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National Crochet Month: Amy Shelton

National Crochet Month

Have you had fun helping us celebrate National Crochet Month? I really hope you’ve been having as much fun as I have exploring the websites of all the fabulous designers participating inA Tour through Crochet Country with us. I feel so honored and humbled that designers of this caliber chose to take the time, effort, and energy away from their busy designing schedules to be part of our tour. A special thank you goes out to each and every designer and crocheter who has traveled through crochet country with us this month.

Warning: This post got long. Please read to the end to find a special free gift for you.

Changes, Changes, Changes

This past year has seen many changes for Crochetville. It’s been a wild, crazy, exhausting ride in many ways. But I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. In case you’ve missed some of it, I’d like to share a bit about my adventures with you.

1. Attending Consumer Shows

Since April of 2012, I’ve attended six consumer shows across the country (Stitches events and Knit and Crochet Shows) as part of a partnership between Crochetville and Red Heart Yarns. Donna and I have both used Red Heart and Coats & Clark yarns since we were young children. Crocheters around the country love Red Heart, too. We are proud that Red Heart chose us to assist them in making their yarns available for purchase at these shows.

Just attending a consumer show or crochet conference can be overwhelming and exhausting as there is so much to do every hour of the day, long into most evenings. It’s even more exhausting when you’re working in the booth all day with very little chance for breaks. However, being tired is a small price to pay for what I receive in return.

Attending as a vendor has been even more rewarding than being there as a regular attendee. It is so uplifting to talk to customers and hear their crochet stories as they talk about some of their favorite projects, what crochet has meant to them, what Red Heart has meant to them, and even what Crochetville has meant to them.  I love knowing that we’ve brought fun, joy, and inspiration to people’s lives.

2. Creating a Free Crochet Pattern Directory

Crochet undertook a major project in November of last year when long-time Crochetville member Rachel sold Crochet Pattern Central. Donna and I had long thought a free pattern directory would be a perfect service to add to Crochetville. But while Rachel was doing such a fabulous job running CPC, there was no reason for us to add a directory of our own.

Once the new management took over CPC, the crochet community spoke in outrage at the changes made to the site. We saw a prime opportunity to create our own free pattern directory. Donna and I spent weeks deciding on the extra-special features we wanted our directory to have and then selecting the best software to run the directory and allow us to do it the way we envisioned.

Our Free Crochet Pattern Directory is more than a directory of links to free crochet patterns. Each listing has at least one thumbnail photo of the pattern as well as information about skill level, yarn, and hooks needed to complete the project. I’m pleased to say that over 2,100 patterns have already been added to our database. Special thanks to Crochetville member auntbubbels, who has nearly single-handedly approved all those patterns after they’ve been submitted. We couldn’t have done this without her help!

Donna and I are only two people, and it would take us years if we had to add every free pattern listing by ourselves. We greatly appreciate the help of everyone who has added links so far. There are still thousands of free patterns left to add, though. Would you like to help? Just go over to the Free Crochet Pattern Directory and start adding links to your favorite patterns. If you like, select a pattern category and add links to all the patterns of that type that you can find. The more people who add links, the faster it will be absolutely the best free crochet pattern directory available anywhere on the internet!

3. Moving to New Site Software

Once we had the pattern directory in place, it was time to move on to another big change: migrating our crochet community to different forum software. The old software was end of life, and for the security of our site and our members, an upgrade was absolutely necessary. Again, we spent a long time selecting the best forum platform for our needs. We finally found something that gave us all the features we’d wanted for a long time, bit the bullet, and made the move.

Change is never easy, and we had some bumps along the way. Some things went smoothly, others did not. We’ve finally managed to work our way through most of them and our members are starting to feel more comfortable in our newly-redesigned home.

4. A Tour through Crochet Country

Not content to rest on our laurels (or maybe we’re just fools for punishment), we moved on to organize a major event: A Tour through Crochet Country. Surprisingly, this idea simply sprang into my head one evening, practically fully-formed. I just had to do a little minor tweaking over the next couple days.

I thought the hard part was going to be convincing enough designers to participate with me. I was pleasantly surprised and gratified at how many wanted to participate. Instead of struggling to find one designer/professional for every day of the month, we ended up with two designers/professionals for nearly every day of the month.

