Crochet Designer Interview, Julie of ACCROchet

Sorbet shawl pattern by ACCROchet

Sorbet Shawl
copyright ACCROchet

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long (GAL) is upon us again.  Not only does the GAL give designers the opportunity to work alongside other crocheters/knitters but it has also become a fantastic way to get to know some of these awesome people.  I was excited to find crochet designer, Julie as a participant in this year’s 2015 GAL.  Her vibrant personality flows through to her designs as they are not only fun and youthful but also beautiful and modern.

Julie, please share a little of your background.

My name is Julie, and I design crochet patterns under the alias ACCROchet (a play on words, in French, combining addicted & crochet). I am nearly 40 years old, a mom & stepmom to 2 very different teenagers, and engaged to The Man of my dreams. We live in a suburb on the North Shore of Montreal.

I work in Communications & Advertising full-time, but my evenings & weekends are devoted to crochet, crochet design, teaching crochet, inspiring others to crochet, etc. My patterns are published in both English and French. Initially, ACCROchet was born to offer options to French-only crocheters, but as it grew, I decided to translate them to English as well.

Melo Hat crochet pattern by ACCROchet

Melo Hat
copyright ACCROchet

How long have you been designing and what led you to design?

I officially got started after being invited to a fiber festival in my province (festivaltwist.org). I was going there mostly to sell finished crochet items, but had 3 patterns written and brought them on a whim.

So many people bought them, and asked for more, that a knitting friend and I vowed to design 1 new pattern every month until the next event. And we did.

Turns out this is a good thing, because I don’t like making the same thing twice, which is a prerequisite of selling finished items!

Why crochet? What is it that interests you? What do you enjoy most about the craft?

Initially it was a way to keep busy on maternity leave, in the evenings. I have anxiety & crochet lets me channel the energy more positively.

I think I fell in love with crochet because it is/was an underdog. I guess it makes me feel good to see people change their minds about the craft when they see what we do with it now!

Quatre 4 in 1 cowl crochet pattern by ACCROchet

Quatre 4 in 1 Cowl
copyright ACCROchet

What other crafts do you enjoy? or is there another craft you would like to learn?

I love Tunisian crochet, and count it as a separate craft. I’m starting to think about maybe perhaps trying to knit.

What influences your style?

I try really hard to create items that beginners* will be able to crochet without too much of a headache, but that crocheters with more experience won’t be bored by. I think my designs are distinctively modern, crisp and classic all at once.

*I’m not convinced I believe in beginner/expert. I mostly believe in mindless crochet/involved crochet. But the range remains the same.

What was the last thing you crocheted/knit for yourself?

This hat, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/131730357828620382/ by Mama in a Stitch. It’s super simple. I love it.

Workman's sock crochet pattern by ACCROchet

Workman’s Sock
copyright ACCROchet

What are your favorite stitches?

I have an unhealthy attraction to the half-double crochet stitch. It tends to show up often in my designs.
I also really like working in the back loop only.

What is/are your favorite crochet tool(s) or notion(s)?

My Furls Fiberarts Candy Shop hooks. I bought them in spurts, splurging until I had the entire rainbow. I love them.

Twisted Cowl, tunisian crochet pattern by ACCROchet

Twisted Cowl, Tunisian Crochet
copyright ACCROchet

When you aren’t crocheting, what are you doing?

When what?

(HA! HA!, I can totally relate!) Where can we find you?

Facebook: facebook.com/accrochet
Ravelry: ravelry.com/designers/accrochet
Website: accrochet.com

Thank you!
I’ve really enjoyed meeting Julie aka ACCROchet. I’m making a Melo Hat as part of my Stash Bust Challenge, and part of the GAL of course!  Check back for the finished photo. 

Glacier

 

The 2015 Gift-A-Long is almost here!

The 2015 Gift-A-Long (GAL) is almost here!

