
  • Slip Slope: The scarf is a crowd pleaser and Google Trends tells me the boot cuffs are still trending high for younger folks! Also see the Lucky Twist Boot Cuff pattern in Ravelry.
  • Burly (center) and Burly Bias: The basic Burly scarf for men and boys, and the niche diagonal Tunisian necktie for the man who has everything. I love making the ice creamy one and like how it settles on my shoulders and frames my face.

Crochet Gifts for Mothers-in-Law

Seems oddly specific, doesn’t it? I’m surprised by the number of times someone has told me they used one of my patterns, or took one of my classes, specifically so that they could make the item for their mother-in-law. (My own mother-in-law wanted a white angora hat to keep her ears warm.) The mother-in-law patterns:

Hostess Gifts

Some Decembers I go to so many parties. A pile of small crocheted gifts on hand would be great. Maybe a sack or decoration for a wine bottle, to decorate the lid of fresh-spiced nuts, etc.

Last year I had extra Solstice Bangles to toss onto a wine bottle neck—so festive! And the hostess ends up with new bangles.

Trend-Inspired

I checked on this season’s knitwear trends and this is what I found:

  • Creative use of fringe remains a strong fashion trend. My first thought is the Starpath Scarf because at this time of year it’s easy to set it down and remember what you were doing when you get back to it. Also, no ends to weave in, no matter how many colors you use.
  • Giant yarns, stitches, and accessories. Burly and the Expedient Cowl in super-bulky yarn (see Image #2 above) are tame compared to what’s on the runway. A Q-Star Coverlet in bulky yarn would be a lavish winter blanket! Or rug/bath mat?
  • Asymmetry, and diagonal/multidirectional seams and surface grain. Hello, Burly Bias (see above).

Go Luxe!

Splurge-worthy for 2018: Doris Chan patterns, Vashti's investment patterns, yarns, hooks, and the new Delicate Crochet book
Image #3, Splurge-worthy. View full size.

The holidays is when I splurge and reinvest in my craft. I hope you also treat yourself or another crocheter. Beyond shopping and spending, to me it’s about using this time to crochet with my fanciest yarn stash and maybe break in some new crochet hooks.

Other years it has been about bling. This year I’m feeling very angora-luxe. I’ve been hoarding angora yarn for too long.

If someone asked me what they should get from my shop and money was no object for them (or they want to make the most of the coupon code in the newsletter), these come to my mind in no special order:

I wish for you the experience I aim to have with my 2018 holiday crochet projects: peace, cheer, inspiration, and warmth inside and out.

Posted on Leave a comment

Stitch Pattern Spin-Offs from Eilanner

A "spin-off" stitch pattern from Eilanner design, here tested in tencel thread and draped on a mannequin
This is the gauge swatch from the new Eilanner Shawl pattern, but I used tencel thread and a giant hook for kicks. So airy! It inspired me to try draping it on a mannequin different ways. View full size.

 

I released a new Tunisian crochet pattern the other day. There’s a lot going on in it! I think of the design as containing modules of mini-patterns. Some of them hint at new stitch patterns.

Seeds of New Stitch Patterns

Often if you change one thing about a stitch pattern you can get a whole new effect that’s cool enough to count as a new stitch pattern. (This would be a good newsletter issue, come to think of it…) Here are some I swatched while Eilanner was being edited, and the things I changed to generate them. I posted them to Instagram.

Change the Yarn and/or Gauge

An obvious way to get a new effect with a stitch pattern is to use a dramatically different crochet hook size, or yarn thickness/fiber type, or all of these (as in that first image above). Super summery look! Reminds me of tall grasses.

There’s something else going on with it too: it’s really just a gauge swatch pattern. The skill level for Eilanner is Experienced. Getting the exact gauge is not important for the pattern but I thought it would help some crocheters to focus on just the main stitch pattern without the fancy edging at both row ends and the constant increasing.

Know what else started out as “just a gauge swatch”? Fish Lips Scarf-to-Shrug!

By the way, if you’re interested in Eilanner but worry it’s too challenging, work up to it with its predecessors. Shakti is like “Eilanner 101” and Islander is “Eilanner 102”. (I named Eilanner after Islander.)

