Monday, June 29, 2015

CROCHET SO LOVELY - 21 carefree lace designs by Kristin Omdahl



Recently, I was asked by Interweave/F+W to review Kristin Omdahl's newest book - "CROCHET SO LOVELY - 21 carefree lace designs". I'm always interested in new books, especially from designers whom I know and whose work I admire. So, I said "Yes, of course!" When I received the book, and looked through it, I brought it to my Crochet class to show my students. Some of these students have been with me since I started teaching at this local yarn shop - just about 15 years ago. The class is a "do what project you want to do" class, where they can work on whatever they want to work on. Many times I will suggest something that they could do to bring their skills forward a notch or two, (otherwise, some will just do the same thing over and over), and I like to suggest books that have projects that they may think they're not ready for, but I think they could do. That's where Kristin's book comes in. I noticed that the projects in her book used yarn weights that many of my students hadn't used before - #1, #2, and #3, but wanted to try. So my students and I thought of a question I could ask her about how to go about trying different weights of yarns.  Then, I guess, I was curious about her design process – and so were my students –  so we thought of another question. The last 2 questions – just some more things that we were all curious about. In the past, I have told my students about my design process, and how hard it was for me to pick and choose patterns that would go in to my books and proposals, and self-published pattern line. And also, how my most popular pattern in my self-published pattern line is the one pattern that was rejected whenever I proposed it to a book or magazine or yarn company! And we were all curious about Kristin's design process.

So, here are the questions, and Kristin's answers.
1. In your book Crochet So Lovely, you have 21 designs: 8 are worked with super fine/fingering #1 lace weight yarn, 8 are worked with sport weight #2 fine yarn, 1 is worked with DK weight #3 light, 3 are worked with worsted weight #4 medium, and 1 is worked in chunky weight #5 bulky.
Hook sizes vary from a C2/2.75mm to an M13/8mm.

What would you suggest to a crocheter who wants to make the designs in your book, but really doesn't like working (or know how to work) with any yarn less than DK weight, and any hook that's smaller than a G/6 4mm? Which project should she/he do first?

And this is Kristin's answer:

The concept of lace for me is to use an extraordinarily larger hook than the yarn calls for so the overly loose stitchwork blossoms into a beautiful marriage between the geometric stitch patterning its corresponding negative space. The easiest way to learn to do this is to practice the stitches first on appropriately sized hooks. Then the exaggerated hook size will be the only concept you are learning when you do the lace. I think it is best learned as a two-step process. Not that an adventurous crocheter couldn't do it all at once ;)
My comment: I think this is a great idea! Practice the stitches and stitch patterns first with your usual weight yarn and usual hook. And then go to the yarn and hook size designated in the pattern. You won't have to worry about the stitch pattern, because you practiced it. All you'll have to get used to is using a larger hook with lighter weight yarn.

2. When you were writing this book, which came first? The specific pattern, or the yarn? In other words, when you design, do you think of the pattern, then go looking for the yarn that would work with the pattern and stitches? Or do you have the yarn, and let it "tell" you what it wants to become?
Here's what Kristin said:
Yes to both, but not for this particular book. My main focus was to make figure flattering crochet garments and accessories that would lay beautifully on the skin, layer without bulk, and make you feel beautiful. So it was the concept that came first for Crochet So Lovely. I told my editor every piece should be something you would want to wear on an important date or event, even if money were no object and you could buy it at the store. I wanted to feel luxuruious, beautiful and confident in this collection. As a conceptual designer it is very difficult to ride the thin line of “Wow thats an awesome technique/concept/project” and wanting to wear it too. I can go CRAZY with a design and it can be fascinating to make, but if it is bulky and not figure flattering, who really wants to wear it?


3. Did you have any patterns that just didn't "make the cut?" For one reason or another. Why? 
And Kristin replied:
Yes! The corset tied gauntlets were originally thigh high leg warmers that were corset tied. Imagine the same exact tube but big enough for your legs. They are GORGEOUS. And the next winter show I attend where I can wear them over skinny jeans or tights and a dress, I will! But my editors thought they were a tad too sexy for the book.
(Here's a picture of the gauntlets.)