This is the third year for the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long and I’m so excited for it to begin.  Every year has been a lot of fun and this year, it is bigger than ever and guaranteed not to disappoint.

What is Gift-A-Long? It’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

Basically, 335 indie designers of knit and crochet patterns, have banded together to support each other and help everyone get their holiday to-do list done while having a lot of fun and possibly winning patterns and yarn and kits and lots of other fiber finds.

There is an amazing stats page you can find here: Indie GAL Stats!
#giftalong2015In a nutshell there are:
335 designers from 30 countries.
Over 150 donated physical prizes, and more coming in…
Over 2,300 digital prizes (patterns!)

There are almost 16,000 patterns to knit or crochet that will make you eligible to win one (or more) of the fabulous prizes.  Of the almost 16,000 patterns, 5,065 of them will be on SALE for 25% off!  Yup! Big Savings so stock up on your favorites.  The sale runs from Thursday, November 19th at 8:00 pm US EST to Friday, November 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm US EST.

There will be Pinterest boards and Ravelry Bundles available to peruse for all the sale patterns.  Each designer has at least 5 and up to 20 patterns on sale. Once you get your sale pattern, check out the other patterns the designer offers.  All patterns are eligible for the KAL/CAL threads and all paid for patterns (self, or third party published) are eligible for prizes.  Did I mention the prizes??? Tons and tons of prizes but you gotta’ be in it to win!

Check the Ravelry group for more information.  And be sure to check my Facebook page as I will be featuring a GAL Crochet Pattern of the day, every day of the Gift-A-Long!

You can find all my GAL eligible patterns here: Crochet by Darleen Hopkins on Ravelry 

Lapghans for donation, charity stast bust challenge by Darleen Hopkins

2015 Stash Bust for Charity-November, blanket done!

Blanket for donation is done!

lapghan for donationI’m super excited to share with you the finished Inca Blocks Lapghan!  The pattern was adapted from Beth Graham’s Inca Block Wrap.  The only change I made was to add some stripes and work a few less rows.  Basically I worked the pattern until I ran out of yarn.  The finished blanket is 42″ wide X 39″ long and should be a nice and cozy lapghan.  I know it kept me cozy while I was stitching it 🙂

This blanket and the other lapghan I made earlier this year, will be donated to the local nursing home.  Every year, just before Thanksgiving, the nursing home puts up a wish tree of items needed by residents who don’t have much or don’t receive many visitors.  I always see lap blankets listed and I always wish I had time to make one.  This year I (finally) thought ahead and made two ahead of time.  The tree should be up this week.

Lapghans for donation, charity stast bust challenge by Darleen Hopkins

This blanket is included in my Stash Bust for Charity, 2015 challenge.  The blanket weighs just over 1 pound, 1.5 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 10

Total bears made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 6

Total blankets made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 2

Total weight of yarn used in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 4 pounds, 14 ounces!

2015 Stash Bust for Charity, Early November Status

Still working on busting out some stash…

As mentioned in my last post, things have been busy here.  So busy that I was three months late with that last post.  And, like many of you, late November and December are hectic for my family.  In anticipation of the upcoming overload of activities, I am getting some stash busting done ASAP to see if the goal of crocheting 5 pounds of yarn for charity can be achieved before year-end.

image_mediumAs of June, I had crocheted 3 pounds, 12.5 ounces into hats, a blanket and bears.  My current project should take a chunk out of the 5 pound goal!  In September I started a blanket for donation to a local nursing home.  I decided to use Beth Graham’s Inca Blocks Wrap pattern.  I’m working it with (mostly) Caron Simply Soft and it is turning out pretty cozy.  The pattern is easy to follow-I love the chart!  My goal is to finish the crocheting this week and then work on weaving in ends this weekend.

