Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Urban Craft Uprising Summer 2016 and Seattle Pride 2016

WOW. So, this past weekend was super busy and very fun! I am so fortunate to live in a wonderful city with so many opportunities to get out and about.

The first event I went to was Urban Craft Uprising's 2016 summer show. I've been to UCU a few times in the past, so this year I decided to skip getting up early and waiting for a grab bag. I think I'll go stand in line again come the winter show, though. I missed having the thrill of opening that mystery bag full of goodies!

There weren't as many fiber offerings this year as there have been in the past, but they did have a bunch of new vendors and it was fun to see new types of crafts. People are endlessly creative! It's beautiful. Here are a few highlights.

By the time I got there in the afternoon the crowd had thinned out a little. It was nice and leisurely.

One of the first awesome fiber booths that I visited was Loome. What a cool tool! I'm on a limited budget right now but I couldn't help buying one for myself. I'll just share introductory pictures today because I want to spend an entire blog post sharing my upcoming Loome experiments with you.

Look at those fun pom poms and tassels!

Diana was back again with her lovely line of jewelry, MOSS. I really respect threadies; that is, crocheters who love to work with thread. Her jewelry is just lovely. You gotta love those doilies, too!

I found more fiber jewelry, including this funky knit chain scarves, over at Twyla Dill Design.

This isn't fiber art, but I can't resist sharing it with you. Fernworks had stunning artwork and jewelry for sale. It was so multidimensional, with layers inside each piece. 

More than a few items were space themed. Look at these necklaces! It's not enough that I have a space dress, space leggings, space skirt, space purse, space scarf, and space earrings... I need one of these necklaces, too!


This weekend also held the annual Pride celebration here in Seattle. I attended both the Capitol Hill Pride street fair on Saturday, the same day I went to Urban Craft Uprising, and also the parade and various parties on Sunday. 

At Capitol Hill Pride this lovely, friendly woman was selling crochet festival wear. Look at her amazing rainbow shorts!

Here is a shot of the start of the parade on Sunday. I didn't take more pictures because I was too busy having fun! 

I hope your weekend was as amazing as mine was. Between all of the friends and fun I'm afraid I didn't get much crocheting done! I am almost done with a pattern and I am super excited to send it to testing...

Friday, June 24, 2016

Project Page Appreciation: LeighBlack's Essential Potholders

It is such a compliment when someone works up one of my patterns. The thing that was once in my mind has now been made by someone else for them to enjoy! It's amazing. Wanna know an amazing compliment I received? LeighBlack on Ravelry worked up not one, not two, but THREE Essential Potholders. Wow! I'm so glad you like the pattern, LeighBlack.

Awesome work! Very crisp. I can't wait to find out what patterns she chooses as her prize. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

So You Wanna Be A Crochet Professional

I love being a freelance designer. I get to make my own rules about my indie patterns and how they are presented, yet I can also choose to submit to publications and companies. However, designing is not the only way to get involved in the booming fiber arts business. There are so many ways to make a name for yourself and/or have an impact in the fiber world. There's full-time, part-time, flex-time, and contract work sitting out there for the taking. Some positions pay nothing, some positions pay a lot, and most are somewhere in between. Wanna learn how you can get involved? You don't even have to pick just one! You could work in...

Some examples include:
- Raising fiber animals or plants
- Spinning
- Dyeing yarn
- Working in a yarn factory
- Making fiber tools like crochet hooks and stitch markers

Some examples include:
- Promoting products on social media
- Connecting distributors with retailers and product testers
- Promoting publications
- Designing labels and logos for marketing purposes
- Writing product reviews
- Acting as a marketing executive for a specific company

Some examples include: 
- Publishing your own designs
- Working for a book or magazine publisher
- Working for a press that produces fiber-related books or magazines
- Taking professional photos to be used by designers, yarn companies, etc
- Doing graphic design work for books and magazines
- Blogging 
- Preserving historical crochet publications

Some examples include:
- Designing your own patterns for your own private line
- Designing for yarn companies or magazines
- Writing pattern books

 Some examples include:
- Teaching in a craft or yarn store
- Holding private lessons
- Volunteering to lead a group in a school, prison, senior center, etc
- Posting YouTube videos
- Posting blog tutorials

Some examples include:
- Testing for individual designers
- Contract crocheting for yarn companies or publishers
- Making store samples of patterns
- Becoming a technical editor

Some examples include:
- Working in a yarn store
- Working in a craft store
- Working in a warehouse or fulfillment center
- Selling patterns online
- Vending at craft fairs
- Selling finished objects on Etsy
- Take commissions from family and friends

Some examples include:
- Independent art creation
- Yarn bombing
- Creating props for photos
- Digital art creation from crochet photos

Friday, June 17, 2016

Little Crochet Fish Friend

I recently finished a sweet little fish amigurumi. The pattern I followed was Fancy Goldfish Amigurumi, a free pattern by Kate Wood. She did an excellent job with shaping and with the texture of the fins. The pattern was easy to follow and the finished object is adorable. The one thing I will mention is that, though the pattern doesn't state it directly, you should be sure to crochet into the chain stitches on the tail fin. Overall a quick, enjoyable project.