4. I know it's difficult to pick a favorite pattern, but if you had to choose one pattern, from the 21 in the book, that you think most crocheters will choose to make, which one would it be, and why?
Here's Kristin's reply:

Oh that is a tough question! As a designer and author, I WISH I knew what people wanted to make! All I can tell you is which projects I loved making the most. The felted flower bag is one of my favorite projects of my entire career. They are not appliquéd onto the bag. They are a seamless component to the motifs! And the mesh crochet motif was my attempt at replicating the laser cut leather bags I admire at department stores. So from an experimental standpoint, to try something crazy AND have it work AND love the beauty of the finished project, this is a total success to me. I love that leaving it unlined, you can use it as a project bag and see your beautiful yarn from inside. Or, as a purse you could line it with a beautiful contrasting yarn to create pops of color through the little holes. And finishing a felted bag with leather handles makes it look so rich, polished and professional.


The Deep Sea Tunic is another favorite of mine. I used lace weight yarn and a C/2 hook to create the lightest, thinnest fabric I could muster. From the pictures you’d never tell it is a box cut pullover (NO SHAPING) because I added elements of illusion to suggest shaping! The body has a gorgeous lace design that tapers into a V to suggest waist shaping, the arms have cut outs in them (I think exposed bits of shoulders and arms are so sexy without being overtly sexy), and the side vents offer hip ease (with lace trim of course) to further accentuate an hourglass shape.


This sweater is on a very tiny hook with a very fine yarn. It is going to take you longer to make this sweater than a traditional worsted weight yarn and H hook. But guess what? This will be a treasured wardrobe staple that looks good on, feels good on, and you will wear it over and over again with confidence. And the construction style makes it interesting and relatively quick. I didn’t find myself dying over the process. The design elements kept me interested the entire time. This one was a lot of fun to make.

Honestly, though, I could go on and on about all of the designs. I love each and every one BECAUSE I love to wear them. They are all so light and drapey, don’t add bulk to my figure, and make me feel good.
The Trapeze Tank? That barely made it into the book. Why? Because it belongs in my closet! I wear this one a lot over white cropped jeans and a tank top.


The Rosetta wrap sweater is my go-to layer over a maxi-dress. 


Lapis Wesek Tunic is PERFECT over leggings and a tank top with chunky bracelets.


And I could go on and on and on… LOL

Finally, Kristin asked you - my readers this:

"What are your favorite pieces? Tell me which you are making first? And second? And third?
I’d love to hear from YOU!"
I would love to hear from you, too. Are you used to crocheting with yarns that are lighter than worsted weight (#4)? Will you try Kristin's suggestions about practicing the stitch first on yarn you are used to working with, and appropriately sized hooks, before tackling the patterns? Or are you an adventurous crocheter who will  go directly to the exaggerated sized hook with the lace yarn? Which items in Kristin's book are your favorites? Which ones will you crochet first? 

I do want to thank Kristin for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. And if you're interested in following Kristin on her blog - this is it: http://styledbykristin.com
If you want to order the book from Interweave - here is the page:
Interweave Crochet So Fine





Saturday, March 14, 2015

Weaving Made Easy by Liz Gipson


A long time ago, in a country far, far away, I used to have a table-top loom, and I used to weave with it. (It really wasn't that long ago – it just feels like it. And it wasn't in a country far, far away. It was right here in the town I live in.) I also had an Inkle loom. I used to do a lot of different crafts – knitting, needlepoint, cross-stitch, weaving, and of course, crocheting. I also did a lot of the arts, too – drawing, painting, calligraphy, cartooning, layout and designing, and photography. I made silver jewelry and I made beaded jewelry. I even sewed on an old treadle sewing machine. I also combined some of them. I painted on photos, I did scratch-off art (you covered the painted canvas or paper with ink, and then scratched the ink off to draw a "reverse" picture.) I crocheted with beads. I wove panels and embroidered on them. So I love to look at websites/books/blogs/exhibitions/etc., which show, tell about, or explain the how-tos of these arts and crafts.  When I was asked, by Interweave/F+W, to review the book Weaving Made Easy by Liz Gipson, I was eager to do it, because I had been reading on many knit and crochet designers' blogs that they were taking up weaving. I thought that was very interesting, and maybe, perhaps, if I had the time, I could do some weaving again, too. If I could remember how to do it!

