Monthly Archives: February 2013

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Better Homes and Gardens Crocheting & Knitting

VintageNPotW 400

This post contains affiliate links

This week’s pick: Better Homes and Gardens Crocheting & Knitting

Source: Paperbackswap.com

Publication date: 1977

Status: Out of print but available online.

Condition: Smells like a basement, but in relatively good condition.

Crafts: Crochet and knitting.

BH&G C&K cover

I went on a hunt for this book after seeing Crochetbug’s version of the afghan on the cover.  (For those of you considering making your own, Crochetbug has set up a page with details about how she made hers.  You can also find more information on her Ravelry project pages for her original and reprised versions.)

BH&G C&K afghan

Jackie H. Curry’s Granny Square Sampler Afghan.

I even tried my hand at some of the blocks, which I eventually donated.

This book has a lot of fun home decor crochet and knitting projects.

Some of my favorites…

The Old Fashioned Windowpane Knitted Afghan by Winnie Juhl.

BH&G C&K scraps

Spiral Crocheted Table Toppers by Mary Walker Phillips.  (Side note: Mary Walker Phillips was a fascinating woman.  You can read more about her cultural impact in her obituary.)

BH&G C&K placemat

 

Crocheted Bed Throw.

BH&G C&K bedspreadFilet Crochet Chair Set.

BH&G C&K chair

Cozy Quilt Patterned Throw by Susan Toplitz.

BH&G C&K cozy quilt

This book is unusual for the time because it actually lists the names of the designers (in the back, but still).  Until recently, relatively few designers were actually able to include their names in their publications.  Most designs were unattributed, with the yarn company or magazine acting as the implied author.

Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL: Laying Down the Foundation

Pineapples with Underground Crafter CAL

Welcome to the Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL!  If you’re just joining in, you can find the free pattern here in Crochetvolution.  Ravelry members can join our CAL chat here.  Our tag is 2013PFEcal.

Welcome to our second week of the Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL.  Apparently, some speedy participants have almost finished their shawls already, but do not feel rushed!  The rest of us mere mortals will crochet a long at a leisurely pace!

Since I’m working a week ahead of the schedule, last week I shared progress photos of the first 8 rows, or the foundation, of the shawl.  This week, I’ll share pictures of the first repeat, rows 9-14.  These are the rows you will repeat until your shawl is the size you want (or until you run out of yarn – whichever comes first!).

Once again, I’m sharing my progress pictures.

After Row 9.

After Row 9.

After Row 10.

After Row 10.

After Row 11.

After Row 11.

After Row 12.

After Row 12.

After Row 13.

After Row 13.

It often happens that while reviewing pictures I take for the blog, I see mistakes in my work.  I actually missed one of the increases on my original Row 14 (Apparently, I shouldn’t watch suspenseful Dexter episodes while making a sample shawl.)  Here is the revised version, with all of the increases intact, but on a different background.

Through Row 14 (the outdoors, windy and sunny version).

Through Row 14 (the outdoors, windy and sunny version).

Once you make it through Row 14, you’ve done everything you need to finish this shawl.  (Yay!) Keep in mind that you should be increasing the total number of pineapples in each row by four (two on each side) every time you complete Row 14.

Now my mistake can help you!

Now my mistake can help you!

Let me know if you have any questions about the shawl, and don’t forget to share your pictures!

Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL Schedule

Friday, February 15: Start your chains: Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL kick off!  

Friday, February 22: Laying down the foundation: Rows 1-8

Friday, March 1: The first repeat: Rows 9-14

Friday, March 8: The second repeat: Rows 15-20

Friday, March 15: The third repeat: Rows 21-26

Friday, March 22: Finishing off: Edging and blocking

Friday, March 29: The big reveal: Flash your shawls on RavelryFacebook,Twitter, and/or your blog for a chance to win prizes from Galler Yarns!

