Convertible Crochet Winner

From the intrepid crochet fans who have already sunken their hooks into the Convertible Crochet toy box, I am hearing that the most intriguing design for many is Andromeda, in particular the Andromeda Peplum Vest.  Full marks to my Potter Craft editors for choosing that duo of Andromeda samples for the book cover. Did they know this project would be attractive to crocheters so they put it on the cover, or is Andromeda compelling to crocheters because it is on the cover? Chicken or egg?

Andromeda Peplum Vest

Andromeda Peplum Vest

This tealy blue version is a prototype crocheted in Spud & Chloe Fine, #7805  Anemone, a fingering weight blend of wool and silk, and will be the sample for modeling at TNNA Columbus during my book signing. Invariably my fans want to know how long it takes me to make one of these. The ballpark average yardage required in sock/fingering weight yarn is 900 yards, and a crocheter can comfortably work, what, at least 50 yards an hour. So I’m going to say 18 hours; it could take you a week of on again, off again hooking.

But let’s say you’re not ready to dive into complex motif construction, or you only have one nice hank of sock weight yarn (around 230 yards) on hand and you really want to get going with something. For a smaller commitment in time and yarn, and a less strenuous introduction to the Convertible Crochet ‘verse, may I suggest Corsair.

Corsair Collar

Corsair Collar

This pretty little collar is made with one hank of Spud & Chloe Fine and contains a couple of the keys to the ‘verse, featuring the gently expanding Corsair stitch pattern and the header-string-button triumvirate that creates the convertible magic. With just a few more yards of sport weight silk, I did this alternate version which has a more fluid drape and a gorgeous sheen.

Bruna Corsair silk 1

May I introduce Bruna, my newly found muse and DJC Designs signature model.  Her exotic face and curvy figure will be gracing the pages of my self-published designs to come.  She’s a twenty-something student, originally from Brazil, and she’s rapidly picking up this whole posing in crochet thing (not as easy a job as you might think). Here’s Bruna in the rib-tickler, teeny fit alternate sample of Callisto.Bruna Callisto 1

No, I haven’t forgotten the primary reason for this post!  The winner of a copy of Convertible Crochet is Grace Gardiner.  Congratulations to Grace, and thanks to everyone for participating in the drawing.  May fortune guide your journey!

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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!

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!

BACKSTORY: Spiral Crochet

Everybody remember where we parked.

One of many memorable quotes (memorable to me, at least) from the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, that line was delivered to amusing effect by Captain James T. Kirk after landing a captured Klingon scout-class warbird in the middle of Golden Gate Park in 20th century San Francisco. This reminder to the crew made sense in the context of the scene because the ship was cloaked and therefore invisible.  But even when walking away from your perfectly visible vehicle, it’s still a good thing to make note of where you’ve parked.

I can never remember.  I might attribute my lapses in recall to advanced age. But this is one instance I can’t play the “old” card because I have been losing track of the car ever since I learned to drive at seventeen.  You know that feeling, huh?  You emerge from a grocery store with a loaded cart, or from the movies with rowdy kids in tow, or from holiday gift shopping with arms filled with packages.  Your heart stops as you scan the sea of parked vehicles and you can’t find your car.

Only once in my life did I experience the worst case scenario where my vehicle was actually not there, stolen.  That’s another story.  In the back of your mind, especially after you’ve hiked up and down several aisles of the parking lot searching for and not finding your car,  this is a real, nagging possibility.  Most of the time, though, the car is there somewhere.

Way back when cars had sticky-out-y rod antennae, you’d often see funny things stuck to the tops of them to serve as locators.  I tried doing that for a while but annoyingly the stupid Smurf doll wouldn’t stay impaled.

If you don’t mind cruising for prime spaces, you could try parking as close to the front of the building as possible so your car is immediately and easily seen. This works well outside of destinations with only one entrance. But where there are multiple portals, like at the mall, it’s useful to park in the same place every time or within a few spaces in a specific area, someplace less frequented, quiet and therefore usually empty.  That’s why I automatically eschew the main mall entrance and head for an end cap, the door at the back of one of the anchor department stores. All I have to remember is which store, which entrance, and use it every visit.  After years of practice I now do it without thinking.

So every time I go to the mall I find myself winding through the same departments of the same store in order to get to the coffee, without which I cannot contemplate any shopping.  This path takes me through shoes, then menswear, then jewelry, handbags, women’s fashions and finally the scary, shiny cosmetics counters before I see the light from the mall. I routinely fly past everything, but once in a while something catches my eye and it’s always a garment display.

What captures my attention isn’t the garment itself, not the beauty or lack of it, not the style or even the color. I am drawn to fabric, the drape, pattern and textures of materials, knitwear, knits that mimic crochet and of course crocheted pieces. I see it all in terms of stitchwork and spend inordinate amounts of time dissecting the fabric and putting it in terms of crochet stitches and filing it away in my brain for inspiration later.

People who have the misfortune of accompanying me on these shopping forays get terribly disgusted with me. At first they might wait for me while I examine the enticing fabrics more closely, even when they can’t imagine why I’d be looking at those particular items. But after frequent long stops they generally abandon me and cover the retreat with “Hey, meet you at Starbucks later!”. This is why I go to the mall alone.

The point is, I see crochet stitch patterns everywhere, even where there’s no crochet to be seen. By stitch pattern I mean a set or combination of crochet stitches that have a cohesiveness or form an image, a discrete piece or parcel of crochet. We call that parcel a stitch pattern repeat, because that’s what gets repeated across a row and up the rows to form crocheted fabric. I encounter and experiment with many stitch patterns, but few can be counted in a rarefied group that has become my comfort zone.

And that’s where crocheted spirals live, in my stitch pattern comfort zone.  I am so familiar with the look of spirals, how they are made, and how they can be shaped and manipulated to get the desired results, that designing with them is really fun. Over the years I have used variations on spiral stitch patterns in several designs. With the release of the latest booklet in my self-published pattern line I think I’ve finally been able to get spirals out of my system and onto the page.

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So I present DJC: Spirals, a collection of seamless tops that puts spiral construction in your hands.  This top may resemble one of my old designs published in a now out-of-print magazine, but it’s so much more than a mere reclaiming and re-print of Sophisticated Swirls from 2006. With new, detailed written instructions, tips and techniques, options for body and sleeve lengths, a tutorial about interior shaping, stitch diagrams, fresh samples in current yarns, and extended sizing that covers XS through 4X with 12 sizes, DJC: Spirals is a master class.

DJC: Spirals is a 29 page pdf download, available for purchase at DesigningVashti.com.  I hope you will enjoy this pattern as much as I truly needed to write it.  🙂