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Everywhere, No where
I started the CLF as a joke on Ravelry, back in July of 2007. The joke was on me, we're a real group, that seeks to liberate ourselves from stereo types about our craft and ourselves. Other than being called "Fearless Leader", I'm a designer, mother, editor, wife, hand spinner, yarn addict, incessant reader, and over all geek in the coolest of geeky ways.

Beware Defamers of the Hook!

Beware Defamers of the Hook!
Like Joan of Arc, and the Scarlet Pimpernel we are here to seek Justice!

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Official Blog of the Crochet Liberation Front

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Bestest Crochet Friend...Stitch Dictionaries

I crocheted for over 25 years before I could really read a crochet pattern. Before that time, I copied my grandmother’s handwork (and other family members old doilies, table runners, and garments), and if there was a really good picture I could copy the stitch patterns. Granted, until about 15 years ago I wasn’t a “serious” crocheter, I dabbled here and there with the hook, always having it in my craft things, making “doodads” mostly, and of course copious amounts of edging for pillowcases, and hankies. I used to make those things for friends as we started out in life.
Before I was a “serious” crocheter, I was an embroiderer. Embroidery was my very first fiber love, I learned to hold needle and thread when I was very young, maybe four or five, and had French Knots mastered by seven or eight years old. I had little iron on patterns, though I never was much good at following inside the lines, I always preferred “eyeballing” my designs, as they turned out better. What can I say, I can’t and don’t want to color inside the lines either.
One of my first crafty related gifts, besides the kiddy craft kits, was a “stitch dictionary.” My great-grandmother presented me with one when I was about 10 years old. In this little tome of embroidery related goodness, I found all the inspiration a needler could want.
So, it was only logical as my craft life evolved and continued, that I sought out such things when I got more serious about crochet. Whereas, written patterns mystified me, stitch dictionaries for crochet gave me boundless inspiration.
I didn’t think of myself as an expert anything, for many years into my crafting life. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because it was just something I did, without too much thinking about it, I just made things. Sometimes they turned out, and sometimes, well…we’ve all had those projects now haven’t we? One of the reasons I didn’t feel expert was my inability to read patterns. I had never thought that I was doing the design work as I made up hats, scarves and little sweaters, dolls, purses and ornaments. I even made up my doilies straight from my own devious mind. Funny how you never take yourself seriously. I can tell you when I finally did think of myself as an expert crocheter, it was 2005 (not long ago eh?) when I was in a local craft store. Someone had a crochet question, and the owner called to me from across her store, “Laurie can you fix this?” she hollered, and then said audibly to the other person, “Laurie is our town’s crochet expert!”
As I whipped my crochet hook out of my bun (yes, I used to secure my then very long hair with a hook) and went to see how I could fix whatever hooking problem was out there to fix, I nearly stopped in my tracks…Expert? Me? Really? But, I wasn’t half as good as my late grandmother! If I can fudge weaving in ends, I do. I hide my mistakes, she didn’t make them. I mean, really … internal chuckle, expert! Hah! Sure.
I walked away that day thinking about what the lady said, and I asked a crafting buddy what she thought, and of course she told me that “Duh, of course you are.” When I protested she eye balled me, with a very loving but steely eye and said, “How can anyone do something for as long as you have and NOT be an expert?”
Well, heck and darn I hadn’t thought of it that way… Then I found the CGOA, and when I said I didn’t use patterns (and said it apologetically) I was admonished by some lovely people who said, “Oh, you’re a designer then!” (Truthfully I thought they were nuts at the time…but I knew they were well meaning nuts).
Now, do I say I’m an expert? Well, not much, but I know I am. I don’t really need to say it to know it’s true. I’m confident in my skills and my limitations. What can I say…but let me tell you, beyond the hours of creating lace as a young person, my stitch dictionaries have been my bestest crochet buddies. They are what are most responsible for my crochet expertise. (Well, that and hand spinning, because knowing your fibers is very important, but that’s another post).
To be honest, I’m still not much of a pattern user, at least not a pattern user in the keeping it inside the lines kind of way. I use patterns for ideas for shapes, and dimensions, flow and drape, I think I’ve managed to follow one to the letter, I can’t help it, I just can’t color inside the lines. When I write patterns, I secretly hope people tweak them to their own satisfaction. I like to give good construction and dimension information in the patterns, hoping to inspire someone to make the pattern their own! But hey, that’s just me.
For those of you who are beginning your crochet journey I highly suggest finding yourself a stitch dictionary. They are hardly ever entitled “Stitch Dictionary”, they are entitled things like “Bertha’s guide to 500 crochet stitches” (joke title), one of my personal favorites is the original James Walters & Sylvia Cosh, Harmony Guide to Crochet Vol. 1. I own many many stitch dictionaries, some of them small leaflets, and others large tomes of hooky goodness. They are my base line, there are the books I have closest to hand in my craft room.
Just as I can’t stand to follow patterns or color inside the lines, I don’t think I’ve made too many projects (other than those for which I write patterns) with only one or two stitches. When I make things for personal use, or gifts, I use at least four or five stitches per project! I love to mix colors and textures, as well as raised and relief stitches.
Oh and while you’re at picking up stitch dictionaries, get some books with great motifs in them! (Some people call them granny squares, but we have so much more than that available to us!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Crochet Magazines: A crictical eye...

