May 24, 2015

CrochetBlogger’s Tips for Wearing Crochet

As mentioned at the beginning of January, crochet-happy San Francisco blogger Kathryn Vercillo (a.k.a. @CrochetBlogger) has launched a 365 fashion project for 2012. It’s called 365 Ways to Wear Crochet. Crochet is trendy right now but it’s not always easy to make stylish. By wearing and photographing crochet every day, Kathryn has learned some tricks for making crochet work with a San Francisco wardrobe. Here, she shares five of her tips while goofing around in front of the cam:

1. Crochet cowls work in all types of San Francisco weather.

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Blogger Fashion Project: 365 Ways to Wear Crochet

San Francisco blogger Kathryn Vercillo (a.k.a. @CrochetBlogger) has just launched a 365 project for 2012. In 365 Ways to Wear Crochet, she’ll be showing off different ways to wear crochet and pairing it with both casual and dressy outfits that she really wears each day. Below, her first outfit – which features the first shrug she ever crocheted.

Learn more about this 365 fashion project here.

The Outfit: Blue crochet shrug, black turtleneck sweater, fringed denim skirt, black patterned fishnet-style tights

Crochet Detail: Blue acrylic crochet shrug (the first shrug she ever made)

The shoes: black flats

This post originally appeared on Crochet Concupiscence.

Interview with Bay Area Etsy Crocheter MHandmade

Cowl of Crochet Chains Neckwarmer by mhandmade

Today’s post is part of an ongoing series of interviews with crocheters who sell their patterns or products on Etsy. I’ve been focusing mostly on people from the San Francisco Bay Area and today is no exception. Mille Chauser (mhandmade on Etsy) is local to this area as well. She has been crocheting and crafting for more than fifty years so I was really excited when she was willing to share her knowledge with us through an interview here on the site.

CROCHETBLOGGER: You have been crocheting for a long time. How have you seen this craft change over the years? (Personally or as an industry …)

Mhandmade: There are so many more yarn options today, from bamboo to cashmere, fun yarns, hand-painted yarns, sock yarns, etc. Crocheters today are able to make so many more things, not just doilies and bedspreads. Crochet hooks are no longer just the skinny steel ones, either.

CROCHETBLOGGER: It’s so true! I haven’t been crocheting too long but I’ve seen my mom’s old stash as well as the vintage magazines from thirty or forty years ago and it seems like we have such a greater array of options for crochet now!

CROCHETBLOGGER: Your Etsy profile mentions that you repurpose wool sweaters. Can you explain how that works and why you enjoy doing it?

Mhandmade: I repurpose old sweaters as handbags, cozies and jewelry trays. As with most everything I make, upcycling an old wool sweater began with a need. I needed a tissue cozy for my purse and I had this old ski sweater that I loved but never wore because it was too itchy, so I threw it in a hot wash and made a tissue cozy. It’s a red nordic stripe and it makes me smile whenever I reach for a tissue. I have made so many since then. I now have this huge collection of old wool sweaters. For the handbags, I cut a shape from sweaters, needle felt a design on it, add a handle and lining, blanket stitch the sides and crochet a trim around the bag. The jewelry tray is an idea that I got from one of the Japanese craft books I have in my collection. Because I don’t read or speak Japanese, I can’t really follow the directions or even know what’s included in the materials list, but I love looking at the photos and enjoy trying to figure out the graphs.

CROCHETBLOGGER: Is there a favorite item that you particularly enjoy crocheting?

Mhandmade: Right now, I am loving crocheting my ropey cowls. I had a low cut (for me) shirt but I really loved the print and the color. I had some yarn that matched it exactly so I made a necklace of crocheted chains. It worked so perfectly, I decided I should make more, but it was winter and I thought it would make a great cowl if I made the chains shorter and increased the rows, so that’s how the ropey neckwarmer came to be.

CROCHETBLOGGER: I particularly love your cowls … how long have you been making them?

Mhandmade: Thank you for noticing my cowls. They have been selling really well and I love making them. I started making them after Christmas 2010. For spring, I plan to crochet more chain ropes for different length necklaces, adding felt balls, crocheted flowers and other motifs.

CROCHETBLOGGER: That sounds like a great idea. Looking forward to seeing that!

