In the U.S., tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day of reflection and gratitude. The holiday is supposed to be about being thankful for what you have and spending time with loved ones (and let’s not forget eating favorite foods), but it has also become the official start of the winter holiday shopping season. I dislike crowds and rampant consumerism, so Black Friday sales and doorbusters are pretty much the total opposite of my idea of a good time.
Especially during this time of year, it’s important for me to support small businesses. Here’s my version of a Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday shopping guide highlighting some great small businesses I’ve encountered with over the past year. (Oh yeah, and there are some discounts, too.)
In my Ravelry shop, you’ll can purchase any of my self-published patterns for instant download. All of these patterns are included in the Indie Design Gift-a-long on Ravelry, where you can win great prizes from indie designers and yarn companies.
You’ll find the same patterns in my Etsy shop, along with bamboo Tunisian crochet, crochet, and “knooking” (knitting with a crochet hook) hooks. If you’re looking for a fun crafty gift, I sell a Tunisian crochet gift set with 5 Tunisian crochet hooks and my Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet all wrapped up nicely with a gift card.
Other Gift Ideas for Crocheters and Knitters
- Even the crocheter who has it all would be delighted to own a handmade tapered crochet hook by Sistermaide on Etsy. I ordered these two with an Etsy gift card I got for my birthday, and they have made crocheting bullion stitches much more fun! You can find more unique hooks on my Pinterest board for yarn bowls, hooks, needles, and notions.
- One of my favorite new-to-me yarns is Molly Girl Chart Topper, a machine washable, hand dyed Merino wool yarn. (You can buy Molly Girls yarns here on Etsy.) I particularly love these two skeins I bought at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival last year. They are featured prominently in my 2013 Temperature Scarf. You can find links to other cool indie yarn companies on my Pinterest boards for indie yarn companies or yarn CSAs and fiber clubs.
- Earlier this year, I spent the day at the farm of the Long Island Livestock Company, which was amazing. (I’m still working on writing up a blog post to do my visit justice!) If you’re in the Long Island area this Sunday, you should absolutely check out the open house at the farm, where you can buy her gorgeous llama yarns, rovings, and skin care products. (And don’t forget the cat toys, which my cat gave 5 stars.) You can find more details on her Facebook page. Click on the flier to enlarge it.
- I recently finished reading Sweater 101, an amazing book by Cheryl Brunette that is produced by an indie/small publisher. If you have a friend who wants to try out knitting (or even crocheting, because there is a lot of general information) their own sweater, this would be a fabulous gift. You can find more knitting and crochet books that I’ve reviewed here.
- And if you’re looking for other ideas for the knitters and crocheters in your life, check out Marly Bird‘s frequently updated compilation of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales on her blog here. You can find links to discounts on patterns, yarn, needles/hooks, bags, and all sorts of other goodies there.
Big Ticket Items
And in case you’re in the position to splurge (as a gift, or for yourself)…
Last year, I injured my back and spent most of 2013 in constant discomfort. A few months ago, I was referred to Jenny Hall, a Licensed Massage Therapist. I always thought massage was a frivolous luxury, but Jenny’s approach to massage isn’t about spending a day at the spa to pamper yourself, but being aware of your body and working on it as part of a long term plan for your health. Visiting her office has been one of the best decisions I’ve made and is truly money well spent. For those of you in the New York City area, Jenny offers competitive rates, including discount packages.
My long time readers already know Carlota Zimmerman, the Creativity Yenta (interviewed here). Carlota is a creativity coach, and was instrumental in helping me make a career transition this year. With the New Year around the corner, booking a series of appointments with Carlota for yourself, or as a gift for a loved one, may be the inspiration needed to kick off a career or other creative transition. And Carlota’s offering a special discount for my readers!
Get. Started. Now.
Ready to make 2014 the year you achieve your goals? Ready to start creating a life you love? This package is for people who are looking to change their lives, but are not exactly sure how to get started, given how overwhelming the process can be. Many people have very manageable goals, but they find that the actual mechanics of starting something new are, frankly, terrifying.
Terrifying… unless you hire a coach with a Type-A personality who loves to create detailed, step-by-step plans to get people started, and is comfortable holding clients accountable. (Oh, you lucky people.) Over these six weeks, we’ll organize your goals, and craft a realistic strategy based on your personality and experience, allowing you to start creating the life you’ve always wanted.
Get. Started. Now.
So many people find that the hardest thing is knowing where and how to start. I’ll get you started, and then I’ll help you create the long-term habits necessary to maintain and grow your success. At the end of six weeks, you’ll have an exit strategy to keep moving forward, as well as the skills necessary to keep creating the opportunities you need. $575
This package is specifically for friends of Underground Crafter. It will expire on December 31, 2013. To take advantage of this package, please email me at carlotazee AT gmail DOT com, and become a fan of my business Facebook page.
Please remember to shop small throughout the holiday season, and to think about buying (or making) creative gifts that inspire the recipients!
If you’re like most crafters I know (myself included), November and December are a frantic dash of gift making. This year, over 150 independent knitting and crochet designers banded together to host the Indie Design Gift-A-Long on Ravelry, and I’m thrilled to be joining in by offering all of my self-published patterns for 25% off through November 15 (GMT) with coupon code “giftalong.”
