Kolika Crochet Workshop

Many years ago a friend brought me back a souvenir from a trip to Hawaii.  I expected to receive a flowered shirt, or a lei, maybe a bag of Kona coffee…. or (fingers crossed!) a box of chocolate covered Macadamias.  Nope.  I was presented with a small envelope.  Inside was a rectangular patch embroidered with my name.  Now, in the Hawaiian language, the sounds for “d”, “r” and “s” do not exist.   So the closest approximation for my name is “Kolika”, which is so exotic and falls so prettily from the tongue, huh?  “Doris” is your crabby great-aunt; “Kolika” is a winsome, bewitching hula girl. :-)

Funny, I hadn’t thought about Kolika in such a long time.  But last month, when my Interweave show producer, Anne Merrow, asked me to name the exclusive sweater design for my Top Down Seamless Crochet Workshop, that lyrical little word just popped into my head, and Kolika it became.

DVD Cover

Doris on set

I had the best time shooting this workshop, but have been dreading the release of the DVD. Holy Crap, do I really look like THAT??!!!!  It is so embarrassing to view videos of yourself, isn’t it?  Seeing yourself as others see you is a major source of cognitive dissonance; the image is somehow wrong. I imagine that’s because you are so familiar with your face in the mirror, backwards from the way the rest of the world sees you.  Plus, the stylist gave me wavy hair, eyeshadow and mascara. Let’s just say that this face is more Kolika than Doris.  Here’s a preview of the video.  YIKES!  I can’t seem to stand still.  TIme to switch to decaf, huh?

Never mind. I’m going to be the only one who does not recognize the person in this DVD workshop. Otherwise, I am thrilled with the results. Top Down Seamless Crochet is a brilliant presentation of techniques, demonstrations and tips for making a Kolika that fits you. Here are some random images from the shoot:

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You can get the workshop as a DVD or as a download from the Interweave Store.  Enjoy!

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Filet Scarf and Stole: Cookie’s Last Dance

It is with enormous pleasure that I offer the adorable filet crochet that I created in remembrance of my dog (see previous post Cookie’s Last Dance). In DJC: Cookie’s Last Dance, Cookie the Chihuahua spins merrily in anticipation of his supper, up and down the length of a scarf and around and around the panels of a stole.  Even for those who don’t give a toss about Chihuahuas or have never contemplated working in filet crochet, there’s plenty of content in this file to help you add to your skills.  Along with the instructions for a scarf and a stole, the pattern holds many extras, including an overview of filet crochet, extensive filet charts for single and double width Cookies, step by step technique tutorials and suggestions for yarn substitution.

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Not to burden the pattern with too many image files, I prepared a separate photo tutorial for two special techniques that I think will make your project dance better: Foundation Double Crochet and Beginning Extended Double Crochet.  Although the swatches and stitches in the images are taken from this specific design, the information may prove useful for all.  So if you purchase the pattern and need to see the stitches up close, or if you are interested in these techniques, please view this new tutorial page.

So I’m a sentimental idiot; I can’t yet wear my scarf or stole without getting… sort of… verklemmt.  I did love creating and crocheting these samples.  Even the pattern writing was less the usual nuisance, and more therapeutic than I had imagined it would be.  I believe I am ready to let go of them both, the filet design and the tiny, twirling terror that inspired it.  DJC: Cookie’s Last Dance is available for download for $3.99.  Please visit the design page at  DesigningVashti.com for complete information about the pattern and purchasing.  Enjoy!

One last note.  A wonderful, talented and crazy friend crocheted this and sent it to me along with her best wishes.  I hesitate to share it with you because I do not wish to be inundated by requests for the pattern.  I DO NOT HAVE THE PATTERN.  But he is so cute and even has a blanket, as suggested by her daughter as a necessary accoutrement for a heat-seeking Chihuahua.  Awww, he even has a little collar and dog tag.  “C” is for Cookie. :-)

Haley's  Cookie

Gifting Crocheters: Win Clever Crocheted Accessories

A woman of my word, I am keeping to my policy, actually more of a guideline, of not burying the lead.  At the end of this post you will discover how you can enter to win a copy of the new book, Clever Crocheted Accessories: 25 Quick Weekend Projects (Interweave Press, 27 November 2012) edited by Brett Bara. Now back to fluff.

There’s something about Christmas that brings out the best (and occasionally the worst) in people. Crocheters who participate in the yearly hand-made gift crunch can become heroes on Christmas morning. We can also turn into zombies. The two outcomes are not mutually exclusive. I truly enjoy the holidays and over the years, during those few brief lucid moments before the onset of total brain death, I have written about it ( see Crochet Marathoning). I have also offered a cute little Mini Stocking pattern. For civilians (non-crocheters), figuring out what sort of holiday gifts would be appreciated and cherished by crocheters can be a daunting endeavor.  In the past I have written some helpful hints (see 2008, 2010) and even shared a recipe for smelly ornaments. This year I have an idea that will cover all this ground.Released today, the new book from my crafty friend Brett Bara makes a brilliant gift for yourself if you are a crocheter… or for a civilian to give to a crocheter who enjoys crocheting gifts to give to you.  Too meta?  Brett is one of those editors who is real good at herding cats, a skill that served her well in gathering the rock star designers who contributed to this pattern collection. From the first project, Saturday Beret (on the book cover), designed by Ellen Gormley, to the last, my own Chunky Capelet (in super-fast broomstick technique), Clever Crocheted Accessories is a happy guide to making quick work of your gift list. I’m going to have to refer to Ellen as my bookend friend from now on.  :-)

Click here for a look inside the book, or see this slideshow of just some of the designs, please to maintain composure and resist drooling.

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You’ll find Clever Crocheted Accessories at bookstores and yarn shops, or you can order from Amazon and from Interweave Press.  Thanks to Brett and Interweave Press you can also enter to win a copy right here right now. Leave a comment to this post below and I’ll choose a winner at noon EST on Friday, 30 November. Please keep your replies brief.  Sucking up to me will not help your chances at all.  Happy happy joy joy to all and best of luck.

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 DesigningVashti.com.

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!