Category Archives: crochet techniques

Book Review: Indispensable Stitch

To everyone who is a first time visitor for National Crochet Month – welcome! I am happy you joined in the on the fun!

As many of my regular readers know, I have a HUGE library of fiber arts books. I am lucky enough to occasionally get some from publishers to review and then I get to give them away! Today, I get to bring you my review of Melissa Leapman’s Indispensable Stitch Collection.

I absolutely love stitch collections and this book doesn’t disappoint. This book is full of great stitch patterns complete with step-by-step directions and charts. The photos are nice and clear so you can see each part of the stitch.

The short introduction provides suggestions on how to use the book and read the patterns. There is also a nice added section about designing from scratch and shaping pieces, which will be a huge help when using these stitches to making a special garment. The stitch patterns in the book are broken down by category: solids, shells and fans, openwork and lace, textures, and edgings. The end of the book has a help section with how to complete stitch.

There are several patterns I liked in this book. As slow as working in single crochet is, I love the look of the alternating front and back loop single crochet and the Soft Moss Pattern. The Rose Trellis pattern is especially lovely and delicate. And I always love textured patterns and use a basket weave pattern often. Some day I plan to tackle crochet cables!

Overall, this is a great book. Of course, as my readers know, I have one pet peeve – it is perfect bound. Especially when you are trying to follow a specific stitch pattern, I always feel that a spiral bound book is important. But other than that, you will not be disappointed with the patterns in this book.

And now as usual, 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 Sunday, March 19th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

And again, to those of you who have visited my blog for the first time, I say thank you. I hope you visit often!

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!

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!

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!

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!

National Crochet Month Blog Tour – My Turn

As I mentioned in a post in February, Crochetville’s Amy Shelton organized a great blog tour. Each day one (and in some cases two) crochet artists, designers, and enthusiasts do a post specifically to celebrate crochet. I decided to share a free pattern with all of you – a kitchen scrubbie.

Crochet Kitchen Scrubbie

crochet kitchen scrubbieAnyone who does dishes by hand knows that a little texture to go along with elbow grease goes a long way! Well, this kitchen scrubbie will certainly help get your dishes clean.

Yarn: Lily Sugar & Cream
Hook: Size “H” hook (5.00mm)

Foundation: Ch 10, join with sl st to form a ring.
Round 1: *Ch 5, sc in ring,* rep from * to * 35 times total.
Round 2: *Sc in next ch 5 loop, ch 3 (counts as first dc), 7 dc in same ch 5 loop (for a total of 8 dc), rep from * to * around all ch 5 loops, join with sl st to base of original ch 3.
Finishing: Ch 12, sl st at base to form a ring as a hanger, weave in ends.

Abbreviations:
ch: chain
sl st: slip stitch
rep: repeat
sc: single crochet
dc: double crochet

I know many people who also use these as shower puffs. The best part is that you can just throw them in the washing machine to bring them back to life.

I hope you enjoy this pattern as well as reading all the other posts! Tomorrow is Joy Prescott and Donna Childs. I hope you will also consider signing up to receive my newsletter that is sent out once or twice a month. Finally, if you love crochet as much as those of us participating in the blog tour do, please consider joining the Crochet Guild of America. It is a wonderful organization!

The Great Sock Project: Turning the Heel…and the Corner

First, I want to apologize for my lack of activity the last few weeks. I have been experiencing ongoing Internet connection issues recently. As a result, I haven’t been able to post my latest activity on my Great Sock Project. The long of the short of it? I have turned the heel…and a corner.

crochet sockNow, I will say I can’t remember a project so challenging for me. I have been learning new stitching (some fun, some not so much), watching my sock skills improve, and frogging more than I care to admit. As I reminder, I am doing what is considered the “basic” pattern in Crocheted Socks: 16 Fun-To-Stitch Patterns. I will say after I completed the heel turn and the gusset, it is starting to click. I am ready to move on to the foot and toe shaping and hope to have that complete this upcoming week.

