5.05.2016

Meet Natasha Robarge

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Natasha Robarge. She is an incredibly talented crochet designer.  You probably have come across her work in Interweave Crochet.  And if you did, you definitely stopped and said, WOW.  All her designs are modern, and showcase how creative you can be with crochet.

She designed two projects in Vintage Modern Crochet.  The Guipure Top is an Irish Lace Netting masterpiece.  It takes the netting or background to typical Irish Lace and makes it the star of the project.  It is just a stunning piece, and the cotton yarn really makes it a fabulous top to wear.  The Carefree Pullover is secretly a Filet Lace project. It looks so complex, but its actually just made from solid and void areas.  The linen yarn really transforms the project.  Its the perfect summer top, light and airy, and easy for us all to wear.

This week Natasha and I got to chat a bit about crochet.  Here is our conversation:

Guipure Top

RC: What is it about crochet that inspires you to design in it?

NR: I'm thrilled by the expressive possibilities of crochet and its technical versatility. Crochet fabric can easily take any shape from squares to hexes to flowers to freeform. The range of textural effects is huge: from sturdy post stitches to spider web lace. I have been crocheting and knitting for a long time but only crochet inspired me to design due to its vast creative potential. My designs celebrate crochet and I try to create the look which is not achievable through any other craft. 

RC: What is one of your favorite techniques in crochet?

NR: I really like to explore them all: I have published designs in filet and Irish lace, hairpin lace, broomstick lace, motifs, Tunisian, intarsia. I still need to figure out how to create a pattern for freeform. Some techniques are harder to adapt to patterns in multiple sizes or give a definitive explanation where to insert hook. 

RC: What was the last item that you made for yourself (in any craft)?

Guipure Top
NR: I wear all the crochet sample shawls I designed (fortunately no size limitations apply). A work colleague of mine called them "sweater-shawls" as I find them a perfect layer for a business casual style. I also made a couple of knit tops: a sleeveless top for the office to wear under a jacket or a cardi and a short-sleeve weekend top. I typically alternate my knit and crochet projects, and recently have been craving some sewing. I'm thinking of a summer skirt. As a matter of fact, as I'm writing this, I will sew a simple long gathered skirt with a wide rich crochet border for an overall clean linen look which is popular now in the stores. 

RC: What other crafts do you love?

NR: I mentioned crochet, knitting, sewing. I've also enjoyed embroidery. Anything with knots. My grandmother told me that when I was an infant she would tie a bunch of knots on a string and I would carefully untie them and then cry for more. I still never cut knots, untying them is like a puzzle for me. In fact I prefer to hand-wind my yarn too. This is just part of the fun. 

RC: What was your inspiration behind your designs in Vintage Modern Crochet?

Carefree Pullover
NR: Carefree Pullover is the result of the design evolution which started with a Chico's catalogue. The catalogue was full of bright flowing ponchos with striking color patterns. I wanted to make one in crochet. Linen yarn gives the ability to create large stitches with skinny yarn and the resulting garment is light. It is important not to weigh down a wide piece of fabric. Then a selected a large scale stitch pattern and made a swatch in bright stripes. Robyn suggested that the book will be more monochromatic and we agreed on just one complementary stripe at the bottom. It was a good decision. However, if you see yourself in a bright striking summer cover-up, make this pullover at half-length and go for some orange, white, and azure stripes. 

The inspiration process for Guipure Top was the opposite. Robyn asked for repeatable Irish lace vs. Irish lace motifs with freeform netting. So I looked at dozens of guipure lace ribbons online to just get an idea of what they might look like. Then I came up with my own stitch pattern which did not really look like the ribbons I saw but still maintained the same spirit. A simple top shape which fits easily with the stitch pattern completed the design. I must say the fabric of this top is quite amazing. Even if you don't make an entire top, just try to crochet a few rounds in the same yarn or other perle cotton yarn. You will be fascinated. 

RC: What is next for you?  Where can people see more of your work?

