Smiling at Sparkles

Ball of Yarn

Okay, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you likely know I have a thing about sparkly yarn. I love it! So I am thrilled that I’ve been asked to design something in Red Heart’s “Shimmer” yarn.

This is a lovely yarn with a subtle color-matched sparkle that is so fun. It’s available in a variety of solid colors and subtle color-changing heathers.

Close Up of Color

I really like the colorway “Lipstick” that I’m working with. Strands of different colors from purple to fiery reds to hot pink give it loads of punch. And this yarn feels amazingly luxurious for a 97% Acrylic yarn (the 3% metallic polyester is what gives it the sparkle). What is really great is the sparkle isn’t scratchy feeling.

Of course, I can’t show you the design I’m working on, but I’ll let you know when it is available. I’m very sure this won’t be the last design I make in this yarn.

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“Wiggly Crochet Dishcloths” Review

Image courtesy of Annie's Publishing
Image courtesy of Annie’s Publishing

Today I’m honored to be a part of the blog tour for Susan Lowman’s new booklet from Annie’s Publishing “Wiggly Crochet Dishcloths”.

Wiggly Crochet is a fun surface crochet technique that Susan designs wonderful textural colorful pieces with. I’ve always admired Susan’s use of color-work in her designs and had wanted to try out Wiggly Crochet.  I was very excited to receive my review copy of her new booklet.

This is a beautifully laid out booklet. The directions are written out in text, with gorgeous sharp photography of the finished dishcloths and clear colorful charts that you follow for the various “wiggle” designs for the surface work.  Of course, being the geometry nut I am, I love that all the designs use geometrical terms in the names.

Dishcloths are a fantastic project for learning new techniques. Not a huge committment of time or yarn, yet you end up with something useful (even if you goof a little).

Image courtesy of Annie's
Image courtesy of Annie’s Publishing

I decided to use what I had on hand in my stash to try out the first pattern in the booklet “Concentric Squares”. I used Lily Sugar’n Cream, which is a #4 (worsted) weight kitchen cotton with my Etimo G (4mm) hook. So my cloth came out 11.75″ x 12″ in size instead of the 10.5″ x 11″ that is the finished size in the booklet.

Mesh in progress
Making the background mesh

Susan is going to be very proud of me, I actually read the directions. I have a bad habit of getting ahead of the directions in patterns other than mine. I’ve been crocheting a long time, so I think I know what I’m doing, but sometimes a designer is doing things differently.  Some bad experiences have taught me, read the directions and follow them as written…at least the first time thru the pattern.

Beg Mesh
My finished mesh for the dishcloth

This part of the project worked up pretty quickly and didn’t take very much yarn. I have always enjoyed filet crochet because of how quickly you can create a significant sized piece of fabric.

My Sq in progress
First round of surface crochet completed, beginning 2nd round.

I was having a great time crocheting the “wiggles”, it’s rather meditative. Though I did discover it is helpful to lay the project out flat occasionally and look at your work. I was half watching a program on TV at the same time and started going off in the wrong direction.

My Finished Conc Sq
All Done!

When I started out on this dishcloth I thought I would put it in the kitchen for my husband (he is my “dishwasher”), but I really like the feel of the finished cloth. So it’s being adopted as my washcloth.  With all the texture of the “wiggly” ridges it will be very nice.

So I know you really want to try this technique too. You still have a chance to enter a drawing for a signed copy of this fun booklet, just stop by Susan’s Announcement blog post and leave a comment.  I think I am the last stop on her tour, so you will need to get over there quick since the entries are only thru the end of the tour.

If you aren’t lucky enough to win the booklet (or you just read this too late to enter), you can purchase a copy of her booklet either as a print version or as an Ebook at the Annie’s Website. And be sure to visit the Annie’s Facebook page to keep up with all their fun crochet offerings.

You can see more of Susan’s wonderful designs, including other wiggly crochet pieces, and find out where to get them on her Ravelry Designer Page.

For a little giggle: one of the Ravelry groups I belong to has forbidden the use of the word “Dishcloth”, so instead we say “Art Square”. And I think my finished cloth is definitely beautiful enough to be an “Art Square”.

National Crochet Month

March is just around the corner and March is National Crochet Month!

In celebration of crochet I will be participating with many other CGOA Professional and Associate Professional members in another blog tour “A Tour through Crochet Country”. You can read more about it on the CGOA website.

