Monday, July 21, 2014

CGOA Celebrates 20 Years ~ Part 8: The Chain Link Newsletter

Monday, July 21, 2014

This is the last in my series which looks back over the last 20 years of the Crochet Guild of America as we get ready to launch the 20th Anniversary Celebration at the Annual Crochet Conference on July 24 in Manchester, New Hampshire. 

I've been so excited all year long, working on the planning committee with the other Past Presidents and thinking about how far we've come over all these years due to the dedication of passionate crocheters who have contributed so much! More recently, I have been humbled and honored to find out that this year I was voted as the Inductee to the Jean leinhauser CGOA Hall of Fame! Please join me on Thursday at the Annunal Member Meeting for the ceremony. I look forward to seeing all my crochet friends!

Jean Leinhauser CGOA Hall of Fame
The humble beginnings of the Chain Link Newsletter in 1992 were simply a form letter to communicate with and keep in touch with avid crocheters who had heard about my very early musings of what was a dream to have a crochet conference with fabulous teachers and class...a dream that was realized on August 18, 1994.

In response to my Letter to the Editor in Threads magazine in which I looked for Crochet Pen Pals, the overwhelming number of letters I received dictated that I use a form letter at first. Typing laboriously on an Apple computer and mailing them out was worth it. I had wonderful fun reading about crocheters' experiences and love of the craft, as well as to share my dreams, plans and crochet news I could find.  I still have many of those letters. They were special and I remember that some had little gifts enclosed, like a doily, flower motif or an oirgami bird; some were writen to me on artfully created handmade stationery. It was in the days before email, and it was so exciting to get letter after letter in my mail box from people who were as passionate about crochet as I was! Their excitement and encouragement gave me the courage and the motivation to plan that first conference in 1994.

I quickly saw a need for a crochet community from the heartfelt letters I received. From that first simple form letter, the Chain Link newsletter evolved. I had to cut and paste the graphics and copy them on a mimeograph! 

Vol. 1, No. 1: Our Chain Link newsletter

Later, my dear friend and neighbor, Gerry (a non-crocheter) laid out the newsletters for me for 2 years. One of the Pen Pals volunteered to create a logo for the newsletter masthead.

First Chain Link Masthead

Once the Crochet Guild of America became an official organization in 1995, we had volunteers who took over the work of the newsletter. It continued to evolve as a professional document that linked us together. It was a place where we could share ideas and news about crochet as well as many other create ideas from the editors that gave their time.

In March 2002, DRG Publishing (now Annies)  launched Sharing the Art & Soul of Crochet, a magazine that brought new ideas for crochet lovers.

Crochet! ~  March 2002
On August 1, 2003, we had hired Offinger to manage our organization and a plan had already been worked out for Crochet! magazine to become the official magazine of CGOA. It has remained so ever since and the generous folks at Annies have supported our organization from the very early days and they have borne the cost of inserting our Chain Link Newsletter into the magazine, For Members Only, since that time. We are indeed very appreciative.

CGOA ad designed by DRG
In their ongoing support Annies also created a CGOA ad which they included in the magazine for all these years, complimentary!

2014-The Ad Today, compliments of Annies: "When You Think Crochet, Think CGOA!
Carol Alexander, the original editor of Crochet!, served on the CGOA board and retired in 2014. Ellen Gormley, a long time CGOA member and crochet designer has come up through the ranks and assumed the role as Executive Editor with the Autumn 2014 issue.

The Chain Link newsletter looks much as it did back then; the logo on the masthead has stayed the same.

The Editor of Interweave Crochet is the current President of CGOA

Indeed, we’ve come a long way, baby!! Now we have cyber-friends in all parts of the world who we can visit on a daily basis. We can even chat face-to-face on our computers to supplement out emails and messaging. There are no boundaries, but still there is something very special about being in an organization that works for the betterment of crochet and its members through education and the camaraderie that comes from sharing a passion for crochet that can't be seen, only felt when we join together for our annual meetings and monthly at our local chapters.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tennyson Library of Crochet

Wednesday, July 16, 2014-For an update on this exhibit, Knot Forgotten, and my visit to the University of Illinois to see it on July 15, scroll below.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The University of Illinois has ushered crochet into the world of academia! This is a rare opportunity for crocheters in Illinois and anyone else who might be nearby Champaign/Urbana during July. I plan to check it out and it looks like a very interesting event. To read the story of the man who donated and cataloged his great-grandmother's collection, see the website.
Knot Forgotten: The Tennyson Library of Crochet at Illinois

