It's been so busy over the Christmas and New Year period I have been dragging my feet a little on this post! I wanted to tell you a little bit about each design I have displayed in the Crossways Wool and Fabrics shop window. In doing so, it is really a bit of a story of how I developed as a crochet designer. Quick tip: there is also a little competition announcement at the end of the post :)
It makes sense to start with my Tunica Geometrica as it was my very first published pattern. Back in 2016, it appeared on the cover of the American Crochet! magazine (which was a huge surprise to me at the time!) The video below shows the shop window display, and finishes with this design (sorry about the formatting - its a short video taken with my phone).
Tunica had come to the magazine's attention at the CGOA in 2015 as I won 2nd place in Fashion category with this entry. I WAS trying to impress when I made this tunic. I used lace-weight Misti Alpaca Handpaint Lace in a dark grey along with Madelinetosh Prairie in light grey and gold colours and a tiny hook. (I still love these yarns!! The Madeinetosh yarn is particularly stunning, and I still have a stash of Prairie in my cupboard but I haven't decided what to make with it yet. It's one of those things that when you have used it you won't have it there to admire anymore, so it got to be the right project!!)
I digress - I did try to stand out with this design, and yay, success!! But I kept barely one page of scribbled notes, so when the initial excitement of being published had passed and I was faced with the reality of actually describing to others how to make it - ugghhhhhh!! What a learning curve! (Designer tip to save yourself this suffering: NEVER think you are going to remember what you did afterwards - make notes as you go!!) This project is a difficult make with unusual construction, and sizing seemed impossible at first. I spent a ridiculous amount of hours writing and re-writing and re-writing this pattern! The amazing Lindsey was the poor tech editor who held my hand through the process, and last year I had the good fortune to meet her at the CGOA! I thanked her profusely when we met because I (now) understood she had spent WAY more time than one usually would to get a pattern published, and am so grateful the publishers (Annies) were prepared to let her!
Moving on to Green Garden that became Olga Cardigan, published with Scheepjes in YARN 6 Bookazine in 2018. I ended up in the same boat for this design - you would think I had learned my lesson, but when I made this cardigan originally, it was just for me to wear, with no thought of a pattern, and no thought of sending it in to the CGOA competition! I had been super busy with building our house and moving in, and I had nothing else to submit that year to the competition, so thought I may as well send that. I didn't really know if it was that desirable - it was a bit quirky and something that I liked for me. I seriously did not believe it when I won the Grand Prize and the Technical Merit Prize with this cardi. I had not yet attended my first CGOA conference then, and I had to watch the facebook video twice for it to register!
I was super thrilled, and then (again) super stressed writing the pattern for publication and figuring out how to size it, but got there in the end after spending (again) a ridiculous amount of hours writing and re-writing the pattern. I swore to myself "never again!" and started forcing myself to keep a notebook with me at all times no matter what the project was intended for! STOP AND WRITE IT DOWN SUSAN!!
Olga kickstarted my relationship with Scheepjes for which I am truly grateful. Working in collaboration with this modern yarn company has allowed me to develop some consistency as a designer - both in design style and work flow. I had published a couple of small patterns myself on Ravelry before this relationship, like the Bobblehead Beanie seen here (also in the shop window), but had been frustrated sometimes by publishing a pattern then finding the yarn is no longer available. Also, pitching to magazines all the time (each of which has different writing styles to comply with, and half the time getting knocked back) kinda stumps one's creative flow, you know? So exploring the yarn range from Scheepjes and working with their publishing team has been a great help for me to find a "design groove" so to speak.
I do love my little Bobblehead beanie though. Apart from Tunica Geometrca its the only non- Scheepjes item in the display. The yarn is Misti Alpaca Tonos worsted (I do love a tonal yarn), and the thing I most like about my beanie is the feeling of the bobbles banging against your head when you wear it. Yes I know that sounds weird, like it would be annoying even. But its actually oddly satisfying as you walk along. I made one for my nephew (in a washable dk - there is a dk version of Bobblehead in my pattern store) and he clearly loved the bobbles as all he wanted to do was swing his head around - lol. (He was ten at the time).
While we are on beanies, I originally made the Pixie Hood Beanie as a gift for my friend who moved to Canada, then decided to remake it blending two colours of Scheepjes Our Tribe to publish as a pattern. Its a cute hood that I think works best if you have long hair. You can make it in a weekend and continues my love affair with bobbles!
My most recent published pattern with Scheepjes is the Hyperbolic Puff Beanie, published in a YARN After Party booklet, using Metropolis merino blend sock yarn double stranded. Again, I do like using two different colours worked together as shown here in the yellow version of the beanie - its Seoul 035 with Istanbul 037. Metropolis yarn softens beautifully when blocked. The pompom on this one sparked a bit of interest - its really easy and visually effective, and the enormous colour range of Metropolis gives you a lot to play with!
Also worked in Metropolis is the blue version of my Rabbit Alice Sweater. I really like this sweater as an everyday wear. I didn't mind losing it to the window display over Summer when its so hot, but will be donning this one again as soon as the Autumn hits. I designed it with 3/4 length sleeves to save myself from always pushing the sleeves up, and like to wear mine over a long sleeved t-shirt so the colour shows through the lace.
I also made a Whirlette version of this same pattern which works well as a Summer tee, as you can see here. I LOVE Whirlette and really want to do more with this yarn - which leads me to my Arcade Lace Camisole...
I originally published the Arcade Lace Camisole in an Australian cotton that is no longer available, so I decided to re-make and improve my original design using Scheepjes Whirlette and make a dress version too. The dress (below) and the camisole (above) are variations of the one pattern that will be released soon! I had planned to release it by now (sad face), but have had some technical difficulties...
