My travels: The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016

A few weeks ago, I decided to take an overnight trip to my old stomping ground of Washington, D.C. for my first The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) summer show. TNNA is a membership organization for needlearts professionals. The summer show was a bit closer to home this year and I decided to visit after interviewing Beth Whiteside on the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show. I’m so glad I did! I’m sharing some of the highlights with you today.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016
My view from the hotel window, a project I worked on during the train ride, and my official show badge.

At the top of the highlights list was having the chance to see some of my designer pals in person and meeting others face-to-face for the first time. Tamara from Moogly and Jessie from Jessie At Home were kind enough to make introductions since they are show veterans. (You can read Jessie’s TNNA highlights post here.)

I had a chance to sit down with Stacey from FreshStitches for a fabulous podcast interview, but unfortunately, technical issues messed up the recording. (Luckily, Stacey has decided to forgive me.) Stacey is launching a new yarn line with Louet and the colors are fabulous! I also got to see Lisa from LMB Designs and Mary Beth Temple again.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016
I finally met Linda Dean, Tammy Hildebrand, and Amy from Crochetville in person and I got to hang out briefly at the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) booth.

In retrospect, I should definitely have taken more pictures while I was there! But since I was only going to be at the show for one day, I was trying to make my way around to as many booths as possible to meet the different exhibitors.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016
Assorted samples from the trade show floor. Clockwise from top left: Chic-A badge holder, Love + Leche sample, Handy Caddy, The YarnIt, Unicorn Fibre samples, and Retromatic Fripperies giftie.

I did take a few pictures when I finally found the Molly Girl Yarn booth. You may remember that I met Angela, the dyer behind Molly Girl, at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival a few years ago when her company was still called Yarn Monkey Productions.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016The Molly Girl booth was super fun because it was interactive. Angela gave out “blank” color cards and you could attach your own samples of the yarns you wanted to try. I can’t wait to play around with her new lines. (If you love Molly Girl Yarn, too, check out my free crochet pattern for the Faux Mistake Rib Watchman’s Cap in 8 sizes.)

And, just before I left, I got to meet Teresa from Teresa Ruch Designs for the first time. I was first introduced to her lovely Tencel yarns last year when I designed the Ella’s Rhythm Shawl for Yarnbox.

Underground Crafter at The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show 2016
Teresa sent me home with this vibrant skein of her 3/2 Tencel yarn in Orange. Yum!

Believe it or not, I was able to stuff a few more goodies in my bag, too, before leaving the show at around 6 p.m. to head back to New York City. I have some secret projects and reviews in the works that I’ll share with you soon.

Himalaya Tank Top by Gwen Blakley Kinsler (Free Crochet Patterns with Underground Crafter podcast)

Himalaya Tank Top by Gwen Blakley Kinsler on Free #Crochet Patterns with Underground Crafter #podcastI read the Himalaya Tank Top, a crochet pattern from guest contributor, Gwen Blakley Kinsler.

Listen to this episode in the player or download it here. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn.

This post contains affiliate links.

ILC 300x250b April 2016About the guest designer

Gwen Blakley Kinsler is the founder and past president of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Gwen currently chairs the CGOA Jean Leinhauser Crochet Hall of Fame committee. She is a writer, designer, and teacher who is committed to sharing her passion for crochet with everyone. Her latest book is The Fine Art of Crochet – Innovative Works by 20 Contemporary Artists. Gwen believes that crochet art both amazes and astounds even the most seasoned crocheters and serves to change stereotypical perceptions about the craft. When not writing, Gwen keeps busy covering her world in crochet one stitch at a time!

You can find Gwen on her website or blog, or follow her on Facebook | G+ | PinterestRavelry | Twitter | YouTube


About this pattern

CYC beginnerUS terms 505-bulky 50


Finished Sizes

  • Listen for directions for small (32″ bust). Premium pattern also includes instructions for medium (40″ bust) and large (48″ bust).


  • Himalaya Yarn Company “Tibet” 100% Silk yarn, 3 skeins for small (4 skeins for medium, 5 skeins for large)
  • US K-10.5/6.5 mm crochet hook
  • Yarn needle


  • Pattern repeat (shell, ch 2, 1 dc) = 4″ (10 cm); 4 rows = 4″ (10 cm)

Himalaya Tank Top by Gwen Blakley Kinsler on Free #Crochet Patterns with Underground Crafter #podcastAbout the (Inter)National Crochet Month series

I’m sharing an audio crochet pattern daily in March, 2016 to celebrate (Inter)National Crochet Month! Find the complete schedule including a list of the 27 guest designers here.

