Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Fashion Crochet by Caroline Horne

This week’s pick: Fashion Crochet by Caroline Horne

Source: Inherited from my grandmother‘s collection

Publication date: 1970

Status: Out of print.  Available online with prices ranging from “reasonable” to “apply for a line of credit.”

Condition: Damaged dust jacket, but otherwise in very good condition

Craft: Crochet

This is an awesome little gem that I found in my grandmother’s home after she passed away.  Although it was first published in 1969, and my version is from 1970, it has more of a ’60s vibe to it.  There’s a note in the beginning saying that the yarn was provided by Coats and Clark for the American edition.  (I’m assuming the previous edition was published in the U.K.)  Most of these yarns no longer exist, but I’m guessing that most were actually threads since steel hooks are used for most of the patterns.

The dust jacket informs potential readers that “Crochet is fun, fascinating and very in-fashion these days.  For it’s a versatile fabric — it can be soft, fragile, openwork weave or just a firm, close one.  Either way,it holds its shape, and lasts.”

In case that isn’t enough to draw you in, in the introduction, Caroline Horne, a self described “teacher of Fashion Crochet,” tells readers

…once you have mastered the art of holding the crochet hook and the few stitches that there are in Fashion Crochet, everything else begins to fall into place.  Soon you will find yourself making attractive chic clothes — a welcome addition to any wardrobe — at a fraction of the price that they would cost in the shops, with the added incentive of being able to have exactly the right color and shape that you want when you want it.  Anyone can do Fashion Crochet and there is no time like the present for embarking on this absorbing, creative and constructive craft which is currently enjoying such a vogue in the world of fashion.

Well said!

I love the fashion illustrations by Yvonne Jones, which give the book a whimsical feeling.

(By the way, the cross hatching on the pants and coat represents crochet.)

I love the pattern names, too.

I assume that in 1969, everyone knew what a "classic teenager's dress" was.

Caroline provides fairly detailed instructions, and she also offers different color suggestions for most patterns.

I love that the book includes a pattern for stockings.

I can totally imagine someone (who isn’t me) crocheting up a pair of these today!

Like most books from this time period, many patterns are offered in only one size.  Some have maybe 3 sizes.  I think Caroline hopes you’ll be designing your own projects by the end of the book, though.

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: The Complete Book of Knitting by Barbara Abbey

This week’s pick: The Complete Book of Knitting by Barbara Abbey

Source: My mom’s collection

Publication date: 1971

Status: Re-released as a Dover book in 2012

Condition: Missing dust jacket, but otherwise in very good condition

Craft: Knitting

I haven’t had the chance to explore this book as much as some of the others since it is a recent acquisition.  My mom gave it to me in December when she was packing up to move.  She thinks she bought it at the Brooklyn Museum‘s shop when she worked there back in the day.

Barbara Abbey seems to have anticipated the internet by providing pages of translations of terms (from British, French, German, Spanish, and Swedish to American).

I can’t wait to use this newfound knowledge to track down international stitch guides!

Barbara also seems to know that there was been a break in the knitting knowledge passed down from our foremothers, and she shares a lot of information on things like taking proper measurements for garments and blocking.

There’s also a substantial stitch guide.

Some of my favorite stitch patterns from The Complete Book of Knitting.

And for all you lefties out there, she even includes a tiny section on how to read patterns and explains how your decreases will slant.

But perhaps my favorite thing about this book is that my mom owned it.  And, like me, she has the tendency to fold up articles and hide them in books.  So I was able to discover this Daily News article reprinted by a (now closed) yarn shop.

Apparently, the New York Yarn Center opened the same month this article was published.

The 1982 article includes a pattern for a knock off Perry Ellis sweater, which cost $180 ($429.43 in 2012 dollars).  A sweater’s worth of cotton yarn cost $10 ($23.86 in 2012 dollars).  Apparently, yarn costs have risen at a rate that is faster than regular inflation, at least according to this Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator.

Today, it would definitely cost you more to knit your own sweater, but then again, you’d be having more fun knitting than you would shopping, so it would be worth it.