We have a lot of discussions about crochet magazines in our on-line communties, and I thought to myself why not take a gander at the three that CLF members often choose to read. These three are in alphabetical order (not preference).

Crochet Today!
Interweave Crochet

Taking all three and really looking through them with an eye to the following I created this special Fearless Leader Report.

Art Direction (This is how pretty the pictures are, the color theory involved in the side bars etc)
Layout/Readbility (This is how the text is presented, how the photos line up, use of white space etc)
Use of charts/diagrams and how they fit into the layout scheme
Quality of patterns (are they cute/fashionable/usable/well written/easy to understeand).

Now I get nothing out of this, and I'm not going to slam anyone, I just want to make a few observations. Let's keep this possitive.

Let's work out of order on my list here for a second. Pattern Quality.

To be honest, all three of these magazines have good patterns. All of them share designers. I think what is the difference in presentation of the finished articles in the photos has a lot more to do with the yarn companies that commission designers than the designs themselves. Yarn companies (Especially Coats and Lion Brand) STOP giving away your UGLIEST dye lots to the designers for their crochet patterns. Color and fashion are matters of personal taste, but if I was someone who did not know how to substitute in a pattern, I'd almost never make anything out of these two companies yarns. They have LOTS of fab colorways, time to use them.

So, all three magazines have good patterns, so why do people say Interweave is better most often? (At least CLF members). I would say it's about the fashion items. I think IC has more fashionable wearables, in better color ranges making them visually appealing. I do not think the patterns are better written than in the other three magazines, I think they are all on par.

Art Direction:

To be honest I think Crochet Today! Probably has the best art direction and layout. I find it a very easy to read, well planned magazine. It's proprietory though, owned by Coats and Clark, and so it will always be limited to those yarns. Not that I think Coats has bad yarn, I buy my fair share, but it shall always be limited to that.

Interweave Crochet is next on my list for Art Direction, I think they have some of the very best photography though, and the magazine is always visually appealing. I think there could be more done with the white space, but in general I think IC is a beautiful magazine which aids it's popularity.

Crochet! Ok, this is where things need to change up. The patterns in this magazine are every bit as good as what you find in the two above. And I love how they often include quick and easy projects along with fashion items. BUT and a big but, they really need to work on their art direction. The color schemes often do not work with the photographs, and it is some of the worst photography I've seen. You do not use the same color background as a garment in this kind of work...and it happens over and over and over. The worst offense yet was a really cute sweater with ruffles, but the photo showed NONE of the ruffles. This is a big n0-no. Crochet! Needs to understand that MOST crocheters are very visual and rely as much on the photos as they do the written words.

Crochet! Also needs a cleaner layout, and better color useage in sidebars etc. Again the QUALITY of what is in the magazine is great, if you get past the art mistdirection. And you know most people don't have time to sit pouring over a magazine to see what I was looking for.

I think Crochet! has had some great articles on construction and crocheters, and Interweave does as well. I have a harder time finder Crochet Today! in my area, but when I do find it I enjoy reading it.

This is just my opinion, and we know that opinions are like noses, we all got 'em and they all smell :) But, frankly, I do buy all three magazines when I can find them, I think all three of them offer enough different to warrant their purchases. But with a little more detail Crochet! could vastly improve it's market share, and it's following.

See it wasn't too painful, and next time you get your Crochet! magazine take a closer look, because I think the patterns are lovely. (I just use other colors most of the time, especially for blankies!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Creating opportunity...

I am so sick and tired of hearing about the bad economy. Wanna know why? Here's a list:

1) For many people it's sucked for a long time. (Ask the folks who lost their jobs to the outsourcing trend that started almost 20 years ago)

2) The only reason it's getting tons of air time now is because rich people and the upper middle class are finally be effected. As a former social worker I can tell you I was dealing with the fall out of the "balloon" economy ten years ago. It's no surprise to me.

3) It's giving corporations the excuse to lay off more workers (which is a dumb move because it diminishes the amount of revenue circulating in the domestic/international market).

4) It's also become the most common thing you hear people repeat in conversations. OH GIVE ME A BREAK. Didn't anyone learn about gravity (in regards to the stock market) what goes up must come down (at some point)...COME ON!

So, let's get this out of the way: How can Crocheters help the economy and make the world a better place.

1) Buy from local businesses as much as possible, for hooks, yarns etc. If you can't find them in person, look on line. You money gets five times the mileage when you spend it locally than when you spend it out of the local economy!