My patterns usually are sized S, M, L, XL, XXL which corresponds roughly to 83cm to 125cm bust size for women. I have designed the Arcade Lace projects though to NINE sizes, from XS (bust 71-76cm) right through to 5XL (bust 152-158cm), and I confess my first attempt at achieving this was a fail.... During testing the middle sizes were fine, but the XS proved to be too small and the 3XL plus sizes were far too big! I have had to re-size the pattern based on feedback from my wonderful testers. #alwayslearning Attempt number two is deemed a success!! ...and its coming along well now, so stay tuned!! I am really keen to get this out once it's right.
While my testers have been reviewing the second version of my Arcade pattern, I have been concentrating very hard on my Spider Lace Maxi Dress (made with Scheepjes Maxi Sugar Rush mercerised cotton and lined with silk georgette with some added Swarovski crystal bling). After winning the Grand Prize with Green Garden (Olga) in 2017, I decided to have a red hot go at winning again back-to-back in 2018 with Spider Lace, and managed to succeed!! Whoo hoo!
This time, I made EXTENSIVE notes, numerous illustrator stitch charts, and wrote the shell of a pattern at the same time as making the dress. Look at that - after repeating the same mistake a few times, I FINALLY learned from it - haha! Because I did it this way, I also learned at the time that writing this pattern was particularly difficult, time consuming and hard to size. At the time, (July 2018), I really couldn't think how to streamline the instructions, or size it given its bust-fitting design. Scheepjes was interested in publishing the pattern but I declined. From previous experience with Tunica and Olga, I knew that I would become totally consumed with writing it, sizing it which would block out all other opportunities ...and from making extensive notes during the make (Hallelujah) deep down I didn't think I would be up to it.
Instead I decided to focus on designing other everyday garments which allowed me to practice more pattern writing and garment sizing skills. Since making the original Spider Lace Maxi dress, I have written and sized around 15 garments (some of which have not yet been published but you will see them later this year), and now I feel (particularly after succeeding on attempt two for Arcade Lace Camisole) that I am up to the task of writing and sizing Spider Lace and I THINK I can do it justice!! I am trying to be as size-inclusive as I can manage, working within the boundaries of how this garment is constructed. Of course, I could fail quite publicly instead (oopsie), but there are worse things in life than that, and I am pushing on!
My Sashiko Happy Coat was a great exercise in sizing because I had to consider how to blend a geometric pattern with changes in body dimensions. I have blogged about this pattern before, so I won't add too much here except to say I LOVE the button version and am tempted to make a third in a different colourway. #notime
Right, there are only a couple more left that are included in the Crossways Wool and Fabrics window: My Rhythm of Life Alpaca Sweater (above) feels light and luxurious to wear. It was originally made in Misti Alpaca Handpaint Lace (like my Tunica - I was guilty of buying a lot of that yarn years ago), and I re-made it in Scheepjes Alpaca Rhythm which has such vibrant colours. Scheepjes seriously has a great range of colours and choosing is often the hardest part! This is a pretty unusual make as it uses a big hook size and then you actively stretch and steam block the garment pieces before joining them. But most of my garments are a bit unusual so lets run with it, right? Doing this provides a light and airy sweater that doesn't weigh you down.
Finally, my Filet Beach Tunic. Last year the UK magazine Simply Crochet published my tunic as a part of a filet lace feature, and I was thrilled for it to hit the cover! Other designers also made such beautiful projects for the filet feature, and the gloss and vibrant colours of Scheepjes Maxi Sugar Rush mercersized cotton really helps them all to shine. I am in the process of re-writing this pattern in Peppergoose style and inserting photos to help guide the project (which means some re-making), so look for the re-release on Ravelry soon...
So what about the competition I hear you say?
Well, I wonder if you might take a stab at (guess) how many grams of yarn (total) in all the garments samples on display in the show window?
You could win TWO currently self-published Peppergoose patterns of your choice, and possibly the next pattern I release (the Arcade Lace Camisole and Arcadia Dress).
This competition will be run on my social media starting tomorrow (comments made at the end of this post are not valid entries) and has 2 layers:
Firstly, its a random prize draw. There will be one winner on Facebook and one winner on Instagram for following Peppergoose, liking tomorrow's "Window Dressing" post on each of these platforms, and tagging friends for entries (full details on socials). The winner on each platform will win 2 currently published Peppergoose patterns of their choosing, and become eligible for the second potential layer of prize.
Secondly, for each winner, if they have decided to play along and guess total grams of yarn in all of the window display garments, and the guess is within 100gm of the correct weight, they will also win the next pattern Arcade Lace Cami and Dress when I release it!
Here is the list of garments in the window for the total "gram-age" calculations:
1 Tunica Geometrica, 1 Spider Lace Maxi Dress, 1 Filet Beach Tunic, 1 Olga and 2 Rhythm of Life Sweaters (all using a lace weight yarn),
1 Sashiko Happy Coat, 1 Rabbit Alice Sweater, 1 Hyperbolic Beanie and 1 Pixie Hood Beanie (all using sock weight yarn),
1 Arcade Lace Camisole and 1 Arcadia Dress using a fingering weight cotton, and
1 Bobblehead Beanie using worsted weight yarn.
The competition will start tomorrow - look for my "Window Dressing" post on socials - and run until 5pm Wednesday 22nd January Pacific Standard Time (and is not in collaboration with Instagram or Facebook).
Most of my patterns use Scheepjes yarns, and you can source their products worldwide through retailers such as:
Lots of crochet to work on now, so I will leave you to do some mental math on yarn weights if you feel that way inclined!
Happy stitching (and making of notes along side your stitching!!)
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