Year of Projects, Year 2: Laying low

I was hoping to have an exciting post about the Maker Faire for you, but I got sick yesterday so I’m staying home today instead.   I’m feeling much better (I actually cancelled the first day of my DC37 knitting classes yesterday) but I’m still not completely recovered.  I actually don’t have anything for my YOP update, either.

With no update and not healthy enough to run around doing a quick project, I thought I’d share the details of some upcoming classes I’m teaching.

Next weekend, I’ll be at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival in Ridgewood, New Jersey.  You can register for workshops online here.  I’m teaching Knitting in the Round on Circular Needles, Knitting Cables 101, Knooking: Knitting with a Crochet Hook, and Bullion Stitch (crochet). This is a really fun little festival and they’ve expanded this year.  There are a lot of great indie dyers and yarnies there selling their wares, so I’ve saved up a little yarn budget for myself in between classes.

And, in November, I plan on traveling to the famous John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina to teach two crochet classes.  Beginning Crochet is a week long class where we’ll learn all the basics of crochet while working on a sampler, and we’ll also have some fun trying out Kool Aid dyeing and making t-shirt yarn.  Textured Crochet is a weekend class where we’ll dive into dimensional stitches like popcorns, bullions, bobbles, and post stitches.

I hope to meet some of you in person at one of these events!

For more Year of Projects posts, visit Come Blog-a-long on Ravelry.

FO Friday: September Charity De-stash

This week, I finally finished a project I’ve been talking about since last year:  I donated 4,170 yards of synthetic yarn that I had no plans of using to charities.  (That’s the equivalent of about 11.5 skeins of Red Heart Super Saver, in case you need a visual.)

I’ve been participating in the Surmount the Stash challenge all year, and every month I’ve said that I would try to find a local charity to donate some unloved yarn to, but I never got around to it.  A few weeks ago, I was looking for some things in my stash and realized just how much space was taken up by yarn I never plan to use.  I went online and found that a local hospital‘s crochet and knitting group accepted donations.  After emailing the coordinator, I found that they would take any acrylic or acrylic blend yarns that are machine washable, and I started packing a bag.

On Monday, I delivered a 3,637 yard donation to the Roosevelt Yarnies.  This included:

An assortment of the yarns included in the donation to Roosevelt Yarnies.

I also included some extra hooks and needles that I had on hand.

With a little searching on Ravelry, I discovered that there was in fact a charity that would accept novelty yarns.  That is how I ended up sending Knitters and Crocheters Care 5 full and several partial skeins of Bernat Boa (533 yards).

Yes, I did donate 7-1/2 skeins. I already used a bunch, of what I initially had if you can believe it.

I’m really glad that these yarns could find a purpose elsewhere.  I bought these when I was buying anything in the world that was on sale.  Since participating in Surmount the Stash and the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge,  I’ve been looking at my yarn (and other things in my life) much differently.

For the first time in years, all of my synthetic and synthetic blend yarns fit into one plastic tub, and my entire yarn stash fits into my plastic tubs.  (Previously, I always had a bag or box with yet more yarn that couldn’t fit anywhere else stuffed in a closet or on the floor.)  I’ve also reduced my collection by the equivalent of an entire plastic tub in just a month.  Now, I can actually find the yarns I want to use to make something fun!  Wow.

For more Finished Objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Juanita Quinones

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m interviewing Juanita Quinones, also known as BoricuaCrochet, a crocheter I met on Ravelry who is also a crochet tech editor.  Originally from Puerto Rico, Juanita moved to the mainland U.S. about 20 years ago and now lives in Pennsylvania.  Her projects can be found on Ravelry here.  All pictures are used with her permission.

BoricuaCrochet's version of #15 Lace Pullover by Dora Ohrenstein. (Click for project page.)

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet?

Juanita: My journey began by watching a neighbor making doilies when I was about six years old. After that, I picked up a stitch dictionary, Mon Tricot Knitting Dictionary Stitches Patterns Knitting & Crochet, that my mother had and learned each of the stitches. It is my preferred stitch dictionary, and I do still keep that copy. I always wanted to make wearable projects. I remember and still have my first poncho done when I was 13 years old. (UC comment: Wow, that’s impressive!  As much as I love stitch dictionaries, I’ve never worked my way entirely through one.)

