CGOA Design Competition: Going Pro

Whether you’re an entrant ready to go pro… or so not interested… the annual CGOA Design Competition is for many the gateway to publication.  Let me be clear.  The competition is open to all members, amateur hobbyists and professional designers alike; the event is about celebrating creativity and excellence in crochet, and not about publication. It is a fact that we don’t require written patterns. However, when such a collection of outstanding crochet goes on display at our event and on-line, certain entries are bound to catch the attention of magazine editors hungry for fresh meat… uh, great designs. The prize winners in the Fashions and Accessories categories are the particular targets, with some designs getting sold and snatched right off the exhibit.

So, if you are a professional designer, or hope to become one, or think that you kinda sorta might be able to write a pattern (especially since they’re paying you!), you could find yourself among the ranks of our past winners who have gone on to further fame and glory: publication.  Here’s a look at some of our 2012 crossover hits.

Designed by Tammy Hildebrand, her Mystique top, 2012 First Prize winner in the Fashion category, morphed into the published design, Bloomsbury, featured on the cover of Interweave Crochet, Spring 2013.

65 MystiqueTammy HildebrandIWCSpring13Bloomsbury Top

Designed by Jennifer Ryan, the Glendalough Shrug, winner of the 2012 second prize in the Fashion category, got a makeover to become Kerry, as seen in the Spring 2013 issue of Crochet! Magazine.

49 Glendalough ShrugJennifer RyanKerry Shrug

Designed by Kathryn White, winner of the 2012 first prize in the Accessories category, Knots of Love shawl became Love is a Rose, featured on the cover of Interweave Crochet Summer 2013.

29 Knots of LoveIWCSummer13Love is a RoseLove is a Rose detail

Designed by Linda Dean, Vineyard at Dawn, winner of the 2012 second prize in the Accessories category, appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Crochet! Magazine.

44 Vineyard at DawnLinda DeanVineyard at Dawn

Designed by Diana Toni, The Whirlwind, 2012 third prize winner in the category Fanciful Fashion, also graced the pages of the Spring 2013 issue of Crochet! Magazine.

62 WhirlwindDiana ToniWhirlwind

I am now preparing the 2013 Design Competition to be held next week at the CGOA Fall Conference in Charlotte, NC. Winners will be announced here following the official Awards Ceremony, Thursday evening 3 October.  Keep a close eye on the results, and watch for some talented winners and their brilliant designs to pop up in our favorite crochet magazines in the coming seasons.  Best of luck to all!

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CGOA 2013 Design Competiton: Entry Form

Just a short announcement for all Crochet Guild of America members eager to complete their entries to the CGOA 2013 Design Competition. Here is the remaining link in the process, the electronic entry form.

2013 Entry Form

The deadline for entry shipments to arrive at the receiving location is 6 September, 2013.  Please complete and submit the form when you are ready to ship your design.

The CGOA Design Competition is an event like no other, celebrating and rewarding crochet creativity and excellence, offering thousands of dollars in cash prizes for original crochet designs in six judging categories. Many thanks to our magnificent sponsors for 2013:

Gwen Blakely-Kinsler, sponsor for the Founder’s Award.

Boye & the Crochet Dude (Drew Emborsky)

DesigningVashti (Vashti Braha), sponsor for the Technical Merit Award

Interweave Press/Crochet Me

Jenny King Designs

Red Heart Yarns

Tulip Company, makers of Etimo crochet hooks

WEBS, America’s Yarn Store

Karen Whooley/KRW Knitwear sponsor for the People’s Choice Award.

As the producer of the competition since 2010, I am overjoyed to see how the event has developed and continues to attract quality entries from CGOA members across the country as well as internationally.  I look forward to seeing your stuff soon, but ultimately it is our panel of judges that you’ll need to impress: Marcy Smith, Editor at Interweave Crochet Magazine; Bobbie Matela, Creative Director at Coats & Clark; Renee Rodgers, Designer and owner of CrochetRenee Designs.

I hope to meet you at the CGOA 2013 conference in Charlotte/Concord, NC, where we will announce the winners during an awards ceremony on 3 October.  Best of luck!


Rewards for Alternative Crochet

I hope it has not escaped your notice that I occasionally refer to award-winning crochet designer, writer, instructor, blogger and deep-thinker Vashti Braha as “my boss”.  Not that she is in any way bossy.  Quite the opposite, she is as laid back as anyone I know, perhaps due to the languid {outside of hurricane season} sub-tropical climate where she resides.  Maybe it’s something else. I get the impression that she can smile while all hell breaks loose simply because she knows stuff that we don’t.

