Blogiversary week of giveaways, Day 4 and FO Friday: Dilated pupil mug hug

You may remember that a few weeks ago I had a comprehensive eye exam and my pupils were dilated.  I could hardly see, but I was in a crocheting mood.  I had just finished a secret project in Galler Yarns Inca Eco (which will soon be available as a free pattern on their blog), so I had a small bit of yarn left.

I decided to try making a broomstick lace mug hug.  I was going on the theory that broomstick lace loops were large enough to (sort of) see with my totally blurred vision, and that I can more or less make a single crochet stitch in my sleep.

It turned out a bit sloppier than my usual work, but it seemed fine enough for a mug hug.

This week I dug through my button collection until I found some that would fit through the broomstick lace “button holes.”

Here's me, with an empty coffee cup. I had to try it on, didn't I?

I love these buttons.

 

I inherited quite a few of them from my grandma and they most recently made an appearance on another finished object of mine.

I finished this woven crochet clutch back in February.

I’m not generally much of a mug hug user, but recently MC has been picking me up some iced tea on Saturdays before I teach my crochet and knit classes.  The cup usually gets pretty “sweaty” so I thought a mug hug might be in order.

Yep, that cup looks much safer now.

You can read more details on my project page on Ravelry.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

 

The giveaway

Going through my button collection reminded me of my nan, who loved to make crochet bears years before anyone in the U.S. had heard the term “amigurumi.”  Today’s giveaway is inspired by her, and is your very own bear making kit!

From Patons pattern booklet 743, "A Bevy of Bears."

This kit (for crocheters or knitters) includes:

  • A gently used A Bevy of Bears pattern booklet,
  • A crochet hook or set of knitting needles (winner’s choice),
  • Some fiber stuffing, and
  • Assorted bear making goodies :).

This giveaway is open to all readers with a mailing address in the U.S.   Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, April 4.

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me whether you prefer to knit or crochet and if you’ve made bears before.
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)

The winner will be chosen at random.

 

Good luck!

Blogiversary week of giveaways, Day 3: Voodoo Maggie’s Adorable Amigurumi

Today I’m reviewing Voodoo Maggie’s Adorable Amigurumi: Cute and Quirky Crocheted Critters by Erin Clark, and I’ll also be hosting a giveaway of my review copy, courtesy of Tuttle Publishing.

Voodoo Maggie’s Adorable Amigurumi is a collection of crocheted amigurumi patterns by Erin Clark, who is also known as Voodoo Maggie.  The book starts with an introduction from Erin that feels very personal.  The next section, Basics, includes the photos with explanations of the basic crochet stitches, crocheting in the round, increasing, decreasing, and tips and tricks.  After this section, there are 18 patterns, each of which includes numerous photographs of the assembly process.

The designs are quite cute and, like most amigurumi patterns, are made with simple stitches which could easily be created by a relative beginner to crochet.  My favorite patterns are Sy Clops, Marcel Monkey, Cal I. Mari, and Bella la Batty.

Erin’s personality is all over this book, and it is pretty clear that there was little editorial intervention from the publisher and that she is a self-taught designer.  This has advantages and disadvantages.  On the plus side, the book is very personal and you feel like you are spending some time crocheting with Erin.  She has a preference for pastels, variegated yarns, and non-traditional colors.  For example, the samples of Lucy the Giraffe are in a pastel variegated yarn, a light green yarn, and a pink yarn.   Erin likes to share step-by-step assembly photos, which could be helpful to a crocheter new to amigurumi assembly.  She enjoys creating set pieces for her finished critter pictures, so you get to see the amigurumi in their “natural habitats.”  Erin has her own shorthand for writing up patterns, which is used throughout the book, and she always includes the approximate amount of yarn you will need in each color by weight (but not by yardage).

On the down side, there is limited punctuation.  For a true beginner, this could lead to confusion in understanding the written instructions in the Basics section.  The photography is very casual.  For example, a critter might be made with a pastel, variegated yarn and posed behind some grass.  The picture of this critter might then be taken at an angle during a sunny day.  Without a photo from the front, and in the absence of photo editing software to adjust the lighting and colors, it can be hard to understand how the final project (especially facial features) should look.  Finally, while Erin’s pattern shorthand is completely consistent throughout the book, it doesn’t follow standard pattern writing conventions.  In general, the writing style and photography make the book seem self-published.

