Category Archives: Garments

Myra Wood: Creative Crochet Lace


Fiber Artist Myra Wood recently published a book on freeform lace. While freeform can be intimidating at first, Myra provides great photos and clear information on how to get started with this unique art form! Myra agreed to sit down for an “e-interview” to talk about her new book and give some suggestions on how to freeform!

ALVB: When did you first get the idea for the book?
MW: I love books on needlearts and have every book I can find on creative crochet and freeform as well as tons of conventional stitch guides, pattern books and books on lace crochet.

I realized a few years ago that none of them really focused on freeform crochet lace. There are incredible books on creative crochet dating back to the 70s that I love but they didn’t addressed the openwork, lacy crochet I love so much. I figured someone had to write it!
 
ALVB: How long did you work on the designs shown in the book?
MW: I really wanted to present a wide range of projects using different sized hooks and yarns so I spent years developing different techniques that incorporated various traditional styles of crochet lace. The ideas for the 5 different styles of Creative Crochet Lace in the book germinated over a few years as I’d do new pieces and finally came together over a 2 year period. The nice thing about self publishing is that you can make your own deadlines and not rush the work. I also wanted to offer a good variety of styles and projects to show people the wide range of possibilities using these techniques.
 
ALVB: What is your favorite piece?
MW: Kinda like asking which is your favorite child! I have different favorites for different reasons but my favorite thing about each one is remembering the journey and the discovery that went along with making it. The wonderful thing about freeform is watching it evolve and discovering the fabric as you make it. It’s always an adventure!
 
ALVB: Why free form?
MW: I think, as fiber artists, we are very lucky to be able to express ourselves in so many incredibly different and unique ways. Just look at the range of artistry from the International Freeform Guild: http://www.intff.org. I actually love patterns and traditional crochet and knitting too but they’re very different from immersing yourself in discovering the fabric as you go along. Nothing speaks to me or allows me to express myself like freeform!

ALVB: What would you recommend for stitchers new to free form? How should they get started?
MW: First, join our list! The most amazing freeformers from all over the world including the top teachers and artists are all on the list and are willing to help anyone interested in getting started. We have an enormous amount of resources listed in our files and archives: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FFCrochet/. There are also wonderful books by Prudence Mapstone, Margaret Hubert and Jenny Dowde available on their websites and through Amazon along with some of the great out of print books from the 70s for inspiration. There’s a list in the files of all of the great ff books you can imagine. For inspiration you have to visit: James Walter’s site: http://www.crochet.nu/ and http://freeformcrochet.com. Prudence has a wealth of information on her site as well: http://www.knotjustknitting.com/. Click on What is Freeform to see an amazingly clear demo on scrumbling. She also has long list of links for all things freeform and beyond!! Bonnie Pierce also offers a wonderful tutorial on her site: http://www.elegantcrochet.com. Scroll down to Free Form and follow the links to the tutorial for making a follow along scrumble. I’ve added a tutorial to my site at: http://www.myrawood.com/pages/demo.html. That is an alternative method. The most important thing is to experiment, use lots of different wonderful yarns and have fun scrumbling!!

Thank you Myra for taking the time to tell us about your book and your perspective on freeform! If you would like to order Myra’s book, you can click on the widget above.

A Very Exciting Announcement!

I have a very exciting announcement. My first design has been published! You can find it in the May/June issue of Quick & Easy Crochet and is called the “Great Granny Drawstring Purse.” I can’t tell you how excited I was to see my purse in the magazine. I hope this is my first design in a long line of creative ideas to share with others.

If you decide to pick up the magazine and try the pattern, I would love to hear how you like it.

The Knit So Fine Blog Tour!

Carol Sulcoski, Lisa Myers and Laura Grutzeck have recently published a great book called Knit So Fine. The book has plenty of great designs using lightweight yarns, which tend to get a bad reputation from both knitters and crocheters that they are slow to progress in your projects.

Well, Carol has agreed to be my “guest blogger” today and I am happy to have her! The following is a discussion we had about her book and her thoughts behind using “skinny yarns.” So, take it away Carol!!!

First of all, a big thank you to Andrea Lyn for hosting me today, on the very first day of the Knit So Fine Skinny Yarns Blog Tour!

Today we’re going to look at Trekking XXL, a wool/nylon sock yarn that is made in Germany by Zitron (and distributed in the USA by the Skacel company). I’ve always loved Trekking for socks, but after I got a spinning wheel and began to experiment with plying yarns, I came to love Trekking even more. There are particular colorways of Trekking that create wonderful shaded color effects via the plies: each ply changes color in long lengths, at different rates and using different hues. You end up watching colors morph into each other and back again. I’m fascinated by these colorways.

After I started spinning, I came to better understand the color effects when I was plying together yarns that I had spun. I began to wonder what would happen if I knit two strands of Trekking together. I picked about five or six different colorways that all used this shaded effect and started knitting striped swatches with them. It was addictive (much in the way that self-stripers like Noro Kureyon are addictive – you can’t wait to see what color comes next).