If you enjoyed the show, please subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn; share this episode with a friend; or sign up for the mailing list. Happy crocheting!

#Crochet #TipsTuesday: How to Find and Join Your First (or Next) Crochet-a-Long

How to Find and Join Your First (or Next) Crochet-a-Long on Underground Crafter #Crochet #TipsTuesdayThere’s something about a crochet-a-long that makes it fun and easy to learn new things and actually finish projects. In today’s post, I’m sharing six ways to find your next crochet-a-long, and tips for joining in and having a great time.

This post contains affiliate links.

But first, what’s a crochet-a-long, anyway?

A crochet-a-long is a way of joining together with other crocheters to work on the same (or a similar) project. Crochet-a-longs are often abbreviated as CAL, and are also sometimes called make-a-longs (MAL). Mystery crochet-a-longs, where the complete project is revealed in stages, are abbreviated as MCALs.

CALs can take place “in real life” with a group of crocheters meeting up regularly to work on the project, or online with participants meeting up virtually.

Most CALs are for a specific pattern, but they can also be organized around a particular type of project (like crocheting your first garment), a charity drive (like crocheting hats for a local homeless shelter), a goal (like stashbusting), or the work of a particular designer.

Some CALs are ongoing and people can join in at any time. But others are time limited, and participants who join and/or finish projects by a specific date are eligible to enter giveaways for awesome prizes. (At least, those are my favorite types of CALs!)

By participating in CALs, crocheters can make new friends, ask questions in a supportive environment, and see some amazing crochet projects come to life. (And, don’t forget the potential prizes!)


6 Ways to Find Your First (or Next) CAL

If a crochet-a-long sounds fun to you, here are six places you can look for a CAL to join.

On Ravelry

Ravelry is my favorite place to look for online crochet-a-longs. Membership is required, but it’s free to join.

How to find your first or next crochet-a-long on Underground Crafter 1

On Facebook

Another great way to find online CALs is through Facebook.

Through Your Favorite Designers and Bloggers

Many designers and crochet bloggers routinely host crochet-a-longs.

On Pinterest

In addition to being a great source of “eye candy,” Pinterest is also a great search engine! Search for “crochet a long YEAR” and you’ll find some exciting pictures leading you to CAL announcements.

How to find your first or next crochet-a-long on Underground Crafter
My search results for “crochet a long 2016” on Pinterest.

At Your Local Yarn Shop

Local yarn shops are wonderful places for finding crochet-a-longs in your community. Stop by the shop or call and ask if any CALs are going on or planned in the shop. You may even find that the shop owner is willing to host your crochet group during your crochet-a-long if you buy your yarn for the projects in the store.

Through Your Local CGOA Chapter

You may have a local chapter of the Crochet Guild of America in your area. If you’re not sure if there’s one nearby, check out the CGOA Local Chapter List. You can also join the Cyber (online) Chapter or start your own! CGOA chapters often host crochet-a-longs.

How to join a crochet-a-long

Once you’ve found the right crochet-a-long for you, how do you join?

  • Some CALs are formal and you’ll need to sign up, while others are more casual and you pop in and out. Some CALs are free and others are paid. Typically, paid CALs require the purchase of a pattern and/or a kit including the pattern and yarn.
  • Read through the CAL announcement to find out where the action is. Whether it’s in a Facebook or Ravelry group, or in person in your community, you’ll have the most fun if you interact with other crocheters, so don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.
  • Don’t be surprised if the patterns or projects include new-to-you techniques and skills. Go easy on yourself if you’re feeling challenged. CALs are great places to ask for help and you’ll be proud of yourself later when you learn something new.
  • If you feel confident about your crochet skills, don’t be afraid to help out. Share your abilities with other crocheters and you’ll be helping the group have a fun CAL.
  • And, just like elsewhere in life, be nice! It takes a lot of work to organize and host a CAL, but not every CAL is right for every crocheter. If the CAL doesn’t appeal to you, find another one that’s a better fit for your interests and skills.

Where do you find out about crochet-a-longs?