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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tunisian Crochet for Baby - by Sharon Hernes Silverman

 I have been crocheting since I was 5 years old. Many of you have heard this before from me. I don't know when I discovered Tunisian crochet (called Afghan Crochet when I discovered it) but I do know that when my son was a baby, I made a Tunisian/Afghan stitch stuffed animal for him. I just used Tunisian Simple Stitch (Afghan Stitch) then. And that was a long time ago. I also know that I loved the technique of Afghan Stitch Crochet, but didn't want to do the cross-stitch embroidery on it to make an afghan, which is what the pattern booklets and magazines were showing for this technique. So I didn't do much with Afghan Stitch Crochet, even though I loved to do it. Then, years later when I started teaching in the local yarn shop (about 14 years ago), one of my students had an old Afghan Stitch pattern, for an afghan that she wanted to try. I remembered how to do this technique, so I taught her the stitch. But by then, I knew a lot more. And I started playing with the stitch, and working with larger hooks than we used to work with, and I found that Afghan Stitch Crochet could be drapey, and didn't necessarily have to stand up by itself. And it could also be used for garments. By then, it was beginning to be called Tunisian Crochet. And there were other basic stitches to learn – the Tunisian Knit Stitch, and the Tunisian Purl Stitch were two. Also, the Afghan stitch itself was now called Tunisian Simple Stitch. When I started going to conferences, I took some classes in Tunisian Crochet, and fell in love with it all over again. And, as designers often do, I started playing with the technique – what could I do with it? I tried various stitches, stitch patterns, yarns, and hooks, and decided that Tunisian Crochet was so much fun! I was finding that when I was between projects, I would pick up a Tunisian hook, find some yarn, and crochet something in Tunisian.
And now, I have a new book that I can use to make more things! Tunisian Crochet for Baby, by Sharon Hernes Silverman.

Now you may be saying to yourself "Why does Marty need another book?" Those who know me know that I'm a book junkie! I love books. I collect books. And I have a lot of them. But when I look through a book that I'm thinking about adding to my collection, and talking about  and recommending to my class at the local yarn shop, I do have some criteria that I look for:
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: If the book is centered around a technique, such as Tunisian Crochet, does the book have beginning patterns, intermediate patterns, and experienced patterns? 
4: Are the stitch patterns that are used in the designs Easy, Intermediate and Advanced? And, whatever level they are, are they easy to follow?
5: Do the patterns include stitch diagrams?
6: 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?
7: Is there a section that explains how to make each stitch – with pictures and words?
8: Does it have some interesting stitch patterns?

Well, guess what? Tunisian Crochet for Baby has all of that! And more! It has really cute patterns; lots of varied stitches and stitch patterns; good directions for the stitches and the patterns. And it's written in "regular" crochet language. And, there are many levels of patterns that are included.
One thing I really like about this book – the patterns are varied. They are different! I would have never thought to crochet a basket and some washcloths for a baby present, (my usual present is an afghan), but when you are short of time, the washcloths and basket are a great idea! They don't take as long as an afghan would, and they are definitely portable! And the basket is worked in Tunisian Simple Stitch, but teaches you a new technique, the Crochet Cast-On. You can use this technique when you want to add stitches at the end of the forward pass.
Here's a picture of the basket:

And here's a picture of the basket with the washcloths:

So, I decided to see how it would be if I were new to Tunisian Crochet, trying to learn it from this book. Sharon has included 4 different patterns for washcloths. One uses the basic Tunisian Simple Stitch. Another one uses the Tunisian Knit Stitch. These are recommended as Easy patterns, great for Tunisian Crochet newbies. I have many skeins of Sugar 'n Cream yarn in my stash, and I picked a self striping one to try. This is what I did with the Tunisian Simple Stitch. I really liked it!

Then, I worked another washcloth with a variegated Sugar 'n Cream yarn. It looks completely different. I then did a Tunisian Knit Stitch version with another variegated yarn. I like that one too! I looked at other patterns, and found a stitch that I wanted to try by itself – the Tunisian Full Stitch – so I made 2 washcloths using that the Full Stitch. Here they all are:

Tunisian Simple Stitch - variegated yarn:

Tunisian Knit Stitch - variegated yarn:

Tunisian Full Stitch with self-striping yarn:

And another Tunisian Full Stitch, this one with variegated yarn:

Sharon even included some baby afghans in this book – and she made one with Tunisian Post Stitches – a stitch that I was intrigued by. This is an Intermediate Pattern. She used two colors of yarn, and explained how to work the stitch around the post of the stitch below! This is my swatch I made to practice this before I do an afghan with this stitch. I really like the way it looks! 

