Category Archives: knitting

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!

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!

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.

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!

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!

Book Review: Cozy Knits

As the temperature continues to drop, knitters and crocheters usually begin projects to help stay warm. Hats, scarves, wraps, mittens – they are all great for this time of year! Well, this is the focus of the new Interweave book, Cozy Knits: 50 Fast & Easy Projects from Top Designers.

I don’t know if I would call every project in this book “easy,” but they are Cozy Knitscertainly lovely! More complicated patterns have stitch charts in addition to written instructions, which I am sure knitters will appreciate. The yarn selections are just scrumptious and the photography is the high quality you expect from Interweave.

Designers include Mary Beth Temple, Debbie O’Neill, and Tanis Gray, to name a few. I especially love the Textured Slouch-Hat by Fania Goberstein and the delicate look of the Lace Panel Shrug by Elena Malo. I am a huge mitten fan and the collection in the book is just great! I love the Fair Isle Headband, but not sure if I would use the pouch on the earflap, but I’m sure others would. I’m also not crazy about the I-cord at the top of the Beanie pattern, but I really like the beanie itself.

It has a very helpful glossary at the end of the book that includes a stitch guide, abbreviation list, and “helpful hints.” I always appreciate that little bit of information and read through it in just about every book I have. I always pick up some interesting little tidbit!

This is another high-quality book from Interweave that I am sure knitters will love!

And now, for the usual fun part, 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 the lucky winner on December 4th. Good luck!

Black Friday and Small Biz Saturday for Fiber Enthusiasts

Christmas treeSo we all know that the day after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday.” It usually includes people fighting the crowds at some ungodly hour to come home with things like electronics, toys, and appliances.

Well, here is a Black Friday list for the rest of us. The fiber fanatic!

Craftsy: Craftsy Yarn and Fabric sale up to 80% off from 11/27-12/2!

Banana Moon Studio: Enjoy 15% off all patterns on Ravelry from 11/29-12/2.

Too Cute Crochet: Take 25% off all crochet patterns on her Etsy site from midnight ET 11/29/13 through 11pm ET 12/2/13.

The Woolery: Specials from 11/29-12/4 at The Woolery include discounts on jewelry kits, fiber, totes, and more!

Enjoy 50% off savings on a bunch of different items, including patterns, DVDs, magazines – just about everything on the site!

Use code EYKBRR and get 20% off your entire order. Expires 11/29.

My Etsy Site!
And of course I have to include MY Black Friday coupon code. Use BLACKFRIDAY and get free shipping on anything on my Etsy site until 12/1. No minimum!Small Business Saturday

And on Saturday, make sure to “shop small” and check out your local yarn shops and support them with your business. In 2012, Americans spent $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday. By shopping local, more of your dollars stay in your community, which helps keep your town vibrant!

As I hear about more sales during this busy Hannakuh and Christmas seasons, I will certainly post them!

Book Review: Lace One-Skein Wonders

There are times we want to make a quick project. Whether it is for a last minute gift or to experiment with a new skein of yarn you just had to buy, one-skein projects are just great. That is the thought behind Lace One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace.

This is the sixth book in the “One-Skein” series and offers patterns for every ability. I absolutely  love the Luxe Mobius Scarf by Sarah-Hope Parmeter. It is  nice and long so it can get wrapped around multiple times. I also really like the whimsy of the Wavelet Hair Tie by Jenise Reid. It looks nice and light with a hint of free form randomness. Any unique hair accessory definitely gets my attention!

Storey has really published some great knitting and crochet books in recent years and I always look forward to their new publishing cycle. And Judith Durant is a well respected editor and artist.

As what is arguably the busiest gift-making time of year quickly approaches, Lace One-Skein Wonders will certainly help you get lovely projects done in plenty of time!

And now, for the usual fun part, 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 the lucky winner on November 13th. Good luck!

Book Review: Knits at Home

My favorite projects to make are accessories and items for the home. I have a few blankets made by my Grandmother and I truly cherish them. The new book Knits at Home: Rustic Designs for the Modern Nest is full of patterns that will give you the opportunity to create your own heirloom items.

Knits at Home
The photography in this book is absolutely top notch. They are nice and close up so you can really see the stitches and how the pattern comes together. There are patterns for every ability level that will flatter any home.

Before each pattern, there is some interesting information related to a feature of the pattern, such as “creating texture” before the ribbed fruit bowl cover. Each section provides great information!

I think my favorite pattern in the book is the patchwork pillow cover. It has a free-form feel to it and there is nothing better than a comfy pillow when hanging out on the couch. I also really like the seascape wall hanging. To top it all off, they talk about another favorite subject of mine – vintage buttons!

This is a great book from Interweave by Ruth Bridgeman. You will certainly not be disappointed!

And now, fo0r the usual fun part, 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 the lucky winner on November 6th. Good luck!