NR: I have three goals for this year: 
- Continue to submit my designs to F&W. One of my designs will be published in Interweave Crochet Summer 2016 and one in Crochetscene 2016. 
- Learn to use software for crochet charts. I love charts and hand-draw them in a jiffy, but computer generating them is a different story. I will be looking for a teacher. 
- Find time to self-publish at least one more pattern. Don't we all want to squeeze 48 hours into 24? I publish all of my indie designs on Ravelry. 
  
Carefree Pullover, Bottom Edge
You can see more of  Natasha's work over at Ravelry or on her website.  Natasha is hosting a Crochet-A-Long over in her Love for Contemporary Crochet Group.  She will be doing a giveaway of one copy of the book in the CAL, so be sure to sign up for a chance to win!


5.03.2016

A Time to Crochet + Giveaway

This week I received my copy of  Classic Elite's brand new booklet, A Time to Crochet.

I have really been looking forward to this!  Classic Elite asked me to crochet "my favorite sweater" using any technique and yarn I would like.  Man, was that fun!  I immediately wanted to do motifs.  I love them, and am constantly in love with the lace they create.  It still seems magical to me the lace they form when connected all together. As for style, I was going for something comfortable.  A sweater you can toss on with any outfit.  I left the side seams open, to make the sweater very relaxed in fit.  The yarn is Fresco, a wonderful wool/ alpaca/ angora blend. Incredibly soft and fun to crochet.

Alessandria is fully diagrammed.  There are stitch diagrams for each motif and joining in the sweater.  The other patterns in the book are pretty great.  You need to go check them out on Ravelry when you have a minute.  (Quite a number of the patterns are diagrammed as well.)

A Time to Crochet you can get as an eBook, a physical book, or you can purchase the patterns one at a time.  Cool part is if you buy the printed booklet, you get a code to the eBook version for free.

Giveaway time!  Classic Elite generously gave me one copy of the book to giveaway and I have one hank of Fresco I can give you as well.   As always, to enter just leave me a comment here, or email, or Ravelry,  or Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram by Monday May 9th at noon.  Good Luck!

5.02.2016

Meet Kristin Omdahl and get ready to be INSPIRED!

Today I want to introduce you to my friend, Kristin Omdahl.  She is the creative force of nature behind Kristin Omdahl Bamboo Yarns, Glow Skin Care, Knitting and Crochet Books, and so much more.  She is amazing.  She is one of those friends that you hold dear, because they constantly are inspiring you to go further and try more.

Kristin has started a new project, Kristin Cares.  She will be donating a portion of profits from her Kristin Omdahl Line to Project Kristin Cares that benefit victims of domestic violence. You need to go check out her story and new project.  It makes me just love her more and more.

In the new book, Vintage Modern Crochet, I asked Kristin to design any Bruges Lace project she wanted in her Bamboo Yarn.   The Ter Berge Shawl she created is just stunning.  Its 5 spiral medallions that you join into one shawl.   The most amazing part it is uses just one hank of Kristin's Bamboo so Fine Yarn.  And I can testify, the yarn is wonderful.  (In all honesty, I am wearing a shawl I made for myself in her yarn while I type.)  I just love it.  It drapes, its colorful, you can wear it in any season, it breathes, you will just fall in love too.

I caught up with her yesterday and we got to chat a bit about crochet.


RC: What is one of your favorite techniques in crochet?
KO: I love so many! I think the umbrella category would be lace though. Then from there, I love lace in motifs, stitch patterns, broomstick, bruges lace, tunisian, etc… (so basically lace in anything LOL)

RC:  What was the last item that you made for yourself (in any craft)?
KO: My skin care line: Kristin Omdahl GLOW: enhance your inner beauty. I use all my own skin care products. Anti-aging face cream, toner, cleansing oil, body lotion, bath salts, sugar scrub, organic soaps, massage candles. I am a strong believer in holistic healing and aromatherapy is a passion of mine.

