Category Archives: patterns

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: 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!

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!

Knitting with Your Mobile: The Best Apps for Knitters

So I am a little behind on my blog posts lately. There’s been a lot going on here in New Jersey with LOTS of fiber arts activities! I wanted to share this great blog post that was submitted to me. I hope you all enjoy it!

Knitting AppsTechnology has done wonders for the modern-day knitter. Where in the past you had to scour and pore over old knitting books for your patterns or ask your knitting circle for ideas and help, we now have the convenience of the internet and hundreds of thousands of websites dedicated to knitting, and now you can even use your phone as a tool to help you knit.

The company behind gaming website Spin Genie, observed that “There were an estimated 1 billion Smartphone users at the end of 2012, representing 17% of total mobile users”. Because of this, app developers have made everything you could ever need, and there’s truly an app for every niche now. The knitting community has also come together to produce quality apps for every knitter’s needs. If you’re interested in using your smartphone as a tool for knitting, check out these three apps:

1. Knitting Patterns Database
Knitting Patterns Database (KPD) is a great app that does just what it advertises – it gives users easy access to thousands of knitting patterns. But that’s not all. Providing “the functionality of over 20 knitting apps all in one place”, the app also catalogs the patterns and allows users to search based on Gender, Garment Type, Yarn Type, Yarn Weight/Length, Needles, Gauge, Rating, Notes. You can even catalog your own yarn stash to keep things organize.

2. knitCompanion
Perhaps the closest we will ever get to an iKnit app, knitCompanion arranges and combines knitting patterns, keys, charts, and written instructions into one easy-to-navigate piece. There are also row markers and row-based reminders, audible reminders, counters, stitch markers and more. Sure, the app looks a little drabby, but it more than makes up for that with functionality.

3. Ravelry Mobile
While not an app per se, the mobile version of Ravelry is a sight to behold. If you’re already a user of the website, you can log into it using your mobile phone, and the website that’s been optimized for smaller screens and slower internet connections has just about all the functionality of its full-sized counterpart. Right now you can upload and download pattern PDFs, upload photos of projects, look at your queue, search for yarn stores, and browse and reply to threads in the forum.

Do you know of any other apps that help satisfy your knitting needs?

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!

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!

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?

 

Save the Penguins!

Oiled penguin in a knitted wool jumper
(Phillip Island Nature Parks. – Supplied)

Anyone who knits, crochets, weaves, quilts, or does anything creative for that matter, is well aware how many worthwhile organizations need various handmade items to help their cause. Yesterday, thanks to many friends on Facebook, I learned of an important – and incredibly cute – project. Keeping penguins warm!

The Penguin Foundation of Australia has asked knitters to make pullovers for penguins in rehab. The penguins caught in oil spills need these little jumpers to keep warm and to stop them from trying to clean the toxic oil off with their beaks. As a result, they have an adorable jumper pattern to keep the little guys warm! They are asking knitters to make jumpers to help with their efforts.

The Penguin Foundation is based at Phillip Island, which is known for having a large penguin colony.

As many of you know, I am far from an accomplished knitter. So I did some searching and found a penguin jumper crochet pattern. I am definitely going to make some and send them down under!

They ask that jumpers are made from wool or other natural fiber.

The Penguin Foundation was established to protect and preserve one of Australia’s most important natural assets – the little penguin.

This organization aims to provide a dedicated source of funding to support little penguin conservation projects. These include little penguin rescue and rehabilitation in the event of a man-made disaster; building new little penguin nesting areas; monitoring little penguin health and behavior; protecting the little penguins’ natural environment; and contributing funding to the vital Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre on Phillip Island. Since its establishment in 2006, the Penguin Foundation has raised over $1.5 million.

Little penguins are only found in southern Australia and New Zealand. In Australia little penguin colonies are scattered around the coastline from near Perth on the west coast, to Sydney on the east coast, and around Tasmania. Phillip Island has only one remaining little penguin colony. Phillip Island is home to an estimated 32,000 little penguins. Current estimates put the total little penguin population at one million.