Crafting through the blues

These past few months have been a dramatic whirlwind, to say the least. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that not enough people in America have been taking seriously (as shown by the terrible spike in cases and deaths from COVID- 19 these past months, and the unfortunate disregard of life by people who refuse to wear masks). As a Type 1 diabetic, I dread having to leave my house due to the lack of consideration and the risk to my health.

But things only got better (can you feel the sarcasm?) as the nation was called to action over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and numerous other Black people by the hands of police. While police violence to those who are white may come off as random occurrences, it is an issue that sharply influences how I as a black woman and others navigate this world. These events and countless others are sparking conversations in all circles – even popular Knitting and Crochet sites like Ravelry are discussing the lack of representation in the crafting and yarn dyeing communities.

So with the constant depictions of violence towards my Black Siblings, Queer siblings, Disabled and Disenfranchised siblings, as well as the constant threat of COVID looming over my head, my mental health has suffered, and I found myself seeking escape. I threw myself into reading, knitting and crocheting.

I worked on two projects these past few months. One was a shawl I made for my mother using the “A Day in Venice ” pattern by Anne (Arlene’s World of Lace on Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/groups/arlenes-world-of-lace). Being the ‘radical’ rule breaker I am, I made this pattern using a lean worsted weight yarn instead of the recommended lace weight, and decided not to do the lace edging (the instructions on that were a bit confusing for me). I also made the shawl a bit shorter than the pattern called for, due to the dense nature of the yarn I was using (Loops & Thread’s “Soft & Shiny” in Black).

*As a side note, since some people may ask what happened to my new mission to buy only natural fibers, this yarn was purchased before I made that decision and was purchased specifically for this project.

**Also, for anyone who’s ever worked with this exact ball of yarn, is it just me, or does the color come off as a dark forest green?

One of my goals is to have all creators take more care when considering the materials they use on their projects. I love exploring what happens when you change the size and material of yarn on a particular pattern, and learning from the successes and failures of such experimentation.

“A day in Venice” shawl, made with worsted weight yarn.

The second project was a finger-less glove and necktie combo project I drafted, and the second pattern I have ever put up for sale to date. Aptly named Elegant Stash Buster, these items were made using scrap yarns in my stash. I suspect the weight of the yarn is DK, and it worked up the lacy stitching beautifully. I had my younger sister do my makeup for this photoshoot, and my youngest sister model the scarf and gloves. I am so proud of the results:

Along with learning how to draft this pattern, I also learned about the wonderful world of pattern testing. While I had heard of pattern testing before, a post made in a Facebook Group I’m in (shout out to Black Girls Who Knit!) made me aware of the issues that come up when a pattern isn’t tested before release. Apparently there are situations where the pattern writer may take a while to respond back(I myself am guilty of this), or cases where the pattern writer gets defensive when their mistakes are pointed out. And while I welcome constructive criticism and advice on my work, I figured it would be a good idea to have someone test my work to prevent any bumps down the road. I made a google form and had two people from the group volunteer to test out the pattern. I also made a shared google document so that they can comment edits and clarifications the pattern needed. I can’t tell you how much having a team to help make sure your pattern is legible eases the stress. In the end, I also asked them to share a picture of what they created.

I’ll share Denise’s example: she worked both pieces in different colors, which I think helps people to envision the possibilities with the pattern’s material choice. Coincidentally, she also chose to go the finger-less route with the gloves. While I included instructions for making fingers, some people may prefer to make the gloves without. Because of Denise’s help, I can now show people how the gloves will turn out depending on the version they choose to make.

Denise’s Fingerless version of the Elegant Gloves, in a lovely purple
Denise’s version of the Elegant Necktie, in a vibrant yellow

My plans for my Crocheted and Knitted designs grow with every project I make. I would love to design a sweater in the near future, and maybe even some luxury bags and accessories. I will definitely ask for pattern testers when I complete these endeavors – I want to be confident that the patterns I offer people are the best quality possible.

If you would like to check out this pattern, head over to https://www.ravelry.com/designers/jaedeas-threads .

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