Yikes! Almost Forgot

A couple of weeks ago my blog was one of the stops on Kathryn White’s blog tour for her wonderful book “The Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs”.

Front Cover

I was giving away a copy to readers that left a comment on that post. I had planned to post the winner on the 25th, but the weekend got away from me.

The lucky Winner is…. Amy!

Congratulations Amy, I know you are going to love this book. For those of you that didn’t win the book give-away on my blog or any of the others involved in the tour, be sure to grab a copy at your favorite craft bookstore. And if you are coming to the Knit & Crochet Show in Manchester this summer, bring it along to have Kathryn sign it for you.

If you missed my review of Kathryn’s book you can find it here: Traditional Irish Motifs meet Modern Crochet.

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Crochet for Your Valentine

If you haven’t seen these 2 new designs that Red Heart has published on their website now is the perfect time to check them out. Valentine’s Day is just 3 weeks away.

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

First up is my “Here’s my Heart Gift Bag” which is an ideal size for a small gift of cookies or other goodies. The picture shows it as a fun little tote for a toddler, but it is a great bag for anyone you want to show your love to this Valentine’s Day.

Bag staged w env.s

The lace edged heart on the front is actually a little pocket, where a note or small card can be tucked away.

Photo Courtesy of Red Heart Yarns
Photo Courtesy of Red Heart Yarns

Need a gift that you can stitch up super fast? How about my quick little “Valentine Heart Coaster”.  These medium sized hearts are worked in Red Heart Super Saver.  They only take about 17 yards of yarn, so you can get approximately  21 hearts from a 7 ounce skein of yarn.  You could also work them in Red Heart Soft yarn and use them to embellish the ends of a scarf if you have a bit more time.

So pick up your hook and crochet up some hearts for a special gift for your Valentine.

Traditional Irish Motifs meet Modern Crochet

I am so pleased to tell you about this new book that my fellow designer and good friend Kathryn White (Kathy) has out from Annie’s Publishing.  “The Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs” is a wonderfully informative and well-written book full of pretty much everything you need to know to get started on crocheting and creating lovely Irish Crochet projects.

Front Cover

When I first saw that this book was coming out from Annie’s I was very excited. I love technique books and the cover looked so pretty that I was itching to get my hands on it.  A moment later I realized that the book was written by my friend Kathy, which of course made me even more determined to purchase it. So I was thrilled when Kathy asked me to be one of the stops on her blog tour.

My favorite thing about this book is the informative and friendly tone. It is like having a patient friend sitting beside you helping you understand the stitches and how all the motifs go together. Kathy’s voice comes thru very clearly, I’m reminded of our many conversations about thread crochet and the history of Irish crochet.

The book starts out with an excellent overview of all the terms and materials you may need when working on an Irish Crochet project. Then Chapter One introduces you to the stitches and techniques that will help you make the motifs from the patterns in the following chapters. I liked how Kathy has included both the classic padding cord methods and some easier shortcuts for creating the padded look in the motifs.

Being I am a very visual person I appreciated the fact that the book is filled with photographs of the various motifs. My only complaint is that some of the larger motifs are shown too small to really see the stitch detail well. Detailed written instructions help make it all clear though.

Back Cover

Kathy and I met at the Knit and Crochet Show in Greensboro, NC. We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together at that show, but I remember being very impressed with the beautiful crocheted thread jewelry I saw her wearing. A few months later we met again at the Winter TNNA Trade Show and got to know each other better.

One of the things that she and I have in common, besides the joy of crochet, is a love of horses. I grew up around them and rode almost daily from age 8 to 18. Kathy trained horses and taught people to ride for 20 years. She had a boarding and training facility in Washington State, but in 2007 a riding accident left her with injuries that made it too painful to ride. Though she doesn’t ride any longer she looks back on those days fondly. Fortunately she was able to transfer her passion to crochet design (especially good news for all the Threadie crocheters out there).