July 1-31, 2014

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Main Library (1408 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL)
Join the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Illinois as it celebrates the acquisition of the Tennyson Library of Crochet. There will be an exhibit on the first floor and in the Marshall Gallery of the Main Library, in addition to a variety of great events. 
*Crochet and Kvetch on Wednesday, July 9 at 3:00pm in the 4th floor staff lounge.
*Lunchtime exhibit tours on July 15 and July 24 from 12:00pm-1:00pm.
*The statues in front of the Library will be dressed to impress in crocheted attire during the month of July.
*Knot Forgotten Extravaganza Friday, July 18.
-Crochet class for children (age 8 and above, 8 children total) from 10:00am-11:00am in the Marshall Gallery.
-Crochet class for adults from 2:00pm-3:00pm in the Marshall Gallery.
-Reception, including ugly sweater contest, from 3:00pm-5:00pm in the Marshall Gallery.
July 16, 2014: Update

Murphey and Me
It was indeed a pleasure and well worth the 2 1/2 hour trip to Urbana, IL for me to participate in the Knot Forgotten: The Tennyson Library of Crochet at Illinois lunchtime exhibit tour yesterday.

If you are wondering what "Murphey" has to do with all of this, well it is like this...She is a loyal Courtesan in my Fan Group on Ravelry. She planning a trip for a family reunion from Kansas City to North Carolina, and when she read my post about this exhibit on June 12, she decided to plan her route to be able to be there. I, coincidentally had thought July 15 would be a good day for me to be there too, so we made plans to hook up and meet each other in person! Crocheters are like that: nice people and fast friends!

Gilbert Witte, a long time employee of the University of Illinois Library has donated a  collection of crochet books and pamphlets, plus ephemera, which documents the history and practice of the craft. Named after Witte's great-granmother, Flora Emily Tennyson, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library will house the collection.

Gilbert Witte
Reading about this collection is just not the same as actually seeing it. Gil is an avid collector and began to collect crochet literature when he received some from his great-granmother. From there he has spent about twenty years adding to this collection with purchases from EBay and elsewhere.

To celebrate the acquisition of the collection, the library is sponsoring related activities throughout the month July. Most interesting to me was the timeline created by Gil using scanned covers from magazines in his collection, starting with his earliest that dates 1840. The wall at the entrance to the library is lined with color images of these covers in chronological order and the changes in crochet and in fashion are so evident as one views the timeline. I was thrilled to see that the last photo chosen, representing modern crochet art, was art by Nathan Vincent who happens to be included in one of the chapters of my book, The Fine Art of Crochet!

Carole, Witte and Me
Displayed in cases were many examples of crochet, crochet hooks and books and other things of interest to crocheters or needleworkers in general. Is anything you see here in your collection as well?

Antique hooks: vintage to modern
A very old hook set with interchangeable hooks
The small case that holds the interchangeable hooks
A collectible metal jar with image of a crocheter
As a part of the month-long festivities, the University granted permission for two statues at the entrance of the library, "Daughters of Pyrrha," to be yarn-bombed. Designed by Urbana resident, Rachel Suntop, who loves crochet, they are exquisite and artful. Rachel explains her inspiration, “I chose to adorn each of the sculptures differently. The northern sculpture uses a natural hemp yarn that is loosely crocheted to show the airy and free form structure of the material. In contrast, I created a tightly crocheted fabric with the undyed cotton yarn for the southern sculpture. Done on a much smaller scale, it has a more structured, intricate and delicate look. Elements of unpredictability, such as rain, wind, the natural aging of the material and human interaction will add a further element of surprise.”



Anyone is most welcome to visit the Tennyson Library of Crochet at any time and review any of the books in the collection. They may not be removed from the library. Contact Michelle Yestrepsky, Administrative and Program Assistant. To find a list of holding in the Library's catalog, then clickon Library Catalog and search by author, Tennyson Library of Crochet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Amy Solovay: Prolific Designer ~ Part 2: Designing

July 12, 2014
Amy Solovay: Part 2, Designing

I first met Amy Solovay when she joined my fan group, Cro-Kween Designs on Ravelry. She was humble, enthusiastic and a delight to have as a group Courtesan. I wanted to know more about her designs and the inspirations for them. Check Amy's website often as she is currently focusing on developing it into a comprehensive resource covering both crochet and knitting, as well as other topic of interest needleworkers.

I wondered what got Amy interested in crochet and how long she has been designing.
"I started designing original patterns for public consumption in 2009 when I began working with My father's aunt taught me to crochet a granny square when I was a child of about 7 years old. She also taught me the basic crochet stitches, but I was on my own with figuring out what to do with it all.
Envision 7 year olds -- They draw pictures; build things with Legos and blocks; and follow their creative muses without hesitation. I did the same, creating stuff like blankets, clothes for my dolls, and stuffed animals. I didn't know about patterns and was just designing things I wanted to make off the top of my head. It was fun for me; it kept me busy.

Later I discovered crochet books and was drawn to inspiring freeform books. So by that point, I was exploring in the opposite direction -- not worried at all about following patterns, but creating everything spontaneously. I haven’t given much thought to the distinction between designing and crocheting until lately. In the past, if I was doing one activity, I was also doing the other. Lately that hasn't been as true, because I've been making more of an effort to crochet from other designers' patterns. Overall, I’ve been crocheting about thirty years".