I used leftover Knit Picks Chroma Fingering from a shawl I made, along with a 2.75mm crochet hook. The slow striping of the yarn was totally perfect for this project. Here's my fishy. What should his name be?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Showing My Support: Two Rainbow Projects

Like most of the US (and I imagine those abroad as well), I am disgusted and crushed by the events that occurred in Orlando this past weekend. Having recently lost someone close to me, with grief still living inside my chest and leaking out when I least expect it... I am finding it hard to fully conceptualize the grief felt by all of the families of those who were killed. Each of those lights shown on so many people around them; their families, their friends, their communities. An act of inhuman hatred that has sent a shock wave across the nation. I'm not going to get too political here because I want my blog to be a place that welcomes people of all backgrounds and viewpoints. However, I will say this: If you are a person who believes is it okay to hurt someone that you don't agree with, to hurt someone who is different from you... you are wrong. That is a bad way to be. I don't want followers or customers who think that hurting innocent people is okay. No one deserves to be hurt.

It's hard to know what to do in a time like this. There are many political conversations that you can participate in, and I encourage you to jump into those that you feel touch your heart and to take positive action in the way that feels right to you. However, there are still those quiet moments, the moments when we are sitting at home and wondering how our world can be filled with so much sadness and pain. What do we do then?

Pride is coming up in cities around the world. Pride is a time when the LGBTQ community and their allies get together to remember, to talk, and to celebrate. We remember the Stonewall riots and the intense, overt discrimination that led to them. We talk about our communities, the discrimination and violence that still exists within them, and what we can do to encourage love and understanding. We celebrate people just as they are.

If you find yourself in a quiet moment and you've got some scraps of yarn, here are two projects for you to consider. You can use them to show your awareness and support for the Orlando LGBTQ community, to show your happiness as you celebrate at a Pride event in your city, or to start a conversation. I hope these rainbows can help remind us of the good that exists in people.

To make this simple Pride Patch, you will need worsted scraps of yarn in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. I used Cascade Cherub Aran, which is similar to Bernat Satin. You will also need knowledge of simple color changing. With a US size H8 5mm crochet hook and the purple yarn, chain 25. Starting in the second chain from the hook, work 1 single crochet into each chain across. Chain 1 and turn. Work another row of purple. Continue in this manner, chaining one and turning after each row, and work 2 rows in each color in reverse rainbow order (from the bottom to the top). I crocheted over my ends as I went along. Fasten off and weave in the ends. You can use your Pride Patch as a sewn-on patch for a jacket or bag, as a bookmark, or as a decoration. Mine measures 4 and 3/4 inches by 2 and 1/2 inches.

To make this Pride Bracelet, you will need worsted scraps of yarn in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Hold all 6 strands together, making sure to leave the strands attached to their skeins/balls. Tie a slip knot with about 8 inches of yarn to spare before the knot. Using a US size M13 10mm crochet hook, work chain stitches with all of the strands held together until you achieve the desired length. My chain measures 5 inches for a women's size small wrist. Fasten off. Leave 8 inches of yarn on the remaining bracelet end and cut the yarn. Finally, separate the yarn strands into three groups of two on each side and braid them, tying an overhand knot to secure them. Trim the ends. My ties measure 3 inches each.

I hope these small, meditative projects brighten your day just a bit in a world that can be pretty scary. My deepest condolences go out to the families of the victims of the Orlando shooting.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Initial Thoughts on the Differences Between Knitting and Crochet

I've finally reached the point in knitting where I feel like I understand the process and the stitches (for the most part). It's common for folks to compare the two and make various statements about their differences. Ideas about which is "better" for one thing or another can spark controversy. For my part, I'd like to share my thoughts about the differences, strengths, and weaknesses of each craft thus far. I do have a bit of a bias toward crochet, but I'll endeavor to keep my bias out of it. The following is all opinion based but may be of use to you as you decide which craft to use for what purpose.