2) Offer to teach classes to folks on how to make their own cool crochet gifts and fashions. When pennies are tight handwork always goes up in favor. Kids love making phone covers, and game system cozies, they can make hair scrunches and book marks for friends! Young mother's love to learn to make for baby..etc etc etc...

3) Find local designers and buy their patterns. Especially the indie designers. That gives the little guy more cash.

There is no such thing as too big to fail. Having all the money in the big boys hands is a dangerous economic prospect. In fact it has very much led to economic feudalism. No one is too big to fail, everyone is expendable, anyone telling you different is trying to sell you something.

I firmly believe the more we can support the medium to micro businesses the more we shall empower and enable sustainable communities....and CROCHET can play a huge part in that! How?

The microcosm always influences the macrocosm. Ask any scientist.

Join me, let's save the world today with crochet...Raise your hooks!

Friday, May 22, 2009

A rare but warranted Review.

I rarely review books on this blog, but I bought one today and it deserves attention and notice!

Hooked for Life Adventures of a Crochet Zealot by Mary Beth Temple is a fabulous, heart warming, and funny read. Yes, you know I adore Mary Beth Temple, and yes originally that's why I bought it.

I purchased the book at my local bookstore (excited to see it on the shelf), because I try to buy crochet books there as much as possible, AND because I really adore Mary Beth Temple and want to see her do well (and hell she bought my book, too!).

I had to take my son to Tae Kwon Do this afternoon, and so instead of shopping or puttering around town, or even crocheting in the mini-van, I picked up my new book and started to read.

From the moment I cracked open the page, all I kept saying was, "Right on!" and "That's why you are in the CLF!" and "Hook ON! My friend!" I chuckled, I nodded, and I misted up a few times. It was a very "Jerry McGuire moment" she had me at hello.
Temple takes a positive approach to crochet, it's history, how we've viewed by others, how we view ourselves, and on every page makes a beautiful case for the value of that which we who wield the hook LOVE!

It's a jaunty ramble of her journey, with which many crocheters can identify readily! From the humorous methods of dealing with gauge issues, to dealing with mixing beverages and yarn, to exploding stashes, and magic balls, to wondering just how that scarf got that big, to the lack of details of just how did that Beer Can hat craze get started and WHY on earth did it catch on in the first place? To the love we who crochet spread in our works of charity, gifts for family, and afghans, yes, in our love of afghans. In fact, I who am often prejudicial against afghans (cause I'm not into making them) changed my mind about them after reading her passage about them. In fact I'm half tempted to start making one right now! (And I misted up!)

It is NOT an in defense of crochet book, it is not apologetic, it is bare bones, this is what we do, here's some history, here's why I love it (and why ME love it too), and here's what it means to many people across the world. It's witty, erudite, and light.

It is the PERFECT gift for your friends who crochet, it is the perfect treat for yourself, put it on your list of MUST READS!

It does not attempt to convert anyone to anything, it just IS about crochet. It earns an award from me...

Mary Beth Temple I award your fabulous hooky tome the SET MY PICOT FREE AWARD!

As soon as I get to a high speed connection I'm put this on the carosel!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Confidence & Crafting...

Now that I've been home a few days, I've had a chance to get resettled, catch up on some home and business "things" and also reflect back on the weekend that was to be forever known as "The Portland Experience."

I took my second and third crochet classes ever in Portland. I've never been one of taking classes, having figured out most of what I do through a) trial and error (mostly error), and b) copious volumes of magazines and books. I have to say, I like taking classes, if I had just done that to start with (had I known they existed!) I would have saved myself a great amount of time, frustration and yarn!

I witnessed something rather sad in one of my classes, and I find it so because I've felt like the poor person I observed. In fact, I used to feel like she felt an awful lot once upon a life time ago.

There were two of us in the class who crochet for a living, or have crocheted for a living, or at the very least use a hook EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year. This poor person was having a hard time with figuring out how to do the lace, and was feeling slow, behind, and not "as good" as the others in the class.

The truth of the matter, was that I had made just as many mistakes on my learning piece as she had. Her real problem was, a) the yarn she used was rather unforgiving and b) her self confidence.

I can't count the times, I see messages on Ravelry.com or meet handworkers of all stripes (but ESPECIALLY crocheters) who knock themselves and their skills. "Am I doing it right?" "I wish I was as good as you!" "I'll never be able to do THAT!" It makes me really, really sad to see this. We have so over achieved, and have stupid perfection expectations that we become discouraged when we make errors when we are LEARNING something new!

I made tons of mistakes in my first Broomstick Lace project. I missed a few stitches, had a few less loops in places, it's not quite the "hour glass" shape described in the pattern, but hell and darn it holds together, and since I'm not entering it into a competition and it's a learning piece, I don't care about the mistakes. I learned from them...YES do you HEAR ME!