My 2013 temperature scarf pattern

Apparently, Honey Nutbrown‘s whole temperature scarf concept has really taken off.  Even Bernat, one of the larger North American yarn companies, has jumped on board with a year long KAL/CAL.

I’ve gotten quite a few questions about the stitch pattern I’m using for my crochet version, so I thought I’d share it.  I wanted the number of stitches (38) to match my age this year, so I combined elements of two different stitch patterns I liked in Margaret Hubert‘s The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet.

Underground Crafter’s crochet variant of the 2013 Temperature Scarf (conceived by Honey Nutbrown as a knitting project here)

First, choose a group of yarns and assign a set of temperature values to each yarn.  This will vary based on how many yarns you want to use as well as how dramatic annual temperature highs and lows are in your area.  Here’s my chart as an example.

Click to enlarge.
The yarns I'm using, arranged in temperature order, from top left to right and bottom left to right.

Use the same yarn for the foundation chain and Row 1.  For the rest of the project, change colors at the end of every row (or as often as dictated by the change in temperatures) by pulling the new color through the last slip stitch.  (Tip: Don’t fasten off at the end of the row until you know the next day’s temperature.  You may end up using the same yarn again, and you’ll have fewer ends to weave in!)

Abbreviations used in this pattern

  • blo – back loop only
  • ch(s) – chain(s)
  • dc(s) – double crochet(s)
  • ea – each
  • hdc(s) – half double crochet(s)
  • sc(s) – single crochet
  • sk – skip
  • sl st(s) – slip stitch(es)
  • st(s) – stitch(es)

Pattern stitch

Ch 39.

Row 1: Turn, sk first ch, sl st in ea of next 2 chs.  *Ch 2, sk 2 chs, sc in ea of  next 2 chs.*  Repeat from * across to last 4 sts, ch 2, sk 2 chs, sl st in ea of last 2 chs. (38 sts)

Row 2: Turn, ch 1, sl st in blo of ea of first 2 sts.  *Sc in ea of next 2 skipped chs from foundation ch, ch 2, sk 2 sts.*  Repeat from * across to last 4 sts, sc in ea of next 2 skipped chs from foundation ch, sl st in blo of ea of last 2 sts.

Row 3: Turn, ch 1, sl st in blo of ea of first 2 sts.  *Ch 2, sk 2 sts, sc in ea of next 2 skipped sts from 2 rows below.*  Repeat from * across to last 4 sts, ch 2, sk 2 sts, sl st in blo of ea of last 2 sts.

Row 4: Turn, ch 1, sl st in blo of ea of first 2 sts.  *Sc in ea of next 2 skipped sts from 2 rows below, ch 2, sk 2 sts.*  Repeat from * across to last 4 sts, sc in ea of next 2 skipped sts from 2 rows below, sl st in blo of ea of last 2 sts.

Repeat Rows 3 & 4.

I already mentioned that I may change the stitch length for each season.  Since I live in New York and we start the year in the winter, I used the single crochet to represent the short length of the day.  The length of the stitches will increase as the hours of darkness in the day decreases.

Spring and Fall hdc stitch pattern variation

Row 5: Turn, ch 1, sc in ea of first 2 sts.  *Ch 2, sk 2 sts, hdc in ea of next 2 skipped sts from 2 rows below.*  Repeat from * across to last 4 sts, ch 2, sk 2 sts, sc in ea of last 2 sts.

Row 6: Turn, ch 1, sc in ea of first 2 sts.  *Hdc in ea of next 2 skipped sts from 2 rows below, ch 2, sk 2 sts.*  Repeat from * across to last 4 sts, hdc in ea of next 2 skipped sts from 2 rows below, sc in ea of last 2 sts.

Repeat Rows 5 & 6.

Summer dc stitch pattern variation:

Row 7: Turn, ch 2 (counts as hdc), sk first st, hdc in 2nd st.  *Ch 2, sk 2 sts, dc in ea of next 2 skipped sts from 2 rows below.*  Repeat from * across to last 4 sts, ch 2, sk 2 sts, hdc in ea of last 2 sts.