The book said it had 17 projects using a rigid-heddle loom. I didn't know what a rigid-heddle loom was – I thought it was one of those big models that stand on the floor. I used a loom that I called a "table-top" loom, because that's where I put it – on the table top. So I googled "rigid-heddle loom", and lo and behold – there was the loom that I thought was called a table-top loom. It was the loom I had. So I thought this could be a good way to refresh my weaving knowledge and skills, and start weaving again.

Once I received a copy of the book, I eagerly looked through the projects, and I noticed that many of the yarns that were used were yarns from companies I am familiar with – yarns that I crochet with, or could crochet or knit with. So this would be a great way to use up some of my stash. Yarns were from companies like Brown Sheep, Cascade, Crystal Palace, Louet North America, Manos del Uruguay, Westminster Fibers/Nashua/Rowan, Universal and more. I noticed that one of the yarns that they used for a tote was Peaches & Crème. This kind of yarn, what I call "kitchen cotton", is what a lot of us crocheters and knitters use for totes. In the back of the book, there is a chart with scans of all the yarns used, so if you want to substitute a yarn that you have in your stash, you can compare it to the scan of the yarn for the project you want to make. And, as with crochet and knit patterns, according to Liz it's a "good idea to use similar fiber types with the same yarn characteristics".  

This book is great for every one - beginners, and those with weaving experience. It starts out with the basics – the vocabulary you need to learn – like warp, weft, rigid heddle, beater, and more. Then it talks about yarn, and how to choose your yarn, by learning about yarn construction. It describes how to plan your project, and determine how much of each yarn you'll need. After this, you get lessons in setting up the loom, warping it, (and there are lots of ways), threading the rigid heddle, and securing everything. Along the way, it warns you about playing with the yarn, like combing the warp with your fingers. You'll learn how to weave so you have a light, a firm, or a balanced weave. You'll learn finishing techniques, and some problem-solving techniques, too. There are tips and hints, and great photos that show everything in fine detail. Then, there are the projects – seventeen of them, ranging from scarves, totes, table mats, slippers, rugs, belts, napkins and shawls! In the back of the book, for reference, is a list of all those terms that you need to know, along with what they mean, and a warping checklist, so that you can be sure you go through all the steps at the beginning of your projects. That is such a great idea! I wish I had that when I was learning how to weave! There is also a list of accessories that will come in handy with your weaving. I could go on and on forever about the usefulness of this book to new weavers and experienced weavers alike, but you should see it for yourself. Check it out at:
http://www.interweavestore.com/weaving-made-easy-revised-and-updated
to see some of the pictures of the projects you can make, and how to order the book.

Here's one of the projects - the Grab It and Go bag:

I can just see myself carrying that bag - full of my current crochet projects. 

I haven't found my loom yet - it could be anywhere - so I'll have to wait a bit before I start weaving that bog.  But I have found 2 of my early woven projects that I would like to share with you.

The first one is a simple woven panel, with embroidery added. 

The next one is a panel that I have hanging up - it's a sampler of many, many stitches and patterns. I look at it often, and can't believe I wove that!


