Book Review & Giveaway: How to Knit; How to Crochet

While you may consider yourself a champion crocheter or a knowledgeable knitter, you started just like everyone else – struggling to learn stitches, watching videos, and reading beginner books. As your confidence grew, you probably purchased more books with a wide variety of patterns and techniques. But you were always grateful for those first few books that helped you get started.

Enter two of the newest books from Storey. How to Knit: Learn the Basic Stitches and Techniques. A Storey Basics® Title
and How to Crochet: Learn the Basic Stitches and Techniques. A Storey Basics® Title
are perfect for individuals who are just beginning their knitting or crocheting journey. They start at the very beginning with the tools of the trade and parts of the crochet hook. The knitting book even has a section on points to remember for left-handers. All of it is presented in straightforward language so anyone can follow the steps and gain confidence to become a master of fiber arts.

The inside of the book is in basic black and white with detailed drawings that are easy to understand. The directions are simply presented so these books are perfect for children as well as adults. Their small size makes them perfect for keeping in your project bag.

The How to Crochet author, Sara Delaney, has been crocheting since she was a child. She provides instruction at WEBS and the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair. Her designs have been published by Coats & Clark and WEBS, as well as independently. Check out her blog at: chickenbetty.wordpress.com.

How to Knit author Leslie Ann Bestor is a knitting teacher and manager at WEBS. Previously, she authored Cast On, Bind Off. She is also a weaver and has been published in Handwoven magazine.

As usual, my one complaint is that they are perfect bound so they do not fold flat. Yes, I know, I sound like a broken record, but this is an important feature for me.

So this book giveaway is extra special. I have not one copy of each book to give away, but two! So we will have four winners this week! 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 two winners!

I’ll pick all four winners on March 7th. Good luck and happy stitching!

Book Review: The Knowledgeable Knitter

So I realized this week I am very delinquent in two things – blog posts and book reviews. Well, here is the beginning of getting back on track.

Anyone who knows me is keenly aware that my knitting skills are greatly lacking. However, I really enjoyed reviewing Margaret Radcliffe’s book The Knowledgeable Knitter: Understand the Inner Workings of Knitting and Make Every Project a Success. No matter the level of a knitter, you will learn a lot from this book.

Margaret begins with understanding both a written pattern and a schematic. Her book then moves into measurements, yarn selection, fixing mistakes, and even adapting a pattern to meet your specific wants and needs. The big beautiful photos really show the details of each technique. If my basic knitting skills were a little better, I am confident this book would give me a greater opportunity for project success.

Chapter seven, Putting It All Together, makes sure that all your hard work on each individual piece will turn into a finished project that will be a work of art!

Margaret answers every “why” and “how do I” knitting question that you may ever have. I promise you, you will have a great level of confidence in your knitting after reading this book.

My only complaint is my usual – lack of a spiral binding so the book can lay flat. However, it isn’t quite as important in this book since  I consider it more of a “reading” book than a “pattern” book. Regardless of the binding, it is a book worthy of reaching into your pocket to make a purchase.

But you may not have to make a purchase! I have not one, but TWO copies to give away! 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 two winners!

I’ll pull the winners on Friday, February 6th. Good luck!

My 2015 Fiber Resolution List

At the beginning of each year, many promise to lose weight, get in shape, save more money, or other typical resolutions. Well, I make a fiber-related resolution list. Here’s mine for 2015.

Socks: I made a pair of socks awhile ago and it went, well – okay. I would like to give it another try.
Spin: I haven’t had much time to spin the last few years and I really miss it. I definitely want to give my Rose more use.
Fibery Goodness: At the end of last year, I started a class called The Journey of the Golden Fleece. It is all about spinning and challenging your creativity. I wasn’t 100% happy with my work for the first module. I am half-way through the second module and am giving it much more attention. I feel like I am making good progress. I want to continue my momentum and get the most I can out of the class!
Knitting: I am primarily a crocheter. I do other fiber crafts, but I have always struggled with knitting. I would really like to improve my knitting skills so that I can confidently do at least basic projects.
Felting: Along with doing more knitting, I would like to do more felting – both needle and wet.
Weaving: I bought a loom awhile ago and the first attempt at weaving is still on it. I want to rip it all out and start all over again.
Learn to sketch: This may sound like a funny one. What does sketching have to do with the fiber arts? Well, if you design patterns, it has a lot to do with it. When submitting patterns ideas, many publishers, yarn companies, and the like, prefer to have a sketch of the pattern idea. While I have always want to improve my artistic skills, I have never been able to do so. This year I really want to make that a focus.
Continue to learn: What might be most important is that I want to continue to learn and broaden my horizons. I love all the different fiber arts and look forward to learning as much as I can!

