Lessons Learned from Pattern Testing

Recently I besought my fellow Crochetvillians and CPListers to help me test the doily I mentioned I designed as the fourth and final doily in a set for my MIL.

I was overwhelmed with responses. I was completely unprepared for how willing crocheters would be to help! Are we just a helpful bunch? Do we just love doilies? Do we love to get a preview of a pattern? I don't know, but I do know that I am grateful.

Right now a group of wonderful crocheters are testing my doily. That feels so weird to say. My doily. Less than six months ago I had never so much as crocheted a doily, and now I have my own design.

Or I will. Testing is a hurdle, for sure, and I have already learned a lot.

Lesson number one: No matter how much you like your Mother-in-Law, hold on to the doily until you have another model to hold in your hand!

Other lessons:
Humility - God finds a way to instill this in me, and I never know where it's going to hit me... right now it is each time an error is found, yet I'm so joyful it was found before the pattern was widely released.

Patience - Not patience with my testers, who are wonderful, but that I need to be more patient with myself. I was so eager to have a pattern tested before I posted pictures to share (which I only had of the doily on the blocking board!) for reasons of copyright, that I probably skipped a step of testing the pattern again myself before letting it see the light of day.

Pride - I know that pride is not really a virtue; maybe I mean self-confidence. I don't always think about how far I've come from those days in college as far as crocheting skill goes, but when I sent my mother a copy of the pattern (she is not a crocheter) just to see how I had laid it out and the pictures, she replied that she couldn't believe anyone could read it - it looked like Sanskrit. This was not meanly, like "your pattern is illegible", it was just acknowledgement that what to me made perfect sense when reading is like a second language. When I learned Spanish I didn't understand but a few words to begin with, and then only in certain contexts - now I can read books (though I still need my dictionary by my side for some tricky vocabulary). Crochet is the same way.

I can't wait until my pattern is ready, but I far more interested in quality than speed. What a learning experience!


posted by Unknown on Monday, October 16, 2006 @ 6:31 PM


She's at it again...

If Mommy's blocking out doilies, it now seems a given that she'll have little hands helping. My husband caught our daughter in the act as she "helped" me pin out the Petite Pineapple doily.


posted by Unknown on Thursday, October 12, 2006 @ 4:59 PM


October Doily Set

I know what you're thinking... orange doilies? That's what the lady wanted!

The lady in question is my dear mother-in-law, who goes all out when she decorates. Fall is for scarecrows and pumpkins. And, now, orange doilies. I made her four. Why only three pictured? The fourth is of my own design and I am still in pattern testing.

All four are made with Royale size 10 thread - the only one I could find that was the "pumpkin" orange Nana wanted.

The first doily is called Normandy Doily. This is a doily that really has to be blocked! Each figure 8 is made all in one round, and then connected on the next two rounds. It's very different from any doily I have made or seen before.

This doily is called, I believe, "Park Avenue", and is a Patricia Kristofferson doily from Absolutely Gorgeous Doilies. This was the largest, by far, of the quartet, and took me the longest of any (saving the one I designed myself).

The third doily is called Petite Pineapple Doily. This was just a fun little doily to make. I really like the pattern, and recommend it to anyone for a fun, medium-sized simply lovely doily.

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posted by Unknown on Wednesday, October 11, 2006 @ 11:06 PM


Sweet Baby Booties

My sister-in-law and I were checking out a second-hand bookstore. Somehow I overlooked the leaflet of baby booties, but Kris brought it to my attention. "You have to get this book," she declared, "or I might have to get it." Seeing as how she's not much of a crocheter, I can't imagine what she would do with it, but she was right - I had to get the book!

The leaflet is called simply "Bootie Collection" and the designs are Kay Meadors (published by Leisure Arts, #3052). There are 10 pairs of the sweetest little baby booties you have ever seen, all in thread. There is a fair mix of dressy booties and casual booties, and a mix between little girl, little boy, and gender neutral booties.

I have already made a pair, to go with the Christening dress I tested for Tracey as a present for our Associate Pastor and his wife, who are having a baby girl in November. I have yet to thread the ribbon through the eyelet row, but they are still so sweet looking!

I used Baroque thread for the body of the shoe, and pale pink Cebilia for the accents.

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posted by Unknown on @ 10:33 PM


Setting the Record Straight

The Story of How I Learned to Crochet
or "Reading a Book Doesn't Work for Everyone"

In my post yesterday I quickly skimmed over learning to crochet thusly:

My friend and I taught ourselves to crochet in college from a book (I
Can't Believe I'm Crocheting!
), ...

The "my friend" in question, Mandy, then commented with:

We didn't learn together! I learned and taught you. Let the record stand!
So how did it happen really? Who is right?

Well, we both are. While perusing the aisles at Wal*Mart (why this is fun to do, I do not know, but we always ended up at Wal*Mart), I got a hankering to buy the Learn to Crochet kit. So I did. I took the book, yarn, and hooks over to Mandy's apartment and sat down to learn. I was able to do a chain, and then a slip stitch. Problem is, I thought the slip stitch was a single crochet. I had 7 rows of slip stitching! Can you imagine how tight that was to crochet into, and how frustrating it was? We dubbed that swatch a "Toe Warmer Blanket."

