Posts filed under ‘Tunisian Crochet’
The Spring 2011 issue of Interweave Crochet is out! As usual, I gobbled it up all in one sitting last night. This time, I could not resist blogging about the Cupcake Sweater by Tram Nguyen. This design is absolutely D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! It is constructed entirely in Tunisian crochet using a silk/wool blend yarn by Elsebeth Lavold at Knitting Fever. My hook is itching to get started on this project as I am frantically searching through my stash for some yarn. I am still on a yarn diet, believe it or not. No new purchases until the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. It should be easy of enough to do since I have enough yarn to last not one, but two lifetimes – however, when I see a project like this, the temptation makes me weak. Oh brother! I just need to find 1200 yards of a DK weight yarn and then I am golden.
Almost forgot….Happy Feast Day of Saint Patrick! This green sweater would be perfect for today.
The finish line is in sight for my current project – a baby sweater made with Tunisian crochet honeycomb stitch by Bev Matheson. I started the second sleeve this afternoon. The back, front pieces and one sleeve are done and ready to be blocked. I just may finish in time for the baby shower next Sunday. I am so proud of myself as I am usually pulling an “all-nighter” before such events. I literally finished my nephew’s baptism blanket on the plane ride to the baptism. It always gets done, but sometimes not until the very last minute.
With less than 3 weeks before the baby shower, my Tunisian crochet hook has been flying each night after work.
The next great hurdle, after getting all the stitching done in time, will be finding the perfect buttons. Originally, I wanted to use some dance-inspired buttons, but the search for those has been futile (everything is pink!). Hopefully, this weekend I can find some adorable buttons that bring out the subtle color changes in this yarn. I am thinking nature-inspired – flowers, butterflies, etc. in lavender, light aqua and blue. Keep your fingers crossed. The clock is really ticking on this one!
For those of us who have been frantically hunting for a reasonably priced copy of Annie Attic’s title 101 Easy Tunisian Stitches, the search is finally OVER! The publisher just released a downloadable PDF version of the book for $14.95, the original cover price. Can we say ‘Happy National Crochet Month’!?!
I am beyond thrilled with this news. I have seen the price of this book skyrocket to over $150 on both ebay and amazon by independent book sellers trying to take advantage of the shortage and gouge out the eyeballs of crocheters. The entire ordeal was quite irritating and several of us on Ravelry wrote the publisher to complain. Well, I guess they listened…..ask and ye shall receive!
To get your copy, visit the Annie’s Attic website HERE.
All has been very quiet on the “crochet front.” I have not picked up my hook in nearly a month. Some might be wondering if I have lost my crochet mojo, but the truth is really a lot more complicated than that. I have been a bit down. So down, in fact, that I have not been able to muster the strength to enjoy some yarn-a-licious therapy. What can I say? Some people lose their appetite for food when they are depressed. But, I lose my appetite for crochet, my true indulgence and form of sustenance, when I walk through the valley.
So, you may be wondering, what’s the matter? What is going on?
Well, first of all, I have two sick loved-ones on whose care I have had to focus most of energies. It has been difficult and grueling. At the end of some days, I just want to pass out on my bed and escape into “sleepy land.”
Second of all, I have also been mourning the loss of a crochet-related dream that does not look like it will come true any time soon. This left me questioning my abilities and my passion for the hook. Do you remember the Langston Hughes poem A Dream Deferred? Those words have been heavy on my heart as I think about my crochet dreams. It has taken me a while to dust myself off and get cracking again, especially with the limited time and energy that I have left each day.
And, finally, football season is over. Yes, this reason is the most trivial, but not to be ignored. Football has become a great pastime for my family. We sit down together and cheer for opposite teams by the roaring fire. All the while, I get an incredible amount of crocheting done. I miss this time and the opportunity it affords me to create and be inspired.
But…..even with all of this said…..I AM BACK NOW! It is National Crochet Month, for one. I had some incredible ideas for celebrating the month, but those will have to wait until later. And, more importantly, I have a deadline. There is something about a final due date that makes my tooshie kick into gear. You may recall that back in December I started a gift for my daughters’ dance teacher who is expecting a baby this summer. Well, last week, I received an invitation to her baby shower. I have until March 27th to finish the sweater – not much time considering my hectic schedule. And, I wanted to design a matching honeycomb hat….that may be pushing it, though.
