Okay I've been holding fire on writing my blog because I was VERY honored to be asked to be a pattern tester for 2 very creative indie crochet artists. I was very nervous because it was my first experience testing for designers who have a long track record in crochet. I tested for knit designers yes, but not crochet designers. I wanted to share with you some of the details!
What is a tester? In my case tester is a person, paid or volunteer, who is responsible to make a test run through a pattern (of any sort in this case crochet) for the benefit of the pattern designer with a view towards improving on the written instructions or chart. Patterns that are properly tested have most of the "bugs" worked out of the pattern before the release date.
I was really excited to be selected to test the Waterfall Cardigan pattern by Jessica Cooper of Crochet It Creations. Jessica Cooper was featured on this blog in March of this year. I had become a big fan of her work therefore, when the opportunity to test her brand new pattern came up I was thrilled. Of course, never having tested a pattern for an adult garment before I was a little trepidatious about applying to join the test team. I thought why not try it if I really dislike the process I don't ever have to do it again right? I sent Jessica a message on facebook expressing my interest. She then interviewed me on FB messenger and then accepted me to her testing team. I was to test the extra large size. (I find because I'm tall xl works best)
The Lion Brand Mandala yarn is a popular favorite right at the moment. It is the correct size yarn for the Waterfall Cardigan pattern. After some debate my daughter helped me choose Valkyrie and Pixie colorways. I cheated a bit because I took the skeins apart and used the colors as the mood struck me rather than use the skeins as they were produced. (one of the skeins did have an unattractive yellow/brown that I disliked so I pulled that out). Therefore my cardigan looked a bit different (pictures to come) than it would if I had used the skeins as they were produced. Everyone in the test team did something a little different. The next step was to do a gauge swatch.
The gauge swatch is SERIOUSLY my least favorite thing to do because I do tend to crochet loosely and my gauge is always way off from others who work the exact same pattern LOL. Leave it to me right? After doing my swatch I ended up using a size "G" (U.S) instead of the size "I" as recommended by the designer. However had I not done a gauge swatch my sweater would have been MUCH larger than it should have been. Lesson: if a designer strongly urges a gauge swatch... do the gauge swatch! If you choose to do this project I can recommend the Mandala or Lion Brand yarns' Ice Cream "Big Scoop". So many colorways, so little time. LOL
The next thing was to learn the Foundation Double Crochet stitch as recommended by Jessica Cooper. It is a big time saver! It can be tedious at first but once you get going it's fun! If you've ever done a project where there are a lot of stitches to create you know that creating a long chain of single crochet stitches without twisting the chain is not the most fun. Only to go back to place stitches in ALL those chains can be tiresome. The Foundation Double Crochet solves that whole problem. There's a link to the stitch instructions on Crochet it Creations here. Once that process was complete I began the body of the garment.
The body of the Waterfall Cardigan is quite straightforward. The challenge would be making the deadline. I had 103 stitches over I believe 107 rows including the arm holes. This cardigan has the great feature of being left as a vest, or add shorter sleeves and make it a short sleeved cardigan either way is super cute. After getting my yarn, finishing my gauge swatch, finishing my foundation row the race was on to complete my cardigan on time. I got my assignment July 30 and I was to finish the entire project by August 26... while not neglecting my current commissions. I did work long and hard on the project, pulling some late nights so that I would meet my goal. Of course I made mistakes (dyslexia is a blessing and a burden sometimes) I ran into problems with yarn quantities. Lesson: Testers should always obtain more yarn than they think they will need in order to complete a project on time.
Once I finished the sleeveless cardigan, I knew was calling it close to the deadline. At the same time I had a problem with my yarn. Sometimes yarn just isn't up to sample but you really don't know that until you've gotten into the skein. I realized the sleeves would be an issue. I was able to adapt and overcome. Lesson: If testers are on a deadline, they should be sure there is time to devote to the project before accepting the assignment. The project designers really count on the testers to finish as requested so that the pattern release will go off without a hitch.