It's easier to crochet in the round than knit in the round.
To crochet in the round all you need is a crochet hook and knowledge of how to get started. To knit in the round you need special needles, either double pointed needles or circular needles that are connected with a cable. It's easy to start round crochet projects, even as a beginner. Knitting in the round was a little bit harder for me to start for the first time than when I started crocheting in the round. Also, starting hats from the top down means more wiggle room for sizing. In knitting, you generally start from the brim and go up.

It's easier to create various shapes in crochet, especially for toys and dolls.
Shaping in crochet is easier to do. Only one stitch is active at a time, giving you lots of freedom. In knitting you have to think ahead a lot more when it comes to creating specific shapes and plan how to achieve them.

Knitted fabric truly is more flexible.
There's a lot you can do by changing your hook size and yarn, but the structure of knitted stitches simply makes a more flexible fabric than crochet stitches do. This is why knitted fabric is heavily preferred for garments. Crochet can make some beautiful clothes, for sure, but the fabric characteristics are different.

It's easier to work with thinner yarns in knitting.
So far it has been much easier on my hands to work with fingering weight yarn in knitting rather than crochet. This is because tension is different in knitting and far less controlled than in crochet. In crochet the tension is basically all on you. In knitting the needles do a lot of the work.

It's way easier to fix a mistake in crochet.
Even if your mistake was rows and rows back, you can just rip out your stitches and correct it. In knitting you have to reactivate all of the stitches in the row with the mistake, an annoying and precise process. Also, a dropped stitch in crochet is usually not a big deal and can even be fudged or ignored. In knitting, the dropped stitch will just keep dropping down the work and create a problem. I've made some large crochet errors before, but even the smallest knitting error irritates me way more.

Knitting uses less yarn.
Knitting does use about a third less yarn than crochet on average. It's not a big deal, but it might be important when you only have one skein. However...

Crochet grows much faster and gives you a sense of completion sooner.
I'm not a particularly quick crocheter, but spending several hours crocheting can make me feel like I've really gotten something done. I had barely picked up my hook before I had my upcoming crochet bag pattern complete. In contrast, I feel like I could knit all day and still barely have a few inches. The difference in the height of the stitches just makes knitting grow more slowly.

Details and finishing touches are more easily achieved in crochet.
I also think that they are prettier. I recently made a knitted cowl with a picot edge. I had to knit an extra eight rounds on both the top and bottom in order to achieve it. A picot edge in crochet is easy peasy. Also, you have to think about your edges way earlier in knitting or make them as separate pieces and sew them on. In crochet, you don't have to worry about your borders at all until the very end. Pretty lace add-ons and appliques are also simple to put together in crochet. Those things take longer and are harder to make when knitting.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to each craft. However, I don't think one is better than the other. They are different and are both useful and wonderful. As long as you keep your end goal in mind, you'll be able to decide which craft is right for you or your project. I encourage all of you crocheters out there to try knitting and all of you knitters to pick up a hook!

PS: Here's my crochet bias finally coming out... Did you know that in knitting you are sometimes instructed to use a crochet hook to fix mistakes, to add beads, or to seam? I don't recall ever having been asked to use knitting needles in my crochet :p

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Illuminate Crochet on Social Media

Hello, there! If you're here, it's likely that you read my blog sometimes. Did you know that Illuminate Crochet is much more than a blog? In addition to this blog I also have a launch-pad style website and crochet patterns on Ravelry and Craftsy. ~Cue the announcer dude~ But wait, there's more! Illuminate Crochet is also on social media.

To help you get the most out of what I have to offer, here is a breakdown of what you can find on my social media channels. Clicking on the pictures will take you to the channels in question.

My hope is to one day add a YouTube channel as well, but I'm waiting until I can afford some really good supplies. I want my videos to be of high quality! In the meantime, I hope you'll join me on my other social media channels.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Hot Off the Hook: Basketweave Crossbody Bag

The weather has got me super into bag patterns right now. Summer is officially beginning at the end of this month, and my hands are all about cotton. I'm excited this afternoon because I just finished the sample for the first of two basketweave bag patterns. This one is the crochet version.

I'm sending it to my testers this weekend and I hope to release it at the beginning of July. That way all of you concert/festival/fair/etc goers will have a nice project to make and show off while carrying your stuff in style. The knit version is in progress, as I've mentioned before. Oh, but I'm not stopping there! I also have some delightful crochet-bag-pattern-making plans for this cotton yarn right here:

I found out that an art store in town, Blick Art Materials, carries many colors of Lily Sugar and Cream. Score! Cotton-y goodness, here I come.