CROCHETBLOGGER:What crochet magazines or blogs do you read (if any)?

Mhandmade: I subscribe to ALL the crochet magazines, a little crazy huh? I also subscribe to a lot of blogs, like stitch diva, crochet spot, future girl, purl bee and lindamade. Ravelry is great but I try keep away because it’s so addicting, I could play there for hours.

CROCHETBLOGGER: So true! And some great choices there for good crochet blogs.

CROCHETBLOGGER: What else would you love for other people to know about crochet?

Mhandmade: Crocheting is so relaxing! Everyone should try it. The hardest part is deciphering the directions. Once you know a few stitches, you can go on to crochet things. Magazines and booklets always include instructions for different stitches, so that’s easy to refer to. The best thing about crocheting is the instant gratification; it goes so much faster than knitting and if you make a mistake, just undo the mistake, no big deal, unlike knitting. I am lucky I was taught to crochet as a child and it is definitely my “go to” craft when I need to calm down and relax. So moms and grandmas, if you crochet, teach a child this lifelong skill!

CROCHETBLOGGER: Thanks for joining us. I hope that everyone will check out your Etsy shop and see all the great stuff you’ve got to offer!

This post originally appeared on Crochet Concupiscence. Check out the blog for additional interviews with Bay Area Etsy crocheters and other crochet information.

Former Model Helps Kenyan Women Find Fulfilling Fashion Work

Siamanda Chege sounds like one of those women who would be really intimidating if she wasn’t also so cool. She moved to the United States from Kenya and became an international runway model. She used the money to help out her family back in Kenya. Once she had succeeded in doing that, she decided to help out the rest of her community back home as well. She started an orphanage to provide homes for children orphaned because their parents had AIDS. She funds the orphanage in part through a company she started that also provides lucrative and fulfilling employment for women in her hometown.

The company is called Bebe Ravi (a French term that translates to “baby’s delight”). Chege sends wonderful high-quality Italian yarn to the 100+ women that she employs in Kenya. They crochet or knit the yarn into gorgeous baby clothes. The clothes are then sold in high-end stores here in the United States (such as Barney’s).

Now if you didn’t know any better you might think that this type of business exploits the women who are working so hard to crochet the items by hand. However, a report by Josie Raymond at Tonic says that this isn’t the case at all. The women are paid twice the average local wage. They are also fed good meals during the work day. Consider that the region they live in has an unemployment rate as high as forty percent and many of the women are widows, that’s a pretty good deal.

Plus they get to spend their days crocheting with high-quality Italian yarns for a really good cause. Don’t we all kind of wish we got paid double the local average wage to do that?!

Source: Tonic

Escama Studio: Cool Crochet Aluminum Tab Accessories

I just recently learned about the cool recycled products that are being made by Escama Studio. At first glance, these items are bags and other accessories made from aluminum can tabs. With further research you’ll find that it’s crochet work that is used to hold these pieces together to make fashionable accessories for the modern eco-minded individual.

What is Escama Studio?

This is a collaborative design studio that is based in two different locations – here in San Francisco and also in Brazil. Designs originate from both of the different studios. They say that their mission is “creating innovative and stylish products from post-consumer and other sustainable materials, through partnerships with producers in underprivileged communities.” The Escama Studios team is made up of both men and women.

How Underprivileged Communities are Served

The crochet work that goes into these products is done by hand in Brazil by women’s collectives. The women who participate in these collectives are considered artists. Each bag has a tag with information about the artist. You can head to the website of Escama Studio to read about each of the different artists. Consumers who wish to can send a thank you note to their artists via the website. The artists earn a livable wage for their crochet work. Escama Studios also tries to help the artists in other ways, assisting them in opening bank accounts, helping them get computer literacy training and providing them with a percentage of gross sales to benefit the cooperative.

Basics of Escama Studios Products

The studio has a basic aesthetic design that it follows when creating its products. They all use recycled aluminum can tabs. They also use traditional crochet techniques from Brazil that have been adapted to create a modern design utilizing these unique materials.

Examples of Escama Studios Products

Here are some samples of their work from their website but I’d encourage you to check out the entire website for more information.

This post originally appeared on Crochet Concupiscence, a blog about all things crochet!