Thursday, January 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday ... and Time for a Celebration

The Festival Shawl, the project that launched
it all for me as a designer.
I have not really participated in throwback Thursday, although I have favorited and liked a lot of TBT (acronym for throwback Thursday) posts across various social media platforms. However, this is one Thursday for which a little looking back is appropriate.

I originally blogged about the Festival Shawl on Thursday, January 6, 2011. While this stitch design belongs solely to Lyn Robinson it had, according to her, been basically abandoned. Since she hadn't done anything with it, Lyn posted in a Ravelry group we both belonged to at the time that if anyone was interested in doing something with a stitch pattern that she wasn't doing anything with, to please send her email. Stitch pattern unseen, I contacted her immediately and was truly surprised when she sent it to me. I thought it would have been snapped up by someone before me - I could not believe my good luck. I still get excited recounting my feelings some five years later, because this project was a joy from start to finish. Couple that with the fact that Lyn used my photos on the Ravelry pattern page (a true thrill) and my joy was pretty much complete.

Fast-forward five years: this shawl has logged a whopping 486 completed projects and is queued by an equally astounding 1,674 Ravelry members. A good number of knit patterns achieve this fame and reach, but not so many crochet patterns. I remain honored to be a part of such a phenomenon, because it started me on my own design path, which celebrates its five year anniversary in 2016:

What a long, strange, and ultimately happy trip it's been so far. There have been plenty of highs and lows in the last five years (as you'd pretty much expect), but through it all I have remained independently, happily steadfast in my desire to design. This year is also shaping up to be another banner design year I am so happy to report.

So, of course, there will be announcements associated with this year-long anniversary celebration. The first one is easy and something in which everyone can (and I hope will) participate - answering a few quick questions in a survey I've put together (which you can launch straight into at the end of this blogpost).

The survey will be open until the end of the day Sunday, February 7th, after which I'll close it, tally up all the responses, and then make a few more announcements. 

To those who have been a part of this long, winding five-year road - either through reading the blog, or making one of my designs, or interacting with me via social media, I humbly thank you. I hope I will "see" each and every one of you throughout this year-long celebration.

Finally, a word about 5 year anniversaries. They are usually marked with silverware, wood, daisies, and rose quartz. Since I wanted to include my crochet hooks in this montage, I'm fudging the wood slightly - bamboo will have to do.

So, without further ado, thanks so much and here's the survey:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fait à la Main Finale: Snowflakes & Smocking Cowl

Hi ho everyone - we are finally at the last introduction from this most awesome collection! I must say that, purely coincidentally, this was also the last piece to be photographed and we had a ton of fun with it. I am so pleased to introduce you to the warm and oh-so-lightweight Snowflakes & Smocking Cowl. 

I broke several rules with this design - the biggest being my willingness to not only show the "wrong" side of tunisian crochet fabric, but make it the star. Get a look at that wonderful color play and smocking-like stitching, all compliments of a simple two-row tunisian crochet stitch pattern than looked so good from the back I decided it should be out front. While, technically, this cowl isn't reversible (the 2 x 2 tunisian ribbing isn't all that reversible), most of this cowl's fabric looks good no matter the angle. Check out the plaid-like "inner" fabric peaking out wonderfully. So, so neat.

This was, quite literally, the last shot
of the day. My model is laughing
with her husband, who's off-camera.
Additionally, I combined two ombre colorways of Lion Brand's Scarfie and it only deepened the lovely textural characteristics of this cowl. Yet, because Scarfie is a brushed yarn and lightweight, my model absolutely loved this cowl's warmth and softness. In fact, I'm in the process of making one for her in these exact colors (denim and cream/taupe) - just one skein of each colorway will make this generously sized cowl, with yarn left over.

This design will be listed in my Ravelry design store momentarily, as well as the entire collection's e-book. Additionally, if you haven't yet seen it, the collection has its very own lookbook:

I want to thank Lion Brand Yarns, Neighborhood Fiber Co., and Kathryn over at  for the wonderful fibers. I hope you'll take a few minutes to pay homage to all your hands have made during this last gift-giving season, as well as to all they will make in 2016.

