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Fun Yarn Tests (Getting a Yarn to Speak)
Thanks so much for subscribing! You're reading issue #55. 

Piles of unusual swatches! Link goes to online photo set of them.How do you go about getting to know a new yarn? I've been noticing how I do it because I've just added my first original yarn to the DesigningVashti shop! Please see lower right column for more on the yarn, and for a subscriber-only coupon.

Back when I designed for other yarn companies, the specific yarn, color, project, or all three were chosen for me. This determined how the I got to know the yarn. 

Doris and I created a dream yarn together called Lotus. It's unique, so we can't just rely on our experiences designing with other yarns. It's z-twisted and has 12 plies with a sleek way of blending cotton and rayon. Lotus is a newborn and can be anything she wants to be, so how do I find out about her hopes and wishes?

Tunisian Petals in Color Zones: New version! Same Petals pattern.Over the years I've kept a list of crochet stitch types in my head. Do you do this too? I group some stitches together by their effects on yarns. Certain textures and stitch structures bring out something new in a yarn. They can make a yarn confide its innermost dreams! It's an amazing aspect of crochet.

Stitch Groups & Technique Trials

A fancy stitch might look elegant in one yarn yet chaotic or lost in another. It might drape, gape open, lump up, or settle into a dense lacquered finish.

I always do some Tunisian Simple Stitch (Tss) because of its unique woven look. Then I try some lacy types (wicker mesh, filet style, and extended stitches. The lacy 3-color Petals cowl (shown above left) is based on Tss, and tests this color combo of Lotus. See right column about a CAL (Crochet-Along) for this design.

Lotus Yarn in Starry Love Knot pattern; link goes to Flickr photo set.Love Knots/Solomon's Knots bring out a different side of any yarn. For me, they stand in for other pulled loop types like Broomstick & Hairpin laces too. I look at how the knotted parts look and if they stay knotted; and how big the love knot "balloon" can get before it collapses into a languid oblong shape instead.
Front Loop & Inverse Slip Stitches.
Slip Stitch Crochet: Besides plain ol' back-loop rib, I'm always curious what happens when I try inverse slip stitch textures! (Striped peach & cream stripes at right)

Six Star Stitch PatternsLong-legged stitches or "stretched" stitches, like spikes, puffs, and star stitches, can really get a yarn chatting! (See issue #50 on crochet 'feet.') Photo at left shows six different star stitch patterns.

Classic Picot Fans stitch pattern. Link goes to my 2008 blog post about it!
Picots. Have you ever noticed that picots bend and snuggle differently, depending on the yarn or fiber? And the yarn's sheen changes their look? I usually swatch the classic "Picot Fans" stitch pattern because I can see shells as well as picots. I want to see how the yarn looks when it fans out, and how the shells stretch, drape, and expand.

An example of classic "Catherine's Wheel" in four colors of LotusA few color combos: My go-to stitch patterns for 2+ colors are "Catherine's Wheel"(shown at left) and "Seed Stitch." I think for some people it's ripples, or granny squares.

The "Deal Breaker" Stitch

For me, super tall stitches are my "deal breakers." I think Gorgeous Double Trebles swatched in Satin Grey Lotus Yarn.of any crochet stitch taller than a treble as the test of whether a yarn is special, not just nice. Lotus had to pass this test, or I would have passed on Lotus. I turn to my favorite tall stitch pattern, "Triple Treble Shells." (Link goes to Dessert Party Apron; a variation was also used for the Tokyo Jacket sleeves, a free pattern.) I want to enjoy crocheting them, love the look of them, and be able to whip up my crocheting speed with them. "Tall" order, right? 

I wonder if every long-term crocheter has her/his own ultimate testing stitch. For Doris I think it's shells in relaxed gauges. Doris is elated about how Lotus passed her shell tests!

The Complete Story

Swatch traced in notebook before and after blocking.The full story a yarn can tell comes out when I:
...Add water to it (i.e. block a swatch). Lotus is one of those yarns I described in issue #26 that noticeably relaxes, even when just spritzed. (At left a swatch was traced on a swatch page before and after blocking in two inks to show changes.) The sheen of it also glows more, and plumps the stitches a bit into pearls.
...Try several colors of the yarn - because colors bring their own stories to the conversation.
...Photograph it and
view it online, for perspective (link goes to Flickr photo set of yarn tests).

Style wise, a complete yarn story answers: Can this yarn go hippie boho? Daytime casual with jeans? Holiday parties? Lingerie chic (see photo, top right corner)? Vintage Riviera? And, reveals hidden talents: for example, it turns out Lotus also wants to be pretty spa cloths, tea towels, and other pampering things, because it's cheerfully absorbent.

If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. (Click here to subscribe: ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti
The Stories a Yarn Can Tell

Above: Early reveal of some lacy loungewear Doris Chan is designing in Lotus Yarn! (CGOA conference fashion show, Oct. 2013 in Concord NC)

DesigningVashti News

ANNOUNCING LOTUS: The First Ever DesigningVashti Yarn! 

birth certificate for this Z-twisted rebel says Lotus is a sport weight blend of cotton and rayon, made in the USA. 
Click this exclusive coupon to get FREE SHIPPING until Dec. 9, 2013.
Doris Chan's free Jolimar Skirt in NEW Lotus Yarn: Purple Glow
Doris Chan's Jolimar Skirt, crocheted in purple Lotus yarn! isn't it gorgeous? It's a free pattern (click photo); original yarn is discontinued.

Please see my guest article about the 1905 beginnings of yarns like Lotus over at Gwen Blakley Kinsler's Royal Ramblings blog. It includes the research I did on antique love knots for a class I taught at the CGOA conference in October.
It also reveals why I think of Lotus as a basket of 
Belle Époque Kittens!

I'm journaling online about the yarn designing experience.
First two installments: 
"On Becoming a...Yarn Company?"

"Creating the Color Cards for a New Yarn

Crochet Alongs in Vashti's Forum: 1. A Crochet Jewelry CAL is currently going on. 

2. Tunisian Petals CAL seems to be coming together, inspired by Raveler Littleberry's project:

Littleberry's Tunisian Petals Cowl
Littleberry inspired my 3-color Lotus Petals Cowl over in the left column! I'm deciding whether to seam mine or make it long enough to wind it twice like Littleberry did hers.

Please join, friend, follow:
My Pinterest Crochet Boards! I have almost 10,000 pins on over 90 boards. Recently created a new board just for star stitches. Newest board is for Lotus.

- Our forums! Doris' Ravelry forum.
My Ravelry forum. Our moderators are awesome!

- This newsletter's Facebook page!


Links I Enjoyed This Week
Doris posted the CGOA Design Contest Winners

Kim Guzman's new Tunisian crochet video shows how to do what I call the "hook 'n flick it" maneuver for twisted Tunisian stitches: It's faster and more fun, especially in my lace classes.

URGENT: If your email inbox now has tabs, like Gmail, drag this newsletter to the tab you use so that you don't miss an issue!

Raveler Dunnica (Joyce Lewis) won the 2013 DesigningVashti prize for Technical Excellence for her Tunisian "Dragon Wings" shawl. Congratulations Joyce! 
Like Vashti's Crochet Newsletter: Fun Yarn Tests, and - BIG NEWS! on Facebook

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Subscribe to this newsletter. Vashti Braha is a professional crochet designer & teacher who resides in Florida (USA). She writes 100% of each issue and emails it to subscribers
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