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Coats & Clark’s Book No. 208 Edgings

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This post contains affiliate links

This week’s pick: Coats & Clark’s Book No. 208 Edgings

Source: Purchased from CountrynMore2 on Etsy.

Publication date: 1971

Status: Out of print but available online.

Condition: Edges are worn.

Crafts: Crochet, knitting, and tatting.

C&C Edgings front cover

I’ve mentioned this booklet before on my blog.  I bought it when I was planning to learn hairpin lace while I was crocheting my way through Crochet Master Class.

C&C Edgings back cover

It’s a very straightforward little leaflet aimed at the multi-crafter who likes lace.  And edgings.

It has crochet edgings…

C&C Edgings crochet

and more crochet edgings…

C&C Edgings crochet2

and specialized crochet edgings…

C&C Edgings filet

Filet crochet edgings and insertions.

Hairpin lace edgings.

Hairpin lace edgings.

and knit edgings…

C&C Edgings knit

and tatted edgings.

C&C Edgings tatting

Craftsy

Although these are all done with threads of various kinds, you could obviously create the same designs with larger hooks, needles, and… tats?  Ok, time for a confession.  I know nothing about tatting.  I did a web search about it for this post to discover that you can tat with a shuttle or a needle.  If you’re interested in learning more about it, Marilee Rockley offers a class on shuttle tatting on Craftsy.

If any tatters are reading, tell me how you learned :).

Interview with Joan McGowan-Michael of White Lies Designs

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About a month ago, I had the pleasure of checking out Vogue Knitting Live with a press pass.  I actually recorded three different interviews at the event, and I’m pleased to share one today.

Joan McGowan-Michael is the designer behind White Lies Designs.  In addition to her extensive collection of (mostly) knit (with some crochet) designs, she is also a nationally recognized knitting and crochet teacher and author, and has appeared on Knitty Gritty and Needle Art’s Studio with Shay Pendray.

You can find Joan online on her website, blog, Facebook page, Etsy shop, and on Ravelry (as whitelies and on her designer page).  All images are used with her permission, and link back to the patterns.  Unless otherwise noted, images are (c) White Lies Designs.

Joan McGowan-Michael at Vogue Knitting Live New York.

A picture I snapped of Joan McGowan-Michael at Vogue Knitting Live New York.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you get started knitting?

Joan: I was taught to knit as a child, to keep me busy and out of trouble. I’ve been knitting for over 40 years.

UC: You don’t look it!

Joan: Thank you. Thank you very much. But I have. I was not horribly young, not kindergarten age, but, in the first grade, second grade and I was very fascinated by it. My mom, however, had very little patience for certain things. She taught me how to knit but not to purl. She taught me how to cast on but not how to bind off. I was just dying to get into it, so I would just invent these ways to finish off things.

It’s really interesting. I recently cleaned out my parents’ house and found a little shoebox of some of the little doll clothes I made. And the little vests started ok from the bottom, but as they got towards the top I just ran thread through the loops! It looked a little weird but it worked.

Joan McGowan-Michael's Marlaina Stockings.

Marlaina Stockings.

And the other thing that was interesting is, at the time, in the ’60s, those big window pane vests were kind of hip, with the big holes in them. I was dying to make one of those for my dolls, but did not know how to do a yarn over. So I had to figure out how to make a hole in the fabric that wouldn’t run. What I came up with was knitting each stitch 3 times and then moving to the next stitch – passing it back and forth, almost crocheting. This made a nice little hole. So I found these things and I went, “I remember how I did that. That was kind of clever.” I tried it up again and so I sell stockings now – fishnet stockings – using the mind of a 7 year old or an 8 year old that made up this stitch. I’ve never seen this stitch anywhere else.

 

Joan McGowan-Michael's Gina Fishnet Stockings.

Gina Fishnet Stockings.

 

UC: It’s true, we have the ingenuity to figure things out. Before there were stitch dictionaries, people had their own ways of making it happen.

Joan: They got where they wanted because they wanted to get there.