The world will not cease turning on it's axis if you make a mistake. And frankly that's the worst thing that could happen to us, besides the sun going Super Nova on our collective hinneys; and that ain't gonna happen either.

I still haven't finished the little bag, which is about four inches high, and four inches wide (ish)...

Why does mine look delicate. Cause I broke the rules, instead of using a worsted weight as called for in the class description. I decided to use a cotton sock yarn that's fingering weight instead. I know from years of experience that if I want my lace to be "lacey" then I need to use a finer yarn. Especially since the instructions called for a size 19 needle, and as I'm not the proud owner of a needle stash, other than a size 17, 30 and 50 (bought for the purpose of making broomstick), that if I was using a size 17 I'd need finer yarn.
Yarn: It is the beginning and the end of your project. The same pattern worked in different hook sizes and yarns can be amazingly diverse :)
So, folks...STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP if you goof, OH WELL...
Fearless Leader says to repeat after me: "What I make is beautiful, including my mistakes. I will learn from them, and be better at what I do because of it."
You are only a failure if you believe it; I do not believe in the concept of failure. I believe in the concept of learning. The only time you fail is when you never ever try.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Portland Experience...

Saturday night was super fun! The banquet and fashion show is a must go! As usual the free formers, and those who enjoy hanging out with the freeformers gathered for madness and mayhem!

Jaqui from Australia graced us again with her presence and of course was the fabulous Petunia persona! She's quite a hoot, and a real treasure!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday of the Crochet and Knit Show

Ok, so it's officially Sunday early AM right now, it was a really long day, and I should be in bed right now, but you know me...le sigh :)

Anyway, this morning at "bleary eyed o'clock" I had Myra Wood's Advanced Free Form class. I loved every minute of it! Now, I already knew most of the stitches, but I didn't take the class to learn a new stitch, that's what my stitch dictionary collection is for! No, I took the class to be in Myra's aura, her creative spirit and energy is vast and glorious. I have never met a person, yet, who has taken her classes and left disappointed!

I got inspired to do some very useable art...yes, useable art. Art for artsake is freakin cool, but I have this real practical streak and I like to use my art...it is both amusing and fullfilling!

After class, my dear friends Gabrielle and Thomas Chavez, met up with me, and I went to the Portland Raw Food Meetup's potluck. That was a great deal of fun, and met a lovely lady who knits, and told her about the show, and showed off a little crochet goodness, she may now be tempted by the hook ;)

After that little bit for Crochet-Evangelism, I came back to the hotel with daughter and we relaxed for a while. WHOOT...

Then came the dinner and fashion show. Oh my, what a nice show it was too. Garments both crocheted and knit festooned our evening and tickled our eyeballs (and brains, lots of inspiration).

What was the coolest part of the show, to me, was how many crocheters there were! In fact when the "raffle prizes" were drawn folks were asked for their preference in the prizes! "Knit or Crochet" was the call about half of the lucky winners were heard to shout proudly and in a distinguished manner, "Crochet!" I had to root and cheer for each one! YAY for Crochet!

I am too tired to take photos off camera and get them on the blog at the moment, but I will most definately be doing that either later this morning, OR Monday :)

Tomorrow holds checking out from the hotel, seeing if I have enough cash to do one last dash through the market, and then off to the Museum of Contemporary Crafts because of this exhibit!

Then it's to the Batmob... I mean the train station and back to Camano Island where my hubby, son, cats and dog are waiting for us!

It was sure fun (if not a little too warm for me)...but it was a HOOKALICIOUS convention, I'd say it rates hand over fist from last year! Live and learn I always say, but thank you Portland you were a fabulous host as always!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crochet on The EDGE! The Hooknuck makes the rounds...

Bonnie Pierce wielding the Hooknuck made by Jimbo of http://www.jimbosfrontporch.blogspot.com/ of course free forming maven that she is, she had to do her infamous bullion stitch! Only Bonnie could get that hook to go there!

Jorel looking mighty tough. I wouldn't dis the crochet to her, would you?

Susan, who has our postcards, the t-shirt and the book, wielding the hooknuck high! WHOO HOO! She's into it!
There are pics of me floating around, and I took one of Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva fame, but I took it with her phone and not my camera, because I was in class. Well let me tell you about that...I have broomstick lace down, and I want you all to know, not only did I learn it! I made it my biotch! I'll do project pics later.
It is very late, my brain is tired, I'm physically wiped, and I have my 9 am class with Myra Wood tomorrow. Can't wait to see what happens in that class. This has been the most crochet friendly conference I've been to yet, knitters I've seen before but don't know well have been very open and curious about the hook, versus hostile or aloof as in years past. Who knows, may be they haven't changed, maybe I have...but I doubt it, I think we hookers are getting some respect at long last!
Speaking of hookers, WHERE WERE YOU for the CGOA meeting? There were tons of goodies and give aways, and I gave away two CLF t-shirts and a copy of the book...Snooze you lose! But the Laurell Hill guys were there, and they are very cool. Not only do I like the hooks, the fellas are down to earth, charming and a lot of fun!

