That Pineapple Crochet Jacket

The release of this design package had to wait until I could address a serious issue. As visitors to my CGOA Conference fitting labs can tell you, there is so much to be learned from seeing garment samples on different bodies. Last month in Charleston I threw the shrug (Carbonite grey) and jacket (Emerald Deep green) versions of this design on as many victims… uh, volunteers… as walked past the DesigningVashti exhibitor booth and decided there should be a larger, roomier version (Dark Roast brown).  Done.

Curacao stack

Lotus Curacao Jackets

DJC: Lotus Curacao Jacket in three versions is now ready for your perusal in the pattern shop at

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In preparation for that July 2016 conference, in keeping with the event theme of crochet pineapples, I considered my relationship with the stitch (see previous post) and cast my thoughts back to the one pineapple design deserving a reboot. This is the original Blue Curacao Shawl as published in Amazing Crochet Lace (Potter Craft, 2006), my first book now out of reach.

Original front

Blue Curacao

See how the winged shape of the shawl drapes over the shoulders in such a way that the sides want to form sleeves?  Already resembles a jacket, huh?  So why not just do it that way?  To create a season-spanning garment, I swapped out the original DK weight fluffy wool blend yarn to now use DesigningVashti Lotus, a sleek, luminous sportweight blend of cotton and rayon.  To make the armholes, there are very simple and totally optional attachments at the underarms, made while crocheting the final row of trim.  Although each of the three versions is only one size, each garment can accommodate a range of bodies in different ways, so most everyone can have a Curacao Jacket that fits and flatters.

Updated with a few design tweaks, revised instructions, detailed photography and fresh diagrams, this pattern set also includes instructions for making the original shawl bigger and longer, something not offered in the book design but often requested by readers. Requiring from two to five balls of Lotus, and otherwise perfectly doable with any yarn or combination of yarns that gives you the fabric and dimensions you desire, DJC: Lotus Curacao Jacket just might be the pretty little layer you should crochet for yourself this season.

Please visit for the latest products. Vashti has a staggering array of Tulip brand crochet hooks, including Etimo cushion grip hooks in sets and individually, plus Chiaogoo bamboo Tunisian hooks, straight and circular, in hard-to-find sizes and lengths. Oh, and that strange Jelly Yarn, too.

Happy Jacketing!


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.

Introducing DJC Lotus Bolero: Crochet Conference Ready

She’s small, but makes a big impression.  Meet the new crochet design from my independent pattern line DJC Designs — DJC Lotus Bolero, a seamless, sleeveless vest for girls and adults.

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Lotus Bolero was chosen to be the first of my crochet designs in support of DesigningVashti Lotus yarn (a previous post about Lotus here) because it is a perfect showcase for all the qualities of Lotus.  The bolero itself isn’t particularly trendy or different.  It’s a classic silhouette, boxy, with clean, uncluttered lines and conservative fit and coverage.  What transforms this simple little layering piece into an absolute stunner is the Lotus fabric. No photography can adequately convey the experience.  Although the stitches appear crisp, the fabric they make has a meltingly touchable texture and is supremely comfortable, so lightweight yet densely fluid, silky and smooth, with a luscious drape. Even in dim home lighting, Lotus is softly luminous, as if it is glowing from inside.  Take it outdoors in sunlight and it blazes.

I kinda love how Lotus Bolero works well over grown-up clothes like camisoles and tank dresses (where it hides all the jiggly bits!), but also looks cool over my collection of fan-girl T-shirts!  I could so wear a number of the sample sizes, because you can choose how you want your bolero to fit and whether you want to close the fronts or leave them nonchalantly loose.  Also, I am amazed that it takes just one big cake of Lotus to make the two smallest girl sizes; two cakes for sizes girl 29/L through adult 38/M; three cakes for the rest of the range up to 53/3XL.

I have another motive for bringing out DJC Lotus Bolero at this time.  Many of my crochet friends are already getting ready for the CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) conference in July.  For us it’s now about what new stuff will we make in time to show off in Manchester.  The crochet-for-conference phenomenon is similar to holiday crochet marathoning, except totally self-centered.  The happiest outcome is to finish something for yourself that is a practical garment for conference wear.  Ideally it is a lightweight layer that’s so gorgeous you’ll be the center of attention from across the crowded hotel lobby, is packable, airy enough for summer in New Hampshire, yet will provide some comfort in potentially drafty classrooms, can go dressy or casual, and since it is already the beginning of June, it has to fly off the hook in days. May I suggest Lotus Bolero?

