A granny cowl/capelet for Anne

Granny cowl/capelet by Sylvie Damey
My friend Anne asked me a couple weeks ago if I could make a special Birthday for her best friend. She came in my studio, looked through all the accessories I made in the past… and asked if I’d make a cowl/capelet such as this one: apparently her friend is always cold!
Sure ! Then we started looking for yarns… and settled for dark grey as the main color, with an accent of light green to make it pop.
The grey yarn was spun and plied super fine coned yarn. Once washed, those 6 strands make a good aran weight yarn. I also had a cone of super soft green yarn with a hairy halo, which added to some Plassard “week-end” yarn makes a very pretty contrast to the more rustic feel of the main yarn.
Just as for my first cowl, I free-styled it. Starting with enough Granny squares to go around a head, then went down with increases every 3rd round. And instead of my initially planned picot edging, I had to revert to Crab stitch edgings, which worked much better with the color contrast.
Now I hope the recipient will like it !!! What do you think ? ( & does it deserve a pattern ?)

Loup, original crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey
I ended up calling this new design LOUP (= wolf in french) … because I certainly don’t feel like a Little Red Riding Hood !! ;-)

A super warm and cozy winter jacket, with a large hood (as was requested by some customers) and longer back to keep my back toasty…

Loup, original crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey Loup, original crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey

It’s made with aran weight “Lett Lopi” icelandic yarn by Istex. A bit rustic for those who have sensitive skin, but I love the slight halo those longer fibers make !!!

A large hood made to be worn, a bit of color to warm up winter… and spike sts to transition between colors !

Loup, original crochet pattern by Sylvie Damey

Sizes : XS to XL. Sample shown crocheted in size S even though I’m rather in between size S and size M. But it like it super fitted !

Pattern available on Etsy, Ravelry and Craftsy.

Price: $6

And so you can see it worked in other color schemes, here are the beautiful ones made by my AWESOME testers:
LoupDisou LoupDisou2

In my designs I like to use one of the coolest features of crochet: the ability to work stitches of different heights in the same row, to add shaping for instance..

But sometimes it’s not so easy to remember which is which.
I once read this super easy tip to memorize it (US crochet terms):

easy visual tip for dc, tr and quadruple crochet

To make a DOUBLE crochet (dc), you have TWO loops on hook = 1 yarn over (yo) + working loop from previous st

To make a TREBLE crochet (tr), you have THREE loops on hook = 2 yarn overs (2 yo) + working loop from previous st

To make a QUADRUPLE crochet, you have FOUR loops on hook = 3 yarn overs (3 yo) + working loop from previous st
treble crochet

As a reminder, here’s a quick visual tutorial on how to make a TREBLE crochet: you may pause at any time by clicking on a picture

  • 1 - Start with a double yarn over (wrap yarn twice around hook). You have a total of 3 loops on hook.
  • 2 - insert hook in next st,
  • 3 - yarn over and pull through 1 loop ( 4 loops on hook)
  • 4 - yarn over
  • 5 - Pull through 2 loops ( 3 loops remain on hook)
  • 6 - yarn over and pull through 2 loops
  • 7 - 2 loops now remain on hook
  • 8 - Yarn over and pull through both remaining loops.
  • 9 - Treble crochet is finished. Repeat from step 1 to make another Treble.

1 – Start with a double yarn over (wrap yarn twice around hook). You have a total of 3 loops on hook.
2 – insert hook in next st,
3 – yarn over and pull through 1 loop ( 4 loops on hook)
4 – yarn over
5 – Pull through 2 loops ( 3 loops remain on hook)
6 – yarn over and pull through 2 loops
7 – 2 loops now remain on hook
8 – Yarn over and pull through both remaining loops.
9 – Treble crochet is finished. Repeat from step 1 to make another Treble.

To make a QUADRUPLE crochet, it’s basically the same, except you start with a triple yarn over (wrap yarn around hook 3 times), and repeat steps 4-5 once more (number of remaining sts being different obviously).

Hoping this will help :-)

  • My newest design, with a custom made business-card holder.. :-)
  • Explaining how to add drape to crochet
  • Our cozy knitting / crafting corner...
  • Teaching Michelle from our knitting group how to spin on a drop spindle..
  • Another spindle spinning workshop
  • I always use the "park and draft" method to teach people to spin so they can concentrate on each step separately
  • Drafting fiber..
  • Practising their newly aquired skills
  • And after 20/30 mn, here's their first ever handspun yarn !
  • My friend Heike teaching "circular knitting" workshops
  • My newest design, hooded jacket with long hood and tassel.. :-)
  • My friend Heike explaining how we can spin yarn on a wheel
  • We were interviewed for the local paper !!

Last week, I had a fabulous opportunity to show my work at a large craft fair here in Grenoble, “Creativa”. We were invited with our Grenoble knitting group to organise free workshops, catter a knitting corner.. and display/advertise for our crafty businesses.