Crocheters go to Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland

Ok, so last year I missed out on the Voodoo Doughnut experience, this year I was determined (especially after seeing the place on a Foodnetwork TV show) to make my way to this very bizarre store!

Sara and I, went with Jorel and Melanie Gill (aka Mel), into this tiny little place on NW 3rd in

Portland. OMG, this is a riot! It took us a while to figure out what we wanted, well ok I knew I wanted the voodoo doll shaped doughtnut 'cause that's too hilarious ;)

So, here's the girls making up their mind, and Jorel and her lovely smile outside the bakery...
Sara got the Tex-Ass mongo sized doughnut!

I got the voodoo doll ;) And I liked it.

Oooh and I gave them CLF Postcards, because one of the girls there is crocheting up a dozen doughnuts! ROCK ON! The hooks shall rule the UNIVERSE!

Captn's Log: Crochet Date; Thurs May 14

The morning came far too early for this night owl. Husband, transported daughter and I to the Mt. Vernon Train Station (Mt. Vernon, WA State), where daughter & I boarded the Amtrak to Portland.

It is about a 5 hour journey, so we brought our hooks and yarn to keep us company!

Please note the very cool skull cap I crocheted, most of it in Bernat Glow in the Dark yarn. It's a cool cap, which doubles as a night lite :) (Just kidding it doesn't glow that long, but it does glow brightly!)

We met some lovely ladies from Bellingham, WA along the way, most of them older than I, and most mystified by crocheting, or knitting, a few were quilters. We decided we could all live in the sisterhood/brotherhood of textile love.

We had a few stops along the way, first was Everett, then Seattle, then Tacoma and a few more. I missed a couple cause I was taking a well earned nap! Sara got a neat shot of the Seattle stop.

We arrived in Portland in good time, the rain having turned to beautiful blue skies. We met up for dinner with some very good friends. I won't say how long I've known by dear sister/friend and her hubby, but let's put it this way, it makes us feel old to say it! Then, I got back in time for the Market Show Preview! WOW some really great stuff folks! More on that later...but here's what I've gotten so far:

Several skeins of Newton's Country Yarn, one of them a lovely bamboo/brushed cotton, 950 yds! WHOOT. I also picked up a Laurel Hill Ebony hook, looks like an M to me, love it! The gentlemen from Laurel Hill are really neat folks, good to meet them and hear the story behind this really cool company!

After that we free formers started to "hook up", and I got to see dear Mel from Connetticut, Bonnie & Bill Pierce from Washington State, as well as Jacqui from Australia who I got to meet in 2007 in Oakland, she looks great! and a new addition to our little cadre of crochet madness, Sarah who works for Crown Mtn. Farms!
Tommorrow I have my first class in the afternoon with Jennifer Hansen looking forward to that, and this should just be fun! Ooooh and tomorrow night is the Free Formers official party. Hoping to hook up with more folks. I'm hear hanging around the hotel...I'll leave a note in the hospitality room so folks can find me ;)

Anyway, goodnight and sweet fiber dreams! Capt'n out! (Sorry, I'm exhausted and I was feeling all trek-ish :) )

This is my view from the hotel...wish you came now doncha!?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Off to the CGOA Regional in Portland, Oregon!

I'm excited!

Tomorrow morning my daughter and I head up to Mt. Vernon, WA. in order to take a train to Portland, Oregon. Our destination is the CGOA Regional event at the Doubletree Hotel in Portland, Oregon. It's also called the "Knit and Crochet Show" and well, I have protested the name in the past (what else who you have me do), but the name of the show has nothing to do with the Crochet Guild of America, the "show" is owned by Offinger Management. But, they've done better listing crochet in their literature, and class notes. So, I give them a crochet nod.

I am taking a class on broomstick (jiffy) lace from Jennifer Hansen of Stitchdiva Design Studio, and a class on advance free form with Myra Wood.

I am also looking forward to going to Voodoo Donoughts because even though I grew up in the Portland Area, I have never been there, and I don't know how on earth I ever missed such a place! I mean donoughts shaped like voodoo dolls? With red "blood" filling? I mean really! Me, who loves the first Shrek movie specifically because of the "Gingerbreadman" getting tortured? "No, NO! Not the MILK!"

I digress.

So, it's a good thing that as part of my last minute preparations for the trip, that I have double checked what I need for the class. Um...Yeah. Sure I had it memorized, NOT!

So, I don't think I have the correct sticks for Jennifer's class, nor do I have the kind of yarn Myra called for in her class. Sigh...I barely EVER work with worsted weight yarn, so now I have to go digging through my stash one more time.

Yes, I will blog from the event! Yes, I'm taking pics! Yes, I have cool stuff to wear! I even made special elven slippers for crocheted yarnie goodness to wear in the halls ;)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Crochet Tag...You're It!

