I’m very excited to announce two winners today!
The winner of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way: 18 Original Patterns in 6 Techniques, courtesy of Stackpole Books, is…
Carmen from A Simple Homestead
StampinLibraryGrl on Ravelry
This was the January giveaway for the 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-A-Long. You can read more about the MKAL here, and download the pattern here. We’re only a few clues in but you can join at any time! Instructions for entering the February giveaway, sponsored by Sarah Kincheloe, are posted in the latest pattern update.
Thanks to everyone who entered both giveaways, and congratulations to the winners!
Today’s interview is with fellow New Yorker, Dora Ohrenstein. Dora is the publisher of the Crochet Insider ezine; a designer whose work has appeared in Crochet!, Crochet Today!, Crochet World, Interweave Crochet, and Vogue Knitting Crochet, among other publications; the author of Creating Crochet Fabric, Custom Crocheted Sweaters (reviewed here), and The New Tunisian Crochet (reviewed here); and a crochet teacher. Along with Gwen Blakley Kinsler, Dora is also the co-editor of Talking Crochet, which recently won Crochet Concupiscence‘s Awesome Crochet Blogger Award for Best Crochet Newsletter.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Dora: When I was about 20, I lived in Amsterdam on a tiny little houseboat. It was the Age of Aquarius and everyone was getting crafty. I learned to crochet and since I had no background whatsoever, I just started making clothes without knowing what I was doing. But then I totally stopped for literally decades. I became a professional singer and that consumed all my time. I didn’t pick up the hook again until early in this millenium.
Shawled Collar Tunic from Custom Crochet Sweaters.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Dora: I wasn’t performing much by that time, and needed a creative outlet. I made a few sweaters and went to a CGOA conference, where I met Jean Leinhauser. She and Rita Weiss liked my stuff and bought several sweater designs for their books. Then Jean taught me how to write patterns, since I’d never followed one! (UC comment: Dora has a wonderful interview with Jean here.)
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Dora: So many places! Sometimes it’s a fashion silhouette, sometimes a yarn or stitch. I keep many swatches lying around and then one day I find the right project for them. I’ve also learned that once you’re a pro, you can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to hit, you have to be generating ideas constantly. I would also say my motivation often comes from wanting to continually grow as a designer, try new techniques and strategies in my work.
Kerala Tank. Image (c) Crochet Today!
UC: Tell us about your motivation for launching Crochet Insider. What are some of the challenges and joys of publishing an online crochet magazine?
Dora: I haven’t really been publishing Crochet Insider as a magazine for a couple of years, it was just too much work once my design career really got going. But I loved doing it because of meeting and talking to so many interesting people. Challenges: it took huge number of hours and did not earn much, so it couldn’t continue indefinitely. There is still a lot of great content at the site and I wish more aspiring designers would read the interviews, because there is so much to learn. (UC comment: Besides the Crochet Insider interview with Jean Leinhauser I linked above, two of my other favorites are this one with Vashti Braha and this one with Myra Wood.)
#15 Lace Pullover. Image (c) Vogue Knitting.
UC: Your books place a lot of emphasis on teaching techniques and skills, along with the inclusion of patterns. Tell us about your decision to work this way rather than through pattern collections or historical work, which you’re also known for.
Dora: Many of these decisions are economic. I would love to publish a book on crochet history, but can’t afford to do so without a publisher. But no publishers wants such a book, because it will not sell in the numbers they need to be profitable. It’s sad but true. I try to get as much history into my books as they will tolerate. Hey, I’d love to go around the world and make film about crochet traditions, but again, where’s the funding? Publishers have been interested in my books that combine good designs with educational material, and I love teaching and empowering, so that works for me. In addition to being a designer, I teach singing and have for many years, so teaching comes naturally to me.
Prelude Houndstooth Skirt. Image (c) Tension Magazine.
UC: You design mostly women’s garments and accessories. What appeals to you about designing wearables?
