Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Giving Season

If you're like me, you are probably frantically stitching up the last of your gifts so that you can get them under the tree by Saturday.

And, like me, you probably forget to sit back for a moment and consider those in need. My brother-in-law doesn't need the scarf I'm trying to finish for him. But there are those all over the world who could use a little lift for the holidays.

So, to help you out I've got a link for you. Giving should be easy to do and have your heart in it.

Go to Gifts of Compassion and find something that fits your giving spirit and your wallet. Even the little things on the list will make a huge impact in someone's life.

You'll find gift options ranging from as little as $5 all the way up to $325. You'll see goats, chickens, medical check ups, and small business launch options for women...and a bunch of other great options as well.

So go for it and add someone new to your Christmas gift list.

Friday, December 9, 2011

International Crochet

An online crochet friend (MissLizard on Ravelry) provided me with an interesting link awhile ago and I thought I would share it. It really underlines for me how international crochet is.

So if your curious, please check out Crochet Terms in Six Languages.

So, in the language of my great-grandparents, I'm off to pick up my Häkelnadel in order to häkeln up the last of my Christmas gifts.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Okay, so maybe it isn't that bad. But can I just say, it's been insane?

It's been over a month since I've posted and I'm very sorry. But I've just kind of kept my head down and worked. I had 2 holiday sales that I sold stuff in during November. It's amazing to me how much work those are compared to how much I make. But, oh well. I use those sales to bust my stash by making things just for selling from things that just need to get used.


So, since I had a lot of beads and some fine beading wire, I made crocheted wire jewelry. Quick, fun, and beautiful.

The labor intensive part is the labels and preparing for the set up. I made stands for the necklaces out of some left over mat board and some cardboard easel backs I purchased.

I've also started offering my services to create crochet symbol charts for designers. I enjoy the challenge of representing both the pattern and the way the stitches actually work.

Thanksgiving prep kind of put all creative projects on hold since we were working hard to help my Mom get ready for 20 guests at her house. I don't think we've ever done that much cooking in my kitchen, ever.

And now it's time to make Christmas gifts. Whew! January is going to seem awfully quiet.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Monte Vista Collar

My Monte Vista Collar, 
is now available as a Ravelry download.
$4.00

The layered pattern of this collar adds a three-dimensional quality
while the buttons add elegance and versatility. It can be worn buttoned up
for warmth or opened at the top like a shirt collar.
Crochet Symbol Charts Included
Yarn: Any worsted-weight yarn, approximately 218 yards. 
Model shown in Classic Elite Inca Marl, 100% Alpaca, (50g/109yds); color: Du Berry Rose.
Supplies: Size G-6 (4mm) crochet hook, yarn needle, 4 Buttons, size 7/8” (22mm), 
needle to thread buttons, and 4 Safety pins for assisting with button placement.
Finished Dimensions: Approximately 6” (15cm) wide by 20” (51cm) long.


It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.


Tapestry Crochet: Choosing the Right Yarn


The first key to successful tapestry crochet is yarn.

When choosing a yarn, keep your project in mind. Not just for a great color combination, but also to get the kind of fabric you want.


When making bags, you are probably going to want a very sturdy fabric and so you need to begin with a sturdy yarn. Popular choices are cotton, acrylic, and wool. Take a look at the photos and you'll see all three fibers represented in that order.

Regardless of what fiber you choose make sure that the yarn doesn't have much loft. Loft could be described as soft, fluffy, and light...all the things that are great for a scarf or a sweater, but not what you usually need in a bag.


Once you've picked out your yarn, you need to make sure you work with a snug tension. This gives you a dense fabric that is durable and won't let things poke through. A snug tension also minimizes the appearance of the inactive yarn being carried inside the stitch. The looser your tension the more you can see the inactive yarn. While you can never make it disappear, a good snug tension will minimize its appearance.


Finally, choosing your yarn color combination can really affect the final look and feel of the pattern you work. Going with natural colors can make it feel earthy and grounded. Going with vivid colors will keep it fresh and vibrant.