Once the blanket is done I plan to make some beanies for donation.  I’ll need to stash dive and see what I have that is on Halos of Hope’s updated yarn suggestion guide.  Check it out.   I also found out about another organization that collects hats for kids going through chemo therapy.  The organization is the Jessie Rees Foundation and they send out Joy Jars with a beanie in each.  The story behind the foundation is both heartbreaking and inspiring.  I’ve got something special in mind for Joy Jar beanies, so please look for that in the next week or two.

PatchworkKitty-001

Hot pad crochet pattern. Christmas candy, gingerbread man and snowman

Summer 2015 Wrap Up

Better late than never…

Wow, you know you are a little behind in posting blogs when you find one from -3 MONTHS AGO-that was never finalized and posted.  Well, here it is, a little late and a little out of season.  I’ll try to be a little more timely with the next one!!

August 2, 2015
It seems so odd to me to be thinking that summer is almost over on August 2, but it is; summer vacation anyway.  I’ve lived in Georgia 18 years now and I still haven’t gotten used to kids starting school in early August.  But we have open house tomorrow and the first day of school starts on Thursday.  My oldest has already started his high school marching band practices (Nov. 1 UPDATE: one football game left in the season) and I’ve had my youngest “training” for middle school cross-country all summer.  The first meet is just 3 weeks from tomorrow! (Nov. 1 UPDATE: He has completed his cross-country season and won the Coach’s award for being a good example and having a positive attitude! So proud of him!) Our summer has been busy with a nice family vacation, some friends over for sleepover parties, a camp here and there, getting wisdom teeth removed for one child and the other getting braces, and teaching the oldest to drive (wow!).  With all this, I did manage to squeeze in a little crochet time.

Hot pad crochet pattern. Christmas candy, gingerbread man and snowmanOwl crochet pattern amigurumi by Darleen Hopkins

In May the Peppermint Pals Hot Pad set was released and I was very excited to complete my charity lapghan for donation to the local nursing home in May as well.

Shawl-Moxie Crochet PatternShells of Love crochet baby blanket

June was a little quiet while I worked on a hat for Halos of Hope but July was BUSY! The Owl Always Love You amigurumi pattern was released in July as was my 4th shawl, Moxie. In addition, the Shells of Love baby blanket pattern was updated. Phew! July was a busy, busy month.

Yesterday, August 1, I posted a holiday stocking pattern for testing and hope to have it available by September 1. (Nov. 1 UPDATE: It is now available! It is hard to think of Christmas when the summer bugs are still singing but the holidays will be here in just a few short months.

The two months of no school and my adjusted work schedule have been nice but I am looking forward to the routines that the school year brings us.  I’m always sad when the summer bugs (the singing ones, not the biting ones) go away.  I love listening to them while I crochet on my back porch.

Magic balls of yarn made with yarn scraps

Crochet and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, Part 2

The 3 Rs and Crochet, Part 2- Reuse and Recycle

Our last post discussed a few ideas on how we can incorporate REDUCING in our crocheting and crafting.  By practicing the 3 Rs we are not only helping the environment be greener but in many was, but you can save a little green too!  So…

Let’s discuss REUSE!

Reusing can also be called repurposing or upcycling.  This is my favorite part of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle waste hierarchy.   Once something is no longer useful in its current state, see if you can find a new use for it. Let’s explore how we can do this with our crochet.

FROG it!
One of my favorite ways to reuse is to take a damaged sweater (sock, scarf, hat, anything) unravel it and knit or crochet it into something new (reclaimed yarn).  Beth Graham (BethGraham on Ravelry) does this with hand knit socks and dishcloths.  She saves the good bits of yarn from worn-out socks for darning and for sock scrap blankets and she saves the good yarn left from worn-out dishcloths to reknit fresh cloths. Check out this blanket she is working on where she recently added a square that was made with the yarn from the very first pair of socks she ever knit!

