A couple of months ago, I recieved a lovely, lovely, lovely parcel. Amid all the massive boxes of yarn that were arriving in the run up to Rhinebeck, there was one small manilla envelope waiting on the doorstep. I honestly couldn’t think what it might be but, when I ripped open the package, I was immediately over the moon!
Sharon Silverman is a wonderful crochet designer and I’ve really enjoyed working with in the past. She contributed to the SpaceCadet’s Guide to Using Hand-Dyed, and do you remember when she designed her stunning Moonmist Shawl in my Luna Laceweight yarn? So when she told me she was writing a new book of crocheted scarves and asked if she could use SpaceCadet yarn, I jumped at the chance!
So when my copy of Crochet Scarves: Fabulous Fashions – Various Techniques arrived, I couldn’t wait to settle myself right down into a comfy chair and crack it open. And it is — as expected — fantastic. Twenty-one brand new designs, covering everything from traditional crochet to Tunisian (I love Tunisian!) to broomstick lace. And all with really wonderful step-by-step visual instructions and easy-to-read charts.
Now, can I tell you something? I don’t care what kind of a day you’ve had — whether it’s been a facepalm kind of day or wildly successful. And I don’t care what kind of week you’ve had, or month or year or life… no matter how things are going for you, when you see your name in print, in a book, it sends such a thrill down your spine, I just can’t tell you. So, I turned to the Cactus Scarf and saw SpaceCadet yarn right there on the page and… I squeed! Alone in the house, still sitting in my comfy chair (well, jumping out of it actually), I was squeeing my heart out.
One of the hardest things about selling yarn online is that it’s incredibly difficult to express the tactile elements of each yarn. It’s one of the reasons I love doing shows so much. When customers can come and see the yarns in person — smoosh the yarns in person — everything changes. For the Cactus Scarf, Sharon chose SpaceCadet Luna, a merino and silk cobweb laceweight that gives a stunning 1300 yards per skein (that’s nearly 3/4ths of a mile!). It’s so fine and yet so smooshy, and the silk gives it an amazing sheen that I can never seem to do justice to in photographs! That just kills me, because this is one special yarn.
But you know what? I think the Cactus Scarf would look great in any of the other SpaceCadet laceweights too. Pyxis is 100% superwash merino and a great, straightforward laceweight yarn — or for anyone taking their first steps into open stitchwork. But I think this scarf would be amazing in Thebe — it’s a heavier laceweight in silk and linen that has an almost rustic feel and fabulous drape. And then there’s Venus, with its incredibly subtle sparkles blended into merino and silk — now that would be one eye-catching scarf!
So, are you as excited about Sharon’s new book as I am? Check out Crochet Scarves: Fabulous Fashions – Various Techniques and the rest of Sharon’s fantastic crochet designs here on her website.
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is working with other fiber artists. It is somehow so satisfying to collaborate with people whose work you really admire and who… well, who really understand why I’m so crazy about all things fiber (Because, y’know… they’re crazy that way too!). And I’m lucky enough to have quite a few of those collaborations going on at the moment. SpaceCadet yarns have been chosen recently for four designs in two upcoming books, as well as for designs by a couple of independent designers, and was used in an award-winning sock (more about that soon). Exciting times!
As a really accomplished and inspiring fiber artist, I wanted to find out more about her and her work as a designer…
At what point, in your own mind, did you switch from being a crocheter to a crochet designer? What defined that change for you?
For my first crochet title, Basic Crocheting, I was not confident enough to design all of the patterns myself. I purchased a few from established designers. The sweater pattern was disappointing: it was all single crochet, which made it very stiff and impossible to pull over your head, and it was definitely not “basic” like I had requested. I took a deep breath and told myself it was time to design a sweater. I picked a chevron pattern and did it! Because it was the first time I had worked with multiple sizes, I actually made one sweater in each size to make sure the instructions would work! That sweater was the first time I really felt like a designer.
Do the design ideas flow easily for you, or do you ever find yourself stuck? When you are stuck, what do you do to find inspiration again?
With the wonderful yarns available today in every material and colourway, and with the addition of Tunisian crochet to my stitch bag of tricks, I rarely feel stuck for a design. I keep a binder of “Design Ideas.” Anything that catches my fancy goes in there, from architectural elements to interesting color combinations to nature photos. Often I’ll browse through that with some yarn and stitch dictionaries in front of me. Swatching is a great way to get inspired.
What was the inspiration for the Moonmist shawl?
I love lightweight shawls, and the Luna laceweight yarn seemed perfect for an openwork pattern. I like the addition of some post stitches for added texture. To make the shawl symmetrical, I started in the middle of the back and worked left and right.