Happy making, my fiber friends!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Fait à la Main Day 5: Puffy Links Scarf

Everyone, remember this little collection? The one I was introducing before the beginning-of-the-new-year flurry kicked in? Well, we're at the penultimate day, people, and here's the accessory piece to go along with it - the Puffy Links Scarf. 

This is another accessory after my own heart: squoishy yarn (Lion Brand Yarns' Lion's Pride Woolspun), an easy-peasy stitch pattern worked length-wise (so not many rows at all to complete), and a large hook equates to one warm, fashionable and quick-to-make accessory. I've had this design in my sketch book for almost a year, so it is (I can only imagine!) super thrilled to finally see the light of day. 

The big lush factor on this scarf is its length: wear it long for a great romantic, bohemian look or up wrapped a few times around the neck for a more classic winter look. Either way, you cannot go wrong, so pick your favorite color and get hooking ... like ... right this minute, ok?

It'll be in my Ravelry design store momentarily.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On the Needles/Hooks

Just a quick post to show everyone a few of the fibers I've currently got in design play:

Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in the Grapefruit Mix colorway 

Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering
in the Columbus Circle colorway

And, just so you can see the gorgeous yarn I used in the most recent design, the Wyvern Warmer, since I couldn't reveal it prior to Yarnbox subscribers receiving it:

MJ Yarns Peruvian Dream Worsted in the Green Dragon colorway

Yarny life is pretty good.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The New Designs Just Keep Coming

Happy Friday, everyone! It's mid-January, and yet another new third-party published design is on tap to be introduced today,

Yarnbox is a monthly yarn subscription service that is doing great things with yarn dyers and producers, and I'm thrilled to be once again featuring a new design with one of the yarns in their monthly "classic" box. I'm so pleased to finally be able to introduce you to the Wyvern Warmer, and the wonderfully hand-dyed yarns of Jonathan Berner at MJ Yarns.

In fact, this is one design that was inspired almost entirely by the fiber used. I conceived and sketched this design based on the fiber content and weight of the yarn scheduled for the January classic box without actually having the yarn. Once I received it (and oh, what awesome color!) and swatched, I knew I was on the right track.

The resulting short poncho is bursting with great lace, color and style. The mix of alpaca, wool and silk provides wonderful warmth and great drape. Construction is super easy and it fits a wide range of sizes. 

I hope the Yarnboxers are as thrilled with this month's yarn selection as I was to design for it. This worsted weight yarn is, in a word, yummy.

Oh happy fiber arts Friday!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A (Sort of) Milestone

You can see these lilacs here
on my Flowers board
As many of you who follow this blog regularly probably already know, I'm not much into numbers ... as in numbers of social media followers. I am far more interested in those who have been with me (and will continue to be with me) for the long haul.

So it is with a major amount of surprise that I realized this morning that I have 800 followers on Pinterest. While I know that may be a small potatoes number to many of you, for me it's huge! My Pinterest board activity far outpaces any of my other social media outlet activity, so I thought it might be fun to get a little background on all those Voie de Vie followers:

This awesome riot of color
can be viewed here
Top five pinner metro locations (highest to lowest):

       New York
   Washington, D.C.
      Los Angeles
These pretty in pink peonies can be
seen on my Flowers board here

While my audience is far and away from the United States, the next four countries who pin from my boards:

    United Kingdom

The five boards with the most amount of followers (highest to lowest):

I love the color play in this
arrangement, which you can see here
Fashion Weeks/Events Around the World
    I Tought I Saw A Puddy Kat

And, along the sides, you'll see the five all-time most pinned images from my boards. It's no coincidence that four of them are flowers! Although, I must say that in the last thirty days my Fiber Fanatic board has been getting a fair amount of repins.

I had no idea when I created a flowers board that it would become my most popular board - I only knew I love flowers and wanted to share their inspiration with others. Go figure.

Of course, the board I want everyone to follow - my original designs board, is still in its quest to gain further traction. That's alright, I am patient. 

And last, but certainly not least, this
lovely living space can be seen here
on my Interiors board. In the past
I've blogged about its popularity.
And while I thought my Interiors board would be the runaway hit (but was eclipsed rather quickly by those darned awesome flowers), the big surprise has been my Stylemakers board, which came out of ... like ... nowhere, to jump into the third most-followed board.

