Neuroscience Proves What We’ve Known All Along

I came across a study recently released by “knitting therapist” (really? who knew that even existed!) Betsan Corkhill that says there is a direct relationship between the frequency of knitting and respondents’ perceived mood and feelings. Frequent knitters (those who knitted more than 3 times a week) were calmer, happier, less sad, less anxious, and more confident.

Now, even though the study is based on the information from 3,545 knitters, the results can easily be applied to any type of textile craft. The study concluded, “Knitting has significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to well-being and quality of life.”

The study also found that people who knitted as part of a group were even happier than solo knitters. We used to have a stitch ‘n bitch at a company where I worked and we loved it!

According to her study, “the skills and feelings experienced whilst knitting and stitching can also be used to facilitate the learning of techniques, such as meditation, relaxation and pacing which are commonly taught on pain management courses, or in the treatment of depression.” Even Albert Einstein was known to have knitted between projects to “calm his mind and clear his thinking.”

So next time you get grief about buying too much yarn, just pick up your WIP and go to your happy place!

Book Review: The Fine Art of Crochet

Of all the types of crochet, I love when it is brought to the level of high art. That is probably why I love the Free Form Guild so much. I wish I had more time to spend on it. There are tons of ideas swirling around in my head and just not enough hours in the day.

The Fine Art of Crochet
So why am I telling you all this? Because I am VERY excited to share this week’s book review. Great artist Gwen Blakley Kinsler has a new book out, The Fine Art of Crochet: Innovative Works from 20 Contemporary Artists and it is wonderful! It highlights different fiber artists, all with different approaches. It is certainly a feast for the eyes!

I think what blew me away the most is while I was reading through it, I discovered that I was mentioned! To be in a book highlighting such wonderful artists is an honor I could’ve only dreamed of. I was completely without words. She also mentions the Sticks, Hooks & Mobius at Lafayette College in 2012 and the annual challenge from the Free Form Guild.

In this book, Gwen highlights the art of 20 wonderful artists, but she also looks at the art crochet movement from 1915, to the Crochet Revolution of the 1960s, to today. Gwen is the founder of the Crochet Guild of America and a well-respected fiber artist in her own right.

Gwen refers to the works of these amazing artists as “awe-inspiring” and “cutting-edge” and I could not agree more. I have barely been able to put it down since I received it. It is a joy. I am not going to even attempt to pick a favorite. If you want artistic inspiration, this is definitely the book.

And as always, you can win this copy!
Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, April 11th. Trust me when I tell you, you definitely want to be in this giveaway. Good luck!

National Crochet Month: Book Review and Class Giveaway

Hi Everyone! Happy National Crochet Month!

Today is my blog day to celebrate all things crochet in March. I have a something special for today – MULTIPLE GIVEAWAYS!

Book review and giveaway number one:
First, as my regularly readers know, I have been on a book review kick lately. I often get review copies of books from different publishers, so after I review it I give it away to my readership! I don’t have any crochet books to review right now, but I still wanted to do a giveaway. This week’s review is what I call an “oldie but a goodie.” Think Pink: Crochet for the Cure. There is good reason I go back to this book as it is a very special project to me for multiple reasons.


First, I have the distinct honor to have not just have a pattern in this book, but DRG decided to include my letter that went with my pattern submission. This was my first pattern every published.

“Celia’s Scarf” was named and designed in memory of my mother-in-law who ended her battle with cancer in 1992. She was far too young to lose her life to this terrible disease. Since then, there have been amazing advancements, but no cure…yet. But every donation gets closer to a cure and a portion of the proceeds from this book continue to support breast cancer research.

From hats, to scarves, to bookmarks and more, there are great patterns in this book for every level of ability. They are not your “typical” frilly pink patterns you often see, but a group of fun and exciting designs. I especially like the Free From Hat by breast cancer survivor, Margaret Hubert. It has wonderful bits of texture mixed with traditional stitches. I also absolutely love the Pineapple Scarf by Joyce Nordstrom. I must admit, I am quite terrible at pineapples, but this pattern uses larger yarn and I absolutely love the use of vertical lines to build the scarf!

At the end of the book, stitch directions and helpful hints are included so you have a point of reference, just in case you need it. Trust me, you will not be disappointed!

And now here’s the best part – you can win a copy of this book! All you need to do is “like” my Facebook page and “like” this post on Facebook and you’ll be entered. I’ll pick a winner at random on Friday, March 14th.

Tunisian crochet and class giveaway:

A close-up of the Tunisian Simple Stitch.