Amy is a busy and prolific designer who produces a new pattern, tutorial or article per week. She says that some days she wakes up with design ideas that pour out of her. “I couldn’t stop them if I tried. Often I have more ideas than I can realistically work on. On those days, hubby Mike has to remind me to eat and drink!

With degrees in both mathematics and interior design, Amy describes her work as “Art Inspired  by Fabric, Fashion and Interior Design.” I wanted to know more about what inspires her. 

Will you share some of your creations that have evolved from various sources?
"My designs are often inspired by one or more of the following things:
-The vintage crochet manuals which I collect. I draw from them constantly for reference and inspiration.

-A yarn, thread or other materials like beads, wire, pretty colored plastic shopping bags. Lovely printed fabrics can influence me as well. My fabric crochet necklaces are a perfect example  of projects that were inspired by such materials.

-An interesting stitch (or stitches.) For example, when I discovered the Lacy Interrupted V-Stitch,    I was enthralled by it, both by its look and the speed at which it works up. 

    -'What-Iffing’ --  One morning, I might wake up thinking 'I wonder if I could make dull orange, bright blue and dusty pink look like they belong in the same project?' Or I might be at the craft store, looking at supplies, and wonder 'what would happen if I use this thread with these beads?'  I may do some unraveling of these weird experiments, but a surprising number of them turn out well enough to be shared.

- My readers, and their requests, ideas and interests. While I'm not able to work on every request, I do take all my readers' comments, insights and requests into consideration when planning my projects. I tend to prioritize the ones that have mass appeal I also gravitate towards requests that I personally find interesting, or think would be interesting to a majority of my readers.

-Keyword lists from places like my site's metrics is a more indirect form of inspiration. If one zillion readers have searched my site wanting an "easy scarf," I know that if I haven't already posted some easy scarves, I better get going on it immediately!"

In her designing, Amy puts her educational background to work in many ways. 
Elaborate for us on your interest in color forecasting. 
“At one point, I taught trend forecasting to fashion design majors at a design college. Working in the industry, a textile designer naturally develops this ability to predict color trends. Often these colors must be predicted up to two years in advance due to the long time it takes for fashion to reach the marketplace.  

With my crochet work, I take a different approach. Most of the time, my goal is to transcend the trends. I want to give my readers projects that will be just as stylish and beautiful in fifteen years as they were on the day their project was first crocheted. When crafters take the time to make something by hand, we want it to last. Our handmade projects are not intended to be disposable. I focus most of my efforts on creating appealing, trend-proof designs that will last a lifetime for their makers; it is my way of rebelling against planned obsolescence, which I see all too often.

In the past, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers mended their clothes, darned their socks, and handed things down. They extracted every bit of value possible out of a garment or textile before disposing of it. At the same time, the things they handed down were often worth handing down, due to excellent design, craftsmanship and quality. I see these as being ideals that are worth striving for -- to design things of lasting value, to achieve excellence in craftsmanship, and to create exceptional items worth hanging onto and handing down.

I confess that there are times when I do get distracted from this goal, and I give in to the urge to design a trendy project. Like my latest -- I resisted that trend for as long as I could, and then one day I was overwhelmed with a design vision that I thought would be so spectacularly gorgeous that I just had to give in and try it. I do love the scarf and it has been well-received. 

So there's this battle in me between the fashion industry professional and the environmentalish/traditionalist. I want to stay completely up-to-the-minute with the trends, yet I also see the need to design and create sustainably. It is my hope to channel my talents in such a way that I can help needle workers satisfy both desires at the same time.

With crochet, it's sooooo easy to try interesting things with colorwork. I often try combining crazy combinations of variegated yarns -- particularly embracing colorways that probably shouldn't be used together, just to see what will happen. I find it particularly entertaining to look for ways to make unworkable yarn combinations work. It's also fun to see how many variegated yarns can be packed into the same project -- without ruining it."

Amy prefers to carry out color experiments on low-commitment projects like pot holders “Let's say one of my dishcloths turns out hideous. So what? No worries, because it will still scrub my dishes clean. Plus wild and weird dishcloths tend to make great conversation starters when one is doing the laundry in an unfamiliar marina!

If you use a technique like tapestry crochet, you don't have to worry about floats across the back of your work, like you have to worry about with fair isle knitting. That alone is incredibly freeing.

Of course, with crochet being done completely by hand, you don't have any of the limitations that come along with things like machines and looms.  Crochet isn't without its limitations, but it's a medium that is incredibly free, and allows for almost-complete spontaneity."

Will you share some examples on how combining your knowledge of math and textile design has worked out perfectly?
"At the hand-craft level, I used to design knitted and crocheted garments, and math was also useful in that capacity -- particularly for grading patterns and figuring out shaping. Lately I've been doing more quick, beginner-level projects, and I haven't needed much in the way of complex math.