The feedback I’ve been receiving has been wonderful. Participants have seen dramatic increases in visitors to their websites, new Facebook fans, and newsletter subscriptions. I hope all of these readers will continue to visit the sites of these designers throughout the year.

If you find a designer (or two or three) whose designs you really like, I hope you’ll consider purchasing some of that designer’s patterns. Designers will only be able to continue designing for us if we make it possible for them to make a living. Free patterns are wonderful, but paid patterns have their time and place as well.

5. CGOA Fun Night at the Chain Link Conference

Now that A Tour through Crochet Country is almost at an end, it’s time to make final plans for the next big event: CGOA Fun Night at the Indianapolis conference in July. I will be hostessing the festivities this evening. We have all sorts of fun things in store for you.

With goody bags for the first 250 registrants and door prize drawings all through the night, if you’re attending the conference you won’t want to miss CGOA Fun Night. We’ll start with the annual member meeting where you’ll have a chance to interact one-on-one with board of director members.

Next, we’ll have gather for a member show-and-tell. Have you ever been too intimidated to show off your work against professional designers? Too scared to walk down the runway? Then this will be your time to shine! Wear your favorite crocheted garment or bring something with you to show off to your friends. This will be an informal, lighthearted evening of supporting each other in our crochet efforts, whether you’ve been crocheting 1 month or 50 years. Be prepared to give details about the pattern and yarn used in your project.

By this point, you’ll have had a very long day, but don’t worry. We aren’t going to let you starve. We’ll have plenty of heavy hors d’oeuvres and desserts to eat, as well as a cash bar.

Following show-and-tell, you’ll have an opportunity to learn more about chapters. Hear about the exciting things chapters are doing and get ideas to take back to your own group. If you don’t have a local chapter, get tips on how to start a successful chapter of your own.

The evening’s not going to be over yet, though. Next it’s time for game night. We’ll play a game called Let’s Make You Squeal. I may not be Monty Hall, but I’ll certainly have some deals for you. Will you be Zonked or will you get the Big Deal? We’ll follow this game with a crochet challenge: Last Crocheter Alive. Bring yarn, a hook, and a stitch marker as you’ll be working on a crochet swatch. Your answers to questions will determine if you get to add stitches or if you have to rip them out. The crocheter with the biggest swatch at the end of the night will win a prize.

6. What’s Next?

So what’s next for Crochetville? You know, I really don’t know. My dream is for Crochetville to be the best crochet community on the internet for crocheters of every skill level.

If you want to have your own crochet business, whether as a designer or editor or teacher or crochet maker, we want to be the place you come for support, information, and encouragement.

If you want to expand your crochet skills, we want to be the place you come for information, classes, and tutorials.

If you just want to have fun and make friends who share your love of crochet, we want to be the place you come and feel like you’re sitting in your living room talking with a bunch of your closest friends.

Is there something else you’d like Crochetville to provide for you? Do you have ideas on how we can better meet the needs of the crochet community? Leave a comment here and let us know what we can do for you. We’re here to serve.

Happy Birthday to Me: A Free Pattern for YOU

Today is my birthday. Like a hobbit (yes, I’m a Lord of the Rings geek), I can think of nothing better than to give a present to everyone else. For a one-week period, I’m going to make my Hexagon Lapghan pattern available for free. This pattern originally appeared in the 2010 edition of Across the Board Crochet, a yearly collection of patterns designed by members of the CGOA Board of Directors. Members receive a PDF version of the current booklet each year when they join CGOA or renew their membership. I can’t wait to see what the board has in store for us this year!

This pattern will be free for download for one week only. So grab it before midnight CDT on Friday, April 5. I hope you enjoy it!

Remember Project Night Night & CGOA

Project Night NightWe would love your support for our blog tour charity, Project Night Night, which donates comforting nighttime packages to homeless children. You can help by making and sending new crocheted blankets (50” x 60” or smaller) and/or making a financial donation. If you contribute, won’t you please use our form to help us keep a blog-tour tally?

Crochet Guild of America (CGOA)Our blog tour is also promoting another non-profit, the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). All designers participating in the tour are Professional or Associate Professional members of the CGOA. If you’re not a member yet, there are so many reasons to join!

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