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Crocheting Fancy Cords 
Why am I all inspired about crocheting cords right now? 
Because I've been working on three time-consuming designs this month: a large Tunisian wearable for a book deadline (just the swatching for it went on for months!), AND two clothing designs in multiple sizes (see lower right column for updates on those). When I'm in the middle of a large crochet project, a small, quick, easy, portable crochet project energizes all of my crocheting. 

What's so addictive about crocheting cords, ropes, braids, lanyards, etc? Plenty! Below I'll share my "lab notes" and some tiny new patterns are sprinkled in. 
[Stitch abbreviations used: ch=chain; lp=loop; sl st=slip stitch; yo=yarn over]
- Crochet cords are strong. A crochet stitch is naturally self-reinforcing. A simple ch stitch roughly triples the strength of the yarn/string/thread used. Plying strengthens fibers, so here's the math for a crocheted ch in heirloom-quality 6-cord thread: 6 plies tripled = 18-ply strength! Imagine the reinforcement if you then sl st into each ch: 6 X 6.
- Cords are needed for everything, whether plain or fancy: as hair ties, eyeglass cords, watch fobs, tie belts, pendant cords, lanyards, gift wrap ties, curtain tiebacks, ceiling fan pulls, chair pad ties, shoelaces, drawstrings, bag handles, pet leashes....
- Men and boys appreciate them. It's so easy to crochet rugged-looking cords that hold up to real use! (Pictured: item was 
not originally made for a man but see how a few rows of sl st in dark rustic linen would work? Leather, hemp, and waxed linen are great.) I've made several by request but forget to take photos. My son is a fan of them (I blogged them here http://bit.ly/iXmV0K). The way crochet cords look weathered over time is great on some men too. I have men friends who need a simple, durable way wear a special stone or medal around their neck without it looking like jewelry. They wear it until it's threadbare!
- Cords are quickno matter how they'll be used. One 'row' and you're done. (And it's the fastest gift for a man that I know of.)
 
Cord crochet is a neglected or hidden art. Crochet is perfect for all kinds of cords, yet the plain, serviceable ones are often justi-cord, which is knitted or designed to be knit-like. Fancy cords tend to be woven, braided, macraméd, etc. The rarest of all are lacy or beaded crochet, but let's change that! At top left is an extreme close up of "Forget-Me-Knots" in size #30 thread (not yet 
published; don't remember what I did!).
 
Try my new fun cord that I'll call Spring Buds shown at left; same stitch pattern, different yarn. At far left, DK-weight rayon yarn with aquamarine chips that I added. At right, size #10 cotton crochet thread.
Ch 3, insert hook in 2nd ch from hook, yo and pull up lp, yo, insert hook in same ch, yo and pull up lp, yo and pull through all lps on hook (Spring Bud made), ch 1, turn, sl st in top 2 loops of "spring bud" just made. Repeat from *. Do you like it too? Add beads if you need drape (see #4 below).
 
My Lab Notes on Cord Crochet
1. The most versatile cords look great in 360--from any angle. (If it's only 1- or 2-sided, I start to think of it as a strap, band, or insertion.) For me, cord designing involves finding ways to get stitches to twist at a regular rate to show off the texture the best. Often, I'll turn after completing a stitch, then sl st (or ch + sl st), into the stitch before making another. See the Dichroic Lariats (such as green pendant below) and the Cat's Eye Lariat (right column).

2. Beads make the simplest cords amazing--depending on where they end up in the stitches. To increase my bead-placing options, I'll use a sc where I'd normally use a sl st; or I'll use a hdc in place of a sc. Just adding a yarn over multiplies the places one or more beads can be incorporated into each stitch. I did this with Spring Buds. 

3. Crochet cords can be strong AND lacy--if you can keepthe spaces open. Cord stitches tend to compress and collapse into themselves over time, unless you "prop" them open. 
I like to work a stitch into the space I've just created. A puff stitch keeps these Twinkle Links open. (See it clearly here http://bit.ly/jUiNp8.) An extra stitch also keeps the "cat's eyes" open in the Cat's Eye Lariat (right column). It's a simple little step that can make a big difference.

4. Jewelry cords require drape, play of light, and 
high-quality fibers. Beads are the ea siest way to accomplish the first two requirements. For quality thread (which can sometimes accomplish all three), I love Lizbeth thread! (Blogged it: bit.ly/b6kh3y).  See this green pendant enlarged here http://bit.ly/kODnny to get the full beauty of Lizbeth! For yarn, silk is stunning but must be plied well to hold up as jewelry (see this silver Trailing Vine Lariat enlarged here http://bit.ly/iJ1IB7).
Jewelry patterns are available here: http://www.shop.designingvashti.com/Crochet-Jewelry_c12.htm 


That's it for issue #17! 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: http://eepurl.com/XwQk ) If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti
Cords Beautify Everything
Beginner's Necklace Cord: it doesn't get any easier than this.

Use fancy beads & string (I like Kreinik threads). Just ch until long enough. Looks best if ch strand fits through bead holes. Tie an overhand knot next to each bead.

I Still Wear the First Cords I Designed:

These are use size #20 thread and were published in the book Jewelry With a Hook (Lark Books 2007).

Mentioned at left: Cat's Eye Lariat http://bit.ly/k3GnMS 

(click link for closeup).


Wish I'd known Lab Note #3 when I made this!

(The decorative open spaces don't show in this clasp) Dichroic Pendant Cord http://bit.ly/mz6oVg 

Favorite Link This Week
A Tunisian Crochet blog with great stitch close ups and links. Tackles some tough issues like stitch notation (see tabs across top of blog) http://tunicrochetweaver.wordpress.com/
Congratulations, Flamie Winners & Nominees!http://bit.ly/mHTiGk 

Lots of DesigningVashti News:
I'd better number them.
First, good news about my friends!

1. This is special: Marty Miller, the tech editor of nearly all of my Designing Vashti patterns, won the Flamie Award for Best Tech Editor! Not an easy award to win.

2. Doris Chan's newest pattern forgirls, Tank Girl, will be available
at DesigningVashti any day so please check back. http://bit.ly/kRYBKs She's creating a photo tutorial for it ri ght now.
Congratulations to Doris for winning the Best Instructional/ Technical Crochet Book Award for her Crochet Lace Innovations, and the Flaming Hook of Justice Award!

3. The long-awaited Work@Home Vest pattern is written for sizes Small, Medium, & Large and will be available in the next few days. Meanwhile, sizes Large & XLarge of the Eva Shrug just got the thumbs up from the first pattern tester. Check here in my shop for both new patterns. http://bit.ly/jmvkMa

4.  Trailing Vines Lariat:  a new kind of crochet jewelry sampler project: will be available here and in Ravelry in the next few days, so please check back. http://bit.ly/hIiSi1 I've written the pattern so that you can mix and match your own "trailing vine" from a Stitch Menu of uncommon cord stitches--a.k.a. freeform crochet. Includes a traditional pattern for recreating one of the 3 versions if desired. Visit its online photo album herehttp://bit.ly/jmCpx0

5. The DesigningVashti blog won the Flamie Award for Best Crochet Blog! After I send off this newsletter, I'm going to go blog about the river goddess for whom I crocheted the Aquamarine Poem-Lariat (above). http://bit.ly/8X30hh

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