I do love geeking-out on things like tessellations, logarithmic spirals and dynamic symmetry, but I haven't made these sorts of things a priority to work on lately. I'd love to get back to playing with math-meets-art-type design elements in the future. I would particularly love to try crocheting some of the tessellating patterns I drew and painted back when I was designing printed fabrics.

For now I'm happy to focus most of my efforts on simple stitch repeats, simple shaping and projects I can get finished in a week or less.

I asked Amy about her involvement with Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and how it has influenced her work.
Being outside the USA, I am not well-situated for taking best advantage of the benefits that group membership offers. However, as a non-member, I can say with certainty that the CGOA is an amazing group. I have boundless admiration for the group as a whole, and for everything the organization hasaccomplished. CGOA has definitely furthered goals that I currently hold nearest and dearest, and share with the guild: educating people about crochet and its many benefits.

The CGOA has also provided me with inspiration and some interesting blog post material, particularly from the design competitions. I've also enjoyed reading, reviewing and sharing books written by CGOA group members, who are a talented and inspiring bunch. I've often linked to CGOA resources, and recommended the group to my readers. The group has indirectly contributed to my writing career -- by being newsworthy, by being worth writing about, and by providing helpful materials that I think crocheters should know about!

I like to think that I've also given some value back to CGOA as well, in the form of raising awareness to my readers and pointing them in the direction of the group.

I'd say the Guild has furthered my design career largely because members are often at the forefront of providing innovative crochet and needlework that inspires me through a variety of  noteworthy materials, such as videos and books. I look forward to continuing to refer  my readers to these valuable resources. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: Crochet for Baby All Year by Tammy Heldebrand

July 11, 2014
Crochet for Baby All Year
by Tammy Hildebrand

If you are friends with Tammy Hildebrand on Facebook, you know how proud she is of her first grandchild, Willow! The inspiration for Tammy’s latest book, Willow is one of the adorable models for the fantastic projects. 

Willow modeling "Pretty as a Posy"
The patterns in Crochet for Baby All Year are theme-based on the  months of the year, and designs for both girls and boys are included with instructions for multiple sizes from newborn to 18 months, Most of the patterns are suitable for beginning to intermediate crocheters. Tammy says, “The patterns work up in no time. You’ll want to stitch them up quickly, as babies grow so fast, and before you know it, they aren’t even babies anymore!”

Baby's year starts by celebrating the birth with a christening gown for either sex in luscious cashmere, baby alpaca and merino wool. A “hearts” theme highlights February; ladybugs for good luck in May and flags in July. Tammy cleverly adapts this symbolism appropriately for either boy or girl as the themes continue through each month. 

"Yankee Doodle" and "Lady Liberty"
The book's photography is fantastic throughout, and I credit the very talented Rachel Geiser for being able to work with such young models to capture special moments.  “Visual Indexes” seems to be a trend these days in many books. They are a helpful summary of the patterns included in a book, and it guides the enthusiastic crocheter in choosing which design to work on first. Tammy’s book is no exception, and you’ll have a tough time deciding where to begin!

The yarns Tammy chose for these projects can be found either eonline or in local yarn and craft stores. For crocheters who want to use other yarns from their stash, a bit of experience and knowledge of inter-changing fibers will be necessary because the Craft Yarn Council Yarn Standards are not included.

I would have preferred to see a better fit of these garments on the beautiful children who modeled them. The recommended yarns leaned toward bulky size, and hook sizes F through I were used. Perhaps a better fit could be achieved by using finer yarns.

Crochet for Baby All Year is published by Stackpole Books (2014) and retails for $21.95. Want to win your very own copy of Tammy’s book? All you have to do BEFORE July 15 at midnight is “Like” my Facebook page or enter your email to receive my blog posts in the "follow by email" secction on the right-side column; then click submit.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Amy Solovay: Boat Woman/Entrepreneur ~ Part 1: The Business

Tuesday July 8 , 2014
Amy Solovay: Boat Woman/Entrepreneur ~ Part 1, The Business

I met Amy when she joined my fan group, Cro-Kween Designs on Ravelry. She was humble, enthusiastic and a delight to have as a group Courtesan. Being familiar with the amount of crochet content she was responsible for providing on, I was amazed to find that she lives on a boat!

As the Crochet Guide/Expert, her primary responsibilities included writing content and maintaining the site, integrating the content into the site's structure, maintaining the crochet blog, and maintaining a forum. Amy recalls, “There was also a period of time when I was overseeing the work of other writers for the crochet site in addition to my primary responsibilities.”Readers can still see much of the work Amy published by going to the site.

Very impressed by her crochet knowledge and all she has to offer to crocheters, I wanted to get to know Amy better and learn about the secrets to her success during this time of transition and renewal for her and her husband, Mike. I hope you will enjoy getting to know her too!