Row 8: Turn, ch 2 (counts as hdc), sk first st, hdc in 2nd st.  *Dc in ea of next 2 skipped sts from 2 rows below, ch 2, sk 2 sts.*  Repeat from * across to last 4 sts, dc in ea of next 2 skipped sts from 2 rows below, hdc in ea of last 2 sts.

Repeat Rows 7 & 8.


Here’s my progress so far!

In case you’re wondering, I’ve already used 3 colors even though we’re only 21 days into the year!  That’s a little scary since each color represents 12 degrees of temperature.  And, I’ve yet to use the color representing the “coldest” temperatures, even though this is winter.

If you’re working on a temperature scarf, too, I’m looking forward to seeing how all of our projects turn out next year!

For more Works in Progress, visit Tami’s Amis.

Interview with Kim Guzman, a.k.a. CrochetKim

I am so incredibly pleased to share an interview with Kim Guzman today.  As a lover of Tunisian crochet and a member of the very active Yahoo group that she co-moderates with Angela “ARNie” Grabowskitunisiancrochet, I’ve been a big fan of Kim’s work for years.  (Kim also does a lot of “regular” crochet design, too, as she discusses in this recent blog post.)

Kim is incredibly prolific as a designer, author, and teacher, and always seems to me to be the hardest working woman in show (er, um, yarn) business.  Yet if you are active on Crochetville, Ravelry, or almost any other social network where crochet is being discussed, you have probably interacted with Kim, who is very generous about sharing tips, advice, and her knowledge of crochet.

You can find Kim online through her main website (which links to her Crochet Kim/free pattern website and her Kimane Designs/self-published pattern website) and her blog, WIPs ‘n Chains.  Kim’s free videos can be found on her YouTube page and on the website of the new crochet magazine, Crochet 1-2-3 here.  She also teaches online classes at Annie’s and Crochetville.  Kim is also on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Ravelry (as crochetkim, in her group, and on her designer page).  All pictures are used with Kim’s permission and, unless otherwise noted, are copyright Kim Guzman.


Kim Guzman.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?

Kim: When I was about 9 years’ old, my parents joined the Army together. During their basic training, my sister and I stayed with my grandparents. It was quite a long stay with grandparents and I believe that she taught us to crochet just to give us something to do while away from home. She started us off with granny squares and I learned from verbal instruction only. It wasn’t until I was about 18 years old that I purchased my first patterns. I wasn’t even aware of patterns and had been designing my own for all that time.


Sunday Best Sweater, one of Kim's self-published designs.

UC: When were you first introduced to Tunisian crochet, and how did you come to work with it so often?

Kim: In about 2000, Darla Fanton had turned the crochet world on its ears with her double-ended Tunisian crochet designs. She did a lot of books, but the publishers wanted more. Annie’s Attic sent me some double-ended hooks and asked me to try my hand at double-ended Tunisian. I had never done it before, but I immediately set to work. My double-ended designs weren’t accepted. I found that I preferred the look of regular one-sided Tunisian and I had three books commissioned within six months.



Kansas City Cowl. Photo (c) Caron.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Kim: I have been designing since I learned to crochet. It was at least 10 years of crocheting before I sat down with a pattern and taught myself how to read it. Not knowing about patterns was the key to my “no fear” attitude toward design. My grandmother’s doilies inspired me to design my own when I was only 10 years’ old.


Lacy Bobbles Scarf and Wristlets. Photo (c) DRG Publishing (Annie's).

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Kim: My creative inspiration is usually in the yarn itself. I bond with a yarn for awhile by swatching with it. When I come up with a stitch pattern and drape that I find pleasing, I bond with it awhile until it tells me what it wants to be. While I do browse the internet and catalogs for trendy clothing, I don’t usually have the ability to see something in fabric and be able to translate their shapes into crochet. Well, I take that back. I don’t usually find myself doing that. But, publishers will sometimes choose a photo of something in a pleasing shape and then ask that I translate that shape or construction into crochet. It’s design-on-demand. I never feel like my design-on-demand work is very good. It doesn’t come from the heart.