Ok folks! Listen hard, listen up, listen loud. :)

I'm only one person here, and lately I've been saying a lot of things you're agreeing with...so here's the deal. Why not take our protest to the wider blog world...

Instead of a meme...Let's do a round robin, or a simultaneous list of our favorite things about crochet?

So, do this for me, and pass it on in your message boards, and email lists.

If you have a blog, make a list of your 25 reasons you love crochet!

Do it anyway you want, 25 photos, or a list, I don't care how you do it, but when you DO blog this, come back here and link your blog post so I can see your wonderful work!!!

Let's show 'em folks! Let's be proactive. Cause believe you me, we buzz enough & they'll try to steal our ideas ;) LOL

25 Reasons I love Crochet...

1) I can make anything I can imagine with a simple instrument (hook) and something that can wind around it (fiber, wire, plastic, roving, feathers, yarn, string, twine, fabric).

2) I love the reactions I get from others when I wear my hats, scarves, sweaters.

3) I love the reactions I get when I gift my loved ones with my "latest" and "greatest" creations.

4) In less than 10 minutes I can mystify a child by making a wiggly worm or a hair scrunchy.

5) I love how my husband watching me as I take yarn and hook, and whispers "It's like magic when you do that..."

6) I love how it eases my stress levels and gives me yoga like levels of relaxation.

7) I love that when I was a struggling single mother of two small babies, I could afford some thread and a steel hook and make their Christmas happen. (I couldn't afford ornaments for the tree).

8) I love that now I can afford exotic fibers and get to use my glass hook with my camel/silk yarn...and it feels orgasmic as the hook slides through the soft, delicate fibers.

9) I love that I am never bored.

10) I love that I can whip up an instant gift when I have a birthday/wedding/anniversary/baby gift I've forgotten to buy.

11) I love that young children ask me to teach them how to crochet...

12) I love that I can make socks that look like socks, feel like socks and act like socks.

13) I love that crochet has helped me meet some of the most generous, creative, talented, and loving people.

14) I love that I am doing something that women have done in my family for more than four generations.

15) I love that I taught my daughter and she loves crochet as much as I do.

16) I love that my daughter and I had the common ground of crochet to get through the worst of the early teen snarky stage without killing each other.

17) I love that each time I pick up a hook, I feel like I'm sitting with the woman who first put one in my hands. My great grandmother.

18) I love that I don't have to use a pattern to have something turn out fabulous.

19) I love that I can use a pattern if I'm feeling lazy.

20) I love that with over 32 years of crocheting experience that I can still learn something new.

21) I love crochet because it taught me patience, perspective, and helped me find my artform.

22) I love crochet because it allows me that "me" time, I wouldn't normally take in my daily life.

23) I love that I can make son laugh by making him puppets.

24) I love the feel of a hook in my hands.

25) I love knowing that I am doing something she did, even though I never got to meet her, her work inspired me to be every bit as good as she was...

Who is she? My grandmother, Grace Rogers, she died in 1956 when my mother was 8 years old. People say I look like her, sound like her and act like her, she was only 36 when she died. When times were hard crochet helped feed my uncles, aunt and mom. I have some of her things, they have always inspired me. She is one of my favorite reasons that I love crochet, because through the hook I have a connection to the woman I supposedly resemble in many ways, but never got to meet.

Crochet ignorance...

You know what really steams me up? (Oh I hear your chuckles loud and clear!)

When people who don't do much crochet, malign our art/craft. Especially people in the needle arts industry, they should know better and their lack of knowledge often mortifies me.

Here are a few of the myths that make me go "Mmmm?"

1) Lace is difficult.

No it isn't. Lace takes time, attention, and the ability to count. Yes, you heard me COUNTING. That's the biggest skill required. In general lace is not difficult to do, it often doesn't require any stitch more difficult than a crown picot or maybe a clones knot, maybe a bullion stitch. All you have to do is is practice a bit before you do a stitch that needs finger flexibility. Lace is about negative space and making holes. Hard to do with the sticks, easy as chaining three, skipping two stitches and inserting your damned hook into the third stitch and single crocheting, with a hook. Yeah you heard me, a hook.

Does no one wish to sell thread? I mean for the love of all that's fuzzy, Doris Chan has shown us what we can do with those marvelous old lacey motifs and stitch patterns and do in bigger yarn. So it works up faster. Faster doesn't mean easier, it means faster. DUH.

2) Only fashion wear is good crochet.

Oh go jump off a tall bridge. All crochet is good crochet when someone pays attention, has even stitch work, and the project suits the needs of the hands that made it. One person's "OMG what is that THING" is another person's precious treasure.

