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.

#Crochet #TipsTuesday: 5 Tips for Embracing Color in Your Crochet (or Knitting)

5 Tips for Embracing Color in Your #Crochet (or #Knitting) by Underground Crafter #TipsTuesdayEarly last week, Kathryn from Crochet Concupiscence asked “What is your crochet word of the year?” The one that instantly came to mind for me was color!

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Some crocheters enjoy working with a limited color palette and have no interest in exploring different colors while others have an almost paralyzing fear of experimenting with color. If you fall into the latter category, you already know that color has a major impact on the style and mood of your crochet project, but maybe you need some support in venturing into new color territories.

Whether color is your crochet word of the year, too, or you just want to switch things up a bit, check out these five tips to get you started along a more (or differently) colorful crochet (or knitting) journey.

ILC February 2016 Banners1) Follow a Designer or Blogger Known for Color Play

One way to step outside your personal color comfort zone is by using tried and true combinations of yarns recommended by designers and bloggers known for their color sense.

…are just a handful designers and bloggers known for their love of color. Take a look at their work and draw your inspiration from their finished items and patterns.

2) Browse a Color Inspiration Website

Several websites offer daily, weekly or seasonal color palettes that can inspire your next crochet project.

My favorites are:

  • Color Collective, a blog featuring color palettes drawn from images;
  • Colour Lovers, a community that shares color inspirations and palettes;
  • Design Seeds, a website that offers color inspiration posts and also provides the ability for readers to search through palettes by color value and theme; and
  • Pantone, which shares seasonal color reports that predict fashion and home décor trends.

Pick and choose colors from any of these palettes to get a stylish and coordinated feel.


3) Use a Color Palette Generator

If you have a photograph that you find inspiring or have seen an image online with colors that appeal to you, a web-based palette generator can help you separate the individual colors so you can match them to solid color yarns. Color Hunter is one such website. I took a photograph of these colorful hydrangeas a few years ago…

Hydrangea shrubs on Underground Crafter…and Color Hunter generated this palette.

Color Hunter color palette generated from an uploaded image on Underground CrafterI can use this to choose solid yarns to create the same look and feel of those hydrangea bushes.

4) Let the Yarn Guide You

Choose a solid color yarn that speaks to you, and generate a palette of colors to combine with it. Paletton – The Color Scheme Designer allows you to select any color in the rainbow and then generates a color scheme with options for mono, complement, triad, tetrad, analogic or accented analogic colors.

5) Choose a Multi-Colored Yarn

You can also put yourself completely in the hands of the yarn company, and pick a multi-colored yarn for your next crochet or knitting project. Many large yarn companies and independent dyers, like Crystal Palace, Lorna’s Laces, madelinetosh, Malabrigo, Mrs. Crosby, and Noro, are known for their beautiful color combinations.

Knitty City Lights, an exclusive Madelinetosh colorway available at my local yarn shop, Knitty City.
Knitty City Lights, an exclusive madelinetosh colorway available at my local yarn shop, Knitty City.

This option has the added benefit of minimizing yarn changes, and thus reducing the number of yarn tails you have to weave in at the end of your project. (You can find more tips for working with multi-colored yarns in this post.)

Bonus Tip: Consider a Temperature Project

If you’d rather just have (most) of the color decisions taken out of your hands, consider a temperature project. You can learn more about these conceptual projects, where you crochet (or knit) an infographic of a year in your life, in this post.

With these easy tips, you should be ready to embrace new colors in your next crochet project.

What are your favorite tips for embracing color?

#Crochet #TipsTuesday: How to design a beautiful blanket using granny square patterns from multiple sources

#HowTo design a beautiful blanket using granny square patterns from multiple sources on #Crochet #TipsTuesday with Underground CrafterIf you’re participating in the Mystery Lapghan Crochet-a-long (with 36 crochet patterns by 30 designers), or if you’re just a granny square lover like me, you’ve probably spent lots of time thinking about how to piece together a blanket using squares by different designers.

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One option is to make a folky, scrappy blanket. These “stash buster” blankets are often pieced together at random, or squares are joined to the larger project as they are finished.

But what if you want to use many different squares to create a blanket that looks more cohesive and planned? I’m sharing 5 tips for designing a blanket that has the look that you want while combining granny square patterns from different sources.

1) Start by selecting colors

For a scrappy look, follow the quilters’ adage and use 7 or more colors. Surprisingly, with this many colors, you don’t have to worry much about whether they all “match” as long as colors placed side by side look harmonious.

I used this approach with my Temperature Scarf. I started with seven yarns (and added an additional color later when I ran out of one).
I used this approach with my Temperature Scarf. I started with seven yarns (and added an additional color later when I ran out of one). You can find the free crochet pattern here.

For a planned blanket, choose a more limited color palette of 3-4 colors for the squares and 1 additional color for borders and joins. If you feel anxious about choosing colors, stick with one brand and one line of yarn since these colors usually work well together. Or, read this great post on color theory for crocheters on FreshStitches.

ILC October 2015 square

2) Pick patterns that connect easily

Your blanket will have a more uniform look if each row is the same size. The simplest way to do this is to select square patterns of the same size. 4”, 6”, 8”, 12”, and 20” square patterns are common options.

Another option is to choose sizes that can easily be combined. For example, the diagram below shows how you can connect nine 4″ squares (at right) to one 12″ square (at center) and four 6″ squares (at left).

#HowTo design a beautiful blanket using granny square patterns from multiple sources on #Crochet #TipsTuesday with Underground CrafterOf course, when you are working with patterns from multiple designers, you will may find that designs that are supposed to result in squares of the same sizes don’t always end up the same size due to differences in your tension, yarn choice, hook, and so on. You might choose to “square up” the smaller squares by working a border of stitches around the square (including 3 stitches in each of the four corners to keep the corners from puckering).

Craftsy3) Lay out the final blanket before joining

A blanket will look most cohesive if you lay it out and choose your favorite arrangement before joining squares together. You can lay out motifs on a large flat surface (like your bed), or you take a picture of each square and sample your virtual layout using PicMonkey collages. Moogly has a great tutorial on using PicMonkey to plan a blanket here.

4) Choose a join to create the right look

There are three major ways to join granny squares.

An invisible join on the wrong (back) side of the blanket is best if you don’t want the seams to be part of the blanket’s design. I have several tutorials for invisible seams available:

On the other hand, a more visible join, like using single crochet join on the right (front) side to create a dimensional sashing, or using a lacy join to create a more delicate look, might be the right fit for your project. You can find my tutorial for a single crochet join here.

A third option is to “join-as-you-go.” Unless you plan your layout before starting your squares (or if you are going for a scrappy look), this technique is more difficult to use when working with squares from multiple designers. You can find my tutorial for the join-as-you-go method here.

5) Unify the blanket with a border

Finally, pull all of the squares and colors of the project together with a border. Choose a solid color for a classic look, find a variegated yarn that includes colors like those in the blanket, or use multiple colors. My favorite book of crochet border patterns is Around the Corner Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman.

I hope you found these tips helpful. What are your favorite ways to combine granny squares from different designers into one project?