(Hint: The first photo is a sneak peak at my next bag in process.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tapestry Crochet: An Introduction

Tapestry crochet is a method of crochet colorwork where the inactive yarns are carried inside the stitches that are being worked.

I was first introduced to this technique through the book Tapestry Crochet by Carol Norton (Ventura). I was drawn to both the dense fabric and by the fact that it allowed me to create color patterns.

One of my first projects where I developed my skills in this technique was this bag.


I used some orange rug yarn and hand spun Churro guard hair. The effect is really nice with the color variations in the Churro.

Essentially all you're doing is a very snug single crochet and the inactive color is carried inside the stitch. To change colors is done in the final yarn over and pull through.

Carol Ventura, the author of the book I learned from has set up a wonderful web site for tapestry crochet resources. There are videos and tutorials that can help you learn this great crochet technique.

I've published two bag patterns of my own that use this technique. My Waza Bag and my Past Times Bag. More are in the works.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Past Times Bag

I'm offering a new pattern for sale on Ravelry called Waza Purse.
$4.00

Take your crochet projects with you in this flat bottomed bag inspired by Old World embroidery patterns. The strap is adjustable to suit your preference and the stone bead closure adds an extra flair of interest.

Tapestry graph included.
Yarn: Worked in 2 colors in any worsted-weight yarn.
Model shown in Loops & Threads Impeccable Worsted.
350 yds (320 m) of Amythyst, 250 yds (229 m) of Grass.
Supplies: Size G-6 (4 mm) crochet hook, yarn needle,
locking or split ring stitch marker, and 1"/2.5 cm pendant or bead.
Finished Dimensions: Bag is approximately 10" (25.5 cm) in diameter and 13" (33 cm) tall. When stretched the strap is approximately 54" (137 cm) before tying to bag. Length may be adjusted when tying strap.

It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hometown

I believe that what a person becomes and how they see the world is, in large part, due to where and how they grew up.

If you've read the explanation for the word "unyunga" (see the side bar) you know that I grew up in Cameroon. So even though I was born in the United States, the most formative years of my life were in a village in Africa called Mbingo. And it has had a defining effect on who I am, what I do, and why I do it. So let me share a little bit about my hometown with you.

Mbingo is in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. The land was provided by the local king (Fon) specifically for building a hospital and the accompanying village.

My Dad was the Station Manager and my Mom was a nurse at the hospital. We lived in this house


I took this photo in 2009 when I was able to return after not being home for 30 years. It's where my heart lives. It's my Shangri La.

Here's the view from our front yard stitched together from photos I took while visiting.


It's probably why I love the color green and find it so important to my well-being. It's why I love the mountains. It's also where I learned to crochet.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Unyunga Ravelry Group

If you're on Ravelry and you like groups, please check out my Unyunga group.

It's brand new, so there's not much there yet. That's where you come in. Join the group and the discussion. I'll be posting threads for each of my patterns, so feel free to discuss them and post pictures when your Unyunga projects are finished. If you have questions about anything, don't hesitate to ask since my goal is for your crochet experience to be a successful one.

I'm considering doing a Crochet A-Long (CAL) for my newest pattern, the Waza Purse. So if you're interested in doing that let me know in the comments here or on the Waza Purse thread in the Unyunga group.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Beads in Your Needlework

I love beads, but I don't like beading. So I'm always looking for ways of using beads that I find enjoyable.


One of my very favorite ways of using beads is for closures on my crocheted bags. I like to add a slit on one side of the top edge and a dangling bead or pendant on the other edge that can be fed through the slit.


You can see that I used a couple of pendant style beads on my Waza Purse. The key is finding a bead that matches the color, look, and feel of your bag and is also the right size to have a little weight to it.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Waza Purse

I'm offering a new pattern for sale on Ravelry called Waza Purse.
$4.00


Using the natural colors of handspun Churro wool, this tapestry crochet purse evokes memories of my childhood visit to Waza National Park in Cameroon. The strap is adjustable to suit your preference and the metal pendants aren't just decorative. They also serve as a closure.