Here's a picture of the afghan and matching hat that use Tunisian Post stitches - The Checkerboard Blanket and Hat Set:

Oh, Sharon even has an afghan made with the Tunisian Simple Stitch, so if you want an easy project, but want to make an afghan for the baby, you can follow this pattern, learn how to change colors, and get a terrific baby afghan for your Baby Presents Closet. (You do have a Baby Presents closet, don't you?)
This is the afghan - The Sherbet Stripes Blanket:

Sharon has a few more cute patterns in the book – ones that just use the Tunisian Simple Stitch – the basket I mentioned before, and easy care pants with suspenders. So you can do a stitch that you're comfortable with, make these patterns, and still learn some new techniques. And when you're ready to tackle some more stitches, other than the Tunisian Simple, you can crochet the hat that goes with the Sherbet Stripes Blanket (see above) – that uses the Tunisian Knit Stitch, and Tunisian Purl Stitch. You can learn how to start a project with regular crochet stitches, and add Tunisian stitches to it. You can learn how to do Tunisian versions of regular crochet stitches, like the Full stitch, the Marguerite Stitch, and the Post stitch. One of my favorite patterns in the book is the Harlequin Blanket, rated Intermediate because of the Entrelac technique. The stitches are all Tunisian Simple Stitch, though. Here's a picture of the Harlequin Blanket:

 Sharon even shows you how to increase and decrease with Tunisian stitches. There is a traditional crochet refresher section, with pictures and directions. There also is a refresher for basic Tunisian Crochet skills. And then a Beyond the Basics section, where she shows pictures of the techniques used to make the "more than basic" Tunisian stitches. And all through the book, Sharon includes hints and tips, apropos for the piece you are working on.

In other words, there's something for everyone to crochet – all levels of crocheters. And you can build your skills with this book. And there are lots of stitches you can use, so you can use this book as a stitch dictionary! It's the best of both – a pattern book and a stitch dictionary! And, also, don't forget, a "Crochet Tips" book!

You can see all the patterns in the "Look Book"  at this site:

And then you can order the book from Stackpole Books (stackpolebooks.com), or Amazon.com.
I know you'll enjoy it!

Oh, one more thing – if you were to ask me what pattern I liked best in this book, I would have to say the Sunny Bow Headband! It is really adorable. And, best of all, Sharon used a stitch that I haven't seen before – you pull yarn over your stitches, and it makes a great effect! Here is a picture of my sample swatches:

And here is a picture of the Sunny Bow Headband! It's even rated Easy!

I think I have a new "go to" baby present!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches

In case you don't read my other blog: TheCrochetDoctor.blogspot.com, I'm copying my latest post from there - because it offers a chance to win a free class from Craftsy - Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches. Read on! 

This past July, I had the pleasure/honor of video taping a class for Craftsy. Craftsy is a wonderful platform for teachers of various crafts (crocheting, knitting, cooking, photography, etc.), and I have always wanted to be one of their instructors. Well, now I can say it: I am a Craftsy instructor!

I teach a lot of crochet classes at various venues - the Crochet Guild of America's Chain Link conferences, the National NeedleArts Association trade shows, some Stitches conferences, my local yarn shop, and various other yarn shops in other states - just to name a few. I had never taught an on-line class before, though, so it was quite an experience. An extremely great experience! I taught one of my favorite classes, and one of my most favorite techniques to use - Foundation Stitches! How to work a foundation chain, and the stitch that goes into it, at the same time! Some people call it a "chainless foundation". But it isn't "chainless". There is a chain for each stitch, you just don't work all the chains at once, and then crochet the stitches that go into the chains. You chain one, then you work the stitch that goes into that chain. Then you chain another, then you work the stitch that goes into that chain. Etc., etc., etc. It's an amazing technique. And then, after you learn the basic technique, there are  ways you can work Foundation Stitches to start stitch patterns. And color work. And how to add stitches on to a row or round with Foundation Stitches. Lots of information in this class!
Now, I know you probably hate to crochet a long foundation chain, then work your first row of stitches into that chain, only to come up short at the end - you don't have enough chains. Or you have too many chains. Everyone hates that! Well, if you learn how to do Foundation Stitches, you'll never have to worry about that again! You won't waste precious time or energy ripping out that chain and starting all over again. No, no, no! My class is called "Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches", and by the end of the 7 lessons, you will indeed have mastered this technique! But not only will you have mastered the technique. You will have a pattern for a tote bag, a basket, and a dishcloth (that you can easily crochet longer to make a scarf). Plus other stitch patterns that you can use in your crochet!

