Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pattern Discovered, New Pillow

So in looking for one thing, I was lead to another, a handsome Russian( pattern)
that I found so very compelling.

Its sinous curves and arches looked like towers and minarets, or softened oinion domes. The chart was clear but challenging.
I finally came to understand it as an attenuated/elongated wave chevron pattern - with gathers over 5, 7, or  19 stitches, with pillars of stitches rising above the deep gathered valleys.
It can be found here:

The colors in the tiny image are lovely and color continues to be a challenge for me.
But I put my favorites -- yellow and purpe to gether  thinking working from dark to light and add a contrast (green).

'Tis is the year of the figurative in freeform for me, so the pillow edges have two spirt women.  One of my  smack my forehead moments was realziing that framing the figures, extended them in an easy to use way.


This National Crochet Month I spent time working on objects for my home -- for the first time. My yellow leather couch is enhanced by this pillow:






Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy National Crochet Month 2014!


My month started off with fanfare as I won Elann.com's monthly drawing! As a designer with limited funds, the gift of yarn is a great gift.  Thanks Elann, your Peruvian Highland Wool was among the first yarns I designed in and with – the extensive palette and great price made it my go-to yarn.   This line is being retired, but I hope it will return.

Party on Ravelry

For the past several ears, I’ve participated in the Party for National Crochet Month on Ravelry, mainly by joining the FreeForm Crochet-Along, as both participant and designer for a day.  I’ve learned so much over the years from this.  The sharing and camaraderie are amazing.  It’s a joy to have an international brain trust of knowing hands whose efforts, exchanges, and endeavors inspire.

Charity of the Month

Crocheting for charity helped me when I was in rehab. Being able to create for others, was affirming and  stimulating, Crochetville has selected Halos of Hope as the feature charity for this month.

Halos of Hope is  a 501c3 not-for-profit organization committed to providing volunteer-crafted hats to cancer centers across the country. They prefer soft, seamless washable, headwear. http://halosofhope.org/guidelines
Mailing Address:  Halos of Hope, 20987 N. John Wayne Pkwy, #B104-432, Maricopa, AZ 85139  or you could find a local center through this link:
Blog Tour

My post today, is part of Crochetville's 2014 Blog Tour for National Crochet Month. Crochetville’s blog tour will feature about two designers each day of the month. All designers participating in the blog tour are professional or associate members of the Crochet Guild of America. For more information: http://crochetville.com/national-crochet-month-2014-designer-blog-tour/

New Leaf Collection

My new leaf collection is 30% off for National Crochet Month. I love flowers and leaves as motifs, applique’s embellishments, but particularly for use in creating freeform fabric.  This is my second collection of leaf patterns and includes: Big Little Leaf, Circle Leaf, Embossed Leaf, Flame Leaf, Floral Leaf , Fruit Leaf, Heart Leaves, Houseplant Leaf, and Medium Leaf.  To get the discount, use the code NatCroMo or this link: ravelry.com/redeem/akuadesigns-2?code=NatCroMo


Free Patterns

I created  a number of patterns for National Crochet Month.  Each of these will be free for seven days beginning with Five Year Flower, so stop by next week for  the link and code for the other patterns.
Five Year Flower is inspired by Irish Crochet. It’s named for my personal numerological year and  petals – both of which are five, the number of change. To get it free, use the code FREE or this link http://www.ravelry.com/redeem/akuadesigns-2?code=FREE


Crochet Book

One of my several projects for this month is a crocheted book of poems on crochet.
Most of these have been published singly, but not collected.  Next month is
National Poetry Month and it seems a good way to connect the dots, to connect my passion for creating with words and with fiber.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

And the answer was inspiration:First Storm Hat

It began with a question. A Raveler saw a hat
http://www.whitestuff.com/crochet-bobble-hat-prod406885_yellow/
and loved the stitch pattern and  wondered if anyone could identify it.  After some discussion I remembered I saw this Catherine Wheel plus Tunisian Boxes in The New Tunisian Crochet by Dora Ohrenstein.

















Excited and inspired by the discussion and the pattern, I created my own version using Full Circle Bulky, a deliciously soft yarn, in a rich purple.

This was a great way to start the new year, creatively, joyfully, making warmth against the cold.




Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays! Free Patterns and Sales From Around the Web

I spent about a six weeks this summer thinking about crocheting shoes and gathering information, so I was excited to see the announcement for a free E-Book How to Crochet Socks and Slippers: Free Patterns for Crochet Slippers and Socks from Crochet Me (Interweave).
http://www.crochetme.com/free-patterns-crochet-socks-slippers


They’reDownload your free patterns for crochet slipper and crochet socks!

 also having a sale on some issues of Interweave Crochet and have a 30% off code SNOW30.

And this may be old news to some, but I just found out that Leisure Arts has a Free Pattern Friday for Crochet.
I don’t have direct link. http://www.leisurearts.com
They’re also holding a warehouse sale.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stitch Heights, New Rows

Stitches have their designated chain-height equivalents: single crochet equals  one chain, half double crochet equals two chains, double crochet equals three chains, treble crochet equals 4 chains.

Convention has you use these equivalents when you start a new row, because chaining enables you to build the stitch height with immediacy.

Several inventive crocheters have developed other ways to achieve the stitch height
without using the conventional, weak and wobbly turning chain. My favorite of these methods employs a technique like a foundation single crochet. After a single crochet, you insert the hook on the left side strand(left vertical loop), yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through two -- creating a sc over a sc -- like a building block. And you repeat this for as many times as you would chain. I've incorporated it in many patterns now and call the stitch a build/t _____, as in a bhdc (build half double crochet), bdc (build double crochet), btr (built treble crochet).