UC: Yes, through trial and error. How did you first get started designing?

Joan: I actually went to fashion design school. I had always been fascinated with fashion design. I was one of those people that knew what they had to do with their life. To me, it’s very strange when you have a person that’s an adult and says I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I knew, always, what I wanted to do. That must be an odd feeling, to not know.

In any event, I was always making my own clothes and when I got to college level, I did Costume Design. They have very good pattern drafting classes and you get to do weird shapes if you’re costuming plays, or super intricate historical things. A lot of what I’d learned previously was confirmed when I was in design school – that this was the right way to do things.

I did go to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco and took a couple of years there and then went to Los Angeles and took my last year in Los Angeles. I then stayed in Los Angeles for the next 15 years doing regular clothing design.

Joan McGowan-Michael's Olivia.

Olivia.

I had done work for OP Sunwear and others, but the most important was Frederick’s of Hollywood. I worked for them for three and a half years. That’s really where I got my hands into stretch fabrics, and close to the body type garments, and realized that knitting and stretch fabrics had so many of the same properties that you could almost interchange them. So I filed that away in my mind for later use. There was no knitting career on the horizon at that time.

Things happened, I got married, moved north to Sacramento with my husband, and was really having trouble settling into the city up there. It’s a different vibe and you really have to try to integrate yourself. I can imagine New York’s not that way, but it is in Sacramento. So I joined the local knitting guild there and found it to be rather cliquish and really also hard to integrate into. I said, “Maybe this is a mistake.” But before I left that first meeting, somebody shoves a little notebook at me and says sign up to bring cupcakes sometime during the year. So, I turned to the last page (December) and I write my name in December and I close the notebook and I forget about it.

Joan McGowan-Michael's Luminous Lace Camisole.  Photo (c) Interweave Knits.

Luminous Lace Camisole. Photo (c) Interweave Knits.

December rolls around and I get a call, “It’s your turn to bring the cupcakes.” Oh, crap.

UC: To those people? ;)

Joan: Exactly. I could just blow them off or I could do some boxed cupcake mix and drop them off and come back home. It wasn’t that far from where I lived, so I thought, yeah, I’ll do that. So, I make the cupcakes and I go down there. The speaker that month was a woman who was putting together a company to do knit kits. She was doing marketing surveys. She was showing people a Vogue Knitting magazine and asking if this is something you would make, and if you were going to buy a kit, how much would you pay for it, and what would you expect from the kit.

As she was talking about this, I got this hot feeling, this freaky hot feeling. It’s the finger of God coming down and going, “You need to go this way, young lady.” Before I knew what I was doing, I went up to her and said, “I need to offer you my services as a designer. I don’t design knitwear but I do design and I do knit. That must mean something!”

 

Joan McGowan-Michael's Plus Sized Pencil Skirt.

Plus Sized Pencil Skirt.

 

And sure enough, it did. And the first sweater that I did for that knit kit company was fantastic. It had bobbles, it had cables, it had lace, it had button bands, a high collar. It had everything. It was angora.

UC: You put all of your years of knitting experience in one sweater.

Joan: I did! I really did. And forgot to take any notes.

UC: Oh, God!

Joan: It was really hellish. Through tears and fire, I recreated the pattern somehow and it was just hellish. But it became their best selling item. They had me under contract for about two years. During that time, I found the hole in the contract. It said what I could not do, but I saw what I could do. What I could do was submit designs to magazines and that’s what I did. I submitted something to Interweave Knits. The first thing I submitted was on the cover.

Joan McGowan's Lace Panel Jacket on the cover of the May, 1998 issue of Interweave Knits.  Image (c) Interweave.

Lace Panel Jacket on the cover of the May, 1998 issue of Interweave Knits. Image (c) Interweave.

UC: Wow.

Joan: So I knew I had something going on there. In the meantime, the other people who I was under contract with were not very happy about me finding the loophole.

