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.


New Favorite Crochet Yarn For the New Year

Today I sit and contemplate the approaching new year.  As is my nature I am not looking back at 2013. It is not my way to evaluate or analyze the events, triumphs and complete bummers of the past.  Rather, I am anticipating the excitement yet to come.  2014, the Year of the Wood Horse, promises to be an auspicious one for me, as I was born in the previous Wood Horse Year.  It’s also going to be a brilliant year for crochet if we have anything to say about it (“we” being me and the boss, Vashti Braha), for 2014 will be the year of Lotus.

Vashti and I, both avid crocheters and professional crochet designers, both writers for and about crochet, really love yarn. Between us, we have tasted and tested hundreds of products from the ubiquitous craft store brands to esoteric and/or ultra-luxe boutique yarns. But, sadly, few yarns in our experience have been completely lovable.

A couple of years ago when Vashti and I were once again bemoaning the fact that most yarn is S-twisted and not very happy for our styles of crochet, she started asking me pointed questions about what I look for in the perfect yarn. I thought she was just making conversation; she was actually taking notes, while her brain was furiously and obsessively planning her new venture.  Since we couldn’t find or buy the yarn we wanted, Vashti set out to design it, have it produced (in the USA) and offer it on her website, That’s how Lotus was born. It is quite simply the yarn I could live in…. and couldn’t live without.

DesigningVashti Lotus Color Card

Lotus fills a place in crochet in a way that no other single yarn has done. It is a sportweight blend of cotton and rayon, with a gorgeous drape, pretty sheen and just the right amount of Z-twist.  Lotus substitutes perfectly in just about any crochet pattern that calls for sportweight yarn; for example it works well in most of my designs for the discontinued yarn, Spa. And with a bit of care and attention to tension, you can crochet it in a range of gauges from sock to DK. Lotus is sturdy as well, and holds up incredibly well in garments, even ones you sit on (dresses, skirts, pants). This is, left to right, Becky Barker, me, Vashti, and Diane Moyer, modeling Lotus wear on the runway at the CGOA 2013 Fall Fashion Show, Charlotte, NC.

Lotus Designs at CGOA Fall Fashion Show

I have kept quiet about Lotus until now, but Vashti has already been blogging and news-letting about becoming a yarn designer. Following a soft premier in December (see DesigningVashti Crochet newsletter issue #55) the major promotion begins in 2014. Please join us on January 10th for a live chat at Crochetville; here’s the Facebook Event page for information. Look for interviews and features about DesigningVashti Lotus in magazines and e-zines in the coming months.  And very soon there will be a butt-load of Lotus design support from DJC Designs, my independent pattern line.  Next time I will post a peek at what I’m working on.  For now, the anticipation is killing me!

Rewards for Alternative Crochet

I hope it has not escaped your notice that I occasionally refer to award-winning crochet designer, writer, instructor, blogger and deep-thinker Vashti Braha as “my boss”.  Not that she is in any way bossy.  Quite the opposite, she is as laid back as anyone I know, perhaps due to the languid {outside of hurricane season} sub-tropical climate where she resides.  Maybe it’s something else. I get the impression that she can smile while all hell breaks loose simply because she knows stuff that we don’t.

I teasingly call Vashti the boss because she owns the site Designing Vashti, where she hosts her own patterns as well as my independent pattern line, DJC Designs.  She is technically, then, my landlady, shopkeeper, stockperson, shop accountant, payroll manager and the one sweet voice in my ear who propelled me into self-publishing land.  So OK, she charges me exorbitant fees {not really!} for the privilege of having my designs listed, but it works… works astonishingly well… as a partnership in crochet goodness.

I also hope that her popular Crochet Inspirations Newsletter has not escaped your notice, either.  By free subscription, this gem can arrive in your e-mail inbox every couple or three weeks, the frequency of publication dependent on whether I have been successful at enabling procrastination.  Funny how the disease/sin/vice of procrastination, although not exactly infectious, can easily be encouraged by a few words at the right moment!

Anyway, when she manages to ignore me, Vashti pours out her heart and soul in vibrant full color on the pages of her newsletter.  She delves into the mysteries of crochet techniques, spills about the designing process and generally goes where the rest of us go except she confesses all to YOU, whereas we are mostly too embarrassed to speak up. And she swatches WAY too much. What Vashti has learned and experienced through her incessant uber-swatching could fill… well does fill going on 50 issues of her newsletter.

Her crochet aesthetic and mine co-exist happily at DesigningVashti and also on the pages of magazines and books.  We thought it so funny that our latest Tunisian crochet designs, her Rivuline Shawl and my Shantay Skirt, appear back to back in The New Tunisian Crochet (Interweave Press, February 2013) by our friend Dora Ohrenstein.

Rivuline ShawlShantay Skirt

On one thing we agree completely; Vashti and I strive is to pass along our love and obsession for alternative, mind-expanding crochet techniques, and we put our money where our mouths are. As we have been for 2011 and 2012, DesigningVashti is the proud sponsor of the CGOA 2013 Design Competition prize for Special Technique. (The idea for rewarding technical merit was pioneered in 2010 through a personal grant from KJ Hay, another fellow crochet geek.)  Although it is necessarily Vashti herself who chooses the winner as I am always up to my eyeballs with producing the competition, we both want to see design entries that make us think, “Holy Crap, why didn’t I think of that?”.

It is our hope that the $200 prize for 2013 will encourage design entries using alternative crochet such as Tunisian, Broomstick, Hairpin, plus beading, innovative colorwork, fresh approaches to all types of ethnic, vintage or historic techniques, and in particular, brilliant new directions in which to take our beloved craft. Past special merit prize winners illustrate the glorious and wide-ranging possibilities:

2010, KJ Hay prize for Technical Merit: Rose Infinity Doily designed by Kathryn White

Rose Infinity2011, DesigningVashti prize for Special Technique: Poptastic Purse designed by Janice LonnrothPoptastic Purse2012, DesigningVashti Special Award for Technical Merit: Summer Dreams Bolero designed by Dot Drake

Summer Dreams BoleroAll during March, as the 2013 celebration of National or International Crochet Month continues, it’s a great time to kick your crochet skills up a notch by practicing or tinkering with new crochet stuff.  Vashti and I hope you will be as fascinated by alternative crocheting as we are and that you might be motivated to come to where crochet is spoken, Crochet Guild of America, become a member if you haven’t joined us yet, and watch for information about entering the CGOA 2013 Design Competition. We are on this voyage with you… to explore strange, new worlds… to seek out new crochet forms and new techniques…. to boldly go where no crocheters have gone before.  🙂