Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches

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!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mommy & Me Crocheted Hats
By Kristi Simpson

Are you interested in crocheting hats for children and adults, boys and girls, men and women? Do you want to learn some new techniques, stitches, and methods to crochet the hats? Check out my review of this book on my other blog: notyourgrannyscrochet-marty.blogspot.com to read about about this new book and enter to win a copy of it. Hurry, before it's too late!!! (Enter before Friday, April 25, 2014.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Crocheter's Companion

I posted the address for the wrong blog on Facebook!  Oops!
If you're looking for my blog post about the new and revised edition of The Crocheter's Companion, go to my other blog:

Here's a picture of the cover. Now go to the other blog to read about what's inside!!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kristin Omdahl Does It Again!


Yes, Kristin Omdahl has done it again! What has she done? She wrote another great book! I am a bookaholic – that is a word I made up (I think) to describe someone who collects books. Especially crochet books. I have old crochet books, new crochet books, hard copies and e-books. (Sometimes 2 of one book.) I like to look at them, and get inspiration from them. I usually don't work a pattern from them, because I have my own individual style, and I design my own patterns. What I like about certain books is that they show a stitch pattern, or a crocheted item, and it triggers something in me – I see what they show, and I think "How can I do this in my style?" I don't want to copy what I see, I want to use what I see to create something entirely new. That's why I have so many books. To give me lots of ideas. And that's why I get excited when Kristin has a new book out. I get so many ideas from her books.

This new one – The Finer Edge – published by Interweave/F+W Media; for $22.95, is just such a book. (Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of the book by F+W Media to review.) Kristin starts out with a "stitch" dictionary of edgings – and divides them into 4 types – top-down, bottom-up, side-to-side, and miscellaneous edgings. They are organized by construction, and Kristin explains how to add them to the fabric – either before, during, or after you crochet the fabric. Then, she has 10 actual patterns using her edgings  - as fabric and edgings. She even explains how to turn corners with edgings!

So I tried one of the edgings that intrigued me, (the Woven Ribbon on page 68) and after I was finished I realized that even though it was in the miscellaneous edgings, it could easily be a top-down edging, crocheted directly on the fabric when the piece was done. I could use it in my designs, with or without the woven ribbon. I could change the mesh with different stitches and different numbers of chains and skipped stitches. Lots of ideas. That's what Kristin's books do for me!

I also like the tips that Kristin adds – how to use the edgings as edgings, and how to use them in other designs. You can use them as scarves, cowls, complete fabric for a sweater or afghan or pillow, or whatever else you can think of. She presents pleated edgings that form a sort of a ruffle, edgings that make their presence known, and edgings that are laid back but brilliant. You can work the edgings in any yarn, from #1 to #6, and you'll get a different look, and a different use.

I did the Woven Ribbon edging in a thick worsted weight wool from Briggs & Little. I loved how it showed the stitches, and I thought this would make a great scarf – the mesh background, with only one or two of the rows woven with the ribbon. And the ribbon, worked in a bulky yarn, would make a good scarf, or belt, or sash. And what about 2 rows of the mesh in a nylon yarn, woven with a nylon ribbon – a great tote handle! (See what I mean by great books? They get your creativity flowing!)

Here are some pictures I took of my swatches;

Above is the mesh part of the Woven Ribbon.

This is the Ribbon - it would make a great narrow scarf, or a belt or sash.

The is the Woven Ribbon - with 2 rows woven.

Another interesting edging - a version of Bruge's Lace.

Finally, the Slip Stitch Textured edging.

This is a book that I am glad is in my book collection. And you can have it in your collection, too. You can purchase this book at:Amazon
And, it comes in a Kindle version also!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Crochetville Blog Tour for National Crochet Month – March 2013

It's here – NatCroMo, or National Crochet Month – and Crochetville.com has organized a blog tour of both Professional and Associate Professional members of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). Find out more about the tour, and the members who are participating, at:

I wanted to be on this tour because 1: I am a Professional Member of CGOA. And 2: I believe in supporting CGOA and all things crochet. Once I saw who else was participating, I knew I had to pick the same day for my blog that Tammy Hildebrand picked for her blog. Tammy and I met through CGOA, and  - well, let me tell you the story.

It was at one memorable Chain Link Conference in Manchester, NH, (the first one there) where I met 2 of my closest crochet buddies. And Rita and Jean (last names are not required when you mention Rita and Jean). And it was at a Chain Link Conference in King of Prussia where I met 2 other close fiber buddies.