UC: Can you tell us about your involvement with the Home work project through the Cyber Crochet chapter of the Crochet Guild of America?

Juanita: This group has taken the task of creating samples of the patterns provided in the Home work publication that is available online.  (UC comment: I love the full title of this book – Home work: a choice collection of useful designs for the crochet and knitting needle, also, valuable recipes for the toilet.  It was published in 1891 and is now in the public domain.)

It is a collection of vintage patterns of stitches, motifs, edgings, insertions, and other patterns both in knit and crochet. We are making the crochet samples. I’ve taken the task of coordinating these efforts and adding the patterns to Ravelry with pictures from several volunteers. We hope to have the samples available for display at one of the future CGOA conferences. We hope they inspire crocheters and designers alike to incorporate in future projects.  It is always better when you have a picture of what these patterns look like. It is a big project and we have completed about a third of the samples.  (UC comment: Thanks for your work on this great project which has benefits for the entire crochet community!)


BoricuaCrochet's Mikado Lace, from Home work. (Click for project page.)

UC: You are a crochet tech editor. For my readers who don’t know, can you explain what a tech editor is and tell us how you got started tech editing?

Juanita: In a nutshell, a tech editor revises patterns from designers in an attempt to make them error-free before they are published. The tech editor makes sure the pattern is accurate and complete in how it uses the correct abbreviations, follows standards, and/or provides explanation for new or uncommon stitches used. We don’t need to make the item to know when something is missing, needs more clarification, or needs consistency.


I don’t know why – perhaps because of my mathematical background and/or experience writing technical documents – but it has always been easy to identify when a pattern has an error. Always, I’ve sent the comment(s) to the publisher and/or designer. It was after submitting several corrections that a well-known designer influenced me to pursue the career.


UC: Tell us about the crochet scene in Puerto Rico.

Juanita: There are a lot of artisans in Puerto Rico that work with thread, in what is called “Mundillo” (a bobbin lace). There are only a few yarn stores in Puerto Rico. There are classes offered by different groups for both knit and crochet, but they are scarce.  My passion for the craft increased when I moved to the States about 19 years ago as there were more yarns readily available.

I don’t think there is rivalry amongst crocheters and knitters in Puerto Rico. I think most learn to do both even when they prefer one or the other. Like I prefer crochet and my mother prefers knitting, but we know both.


BoricuaCrochet's Prim Wheel Lace from Home work. (Click for project page.)

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?

Juanita: I think my cultural background influenced the type of yarn that I prefer to work with. I prefer to crochet with cotton, bamboo, linen, or silk, but not wool (although at times I do use wool for felting). Since we don’t have changes in seasons, I do prefer colorful yarns all the time, and not according to seasons.


UC: What are some of your favorite Spanish or English language craft blogs to share?

Juanita: I prefer to read from the groups available in Ravelry. There are only a few blogs that I read, for example, Laughing Purple Goldfish Designs and Jimmy Beans Wool.  I also like the Talking Crochet newsletter and Crochet Insider.


Thank you so much for stopping by to share your experiences with us, BoricuaCrochet! 

Holiday Stashdown Challenge, Week 20

(Join along with me any time if you need a head start or moral support for your holiday crafting.  You can read more details here.)

I didn’t finish any holiday projects this week, but I did crochet 4 hexagons for the Vintage Hexagon Christmas Stocking I’m making for my grandfather.

I’m hoping to pick up the hat I was working on a few weeks ago and finish it before next week’s post!  If I finish a project each week, I should be back on track to complete all my holiday projects early and stress free by mid-November.  I set that deadline in case I need to do some holiday shopping for anyone I couldn’t make a gift for in time.

How is your holiday crafting coming?  Feel free to share your progress on your personal holiday gift making journey in the comments!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Vanessa Laven

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.