Cabled Mitts from the Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Tunisian Crochet. Photo (c) Leisure Arts.

UC: Your four latest books, the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet, Tunisian Cables to CrochetShort Row Tunisian Fashion, and the forthcoming Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide, all focus on Tunisian crochet. What was the design process like for these books?

Kim: You act as if I’m organized. ha! I am the furthest thing from organized.

For the Beginner’s Guide, I thought about yarns and projects. I thought about beginner projects and intermediate projects. And, I just started crocheting and writing. I put every little trick I know about Tunisian crochet in that book. It includes things normally not found in Tunisian crochet books like seaming horizontally or vertically, how to change colors, how to work with a lot of colors, step-by-step on how to felt projects and so much more. Everything that I had seen over the years which I had seen caused some questions. Even how to work with a self-striping yarn so that wide pieces of the body of a garment match the same sort of striping in the upper pieces around the arms and neck is included. It was the very first time I was given full control over what went into the book and I went all out.  (UC comment: I highly recommend this book for Tunisian crochet newbies!  You can read my review on the Crochet Guild of America’s blog here.  Ravelry members can see all the projects from this book here.)


Dublin Owl Hat and Mitts from Tunisian Cables to Crochet. Photo (c) Annie's.

For the Cables book, I did it right after I finished my Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide.  (UC note: This book is expected to be published in March.)  When I was working on the stitch guide, I did a swatch of a cable, then I did another, and another. I had about 10 cables in next to no time. I wanted to somehow keep the cables together, but I had already done the required number of stitch patterns for the Stitch Guide (65). This would have put me over the expected number by ten, so I decided to pull those cable stitch patterns from my proposed stitch patterns and create a separate book. Since the cables required special instruction, I didn’t want to put them in a book with only charted stitch patterns. I wanted them to have a further instruction.  (UC comment: Ravelry members can see all the projects from this book here.)


Sapphire Wrap from Short Row Tunisian Fashion. Photo (c) Leisure Arts.

In Short Row Tunisian Fashion, which is currently available in hard copy and download, I have six projects which use the short row technique in Tunisian. But, the real surprise is the crescent wrap which includes a pineapple stitch pattern. No, not a regular crochet pineapple stitch pattern. It’s Tunisian crochet from start to finish. I believe it to be the first ever published pineapple stitch pattern in Tunisian crochet.  (UC comment: Ravelry members can see all the projects from this book here.)

Then, in March, my new Stitch Guide will be available. It’s already available on Amazon for pre-order. I’ve never done a full stitch pattern book before. But, I’m especially pleased with it because, although there are some classic Tunisian crochet stitch patterns, most of them are completely out of my head. I wanted a charted book and this book really challenged me because I had to draw out all the symbols myself. But, it was well worth it and I feel that this book is my biggest contribution to crochet yet.


UC: You’ve had a variety of roles in the crochet industry, including designer, writer, teacher, and social networker/community builder. What advice do you have for aspiring professionals?

Kim: I think the sweetheart, Margaret Hubert, put it best: “Don’t quit your day job.” While I have somehow been able to do these wonderful things as my career, as a single mother, it has been tough! There isn’t a lot of money in it. Most times, we’re just barely surviving and we’ve had to make numerous sacrifices. But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve been able to stay at home with my kids and do a job that I love. I can’t think of a better way to go through life.



Luna Sweater. Photo (c) Interweave.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection (besides your own, of course)?

Kim: I am especially fond of the Japanese stitch pattern books. They have spent more time with me on the couch than in the book shelf.


UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites to share?

Kim: Well, I’m just going to look at my computer and see what websites I always have up there.