I want to tell you, though, how I met Tammy Hildebrand, whose blog -  Hot Lava Crochet - is the other stop on this blog tour today. It was at that conference in Manchester, NH, that I mentioned above, and we were at the big dinner/fashion show.  Tammy was sitting at the table behind the table I was at, and she was sitting with Rita and Jean. I forget whom I was with. When the dinner was over, I got up, and introduced myself to Rita and Jean – I had designed for them, but hadn't met them yet. This was when Rita grabbed my arm and the poncho I was wearing, started shaking my arm, and said – "Why haven't you submitted this to us?" I stammered that I was going to do it when I got home. I was a little awestruck! Rita and Jean actually wanted one of my designs! And then, the redhead (I really think she was a blond then, but it sounds better to say "redhead") next to them, who had read my nametag, said – "Greensboro? I live in Kernersville!" That was Tammy, and as we soon found out, we were nearly neighbors. She lived down the road a piece from me. (That's a southernism – "down the road a piece.") I looked at her nametag, saw it was Tammy, and, since I had seen many of her patterns, I was amazed. Another crochet designer lived near me! This was almost unheard of at the time. And the designer was someone I had heard about. And she didn't live in NYC or California – she lived in North Carolina. Where I didn't really know any other designers. And she lived near me! I guess I was still awe struck by all this.  Especially because she got to eat dinner with Rita and Jean!

So, to make a long story not so long – I invited Tammy to our Wednesday night Crochet and Knit group at a local bookstore. She came. I asked her if she wanted to go to a few local yarn shops with me, one day soon. She said sure, and later confessed she had never been in a lys until I took her; she had only been to the big box craft stores. We started doing some lunches when we had time, meeting about halfway between our towns. And of course, visiting yarn shops nearby. We still do that – meet for lunch when we have the time, or just need to talk, or want to have a meeting about something having to do with CGOA. (I got Tammy involved as the mentor coordinator when I was Professional Development Chair. Then, when I was elected to the Board, she became PD Chair. When I was President, she was named to the board. And now, I am retired from the board, but Tammy is Vice President. And now, she's getting me involved again. It's a circle that keeps going around.)

Tammy is one of the reasons that I love CGOA!

Oh, one other thing about Tammy. We always talk about being "professional" in our relationships with other crocheters/designers/ etc. In other words, we shouldn't use others' ideas without acknowledging it somehow. Well, one night, at our weekly group meeting at the bookstore, Tammy was designing a sweater, and was having some kind of problem. I really don't remember just what it was, but I know she just couldn't figure out how to shape it. She asked for my help, so I took a piece of paper and sketched out for her the way that I would do it. It makes things easy for me, and I was willing to share. And then I didn't think about it anymore. Well, Tammy was designing a sweater for publication, and about 6 months later, I got a check from Tammy for help with her design. I didn't expect that, and really was surprised. And then, when the publication came, I saw that she had listed my name beside hers, as one of the designers. That really surprised me! But then, I thought, well, that's what we've been talking about. Professionalism. When you use someone's idea, give them credit. Tammy did. Tammy is professional! 

And speaking of circles that keep going around, because this is NaCroMo, I want to let you in on a little secret of mine – what to do with those leftover skeins of yarns, or the almost-full skeins of yarn, or just the skeins that you HAD to buy so you could try out the yarn. You know what I mean – all that yarn that is taking up space. Do what I do – make circles. Yes, circles. You can turn those circles into a basket, or a tote/purse, or a hat. Even a toilet paper cozy. Or just use those circles as coasters, place mats, or doilys, to put on your tables or to put under bowls or baskets, or whatever. Here are some circles I made recently – they don't take long to do. Depending on how much yarn you have and how fast you crochet, and how big a circle you make, you can crochet one in 1/2 hour (a coaster) to 2 hours – (a doily). I just used single crochet stitches. The trick is – use some fun yarn. I used yarn that was self-striping (Sugar'n Cream), yarn that I could felt (Noro Kureyon and Brown Sheep), and some Sari Ribbon yarn. You can see how, even though the circles are crocheted with the same pattern and stitches, they look different because of the yarn.

If you don't know how to crochet circles, check out the article I wrote for Interweave Crochet that they have now reprinted in one of their ebooks - A Step-by-Step Guide to Crocheted Hats
In the article, I give you all the information you need to know about making circles, with sc, dc, hdc, and more. And then, I show you how to turn circles into hats. You'll also get some hat patterns you can crochet.
Or, you may already have the copy of Interweave Crochet Accessories Issue, 2010, where my article first appeared, along with 5 hat patterns I designed, using all the info in the article. (The hats are called The Goldilocks Family of Hats – hats for babies through adults).