Lotus yarn and the downloadable pattern are available exclusively at, ready now for your inspection.  Although I went with a palette of paler, spring-y and neutral colors for the current bolero samples, there are deeper hues of Lotus and even black if you want.Lotus_Color_Chipsc9face1a301e

Hey, if you’re coming to the conference, look for me and Vashti to hold a geeky fitting lab, where we’ll have all the Lotus Bolero samples for you to try on.  I can’t wait to show you how they fit real women of all sizes.  And if you’ve crocheted one of your own, don’t be shy, get in my face and show me!

Convertible Crochet: Zodiac Extra

In the course of crochet designing I create pieces of a certain class that never get published.  They are prototypes and practice runs, or in blunt terms, they are rejects. Some of these are never finished as full samples and acquire UFO status, see Rule #20. A few are alternate versions of published designs that for whatever reasons are not included with the pattern. And a few are personal garments that (assuming I can squeeze into them!) I wear at events where showing off your crochet is de rigueur. VKL NY January 2012 signing

For the book Convertible Crochet I did a lot of extra crocheting just to figure out for myself how the constructions would work under varying circumstances. Like not getting gauge.  Like the neckline being too huge. Like the garment proportions not being human.  Like running out of yarn. The worst of the experiments became UFOs that you really don’t want to see or know about; make that I don’t want you to see or know about them.

But a few of the more attractive alternate versions can be enlightening for readers of Convertible Crochet and it’s these saved samples that I’d like to share with you as book extras.  Let’s look at  Zodiac as published:



In the book, Zodiac is a relaxed fit tunic with octagons added for sleeves, crocheted in DK weight superwash wool, Filatura Di Crosa Zara.  Before this yarn was ordered, I began tinkering with an early prototype in a stash yarn, Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk.  Not only did this heavenly yarn NOT work to the target gauge, but there wasn’t enough on hand for the sleeves! Owing to the more delicate nature of this yarn, I knew I really shouldn’t rip out the completed body, so this stash remained tied up in a doomed prototype until much later, well after the book was written. Cobbling together any little scrap balls left from the main construction, I created bindings for the armholes in lieu of sleeves and I got a lovely long vest that I previewed in New York at Vogue Knitting Live, January 2012 (a year and a half before the book was published).

Zodiac Sleeveless

This version is crocheted as written for Zodiac, with just a few alterations. Knowing what happened here can help you deal with your own results.

The first issue is the gauge for this yarn. It is a touch finer and silkier than the design yarn, not as wooly, plump and rounded. So the motifs are just a fraction of an inch smaller than stated gauge. There is still plenty of room inside for a vest at this size, but it is slightly shorter in the body.

The major issue is that I ran out of yarn. With the four 50 g hanks on hand (about 580 yards) there wasn’t enough for two more big octagons for sleeves.  Here is the book sample laid out flat:

Zodiac flat

Because the tunic is designed to have a dolman sleeve shape, omitting the sleeve octs leaves huge droopy armholes.  I opted to finish the motif edges of the armhole with a binding using Foundation Single Crochet for the foundation, combined with a controlled type connecting round of chain spaces. To match at the neckline, I also worked the binding around the neck edge with Fsc (instead of the Fdc as written).

Zodiac Sleeveless flat

And here’s a tip that addresses one annoying problem with this design.  Zodiac lower sleeve is defined by the connecting of two octagon motif sides; the finished edge at the point of the sleeve is equal to the sum of two motif sides (10″) but the circumference at the connection is somewhat less (more like 8″).  Working gauges smaller than written will suddenly and inevitably result in non-human sleeve circumference.  If you find yourself in this situation where the sleeve bottoms are too tight for comfort, omitting the sleeves and binding the armholes as I did for this prototype is a brilliant way to rescue your project and have something wearable. Rule #3! VKL NY January 2012 at Knitty City BoothVKL NY January 2012 teaching

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!