Category Archives: crochet

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!

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!

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!

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.

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!

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!