UC: They wanted you exclusive?

Joan: They wanted me exclusive or first right of refusal. The suit that I did was on the cover of Interweave and my boss saw it.

UC: It would be a little hard to hide it.

Joan: It was. It was hard to hide. Especially when you’re in that business. I just didn’t think I needed any permission to do anything like that. I did not like the way it went and I terminated my contract a little early with them.

So anyway, it was fine. I went on to do a few more things for magazines. By that time, I’d become divorced and my new boyfriend said, “You know, if you would like to start some kind of a little publishing thing, you have some designs here, you’re writing them anyway. Why don’t we publish them for you and sell them yourself? Why sell them off to a magazine?” The man has vision and that’s why I married him!

Joan McGowan-Michael's Stephanie Tee.

Stephanie Tee.

 

UC: Sounds like a good business decision.

Joan: It really was and that’s really how we got started. He works with me in the business now. We travel and do shows like STITCHES and Vogue Knitting Live and whatnot, and it grew into a business from there. I took a lot of the experiences and things that I’ve done previously.

For example, when I was at Frederick’s of Hollywood, I just had the foresight to trace off the patterns that I was cutting on brown paper and just archive them – keep them in a big box, kept them with me whenever I moved, kept them in the attic. Then came the opportunity to do my book, Knitting Lingerie Style: More Than 30 Basic and Lingerie – Inspired Designs. Melanie Falick at Abrams publishing, she had heard in an interview from me somewhere that I did used to work for Frederick’s of Hollywood and she said would you like to do a book about lingerie?

 

Rita Mae.

Rita Mae.

 

UC: That was going to be my next question. How did you get into the lingerie?

Joan: There it is. I went up to the attic, and got my big box down, and said, “Well this would work! This would work, too.” I had really the basic pieces all there. It was just a matter of transfering them to knitting – knitting the shapes instead of cutting them out of fabric – and assembling them like I would have if I had cut them out of fabric. Consequently, I was able to use a bra wire that I had designed when I was working for Frederick’s. It was a w – a continuous underwire.

 

Ruby.

Ruby.

 

UC: Wow, one piece?

Joan: Yes, the reason I designed it that way was I always have my wires popping either in the center or at the side.

UC: Yes, I think everybody has that problem. Well, not everybody, but most of us with the regular bras.

Joan: With the big boobs.

UC: The combo!

Joan: Well, the weight of them makes them float around inside their channeling. And the w wire stays right where it is. The breasts are holding them in place, then you have this v coming up in the center, they can’t go anywhere. This is just the perfect wire for long wearing bras. Don’t know why I don’t see it more.

UC: I don’t know either, I would love to see this more because I have the same exact problem!

Joan: So anyway, we went into that project using so many of the ideas from Frederick’s, but my dear editor kept me from doing sequined pasties or anything like that. She let me do a few things that were a little on the risque side, but for the most part she kept me under her thumb and on the right side of the line of good taste.

 

Corset-Bodice Nightgown from Knitting Lingerie Style.

Corset-Bodice Nightgown from Knitting Lingerie Style.

UC: Can you just talk a little bit about what you’ve been doing here at Vogue Knitting Live?

Joan: I’ve done a Crochet for Knits class. It’s very interesting. My classes that people choose sometimes have nothing to do with knititng. One of my most popular classes – unfortunately, we didn’t do it here this time since we didn’t have room in my schedule for it – is Whip Your Knits into Shape. What we do is take copious measurements of the student’s body and then we transfer those to brown paper. Now we have an actual flat pattern.

UC: Kind of like a sloper?

Joan: Yes, a sloper. And then, without having to know anything about pattern making, they can just start knitting. If they’re knitting the back of a sweater, compare it. Oh, too big, I’ve gotta rip back. Before you get finished, you know it’s fine.