I’m thrilled to interview blogger Vanessa Laven today.  Vanessa was actually the first person I interviewed on my blog and I’m a regular read of her own wonderful blog, Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts.  Vanessa is also Cuban-American and from the NYC area, so I feel a strong connection to a lot of the stories that she shares about growing up and her family life.  In addition to her blog, you can find Vanessa online on Ravelry, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter.

Vanessa Laven in one of her knit cowls. (Click for blog post.)

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to knit, crochet, and embroider?

Vanessa: My mother had taught me how to knit but it never really stuck, ditto for crocheting. I picked up the Klutz book about crochet and suddenly it clicked with me. I fell in love and I joined a Stitch n Bitch group. I decided to give knitting another try and this time my mom’s advice stuck. My sister, Maritza, taught me how to embroider when I was in the fourth grade but again, it never really stuck. My mom kept nagging me to not embroider all the time because it would ruin my eye sight, so I dropped it. In college, I bought Jenny Hart’s book and kit and this time it stuck. I embroidered a bunch of doodles on to a pair of old jeans and while it looked super cool, I never wore them after that. Plus my hands were killing me. I didn’t know at the time that I should have used a better needle!


Vanessa's multi-crafty Frida Kahlo doll. (Click for blog post.)

UC: You are multi-craftual. What is your favorite “go to” craft these days?

Vanessa: I find my knitting to be the most portable project, so it’s the one I do the most often. While I do like to crochet, I find that sometimes my crochet stitches end up coming undone if I try to tote it around with me. Plus, I have to look where I’m crocheting. I knit so much that I can do it by feel now, which has become a “party trick” of mine. I once managed to play Texas Hold ‘em Poker and knit at the same time. It was less impressive than it sounds because I really don’t know how to play poker all that well. Embroidery has become a sort of “in between projects” project, mostly because I tend to make much smaller pieces. Plus, it satisfies that part of me that still likes to color in coloring books.


Vanessa's Lily Owl. (Click for blog post.)

UC: We both have parents who were born and raised in Cuba.  Tell us a bit about your background and the crafting scene at that time.

Vanessa: I grew up in Union City, NJ. At one point, Union City was called “Havana on the Hudson” because we had more Cubans living here than in Havana. (UC comment: Yes, this is where most of my Cuban extended family lives!) When I was growing up, I would say that 98% of my classmates were Hispanic. We had a few Indian and Egyptian students but they were the exception rather than the rule. I don’t remember many people outside of my family crafting, but there were a few businesses advertising hand painted signs. My niece Olivia took a bunch of photos of these signs.

Apparently, most of them have been taken down. I love the look of the lettering but I’ve never really seen them outside of the greater NYC area.  (UC comment: Olivia has a great website of her own here.) 

My town does have an interesting crafty history. Starting in the late 1880s up until the 1990s, there were tons of embroidery factories. My parents worked a few, actually, particularly during the Viet Nam war. The factory they worked at made military insignias like company badges and rank stripes. They would take the big sheets of these home to cut out and got paid for so many that they cut.

My mom also worked in clothing factories. It’s where and how she learned to sew. My father was part of the book binder’s union thanks to one of the places he worked at. He later stopped factory work and became the superintendent of the buildings we lived in. He wasn’t the best handyman but I think part of him really enjoyed it. He used to build and set up model trains and also enjoyed photography, though he was terrible at it.




Vanessa's Featherweight Cardigan. (Click for blog post.)

UC: Tell us about your blog. How did you get started blogging?

Vanessa: My husband bought a “Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts” t-shirt for me and thought the name would make a great blog for me. I had just finished up chemo two months before and I needed an outlet. He encouraged me to blog about the things I made during treatment. I was really shy about it at first but I quickly dove in. I had a Live Journal account for years so the idea of blogging wasn’t new to me. I’m glad that I listened to hubby because I love to blog like this! It’s given me both an outlet and a sense of purpose which is what I needed especially so soon after being so sick. (UC comment: I’m glad you listened to him, too, because your blog has a really unique perspective to offer!)


Vanessa's hexipuffs. (Click for blog post.)

UC: You share some of your personal life, including your experience as a cancer survivor and posts about your family, on your blog.  A lot of crafty bloggers struggle with how much is enough/too much to share of your personal life.  How do you find the balance between being part of a community and maintaining your privacy?