Since layering pieces are in fashion, I decided to go with a very simple, classic v-neck vest.

I had so much fun making stripes (you had to change both strands at once at the end of the row, and start the next row with two different strands to get really distinct stripes) that I designed the vest with a striped front. But I also loved the way the yarn looked when you switched one strand randomly. So I designed a back panel that allows the knitter to randomly drop one strand and pick up another for an impressionistic blur of colors.

CS: Andrea Lyn, you did some crocheting with Trekking – what did you think?

ALVB: I have to tell you, I am always a little worried about using skinny yarns for exactly the same reasons as most stitchers, but I think I am becoming a convert! I especially liked Trekking XXL. The feel is incredibly soft and the colors are wonderfully vibrant! I especially liked that is is 75% wool, as I prefer to use natural-occuring fibers.

You told us how the yarn’s color effects inspired the vest in your book. Where else do you get for inspiration for designs from?

CS: All over! For example, my oldest son is ten, and he wears a lot of skateboarder-style shirts, like this one:

I thought how fun it would be to translate that idea – a T-shirt style top with faux layers – into an adult style. And that’s how the Skater T came about!

Sometimes a particular yarn gives me an idea, while other times I just play around with a style I like – like a yoke sweater or a raglan – and try to come up with a little twist to make it seem fresh.

ALVB: How do you/what is your process for selecting the specific yarn for a specific design?

CS: Sometimes the yarn will inspire the design – like the Drapey Silk Vest, which was a way to show off the gorgeous drape of a pure silk yarn. Sometimes I have a design in mind but not a particular yarn, so I look for a yarn that will fit in with my mind’s eye view of the design, paying attention to things like elasticity, warmth or coolness, colors available, gauge and so on. Every once in a while, I start to swatch or knit with a yarn and discover it doesn’t behave the way I need it to, so then I have to find an alternate. There’s a lot of trial and error involved.

ALVB: How long did you work on the project?

CS: We first proposed the book idea in mid-2006, and spent several months working on swatches, sketches and an outline. We began ordering yarn, designing and knitting in the fall of 2006, and that process continued until the summer of 2007. It seemed like so little time! But luckily we finished it up and we were pleasantly surprised when the finished book starting showing up on bookshelves a few weeks earlier than our projected publication date (which was June).

Thanks again, Andrea Lyn, for hosting the first leg of the Knit So Fine Blog Tour!
Tomorrow we’ll be visiting RosieBlogs (http://www.rosieblogs.blogspot.com), the blog of Rosie’s Yarn Cellar (http://www.rosiesyarncellar.com). My co-author Lisa R. Myers – who founded and owns Rosie’s – will be chatting with Courtney Kelley about another delectable fine yarn . . .


It was my pleasure hosting you Carol! You can order Carol’s book from Amazon by clicking on the widget above!

My New Hero!

This morning I was inspired by a segment my husband turned on for me on the Sunday Morning Show on CBS. They were talking about Karen Allen. We all know her as the lead actress in the Indiana Jones Movies and much earlier in Animal House.

Well, later in life, she went back to school, at FIT no less in 2002, to study machine knitting technology. She now has a wonderful line of sweaters, scarves, gloves and the like, as well as a shop in Barrington, MA.

After a terrible week at work and thinking at my age, where you are is where you are, Karen has given me new hope! My husband Glenn and I keep talking about a “plan.” We need to take care of certain things at this point, taking care of our health benefits, sticking to a reasonable budget and so on. If we continue to stick to that plan, there might just be a “part two” to our lives where we can truly do our passion. For me, fiber arts. For Glenn, fly fishing.

So I say to all of you, don’t feel stuck! Find your passion and make a plan! And look to Karen, a life-long knitter who has gone back to her love of fiber and re-invented it as her “part two” in life. She is most definitely my new hero!

You can see Karen’s beautiful designs by clicking here.

Doing for Others

I have always taken great pleasure in making crochet items for others. I feel it is a great way to show someone you took the time to make something especially for them and put real care into it. There is no greater way to show appreciation or caring then to give something created by you.

A great way to do this is through the prayer shawl ministry. The idea is to knit or crochet a shawl and to pray, think positive thoughts or good wishes while creating the garment. You may also want to play soft music while working your project. The receiver can then “wrap themselves in a prayer” whenever they wear it. Many churches and civic organizations make them for people going through chemo, after the loss of a loved one or any difficulty they may be experiencing as a way to help them through. The stitch pattern should be simple enough that you can continue to think positively or pray while working the shawl.

I think this is a great way to show someone you took the time to take your stitching ability and create something just for them. I encourage everyone to make at least one prayer shawl to give to someone who needs it. There are many sites that can help you find more information about the prayer shawl ministry, as well as a book by Lion Brand: The Prayer Shawl Ministry; Reaching Those in Need. I have listed the sites below and hope you will consider taking on this important project.

Prayer Shawl Sites
http://www.shawlministry.com/
http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/khs-prayerShawl.html
http://www.waitingroomministry.com
http://www.maggiescrochet.com/pages/Crochet_Help/Prayer_Shawl_main.pdf