My class is launching on September 23, 2014. And, Craftsy and I are having a give-away. Yes, that's right! All you have to do is click this link:
and you might win a free class! Yes, I said it right. Click the clink and register at Craftsy (if you're already registered, that's okay - you'll still be entered in the drawing - just click on the link above!) and do it before Midnight, Eastern Time Zone on Monday, September 22, 2014.
I'll let you know on Tuesday, September 23, if you have won!
Good luck to all of you!!!

(Added after September 23, 2014.)
The Give-away class has been given away. But you can still check out the class, and order it from Craftsy. And it even might be on sale! Click this link:
to check  it out!

By the way, if you've never taken a Craftsy class, you might like to know that once you're enrolled in the class, you can access it at any time! You can ask the instructor questions (and they will be answered!), you can show your projects that you crochet for the class, you can enter in discussions, etc., etc., etc. It's a great platform for teaching AND for taking classes. You can even press a 30 second replay button while you're watching a section, if you want to see that part again. 

Hope to see you soon in my Craftsy class - Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Crochet For Baby - All Year

Do you have a Baby Presents Closet? If you're like me, you find a cute crochet pattern for a baby, decide you want to make it - after all, you have the yarn already, and you need to use it so you can buy more yarn. (I didn't say that, did I?)
So what do you do? You crochet the blanket, or hat, or whatever, and when you're all done with it, you don't have a baby to give it to. (Maybe the baby you were crocheting if for outgrew it before you finished it. Or maybe you just crocheted it to crochet!) That's when you put it in your Baby Presents Closet (and yes, it needs to be a BIG closet) so you can find it when someone you know has that baby – or someone you know has a grandchild, or niece or nephew, – or you want to gift it to someone just because.
Well, if you're tired of the same old same old patterns, designer extraordinaire, Tammy Hildebrand, just had her "go to" book for baby crochet patterns (3 months to 12 months) published by Stackpole books – Crochet for Baby All Year. Easy-to-Make Outfits for Every Month. And the patterns aren't the "same old same old" patterns.

And they're not just for little girls. Each month has a little boy pattern as well as a little girl pattern. And OH, they are so cute! (I'm talking here about the patterns, but the models are cute, too!) On the front cover, you can see a Cheerleader outfit, a 4th of July outfit, and a Santa outfit (they call it a "Little Miss Snowball Dress").  Inside, you'll find a Lady Bug or Scarlet Beetle tank top for both a boy and a girl, a football jersey for a boy. (The girl has the Cheerleader outfit, remember?)

Okay - I'll post another picture of the cheerleader outfit (and the cutie pie modeling it).

A bikini for the baby girl and bathing trunks for the boy. 

All of these outfits are adorable, and so are the models – as I mentioned before! (One of the girl models is Tammy's granddaughter – a cutie pie if I ever saw one!)  The models all look like they were enjoying themselves, and loved wearing the clothes.

What else is in there? 
February - the garments are adorable.

December - look at the Santa Claus dress! And the suspenders on the Santa pants for the boy! And the bow tie!

There is a Stegosaurus (that's like a dinosaur) costume for both a boy and a girl, a couple of dresses for a girl, a few sweaters for a boy, hats galore, booties, sandals, and even christening gowns for both. Something for every month – for both a girl and a boy. This is a book that you should not miss. And, to make it even easier to acquire a copy for yourself, I'm having a drawing on Friday, July 11. Comment on this blog about what YOU want to make for your Baby Presents Closet, and why, and you might win a copy of this book. Do this by midnight (Eastern time) on Thursday, July 10, and on Friday, July 11, I will have a drawing for the winner, using a random number generator. Make sure you let me know your contact information, so I can let you know that you've won!
Good luck, and I can't wait to hear what you're going to crochet!

