Thursday, July 30, 2015

21st Annual Chain Link Crochet Conference Report

We always come home from the Crochet Guild (CGOA)-sponsored conference on such a high. It does take a while to come down from the excitement. This year I came home on the "red-eye," San Diego-Chicago, and spent all of Sunday in a fog-like trance. Probably won't do that again!

It was not without great forethought and trepidation that I attended this year leaving my husband with 24-7 caretakers in charge. All went real well from start to finish for both him and me. I couldn't have had smoother travel. I loved my hotel room and enjoyed the balcony and the near-perfect San Diego sun & air. I logged lots of steps on my Fitbit. To my great relief, I found everything in good shape when I returned and thank goodness for texting as I was able to keep in close touch with my dear husband every day and often!

I arrived Thursday afternoon and enjoyed a leisurely time getting the lay of the convention center, getting registered, and running into familiar faces. Oh yeah, and I pre-ordered the Annual CGOA Commemorative Hook and picked it up.

Unraveled Ewe Company: Cocobolo wood
While there, I kept a Facebook Journal, so will direct you there if you want to follow my every step. #KCS2015.

Thursday evening's Annual Membership Meeting has become pretty much a non-event in my opinion! Since we hired the management company, it has been boiled down to a scripted session consisting of introducing the board, last year's minutes and treasury report. It doesn't feel like members are welcome to ask questions (except the ubiquitous "Where are we meeting next year?), air concerns or offer ideas. Nor do the board members seem willing to speak to what they have accomplished or plans for the future. Please tell me I am wrong!! Caring & Sharing has become chaotic with no one in charge. It would be more interesting if I just randomly handed a gift to a person on the street and then hoped someone would come along for a gift for me!

For the first time in a long time, I actually ventured outside the hotel and took the Trolley Tour of San Diego. It was $39.00 well spent; I saw so much in two hours. I had to be back at the CGOA booth at 12:30 on Friday as they were honoring the Hall of Famers by having us greet members.

Knowing how these things go, I organized a dinner on our free Friday night and shared a meal with some old friends. It is always so hard to have good conversations during these hectic weekends as we all run hither and yon. The gathering was well received and I got many comments of appreciation for bringing us together.. Everyone seemed to have a good time; maybe it will catch on as something we do every year!

Although I only took one class, it was a great one. Engineered Tunisian by Jennifer Hansen offered some Tunisian stitches I had never tried. It was challenging, fun and at some point I will have a beautiful cravat! Jennifer is an excellent teacher: knowledgeable, relaxed and more that willing to help everyone who needs her guidance.

Engineered Tunisian: Cravat
After 40+ years of crocheting and twenty years of attending these conferences, I really didn't have a wish list for the Marketplace. In fact, I vowed not to buy any yarn. Welllllll, vows are meant to be broken! At the Knitting Tree booth I noticed notecards with a knitting theme. Of course, I had to speak up for crochet and was told that they had them also for crochet but sold out. Good work crocheters for buying products that keep our venders coming back! The sales person was also wearing crochet so I took that as a sign. A 3-pack of coordinated colors started calling to me and I caved in; excited to figure out what I will make with these lucious colors. No regrets! I had come away without stitch markers so I also picked up a pack of Clover markers that were new to me. I've always been a sucker for stitch accessories anyway!

Louisa Harding Yarns: Azalea, Amitola, Anise
There is no readily evident reason why I would need to purchase another pair of scissors, except that they are just so darn adorable! They were also for sale in Tumiko Alexander's booth. She is the author of Rustic Modern Crochet which I have reviewed here on the blog.

It was so exciting to meet her in person and see her lovely model projects on display.I was happy to support her in this small way.

Tailleur:  La Belle Vie De La Couture
I have a weakness for handmade soaps and the grandfatherly figure in the booth wearing  his white lab coat cinched it for me!

Harmony Skin Care: Coconut
Throughout the weekend, I enjoyed meeting cyber-friends and Courtesans from my Ravelry Group. At the Saturday night Banquet/Fashion Show, I enjoyed the dinner, but then had to exit to get to the airport. No report on how that went.

Time will tell if I am able to attend the 2016 Conference in Charleston, SC. Here's hoping....

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Book Review: Colorful Crochet Lace by Mary Jane Hall

Colorful Crochet Lace
I loved reading Mary Jane’s introduction, and felt like I was right there in the room with her as she shared her excitement for creating this book of chic crochet patterns for us. Inspired by the architecture, fashions, gardens and culture of France, the patterns all carry French-inspired names. I couldn’t wait to take a look at this collaborative approach and to see how Mary Jane translated her inspiration into crochet!