  • Yahoo Mail. Yep, always there.
  • Yahoo Groups. I’m a moderator of the Tunisian Crochet group, so I always have that up.
  • Facebook. Seriously, I think I would go into withdrawals if I didn’t have my Facebook peeps. ;-)
  • Crochetville. Staying on top of the students’ questions for my classes and responding to any pattern questions asked in the forums.
  • Annie’s. Also, staying on top of the students’ questions. I like to respond to questions immediately. I respond as quickly as I possibly can. If I was doing a project, and I had a question, it would really be bothersome to have to set it down and wait for a week to get a response. Sometimes, it can’t be helped, but I really do my best to get to questions immediately.
  • Pinterest. Oh, the crochet pretties!
  • Tweetdeck: I like to stalk my friends. :-)


Laced Cables, a pattern from Kim's online Tunisian Cables and Lace class at Annie's. Photo (c) Annie's.


UC: You’ve been teaching online for years.  Tell me about your experiences as an online teacher. 

Kim: I prefer teaching online over teaching in live venues. Like I said, I’m a single mother. I have a small child. I want to stay home with him and I don’t want to leave him for a week at a time. Online teaching allows me to stay at home with him. But, it’s more than that. Online teaching gives me the opportunity to give well-thought-out answers to my students. And, I don’t walk out suddenly remembering that I forgot to teach something.

I have been teaching online for over 10 years. I’ve been teaching project classes, but I’ve just started adding some design classes to the mix which will begin in February at Crochetville.


Thank you for stopping by, Kim, and sharing your answers with us!

Hooking at Vogue Knitting Live

This morning I dragged myself out of bed for day two of Vogue Knitting Live.  I don’t know if it was because of the cold weather yesterday or all the excitement from the event, but I was extra sleepy this morning.  I decided to wear the Irish rose choker I made myself last year.  I actually like it better with the button in the front.

You can see I have extra bags under my eyes this morning!

I was excited to see so many crochet hook options in the Marketplace.  Confession time: I’m a collector of crochet hooks.  In addition to a full array of sizes in the classic Boye aluminum crochet hooks, I also have a set of Denise interchangeables, a Tulip Etimo set, and a set of Eleggant hooks (reviewed here).  I also have a random assortment of one or two sizes from the Addi Swing, Laurel Hill Nam Oc, and Crochet Dude lines.  And, some lovely handmade hooks from Sistermaide.  (We could get sidetracked here so I’ll skip the list of my Tunisian crochet hooks.)  Anyway, I was on the look out for new (to me) and exciting hooks while I was in the Marketplace and I wasn’t disappointed!

The nice folks at Magique Enterprises are actually the first booth on the way into the Marketplace.


I love their egg shaped hook handle.

The Boye/Simplicity booth had the full complement of Crochet Dude hooks.  I won one in a giveaway last year and I like it a lot, so I may pick up another favorite size.  But I was most intrigued by the Crochet Master Plus.

I’m hoping they will have some samples I can try out today.

The Skacel booth also had their interchangeable set, Addi Click, on display.

One of my Tunisian crochet students at the Adult School of Montclair last year has this set, and she seemed to get a lot of use out of it.

Since a full set is out of my budget for this event, I am more likely to pick up a single hook or two.  The Knitting Ranch has a big selection of hooks at their display.

And in case you need a storage case, the della Q booth has a variety of lovely colors for their crochet cases.

It looks like you can get two hooks into some of these pockets.

I know I said I won’t buy an interchangeable set at Vogue Knitting Live… but who’s to say I won’t get another set soon…

Do you have a favorite interchangeable crochet hook set?

Vogue Knitting Live, Day 1

Yesterday, Vogue Knitting Live 2013 opened in New York.  If you’re in the New York area this weekend, you should stop by!  Here’s a quick wrap up of some of what I’ve seen so far.


The gallery exhibits were being set up in the morning, and I had a chance to photograph most of them before it got too crowded.  Here are some of the highlights.  (And speaking of highlights, keep in mind that these photos were taken in dimly lit hotel corridors.)

Colorful Stitches had an awesome array of knit food displayed like a picnic table.  This bowl of cereal with a strawberry was my favorite!

Alyssa Ettinger is a ceramic artist with a studio in my native Brooklyn.  I love the soothing pastels of her work.

