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Happy National Crochet Month- Spring Garden Crochetville Blog Tour 2014

Happy National Crochet Month! I am so excited to be apart of the Crochetville’s 2014 National Crochet Month Designer Blog Tour! What an amazing time when many crochet designers come to together to celebrate what we love to do. Crochet is a unique art that is not only gorgeous but portable and super fun. It can tap into creative parts of your brain you never knew existed. I started crocheting after developing a love for handmade items I kept seeing. So while my boyfriend (now husband) at the time was in the hospital recovering from a splenectomy, I grabbed my first H hook and skein of yarn coupled with a Leisure Arts “I Can Teach Myself How to Crochet in One Day” and started my journey.

My journey has been more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined. Crochet has helped me to not only be creative, but has helped me finish grad school as I crocheted in class to help stay focused on what the teacher was saying, start my first creative career selling finished items on Etsy and then developed into my current career as an independent designer with a successful shop on Ravelry (http://www.ravelry.com/designers/suzy-allen ).

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Many ask me how do I find and stay inspired, so join me in my journey as I share with you what inspires me:

Nature:

Nothing to me is more inspiring than the colors, textures and experiences that nature affords to us. I often take my color wheel in my backpack along with my sketching book and head to my local nature preserve to go for a walk. I am captivated by the colors that are in an early morning sunset, ocean vignette or high among the treetops. One summer my local beach became my inspiration, a trip to Montauk Point, left me with a nautical feeling I could not shake. So out of that trip came my Montauk Beach bag (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/montauk-beach-bag ), Yale Cowl (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/yale-cowl ) and the Sea Shore Shrug (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sea-shore-shrug )

Also, the lines, the natural lace, branches, flowers and water features add a multitude of depth to inspire the crocheter. Many a stitch patterns have been chosen or developed after a trip to the park. Color plus texture equals a great fabric making a great canvas for design. To see how I took this inspiration and made it into designs. I will be posting a collection in my Ravelry Shop today! Check it out!

Runway:

This trip for inspiration is as close as your computer as you google crochet fashion to see the latest runway fashions or taking a walk through your local mall.  Crochet has been an integral part of the fashion world since its inception. Crochet lace, creative placement of motifs and accessories are everywhere this season. A great place to see this is by taking a trip to your local Anthroplogie, J.Crew, and Free People. I often find inspiration for home décor by perusing the catalogs of Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters and Williams and Sonoma. Luckily, I live close to New York City as well so the streets of the city also serve as my own personal runway show full of inspiration.

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Friends/LYS/Crochet Social Media:

Another great source of inspiration for me is getting involved in the supportive community that is the crochet world.  My LYS, (local yarn shop), my local guild chapter (http://www.tkga.com/members/?id=16714646) , Ravelry (www.ravelry.com ), Facebook and of course Crochetville (http://crochetville.com/ ). I’d encourage you if your looking for inspiration to find a local yarn shop that supports and encourages crocheting. I’m very lucky to have one at The Village Knitter (http://villageknitter.com/ ). I love watching my friends creating awesome projects with gorgeous yarn. Often times, when one of us does a project inspires others to do the same.

As the Vice President of my local chapter of TKGA and CGOA, the Eastern Long Island Knitters Guild (http://www.tkga.com/members/?id=16714646) we try to bring in programming that is inspiring and encouraging people to continue their journey in needlework. Not only do I participate in my chapter, I also visit other chapters to either volunteer, collaborate on a project or gain inspiration as well.

Social media can link crocheters from around the world, Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter and of Crochetville has helped me to link up with other like-minded people to help celebrate and share my love of Crochet. Here you can often find a way to get involved with crochet related charities such as Halos for Hope website link , Facebook page . To help out all crochet hat patterns in my shop are 50% off (Code: ch2)

Lastly, taking classes at my favorite Crochet related show is a great way to ignite your inspiration. I have taken many a great classes with the greats of Crochet such as Marly Bird, Lily Chin, Melissa Leapman, Robyn Chachula and more. I am proud to announce that this summer at the Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester, NH I will be teaching for the first time on a national level. I would love to have you join me for Color Theory and Healthy Hands. (http://www.knitandcrochetshow.com/ ) (http://www.knitandcrochetshow.com/pdf/2014-KCS-Classes-At-A-Glance.pdf )

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For more great inspiration: check out National Crochet Month blog tour http://crochetville.com/blog/ . Also be on the look out for an ebook by all the designers on the blog tour with a great Spring Garden theme. Thank you to all the great people at Crochetville and CGOA. Thank you for being awesome !