As your own crochet skills grow, do you find it harder or easier to design simple projects for new crocheters?
I think one thing that crocheters appreciate is the clarity and kindness with which I write patterns, whether for beginners or experienced crafters. I always try to give an overview, kind of like a road map: here’s where we’re starting, this is the route we will take, and here’s where we will end up. Otherwise it’s like driving blind. I have been crocheting for more than 40 years, and I still come up against poorly written patterns that I cannot figure out. It’s frustrating, and there’s no reason for it except laziness and arrogance on the part of the designer, editor, and publisher.
Along with clear instructions, technique photos are crucial. I want crocheters to feel like I am looking over their shoulder ready to answer any questions they have. “Does the hook go here or here?” “Do I skip this shell or work into it?” Photos can help them understand what the pattern requires.
I always enjoy creating simple yet interesting patterns for new crocheters.
For anyone wanting to try crochet for the first time, what resources would you recommend? Where should they start?
For anyone just starting out, there is no substitute for sitting down for an hour or two with a friend or instructor. That way you can make sure you are holding the yarn properly, making your stitches right, counting correctly, etc. Crocheters are often surprised to realize how important the non-hook hand is in managing the flow of yarn from the ball to the project. Your local yarn shop or a crochet conference may be your entree into the wonderful world of crocheting. Ravelry is a wonderful resource, an online community for yarn folks without the intrusiveness of Facebook! YouTube also has many good videos. There are some great designers out there. Read what other people have said about their designs–and how good their instructions are–and choose a book or pattern from your favorite.
I am a huge fan of Tunisian crochet. For anyone interested in giving that a try, I recommend my books (Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting and Crochet Pillows with Tunisian & Traditional Techniques). Both of those come with detailed instructions and photos to explain the basic stitches. My first book, Basic Crocheting, also has a lot of visuals and illustrations.
If you had the opportunity to tell the world the one thing they
really ought to know about crochet, what would it be?
Crochet does not have to be frumpy and boxy! Choose the right combination of yarn, hook, and designer, and you can create garments that are beautifully shaped, drape like a dream, and are high-fashion enough to grace any runway.
Now, I’m not allowed to tell you anything about Sharon’s upcoming book — it’s all top secret. But I will tell you that it’s coming out for Autumn 2012 and it’s got some gorgeous designs in it… and two new beautiful new colourways from SpaceCadet Creations. But in the meantime, do go check out her website, www.SharonSilverman.com, and especially her pattern page on Ravelry, where you can find the pattern for the Moonmist shawl, for the lovely Sonata shawl (above) — the first of Sharon’s designs that really caught my eye — and tons more. She’s on Ravelry as CrochetSharon and on Facebook as Sharon Silverman Contemporary Crochet.
(I think this is the thing that I like most about the fiber arts community: the way that people work together — and really want to work together — to create beautiful things. Fiber people are great people.)
I began to think about colours — I wanted to give her something really special to work with. In my mind, I was seeing something lovely to drape around the shoulders, over a beautiful evening dress… something as soft as mist…
Sharon sent me a sneak peak at the design this week, and it’s as light and as gorgeous as the yarn it’s made for. I can’t share the design with you yet, but I can give you a quick glimpse of the yarn.
This is Evening Fog, a delicate mix of soft greys and the lightest misty blue, in Luna Laceweight 80% merino/20% silk yarn. And, if you like it, it will be in the shop in time for the pattern’s release.
I am a knitter and, to me, knitting is second nature. I knit without looking, I knit whilst reading and, when I’m really tired but I just have to finish one more row, I knit with my eyes closed. And I know that this looks like magic to non-knitters but, to me, knitting is easy.
The real magic is crochet. Crochet is knitting’s mysterious twin… It amazes me, it baffles me! I tried to teach myself to crochet once — I managed a little strip of fabric (that with the addition of some knitted flowers became quite a nice choker), but I quickly realised that it’s crocheters who make the real magic happen. Here are three patterns that really inspire me to pick up a hook and try my hand at crochet again.
Here is a crochet at its most spellbinding. I love the drama of Robyn Chachula‘s unusual cowl, the way the chain-stitched edging forms a striking cobweb that can be worn gathered up around the neck or draped dramatically across the body. I’d love to see this done in SpaceCadet’s Astrid yarn in a rich, deep colourway such as Desert Wine to bring a dash of glamour to a new winter coat.
The magic of Brittany Tyler‘s charming little hat in is the way it gathers up the colours of varigated yarns and distributes them in little pools across the crocheted fabric. Quirky and sweet with a flower detail, it would bring out the striking colours of SpaceCadet’s Astrid yarn in Sleep Deep or look cute as a button in Sailor’s Warning.