Launching My Crochet for WEBS: The Designer in Residence Experience

Logo DiRWEBS, America’s Yarn Store. WEBS, my Yarn Store. They opened wide their doors and their hearts to me and I stumbled in. Kid in a candy store, only I emerge not with a face smeared with chocolate and pockets crammed with Jelly Babies, but with an entire catalog of WEBS Valley Yarns to feed my crochet design engine. I can only assume/hope that Kathy Elkins and Sara Delaney (WEBS owner and marketing coordinator, respectively) know what they’re doing, inviting me to serve as their crochet designer-in-residence for 2015. Although they are majorly supportive of crochet, appreciative of my work, and tell me anything goes, I fully understand that this means anything within reason.

Spoiled for yarn choice and reeling from the responsibility, I have no idea what this year’s six designs will bring, except for #1, obviously, because it is launching right now. New this season to the Valley Yarns Superwash family, Superwash Bulky lends itself perfectly to a super-exploded lace stole with a shawl collar.

Shawl Collar Stole back Shawl Collar Stole front

I forget who first described it as meltingly soft. Anyone who has wrapped this baby around the shoulders does not want to take it off. Truth be told, I enjoyed the lush softness of the piece while I was creating the sample; this from a crocheter who has allergies, among them wool. Thick yarn, big hook, zero finishing, quick work, nearly instant gratification. The pattern is available as a printed copy or digital download here. Sara has already blogged about the launch, the program and leaked my answers to a few designer questions on the WEBS blog here.

What comes next depends mostly on how the yarns speak to me. I will definitely be playing with two Valley yarns I have come to know and love: Goshen, my go-to non-wool worsted weight favorite, and Charlemont, a sock weight beauty.

Doris Chan DiR FebruaryIf you have any thoughts about how I should fill in those question marks, I’d enjoy hearing about them and might even pay attention. Visit the Valley Yarns pages at WEBS to peruse the materials I have at my disposal, and let me know if there’s something specific (within reason!) you’d like to see in crochet design by leaving a reply to this blog. And please follow here as my year-long Designer in Residence adventure unfolds.

Crochet Curmudgeon Revealed

It isn’t often that I am interviewed.  Since becoming a professional crochet designer I’ve been grilled by the best, asked the most penetrating and difficult questions, and have answered as honestly and sincerely as possible.  Most interviews focus on my craft and the crochet techniques I champion. Some are just great opportunities to brag on… I mean, promote… my books, current published designs and whatever I’m working on at the time.  All of them take the form of Q&A, where they send me a list of questions and I send back my answers, and for the most part my words are presented as written, perhaps edited for length.  Don’t blame them.  I do tend to ramble on.

But I worry.  I often worry that something I say could be taken out of context and misunderstood.  I really worry that instead of presenting myself as a competent, innovative but quirky crochet designer I come off sounding like a total geeky, odd-ball curmudgeon (which I am, but who needs to know that?). It’s the rare interview where the questions are put to me in such a way that both personalities are revealed, and published in such a way that I am not embarrassed to let people read it.

VY14_1 23.inddWEBS Summer 2014 Catalog

This brings me to the most recent Q&A I did for WEBS, America’s Yarn Store, for the feature in the Summer 2014 catalog, WEBS <3 Doris Chan.  I love them back, too!  My only tiny and in no way critical issue with the interview is the altered interpretation of that list in the right-hand sidebar.  In the original Q&A, I was asked to list My Five Favorite Things.  If the question had been what are my five must-haves (as published), I would have curbed my normal impulses and limited the list to crochet/craft related objects of desire. But no. Instead I allowed a couple of my geekiest and gooey-sticky-soft-centered answers to sneak onto the page.

Tardis T

So, although I love this interview and deeply appreciate WEBS, Kathy Elkins and Sara Delaney for allowing me the honor, you can understand my wanting to correct the impression that I am a total EEEDIOT.  Yes, baby animals are my favorite things.  I will fall apart playing with a litter of puppies or baby bunnies.  But are they MUST-HAVES?  I don’t actually have any baby animals here at the moment.  Besides, you get them, you feed them, they grow.  You no longer have baby animals, you have monster animals.  Just saying.

I have never been to the WEBS ginormous warehouse of a store in Northampton, Massachusetts.  It’s about time, don’tcha think?  So on my way back from the CGOA 2014 Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire I plan to make the short side trip and visit WEBS for the first time.  If you’re in the area and want to see my face light up with joy and yarn-overload, please come, Monday 28 July, late morning, if I get my butt in gear and leave the conference venue early enough.