RC: What other crafts do you love?
KO: ALL CRAFTS! I am a self-proclaimed DIY Mama! I love to work with my hands ALL THE TIME. I love to build things out of wood, make things in the kitchen, make holistic healing products with all natural ingredients, sew (with my own fabrics in a couple of months!!!), and make anything and everything with yarn. I love to knit and crochet, and would love to learn how to weave soon.      

RC: What was your inspiration behind your design in Vintage Modern Crochet?
KO: I saw an art installation of assorted sized medallions that were joined together to create another shape. I thought it would be fun to try to do that for a mostly-triangular shawl. So I made assorted sizes of medallions (the largest for the center and progressively smaller for the sides), and continue with the spiral joining of bruges lace to join them as you go. And then did a more traditional strip of bruges lace for the edging, while adding concentration (like the spiral) for the corner at the point on the shawl. And, voila! It worked! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way this design came together. And I swoon every time I see the styling of the photos of it in your book!

Kristin created a video on how exactly to crochet the shawl.  Go take a look.
   
RC: What is next for you?  Where can people see more of your work?
KO: Right now I am launching Project Kristin Cares; launching my skin care line Kristin Omdahl GLOW: enhance your inner beauty; expanding my yarn company Kristin Omdahl YARNS, adding lots of fun and educational content to my YouTube channel (please subscribe!) and much more.

Links!  Here is all the places you can find Kristin.

Website
Facebook
Instagram
YouTube
Twitter
Amazon shop
RedBubble
Ravelry

Kristin is running a giveaway of a copy of the book, and one skein of yarn over at her website.  Make sure you hop over and find how to enter.  Also, for a limited time, please use coupon code ROBYN20 to receive 20% off your purchase on Kristin's website! Be So Fine Lavender’s First Romance is the yarn used in this shawl (one skein project)  And Designers, check out her Designer Support Program.


Get Ready to Meet the Designers

This month I have the great pleasure of talking to some incredibly talented crochet designers.  They all shared some of their talent in my new book Vintage Modern Crochet.  Every designer in book is someone I really admire, and I hope after you "meet" them all, you will too!  Along the way, we will have giveaways, videos, crochet-a-longs, and more.  I hope you can join us for some of the fun!  We will kick off the fun tomorrow.

Till then you can check out the book and the projects on Ravelry.

Marly Bird was sweet enough to have me on her show where we got to gush over the designers.

Gwen and Kathryn were kind enough to review the book as well.  Both made me blush with their kind words.

4.20.2016

Come hang out with Marly and me on Monday!

Tomorrow at noon (EST) Marly and I will be chatting away about crochet, life, dogs, kids, and more on her Yarn Thing Podcast.  We will be giving away 2 copies of the new book, Vintage Modern Crochet.


Be warned, we like to giggle.  A LOT

She is one of my favorite people, and I just love getting to spend time with her.  We usually end up giggling over nothing, which is the best kind of person I know.   No matter if you crochet or knit, Marly always makes you feel like you can do it all.  She is the perfect cheerleader for crafting, and I just love her.

You can catch up with some of our adventures over at Blog Talk.  They still make me giggle, even years later.

edited:  We needed to reschedule for Monday.  Hope to see you there!

Interweave Crochet Coloring Book

While in Loveland for YarnFest a few weeks ago, I got to see Interweave's newest coloring book.  And from the moment I saw it, I thought BRILLIANT!

Seriously

BRILLIANT

Interweave Crochet Team took some of the most beautiful stitch diagrams they had from over the years, and exploded the stitches so you can color in them.  We all know that stitch diagrams can be quite the work of art when done with care.  Now you can color them to make them even more stunning.

But what made me shout out BRILLIANT, was not another pretty coloring book; which it is.  But the fantastic color scheme tool that it can be.  Every stitch is exploded so you can color within it, but it still keeps similar thickness of weight of each stitch.  Meaning, when you color each round, you can use it to plan out the color you want in your project.  The thicker stitches will have more color and thinner or smaller stitches will have less (think a cluster or shell vs a single crochet or chain).  Now when you color you can see exactly how much the shells or other stitches standout, and how much the chains recede.  Plus, if you color the background, you can test out what shirts your shawl or sweater will look good when worn on top.