A lot of people on various discussion groups and boards wonder why they should be members of CGOA. Crocheting can be a lonely occupation/hobby/time-filler. The friendships you make by being a member of CGOA, especially when you attend one of the conferences, are a major reason to join. Even if you can't go to a conference, taking part in the discussion forums on Ravelry, or the discussion groups on the CGOA website, is important. Those are places where you can get your questions answered, where you can suggest things you would like to see from CGOA, where you can make many cyber friends. (I mention friends a lot, because I think it's so important!) But, being a member of CGOA is also a way of supporting crochet, supporting designers so we can continue designing great patterns for you. (We improve our skills and learn so much every time we - the designers - go to a conference to teach, or to take a class. Yes – we still take classes! Designers and teachers and other Crochet professionals!) If you're interested in writing up your patterns, or perhaps becoming a contract crocheter, or maybe even teaching, you can learn the ins and outs of all these at the conferences – how to get started, etc. If you want to meet designers, publishers, editors, yarn company reps, a CGOA Chain Link conference is the place for you. If you just want to crochet, and pehaps meet other crocheters (even some from your town), at a conference you can brush up on your skills and learn, in person, all sorts of new techniques – from Foundation Stitches to Linked Stitches, or Broomstick Crochet, or Post Stitches and Cables, or Lace Crochet, or Tunisian Crochet, or Wiggly Crochet, or Bavarian Crochet or…… I could go on and on and on!  CGOA is the one national organization that is all about Crochet. We, as crocheters, should all support it! (Of course, we should also support other groups that are now including crochet!) Check out the CGOA website for other benefits that members get. Benefits that keep on growing! And maybe you'll meet your best buddies at Chain Link, too!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Curvy Girl Crochet by Mary Beth Temple

Curvy Girl Crochet by Mary Beth Temple
I collect crochet books. Especially ones that have more than just patterns in them. I like books that have lots of explanations, like how to alter garments. I learn a lot from reading the explanations -  how to make patterns fit me. Even patterns designed for "curvy girls". Which I am not. But - I  find ideas, hints, and ways to make the patterns fit my shape. And my style. I like loose, not fitted waists. I like long sleeves. I like long sweaters that go below my hips. One reason I started designing sweaters was because I couldn't find patterns for sweaters that I liked. (The other reason is that I could never get the gauge for the pattern, even with the same yarn that was used in the pattern.) So, I started designing - for me, and then for others. But I still had to learn/know things - like how many inches to add to my actual measurements to accommodate for ease. And what kind of ease I wanted - negative or positive. And how to adjust the length of sleeves so I could have a short sleeved garment or a long sleeve garment, or even a sleeveless garment, with the same pattern. And how to adjust the length of the garment, so I wouldn't have it too long, or too short. I didn't want to sit on the fabric, nor did I want to have the hem at the widest part of my hips. And what should I do about the neckline? If I wanted something that was a V-neck, or even a rounded, scoop neck, I had to make sure that it wouldn't be too low, or too high, but just right. Lots of things to think about when designing a sweater, or when altering a sweater that's already been designed, and the pattern written, but that you want to change. It's not a matter of just adding or subtracting stitches to make an armhole wider or narrower. You have to know where and when to decrease or increase, and where or when to crochet "even". You have to know what the fabric will do, how it will drape with the alterations. If the garment has seams, depending on where you sew the seams, the fit may change. If the garment has buttons, depending on where you place the buttons, the fit and the garment may change. So for designers, designing a garment, and also for crocheters, altering an already designed pattern can be scary. 
But luckily, Mary Beth Temple has just solved our problems with her new book Curvy Girl Crochet

All of those things I mentioned in the above paragraph - all those things that could cause problems, whether you are designing a pattern or following a pattern, Mary Beth explains thoroughly. And more. She even talks about yarn and hooks. Even though yarns may have the same CYCA weight designation, they may not be equivalent. The fibers may react differently, they may not be exactly the same weight, they may handle differently, etc. And hooks - when you make your gauge swatch to see if your fabric that you make will be what you want, use the same hook that you will be crocheting the garment with. Hooks made with different materials may give you different gauges. Also, make sure you check the millimeter measure for the hook you use. Hooks that have the same letter designation made by different manufacturers (or by the same manufacturer but made at different times) may not be the same millimeter size. And even if they are the same millimeter, the shape of the hook may be different - inline or tapered. And even inline hooks, by the same manufacturer, out of the same material, may have a slightly different shape if they were made at different times. And not all tapered hooks are the same tapered shape. So the best thing to do is to keep your hook with your project! I have found this out by experience, and teach my students this - that all hooks are not equal!
Mary Beth even explains how to measure yourself, and why you shouldn't use old tape measures. And throughout the book, Mary Beth has tips and hints to make your crocheting and your projects better. This is one thorough book!!!
Looking through this book, I've been picking out garments and accessories I want to make for me. The Stratum wrap - it's one-size fits all, so I may not have to do too much altering. The Sensible Shawl,
the Shimmer Scarf, 

felted Carryall

also look interesting. I like the Peacoat for Rule Breakers, the Simply Stripes Jacket, 
the Perfect Base Tank Top,

the Progressive Tunic, 

and the Essential Pullover.