Dora: This comes back to my background in crochet, or the total lack of it! I never was exposed to afghan making, thread crochet, or any of those fine American traditions. My parents were WWII immigrants and craftiness was not their heritage. I live in NYC and never had the chance to shop at big box stores, which didn’t even exist here until a few years ago. I do love fashion and had discovered for myself that crochet could make great wearables. It was shocking to encounter the yarn industry’s negativity about crochet wearables. So I’ve been very motivated to change that viewpoint with my work. And I’m in some very fine company there of course.
UC: You’ve had a variety of roles in the crochet industry, including designer, writer, teacher, publisher, and social networker/community builder. What advice do you have for aspiring professionals?
Dora: I would say to aspiring designers, don’t be naive about this industry – it’s very tough to make money, very competitive, and takes tremendous perseverance and drive. I’ve done all these things to build my career and earn money. And I enjoy all of them too. But I’d be happy to restrict my activities and lead a more sane life if it were possible.
Ariadne Scarf from Creating Crochet Fabric.
UC: What are your favorite crochet books (besides yours, of course) in your collection?
Dora: The books I bought when I started getting serious, about 10 years ago, are still my favorites. They are “vintage” ’70s and ’80s books by designers like Jacqueline Henderson, Sylvia Cosh, James Walters, Judith Copeland. (UC comment: I love those books, too! I shared several from my collection in my Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week series.) I adore Japanese pattern books, and the Ukrainian magazine Duplet — I stocked up on about 100 magazines when I visited the Ukraine! I also use stitch dictionaries, any I can get my hands on, including the huge Linda Schapper book, the old Harmony Guides, and Japanese stitch dictionaries.
UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs you frequent for inspiration or community?
UC: What’s coming next for you?
Dora: I have a crochet reference book coming out in the fall of 2014 by Storey Publishing. The working title is The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Handbook. They are fantastic publishers, I’m very excited about it. A reference book not just for beginners but for intermediate crocheters too, with lots of information on working stitch patterns, shaping, construction, colorwork, and flexible tension. What I mean by the latter is the ability to control tension so you can really sculpt stitches.
Crochet Insider will get a facelift soon and I will be enlarging my indie pattern line and store at the site. I also plan to develop video classes, sort of like Craftsy, but as an indie venture so I can go direct to students.
Thanks for stopping by, Dora!
Earlier this week, I came home to this.
I hadn’t recently ordered anything from Canada, so I was puzzled. However, upon turning it over, I discovered the customs form.
(In case you’re wondering, there’s almost nothing cooler than seeing the phrase “handknit socks” on a customs form when the temperatures are about 20 degrees below freezing.)
One of my favorite bloggers to follow is Lynn from Minding My Own Stitches. I was first introduced to her blog when we were both regular participants in the original Year of Projects in 2011-2012. We were two of the only bloggers who actually worked through a book rather than a series of patterns, though our approaches were quite different. Also, we’re both members of Surmount the Stash, a group for those in dire need of stashbusting support.
Lynn is an avid sock knitter. As you may recall, I’m not an avid sock knitter. I do frequently fantasize about wearing hand knit socks, because they are so darned awesome. (And I know this from experience, because I have also been the grateful recipient of a fabulous pair of hand knit socks from Underbaragarn on Ravelry, which you can see here.)
Once upon a time, after I lavished praise on one of her recently completed socks, Lynn mentioned she would knit me a pair. Naturally, I jumped at the chance and instantly emailed her my address. (Or, as MC said when I tried to explain the situation: ”So, basically you drove this woman crazy until she would send you a pair of socks to get you to leave her alone???”) As soon as I saw the customs form, I knew the magic day had arrived.
Inside was a gorgeous pair of Vorticity Socks that Lynn knit in Twisted Top Cat by Wandering Cat Yarns, a stunning hand painted yarn by a dyer in her area. Apparently, making these socks was quite an adventure (you can read about it on her blog here, here, here, and here), so I’m extra thrilled to be the recipient.