Remember, if you want the book Weaving Made Easy, by Liz Gupson, you can find it here:
http://www.interweavestore.com/weaving-made-easy-revised-and-updated. It's well worth it!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tunisian Shawls by Sharon H. Silverman



One of my favorite crochet techniques is Tunisian Crochet. It's so much more than just "Afghan Crochet", which is what it was called years ago when I first learned how to do it. At that time, there was just one, maybe two stitches to learn, in order to do a project: Afghan Stitch (or what it's called now – Tunisian Simple Stitch), and Tunisian Knit Stitch (I don't know if it had another name or not - maybe Afghan Knit Stitch). Once you worked the fabric, then if you were making an afghan, (and that was about all there was to crochet then, using Afghan Stitch) you usually did some cross-stitch design on the top. Well, I do (did) know how to cross-stitch, but even then, when I was through crocheting, I wanted to be through with the project. So these cross-stitch afghans were not for me. Then, I found a pattern for a stuffed animal, worked in "Afghan Stitch". And I made one, and had a great time making it. I don't know what happened to it but if I discover it somewhere in my storage areas, I'll take a picture of it and post it here.
This stuffed animal made me realize that you can do and make so much with "Afghan Crochet". And after a while, when it was re-named Tunisian Crochet, I discovered and figured out so many more stitches that you could do! And I think the interesting thing is that there are so many stitches and stitch patterns still to be created, because this technique has come out of hiding in the past few years. All of a sudden, Tunisian Crochet is something to learn, to do, to experiment with. And Sharon Silverman is sure doing all that!


Her new book, Tunisian Shawls, is a great example. There are eight different shawls in the book, all using different stitches and different techniques. She has a FairIsle Winter Capelet that uses stranded colorwork in Tunisian Crochet. 


She shows how to combine different Tunisian stitches in a pattern, like in the Autumn Embrace, where she combines the Tunisian Full Stitch and the Tunisian Double Stitch. 



In perhaps my favorite shawl, the Popover Wedges, she uses the Tunisian Simple Stitch, short rows, and Chain Cast On. 




In the other patterns, she shows how to do a Tunisian Simple Stitch 2 Together (Tss2Tog), Tunisian Knit Stitch, Make One, Tunisian Purl Stitch, Tunisian Reverse Stitch, Back Cable, and if that's not enough, she shows you how to change colors at the end of a row. One added bonus that I think is great: online video technique tutorials for those of you who like to see instructions rather than read instructions.


These are the 5 other shawl patterns Sharon includes:


Cables and Heart




Hot Pink Lace


Red Heart Wrap




Expanding Vees




and Silver Shimmer



One more thing - The Crochet Awards have nominated Sharon's Fair Isle Winter Capelet in the Ponchos and Capelets category, and you can vote for it here: http://www.thecrochetawards.com/

And if you want a copy of this great book, you can order it from Leisure Arts:
http://www.leisurearts.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=tunisian+shawls

Or Amazon:Amazon - Tunisian Shawls

Once you get the book, you won't know which one to make first. So why not make them all!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Big Book of Granny Squares






The Big Book of Granny Squares
365 Crochet Motifs
by Tracey Lord

Yes, that's right – there are 365 crochet motifs in this book – not all Granny Squares – but motifs just the same. Some start in the middle like a real Granny Square, some start along one edge, some start in a corner, some are lacy, some are solid, some are one color, some are multiple colors. There are enough variations in this book that you could make a different square each day for a year, and have a big pile of squares at the end. Just think of the patchwork afghans you could create! Or, you could choose one or two or three squares, and just keep repeating them, in the same colors, or in different colors, and you would have another afghan. Or you could make lots of other things – patchwork sweaters, totes, pillows, rugs, scarves, etc., etc., etc. You can use any yarn – it just would depend on the project you want to make. And depending on the square(s) you choose to crochet, you may want to use a bigger hook than you usually use with that yarn, or a smaller hook – it just depends on the kind of fabric you want. If you are not great at picking colors, you can follow the color guidelines for each square. And you can use only the squares in one color-coordinated section, (there are plenty of squares in each color section). All the squares in each color section will all go together.
Tracey seems to have thought of everything to help you choose what to make. She has a Color Wheel, and explains how to choose colors. She explains the basic crochet stitches and techniques, and provides a list of decorative stitches with directions on how to crochet them. She tells you how to finish off the squares – darning in ends, blocking, and then how to join the squares. She even has a list of crochet hook sizes, and the range of the weight of yarn that is appropriate for each hook size.
Best of all, the squares, if worked in the same yarn with the same hook, should work up to be about the same size, so that there would be no problem in joining them. 
When I looked through the book at all the 365 crochet motifs, I couldn't decide which to try first. I wanted to make a scarf, so I thought I would try some motifs that started along the bottom. But instead of making them separate, I wanted to see if I could make them in one strip. Less ends to weave in! So, I made a list of which motifs I would like to try. Because I wanted only the ones that started at the bottom edge, my choice was a little limited, but I still had quite a few to pick from. I know I listed at least a dozen, and that was just at the beginning of the book, but then I lost my list!  So, I decided to just start with one pattern, and look for another, and crochet that, and then look for another, and crochet that, etc., etc., etc.  I found my first pattern, #36, Filet Dot, 
 and then my second one, #38, Hearth Rug.