My date for this particular tour is March 15th, the day after “Pi” day (3.14).  I’ll have some fun stuff going on that day for all my lovely readers.

Do check in with the other stops on the tour as well, some may be regular stops for you during your internet browsing and others could be just what you had been looking for.

Sm Vst Mitt Trekking 02222013

Meanwhile this is a photo of my finished “Small V-st Mitts” worked in Zitron “Trekking” sock yarn. I’m really happy with how they came out. Finished them just in time as we are getting snowy wintery weather here on the mountain again. Fingerless mitts aren’t just great for texting on your phone, they are also very “handy” to have around for typing, crocheting, knitting and sewing when the temperatures drop (or if you work in a very cold AC environment).

View from Deck02222013

Current temperature is 21F. Brrrr! Looks really beautiful outside though.

And the Winner is…

Carrie! She receives a copy of “Texting Mitts” from Leisure Arts. Carrie, I’ll be emailing you later today to get your mailing address to send the booklet to.

Now if you didn’t win the copy there are still lots of chances.  Just visit some of the other blogs that were involved in my tour this past week.

Ellen Gormely of Go Crochet is giving away a copy, you need to enter her drawing by 11:59 pm Monday February 18th.

Julia Chambers of Aberrant Crochet is giving away a copy, you need to enter the drawing by 2p (CST) February 19th.

Lindsey Stephens of Poetry in Yarn is giving away a copy, you need to enter her drawing before 11:59pm February 20th.

Jocelyn Sass of Cute Crochet Chat  is giving away a copy, drawing will be Thursday, February 21st.

If you missed the other 2 reviews this week, you can find them at the links below:

Susan Lowman, The Crochet Architect

Kathryn of Crochet Concupiscence

Meanwhile I am working on making each pair of mitts in the booklet in LYS sock and fingering weight yarns from my stash. Currently I am working on the “Small V-St Mitts” using Zitron Trekking.

SmVsin progress

I like to work my mitts 2-at-a-time, because I really struggle with 2nd Sock Syndrome. Basicially any project that requires 2 indential or mirror pieces can be a struggle for me. So I either use 2 balls of yarn, or seperate my 1 ball into 2 equal size/weight pieces. Then I work the foundations and rounds in turns.

I always feel like the work goes faster, and I don’t have to start at the beginning to make the 2nd mitt. No more 2nd Sock Syndrome. Give it a try the next time you are crocheting a pair of something.

Day 7 of “Texting Mitts” Tour

Today is the last stop of my week long blog tour, and it is very fitting that it is my friend Julia Meek Chambers of Aberrant Crochet.

Me (went squinty grin) and Julia at CLF Retreat October 2010
Me (with squinty grin) and Julia
at CLF Retreat October 2010

Julia and I initially got to know each other thru the Crochet Liberation Front group on Ravelry in 2008. Then we finally got the opportunity to meet in person at the CLF Retreat – Crochet at Cama in October 2010.

Julia and I are both uber crafty types, maybe it is that Southern Gal thing (my mom is a Texan and so is Julia).  We both took Jimbo’s hook carving class at the retreat and had a great time in there. Julia spent a great deal of her time at the retreat working with Jimbo, but we still managed to have lots of time to laugh together.

I love Julia’s crochet work, she is constantly pushing the envelope on what can happen with yarn and a hook (and sometimes she doesn’t use yarn). When it really comes down to it, Jules is just Fun. It’s a small word to describe someone with so much personality and reality in her heart, but it is a very fitting word in every sense.

So click on over to check out her review, and while you are over there cruise around to take a look at some of her older posts.  You will very likely find a new crochet buddy that you love visiting regularly.

Photo courtesy of Amy Curtin
Photo courtesy of Amy Curtin

Meanwhile my friend Amy Curtin sent me this photo she took in her local Jo-Anns. That’s right folks, the booklet has been spotted in the wild. Yay!

And a reminder folks, you have until noon (MST) to leave a comment on my “In the Stores” post to enter my drawing for a copy of the “Texting Mitts” booklet.  I’ll post the winning name tomorrow, so hop over there quick!

Day 6 of “Texting Mitts” Tour

Stop #6 on our tour is Go Crochet, the blog of crochet superstar (and TV star) Ellen Gormley.

