Crochet and Springtime

Crochetville_Designer_Blog_Tour_Promo

National Crochet Month is zipping by, and I am honored to be celebrating by participating again in the Crochetville NaCroMo 2015 Blog Tour. Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka are terrific supporters of the crochet community and designers.

Amy and I in Reno at the Knit & Crochet Show
Amy and I in Reno at the Knit & Crochet Show (yes, she is wearing a tiara)

I’ve met both of them in person thru the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and have spent many fun and often inspiring hours in their company.

One of my favorite things about being a member of the CGOA is how it has put me in touch with lots of other crocheters. I’ve met many wonderful crochet friends thru my involvement in CGOA, like Amy and Donna. It’s great fun to be with your “people”, folks that understand this love of playing with yarn. If you haven’t joined CGOA you may want to consider doing so, the annual conference is great fun to attend, but there is even more. Opportunities to meet up locally with other crocheters and to meet online on the CGOA website. The website is: Crochet.org.

As the owners and creators of the Crochetville community and dedicated CGOA members themselves, Amy and Donna are always aware of the importance of supporting others thru charitable work.  This year’s blog tour charity project is making hats (or making a monetary donation) for Halos of Hope.halosofhope[1]

Halos of Hope is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization committed to providing volunteer-crafted hats to cancer centers across the country. You can make and send in hats to Crochetville in Alabama or donate money to help Halos of Hope pay for shipping hats to the centers. You can find the mailing address and read more about this project on the Crochetville blog.

Hats are one of my favorite projects to work on but with this recent spring like weather I’m looking at transitional pieces. Headband/Headwrap/Earwarmers (I’m never 100% sure what to call them) are a great choice.  I love them during the transitional seasons because they easily fit in a pocket and are a great way to keep my ears warm if the weather gets chilly. They also help keep my hair under control when the wind gets too blustery.

Blog Beauty Shot

I tend to have light weight gloves and a headband tucked into the pockets of every jacket.  Since I recently got my hair cut into a very short 1920’s style bob, headbands can also look quite stylish.  In celebration of NatCroMo I’m offering this fun textured headband pattern to my visitors. I’ve used a lot of textured stitches in this project which helps make the fabric even warmer.

This is an intermediate level pattern, but it’s a great project to expand your skills with. I’m including a tutorial on making cluster and puff stitches here for those of you feeling like tackling a new crochet skill. For those of you that already have some experience with cluster and puff stitches the “Special Stitches” section in the pattern should be sufficient to get you started.

Blog detail shot of texture sts

Cluster Stitch Tutorial

The cluster stitch for our headband has more texture to it because it is framed on either side by a shorter stitch, the half double crochet. If cluster stitches are worked with spaces and/or taller stitches on either side they are a bit flatter and more of a decorative grouping that doesn’t rise as far above the surface of the work.

The textured “bump” of a cluster stitch as used in this headband sits on the back side of your row, for a single sided project you want to work them only on alternate rows in the project.

In this headband project we are using a 3 dc cluster stitch to create our textured stitches. In a cluster stitch you make the base of the 3 dcs being used, then work the final dc step for all 3 in one go.

Image D
Photo A

To make a 3 dc cluster st, yarn over (yo) like making a dc and insert in st or sp, yo, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook), yo {Photo A},

Image E
Photo B

pull thru 2 loops on hook (2 loops remaining on hook, 1st base made), yo, insert in same st or sp, yo, pull up a loop (4 loops on hook), yo {Photo B},

Image F
Photo C

pull thru 2 loops (3 loops remaining on hook, 2nd base made), yo, insert in same st or sp, yo, pull up a loop (5 loops on hook), yo, pull thru 2 loops (4 loops remaining on hook, 3rd base made), yo {Photo C}, pull thru all 4 loops on hook.

 

Puff Stitch Tutorial

This stitch is often a challenge to get right. The primary trick is getting all of your loops to the same length. That can be particularly challenging if you crochet tightly, so remember to keep your work loose.

Puff stitches tend to sit centered in the fabric, which makes them a great stitch to use in scarves, since the texture is visible on both sides of your fabric. In the case of this headband project we are framing the puff stitches with hdc stitches. Like with our cluster stitches this “framing” helps the stitch sit on the backside of the row and creates a 3D effect on the finished project.

There are a number of ways to make a puff stitch, the version I use in this project is secured at the top similar to making a single crochet (I think of these as “locked” puff stitches). For this project you will be making 5 “wraps” for the puff part. Each time you do a “wrap” you get 2 more loops on your hook.