Kathy is truly an artist with thread crochet. She has won a number of a prizes from the CGOA Design Competition with her thread and yarn projects. Everything from amazing intricate doilies and hand bags to light-as-air lacy shawls.  Her designs have been published by Crochet World, Crochet!, Interweave, Red Heart and MainlyCrochet.com. You can see many of her designs on her Ravelry Designer Page.

Photograph courtesy of CrochetnBeads
Photograph courtesy of CrochetnBeads

You can also find her self-published designs on her website like these beautiful fingerless mitts (pictured above) that I was admiring at the Knit & Crochet Show in Reno. I work in thread on occasion, but these mitts completely blew me away. Not only are they beautifully designed, but she worked them in size 80 black tatting thread. My hat is off to her and her amazing eyesight for that crocheting triumph.

Kathy is a bit shy at times, so I thought my readers would enjoy getting to know a bit more about her. The following are her answers to some of my favorite crochet related questions, and a few especially for Kathy’s specialty.

When did you learn to crochet? And who taught you?

I think I was about 10 or 11 when I finally got a chance to learn. The wonderful person who taught me to crochet was my great-aunt on my father’s side. Actually my mother informs me she was a second cousin, but I always knew her as Aunt Haydee so to me she’s an aunt, if only in an honorary position. Whatever relationship she had to me, I bless her every time I pick up my hook for enabling me to do what I so dearly love.

I am the only left-handed person in my family and no one was around that could teach me to crochet. I taught myself to knit, but I just couldn’t make that tiny crochet hook work right. Of course I was trying to teach myself with a size 13 hook and size 30 or  50 thread. Was a threadie before I even got started. When she came to visit one Christmas I saw her crocheting, and realized she was left-handed like me. I begged her to teach me. She gave me some yarn and a G hook and taught me how to chain and single crochet, I took it from there. Wasn’t long and I moved back down to thread, since that is what I really wanted to do. Only now crochet made sense to me.

Has the majority of your crochet work been with thread?

Thread has always been my favorite medium. I love the intricate look you can get with thread. It shows off the stitch definition much better than yarn. And I love seeing what I can do with the stitches. That to me is the ultimate challenge. I can paint a much more intricate picture with my stitches with thread than I can with yarn.  

When (if) you work with heavier yarn is it a difficult adjustment for you?

It takes me a bit to adjust. But once I get going I am fine. I don’t like to work with the bulky yarns. There just isn’t enough stitch variety in a piece to hold my interest. You can only do so much when you can only fit so many stitches into a piece.  

Have you ever had any trouble with your hands hurting from working with such tiny hooks?

Crocheting has never really bothered my hands. But then I try to take precautions. The only time they ache a bit from crocheting is when I switch over to the larger hooks and yarns. I am not used to the weight and bulk in my hands. I have to remember to take more breaks with yarn. The small hooks have never bothered my hands. But then I don’t grip the hook. it rests in my hand and I move it only as much as needed. No gripping, no tension. no pain.

What do you do to prevent injury to your hands and body when crocheting?

 As I said I take precautions to make sure my hands last me as long as possible. I want to crochet forever you know. I take breaks every 15 minutes or so. No marathon crocheting for me. I go check out posts on Face book or do something about the house for 5 min. Then go back to work. Less stress on the hands this way. Have been doing this for years. I have 2 chairs I normally work in. The one at my desk and my TV chair. Both fit me well so I can work comfortably while maintaining a good posture, which I think is very important. I also remember to stretch my hands and body when I take my breaks. It only takes a second and I think it helps immensely. I try to remember the exercises  you showed us during Professional Development Day at the Knit & Crochet Show.

You know I still manage to get an incredible amount of crocheting done working this way.

 What is your favorite thing about crochet?