Pinterest has been a very good thing for me - not only in terms of sharing my inspirations and a way to visually show a good portion of my making, but it has also contributed to design sales (although I am less interested in this direct connection). It's nice that Ravely now tracks sales referrals for shopkeepers. 

I thank everyone who follows my boards, and I hope I continue to be a visual inspiration to each of you.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Ending of One Chapter

I am (ultimately) excited to be writing this blog post, because it's been a year in the making - I have, last Saturday, January 2nd, sent out all pre-ordered print copies of Leather, Lace, Grit and Grace. I cannot tell you how thrilling that was for me.

I say "ultimately" above, because I see all the minor problems that still exist with the print copy of this publication. I am, in this instance, my own harshest critic, and this freshman self-published title was absolutely riddled with internal process issues, not the least of which was my beginner's learning curve. And boy, was it steep and long. I know I tested the patience of those who had faith enough to purchase the title prior to publication, and while everyone received their electronic version many months ago, the print copy was my undoing at every turn. 

To each of you, all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.

Self-publishing is a deeply personal and, in the end, transformative experience. I know what I did absolutely right with Leather, Lace, Grit and Grace. The palette, artwork and slightly grainy quality of the photos (thanks to a conscious decision to go with slightly lower-than-recommended resolution) captures the spirit and flavor of memory. I am still seriously crushing on the designs, several of which I plan on making for myself with what little free making time I have. I am confident of the research and stories contained in the book. Most importantly, I am so proud that I listened to my gut and decided to push forward with this project, when all rational thought pointed in the opposite direction.

The biggest thing I am taking away from this first foray in self-publishing is that it is not right for me to offer any sort of pre-print sale. In future, I won't offer any print book for public consumption until I have the printed copies, proofed to my ultimate satisfaction, in my hot little hands. Full stop.

Finally, it's the ending of the making chapter of Leather, Lace, Grit and Grace, but not its last chapter. This book still deserves its full and complete day in the sun, and I'm hoping it will get just that in the coming months.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Fait à la Main Day 4: Ode Wristers

So, after a small hiatus, here I am back with the rest of the introductions from Fait à la Main. If you haven’t yet seen the look book, feel free to access it here.

As wonderfully brief snow flurries fall here in the Pacific Northwest lowlands, I’m thrilled to introduce you to the centerpiece of the collection, my Ode Wristers.

I cannot state emphatically enough how much I love, love, love this design! Perfect yarn (LB Collection Angora Merino – sooooo soft), a technique I love (broomstick lace) and just the right amount of style come together to create wristers that are lacy, linear, and super cozy and warm. Oh, and did I mention they work up quickly with a mere 2 skeins of yarn (and only one skein if you want them in just one color)? I mean, nirvana must be within reach, right?

I also had a lot of fun photographing this design. Even in early November (when these photos were taken), there was a ton of color all around, and incorporating it to accentuate the design was an easy inspiration once we were on location.

This design will be individually available for purchase in my Ravelry store, or as one of the entire collection once all the design introductions have been made.

See you back here for day 5.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

The Patons Lace Sequin
yarn used in my latest
published design. Can you
spot one of 2016's colors
of the year?
We've done it everyone - we've made it to 2016. Let us keep light, and hope, and peace, and just a little fun, in our immediate thoughts this year. I'm marking it - to take a page from Pantone - the year of serenity.

Photo (c), and used with
kind permission
So, I'm going to take a breather for just one more day from introducing my latest self-published collection pieces and start this year off in a similar way as I did in 2015 - with a new third-party published design. Yup, right out of the new year gun, I'm off with one of my latest cowls - the Mid-Century Motif Cowl published in the February 2016 issue of ILikeCrochet. The main crochet technique starred in this cowl - starting crochet motifs with foundation stitches - is also a featured article/tutorial in this edition, written of course by yours truly. It includes lots of lovely photos to help get everyone up to speed on the technique, which is really handy to have in one's crochet technique tool box. But I digress.

Aren't those blocks of color just wonderful?!!! They are warm yet vibrant and meant to cut through the dreary early winter days.This cowl is also a great stashbuster, and one that each person can make uniquely their own with color choices. If you love color and playing with it like I do, this is another perfect project to tuck into.

I'll be back tomorrow with the continuation of Fait à la Main. In the meantime, enjoy the first day of 2016.