You can watch Ellen in new episodes of “Knit & Crochet Now” on PBS Create. Just about any crochet magazine you pick up in the last 3 years will have at least one design by this talented woman.

Cover Image courtesy of Annie's Publishing
Cover Image courtesy of Annie’s Publishing

She also has 2 wonderful books out: “Go Crochet: Afghan design workbook” and more recently “Learn Bruges Lace”.  What really amazes me is she gets all this work done while on the go with 2 young children.

You can see more about her designs on her blog and her Ravelry designer page. If you really fall in love with her designs you can join her Ravelry Group: Go Crochet with Ellen Gormley, where you can join in lots of CALs and discuss her patterns with other fans.

Photo courtesy of Interweave Press
Photo courtesy of Interweave Press

Her CAL this March will be for the beautiful Wintergreen Cowl. I’ve always been intrigued by Bruges lace and Ellen makes it all very easy to follow along with.

My 2 favorite Ellen designs are:

Photo courtesy of Interweave Press
Photo courtesy of Interweave Press

1) The Driftwood Cap, first published in Interweave Crochet magazine Fall 2008. This pattern is now available individually as a PDF thru Ellen’s Ravelry Shop or at the Interweave site.

My Baby Driftwood made using Patons Kroy Sock yarn.
My Baby Driftwood
made with Patons Kroy Sock yarn.

I used this pattern to crochet a baby hat for a friend. Just switched to sock-yarn (instead of worsted) and a smaller hook. Worked out to a perfect size for an infant. And because of the inherent stretchiness of the fabric the baby was able to wear it until 6-7 months old.

Photo courtesy of Red Heart Yarns
Photo courtesy of Red Heart Yarns

2) The Sunny Spread Blanket, first published in Crochet Today! magazine January/February 2008 Issue and now available on the Red Heart yarn website.

This design just took my breath away the first time I saw it, and really made me pay attention to Ellen’s name as a designer. I found that many of the designs that appealed to me in magazines had come from her fertile mind and talented fingers.

Ellen is a master of using texture and stretch in her designs and was my inspiration for exploring those techniques in my own work.  Explorations that I put to use when thinking about creating stretch for my fingerless mitt designs.

Be sure to stop by Ellen’s blog today for a chance to win your own copy of my “Texting Mitts” booklet.

Day 5 of “Texting Mitts” Tour

It is Day 5 of the tour and it is Valentines Day! I love Valentines day and have celebrated it for years as a day to show my appreciation and affection for my friends (as well as my very best friend: my husband).  So it is very fitting that today’s stop is to visit the talented and inspiring Karen Ratto-Whooley of KRW Knitwear Studio.

A little history for those of you that don’t know. I got started as a professional designer by taking an online class with Mary Beth Temple. The class was “Designing for Print Publication”, and our homework was to submit a design proposal somewhere. My submission actually sold. Surprise!

As part of that class though, Mary Beth recommended that we acquire a Mentor through the CGOA Associate Professionals program. Since I was already a member of CGOA I quickly followed her advice. Shortly after that Karen Ratto-Whooley and I were matched as Mentor and Mentee.

CLF Retreat at Cama October 2010From Left: Me, Karen, Janet (in front), & the Lovely Sarah.
CLF Retreat at Cama October 2010
From Left: Me, Karen, Janet (in front), & the Lovely Sarah.

It was a perfect match, better than either of us could have anticipated. Karen says I was a super easy mentee. I think part of that was because we were so well paired.  Very early on we could communicate in a sort of shorthand. So that sped up problem solving. Best of all, Karen has a knack for helping re-direct me (or kicking my backside) with a cheerfulness and constructiveness that is encouraging and supportive.

I graduated from mentee status awhile ago, but Karen is still an important voice in my work as a designer (as well as an awesome friend and colleague).

Karen is also an amazing crochet & knit designer, teacher, and publisher.  She has numerous patterns available, check out her designer page on Ravelry to see the gorgeous selection, or head right over to Patternfish where they are all available for purchase. If you want to play with color-work in crochet or tackle crocheted socks, you definitely want to try out some of Karen’s designs.

And if you are a newbie to crocheting socks her book: “I can’t believe I’m crocheting socks” is worth every penny, or if you are a more experienced sock crocheter check out: “Crochet Rocks Socks”.