Unexpected Afghans Celebration Weekend!

This weekend Interweave Crochet is kicking off a celebration for the new Unexpected Afghans: Innovative Crochet Designs with Traditional Techniques!

I am so excited that I can finally tell you about this design. I loved every minute of this design.

Okay, let’s start with the photo, because that’s what y’all want, right? Here you go! Here’s my design, Amada Baby Blanket:

Amada Baby Blanket

I started this design with the idea of making lace in a worsted weight yarn. When I got the call for this book, I knew I had to send it in. The swatch was done in the same yarn as the final project (so happy for that!) and it’s Universal Yarns Cotton Supreme. If you haven’t used this yarn, seriously, pick some up. It’s so smooth and silky and has incredible drape.

Robyn was fantastic to work with and she picked a stunning color for the final project. I loved the bright pink. It gives it such a pop and a flair. However, any color you work this blanket in will be stunning (and change the look significantly).

Don’t let the lace fool you into thinking it’s a hard pattern. It’s not. It’s a simple four row repeat that’s super easy to memorize. Because it’s in a worsted weight yarn, it goes super fast. It really is a great way to introduce yourself to lace crocheting.

And it’s not just for babies! This blanket turned out a bit big for a baby blanket, 39″ square. So it’s perfect for draping over a favorite chair and using to cover your lap or shoulders. I originally pictured this as a porch blanket, perfect on a porch swing on a cool spring evening.

I do hope you’ll check out this book. Not just because I’m in it. But because it is so full of great designs from great designers. I have so many of these patterns marked to make at some point. There is some top notch work in here. Designs that are far from the typical patterns found in afghan books.

Now, if you’re interested in winning an e-book version, just respond here by 11:59pm Eastern Time on July 4th with your name and an answer to this question: What’s your favorite technique for afghans/blankets?. Are you the big and lacy type? Simple and traditional? Motif? Back and forth?

Also, check out the rest of the celebration at the links below! I hear that there will be giveaways there, too!

Robyn Chachula Crochet By Faye

Dora Ohrenstein Crochet Insider Newsletter

Ellen Gormley Go Crochet

Carol Ventura Tapestry Crochet

Linda Permann Lindamade

Diane Halpern Three Rivers Crochet

Drew Emborsky The Crochet Dude

Annette Petavy Annette Petavy Design

Jill Wright Wool Crafting

Simona Merchant-Dest Stylish Knits

Doris Chan Everyday Crochet

Edie Eckman Edie Eckman

Mary Beth Temple Addicted to Alpaca

Kristin Omdahl Styled By Kristin

Marty Miller Not Your Grannys Crochet

Annie Modesitt Modeknit

Megan Granholm Loop de doo

Kim Guzman Wips N Chains

Super fast post

I’ve got to run as I’m in a very busy weekend right now, but I wanted to announce the winner of my Simply Crochet e-book giveaway.

It’s June, who said:

I don’t really have a tip for saving on yarn, as most of my projects are small (amigurumi) so only use a fraction of a skein apiece!

I suppose my best tip is to always keep leftover yarn, even if it’s only a few metres long, because you never know when you’ll need to make a small embellishment and find you have the perfect shade to hand already.

Congrats to June! Watch the email you put in your comment form as you should be getting an email from Interweave soon (in the next week or so) to get your book. 🙂

And with that, I’m off! Have a great weekend everyone!

Simply Crochet Blog Tour: Blooming Beauty Purse

Yay! I can finally tell you about this! Simply Crochet is now available in print (or you can get a downloadable e-book here).

Simply Crochet

Photo copyright Interweave

This book is jam packed with great patterns from great designers that I am honored to be in a book with. The best part of this book? It’s all about what to do with five balls or less of yarn. Great yarn. Yummy yarn. And, all of us have shared our tips and tricks on how to get the best bang for your buck.

My contribution? The Blooming Beauty Purse. This cute little purse uses only three balls of scrumptious Filatura Di Crosa’s Zara yarn. This yarn was wonderful to work with. Super soft, great color, and crisp stitch definition. I had a hard time packaging it up to send.