Repeat a Special Stitch Group All Over

Another way to do a stitch pattern spin-off is take a stitch group and repeat that. Here’s Eilanner’s “tattoo flower” eyelet group repeated as an all-over motif.

This right here is a fraction of the possible new stitch patterns to generate this way! For example, the eyelets could be grouped differently, or stacked in columns instead of spread out in an alternating way. Moving eyelets around is an art form in itself.

I haven’t even tried sprinkling in stitch texture contrasts. Have a look at what happened when I added a similar stitch texture: love knots!

I woke up this morning with another idea for a stitch pattern that will probably show up in Instagram once I swatch it up. (The way Instagram displays images helps me contemplate designs.)

Isolate One Key Stitch

Not every stitch pattern has a key stitch to isolate. Eilanner does, though: the shallow-extended stitch I blogged about last week. The swatch below is pretty rustic and it’s not easy to see what is different about the stitch, but have a look.

It’s kind of loose so that I can see what the stitch texture is doing. I chose Icelandic wool for this because I love that the shallow-extended stitch is like a reversible and non-curling version of Tunisian Knit stitch.

If you like seeing my experimental swatches, follow me in Instagram where I tend to post them first. And please tell me what you like or don’t about them! It inspires designs and class topics.

Posted on Leave a comment

V-O-T-E Early and Often with Crochet

Crocheted letters V-O-T-E against sunrise-colored crochet background
View the image above full size.

Last week I used a new Tunisian crochet stitch to swatch up a few letters of the alphabet. You can see four of the letters above. (The background is something I crocheted for the kitchen years ago.) Just look at what I can spell! I also made an ‘L’ to spell LOVE. I’ll explain how to do the cool Tunisian stitch below.

Eight-Color Poster

Tunisian crochet letters spell V-O-T-E against a rainbow aran crochet background.
It came out to approx. 12″ x 14″. View full size in Ravelry.

I’m working on a newsletter issue (#95!) about COLOR. It gave me the idea to crochet a “poster” background for the letters using as many of my Lotus yarn colors as possible.

Does the stitch pattern of the background look familiar? Maybe not—it’s rarely done with color changes. (Not sure I’ve ever seen it in more than one color. I think it’s traditionally thought of as an Aran crochet texture in off-white wool.)

I used this stitch pattern for the Chainmaille scarf, in just one color. The shiny alpaca-tencel yarn gives it a very different look!

Chainmaille: Free for October

Add the Chainmaille pattern to your cart then use the code free-poster-stitch.

For the poster, just use four pattern repeats of the Chainmaille scarf. For the flatter middle section where the letters go, I did the [ch 1, skip next ch-space, sc] part of the stitch pattern across each row for about 18 rows, then resumed the Chainmaille pattern again. Use a shallow single crochet instead of a regular single crochet if you know how. (Keeps the background a bit denser.)

 The Tunisian Stitch I’m Excited About!

I don’t know what else to call it but a shallow extended knit stitch.

First you must do a row of Tunisian Extended Stitch (ExtTSS or as I much prefer to call it, TES). It’s how you crochet the next row into them that turns them into shallow extended knit stitches.

For the alphabet letters I did just one row of TES into the foundation chains: skip the chain nearest your hook, insert your hook under the bump loop of the next chain, yarn over and pull up loop; at this point you’d leave it on your hook for a TSS. Chain 1 and it becomes a TES. To continue, [insert hook under the bump loop of the next chain, yarn over and pull up loop, chain 1] in each remaining chain of the row.

Standard return pass: chain 1, then [yarn over and pull through next two loops on hook] until one loop remains on the hook.

Have a look at your TES row. Compare them to TSS. The chain-1 you added to each TSS doubles its height and adds a horizontal loop on the back of the stitch. See it? See how it resembles the horizontal loop on the back of a single crochet stitch? (See this blog post about that “third loop”.)

Close up of how to crochet a shallow Tunisian extended knit stitch.
This is the front of an extended Tunisian stitch. (This one is an extended knit stitch: a TEKS.) If your hook went where the red arrow points—between the front and back vertical bars—you’d make a TEKS. Insert the hook where the yellow arrow points and it becomes a SHALLOW TEKS.

