Goals and Resolutions: Tinking Turtle 2015

Now that Christmas has finished, my eye is starting to turn towards the New Year.  While I don’t normally participate in New Year’s resolutions, I do use this time to put together some constructive goals – some for the business, and some personally.

What are some of the things I’m looking to change for the new year?  Well, this last year had a bunch of designing, and a number of tight deadlines.  On the plus side it brought designs such as Boston Ivy, Mercury, Electrostatic Lines, Riverbend and Lucky Hearts, and Stained Glass Rug to name a few.  On the downside, I’m not sure that pace is sustainable.  I’m going to be taking a good look at managing time and making sustainable decisions. On the plus side, I’ve now got over two years of data on how long a design takes me.  On the minus side, I need to figure out how to leverage that data more.

What did I do well in 2015?  Well, I made it to my second TNNA!  I reached 50 patterns published – a major milestone both personally, and on Ravelry!

50 Patterns Published!

50 Patterns Published!

I got to teach several video classes with Interweave, which I’m still super proud and excited about.

As Mr. Turtle and I meet to have our yearly planning meeting, I’m sure we’ll come up with more concrete milestones we want to hit in the next year, and taylor the long-term goals we have already set.  I think it’s important to keep evaluating your goals to make sure they’re attainable and still relevant.  As life, jobs, and careers take us in different directions, the things we strived for at one point may not be the things we’re striving for at another point.

Do you make crafting, crocheting, knitting or other goals for the new year?  How do you make them?  I’d love to hear!

Boston Ivy Sweater, in Interweave Crochet Winter 2016

black and white drawing of young man in sweater with hat on.

Original idea for Boston Ivy.

I’ve been checking Ravelry and Interweave’s Crochet website for the last two weeks, waiting for the most recent issue of Interweave Crochet to come out.  And now, I’m pleased to announce that Interweave Crochet Winter 2016 is on the shelves (or will be in the next few days), and available to purchase.  In this issue is my design, Boston Ivy.  Boston Ivy is a design that’s near and dear to my heart, as it started out as a request for a sweater from my brother, Matthew.

Boston Ivy was originally pitched as an idea based off of my brother, Matthew, and his descriptors for a perfect sweater for him.

He wanted it to be warm.  Not necessarily sweater warm, but more like rugged sweater/jacket to wear outside.  Decoration and cables should be kept to a minimum.  It had to had to have a collar that would go around his neck, and it had to be something he could move and be active in.

At the same time I’d been playing around with a crochet or knitting technique involving using long strips of fabric.  I’d braid the fabric, and then pick up stitches on either side of the braid, making it look like a particularly interesting cable. Boston_Ivy_Sweater_medium While I’d seen the technique done, a little, in crochet lacework, I’d never seen it done on larger pieces.  I also hadn’t seen it done all that much.

I thought this was a great pity that I needed to remedy.

I began pitching the idea to a variety of magazines, with little interest.  Until Interweave Crochet.

Boston Ivy is a sweater for men and women.  It’s sturdy and comfortable, with drop shoulders and a distinctive braided pattern down sleeves and front.

Worked in single crochet thru the back loop, it creates a ribbing that’s warm and stretchy.

And I love it.


Crochet, Food and Art: Smithsonian’s Food Cover

My husband just brought the June 2013 issue home.  He burst in the door with this frenetic look on his face and slapped the cover in front of me.  “Look!  It’s what you do!”  Michael was referring to the fact that I’ve been designing a series of crochet foods, the latest of which are Sweet Strawberries and Outrageous Orange.

If you haven’t seen the cover yet, Kate Jenkins, a fiber artist, created the absolutely stunning display at the right.  Called Wool Chow Mein Fake-Away, there’s also really comprehensive article on her work at the Smithsonian website.  It doesn’t surprise me that Smithsonian would use her crochet-based art as cover-art, because the Smithsonian has had a relationship with crocheters in the past.

Some of the many pieces crocheted for the reef:
mine are the orange ones in the middle.

