October 19, 2011

Crochet Stitches VE blog tour stop

So, as announced last month, we opened up the floor to all of you to ask Robyn Chachula questions about her new book Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia. (Amazon sales link, Wiley link). The contest winner is announced at the end, but first, the questions!
Jenna asks:
How did you have time to crochet while your toddler is wild? I am mother of two and I am knitter. I am knitting during my daughter is napping, and knitting during the kids are in their beds. I want to knit during the day everyday.
and Annette adds…
Do you still have a “day job” as a structural engineer? In addition to having a rambunctious toddler, how do you find time to crochet?
It’s not easy, that’s for sure. I crochet any second I get. I crochet in line at the grocery store, at the dinner table, and while doing puzzles with my daughter. I was laid off when I was 8 months pregnant when the economy was really horrible for anyone in the architecture field. So I turned to my second career, in crochet. Now I am full time mom and full time designer. I can easily say Full time engineer and part-time designer; SO MUCH EASIER!
Natalie asks,
What inspired you to include some of the lesser known forms of Crochet (ie: Brussels Lace, different forms of Tunisian, and other laces)?
Emy adds:
How did you decide what stitch patterns to include, or for that matter, exclude?
and Karen also wants to know…
Wow, the book is so well organized and laid out. How did you resource so many stitch variations? Amazing.
To be honest, I wanted to include every type of crochet I know. So I started at the beginning with simple stitches and worked my way out. I wanted cables, pineapples, grannies, edgings, filet, color, on and on. What I ended up doing is trying to have at least 3-4 of every type of crochet I know. I say that because I know there is a ton more versions and types of crochet that I have not even discovered yet. Once I brainstormed, I came up with 9 chapters; simple, cables, lace, weird lace, Tunisian, color, grannies, flowers, and edgings. We originally were working with 350 stitch patterns, so I tried to shove into each chapter a few of every technique I could think of. Like in the lace chapter, I divided it in to chain space stitch patterns, cluster sp, shell, pineapple, and waves. Then I looked at designs of mine to see if I could pull from those first, then I headed to my antique pattern books from the turn of the century, I then headed to 60s and 70s pattern books, then to foreign (mainly Japan, Ukraine, and Belgium); and finally swatched. I pulled from so many sources since I really wanted a well rounded stitch dictionary. In each chapter, there are some classic, some foreign, some antique, and some new stitch patterns.

Ruth asks:
What types of yarns work best for which types of crochet?
It really depends on what you are crocheting and what effect you are going for. Cotton can have a great stitch definition, but be really challenging to work with when it comes to post stitch since it has no elasticity. Merino wool has great bounce and is fabulous to crochet, but will always need blocked. For my book, I got a mix of yarn from acrylic (Red Heart Soft Yarn and Eco Ways) to wool (Cascade 220 Sport and Naturally Caron Country) to Cotton (Cascade Pima Tencel and Lion Brand Cottonese) to luxury (Blue Sky
Alpaca Silk). I wanted to have a number of fibers on hand to play with. I knew I needed a lightweight animal yarn for the cables, and a shiny plant yarn for the lace. I wanted a large palette of colors for the color stitch patterns but also to make the book look more interesting.

Cathy asks:
What was the most difficult part of writing the book? How did you get through it?
and Margo adds:
What was the greatest challenge and your favorite part in writing this book?
The hardest part of this book was the timeline. I started writing in January and the book is out now. That is about 8-9 months less than any other of my books. Plus it is twice the size of any of my books. Needless to say, there were many many late nights. I loved researching the techniques to the fullest. I would get so caught up in the process that there are many chapters that I cut a ton of patterns because I was coming up with say 100 flowers, when I only needed 25.
Pam asks:
Is this a good book to learn from? I can do some basic crochet but would like to learn some of the fancier stitches.
It all depends on your skill level. The book has no “how to” section. We had to cut it for room. If you know how hold yarn, and have made a couple of stitches; then this book is great. It will go from basics of what is a sc to the some of the most fun patterns I know.
Cami asks:
What made you decide to do a stitch dictionary after so many successful garment books?
Wiley approached me about writing an encyclopedia to fit into their new line of “Visual Encyclopedia” books. They were not sure what to include, but wanted a large book filled with pictures and diagrams. For me, I always wanted a chance to compile all my favorite stitch patterns, motifs, tips, and tricks into one book.
Kate asks:
What is your biggest inspiration when you are designing things? Although there are things that are similar in some of your designs a lot of them are so different, what keeps your creative juices flowing?
My environment is my biggest inspiration. I am home full-time with my two-year old. So every day, we go somewhere. The science or children’s museum, the playground, the plant conservancy, the zoo, the library; somewhere. And from that I pull ideas from the people on the street, or the color in the trees. When I feel like I am at my end; I make a cup of tea or coffee sit down and randomly open a stitch dictionary and start crocheting. That usually gets my creative juices flowing enough to get me back on track.
Kate asks:
In your book is there a section that will explain the best ways to take your stitch ideas and turn them into our own projects? From the preview on your blog the stitch samples are great, but I am not sure which would be best for baby clothing, adult clothing, or should just be used for accessories.
The book has tips and advice in each chapter, from how to block to project ideas. Every stitch pattern has a tip as well, from project ideas to yarn advice. I was hoping crocheter would use the book to learn a new form of crochet, or use it as inspiration in their next project (by crocheting a bunch of the grannies and joining them into an afghan, or taking an edging and adding it on a fleece blanket, or using a Tunisian color pattern to make a woven shawl), or use the tips to make their current projects even more wonderful.
Carmen asks:
What is your favorite weight of yarn or thread – and why? Superwash merino dk wool. Always. Dk is a great weight for crochet projects, not too thin or thick. Perfect for garments. Superwash merino usually is plied together to not split and easily flows through your hands.
And now, the contest winner! Courtesy of random.org, the commenter who wins a copy of the book is Natalie! Natalie, please email admin (at) knitgrrl (dot) com with your address and I’ll get that right out to you!

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