Monthly Archives: August 2011

WIP Wednesday – And baby makes four

Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for the Fall, 2011 KnitCircus PDF pattern collection by visiting this post.  I’ve reached over 100 Facebook fans, so I’ll be giving away two issues! And don’t forget that KnitCircus is hosting quite a few giveaways during the next few weeks on their blog, their Facebook page, and their Ravelry group.

This week I’m in major project planning mode.

Baby blankets are some of my favorite things to make – all the fun of making a blanket but with less work ;) and they actually tend to get used and loved.  One of MC’s best friends and his wife are expecting their second child.  They don’t have a registry up (do people do that for the second child?) but I remember that for their first child they had a strong preference for organics and cotton fibers.  I was contemplating making a variation of my sunshine blanket in one color.

The Sunshine blanket and pillow in Issue 20 (August, 2011) of Inside Crochet.

Another option would be a motif project.  They are just so much more portable and I do a lot of crocheting on the subway.  But if you survived my hexagon baby blanket project, you know I will complain plenty, even though it always ends up being worth it.  I love hexagons but squares are fun, too.  The third option is to use the same pattern I did for their first child, which was basically a large granny square.  A final option would be a one piece in stripes.  (A ripple, perhaps?)  I have really been wanting to use Biscuits and Jam‘s Random Stripe Generator since I learned about it through the Ravelry Afghans & Blankets group. For yarn, I was considering Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton.

Some gender neutral color possibilities from Blue Sky Alpacas.

What do you think?

Other projects in the works:

  • I have five pattern tests going on Ravelry.
  • I’m working on a crochet-a-long/crochet school idea for the fall, inspired by the Quilt Class 101 by Chasing Cottons.  If you’d like to join, I’m still taking ideas for subjects to cover :).

For more awesome WIP Wednesday posts, check out Tami’s Amis!

Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class – Tunisian Crochet

This post contains affiliate links.

This post is part of my Year of Projects: Crochet Master Class series.  You can find my other posts in this series here.

You may have noticed that for the last two weeks (this post and this post), I have not been posting any updates about my project.  I must confess that I could not sustain my interest in the filet crochet :(.  I thought that making a filet project using a phrase that I liked, rather than using an existing pattern, would keep me interested.  Since I haven’t finished the filet project, I’ve felt like I shouldn’t continue on to another chapter.

But I decided to re-read my initial post kicking off the project yesterday, looking for inspiration.  I realized that I must have anticipated my lack of persistence with certain techniques because I said

So what I plan to do is work through each chapter with a project (large or small)…For some techniques, I may just work up a swatch, and for others I have a large project planned.

I’m glad I gave myself an “out” ;).

So today I’m moving on to Tunisian crochet, which is actually one of my favorite techniques. In Crochet Master Class, Julia Bryant is the featured crochet master.  She converted her first Tunisian project from an afghan pattern into a poncho because it was “too beautiful to be used as a blanket.”  That first experience inspired her to start designing, since there were limited patterns available for Tunisian crochet.  Although there has been much more interest in Tunisian crochet in the last few years, at times it still feels like the red-headed stepchild of crochet (no offense to red heads or step-children).

I’ll be teaching intro classes on Tunisian crochet at the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival and the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival in September, so I’m focused on making class samples and writing up handouts.  I haven’t been able to take good pictures of my work since I’m staying indoors because of Irene but I will be starting up tests of the patterns I will be using in these classes in the next few days.  If you’re interested in helping out with a pattern test, let me know!

You can find more Year of Projects updates here.

How is your year of projects going?

Review: Nuno Magazine

Recently, I learned about Nuno magazine through an interview with its creators on the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog.  I contacted Elizabeth at Nuno to request a review copy to feature on my blog.

If you’re a Gen X child of the ’80s/’90s like me, you probably have fond memories of awesome ‘zines from your teen years and early ’20s (as well as even more awesome memories of how you got your hands on these underground mags).  Nuno really evokes that DIY ‘zine feel – in a good way.  It doesn’t at all feel or look “polished” like other craft e-magazine such as KnitCircus or Tangled. This doesn’t mean that the magazine isn’t professionally presented and amazing eye candy, though!  Nuno is actually a real treat for the eyes and includes probably at least 60 full page color photographs in each issue that I’ve seen.

The cover of the current issue, Painted Dessert.

I would describe Nuno magazine as a self-contained art project with a collection of craft recipes included in its pages to inspire other artisans/readers.  This is in contrast to what you may be used to seeing in other craft magazines, which are typically structured around editorial features (e.g., reviews, “how to” articles) and project/pattern directions.  There is no advertising of any kind in Nuno, which adds to the art project feel.  Each issue has a theme (e.g., Forest, Shades of Gray) and includes lush photographs and illustrations highlighting the theme.  At various points, project pictures are injected.  Patterns and instructions are at the end of the magazine.

A knitting project from the Summer 2011 issue.

Nuno is entirely produced by just three contributors, who do all the writing, photography, and project design.  There is a clear emphasis on an eco-friendly lifestyle, with most projects made using upcycled or repurposed materials.  This leads to a certain consistency since most magazines have many voices with contributions from multiple designers and authors and an editor.  On the other hand, Nuno‘s project directions are rather informal and there doesn’t appear to be a style guide, so instructions are not always consistent from one issue to the next.  In other words, the artistic vision is obvious and uniform throughout each issue, but the project instructions are more casual and varied than you might expect from a magazine.

The cover of the Fall, 2010 issue, Forest.

