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I have been reading and considering the viewpoints of the members of the Crochet Designers’ Group on Ravelry in this discussion thread. They are discussing ways to help change the mindset of many crocheters who don’t like crocheting garments, but prefer to crochet housewares and other items. I have been considering the discussion for several days, and while I completely understand how this could be frustrating for designers who would like to design other things, I think we should examine what we define as a successful design.
Specifically, I think we should examine the purpose of publishing fancy garments in fine yarns in magazines: in one of my jobs several years ago I used to manage a craft gift shop. The previous manager had focussed heavily on smaller items as those were what tended to sell, but I found that without the bigger expensive items the cheaper items didn’t sell as well — the big pieces sold the small pieces.
I haunt the local book and yarn stores searching for crafting magazines and books, and I will buy a magazine or a book for the masterpiece project that would take months to complete, and I will read it again and again. I may not make it, in fact I probably won’t, as I have more things to knit and crochet than I fear I will ever finish, but it sold the magazine – is that a failure of the design? Does every pattern written for publication need to be made over and over? There are so many other measures of success: it may improve your reputation, or make a fan, or sell the magazine that will sell yarn and help you get more business in the future, because you made that fabulous thing that people remember. All of these things are important and help your career, and I wouldn’t consider that outcome a failure, even if only two people ever make it.
Those designs are kind of like the wedding dress at the end of a fashion show — not many people are in the market for a wedding dress, but it can be over the top and designed for the most special day in a person’s life (whether the day is in fact the most special day is beside the point — the dress is designed for the most special day — I suspect that most most special days happen when you are naked, or in a hospital gown, or jeans, or pajamas, etc.). Some designs are like that — they are designed to be masterpieces of the crafter’s art, and they will likely be made less than something more approachable that requires less expense, time, and thought — but that doesn’t mean they are not successes.
Yesterday I sent off my very first crochet pattern submission. It feels like such a plunge. It is also my first submission in hard copy — it had a swatch attached and everything. If any of you have any understanding of how you are supposed to attach your name and contact information to a swatch without pasting or stapling it, I would be most grateful to be enlightened.
I am so proud of myself to have my application put together and mailed on time. I consider every submission to be a great personal triumph against the demons of self doubt and procrastination.
It doesn’t matter at this point if my design gets accepted or not, I have won in the battle against myself.
All the same, if you have a chance, put down your knitting or crochet or whatever you have in your busy hands, and cross your fingers a moment for me, because I am pleased as punch with my design and the thought of getting it published in the unnamed venue.
I could sit around and watch TV and crochet pseudospheres all day long. Here is my second one:
These are fun: they are intellectual without actually requiring concentration while you do them. This one used the last of the Noro Taiyo yarn I had lying around and the same hook as the last one (here).
I started with one stitch in the middle and crocheted two stitches into every three stitches.
I am now working on a hyperbolic plane.
Well it seems that one has to come up with names for everything when you blog so this is my “dark magma heart”:
It is a pseudosphere: a hyperbolic version of a cone. I read A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space (as as I wrote about here) and of course rushed out to my stash and grabbed some yarn I had left over from a secret project (I wrote about this yarn already here).
So this is the result.
These are fun. It is constructed by crocheting one stitch at the centre then working in the round, increasing into every second stitch. It starts out as if it were nothing special and getting more exciting every round. I left the tail at the centre as the centre of a pseudosphere as the centre point reaches infinity; you could also hang it from something.
Famously, when you walk around with a hammer everything looks like a nail — I walk around with a ball of yarn and various implements itching to make it into something else.
I recently came across a book that shows me I am not alone (if all of you reading blogs on the subject are not enough to tell me that already): A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space by Margaret Wertheim (you can order it here), published by the Institute for Figuring. Of course, I had to order one immediately.
It’s all about geometry from the perspective of needlecraft — and crochet being one of the best ways to represent hyperbolic space. I have seen several articles about this in various knitting and crochet magazines over the years, but this is the first chance I have had the chance to really get into the theory of the thing.
I have been short of reading material in the last few days, and this will be just the ticket. I haven’t had the immediate opportunity to learn anything about theoretical geometry in years, I think I miss it.