Testing the Waterfall Cardigan was a great experience. Jessica Cooper is an excellent instructor, she was patient, answered all of my questions and it was fun to see the cardigan created by the other testers. Would I test a garment again? Yes! I would want to make sure I had plenty of time to test the pattern. Below is a simple slide show of the sweater both with sleeves and without.
The next fabulous experience testing came when my friend Doug Speeckaert sent me a message asking me if I would test his Grannies Square pattern. Doug, as you know if you've read this blog in the past is not only a friend but a designer par excellence! Doug created his blog entitled Dot's Closet. This is where he showcases his latest work, thoughts on crocheting, shares ideas and generally gives his readers a view into the mind of a crochet virtuoso. When he asked me to test his latest creation I was THRILLED.
Doug sent me the pattern to the Grannies Square and asked me to give it a test run sharing any ideas I might have to improve the instructions. Of course I asked my daughter, T.K. Wilson if she would assist also. T.K. made her own Grannies Square and I am sure would like to share it with her readers. When I finished the Waterfall Cardigan, I happily dove into the Grannies Square project because I had seen the sample Doug created! I also knew that I could more easily fit working on this project into my already full complement of projects. Everyone needs a project that is beautiful and provides a bit of instant gratification!
For this project I used the Lion Brand "Ice Cream Big Scoop" in colorway Spumoni. Doug let me have a free hand with yarn and hook size. The Ice Cream yarn self stripes when knitted and color pools when crocheted. I LOVE IT. It is super soft and color pools beautifully. I was very excited to send Doug my first progress picture. We both agree, one Big Scoop isn't enough LOL.
Both my daughter and myself only had 2 suggestions for the Grannies Square pattern. Doug promptly inserted these suggestions into his pattern for which my daughter and I are both grateful. Lesson: As a dyslexic it's a good thing to share with designers ways to make instructions more succinct to help others who may struggle in the same manner. Lesson: As a dyslexic I wanted to make sure others who might struggle with learning or visual issues could easily read the instructions. Sometimes when working with more than one stitch in a pattern the transition can be confusing. Two simple fixes and voila, Doug created a an even more precisely written pattern that will allow everyone the joy of making the Grannies Square pattern. How cool is that?
Now for those progress pictures :)
Today's designers can be found on the following social network sites Jessica Cooper: Google Plus and on Facebook as Dot's Closet.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about my foray into being a pattern tester. It's been a very enlightening learning experience for me! If you get the opportunity to be a pattern tester for amazing people like Jessica Cooper and Doug Speeckaert I suggest you take it! You will absolutely hone your skill set.
Bullying. It's an ugly word. A real, relentless, sinister, malignancy in our societies. It can change lives forever. You don't need to be a child to experience bullying, let's be clear on that from the outset. Mercifully there are people who care and ARE doing something to raise awareness. I've mentioned the Peyton Heart Project before, now, as the new school year begins Lion Brand introduces #HATNOTHATE campaign. It's brilliant. I just want to share it with my readers so you can join me in raising awareness against bullying.
I was so excited about this project... I hadn't even formulated an outline for this blog. I'm typing at lightspeed. :) You all know my story of being bullied in school starting in about the third grade. At least that's when my first memories of being methodically singled out for other people's hate began. Everyone says "kids get teased that's just the way it is". Well yes, and no... or maybe yes and no that's not the way it SHOULD be. Do I think everyone ought to huddle and sing campfire songs? NO not in the slightest. There's a simple concept... if you can't say something polite don't say anything at all. See my parents actually taught me that if I was nice to my tormentors or to tell the school if Joe, Kelly, or John got out of hand. It didn't work then and it doesn't work now. With the internet in everyone's hand and the ability to text the possibilities are literally endless. So we, all of us, have a responsibility to stop the madness.
