Rounding Up the CGOA Posse

May Day!  Au secours ! H-E-L-P!

The CGOA 2016 Chain Link Conference in Charleston, South Carolina is less than two weeks away and I am hoping for a miracle… namely you, the posse.  On the evening of Friday, July 15th, during my induction into the CGOA Jean Leinhauser Crochet Hall of Fame I want forego the same-old same-old powerpoint presentation slide show retrospective of my design career and focus on what really matters. You.  The Posse.  The reason I do what I do.

Toward that end, I am asking… begging… anyone who is planning to attend the conference and the awards night on Friday to please come prepared to participate.  Bring with you or wear anything of my designs that you have crocheted and be ready to share the love on stage. Anytime before the ceremony, please stop by the DesigningVashti market booth #203 and let me know you’re on board for the fun.  For everyone who braves the crowd and stands with me on stage I have a special treat as a thank-you, a new, exclusive DesigningVashti Lotus mini pattern kit.

Bow Tie

Thank you all for your support.  With a lot of help from my friends we shall make it a night to remember.

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New Crochet Toy: Tulip Etimo K Hook

I know, I know. Two posts ago I said I was going to talk about yarn for crochet.  I will get to that, I swear.  Today I am showing off my shiny new toy, and later at the end of this post I will be taking names to win one of your own.

Etimo KMy one and only tiny regret about the original collection of Etimo hooks that I continue to rave about and use exclusively in my crochet, both professionally and for fun, is that the sizes ran out at the J-10 (6mm) size. My friends at Tulip Company musta got tired of hearing me beg, because they went and adjusted their manufacturing in order to produce this beauty, a US size K-10 1/2 (6.5mm) crochet hook, the crowning glory in the Etimo Cushion Grip line.

Let me assure you that I am in no way paid by Tulip to endorse their crochet tools. In fact, nobody could pay me enough to work with hooks that I didn’t totally love. I discovered Etimo hooks at a TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association) trade show in 2009 through the sheer force of will of my boss, Vashti Braha. She had seen this brilliant new line of hooks earlier in the day and insisted that I HAD TO SEE THEM. She dragged me over to the Tulip exhibit as I was not in the mood for browsing new tools, I really wanted to go get some coffee. I always want to go get some coffee. Anyway, she made me play with the sample hooks and yarn that were thoughtfully provided. From the moment I held one in my hand I was, pardon the expression, hooked.

There is no other cushion grip crochet hook like it, and in my opinion none other as fine. I could go on and on about how the hook is supremely comfortable and fits the hand, how it is perfectly balanced in weight and proportion, the exacting quality of the manufacturing. Nothing else I’ve tested even comes close. Now that there’s the K size to fill out the set, I am a totally happy hooker. I had to custom order my first Etimo set straight from the company in Hiroshima, Japan. Since 2009, Tulip Company has secured US distributors for their products, including incredibly smooth bamboo knitting needles, bead and thread crochet hooks, specialty needles and awesome interchangeable hook and needle sets. Today you can find Etimos right on the shelf at your local AC Moore craft store!

Why, you ask, does the Etimo K make me so giddy?  Isn’t a hook that big only used with chunky or bulky weight thick yarn (CYCA category 5)? AH-HA!  Not in my ‘verse.  I routinely match the K with medium and heavy worsted weight yarns (CYCA category 4) in order to lighten up the fabric. Vashti says the K is the key to creating the melting drape of her special sort of slip stitch designs (get Vashti’s free pattern here). For my crochet demonstrations at TNNA in Columbus, Ohio next week I’ll be presenting a unique stitch I call the K-Cluster, worked into a burly scarf with a ribbing-like texture, using the Etimo K and Filatura di Crosa Zara 8, a true worsted weight yarn in wonderfully soft superwash merino wool. Here’s a preview of the scarf pattern I’ll be giving to visitors to the demo:

K-Cluster Scarf

So, who wants one?  To celebrate the launch, I am offering one lucky crocheter a free Etimo K-10 1/2 (6.5mm) hook, compliments of Tulip Company and myself. If you’ve never tested an Etimo hook, then here’s a chance to get one in your hands.  If you’re already a hardcore fan, then this is the hook to complete your collection. Just leave a comment/reply to this post before midnight Eastern Time, Sunday night, 16 June, and I’ll be back with a winner on Monday. Remember, sucking up to me does not increase your chances of winning! 🙂 But you are invited to tell me about your own experiences with Etimo crochet hooks, if you like. Best of luck to all!