I have been meaning to try a few new techniques for a while and yesterday I did! Yes, instead of working on any of the multitude of active projects, or even mending the sweater in my knitting basket with a hole, I tried two new things.
New technique #1: broomstick lace
I tried a few crochet stitches for the gathering part and a few different numbers of loops being gathered. I can see how this could work, and I think I could start working with it now. It would probably be a scarf or shawl, but I can see the logic of it.
I have some nice alpaca/silk lace weight that would be just the ticket.
I used this nice tutorial from the January issue of Yarn Forward for instructions:
As someone who likes learning things from written instructions, I appreciated this article for its comprehensibleness.
New technique #2: hairpin lace
The other new thing was hairpin lace:
This one was harder to get my mind around. There is something about the twisting the hook around to the back part that did not immediately make sense to me from the still pictures, but after a few fits and starts I made a base strip.
I used this tutorial from the Spring 2006 issue of Interweave Crochet:
Though it made my head hurt a little, the instructions were comprehensible enough for me to figure out, so no complains there — and I think the technique is more difficult to conceptualize than the other, but don’t the Stitch Diva designs make it all seem worth it? The instructions were much better than the ones that came on the back of the package the frame came in — go figure.
For this I definately need to work a pattern or two from someone else. I just don’t quite get the logic of it yet, but there are lots of beautiful patterns in the world that people would be happy to give or sell me. I was considering this one.
Here some more scrumbles I have completed for my freeform shawl:
The second one is not really flat, and it is boring, but the first one seems okay.
I wanted it to be all wonderful like all the freeform projects that I so admire an Ravelry and in books. It may still be: it can be difficult to tell before it’s done. I also suppose that it also may not be realistic of me to expect to be really good at something the first time I try it, but who said I had to be realistic?
I am completely smitten with freeform lace crochet (see this book).
I was hesitant, as I am not really that good at crochet, but I don’t need to know what any of the names of the stitches for this, so I am fine.
(I swear the same stitches have different names in different places, and they don’t all define everything, but don’t listen to me I am just bitter)
The other exciting thing is that I am not sure I could come up with a better combination of yarn and technique than Noro kureyon sock yarn and this, and just look at it:
I am liking this so much; it is much more fun than counting and reading patterns.
I think I may like to stay in this newly discovered crafty country for a while and see where the randomness takes me.
Back in February I decided to embark on an adventure in crafting, crochet particularly. I ordered a crochet and knitting book with patterns for slippers, leg warmers, and a couple blankets in Japanese and decided I would see what I could do. I got busy with other things and that didn’t happen when planned, but I have gotten quite sick and am not able to do much in the way of much this weekend, so I have decided that crocheting myself some slippers in Japanese might be just the ticket.
Originally, I was trying to work out the yardage and weight per length of the yarn used and needle size etc., and if I understand correctly, the pattern calls for wool at 83m to 50g, but working out everything else seemed like more effort than it was worth, so at this point, I just took out some likely looking yarn and a likely looking crochet hook from my very small collection of hooks and started swatching.
The 5mm hook was too large, so I ran off to get another (4mm). It cost $2.29 — apparently the crochet hook manufacturers have not attained the same level of premiumisation as the knitting needle manufacturers, because I don’t think I ever paid anything near that little for needles.
The new swatch seemed more or less okay and crochet is stretchy, so I just started. They went like a whiz and here they are:
My feet aren’t actually that blue — my camera was trying to help by stopping me from taking an overly orange photo, and I can’t be bothered to get out the manual and figure out how to turn off the automatic colour adjust.
I am quite smitten with the slippers. I think I would have all my shoes be Mary Janes or at least have ankle straps if I could. Somehow it just makes them feel more like mine.
The pattern is available in this book:
I have joined Crochet Me, so I can attain a new level of competence and think in crochet. I realize that is akin to joining FaceBook so I can have friends, but I never said that nothing I would ever do would be ironic.
I want to be able to bring the crocheted things in my head into the world.
On Crochet Me, I am S-Sutherland; I would love to have some crochet friends.