Vanessa: I try to keep my personal stories focused on either crafting or cancer. With my cancer experience, I felt best to share the good, the bad and the really ugly because I wasn’t prepared for most of what happened. And if I felt that way, chances are good that someone else does and hopefully I can better prepare them.

I do share a lot about my family’s history partly because I think it’s a unique story, particularly how my parents met. And it’s the easiest way to share with the rest of my family since we’re all around the world at this point. Thanks to Facebook, lots of cousins and uncles (my father’s half brothers) are coming out of the woodwork and finding us. Most of them are still in Cuba but a few are in Miami and Venezuela. My mother’s family are in Cuba but do have internet access so it’s been nice to share with them as well. I’ve often thought about turning some of their stories into a novel, so I try to write those entries as creatively as possible. I also feel like everyone has a great story. Hopefully, I can encourage other people to put the tales of the past down on paper to preserve them. I do regret that I didn’t get more memories out of my father before he passed away.


Vanessa's Wurm Hat for Olivia. (Click for blog post.)

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting?  If so, how?

Vanessa: I’m not sure if I can say that there is a direct influence, but it certainly is a passive influence. Whenever I pick up my needles (be it to knit or sew or crochet) I feel like I’m part of the past. My mother remembers that her mother, sister, and later, her step-mother, would spend time making bobbin lace when they weren’t busy making clothing for the family. Her friends tell me that they were all taught to knit socks before they were taught the alphabet!  My parents didn’t have a lot of schooling (my mother left school around the 4th grade and my father the 6th) but they both learned trades. My mother’s was more domestic (making clothing for the family and housewares and how to cook) but my father was a cobbler. I think about them when I’m working away and I laugh. What today is considered “hip” and “novel” and “crafty” was, once upon a time, part of a normal education. I remember trying to sign up for Home Ec in High School only to be told that they changed the class format. It was now a parenting class for the girls (and boys) who were expecting. I’m very sad to hear that this isn’t something that was unique to my public school system. If we bring back these skills, I’m sure we’ll see an overall increase in math and reading scores. (UC comment: I agree, Vanessa. We use math all the time in the needlecrafts!)



Some of Vanessa's embroidery. (Click for blog post.)

UC: You recently moved to Hermitage, Tennessee from the Northeast.  What’s the crafting scene like down there?  Do you have any favorite spots to share?

Vanessa: I’ve noticed that quilting tends to be a lot more popular in the South. I’ve been able to find more fabric shops than local yarn stores. Also, the big box stores like Joann’s tend to rule. Since I’m not really a quilter, it’s been difficult for me to find my niche.



Vanessa's childhood kung-fu ID card. (Click for blog post.)


UC: One of the things that’s unique about your blog is your combination of needlecrafts with martial arts and self-defense.  (One of my favorite guest posts on your blog is by Packing Pretty.  Thanks for introducing me to someone who so stylishly conceals weapons for personal protection!)  Tell us about your interest in martial arts.


Vanessa: I started martial arts when I was in the first grade. My parents put me in ballet and I hated it. Then they tried tap dancing and I hated that, too. The last thing on their list was the kung-fu studio that was near. My brother had taken lessons with Sifu Vizzio and suggested that they sign me up. They did and I loved it! I was finally in training to become a Ninja Turtle. Unfortunately, I had to stop thanks to homework overload but I always carried that regret. I tried some other styles as an adult but it wasn’t the same. I missed Sifu and I missed Fu Jow Pai.


For me, martial arts helps me relax and focus on my goals. The philosophical aspect of it has also spoken deeply to me. I’m not sure I’ve discovered the meaning of life but it’s helped me really think about what I’m doing here. I come out of class feeling like I’ve honed both my body and my mind and I’ve got them working together.

UC: What are some of your favorite Spanish or English language craft blogs to share?
Vanessa: In Spanish, I love Che Crochet. She’s an Argintine crocheter and makes some really nice stuff. Of course, I also have to mention FreshStitches as an English crochet counterpart. Stacey’s designs are fun and really modern. Mighty Distractable also makes me feel better for having a thousand interests and a short attention span.