Frustrated, I put down the hook and yarn. Mandy, with a great proficiency for reading and understanding instructions, picked up the book, looked at what I had done, and was quickly able to show me what I should have been doing. Once I could watch her, the instructions and images all made sense! We were both hooked. We pooled our college resources to buy a granny square pattern book, and figured out how to crochet hats by a process of trial and error.

Soon all of our friends were asking us to "knit" them something. "It's not knit; it's crochet!" was an oft heard quote. So the stopped asking us to make them things, and asked us instead to teach them how to do it themselves (male and female alike).

What does this story have to do with teaching crochet? Two things: One) there are so many different learning styles out there. I couldn't learn just by reading a book. When you are showing someone how to crochet, do three things:

  1. Tell them
  2. Show them
  3. Let them do it
Two) you don't have to be the world's best crocheter to teach someone. Mandy had just learned to crochet about 37 seconds before she taught me.

In closing, I do want to publicly thank Mandy. Without her, I doubt I would be the crocheter I am today, and I really like the crocheter I am today. Thank you, Mandy!


posted by Unknown on Monday, October 09, 2006 @ 10:15 PM


Start Them Out Young

This evening I was blocking out some doilies. I've been doing that a lot, lately, and so my box of pins and blocking boards (with me hunched over!) are no new sight to my nearly two-year-old daughter. Usually she goes about her business, playing or watching some. This evening she really wanted to help - and you know what good "helpers" toddlers are!

I got over my fear she would stab herself with a pin quickly - she showed me that she had paid attention to how to carefully pick up pins by the balls at the end, one at a time. She showed me she knew how to push them into the board. At first this was a little annoying, but after a moment I realized that she was actually helping! No, her pins weren't holding out the doily, but they were saving me some time in that I could pluck one of her lopsided pins and pin my section.

Then I noticed the "lopsided pin" I had just plucked was my own! My daughter was getting better at pinning, and put her pins right next to my own.

She's still a little young to teach stitches to, but as soon as she expresses interest I will show her. She loves to "play Mommy" by stabbing at a ball of yarn with a large, plastic hook (P hooks and Q hooks get more use from her than me these days).

For centuries crochet has been passed on from mother to daughter, friend to friend. How many of us can say that we learned to crochet from our grandmother, aunt, or mother when we were young? My friend and I taught ourselves to crochet in college from a book (I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting!), and since then I have taught over a dozen people to crochet (four of them male).

Knowing how to do something doesn't make you a great teacher, necessarily, but there are some resources out there for those of us who do crochet to teach those out there who want to learn.

Here are a few links (there are more out there!); post a comment with your additions.

For Teachers

For Learners


posted by Unknown on Sunday, October 08, 2006 @ 10:04 PM


A Fair to Remember

Today was the day - we went to Richmond for the State Fair.

First up was the Nimble Fingers Crochet Contest. To report just the facts, I won first place. Or, as my husband jokes, I came in third from last. Where were the crocheters? Last year there were about ten crocheters, this year we were down to just three. There were twice as many no-shows as there were crocheters. The three of us, the judge, the sponsor (Kathy Oliver from Holly Spring Homespun) enjoyed talking about crocheting, knitting, spinning, the CGOA conference (that I wish I had gone to!), and matters of the like. How much more fun would it have been with more crocheters there, competition aside?

One really neat note for me: during the contest people were walking through with different groups, some stopping to watch for a while. One older lady stopped her friend right by our area and I heard her say quietly to the other "That girl there was in the contest last year. She's the fastest crocheter I've ever seen!".

The two hung around the area and came up to me just before judging announcements. "I saw you last year!" she exclaimed. "Did you win?"

"I don't know," I replied (although my husbands "recon" during the contest told me I was a few rows ahead).
Just then, they announced I had won first place. The two ladies cheered and clapped like you would for an old friend. It warmed my heart!

I also found out the results on my other entries. I placed on four items: my doily won third place in Home Accessories; my afghan for my husband won third place for Granny Square Afghans; the lion won 2nd for Misc. Crochet; and, most surprisingly to me, the wire and bead bracelet won the blue ribbon for all bead jewelry! I consider that a good showing - there are some amazing works of art on display at the fair right now!

As a closing note, if you live within a 2.5 hour radius (or more and plan to be in the area about this time next year), sign up for the Nimble Finger contest (knit or crochet) (and then actually come!). We'll have a great time, no matter what the outcome, and you might just surprise yourself!


posted by Unknown on Thursday, October 05, 2006 @ 11:58 PM


Someone in Michigan love me

I got a great surprise in my mailbox! Mary Card's Crochet Book Number 1. I hadn't heard of this book before, but it is fascinating. I not only read through the book, I looked online for more information.

Mary Card was an Australian lace designer of the early 20th century. The crochet is done on, in, and around linen, to create more than just insertions and edgings, but a melding of cloth and lace that flows beautifully and looks amazing. With Australian crochet terms and some new (to me!) techniques, this will be a new challenge that I am eager to undertake!

Here are some links that you might find as interesting as I did:

Thank you, F.G.!*

*An F. G. is a Fairy Godmother from Crochetville who has performed a Random Act of Kindness (RAOK).

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posted by Unknown on Tuesday, October 03, 2006 @ 4:51 PM