And it was then that I decided that some of the patterns didn't have to have as many rows in them as they showed in the book. I could use one or more as dividers between lacy, or filet, or fancy patterns. So I only crocheted 5 rows in the Hearth Rug pattern. 
Then I picked another pattern, #87 Granny Stripes,  


and decided to work only 5 rows of that one, and then did another 5 rows of #38, Hearth Rug. Now I'm on my next pattern #172, Lime Juice, 



which is not the usual Puff pattern – and I don't know how many rows I'll do of that one. Some of the patterns, you see, lend themselves to as many rows as you want to do. So you can do just a few, and get more patterns in one scarf (or afghan, or what-have-you), or you can do an entire scarf, or afghan, or what-have-you in one pattern.
That's what makes this book so much fun – you get 365 different stitch patterns, and you can use them in so many ways. Like one pattern? Make an entire afghan, or shawl, or scarf, or sweater with that pattern. Think two or more patterns look good together? Make a patchwork afghan, or shawl, or scarf, or sweater with those patterns. Want to use just one color? Want to use a lot of colors? Want to use bulky weight yarn? Want to use lace weight yarn? It's your choice! (This is a great stash buster book of stitch patterns. And, if you use up your stash, that just means you can buy more!!!)

Here's a picture of my scarf in progress. 



There are 4 patterns so far, and the start of the 5th pattern, the Puff pattern variation. I'm just using one color yarn - a big skein, too - so I'll only have 2 ends to weave in.

Want to see more?
Check out this link:


Interweave/F+W; $29.99
http://bit.ly/1o9qgYg

to see more squares and to order the book from Interweave/F+W. I know you'll like it!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

DIY Holiday

Do you remember, years ago, the magazines that were filled with all sorts of crafty projects to make for the holidays? You could buy one magazine, and get crochet, knitting, sewing, jewelry – including beading, weaving, and lots of other projects. All in one magazine. With instructions that were clear, and easy to follow for those who hadn't tried that craft before. But also good for those who had tried the craft. I remember many women's magazines, and more – would have special issues like these with various projects. Oh, there were also magazines that concentrated on only one craft. But lots that had a lot of crafts. So if you wanted to learn a new craft, or get more skill and knowledge about a craft you already knew how to do, you could get the special issue magazine with multiple crafts.  It was a win-win situation. I know I acquired some of these magazines, and I learned how to do or improve cross-stitch, needlepoint, weaving, beading, and more, with the help of the magazines. I also used them for patterns for my crochet and knitting projects.
Then, in the late 90s, maybe early 2000s, the magazines became more specialized. There were separate magazines for knitting, crochet, (and knitting AND crochet together), beading, quilting, sewing. If you wanted to learn how to make beaded jewelry, AND how to weave, AND maybe find an easy crochet pattern to make, you would have to purchase 3 separate magazines. This situation has lasted until now – now when there is one magazine that has it all - DIY Holiday – the Crafting Life, a special issue of Interweave STITCH, published by Interweave/F+W Media.