Other comments: I have my standard paperback complaint – the book doesn’t lay flat so you can’t read and crochet at the same time.   If you are already a fan of Voodoo Maggie patterns, the book is more economical than purchasing 18 patterns from her Etsy shop.  If you have the basic crochet stitches down but need a little more guidance for assembly, this book is also a great fit.  If you love to support independent designers (and publishers) and are comfortable with a DIY feel to the book, this would also be a great addition to your amigurumi collection.

Since this is a pattern book and not a technique book, I would recommend that you take a look inside of it before buying to see if you would be likely to make these projects.  If you are shopping online, you could also check out Erin’s Ravelry designer page, the Voodoo Maggie shop on Etsy, or her blog to see her style before deciding whether this book is right for you.

If you are easily irritated by the absence of commas, you should avoid this book altogether :).

 

The giveaway

Since I already have several amigurumi books and I prefer technique books to pattern books anyway, I’m giving away my review copy of Voodoo Maggie’s Adorable Amigurumi.  This giveaway is open to all readers who enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, April 3.

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your experience with crocheted animals.  Need some inspiration?  You can tell me which animals you’ve made, if you’ve received any as gifts, whether you have a favorite crocheted animal designer, whether you prefer to use realistic or fantastic colors…
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)

The winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Blogiversary week of giveaways, Day 2: Projects everywhere!

I had a very productive crocheting and knitting weekend.

First, I picked up my sister’s blanket for the first time in weeks.  I finished all of the borders and the edging.  All told, the blanket has 375 granny squares (3 rounds each), four rounds of gold granny borders, one round of black granny borders, and seven rows of granny stripes on both the right and left side in black.  I finished the entire blanket with a plain black single crochet edging.

This picture is a few weeks old, but you can see the sides are a bit narrow, which is why I added the extra black borders on the right and left.

I estimate that it took me 56 hours to crochet the granny squares (based on timing myself and averaging 9 minutes per square) and about seven hours to finish the borders and edging. But here’s the scary part.  I timed myself weaving in the ends one row at a time.  Any guesses on how long it takes per row?  (Insert dramatic pause while you guess.)

 

FORTY FIVE MINUTES.  Yep.  One full episode of The X-Files on Netflix.  And this blanket has 15 rows.  So all told, I think it is safe to say that I will have spent about 75 hours on this blanket – the equivalent of two full-time weeks at work.  I will definitely be including a priceless parody gift card when I present this blanket to my sister!

My little broomstick lace project from last week now has the ends woven in but I haven’t made a decision about which buttons to add yet.  I have such a large button collection (inherited from my grandma) that I sometimes get overwhelmed by choice!

I am almost finished with the knit beanie I started during Knit and Crochet Design Week.

I've started decreasing. I've been trying it on and I may have to keep this one for me.

This has been a fun project because I’m working on it along with the students in my Saturday knitting classes.  I will probably wait until Saturday to pick it up again.

As for reading, I’ve only finished one more chapter in The Girl Who Played with Fire.  I’ve been at work late a lot this week so I haven’t had as much reading time as I would like.  I definitely need to finish it soon because my loan from the library ends on Sunday, and it will magically disappear from my Kindle Fire whether or not I’ve read it!

For more WIP Wednesday posts, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.

 

And now, on to today’s giveaway…

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may know that I live in a New York City sized apartment and have pretty substantial collections of yarn and needlecraft books.  Every time I find a super awesome book, I have to get rid of another slightly less awesome book to create space on my bookshelf.  Since one of my WIPs today is the beanie I designed, I thought this would be a good time to give away my gently used copy of Design Your Own Knits in 5 Easy Steps by Debbie Abrahams.  It got bumped off the bookshelf once Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments that Really Fit rocked my world (review here).

This giveaway is open to all readers who enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Monday, April 2.  To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your design process.  Have you ever designed your own project or have you been following patterns faithfully?  (Please, do answer this question.  Otherwise I won’t know if you are just stopping by to talk about my current projects without entering the giveaway.)
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)

The winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Blogiversary week of giveaways, Day 1: Happy Cute by Annie Obaachan

Today, I’m reviewing Happy Cute: 25 Amigurumi Celebration Gifts to Make by Annie Obaachan and hosting a giveaway of my review copy, courtesy of Barron’s Educational Books.  This seemed like a great book to kick off my week of giveaways, because it is very celebratory!