Market bag crocheted from a thrift store sweater. Upcycled, reclaimed yarn.A few years ago I found a beautiful coral cotton Eddie Bauer sweater at a local thrift store.  It was damaged so I bought it for about $1-maybe 50 cents-and unraveled it.  I cleaned the yarn, removed the kinks, balled it up and then crocheted it into a market bag which I then gifted to a favorite teacher of my boys.  This is a great way to get great yarn for next to nothing, if you don’t mind putting in a little effort to unravel, clean, and dekink the yarn.  You can often find silk, linen and other expensive fibers for very little money.  There is a trick to this technique though.  You want to make sure you pick up the right type of sweater.  Sweaters with selvage seams will not unravel.  Check out this Reclaiming Yarn Handout created by Angelia Robinson (Quarternity on Ravelry).  She wrote the step by step instructions when she taught a class on reclaiming yarn at her local knitting guild.  http://www.quaternityknits. com/freebies/

Turning a damaged sweater into a market bag makes a unique gift most everyone will appreciate.  Seriously, who can’t use an extra bag?  And for fun, sew the sweater label in the bag.  I bet the recipient will love it.  And of course, you aren’t limited to crocheting market bags with reclaimed yarn.  Knit or crochet scarves, shawls, hats, mittens, anything and everything.  I have two damaged 100% cashmere sweaters in my stash waiting for the yarn to be reclaimed and crocheted into something beautiful.

Felted sweaters ready to cut up and turn into a crocheted kitchen throw rug.  And my cat. :)

All the sweaters are felted and ready to cut up. My kitty is anxious for her wool rug!

FELT it!
We’ve all done it, whether on accident or on purpose.  We have all shrunk a wool garment to teeny tiny proportions.  No worries, that sweater can be repurposed into many things.  In the past I have made lunch boxes, ice scraper mitts, a tea cozy and backed hot pads with felted sweaters. Check out this previous post about felting with a purpose.  Many of the wool sweaters I find in thrift stores have accidentally been partially felted already.
What about a rug?  Cut felted sweaters into strips and crochet them into a rug. I have two boxes of damaged wool sweaters collected over the past 5-6 years.  2015 just may be the year those sweaters finally turn into a kitchen rug!

RIP it!
Turn old, damaged sheets into rugs or baskets.  Cut up damaged cotton blouses into strips and crochet them.  I’ve seen jeans crocheted into rugs.  There are so many crafty options to use our worn out or damaged fabrics.  Think about it.  Caroline Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie) didn’t run to Oleson’s Mercantile when she needed something.  She saved all of her and Mary’s and Laura’s and Carrie’s and Pa’s old clothing and turned them into squares for quilts or strips for rag rugs.  Here is a video on how to turn a sheet into a rag rug. http://startingchain.com/2015/03/scrap-project-learn-how-to-crochet-a-rag-rug-out-of-old-sheets-.html

TARN!
Tarn = T-shirt yarn.  Yup, you can use the old Ts too.  I’ve started saving white Ts and undershirts once they are past wear-ability with a goal to crochet them into something.  Don’t forget, it is easy to dye T-shirts.  You aren’t stuck with dingy white.  Remember summer camp and tie-dyed shirts?  A little dye to transform them and you may have an awesome bright pink laundry basket crocheted out of your hubby’s previously dingy and underarm stained undershirts. 🙂  Here is a great tutorial on how to make TARN. http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2009/06/05/making-t-yarn-from-recycled-tee-shirts/

Japanese Knot Plarn Tote bag.  Crochet pattern by Cindy, aka RecycleCindy.

Japanese Knot Plarn Tote bag. Crochet pattern by Cindy, aka RecycleCindy. Click for pattern. Photo by RecycleCindy.