Let me just quote from the introduction:
"This issue offers something for everyone – whether you want to explore crafting for the first time, or add a new skill to your repertoire."
This is true. And the magazine is filled with lots of projects to make for the holidays to give as gifts or to keep for your home. If you want to make something quick and cute with a technique you already know, this magazine has what you need. If you want to learn a new technique, this magazine has what you need. Look at some of the projects in the magazine:


You can see some of the beaded earring projects in the first picture, and a great necklace. I could try making those. But there is so much more inside the magazine! Much, much more!

Now look again at the cover projects:


I love the holiday garland and ornament on the cover. I think the ornament would be a cool gift tag. And, if after reading the directions for the project you want to make, you want more information, you can also check out crafting basics, guides, and glossaries at the Interweave Store. Also a bonus project. And helpful hints.
And - in the magazine, there are projects that are marked *Cool crafts on the cheap! Good to know!

You can order the magazine on-line here:
Interweave Store

If you want a free copy, write a comment below, about what craft(s) you can do, and which ones you would like to learn. Enter by Friday, November 28, 2014, and I will pick 3 winners (yes, I have 3 copies of the magazine, provided by Interweave/F+W Media) by a random number generator. Please include contact information – your email address is fine (I won't publish that) and I will notify the winners. Only US addresses are eligible.
Good luck to all my readers.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Reversible Color Crochet - A New Technique, by Laurinda Reddig



How do you learn new crochet techniques? Or any kind of new technique? There are a few different ways to learn – by seeing or watching, by listening, by reading, by doing. Of course, you can combine those methods – read and watch and do all at the same time, for instance. When I want to learn a new technique, whether it's a crochet technique, a knitting technique, a calligraphy technique, or what have you, I know that the easiest way for me to learn is to read, see or watch, and then do! So, I like word descriptions that are clear. I like pictures or videos that explain what the words say. And then, I have to do it. Sometimes, I have to do it a few times before I get it. But that's to be expected. It takes practice to learn a new technique, and to become better at it. Practice, practice, practice. You can't be an expert immediately when you just start to learn something. When you learned to walk, you didn't just get out of the stroller and start walking. You practiced before you let go of the hand that was leading you, or the rail that was holding you up. The same goes for new crochet techniques. You have to practice.

When I met Laurinda Reddig at one of the CGOA Chain Link Conferences, and saw her prize-winning entry in the crochet contest, I was intrigued with her new technique for Reversible Color Crochet. Usually, when you work color crochet, especially intarsia crochet (where you don't carry the different colors, you have little balls of different colors that you pick up when you need them), your work is not reversible. Especially if you use stitches larger than a single crochet. I like to do color work, and like to work in stitches larger than a sc, so of course I wanted to learn this technique that lets you do both. I was really happy when she came out with her new book – Reversible Color Crochet, a New Technique, because I figured I would be able to sit down, read it, look at pictures, and practice the technique. It would be a reference I could look at over and over, and not have to worry about forgetting how to accomplish this technique if I didn't use it often.



When I received Laurinda's book from Interweave/F+W to review, I looked through it to see just how she explained her technique.
There is the usual "how to get started section" which tells about the yarns and hooks that you can use, and where to find hints that tell you – among other things – how to use your yarn to avoid weaving in so many ends. (I especially liked that!) Then, comes the section on Special Stitches. This is the section with all the great pictures (drawings, not photographs, so they're clear!) that show how to make the Reversible Intarsia Special Stitches – like the basic Color Change (used with a hdc), the other basic Color Change (used with a dc), the Late Color Change, the Hdc-sc decrease Color Change, and more, including the Double Crochet Decrease and Double Crochet Increase Color Changes, the Half-Color Double Crochet, and the Reverse Half-Color Double Crochet. (It may sound confusing as you read this, but when you work the stitches, it's not confusing at all.) At the back of the book, there's a comprehensive section on Yarn Management and other Hints. And, then there are the 12 "learning squares" to practice all the techniques. The directions for these squares also include many tips, to help you learn these techniques. You can use these squares for practice, and then put them to use making a scarf, afghan, or even dishcloths, depending, of course, on the yarn you practice with. Here are three of the learning squares that I like:

The Four Square



Waves

Arrows

Once you practice the 12 learning squares, you'll be ready to work the squares that are in the 10 afghans. The first section covers squares that look like quilt blocks. 