I went there for 2 days, and it was a fabulous opportunity to meet so many passionate crafters and crocheters ! Always amazing to meet in person people who’ll come up and say “I read your blog” or “I love your designs !”…

It’s also very interesting to hear what they have to say about some designs, or to hear about the other blogs they read (Oh my, I never-ever thought I’d meet another frenchie reading OmaKoppa !!)

ANd of course, I enjoyed immensely sharing my passion for crochet and spindle spinning during both the organised and impromptu workshops.

Hoping we can go again next year !!

Oh and yes, you can see my newest hooded jacket is now finished !! It gathered a lot of interest.. hoping to publish the pattern next week.

Now she has her own sewing machine…

My older daughter will turn 11 this summer, but she’s turning into a craft addict. Or rather, a sewing addict.
Lately she’s been asking more and more to use my sewing machine… leaving tons of bits and pieces in my office (hand-drawn “patterns”, remainings of fleece and fabrics…) to make clothes for her dolls or her sister’s dolls, sew a bag for her music books.. and then make another bag as a Xmas present for her grandmother.

I felt it might be a good idea to let her have her “own” sewing machine in her bedroom as I have 4 of them, mostly vintage numbers. (I did insist that I’m not giving it to her though, just a long-term loan)
I figured this way she’ll also learn to clean it and take care of it… and the mess in my office will only be mine.
Rabbit plushie
This seemed esp a good idea after she finished this rabbit plush for her friend’s birthday last week. As usual, she did everything by herself and despite my initial fears I quickly saw she did an awesome job !! Not perfect for someone looking for details, but perfect for a 10 year-old in my book !
Rabbit plushie
I only gave her a couple pieces of advice for the shaping of the ears and the fluffy tail.. because oh yeah she did use a pattern but it was for a bear !! She has NO fear :-)
Zigzag Elna sewing machine
Then yesterday I had time to look up the vintage “Elna zigzag” gem found in our local recycling center for a dozen Euros. Couldn’t figure out the tension first time I used it, but somehow this time it worked perfectly. Using Ikea sewing thread might help as I had already noted thicker thread worked better.

It’s such a beautiful machine, sewing ever soooo smoothly. I told her over and over again how she needs to take good care of it and I think she’ll do her best. I found the manual here (in french) so our next lesson will focus on where to oil it, and how to remove the lint and generally take good care of it. I know we’ll have fun.
And I love the way she fitted their small desk in her cupboard to make a true sewing corner. Looking already so professional ! (and reassuring to think my sewing machine won’t be exposed to too much dust..)
Zigzag Elna sewing machine
Meanwhile she’s already “taking orders” from her sister for doll’s clothes. Apparently some of her friends are also trying and place orders for headbands and whatnots. I can’t wait to see what comes out of it in a few years…

Oh and did you have a close look at the Elna ? It works with a knee bar, just like my other vintage Elna, a Supermartic inherited from my grand-mother. The knee bar takes a few minutes to get used to, but really it’s no big deal. The way you have to thread the machine through the back is always more of a suprise to me. And the machine sews so smoothly that it’s worth it.

Lett lopi crocheted hooded jacket by Sylvie Damey
Good progress to be reported since last week. I closed the hood, crocheted along its edge to start on shoulders, separated sleeves…
and continued down towards the waist. For the hip increases, I chose to gather them along each side and in the back. To beautify our perfectly flat stomachs ;-)

Will soon run out of the light grey (except for provisional amount set aside for sleeves) but that’s ok because I will then change back to COLORS ! Mirrored stacks of color blocks matching the hood. Aren’t you getting impatient to see it finished ? I am !!

WIP wednesday – a story of hoods…

I currently have 2 hooded jackets on the hook.
This one was started over a month ago, yet I’m still not done with the hood because…

crochet wip by Sylvie Damey
It started with this idea: make a hooded jacket with rainbow colors up the hood and down the edge of the jacket. After choosing colors among the super large array of colors of the icelandic Lett Lopi yarn, I got started… and chose spike sts to transition from one color to the other.
Except soon enough the question of symmetry troubled my sleep: because the hood and jacket would be worked in opposite directions, so would the Spikes. No biggie for me, but I know some crocheters would find this odd.

crochet wip by Sylvie Damey
So I started looking for options. Including working the hood in the other direction… (hood #2) It just didn’t work.
Plus by then I realised I wanted a larger hood this time, and thus needed more red. Enter hood #3.

I think we should be good this time though. Can’t wait to crochet more and see this project develop. If all goes well, it should make an exciting new design .. :-)

New year, Resolutions and organisation

crochet flowers workshop by Sylvie Damey
Happy New Year !! May it be joyfull & creative, full of love among your loved ones !!