PLARN!
Plarn = plastic yarn.  This is such a great solution to all the extra plastic bags you accumulated BEFORE you started using your market bags.  Sure, we could always dump the extra bags in the blue recycling bin but recycling uses energy.  If we can reuse that plastic, we can save energy.  I made a bag and a trash can out of plarn.  Because I bring my own bags everywhere, I don’t get a lot of disposable plastic bags.  About 9 years ago I belonged to a knitting/crochet group.  I asked if anyone had extra bags sitting around the house and one lady jumped on it.  She came the next week with a lawn and leaf bag full of random plastic bags.  It was gigantic and took up my entire trunk.  I sorted, cut and wound the plastic into really large balls of plarn.  Eventually some of the bags did end up in the recycle bin but I was able to use a lot of them.  At the time my boys were in Tae Kwon Do and I would work with the plarn while they were in class.  One day the instructor couldn’t stand it any more and asked what in the world was I working on that was so crinkly. After that I decided I better finish it up at home.   Both the bag and the trash can were improvised, no pattern.  I always get compliments on my bag and the trash can is used in our hallway bathroom.  I’ve also seen people make doormats with plarn.  Here is a great tutorial on making PLARN.  http://www.thecrochetfoyer.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-make-plarn.html and another by RecycleCindy who designed the awesome Japanese Knot Plarn Tote Bag pictured here, http://www.myrecycledbags.com/tutorial-for-making-plarn-yarn/ for tutorial, http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2015/04/23/japanese-knot-plarn-tote-bag/ for pattern.

magic balls of yarn made with scraps to be used for crocheting a lapghan for donation

Magic Balls of Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice scraps soon to be a laphan.

SCRAPS!
Save your scraps and turn them into MAGIC BALLS.  A Magic Ball is when you take scraps of a few yards each, join the ends and then wind them into balls of yarn.  Once you have enough, crochet something with it.  If you do neat joins, like a Russian join, you can make anything and you will have a self striping ball of yarn.   Or you can just knot them together securely with a square knot and not worry about the knots or the ends and crochet a dish rag.  Let the ends poke out all over the place, who cares.  This might even be an added benefit if you make a Swiffer cover.   I suggest grouping yarn by type (cottons with cottons, acrylics with acrylics, etc).  That way you know what you have and you can make cotton dish rags or an acrylic bag or wool pot holders.  You can also group by color choice, all blue hues for example.  You are in control of the striping and only limited by the scraps on hand.  Here is a tutorial for a little more information on Magic Balls.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/ 19680430/The-Magic-Ball-Tutorial  This was a new concept for me and I’m so glad I found it while doing research for this post.  I’ve started working on a lapghan made with lots of scraps using the Magic Ball method.

Save all the teeny tiny ends too.  I’ve used them to stuff cat toys.
This suggestion came from Kaila via my Facebook page

“I save all my small scraps of yarn (like from weaving in ends) and the little pieces from sewing and put them in a zip lock. It makes a fluffy filler that my 8-year-old son has decided to use to make smaller pillows for people who sleep on the streets.”

What a sweet and caring little 8-year-old!
I’ve seen others put the tiny scraps out for the birds to use as nesting materials.  I believe this is best for wool scraps.  Acrylics and other synthetics should be avoided.  Wool provides warmth and water resistance to the nest.  I’ve read the synthetics can be dangerous to the birds’ respiratory system.  I don’t know if it is true or not but makes sense.  Wool is found in nature, fun fur isn’t.

SEW!
Can you sew?  I found this Craftsy class, Project Upcycle, Thrifty Sewing Projects.  It is on my to-do list waiting for a day my sewing skills improve some.   And Angelia has a great tutorial on how to add a fabric lining to your crocheted or knit bags.  I bet you can find some fabric to upcycle for these awesome ideas.

THINK!
The one thing I would like to stress when it comes to reusing is to make sure the item is no longer useful in its current condition before you reuse it.  For example, if you decide to shop thrift stores for sweaters to frog or felt try finding ones that are damaged first.  No one wants to wear a sweater with moth holes but that doesn’t matter for felting.  Maybe you can talk to the manager of the store and get the damaged clothing for a discount or even free.  And with plarn, please don’t buy plastic bags to crochet them.  I have seen folks do this because they wanted pink or purple plarn.  Or they go to stores and asked for a stack of unused bags.  If that is what you really want to do then fine, just realize you aren’t “recycling” that way.  It is the same as buying a skein of yarn.