This is the Double Friendship Star.

Then there are the pictures squares – garden-themed squares: Daisy, 


and space-themed squares: the sun,

the moon,

a ringed planet,

a UFO,

and an alien.


There are also all the instructions on how to put the 28 squares together to form the afghans. 10 of them. 

In other words, just about everything you need to know to make the 10 great afghans, and more, using this new technique, is in this book. Laurinda also offers lots of information and hints on blocking the squares, so that they'll look their best!

One word of advice – make sure you practice the technique! Practice, practice, practice. When I finally had some time to sit down and practice the technique, with the book in front of me, I decided to make a smaller swatch than the first suggested square. I worked first with hdc for a few rows, and then, instead of starting another swatch, I worked with dc for a few rows. Here are pictures of my swatch with the two different techniques:

This is the half double crochet part of the swatch.


And here is the double crochet part of the swatch.

I enlarged the pictures to give you an idea of how the color changes work. It's not just your usual color change, where you work the last yarn over in the new color. You have to learn the "yarn flip"! That's thoroughly explained in the book! And it's fun to do! (I have to confess - I didn't take a picture of the beginning of the swatch, where I was just learning. I had to practice to get these color changes looking like they should.)

Now, I know I'm ready to start working the 12 practice squares. I know how to work the basic color-changing technique.
Also, Laurinda gives a great idea for starting the beginning chain with two colors, and I practiced that a couple of times before I was pleased enough to work into that chain for my first row.
I know, after working with Laurinda's technique, that I'll be using it in my Intarsia crochet work when I want the stitches to be reversible. And I'll be recommending the book to my crochet students at my local yarn shop, and other crocheters I know who use colorwork. It's not often that someone comes up with a new crochet techniue like this, so we should rejoice that we now have a great technique for making Reversible Color Crochet!
Thanks, Laurinda!


If you want to try this great new technique, here's more info about the book:


By Laurinda Reddig
Interweave/F+W; $24.99



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

IT GIRL CROCHET by Sharon Zientara

This past summer has been a busy one for me! I had to prepare for my classes at the Crochet Guild of America's 20th Anniversary Crochet Chain Link Conference in July. As a Past President of CGOA, I was also responsible for one aspect of the celebration – CGOA sponsored a "Make and Take" on the Marketplace floor during the conference, and it was my "job" to get crochet designers and teachers to teach an hour session or two of some crochet technique that would be interesting, but also able to learn in an hour. The teachers had to provide the yarn, the pattern, some hooks (just in case), and their time. I volunteered to tech edit the patterns that needed tech editing – and with my tech editing Mentee (thanks, Edith), we were able to do that, with no trouble.  And then, of course, I taught a Make and Take session on Finger Crochet – and really had fun with that – preparing for the session and teaching it! Here's a picture of the scarf that I taught how to make with Finger Crochet. 




And here's a picture of some of the crocheters who learned how to Finger Crochet, and the scarves they made.