Calling Vogue Knitting Live Crocheters

Vogue Knitting Live may have the K word in the title, but don’t be put off.  Although the events, classes and sessions are overwhelmingly tipped toward knitting interests, this is an exciting event for all fiberazzi (lovers of yarn). I expect to see plenty of crochet and crocheters in New York this weekend.

Vogue Knitting magazine, that bastion of high-concept/fantasy fashion knitting, has never given crochet more than a glancing nod. But its publisher, SOHO,  has a special VK issue in the works.  2012 heralds the return of Vogue Crochet, not seen since the legendary 1994 issue.

Vogue Crochet Special Issue, 1994

Yes, that’s a granny square design on the cover.  No, I don’t know what they were thinking.  Certainly there was much more in this issue than meets the eye with the cover image.  The bold text promising “easy” and “basics for beginners” hint that the instructions are targeted to knitters who might want to learn crochet and to other newbies to the craft. But there was plenty of inspiration to be found within for hard-core crocheters.  All I can say is the 2012 reboot should totally rock your hooking senses.

Anyway, I’m inclined to believe that crochet has a definite place at Vogue Knitting Live, and that we and our work will be welcome.  So let’s give them all something to think about.  If you’re coming to the event, please have your most brilliant crochet on display and wear it proudly. As an extra incentive, any fan who shows up at my Potter Craft book signing wearing crochet will get a little gift from me, a free pattern pdf from among my DJC Designs self-published patterns, available exclusively at DesigningVashti.com. Please stop by the Knitty City booth in the marketplace at VKL, from 4 to 5 pm on Saturday, 14 January, show me your crochet and claim your present.  Hope to see you there.

BACKSTORY: Pearl River

I think of my life as a tangled skein of yarn.  For a crocheter or knitter the physical reality of tangled yarn is a bummer. But virtually, as a metaphor for the path of life, the messy ball of yarn image is perfectly apt and no more aggravating than the meandering thoughts of a daydreamer.  The way in which one strand of yarn twists and loops back on itself, meeting, crossing and touching at unpredictable points  and getting distractingly knotted at times… that’s how certain themes in life are connected.

My sense of interconnectedness is not in the same class of consciousness-raising experience as Proust’s taste of tea-infused madeleines or his step on uneven paving stones.  (Be warned: if you tell anyone that I have referenced Remembrance of Things Past in a blog post I will categorically deny it!) And it’s not an ominous warning like Bad Wolf. The ball of yarn thing is casual and completely unintentional.  When some word or name keeps cropping up throughout your life you don’t think much of it at first.  But later you begin to believe there’s something there. Once in your life is incidence.  Twice is coincidence.  Three times?  That could be interpreted as a pattern.

So it is with me and Pearl River.  My dad was born in a farming village on the delta of the Pearl River in Guangdong (Canton) Province, in the southern part of China [see this post].  We lived in the back rooms of our Chinese laundry in a town called Pearl River [see this post]. Mere coincidence.

Last year Cari Clement, Design Director for Caron International Yarns, asked me to develop a crochet project, specifically a wrap featuring broomstick lace technique.  As is the usual procedure for free-lance design work, I was forwarded a gang of paperwork that outlined the contractual agreement and identifying label/title for the project. To my surprise Cari had picked the name Pearl River for the broomstick wrap. YAHTZEE!

The yarn to be used for this wrap was NaturallyCaron.com Spa.  Pretty much all of the names given to Spa designs are those of spas and resorts.  Therefore, in keeping with that theme, Cari was probably thinking about Pearl River, the hotel/casino/spa/resort in Choctaw, Mississippi, and not my dad’s hometown or mine either. But I still felt a little stab, a thrill of recognition and an affinity for that name. Even before I picked up my hook, I understood that the Pearl River Wrap had to be really special and beautiful.

Our choice of Spa in the creamy shade Naturally has an inner glow that reminds me of pearls.  So I was inspired to integrate broomstick lace with regular crochet to create a lovely, textured fabric I call “Broomstick and Pearls”. The pearls are little bobbly bumps that are such fun to make and pop to the front of the fabric. The wrap gets its stay-put shape from a line of increases at the center back and may be styled in stunning ways.  I hope you enjoy the Pearl River Lace Wrap,  pattern now available as a free download at NaturallyCaron.com.

And ponder this.  Suppose we took two yarns, held them together and wound them into one ball, then took that ball and threw it around the room, let the dog or cat bat it across the floor, let the kids play Monkey in the Middle with it.  That’s what a relationship is like.  🙂