Amy Solovay
Amy grew up on the east coast of the U.S. and during her childhood neither she nor her family were into sailing. In fact, her first boating experience friend’s family boat was a disaster because it overturned in the Potomac River! Amy was terrified until she realized they were in shallow water! Amy believes everything happens for a reason.

How did you learn to be a boat person?

“I learned to be a sailor by buying a sailboat with my husband, moving aboard it and taking off,” she explains! “He already had some sailing experience, but not I. This method is not for the feint-of-heart and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else; but it has worked out well for us!

Later, sailing down the Potomac as we began a trip across the Atlantic Ocean, the memory of that shallow water years ago haunted me. I was compelled to keep a vigilant eye on our charts as we navigated.”

Amy is a full-time, live-aboard cruising sailor and has been at it since the Spring of 2010. 

How do you manage to run a business like yours on the water?

“In some ways it isn't as challenging as you might think.” She explains. “I make a habit of scheduling work up to a month ahead of time with plenty of newsletters, patterns, tutorials and blog posts ready to post at any given time. This way, I don't have to panic when the local Internet tower goes down for a few days, or a storm pops up and we have to drop everything and move to a safer location. We use the sun and wind to make energy for powering our computers, but truthfully, most of our plugging-in is done from marinas, where we usually have power accessible. So far, I haven't yet visited a marina that has 100% reliable Internet access; some don't have any. My ability to schedule work ahead of time is key and has really been important to me.

There are exceptions, but in my experience I’ve found crochet to be mostly a seasonal pastime that is done by the majority of ‘casual crocheters’ in fall and winter. I define casual as people who enjoy the pastime as only one thing they do in otherwise busy and fulfilling lives.  Diehard crocheters, like me, aren't going to let little things like heat and humidity keep us from our crochet, but we're not the majority.

With so many crocheters being interested in projects like scarves, fingerless gloves, hats, blankets and it's natural that people would gravitate towards this as a fall and winter pastime. Of course, these seasons being what they are offer plenty of motivation for getting out their hooks and yarn.

Sailing is also a seasonal pastime with typically best results in the summer. We sail the most in the summer and winter is a great time for us to be tucked in a marina. There I can plug into the Internet and post crochet patterns while the captain (hubby) is planning our next adventure with his charts spread out on the chart table.” 

How much time do you dedicate per day to your business?

“While working with for 5 years, I learned to balance the huge amount of time that goes into maintaining an online crochet community with my sailing lifestyle. “At first, I worked 10-15 hours daily for 6 days a week. Mike helped also with photography and editing photos along with an occasional modeling job. In those days we were cruising central and southern California, and we would take a ‘sail-break’ about every two weeks. I can’t say I relaxed completely all the time, especially if I needed to meet deadlines and maintain my work schedule.

When we decided to launch an Atlantic crossing in 2012 so we could sail the Mediterranean Sea, I focused on preparation. I spent every waking minute preparing In order to create several months’ worth of newsletters, patterns and blog entries scheduled for posting during the planned offline times.

I wouldn't want to sustain that kind of pace forever, but I am grateful that working hard for a few months, then uplugging and taking the next few months off is an option for me. I don't take it for granted. Since arriving in the Mediterranean, I've relaxed my work schedule, although on average I still work more than full time. In this time of transition for us, it is hard to say what the new normal will look like going forward.”

For Amy, the challenge is getting the design from her brain to an acceptable format that other people can follow and duplicate for themselves. “The hard part lies in the pattern writing, editing and testing,” she explains. “Those are the spots where my work enters the ‘bottleneck.’

I must take care to not get sidetracked and end up with 3 or 4 partial projects and nothing finished for my newsletter. On average, I estimate that I spend from 4-24 hours of work after conceiving a design to bring it to completion: test, photograph, edit photos, integrating the project into one of my websites, blogging and spreading the word via my newsletter and social media. It is hard to break down the exact amount of time required, though, because there isn’t an ‘off button’ that I can use to quiet the designer part of my brain. While I’m working on one project, my imagination is often wandering off to the next project. This business requires a lot of discipline!”

You have a lot of experience writing about crochet. Where else can we find you?
Prior to working for, Amy had been writing about crochet at a site that is currently offline undergoing renovation, but should be available again shortly. She says, “The antique crochet site reaches a small but dedicated audience of experienced crocheters (many who are even more experienced than I am.) Getting involved with seemed like a great way to write for a wider audience, and to share my knowledge with an enormous group of crochet enthusiasts -- many of them new crocheters or returning to the craft after a long period of inactivity. I also write for and others.

Currently Amy is very excited to be focusing her efforts with her husband on making a comprehensive resource that covers both the topics of crochet and knitting, as well as other topics of interest to crocheters and knitters.

What is your vision for this site?

“Our plan is to work with other writers and designers who will share their expertise, talents and insights, giving our readers exposure to a variety of different perspectives, ideas and inspiration. We're scrambling to launch everything more quickly than we had originally planned and we’ll have its official grand opening on September 1, 2014.