Blooming Beauty Purse

Because the motifs are open and lacy, you need to make a lining, but that’s super easy. And it gives you an opportunity to play with pops of color in fun fabric. I used two “fat quarters” that I picked up at my local fabric store. There are instructions on how to do the lining in the pattern. I’ll tell you a behind the scenes secret. Shh, don’t tell anyone else, this is just between you and me. I had my sister sew my lining for me. She has a better eye for this and I was close to my shipping deadline. And then the fabulous tech editor at Interweave worked with my faltering ability to explain what my sister did (and I had a hard time “showing” her what I did with just words in an email…lol) and wrote the directions for the sewing bit so anyone can follow it.

Here, I want to show off how pretty the inside is. I love the fabric. I actually bought four different fabrics (fat quarters are pretty inexpensive so it’s fun to play with) and put each one inside the finished purse to see which I liked best. The red won out.

Lining shot

You know what’s a fun idea? Put a nice neutral fabric on the outside of the lining (the part that will peek through your motifs to the world) and put a bright fun fabric for the inside. Because the lining uses two layers, you can fully customize it. Imagine the possibilities!

The purse is a great take along project. You make the first two rounds out of two of the colors and then later put the third round in the third color and join them all together. So the first bit can be taken with you and then you can sit at a table or in your favorite comfy chair and join them together following the diagram. I’ll tell you another little secret. I didn’t know it would be that shape when I was joining it together. I had in my mind something else and it wasn’t until I joined the last two motifs and stepped back that I saw it was in this great shape. Sometimes happy accidents are awesome.

There are 21 other designs in this book that are all awesome. I’m so honored to be a part of this book. Some of my favorite designers have designs next to mine. This is something that always makes me do the happy dance. This book is chock full of great designs, great tips, and is wonderful for stash busting.

 

Now the fun part! I get to give away a copy of the e-book. This will not be a hard copy. It’s a PDF file that you can take anywhere (I highly suggest Dropbox, especially if you have a smart phone…there’s an app for that and you can carry the book with you!).

Here’s the details for the giveaway! Comment below telling me your favorite tip for saving on yarn. You need to enter by Monday, December 12 at 8am Eastern time. I’ll pick a random commenter from all the comments and you’ll win! Easy peasy. 🙂

 

Did you miss a post on the tour? Here’s the whole list of the tour. It’s like flipping through the book in order!

1 Ball or Less
Dec 1 Iced Ascot by Rebecca Velasquez, http://rebeccavelasquezdesigns.blogspot.com/
Dec 2 Flapper Hat by Margaret Hubert, http://margaretshooksandneedles.blogspot.com/
Dec 3 Billows of Baubles Scarf by Sheryl Means, http://sherylmeanscrochet.com/
Dec 4 Twist Cowl Wrap by Linda Permann, http://www.lindamade.com/wordpress/
Dec 5 Mystic Cuff by Robyn Chachula, http://crochetbyfaye.blogspot.com
Dec 6 Emma Lace Scarf by Simona Merchant-Dest, http://stylishknits.blogspot.com/
Dec 7 Diamonds and Lace Hat by Linda Permann, http://www.lindamade.com/wordpress/
Dec 8 Neck Lattice by Vashti Braha, http://designingvashti.blogspot.com/

3 Balls or Fewer
Dec 9 Botan Placemats by Marlaina Bird, http://knitthing.blogspot.com/
Dec 10 Tapestry Basket by Carol Ventura, http://www.tapestrycrochet.com/blog/
Dec 11 Blooming Beauty Purse by Tracie Barrett, http://traciebarrett.com/blog/
Dec 12 Nedburt Puppet by Robyn Chachula, http://crochetbyfaye.blogspot.com
Dec 13 Natalie Shrug by Megan Granholm, http://loopdedoo.blogspot.com/
Dec 14 Giselle Vest by Simona Merchant-Dest, http://stylishknits.blogspot.com/
Dec 15 Sidney Cardigan by Robyn Chachula, http://crochetbyfaye.blogspot.com
Dec 16 Annabel Shawl by Kristin Omdahl, http://www.styledbykristin.com/

