Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baby Blueprint Crochet

I love crochet books. I collect crochet books. Old ones, new ones, stitch dictionaries, books with patterns, almost any kind of crochet book I can get my hands on. Sometimes, I'll even buy two copies of a book, either because I forgot I had one copy, or I see an older book at a used book sale and have to provide it with a good home!  :-) I am always looking for new books, books that will soon be published, and haunt the bookstores, both on-line and "real" ones, to see if a new book is out yet. So I knew that Robyn Chachula was going to have a new book out soon - Baby Blueprint Crochet. I liked the previews that I saw, and judging by her previous book, and her knowledge of stitch diagrams, I knew that this book would be a winner. And I would probably have to have it. I really couldn't wait until it came out.

And then Robyn asked me to be a part of the blog tour for the book, and I didn't have to think twice about it. Of course I would do it, because 1. I knew it was going to be a winner, 2. I know and like Robyn, and 3. I'd get to see the book before it became available in the stores.
Well, I did get to see the book before it got to the stores. And I still like Robyn. So, is #1 still true? You bet!
Why? Well, the photography is great. The kid models are so cute! And this book is more than just patterns for babies and toddlers. So much more. So even though I don't have many babies in my family to crochet for (in fact, only one new great-nephew) and only one toddler (my great-niece), I still want this book in my collection. Robyn has included stitch symbol diagrams with all the designs. And these diagrams map out the stitch patterns, including increases and decreases, so that if I want to use the stitch pattern in one of my designs, I could see how it would look, and I wouldn't have to figure out increasing/decreasing details. It's there! But not only does she include the stitch symbol diagrams, she actually gives instructions on how to use them effectively. So if you have never used stitch symbols or stitch symbol diagrams (and they are such a great tool to have in your crochet skills set) Robyn's instructions will teach you just what you need to know to use them. Also, each project in the book includes all the info you'll need to know about that project: what yarn you'll need, special stitches you'll need to know, how it's constructed, and how to finish it. Robyn also gives you ideas on how to make a baby project - what kinds of yarns to use, what colors you should use, what you should leave off of a baby project, and how to baby-proof your work. These are things that you may not realize if you are making these projects as a gift for a new mother. But these are all things that Robyn has learned, first hand, because she is a new mother herself. And she wants to share them with you, so your new-baby gifts will be well-used, and loved!
Robyn also uses different stitches and stitch patterns in her designs - ones that you may not know or may not have used. So you can learn some new stitch patterns, and some new stitches. She uses post stitches (both front post and back post dc), front loop only and back loop only stitches, extended stitches, different versions of double crochet and single crochet stitches (including reverse single crochet),  and Tunisian stitches. So even if you don't have a baby or toddler to crochet for, Baby Blueprint Crochet is a wonderful resource to have. It's a pattern book, stitch dictionary, and how-to book all in one! Can't get any better than that!
For an example of what there is in the book, other than baby clothes, here's a picture of a baby washcloth that Robyn includes. It would make a great dishcloth if you don't know a baby to crochet for. Or make it a little bigger, and use it yourself. It comes with written directions, and a great stitch pattern diagram that is clear to read, and would be easy to enlarge.

If you want a sneak preview of the rest of the projects in Robyn's book, check out her flicker album here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Crochet Dude(r) and me

I met the Crochet Dude(r) at a CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) Chain Link conference in 2006. It was the first one he attended, and he didn't know many people. I knew who he was, though. I was the Professional Development Chairperson, he was an Associate Professional member, and I had been reading his blog on-line. We started talking, and we've been talking ever since. In just a few years, he has developed into "The Dude" of crochet – everyone is talking -about his designs, his professionalism, his product line, his pattern books, his cats, his cooking, etc.,etc., etc. You can't miss his publications – they're in bookstores, craft stores, yarn stores, and, of course, on Amazon. You can check out his new book, Crochet It, Love It, Wear It! here.
Even though we talk a lot whenever we see each other at Chain Links and TNNA events, we don't always talk crochet. (Don't ask what we do talk about!) And I've always wanted to find out more about Drew and crochet, what got him started designing, who or what influenced his career, and all those other deep questions that good friends don't usually talk about – and when he asked me to participate in this Blog Tour, I thought it would be a good opportunity to do so. So here are my questions, and his answers:


1. You were a Fine Arts major in college. Did that experience in any way influence or affect your decision to pursue a career as a Crochet designer?

It didn’t really affect my decision to become a designer, but it has affected how I approach my designs. Composition, color theory, muscle & bone structure, all the things that I studied in college come into play when I am designing.

2. You lived in Mexico for a while. Did that experience in any way influence your decision to pursue a career as a Crochet designer?

Living in Guadalajara all those years affected me deeply, and completely changed how I view the world, my family, and my friends. I take care of myself better, I have more compassion for others, and I enjoy every moment of my life. Somehow that must have influenced my becoming a designer.

3. When did you realize that being a Crochet designer was the career path you wanted to pursue? How did you go about it?

It sort of crept up on me. I had been crocheting for charity and someone in the group encouraged me to submit to a calendar for publication some afghan square designs that I had come up with just for fun. To my amazement the designs were published and I launched my blog to journal about breaking into the industry.

4. Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you? How do you keep your designs "fresh"?

I suppose it depends on what I am designing. For garments I look to the fashion trends and what I like to see people wearing. For home décor I look to architecture and nature for inspiration. I think my ideas stay fresh because once a design is set free from my studio I let it go. I know that there are infinite designs inside me just waiting to come out and I always look forward.

5. What was the inspiration for your book "Crochet It. Love It. Wear It!"?

My previous book, Designs for Guys, was as the title suggests, all stuff for dudes. I knew that this time I wanted to do one for the ladies. My inspiration came from lots of sources, my sisters, my late mother, and my friends.

6. Designers often have a "niche" – something (technique, design, yarn, etc.) that they are known for. What is your "niche"? What would you like to be your "niche"?

I don’t know if I’m known for it yet, but a common denominator in my designs is the texture of the fabric that I am creating. I rely heavily on post stitches to achieve maximum texture. I think in retrospect someday I’ll be known for textures.

7. What is the most intriguing thing about your Crochet design career?

The most intriguing thing for me is that I can run a complex design business out of a studio in my home. The latest technology has made it relatively simple to do and I find that fascinating.

8. What, if anything, do you crochet for yourself? What is your favorite type of: Pattern? Stitch? Technique?

I really don’t ever crochet for myself, I just don’t have the time. All my crochet time is dedicated to new designs. I don’t mind though, the design process is so fulfilling for me that I get the best of both worlds every day: the pleasure of crocheting and the stimulation of designing.

9. You've done so much with Crochet – designing, teaching, teaching on a cruise, TV show, branded crochet tools and accessories, just to name a few. What are your future plans (that you can share with us)?

The sky is the limit at this point. I’m continuing to expand upon what I have built so far and I like that it is growing organically. There is plenty of time to do so much more and I’m happily paying my dues and having the time of my life.

10. What words of wisdom do you have for other Crochet designers?
What words of wisdom do you have for other Crocheters?

For designers I would say let go and be free. Don’t worry or fuss about what you’ve already designed. Only move forward and trust that you will always be able to come up with new ideas whenever you need them.

For crocheters I would say challenge yourself and try patterns that you might not think you could do. You might surprise yourself and discover that you are an even better crocheter than you had once thought.

There was one more question that I had to ask him:
11. When are you going to name a design after me? I want my turn!
The Dude said: I've already answered that question in another interview!

Hmph! So now I guess I have to read all the other blogs on the blog tour to find the answer! In between drooling over the designs in his new book, and trying to figure out what yarn I'm going to use for my favorite one! (It's the one called Laurie.)

Check out his book, and all of Drew's other books and tools and gadgets and stuff. You'll be glad you did. You can find all this info on his blog:
the Crochet Dude(r)

And, you can buy it here.

The Dude posted this picture of us on his blog today - I had to repost it here!
I made the crocheted glasses at one of his "make and takes" (to make a necklace - I repurposed the materials)!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Crochet Dude will be here Sunday, September 19, 2010

If you want to find out about The Crochet Dude (r) and his new book, I'll be blogging and posting about him and it on Sunday, September 19, 2010. Well, I may post late Saturday night, Eastern Daylight Time, so check the blog then. Until then, read the other blogs that have posted on the blog tour. Find out about them on the Dude's blog. And get to know all sides of the Dude!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Crochet Hook Sizes

If you look at a modern crochet hook, most likely the hook will have 3 things on it - other than the name of the company that manufactured it. These three things are a letter, a number, and a mm size.
These are the 3 common ways to designate hook sizes. Some companies use all 3 designations, some only one or two.
What can get confusing is that there is not a standard measurement for hooks. So one company's hook may have the same letter as another company's hook, but the mm size is different (i.e. an N in one company may be 10mm, in another it may be 9mm). That small difference may be just enough to alter your gauge. If a pattern calls for an N hook, and the designer used a 10mm N, but you use a 9mm N, your gauge may be off enough to really make a difference in the finished product. And you'll wonder why - you did use the hook that was called for. If the pattern doesn't list the mm size for the hook, it's really not your fault. If the mm size was listed along with the hook letter and the number, then you should make it a point to pick a hook based on the mm size. Crochet patterns should list mm sizes. Letters and numbers are fine for the hooks, but the mm size is the most important thing! If you remember that one little thing, you'll be way ahead!
One more thing to remember - some older hooks may have different mm sizes than newer ones from the same company. So, remember, the best thing to look for in a hook is the mm size.

Here are the commercially available size of hooks:
B-1, 2 mm or 2.5 mm
C-2, 2.75mm
D-3, 3.25mm
E-4, 3.5mm
F-5, 3.75mm
G-6, 4mm
G-7, 4.5mm
H-8, 5mm
I-9, 5.5mm
J-10, 6mm
K-10.5, 6.5mm
L-11, 8mm
M-13, 9mm
N-15, 10mm
P-16, 11.5mm

These are the commercially made hooks. There are other sizes, made by independent hook companies.
I hope this helps those who are confused by the variety of hook sizes and designations.