As if an amazing pair of socks in beautiful yarn wasn’t enough, Lynn also sent me some other goodies: some very pretty soaps, a foot lotion (so I don’t destroy those socks!), and some wool wash.
And here is my picture with the socks on ( they fit fabulously, by the way). I have renewed appreciation for the sock knitting bloggers of the world – feet are strangely hard to photograph!
Thank you, Lynn!
In other Year of Projects news, I’m still trying to come up with something awesome to make during the Ravellenic Games. I didn’t want the stress of captaining a team, but I think I will offer up some prizes and a crochet/knit-a-long thread in my Ravelry group for anyone using one of my patterns during the games.
As for myself, it seems that whenever I have a ton of work, I develop a bad case of startitis. Since I’ve recently had several big deadlines at work, I’ve starting thinking of launching an enormous undertaking by designing a whole lot of patterns for another year long knit-a-long for 2015. I’m thinking that I should challenge myself to design and make samples for 7 designs during the Games. I can’t tell if that’s a lot, or too little. (Designing and making a sample for a small project in 2.5 days seems like a lot to me, but is it “a lot” in Olympic proportions? Probably not.)
At the same time, I feel that I should be crocheting during the Games. It’s pretty distressing to hear there won’t be a Team Crochet this year, and I want to do my part to support crochet. And, of course, I can crochet much faster than I can knit. So another idea would be to start/finish a bunch of crochet projects, like blankets, that would usually take a long time to complete. Of course, big projects call for big amounts of yarn, which might lead me out into buying more.
Basically, as you can tell, I haven’t yet decided what to do during the Games. Hopefully, by next Sunday, I’ll have a clearer idea!
Are you joining in the Ravellenic Games?
For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.
Years ago, I was in a job I didn’t love which required me to travel to Phoenix for a conference. After a long, dreary day under artificial, hotel conference room lighting, I stepped outside just in time to see a stunning sunset.
The beautiful browns, yellows, and oranges really lifted my spirit. The colors were in contrast with the blues and purples I usually see in New York City sunsets. I tucked that image away in my mind for a future project.
A few years later, Knit Picks was seeking designs for a collection that was heavily influenced by the same colors. I matched my idea for that design with a really cool stitch pattern and submitted the design. It wasn’t chosen for the collection, but Knit Picks provided me with yarn so that I could submit the pattern to their Independent Designer Partnership Program.
And thus, the Phoenix Sunset was born.
I used one skein each of City Tweed Aran/Heavy Worsted in three colors.
I crocheted it flat, so it could be worn as a scarf. I decided to join the short edges to make a circle scarf/infinity cowl, since I tend to wear those more often.
It’s so cozy and we’re experiencing a cold spell. It was pretty tough to mail away the sample to Knit Picks (so they can add it to their pattern collection). This is definitely a project I’ll be excited to see again. I love the ripples and the texture, as well as the colors (which work well with my winter coat).
The Phoenix Sunset pattern is now available for pre-order on Ravelry. You can save 50% using the coupon code phoenix through Friday, February 7. The completed pattern will be uploaded this weekend, and you’ll get an email/Ravelry message update if you’ve already ordered it.
The pattern uses chains, double crochets, increases, and decreases. I’m including two photo tutorials – one for the front post cluster (the stitch creating those beautiful, textured v shapes) and one for the invisible seam if you want to make it into a cowl.
For more Finished Object Friday posts, visit Tami’s Amis.
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for Curvy Girl Crochet: 25 Patterns that Fit and Flatter by Mary Beth Temple, courtesy of Taunton. You can check out my review of the book here.
According to Random.org, the winner of the giveaway is number 9…
I’m still working on my first crochet garment and so far it seems that it will fit. I would love this book to help me crochet more clothes that fit well.
When you get a moment, do check out Cindy’s blog, Bird Brains and Dog Tales. She has a great tutorial for making a modern jeans skirt here. Congratulations Cindy, and thank you to everyone who entered!
