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Chain Link MN 2011: Professional Development Day

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If you have ever thought about becoming a professional in the crochet industry, you should think about attending Professional Development Day on Wednesday at one of CGOA's Chain Link conferences. While the Minneapolis PDD is over, you can still attend PDD in Greensboro on September 21. Click here for the schedule for the Greensboro PDD.

 

A special thanks to Lion Brand Yarn for sponsoring the event.

 

If you weren't able to attend, here are some highlights from the day's events.

 

We had three terrific morning speakers, who presented their topics while we all crocheted hats for charity (with yarn donated by Lion Brand). Ellen Gormley (http://www.gocrochet.com) led off with her topic "Showstoppers: Taking a Design from Ordinary to Extraordinary." Using pictures of a number of different crochet designs, most of which you'd probably recognize, Ellen revealed "seven uncommon features of fantastic crochet design" that cause you to look at success in a whole new way. Ellen described the difference between "showstoppers" and "project makers."

 

After Ellen, we heard from Margaret Hubert, who has been working in the needle arts industry since 1963. Margaret's topic was "In It for the Long Haul: How to Reinvent Yourself to Succeed!" She shared how she has adapted to changes in the industry over this time.

 

You all probably recognize Margaret from her recent incredibly successful book, "The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet." I was lucky enough to spend some time with Margaret in one of the hotel restaurants on Saturday evening before heading home, and got to hear some fascinating stories about how that book came to be. I even shared a shuttle ride back to the airport with Margaret on Sunday as we all headed home.

 

The third morning speaker was Vickie Howell, currently spokesperson for Caron Yarns, and also well-known as the past host of the TV show Knitty Gritty. Vickie talked about the importance of social media in today's crochet and fiber arts marketplace. She shared tips for working with Facebook, Twitter, iPhone and smartphone apps, and the importance of staying in frequent communication with your customers. Take advantage of apps that help these social networking sites work with each other: Work smart, not hard!well-connected marketplace. Author, host, designer and Caron spokesperson, Vickie Howell, talks about how the internet helped launch and continues to be a crucial tool in sustaining her career. She'll also share the scoop on the social media outlets that have been the most successful for her, and how you can tailor your approach to making the web work for you without getting completely overwhelmed!

 

Before we broke for lunch, Zontee Hou of Lion Brand gave a short presentation about the newest things Lion Brand is up to.

 

After lunch, a number of different speakers presented hour-long round-table discussions. Each session was presented three times during the afternoon. Attendees could choose from the following sessions:

 

 

  • Gwen Bortner: The ABC's for Business Owners: Accounting, Bookkeeping and Contracts
  • Lily Chin: Draping a Pattern
  • Edie Eckman: Draw Your Own Crochet Diagrams
    Many crocheters love symbol crochet – the universal crochet "language" that makes it easy to read patterns from any country. We'll talk
    about some of the common pitfalls of drawing your own diagrams, and see a demonstration of ways to draw basic crochet diagrams using Adobe Illustrator. We'll do both back-and-forth and in-the-round granny square-style diagrams.
  • Darla Fanton: Your First Teaching Experience
  • Karen Klemp: Teaching Challenges
  • Marty Miller: So You Want to be a Tech Editor?

 

  • Pauline Turner: Profitably Fill the Downtime
  • Karen Whooley: Building Your Professional Face on the Web

I first sat in on Marty's class to pick up some tips on working as a tech editor. Marty is an excellent teacher, and she had great information to share. Next I sat in on Edie Eckman's session on drawing crochet diagrams. Unfortunately, due to the complexity and variation of different crochet stitches and the infinite combinations in which they can be put together, there is currently no computer program that does a good job at all the different types of crochet charts. Some programs are fairly good at circular charts, while others do a fairly good job at charts for straight rows. However, they all still require some tweaking and fine-tuning.

 

It was fascinating to learn that all those gorgeous charts from the days of Crochet Fantasy and Magic Crochet were hand-drawn by Karen Manthey! Can you imagine?

 

For the third session of the day, I had to take a break to return to the hotel room and get a bit of work done. I did manage to post a bit on Facebook and Twitter that day.

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As another part of Professional Development Day, we had a HUGE number of door prizes that were donated by many different companies and designers. Raffle tickets were sold for $1 each or 11 for $10. The money raised was to benefit breast cancer research, and we raised nearly $800!

 

Here's a look at the heavily-weighted down door prize tables:

 

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I purchased 22 tickets for $20. Here are some of the things I won, some of which Donna and I will be using soon as giveaways here at the 'Ville:

 

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These next things were received as goodie bags or table favors at the banquet:

 

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Class 1: Crochet Camis that Fit by Joan Davis

 

I only took two classes at this Chain Link event. The first was Crochet Camis that Fit, taught by the ever-popular Joan Davis. Although I roomed with Joan one year at the conference, I had never been able to take one of her classes. Each year, I hear all her students just raving over how much fun her classes are. So this year I determined that I HAD to take one of her classes.

 

I love making garments, so I thought this class would be right up my alley. I have a pretty good sewing background, so I was familiar with much of the information, but Joan still managed to sneak in a couple of new hints and tips that I hadn't thought of before! I loved her technique for figuring out how much yarn a design will take, before you even make the project! It makes so much sense and seems so easy after the explanation that you wonder why you didn't think it up yourself!

 

Joan also shared some fabulous stitch patterns of Japanese origin, one of which may end up being used as part of the laceweight beaded shawl I'm designing, using the scrumptious silk yarn I bought at Chain Link.

 

Joan provided each student with a very thick, printed booklet. Joan walked the class through the measurements that are needed to get a truly well-fitting garment, discussed the importance of gauge, and walked us through how to create a custom sloper for our measurements. Joan's book even included a basic camisole pattern to fit a number of different size.

 

I was very, very pleased with this class.

 

Class 2: Polish Star Stitch with Pauline Turner

 

The other class I took was Pauline Turner's Polish Star Stitch class. This stitch pattern is very complicated to draw out in a chart. It is based on a 4-row pattern repeat, though, which is pretty simple to understand once you start working with it.

 

It consists of a number of 10-chain loops that are left dangling freely on the piece until you come to the very end. Then the loops are pulled through each other to create the shape of the Polish star. Again, it's a bit fiddly until you get used to it, at which time the pattern starts to make sense in your head.

 

I think all of us were so tired after the long week of activities, that it was taking our brains a little longer to wrap around the concept than it otherwise would have.

 

Here is my swatch piece from the class, made from Vanna's Choice Glamour by Lion Brand (in navy and silver):

 

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I made Doris Chan's Walking After Midnight skirt (from the same navy Glamour) and wore it at the Club Caron Dance Party. I'm thinking before the Greensboro conference, I'm going to make a collarless version of Doris's Lipstick on Your Collar top to wear with it, also in navy Glamour. I think I may also make a little evening purse from the navy/silver Glamour combo. I'll post a pattern for that if the purse turns out as well as I envision it in my mind.

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