If you want to see the "look book" that Stackpole has, click here: Crochet For Baby

But wait - there's more!
I asked Tammy some questions – not about her designs, but about her models. (They are so cute, the grandma in me couldn't help but wonder about them.) 

Questions for Tammy:
You have 4 adorable children as models – one is your granddaughter – how did you find the other three?
Abbi is the daughter of a young lady I used to watch in the nursery at our church! That young lady is all grown up now with a beautiful family of her own.
Caleb is the cutie pie son of one of my daughter's friends.
Joseph we discovered by placing an ad on Craigslist.

Did they get along with each other?
Willow absolutely loves little boys. She wouldn't keep her hands off of them. The first shoot they kind of just stared at her and let her get away with it but the second shoot, Joseph wanted no part of Willow and would scream when we put them together. It was quite an experience doing a photo shoot with 4 babies all under the age of 10 months.

Did they enjoy modeling the clothes?
Certain ones they did. Joseph loved the July design because he was given a little flag to hold. He just sat there waving his flag back and forth and smiling. Caleb is so laid back and easy going. He would pretty much just stay wherever we put him. Abbi wasn't sure what to make of any of it but she was a sweet girl. Willow is not known for her "keeping still" skills so it was a challenge, but lots of fun!

How did you get the ideas for the garments? I know where your inspiration came from – Willow – but the designs are adorable – how did you think of them?
I don't have an answer for you on this one Marty. My ideas just pop into my head and happen. I don't really know how.

When you get the book, look at the designs, of course. But also, look at the expressions on the babies' faces in the different pictures. You'll just want to pinch their cheeks, and give them big hugs. And, of course, make the adorable designs!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mommy & Me Crocheted Hats – 30 fun & stylish designs for kids of all ages

By Kristi Simpson

By now, if you've been reading my posts, you must know that I believe that one can never have too many books! (And yarn, and hooks, etc.) Well, I came across another book that I know would be a good addition to your crochet library – it has everything in it that you need to know when you crochet – from the beginning info like how to hold your crochet hook, and how to hold your yarn, all the way through to how to fasten off and weave in ends. On the way you'll find out how to change colors, how to do the stitches, how to read directions, etc., etc., etc. You get what I mean? Just about everything you need to know! And, the patterns in this book that you will be working on when you're learning all this are just adorable! They're hats – for kids and adults, boys and girls, men and women, mommy (and daddy) and me. There are 30 separate hat designs, and each hat is worked and written up in different sizes. So you can make these hats for all ages, and both men and women. And while you crochet the hat patterns, you'll also be learning different stitch patterns that you can use in other designs. So you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.
This is the book:
Mommy & Me Crocheted Hats – 30 fun & stylish designs for kids of all ages
By Kristi Simpson

Here are some of the stitches you'll learn from this book:
Puff stitches
Front post and back post stitches
Crochet cables
Basket weave patterns
Bobble stitches

And here are some of the techniques you'll learn:
How to crochet in the back loop only
How to decrease
How to carry the yarn up a row, without ending off, when you change colors at the end of a row
How to change colors
How to crochet in the round to form a circle
How to add a visor to a hat
How to crochet cables
How to crochet a basketweave pattern
How to work hats from the top down, or from the bottom up, or in panels
How to work with yarn that's both thick and thin in different places

You'll learn and practice these skills, stitches, and more while creating these adorable hats for everyone.

These are some of my favorites:
Basketweave Beanie

Gone Huntin' Camo Cap

Downtown Girl Slouchy

Groovy Waves Beanie

You Have My Heart Beanie

Hooded Scarf

Twisted Stitches Beanie

Sweetheart Sunhat

And these fun hats:
Daddy's Bearded Dude Beanie

I'm an Elf! Pixie

Giggle Monster

Ahoy Matey! Pirate Hat

Sock Monkey Twist

Aren't these the cutest hats?
Oh, one other thing – those models? They are real people, not models. So you can see what each hat looks like on real people!
(All these pictures were provided by the publisher - Stackpole Books.)

