Archive for April, 2010

Books on Hooks Review – The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet

I have purchased and read many “how to” crochet books over the past 20 years. I can honestly say that The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by Margaret Hubert is, hands down, my new favorite. It is jammed packed with beautiful photos and crystal clear instructions.

The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet features several inspiring patterns and a comprehensive stitch library with over 400 illustrative color photos. It even contains a wonderful synopsis of crochet history as well as handy info on techniques such as no-chain foundation stitches, standard abbreviations, and symbols. The book closes with an overview of several forms of crochet and specialty methods – Tunisian, Tapestry Tunisian, Bruges Lace, Intermeshing, Polish Star, Overlay, Free Form (Ms. Hubert’s specialty! She just won the Crochet Liberation Front’s award for “Best Free Form Designer 2009.”), Hairpin Lace, and Broomstick Lace.

Favorite FeatureOrganization of the book

The aspect of the book that I appreciate the most is its superb organization. I can’t tell you how many crochet guides I have read, flipping from section to section, to get info on a certain crochet style or type of stitching. Hubert’s book, on the other hand, is logically grouped together. If I want “lace stitches,” for example, I turn right to page 92 and they are all there for me, beautifully illustrated.

Favorite Section - Motifs

Honestly, I had the most fun reading the “motifs” section. I quickly fell in love with all of the flower designs at my finger tips and got lost envisioning countless uses for these.

The Inside Scoop with Margaret Hubert

I was thrilled when the author agreed to be interviewed for this review. Her insights as a crochet designer and expert teacher are priceless and I am happy to share them with you.

1. Tell me about your crochet background. When did you learn to crochet? Who taught you?

I learned to knit as a very young child and do not remember learning, but I remember very well the day that I learned to crochet.  I was nineteen and working on a cardigan, and was having great difficulty with the button band.  I went to the local yarn shop in our area for help, and the owner suggested crocheting the band.  When I said that I did not know how to crochet, she offered to teach me. I have been combining knitting and crocheting ever since that day.

2. There were some fun and interesting stitch pattern names used in the book as well as several nice spins on some old, familiar favorites. Did you come up with these names and the stitch patterns?

Funny that you asked about that!  With some of the stitches the names have been handed down through the ages, some my Aunt taught me, and that is what she called them.  Some of the squares and motifs that did not have names, I named after some of my favorite people.

3. What is your favorite stitch in the book?

That’s a tough question, I love so many of them, but my favorite stitch for many years has been the simple single crochet, double crochet combination, and reversing on the following row. This makes a wonderful fabric, which changes with size hook and yarn used.  I also am very fond of Intermeshing, and love the finished results.  Of course everyone who knows me, knows that combining a multitude of stitches in a free form piece, is my passion.

4. What piece of advice would you give a new crocheter? Where should they begin?

First, find a teacher who has patience with beginners.  Then have patience with yourself.  Crocheting requires you to program all ten fingers to work in concert.  Not always easy to achieve.  Once learned, though, your fingers will fly.

Start with chains and single crochet, with a hook not too large, not too small.  A number 8 or H hook and a worsted weight smooth yarn, is a good choice for beginners.

5. What piece of advice would you give a budding crochet professional? Where should they focus their efforts?

I am a mentor, and have been a mentor to several budding designers through the CGOA mentoring program.  My advice is always the same and has been successful for several of my mentees.  First, check out any publication that you wish to submit designs to, they always post designer guidelines.  Follow their guidelines for submissions to the letter.  Be neat in your presentation, make sketches and a large swatch in the yarn and stitch that you plan to use.  Put all information that an editor needs to know on your sketch.  You do not have to be an artist (I am not), but your sketch has to convey your design idea very clearly.

If at all possible, attend conferences where they have “meet the editors” events.  Other advantages of attending a conference is meeting other designers and just seeing what is going on in the Knit and Crochet world.