I also read Craftzine to keep up to date on the latest crafting news. And I love to listen to CraftLit while I’m busy. Heather Ordover is a great hostess and knitwear designer in her own right. She’ll be starting Jane Eyre (my favorite book), which has wonderful knitting references, in October. I think I’ll work on something lacey and fancy while I listen.


UC: What’s next for Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts?
Vanessa: I do have some pieces in the works of my own. I’m currently designing a cancer awareness hat that should be released in November. And I’ve got some more book reviews and tutorials in the pipeline so keep your eyes peeled in the next few weeks! I’m not quite sure what next year has in store for Mixed Martial Arts and Crafts, but I’m always open to suggestions.


Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story, Vanessa!

Year of Projects, Year 2: Therapeutic

I guess that crocheted motifs are my go to project when I’m feeling stressed, which is how I managed to finish 9 during another busy week.


My running total of grannies for charity is now 25, so I have 27 more to go.  Let me tell you a little about these squares.

1) First up is my version of the Rosebud Square from 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet by Betty Barnden.  The center is actually the block from the book, but to get it up to 12″, I added several additional rounds.  I think the block would look best in one sold color, as it is in the book, but I ran short on that color while crocheting.

2) This is my version of Squaring the Big Circle by Kate Jenks, and 3) is Puff Pastry, a great block by Donna Kay Lacey, who I interviewed a few months back.  I used up plenty of little yarn bits in my version.

4) Here’s another great pattern by Donna Kay Lacey called Bubblegum.  I had a moment of fear when it looked like I ran out of the yarn in the last row, but I was able to find another scrap in hiding to finish off my block.

5) This square is a variation of Precious by Julie Yeager.  I’ve been seeing a lot of her blocks popping up in my friend updates on Ravelry, so I thought I’d give it a try.  6) Then I got creative and designed my own block!  I’m working on a new version now that should clean up the pattern a bit.

7) By this point in the week, I thought I’d try something a little different.  I decided to look for a pattern that was in my collection but didn’t have a picture posted on Ravelry.  Of course, that meant that my version couldn’t have modifications, so this one is straight from the pattern: Square 17 by Colleen Gilbert from Contest Favorites Afghan Squares.

8) I also followed the pattern very exactly for Pineapples by James G. Davis from 50 Fabulous Crochet Squares.  The pineapple effect would have been visible if I used a solid yarn, but I’m glad I took the chance to use up as much of this variegated yarn as possible.

9) Finally, I tried to add another picture to Ravelry’s pattern database by making my version of the Owl Granny Square by Sarah Zimmerman.  Normally, I wouldn’t have made this block because I always think of owls as being harbingers of death rather than cutesy craft motifs.  It turns out that Sarah’s the only editor on Rav so I can’t add the picture to the pattern database anyway :(.  Any suggestions on what to do with this block?  I sort of feel weird donating it to charity because it has buttons which present a potential choking hazard…

That’s it for me this week.  I wish I could say that I think next week will be more peaceful, but I’m sure it will be equally rushed.  Most likely, that means you will see more grannies from me!

For more Year of Projects posts, visit Come Blog-a-long on Ravelry.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series: Angele Lumiere

This post is part of my 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month interview series.

Today, I’m very excited to interview Spanish crochet designer and blogger, Angele Lumiere.  You may have seen Angele’s designs on her Ravelry page or her French/Spanish bilingual blog, Le flux de la creativite.  You can also find Angele online on Ravelry, on Artabus, or in her DaWanda shop, L’Atelier d’Angele.  All images are used with Angele’s permission.

Angele Lumiere with some crocheted goodies.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet?

Angele: Some of my earliest memories related to wool and crochet are of a small yarn store near my house.  There my mother bought wool for various knit clothing. The saleswoman helped her with knitting since she was not an expert. I keep fondly a red wool skirt from when I was 6 or 7 years old.

My mother taught me to crochet when I was 10.  My mother was taught by her ​​grandmother. I remember making dresses for our dolls together with my cousin.  Little by little, I taught myself more.  With some 1980s crochet magazines, I learned the symbols and how to interpret the charts.