There's a wonderful video of the technique here


This fsc approach is like magic to me -- as it enables you to create platforms for stitches in space....

This summer while working on spirals, I came to another practice that also goes against conventional dictates. When creating multicolor spirals (worked in continuous rounds) I prefer to use a ch-2 before the starting sc in a ring. Why? Because it gives the sc a little side edge and makes it easier to find as you spiral around toward it. Having confessed this to the IFF group on Rav, I heard from another crocheter who said she does that too!

Wishing everyone safe travels and happy gatherings during this cold, stormy, Thanksgiving week.


Indie Designer Gift-A-Long Parties on Twitter

The Indie Designer Gift-A-Long is hosting a couple of GAL parties on Twitter.
Join in for convivial conversation about the #giftalong with your fellow crafters and have a chance to win some great electronic prizes, including patterns from participating Indie Designers including Kate Bostwick, Leah Michelle Designs, Maureen Foulds, Kylie McDonnell-Wade, Selina S, Nina Machlin Dayton, Faye Kennington and more!

GMT - Wednesday, 4 December 2013, 17:00:00 (EST - Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 12pm Noon; PST - Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 9:00:00 AM) Follow host @BeZenCilla to join in!
and
GMT - Friday, December 6, 2013 at 00:00:00 (EST - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 7:00:00 PM; PST - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 4:00:00 PM; AEDT - Friday, December 6, 2013 at 11:00:00 AM) Follow host @ukeeknits to join in!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Darleen Hopkins, Indie Crochet Designer


A sweet and amazing gathering happened and is still effervescing.  A group of independent designers on Ravelry gathered together to create the 2013 Gift A Long, offering discounts on patterns, contests and prizes for participation.  It has been a wonderful way to “meet” and exchange with other indie designers and I’ve learned a lot from the many wonderful creators involved.

Crocheters were outnumbered by knitters in this  endeavor, but the insightful administrators created a Pinterest board of the participating crochet patterns http://www.pinterest.com/allison_janocha/ravelry-gift-a-long-crochet/.

Darleen Hopkins is one of the crochet designers in the Gift A Long.  She kindly agreed to an interview.  There is humor and pleasure in her whimsical and skewed hat designs and I'm delighted to share her thoughts here.

How did you learn to crochet?

My sister first taught me when I was about 10 years old. I never did much with it then. I retaught myself (about 2005) learning from a booklet. I spent the first 6 months or so making single crochet dishcloths and potholders. I made A LOT of them but in the process, I really perfected my tension. I still have the potholders but the dishcloths have worn out and have been replaced with newer crocheted ones. 

How/when did you begin to design?

Almost right away I started tweaking patterns.  I'm not sure if have ever made a pattern just as it was written. It wasn't long until I started making up my own designs. I sold my first self-published design in April, 2010 on Etsy-the Waiting for Spring Flapper Hat. My first design published in a magazine was the 'I do' afghan (Crochet Today! May/June 2011). I designed the afghan as a wedding gift for a friend of mine and on a whim decided to submit it to the magazine. I was so excited when it was accepted! 

What is your design process? What Influences your style?

Most of my designs are a little bit silly. I guess it's a reflection of my personality-I'm a goofy nerd. Usually an idea just pops in my head and I go with it. I often run the ideas by my two boys, my husband and my mother to get other opinions. I work out the design crocheting and writing the pattern as I go making the necessary adjustments to fit my vision. 

What do you make and design repeatedly if anything? 

Hats! I love hats, the sillier the better. I started out with hats and was inspired by Halos of Hope, http://halosofhope.org/.  This is a great group that collects handmade hats and distributes them to cancer centers across the US.
  

What is your favorite workhorse yarn (fiber, weight)? 
I love the softness of cotton and prefer either 100% cotton (great for the donated hats) or cotton and acrylic blends. I tend to use and design with worsted (medium) weight a lot.

Do you have favorite hooks? What brand style and why? 

Clover Soft Touch. I was having trouble with arm fatigue and found the thinner hooks contributing to the problem. I love the shape of the handle of the soft touch hooks. They are much easier to grip and I have fewer problems now. 

Which of your patterns make for really great gift crocheting?

Cubed Hat, Super Slouchy is a great pattern for men and women. It's hard finding great patterns for men. This can be made in his favorite sports team's colors. http://crochetbydarleenhopkins.com/patterns/cubed-hat-super-slouchy-or-relaxed-beanie/ 

Cubed Hat, Slouchy Style
Mr. Springy, the Robot Dude (or Dudette) is a great gift for a child. Every child loves to play dress up. Mix the colors up to make it for a boy or a girl. 
Shown in Berroco Remix yarn.


 Bobble Head Blanket Buddy-Hippo is another great gift pattern. This can be made pretty quickly and inexpensively in an easy care worsted acrylic or acrylic blend. Switch up the colors and it’s perfect for boys or girls. http://crochetbydarleenhopkins.com/patterns/baby-blanket-buddy-hippo/ 
http://crochetbydarleenhopkins.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/p1020009-780x1000.jpg


What do you most enjoy about crocheting?

Crocheting relaxes me. I get caught up in the repetition of the stitches and the counting. It soothes my brain. Design lets my creativity shine. I love the challenge of figuring out how to make the yarn look the way I want.


 DarleenHopkins