BRILLIANT, right?

I have a terrible time with color.  I might crochet 10 swatches for each color project and be on the fence with all of them.  But with the coloring book idea, I could color my stitch diagrams and really plan my color with out wasting my yarn.

Plus, when I hand a copy to my daughter, I get to envision what her uninhibited self puts together for color.  And we get to giggle and laugh the entire time.

Interweave Crochet has the coloring book for download on their site.  I think its like 8$, great deal for tons of fun.  They also have a free page you can download from their website as well.

I can't wait to hear what you think of it!




4.08.2016

Shawl Style

I am thrilled that so many of you liked my little piece in the Knit and Crochet Now Newsletter on ways to wear a shawl.  A few of you wished you could see other shawls shown in the same manners.  Well, luckily, I had the Rafael Shawl in my studio!  Here is what Candi Jensen's gorgeous shawl looks like as a cardi, vest, and wrap. (for details, go check out the newsletter!)

Cardi
I love how the edging really shines on the front panels of the cardi.  I also love how the extra depth gives you great batwing sleeves or cocoon sweater feel.































Vest
I love the cozy look of the vest.  Plus I see it with a great big shawl pin or belt for that extra polished look.


































Wrap
I am not sure, but I think I love the back as much or more then the front!  No saying you can't wear it the other way around!

Wrap Style- Front
Wrap Style- Back

























Hope they inspired you to break out your shawls and play!

4.07.2016

Spring into the New Season of Knit and Crochet Now!

Are you getting the Knit and Crochet Now Newsletters?  If not, think about signing up.  You can get an extra dose of me once a month, and you know we are crochet buddies already!

The April Newsletter is bursting with fresh ideas and blooming flowers.
Included this month:

3 Ways to Wear a Shawl without it falling off your shoulders.

























Yarn Review and Flower Motif Directions




Lena's new gorgeous Summer Love Collection at Annie's Signature Designs.


Check it out when you get a chance, there are some free patterns too!




4.05.2016

Spring into the New Season of Knit and Crochet Now!

It's airing!

The new season of Knit and Crochet Now starts airing today on the Create Channel.  So exciting to be able to show you all the fun we had this season.

I can't wait to hear what you think of the new set, new host, and new projects!  Deborah Norville was so warm and welcoming.  I really think you will enjoy her enthusiasm for crafting.  I can't wait!

Here is the whole line-up for this season:

7th Season Episode Guide                        
Episode 701 – Versatile Shawls                 
Episode 702 - Slip Into Slippers                 
Episode 703 – Vested Interest                     
Episode 704 - Mosaic Knit Scarves            
Episode 705 - Artsy Afghans                      
Episode 706 - Dolly Longlegs   
Episode 707 – Downton Abbey Gloves
Episode 708 – Shaped Cardigans
Episode 709 – Carry Along bags
Episode 710 – Itty Bitty Baby Projects
Episode 711 – Unique Accessories
Episode 712 – Dress Up Pup
Episode 713 – Springtime Tees


You will be able to download free knit and crochet projects and stitch patterns, view TV clips and receive additional instructions at KnitAndCrochetNow.com.  Check dates and times for broadcast at KnitandCrochetNow.com/schedule/
Annie's is generously giving one reader the entire DVD set of Season 7 of Knit and Crochet Now.  All you need to do to enter to win is leave a comment here, send me an email, or send me a message through twitter/ facebook/ or ravelry by Friday at noon (EST).  Good Luck!