Another woman was important, too – my husband’s grandmother.  She was a crochet expert who had worked for a textile company in the 1930s, crocheting garments. We shared our passion for crochet, and learned and shared many things together.

When I was a college student, and then, when I started working as a professor of philosophy, in my spare time, I crocheted to avoid anxiety and to relax.

Primavera bag design by Angele Lumiere. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Angele: I am by nature very curious and creative. I have always felt the need to create things with my hands. I try to be as creative as possible in everything I do. I do not like to repeat things in my work as a teacher of philosophy or as a painter (I also paint) or crocheter.

My crochet and my painting cannot be separated from my other passion, philosophy.   Philosophy is the creation of concepts and crochet and painting are the creation of visual sensations. For me, both to live and to create are essential. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche: “Without art, life would be a mistake.”

One day, I thought it would be interesting to share my crochet designs. I set the challenge to draw and explain my creations and patterns in three languages ​​(Spanish, French, and English), using international symbols to reach as many people as possible that are interested in crochet. My first pattern was a beret I posted on Ravelry in February, 2011.

Corinto purse design by Angele Lumiere. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: You use a lot of circles and waves in your designs. What inspires you about these geometric shapes?

Angele: The geometric shapes are everywhere in nature. I love the harmony of nature and its beauty. I am inspired by the sea, the ebb and flow of the waves, flowing water, the leaves of plants and trees, dancing in the clouds…

To the Greek philosophers, the circle was a perfect figure because it has no beginning or end, and represents life itself.  I use circles and waves in my designs because they are natural and essential figures.


UC: Tell us about crochet in Spain. 

Angele: In Spain, at present, there is the same general interest in crochet and knitting that exists in other European countries, such as France or England, or in the U.S. There are no crochet magazines published in Spain, there are a few books (most are translations of American or English books), there is no major wool industry. It is considered a thing of grandmothers. This art is not valued, but even despised.

Unfortunately, grandmothers who knew crochet disappear before their daughters and granddaughters learned to crochet. It isn’t taught in schools. I admire the U.S. interest in the art of crochet and knitting. I find it really important to value creativity.

In the last 4 years, thanks to the Internet and access to French, British and American blogs, crocheters have emerged in small groups of interested people who struggle to spread this art. They have opened new stores that make wool and offer small workshops and classes.

In the main Spanish cities - Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, and Vigo - groups typically meet one day a week to share the passion of crochet and knitting.

I am part of a group that meets every Saturday morning.  The group includes women who are between 20 years and 66 years old. I like that there are young people who are interested in this art. Most of the material online is purchased from other countries, and most of the patterns that people follow are written in English.  Thanks to the people in this group, Valencia Knits, I discovered Ravelry.

There is no rivalry between knitters and crocheters in Spain.  On the contrary, we are woven together in a very nice and friendly way, and people teach each other and share many things.


Granade scarf by Angele Lumiere. (Click for pattern link.)

UC: Many of your patterns are available in Spanish, French, and English, and some are charted with international stitch symbols. Your blog is in Spanish and French. Tell us about your decision to offer multilingual patterns and write a bilingual blog. 

Angele: Over 3 years ago, I created my blog because I had the need to share my creations and I felt very isolated.

I decided that the blog was bilingual: Spanish and French. In Spain, as I have explained before, there were no crochet blogs. I speak French and I knew there were a lot of crochet blogs in French. For example, I participated in and am a member of a blog specializing in crocheted grannies, Granny Mania.

Over 70% of the followers of my blog are from French speaking countries and 20% of my followers are Spanish-speaking fans.  I believe that blogs written in various languages ​​have many advantages.  They are a very rewarding.


Jaleo shawl by Angele Lumiere. (Click for blog post.)

UC: How do you share your love of crochet with others?
Angele: For two years, I’ve taught crochet to my fellow teachers. Working with adolescents as a young teacher is hard work that can produce anxiety and even lead to depression.  Female colleagues attend my class, once a week, and I share tips and crochet techniques. Crochet is good therapy for anxiety.

Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, said that “philosophy was the medicine of the soul.”  I think that crochet is, too.  It is a kind of “meditation” that helps us feel better and be happier. My colleagues and students enjoy the course and have made several blankets and shawls in the past. And, they keep doing new projects.

I have a friend who is battling cancer. I advised him to crochet. Crochet helps you feel better when you create beautiful works with your hands. (Edited to add UC comment: For more on the healing power of crochet, check out my interview with Kathryn Vercillo about her book, Crochet Saved My Life.) My friend gives her crochet creations to nurses, doctors and caretakers. She lives far from my hometown, but in the summer, we crochet together. This summer, I taught her to crochet mittens. Now my friend is excited, crocheting mittens for Christmas gifts for her daughters and friends.

UC: What are your future plans?

Angele: Another of my projects is to continue designing crochet patterns. I have many ideas for new scarves, shawls, and handbags.  I also started to learn to knit. I knitted two shawls of which I am proud.

And finally, in the future I want to write a book linking philosophy and crochet.


Thank you for stopping by for an interview, Angele, and sharing your perspective on crochet with us!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Interview Series Kick Off!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I don’t share many details about my personal (that is, non-crafting) life.  As a result, most of my readers probably don’t know too much about my background.

I grew up in Brooklyn and Manhattan within two multi-ethnic (Cuban and Italian-American), multi-faith (Catholic, Santeria, and Nichiren Buddhism) families.  In the neighborhoods where I lived and went to school, I was exposed to even more cultural and religious groups.  Since my own family had very strong – but different – cultural and religious traditions and beliefs, I’ve always been really interested in the impact culture has on the way people see and respond to the world.

As I’ve become more active in the online crafting community, I’ve been really fascinated by the way crocheters and knitters from different backgrounds approach their craft.   I learned to crochet from my maternal (Italian-American) grandmother, but I’ve met plenty of Latinas who feel a strong cultural connection to crochet and knitting.  With all of these things in mind, I decided to reach out to Hispanic crochet designers and bloggers living here in the U.S. and abroad with the intent of publishing interviews with these talented crocheters during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Race and ethnicity are generally hot button issues in the U.S. (especially during election years) but my intent with this series is really to explore the work of some gifted designers and bloggers as well as how their culture supports or challenges their creativity.  My first interview in this series, with Angele Lumaire, will be posted tomorrow.   Please keep in mind that some of those I’m interviewing are not native English speakers (and many only “speak” English through translators!), so I’ll be making some edits to the interviews for grammar and flow.  Enjoy!

International Crochet Day Giveaways Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered and spread the word about my International Crochet Day giveaways last week.  And now, thanks to, here are the winners!

There were 22 entries for the giveaway of my review copy of Crochet 101: Master Basic Skills and Techniques Easily through Step-by-Step Instruction by Deborah Burger, courtesy of Creative Publishing International, and the winner was number 4…




There were 12 entries for the giveaway of my review copy of Erika Knight‘s Simple Crocheting: A Complete How-to-Crochet Workshop with 20 Projects, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press, and the winner was number 2…

Nicky, who blogs at D’NALI!



There were 20 entries for the giveaway of my review copy of Bead Crochet Jewelry: An Inspired Journey Through 27 Designs by Bert and Dana Freed of Chicken and Egg Designs and The Well Done Experience, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press.  The winner was number 18…




There were 52 (!) entries for my Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet set with 5 Tunisian hooks giveaway, and the winner is number 10…



There were 24 entries for my review copy of Crochet Boutique: 30 Simple, Stylish Hats, Bags & Accessories by Rachael Oglesby giveaway, courtesy of Lark Crafts, and the winner is number 15…



And, finally, there were 36 entries for the giveaway for my gently used copy of The Official Guide to Super Awesome Gift Giving: (Or how to survive to the holidays without going insane) by Laurie Wheeler, and the winner is number 1…

Gwendolyn T!

Thanks again to everyone who entered!  Have fun crocheting!

Holiday Stashdown Challenge, Week 19

(Join along with me any time if you need a head start or moral support for your holiday crafting.  You can read more details here.)

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of panicked blog posts and Ravelry discussions about holiday crafting.  As we get closer to the winter holidays, more crafters are starting to think about making gifts.