It is shaping up well; the blog is active and we have posted some patterns. Be sure to stay current and receive our updates, please sign up for our newsletter

What do we have to look forward to as far as your expanded website goes?
Our site will be filled with a mix of free resources plus some premium resources that will be worth paying for. We will offer a better experience, specifically targeted to our audience of needlework enthusiasts.

Mike and I also formerly worked in the Hollywood film industry, and with our combined experience I am confident that we can deliver outstanding videos to our visitors. I do envision that advertising will be part of the mix on our website as we create an environment that will be win-win for us, the designers, our visitors, and the advertisers.

I look forward to getting to know our visitors so well that I have a clear understanding of what sort of ads they find useful and valuable. In turn, I will seek out and work with the advertisers who provide the products our readers want to know about. I would also love to work with designers who are at the cutting edge of using these products and implementing them into their own design work, thus giving readers the inspiration they crave.

In the early stages, I want to implement a barter system, where, for example, we might trade blog posts or ad space with carefully-vetted needlework pattern designers, book authors, spinners, dyers, and/or other craft sites -- in hopes of mutual cross-promotion. I invite any like-minded professionals to contact me.

What is your involvement with the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and has it influenced your work?
“Being outside the USA, I am not well-situated for taking best advantage of the benefits that group membership offers. However, as a non-member, I can say with certainty that the CGOA is an amazing group. I have boundless admiration for the group as a whole, and for everything the organization has accomplished. CGOA has definitely furthered goals that I currently hold nearest and dearest and that I share with the guild: educating people about crochet and its many benefits.

The CGOA has also provided me with inspiration and some interesting blog post material, particularly during the design competitions. I've also enjoyed reading, reviewing and sharing books written by CGOA group members, who are a talented and inspiring bunch. I've often linked to CGOA resources and recommended the group to my readers. The group has indirectly contributed to my writing career -- by being newsworthy, being worth writing about, and by providing helpful materials that I think crocheters should know about!

I like to think that I've also given some value back to the group as well, by raising to my readers had never heard of the CGOA before I pointed them in the direction of the group.

I'd say the Guild has furthered my design career largely because members are often at the forefront of providing innovative crochet and needlework that inspires me through a variety of noteworthy materials such as blogs, videos and books. I look forward to continuing to promote these valuable resources.”  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Health Survey: Participants Wanted!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kathryn Vercillo well known as the #crochetblogger at Crochet Concupiscense is fast becoming the expert when it comes to the health benefits of crochet as she studies to become a psychologist. Her book Crochet Saved My Life has been reviewed positively across many media site. If you happened to miss it, I hope you will look back and read my review.

Kathryn has now launched a new crochet health survey  to study how crochet heals people. This is a 27-question survery (mostly multiple choice) designed to gather detailed information about the physical and mental health issues that are helped through crochet work and to what degree the craft is helpful.

In her book Kathryn shares her own story of crocheting to heal from chronic depression. She also interviews two dozen other women who share their stories of hooking to heal. In addition, she aggregates the available research into crafting to heal.

Several formal studies have been conducted that show crochet to be healing. The new study is designed to add to the available information on this topic. One unique thing about it is that the study focuses specifically on crochet as opposed to lumping it in with other crafts. Another unique feature is that it goes beyond asking the question “does crochet help?” (because we know that it does) and explores how it helps, to what extent and for what symptoms.

Kathryn Vercillo will do an in-depth analysis of the results of this study. She will use that information to publish a full report on the health benefits of crafting. She will also use the information in future publications and it will serve as the foundation for continued research into this important topic.

A survey like this has the potential to lead to a number of benefits including:

  •        Credibility to get crochet into more settings including hospitals, recovery centers, in-patient therapy groups, prisons and schools
  •          Information that can be given to doctors and therapists to help them understand how crochet can heal
  •          Help for individuals who want to learn how crochet can help them heal
  •          Lays the groundwork for additional research opportunities into the topic
You can help support the craft of crochet by contributing your response to this new survey. The survey is available here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

CGOA Celebrates 20 Years ~ Part 7: The Pattern Line

Monday, June 16, 2014

Since I am still basking in the glow of my chapter's 20th anniversary party on June 14, I will include a few photos from the event. Our committee, chaired by Barb Collister and including me and Dorothy Hansen, worked for about a year planning this event to celebrate the very first CGOA and our members. The 3 of us on the committee attended the very first chapter meeting in June 1994.

The Celebration Committee
Our guest artist, Pate Conaway

 An array of the unusual materials with which Pate crochets!

Members enjoying each other's company

I created a rather amateurish video the best I could during the party and it will be posted to the CGOA website sometime after the conference in Manchester, July 24-27. We hope you will enjoy hearing the voices of some of those who were there at the very beginning!

Now, on to the CGOA Pattern Line we go! Back in 2000, Jackie Young designed the very first pattern for the line, Crochet Socks. They are as timely today as they were then and a great tool to learn to make basic socks.