5 Balls or Fewer
Dec 17 Tallula Baby Top by Marlaina Bird, http://knitthing.blogspot.com/
Dec 18 Amelia Cardigan by Julia Vaconsin, http://www.juliavaconsin.com/
Dec 19 Float Vest, Float Cardigan by Robyn Chachula, http://crochetbyfaye.blogspot.com
Dec 20 Linked Jacket by Robyn Chachula, http://crochetbyfaye.blogspot.com
Dec 21 Dots and Dashes Blanket by Ellen Gormley, http://gocrochet.com
Dec 22 Spa Shawl Top by Doris Chan, Spa Shawl Tunic by Doris Chan, http://dorischancrochet.com/

Blog Tour Stop: Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook

I first met Ellen Gormley last year at the Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester, NH. I will admit, I was nervous. See, sometimes, I have trouble believing I’m a “grownup designer”, so when I meet other designers, I’m still a little star-struck. 🙂 Ellen is wonderful and so giving and kind.

Unfortunately, following what is now becoming a trend, I apparently do not have a photo of just Ellen and me together from conference. However, unlike with Karen’s blog tour, I do have a photo with Ellen (and our little gang that week, apologies everyone, you’re popping up, too!):

Ellen is standing behind and to the right of me.

Anyway, I was thrilled and excited about being a stop on her blog tour for her new book: Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workshop. When she told me the book was on its way to me, I waited with baited breath. Seriously, I’ve seen her work, I knew this had to be awesome. Also, I love motifs. Living in Florida, it’s the easiest way to make blankets because you can work on small motifs during the summer and then put it together in the winter (or on a day you’re willing to blast the a/c really low). 🙂

When the book came in, I immediately stopped what I was doing and flipped through it. This book is very well done. Now, other bloggers have talked about the bigger things: the motifs, the finished blanket patterns, and the great tips and tricks. All these are fabulous and you should definitely check out this book for those things. However, I want to talk about the first thing that grabbed me about this book….

The details!

I tend to notice the little things. Attention to detail makes my brain happy. These are things I’m not sure everyone else notices right away, but I did. So I’m going to talk about them.

Here’s a pic of one of the rectangle motif pages:

Do you see what I see? The colors up in the corner on those little boxes match the awesome colors in the motif! How cool is that? And what I didn’t show you was that the colors in the stitch diagram also coordinate.

Now, here’s what’s really cool. See those little boxes up in the corner? I thought they were just some nifty art trick to add interest. Until I got to the pages with other shapes. Here’s a page from the octagon section:

Do you see that???? The shape in the corner matches the motif shape! Ack! My little over organized brain had a total happy moment right then.

Another cool thing? This is a spiral bound book. Which means it will lay flat while you crochet. LOVE this!

More about the book:

The motifs are separated into the various sections depending upon the shape (squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons, and octagons). There are ten motifs of each shape and she not only shows you these motifs, she shows you which of the other motifs in the book will coordinate with it.

In the beginning of each motif section, Ellen tells you how to best lay out the motifs to put them together. In the beginning of the book, she talks about the various ways to connect motifs together. If you’ve ever avoided doing motifs because of the joining, check this section out. It will change your mind.

I also love that she has a section on color choice. I have the hardest time with colors and figuring out what goes with what. Even after taking three years of art classes in high school. So, to get some real tips and tricks really helps.

Finally, at the end of the book are ten different afghan patterns using the motifs in the book. They range from beginner (and stunning) to an advanced one that uses every one of the motifs in the book. LOVE!

If you’re like me, and you love motifs, do yourself a favor and go get this book! It is definitely one that will reside on my “easy to get to” shelf.

I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting Socks by Karen Ratto-Whooley

Photo copyright Leisure Arts and used with permission

Okay, so everyone who knows me knows that I love crocheted socks. My sock yarn stash has a special bin that I can reach at any time. If I have extra money to spend, it will often go to sock yarn. This is because, to me, socks are the perfect travel project. They fit in my purse, are easy to do on a plane or bus, and allow me to make something for myself in a short amount of time. I actually bought a pair of shoes that show off my crocheted socks and wear them proudly to any yarn event. My socks never match my outfit, and I don’t worry about that.

See?