The other thing, I do a 6 hour class of Whip Your Knits into Shape where we take those measurements, do the brown paper patterns, and then we learn to design with them. It’s a really very popular class and a lot of poeple have had their aha moments. When they’re in the class saying why doesn’t this fit me – well, you can’t see yourself from the back.

UC: Absolutely, you don’t see what’s going on back there.

Joan: Too many people don’t want to know, either. The other classes that we’ve done this time was Bead Embroidery for Knits which was based on my little collection of 1950s beaded sweaters. I have 4 or 5 pieces that have fabulous beadwork on them. There was one in particular that I took and made into a chart and we just copy that essentially and I teach them how to do the beadwork without having to do it one by one by one.

Beauty and the Beads.

Beauty and the Beads.

 

UC: Oh, that’s awesome.

Joan: It’s not done that way. They can take that skill and use it for Christmas ornaments or decorating clothes, t-shirts, jeans jackets. I’m a child of the ’70s, it’s going to be my flares, man! It’s a very fun class for everybody and it has nothing to do with knitting – you can do it on anything.

The other class, Crochet for Knits, is fine finishing touches that you can use for your knitting, to keep edges from rolling, to be decorative, to join things together, just learning how to handle a hook when you’re a die-hard knitter. They’re a little afraid of that.

UC: Yes, it’s interesting because people are always saying crocheting is so much easier. But I’ve found, now that I’ve started knitting, that a lot of knitters are really intimidated by crochet.

Joan: Very. You should have seen the big eyes in my class.

 

Crochet Thong.

Crochet Thong.

UC: So what do you do to put them at ease because I know crochet’s a phobia for a lot of knitters.

Joan: We just jump in. I ask them how do you hold your hook? Some hold it like a spoon, some hold it like a pencil. And as soon as I start requiring them to use it, they do. They just do because they have to. I have them do a chain with their fingers first so they can get the structure of the stitch and then stitch the hook in and continue. Now they’re getting comfortable and we can roll from there. It’s just getting them comfortable and not afraid of the hook. And you can rip it out so easy! They go, “Hey, there’s only one stitch at a time that you have to worry about!”

UC: That is a huge plus of crochet.

Joan: It’s quite a revelation.

UC: Yeah, when you’re knitting and it’s really stressful to do that (pull out stitches). Since you also crochet… I’m sure you have not too much down time when you can actually make your own projects, but if you do, do you have a preference between crocheting or knitting? Or do you have a totally other craft that you do to relax?

Joan: You know, I would love another craft. That I use to relax? I do sew. And I have to sew, because I’m a hard fit. So I do sew and I make things for myself on the sewing machine. And after so many years of knitting, sewing seems so easy and fast! Instant gratification. Putting a pair of pants together – no sweat. Lining a coat – not a problem. Things that would have been really daunting before, now that you put three weeks into a sweater, I can put ten hours into a coat – that kind of thing. I guess I want to say sewing is my other, non-professional hobby.

 

Julianne 2-Piece Dress.

Julianne 2-Piece Dress.

UC: It sounds like it’s also utilitarian – it’s not just for fun.

Joan: Sometimes it is. Sometimes I just want something knew and I just whip up a little knit top or something. I also do machine knitting and sometimes I will combine that with fabric and sewing things together. It’s kind of automated – it’s not hand knitting – and it’s very fast. You can do a front or back of a tank top in literally twenty minutes. That’s really instant gratification. Yep, sewing is pretty much the other white meat there :).

UC: You’ve had a lot of experience in all different aspects of the yarn industry and the fashion industry. Do you have any advice for people that are considering trying to come into the yarn industry?

Joan: Boy, keep your day job. At this moment, keep your day job. Didn’t use to be that way, but things got really rough here for the economy. Putting out a few patterns may or may not be something that becomes viable, but the main advice is have somebody read your patterns. Tech edit your stuff or test knit your stuff. A lot of people maybe have done that for themselves, and they can’t see the forest for the trees anymore when they are working with their own pattern. There’s just nothing more off-putting then buying a pattern from a new designer and finding it not working. To keep your reputation good, take that extra little step and have somebody read it, tech edit it, something. That’s really one of the most important things, I think.

