Posts filed under ‘Tunisian Crochet’
Designer Sharon Silverman has just released her latest book, Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets, which features a collection of 8 gorgeous blankets that are sure to delight the hearts of wee ones and moms-to-be.
“I love the color possibilities and textures of Tunisian crochet, and I wanted to bring some of that excitement to the nursery,” explains Sharon. In fact, the patterns incorporate a range of classic and inspiring Tunisian crochet stitch patterns, including an attractive basket weave pattern, a bold and contemporary chevron stitch pattern, a fun and playful bobble stitch pattern, a light and airy Tunisian extended stitch pattern, and a simply irresistible cable and honeycomb stitch pattern
There is something for everyone in Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets – the patterns are easy to follow and Leisure Arts has developed a range of instructional videos to accompany each one. Beginners can sink their hooks into “Purple Garden” which features a warm and cuddly full stitch pattern and gives newcomers the opportunity to become familiar with the hand motions of Tunisian crochet.
Another pleasant surprise in Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets is a jaw-dropping stranded colorwork pattern for those of us who would like to take our stitching skills to the next level. “Stranded Tunisian, the technique in the “Bright Strands” blanket, was new to me [as well],” Sharon adds. “The way you can use just two colors on a given row and create such an interesting geometric pattern was very appealing. It was fun to chart out the design on paper and then to have it to take shape on my hook.”
The print version of Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets will be available in January 2014; however, the e-book is available today. As a special treat, Leisure Arts is also offering a stand-alone pattern for free download. The “Heirloom Frame” blanket was designed by Sharon in conjunction with the book. Happy Stitching!
For years, crochet designers have begged and pleaded for an easy-to-use, affordable software solution for crochet charts. Two years ago, Brian Milco, from Stitch Works Software, answered our prayers with the release of Crochet Charts.
“It has been quite a ride! I’ve had a good response from people all around the country and the world. I’ve had sales in 44 US states and territories, and 47 countries on 6 continents. And from them, I’ve had a lot of really good feedback that I’ve tried to incorporate into each subsequent release and into my plans for the future of the software,” explains Brian.
Recently, Brian partnered with Wheat Carr, owner of ItsAllJustString.com, and Tunisian crochet designer Kim Guzman to create a basic stitch library for those of us who enjoy designing with the long hook. “Wheat was the one to suggest the partnership; she facilitated the process and kept us from dropping the ball, even when I had a full schedule,” Brian continues.
The Tunisian crochet stitch library contains a set of 16 basic stitches and is available as a free download for those who already have the Crochet Charts software. “I had Brian’s software from the moment it was introduced. It is a fantastic software and just what the market needed. I have wanted software like this for at least a decade and I felt that the addition of Tunisian crochet symbols would be outstanding,” adds Kim. In fact, Kim recently published Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide, which is the perfect companion for the Crochet Charts Tunisian crochet stitch library. The Tunisian crochet stitch library can be used to create all of the stitch patterns in Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide. Although she was unable to use the software while writing this book, she looks forward to using it in the future.
“[The Tunisian crochet stitch library] would have made writing my book a lot easier. I usually chart my stitch pattern after I’ve finished writing it out. It’s my method of double-checking the written text,” Kim explains. “Something wonderful happened one day when I was working on some designs and I needed to chart them out first. During the charting process, in order to make a nice clean chart, I inadvertently discovered a method that allows you to make Tunisian cables that actually sit up on the fabric instead of embedded inside the fabric. It was a complete fluke. I don’t think I ever would have tried it if I hadn’t been attempting to fill in spaces on the chart. It’s just amazing what happens when you look at something in a different way. With one of my next projects, I have to do a lot of prior planning of extensive cabling. I plan on charting the entire thing before I get started because I love to be able to see the way the project should look before I even start crocheting. It helps me identify and avoid any potential problems, especially with a large project.”
What’s New for Crochet Charts?
