Category Archives: Instruction

Book Review: Customize Your Knitting

Customize Your KnittingAs you learn more about different fiber arts, whether it is crochet, knitting, or something else, you begin to develop favorite people, designs, and styles. One of my all-around favorites is Margaret Hubert.

I met Margaret in-person for the first time over a decade ago at a fiber arts convention. I met her virtually a few years before that on the International Freeform Crochet Guild discussion group. From the beginning, she has always been a great teacher, mentor, and friend. She is a wonderful woman and I am proud to know her.

Over the years she has published many articles, patterns and books. One of her most recent books is Customize Your Knitting: Adjust to fit; embellish to taste and as always, she hits it out of the park!

We all know how much time and effort it takes to create an article of clothing. There is nothing worse than finishing a project and it doesn’t fit. We wind up offering it to someone else who may, or may not, appreciate all the work you put into it. Margaret helps solve that problem.

Her new book takes you through all the different body types and the all-important taking measurements. She then moves on to specific pattern examples for each type. She provides suggestions on developing “good habits,” joining new yarn, and weaving in those pesky tails. She then gives you beautiful ideas to customize your piece so it has your own special personal touch!

Margaret HubertAll the directions are presented in easy-to-understand language. Even this very basic knitter could understand the concepts within the book. It ends with steps on how to create buttonholes, pockets, and the all-important seams. It even includes embellishments and motifs! They are just great!

I will say, as my usual complaint, it is a perfect-bound book. HOWEVER, it lays flat VERY well! It also has an extended flap so you can keep your place as well as keep the book fairly flat. This may seem minor, but it is great! We have all been there when you are trying to work out of a book that keeps closing on you and you lose your place.

As a basic knitter, I think this is a great book. If you are a more serious knitter, you will LOVE it!

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 Thursday, August 18th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

Book Review: The Knitting Answer Book, Second Edition

Years ago I picked up a copy of The Crochet Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask (Answer Book (Storey)) by Edie Eckman. It was a great pickup for me. The title was correct – it answered plenty of crochet questions. I knew there was a knitting version, but I never picked it up because I don’t knit very much.

Since that purchase, there has been a second version of the crochet edition and the knitting edition.

The Knitting Answer Book, 2nd Edition: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask is an updated version to the another great book to help knitters with all of the troubles they encounter as they work to finish projects; as well as learn more.

This book is perfect for knitters, regardless of their ability level. It starts out with basic concepts like how to cast on, basic stitches, and how to bind off. It then moves on to how to read yarn labels and reading patterns. Finally, it moves on to more advanced topics like circular knitting, garment shaping and fitting, and how to make different embellishments. It is a very comprehensive guide!

As usual, it is subject to my complaint of a perfect-bound spine as opposed to a spiral bound book. I feel this is especially important for this type of book as knitters try to follow the guidance of the book. That criticism aside, this is a great 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, July 8th. Make sure to check back on my Facebook page to see if you are the lucky winner! Good luck!

Thick, Thin, Slubs, and Coils: Yarn Spinning at The Spinnery

Today was a wonderful day. I had the opportunity to head to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey for a class about how to spin thick/thin yarn (known as slubs) and coils. I wanted to take this class the last time it was offered, but I was still doing battle with my ankle after surgery. Well now my ankle was amicable and ready for class!

Frenchtown
On the way to Frenchtown.

My day started with a lovely ride to Frenchtown. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. Once you are off the highway, you are surrounded by historical homes, open fields, and preserved farmland. Today was the perfect day for this ride. Roof open, windows down, Billy Joel on the radio. Just wonderful.

Rebecca Dioda
Master Spinner, Rebecca Dioda and our class.

The class was taught by master spinning teacher Rebecca Dioda of Simpatico Fiber Collective. She made the day fun and informative by giving an explanation, then demonstrating, then helping each member of our intimate group get started. We started by unplying a base (yes, sounds uncounter-intuitive, stay with me). Then we started with our main fiber, making thick and thin “slubs.” She made it look so easy! Then we all started giving it a try. Well, lets just say the easy chatter became serious concentration. As we progressed, we all seemed to improve.

slubbed yarn
My attempt at thick and thin slubs.

What I really found funny as I was working to master this I thought back to when I first started to spin. Initially, I was very good at spinning…rope. Then I improved to thick and thin. Then I learned to spin more even yarn. Now that I need to spin thick and thin yarn like I did in the beginning, I found it very challenging. Go figure.

So it was time to start to ply our base and

Coiled yarn
Rebecca makes coils look so easy!

our slubbed yarn together. Plying has never come easy to me, so I was definitely thinking about multiple techniques simultaneously.

Of course I forgot my lazy kate. Luckily Betty, owner of The Spinnery, came to my rescue and had one I could use. Rebecca taught us the importance of “vrooom!” in our spinning when preparing for a coil. She made the entire process a lot of fun!

So I went to work. I quickly determined I needed at least one more hand. My lovely Majacraft Rose was not in the mood to ply without issue. She is currently in a time out so she can think about her cranky

coiled yarn
Starting to get the hang of coils.

behavior. Hold core in one direction. Hold yarn at a 90-degree angle. Spin in the opposite direction of the yarn. Pinch. Roll. Push. Pinch. Spin more. Vroom! Don’t let the yarn wind before they should connect. Oh my! Like I said. Lots to think about.

After some mumbling to myself, and encouragement from Rebecca, I started to get some decent-looking coils.

I still have a lot to do to become

coiled yarn
My finished coiled yarn.

more comfortable with my coils. But I definitely felt like I understood the process by the time I left. Of course I can never leave The Spinnery without picking up a few things. So what did I get? More fiber and core to practice!

After class I took a little time for a late lunch, pick up a few treats, and then the ride home. It was a wonderful day and I can’t wait to try again!

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!

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!

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!

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: 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!