Happy Clappy Crochet

Celebrating Crochet with a Positive Spin

Fruits of Labor

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to design accessory patterns for Cascade Yarns. That designing opportunity led to something else; something much cooler in my estimation.

At the start of the year, Cascade Yarns contacted me with a project. They were looking to add crochet stitch gauge information to their website, and in the future, to their yarn ball bands. They asked if I would be interested in doing all the swatching to come up with the gauges. I said that I would. So, since the end of January, I’ve been creating lots and lots of swatches in Cascade Yarns.

Small sample of said swatches in progress. © 2016 Laura Krzak

Small sample of said swatches in progress.
© 2016 Laura Krzak

So far, I have completed swatches for 18 different yarns produced by Cascade Yarns, and another batch of 5 more yarns should be shipped by the end of the week.

What goes into gauge swatching? I decided on a set number of stitches across and a set number of rows to complete in order to give me multiple spots to take stitch count measurements of 4 inches. Next, using yarn weight information from the Cascade Yarns website, guidelines on hook sizes from the Craft Yarn Council, and my own experience of stitching with that weight of yarn, I choose three hook sizes and create a swatch of single crochet stitches with each hook. After crocheting each swatch, I tag it with one of the bead letter markers I created (see Taming of the Swatch for more info), and go on to crochet the next swatch with the next hook. After all the swatches are crocheted, they get wet blocked. I don’t stretch out the swatches when I block them, because my goal is to not distort the stitch count. Rather, I wet block them to clean any oils from handling them as well as to relax the yarn. I pin the corners in hopes that they won’t curl (still get some curl, but that is most likely due to the denseness of the single crochet stitch), and once everything is dry and ends are woven in, it is time to measure. I will measure in several spots on the swatch and use the number that most often appears. I record the measurements, then go onto the next swatch. The final step is typing up my findings to send to Cascade Yarns, as well as tagging each yarn with its yarn name, hook sized used for that swatch, and the number of single crochet stitches that equal 4 inches.

I’m pleased to report that Cascade Yarns has started posting the crochet gauge info on the website for the yarns I’ve already done. I was really pleased to note that they used ALL of the stitch information I provided, so you will see crochet stitch count info for all three hook sizes that I used. Please check out Sunseeker and Cherub Aran for a couple examples. Other yarns, like Cascade 220, have the place marker on the website for crochet hook size and crochet gauge, and that information will be filled in when that yarn is swatched.

I’m really proud that Cascade Yarns is working to become more inclusive of crocheters. They have invested in providing more crochet patterns over the past several years, and the current count of crochet patterns is at 100 free patterns, with more patterns added monthly. With adding crochet gauge to their yarn lines, they are really making an effort to say that Cascade Yarns is a crochet friendly yarn company. I’m very proud to be helping with this effort.

 

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Hello, Stranger! (wherein I drop a lot of names!)

Oh my!  I just took a look at the last time I posted to my blog and it was August!  I’m sure, dear readers, you thought I had forgotten all about you.  I hadn’t, I assure you, but I have been a wee bit busy!  What have I been busy with? Well…

First of all, I went to Stitches Midwest, which took place August 8-11th. This is 4th year attending, and my 2nd for taking classes.  I was very excited this year because I signed up for the Almost the Works package – Opening Day speaker and luncheon, Friday night fashion show and dinner, Saturday night student banquet and fashion show, and 18 hours of classes!  Just two years ago, I was complaining about the total lack of classes for crocheters and this year there were 13 classes to choose from!  Plus, for the very first time, the collectors pin for this year’s Stitches Expos featured a crochet hook!!!  I was able to take crochet classes from Marly Bird and Myra Wood, and for the rest of the weekend, I surrounded myself with learning about color from the amazing Laura Bryant!

Stitches Midwest this year was a very special show for me, personally.  It was the show where I came out at a crochet designer.  My design journey started back in 2011, at Stitches Midwest, where I was introduced to Shannon Dunbabin from Cascade Yarns.  I’ve kept in touch with Shannon over the past two years which is what got the ball rolling.  I had sent Shannon a pm to thank her for something she had done for my LYS, and in the conversation, she asked me if I would be interested in designing crochet patterns for Cascade Yarns.  My very first impulse was I’m not ready to design on that level yet!, but the next thought was If I don’t say yes now, who knows if this chance will ever come again! So I said yes.  Shannon had them send me 7 different yarns to design with, and I came up with 7 different designs.  With a little designer cyber guidance from the talented Kristen TenDyke, I created my first-ever project proposals and sent them off to Washington State with a lot of hopes that something would click.