Please enjoy 50% off all crochet patterns in my shop with coupon code: ch2

A sneak peak of my Spring Garden contribution to the ebook is included in the photograph below.

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Huck’s On Patrol

Many of you read my last post, about designing for skier Tucker Perkins for the Stitch Mountain Book by Laura Zander.It was a blast to find the perfect stitch to match his skiing tracks down the half pipe. The next design challenge, Laura had for me was dear to my heart. She gave me her favorite athlete in the book to design for. His athletic accolades are already building, he finished his first solo ski in the winter of 2011, he has a standing challenge to Tommy Moe, and this very active and energetic little man aspires to be an Olympic Athlete in the 2026 or 2030 Olympic Games. He has already told many a people on the slopes that he’s so fast the ski patrol cannot even catch him!

With a name like Huck, and a standing challenge to Tommy Moe, this budding speedster had to be dressed in a zip hoodie with ski patrol markings – so he can get on their good side from the start. He can be found hitting the slopes in the Reno area. What better then to encourage him to reach his aspirations by knitting him a Ski Patrol sweater complete with matching mittens.

His mother Laura, herself recollects his earliest athletic endeavors . She said he took his first ski run at the age of six months . . . in a baby carrier behind their house in Truckee, California. A year later he moved on to greater challenges by taking on the backcountry in a backpack. Huck took to screaming “More! More! Faster! Faster!” at the bottom of every pitch, inspiring his parents to transition him to self-powered descents completing the aforementioned first descent in the winter of 2011.

When I got the book and was able to look through it my daughter saw Huck in the book and asked me if I knew him and if we could have a play date. She asked for a matching sweater so back to the needles I go to make her one. So Huck maybe when Cait is in the Olympic Games for figure skating or track and field you can get together for a play date!

Thanks again to all the amazing people and companies who helped to make this book happen. To the crew at Jimmy Beans wool, your support and dedication to the needle arts are hard to match. Thank you to Soho publishing for their hard hours tech editing and working on the book layout. To our amazing photographer Brad, you rock! Thank you also to Red Heart for helping us with yarn support.

To find the book check us out at http://www.jimmybeanswool.com and http://www.stitchmountain.com . Follow more about today’s featured athlete Huck through JBWs Facebook and twitter account @jimmybeanswool . For more on my design projects please visit my ravelry page at http://www.ravelry.com/designers/suzy-allen

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Knitting, Skiing and Tucker Perkins

It is almost exactly a year ago when Laura Zander owner of Jimmy Beans Wool (www.jimmybeanswool.com) asked me to be a part of an awesome project called Stitch Mountain. A group of knitters were on the Today Show Plaza to promote Stitch Red, (www.stitchred.com) which is a campaign to promote awareness of Heart Disease in Women, Laura shared about her passion for skiing and how she was now putting together this book of knitwear designs just for skiing. We chatted about some potential designs and within a week or soI had a delivery of yarn and started knitting towards the deadline.

My first design for this book was a set of convertible mittens that had been requested by an awesome skiier, Tucker Perkins. I researched his career and found out he is well known for his double corks. I remember watching him in the X games last year and loved the pattern his skis left in the snow. So after searching for the perfect stitch pattern. I found this one and made it the center of attention in these mittens. We even got to send Tucker his own personal pair. After announcing his retirement from the sport in December of 2013. I hope these mittens keep him nice and warm while he routes on his fellow athletes as they head to Sochi. For more information on Tucker’s amazing career highlights you can follow him on facebook https://www.facebook.com/tucker.perkins.5 , on twitter @tuckerperkins .

The book features many awesome designers work including Kristen Asbaugh-Helmreich, Marly Bird, Toby Roxane Barna, Edie Eckman, Mary Beth Temple, Lorna Miser and many more.

Other great athletes featured include Ann Cochran, Tommy Moe, Lindsey Jacobellis, Huck Zander (join us later in January for more) and more.

For more on Stitch Mountain, visit http://www.stitchmountain.com

Book is available at http://www.jimmybeanswool.com and your local LYS.

Thank you to Red Heart, Jimmy Beans wool and Soho Publishing for all their support on this project.