So that’s my list! It may sound like an aggressive list, but I am hopeful I can accomplish it!

What are your fiber resolutions? Share them here or on my Facebook page.

My Fibery Christmas List

So as the kids are making their Christmas lists, I thought I should do mine as well. Of course my list has a fiber-arts spin to it. Here are my top picks for my Christmas list.

Celtic Swan Crochet Hooks: This is the second time this has been on my Christmas list. I may just break down and purchase one in 2015. The crochet hooks by Celtic Swan are just beautiful works of art! Hand forged from pure silver, they are hand buffed so yarn slides right through.

Yarn Switft: Like many fiber fanatics, I hate winding yarn from a hank to a ball. I’ve had a winder for several years, but I am sure it will make life much easier if I had a swift to go with it. This yarn swift from Knit Picks I think is a solid choice.

Bison Yarn: There are a lot of beautiful yarns available – and some of them can be a bit pricey. One I have always wanted to try was Bison Yarn. The Buffalo Yarn Company offers some of the finest bison yarn I’ve ever seen. Warm and soft, I’m sure a ball or two would make a very nice project!

Morgans Mane crochet hook
Crochet hook by Morgans Mane

MorgansMane Crochet Hook: I love collecting crochet hooks. And MorgansMane offers some that really lovely. This crochet hook with amethyst is high on my list!

Hook Holder: Now at this point, I definitely need something to show off my hooks. So a hook holder would be a nice addition to my fiber collection. RParishWoodWorks makes some very nice holders. Along with the MorgansMane hook, I may need to make a purchase in 2015.

Time: At the end of the day, all of us want more time. Like many, I never have enough time available. I definitely want more time to…play with fiber more! So what is on your fiber arts Christmas list? Make sure to share!

Magazine Review: DIY Holiday 2014

DIY holiday
DIY Holiday 2014: The Crafting Life Interweave/F+W; $9.99

This time I don’t have a book review, but a magazine review. When I first saw the announcement for DIY Holiday 2014, I just knew it was going to be great!

There’s a wide variety of different projects for every level crafter. Whether you like crochet, spinning, mixed media, or jewelry, there’s something there for you. The best part is that all the projects keep budget in mind.

I absolutely love the crochet lights garland and the Christmas trees. Another nice surprise was the directions to make a CD spindle for yarn spinning. When I talk to individuals about getting started in spinning, I recommend making a spindle using CDs and a dowel. It avoids the need to make a purchase when you aren’t sure you if you will like it. The directions in this issue are straightforward to follow and get started spinning!

Holiday Flower Lights
Holiday Flower Lights

A while back I picked up a Zoom Loom. I haven’t had much of a chance to use it up to this point. DIY Holiday includes a project idea for it so I really have no excuse!

I’ve always wanted to give jewelry making a try and the Olympic coin necklace looks like a lot of fun.

The directions for all the different projects are easy to follow and nicely presented in the magazine. There are nice close-up shots of the different projects so you can see necessary details. I highly recommend it.

Best of all, F&W sent me three copies to give away to my readers! As an added bonus, I never heard back from one of the Christmas Crochet book giveaway winners, so I have four items to give away this week!

As usual, the rules to enter are simple:

1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick FOUR winners!

I’ll pull the winners on Friday, November 28th. Good luck!