Image G
Photo D

Yarn over (yo) and insert your hook in the indicated st or sp, yo, pull up the 2 loops to above the top of your previous st {Photo D},(yo, insert hook in the same st or sp, yo, and pull up the 2 new loops to the same height of the previous loops) 4 times.

Image H
Photo E

You will have 11 loops on your hook*, 10 tall loops for the “puff” and the original working loop. Yo {Photo E} and pull thru the 10 tall loops,

Image I
Photo F

you will have only 2 loops on your hook, yo {Photo F}, pull thru the last 2 loops, your puff stitch is complete.

A peek into the design process: For the eagle-eyed amongst my visitors, you may have noticed in the photos for this tutorial I have only 7 loops on my hook at this point. This is because I made a change in the pattern after I shot the photos. Originally I thought I would like the 3 wraps for my puff stitches, but they weren’t dramatic enough for me in the sample. So I changed it for the final sample and pattern.

 

SPRINGTIME HEADBANDBlog Headband alone

designed by Andee Graves 

SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS

Headband is approximately 3.25”/8.125cm wide x 22”/55cm long.

YARN

Lion Brand Wool Ease Worsted (80% Acrylic, 20% Wool; 197 yds/180m = 3 ounces/85g)

#139 Dark Rose Heather sample used 31g/aprx 72 yards = approximately 2 Headbands from 1 skein

CROCHET HOOKS

Size US 7 / (4.5mm)

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS

Stitch markers

Yarn needle

GAUGE

6 rows & 9 sts in hdc = 2” 

SPECIAL STITCHES

3 DC Cluster Stitch (Cl): (Yo, insert hook into indicated st or sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull thru 2 loops on hook) 3 times, yo, pull thru 4 loops remaining on hook.

Puff Stitch (Puff): (Yo, insert hook into indicated st or sp, yo, pull up a loop to desired height) 5 times, 11 loops on hook, yo, pull thru 10 loops on hook, 2 loops left on hook, yo, pull thru remaining 2 loops on hook.

Half Double Crochet 2 Together (hdc2tog): Yo, insert hook into indicated st or sp, yo pull up a loop, insert hook in next st, yo pull up a loop, yo pull thru all 4 loops on hook.

NOTES

The Cluster stitches and Puff stitches in this project have more texture because they are “squished” between 2 shorter stitches. The texture is created on the back of the rows. The finished project will have the textured side as the right side of the fabric.

Once the first 65 rows of the headband are crocheted, edging is worked along one edge, then ends of headband are seamed together using slip stitches to reach 2nd side, then 2nd side edging is worked.

INSTRUCTIONS

Row 1: Ch 11, turn, working in back bumps, hdc in 3rd ch from hook and each ch back to beginning. [9 hdcc]

Row 2 (RS): Ch 2 {turning ch only, does not count as st here and thru-out the pattern}, turn, hdc in each st across. PM on front of row to mark right side. [9 dc]

Rows 3- 7: Repeat Row 2. 

Row 8: Ch 2, turn, hdc next st, 2 hdc next st, hdc next 5 sts, 2 hdc next st, hdc last st. [11 hdc]

Row 9: Repeat Row 2. [11 hdc]

Row 10: Ch 2, turn, hdc next st, 2 hdc next st, hdc next 7 sts, 2 hdc next st, hdc last st. [13 hdc]

Rows 11 – 16: Repeat Row 2. [13 hdc]

Row 17: Ch 2, turn, hdc next 6 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 6 sts. [12 hdc, 1 Cl]

Row 18: Repeat Row 2.

Row 19: Ch 2, turn, hdc next 4 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 3 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 4 sts. [11 hdc, 2 Cl]

Row 20: Repeat Row 2.

Row 21: Ch 2, turn, hdc next 2 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 3 sts, Puff next st, hdc next 3 sts, Cl next st, hdc next 2 sts. [10 hdc, 2 Cl, 1 Puff]

Row 22: Repeat Row 2.

Row 23: Repeat Row 19.

Row 24: Repeat Row 2.

Row 25: Repeat Row 17.

Rows 26 – 28: Repeat Row 2.

Rows 29 – 52: Repeat Rows 17 – 28, twice.

Rows 53 – 55: Repeat Row 2.

Row 56: Ch 2, turn, hdc next st, hdc2tog next st, hdc next 7 sts, hdc2tog next st, hdc last st. [11 hdc]

Row 57: Repeat Row 2.

