Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Crochetville Blog Tour for National Crochet Month – March 2013

It's here – NatCroMo, or National Crochet Month – and has organized a blog tour of both Professional and Associate Professional members of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Find out more about the tour, and the members who are participating, at:

I wanted to be on this tour because 1: I am a Professional Member of CGOA. And 2: I believe in supporting CGOA and all things crochet. Once I saw who else was participating, I knew I had to pick the same day for my blog that Tammy Hildebrand picked for her blog. Tammy and I met through CGOA, and  - well, let me tell you the story.

It was at one memorable Chain Link Conference in Manchester, NH, (the first one there) where I met 2 of my closest crochet buddies. And Rita and Jean (last names are not required when you mention Rita and Jean). And it was at a Chain Link Conference in King of Prussia where I met 2 other close fiber buddies.

I want to tell you, though, how I met Tammy Hildebrand, whose blog -  Hot Lava Crochet - is the other stop on this blog tour today. It was at that conference in Manchester, NH, that I mentioned above, and we were at the big dinner/fashion show.  Tammy was sitting at the table behind the table I was at, and she was sitting with Rita and Jean. I forget whom I was with. When the dinner was over, I got up, and introduced myself to Rita and Jean – I had designed for them, but hadn't met them yet. This was when Rita grabbed my arm and the poncho I was wearing, started shaking my arm, and said – "Why haven't you submitted this to us?" I stammered that I was going to do it when I got home. I was a little awestruck! Rita and Jean actually wanted one of my designs! And then, the redhead (I really think she was a blond then, but it sounds better to say "redhead") next to them, who had read my nametag, said – "Greensboro? I live in Kernersville!" That was Tammy, and as we soon found out, we were nearly neighbors. She lived down the road a piece from me. (That's a southernism – "down the road a piece.") I looked at her nametag, saw it was Tammy, and, since I had seen many of her patterns, I was amazed. Another crochet designer lived near me! This was almost unheard of at the time. And the designer was someone I had heard about. And she didn't live in NYC or California – she lived in North Carolina. Where I didn't really know any other designers. And she lived near me! I guess I was still awe struck by all this.  Especially because she got to eat dinner with Rita and Jean!

So, to make a long story not so long – I invited Tammy to our Wednesday night Crochet and Knit group at a local bookstore. She came. I asked her if she wanted to go to a few local yarn shops with me, one day soon. She said sure, and later confessed she had never been in a lys until I took her; she had only been to the big box craft stores. We started doing some lunches when we had time, meeting about halfway between our towns. And of course, visiting yarn shops nearby. We still do that – meet for lunch when we have the time, or just need to talk, or want to have a meeting about something having to do with CGOA. (I got Tammy involved as the mentor coordinator when I was Professional Development Chair. Then, when I was elected to the Board, she became PD Chair. When I was President, she was named to the board. And now, I am retired from the board, but Tammy is Vice President. And now, she's getting me involved again. It's a circle that keeps going around.)

Tammy is one of the reasons that I love CGOA!

Oh, one other thing about Tammy. We always talk about being "professional" in our relationships with other crocheters/designers/ etc. In other words, we shouldn't use others' ideas without acknowledging it somehow. Well, one night, at our weekly group meeting at the bookstore, Tammy was designing a sweater, and was having some kind of problem. I really don't remember just what it was, but I know she just couldn't figure out how to shape it. She asked for my help, so I took a piece of paper and sketched out for her the way that I would do it. It makes things easy for me, and I was willing to share. And then I didn't think about it anymore. Well, Tammy was designing a sweater for publication, and about 6 months later, I got a check from Tammy for help with her design. I didn't expect that, and really was surprised. And then, when the publication came, I saw that she had listed my name beside hers, as one of the designers. That really surprised me! But then, I thought, well, that's what we've been talking about. Professionalism. When you use someone's idea, give them credit. Tammy did. Tammy is professional! 

And speaking of circles that keep going around, because this is NaCroMo, I want to let you in on a little secret of mine – what to do with those leftover skeins of yarns, or the almost-full skeins of yarn, or just the skeins that you HAD to buy so you could try out the yarn. You know what I mean – all that yarn that is taking up space. Do what I do – make circles. Yes, circles. You can turn those circles into a basket, or a tote/purse, or a hat. Even a toilet paper cozy. Or just use those circles as coasters, place mats, or doilys, to put on your tables or to put under bowls or baskets, or whatever. Here are some circles I made recently – they don't take long to do. Depending on how much yarn you have and how fast you crochet, and how big a circle you make, you can crochet one in 1/2 hour (a coaster) to 2 hours – (a doily). I just used single crochet stitches. The trick is – use some fun yarn. I used yarn that was self-striping (Sugar'n Cream), yarn that I could felt (Noro Kureyon and Brown Sheep), and some Sari Ribbon yarn. You can see how, even though the circles are crocheted with the same pattern and stitches, they look different because of the yarn.

If you don't know how to crochet circles, check out the article I wrote for Interweave Crochet that they have now reprinted in one of their ebooks - A Step-by-Step Guide to Crocheted Hats
In the article, I give you all the information you need to know about making circles, with sc, dc, hdc, and more. And then, I show you how to turn circles into hats. You'll also get some hat patterns you can crochet.
Or, you may already have the copy of Interweave Crochet Accessories Issue, 2010, where my article first appeared, along with 5 hat patterns I designed, using all the info in the article. (The hats are called The Goldilocks Family of Hats – hats for babies through adults).

A lot of people on various discussion groups and boards wonder why they should be members of CGOA. Crocheting can be a lonely occupation/hobby/time-filler. The friendships you make by being a member of CGOA, especially when you attend one of the conferences, are a major reason to join. Even if you can't go to a conference, taking part in the discussion forums on Ravelry, or the discussion groups on the CGOA website, is important. Those are places where you can get your questions answered, where you can suggest things you would like to see from CGOA, where you can make many cyber friends. (I mention friends a lot, because I think it's so important!) But, being a member of CGOA is also a way of supporting crochet, supporting designers so we can continue designing great patterns for you. (We improve our skills and learn so much every time we - the designers - go to a conference to teach, or to take a class. Yes – we still take classes! Designers and teachers and other Crochet professionals!) If you're interested in writing up your patterns, or perhaps becoming a contract crocheter, or maybe even teaching, you can learn the ins and outs of all these at the conferences – how to get started, etc. If you want to meet designers, publishers, editors, yarn company reps, a CGOA Chain Link conference is the place for you. If you just want to crochet, and pehaps meet other crocheters (even some from your town), at a conference you can brush up on your skills and learn, in person, all sorts of new techniques – from Foundation Stitches to Linked Stitches, or Broomstick Crochet, or Post Stitches and Cables, or Lace Crochet, or Tunisian Crochet, or Wiggly Crochet, or Bavarian Crochet or…… I could go on and on and on!  CGOA is the one national organization that is all about Crochet. We, as crocheters, should all support it! (Of course, we should also support other groups that are now including crochet!) Check out the CGOA website for other benefits that members get. Benefits that keep on growing! And maybe you'll meet your best buddies at Chain Link, too!