What I have noticed in this pattern is that there are some issues with the stitches and directions in the book. For example, I needed some help with the lssc, because I had a hard time making sense of the diagram in the book. I could find a “split single crochet” and I could find a “long single crochet,” but I couldn’t find a “long split single crochet.” So, I watched some videos of the two different stitches on YouTube and then merged them together. For what it is worth, I am not a fan of doing the split single crochet, but it does have a nice look.

Next up…foot and toe. Stay tuned!

The Great Crochet Sock Project…Continued

So, I have been working on my first pair of crocheted socks and I would say so far, it has been, well, OK.

Crochet Sock CuffThe “Easy Does It” pattern in the book Crocheted Socks: 16 Fun-To-Stitch Patterns calls for a double crochet foundation. I have only used this method one or two times and I had great notes on how to do it, but of course, I couldn’t find them. I didn’t find the directions in the book very user friendly, so I headed to the ‘net and my Twitter buddies and one of my Twitter followers (thanks Rebecca!) pointed me to a great set of directions on Crochet Me. After a little bit of practice, I was on my way.
Now, in order to not loose interest, I planned ahead and purchased two skeins of yarn so I could do each step simultaneously. This way I don’t complete one sock and then not want to start over again. Well, so much for best laid plans. I purchased two skeins of Red Heart Heart & Sole Yarn in razzle dazzle when I actually wanted to skeins of Red Heart Heart & Sole Yarn-Green Envy. Unfortunately, one of the skeins was mis-marked, I didn’t realize the color names were wrong. So I had to go ahead with one sock while I get another skein in the correct color. Normally, I would be furious, however, since this is a variegated yarn and will not be connected to each other, I’m not that upset.
So far, I think the project has gone well, other than those two small issues. Next, I will be moving on the probably the toughest parts – the heel and the gusset. Stay tuned…

Sock Measurements and Gauge Swatch

I have moved forward with my sock project for the “Easy Does It” sock pattern in the book Crocheted Socks: 16 Fun-To-Stitch Patterns. For better or for worse, here is my progress…

So I read through all the directions for measuring my calf and foot for my socks and made my gauge swatch. The first thing I noticed is that my calf measurement was completely off the chart. Thinking I did something wrong, I followed the directions and measured again. I came up with the same measurement. So, I am just going to go with it. I felt slightly better when I heard my “sock buddy” Tonya had a large calf measurement as well. Confusion loves company.

Here are my foot measurements:
Foot circumference: nine inches (wide)
Leg circumference: 12 1/2 inches
Heel-to-toe: 11 inches
Toe-to-ankle: eight inches
My final sock measurements:
Leg circumference: 12 1/2 inches
Foot circumference: 8 1/2 inches
Heel-to-toe: 11 1/4 inches
Toe-to-ankle: eight inches
Easy Does It Pattern:
Leg circumference: 9 1/4 inches
Foot circumference: 9 1/4 inches
I followed the directions for the gauge swatch and I have decided I should’ve paid more attention in math class. I think my gauge swatch turned out OK, but I am honestly not sure. I am going to press forward and try on my sock as I progress. I will also continue to take notes on any corrections or adjustments I need to make as I proceed.
Stay tuned…

The Four Seasons Free Form Style

I am both honored and excited to announce the 2009 International Freeform Exhibit is now available for your viewing pleasure!

This year’s theme is “the four seasons.” A total of 52 artists from around the globe participated this year. The artists were given the choice of creating one or more freeform pieces interpreting the four seasons. Unlike other years, they were not restricted to scrumbles and many of the pieces are wearable art and sculptural as well. None of the artists saw each other’s pieces until this online show.

Later this year, a professionally printed book will be available highlighting the entire project and all the artists who participated.

You can check out the online show at the official 2009 Four Seasons Show web site. You will definitely not be disappointed!