Tapestry graph included.
Yarn: Worked in 3 colors in any sport-weight yarn.
280yds (256m) of brown, 350yds (320m) of black, and 220yds (202m) of gray.
Supplies: Size F-5 (3.75mm) crochet hook, yarn needle,
locking or split ring stitch marker, and 1.5"/4cm pendant or bead.
Finished Dimensions: Approximately 11"/28cm wide and 12.75"/32.5cm long.
The strap shown is 59"/150cm after stretching.

It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.


Monday, August 1, 2011

The Yarn Studio in Mintern, Colorado

Whenever we go to Leadville, I sweet talk Honey into taking the long way back through Mintern just so I can stop at The Yarn Studio.



This shop is jam packed from floor to ceiling with yarny goodness. The owner is always very welcoming and helpful and there's almost always at least one person in there on the couch working on a project.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's Needling U in Frisco, Colorado

As you know, I love visiting yarn shops when I travel. In June I was vacationing in the mountains of Colorado and got to visit a few of my favorites up there.

One is What's Needling U in Frisco, Colorado. It's a fun little shop where I found the yarn for my Cobweb Ribbons Wrap.




They're located on Main Street. I imagine they get a lot of people like myself who are visiting and need a project to do while sitting on the deck enjoying the mountain view.

Crochet Group

As I've mentioned before, I've become a part of a local fiber group called Front Range Fiber Artisans. It continues to grow and we finally have a fairly permanent place to meet every month. We've also started to see the study groups spin off and get going.

The crochet study group is meeting at my house every month and we had our third meeting about a week ago. We had decided to have various members take on the task of teaching something that others in the group want to learn and this month it was broomstick lace.

Here's the results of our evening.

We certainly had fun. While pulling through our loops and stitching in the single crochet we chatted and laughed and generally had a great time.

Next time we'll be learning how to read and use crochet symbols. We'll do the basics and a couple are going to bring patterns with symbols that are proving problematic.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lazy River Shoulder Shawl

I'm offering a new pattern for sale on Ravelry called Lazy River Shoulder Shawl.
$6.00 


This short shawl makes it easy to dress up a simple top any time of the year. The open pattern creates a lacy effect while the yarn has drape to shape it to your shoulders.

Crochet Symbols Chart Included
Yarn: Any light worsted-weight yarn, 
approximately 330 [410] yards. 
Model shown in Patons Silk Bamboo, 
70% Bamboo, 30% Silk, (2.2oz/102yds), color: Sea.   
Supplies: Size F-5 (3.75mm) crochet hook, and a yarn needle.
Finished Sizes: S[M]. Model shown in M.
Finished Dimensions: Approximately 22.5[28"]/57[71cm] wide 
and 23"/58.5cm long. Neck opening is approximately 10[15"]/25.5{38cm] wide.

It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Taos Weekend?

Yes, I like to go to Taos. It's a great place to go when you need to slooooow down, get inspired, eat good food, and get a little romantic. And it's certainly a great place for yarn and fiber. 

One of the awesome things about New Mexico is the state government's commitment to the creative economy. They publish gallery guides, collector's guides, and a even a fiber arts guide. You can pick them up in most of the fiber shops. Here's a quote from it that communicates their attitude toward the fiber arts:

"Why fiber arts? Universal, they also are local, democratic and accessible. They encompass age-old traditions and cutting edge advances. No matter the artistic form, they require structure but demand innovation and freedom, often of both artist and admirer. Why trails? Creativity flourishes on the back roads, for both artists and travelers. The trails celebrate New Mexico’s diverse communities, lifestyles, and landscapes. The trails traverse an integrated cycle - from raw materials through a medley of techniques and creative processes to hand-crafted works of art – and heart."

