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


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!

Non-Crochet Math Needed

Strictly hypothetically speaking, let’s say a … ahem… friend of mine has seven pairs of Converse All-Stars Chuck Taylor high-tops in different exceptionally bright colors.  Please do not judge at this point.

Let’s posit that this Chuck-obsessed person never wants to wear these beauties in mated pairs.  After all, orange on both feet might feel pedestrian. But in the interest of fairness, for state occasions and under extreme peer pressure, matching shoes would be considered as a last resort.

Photo courtesy of Alex Iannelli

Here’s the part where you help me… uh, I mean… this person crunch the numbers.  How many combinations are possible:

  • If the least restrictions are applied… any pairings
  • If the pairs are never matched
  • If you don’t count mirror image pairs (for example Pink left/Yellow right and Yellow left/Pink right are counted as one combination)

Please do not belittle my computational skills.    Where crochet is concerned I can usually wrap my brain around most number problems.  If the stitch repeat is 3.75 inches wide, how many repeats should be created in order to achieve garment sizes from XS to 3XL? What if there must be 2″ positive ease and no partial repeats? What if the number of repeats must be a multiple of 2?  A multiple of 4?  That I can do.

But I admit that I so suck at sneaker math it’s not funny and my head hurts. This Chuck problem keeps going round and round. Is there some elegant formula that gives me the magic number? Short of pulling out all seven pairs and lining them up and counting, I am totally confused here. Please, I need some sleep.

>Broomstick Crochet Rides Again

>Likely you missed the world premier of my Magical Broomstick: Crochet Lace in a Flash workshop last week at the NYS Sheep&Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY.  My inaugural class might have been small in numbers but huge in terms of enthusiasm and spirit.

Yes, it’s true.  I swatched.
I don’t bite.  Not today, anyway!

Megan, Pam, Jean and Ruth, intrepid crocheters all, joined me for a fantastic and fun flight through three approaches to Broomstick technique, tons of show and tell, umpteen swatches and not enough coffee.  Thanks to my class angel Diane Moyer for capturing the morning in photos.

Pam was wearing a Broomstick scarf she had already made, YAY!
In a pinch, these make awesome drumsticks.

After class I had the honor of sitting for a book signing at the Merritt Books author booth.  I lugged in a dozen garment samples from Crochet Lace Innovations and from my new self-published pattern line DJC Designs.  Scott Meyer, my genial host, thinks I know how to work a crowd.  Little did he realize that the crowd was loaded with ringers, fellow designers and crochet friends from CGOA and Ravelry.  We were all having such a jolly good time that it only looked like I was impressing the assemblage.

Since many of the fans stopping by to meet me already own my books, I sometimes offer to sign book plates, signatures to-go.  OOOPS.  Well, now that Scott knows those people weren’t all paying customers, ya think I’ll get invited back next year?

Next teaching-op for me is the Chester Springs Studio Holiday Fine Crafts event on November 13th for Historic Yellow Springs, a non-profit enterprise in Chester County, Pennsylvania that preserves and promotes the history and arts of Yellow Springs village.  Chester Springs Studio is a vibrant arts center that hosts classes, workshops and exhibitions in the visual arts.  My Magical Broomstick crochet workshop is from 1 to 3 pm, but even if you can’t make the class, please stop by before and after for mini-demonstrations and crochet Q&A.  Hope to meet you there.

>What I’m Wearing Today: Lacy Top Cardigan

>I hate to play favorites among my crocheted clothes. But I must admit that this is my go-to bit of lace year round, the Lacy Top Cardigan. The short story is this design is now a free pattern download for a limited time through this link to Ravelry. The long story is… well… long.

The design belongs to Tahki Stacy Charles, and the original was included in the 2nd Edition Tahki Crochet book from 2007, still available through the Tahki Stacy Charles site and at retailers. The original sample as shown in this book was crocheted in Tahki Bali.

Last year, the Lacy Top Cardigan was remade in N.Y. Yarns N.Y. Cotton (distributed by TSC) and issued as a free pattern from the N.Y. Yarns site.

Are you still with me?

N.Y. Yarns products are now being offered exclusively through Patternworks. This happened quite recently. Somehow the Lacy Top Cardigan pattern has temporarily fallen through the cracks. So until Patternworks negotiates to offer this pattern on their site, I have been authorized to share it. If you are not registered at Ravelry, no worries. You don’t have to be a member in order to get the free pdf download. The only matter I need to address is to let you know that N.Y. Yarns N.Y. Cotton is now available at Patternworks.

One more thing. If you start this pattern (or any of my patterns) and get stuck at any point, please join me and the friendly, helpful and often obsessive/compulsive posse on Ravelry. Jump onto the group and forum dedicated to my designs, Doris Chan: Everyday Crochet, and post your questions for us.