Row 58: Ch 2, turn, hdc next st, hdc2tog next st, hdc next 5 sts, hdc2tog next st, hdc last st. [9 hdc] 

Rows 59-65: Repeat Row 2. Do not fasten off, Secure working loop so work doesn’t come unraveled.

EDGING 

Side 1: Ch 1, with RS facing turn band to work along first edge, work sc in side of Row 1, then work 98 sc spaced evenly along edge in ends of rows (3 sc in the ends of the every 2 rows), sl st to first sc in round.

Align ends of band, RS together sl st loosely working thru both the top of sts in Row 65 and bottom of sts in Row 1 across to second edge.

Side 2: Turn work with RS facing and work along edge, ch 1, work 99 sc spaced evenly along edge in ends of rows, sl st to first sc in round. Fasten off.

FINISHING

Weave in ends. Block lightly, if desired.

Now you are ready to make a bunch of these headbands to be ready for those cooler spring days. Have a great time crocheting and keep celebrating crochet everyday.

Want to check out what the other designers participating in the blog tour are doing? Go visit this post on the Crochetville blog. You can find out how to sign up for the Daily Giveaway to win a yarn package from Red Heart Yarns at this post (winners are selected by random drawing).

If you are first time visitor to my blog, thanks for stopping by. For my regular readers Thanks for being there.

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Fair Isle Crochet with Karen Whooley

For those of you that have been following my blog for a while, you have read about Karen Whooley on here before. I was very fortunate when I signed up to become a CGOA Associate Professional (in 2009) that I got Karen as my mentor. It was a somewhat random pairing that turned out to be very fortuitous.  We have so much in common and get along great. I graduated from being Karen’s mentee, but she has become a good friend and colleague in the crochet business.

Title Card for Blog

Today I’m pleased to be a part of the blog tour for Karen’s new class with Craftsy.com, Fair Isle Crochet: Demystifying Colorwork. I’ve taken classes with Karen at the Knit & Crochet Show and the Crochet at Cama Retreat. She is an amazing teacher with a comprehensive understanding of her craft and endless kindness and patience in teaching it to others.

And Karen has provided a fabulous gift for you my dear readers, you can use this link: 50% off the fee for the Fair Isle Crochet at Craftsy.com

The wonderful Karen Whooley photo courtesy of Craftsy.com
The wonderful Karen Whooley
photo courtesy of Craftsy.com

I’ll definitely be taking this class at Craftsy myself very soon, but for this blog tour I wanted to interview Karen. It’s always fun to interview my friends in the industry because I learn about aspects of their crochet (or knitting) journey that I hadn’t known before. So without further fanfare, here is my interview with Karen:

When did you learn to crochet and who taught you?

I learned to crochet in 1974! My Italian Grandmother who was way ahead of her time thought my sister and I watched too much TV.  I was 7 years old when she put that hook in my hand. In 2 hours I had made a covered coat hanger with the traditional colors of the 70s – greens and golds.

Are you willing to tell us how long you’ve been crocheting? And if Yes, how long has it been?

This summer it will be 40 years! ACK!

How long have you been teaching Crochet?

I’ve been actively teaching crochet since about 1998 or 1999.  At first it was with smaller groups in the San Fransisco Bay area, then in 2000 my family moved to Washington state and I started teaching at local shops in 2001.  I started teaching on a national level in 2004!

Who were your first students?

My first students were friends in my neighborhood in California. When I got to WA, I took over teaching at a local store called Pacific Fabrics and Crafts from a fellow Guild member and designer who decided to retire. You may have heard her name, Bev Dillon

What inspires you to teach crochet?

I grew up in a teacher’s household.  My mom taught 1st grade for 9 years before I was born. Then she returned to teaching (the 3rd grade) once I got to High School. So teaching is in my blood!  But I specifically teach Crochet because it is a craft I want to see go on forever!

When I learned to crochet, my grandmother and I were the only two people I knew that crocheted.  In 1996, when I became a stay at home mom after the birth of my first child, I discovered the whole world of crochet out there on a Compuserve List-Serve group called Crochet Partners! (Am I dating myself?) But all those years of not knowing many people in the world that crocheted, when I was given the opportunity to teach… I did!

Did your mom give you advice on teaching when you started teaching crochet?

Mom didn’t so much give me tips as much as my watching her in action in the classroom. Though growing up, she did tell me stories about how nervous she was that first year of teaching, not so much with the students but dealing with the parents. She just pushed through and got over the stage fright.

