Crochet Hall of Fame

It is with ineffable pleasure and pride that I share this announcement. The Crochet Guild of America (CGOA)  and has just bestowed upon me that organization’s highest honor, induction into the CGOA Jean Leinhauser Hall of Fame.


My initial reaction to the news is one of disbelief.  I should not think myself worthy and, however disingenuous it sounds, I truly am shocked and surprised to have been voted in.  Ah, but my next and more abiding reaction is most telling.  I regard the Hall of Fame award as the icing… no, wait… it’s merely the dusting of gold sprinkles on top of the icing on the cake, the chocolate cake that represents my association with the CGOA.  Of course it is wonderful, astonishing to have my work recognized in so public a way. But it all pales compared to the immeasurable personal rewards I have already received over the years through guild membership and participation.  In other words, for twelve years I have been gorging on CGOA cake and my head is not about to be turned by a few new glittery bits on top.

Would my life and career be the same today had I not joined CGOA? Don’t think so.  I’d still have chosen to pursue crochet designing.  But my experiences through 16 conferences — being welcomed into this vital community, meeting others who speak the language of crochet with as much fluency and reverence as I do, bonding with the crocheters who would become my best friends — showed me that I do not design in a vacuum.  Sharing my craft with this crew of talented, creative, slightly mad, often rowdy but always loving crocheters reminds me why I do what I do and keeps me honest.

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I never enjoy talking about myself and am finding it difficult to produce my presentation/acceptance speech for the formal induction ceremony, to be held during the 2016 CGOA Conference at North Charleston, SC, July 13-16. But, hey, I’ve got some time here to mess with it.  And ready or not, to all who plan on attending the conference, I want to see you on Friday evening for the festivities.  And if you’ve crocheted for yourself anything I’ve designed, please bring or wear it that evening and share the pride along with me.

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 Wings: A Set of Crochet Pretties

Lotus P Wing

Lotus P Wing

May I tempt you with these three projects created for DesigningVashti Lotus yarn, gathered into one collection, DJC: Lotus Wings.

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One can’t quite call these little beauties shawls; each using just two balls of Lotus, they’re not designed for full coverage. Besides, in this stunning, drapey, luminous fiber they will not keep you warm as you might want from a full-sized shawl.

Think of these pieces as accessories, wardrobe accents, like generous scarves or really big jewelry. As such they have three excellent attributes:

— Quick to finish (actually requiring little to no literal finishing),
— Shaped to stay on the shoulders, and
— Make you feel special (in the most wonderful way).

Oh, there is another brilliant thing about Lotus Wings. They make exceptional gifts if you can bear to part with them.

Will you be adding a Wing or two to your crochet marathon this season?:-)

Gifting Crocheters: Win Clever Crocheted Accessories

A woman of my word, I am keeping to my policy, actually more of a guideline, of not burying the lead.  At the end of this post you will discover how you can enter to win a copy of the new book, Clever Crocheted Accessories: 25 Quick Weekend Projects (Interweave Press, 27 November 2012) edited by Brett Bara. Now back to fluff.

There’s something about Christmas that brings out the best (and occasionally the worst) in people. Crocheters who participate in the yearly hand-made gift crunch can become heroes on Christmas morning. We can also turn into zombies. The two outcomes are not mutually exclusive. I truly enjoy the holidays and over the years, during those few brief lucid moments before the onset of total brain death, I have written about it ( see Crochet Marathoning). I have also offered a cute little Mini Stocking pattern. For civilians (non-crocheters), figuring out what sort of holiday gifts would be appreciated and cherished by crocheters can be a daunting endeavor.  In the past I have written some helpful hints (see 2008, 2010) and even shared a recipe for smelly ornaments. This year I have an idea that will cover all this ground.Released today, the new book from my crafty friend Brett Bara makes a brilliant gift for yourself if you are a crocheter… or for a civilian to give to a crocheter who enjoys crocheting gifts to give to you.  Too meta?  Brett is one of those editors who is real good at herding cats, a skill that served her well in gathering the rock star designers who contributed to this pattern collection. From the first project, Saturday Beret (on the book cover), designed by Ellen Gormley, to the last, my own Chunky Capelet (in super-fast broomstick technique), Clever Crocheted Accessories is a happy guide to making quick work of your gift list. I’m going to have to refer to Ellen as my bookend friend from now on. :-)

Click here for a look inside the book, or see this slideshow of just some of the designs, please to maintain composure and resist drooling.