Brian has planned several updates to Crochet Charts, which will enhance the functionality of the software. Upcoming features include the ability to change the stitch color for each stitch; the ability to have a grid or round guidelines with a custom number of rows or rounds, and columns; and, improved handling of grouped stitches. In addition, he plans to include support for iPad and Android tablets in the future.
The Tunisian Crochet Evolution Continues
Tunisian crochet has continued to surge in popularity as more and more designers bring fashionable and functional pieces to life and publishers become more willing to share their creations. “[Tunisian crochet] has moments of great attention, but its devotees form a serious sized ‘underground’ of practitioners. What has changed [most, though,] is the support from the equipment manufacturers and distributors,” explains Wheat.
“When I submitted my first three books in Tunisian crochet, I had developed a stitch which hadn’t been readily used in publications in almost a century. I had no idea that it was a different stitch. I thought perhaps I had done something incorrectly. But, with Tunisian crochet, there really is no incorrect way to do stitches. It’s still in its infancy and continues to evolve,” adds Kim.
Surely, the new Tunisian crochet stitch library will help greatly in this evolution. Not only will the library promote a universal language for Tunisian crocheters, it is sure to become an indispensable tool for designers as they strive to produce clear and easily understandable patterns for all of us to enjoy.
Sharon Silverman’s new book, Crochet Scarves – Fabulous Fashions, Various Techniques (Crochet Scarves), is a true joy. I flipped open the book and immediately fell in love with all 21 patterns. There are scarves made in traditional crochet, Tunisian crochet and even one done in broomstick lace.
“I was looking for projects that would be beautiful to wear and would also be good teaching tools. Scarves are small enough to take a chance on, with a new technique, an exotic yarn, or a different style than you’re used to,” explained Sharon. “They don’t take a huge investment in time or materials, but are fulfilling to make, wear, or give as gifts. I’m very pleased with the variety of projects in the book. Seven of the projects are Tunisian crochet, and I really hope that crocheters who haven’t tried this technique yet will give it a go.”
Crochet Scarves is filled with clever designs that are perfect for laidback summer-time stitching – try a new technique without becoming invested in a project that will take countless hours to complete. These quick and light projects also are the perfect inspiration for luxury yarns.
Personally, when the book arrived at my front door, I went straight to my stash from Maryland Sheep and Wool to find my Mirabella yarn (50% Angora, 50% wool) by Tess Designer Yarns. I took out my Tunisian crochet hook so that I could try the Premium Cable scarf. This is the first Tunisian design I’ve seen that encourages the use of a cable needle. I use them all the time while knitting cables and I felt silly that I had never thought to use it for my Tunisian cables too.
“From a design standpoint, since there are 21 patterns I had the opportunity to experiment with colors, textures, shapes, edgings…it was a lot of fun. And because scarves come in just one size each, they don’t require the multi-size pattern-writing complexity of items like sweaters,” continued Sharon. That makes Crochet Scarves the perfect choice to get a jump start on your holiday gifts. You can have your list done in no time!
So, What’s Your Favorite Design?
“Like any good ‘mother,’ I can say truthfully that I find things to love in each of my ‘children!’ The stitch definition of the yarn in Catch a Weave, the color palette of Monet’s Village, and the colors and fringe on Classic Plaid come to mind right away,” remarked Sharon when I asked her this question. “However, if I had to choose just one, it would have to be Cactus Lace done in a combination of broomstick lace and regular crochet with Luna laceweight yarn from SpaceCadet Creations. The finished scarf is light as a feather.”
I would have to agree – I was thrilled to see the Cactus Lacus. For those of us who have been a little shy to try broomstick lace, this is the perfect primer. “[This pattern] would be a good starting place, but I would recommend that crocheters try several rows of the pattern with sport or worsted weight yarn and bigger hook first. The stitches in broomstick lace are not difficult, but it takes some practice getting used to managing the loops, not losing any, sliding the hook through the loops, etc. It makes sense to get comfortable with the technique before trying it with laceweight yarn,” commented Sharon.