I wish I had the time to teach more sessions on Finger Crochet during the conference, but I had 4 other classes to teach, and a book/pattern signing to do, so I had no more time to spare. My 4 classes that I taught were so much fun! There was a lot of prep work that I did – making samples, swatches, editing my handouts, etc. But it was all worth it! Especially when one of my students, who was thrilled that I was going to be her Tech Editing Mentor, sent me a bottle of an adult beverage, on my last night at the conference!
While I was preparing for this conference, in the spring, I was contacted by Craftsy, and asked to film a class on Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches. I love that topic, and love the techniques – the basic Foundation techniques, and the ones I've figured out for myself – so of course, I agreed! I had never filmed a video class before, so I didn't know just what was involved. I learned soon enough! Many, many conference calls and emails with my producer and the acquisition editor. Much crocheting of "step outs", swatches, projects, more projects, more "step outs", more swatches, etc. I probably made more than I would need, but I figured it would be better to have more than enough, than not enough. And still, when I got to the filming location, my producer asked me to crochet something else, for one of the title cards. Luckily, I had excess yarn with me, so I spent one evening crocheting. Not a bad way to fill my time!
Check out my class here: Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches.


After I got home from filming, I had to fly to the CGOA conference after just a few days for R&R at home. After a week, it was home again. And then, I still had a big project to work on – sorry, I can't tell you about it just yet! But I had just about 2 1/2 weeks to start and finish it. Whew! When I was finished with that, I thought I could rest a bit, and do some blogging, but, there was still work to be done on that big project, and follow-up work on my video class.
Finally, my class launched, my secret project was finished, and I could relax – but not for long. I had promised a friend of mine, Jane Schwartz, that I would help her at Stitches East this year, in Hartford, Connecticut. She had a booth where she sold her knitting book The Next Step Knitting book, and some of her separate knit and crochet patterns. (Check out the book and her patterns here - Emerald Isle Designs. She suggested that I could also sell some of my individual crochet patterns. So I had to get ready for that! That was a fun, fun conference, and we both were successful. But we came home exhausted!

So now, I'm home, and catching up with other promises. One thing I said I would do is review a few new crochet books that have been sent to me by Interweave/F+W.  So this is a long, long introduction to the first book that I'm going to review: It Girl Crochet by Sharon Zientara.


IT GIRL CROCHET is a compilation of 16 designers and their 23 "IT GIRL" visions. Hats, capelets, shawls, fingerless mitts, scarves, purses, and belts (I may have left out something) are shown in fashion pictures and close ups, so you can really see the stitches.

You should know I have some guidelines for whether or not I want a book in my vast book collection. Here are some of them:

1. Does the book have designs that I want to crochet?  Even if I don't actually crochet them, they often inspire me in my design work.
2. Are the patterns written in "regular" crochet language? By "regular", I mean language that is standard to crochet patterns.
3. Do the patterns include stitch diagrams?
4. Do the patterns have schematics? And is there comprehensive information on how to join pieces, if there are any pieces to join? And how to finish the project?
5. Is there a section that explains how to make each stitch – with pictures and words?
6. Does it have some interesting stitch patterns?

So, I looked through this book, with #1 in mind. Would I want to crochet any of these designs? Yes, indeed! 

                                      The Rocksteady Cowl, by Sharon Zientara,




                                                 the Sienna Top, by Mimi Alelis, 



      the Psychedelia Mitts on the cover, by Brenda K. B. Anderson,



   the Op Art Reversible Scarf, by Robyn Chachula, 




      and the Greenwich Village Tote, by Yoko Hatta,



are only some of the designs that caught my eye and made me say: mmmmmm!

As for #2 – when I get a book, I look at who did the tech editing. That helps me know if the book will be written in "regular" crochet language. This book passes the test with the tech editor, Karen Manthey.
#3 – Karen, the tech editor, also did the technical illustrations (stitch diagrams and schematics) so I know that they are good!
#4 – there are schematics when needed, and comprehensive info is given on how to join the pieces. And how to finish the projects.
#5 – there is a section on how to make each stitch – with clear pictures and words. And in the pattern pages there are guides and tips and hints for the patterns. Everything you need to be successful!
#6 – Yes – it has some very interesting stitch patterns (see my list of some designs I liked in #1). So, in other words, this book can be used as a stitch dictionary!

So do I recommend this book? Yes – definitely! I think it will be a great addition to your crochet book collection, as it is to mine!

Here's info about the book, and where you can purchase it on-line:

By Sharon Zientara
Interweave/F+W; $22.99