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You’ll find Clever Crocheted Accessories at bookstores and yarn shops, or you can order from Amazon and from Interweave Press.  Thanks to Brett and Interweave Press you can also enter to win a copy right here right now. Leave a comment to this post below and I’ll choose a winner at noon EST on Friday, 30 November. Please keep your replies brief.  Sucking up to me will not help your chances at all.  Happy happy joy joy to all and best of luck.


>Have I mentioned that one of the perks of being a crochet designer is that I never have to match any other crocheter’s gauge?  Given that I design the project, make the sample garment and write the pattern, I am allowed the luxury of setting the gauge.  I never realized how empowering it has become being the one to dictate the number of inches per a specific count of stitches or stitch pattern repeats.  It tends to make one unspeakably smug and self-righteous.  Can’t match my stated gauge using the exact same yarn?  Too bad.  Want to substitute another yarn?  Good luck with that!

All of it, every single fracking hubris-laden moment of my designing career, has returned to bite me in the butt.  This month I have promised to release the next design for my independent pattern line, DJC2: Tank Girl. I started working on Tank Girl not that long ago while the Northeast was still in the grip of stinging winter cold, snow and ice. At the time it seemed like a good idea to offer Tank Girl in a warmer, cozier fiber as a layering vest.  So the design began with the wonderful yarn in hand, Spud & Chloe Fine, a fingering weight blend of superwash wool and silk  that probably makes awesome socks, too. And, for fun, I also sampled a tank in Kollage Sockalicious, which is a softer, plumper yarn but worked perfectly to the same gauge.

Sample in DMC Senso, fine gauge

The universe being what it is, a gang of cosmic forces kept me from completing Tank Girl right away.  So now the seasons are threatening to change and think I should switch gears, stay ahead of the curve and make my tank samples more spring/summer-like.  I tossed the stash looking for substitute fingering weight yarns in cotton or blends with cotton, linen, bamboo, whatever would work to gauge and be kid-friendly, washable and durable.  I discovered that there aren’t a lot of choices for comfortable, easy-care yarns in this weight class, at least not to be found in this house.  So I amassed a few that came the closest and swatched them all.

Imagine my dismay when none of my intended swaps would work to gauge, partly due to the fact that wool and animal fiber yarns have some give or stretch, whereas cotton and other plant fibers have none. Also, most animal fibers have some surface texture and stick-to-itself qualities that many plant fibers do not. Whatever the reasons, I found I could get the cotton/plant yarn swatches to match either stitch gauge or row gauge but not both.  I switched hook sizes.  I switched hook styles.  I wound and rewound balls in case the tension off the skeins was making any difference.  I cursed, I prayed. I did everything except crochet standing on my head and still I could not get any of the non-wool, warm weather choices to match my own gauge.

What I swatched:

  • DMC Senso, a soft blend of microfiber and cotton that is listed as a Size 3 crochet thread.  Not a thread, trust me.  It is a lovely fingering weight yarn and is terrific for fashions.
  • Aunt Lydia’s Size 3 Crochet Cotton, not as soft but workable.
  • Red Heart Lustersheen, a cabled acrylic fingering weight, very soft, a better color range than the cotton threads.
  • Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, a sportweight blend of hemp, cotton and rayon; not as fine as the above, but would make a terrific spring tank.
  • Tahki Cotton Classic Lite, a sportweight mercerized cotton in awesome colors, but a touch heavier than all of the above.
DMC Senso, Spud&Chloe Fine, Tahki Cotton Classic Lite Swatches

I also tried a few fingering weight yarns that I’d be loathe to use for kid wear.  Fine gauge silk and fine gauge linen. Still no joy. Looking at the swatches this way, it doesn’t seem as though there’s much difference, but when the gauge is multiplied over the width and length of a garment, it really gets messed up.

Tahki Cotton Classic (pink), Kollage Sockalicious (blue)
Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy (green), Spud&Chloe Fine (pink)

My solution?  Heck, if the yarn won’t come to the gauge, then re-tool the gauge to fit the yarn.  This would not be possible in traditional pattern publishing where space is a limiting factor.  We don’t worry about word count in download land, which leaves me free to offer as many sets of instructions in as many gauges and variations as necessary to cover the bases for the range of yarns you might want to use.

It’s going to be a crap-ton of work, but worth the extra pages, trust me. Barring any unforeseen shifts in the universe, you should be able to find DJC2: Tank Girl, a seamless, lacy layering vest sized for girls, tweens and teens, in a couple of weeks at