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”.

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.

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”.

Day 4 of “Texting Mitts” Tour

Stop #4 on the blog tour is a visit to Poetry in Yarn where we will hear from my good friend Lindsey Stephens.

Lindsey and I have a lot in common, not the least being we are both math geeks. Of course she is also a talented designer (crochet & knit), math teacher and technical editor.  We first met online in the chat room of the “Getting Loopy” podcast, then got to meet in person at the Buffalo, NY  ChainLink show in August 2009.

Lindsey Stephens, Karen Whooley, Me, and Charles VothAt TNNA Winter Show - January 2012
Lindsey Stephens, Karen Whooley, Me, and Charles Voth
At TNNA Winter Show – January 2012

The last time I got to see her in person was at the Winter TNNA show in January 2012.  But we stay in touch online celebrating each other’s new designs and successes (and more recently commiserating about the incredible amount of snow outside her door).

You can see more of Lindsey’s designs (and purchase her patterns) on Ravelry.

Day 3 of “Texting Mitts” Tour

Dinosaur Baby HatPhoto courtesy of Too Cute Crochet
Dinosaur Baby Hat
Photo courtesy of Too Cute Crochet

Our 3rd stop on the tour is to visit the lovely Jocelyn Sass of Cute Crochet Chat. Jocelyn is a talented designer of adorable designs for babies (as demonstrated by the photo above) and quick accessory projects for women and teens.

She has a knack for clearly written easy to crochet patterns. You can purchase her patterns in her Etsy shops. For darling accessories for babies and children visit http://toocutecrochet.etsy.com. For funky and stylish accessories for women and teens visit http://jocelyndesigns.etsy.com.

Be sure to visit her review of my Texting Mitts booklet and leave a comment to enter a drawing for an opportunity to win your own copy.