I hardly worked at all for 2 weeks, not even touching my hooks (and that doesn’t happen often) but it now feels good to get back to work. During the last months of 2014 I tried to focus on making my business grow in a sustainable way, ie a way that feeds my family. It’s no big news that actually making a living from designing crochet patterns is no easy task. But I still want to believe it is possible.

Thus I tried to stop and think. Read blogs dealing with creative micro-businesses. And realised one thing: seing my patterns published in magazines or books and being somewhat “famous” especially on Ravelry is NOT going to feed my family (being the sole bread-earner at this time, it’s a big concern for me). YET if I’m being honest, there are many crochet designers out there who are doing well with their patterns but not on Ravelry. I need to think outside the box and focus on making it work. Which means marketing. Not in a bad way, but just finding ways to spread the word and let the world know how fabulous my patterns are ;-)

I did a lot of reading. I did a lot of thinking. I did a lot of experimenting. And the results started to come, which is already SO very encouraging. I feel like I’m finally going in the right direction.

So in 2015 I want to keep focusing on taking my business more seriously.

– Focus on what works ( = crochet garments in my case) for my business and keep the other fun stuff for my personal enjoyment. Because that’s ok too. :-)
– Get organised. Make a weekly planning to keep some days dedicated to blogging / social media and other long-term thinking.
– Take time to explore new crochet techniques.
– Blog on a regular basis, for instance with a “designing monday”, “Wip wednesday”, or “technique thursday”. Not all of those every week but that should help..
– Take time to share more with the crochet community who shares my passion through my (fast growing, yay !!!) Facebook page.
– And more generally, take my business seriously. Which I always did. But I’ll try and add new things. I like very much Stacey Trock‘s approach for instance. Good food for thought.

How about you ? Any resolutions for the New Year, business-related or not ?

Getting into Amigurumis…

Because I teach workshops locally, students have asked about an Amigurumi workshop.
Well I did crochet a couple amigurumis ages ago, but not that many. Totally needed to refresh my skills in that area.

I started looking around, and collecting ideas and techniques into an Amigurumi Pinterest board.
Here are some of the creatures that emerged from those weeks of brainstorming and crocheting to prepare the workshop:

This one has to be my favorite. The original Lamb had a fluffy pink fleece but I used bouclé pure wool that I dyed years ago in shades of green.

My lamb is way bigger (and heavier) than the original, measuring about 30 cm (12 in). I love that it will sit somewhere and not budge… Can already picture it on my stand during wool festivals !

Pattern: Amigurumi Pinky lamb
Yarn & hooks: bulky bouclé pure wool + bulky acrylic blend (french brand) and 6.5 mm (K) hook
Mods: larger hook, and modified the “hat” which came out much too large for my taste. (+ was short on yarn)

This little owlet was free-styled to use as my main workshop project. Easy enough yet it features the first basic techniques to make amigurumis: start with magic ring, make a flat circle in sc, work straight in a tube, use safety eyes ect, sew limbs onto body…. I just looked at the gazillion Owl crochet patterns online and chose my favorite features: 2 colors, little rounded wings, and fluffly feathers on top of each “ear”…

Pattern: my own, written to use during Amigurumi workshops
Yarn & hooks: 5 mm (H) and various worsted weight acrylic yarns from stash

Aaah, and this one is just so cute ! Totally inspired by a pattern, but I wanted to do it my way so I could use it for my workshop if we had enough time (which we totally didn’t !) as it includes more of the basic shapes used to make amigurumis: flat circle, sphere, tube and cone…

Pattern: totally inspired by this snowman pattern (although I used my own instructions)
Yarn & hooks: 5 mm (H) and various dk weight acrylic yarns from stash

As for the workshop ?
It was great, and each student made their own Owlet. Full story and more pictures on my Workshop blog (in french)

Inspiring crochet – Visual artist Nick Cave

This week I discovered the inspiring world of Nick Cave (no, not the musician. Quite amazing to see there are 2 out-of-this-world Nick Caves on this earth !!) thanks to the ever-inspiring french Tricotine.
Nick Cave Visual artist
First I was … let’s say surprised. Yet quickly the collage of random crochet hats and bags and various odments to create a human mask/suit/sculpture resonated deeply within.

I love the story of how he came to making those sculptures, collecting oddments from thrift stores and flea markets to turn them into a work of art. And how his work can not easily be classified into a specific category, art, dance, fashion…?

Here are a couple videos to get a better grasp of his work.

first a quick introduction

and a slightly longer one which I really loved watching, esp. as it allows to see those famous Sound Suits in movement

And for those who read french, beautiful photos and inspiring conference by Nick Cave.

I tend to focus only on “usefull crochet” because I don’t have room for decor. And let’s face it, because I need to feed my family.
But it’s enlightening to see crochet from a different angle. Beauty also feeds us, although on a different level.

Did you know about Nick Cave’s work ? Any other amazing crochet artist you’d recommend ? - patterns design - © Sylvie Damey

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