I teasingly call Vashti the boss because she owns the site Designing Vashti, where she hosts her own patterns as well as my independent pattern line, DJC Designs.  She is technically, then, my landlady, shopkeeper, stockperson, shop accountant, payroll manager and the one sweet voice in my ear who propelled me into self-publishing land.  So OK, she charges me exorbitant fees {not really!} for the privilege of having my designs listed, but it works… works astonishingly well… as a partnership in crochet goodness.

I also hope that her popular Crochet Inspirations Newsletter has not escaped your notice, either.  By free subscription, this gem can arrive in your e-mail inbox every couple or three weeks, the frequency of publication dependent on whether I have been successful at enabling procrastination.  Funny how the disease/sin/vice of procrastination, although not exactly infectious, can easily be encouraged by a few words at the right moment!

Anyway, when she manages to ignore me, Vashti pours out her heart and soul in vibrant full color on the pages of her newsletter.  She delves into the mysteries of crochet techniques, spills about the designing process and generally goes where the rest of us go except she confesses all to YOU, whereas we are mostly too embarrassed to speak up. And she swatches WAY too much. What Vashti has learned and experienced through her incessant uber-swatching could fill… well does fill going on 50 issues of her newsletter.

Her crochet aesthetic and mine co-exist happily at DesigningVashti and also on the pages of magazines and books.  We thought it so funny that our latest Tunisian crochet designs, her Rivuline Shawl and my Shantay Skirt, appear back to back in The New Tunisian Crochet (Interweave Press, February 2013) by our friend Dora Ohrenstein.

Rivuline ShawlShantay Skirt

On one thing we agree completely; Vashti and I strive is to pass along our love and obsession for alternative, mind-expanding crochet techniques, and we put our money where our mouths are. As we have been for 2011 and 2012, DesigningVashti is the proud sponsor of the CGOA 2013 Design Competition prize for Special Technique. (The idea for rewarding technical merit was pioneered in 2010 through a personal grant from KJ Hay, another fellow crochet geek.)  Although it is necessarily Vashti herself who chooses the winner as I am always up to my eyeballs with producing the competition, we both want to see design entries that make us think, “Holy Crap, why didn’t I think of that?”.

It is our hope that the $200 prize for 2013 will encourage design entries using alternative crochet such as Tunisian, Broomstick, Hairpin, plus beading, innovative colorwork, fresh approaches to all types of ethnic, vintage or historic techniques, and in particular, brilliant new directions in which to take our beloved craft. Past special merit prize winners illustrate the glorious and wide-ranging possibilities:

2010, KJ Hay prize for Technical Merit: Rose Infinity Doily designed by Kathryn White

Rose Infinity2011, DesigningVashti prize for Special Technique: Poptastic Purse designed by Janice LonnrothPoptastic Purse2012, DesigningVashti Special Award for Technical Merit: Summer Dreams Bolero designed by Dot Drake

Summer Dreams BoleroAll during March, as the 2013 celebration of National or International Crochet Month continues, it’s a great time to kick your crochet skills up a notch by practicing or tinkering with new crochet stuff.  Vashti and I hope you will be as fascinated by alternative crocheting as we are and that you might be motivated to come to where crochet is spoken, Crochet Guild of America, become a member if you haven’t joined us yet, and watch for information about entering the CGOA 2013 Design Competition. We are on this voyage with you… to explore strange, new worlds… to seek out new crochet forms and new techniques…. to boldly go where no crocheters have gone before.  :-)

Cat’s Out of the Crochet Bag

Here I go, un-burying the lead.  The newly redesigned seamless crochet lace topper I previewed at CGOA Reno is now available. DJC: Cat’s Cradle.v2, my latest self-published pattern, is ready to download from the shop at

Photo courtesy of Jim Lowman and Offinger Management

Now the story.  I produced a highly experimental exhibit at the Knit & Crochet Market show floor during the Crochet Guild of America conference in Reno, NV, September 2012. With the exception of the informational booths for the CGOA and TKGA (The Knitting Guild of America), the market is all about the retail experience, shopping for yarns, tools, books and new crochet/knitting related products. But I had a dream. I wanted there to be a booth where we weren’t selling anything; a showcase where attendees could see and be inspired by the latest in crochet, learn about as well as meet the charming and talented CGOA crochet instructors presenting classes in Reno, and also hang with favorite crochet designers and authors in an open, relaxed setting. With the blessing of the guild, sponsorship from WEBS, America’s Yarn Store, and from Interweave Press, and with a butt load of help from my friends and my co-conspirator Vashti, the Crochet Design Showcase became a reality.