 

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Day 3: Adventures with Fiber

Wow, what a day, I think I need a nap! Yarn is such an interesting medium. Not only does it provide warmth and entertainment, it helps to bring a community of people together that might not be friends without such a commonality. The past two days the tri-state region has been prepping for a big blizzard ( honestly it was a bit hyped up) but it unfortunately put a damper on many yarn related activities I had planned for the last two days of my two week vacation ! ( I know a bunch of you are jealous but I deserved this one!)

Knit night at my local yarn shop (LYS), The Village Knitter in Babylon, NY was canceled due to the impending doom of the blizzard. But alas, our community is to strong to be deterred by a little bit of snow, we had knit night anyway using the chat feature on Ravelry (www.ravelry.com). So fun, we were able to chatter and knit, although as usual I think I was doing more chatting then knitting. Our personalities were well represented. We could even shop using their website while we chatted. For me it was a new adventure in the yarn world. Thanks Angela , Erika, Karin, Karen, Karen, Lisette, Stephanie and Anne.

Also today, the completion of the Blizzard KAL using Noro Karuta came to a nice close with a pair of mittens I absolutely love. The gentle gradations in color are sublime and the wheatear cable shows off the yarn gorgeously. To participate in the KAL join us at

http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/the-village-knitter/2803243/26-50

To round out the day, I read the preface to Clara Parkes, The Yarn Whisperer! I totally love her way of writing and can’t wait to experience yarn through her words. My favorite quote so far is ” A good yarn is better than any table at Le Bernardin”.

Day 3:
Activity(-ies):
Virtual knit night, Blizzard KAL, Read The Yarn Whisperers
Location:
Snowed in at home!
Mood:
Outgoing and chatty

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Day 2: adventures in fiber

A day of rest turned into a day of fiber fun! Check out our Blizzard Knit Along ! Remember to schedule some yarny time!!!! Heres the link to our KAL. http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/the-village-knitter/2803243/1-25#8

Adventures in Fiber: 365 days immersed in my passion

Many creative disciplines invite their artisans to spend a year immersed in their passion. Photographers have invited people to take a photograph every day for 365 days and see what beauty they can find. Artists ask those who love art to draw or paint something everyday and watch their skill develop. As a passionate yarnie, I invite you to spend a year in fiber. Many days will be exciting and fun when you wish it won’t end, others day will be frustrating filled with frogging and choice words and yet some will be mundane and boring. What will you discover? The possibilities are endless….

I encourage you to keep a journal in whatever format you choose , here’s my entry for the day!

Day 1:
Activity(-ies):
Pattern writing, email reading, fun knitting and creative inspiration walk
Location:
My house , friends house, mall, parents house, car
Mood:
Jovial at times and exhausted at others
Thoughts:
Today was quite a jam packed day in my first yarn adventure of the year. It started actually at 12:01 am on my way home from a great New Years Eve celebration with family. An email had arrived in my inbox stating that a local yarn shop was closing its doors. Sadly, due to the recent economic hardships and Hurricane Sandy she could no longer keep her doors open. Earlier this week, Trisha Malcolm , editor of Vogue Knitting had posted an article on her Facebook page on how a small local baby shop located in Brooklyn had to close its doors for similar reasons. Friends need I urge you this year while on your many fiber adventures, SHOP LOCAL and SHOP OFTEN. (Sorry for the shouting) There are so many great shops across America it’s up to you to help keep them often. When you travel find them, when someone talks about one listen, many of our favorite online retailers are attached to brick and mortar shops like Jimmy Beans wool, Kaliedoscope Yarns and Metaphor Yarns choose those that support their local economy. You’ll be thankful you did.

As your can all see I am a very passionate yarnie, on a lighter note, I was able to enjoy some leisurely knitting at my friend Annie’s house this morning while we had brunch and watched our children play. What a great time to enjoy some easy breezy knitting. ( I was knitting with Cascade’s Lana Grande, a fun quick knit). I stopped to read a book to the girls and then returned to my leisurely knitting.

When we returned home, my sweet little one settled down for a great nap so hubby edited photos and I started sorting out the see of patterns to be written. Hopefully you will all enjoy the many patterns to come out of the fruits of my labor.

Won’t you share your adventure in fiber with me ? I’d love to hear it!

