Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Preserving Crochet History

Tuesday April 24, 2012 I've been super busy since I last blogged in early April and my thoughts and fingers have been swirling all over the place so much that I couldn't focus on just one topic. Today is the day it came together: looking at history as a learning tool to be inspired and to not repeat things which perhaps were mistakes, but to keep moving forward.

Much of my energy has been focused at Cro-Kween Designs on Ravelry. We finished a CAL (Crochet-Along) on April 20: Go Green, Kween. Particpants used repuposed materials to create something interesting or at the very least, used green colors of yarn. My moderators of the group chose one winner which made them smile when they looked at her/his project. BizzieLizzie from Scotland is quietly creative and always comes through with something amazing. She was the hands-down winner with this:
and her prize from the Kween was a Cro-Kween Designs pattern of her choice. She chose Himalaya Series: Himalaya Tank
Himalaya Tank Top
Also, over at Cro-Kween Designs we are preparing to start our newest CAL: The Kween's Cabo CAL. I will lead a tutorial, step-by-step for participants to not only make their own cabochon but to embellish it as a brooch, as well. This is a sample and each particpant will choose their own graphic to start with.
Cabochon Pin by Gwen
A great group of creative participants have joined in and we are all looking forward to getting started on May 1 after a brief "rest" during April. Yeah, right; like our hands and hooks ever take a break! What does all of this have to do with history, you ask?

Throughout history, crocheters have had excellent skills and have not asked for or expected fame and fortune. They crocheted out of necessity and for enjoyment and passed down excellent technical skills to their ancestors. We, who look at vintage/historic patterns are the recipients of these past skills and are inspired by them. I find the same thing on Ravelry and at CGOA: there are humble crocheters in our world who don't expect recognition or fame. They purely enjoy their craft and get satifaction from creating whether they are recognized or not.

I've spent the last few weeks taking a trip down memory lane and looking back at the history of Juried Art Exhibits which have been a unique and important contribution of CGOA to not only members but the public at large. I will be presenting the Founder's Award ($100.00) to one winner who entered the CGOA Design Contest at the Chain Link Crochet Conference June 27 in Manchester, NH. The winner of this award will be the one work that best exemplifies the spirit of CGOA. While I am making the brief presentation, I will have a slide show running behind me with highlights from ten years of fantastic and fascinating crochet art from past juried exhibits. I'm very excited to be able to present a glimpse of the wonderful art we've seen at conferences yet again! Can't reveal anything yet, but so excited to have the old slides from years' past digitized. If you have never attended a Chain Link Crochet Conference. My presentation is just the tip of the iceberg of the crochet nirvana that takes place this summer!

A member of my CGOA local chapter has entrusted me to find a home for her crochet book collection with crocheters who really will appreciate them. I picked up many, many boxes last week and thanks to my daughter, Bethany, we got them all loaded in one trip from the city of Chicago. I dare say she collected these books over a period of 40 years or so and it is quite a gem of a collection!

There's lots of history here that will be preserved in part in our chapter library and in part in the cozy confines of crocheters who are chapter members. There is history of how design and designers have evolved; there is vintage historic patterns and there is hours and hours of crocheting happiness! I've been organizing my bead stash and bringing it back from total chaos!

Along the way I took another trip down memory lane to Kate Coburn. She was my bead-crochet mentor back in 1994. Like so many people, extreme creativity has most likely lead her to new adventures and she has rarely been heard from since. I've had her books for all these years and greatly admired her. I have also preserved the 6 tubes of seed beads she once gave me just waiting for that day when I would make one of her gorgeous jewelry pieces. That day has come and I have completed the "Brocade Flat Band"

It is on the blocking board now. This necklace pattern has three parts and is from Kate's book, Tubes II.

I strung up the beads for the second flat cuff today and my fingers are itching to start bead-crocheting. If anyone knows of Kate's whereabouts, please let me know. I want to tell her I've reached back in history and am finally making her necklace that I've admired all these years!

Monday, April 2, 2012

International Free Form Crochet Guild

Monday, April 2, 2012 Wow, it's April already and before I get started on free form crochet, I want to share a couple of pictures of my last couple of days celebrating National Crochet Month in March. My friend, Rita,
and I got together to do sparkly things (as she says). She wanted some help with making earrings.Rita is an art therapist and is very creative. She inspired me and best of all, she gave me a sampling of some really iteresting beads she inherited. Yeah! More earrings coming soon! Here's a pair I created that day; they had been in the cue for a while.
I've been a fan of free form crochet for quite some time. My crochet "roots" date back to the 70s when I first learned to crochet. So, I lean toward and admiration of the style was prevalent in those days: colorful, creative and mixed media with no material left untried. "If it bends, it can be crocheted" is my mantra! As a benefit of my membership in CGOA, I was privileged to meet the Gurus of free form crochet and originators of the moniker "scrumble," James Walters and Sylvia Cosh in 1995 when they taught at our conference that was held in New Jersey. In 1997, when the conference was held in Chicago, James and Sylvia again taught. After the conference was over, they stayed with me a couple of days and I remember feeling that it was a complete and hard to imagine honor to have them crocheting in the afternoon sunshine in my living room while I cooked dinner for them. This is the gift
that Sylvia was crocheting, not realizing that it was for me! It was a treasure then and has so much more meaning now that she is gone. Sylvia died of ovarian cancer in 2000. I have been a member of the International Freeform Crochet Guild (INTFFCG) for some time. There is a yahoo group where we communicate and we have an annual challenge in which anyone who is a member can participate. I have submitted my freeform creations the last three years and each year a photo book of the challenge entries is created and sold and the profits go to charity. In 2010 our theme was "Somewhere in My World" this was my submission
and it depicts the juxtaposition of my desire to live in two worlds: Chicago, USA and Mexico.I can't remember exactly how i did it, but I combined the freeform CAL at NatCroMo with the Challenge theme. In 2011 our theme was "Mythologies, Stories and Fairy Tales" and this was my entry:
She is a Freeform Fiber Fairy and called out, "Finesse Me." The deadline for completing the 2012 Challenge was March 31 and we have until April 15 to send in the photos of our creations following this year's theme, "Reinterpret a Work of Art or Piece of Music" I won't be able to show a photo yet as we must keep it a secret until the book is published. I must say that I probably enjoyed this challenge the most so far. Here some examples of other free form crochet I have done over the years:
Scrumbled-Yoke Sweater
Freeform Vest (front)
Hummingbird Brooch
Bead-Crochet Scrumbles
Brooch Made for Oprah Winfrey
Cloissonne'-Inspired Heart
Free form scarf inspired by Prudence Mapstone Class: Chain Link 2011, Greenville, SC