The Smithsonian and I have a deeper relationship than just our mutual appreciation for food as art.  In 2010 I, along with many other crocheters in the greater Washington DC area, participated in the Smithsonian Display of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef.  The project works to get local communities engaged and learning about Coral Reef Destruction and Preservation through a mix of community interaction, art and education.  For a couple of weeks my room mate and I frenetically crocheted hyperbolic shapes to help create the absolutely massive coral reef that dominated the ocean hall a the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History.

What I love about the Smithsonian June 2013 cover is not only the creative use of crochet as art (because well, it’s cool and a little mind-bending, because handicrafts like crochet and knitting rarely get the attention that other forms of art do), but the way it touches on the tension in values in America today.  Crochet (and knitting and other handicrafts) are experiencing a wonderful revival, as people push back against our technology driven society by going back to the hobbies and handicrafts of their parents or grandparents.  In a similar way, many people are trying to get in better touch with where their food comes from – either growing their own, seeking organic alternatives, or participating in things like farm shares.

Kate Jenkins art, in a way, combines these converging concerns, in a lighthearted way that engages a viewer.  There’s the moment of thinking, oh, a box of chow mein, before the viewer goes, “wait a moment – is that fake?”  And suddenly, the tension between ‘fake food’ and ‘real food’ gets blurred, and the viewer has to really think about the piece – the word it took to make it look so realistic and authentic, and the time it took to make the display.  Just like the time it takes to make and grow real food, and the work that is put into fruits and vegetables, shrimp and noodles, before the food makes it onto the plate.

The Crochet Cornucopia series, with my Strawberries, Oranges (and coming soon, Watermelon, Cherries and Carrots), is trying to work toward a same goal.  A person could just purchase toy food from the toy store, or buy plastic food to fill a fruit bowl.  By making the fruits and vegetables themselves, you are declaring that it’s important to have quality items that will last years.  You want homemade fruit that will look beautiful.  You want toys for your children where you don’t have to worry about them teething off the paint or have stuffing fall out.  You want quality things that reflect the time and care and thought you put into making them.

Check out the Crochet Cornucopia patterns on my Ravelry page.

Writing a Pattern

scribbling as I thought things through –
when I write notes, I always label  them with name and date,
a holdover from highschool. Blocked here because it’s a secret.

My schedule is changing over the next few weeks, as I leave one part time occupation and move to doing more designing.  The good news: I’m managing to make more money designing.  The scary news: in order to continue to make more money designing, I need to devote more time to it, which means shifting things around.

I don’t always embrace changes, especially changes in my routine.

But the benifit to my new schedule is that I’m fairly certain I can swing devoting ONE WHOLE DAY A WEEK to designing.  Which is great, because I’m the type of person who likes to sink into a project.  In college I was much happier putting aside a weekend and locking myself in the library while I worked on a sculpture, did research or wrote a thesis draft.  I’m not the type of person who can naturally plug away at a project in little chunks.  This isn’t to say that I can’t do it – it just doesn’t come naturally to me.

Well, yesterday I had the whole day to working on one of my projects – a design that will be coming out in July (tentatively).  Now some things like socks the ratios just come naturally to me.  I can make the pattern and the sample at the same time, because I have a very good idea of what I need to do.  But for sweaters, I try to do a rough draft before I start working.

This does a few things: I can’t revise if I don’t have something written down.  Have a rough draft printed out means I can write notes as I go and a thought comes to me on how to explain something.

Having a rough draft also forces me to think through the project from beginning to end.  Are there places where a picture might help explain a technique?  I can do that while I’m working on the sample.

It also forces me to make sure my math is right.

BUT.  Writing a rough draft means I need to think through every step, and do the math for ALL THE SIZES to make sure that what works for the small and medium will also work for the large.  It also means I need to set aside a chunk of time to think through everything – to sink myself into the project and imerse myself.  This isn’t something I can chip away at for a few hours here and a few hours there.  I need, at least a couple hour block.

And I got that yesterday.  The rough draft is written.  I’m ready to get started.  Wish me luck.

Sunburst Shawl on Tangled Magazine

I am proud to announce the publication of Sunburst Shawl on Tangled online Magazine.  I was so excited I just couldn’t wait until tomorrow to let everyone know.