#HATNOTHATE is done in conjunction with "STOMP out Bullying". Stomp Out Bullying is the leading national anti-bullying organization for kids in the USA. There are a whole host of programs that they support, fund, or partner with to help teens and kids learn how to respond to bullies and to stop bullies from creating havoc in another person's life. In my own opinion no one should ever be bullied. Ever. I don't care about the color of skin, sexual preference, political background, religion, country of origin, gender, there is never a reason to bully. I think it's very important that fiber artists come together to support the World Bullying Prevention day, October 1, 2018, by knitting blue hats along with the Lion Brand Yarn Company.
October is not only my birth month but also the birth month of several of my family members. October is a busy awareness month. Anti-bullying and Dysautonomia Awareness month both have a "blue theme". I will wear Blue for "sew many reasons". (pardon the pun) The #HATNOTHATE blog post shares several patterns for blue hats. Note that this is WORLD Bullying Prevention Month, therefore, we as fiber artists can literally wrap the world in blue. Kids and adults for that matter, should know that someone is trying to make a difference. Donate blue hats to schools, your local YMCA, shelters like Teen Challenge, Hospitals, battered spouse shelters, Sheriff Departments, Police Departments and mental health organizations in your community. Get your local Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H Clubs and other local organizations involved with both making and sharing hats.
Looking for MORE hat patterns? Check out some of my favorite makers:
These are just a few of my favorite designers but I hope that taken together you'll find inspiration to join the #HATNOTHATE Anti-Bullying Campaign in October. Thanks for joining me today for another highlight for charity.
I know people are struggling in the USA and my friends in the UK have had an inordinately hot summer but we do need to talk about what WILL happen to shelter/rescue animals when the cold weather hits. I know, I talk about this frequently. Why? Because 2 of my dogs were adopted from shelter situations. No kill shelters find themselves in need of help all year round. Today it's 92 degrees F (33 degrees C). Even if you do not knit, crochet, or sewists there are ways to help make life easier for shelter animals.
NOTE: Always inquire about the needs of a shelter before donating. Some shelters only take food or money donations.
Once again my friend Amy Brewer got me thinking on pets because she has created a shawl to show off your love for your pets. You can find it here: amysastitchatatime.blogspot.com/2018/07/meandering-paw-prints-shawl-free.html Just when I think Amy is done with this line of Meandering Paw Prints designs she comes up with something else awesome about which to write! You'll remember Amy Brewer and Doug Speeckaert collaborated on the Meandering Paw Prints Over The Rainbow Bridge tribute blanket to remember all those pets who have passed on. Then my friend Doug Speeckaert created another work of art with the Heart of Duchess Meandering Paw Prints blanket. This is a full sized blanket with the paw prints arranged in hearts! It's beautiful. Amy Brewer designed an embossed paw prints edging to go with this piece. These designs continually provide inspiration! And LOOK at this face... how could you not be inspired by Napoleon all wrapped in his paw prints blanket? ADORABLE MUCH?
I know the question is, how would this help shelter animals. Anything that we wear, gift for a birthday/Christmas, or give away to people who have lost a pet over the rainbow bridge can be used to help spread the word about animals yet to be adopted. Also any of these gorgeous projects can be donated to a shelter as a way to raise money and awareness for the work that they do to protect animals. Amy's site has plenty of good patterns that could be made into "thank you" gifts for the staff that volunteer at the shelters too. :)
Many shelters or rescues need blankets, and you don't EVEN have to be able to sew to make a pet blanket. I was thinking about donating for pets. I have so many friends who work with people who have service animals. Off the top of my head I know of people who work with elderly people, veterans with PTSD, children with disabilities (i.e. autism), people who have mental health issues (i.e. anxiety or panic disorders) who have mentioned their clients have comfort animals. There are also people who need service dogs (different from comfort animals) like my dog Ginger Pye who is a cardiac alert dog. These dogs perform a job that is, at times, a matter of life and death. Wouldn't it be lovely to give these folks a new blanket for their comfort animal or service dog? Let's check out some patterns.
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**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.