My other top picks, include:
Marabou is a show stopper – it’s simply gorgeous.
Swallowtail Cowl has outstanding lines.
SeaSplash is so light and airy.
Crochet Scarves – Fabulous Fashions, Various Techniques can be purchased on www.amazon.com. However, I am giving away a copy of the book to one lucky winner. Post a comment below about this amazing book and I will include you in the drawing on August 17th. Be sure to include your name!
For more information on Sharon Silverman’s incredible designs and what’s on the horizon for her, simply visit www.sharonsilverman.com. “One exciting thing [that I am working on] is a partnership with the folks at World Wide Yarns, who are putting together crochet kits for sale. So far, I’ve created two original designs for them – the Peach Fab throw using Colinette’s “AbFab” yarns and the Ripples on the Lake wrap using Dyelot Yarn’s “Recovery Package”. I’m working on a couple of book ideas and some magazine proposals–any requests, let me know! The best way to find out about my projects is on my website, www.sharonsilverman.com, on Facebook at Sharon Silverman Crochet, or on Ravelry at CrochetSharon. I’m also looking into the possibility of creating custom home decor items for interior designers,” Sharon concluded.
A little bit of yarn therapy is the best balm for the weary crocheter’s soul – especially when you feel stressed and overextended, like I currently do. This week I turned to truly the most decadent yarn ever to find calm and inner peace – a merino/cashmere/nylon blend called MCN Worsted by Indigodragonfly. Trust me, it is better than anything you could imagine! It’s pure ecstasy.
The color shown here is “Also, I Can Kill You With My Brain” and it will be featured in my latest design. Most of you know that I have been working on a couple of pieces for the new Fresh Designs Crochet series by Cooperative Press. So, fortunately, that means that I get to play with this exquisite yarn while trying my hook at menswear. It’s like someone paying you to open presents on Christmas morning!
In fact, I actually love designing for my boys – my husband and my son. Unfortunately, though, the industry keeps telling me that there is no real market for menswear patterns. I’d like to prove them wrong one day!
So, to wet your appetite, here’s a sneak peek at my upcoming menswear design….And, thank you Indigodragonfly for allowing me to play with this incredible yarn!
Pop Quiz: Can you guess which Tunisian crochet stitch is featured here?
I wanted to share another sneak peek of my latest design using “Yet” lace (65% merino wool/35% tussah silk) by Miss Babs. My initial concept has evolved as I worked my hook, although the stitch pattern has remained the same. I finally feel that I am on track and I am getting quite excited as I now see the light at the end of the tunnel! I think I will name this one The Gardenia Capelet. Stay tuned for more soon!
This weekend I had the pleasure of taking a test drive with the new Knitter’s Pride Dreamz Interchangeable Tunisian Crochet hooks available through WEBS. Not only are they beautifully made, it is pure joy to stitch with them. The ergonomic design of the hooks makes them extremely comfortable to hold and the colors are absolutely mesmerizing. In fact, each size is color-coded, making the hooks easy to identify, grab and go.
The Dreamz Tunisian crochet hooks range in size from E (3.5 mm) all the way up to 12 mm and come in vibrant shades of purple, green, orange, raspberry and teal. Simply put – they are a must for every Tunisian crocheter’s upcoming holiday wish list. The basic set, which is less than $55, comes with 8 hooks (US sizes E, G, 7, H, I, J, K and L), 4 cables (one 24”, two 32”, and one 40”), cable connectors, 8 end caps, 4 cable keys and a clear carrying case.
Personally, I enjoy the feel of wooden hooks the most compared to metal or plastic ones – there is something about the weight and the natural texture that I find pleasing. The Dreamz hooks are made from densified laminated birch wood, which was selected with the test of time in mind. Birch wood is harder than other woods, like ebony and rosewood. It has minimal water absorption too, reducing the chances of warping and allowing the hooks to remain strong. Each Dreamz hook is topped with a low-gloss finish to enhance the intrinsic beauty of the wood and keep them smooth to the touch.
