Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Scottish Knits

I don’t know about you, but when I see Scottish-style knits, I always think “this is what knitting is to me.” While I am far from a competent knitter, I can certainly appreciate the style and work involved to create wonderful pieces. That’s what Scottish Knits is all about.

Scottish Knits: Colorwork & Cables with a Twist
is a mix of the traditional and the contemporary. Martin Storey pays homage to classic Celtic cables and adds beautiful color work and design to them. While I would consider this book for the intermediate to the advanced knitter, the directions are written in plain language to help the knitter be successful with their project. The garment patterns include shaping direction so you can achieve the perfect knitted piece.


The colors used in this book are simply amazing! Like I said, I feel a real sense of tradition in the designs, while you still have a modern twist. And the photography of the models and the background is just timeless. I definitely enjoyed flipping through it.
As usual, it has my one complaint. The book is perfect bound. To me, these intricate patterns absolutely need a spiral bound book so you can lay it flat to follow the color charts. But you know me – that will always be my complaint when it comes to pattern books.

I absolutely love the warm look of the Skye Poncho and the lacy look of the Mackintosh Rose Jacket. And I am always a sucker for a pair of warm socks. The coloring of the Caithness Socks are just lovely. The Tweed Hat is a great accessory for what seems like a never-ending winter.

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 3rd. Good luck!

National Crochet Month Book Review: Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop

National Crochet Month Blog TourI would first like to welcome all the readers who are following the blog tour for National Crochet Month. I want to say a special “thank you” to the team at Crochetville for doing all the heavy lifting to get this together. They have a great site and I hope you check it out. For all the tour happenings, you can check out this link: http://crochetville.com/category/events/.

I am lucky enough to receive a large number of books to review. I get to see the latest and greatest in crochet, spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, and more. I love the opportunity to tell you about what is coming out, provide some feedback, and hopefully, help you make a decision as to whether or not the book is a good fit for you. My favorite part, however, is that I give the books away to my readership! I thought another book review and giveaway would be a great way to celebrate my day on the National Crochet Month Blog Tour. Today’s book review: The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop: Essential Techniques for Becoming a More Versatile, Adventurous Crocheter.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Dora Ohrenstein is the founder and editor of the online magazine Crochet Insider. She creates beautiful crochet designs for all levels, so no matter if you are a beginner or an expert, she can help you create beautiful pieces you will be proud to show off and give as gifts.

Her book takes you from the very beginning with understanding your yarn. She reviews yarn weight, fiber type, yarn twist type, and how different yarns behave in different ways. I absolutely love the first section of this book! It is definitely packed with information you may not even consider when heading out to make a yarn purchase.
She next moves on to hooks, holding your hook and work, and has an important section on “hand health.” As someone who has wrist issues, I especially appreciate that section.

She then moves on to the important foundations for building your crochet skills. She also covers different problems you typically encounter, regardless of your skill level. For example, I absolutely hate joining/changing yarns. She has a section to help! She also has a section on the all-important, and often frustrating, shaping of a garment.

She then begins to move into amazing swatches of different stitch patterns. Each swatch has bold photos that are nice and close up so you can see each step clearly. The directions are very well written and also come with a diagram of the stitch pattern. Diagrams are another great way to understand the different stitch patterns and the two together prove to be a great skill builder!

After all the great stitch patterns, you move on to the all-important skill of finishing. From different seam options, to edges, to blocking, you will be confident in the skills you are building with Dora’s help.
The book closes with some great patterns. I have always been partial to cowls, so I especially liked her Marguerite Cowl.

From cover to cover this is a great book. I was so happy to have a chance to check this out and share my thoughts with you. And of course, now is the really special part. You can win this book!
As always, 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 all four winners on March 19th. Good luck and thank you for joining me on National Crochet Month’s Blog Tour!

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!

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!

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!

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: 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!