Archive for September, 2011

Crochet Rabble-Rouser (part 2)

In the meantime, I was busy working with the lovely yarn I purchased, and my friend Patti and I decided we would start getting together on Monday nights to crochet at the local Panera.  It was great being able to reconnect with a dear friend and share all that was happening in our lives.  Soon after, Christina and Helen joined us and we had a little group going.

Sometime in November 2010, I found my “voice” in regards to crochet.  One of the podcasters I follow – Mary Beth and the Getting Loopy crochet podcast – mentioned on her show that Blog Talk Radio, which hosts the podcast, was raising fees, and that it would cost close to $500.00 to keep the 45 min show in its accustomed time slot of Monday nights.  I really liked this podcast, along with the YarnThing podcast hosted by Marly Bird (which was also being affected by a cost increase), so I decided to start a fundraising campaign on Ravelry.com.  Not only did we raise enough money to keep both podcasts on air for this year, but it has also lead to a friendship with Mary Beth, who is an amazing crochet designer.

Then January 2011 rolled around and the crochet goodness continued to happen.  I nominated designers and events for the Flamies (the crochet awards given out by the Crochet Lib Front on Ravelry), then did a yarn crawl with a friend from college, going to three different stores in the Bloomington/Normal area.

April 3rd brought the class listings for Stitches Midwest 2011 and I eagerly opened it, only to be greatly disappointed.  Out of the 117 classes (and when I say classes, I am talking about the 3 and 6 hr classes for which you pre-register) only one had to do with crochet, and it was on such a technical level that it didn’t interest me.  So, using my new-found voice on Ravelry, I started a thread on how I was disappointed in the lack of crochet at Midwest.  I honestly thought that the thread would get maybe 15 comments, mostly from people who felt the way I did, and then it would disappear, because that is what usually happens.

That wasn’t the case here.  Benjamin Levisay, the CEO of XRX, Inc, which is the company that puts on the four STITCHES events that happen across the country, came on the thread and asked for feedback on how to make STITCHES more crochet-friendly.  Boy did he get an earfull!  I have to give Benjamin a LOT of credit, because he did take the time to listen and respond to what was being said.  What also helped was that much of the discussion was positive/constructive, which is why changes were made.  After a month of discussion on the CLF thread, I was contacted by Benjamin because he wanted to personally talk to me on the phone and to go over several of the suggestions I had made.

We had that phone conversation at the beginning of May 2011, and he clued me into what he was working on to make Midwest and East (which would take place in October) more crochet friendly.  We spoke for almost two hours, and near the end of our conversation, he invited me to be his guest for the Sponsor Fashion Show and Dinner that took place on the Friday night of Midwest.  He said I would be sitting with the Sponsors (ie: major yarn companies) for the fashion show, and then I would be at his table for dinner.  Of course I said YES!

Around this time, I was invited by Gwen Bakley-Kinsler to meet her at her local yarn store in Arlington Heights.  I met her at the store for the weekly open stitch evening and met some very friendly people who both knit and crochet.  It also helped that Chris, the store owner, was crochet-friendly.  Since the store is 10 minutes from where I work, I’ve started going there to stitch on Thursday Nights.  I really love the women in that Thursday night group.  Their friendship has kept me sane with all that is going on with my mom, plus they have helped me celebrate all the good things that have happened as well.

I remained an active voice on Ravelry regarding crochet, with a personal goal of recognizing and celebrating the presence of crochet, no matter how large or small.  Unfortunately, some people seemed to feel that the small things in crochet shouldn’t be celebrated, and the online discussion left a sour taste in my mouth.  So I started thinking and talking with friends about what changes could be made, and it was decided to wait until after STITCHES Midwest.  I’ll share that experience in its own post.

After STITCHES Midwest, I worked on some final details, and on September 3rd, five months to the day that I started the thread about SMW on Ravelry, I started a new group on the website called Happy Clappy Crochet.  I wanted it to be a place where we can celebrate all that we find positive about crochet without getting caught up in the negative.  As of today, we have 70 members and it has become quite an international group.  I look forward to seeing what we will be able to do together.





Read Full Post »

People who know me would say I’m pretty crafty.  My Grandma K taught me how to crochet when I was around 9 years old, and I have proof that I remembered how to crochet into my early 20’s, as shown by this picture taken in the Walker Hall lounge.

Crocheting in the lounge at Walker Hall

In 2004, after a long absence from the craft, I picked up crochet once more.  You see, there were all these cool and funky yarns available, and I wanted to use them!  So I bought a crochet how-to book so I could refresh my memory on the different stitches, then picked some yarn and a hook and got to work re-teaching myself how to crochet.  Once I was confident enough with my stitches, I bought a bunch of fun, soft eyelash yarn and made scarves for my Grandma R, my mom, and my two sisters, C & K.

In making those scarves, I found out I really liked crocheting, so I bought more pattern books, yarn, and hooks, and started crocheting gifts for people, like baby blankets and even an afghan or two.  Then, in November of 2009, a friend introduced me to http://www.Ravelry.com, and everything changed.

There were groups for just about every interest under the sun!  There was information about patterns and yarn!  And then I found out about crochet podcasts!!!  Oh the joy of listening to people who loved to crochet like I did.  It opened my eyes to a whole new world regarding crochet.  No longer was it just me, sitting in front of my tv and stitching with the yarn I got from JoAnn’s. There was a world of crocheters out there and they introduced me to a world of yarn.  There were Local Yarn Stores (LYS) that carried yarns not available in the Big Box Stores (BBS) like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.  And then there were online yarn stores that carried even more specialty yarn.  My stash grew and grew as I found more and more yarn that I liked.

After being on Ravelry for 9 months, my friend told me about a yarn expo called STITCHES Midwest.  There were classes (mostly for knitters), but the most awesome thing was the Market, with vendors from all over selling hand-dyed yarns and yarns made from fibers like milk and silk and oxen and quivot!  It was fiber overload and I couldn’t wait to go.

I went to the Stitches market and had a great time touching different yarns and buying some great yarns that I used to crochet Christmas gifts for family and friends.  However, I also noticed a lack of crochet-friendliness at this event.  I only saw crocheted items (hooks, books, garments) at a couple booths, but since this seemed to be marketed as a knitting event, that didn’t bother me too much.  What did bug me a little was the attitude that I received from some vendors when they found out I crochet instead of knit.  One vendor told me, as I was purchasing a beautiful skein of 100% mulberry silk yarn, “Well, I guess you’ll be able to make something from this (yarn).”  And that attitude really surprised me, because I was paying him to buy his yarn.  What did he care what I did with it!  I just brushed the attitude off, and when I got home, I crocheted some amazing items with the yarn I purchased.

A month after attending the Midwest show, I received a flyer in the mail for STITCHES West 2011.  I looked it over and was really excited to see six crochet classes being offered.  In my mind, I saw class offerings there translated into crochet classes being offered at Midwest.  All I could do is wonder and wait…

–to be continued–

Read Full Post »