Book Review: Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies

My pattern is the hat and mittens on the sleeping baby.
My pattern is the hat and mittens on the sleeping baby.

Every so often I am lucky enough to have a pattern accepted for publication. Well, today, I am especially lucky to review a book that has two patterns in the same book! As an added bonus, one of them made it to the back cover. I had no idea until the book arrived at my home.

Today’s book review is Crochet One-Skein Wonders® for Babies: 101 Projects for Infants & Toddlers. This book is, obviously, all about adorable patterns for the wee little ones. There is a huge variety of patterns for every style preference and crochet ability.  The book is broken out into sections like “Hats and Caps” and “Socks and Booties” so you can find the exact type of project you would like to make. The printing of the book is very well done with clear (and absolutely adorable) photos. If you prefer charts over written instructions, you are covered as well.

The back of the book contains a glossary section with easy-to-understand explanations of different stitches and techniques. There are also diagrams when appropriate. Additionally, you read the biographies of the different designers…including me!

As usual, I have my standard complaint – no spiral-bound spine. I understand that it is probably much more expensive to use, but when you are following a pattern, I think it makes a huge difference when you don’t have to fight with keeping the book flat.

There are so many adorable patterns, it is hard to choose! The Pink Camouflage Cap, the Cuddly Snuggly Elephant (my family collects elephants), and the Pocket Dolly are definitely among my favorites.  The Zucchini Sack and Cap is just the best! Trust me when I tell you, there are plenty of great patterns in this book.

And now you can win this book! 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, June 3rd. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner!

Be Not Afraid to Show Your Creativity

Growing up I often heard the hymn “Be Not Afraid.”

Be not afraid,
I go before you always,
Come follow Me,
and I shall give you rest.

be-not-afraidThen during the reign of “House” on television, there was a far more comical use of the phrase “be not afraid.”

The phrase “be not afraid” has been used in multiple situations; comical, inspirational, and religious. Today, however, I am talking about using it in your creative ventures.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the annual CGOA event in New Hampshire. While I was there, I attended an event led by the Stitch Diva herself – Jennifer Hansen.

At the time, she was taking the self-publishing front by storm. She was leading a round table about how to self-publish and how to get your designs in the public space. I listened to the discussion and absorbed everything she said. As the discussion was wrapping up, I quietly asked her about concerns of what people think when you are first getting started. Her answer? “Who cares? Just put your ideas out there.”

In other words – be not afraid.

This has always been hard for me. In all areas of my life. “What if I am not taken seriously?” “What if people laugh?” Those questions continue to plague me even at my age.

As a result, I have avoided many opportunities to design and publish my pattern ideas and express my creativity.

So recently I decided to start taking drawing classes; something I have wanted to do for years but have never acted. I attended a free seminar at Michael’s last week on basic sketching. I completed two items:

building ShadedSpheresObviously, I am far from a great master. But taking a class, and more importantly, sharing my results, are both big steps for me.

Unfortunately, the drawing and sketching classes at Michael’s are held mostly during standard working hours. So I am going to sign up for a class or two on Craftsy. I plan on starting with Patricia Watwood’s 10 Essential Techniques for Better Drawing. My goal is to use these classes as another way to spark my creativity and learn to “be not afraid.”

Book Review: Crocheted Abode à la Mode

crochet foodA number of years ago a friend and I crocheted a few different foodie-style items for the New Jersey State Fair Arts & Crafts competition. We won a third place ribbon. They were fun little patterns we made up together. Little did we know at the time foodie-crochet would become a “thing.”

Cue today’s book review.

Twinkie Chan’s Crocheted Abode a la Mode: 20 Yummy Crochet Projects for Your Home is all about turning everyone’s favorite foods into adorable crochet projects.  This book is perfect for someone with a child in their life that loves to play kitchen.  They are obviously nice and soft so there will be no hard corners that will cause scratches.  There are also some really cute house-and-home projects. I particularly like the cherry pie seat cushion. I can see it going well in an American-country-style home. I must admit the licorice all-sorts afghan made me smile. It made me think of when my Aunt Florence came to visit my Grandma because she had a dream that she needed to bring her all-sorts.  A great memory indeed. And I can easily see the giant donut floor pouf as a great accessory for a dorm room.

The directions are very well written and are easy to understand. The photography is nice and clear so you can really see what you are doing. If you are a crocheter who prefers to work from charts, I am sorry, but there are none in this book.

There are some patterns in the book that are just not my cup of tea. I didn’t care for the banana split throw pillow or the cheeseburger tissue box cozy. Not that there is anything wrong with them; they just aren’t as interesting to me as other patterns in the book.

As usual, this book fulfills my one pet peeve – no flat spine. It is a perfect-bound book. I wish all craft books (crochet and knitting especially) would have a spiral-bound spine so they can lay flat while you are working on your project.

Other than that, I can say if you are into foodie-crochet, you will definitely enjoy this book.

And now you can win this book! 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 8th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner!

