3 Rules for Starting a Crochet Pattern

When I am not working on my own design for classes, etc. I like to have a couple of seasonally appropriate moderately challenging projects by other designers to work on. One of my summer projects is the Water Lily Shawl by Lisa Naskrent in the Spring 2016 issue of Interweave Crochet.


This is a well written pattern, which is a good thing, as I would be lost if it wasn’t! I would also be having a hard time if I did not apply best practices in pattern reading. More than just comprehending the pattern, having a methodical approach to using the information provided when starting a new project from a pattern, makes for much less frustration and a happier experience all around. 
My first rule for begining a professionally published pattern, is to remember that there is no extraneous information. There is nothing written there that should be disregarded or ignored. Do something differently if you have a good reason, it’s your project, but know the rule before you break them and know why you are breaking them. If it’s well written and edited all of the info you need is there. You just have to read it and apply it. It’s quite a feat to deliver this kind of complex instruction in writing to perfect strangers. It’s an equally impressive feat for those strangers to sit down and interpret them successfully.
That brings me to my second rule, sit down and patiently read the whole pattern through before you do anything else. You don’t have to be able to visualize each step necessarily, but look for things you don’t understand and make some notes. If there are stitches or instructions you don’t recognize, get those figured out first. If there is something you really don’t like to do and you can’t see how to work around it, maybe it’s not the pattern you are looking for. Better to find out now, than half way through and after buying a bunch of yarn, that you have no idea how to 6tr cluster or remember how you really don’t care for holding two strands of yarn together while stitching. It’s also helpful to have a sense of what direction you are working the piece in, and if you will be working in sections that you join later. It’s generally easier to prevent a directional mistake than fix it.
The third rule is check for errata and other resources before you get started. If you are having trouble with a pattern that just isn’t working, it might not be you. Despite everyone’s best efforts, mistakes get published. Publisher’s websites generally have areas with errata. Look up the Ravelry page for the project; sometimes the designer will post corrections. Look also at other people’s notes on the project, they may note otherwise unpublished errata, as well as clarifications and photos of tricky parts. If the designer has a website or YouTube page, there may be links to videos for special stitches and techniques that will save you some time and trouble.

If you would like more information about understanding crochet patterns, I have a workshop in July, Better Crochet Pattern Reading. This two part workshop is designed to help crocheters with their approach to and working of crochet patterns. We’ll talk more about what you need to keep in mind when beginning a crochet project, what the pattern is really trying to tell you, as well as what to consider when selecting your materials. A frank discussion about gauge will illustrate the importance of understanding this important part of a pattern and why you do not need to fear or disregard it. Tips for reading patterns, organizing and finishing, and caring for your project will also be offered.

The second class includes time for consultation with students on their next crochet project, including help selecting hooks and yarn. Projects in need of revival are welcome.
Better Crochet Pattern Reading Date: Saturdays, 7/16, 7/23; 2016 Time: 10:30am–1:00pm Location: WEBs Yarn, Northampton, MA. Click here for additional details and to sign up.

If you have any questions about this or other classes, please feel free to be in touch.

3 Rules for Starting a Crochet Pattern

Summer 2016 Classes and Events 

EVENTS

Free crochet help! Bring your pattern, your yarn, and your questions to Crochet Drop-In at WEBs, Thursdays from 5:30pm–8:00pm

July 14
August 4 (future dates tbd)

Be sure to bring your project with what you have done so far, including any swatches. Please don’t leave it at home or rip it out because it “looks bad”. This is how we will diagnose your project and get you on track to finish it successfully.

Crochet Drop In is not a beginner’s class. It is a first come, first served open session for anyone with crochet project questions. You don’t need to have a problem to get help, though. If you are starting a project, we can take a look together at the pattern and translate stitches and instruction, and discuss materials. If time allows, you might even be able to start a swatch we can review together.

Shibori at Beehive Sewing

On display now through August 5 at Beehive Sewing Studio (271 Pleasant St., Noho) an exhibit of shashiko embroidery, origami, and Shibori Impressed: Nature Motifs in Japanese Design. The Beehive team made all the shashiko and origami. We brought the Shibori to the party!

Try your hand at Shibori and join us at Beehive Friday 7/29 6-8pm for Shibori Basics. Call 413-345-8201 for more detail and to sign up!


Thanks to everyone who came out for the 20th Annual NES (Northampton Education Foundation) SOS (Support our Schools) Plant and Garden Market on Saturday May 7!

Thanks to all who attended Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Craft Fair. This is a terrific annual fiber event over Memorial Day weekend featuring lots of local fiber and fiber producers, contests, demonstrations, and workshops on all things wool. Sheep dog trials are a major attraction. I’m a Fair volunteer (be in touch if you would like to join us). Check out the web page for the full festival schedule and be sure to like the Fair on Facebook and follow on Twitter for updates, reminders, and fun stuff.

CROCHET CLASS

Classes at WEBs: In addition to the foundation crochet course Crochet I, I’ll be teaching two new crochet classes at WEBS this summer.

Better Crochet Pattern Reading is designed to help crocheters with their approach to and understanding of crochet patterns. We’ll talk about everything you need to keep in mind when beginning a project, what the pattern is really trying to tell you, as well as what to consider when selecting your materials. A frank discussion about gauge will illustrate the importance of understanding this important part of a pattern and why you do not need to fear or disregard it. Tips for reading patterns, organizing and finishing, and caring for your project will also be offered.

The second class includes time for consultation with students on their next crochet project, including help selecting hooks and yarn. Projects in need of revival are welcome.