So, last night, I dusted off my Tunisian babies and got to work. I cranked out a couple of rows and it felt like HEAVEN – truly like coming home again. I found my crochet mojo…..it feels good to be back and I will be making noise again. Say goodbye to the quiet. Let’s celebrate the hook this month!
It’s no secret that Tunisian crochet is a hot topic these days. One could easily make the argument that this resurgence is due in large part to Sharon Hernes Silverman’s 2009 book, Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting, which has become a gold-standard reference book for many crocheters. Fortunately, Sharon has just released her latest book, Crochet Pillows With Tunisian & Traditional Techniques, which is equally as inspiring as her past titles.
Crochet Pillows With Tunisian & Traditional Techniques was a joy to read and filled with more of Sharon’s helpful tips and tricks. The pillows run the gamut from fun and funky to classic and elegant. There is something for everyone’s taste and aesthetic in this book. Best of all, it is written in a manner such that beginning crocheters can comfortably stretch their basic skills to the next level using Sharon’s comprehensive stitch guide that is both clear and concise. I am sure that the final portion of the book, filled with information about traditional and Tunisian crochet techniques as well as a list of indispensible resources, will serve as the perfect reference for both novice and seasoned crocheters alike.
Sharon’s love for crochet and understanding of the art form is clear while reading this title, especially in the ease with which she explains both basic and Tunisian crochet methods. “From the time I was age 3 or 4, I loved crafts. I remember making mosaic trays, paper lanterns, even a wooden book-holder in kindergarten! I learned to crochet and cross-stitch from my mother when I was 6 or 7. She taught me to knit, too, but that didn’t seem to stick,” explained Sharon.
“When I was writing my second crochet book, Beyond Basic Crocheting, one of my stitch dictionaries had some Tunisian crochet stitch patterns. I had never heard of it before, and it blew me away! [It was] so much fun to do, so fast, and [created] such interesting results,” she continued. “I included an easy Tunisian crochet scarf in that book, and was inspired to learn more about the technique and the possibilities for using it.” Since then, Sharon has continued to expand her Tunisian crochet skills and begun to share her fascination with Tunisian crochet stitches through her books, patterns, and classes.
From the very beginning, the concept of a book of pillow designs intrigued me. In fact, for crocheters who mostly make garments, it can be a breath of fresh air to try a home décor project. Likewise, pillows are relatively quick to make and are easily portable. When asked to comment on the rationale behind the book, Sharon pointed out, “Look through any design magazine or catalog and you’ll see pillows galore. They are a great way to spruce up your décor quickly and without breaking the bank. Instead of buying mass-produced pillows, why not make your own and get exactly what you want? Pillows make great gifts also, since they don’t have to be sized to fit someone like a garment does—not a whole lot of risk! They are small enough to complete in a reasonable amount of time, yet fun and interesting to make. Another advantage is that because they have two sides, you can create two looks in one project.”
Crochet Pillows With Tunisian & Traditional Techniques includes 20 projects in total – 10 in traditional crochet and 10 in Tunisian crochet. While reading the book, eight designs instantly struck a chord within me. For fun, I decided to list each of my favorite patterns according to a particular category and Sharon was gracious enough to comment on the inspiration behind each one.
The thought of working all of those loops along with the nubbly feeling of the finished product was enough for me to rate this as the design that incorporated the most fun stitch. “I saw this stitch pattern in a dictionary and loved the look! The subtle shadings in the variegated yarn fit well with the pattern too,” Sharon added.
Most Elegant – Cable Columns
I instantly fall in love with any crochet design that includes beautiful cables. It is as if there is a little voice inside saying – “See, we can make cables, too.” Also, the reverse single stitch has become one of my favorite finishing techniques as it results in such a smooth silhouette. However, Sharon’s inspiration for this design was the fiber itself. She explained, “Sometimes yarn is the inspiration for the project, as in this case. The stitch definition of the Lana is excellent—perfect for cables. I hope that people will give crocheted cables a try when they see how nice they look on this pillow. Reverse single crochet seemed like the right kind of tailored edging for this project as well.”
Most Adorable – Spiral Flower
As the mom of two “girly girls,” this pattern grabbed my attention right away. It would be fun to decorate my youngest daughter’s room with several of these pillows in her favorite colors, lavender and pink. “I was fooling around with little shell shapes and arranged them into a circle. They looked so cute that a whimsical accent pillow came to mind. I think this would look adorable hanging from a doorknob,” Sharon chimed in.
