Friday, July 20, 2007

CGOA Chain Link conference

I was thrilled when I heard that Chain Link was going to be in Manchester, NH this summer as I'm less than 40 minutes away! With the kids summer schedules and my dh's job demands, I wasn't able to go everyday, but I enjoyed every minute I was there. (With this years experience under my belt though, I'm already making plans to be able to go every day next year!)

I have so much to say I can't even think straight. I arrived on Friday afternoon with time to spare to browse the market place before my 2pm class. When I checked in at registration they informed me that I was among the lucky fiber enthusiasts to get a goody bag from Coats & Clark with 6 skeins of yarn. TLC Sparlke Soft ~ Mint, Moda Dea Washable Wool ~ Aqua, Red Heart Hula ~ Lemon Fizz, Red Heart Easy Tweed ~ Blue, Moda Dea Fashionista ~ Olive, and Red Heart Tweedle Dee ~ Fireside. I didn't take a group picture, just individuals, because of ravelry....ah, ravelry (that's another post to come). Of course, I only have one skein of each... I guess I need to go buy a book with one skein patterns.

At the market place, the vendors had an amazing amount of fiber everywhere you looked. Similar to many other crocheters, I was a bit disappointed by the scarcity of crochet supplies, books, pattern leaflets and crochet samples. I was looking more for pattern booklets than for yarn (due to the warehouse sales in my recent past). I was hoping to see some of the yarn companies bring their crochet booklets the LYS don't usually carry. Like the ones online at Tahki, NY Yarns, Nashua, and Rowan. I really wanted to thumb through them, but I couldn't find them. Knitting was omnipresent at the market. The attendees were largely crocheters and I'm afraid we ended up with a bit of a catch-22. Many crocheters were so angry about the lack of materials that they spoke with their wallets by not purchasing anything. Some vendors felt their belief that crocheters won't buy good yarn was proven at the show and have vowed not to return next year. The WEBS blog tells the story of their disappointment with sales. One vendor I really enjoyed was The Elegant Ewe, a shop located a little more than a hour from me in Concord, NH. They had brought their entire collection of crochet books (after all this was the National Crochet conference!). I didn't spend much time in their booth as it was packed and I figured I can always make a day trip to their shop! I did however buy the Doris Chan's book Amazing Lace from them. (Doris was on hand signing books when I was there and while she was signing mine she told me she has a new book of crocheted tops coming out in September called, Everyday Crochet . The preview looks wonderful. Before heading to class I stopped by the Creative Partners booth and introduced myself to Jean Leinhauser & Rita Weiss. They, too, were signing books and since I already owned what they were selling one said, "Well too bad you didn't bring them with you". Little did they know I was going home nightly so sure enough, I returned the next day with my books for them to sign.

Finally I headed for my Friday class, "Crochet Lite" with Karen Klemp (Almost Amy Designs). It was a cool class discussing what some of us at Yahoo CAL do all the time - reworking patterns for thinner yarns. She showed a cabled sweater from Glorious Crocheted Sweaters made in a worsted weight yarn and then another one this time made in a fingering weight yarn.... wow! Karen recommends going to thinner yarns with as big a hook as possible (while maintaining stitch definition) to increase drape. The results she showed were absolutely stunning. I was reminded of the Art of Crochet online seminar on Yarn: gauge, drape & substitutions from this past Spring.

After another spin through the marketplace, I attended the CGOA annual meeting. It was fun to see the "bigwigs" of CGOA and I won a door prize! Omega thread. I'm a yarnie not a threadie...I'm stumped. Any suggestions?

On Saturday, I took an all day class "Customizing Existing Patterns" with Lily Chin. It was a lot like her book Couture Crochet which I own, but it went a bit further with examples and explanations on each idea. Another participant said it was like the class filled in the missing pages at the end of each chapter, answering all the questions you had while reading. Lily is a hoot, truly making class entertaining and enjoyable as well as educational. She emphasizes crocheting to your shape, not the standard sizes provided in a pattern. Now, of course, I have to crochet only for the kids until I lose 20 lbs. Then, I'll take those measurements and crochet for myself!