I love the fact that with nothing more than a piece of string and hook we can make the most intricate and beautiful pieces of art. It’s literally making something from nothing. I absolutely love watching an idea take shape and substance. I love making my ideas become a reality you can physically touch and visually see. If it inspires a sense of beauty and wonder I am thrilled beyond measure.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Kathy a little better. She is an inspiration to me and I am going to enjoy spending more time with her book. As it says on the back cover of her book, “Kathryn White has taken lovely vintage Irish crochet motifs, as well as her own original designs, and has rewritten them in a way that makes sense to the modern-day crocheter.”

Annie’s Publishing very generously provided me with an extra copy of Kathy’s book to give away to one lucky reader.  Because of postage costs, this give-away offer will only be available to readers with a U.S. mailing address. Just leave a comment on this blog post before noon (Mountain Time) January 24, 2014 and I will announce the winner on Saturday, January 25th.

A Little Indulgence

Those of you that know my obsession with all things crochet will not be surprised by this news. I have many many crochet hooks. At last count over 200. I’ve acquired a few since that tally was made so that number has been surpassed, but I’m not counting them all again.

I’ve long confessed that I have a serious case of H.A.S. (Hook Acquisition Syndrome), and I am not looking for a cure anytime in the near or distant future. There seems to always be another hook I need to add to my growing collection.

I’ve been staying up late a lot the past week. My 2 boys missed returning to school from winter break, due to a nasty cold cough bug, so late at night is really the only time it’s quiet around here.

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Last night the late night got me in a wee bit of mischief. I’ve been wanting a set of Hamanaka Crochet Hooks for some time.  This desire was further fed by getting to see the hooks in real life when I took a class with Jennifer Hansen at the Reno Knit & Crochet Show in Fall 2012.

Then there was an ad in my email yesterday from Stitch Diva Studios showing the hooks. I had some Christmas gift money that I hadn’t assigned to any of my wish list as of yet, so I decided (after suitable internal debate) that I “needed” to finally get these hook.

One reason I have always liked the look of these hooks is the squishy triangular-shaped center handle. It looks like it will be ergonomically kind to one’s hand. Something I am going to be very excited to test when I receive my set.

I also love that there are 2 sizes of hook to each tool, so you can fit twice the hooks in the same amount of space as 1 regular crochet hook. Super handy when traveling and wanting to limit the weight of your luggage.

One reason I had put off purchasing these hooks in the past is that the sizes run a bit smallish (fairly common for Japanese hooks), the largest hook is a J-10, 6mm. But, I’ve been working with finer weight yarns quite a lot the past year, so the smaller hook sizes have become more useful to me.

Now I’ll just be watching the mail box like a hawk the next week waiting for my new hooks to arrive. I’ll definitely post about them again once I get a chance to use them. If you are too impatient to wait for my review and you want to try them out for yourself, pop on over to the Stitch Diva Studios.

Getting Twisted

2014 has had an interesting start for me. My whole family has been down with a nasty cold cough bug, so I am only beginning to come back up for air from our holiday celebrations. Fortunately the crud didn’t get too bad until after all our visitors had left, so we got out and had lots of fun seeing friends and family over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

twisted mobius style title (1)
Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

If you have a subscription to MainlyCrochet.com you may have already seen my latest published design “Twisted Granny Mobius”.

One of my favorite geometric shapes to crochet is a Mobius. This design approaches that shape a little differently. Instead of making a foundation round that is twisted at the join, you make a strip of little squares that are joined together as you work them. The last square is joined to the first with the required twist. Then rounds are worked off the edges of the strip to create the rest of the fabric for the project.

Aviary Photo_130338161765846265

The finished loop is long and narrow, which gives you some fun fashion options. You can wear it as a long scarf, great option for adding a pop of color to an outfit indoors, then double the end over your head like a cowl for added warmth under your coat when you head outdoors.

Aviary Photo_130338156659055290

Check out MainlyCrochet.com for this pattern and lots of other really great crochet patterns. A subscription to MainlyCrochet.com is only $24 a year and gives you access to lots of marvelous patterns.