“This is another pattern that I found in a stitch dictionary. Usually I shy away from anything leggier than a treble crochet, but I was really intrigued by the three-dimensional aspect of this pattern even though the stitches are quite tall,” Sharon explained. Personally, this stitch is breathtaking. When I first saw it, I experienced one of those wonderful moments in which you are mesmerized by a crochet pattern.
Must Have NOW Design – Red Hot Heart
It is clear why this felted pillow made the cover – it is simply fantastic. “In one of my home design magazines I saw an embellished pillow that got me thinking. I liked the idea of using the same color embellishment in a different texture. I first tried the spiral rope in a traditional heart shape, but the asymmetrical version gives the pillow a big jolt in personality,” remarked Sharon.
For those who are anxious to give felting a try but who still feel a bit apprehensive about the technique, Sharon shared some great advice. “I can understand why felting seems intimidating – you invest a lot of time making something and then aren’t sure how it will look when it comes out of the washing machine. My best advice is to felt your swatch. You may find that it shrinks more in one dimension than in the other, which is important to know,” she cautioned. “You’ll also learn that you can felt something multiple times if it doesn’t get small enough the first time. Fortunately, pillows are very forgiving. You should wait until your project is done before you purchase an insert, so if the felted project comes out a slightly different size than what you expected, it’s not a problem.”
Most Sophisticated – Debonair
“Tunisian net stitch, or full stitch, is very classy. And, of course as far as colors go, it doesn’t get any more sophisticated than black and white! This pillow design reminds me of a tuxedo, with the buttons adding an element of individualism,” she added. I couldn’t agree more and have already starting shopping for the perfect set of buttons.
This pillow would make the perfect baby shower gift. In fact, as Sharon reminded me, the pattern serves as a complement to one of her previous designs. “This pillow goes with the Sweet Dreams Baby Blanket I designed for my previous book, Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting. It’s a small project with a lot of impact. I agree that this would make a great gift!”
Perfect Holiday Project – Lovejoy
With St. Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this pillow would make any loved one feel extra special. However, I was fascinated by this design because it serves as a reference to crochet’s historical repertoire. Traditionally, Tunisian crochet was often used as a backdrop for cross-stitch embroidery. In fact, I have many such designs in my antique pattern collection. “Tunisian simple stitch has highly structured horizontal and vertical components, which make it an ideal backdrop for cross-stitch. As you mention, antique patterns often took advantage of this, especially in beautifully embellished afghans,” Sharon added.
Crochet Pillows With Tunisian & Traditional Techniques closes with a befitting discussion on stuffing and closing pillows. Many crocheters turn to fiberfill when packing pillows, however Sharon argues against the use of loose fiberfill in the book and explained to me the other options available for filling pillows. “Maybe it’s the way I stuff my pillows, but when I use fiberfill it always seems to clump up and get lumpy. I would certainly encourage crafters to try whatever pillow filling suits them. I used hypoallergenic synthetic inserts, but something like down could add an element of luxury. You can also have foam pieces cut to size at a craft store. If you are using a prefabricated pillow form, remember that it should be slightly bigger than the outer shell, so that when you stuff your pillow it is nice and full with no floppy areas in the corners or along the sides.”
Crochet Pillows With Tunisian & Traditional Techniques can be purchased online at Amazon or WEBS. To learn more about Sharon as well as her designs and classes, visit www.sharonsilverman.com, or join her on Facebook at Sharon Silverman Contemporary Crochet.
Yesterday the snow and ice did not prevent the mailman from delivering a special treat from Slipped Stitch Studios. A few weeks ago, I contacted Laura Lundy, owner of Slipped Stitch Studios, and explained to this incredible crafty gal that I needed a case for my hand-carved Tunisian crochet hooks. Little did I know that I would become the guinea pig for her latest design.
“I chose your custom order to do this because, as we discussed, you above all wanted to protect your hooks. I currently only have rolls in my shop, and while they are a great organization tool, I am not 100% happy with them because one pocket is visible no matter how you roll it,” explained Laura.
“This new design folds in and will not only organize, but keep your mind at ease because your precious tools will not fall out from this case.”
If you have not visited Slipped Stitch Studios’ Etsy store, you are missing a real treat. It features handy tools for knitters, crocheters, and spinners such as project bags, organizers, pattern solutions, and special gifts. My favorite aspect of Laura’s products is her choice of coordinated fiber-inspired fabric designs – from “Great Balls of Yarn” (which I selected) to “Sock Monkey” to “Do EWE Knit.” Each one puts a smile on my face – and life is too short not to be surrounded by such joy.