So when I heard that my dear friend and fellow designer, Karen Ratto-Whooley, was coming out with a sock book, I was so excited. When she asked me to do a stop on her blog tour, I was over the moon. The book is I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting Socks and is published by Leisure Arts.

First off, a little about Karen. She is so completely awesome. I met her in person at the 2010 Knit and Crochet Show. We clicked instantly and hung out most of the weekend. Unfortunately, we were so busy chatting and having fun that we failed to get a photo together. And of course, we didn’t notice that until we were back at our respective homes. She is the utmost professional, and a very talented designer.

Okay, so the book. When I got it in the mail, I dropped everything and immediately flipped through it. This book is so very well put together. She explains the parts of the sock, the differences in fiber types, and all the tools you’ll need to make socks. Once you get addicted like we are, you’ll start keeping a whole kit together just for your sock projects. Go ahead and set it up now, you’ll thank me later.

One thing I love about this book is there are two patterns explaining the basic sock methods: Toe up and Cuff Down. And Karen has written the patterns where you can change color in each different part of the sock. It’s not necessary, but if you’re making socks for the first time, this is really great to understand the concept of what you’re doing. I love it.

Basic Toe Up Socks. Photo copyright Leisure Arts and used with permission

Basic Cuff Down Socks. Photo copyright Leisure Arts and used with permission

Another thing I love about this book is the patterns themselves. There’s a great mix between toe-up and cuff down. There are two socks sized for men (which after making socks for my dad and brother after extrapolating a pattern I typically used, this is a great thing…less math for me!). All the sock patterns suggest sock yarn, which means these will fit in your shoes! Also, no seaming (unless you’re doing cuff down, then you just have to close up your toe)!

Ripple Socks. Photo copyright Leisure Arts and used with permission.

These ones are my favorites and the ones I’m currently working on. I’d hoped to have at least one to show you, but life got in the way and I didn’t get them finished in time. But they will be done soon and I’ll blog about them! These are the Ripple Socks and the pattern is very easy to understand. I will share one bit of advice. Trust Karen. Seriously. She knows what she’s doing. I had a moment where I thought, “Hmmm, that’s different than I usually do it, I better be prepared to fudge it to make it work.” But you know what? I didn’t have to. It was perfect.

The photography is fabulous in this book. Especially in the first two patterns which are broken down like tutorials. Perfect for new sock crocheters. The patterns are clearly written. Everything you need to know is there. If you’ve ever thought of crocheting socks, this is the book to get.

Now, I wanted to do a question and answer with Karen, so here we go:

Karen, as a fellow sock addict, I’m so thankful you did this book. Why do you love crocheting socks so much?

There are lots of reasons! They are fast and portable. A whole lot faster than knitting socks! I love all of the self-striping and long-striping yarns available in sock weight yarns. I end up crocheting a whole lot longer because I want to see “what the next color will do”. And then when that color is done, I want to see the next one. LOL!

Many crocheters seem to be afraid of crocheting socks. Why do you think that is?

Honestly, I think crocheters are intimidated by the size of the yarn. When you see a knitter knitting socks, they are using very small needles (Size 0 sometimes!) That is not true with crochet. I actually encourage using a larger hook than you would normally in order to get the drape and elasticity needed for socks. Crochet is already dense. The larger hook helps reduce that density.

The other thing I think that crocheters don’t realize is that you can use sock yarns. So many patterns in the past use sport or worsted weight yarns. The result is “slipper-like” socks, that won’t fit in a shoe, and many times are so bulky that most people don’t like the way they look. By using sock yarns with a slightly larger hook, the result is a sock that can be worn and is lovely to look at.

What would be your advice for a crocheter trying socks for the first time? Should they do one of the tutorial patterns in a larger yarn? I know you suggest a “light” yarn for those. Do you find this helps the crocheter learn the steps before committing to smaller sock yarn?

If a crocheter hasn’t made socks before, I would say, definitely try the cuff-down tutorial pattern first. Try using the sock yarn first, but if you are struggling, then go up to sport or worsted weight. Once you can see what you are looking for, then bump back down to the sock yarn. The cuff-down sock would be the best for a first timer. Once that has been accomplished, the toe up will make more sense.