Rhonda Fargnoli‘s continuing education students at the Rhode Island School of Design created some beautiful designs with mill ends from Koigu.

I got to meet Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land fame.  I’ve been an admirer of Anna’s work since I first saw it at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in 2011.  We’ll both be at the 9th Annual Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival in March.  (I’m teaching and she’s exhibiting.)

Adrian Kershaw is a crocheter and knitter working with upcycled VHS tapes as yarn.  Because her work is black and the lighting was so dim, the pictures don’t really convey the projects.  They’re pretty cool!

Carol MacDonald is a printmaker who makes prints, cards, and tags using her images from her knitting.

Edwina Sutherland is a fiber artist working primarily with needlefelting.  She shared her secret for successfully transporting her projects for display with me – wrap them in quilt batting.

And last – but certainly not least – was the crochet artist, Jo Hamilton.  I’ve seen her crochet portraits online and was really looking forward to seeing them in real life.  They are much cooler in person because there is much more texture and subtle color variations than a photo can convey.

Interview Teaser

I met with Danielle Chalson from Makewise Designs for a quick interview after lunch.   Until I publish it, I’ll just share this picture of Danielle’s enthusiastic smile.

Send your happy thoughts her way. She'll be working at the String booth at the Marketplace tomorrow!

The Marketplace

Apparently I wasn't the only one trying to get into the Marketplace when it opened.

With over 70 vendors, the Vogue Knitting Marketplace alone could take up many blog posts.  So I’ll just concentrate on the colleagues I visited and my purchases.

Kollabora's booth during set up.

I stopped by Kollabora‘s booth a few times to say hi and to see my samples on display.  Here’s a sneak peak of two of my upcoming crochet designs that they are debuting at Vogue Knitting Live.  (The patterns aren’t available yet.)

It was also cool to see two of my other designs featured in their ad in the program.

The patterns for the Givin’ Me Fever Pom Pom Hat (knit) and the Chevron Shell Cowl (crochet) are available as free downloads.

I also took a picture of their schedule so I can remember to stop by their events. With a program this packed, every reminder helps!

Then I got the chance to meet Shannon Okey (a.k.a. Knitgrrl) in person.  I have a pattern in one of the upcoming Cooperative Press Fresh Designs: Crochet books so we chatted about that briefly.  I somehow forgot to take a picture of Shannon, but here is a picture of the Cooperative Press booth :).I had a chance to check out Dishcloth Diva by Deb Buckingham in person.  It looked just as scrumptious as I thought it would!  (And I love that I can feel glamorous about making dishcloths!)

You may remember from Vogue Knitting Live last year that my first purchase was at the Kinokuniya booth.  Well, ever since I bought this awesome Japanese knitting stitch guide from Knitty City in the fall, I’ve realized that I don’t know nearly as much about knitting stitch symbols as I do about crochet stitch symbols, and I’ve been thinking about buying Clear & Simple Knitting Symbols.

A taste of the crochet selection at the Kinokuniya booth.

And then I saw the North Light Fibers booth.  I was drawn in because their tagline is “Block Island made,” and MC used to vacation in Block Island as a kid.  In addition to great natural fiber yarns, they sell these cozy alpaca socks.

After that, I saw a local vendor, the Long Island Livestock Company.

This chair from the Long Island Livestock Company booth is made from three spinning wheels from the 1930s.

I had a great chat with the owner and her husband, and I was drawn to their natural care products.

So what did I end up buying?

I bought a pair of cozy alpaca socks for MC, a book for me, and some handmade soap and lip butter from a local company.

You’re probably saying, “What?? No yarn??”  You know I’ve been working on stashbusting for the past 13 months.  I’m not sure if I’ll buy yarn at Vogue Knitting Live, but I promised myself that I wouldn’t on the first day.  I wanted the chance to look at everything and sleep on any potential yarn purchases…  Let’s see how I hold up today!

Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2013!

I mentioned last month that I’m going to Vogue Knitting Live, which starts today.

Last night, I picked up my guide and badge at the hotel.