Known for her exquisite styling when it comes to her pattern designs, this book is no exception! The pineapple is a classic crochet pattern, but used as a peplum on the cover design, Haute Couture, it is a perfect example of how Mary Jane uses vintage style to create on-trend fashions. She has also developed the use of another classic technique which she calls the Graduated Stitch Method as her signature approach to create elegant shaping in her garments.

As we’ve come to expect from the folks at Interweave, great diagrams, beautiful color photos and even symbol crochet bring together all the tools crocheters need to achieve great results.

Tunique Unique Pullover
Tunique Unique Pullover is shaped to flatter just about anyone’s shape and will even camorflage any flaws you might have!

Au Naturel Cropped Top
 Au Naturel cropped top is the perfect example of a lacy garment that fits both casual and more formal occasions. Paired with denim jeans, it is a winner because it looks so comfy and stylish at the same time.

Dominque Dress Overlay
I was particularly taken by the back of Dominique Dress Overlay because of the back opening which is not often seen along with the sweet buttons that complete it. Fairly easy, this pattern comes with bonus options, as it can be made as a crop top, skirt or tunic!

Colorful Crochet Lace offers 22 chic garmenets and accessories and you will have a tough time deciding with which one to start! Available at Interweave/F+W, it retails for $24.99

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review: IMagical Seasons Crochet Couture for Kids 2-12, Vol.1-Spring; Vol. 2-Summer By Alla Koval

Imagical Seasons Vol. 1: Spring

Imagical Seasons Vol. 2: Summer

The interesting title of these books sets the tone for what crocheters will find inside! Making use of the “portmanteau word” which blends two or more distinct forms like smoke + fog = smog, Alla has blended the words "imagine" and "magical." You'll find imaginative and magical designs for the little ones in your life.

Alla Koval “creates happy fashion designs by combining colors, texture and materials that make her designs unique and enticing.” After selling hundreds of custom-created children’s fashions, she decided to start writing up the designs to instruct others to make them. She is well suited to create original fashions that will thrill mothers as much as their children! At first Alla feared that she would burn out, but she now feels that writing the patterns is what makes her the “happiest person in the world!ead!” Read the whole story in my in-depth interview with Alla.

At first glance, I was so inspired by her fashion sense. Before I even received these books, I explored her website and bought two "can't resist" patterns that I immediately ordered. I really enjoyed making Polka Dots Hat for my granddaughter.

Polka Dots Hat
Based in Seattle, Washington, Alla moved to the United States in 2013 and brings a European sensibility to her designs which makes them fun and stylish! A very useful chart for standard measurements and standard sizes is not often found in books; and is here as a great go-to for the crocheter’s library, along with the UK and US conversion charts.

Millefiori Apron Top (Summer Volume): photo courtesy Alla Koval/
A 4-part series, IMagical Seasons shows how a little imagination can
-transform a simple ruffle into an endless variety of designs for Spring

Sakura Top (Spring Volume): photo courtesy Alla Koval/
Sakura Top (Spring Volume): photo courtesy Alla Koval/
-show yarn weights can change the same square motif to create anything from a blanket to a halter dress (Summer volume)
-adapt a lace pattern from one theme to another to achieve different Fall looks

Daisy Beanie (Fall Volume): photo courtesy Alla Koval/
-vary the puff stitch to create cozy and trendy project

Tutti-Fruitti Blanket (Spring Volume): photo courtesy Alla Koval/
Simplicity and versatility are attributes of the book. For example Tutti-Fruitti Blanket starts in the center so it is adjustable to make a fun pillow or even a tablecloth!

Self published at MyLttleCityGirl website, these books can be pre-ordered after June 15, 2015. They will be available in early July in soft cover ($22.46) or digital ($15.95).  Alla is offering a special deal between July 13 and August 1: buy the pint edition at her websiteEtsy or Amazon and the Summer version on Amazon and get the digital version for free! Use the code, IMAGICAL.

Below is a complete schedule for the talented bloggers who are partipating on the tour. Check in often to read varying takes on the books, chances to win prizes and in-depth interviews of the author, Alla Koval!
Alla Koval Blog Tour 2015

July 13:  Knitting and Crochet - Amy Solovay

July 14:  Faina’s Knitting Mode – Faina Goberstein

July 15: Crochet Queen: Royal Ramblings – Gwen Blakley Kinsler

July 16:  Crochet Concupiscence – Kathryn Vercillo

July 17:  Petals to Picots - Kara Gunza

July 18:  Stylish Knits – Simona Dest Merchant

July 19:  Craft Gossip – Sarah E. White

July 20:  Positively Crochet – Mary Jane Hall

July 21:  Magic with Hook and Needles - Vendula Maderska

July 22:  Cute Crochet – Jocelyn Sass