Well, I am sure like me you are asking – yes, these are pretty but why do I need another set of Tunisian crochet hooks. I asked Kathy Elkins, who owns WEBS along with her husband Steve, this very question. “The Dreamz hooks are similar to some other Tunisian crochet hook sets out there in all the ways we love – cords in different lengths, a great range of hook sizes and stoppers for each cord – but then they are different and so much better!” she explained.
The added bonus that comes with these Tunisian crochet hooks is the perfect blend of well thought out design elements – namely, a novel screw-and-key mechanism that allows the hooks to seamlessly connect to the cords, extra long nylon cords that don’t kink, and a streamlined shape for crocheting ease.
“Not only is the color-coding by size a terrific and unique feature, the join is virtually seamless and the transition from cord to hook is gradual and smooth with no step-ups or bumps to catch your stitches,” Kathy continued. “Since the join is screwed together and you have the locking pin to get it nice and tight, your hooks and cords won’t separate. Finally, the hooks themselves are fantastic with an inline shape, a nice deep throat and a not-too-pointy tip; so, you don’t have to worry about splitting your stitches. And while not as slippery as the Addi’s, I have tried almost every fiber with these hooks and NOTHING catches on the surface.”
Of course, I took this as a challenge and had to try the hooks out on a range of yarns in my stash too. The hooks glided through everything from mohair to merino to acrylic without a glitch. Here is a sample of one of the hooks in action with Gems, 100% merino wool yarn, by Louet. FYI – this is a Tunisian crochet lattice stitch pattern that I have been playing around with for an upcoming design. Stay tuned for more!
An American Success Story
Although made in India by KnitPro, the Dreamz line is part of the next chapter for WEBS, a true American family business. The full line includes single-end crochet hooks in 13 sizes, interchangeable knitting needles, fixed circular needles, as well as double pointed and straight needles.
The history of WEBS is a beautiful story and an inspiration to all of us who wish to turn our passion into a paycheck. “WEBS was founded in 1974 by my mother-in-law, Barbara, and her friend. It started in the basement of Barbara’s home and the focus was to teach people to weave,” recounted Kathy. “Eventually the family wanted the basement back and her friend decided business was not for her, so they parted ways. Barbara leased an 800 sq. ft. retail space in Amherst, Massachusetts; and, by the early 80′s, she added yarns for knitting and crochet.”
Over the next decade the business continued to expand and moved from a Victorian house in downtown Amherst to a larger location in Northampton by 1992. Ultimately, though, WEBS landed on some prime real estate in the virtual world after Barbara’s husband, Art, read an article on the importance of the internet in the Wall Street Journal and purchased the url http://www.yarn.com.
Eventually, by early 2002, Barbara and Art had passed the reigns to their son Steve and daughter-in-law Kathy. “Art and Barbara asked us a couple of times if we were interested in joining the business, which we politely declined. By 2001, Art and Barbara were ready to move on and had finally found a buyer. They came to see Steve and I that fall – one last-ditch effort to convince us to take over the business,” Kathy said. “They came with financials, charts, and projections – the works. I decided it was a good decision for us and it took a few weeks, but eventually Steve agreed that taking over WEBS was the best for us.”
Today, WEBS has grown from a small mail order business to the go-to online destination for all things fiber related. Kathy and Steve pride themselves on listening to their customers and constantly improving to meet their needs. “We consider ourselves very fortunate to do what we do. We constantly remind our staff that knitters, crocheters and all fiber artists have many, many choices of where to shop. So, we have to always be grateful when we are their chosen destination and make their shopping experience the best it can be,” concluded Kathy.
In fact, the Elkins back all of their products 100%, including the new Dreamz line, and will replace any broken or damaged parts. For more information on the Knitter’s Pride Dreamz Interchangeable Tunisian Crochet hooks, visit WEBS online at http://www.yarn.com/.