There are so many sock yarns on the market now. Do you have a favorite sock yarn? Do you prefer yarns that will stripe or just regular variegated yarns? What’s your go-to sock fiber?

I have to choose? LOL! I love the striping yarns, I love the variegated yarns. I love the solid colors. I think I pick my yarn based on the pattern. If there is a lot of detail in the sock pattern, I will gravitate toward a solid or a tonal yarn. If the sock is more basic, I will chose a striping or variegated yarn

As far as fiber, I really love yarns with bamboo in them. Not only are they soft, but they have a beautiful sheen. I always make sure that my yarns have a little wool or acrylic for those who might be allergic to wool. Wool and acrylic have more elasticity than cotton, silk or bamboo. Using a blend helps with fit! My LYS just got in a sock yarn with Cashmere. I haven’t tried that one yet, but just by touch I think that could be a new favorite.

What is your number one tip for sock crocheting success?

I think the best tip I have is to TRUST in the pattern. I teach that all the time in my sock classes. A lot of the time my students will start a toe-up sock and it just doesn’t look right to them at the beginning. Many times the pattern for a sock isn’t straight forward. But if you just trust and keep going, you will discover that it usually works out in the end.

Can I just toss in an “absolutely!” here? 🙂

One of the complaints I hear about making socks (both by crocheters and knitters) is having to make two items from the same pattern. Any tips to help stave off the dreaded ‘second sock syndrome’?

Split your ball of yarn, and work both socks at the same time! If you purchase a large ball of yarn (350-450 yards in a single ball will usually make a pair of crocheted socks) have the LYS wind and split the ball evenly for you. If you have to do it yourself, use a kitchen scale that has grams. Weigh the ball before and then keep weighing until you have split the ball in two.

When working the pattern, do the cuff on one sock then do the cuff of the other. Then one leg, then the other. Same for the heels and foot and toe. It goes faster and you don’t have to remember for very long or have to write down your row counts as much if you do it this way. And it is something that knitters cannot do necessarily unless they know how to knit 2 at once on a circular. We just have to pull the hook out.

Confession time. I have nine pairs of completed crocheted socks and three pairs that just need some finishing (or are close to being done). Just how many pairs of crocheted socks do you have?

For myself, I only have 2-3 pairs. My kids each have more than that and even my husband has a pair. The rest of the socks have gone to either family, models for classes and/or books! Although I do have a pair that are in progress just for me! If I ever get a chance to get back to them!

I’m beginning to think I might have a problem now.

I’m a huge fan of toe-up socks because I hate that seam at my toe (and no matter how smoothly I try to do my whip stitching, I can always feel it). What’s your favorite direction to work your socks?

Toe up is definitely my favorite way as well. I am one of those people who doesn’t like to sew either. This way, I only have the ends to weave in.

However, there are times that the cuff down with the heel flap and gusset are better. I think for men’s socks especially. Men seem to have trouble with getting their feet into socks if it is too tight at the ankle. The way I do my short row heels help in the ankle area. And I am working now on a pattern with a toe up heel flap and gusset pattern, so that I can avoid that issue.

For people who may want a hands on lesson in learning to crochet socks, where can they take classes from you?

I regularly teach at Crochetville.org. I have 2 sock classes on the schedule there this year. Cuff down starts May 6th and Toe Up starts November 4th!

I am also starting to teach online at my website. The Crochet Learning Studio will be open this month, hopefully by March 7th, 2011 for registration. The link is http://www.krwknitwear.com/learningcenter. I have a newsletter there just for classes, so be sure to sign up if you are interested.

If you are local to me, I teach classes at Great Yarns! in Everett,WA http://www.greatyarns.com. Check the website for the class schedules.

I also teach nationwide. If you have a guild or a shop that might like to have me come and teach, let me know! I love to visit new places! I also teach at major events like Stitches and The Knit and Crochet Show. I always have my schedule on my website: http://www.krwknitwear.com.

I hope you enjoyed our visit with Karen today! If you love crocheting socks, get this book. If you’ve always wanted to try crocheting socks, get this book! You, too, will be saying, “I can’t believe I’m crocheting socks!”

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