Last, but not least, don’t quit your day job.  It takes a while to get established as a designer, and you always have to wait for your money, sometimes as much as 6 months. Once you have become established, then more and more work will come your way.   Many designers have gone into self publishing, I have only tried to self publish 3 designs, and have only been moderately successful.  Many of my friends have been hugely successful at this, but I do not have the expertise to advise on this route.

Copies of The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet can be purchased online at Amazon.
The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet: The Essential Reference for Novice and Expert Crocheters

April 30, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Tunisian Crochet in 1934!

Wandered over to Twitter and found this on NexStitch’s page….It’s a 1934 demonstration video for tunisian crochet! I got chills watching this fun blast from the past. It is amazing how much tunisian crochet has evolved….just think of Doris Chan’s new tunisian crochet designs in Crochet Lace Innovations, for example. But, this is still a wonderful snapshot of crochet history…..ENJOY!


April 29, 2010 at 7:44 pm Leave a comment

Crafter’s ADD – Good or Bad?

Crafter’s ADD – A disorder common among crafters that is characterized by the frequent urge to constantly begin new projects without having finished other works in progress first. For knitters and crocheters, symptoms include 1) a fleeting surge of joy with the beginning of each project that quickly subsides by row 3 or 4, perhaps even row 10; 2) a multitude of skeins of yarn scattered about one’s home with only the first few rows of a design attached; 3) an array of missing hooks and/or needles as these are often tucked away with half-worked designs; and, 4) the inability to complete projects by a concrete deadline. Symptoms are often most prevalent with the publication of Interweave’s or Vogue’s current issue.

For years, I thought that the phenomena of Crafter’s ADD (CADD) was a bad thing. But, now, I am not so sure. For most of my adult life, if I began I project, I ‘white knuckled’ my way to completion before beginning a new project. I have kept a work basket full of my current ‘works in progress (WIPs)’ beside by bed since college and I have never allowed the basket to contain more than 3 WIPs. However, these days, I am beginning to understand that as artists – all crocheters and knitters can be classified as such – we need constant sources of inspiration. Allowing one’s self to get bogged down in a project stifles creation and actually slows down the rate at which projects are completed.

I have come to realize that sometimes we just need a break and I have decided to give myself a bit more creative freedom these days. If I want to work on a pink mohair shawl on Monday and then, by Wednesday I am in the mood to crank out a design for a chunky wool sweater, I am going to go for it!

One of my favorite tv shows is Project Runway. I love to see the designers scrambling all over the city, from Moods to the infamous design room, making magic happen on the runway. The winner of season 7, Seth Aaron, commented during the finale that there were several designs that he just had to “get out of his head first” before moving on to some of his signature, winning creations. That is how I feel about my crochet – there are some designs and projects that I have to get out of my head before I can move forward. It is almost like palate cleansing between the courses of a meal.

I am currently toggling between two dance shrugs (gifts for my daughter and her best friend) and finalizing the crochet rosary pattern. When I get bogged down or overly stressed with writing my pattern, I pick up a shrug. When I get tired of fiddling with the chunky wool of the shrugs, I switch to the fine size 10 crochet cotton thread of the rosary. I also have a super wash merino scarf in my work basket that I have been working on for at least 2 years. I pick it up every now and then…it is like my perfect ‘palate buster.’ Hey, I may even start one of the projects still waiting in my queue if the mood strikes.

My Favorite Palate Buster (made from superwash merino by Cherry Tree Hill Yarns in color "wild cherry")

(Here’s a tip….keep WIPs stashed in large bags. Be sure to place the appropriate hook or needles in the bag along with any pattern notes.)

Bottom line, I am now a proud “CADD survivor,” bouncing from project to project as my mood dictates!

What do you think – is Crafter’s ADD a good or bad thing? Has your opinion on the matter changed one way or the other? (Incidentally, I use to believe that if I started a book, I had to finish it. Now, if the author loses my attention, I give myself the liberty of putting the book down. Life to too short….)