This is a great video to add intarsia to our repertoire of Tunisian Crochet techniques. It’s very clear and informative. Thanks Beth at Crochet A Trunk Full O’ Fun!
My hook has never been so busy and I have never been happier with regards to my crochet. I am juggling life and managing to squeeze in about 3-4 hours of hook time each day. Pure bliss! I’ve been working mostly on my own designs and it is such a cathartic process to go from initial concept to reality. Best of all, I am working with some of the most amazing yarns available. It’s almost like a dream come true.
A few weeks ago, I gave a sneak peak of the yarn I am using in my latest design, which will be published in the Fresh Designs Crochet: Shawls book by Cooperative Press. It’s Poet Seat by Kangaroo Dyer – a hand-dyed blend of superwash merino (50%) and silk (50%) yarn. So, I thought I would wet your appetite for a bit more….here is the yarn worked up in a Tunisian crochet lace stitch that’s featured in the design.
I love the stitch definition with this yarn and the feel as it glides softly across my hand, but boy do I lament the fact that I crochet rather slowly. Recently, I have become sort of a Lily Chin groupie – last month I read her Couture Crochet Workshop and this month I am reading Crochet Tips & Tricks: Shortcuts and Techniques Every Crocheter Should Know. I had no idea that some crocheters lubricate their hooks for added speed. I am a bit nervous to try lotion as she recommends (it might stain my precious yarn) but I think I may give wax paper a try. I’ll be sure to report on whether it works and if my hook finally goes a’ blazing through the yarn. :)
I’ve been given permission to spill the beans and let everyone in on a little secret – I will be featured in the latest book series from Cooperative Press, Fresh Designs Crochet. My designs will be included in both the Fresh Designs Crochet: Shawls and Fresh Designs Crochet: Designs for Men books. It has been a crazy wonderful rollercoaster ride, from the submission process to playing with the yarn, and I am enjoying every single minute of it!
Here’s a bit of a sneak peak…..I am working with the most divine yarn ever – Poet Seat by Kangaroo Dyer – for my shawl design. It’s an incredibly yummy, hand-dyed blend of superwash merino (50%) and silk (50%). Believe me, it is PURE joy crocheting with Gail Callahan’s (aka the Kangaroo Dyer) fiber creations. The color blends are amazing – I am using her Spring Bonnet colorway. And, the yarn produces a beautiful drape while maintaining a lovely stitch definition. Thank you so much Gail!
Last weekend, I had a ball playing with my swatches…..I feel like a big girl now as I finally graduated to a real steamer! Boy, does it make a difference. I became convinced after reading Couture Crochet Workshop by Lily Chin that I really did need to make the switch and upgrade.
Lily also introduced me to the art of draping. So, I gave that a try too this past weekend. I used some basic sweater knit fabric from the remnants bin….It was not easy at first and I had to go through a lot of trial and error. But finally, I got my dress form Bessie looking just the way I wanted her to and now I have a great template to guide my shaping. Speaking of which, this design features Tunisian crochet and really serves as a lesson in shaping while using this technique. I can’t wait to share it with the world…..but, we’ll just have to wait until Spring 2012 when the book will be released.
There is nothing better than playing around with yarn – bringing to life something that has only existed in your head until now and stretching your abilities to new heights. Yes, designing is exhilarating. I get a rush from the moment of inception; to the first, second, third, or 100th swatch; until the final piecing and finishing touches.
As you probably can tell by now, I’m working on my next submission…..yep, I can’t say much about it, but here’s a hint – Tunisian crochet meets DK weight yarn.
I’m really looking forward to sharing this one with the world…..
Last week, my husband casually glanced down at what I was creating on my hook and said, seemingly out of the blue, “Honey, I’m so proud of you.” Wow – those six words meant the world to me. I’ve been in a blue funk lately, pining over the fact that I’ve wasted so many years of my life not following my dreams. My only consolation has been the fact that now I have resolved to persistently go after my aspiration, tiny step by tiny step, of becoming a crochet professional.