If you start telling me that potholders aren't useful, then pick up a hot dish straight out of the oven or put it on your nice new wood table. If you tell me that slippers aren't of importance come to my house in January and walk around without socks. If you tell me that hats and scarves aren't needed, then walk on my local beach in March when a 30MPH squall is blowing. Pillows, afghans, dolls, and toys all have their places too! My teenage neices still have all the dolly blankets, and toy horse saddle blankets I made them when they were young, they are now keeping them for their kids! (I think that is very cool.)

Jewelry, purses, socks, slippers, rugs, shopping bags, bicycle panniers, Ipod covers, cell phone holders, game system holders, and the ubiquitous hair scrunchy; THEY ALL HAVE THEIR PLACE, in the hands of a hookster.

3) You're only good a needle arts if you use sticks...

Explicative, Explicative, and BLEEP. Rolling my eyes here. No, you are good at needle arts if you do any kind of needle work with attention, patience, and proficiency. And who said you had to be good at it? Doesn't everyone have to start somewhere? I don't know many people who started out making perfect projects.

4) If they can't do it, it's obvious it's not a good craft.

Get over yourselves. People who think that way belong back in elementary school. I cannot use sticks beyond swatching. Does it mean I think knitting and knitters suck? Nope, I think I suck at knitting. Am I a lesser form of crafter because I crochet? Hell NO! In fact most of the people who malign crochet couldn't do half of what I do with a hook with their sticks, and the other half may be talented but are rather short sighted and don't bother to look past their own feeble crochet attempts.

5) Crocheters love ugly colors.

From what I see in many a magazine and from the big yarn brands you'd certainly think that. Thank the FUZZ GAWD that some of us actually do have an understanding of color and color theory and can see past the "Oh my god that color combination inspires my stomach acid to react to my lunch" color choices they foist on us.

I mean really. And some people do like the color choices, color is subjective dependant on cultural tastes of the beholder. (But I still say they have it out for us.)

6) You can only really be loyal to one craft.

Bull puckey. I know so many crafters who do so much more than one craft. We may have our favorites, but really most of us have dabbled in many forms of crafting. I, for example, am into crocheting, embroidery, rug making, spinning yarn (on a wheel), and have done some weaving (though it's not my thing), I also felt and make coiled baskets. But because I don't use sticks, why none of the rest of that can possible count...dripping sarcasm aside, I'd love to ask the folks who think that way to come warp my Jack loom. It's only 48 inches wide, with four harnesses, I bet they could manage it cold.

7) Crocheters are old, fat, lazy and stupid.

They may not say it, but man they sure act like that's what we are. I'm not saying there aren't old, fat, lazy and stupid crocheters out there, but I've met some pretty skinny, hyperactive, very young (thinking of my 15 year old) crocheters. I've met kids as young as five who crochet, and women as old as 98, most of us fall in between that gap. In fact in one my own online surveys, the average age of a CLF member was 34 years of age.

8) Crocheters are cheap/low class.

What ever. You should see the emails flying from the Free Form Crochet list as The Knit and Crochet Show approaches. People are strategizing about how many bags they can bring to the show so they can get all their yarn purchases home. There are stories of people getting ready to ship their laundry or yarn home, just to fit it all in to the trip! Yeah, that's real cheap.

As for low class. Folks, the US Census Bureau has the US Median Income at $40,000 per house hold. We have over 300 million people in this country, you are in the top 20% if you make more than $50,000 per year. I don't know where you live, but where I live that doesn't go very far. The majority of people ARE worker bees, and these folks should be respected, and the companies and magazines should think about what it takes to get their business. We all love the bottomless wallet, but there is only a scant percentage of the population with that kind of income. Sorry to burst your bubble, not all of that scant uses sticks.

I'm sure I'll think of more things that cheese me off, but this should do for today. Industry people, RETHINK how you treat us, cause we're getting REAL organized.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Craft Marketeers & Suppliers Listen Up!

Ok, there is a general misperception in the world of marketing and the craft supply industry. Crocheters feel this a lot because we are constantly being maligned by the industry we support in our purchases. Yet, it's not just we who wield the hook who are so maligned, it's all of us who craft.

If they would a) stop working off myths and actually do some real marketing research (aka get out from behind a desk and go talk to people) and b) pay attention to supply/demand the craft market would be a better place for all of us.

Myth 1: People who craft are older, retired, or poor, or have too many kids to count.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? What the hell is that about? I mean for goodness sakes we are not living in a Dickens novel. Here's the real world. Crafters come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all kinds of interests.

Why just in crochet alone you have many different genre which appeal to different kinds of people. Amigurumi is a super trend that's getting more and more interesting all of the time! Younger people are into it, though they aren't the only folks who like to make these trendy dolls. There are blanket/afghan makers, pillow puff stitchers, and others who like to make socks, slippers, hats and scarves, others work with beads, make tapestry or curtains, others still make fashion items. Some folks are poor, some are rich, some are old, some are grannies, some are grampies, some are young, some are rich, most are female but not all.

Dudes and dudettes who do the marketing, my hand is on my hip, and I'm shaking my head in dismay at your lack of attention to detail.