Today, I’m thrilled to share an interview with Tammy Hildebrand as part of the blog tour for her latest book, Crochet Wraps Every Which Way: 18 Original Patterns in 6 Techniques, published by Stackpole Books. The nice folks at Stackpole have also shared a giveaway copy of the book with me, so read on for more details on how to enter for your chance to win a copy.
Tammy is a crochet designer, author, and teacher, as well as the current Vice President of the Crochet Guild of America. Her three previous booklets, Wheelchair Afghans & Bags, Easy Bead As You Go, and Easy Side-to-Side Jackets & Shrugs, were published by Annie’s. Her patterns have appeared in numerous collections including Unexpected Afghans and 50 Sensational Crochet Afghans & Throws, and magazines such as Crochet World, Interweave Crochet, and Crochet!
Tammy is sometimes known as Hot Lava Crochet – hmm, I wonder why? – and you can find her online on her Facebook page, blog, on Ravelry (as Tammystreasures or on her designer page), on Pinterest, on Twitter, and on Craftsy. You can also learn more from this recent interview with her on the Red Heart blog. Updated to add: You can find my review of Tammy’s new book on the CGOA blog here.
All project pictures are from Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, are copyright of Stackpole Books, and are used with permission. You can find pictures of all 18 patterns here in the Stackpole lookbook.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Tammy: My second grade teacher offered to teach crochet to anyone in our class that wished to stay after school. I was the only one that stayed! My first project was a floppy, purple hat that we worked on together sitting at her big wooden desk.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Tammy: We moved to North Carolina from Niagara Falls when my kids were babies. I saw an ad in the newspaper for crocheters and thought it would be a great way to make a little money while I stayed home with my girls. After a couple weeks a light bulb went off and I thought “Wow! I could do this!” and so I started designing myself.
UC: You’ve held a variety of positions in the Crochet Guild of America. Can you talk about why you become involved with CGOA, and share any advice for professional crocheters who are interested in becoming more involved?
Tammy: I have served as the mentor coordinator, the professional development chairperson and I currently serve as the vice president. Initially I became involved because I wanted to give back to CGOA after how beneficial the organization had been for me but with each new opportunity, I find myself learning and receiving even more. To anyone that wishes to be involved, contact me or anyone of our board of directors and let us know. Each person has wonderful talents and strengths which are such a huge asset when we all work together as a team.
UC: Tell me about the development process for Crochet Wraps Every Which Way. How was it similar or different from the process of developing your previous booklets?
Tammy: I’m not much of a planner so in typical fashion, I learn as I go and tackle obstacles as they present themselves. The photography was done by a local photographer so it was my first time participating in the styling and photo shoots. That was a lot of fun!
UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection (besides yours, of course)?
Tammy: My Harmony Guides as well as a Japanese stitch dictionary are always on my desk and I refer to them all the time.
UC: What’s next for you?
Tammy: I am scheduled to teach my first two classes at Crochetville‘s 10th anniversary retreat in February. The details are here. (UC comment: If you can get to Huntsville, Alabama in February, this looks like a great event!)
Tammy, thanks so much for stopping by for the interview. We wish you the best for the rest of the blog tour!
Are you ready to win your copy of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, courtesy of Stackpole Books? This giveaway is open to all readers with an email address. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, January 26, 2014.
- Check out Stackpole’s lookbook and leave a comment telling me which pattern you’d crochet first and why.
- For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter or Pinterest, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog. (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
- Let me know if you want to use additional entry for different prizes.
- One winner of will be chosen at random on or about Tuesday, January 28, 2014.
My second day at Vogue Knitting Live started off with no hot water at home (and who doesn’t love showering in cold water when it’s sleeting outside?). In the rush to get out the door, I forgot to take the ceremonial pre-show picture of me in my handmade goodies. (I was wearing my 2013 Temperature Scarf, which is perfect for cold weather.)