Have you every crocheted a hat? Did you start at the top and work down, at the bottom and work up, or crochet it in one or more panels? Which of these hats would you like to make first? Leave a comment about which of the hats you like, or how you prefer to crochet hats and why, and you may just win yourself a copy of this book. You'll have until April 24th, 2014, to enter. I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner.
Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.
And have fun crocheting hats!
Oh - if you want to, you can purchase a copy of this book right here - Stackpole Books

Disclaimer: My review copy and the giveaway copy of this book were both supplied by Stackpole Books.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Going Around in Circles

What do you do when you want to relax, crochet, chill out, and play with yarn?
All at the same time. And you don't have a lot of the yarn you want to play with. But you want to make something. And not stress out about it. What do you do?

I know what I do. I crochet circles. Some of the circles I use as small table pads, to protect tables or other surfaces from things that may scratch them. My grandmother made doilies for this purpose – I make my version of doilies. Circles. Many of the circles, though, I turn in to baskets. All sizes, all shapes, all styles. It doesn't matter if I have enough of one yarn – I just use what I have, and if I want a larger basket, I add more yarn – maybe same colorway, maybe not. Sometimes, I even make totes – same guidelines as the baskets. In fact, I'm working on one now. More on that later.

I use all sorts of yarn Рwool, cotton, acrylic, parachute cord, torn up material, ribbon made from t-shirts and other cotton material, torn up cotton bandanas, nylon cord̩, recycled sari silk ribbon, shoelace yarn, string, mop cotton, rope, etc. If it can be wound around a crochet hook, I will try it!

So what do I do with all my baskets? Just look around my house and you'll find out. In my kitchen, I have a soft basket filled with my Keurig K-pods; a couple of felted baskets with pens and pencils in them; some smaller ones hold rubber bands and paper clips; others hold loose change; another one holds small note pads near the phone. Walk into my family room, you'll see more baskets. Big ones. These baskets, some felted, one crocheted with cut-up bandanas, another crocheted with what I call mop cotton, I use to hold yarn and yarn projects that I am working on. They're convenient, because I can just sit down at the couch, decide which project I want to work on, and all my materials are there – yarn, hooks, measuring tape, scissors – whatever I need, I just put in each basket. And if I want to move to another room with the project, I just carry the basket with me. Some smaller baskets I use to put a skein or ball of yarn in, so it won't roll around on the floor and get dirty when I'm crocheting with it.  You get the idea. One can never have enough baskets!
Here are some pictures of some of them:

What about the circles/doilies? I make circles when I don't have a lot of yarn to use. Or I want to try out a yarn. Or I want to take a project with me when I'm going someplace, but it has to be a small project. So I make all sizes of circles. Small ones are great coasters. I have some in the family room so I can put a drink on them when I'm crocheting. Some larger ones are in my kitchen, protecting the countertop from marks and scratches. I use felted wool ones for hot pads on the table, so the tables don't get scorched by hot dishes or pots And, pretty soon, I just might decorate my cabinets with some circles of all sizes. And colors. And materials.
Here are some of the circles:

 Here is one of my newest baskets that I also use as a tote:

Circles are the basis of most of my baskets. But they are also the basis of a lot of my totes and hats. And I keep thinking up new ways to make circles. So I make more and more. I thought of some new ones this week, and I'm going to work on them later. And right now, if you want to learn how to make circles – all sorts of circles – you have a couple of choices. You can take my class on circles – I call it Going Around in Circles – this July at the Crochet Guild of America's Chain Link Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, July 23 – 27, 2014, http://www.knitandcrochetshow.com. I'll be teaching how to crochet circles every which way – from the center out, from the outside in, in pieces, parts of circles, joined rounds, unjoined rounds, etc. And how to turn those circles in to baskets or totes or hats. So if you're curious about my newest tote project that I mentioned above, I'll be bringing it to the class, and you can see it there. Resigtration opened today, so head over there to sign up before the classes are full. Going Around in Circles - I'm teaching it on Thursday  1:00 to 4:00. You can also order an ebook from Interweave Crochet – Step by Step Guide to Top Down Hat Construction -  http://www.interweavestore.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-top-down-hat-construction-with-6-staff-favorite-patterns-ebook. It includes an article written by me for Interweave Crochet, about how to crochet circles and turn them into hats. Either one would be a good choice. Both would be the best choice!
So have fun making circles with all those single skeins you've collected, and I hope to see you this July in Manchester!