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How is Crochet Like Growing Roses?

Here's a conversation I've had with a crochet designer. I was talking with Doris Chan once about how she goes about designing afghans; she generously designed Plaidghan for my website so that I wouldn't start off with a big empty space in Home Decor patterns!

It's not published like the usual afghan pattern. It includes two sizes of afghans, two kinds of scarves, and a v-shaped wrap. The way I figure it, the Commutative Property of Crochet kicked in for Doris. (Remember the Commutative Property from grade school math? I had blissfully forgotten it until my third grader brought home math worksheets drilling him on it.)

Vashti's Commutative Property of Crochet states: "Each crochet design can be rearranged into several other seemingly stand-alone projects." The cool thing is, each crocheter rearranges differently. In Doris' case, she started with one self-contained design for a contemporary throw. While creating the pattern, she saw how it would also make a great scarf (for men too, which is always nice), and a great wrap.

The Commutative Property seems to me to be inherent to the nature of crochet itself. When we crochet something, it contains an infinite number of other designs in seed form. I loved hearing how this Commutative Property happens for Doris with afghans and scarves because I don't tend to crochet either of those things. Doris also looks at a doily and thinks, "I'd like to explode that into a cardigan." For fun I picture it as a formula with this math-like symbol <--->:   
Afghan <---> Scarf.
Doily <---> Garment Worked in the Round From the Top Down.
Here's the thing about publishing crochet: Doris has freelanced a gazillion designs for yarn companies and magazines. By nature they have to be stand-alone single items--as if the Commutative Property of Crochet temporarily doesn't exist. A design idea is a lot like a rambling rose bush, and a freelance designer has to prune it constantly to keep it from covering everything with a wild riot of roses! When I freelance designs, I struggle to block out the fragrance of roses further down the branch.

If the designer is the publisher, though, why prune a rose bush so severely? Why not give in to the beauty, and follow the scent of new roses? Why should Doris NOT include a scarf option and wrap option, and stuff like her discoveries about what different kinds of yarn do for the design? Especially if she knows from experience that crocheters really enjoy being able to make a scarf version of an afghan pattern they like--or vice versa. (I didn't know that.)

For me, I crochet the first few rows of a stitch pattern for a wrap and it suddenly looks like a pendant cord, or edging. Or, I get the urge to to try changing colors or use thread instead of yarn or add beads to certain stitches. Et viola!, a bracelet or coffee cozy or bag strap or belt or headband that I really like.
Wrap <---> jewelry or edging. Bracelet <---> Headband.
Coffee cozy <---> bag strap, belt....guitar strap!

It goes on indefinitely: the Commutative Property makes someone take a half-crocheted bag and try it on as a hat (or try turning a hat into a bag); or try on a half-completed stole as a scarf or shrug. Or, take a dischloth pattern, double up the yarn and see how it looks as a bathmat (in my case, I took a bathmat pattern and saw coasters). or in Ravelry:
(Coasters are in my Ravelry projects):  Lately, with anything crocheted I see a cowl :-)
Hat <---> Bag.  Stole <---> Shrug. 
<---> Rug. Bathmat <---> Coasters. 
<---> cowl.

Seems like an ever-renewing supply of crochet patterns, right? Well, we've also talked about how to know the best place to stop adding options to a design. I'm sure what works is unique to each designer. In the case of Doris' Playplaid, the afghans, scarves, and wrap in various yarn choices seem to hang together as a nice set. You would laugh at me if you saw the trouble I've had figuring out which projects would make the 'best' set for my Whipped Cream Apron design. (I've narrowed it down to three sets....)

That's it for now! It'll be something completely different next time. If you know someone who would enjoy this kind of newsletter, please forward this to them so that they can subscribe. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me. Thanks!      --Vashti
Commutative Property at Work

The colorful accent in this unpublished tunic is an insertion crocheted with worsted weight (heavy DK) yarn:

Then I tried adding beads and crocheting it in other kinds of yarn and threads, and the result was Aran Rozsana, a bracelet pattern for three weights of yarn (below is sport weight):
or in Ravelry--

The Pallas Scarf pattern morphs nicely into an 'infinity' or 'eternity' scarf/mobius,
but not as a hat (I didn't even take a photo of the hat because I don't like it. This design doesn't look as pretty stretched out over a head.)
I never know when a scarf pattern will translate well into a hat and when it won't. The Pallas pattern isn't available yet because I tried to make the hat work out first!

Two Links of the Week
I was very moved by this story of a convict crocheter who made hats for 540 kids in a low-income school district:

This is a video of a dyer and weaver turning silk cocoons into yarn, and dyeing with fresh indigo plant juice. It's in Japanese, and it's not directly about crochet, but it was fascinating to me to see the cocoons and yarn processed by hand:

Designingvashti Happenings
You might have noticed that this issue arrived later in the day than usual! It's the holidays. I worry that I may need to skip the next issue, due out Dec. 23. If you don't see one, I'm sure you'll understand :-)

Some newly released patterns to report:
1) The Orbit Cowl is indeed out and just in time for the cold snap. I had to wear mine in 30-degree weather here in Florida! It worked great--poured comfortably over my ponytail, my coat collar, everything. -and in Ravelry,

2) My vaguely odd Rimply Tunisian Cowl pattern is now out too. It's familiar ol' Tunisian Knit Stitch, with a wrinkle (literally). Be sure to check out what happens when it's worn upside down:
It's half price until this Saturday afternoon in Ravelry only:

3) I just added the pattern Stitchmerge Neckwarmer to my website (not in Ravelry yet). It's a beginner's pattern for learning the basic double-faced stitch technique.

I think that's everything!
Happy Holidays!!

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