Sunburst Shawl
by Jennifer Crowley


Yarn: Western Sky Knits Aspen Sock (100% Superwash Merino; 400 yards [365 m] /3.5oz [100 gm]; CYCA 2): Misty Moor, 2 (3, 4) skeins.
Hook: C/2 (2.75mm)
Adjust hook size to obtain correct gauge.
Needles: US size 17 (12 mm) 40 or 47” circular knitting needle.

Notions: Tapestry needle; seed beads that fit your chosen yarn doubled through it (98 beads for small, 110 beads for medium, 130 beads for large); dental floss threader or small crochet hook that fits through beads.

Difficulty: expertGauge: One motif = 3.25” diameter blocked.
Available Sizes:
small, medium, large
small = 45” x 18”
medium = 52” x 21”
large = 58” x 24”
Photos by Brittany Tyler


 I’ve been thinking lately about inspiration, and color.  It’s sometimes hard as a designer because I’m already supposed to be thinking about winter designs.  Such is the turn around process for publishing that it takes that long from design to actualization.  This can be hard, as the weather is warming right now, the air spring-like.

For instance, I broke out my sandals this evening for a run to pick up what is god-help-me-please the second-to-last piece of furniture we’ll be taking up to our eighth-floor apartment.  There’s cherry buds on trees, not yet bloomed.  The daffodils are out full force, Bradford pears are on the cusp of blooming, and the tree I’ve always thought of as the tulip tree (I’ll post a picture in a couple of weeks) is also out.

It means I have to be creative when trying to get myself in the mood, and the mindset of winter.  I have to think warm things, cool or cold nights, and heavy knitting on my lap.  Practically the opposite of what I’m thinking of now.

One of the ways I try to get myself in the mindset is visual images, and color.

Michael was transferring and organizing all the spices this afternoon.  He’s taken the week off before his vacation days end, and is taking the opportunity to get most of the packing we haven’t done yet.

I glimpsed a look at the spices he had put out on our (brand-new-to-us!) dish-hutch, and snapped some pictures.  I liked them because most of the spices are ones I normally think of as warm – the browns, the reds of curries and nutmeg, turmeric and other things.

These are the perfect things for me to draw me into the thought of winter, combating my growing certainty that it’s spring.  Spring spring spring!

On a side note, to prove that i’m right, and it is spring, Michael’s celebration dinner for us moving and settling into this new place was all about light flavors that move us away from winter.  We did have beef… you can see it poking out of the soup, but it wasn’t in a beef stock, rather a thinner stock, full of the last of the root vegetables.  Our salad was full of spring-ish things too… the mushrooms we’re growing in our closet (courtesy of my future mother-in-law – white buttons and Portobello).  There were cranberries, invoking the color we’re seeing in the fours, and lots of other delicious things.

And still, I must try to think, Winter.

Yellowfarm Cowl

Hot off the press, a cowl design for Yellowfarm.

Yellowfarm is a small but vibrant farm and yarn business back from my hometown Guilderland, NY (technically, they’re from Altamont, but Guilderland and Altamont are practically the same place).  They grow Wensleydale and American Teeswater long wool sheep.  Both breeds are know for their beautiful silky lock structure, which simply can’t be ignored.

Yellowfarm will be featuring this cowl design when they head to Vogue Knitting in NY, NY, and I will be releasing the pattern sometime this spring.

This versatile cowl can be used as both a button-up scarflet or a cowl, and uses thrumming and entrelac.  But instead of thrumming to the inside of your piece (which creates some of the warmest mittens you have ever seen), the thrums go to the outside of the work, creating a distinctive pattern.

Working with Yellowfarm was truely a pleasure, and I hope to do it again in the future.  Thanks guys for letting me work with your beautiful wool!  Good luck at Vogue!

PS: Recognize the model?  It’s Ellie again, being a great trooper as I pushed her around on a cold winter day.