Better Crochet Pattern Reading Date: Saturdays, 7/16, 7/23; 2016 Time: 10:30am–1:00pm Location: WEBs Yarn, Northampton, MA. Click here for more details and to register.

An Introduction to Tunisian Lace is for students who have had practice with Tunisian stitches. Those who have made some simple projects or done a lot of swatching will have the best results. Using a cotton weight fingering yarn, we’ll work a simple lace pattern with a two row repeat and an easy increase. A quick edging completes the piece. The suggested yarn (Schachenmayer Tahiti) comes in many lovely variegated color ways, which means lots of pretty colors but not lots of ends to weave in. The sample pictured combines two color ways, Aquatic and Bermuda by name.

We will skip a week between the two class meetings to give students more time to work on their shawls. We will be making a substantial swatch that students will use in class, so it will not be essential to finish the piece for the second class.

An Introduction to Tunisian Lace, Dates: Sundays, 7/24, 8/7; 2016 Time: 10:30am–1:00pm, click here for more detail and to register.

If you have any questions about these events or just want to say in touch, click here for contact info and where else to find us on the internet.

 

Summer 2016 Classes and Events 

Shibori at the Winter Market

Vireo Fibercrafts will be at Northampton Winter Market every Saturday, now through April 30. I will have for sale various Shibori dyed items; scarves, socks, and wraps for furoshiki. Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese way to wrap items for safe keeping or transport. It is a versatile, beautiful and sustainable way to wrap and present gifts here in the 21st century. They can be reused again and again and laundered as needed. Wouldn’t it be cool if every time we gave each other gifts, part of the fun was anticipating the new furoshiki cloth? It’s wrapping a gift with a gift!

Special for Valentine’s Day at the Winter Market! 20 x 20 squares $10 each, with a complimentary empty box, if you like. Perfect to wrap up some Shibori socks or felted critters from Chris! You can wrap most any shaped thing, as there are a variety of techniques. Fabulous for books! 

Speaking of fabulous, the Winter Market in Northampton is just that. Lots of yummy fresh and local food, crafts, house plants, music and more brought to you, by your neighbors! 

  

   
 

Shibori at the Winter Market

Shibori anyone?

I am very excited to be offering Intro to Shibori at Beehive Sewing Studio in Northampton, MA. We’ll be offering the same session twice, Sunday’s February 14 and March 13, 4-6pm.

Shibori is the ancient craft of folding, binding, clamping and stitching fabric before dyeing to create geometric designs.  Modern fabric artists use the term shibori to describe many of these techniques. The word derives from shiboru “to press”. These words are Japanese and there is a very strong tradition of this craft there. The techniques also developed in other parts of the world. Today we see fabric decorated with these techniques in clothing and linens from Indonesia and India.

Itajime, soot dye on cotton

The traditional materials in the Japanese tradition are indigo, and cotton or linen. Modern shibori artists use all kinds of fabrics and dyes in their work. Both traditional and modern interpretations of this craft are memorable. Tie dye borrows binding techniques from shibori, but the way the dye is applied to the cloth is different.

  

Itajime, indigo on cotton

I had never dyed fabric before taking a shibori workshop with the fabulous Mo Kelman at Snow Farm. Well, after that workshop I was completely obsessed. There really is nothing else like it. The fabric and how you manipulate it makes the resists that creates the patterns. The fabric essentially decorates itself with your guidance. Every little thing influnces the final design: if you folded it, how did you fold, which direction, did you iron the folds, did you wet the fabric before you dyed it, how long did you dye it for with what kind of dye, did you immerse the whole thing or just dip the edges? All of these factors and more affect the uptake of dye by capillary action into the cloth. You can predict the design somewhat, but the beauty and fascination comes with all of the variety. 
 

Itajime, indigo on cotton
 
Intrigued yet? It helps to have a guide your first times trying out these techniques.  In the Intro to Shibori class at Beehive, we will explore the folding and clamping technique itajime, using traditional soot and mineral dyes from Japan. You’ll dye a piece of fabric to use in your next sewing project. Head on over to Beehive to sign up! 

Shibori anyone?

There’s Cozy. And Then There’s Thrummed Cozy.

Bring up the topic of thrums and inevitably a number of people in a room full of experienced fiber folk will ask “what’s this thrum, you speak of?” Thrumming is one of the ways to incorporate fiber in addition to the yarn used for stitches to make an extra cuddly and warm garment. Loops of unspun roving are worked into the stitches. The outside of the garment is decorated by charming little pearls of roving. The inside of the piece becomes lined with the loops of roving. Upon completion, the thrums produce a sigh inducing soft lining.  Over time, the roving felts to make an even cuddlier lining. Combine a soft yarn you love to touch such as Valley Yarns Stockbridge, with an especially soft roving such as merino or blue faced Leicester, and you’ll have a something to make you feel better about cold weather.

IMG_3309
Cold weather crocheted accessories benefit greatly from this embeshiment. They tend to be more open in their stitches. The thrums fill in and back the spaces between stitches for better warmth. The thrumming technique is not particularly difficult to learn, with the right instruction. The Crocheted Thrummed Baby Hat workshop at webs  (Saturdays, 1:30-3:30 pm 2/27, 3/5, 3/12) features a small sized pattern, to keep learning this new technique manageable. The pattern has been designed to be fully adjustable. It can be worked to any size, with or without ear flaps.

   
    
   

There’s Cozy. And Then There’s Thrummed Cozy.