Before I left I made one last tour through the market place. My stash is huge because of the JCA & Westminster warehouse sales but I wanted to support the show and I was looking for something that just struck me. Finally I found the shop, Just Our Yarns, whose yarns grabbed my attention. I spent the final 15 minutes, as the closing announcements rang out, choosing from the gorgeous selection and left with this beautiful 525yd skein of 5/2 100% Tencel yarn called Aziza.

OK, long enough post. Someday I'll have to tell you guys about Ravelry. Have you been there yet? Go. Run. Ask for an invite. When it comes you'll be in fiber heaven.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Twyla - WIP report

I feel like I've been neglecting poor Twlya . An awesome textured stitch design first drew me to the Twyla Cardigan by Berroco. Lot of other distractions both fiber-related and non-fiber related have kept me away, but lately she's had all my fiber-attention. One reason it's been hard to find time to crochet Twyla is that I was at the point on the front panels where there is shaping on both sides, and this requires a bit of attention. This weekend at CGOA I had one of those (DUH!) moments. Lily Chin was teaching us some details about adding shaping to existing patterns and we were using gauged graph paper. She mentioned in passing that sometimes it helps to chart out a written pattern when there's shaping on both sides (DUH!). I have used graph paper a zillion time when reworking patterns - the Caprice dress for Abby, the Drops Top sleeves, the Autumn Spice challenge, but I never thought about using it to just make life easier in a pattern without a problem. Since I graphed out the front panel my hooks have been flying.
Now I can really show off my blocking board!

Birthday goodies..

I mentioned on Yahoo crochet-a-long that my dh took my not so subtle hint (I left this website, with the best price I could find, open on the computer several days in a row) and bought me this large Sew-EZ blocking board for my birthday.

There's more info at this site (after all this is their awesome picture, so I should link to them too!) Honestly, only later did I remember that I had told him that going to and taking classes at CGOA Chain Link could be my present... ooops!

Anyway this board is amazing. Someday I'll show you the picture of Robyn's awesome piece blocking, but for now you'll just have to be patient (I'll show you Twlya blocking in a post coming to you soon!). The gridlines on the board make blocking to schematics a snap. In minutes you can have a sweater pinned and blocking.

Following tradition, my dh also took the kids shopping at the mall. He steered them away from the candle and jewery stores and they came home instead with an assortment of Godiva white chocolates (my fav) and the kids' choices in scents from Bath & Beauty including pomegranete bubble bath, pomegranete shower gel and "stress-reducing" mint hair conditioner (it actually says"breathe deeply for best results" on the bottle!).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Secret Project...

Where have I been? The absent blogger returns! So many distractions, but I'll focus on the ones relevant to fiber arts! For this post... my secret project. I've been wary to post, as I was afraid I would reveal too much, that and frankly I was just too busy!

So back in the end of April I got this e-mail from Robyn, asking me (yes, little ol' me) if I would be interested in crocheting a sample of one her designs for her new book. You can bet I was interested. I've never done contract crochet work before, but I loved the idea, was honored that she thought of me and answered a resounding "YES"! In early May, I received the pattern (of which we may not speak) and the yarn (of which we may speak) - SWTC Oasis. This yarn, 100% soysilk, is amazingly soft and creates a fabric with awesome drape. It kind of funny in that it crunches up when you crochet it, but after blocking it is a totally different creature. The resulting fabric is soft, smooth and incredibly drapey (Is that a word?... If not, it should be!)

The day after the yarn arrived by dh became severely ill with chicken pox (not fun in a 44yo), so with that mess added on my plate as well as end of school year activities for 2 kids I was glad to know the project didn't need to be completed until the end of July. Nonetheless, I started working on it in bits and pieces while finishing up the cardigan, the pillows for Abby & Alex as well as the last teacher gift, a pair of mitten I forgot to photograph! After that it became my primary at home project (I was too afraid to take it out where prying eyes may see too much) while working on poor neglected Twlya (more on her later) away from home.

As the CGOA Chain link conference was approaching I doubled up my effort to finish this so I could send it off to Robyn and still have time to do my homework before my classes at the conference. I sent this off to her last week. The yarn was a joy to work with. The finished garment is amazing. I wish I could have shown it off to friends and family before I sent it. Robyn should be proud of her awesome design. I'm proud of my work on the finished piece. Here's a tiny sneak peak. When her book comes out, run and buy it. Then look for a bolero in Oasis and crochet it!

ETA: Robyn just posted a sneak preview! Go take a look!