While Tunisian crochet has been around for ages, it has really taken off in popularity in recent years. What was originally known as “afghan stitch,” Tunisian crochet has developed into a beautiful way to create a variety of projects. Many think it has a “mixed” look of knit and crochet.

Unfortunately, many crocheters think Tunisian is difficult. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth! The way I look at this style is an “interrupted” series of stitches. You do the first part of a crochet stitch as you progress and collect stitches on the hook. Then on the return, you finish each stitch. That’s what gives your project a combination of the woven/knitted look.


And now for the giveaway…

You can learn Tunisian Crochet for free! Craftsy has allowed me to give away one enrollment in their Tunisian Crochet online class. Taught by Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva Studios, you will learn all the ins and outs of Tunisian. I truly admire Jennifer. she has turned her business that she has started on her own into a fiber arts powerhouse. Both her designs and her teaching style are top notch.

So how do you get to win enrollment? Just click here to complete an entry form to enter to win this Craftsy class! A winner will be picked at the end of the month.

Wait, I have one more giveaway!
Just as a bonus, the person that won the last book giveaway never contacted me, so I’ll be picking a second book winner for a copy of Fair Isle Style. Make sure you like the post on my Facebook page for this post to be entered!

So I hope you enjoyed my post today and continue to follow the blog tour. And make sure you keep stitching!

Save the Penguins!

Oiled penguin in a knitted wool jumper
(Phillip Island Nature Parks. – Supplied)

Anyone who knits, crochets, weaves, quilts, or does anything creative for that matter, is well aware how many worthwhile organizations need various handmade items to help their cause. Yesterday, thanks to many friends on Facebook, I learned of an important – and incredibly cute – project. Keeping penguins warm!

The Penguin Foundation of Australia has asked knitters to make pullovers for penguins in rehab. The penguins caught in oil spills need these little jumpers to keep warm and to stop them from trying to clean the toxic oil off with their beaks. As a result, they have an adorable jumper pattern to keep the little guys warm! They are asking knitters to make jumpers to help with their efforts.

The Penguin Foundation is based at Phillip Island, which is known for having a large penguin colony.

As many of you know, I am far from an accomplished knitter. So I did some searching and found a penguin jumper crochet pattern. I am definitely going to make some and send them down under!

They ask that jumpers are made from wool or other natural fiber.

The Penguin Foundation was established to protect and preserve one of Australia’s most important natural assets – the little penguin.

This organization aims to provide a dedicated source of funding to support little penguin conservation projects. These include little penguin rescue and rehabilitation in the event of a man-made disaster; building new little penguin nesting areas; monitoring little penguin health and behavior; protecting the little penguins’ natural environment; and contributing funding to the vital Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre on Phillip Island. Since its establishment in 2006, the Penguin Foundation has raised over $1.5 million.

Little penguins are only found in southern Australia and New Zealand. In Australia little penguin colonies are scattered around the coastline from near Perth on the west coast, to Sydney on the east coast, and around Tasmania. Phillip Island has only one remaining little penguin colony. Phillip Island is home to an estimated 32,000 little penguins. Current estimates put the total little penguin population at one million.

Book Review: Fair Isle Style

Since most of the country has been in a deep freeze lately, I figured the next book review should be about making patterns that help keep you warm!


This book review is about Fair Isle Style: 20 Fresh Designs for a Classic Technique. This book is full of lovely sweaters, gloves, fingerless gloves, mittens, and socks, to name a few. The collection of twenty patterns assembled by Mary Jane Mucklestone is truly inspiration.

The concept of “Fair Isle” knitting has been produced continuously for more than two hundred years, originating in Fair Isle, a tiny island in the northernmost archipelago of the British Isles.

While I do not knit well enough to attempt any of these patterns, I can certainly appreciate what it takes to knit these wonderful creations. Many patterns come with both written instructions as well as detailed charts. The book starts with a lovely introduction to Fair Isle along with the history of the style. The photography is great and the pieces are just lovely. As I flipped through the book, I especially liked the Mushroom Kelliemuffs – I am a huge fan of fingerless mittens. And I absolutely LOVE the Valenzi Cardigan. I can definitely see myself wrapped up in it!

There is a “design notebook” at the back of the book that includes how to make good yarn choices and how to knit in the Fair Isle tradition. It also includes a little bit about color theory, which I always love to read about and learn more! Just like most books, it includes a glossary of terms and instructions of different stitches required to complete the different patterns.

Like I said, I am far from an expert knitter. But this is a great book I am sure any knitter would love to have it in their library!