National Crochet Month Blog Tour 2016

To everyone who is checking out my blog for the first time – welcome! I hope you enjoy my post and will come back again.

I want to thank Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka, the co-owners of Crochetville. They put in a tremendous amount of time putting the blog tour together and I am truly grateful for all their efforts. If you aren’t familiar with their site, I highly suggest you check it out.  It is a great resource for information and crochet friendship.

I am blessed to receive samples of many books. I enjoy reading through them, sharing my thoughts on them with my readership, and then I give them away! For my blog tour day, I have another great book review and give-away.

And now without further delay, my book review. This post – Crochet Bouquet: Easy Designs for Dozens of Flowers from Suzann Thompson.

I love small projects. Scarves, small household items, you name it. I especially love when I can add some type of embellishment to it. That’s where Crochet Bouquet comes in.

Crochet BouquetThis book has something for every crochet level and style. It begins with a introduction from Suzann. It talks about her love of flowers since childhood. After she discovered the use of flowers in Irish crochet, she learned how to combine her love of flowers and her love of crochet.

Something I especially love is that the book shows these beautiful flowers used on non-crochet and non-knit items, like jeans and backpacks.  Another reason I think these flowers are great is that they can be used in free form projects. If you aren’t familiar with free form, I highly suggest you check out four of my favorite free form fiber artists: Prudence Mapstone, Margaret Hubert, Myra Wood, and the original James Walters. These small pieces, mixed with some scrumbles here and there and poof! An awesome free form project!

I always try to pick a favorite project in each book I review, but I have to say it was really hard this time.  I really like the Mumsy and the Sunflower. The foliage at the end of the book also can add a nice finishing touch to the flower patterns. What I think is great is that Suzann provides the “basic” pattern, and then shows how to “embellish” the embellishment. Brilliant!

Ultimately, any crocheter would love this book. I plan on purchasing one for myself.

And now you can win this book! 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, March 25th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner!

2016 Crochet Wish List

So I love making wish lists related to my love of fiber arts. Since this is National Crochet Month, I figure this is the perfect time to share my wish list for 2016. This list is focused on just crochet as opposed to my greater love of fiber arts in general.

The Hay Farmer’s Wife: Of course my list will have to include a few crochet hooks. This hook artist is relatively new to Etsy. The Hay Farmer’s Wife makes crochet hooks from branches pruned from her apple orchard. I love the rustic look and that they come from a fourth generation apple orchard.

Celtic Swan: This hook as been on my list for awhile now and some Celtic Swan Forgeday I will break down and purchase one. The Celtic Swan makes hand-forged silver hooks that are simply stunning. Some day I will break down and purchase one.

Batsford Book of Crochet: This is a classic crochet book with a focus on free form. This book can be hard to find and occasionally quite expensive. I just found a copy and ordered it this morning, so while I “technically” own it, I felt like I should still include it on my list.

Hook Holder: So once you have all these wonderful crochet hooks, you need to have something to show them all off. Rparishwoodworks makes beautiful hook holders.

Walnut & Cherry Hook: Of course, I have another crochet hook want. QuinnHandMade offers a beautiful hook that shows off the beauty of natural wood.

Buffalo Wool CompanyBuffalo Wool: One of the most amazing fibers is bison. And the Buffalo Wool Company provides some of the best bison yarn available. I have felt it in person at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival and it truly lives up to expectations!

Qiviut Yarn: Another truly decadent yarn is made from Qiviut. What is qiviut yarn you might ask? It is the undercoat of the muskox and is eight times warmer than wool and finer than cashmere. Extremely rare, Qiviut is hypoallergenic and will not shrink. There are several different brands and I honestly can’t recommend one as my favorite brand has been discontinued. But it is definitely worth the hunt!

I hope this gets your create crochet juices flowing. What is on your crochet must-have list?

Need Help with Crochet? Join the CGOA?

Crochet Guild of AmericaNo matter your level of crochet, you can always learn more. A great organization for that is the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Complete with an online discussion group, in-person conventions, and free patterns, the CGOA offers some great membership perks.

The 2016 CGOA convention will be held this year in South Carolina. I’ve had the opportunity to attend one of these annual events and it was great! Picture several days of nothing but crochet classes, get-togethers, yarn shopping, and of course friendship! It was an awesome event and I highly recommend everyone attends the convention at least once.

As part of your membership, you get a subscription to Crochet! magazine, discounts from many different retailers, free patterns just for members, and much more. Many areas even have local guilds for in-person meetings. There are also several committees to volunteer with.

So if you would like to join a great community, National Crochet Month is the perfect time to join the CGOA!

All Aboard The Crochet Express

March is National Crochet Express and there are some awesome events planned!

National Crochet Month 2016Thanks to the great efforts of Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka, Co-Owners
Crochetville, there are some great events planned. Want to check the special events that will take place every day? Check out the complete list on Crochetville.

My post day is March 20th and I’ll be doing a special giveaway. I hope you join in on the fun!