When I was working full-time as a System Support Engineer for a Company that developed Software for Dental Offices, however, I was asked to teach classes to our field personnel on the system.  I was put in a class to help me get comfortable with that.

What inspired you to explore Fair Isle techniques in Crochet?

When I was a teenager, I had this beautiful bulky knit fair isle sweater. It just fascinated me.  At the time, I didn’t know how to knit, but I was dying to learn so I could make my own sweaters using the Fair Isle motifs. It wasnt until I was 37 when I learned to knit, and then a couple of years later I learned stranded knitting. It was at that point I knew I could replicate fair Isle knitting in crochet!  So after lots of trial and error (which I talk about in the class with samples!) I hit upon what I felt was the best replication I could get of Fair Isle stranded Knitting in crochet.

You knit and crochet, do you find Fair Isle easier in crochet or knitting?

Well, honestly it depends. Because I have been crocheting longer than knitting, I find it easier to crochet but knitting isn’t hard. The difference for me is that in knitting I have all those live stitches with the potential of dropping one or more.  In crochet that isn’t a factor. Because both charts are the same and are read the same way, either one works for me and depending on the look I am going for, I will swap out one for the other.

I love the hat in the promotional photos for the class, was there a particular inspiration for that design?

Mostly it was that I wanted something that looked like a traditional Fair Isle knit hat.  After pouring through Fair Isle motif dictionaries, I put together some of my favorites.  I chose traditional greens and greys of the Shetland Islands and there was my hat!

The hat looks like something that would appeal to the teenagers in your house, are there requests being put in for hats from your family? 

Funny you should ask. That hat is my 15-year-old daughter’s favorite piece from the class. Teal green is her favorite color.  But she doesn’t want me to make it now as summer is coming.  Probably for next year!

I know you must be really excited about offering classes thru Craftsy.com, what do you like the best about this style of teaching?

I think what I like the most is that the class is there forever. Students have the class to go back to for help or just to remind them of some part of Fair Isle Crochet they may have forgotten. The Computer geek in me loves the platform. The fact that they can take notes right on the video for themselves is just amazing. And those notes are there for them to access forever too!

I also love the fact that I can reach students all over the world!  I don’t have that opportunity with teaching live. Lots of times I’ve gotten emails from potential students telling me that they cannot attend an event because it is just too far or too costly. They want to know if I am ever coming to their area. That isn’t always going to happen, so this way they can actually have me teach them in their living room! Or office, or even on the couch next to them!

Do you have a preference of designing or teaching?

That is a hard question because I love them both.  Because of the way I was taught to crochet, by a non-English speaking grandmother, the techie in me loves the challenge of creating something from scratch. But there is something about that light bulb moment students get that gives me great satisfaction. It’s like a visual confirmation that the craft will continue.

Do you dream about crochet? About yarn?

Oh gosh, all the time!  Some of my best design concepts come from dreams! Sometimes when a particular pattern is not working out, I get the solution in a dream. I cannot tell you how often that happens.  In dreams and on the treadmill walking.  Those are my two go to places when I need to work out something in crochet (or knit too!).

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today Karen, I was wondering if you have any final words of encouragement for those that might be intimidated by Fair Isle and this class?

Thanks Andee for having me!

For those of you who may be intimidated by colorwork, this is definitely the class for you! During the class I break down every piece of the pattern, along with having tips in there for you. I have already had students who bought my Fair Isle books, only to be intimidated by all the color changing, send me photos of their swatches from the class. They are excited about how I walked them through the process.

The cool thing about these Craftsy classes is the platform. The “Pause” and “30 second repeat” options allow you to go back and see once again what I just showed you. And you can do that as many times as you need until you get the idea down.  You can also ask me a question at any time, and I will be answering! So don’t be afraid to try it!  I’m there to help along the way!