And as usual, this book can be yours!

Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, February 7th. Good luck!

Book Review: Felt It!

In recent years I have been doing a lot more felting and fulling. I am amazed at how strong the finished fabric can be while still offering a delicate look. There are a variety of great books that have come on the market in recent years that have brought felting and fulling to the masses. That’s where the book Felt It!: 20 Fun & Fabulous Projects to Knit & Felt
comes in.

I feel at this point it is important to make a distinction I learned when I first headed down this path. Felting and fulling are not the same. In technique, the concept of felting is taking fiber and either agitating it with hot water or using a barbed needle to create fabric. Fulling is taking a finished piece of cloth (knit, crochet, etc.) and exposing it to hot water and friction in order to make it shrink considerably. For example, if you have ever put a 100 percent wool sweater in the wash with hot water and it shrunk? You just fulled fabric!

Now, I’m not exactly sure how or why the term “felting” is now used when referring to both traditional felting as well as fulling, but if you start to do more of these projects, I wanted to make sure I used the right terms!

So the book Felt It! really has fulled projects, but they are still just great! You need some knitting skills, but there are projects for every skill level in this book. The directions are clearly written and it starts with a great introduction to this entire process, including troubleshooting tips. If this is the first time you are trying to do this process, I highly suggest reading it before you begin!

One project that immediately struck me as I flipped through the book was the Tri-Petal Flower Bracelet. The pearls as final touches it really finishes it off! The Folded Brim Crochet definitely has a touch of nostalgia to it and the Elegant Lily project is simply amazing! I honestly don’t think there was one project in this book I didn’t like. If you decide to pick it up, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Or, you could simply win this copy!

As usual, the rules are simple…
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday, January 15th. Good luck!

Upcoming Fiber Arts Exhibit: Coal – Not in Any Backyard

The following is a press release from a wonderfully gifted fiber artist Bonnie Meltzer. The exhibit will be at the Buckley Center Gallery, University of Portland and will run from January 13th until February 6th. A reception will be held Saturday, January 18th from 2:00 – 4:00 with a short gallery talk at 3:00. I hope you check it out!

Coal mined from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming would travel on barges and trains through our beloved Northwest (including the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area) and on to Asia by mega-ships. At the time of this writing, three out of the six coal terminals are still waiting for permits to be approved or denied.  Three of the original six proposals have withdrawn but the three left would have a destructive daily impact. Dozens of trains will stop traffic and spew toxins.  Meltzer not only makes art about the issue but testifies at hearings, organized an informational rally, and writes a Facebook page about coal.

Born in New Jersey, Meltzer came west to get her MFA in Design at the University of Washington — and she never left. She has exhibited throughout the Northwest and across the nation.  Her work is in many private and public collections including the the National Science Foundation, the City of Portland, the Community Music Center and the University of Washington School of Business. The sculpture, “Global Warming”, which will be shown at this University of Portland exhibition, is on the cover of the new book The Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler.

When Meltzer saw Thom Caccamo’s ceramic fish skeleton series and Kelly Neidig’s traffic and cloud paintings she invited them to exhibit with her. Their artworks fit right into the coal and environment theme.

Book Review: Op-Art Socks

I mentioned in my fiber plans for 2014 I want to make another pair of socks and I want to try more knitting. Well, the first book review includes both those skills, but I think they will be a little too much for me to try right now. It is, however, a great book!


Since the northeast is in for some incredibly cold weather, I thought the perfect fist book review for 2014 would be about making great socks! Op-Art Socks: Creative Effects in Sock Knitting by Stephanie Van Der Linden is pure eye candy! It includes patterns for both men and women and every pattern comes with a chart.

The book starts with a “socks 101″ explanation, which was a very easy read. It also includes helpful hints on how to read charts. Many patterns  have amazing geometrics mixed with color. As I flipped through the different patterns, it was really hard to pick a favorite – each pattern is more amazing than the next!

Of all of them, three patterns did really catch my eye. First, I loved the circular motion of “Victor.” The simplistic use of black and white really lets the pattern shine through. Another great pattern is “Alhambra.” I’m generally not a big pink fan, but I just love the shapes used in the pattern. Each time I looked at the photo from a different angle, you could see a different shape. Finally, I really like “Symmetry” done in blues and purples. As much as I try to break the habit, I do love symmetry in my work so this pattern definitely speaks to me!

The photos are great and each pattern starts with an explanation about a specific artist and the thought behind each pattern. While I am far from a knitting expert, the patterns seems to be very well written and easy to read.