April 27, 2010 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment

Hook Time

I finally found a bit of hook time today. My oldest daughter, well actually, both of my daughters are dancers. We are a ‘dance family’ (and a ‘swim family’ and a ‘piano family’ too) which means that they dance a total of 5 hours a week and our weekends are often filled with rehearsals for RAD exams, Nutcracker, spring production…you name it. Fortunately, this year, Monday is a rather long ‘dance’ day as the oldest has 2 classes with an hour wait in between….this means that I often get a nice chunk of time to crochet in the studio waiting area.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to work row after row of hdc’s in the variegated yarn full of shades of pinks and purples. I felt at peace, as if all of the other stuff I am dealing with was made right, or even mattered less, with the creation of  each prefect, evenly spaced row…. you gotta love crochet therapy! Tonight, I honestly feel like this little ballerina fluttering about because I got to crochet today!

April 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm Leave a comment

I WANT to Crochet!

Kicking and screaming….Wa, wa, wa….I WANT to crochet now!

I am stuck here on a Sunday night writing a report for work. Yet, all I can think about is my crochet project sitting in the corner. I want to pick it up so badly but….I guess I’ll be a mature adult and stick to my schedule.

Thanks for listening to me vent…maybe, just maybe, I’ll get 10 minutes of hook time before I fall asleep.

April 25, 2010 at 9:23 pm 2 comments

Books on Hooks Review – Crochet Lace Innovations

Bozena Dress

I just finished reading Crochet Lace Innovations by Doris Chan. I, honestly, couldn’t put it down. Doris pulls you right in with her comfortable and familiar prose. It is as if you are talking to a dear girlfriend. I loved this approach as she explains the story behind each pattern and her introduction to broomstick lace, hairpin lace, and Tunisian lace.

After getting over my initial awe at the sheer beauty of the patterns in the book, here is a more complete overview of my impressions:

  • A wonderful read – it reads like a great story, weaving explanations for each technique and pattern together.
  • The book introduction includes a nice snapshot of Doris’ approach to teaching which really resonates with my soul as I have been a teacher, in one form or fashion, for years and I couldn’t agree with her more. She writes….

“Great teaching isn’t about parading your expertise; it’s about bringing someone else to your skill level along the path where you’ve just been.”

  • Doris includes a crystal clear breakdown of foundation single crochet (fsc). I am finally ready to give it a try. I guess old dogs really can learn new tricks after all!
  • Favorite tutorial – Tunisian fabric. It is written so clearly and with the illustrations, I can really visualize how to make these stitches happen.
  • Patterns calling my name – Bozena Dress and Isabeau Top (featured on the cover). I am so anxious to try both. The Exploded Doily Lace chapter literally blows my mind. The problem is that I am scared beyond belief to make the leap into these gorgeous patterns. I guess I just need to close my eyes and jump!

All in all, the book is an A+. It is definitely a “must have” for any crocheter – even if you don’t try the patterns, you will be inspired by Doris’ amazing designs.

Copies of Crochet Lace Innovations can be purchased online at Amazon.
Crochet Lace Innovations: 20 Dazzling Designs in Broomstick, Hairpin, Tunisian, and Exploded Lace

April 24, 2010 at 9:41 pm 1 comment

Special Delivery

Guess what arrived today? A copy of Crochet Lace Innovations by Doris Chan…..YIPEEE!!!!! (doing the happy dance :)) First impressions, GLORIOUS, INSPIRING, JAW-DROPPING…..I will definitely be snuggled up with this book over the weekend and I will post my complete review shortly.

I am coming to the realization, more and more, that there are just not enough hours in my day to dedicate to crochet. Between my designs, my projects in progress, my efforts to keep abreast of what’s going on in the fiber world and crochet industry…I desperately need more time! So, what’s a girl to do?!?

April 23, 2010 at 5:16 pm 3 comments

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