 

Celebrating Crochet by Teaching

Today I’m honored to be a part of the 2014 Crochetville NatCroMo Designer Blog Tour. Amy Shelton and Donna Hulke of Crochetville included me last year in their National Crochet Month tour to celebrate crochet and it was great fun. These two are the right women to lead the celebration of all things crochet, visit them at the Crochetville site or their blog and you’ll know just what I mean.
You can find the links and dates of the other designers participating in the blog tour at the Crochetville Blog and on the Crochetville Facebook page.
 Thing 2s Scarf
My focus this year for NatCroMo has been teaching others to crochet. It’s been very exciting that my youngest son is learning. Above is his latest effort, he wanted to make a scarf so I got him started with the first row of this little V-stitch scarf and he is amazing me at how well he is doing. It’s also a great excuse for some cuddle time as we snuggle together on the sofa and crochet.
Wall w Crochet Sign
 Today I will be at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe from 12p – 1:30p with my local CGOA Chapter showing folks how to get started crocheting. We will be making quick fun little beaded bracelets that students can make and take away with them. Beaded crocheted chains are a fun easy project that give beginners the chance to make something beautiful with minimal crochet skills.
Bracelet sample
Our projects for the “Make & Take” will use plain worsted weight yarn and plastic pony beads.
Close up Tahki necklace
Switch out the yarn to something with silk or glimmering threads and the beads for lovely glass or semi-precious beads (just need holes big enough for the yarn to go thru), and you’ve got a beautiful piece of jewelry.
Tahki Necklace
Look at the lovely necklaces we have on display at the shop, these were all made just by stringing beads on the yarn then working crocheted chains to the desired length.
Mother of Pearl n Silver beads
For those of you that can’t be with us today I have included photos and instructions for you to practice at home. Or if you are an experienced crocheter teaching some one else how to get started, this is a great starter project as they get accustomed to working with the yarn and hook.
If you’ve never crocheted, or it’s been a long time since you crocheted, you may have forgotten how to hold your hook and yarn. These photos Show how to hold the yarn and hook if you are right-handed. For left-handed crocheters just reverse which hand holds the yarn and hook. The most important thing to remember when crocheting is to keep your hands relaxed.
Making a slip knot to place on your hook
making sl knot
I create a loop with the working yarn (coming from the ball of yarn) going over the top of the beginning tail, then reach thru the loop with my hook (or fingers) to pull up a loop from the working yarn, I place that loop over my hook and gently pull on the working yarn to snug the loop on my hook.
Holding your hook
There are 2 fairly common ways to hold your crochet hook…
Knife hold
The Knife or Toothbrush hold….
Pencil Hold
Or the Pencil hold.
Try them both out and see which is most comfortable to you.
Tensioning (holding) the yarn
You may need to adjust how you hold the yarn depending on how dry your skin is and the texture of the yarn you are working with.
Holding the Yarn 1
I loop the yarn around my left-hand pinkie…..
Holding the Yarn 2
then weave it thru my fingers over and under so the yarn going to my hook comes over the top of my index finger.
Holding the Yarn 3
I then use the middle finger and thumb of my left hand to hold at the base of the loop on my hook. This allows my hook to move freely in the loop.
To make a chain stitch
Step 1 Ch stitch
I scoop the tip of my hook from the front to the back of the strand of yarn coming from my index finger, then “hook” the yarn and pull it thru the loop on my hook.
Now you are ready to start on your bracelet project.
Simple Beaded Chain Bracelet
Slide bead up close to hook.
Slide bead up close to hook.
Materials needed:
Worsted weight yarn
Approximately 15 “pony” beads in desired colors
Size I (5.5mm)  or J (6mm) hook
Instructions:
 String 15 pony beads on yarn (note you may have beads left-over once your reach your ideal bracelet length).
Chain 1 and capture bead.
Chain 1 and capture bead.
Make a slip knot in yarn,  ch 1, slide 1 bead up close to hook, ch 1 capturing bead, continue with alternating plain chain stitch and beaded chain st until strand measures 7 inches long (or long enough to fit loosely around wrist), finish with a final plain ch 1. Fasten off.
Tie ends together using a square knot, trim ends to 1″ long.
You can read more about my initial beaded chain projects in my post: The Beauty of Beads

Thanks again for making my blog one of your visits for our blog tour. I hope you come by to visit again soon.  Meanwhile if you are a more experienced crocheter, and like to make hats, please join us during NatCroMo in crocheting (or knitting) hats to support the Halos of Hope organization. There are many patterns at the Halos of Hope website to use for this effort or you can use my “Pi Recipe” to create a simple stretchy hat that will be very appreciated.

Crochetville has received a lot of support from the crochet community over the years. They believe strongly in the importance of giving back. In 2013, Crochetville became a corporate sponsor of a wonderful organization called Halos of Hope. You can read more about Crochetville’s fundraising efforts and hat collection on the Crochetville blog.