2000-Crocheted Socks by Jackie Young
Jackie conceived the idea and was instrumental in making the line a success. Back then, there was not nearly the profusion of upscale fashionable crochet patterns, and there was demand for such items. Where better then the Crochet Guild to find talented designers who could bring exciting fashions to the market?

Jackie recruited the designers; some of whom donated their designs to the line. She also formated the final documents and even did photography. At the time, volunteers were staffing booths at consumer and trade shows such as Stitches and The National Needlework Association. Wemade the patterns available for sale at wholesale prices for local yarn stores.

Nancy Brown, who served as President of CGOA from 2000-2001, worked closely with Jackie and she developed a yarn line for CGOA called CGOA Presents. Many of the patterns in the line used those yarns and were supplied to the designers. However, the patterns are written generically, so today crocheters can choose their own yarns.

Here are some highlights from the CGOA Pattern line; you will recognize the names of some of today's top designers! So, if you are in the market for fashionable crochet patterns, go to the link above and order yourself a pattern to celebrate 20 years of CGOA!

2002-Fiesta Shawl by BJ Licko Keel, a member of my CGOA chapter, Northern IL Chapter
2003-The Fling by Gwen Blakley Kinsler. Modeled with her daughter, Bethany.

2005-Mesh Mini Jacket by Rosalie Johnson, a member of my local CGOA chapter ~

2005-Two-Way Sweater Shrug by Marty Miller who served as CGOA President from 2009-2011

2005-Criss-Cross Shrug by KJ Hay. KJ is a very busy tech editor for magazines today.
2005- Chain Link Capelet & Purse by Vashti Braha who designs, blogs and teaches at Chain Link Conferernce
Jacket with Freeform Appliques by Margaret Hubert. Margaret is an author, designer, and frequent teacher at Chain Link Conferences.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

CGOA Celebrates 20 years ~ Part 6 B: Where Are They Now?

Thursday, June 5, 2014
CGOA Celebrates 20 Years, Part B: Where Are They Now?

So many had so much to say about why they love CGOA and what their long-time membership has meant to them, that I divided the post into 2 parts. Enjoy Part B.

Sylvia Landman is the author of Crafting for Dollars which she published in 1996. Packed ful of useful information, her book is still relevant today. Sylvia attended the very first conference and now be found on Ravelry. More recently she has published books on quilting, such as Quilting for Fun and Profit in 1999.
Chunghie Lee
Chunghi Lee hails from Seoul, Korea and attended the first Chain Link conference. At the time, she was a Rhodes Scholar Exchange student at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her exquisite crochet art was in the juried exhibit that weekend in 1994.

Chunghie Lee: Woman with Wig
A well-known Korean fiber artist, Chunghie has been invited to lecture at the Rhode Island School of Design as well as internationally about Korea’s wrapping cloth tradition (Bojagi). In 2010 she authored the book, Bojagi and Beyond.

Carol Moore at Fiber Arts Cafe
Carol Moore

Anyone who has ever met Carol at a CGOA conference does not forget her due to her ebullient laugh and warm embrace! She describes her feelings, "CGOA has always meant a lot to me. It was my first organized introduction to the life of crochet. I was hired to do the CGOA newsletter, Chain Link; while working on it,  I developed a full volunteer staff. Because CGOA is a national organization, I had reporters across the U.S., some of which wrote on-going column topics. 
Later I volunteered with  Nancy Nearing on production and implementation of the original Masters in Crochet program. I then served as a judge, as well. I also served as Chair of the Education Committee, directing volunteers to choose the educational components of our conferences.
Since 2011, Carol has owned the Fiber Arts Cafe where she offers many techniques such as crochet, knitting, cross stitch, needlepoint and embroidery. 

Delma Myers
Delma Myers traveled all the way from Alaska to Chicago to attend the very first Chain Link conference in 1994 and has consequently attended each and every summer conference for twenty years. She has also attended two regional conferences  Looking back on all those conferences, Delma says, “I have had so much joy and have gained so much knowledge from attending the CGOA conferences; they have been a highpoint in my crochet life. “

A lifelong needleworker, Delma taught herself to crochet, inspired by a granny square that a cousin left behind during a move!  Her five kids grew up surrounded with lots of crochet items and Delma was surrounded by all the crochet magazines she could find. Crochet overshadowed all the other fiber arts for her. She recalls, “When news of the first conference reached me, I was ecstatic; what a unforgettable experience Chicago was!  I met people whose names I recognized from the crochet publications.  The classes were phenomenal and whetted my appetite for more crochet knowledge.

Having lived in Alaska for 42 years, Delma still only tolerates winter in order to get to the incredible summers in which the sun shines 20 hours a day. "I have a standing rule not to take any trips outside of Alaska in the summer," Delma explains; "but Chain Link is the exception to that rule!"