Something did click, and 4 of the 7 designs were accepted!  Next came the happy decisions for choosing yarn colors and confirming quantities needed, and when the yarn arrived, the stitching began!  LOTS and LOTS of crocheting!  Now, I’ll give you a little peak into how my mind works as a designer.  I’m a stitch first, write second kinda gal.  Some people can formulate the pattern first and then stitch from what they have written, making edits along the way.  I make edits as well, but it’s done with the actual yarn and stitches before a word is written down.  Once I’m happy with how the physical stitching looks, I’ll take notes on what I did for when I write the pattern.  Right now this is what works for me, and I’m happy with the results.

Once I finished crocheting everything, plus finalizing the patterns, I boxed everything up with a lot of good wishes and sent it off to Cascade! Happily, they liked all four finished items and would publish them!  The publication timing happened right before Stitches Midwest, which also meant that all four of my crocheted items would be on display in Cascade’s booth in the Marketplace.  It was such an amazing feeling to go to Cascade’s booth, pick up an item that I made, and seeing the Cascade Yarns pattern tag with Designed by Laura Krzak written on it.  What a rush! One of the few things that topped that feeling was having my mom come to the Marketplace on Sunday morning, getting to introduce her to Shannon & Shannon’s mom, and then showing her the four designs.  That’s a special moment that I will cherish forever.

If you haven’t stumbled across them already, either through Ravelry or posts on Facebook, here are the links to the first four patterns available for free from the Cascade Yarns website:  http://cascadeyarn.com/patternsFree/W476_DownInTheDeltaCrochetedShawl.pdf

http://cascadeyarn.com/patternsFree/W477_CloudgateCowl.pdf

http://cascadeyarn.com/patternsFree/DK313_SignsOfSpringScarf.pdf

http://cascadeyarn.com/patternsFree/C245_BabyShellsBabyBlanket.pdf

Now you’ll notice that I said first four in the paragraph above.  That’s because I’ll have two more patterns that are yet to be released by Cascade, plus I’m currently working on designing a bunch more!  Stay tuned for more crochet pattern goodness to come!

I had one other very special designer moment happen at Stitches Midwest – well, actually, two amazing moments that happen one right after the other.  I went to my first Student Banquet in 2011, and on impulse, decided to model a crochet project in the Student fashion show after dinner.  I showed two more pieces in 2012, and my goal was to finish a lace shawl I had designed so I could show it off in 2013.  This was 100% silk laceweight yarn, and I wanted to add beads to the project, but the only beads that didn’t distort the stitches with weight were sead beads.  Final project had almost 1,200 beads, all which were hand-strung before the stitching started.  When I got on stage to show off my shawl, I was nervous, but did my best to hide it. God bless Rick Mondragon for putting me at ease and wanting to get a closer look at all that bead work! I got back to my table, where I was sitting with Marly Bird, and she had me sit next to her so she could see all the beading.  She looked at it, and then looked at me and said, “You do know that you are meant to be a designer, right?”  What an amazing compliment from someone who is not only a friend, but is also well known as a designer herself. How lucky I have been with amazing support from my friends.

Soon after Marly’s compliment, the student fashion show ended and winners were being decided upon.  The first name called was a woman who not only knit an amazing dress, but a fantastically technical jacket.  I was so happy she was chosen as an editor’s choice winner.  The next name Rick said was “Laura.”  I looked around, clapping, and then looked at Marly, jaw dropping, because Rick meant me! I don’t think I’ve ever hopped out of a chair that quickly! The third editor’s choice winner knit an amazing lace shawl as well, based on techniques she learned at prior Stitches shows.  I was thrilled to be up on stage as a winner, especially when Rick said, “It’s about time that crochet gets some recognition.”  I think I went to bed that night with a huge smile on my face!

After all the crazy yarn and designer related moments in August, it was time to get ready for a family trip to WDW in September, plus creating two new designs for Cascade, working on a possible design for another company, and teaching classes at my LYS, including two new classes of Bavarian Crochet and French Knitter jewelry. Plus crocheting – lots of crocheting 🙂

So I hope you will forgive me for my absence and will continue to follow me here.  There are good things in store for the future!

One final thought…today is my birthday, which is a great day for reflecting upon the past year.  All in all, the past year has been pretty amazing, and you have been a part of that journey.  Thank you for taking it with me.

 

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Crowd funding to spread the yarn love

Ron and Theresa Miskin are the wonderful people behind The Buffalo Wool Co., and they are currently holding a campaign to raise funds for a Buffalo Wagon.
“What’s that?” you say? Ron and Theresa hope to outfit a truck as a traveling yarn shop for their wonderful products & yarns, including a space where they will be able to custom dye yarns for you on the spot!

I think this is an awesome idea, so I’ve pledged $25 to the cause. If you would like to see this happen, go to http://www.gofundme.com/Buffalo-Roam to see the options to donate.

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