I really like Trisha’s Hats

Every once and a while, I come across something really cool, and I feel the need to share it.  About a week and a half ago, though Jennifer, of the Magpie Knitter, I met Trisha Paetsch.  She was looking for someone to review her pattern.  As someone who always loves to see what other designers are doing I was interested in taking a look at the pattern.  And then, I found out that the pattern was about hats.

Seriously.  I love hats.  (Michael, my fiance, and I have a huge collection of hats.  Standard rule in our household… you play a boardgame, you wear a hat.  We can have more than 25 people over to play games with us, and not run out of hats.  We love hats.)

So I was a little biased going into the pattern, because I really love hats.  But I will also say that because I love hats, I’m rather picky about my hats.  I want them to have nice shaping.  I want them to be finished well.  I want them to be stylish and functional.  I became a little worried after I got the pattern from Trisha.  What if her patterns didn’t match up with my expectations?

Let me break the suspense here, Trisha delivers a solid set of hat patterns in Grande Prairie Hats.  The pattern is constructed as a narrative of several lovely ladies going out and getting photographed in their hats.  And what hats they have!  There’s a little something for everyone.  Now, while I will admit, not all the hats are to my taste.  I’m not too fond of the wide headbands that are featured (Bregdan and Leanne).  They’re lovely, the color choice is great, and they’re definitely something say, my sister or mother would wear, but I like something that covers my head.  However, the details and the color choices and both are lovely.

And that’s fine, because she also has some lovely traditional(ish) style hats, like Frippery or Frivolity.  Much more my type of thing.  Trisha also includes a few types of beanies to round the number of patterns out.  There’s also a really cute, solid mitten pattern that you get in the ebook.

The only drawback is the document is rather large if you want to print it off in it’s entirety.  It’s 35 pages, and parts of it are rather picture heavy.  That isn’t necessarily a drawback because I can select which pages I want to print out, but as someone who (aims, but admittedly doesn’t always achieve to have) prefers a a few carefully chosen pictures instead of a bunch, it wasn’t necessarily my thing.  But if you are the type of person who likes to see a project you are doing from every single angle, Tracy definitely delivers.

One of the parts I like the most about the ebook is actually all the finishing details Tracy includes.  Part of the reason I like her hats so much (especially Frippery and Frivolity) is because of the details used to finish the hats with feathers and other little bits and bobs.  Tracy walks you through finishing your own hat, and the details and decisions you make in regards to that.

Overall, I would say Tracy’s Grande Prairie Hats is a very solid new release, and I would encourage you to go purchase the book, or the individual patterns.  I think you’ll get your money’s worth.

She does it again

So Yarnies,

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love Samurai Knitter. It think I mentioned how much she rocks my world, and how much her reviews of Vogue Knitting Magazine make me think.

Well, she’s done it again. She’s got her latest review of the Spring Vogue Knitting out, and I think it is definitely worth reading. In addition to critiquing the patterns, she gives us some great pictures demonstrating how models “work” patterns, so that they look good on the models.

I will make a few comments of my own on the new Vogue Knitting Magazine. First, what’s with Vogue choosing sections where all the patterns are the same color? And seriously, white???? let me just say, there are very few people that look good in that much white, and even the models by the end of that section are looking rather washed out (and a bit bored, in my opinion, which is not a surprise, considering how boring the white is).

HOWEVER, I really really like the colored section that comes a the back. I think the backgrounds are great, the colors are wonderful, and most of the patterns in the back are something I would consider making (which, after Vogue’s fall and winter issues, is a welcome relief, because I was getting tired of reading all about these bulky, shapeless knits).

Now, I admit a bias. Generally, I tend of the like the designs in Knitty or Interweave more than I like the ones in Vogue. Being an average woman (if a bit on the chunky and short side) I really am not into the supposedly “high” fashion designs that they highlight. It’s one of the reasons I tend to not be a fan of Takki’s pattern books either. (I tend to prefer Classic Elite’s Pattern books instead).

But I like the back section of Vogue Knitting. And I do keep subscribing to Vogue Knitting because I think their information articles make it all worth it.

Anyway, go check out Samurai Knitter’s review. As always, her critique says it all.