There is also quite a range of craft projects, including sewing, knitting, crochet, paper crafts, painting, stamping, papier-mache, etc., in each issue.  At over 150 pages long, Nuno is quite a value for $5.

Wrist warmers from “reclaimed wool yarn” in the Forest issue.

So who would love Nuno magazine?  If you find inspiration from natural photography and artwork, if you are concerned about your carbon footprint, if you are a fan of the indie ‘zine ethos, if you enjoy reading on your computer/tablet, if you are proficient in (or enjoy making things in) a few different crafts, and/or you are the type of person who never follows a pattern exactly but likes to see one to get your creative juices flowing, you will probably really enjoy Nuno.  If you are a newbie and/or tend to follow patterns very exactly, you may find the instructions in Nuno a bit free flowing for your tastes.  Also, if you are someone who must have a physical copy, you will probably not like Nuno.  With over 150 pages of (mostly) full color, high resolution images, it would be impossible to print out cost efficiently at home.

If you are multi-craftual, I definitely recommend picking up a copy, especially if you are interested in that issue’s theme.  Thanks to the folks at Nuno for providing me with access to review copies of their Summer, 2011 and Fall, 2010 issues!

Full disclosure: Free electronic review samples of this product were provided by Nuno. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. You can read my complete review disclosure here.

F.O. Friday – Heart Hat

Over the weekend, I was really under the weather.  I basically stayed in bed all day Saturday until at some point I got bored.  I decided to pick up the beautiful Shetland yarn I won from the Chopped Tomatoes giveaway.  I had just posted my interview with Machelle Salmeen, the creative force behind Chopped Tomatoes, so the yarn was calling out to me.

Using the yarn, I worked up this hat with a heart shaped out of bobbles.  Then on Sunday, I took a short walk over to Riverside Park to take some pictures.  You know that feeling when you are still sick and even a block or two makes you feel unsteady on your feet and like you need to sleep for a few hours?  That’s the feeling I had taking these pictures :).

You can see the heart shape best in this picture.

I love this yarn!

I am not too sure that I love the final hat, but it definitely was a good project to keep me from getting cabin fever while I was sick.

Did you finish anything this week?  Check out Tami’s Amis for links to many other Finished Object Friday posts.

WIP Wednesday – Patterns galore

This week, I took two big steps in my design career – I started pattern testing and I started my own group on Ravelry.  Let me backtrack a bit here first.  Since I started formally writing up my designs last year, I’ve had several patterns published in print magazines.

Stocking caps, in Crochet World’s December, 2010 issue.  Photo (c) House of White Birches

Snowball hat and keyhole scarf set, also in the December, 2010 issue of Crochet World. Photo (c) House of White Birches

The Sunshine blanket and pillow in Issue 20 (August, 2011) of Inside Crochet.  Photo (c) Inside Crochet

Today marks the first day that I’ve had a pattern published in an online magazine.  I can finally share that my broomstick lace shawl, Quadrilateral, is included in the Fall, 2011 issue of Knitcircus. This is the top secret project I mentioned in these posts (#1, #2, #3) and which I can finally show you.

(c) KnitCircus

(c) KnitCircus

I love the way the outdoor photographs look.   The pictures really highlight the beauty of the yarn, Heather by the Schaefer Yarn Company in the Subtly Solid Botanicals Thistle colorway.  Working on Quadrilateral was my first opportunity to work with Schaefer Yarn, and I’m so glad Jaala Spiro (the editor of KnitCircus) recommended it!  The yarn is so lovely to work with and the colorway really highlights all of my favorite things about purple :).  The issue goes live today and I have the opportunity to give away PDFs of several issues.  But more about that later…

So my work in progress for this week is getting some patterns “up to snuff” for self-publication.  When you work with a publisher, they hire people to tech edit your designs, photograph your work, and layout the pattern.  (Often they also arrange for yarn support and handle the questions that readers have about your pattern, too!)  On the other hand, when you self-publish a pattern, you have two options.  You can just write up a pattern and publish it without testing, editing, or considering layout, or you can try to replicate all of the functions of the publishing company in addition to your own design work.

I’ve been teaching crochet since 2007, and I decided that I didn’t want to be one of the designers who just presents their work to the public, warts and all.  I didn’t want to be one of the designers that have people convinced they don’t know how to read patterns (when actually the pattern is full of errors).  So I hired a tech editor and when the patterns were returned to me, I started pattern testing.

I was lucky to find a great group on Ravelry called the Testing Pool.  Through this group I have found thirteen very nice crocheters who are each working on one or two of the three patterns I’m testing right now for a fall release.  Two of these patterns are in the Crochet: 100+ Patterns Throughout the Year: 2012 Day-to-Day Calendar and one has never been released.  The pattern tests are working great so far.  The testers have found typos, made suggestions for layout, and identified phrasing which could be unclear or confusing.

Managing all these tests on email has been a bit challenging, since I’m trying to link up (in my mind) people to their Ravelry IDs.  So I decided I would also start an Underground Crafter group on Ravelry.  This could be used for pattern testing, crochet a longs, info on upcoming classes, and other cool stuff that I have yet to imagine.

What are you working on this week?  Check out the other WIP Wednesday posts at Tami’s Amis!

The Giveaway

Here’s your chance to win a PDF of the patterns in the Fall, 2011 issue of KnitCircus!   This issue includes 27 crochet and knit patterns, as well as all of the other goodies KnitCircus is known for like recipes, articles, and reviews.  If you’re not familiar with KnitCircus, you should check it out.  Much of the content is available for free, and you can see awesome photos of each pattern before you make a choice about whether or not to buy an issue.  You can also buy individual patterns through their pattern shop.