As usual, it does have my one pet peeve – a standard book binding instead of a spiral binding. To me, it just makes pattern books easier to use, but I am sure it is far more costly than doing a perfect binding.

Other than the binding, this is a great book you will certainly enjoy. And as usual, this book can be yours!

Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

Plus, the winner of Cozy Knits: 50 Fast & Easy Projects from Top Designers never came forward, so I’ll be picking a new winner for that book as well. Considering the terrible weather we are in for the next few days, this is a perfect book!
I’ll pick the lucky winner on January 5th. Good luck!

My 2014 Fiber Plans

So as the calendar turns, we all look to make resolutions and plans for the upcoming year. Many have the usual plans – get in shape, lose weight, and spend more time with family to name a few. Well, I make a fiber resolution list as well. Here are my plans…

First, I really want to spend more time learning to weave. I started taking a great class on Craftsy, but as usual, other issues got in the way. I hope to spend time learning and improving my weaving skills. If you haven’t checked out Craftsy, it is definitely worth it. And they have plenty of free classes! I would also love to pick up a Zoom Loom and give that a try!

Next, I want to make another pair of socks. I made a pair awhile ago and I am not going to lie, it was tough. But I am determined to give it another try. There are so many great patterns out there, I am truly inspired!

A year or so ago I did an interpretation of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass windows. I would like to do more interpretations of other works of art. I think that will require some visits to some of the great museums in NYC. I know – it will be a tough assignment, but I will take it on.

I want to create more patterns. I have been sketching out some great ideas, but need to put hook to yarn and get them going and sent to publishers for consideration. I plan also to self publish a few! Along similar lines, I really want to write more articles. I felt very lucky to have a few pieces published in the magazine Inside Crochet in 2013. I am hoping for continued success in 2014.

Following along with artistic crochet, I would love to try to do some artistic felting. There is a great book I have been drooling over The Art of Felt: Inspirational Designs, Textures, and Surfaces
for awhile and I would love to give the techniques in the book a try.

I would like to give knitting another try. Years ago (and I mean years) I made a hat and scarf and that was it. I would like to see if I can get a little better at it. Another skill I would like to work on improving is hairpin lace. Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva Studios offers great instruction both on her site and Craftsy.

Finally, I want to work on my spinning skills. Just like my weaving, my spinning fell to the wayside in 2013. I really want to get started again. The classes offered by both Craftsy and the Journey to the Golden Fleece can certainly provide some great inspiration!

Well, that’s it. It is an ambitious list, but I hope to achieve all of it. What about you? I would love to hear about your fiber resolutions for 2014!

My Fiber Christmas List

So Christmas is right around the corner and I just realized I haven’t sent Santa my fibery Christmas list! So here we go…

Let’s start out with something I have always wanted to try – Pure Qiviut Yarn. This type of yarn is the ultimate in decadence. It is incredibly soft and depending on the brand, it is available in some absolutely wonderful colors. It also has a hefty price tag. I definitely want to try it out at some point, but it would have to be for a VERY special (and small) project.

Once I have that wonderful yarn, I would need an equally special crochet hook to make my project. So the next item on my list is the Celtic Swan Forge crochet hook. Each hook is a hand-made work of art. John Swan Sheeran works in both silver and gold. I know people that have John’s hooks and they are just wonderful!

This year I started (slowly) to weave using a Cricket Loom. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to use it. There is, however, a new weaving tool I would love to give a try and it is from the maker of my lovely spinning wheel. Majacraft is now making a circular loom and it looks like a lot of fun! And along with that Majacraft loom, I would need to register for the Golden Fleece Fiber Creativity Certificate. The course helps to help boost your creativity and get started with a circular loom. (By the way, stay tuned for an upcoming post about the program!)

I would love to do more needle and wet felting and I really like the idea of doing landscapes in felt.  The book Art in Felt & Stitch: Creating Beautiful Works of Art Using Fleece, Fibres and Threads is a great way to learn about how to get started in felting landscapes.
Continuing along the lines of spinning, I would LOVE to have a pocket wheel someday. I met the designer at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival a few years ago and it is definitely  on my “want” list!

Finally, I would love to get a Moosie spindle from Journey Wheel. These one-of-a-kind spindles are made from moose antler. They are so popular, there is actually a waiting list to purchase one. I played with one once and it was a dream!

So there’s my list Santa! I am sure as soon as I post this I’ll think “oh wait! I forgot…” I would love to hear what’s on your list!

Coffee, Create, Sleep