And this morning, the weather conspired to make it a perfect day for wearing handmade accessories.  After an unusually warm week, today it’s very cold.

MC snapped a picture of me before I left this morning.

I’m wearing my All Weather Cowl today since it keeps me toasy warm when I loop it around three times.  And today it is finally cold enough outside to wear the awesome hand knit mittens I ordered from Handicraftart on Etsy.

Aren't they awesome??!!

I lack the skill and patience to make something like these mittens for myself, so I was thrilled to find them on Etsy.  The best part is that these were custom made for me, and (yes, I have to say it), they fit like a glove :).

If you’ll be at Vogue Knitting Live, too, I hope to see you there!  If not, I hope you have great (cold) weather wherever you are so you can flash your projects, too.

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: The Harmony Guide to 100′s More Crochet Stitches

This week’s pick:The Harmony Guide to 100′s More Crochet Stitches (Harmony guides)

Source: Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles online store

Publication date: 1992

Status: Out of print.  Available online with prices ranging from “reasonable” to “apply for a line of credit.”

Condition: Very good

Craft(s): Crochet and Tunisian crochet

I previously reviewed this book as part of a compilation of over 20 crochet stitch guides here.  But there are a few things that make it stand out for me.

There’s a nice section on Irish crochet, which seems to be coming back into popularity.  There is an intro and slightly over a page of illustrated instructions for padding threads, working into base stitches, and making Clones knots.  There are also 7 patterns for stitches worked flat, 7 small motif patterns, 11 larger motif patterns, and a curlicue pattern.

All of the patterns in the book, including the Tunisian crochet patterns, are both written and charted.  This is the earliest English language book in my collection that uses international stitch symbols.  (You can see the Tunisian crochet bobble symbol in the description above.)

The book shows its age primarily through the photographs.  Apparently, it used to be fashionable to photograph stitches against black backgrounds.  Today, white seems to be more popular.

I’ve been spoiled by my vintage Harmony Guides.  I now expect all stitch guides to start with illustrated sections on all the techniques used in the books.  This book starts with 7 pages of introduction and then leads into six types of patterns: All-over Patterns, Filet Crochet, Motifs, Irish Style Crochet, Edgings and Trimmings, and Afghan (Tunisian Crochet).  Every section, except for the All-over Patterns and the Edgings and Trimmings, also includes about a page of illustrated instructions.

They don’t make ‘em like they used to!


Climate change

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the my color choices last week.  I ended up starting my 2013 Temperature Scarf on Saturday.

I love everything about this project so far!  The colors are coming together nicely, and I love that this is a project that will take a minimum of 365 days to complete.  There is something really liberating about not working against a deadline.

For those of you just hearing about the temperature scarf project: it’s a conceptual crochet project where I track the weather for the course of the year by matching colors to temperatures and crocheting one row for each day.  I got the idea from this knitting version.  I’m using 7 skeins of yarn from my stash, so it contributes to my stash busting goals for the year.  And it’s a project for me, which is a rarity.

To add to the whole conceptual nature of this project, I basically combined several stitch patterns so that the stitch count for each row is the same as my current age.  I chose a single crochet based stitch pattern because I didn’t want the scarf to be too long.  If it seems to short by March, I’ll adjust the stitch heights seasonally (half double crochets in the spring and fall, double crochet in the summer, and single crochet for the winter) to represent the daily hours of sunlight.

So here are my first 13 days.  The standout feature is that the climate of New York City has really changed a lot in the past few years.  I haven’t even used the color for the coldest temperatures, and we’ve had several days in the high 40s.  I almost wish I had made one of these years ago so I could compare the shift in temperature over time.

Though I love this project so far, don’t worry.  I don’t plan to share an update on it for each of the next 52 weeks – that seems a bit much ;).  I will share the stitch pattern as soon as write it up since a few people have asked about it on Ravelry.

As for reading, I finished The Sentinel by Arthur C. Clarke earlier this week (review here) and I started reading a NetGalley review copy of And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host yesterday.