I’ve been working on my Holiday Stashdown Challenge since May, and if you are just starting to think about holiday crafting, you’ve probably missed some of the posts, so I’m sharing a roundup today.  The main message is don’t panic! :)

Four hats I've knit for holiday gifts.

I started the Holiday Stashdown Challenge back in May with the dual goal of slowly making holiday gifts all year (to reduce last minute anxiety and exhaustion) and of working through my stash (to move through older yarn to make room for the new stuff!).

Four Bruges crochet lace scarves (using my own design) for holiday gifts.

For the first weeks of the Holiday Stashdown Challenge, I shared a prompt at the end of each post for other bloggers who joined in the Challenge with me.  If you’d like to get in on the holiday crafting action but just need a little inspiration, you may want to check these out to help you get organized quickly.

  1. Creating a list and deciding who is crochet- and/or knit-worthy
  2. Shopping the stash for suitable yarns
  3. Searching for patterns
  4. Matching projects and yarns to people on the list
  5. Tips for making the right gift for everyone on the list (and my response, including my holiday survey)
  6. Celebrating holiday crafting successes
  7. Favorite last minute holiday gifts to make
  8. Lessons learned from the most memorable handmade gifts we’ve received
  9. Reassessing and updating the list
  10. “Christmas in July” promotions and holiday crafting
  11. Impact of changing seasons on holiday crafting

It has been great to cross so many things off of my holiday list while also working through my stash.

A tough looking panda for my little cousin.

Of course, there have been times where I actually bought yarn (egads!) because I didn’t have anything suitable for the recipient in my own stash.

My friend OB loves charcoal grey. (It was a nice excuse for yarn shopping!)

There are still a few projects on my WIP list, like the stocking I’m working on for my grandfather, made with 17 hexagons.

I've only finished five and I've made no progress on this since mid-June!

I’m currently working on a cabled hat for my dad’s partner, but haven’t gotten very far.

My gauge swatch is only a wee bit bigger than it was in this picture from last week.

Overall, I’d say the Challenge has been a great success for me so far.  I’ve used a lot of my stash and, in a way, I’ve saved money.  My handmade gifts cost more in labor than I could afford to spend in cash on most people on my list.  By working primarily from stash and using patterns I already own, freebies, and my own designs, I haven’t had to buy much.

I should note that I didn’t put any restrictions on the meaning of “stash.”  Any yarn that I already owned and didn’t buy for a gift was considered stash – it didn’t have to be sitting in my stash for a set amount of time.

And now for my progress to date…

The Finished List! (~1,746 yds from stash)

1) Cabled hat for Dad – Cascade 220 Superwash (from stash) ~220 yds – A Hat Fit for a Fella pattern by Shana Kreikemeier

2) Cabled hat for JP – Malabrigo Rios (from stash) ~145 yds – my own design

3) Bruges lace scarf for OB – madelinetosh tosh sport (purchased at Knitty City for this project) – 270 yds – Sparkling Wave Scarf pattern by Tatyana Mirer

4) Ribbed beanie for cousin PR – Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick and Moda Dea Tweedle Dee (from stash) – 122 yds – my own design

5) Stuffed toy for little cousin, CJ – Caron One Pound in black and white (from stash) – 210 yds - Lala the Panda by Stacey Trock
6) Ribbed beanie for cousin MR - Moda Dea Tweedle Dee (from stash) – 129 yds – my own design

7) Bruges lace scarf for my friend, JS – Bitsy Knits Squoosh (from stash) – 270 yds – my own design

8 ) Bruges lace infinity scarf/cowl for one of the ladies in my dad’s family –Austermann Step (from stash) – 276 yds – my own design

9) Bruges lace scarf in boucle yarn for another one of the ladies in my dad’s family – Bernat Soft Boucle (from stash) – 204 yds – my own design

10) Self-striping Bruges lace scarf for another one of the ladies in my dad’s family – Red Heart Boutique Eclipse (from stash) – 170 yds – my own design


How is your holiday crafting coming?  Feel free to share your progress on your personal holiday gift making journey in the comments!