Hmm - now I just have to find the time.
Oh - two other things in the book. Things that I just love to find! Pattern schematics, of course. And STITCH DIAGRAMS! So if you're used to using them, you can. And if you're not used to using stitch diagrams, you can practice by reading the pattern directions and looking at the stitch diagrams, and working back and forth. 
This book, Curvy Girl Crochet, by Mary Beth Temple is a definite must for your book shelf! 

The pictures in this review come from Curvy Girl Crochet, published by Taunton Press in 2012. All photos ©Susan Pittard, the photographer, and reprinted by permission.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Custom Crocheted Sweaters by Dora Ohrenstein

I have been crocheting for a very long time. I learned when I was 5, and I started crocheting small stuff - I remember making blankets for my dolls. As I got older, I started crocheting scarves - for me, my college boyfriend (in MY school colors - so he would have to think of me whenever he wore it), and baby blankets. Not sweaters, though. Whenever I saw a sweater that I wanted, I just asked my mother to crochet it for me. And usually she did. But eventually, I started crocheting sweaters, too. However, in those days, the default hook that was recommended for worsted weight yarn (which was sold in dime stores, department stores, and just about everywhere else), was a G/6, 4mm hook. You can just imagine the fabric I created with that hook. I hardly ever get rid of or throw out things that I make, so I still have most of those old sweaters and skirts. And yes - they can stand up by themselves! Here is a picture of a sweater I think I made in those days (although, my mother may have made it for me). You can see how stiff it looks!

This next sweater is one from Dora's book - it's called The Floating Tee. When I was looking through the book, I first saw the different styles of sweaters. I saw the Drop Shoulder style, and searched the book for the Drop Shoulder Sweater. This Floating Tee is the Drop Shoulder example. I looked at the schematic, and immediately thought of my sweater, which I had recently "found" when I was searching through my trunk of stuff. The schematic for my sweater, if there were one, would be the same as for The Floating Tee. But the fit for my sweater would be nothing like the fit for The Floating Tee. 

And the yarn I used for my sweater was not a wise choice. It "pools" (the colors clump together) and form strange patterns that are obvious when you change skeins. (Look at the body of the sweater at the bottom - there is a "line" just about in the middle of the sweater, where the color pattern changes. That's where I changed skeins.) And the color pattern is different on top and on the bottom. I know now how to fix that, or work with that. I teach classes on how to work with variegated yarns like this. But then, when I crocheted this sweater, I didn't know. So with that, and the stiffness of the fabric - I don't think I wore this one at all.

Later on, after I got my Ph.D., and got to crocheting again, the default hook to use with worsted weight yarn was an H/8, 5mm, not much better for drape. But after awhile, I just started using an I/9, 5.5mm or a J/10, 6mm with worsted weight yarn if I was making a sweater and I wanted a lot of drape to the fabric. 
At the same time, I started altering patterns, because I couldn't get the designer's gauge with the larger hook. But it was difficult, and I had to start over many times. And if I used the smaller hook, I didn't like the sweater fabric. Eventually, I just started designing my own sweaters. (I had been designing afghans, toys, scarves, totes, for a while - all those things that don't really need an accurate gauge and a specific size.)  When I started designing sweaters, I couldn't find any books published that spelled out the "whys" and "how-tos" for designing crocheted sweaters. So I had to figure out lots of things by myself - like how to make fitted armholes - not just for my size, but for 5 other sizes, if I wanted to publish the design. Or - how to accommodate various bust sizes. Or different sleeve lengths, or shoulder shapes, or neck sizes. For me, I'm happy with loose sweaters most of the time. But, sometimes I want something more fitted. So I needed to learn all those things and more, even when I was just making myself something to wear. 
When I saw Dora Ohenstein's latest book Custom Crocheted Sweaters - Make Garments that Really Fit, earlier this year, and was asked to review it, I knew that was the book that would have helped me then.  It really does teach everything you need to know about crocheting garments. All the above topics and more: altering length, changing waist placement, altering sleeve length, adjusting size by changing gauge (this would have saved me so much time and effort!), choosing yarns, blocking to your measurements, how to take your measurements....I could go on and on. Dora has some basic sweater designs in her book - like drop shoulder, top down, raglan and more - and for each sweater, she discusses construction techniques and how to alter the sweater to give you your unique look and fit. She also discusses how to pick yarn - for your first efforts, and for future ones. She has 10 sweater designs in her book, and if you read her "lessons" for each sweater, you will know all you need to know to make garments that REALLY fit! 
This is a must book for every crocheter who wants to make a garment. Refer to it along with the pattern when you're making your garment, and there will be no more second guessing the designer. No more UFOs (unfinished objects). No more wasted yarn. No more tears. This book will guide you all the way.