Book Review: Christmas Crochet

Anyone who does any type of craft knows that Christmas arrives before you know it! I always wind up scrambling at the end trying to put the finishing touches on several gifts for family and friends. I am also always on the hunt for new and unique patterns. Well Edie Eckman has come out with a new book that helps provide great pattern ideas for Christmas gifts.

Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home & Tree: Stockings, Ornaments, Garlands, and More offers innovative patterns for every ability level. The book is broken down into three sections: “For the Hearth,” “For the Home,” and “For the Tree.” In the “For the Hearth” section, there’s a multitude of different fun stocking patterns in great color combinations. In the “For the Tree” section, designers provide different garland patterns, ornaments, stuffed critters, and a tree skirt. Finally, the “For the Home” section is all about pretty bows, table top trees to adorn the table, and comfy pillows.

As I flipped through the book, I absolutely loved the little mittens for the Advent Garland. I could see making them individually to top off a nicely-wrapped gift instead of using a store-bought bow. I can easily see nestling the Bird Trio in the tree. And I absolutely couldn’t decide which I liked more – the Snow Storm Stocking or the Ripple Stitch Stocking!

As usual, my only complaint about this book – or any pattern book for that matter – is that it has a perfect-bound binding. I much prefer when a pattern book is spiral-bound so it can lay flat while following a pattern. But I am sure that is a very expensive process. The most important part – the patterns – are absolutely great! They provide detailed directions as well as stitch charts, so regardless of how you like to follow a pattern, they have you covered. Several patterns have close-up photos so you can really see stitch details easily. I can say with confidence any crocheter will have no problem finishing these patterns in time for Christmas!

And now, as usual, this book can be yours! This time I have not one, but TWO copies to give away! As usual, the rules to enter are simple:

1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick two winners!

I will pick the winners on Saturday, November 1, so you have an entire week to enter! Good luck!

Book Review: The Spinner’s Book of Fleece

Back in 2006 a discussion group I belonged to decided to do a fiber study. Each member picked a type of fiber, researched it, purchased raw fiber, cleaned it, spun it, and then plied it. We then sent everything to one person who had the dubious job of assembling all this information into binders and mailing them to each person. It was a great exercise and I know we all learned a lot.

2006-breed-study-open-binder
The Coopworth pages from our fiber study in 2006.

Fast forward to 2014.

There is now a great book available that covers what we did and a lot more. The Spinner’s Book of Fleece: A Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose
is an amazing book that I am enjoying reading. It is written in a conversational tone so it is an easy read. It goes beyond a straightforward explanation of the different breeds and talks about how to pick a fleece, how to protect your fiber, and different ways of spinning your fiber for projects. It also talks about different spinning equipment and even how to maintain your wheel.

Author Beth Smith breaks down the different fibers into four simple groups: fine, long, down, and multicoat. She also has a “miscellaneous” category. She then goes into all the approaches you can take when spinning your fiber into yarn. She talks about drafting, using a lazy Kate, how to clean your fiber, and carding, to name a few techniques.

What I think I like best about this book is how well Beth breaks everything down into easy-to-understand bits of info. Even if you don’t spin, you will find this book helpful with your weaving, crochet, and knitting projects as she covers fiber information for each art form! I definitely see myself reading this book cover-to-cover.

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 October 2nd. Trust me when I tell you, you definitely want to be in this giveaway. Good luck!

What to do with cotton yarn

I absolutely LOVE cotton yarn. There are more colors available than every before, it feels softer than ever before, and is a great value. I will admit, however, I do struggle from time to time with ideas for cotton.

There are plenty of bath scrubbies and dish cloth patterns available – regular favorites for this type of yarn – but beyond that, I really have a hard time finding something to use the yarn that I love. I’ll make scrunchies out of anything, including cotton; but what else?

CottonSlippers1Well, I’m starting to do a hard search for patterns that work well with cotton. Last week I made these really cute slippers!

My next cotton projects will be this really nice coffee cozy and this cute mug cozy. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a tad of a coffee problem. And because I am an angler, I have to make these adorable little puffer fish!

What do you make with cotton yarn? I would love to hear your thoughts?

 

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!

Coffee, Create, Sleep