Kimber Bustier and Panty.

Kimber Bustier and Panty.

 

UC: Do you have any upcoming activities you’d like to talk about?

Joan: Yes, I’m going to be doing some classes on Craftsy in the upcoming months. I’m actually looking for Stephanie Japel today because she’s the acquisitions editor there now. I will definitely be doing a Continental Knitting class, which may be one of the free ones. It just introduces you to the teacher and how their teaching style is, but there will also be others on fit most definitely. So look for me in about four or five months on Craftsy.  (UC comment: You can now find Joan’s Feminine Fit: Bust Shaping Techniques class for sale on Craftsy here.)

We always do STITCHES West at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I always have a booth there, so people can come by and see the garments that I do in person. I’m about to pitch another book. I’m not going to say what it’s about, but it’s along the lines of Knitting Lingerie Style, so it’s more romantic, kind of sexy, pretty things.

UC: Good luck! More pretty stuff is definitely needed. Anything else you’d like to share?

Joan: I also have a pretty good blog. I’m running a fitting series which started last Monday (UC comment: on January 14, 2013), so anyone can go to my blog and check out the first installment of Knit to Fit. I wrote about the five different mistakes knitters make in terms of fit. I’m going to expand that because the reaction to that has been really positive. I’ll possibly do an e-book with that.

UC: There’s a lot of fears and concerns and horror stories surrounding knit fitting – and crochet fitting, too.

Joan: And wasted money and disappointment. I’m all about avoiding disappointment, especially when you’re working on something you think you’re going to love, and then you put it on and go, “Oh, that looks awful!” If I can help anybody avoid that, I’m all over it!

Thanks so much, Joan! I really appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule at Vogue Knitting Live to meet with me!

Year of Projects, Year 2: Experiments and pineapples

YOP2 floral with dates

Yesterday, I took an amazing class, Double-Ended, Circular Tunisian Tapestry with Lily Chin.  I’d never taken a class with Lily before, but I’ve heard a lot of good things.  Well, believe the hype, people, because she is an awesome teacher!  It’s rare to find a talented designer who is also an excellent teacher, but Lily has the total package.  In addition to being very clear and organized, she was also a lot of fun!

Lily modeling her projects using this technique at the December, 2012 NYC Crochet Guild meeting.

Lily modeling her projects using this technique at the December, 2012 NYC Crochet Guild meeting.

The workshop was designed to teach us how to do Tunisian crochet in the round using a double-ended hook.  Once we had that technique down, we learned how to use the method for creating intarsia style projects along with several different ways to increase and decrease.  (Lily has used this colorwork technique in several patterns, including the Bitmap Cowl, Graphic Ornaments, and Argyle Hat from the 2012 Interweave Crochet Accessories issue.)

Here's my tiny circular project from class.

Here’s my tiny circular project from class.

Although my actual YOP goal was to learn a new (to me) knitting skill, this class taught me several new crocheting skills and my creative energies were totally inspired!

The start of a circular Tunisian project from class.

The start of a circular Tunisian project from class.

I’ll need to sit down with some different yarn and see what I can come up with.  Perhaps, like Lily, I’ll experiment by making hats for charity.  (She showed us a slideshow of over 100 hats she crocheted as chemo caps using this technique.)

In other news, I kicked off my Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL on Friday.  So far, we have a pretty lively discussion going on in the Underground Crafter Ravelry group.  The CAL will run through March, and then I’ll just need to organize one more CAL or KAL in my group to be on track with my YOP goal.

My second version of the Pineapples for Everyone Shawl for the CAL, through Round 14.

My second version of the Pineapples for Everyone Shawl for the CAL, through Round 14.

For more Year of Projects updates, visit Come Blog-a-long on Ravelry.