My husband and I needed the getaway more than we realized when we made our reservations. We decided to splurge and stayed at the Old Taos Guesthouse. Talk about a great place to just kick back and relax!


We had decided to go to celebrate honey's birthday, but we both got sick a couple weeks before and were still recovering. So staying here was great for rest and recovery. Nothing to distract us.

The weather was wonderfully sweet with the flowering trees blooming in full glory.


And we had A LOT of great food. We decided to try a few new places rather than just rely on our old favorites. So we ended up at Graham's Grill for lunch on Saturday. Oh, WOW! Definitely an addition to the "old favorites" list.

Naturally, one of the things I did was visit the yarn and fiber shops. In other posts I've talked about La Lana...













...and Red Willow...


...I got so excited that I forgot to take pictures inside.

This time I also paid a visit to The Yarn Shop and Weaving Southwest. Both of them are part of the John Dunn shops just off the plaza. 

The Yarn Shop is a small little place that I haven't visited much in the past due to most of the yarn being or containing sheep's wool. This time I found a little more variety. Nothing I had to have this time, but definitely worth a visit in future.


Weaving Southwest is geared toward weavers, but also carries spinning supplies, and a marvelous array of hand dyed yarns available in large batches in coordinating colors and fibers. You can buy bouclé and worsted dyed in the same batch making it easy to mix and match textures while keeping your colors the same.


The photos here are from the back of the store. The front of the store is full of wonderful handwoven rugs for sale.

When you consider that the Taos area only has a population of about 35,000, it's pretty phenomenal that they have 4 shops catering to the fiber arts.

It's been too long!

It's been awhile since my last post. Gosh!

Well, let's see. Between a trip to Los Angeles for the Arts Council of the Africa Studies Association Triennial Conference (pleasure) and a trip to Las Vegas for the Exhibitor 2011 conference (work), working to get ahead before and working to catch up after...I did manage to get some crocheting and other things done.

• I finished my Rain Wrap and am very pleased with it.

• My jeans are 2" longer and it even looks like they came from the store that way. Mostly.









• The lacy scarf turned into a couple of lacy vests which I'm going to publish as soon as I get the technical stuff figured out. Sizing, testing, photographic, writing, editing...Making them was the easy part.
• I've got a pattern with my marvelous tech editor. So, soon to be published.
• I'm finishing a tapestry crochet purse pattern. So that should be published sometime in the next month.


• I'm spinning all the silk fiber I have in the house. I tend to spin in fiber batches since it allows me to focus on the style needed for that fiber instead of changing all the time.




• I went to Taos for a long weekend over Easter, but I'll save that for another post.
• Finally, I'm cleaning house and getting ready to host the new Crochet Study Group of the Front Range Fiber Artisans at my house tomorrow night. Most of them are beginning level, so it should be fun. They've got the gist of it, but would love to learn to do more. I'm excited about it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Crochet Art

I love how NeSpoon created works of art using driftwood on the beach and crocheted doilies.

Click out her blog where you can see more of what she does. with doilies and other lacy things.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Solution for Cold Ankles

For many of us the weather is still rather cold and, I don't know about you, but I get cold ankles.

The obvious solution is to get legwarmers and I did that. But I really don't look good in legwarmers and they're definitely not standard business attire.

But my ankles are cold!

Maybe I'm the last person to finally figure this out, but I finally came up with a solution. Ankle warmers that hide under my slacks...


Occasionally they peek out from under my pants, but I don't think that looks too bad. The full view of what I've got tucked away under there is this...


I thought about writing up a pattern, but realized it's simpler to just tell you how to do it here. This is a great stash buster and an awesome way to use hand spun yarn.

First, measure:
• Around your ankle.
• Around the widest part where your heel is.
• Around your leg about 7 to 8 inches above your ankle bones.
Make sure you write all these measurements down and keep a ruler or tape measure handy while you work the first one to check that you make them big enough.