You got a sneak peek of the booth in my previous post about the Star Fleet uniform dress last week.  Here’s another look at the exhibit:On display were samples and materials drawn from the classes of instructors Susan Lowman, Margaret Fisher, Karen Whooley, Kathie Earle, Vashti Braha, Lily Chin (promoting her class and DVD workshop, Mosaic Crochet), Darla Fanton, Joan Davis (with her new self-published book, 336 Crochet Tips!) and Suzann Thompson (displaying her books Crochet Garden and Crochet Bouquet) plus current designs from friends including Andee Graves and a preview of Ellen Gormley’s new book, Learn Bruges Lace and a special display from Laurinda Reddig, her CGOA 2012 Design Competition grand prize winning vest.  There was also chance to see up close my own current published designs, the Rockin Red Dress from the Fall 2012 issue of Interweave Crochet from my last post, and the Pretty Baby skirt from the 2012 Crochet Traditions issue of Piecework magazine.

But the most fun we had in the booth was generated by an on-going event that drew lots of attention and caused a flurry of excitement, the Cat’s Cradle.v2 fitting lab. I lugged 9 crocheted samples of this garment, in every one of the sizes, in alternate yarns and versions, and invited my friends and visitors to the exhibit to try them on for fit.

OK.  So, at first, attendees were not lining up to participate.  It was intimidating, perhaps a bit embarrassing, to be on display in public this way, trying on clothes. I had to accost, snag and otherwise cajole many of the ladies into helping me judge the real-life fit of my samples. But over the course of the three-and-a-half day market I witnessed such joy and pleasure in dozens of women who discovered the wonderful flattery of this design. I got so wrapped up in the experience that I neglected to photograph many of the victims… uh, volunteers.  But here’s a gallery of some of the few fearless ladies I captured:

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If you already have the pattern from the 2007 magazine issue, do you need this?  Uh, YEAH! As I wrote in the preface, “The design is revised for better drape and fit, with a new lovely round contoured neckline, stunning lace stitch pattern, deep full fit through the arms, and a swingy trim. This booklet length pattern offers more sizing and length options than the original, with fresh samples in some of my favorite yarns, detailed and revised instructions, awesome stitch diagrams and expanded sizing that brilliantly covers the range from XS through 4XL, perhaps 5XL.” You will make more than one.  Promise.

A million thousand thanks to all who let me play Barbie dress up with them at the booth in Reno, and two million thousand thanks for giving me permission to take those shots. I swear I wrote down all the names of the intrepid models I photographed (you guys saw me do it, right?), but doubledogdangit if I left the list in Reno.  So much for crochet making you smarter.  If you recognize your lovely face and figure in the mix, let me know and I will add your id to the image.  Or not, if you are just too shy. :-)

CGOA Reno: I’m at WHAT convention?

So this is not the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada????  It’s four hundred miles away in Reno, I’m at a Crochet Guild of America conference, and this is September, not August 2012. But a little space and time shift didn’t bother me any.

Photo courtesy of Vashti Braha

And there’s the perfect argument for Star Fleet having a mandatory retirement age! That’s me, dashing about getting a few things we needed for the CGOA Fashion Show (lint roller in hand!), standing still only momentarily at the Crochet Design Showcase, an experimental booth I launched at the Reno conference. More about the conference in a bit.  As for the dress, it is only faintly recognizable as the Rockin Red Dress, my design published in the current Fall 2012 issue of Interweave Crochet.  In the magazine it is styled this way:

Photo courtesy of Interweave Crochet

Crochet the dress a couple of inches shorter, wear it with black boots, a T-shirt collar and a spiffy replica of Lt. Uhura’s insignia from the Star Trek 2009 reboot film, and, it reverts back to the original inspiration for the design:

Well, yes.  Zoe Saldana’ Uhura is much younger, curvier and hotter than me. And her uniform dress is scandalously short and fitted. But you get the idea.  Even we geeky fan girls can play dress up once in a while.

One to beam up!