Recycle

OK, I’ve Reduced my waste, I’ve Reused as much as possible, now how do I recycle?
Wkikipedia’s definition of Recycling

Recycling is a process to change waste materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to plastic production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” waste hierarchy.

Choose yarns and products made with recycled materials.
Unfortunately, it seems this must not be a profitable area for major yarn manufactures. Most yarns I found that contained recycled materials have been discontinued.  I did find these.  If you know of more, please let me know!

Berroco Remix is made with 100% recycled fibers.
Lion Brand Fettuccini is made from the remnants of garment manufacturing.
Red Heart Silk Sari is made from the remnant fibers from the manufacturing of silk saris.

Reclaimed-yarnI’m sure (hope) there are other, smaller manufactures of yarn that use recycled materials.  However, if you don’t want to reclaim your own yarn, you can buy recycled (reclaimed) yarn and support some small business owners too.  A quick Etsy search yielded many sellers of reclaimed/recycled yarn.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was stuffing my Bloodshot Eyeball Pillow with polyester-fiber fill that not only was stuffing made in the USA but was also of recycled materials.  https://www.fairfieldworld.com/store/big-bag/poly-fil-premium-fiber-fill-32-ounce-bag/

Recycle it.
Finally, when your crafted items (or any another clothing, fabric or scraps) are beyond repair or reclaiming for another use, don’t throw them out, recycle them!!  Many of the larger donation stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army) sell the unsaleable clothing and fabrics by the pound wholesalers for recycling.  Our little local charity thrift store does as well so check with the small ones too.  Or drop them into the clothing drop boxes around your town.  We have USAgain in this area of the county.  http://www.usagain.com/  http://www.smartasn.org/ collectors/

And last, but not least, recycle the paper label wrapped around your skein!

Black Raspberry Shawl Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Crochet Patterns Copyright

Copyright, Copyright, Copyright!

I never really thought much about copyright law, about what is allowed and what isn’t, until I started using and writing patterns.  I’m not a lawyer but understanding the basics of copyright is actually pretty easy.  Basically, if you didn’t get the pattern directly from the source then it is possible and very likely you are violating copyright law. All of the following are in direct violation of copyright law:

  • Photocopying a pattern and passing it around to your friends is in violation of the law and it is stealing from the designer/publisher.
  • Sharing a pdf (email) of a pattern is in violation of the law.
  • Printing multiple copies of a pdf and giving them to others is in violation of the law.
  • The sharing of free patterns is also in violation of the law, share the link instead.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to be selling the pattern copy to be in violation.  Giving it away for free is still a violation of copyright law . Please, stop and think before you pass along or accept a pattern.

  • Is it a photocopy, it is likely a violation.
  • Did I receive a download from someone other than an authorized source, it is likely a violation.
  • Do I see it for sale everywhere else but I’m getting it for free from a different source, it is likely a violation.

Independent designers often sell on multiple platforms.  If you aren’t sure if the source is authorized, contact the designer first and ask.  Big name corporations/yarn companies are victims too.  If you wouldn’t shoplift a magazine from Michaels/Wal-Mart/local yarn shop then why steal patterns?  It’s the same as shoving that pattern or magazine up under your coat and walking out of the store without paying.  See this page for an easy to understand explanation of copyright. http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/

I believe most people don’t realize that what they are doing is wrong.  How many times has someone said to you-“I love that shawl you are making.  Can you copy that pattern for me?”  Next time it happens simply reply, “Thank you! I love it too.  The independent designer is XXXXXX and she sells her patterns on XXXXX.  Here, let me send you the link to her site.”  Hopefully she will accept the information and won’t ask you again for a photocopy but if she does, just say something along the lines of “Sorry, photocopying would be in violation of copyright law.”  There’s a good chance she is just unaware.