Pay someone to do market research for you. Crap if you paid me to go to the conventions, and do marketing research I'd do it in a heart beat. Unbiased, honest to goodness research. Because, lordy these myths are what is busting the craft industry as a whole.

If you do not market well, your business is a bust.

Getting Down To Crochet Biznez

Internet Buzz is an interesting phenomena, one little linky in a forum and masses will flock to check out the newest, latest, greatest thing on the block.

Recently such an event happened on the CLF Message Board on Ravelry.com. One of the many minions and ring leaders put up the link to a new "Crochet Site". Anime sounding "WHAAAAAAAA?"

So, like everyone else who saw the link I popped over to take a look at this "CROCHET SITE"...

Leisure Arts has launched it's own site called "Crochet Soiree" I have joined and am CLFFearless there if you feel like friending me. I'll keep my eye on the site, I see it has some interesting potentials.

It's not exactly a social networking site, though it has a little of that aspect. It's a lot more like CrochetMe, only it's propietory to Leisure Arts. I did like that I could find Aunt Lydias crochet cotton in their store though, because finding it locally has been difficult as of late. I like that company, and can't find anywhere close (within 35 minutes) to purchase it. Nice to have a place I can find it.

I'll let the public decide what they will think of this site, for now I'm pleasantly sitting at warm :) I don't think it's the hottest thing ever, but neither do I think it completely sucks and blows. Let's see how they do. I like, no, I adore, Leisure Arts publications, not just because of their dedication to crochet, but beause I have heard absolute love stories from designers about how they are treated by that company.

So we'll give it a chance.

But I want LA to understand if the site isn't everything they hoped it would be, it has a lot more to do with a proprietory approach to social networking (never works all that well) and a lot less to do with "cheap crocheters"...My worry is that if it doesn't meet expectations they will blame the crochet community. Thanks for marketing to us, I think that's cool, but remember you have to know your audience. The same audience on the street and online may be two separate animals.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Crocheting Hats as fast as I can, PLUS More results...

Hey there!

Well, I've gone on a crochet hat binge. I decided I need a whole bunch of hats to wear in Portland. I can crochet up a basic hat in 45 mins, but these are taking up to three hours due to color changes. I've made a "Dutchboy", and now working on a Beret, I made daughter a glow in the dark Skullcap. That took all of an hour, because I actually took a break. Am I getting wiser with age? Or more easily distracted? Shshshsh don't answer that...

So, I've been keeping an eye on our Charts/Don't Care poll, new results:

99 For having charts included in patterns
26 don't care
1 really really hates charts

Hmmmm...Next question of those 99 how many buy Crochet World?

So, don't forget to look for your crazy "Fearless Leader" in Portland, I'll have my shadow and gorgeous 15 yr old daughter with me. She's in it for the yarn and an obligatory trip to Powells Bookstore ;)

I'll post pics of the hats soonish like ;)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Come on crocheters, get with it!

Ok, crocheters, hookers, babies, dears: Listen up.

We need more of a web presence. Don't leave it all up to your beloved folks on the blogosphere, and on twitter...Come out, come out where ever you are: Stand up loud and proud, be counted.

I mean really it's not that big a deal. Get a Twitter account, and tweet away about your pretty projects and fun things. I would love you to outnumber the weirdos selling weird things with not real photos of "models" (or porn stars, at least that is what they look like to me)... Join and then follow me, I'll follow you I promise and we can sing great crochet music online together! I'm Camanomade on Twitter as well as on Ravelry.com.

Don't forget to join us on Ravelry either!

Oh and one more thing, I want to see mega hookin' representin' in Portland! Let's show em a good time folks!

Some results...and FROGGIN'

Hey there minions and ring leaders!

Today I was checking out our "Charts/No Charts" thread on Ravelry, and so far we have 151 readers (so um...if you haven't checked in wanna do it), and so far here are the results:

77 are for
24 are in the against/don't care camp.
1 person feels strongly enough to disagree (which wasn't really an option, but we get your point. You don't like charts :) )

Now down to doughnuts...I have to FROG...

I don't mean a little frogging, but a lot of frogging. I have to take a part my "stupid" Fearless Leader Vest. The front panels aren't going with the back at all, the shaping is not working...and I'm just annoyed. I won't have it done for Portland, but I have a cute little bolero number that I finally finished to make up for it.

SIGH....The front panels will end up in a different sweater entirely. The back will be a SUPER FEARLESS LEADER CAPE! Cause dang it, it's too cool to just leave unfinished. But, I only have about two weeks until Sara and I hit the rails south to Portland. I may take it to work on, though it's pretty heavy.

I think I'll just leave it home. I mean when you have to carry your own luggage you start thinking about things like that.

Back to the bolero...ooooh it's cute :) I put brass bells on the bottom of the vest, so if you hear jingling in Portland it's me :)

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