I’m a big fan of Obaachan’s Amigurumi Animals (reviewed here), which is a great design primer.  I’ll admit that I was worried this book would just include a bunch of patterns with limited design information.  I was pleasantly surprised by the contents.

Summary:

25 celebratory amigurumi patterns along with tips and tricks for creating amigurumi projects.

 

Organization:

  • Cute, Cute, Cute: Welcome to the Wonderful World of Amigurumi (Introduction)
  • Tools and Materials
  • Reading Patterns
  • Crochet Techniques (illustrated)
  • Finishing Off
  • Creating Happy Gifts
  • Chapter 1: Happy Holidays
  • Chapter 2: Love and Romance
  • Chapter 3: Springtime is Here!
  • Chapter 4: Party Time!
  • Chapter 5: Congratulations
  • Index and Resources

 

What I like about this book:

  • The introduction, which explains the Japanese cultural/historical context that led to the emergence of amigurumi as an art form.
  • The “Making Shapes” section, which provides instructions on how to create various 2D and 3D shapes in crochet, including discs, teardrops, balls, rectangles and squares, rectangles with curved corners, and rhombii.
  • The pattern instructions, which include both written directions and international stitch symbols.
  • The directions for “making up” each project (assembly), which are very detailed and also include structure diagrams.
  • The tips in the crochet techniques section, which include illustrated instructions for the “magic ring.”

 

What I didn’t like about this book, or what’s missing:

  • There is no yardage listed for the patterns.  (A typical instruction would be “Red (yarn) for the nose.”)  This makes it hard to assess whether you have enough scrap yarn for a particular pattern.
  • The book is a paperback and doesn’t lay flat, so it is difficult to read and crochet at the same time.
  • Some of the gift ideas seem to be a real stretch.  For example, a pattern for corn on the cob with a vegetable kebab, while cute, doesn’t seem to me like a “gift to celebrate (a) special occasion.”  (I should say that I don’t have an outdoor grill.  Perhaps if I did, the start of the grilling season would be significant enough to warrant amigurumi kebab gifts.)  This doesn’t impact my interest in the patterns, but it does mean that some of the projects don’t seem to fit with the theme of the book.

 

Favorite patterns:

  • New Year Dragon (for Chinese New Year)
  • Big Heart Bear and Red, Red Rose (for Valentine’s Day or anniversary)
  • Dancing Daffodils (for spring)
  • Great Job (for promotion)

 

Summary:

Happy Cute is more than just an amigurumi pattern book.  It shares some of the context for amigurumi in Japan, along with design tips and crochet techniques.  The ideal reader is interested in learning more about crochet design, loves amigurumi, and/or likes to make cute, crochet gifts.  The book is clearly written, so it would be appropriate for a beginner with some basic crochet skills. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

 

The Giveaway!

This giveaway is open to all readers who enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, April 1.  To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about crochet gifts.  What are your favorite to make, receive, or give?
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)

The winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Blogiversary week of giveaways!

It was just a year ago today that I finally gathered up the nerve to start this blog.  (You can read my first tentative post here.)  Since then, I’ve made some great internet friends, learned a lot about using WordPress, and have pushed my own boundaries in crochet, knitting, and photography.

To celebrate my blogiversary, and to thank all of my readers, I’ll be hosting a giveaway every day for the next week!

As each giveaway goes live, I will update this post with the link, so check back for details!  And thanks so much for your support during the past year.

 

Day 1:  Happy Cute: 25 Amigurumi Celebration Gifts to Make by Annie Obaachan (enter by April 1)

Day 2: Design Your Own Knits in 5 Easy Steps by Debbie Abrahams (enter by April 2)

Day 3: Voodoo Maggie’s Adorable Crochet: Cute and Quirky Crocheted Critters by Erin Clark (enter by April 3)

Day 4: Crochet or Knit Bear Making Kit (enter by April 4)

Day 5: Knitter’s Handbook by Montse Stanley (enter by April 5)

Day 6: Manga Cross-Stitch: Make Your Own Graphic Art Needlework by Helen McCarthy (enter by April 6)

Day 7: Tunisian Crochet Kit (enter by April 7)