To do a row of shallow extended knit stitch: chain 1 to begin the row (count as first stitch), *insert hook knitwise (between the front and back vertical bars) and under the lower horizontal “bump” loop (as seen on the back) of the next stitch, yarn over and pull up a loop, chain 1. Repeat from * in each remaining stitch of the row.

Return pass is the same.

As with all occasions when you’re crocheting shallow stitches, the looser your gauge is, the easier it is to pick up speed crocheting them.

Posted on Leave a comment

First Look: Yveline, a Tunisian Wrap

Photos by Daniel Shanken
All Images © 2018.  Photographer: Daniel Shanken for Stackpole Books. View hi-res.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing some sneak peeks! You’re looking at Tunisian crochet eyelets on the diagonal, frilled ? with love knots ?. I used our Lotus yarn in these colors: Carbonite, Pearly Pearl, Satin Grey, and Lustrous Tan.

Yveline is one of two new crochet patterns I contributed to a forthcoming book. It’s called Delicate Crochet: 23 Light and Pretty Designs for Shawls, Tops and More by Sharon Hernes Silverman. The book’s official publication date is December 1, but look for it as early as October. 

Yveline Goes to Class

I’ll be traveling with Yveline to the CGOA crochet conference in Portland OR next month because she wants to meet everyone who is taking the Tunisian Crochet on the Diagonal class AND 21st Century Love Knot Adventures.

If you’re going to the conference and you took one of my earlier Tunisian lace classes, Yveline will want to meet you too. I brought swatches to those earlier classes that have since come of age in the form of the lovely Yveline.

Her Story

First, the name. It started out “Lean In” because that’s what I called the early swatches. It fascinated me how much some Tunisian stitches liked to lean with a little encouragement. Not just how much, but the kind of movement; sometimes it’s like Tunisian lace stitches have hinges or ball joints.

When it came time for a grown up name, I was in a dual swoon from binge-watching the Versailles series while adding the love knot frills! I looked for names associated with Versailles and learned that the city is located in a département called Yvelines.

About Those Love Knots

Wallet-sized beige cashmere bag of Tunisian crochet, embellished with double ruffles, woven with grey satin ribbons.
A small bag I designed 9 years ago inspired the ruffle idea. Image missing? View it here.

I’m still swooning a bit from using love knots for surface embellishment. I haven’t seen anyone else do this and it’s just the kind of odd new thing I like to try each time I teach 21st Century Love Knot Adventures. (I mean, look at what I called the class.)

It did take several swatches. Remember last year when I did a newsletter on ruffles? It was shortly after I shipped Yveline to Sharon, the book author. I’d been swatching and meditating on the essence of a crocheted ruffle for a few months.

The Tunisian eyelet fabric is so airy and “flexy” (another name I gave to the early swatches) that most of the ruffles I tried were too heavy. I love how airy the love knot frills are! Love!

About the Ruffle Idea

The urge to frill has a story too. Years ago I crocheted the cutest little bag. It’s Tunisian simple stitch with ruffles surface-crocheted on it.

So that’s my Delicate Crochet story of Yveline. I have a very different story coming up about the other design I did for the book!

Posted on Leave a comment

Starwirbel Class Resources

Crochet class image for Starwirbel webby veil-like star stitch lace
Updated on 7/18/18View full size Starwirbel images. This is a conveniently clickable group of things I mention in The Starwirbel Way: Lacy Star Stitches classes. I teach the next one on July 26, 2018 in Portland OR. See student feedbackI show a lots of published and unpublished star stitch designs in this class and try new things with the stitch for each class! Each illustrates the stitches and techniques learned.   — Vashti Braha

 

Thinking of signing up for this class? I wrote this post for you.

Crochet Patterns & Crochet Alongs

Recommended Issues of Vashti’s Crochet Inspirations Newsletter

Starwirbel Class, Blogged

Inspiration Boards for this Class

  • Star Stitch Crocheting (Featured by Pinterest: “We think your board is amazing, and it really demonstrates what Pinterest is all about!”)
  • My Star Stitches Flickr album since 2013. Note that newer images display last (chronologically), the default in Flickr. Almost 600 images so far.

Any Books on Star Stitch Crochet?

Yes! Learn Star Stitch Crochet by Jenny King (2014, Annie’s)