Edited to add: I’ll be at Vogue Knitting Live this weekend.  If you’ll be there, too, let me know – I’d love to meet up!

For more Works in Progress, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.

Crocheters may want to check out my giveaway for 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet: Beautiful Patterns to Mix and Match for Afghans, Throws, Baby Blankets, and More by Betty Barnden, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press.

Book Review and Giveaway: 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet

Today I’m sharing my review of 75 Floral Blocks to Crochet: Beautiful Patterns to Mix and Match for Afghans, Throws, Baby Blankets, and More by bestselling British needlecrafts author Betty Barnden.  St. Martin’s Press generously provided me with two copies of this collection of crochet motifs inspired by flowers, so I can keep my review copy and host a giveaway!

In the introduction, Betty explains that her love of gardening inspired her to create floral blocks.  Some of the patterns are modifications of traditional motif patterns with abstract floral influences, while others are complex designs that attempt to literally capture the look of different flowers.  The book features motifs of different shapes (circles, diamonds, hexagons, squares, and triangles), but blocks of the same shape are made the same size so they can be easily combined.  The samples in the book are made with DK (sport weight) yarn and a size E crochet hook and measure between 5-6 inches.

The book starts with a 20-page section called Useful Techniques.  This includes a review of yarn and hooks, an overview of US pattern abbreviations and stitch symbols (including a thorough explanation of the significance of different arrangements of symbols and tips for reading charts in the round or in rows), tips for making stunning motifs (including techniques for invisible finishes, weaving in ends, and starting in the round), and a chart that explains the care symbols on yarn ball bands.  There are also tips for arranging blocks, blocking, joining motifs, and planning block projects.  The section on edgings includes tips for working around the sides and corners as well as 6 patterns for edgings.

The next section is a 20-page Directory of Blocks which includes a photograph of each block, arranged thematically by color/garden inspiration.  Each block includes the pattern name and page number where the pattern appears.

The Instructions section is the meat of the book, and includes instructions for 78 motif patterns arranged by shape.  Each pattern includes the difficulty level and the method of construction, a large photo, and a pattern written with US pattern abbreviations and stitch symbols.  There is a key to stitch symbols at the beginning of each pattern, making this a great book for those new to stitch symbols.

The pattern breakdown for the 78 motifs is:

Motif types: 13 triangles, 26 squares, 6 diamonds, 20 hexagons, and 13 circles.

Skill levels: 33 Easy projects, 34 Intermediate projects, and 11 advanced projects.

Construction methods: 64 in rounds, 4 in rows, 1 diagonally, 2 decreasing in rows, and 7 combining two construction methods.

The final section, Projects, includes assembly instructions for four projects made with the motif patterns from the book: a hexagon throw; lined, frame purses using different shaped blocks; a cushion made from squares; and a triangle motif scarf.

75 Floral Blocks to Crochet includes blocks in a variety of shapes.  In spite of the floral inspiration, many are abstract enough to make unisex designs with different color choices.  The book is the only major compendium of motif patterns I’ve seen that includes blocks constructed in decreasing rows or diagonally.  The use of both written abbreviations and stitch symbols, the range of skill levels included in the patterns, and the technique tips shared makes this book a great choice for a broad range of crocheters.  This book would appeal to crocheters who love motifs or portable projects, those who want to learn to read stitch symbols, and crocheters who enjoy working with color.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars for crocheters who love to make motif projects. But the rating is because this book is much more than just a pattern book.  The tips for reading stitch symbols and for making successful motif projects are very helpful.


As I mentioned earlier, St. Martin’s Press has shared an additional giveaway copy of  75 Floral Blocks to Crochet, which is good for you all since I already planned to keep my review copy. (So far, I’ve made 4 motifs from this book.  You can see them hereherehere, and here.)

This giveaway is open to all readers with a U.S. address.  (Sorry international readers, but postage costs are just too high for me right now!)  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, January 21, 2013.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your experience with crocheted motifs.  Do you love ‘em or are you a newbie?  What projects do you make with your motifs?
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter, 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, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • One winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!