4.04.2016

Plum Posy Filet Shawl

Plum Posy Filet Shawl

By joining the ends of the shawl together, it cocoons around the arms making it fun for all girls to wear and enjoy. The simple filet pattern keeps you entertained while zooming off your hook.
Yarn: 
Amelia and Wiggles Happy Tails (CYCA #1), 100% Superwash Merino, 400 yds/ 100g: #Coming Home, (1, 1, 2) hanks
Hook:
F/5 (3.75mm) hk or hk needed to obtain gauge
Notions: 
Yarn Needle
Stitches Used: ch Chain 
sl st Slip Stitch 
sc Single Crochet 
dc Double Crochet 
tr Treble Crochet 
tch Turning Chain
Gauge: 
22 sts x 12 rows= 4” x 4¼” in stitch pattern
Sizes: 
Shawl is sized for a Child Small, Medium, and Large. Shawl shown is a medium. Main Triangle size is 46” wide by 15.25” tall (48” wide by 17” tall, 49.5” wide by 18.5” tall).
Pattern Note: Pattern uses a filet chart for main portion of the shawl, using written directions for increasing/ decreasing and finishing.
Filet Pattern Notes: Solid boxes on the filet chart are made of 4 double crochet. Empty boxes on the filet chart are made of 2 double crochets separated by a chain 2 space. Flower Boxes on the filet chart are a combination of chains and single crochets see stitch diagram for assistance.
4$, PDF Download


Fine Print: To use the PDF, you will need appropriate software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. By purchasing this pattern, you are granted a limited license to download the pdf file to a single personal computer and to print out a hard copy of the pattern, solely for personal non-commercial use.







Greyson Tunisian Cowl

Greyson Tunisian Cowl 

Giving thanks to plaid woven fabric for inspiration, this cowl makes a sophisticated statement for every occasion.  Cowl uses three colors that blend to create a wonderful tweed look.
Yarn: 
Amelia and Wiggles Pink Bear (CYCA #4), 100% Superwash Merino, 220 yds/ 100g: 
Fire Engine (A), Lilac (B), Forest (C), 75 yds ea



Hook:
L/11 (8.0mm) Tunisian hk or hk needed to obtain gauge 
H/8 (5.0mm) hk for edging
Notions: 
Yarn Needle, Spray Bottle and Rust-Proof Pins, (2) 1”dia buttons
Stitches Used: 
ch Chain 
sl st Slip Stitch 
sc Single Crochet 
TSS Tunisian Simple Stitch
Gauge: 
15 sts by 15 rows = 4” (10 cm) by 4” (10 cm)
Finished Size: 
Cowl is 7” (18 cm) wide by 24” (61 cm) long

4$, PDF Download 
  

Fine Print: To use the PDF, you will need appropriate software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. By purchasing this pattern, you are granted a limited license to download the pdf file to a single personal computer and to print out a hard copy of the pattern, solely for personal non-commercial use.

Opal Knot Cowl

Opal Knot Cowl


Soft and lovely, this cowl feels as light as a feather around your neck. Solomon’s knots mixed with traditional crochet make for a striking lace fabric.  Solomon's knots on the edging lend whimsical feel.  One skein makes for a quick projects to whip up in an evening. 
Yarn: 
Amelia and Wiggles Puppy Frenzy (CYCA #3), 85% Superwash Merino, 15% NEP, 231 yds/ 100g: #Rainbow Soft, 1 hank
Hook:
H/8 (5.0mm) hk or hk needed to obtain gauge
Notions: 
Yarn Needle, Spray Bottle and Rust-Proof Pins
Stitches Used: 
ch Chain 
sl st Slip Stitch 
sc Single Crochet 
tr Treble Crochet 
tch Turning Chain 
ch-sp Chain Space
Gauge: 
3 ch-4 sps by Rows 1-9 of pattern = 3.75” (9.5 cm) by 4.5” (11.5 cm)
Finished Size: 
Cowl is 11” (28 cm) wide by 36” (91.5 cm) long

4$, PDF Download


 


Fine Print: To use the PDF, you will need appropriate software such as Adobe Acrobat Reader. By purchasing this pattern, you are granted a limited license to download the pdf file to a single personal computer and to print out a hard copy of the pattern, solely for personal non-commercial use.