My first stop was an interview with the delightful Kate Atherley from Wise Hilda. I should be posting it in a few weeks. I asked her to pose with her two books, Beyond Knit & Purl and Knit Accessories.
Then I walked through the fashion and art exhibits. I’m planning a separate post about these, so I’m sharing just one picture today. This is a crocheted piece by fashion designer, Gabriela Serigatto.
My next stop was the Marketplace. I learned a lot from Rosemary Drysdale‘s Entrelac: The Essential Guide to Interlace Knitting, and she was signing books at the Vogue Knitting booth.
From there, I snuck over to the Leilani Arts table. You see, they sell this Soft Donegal yarn, which has become the favorite amongst the men in family: soft but charcoal (with a little tweed to keep my interest).
Then, I went to the Knitty City booth (it’s always a treat to see your favorite local yarn shop at an event) to get my copy of Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits signed by Shirley Paden.
Shirley was really quite friendly and we had a nice chat about her class on Craftsy, which is a companion to the book, as well as the We Love Shirley Paden group on Ravelry. (Shirley assures me she didn’t name the group!) The group sounds like a lot of fun and they have even hosted three Design-a-Longs.
I had a few minutes after the book signing to watch the beginning of the Fiber Factor Fashion show. I learned there will be KALs throughout 2014 and the next “season” will begin in 2015, but I missed the announcement of the winner.
And, then I visited the Full Moon Farm booth, to snap a picture of Laura. My interview with her will be coming up soon. We met last year, too.
And then I headed off to the Michelle’s Assortment booth.
I helped out in Michelle’s booth for a few hours in the afternoon, so she could stretch her legs and walk around the Marketplace for a bit. It was a great opportunity to learn more about her creative process. She’s sponsoring two months of prizes for my 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-a-Long, so it was great to meet her in real life and see all of her awesome shawl pins, bookmarks, and stitch markers.
I particularly like Michelle’s round shawl pins. It was also great to see her collaboration with other indie business owners. Michelle had several samples from Ash Kearns on display to show off her shawl pins including Havelock (left) and Everton Lace Wrap (right), along with the print versions of the patterns.
Of course, I couldn’t spend all that time in Michelle’s booth without falling in love with some shawl pins. I was initially drawn in by the circles, I ended up choosing two straight pins for myself.
These will definitely need to be re-shot in natural lighting because you can’t see the beauty in this picture. I’m off to get some rest before Day 3!
I was thrilled to receive a press pass again this year to attend Vogue Knitting Live. My big plans for Friday included possibly taking a class (depending on what was still open), and meeting a fellow blogger for dinner.
I left home very excited this morning. (Ok, my smile looks a little forced, but that’s because I was waiting for MC to snap the picture. You’ll have to take it on faith that I was stoked!) Unfortunately, things went a little haywire at work and I didn’t get to leave early.
I made it down to VK Live just in time to meet Tien. I’ve been reading her blog, AutumnGeisha, for the past few years and when I found out that her husband got her tickets to come to New York for VK Live, I knew it was our chance to meet up. The Marketplace was just opening and we had the chance to make our first run through. (It turns out that we both like to scope out the shops first, then go back to make purchases. I think it’s how we can convince ourselves that we aren’t buying too much yarn.)
I also wanted to introduce myself to Michelle from Michelle’s Assortment. I’m going to be helping out at her booth on the Fifth Floor in the Marketplace Saturday from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. She is one of the sponsors of my 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-a-Long. Michelle will be providing a shawl pin as the March prize, and a set of 4 stitch markers as a fall prize. They are even more beautiful in person than they are on her Etsy page, so the winners are in for some treats.
You may be wondering where all the pictures are. Confession: Tien let me leave my bag in her hotel room, and I forgot to take my camera out with me. I promise tomorrow’s post will have some more pictures!
Until then, if you haven’t already, enter my giveaway for Curvy Girl Crochet, which ends Saturday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern!