Tag Archives: alpaca

Vogue Knitting Live, Day 1

Yesterday, Vogue Knitting Live 2013 opened in New York.  If you’re in the New York area this weekend, you should stop by!  Here’s a quick wrap up of some of what I’ve seen so far.


The gallery exhibits were being set up in the morning, and I had a chance to photograph most of them before it got too crowded.  Here are some of the highlights.  (And speaking of highlights, keep in mind that these photos were taken in dimly lit hotel corridors.)

Colorful Stitches had an awesome array of knit food displayed like a picnic table.  This bowl of cereal with a strawberry was my favorite!

Alyssa Ettinger is a ceramic artist with a studio in my native Brooklyn.  I love the soothing pastels of her work.

Rhonda Fargnoli‘s continuing education students at the Rhode Island School of Design created some beautiful designs with mill ends from Koigu.

I got to meet Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land fame.  I’ve been an admirer of Anna’s work since I first saw it at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in 2011.  We’ll both be at the 9th Annual Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival in March.  (I’m teaching and she’s exhibiting.)

Adrian Kershaw is a crocheter and knitter working with upcycled VHS tapes as yarn.  Because her work is black and the lighting was so dim, the pictures don’t really convey the projects.  They’re pretty cool!

Carol MacDonald is a printmaker who makes prints, cards, and tags using her images from her knitting.

Edwina Sutherland is a fiber artist working primarily with needlefelting.  She shared her secret for successfully transporting her projects for display with me – wrap them in quilt batting.

And last – but certainly not least – was the crochet artist, Jo Hamilton.  I’ve seen her crochet portraits online and was really looking forward to seeing them in real life.  They are much cooler in person because there is much more texture and subtle color variations than a photo can convey.

Interview Teaser

I met with Danielle Chalson from Makewise Designs for a quick interview after lunch.   Until I publish it, I’ll just share this picture of Danielle’s enthusiastic smile.

Send your happy thoughts her way. She'll be working at the String booth at the Marketplace tomorrow!

The Marketplace

Apparently I wasn't the only one trying to get into the Marketplace when it opened.

With over 70 vendors, the Vogue Knitting Marketplace alone could take up many blog posts.  So I’ll just concentrate on the colleagues I visited and my purchases.

Kollabora's booth during set up.

I stopped by Kollabora‘s booth a few times to say hi and to see my samples on display.  Here’s a sneak peak of two of my upcoming crochet designs that they are debuting at Vogue Knitting Live.  (The patterns aren’t available yet.)

It was also cool to see two of my other designs featured in their ad in the program.

The patterns for the Givin’ Me Fever Pom Pom Hat (knit) and the Chevron Shell Cowl (crochet) are available as free downloads.

I also took a picture of their schedule so I can remember to stop by their events. With a program this packed, every reminder helps!

Then I got the chance to meet Shannon Okey (a.k.a. Knitgrrl) in person.  I have a pattern in one of the upcoming Cooperative Press Fresh Designs: Crochet books so we chatted about that briefly.  I somehow forgot to take a picture of Shannon, but here is a picture of the Cooperative Press booth :).I had a chance to check out Dishcloth Diva by Deb Buckingham in person.  It looked just as scrumptious as I thought it would!  (And I love that I can feel glamorous about making dishcloths!)

You may remember from Vogue Knitting Live last year that my first purchase was at the Kinokuniya booth.  Well, ever since I bought this awesome Japanese knitting stitch guide from Knitty City in the fall, I’ve realized that I don’t know nearly as much about knitting stitch symbols as I do about crochet stitch symbols, and I’ve been thinking about buying Clear & Simple Knitting Symbols.

A taste of the crochet selection at the Kinokuniya booth.

And then I saw the North Light Fibers booth.  I was drawn in because their tagline is “Block Island made,” and MC used to vacation in Block Island as a kid.  In addition to great natural fiber yarns, they sell these cozy alpaca socks.

After that, I saw a local vendor, the Long Island Livestock Company.

This chair from the Long Island Livestock Company booth is made from three spinning wheels from the 1930s.

I had a great chat with the owner and her husband, and I was drawn to their natural care products.

So what did I end up buying?

I bought a pair of cozy alpaca socks for MC, a book for me, and some handmade soap and lip butter from a local company.

You’re probably saying, “What?? No yarn??”  You know I’ve been working on stashbusting for the past 13 months.  I’m not sure if I’ll buy yarn at Vogue Knitting Live, but I promised myself that I wouldn’t on the first day.  I wanted the chance to look at everything and sleep on any potential yarn purchases…  Let’s see how I hold up today!

Interview with Karia from Kouture Crochet

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Karia (also known as KoutureCrochet on Ravelry).  As a Brooklyn native, I’m always excited to meet crocheters in my home borough online – somehow, it often seems easier than meeting them in real life!  Karia is organizing an interesting Kickstarter project and also co-owns an Etsy shop.  You can also find Kouture Crochet online on Facebook.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting and knitting?
Kouture Crochet (KC): I started crocheting as a teen. My sister was in high school taking an art class where she was learning to crochet. As any self respecting younger sister, I wanted to do what my big sister was doing.  So with the help of my mother, my sister taught me how to crochet. I crocheted all through high school, college and beyond. I learned to knit years later after graduating college. These two art forms quickly become a big part of who I am and how i relax, how I watch tv and why I love audio books.

A unisex black alpaca scarf by Kouture Crochet. (Click photo to link to Etsy shop.)

UC: What inspired you to start selling your creations on Etsy?
KC: I started selling on Etsy because I was going broke making scarves and gifts for friends and family! Selling on Etsy was a way to continue to craft without losing money. I quickly realized I wanted to make this into a career. I’ve been selling on Etsy since March 2011, and I hope to be selling my crafts for a long time to come.

Knit skinny tie made with handdyed yarn by Kouture Crochet.

UC: Tell us about your Handspun Single Sheep Breeds Yarn Kickstarter project and your inspiration for developing it.

KC: For my shop on Etsy and for my personal projects, I used only natural fibers. One thing I found is that the selection of high quality 100% natural yarns is limited and often extremely expensive. I was able to find easy accessible camel and alpaca yarns through some luck and research. Wool yarns was more difficult. It felt like I had one option: merino. I love working with merino but I wanted to try something different.

When I started trying to find wool from other sheep breeds I was completely overwhelmed. There are hundreds of breeds and countless varieties. Purchasing finished yarns from more than one or two breeds was just not in my budget. In the end, I taught myself to spin yarn on a drop spindle in order to be able to try different breeds and varieties. I was lucky enough to be able to make my own yarns and learn to spin on a drop spindle, but most people don’t have the time or patience to learn to make their own yarns. There is a such a need for single breed yarns and it seemed to me like the market was not filling that need.

The best way to know “what is what” is to feel the yarn and work with it. However, there are hundreds of breeds and thousands of varieties. One skein of single breed yarn can be anywhere from $15 – $70. I had been a backer of many Kickstarter projects, and Kickstarter was a perfect format for this kind of idea. The project took months to research and price even though the goal was simple: affordable, an easy to understand way to try different single breed yarns. I have narrowed down the list to just 26 breeds. They vary wildly in softness, crimp, coarseness, strength and even the natural colors the fibers come in. I don’t cut corners in quality, but by offering samples of one ounce mini skeins its possible to offer many breeds for an affordable price.

Few, if any, local yarn shops will have more than 5 breeds of yarn to try, let alone 26! As a lover of natural fibers, it is great to be able to feel and sample a yarn in your hand. My hope is there are just a few people like me who wanted to try these fibers and yarns. Crafters who love natural yarns will be able to do so at a very reasonable price. I also hope that people who think wool is that “itchy, expensive stuff” will also give it a try.  (UC comment: This is really a great project!  If you’d like to contribute, check out Kouture Crochet’s Kickstarter page here.)

Handdyed merino yarn by Kouture Crochet.

UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs you frequent for inspiration or community that you would like to share?

KC: I’m new to Ravelry, but I love having such a large and active community of crafters.


Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Karia!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Maru Minetto from Marumin Crochet

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today is the last interview in my Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 series.  (For those who don’t know, Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15 and ends on October 15.)  I’m happy to interview Maru Minetto, the Peruvian blogger and crochet designer behind Marumin Crochet.  Maru can also be found on Ravelry as marumin and on her designer page.

Maru Minetto.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet?

Maru: My grandma did the most beautiful crochet work.  She taught me the basics as a teenager, but I wasn’t any good at it.  I had difficulty holding the crochet correctly and ended up  very frustrated with my uneven results.  I tried it again several years later, before the birth of my son… I bought a few magazines and started crocheting with much better results, so I started to crochet for gifts and charities.

UC: You seem to enjoy making projects for babies and children.  What is it about these types of projects that you love?

Maru: I went back to crocheting because I wanted my children to have crocheted items like the ones my grandma used to make for us, (not that I could really do more than bibs and blankets), but that was what drew me back to crocheting.  Caps, booties and sweaters soon followed. Baby projects are finished up fast, and don’t take up a lot of material.  Babies and children are a great inspiration and they can wear anything from vintage classic to colorful  modern edge items and always look cute. Even when my kids are all grown up now, there’s always need for baby items for gift giving and especially to be donated to hospitals and children in need and I find it very rewarding to be able to give something done with my own hands.

Maru Minetto’s White Baby Bolero pattern.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Maru: I think basically the need to experiment, create and have fun.  I started by following patterns written by other designers (and I still do crochet items by other designers), but sometimes I have a specific idea and no pattern to follow, so I simply start crocheting and creating a pattern of my own.

UC: Tell us about the crochet scene in Peru.

Maru: As you may know, Perú is well known for its fine Alpaca wool and the excellent craftmanship of our native people.  (UC comment: This is definitely true.  I work with Galler Yarns, and they import several luscious Peruvian alpaca yarns!)  In native communities they learn to spin, knit and/or crochet as children. Several years ago it was also common for schools to teach the basics of knitting and crochet. There is no rivalry between knitting and crochet that I know of, but knitting is more widely spread as it is almost always related to clothing items as opposed to crochet that is viewed more as a decorative labor (tablecloths, doilies, dishcloths, afghans, etc). Also, people seem to find it easier to knit than to crochet and it is way easier to find information and patterns  related to knitting than to crochet.

Maru Minetto’s My Lavender Sachet pattern.

UC: Your blog is bilingual.  Tell us about your decision to blog in both English and Spanish.  What do you see as the benefits and the challenges of writing a bilingual blog?

Maru: I decided upon a bilingual blog as a means to reach more people, and make it easier for my followers.  I find that built in translators do not do a good job and the “translations” are almost always “confusing” to say the least.  Crochet has its very own “language” and common dictionaries/translators do not have the correct equivalents for crocheting terms. Blogging in two languages just takes up a little more time.

Maru Minetto’s Cute Baby Sweater pattern.

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English crochet blogs or websites to share? Maru: There are several blogs I follow.  There are lots and lots of creative and caring people in the crochet community who love to share their knowledge of crochet.

But my all time favorite crochet blogs  are in Portuguese:

Thanks so much for stopping by Maru, and sharing your thoughts and links with us!

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.