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Trends of the Knitting Industry 2013

Trends of the Knitting Industry 2013

Some of the best information shared at the show was shared by panels on the 5th and 6th floor. Here is where you could interact with your favorite designers, yarn companies and publishers. One of my favorite panels included the panel lead by the hysterically funny Debbie Stoller, author of the Stitch and Bitch Book Series. She facilitated a conversation on the culture of knitting/stitching and where it is going next. Other members of the panel included Nora Gaughan from Berroco Yarns (http://www.berroco.com/), Iris Schrier (http://www.artyarns.com/) from Art Yarns and Laura Zander from Go Stitch Red and Jimmy Beans Wool (http://www.jimmybeanswool.com/).

Here are their thoughts on where the industry is going:

1)      Crochet is Hot!

Yup you heard it! Crochet is hotter than ever. It’s portability, influx of new talent and accessibility to gorgeous yarn has revolutionized crochet. Crochet has moved out of the ‘70’s and into the 21st century. Crochet is not only easy to do, it is highly portable, fashionable and has drape as well. Companies of all of sizes are recognizing the demand from a new generation of crocheters!

 

My thoughts:

As I have been to many industry shows in the recent months, I always sport one of my designs whether it be knit or crochet. This show I obviously sported more crochet as that is what I have been designing and the response was overwhelming. People literally stopped me in my tracks to ask me what design and who designed the garments. I proudly said mine and told them to check out my ravelry shop as the week progressed to find the designs.

 

One of those designs is my Garden City Vest:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/garden-city-vest

This great design uses a bulky weight single yarn that shows off the beautiful crocheted cables. It works up super-fast and the a-line silhouette looks great on all figures. I listed this pattern yesterday and it is already in the top 20 line up on the Hot Right Now Page on Ravelry.

 

2)      Younger Stitchers every where!

That is right! There is no greater way to show the growth and strength of an industry than the fact that it is flooded with young talent. People as young as 11 are not only knitting but designing. Have you seen that amazing mitten pattern in the Fall issue of Vogue by a child in France.

 

One of my favorite memories of this weekend was hanging out on the Today Show plaza with @GoStitchRed , @JimmyBeansWool, @ hookedforlife, @Jacquline _Sava from Soak wash and @Koigu. Koigu’s founder and her daughter Kiersti came to show to support for the great cause Stitch Red (making women and others aware of the dangers of heart disease!). Kiersti had great enthusiasm and poise. She willingly sported a hat that she had knit herself as well as helped her mother knit with extreme knitting needles. She also is a model for Koigu and has graced the cover of their magazine numerous times.

3)      Stitching in Public

Trademarked in my mind by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, knitting and crocheting is en Vogue. People love their stitching so much they do not want to be separated. Accessories are now available by Yarn Pop (http://yarnpop.com/) and Namaste to make your stitching extra portable. Laura Zander of Jimmy Beans Wool, commented that she brings her stitching everywhere because she loves to keep busy. She recalled after being reintroduced to knitting by a coworker bringing it on long car trips to ski weekends. She also shared that she sees many people involved in this phenomenon. One of her greatest joys is watching the men’s snowboarding and ski team sitting on the sidelines of a competition with yarn and hook in hand. Seize the moment and start stitching. For more information check out Stitch Mountain. (http://jimmybeanswool.com/details/stitchMountain/default.asp)

 

Many people have often stopped me while stitching in public. I have stitched everywhere from book stores to the gym to my church and even have been known to on occasions stitch during parties.  When you are inspired it is hard to put down your projects. A panelist from Ireland was flabbergasted when she came to America from Ireland for the first time to share her knitting talents with us that we were so enamored by our craft. Go forth and tell all about stitching!

 

4)      Collaboration

Lastly a call to work together was a great theme to hear. In an ever changing industry due to social media and availability of information, it is time to work together. From professional publishers, to full time industry designers, to indie dyers, local yarn shops, internet retailers, hobbyists and enthusiastic freelance designers. We can all get along and work to further our common passion. With the advent of Ravelry, Pattern Fish and Craftsy the ability to collaborate has grown to epic proportions. So lets get together at our local guild, in forums, on Facebook, twitter, pinterest and Kollabra! Laura stated that 1 in 4 American Women knit. If we could make that 2 out of 4 or even 4 out of 4 what would that do for our industry? There is a place for all. All are welcome…. Come one come all I can’t wait to meet you!

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