Trust Your Instincts and Be Confident

So I’ve been away from blogging for awhile. I’ve had a lot going on and really missed sharing my thoughts and ideas with all of you. But I am definitely back.

I had an experience recently I wanted to share with all of you. It was a hard, but good, life lesson.

crochet braided scarf
Credit: DIY Smartly

Recently, a friend sent me a link to a crochet pattern to ask if I could crochet one for her. When I looked at the photo I was shocked. This awesome design on DIY Smartly is very similar to an idea I had several years ago.

Now before you start to think this designer stole I idea, I do not believe that at all.  How do I know this? Because I only showed it to one person at a yarn company several years ago – when it was rejected. As a matter of fact, the person I showed it to disliked it so much I never did anything with it. It has been stuck in my notebook ever since.

So why am I sharing this? Because it has taught me a valuable lesson.

I put too much value on the feedback from the person at the yarn company. I thought because they decided on designs for the company they had a better instinct than I did.

Ultimately, I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust my abilities. I didn’t have confidence in my work.

Confidence has always been a hard concept for me to grasp. I always question if my work is good enough to share. I can’t tell you how many ideas and pieces I have made over the years that have been seen by no one but my husband.

Now this isn’t the first time this has happened. But for some reason, this was the one that made me change my thinking. I am going to trust my instincts more and have confidence in my work.

So stay tuned for new work!

Knitting with Your Mobile: The Best Apps for Knitters

So I am a little behind on my blog posts lately. There’s been a lot going on here in New Jersey with LOTS of fiber arts activities! I wanted to share this great blog post that was submitted to me. I hope you all enjoy it!

Knitting AppsTechnology has done wonders for the modern-day knitter. Where in the past you had to scour and pore over old knitting books for your patterns or ask your knitting circle for ideas and help, we now have the convenience of the internet and hundreds of thousands of websites dedicated to knitting, and now you can even use your phone as a tool to help you knit.

The company behind gaming website Spin Genie, observed that “There were an estimated 1 billion Smartphone users at the end of 2012, representing 17% of total mobile users”. Because of this, app developers have made everything you could ever need, and there’s truly an app for every niche now. The knitting community has also come together to produce quality apps for every knitter’s needs. If you’re interested in using your smartphone as a tool for knitting, check out these three apps:

1. Knitting Patterns Database
Knitting Patterns Database (KPD) is a great app that does just what it advertises – it gives users easy access to thousands of knitting patterns. But that’s not all. Providing “the functionality of over 20 knitting apps all in one place”, the app also catalogs the patterns and allows users to search based on Gender, Garment Type, Yarn Type, Yarn Weight/Length, Needles, Gauge, Rating, Notes. You can even catalog your own yarn stash to keep things organize.

2. knitCompanion
Perhaps the closest we will ever get to an iKnit app, knitCompanion arranges and combines knitting patterns, keys, charts, and written instructions into one easy-to-navigate piece. There are also row markers and row-based reminders, audible reminders, counters, stitch markers and more. Sure, the app looks a little drabby, but it more than makes up for that with functionality.

3. Ravelry Mobile
While not an app per se, the mobile version of Ravelry is a sight to behold. If you’re already a user of the website, you can log into it using your mobile phone, and the website that’s been optimized for smaller screens and slower internet connections has just about all the functionality of its full-sized counterpart. Right now you can upload and download pattern PDFs, upload photos of projects, look at your queue, search for yarn stores, and browse and reply to threads in the forum.

Do you know of any other apps that help satisfy your knitting needs?

Big Book Giveaway!

I love having the opportunity to provide all of you with book reviews of the latest and greatest books available and then give them away! Unfortunately, sometimes the winners do not contact me so I can ship them their new book. As a result, I have a stack of books I have never been able to give away. Well, today is a new opportunity to give them all away again!

Here’s how it will work. I’m going to list all the books below with links to the entire review so you can read through it. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page and “like” the post for this blog post on Facebook. Leave a comment on the Facebook post as to which book you would like if you win. On Friday night, April 17th, I’ll pick winners from the comments left until all the books are gone! PLEASE be sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are a winner. You will need to PM me your address so I can ship you your book.

And without further delay…

How to Crochet: I have two copies of this one! This is a great book for people who are just getting started no matter your age. Sara Delaney provides step-by-step in clear and plain language.

Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop: This book truly lives up to its name. It is a complete workshop that will definitely build your skills no matter if you consider yourself a beginner or an expert.

The Knowledgeable Knitter: Just like the Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop, The Knowledgeable Knitter is perfect for any skill level. You will definitely gain keen insights that will make your knitting projects successful.

Scottish Knits: This is my most recent book review and it puts a new twist on an old favorite. I would not necessarily consider this a book with projects for beginners, but you will certainly improve your skills with every project!

So that’s it! I please ask that if you are going to participate, to be sure to check back next weekend to see if you are a winner. I want all these great books to find new homes!

Coffee, Create, Sleep