Halos of Hope is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization founded by Pam Haschke, herself a survivor of inflammatory breast cancer. Halos of Hope’s mission is to provide volunteer-crafted hats to cancer centers across the country. – See more at: Halos of Hope website  and the Halos of Hope Facebook Page.

As Amy said, ” Wouldn’t it be cool if we could somehow reach all of the 1.7 million crocheting households in the United States? If you’re going to dream, dream big, I say!”

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.

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 Tour Through Crochet Country

I am honored to be part of the “Tour thru Crochet Country” blog tour organized by Amy Shelton and Donna Hulke of Crochetville. I love that this is a great way to celebrate National Crochet Month and the CGOA (Crochet Guild of America).

I’ve been a CGOA member since the summer of 2008 and it has been the way I’ve met all sorts of crochet friends. Before CGOA I was crocheting and creating in a vacuum, now I get to share my love of crochet with thousands of folks. You can find out more about CGOA and join this wonderful organization at their website: Crochet.org.

As my gift to all you wonderful folks stopping by for the tour I wanted to offer a new heart pattern. I’ve been posting a heart pattern the last couple of years for Valentine’s Day, but this February got away from me.  Seems quite appropriate to celebrate NatCroMo with a heart pattern though, since we all love crochet.

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Crocheted Love Sample photo

Crocheted Love

designed by Andee Graves

Pattern is in US terminology.

Finished size will depend on the size of yarn and hook you use. The heart in the photo was made with Cascade 220 Superwash and a Size G-6/4mm hook.

Start with an adjustable slip knot

Round 1: Ch 4, 12 dc in 4th ch from hook, sl st in top of ch-4.

Round 2: Sk 2 sts, 7 Tr in next st, dc next st, 2 dc next 2 sts, (2 dc, ch 1, sl st in top of previous dc, 2 dc) in next st, 2 dc next 2 sts, dc next st, 7 Tr next st, sl st between last dc and join of Round 1. Fasten off, pull beginning tail to close center snugly, weave in ends.

Crocheted Love Diagram copy

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Now that you are making quick little hearts, how about using some to embellish simple crocheted blankets for Project Night Night.

Project Night Night is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides over 25,000 Night Night Packages each year to homeless children. Each package consists of a new sturdy tote bag with a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children’s book, and a stuffed animal. These comfort objects help to reduce the trauma of homelessness for the children served by Project Night Night. Both the handmade blankets and stuffed animals provide the children with objects of love and security.

You can help all of us on this tour help Project Night Night by making and sending in new crocheted blankets (50” x 60” or smaller) and/or making financial donations. A group effort will help us do more for Project Night Night than any of us could possibly do on our own.

For more information about Donating a Blanket to Project Night Night visit this webpage.

For more information about Donating Money to Project Night Night visit this webpage.

And please stop by here to add your donations to our group tally.

Thanks for stopping by today. Remember to visit the other stops (listed below) on the Tour through Crochet Country all during March.

List of Stops Along the Tour

Click on any designer’s name to go directly to their blog.

While you are invited to visit any site at any time, a designer’s post created specifically for A Tour through Crochet Country will not be posted until his or her scheduled date.

March 1 Jenny King Shelby Allaho
March 2 Ellen Gormley Nancy Nehring
March 3 Phyllis Serbes Mona Muhammad
March 4 Amy O’Neill Houck Akua Hope
March 5 Mary Jane Hall Lindsey Stephens
March 6 Edie Eckman Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby
March 7 Jennifer Cirka Annette Stewart
March 8 Andrea Graciarena LeAnna Lyons
March 9 Dawn Cogger Angela Whisnant
March 10 Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten Renee Rodgers
March 11 Joy Prescott Donna Childs
March 12 Pam Daley Deb Burger
March 13 Tammy Hildebrand Marty Miller
March 14 Jocelyn Sass Jennifer E Ryan
March 15 Andee Graves Kimberly McAlindin
March 16 Laurinda Reddig
March 17 Brenda Bourg
March 18 Rhonda Davis
March 19 Julie Oparka
March 20 April Garwood
March 21 Alaina Klug
March 22 Erin Boland
March 23 Margaret Hubert
March 24 Bonnie Barker
March 25 Kim Guzman Susan Huxley
March 26 Susan Lowman Michele Maks
March 27 Marie Segares Brenda Stratton
March 28 Kathy White Lori Carlson
March 29 Amy Shelton Donna Hulka
March 30 Linda Dean Kristin Dragos
March 31 Karen C K Ballard Gwen Blakley-Kinsler

“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”.