Second, pick your yarn and hook:
• Pick something warm and soft. I chose some hand spun alpaca plied with silk.
• I suggest you take the time to do a little swatching to get your hook size right.

Third, make your ankle warmers:
• Chain about 7 to 8 inches, turn, work a row of single crochet, chain 1, turn. (I suggest making a note of the number of stitches you have so it's easy to make your second one the same.)
• Working only in the back loops, single crochet across, chain 1, turn.
• Continue working single crochet rows in the back loops until the relaxed length is the same as your ankle measurement. Stretch your work on a ruler to see if it's long enough to go over your heel and accommodate your lower calf. If it is, chain 1, turn. If it isn't, add rows until it does. Do not tie off.
• When you have got it long enough, put the ends together and line up the stitches. Start slip stitching or single crocheting your seam. I added a little interest on my pair by putting a 3-chain picot every 3 stitches.
• Make two, put them on, and experience the wonderful world of warm ankles.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What I'm Up To

Right now I'm in one of those quiet phases where I've got my head down working. I've been picking up a few UFOs (un-finished objects) to get finished offed, testing pattern samples, and fine tuning a few pattern ideas.

UFOs
The one crochet project that I'm finishing right now is my Rain Wrap. It's an idea that I came up with about a year and a half ago. After finding the perfect hand-painted yarn at the Pagosa Fiber Festival last May, I started swatching and quickly realized that I was going to need some pretty detailed diagrams to make it. So I had to spend time drafting those and pause every now and then to fine tune them as I went. Eventually, I just wore out and stuck the project in my UFO stash. I pulled it out again last week and, fully refreshed, have been flying along. I should have it done by next week. Whoohoo!!

I've been catching up on my sewing UFOs as well. A dress, some slacks, lengthening a pair of jeans, and some bags I promised to make for my Mom too long ago. Since I'm on the tall side I have trouble finding pants that are long enough or that don't shrink 2" when I wash them. Uggh! I hate it when they shrink. I had to get creative since lengthening jeans means adding fabric.

Testing Pattern Samples
I like to use my creations for a bit before committing to the publishing process. It helps me be sure I've picked the right yarn, made it exactly how I want it to be, or even that it's worth publishing.

My Ocean Waves Scarf started out life in a different yarn. It was beautiful, but after I wore it a few times I realized that it was not quite what I had in mind. So I remade it using the Classic Elite Provence and was pleased with that result.

I recently made a hat that will be published in the coming months. After wearing it once I realized that I needed to adjust the pattern to get it to drape the way I wanted. So I frogged and re-crocheted it with the adjustment. Now I love how it looks and fits and wear it all the time. I love it so much that this sample is going to live in my closet for the rest of its life.

Currently, I'm testing a bag and fiddling around trying to get the strap just right. Good thing I don't have a deadline!! I'd have missed it a couple weeks ago.

Pattern Ideas
Well, they just keep flooding into my sketchbook and it's a matter of sifting out the best ones and making them a reality. In development are a couple more hats, a couple more bags, and a lacy scarf. More on those later.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Patterns Now Available on Patternfish

I've begun publishing my patterns on Patternfish, so don't hesitate to jump on over there to look me up.

Click on the Shop link in the menu bar and, in the search criteria, click on Designer and check the box next to my name OR click on Publisher and check the box next to Unyunga.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Vail Scarf and Fingerless Gloves

I'm offering a new pattern for sale on Ravelry called Vail Scarf and Fingerless Gloves.
$6.00


This versatile scarf wraps round your neck twice and buttons in front. Pull it up like a hood for Vail’s Winter Art Walk then wrap it around your shoulders as an elegant shawl for dinner. The fingerless gloves complement the scarf and keep your hands warm and with your fingers free.