Recently Laura unveiled the “miPattern Saver.” This light weight pattern wallet both protects your pattern and keeps your place at the same time. It even stands up, so you don’t have to crook your neck while stitching. It’s pure genius!
I guess I am not the only one who thinks so because Laura is on the cusp of a huge expansion. “I just got back from my first TNNA, and by early spring, I will be in over 33 local yarn shops across the country! I am so excited. I am very serious about the indie movement. Knitting was my gateway drug. It opened my eyes to see what people are doing out there – creating and trying to make a place for themselves, by themselves, not under some corporate lock and key.”
“I do everything I can through other indie artists. If I can use a cottage industry rather than a big business, I will! I think the network of people doing this, like Etsy, is the biggest stepping stone to a whole new way of making a happier living,” continued Laura.
And, a happy living is what Laura seems to be making, indeed. When asked to explain the “story behind the story,” she mentions that she started her business to stay at home with her daughter. “She was born in 2008 and I was laid off during my maternity leave. [So, I decided to make] lemons into lemonade. Now I am pregnant with my son, who is due in April, and I am the most fulfilled I have ever been. It is crazy juggling a family and a business, but if it makes any sense at all – this actually keeps me sane.”
Happy New Year! I still can’t believe how fast the last decade went. It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating the turn of 2000. At the time, I was pregnant with my oldest and it seemed like there were so many great days ahead – the world was our oyster. Now, my oldest is 10, and I sit and wonder where the time has gone. I often lament that I can’t bottle up some of our greatest days. So that when I am down or sad or lonely, I can just open the bottle and be transported back in time instantly. I guess that is why I enjoy scrapbooking and taking photos. It is sort of like putting your memories is a bottle for future use.
Well, I spent New Year’s eve surrounded by my family with a crochet hook in hand. It was rather nice, I must admit. I made a fair bit of progress with the Tunisian Honeycomb Sweater. I have struck a smooth rhythm now with the stitch pattern which makes for great relaxation. I quickly find myself in the zone.
After the stroke of midnight, I whipped out my new yarn, Duchess, and started playing around with my current CAL pattern, the Country Car Coat. I got a thrill finishing the gauge swatch. The yarn works up like pure butter. I love merino and the cashmere and angora add even more softness.
I have to do a lot of customizing with this pattern, though. The yarn I have chosen is thinner than what the pattern calls for and I want to make a size that is not listed. I will say, however, I find all of the math calculations fun and exciting – like putting together a puzzle. Several months ago, I decided to put together a tutorial about customizing patterns after a few folks on Ravelry asked me how I do it. So, I am finally getting to that too (make that a New Years Resolution!) and I hope to post soon. Stay tuned!
Let’s start at the very beginning.
It’s a very good place to start.
When you read, you begin with A, B, C.
When you sing, you begin with Do, Re, Mi.
Yes, I do love the Sound of Music. It is amazing how I can find a song from the musical to fit almost any occasion. And, the start of a new crochet project is the perfect opportunity to hum this little tune, of course.
As I mentioned, yesterday I started the body of the Tunisian Honeycomb Sweater. The back, center ribbing worked up nicely and very quickly – further solidifying my torrid love affair with Tunisian crochet.
Today, I moved on to the rest of the center body piece. The honeycomb effect is beautiful and loads of fun to make. I promise that there will be more pictures to come. Remember, this beautiful, free pattern can be found HERE.
If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times….I love a good story about redemption and the power of love. I just finished watching the movie Crazy Heart and it was amazing. The music was so beautiful and watching Bad Blake’s (Jeff Bridges) slow progression downward and then rise back up again was priceless. At the root of it all, his transition was about love – the love for a little boy and his mom. Love made the character want to change his life. This message is so reaffirming for me. The power of love is unstoppable. A little drop can change someone’s life forever. If we really want to change this world, we have to embrace this notion……one-on-one, touching other’s lives, letting them know they are loved (and I am not talking about romantic love here!) is what the world truly needs. Two thumbs up for Crazy Heart!
And, best of all, I got some great hook time in while watching Jeff Bridge’s masterpiece. The ribbing is done on the back piece of the Tunisian Honeycomb Sweater and I have moved on to the honeycomb stitch pattern. It is amazing what one can accomplish with only two stitches – TSS (Tunisian simple stitch) and TPS (Tunisian purl stitch). Well, I promise to post pictures of my progress tomorrow. Good night!