A proud charter member of CGOA, Delma is enjoying retirement and recently became a great-grandmother! She does still continue to design crochet patterns. "Going to the conferences gave me the confidence to try my hand at designing. But more important is the opportunity to spend a week each year submerged in crochet with people who are as hooked as I am!  I now have crochet friends from across the US, Canada, England and Australia.

I personally want to THANK YOU, Gwen, for having the vision and the willingness to spend the countless hours to start this organization! Even though the name includes 'of America,' it really is an international organization that appreciates crochet not just as a craft but also as art." 

Jean Ness
Jean Ness  attended her first Chain Link conference in 1996 in Irvine, California.  She has attended a total of 18 and missed 2 because of travels to Ireland. Jean and her husband, who always comes along to conferencesto explore the local speed skating ice rinks, have also enjoyed mini-vacations after attending the conferences. “We have gotten to see more of the county than we would have otherwise,” she says. 

Jean has this to say about her long-time membership in the Guild: “To say that CGOA is important in my life is an understatement.  It has opened up a whole new world of crocheting for me as I am somewhat addicted to it.  I have met some really nice people and have made close friends in Ireland because of this hobby.  I have been going to Ireland each year since 1994 when I read about Maire Treaner’s Summer School sessions on Clones Lace in Victoria magazine. However, it was through the CGOA sponsored trip to Ireland and Wales in 2000 that I met Kathie Earle who has become a very good friend. Don and I plan to return there this year to celebrate 20 years with Kathie and her husband.

Nancy Nehring
Nancy Nehring was making important contributions to the world of crochet even before the advent of the Crochet Guild with her books. She has taught at fifteen CGOA conferences and presented the Keynote Speech in 2005, a transcript of which can be found on her website.

In 2001, Nancy co-founded the CGOA Hook Collectors' interest group and she maintains a lovely collection of each CGOA commemorative hooks on her website. Nancy served as the Co-Chair of the CGOA Education committee during 2002 and coordinated the selection of teachers for the Chain Link crochet conference. 

As for her experience with CGOA all these years, Nancy says, "Over the years, CGOA has promoted high-end crochet. Without CGOA, I don't think crochet garments would have taken their place next to knit garments. Crochet would still be afghans and potholders."
Pam Oddi
Pam Oddi is one of two people (with Delma Myers) who have attended all twenty Chain Link Crochet conferences. She is a charter member of CGOA and has served as both Vice President and President of the organization. She also created our very first website and was the Webmaster for 10 years!

"I'm amazingly proud of what CGOA has accomplished in the past 20 years. There is no talk of crochet being 'dying art' anymore. Crochet is everywhere! We have only scratched the surface of the potential of crochet!
I've remained active on the local level, with the Northern Illinois Chapter of CGOA.   For the past two years, I have led the Chapter Study Group which meets weekly at a local Barnes & Noble.   The study group's goal is to devote time to the study of particular crochet techniques, but it has grown to be much more.  Chapter members get to know each other better; members who miss a monthly chapter meeting can drop in to visit friends; it's a do-it-in-public event; it's a great excuse to get out of the house, and it's something to look forward to in the middle of the work week.   We learn a lot, and we have a lot of fun also."

Annie Potter with Deborah Hamburg & Gwen
Annie Potter attended the first conference in 1994 and gave a slide presentation about her amazing travels in search of crochet which are featured in her incredibly beautiful book, A Living Mystery: The International Art and History of Crochet. It is truly a treasure in my crochet book collection!

Annie is a prolific crochet designer who started Annie’s Attic in 1974, a family business, with just a small ad in Woman’s Day magazine. The overwhelming response to that ad led to great success for Annie for over 20 years. In 1997 she sold the business to DRG which recently re-branded its products under the name AnniesAlthough semi-retired, Miss Annie continues to create new designs and patterns with the same love for the craft and standards as she always has, and remains the primary creative force behind Annie Potter Presents. Today, management of the day-to-day business operations remains a family affair.

Linda Sauter (1947-2011) was an active member of the Spokane, Washington chapter of CGOA and loved crochet books. She took over the CGOA library, from our first Librarian Kate Coburn and treated it as it was her own. When a debilitating and deadly illness changed her life, Linda was saddened to have to give up the library. Named in her honor before her death, it is now The Linda Sauter CGOA Library. Unfortunately, the library has been discontinued due to lack of use by CGOA members.
Pauline Turner

Pauline Turner: Hailing from Morecombe, England, Pauline is a master crocheter and author of many crochet books.Thanks to Joan Davis, Pauline attended the very first Chain Link Crochet Conference in 1994 and taught a 3-day Post conference workshop. She developed the distance learning course, International Diploma in Crochet, from which I graduated in 1997. Details on this ultimate achievement and most highly sought qualification in the field of crochet is available on Pauline’s site.  

Pauline has more recently established the International School of Awareness where she offers workshops that “harvest the good things in life, both spiritual and physical.”