Crochet Symbols Chart Included
Yarn: Any worsted-weight yarn, 
approximately 654 yards in MC and 437 yards in CC. 
Model shown in Aslan Trends/Artesanal, 40% Cotton, 30% Alpaca, 30% Polymide 3.5oz/218yds per skein), Gray- 19 (MC) and White-01 (CC).   
Supplies: Size G-6 (4mm) crochet hook, one 1” button, yarn needle, and a locking stitch marker
Finished Dimensions: Scarf is approximately 14” (35.5cm) wide and 59” (150cm) long.

It's also available on 

Craftsy, Kollabora, and Patternfish.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Yarn Snobbery

A writer friend was chatting with me today and said, "You're a yarn snob, aren't you?" I hadn't thought of it that way but had to admit that I guess I am.

So what makes me a yarn snob? I don't just love yarn. I love really good quality yarn. 

While I don't exclude synthestics with my snobbery, it has to be really good quality or fill a niche need for me to go there again and again. Synthetics are often used with natural fibers to strengthen the yarn or add a bit of pizzazz and that can be a good thing.

Most of the yarns I use are part or mostly made of natural fibers. And, being truly allergic to sheep wool, I tend to explore a lot of fibers such as cotton, bamboo, silk, alpaca, llama, cashmere, and mohair.

Being a crocheter adds an even deeper dimension to my yarn snobbery. A lot of beautiful, high quality yarns just don't work for crochet very well. Especially those very fluffy ones with barely a twist in the ply.

How did I turn into a yarn snob? I learned how to make my own.

I started learning to spin in 1989 and starting using my yarns to make projects about 1993. It's how I learned that I'm allergic to sheep wool and so discovered all the beautiful exotic fibers that are available. Many were readily available to spinners long before they were commonplace in commercially available yarns.

In learning to make my own yarn I learned about the different fibers, how they work, what their individual properties are, and what makes a good yarn versus a bad one. And so was born a yarn snob.

Are you a yarn snob? How did you become one?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Foundation Stitches

I was first introduced to the world of foundations stitches about four or five years ago when I ran across a pattern posted by Bonnie Pierce for a moebius shawl/scarf. First I was drawn in by the lacy effect as well as the moebius aspect. But what got me hooked enough to make this pattern again and again was the foundation double crochet (fdc) that you start it with.

Then I realized that you could also have a foundation single crochet (fsc), foundation half double crochet (fhdc), foundation treble crochet (ftc), and on and on.

The obvious benefits are:
• You can start right into your pattern without a foundation chain.
• Foundations stitches have the same stretch and flexibility as their more traditional applications. Foundation chains don't stretch and can create an edge that is at odds with the rest of your fabric.

There are also unique design possibilities:
• If you create an fdc row, then turn it completely around to work your next row on the base of the fdc you can get a nice hem stitch effect.


• If you work a extremely lacy fabric than wish to work some rows of single crochet or double crochet, you don't have to use a chain row to begin. If you start right in with a fsc or fdc, you retain the lacy flex and stretch of the fabric that would be compromised by the use of a chain row.


Since I prefer to add crochet symbol charts to my patterns whenever possible, I have put off completing a couple of them since I didn't know of a stitch symbol for foundation stitches. Then I got the chance to work with KnitCircus and create a stitch symbol chart for the Doris Chan pattern that is in the Spring 2011 issue. She is well known for using foundation stitches and this pattern is no exception. So I worked closely with the tech editor and came up with something that, hopefully, is not only unique but communicates the stitch as well as possible.

Doris' pattern starts with a row of fsc. So I came up with this symbol:



When placed in a row it looks like this:


KnitCircus chose to go with the X symbol for single crochet, but for some unknown reason I've always preferred the + symbol. So here is what it looks like with that:



An fdc looks like this:







These new stitch symbols have me excited. Foundation stitches are a wonderful tool and I hope that having a way to express them in symbol form helps many more crocheters discover their use.

If you've never used a foundation stitch and are wondering how to do it, take a look at the great photos and explanation that Bonnie Pierce has created for the fdc. There are videos on YouTube as well as some good explanations and illustrations on CrochetMe.com.