Ravelry members can chat with other knitters and crocheters working on patterns and have the opportunity to win literally hundreds of prizes, but you don’t need to be on Ravelry to add some awesome patterns to your collection. I’ve linked 10 Pinterest boards that have pictures of every participating pattern, with links to the page where you can buy it – again, at 25% off with the same coupon code.
- For Baby and Child
- Hats and Head Things
- Mitts and Arm Things
- Scarves and Cowls
- Shawls and Stoles
- Socks and Foot Things
- Other Items
- Today’s Featured Patterns
I’ve even picked up a few patterns that have been on my wishlist for a while. Let’s hope I can find some time to make them before the holidays!
And speaking of holiday crafting, I have two patterns in the Winter, 2013 issue of Love of Knitting, which hits the shelves tomorrow.
The Easy Cranberry Shawl is a great “first shawl” project. The garter stitch background keeps it flat so there’s minimal finishing, and the plaited cables up the spine keep you awake through all the garter stitch! I had the pleasure of using Red Barn Yarn‘s Worsted, which is a stunning hand painted wool/mohair blend. It was suprisingly soft and a complete delight to work with.
The On the Slopes Hat was knit in coordinating colors of Knit Picks Swish Tonal and Worsted. The band is knit flat and then the rest of the hat was knit in the round. I used my trusty pom pom maker to finish off this fun, unisex pattern.
There are 22 other holiday patterns in this issue, so it’s another great resource for those last minute gifts!
I had the opportunity to try out Quince & Co.‘s Puffin for my Vintage Bullion Scarf. I really love how the bullion stitches “popped” with this one ply yarn. This is a super quick scarf in bulky yarn – definitely great for for that surprise guest or extra gift you have to make at the last minute.
I recently made a cowl for a swap. My partner had very specific color choices, and I didn’t see a pattern that would let the yarn’s long repeats shine. After trying a few different stitches, I came up with the Quick, Fast in a Hurry Cowl. I used just one skein of bulky yarn to make this unisex cowl. It’s perfect for a last minute gift, or just to protect your neck from a sudden cold spell. Enjoy the free pattern!
Quick, Fast in a Hurry Cowl
Crochet Pattern by Underground Crafter
Adult: 6.25” (16 cm) tall x 24” (61 cm) circumference.
Loops & Threads Charisma (100% acrylic, 3.5 oz/100 g/109 yd/100 m) – 1 skein #31 Black Raspberry, or approximately 100 yards (91 m) in any bulky weight yarn.
L/8 mm crochet hook, or any size needed to obtain correct gauge.
11 sts in pattern = 4” (10 cm) across. Exact gauge is not critical for this project.
Abbreviations Used in This Pattern
ch = chain
dc = double crochet
hdc = half double crochet
rep = repeat
sk = skip
sc = single crochet
st(s) = stitch(es)
t-ch = turning chain
* Repeat from asterisk as indicated.
Row 1: Turn, sk 2 sts (counts as hdc), *(sc, hdc, dc) in next st, sk 2 sts; rep from * across to last st, hdc in last st. (17 sts)
Row 2: Turn, ch 2 (counts as hdc), *(sc, hdc, dc) in next st, sk 2 sts; rep from * across to last st, hdc in t-ch.
Repeat Row 2 until piece measures approximately 24” (61 cm) long. Fasten off with 15” (38 cm) yarn tail. With yarn needle and yarn tail, use the reverse mattress stitch (also known as an invisible seam) to join short edges together. Finish off, weave in ends.
Use a long-repeat variegated yarn to create a “striped” look.
© 2013 by Marie Segares (Underground Crafter). This pattern is for personal use only. You may use the pattern to make unlimited items for yourself, for charity, or to give as gifts. You may sell items you personally make by hand from the pattern. If you would like to teach a class based on this pattern, please contact Marie at marie AT undergroundcrafter DOT com to purchase a commercial-use pattern. Do not violate Marie’s copyright by distributing this pattern or the photos in any form, including but not limited to scanning, photocopying, emailing, or posting on a website or internet discussion group, without her written permission.
I’m not usually a fan of pattern books. I much prefer books that include techniques and other skill building activities. That’s why when Sixth & Spring Books sent me a review copy of Classic Elite Shawls, Wraps & Scarves: 20 Ideas * 3 Ways, I put it aside before looking through it carefully.
I often bring books to the group crochet and knitting classes I teach to share with my students. (After all, who doesn’t like looking through a book before buying a copy online?) Sometimes I bring books from my own collection, and other times I bring review copies I’ve received from publishers. On the last day of my spring knitting class, we were focused on shawls so I brought along my review copy of Classic Elite Shawls, Wraps & Scarves. One student immediately fell in love with it and asked if she could borrow it over the summer. In the back of my mind, I thought, “Hmm, I’ll have to check this book out when she brings it back.” In our first class of the fall, she returned with the book and another student immediately asked if she could borrow it. That’s when I knew I would have to give this book a much closer look.
Once I cracked open the book, it is so beautifully presented that I can’t stop flipping through it. Classic Elite Shawls, Wraps & Scarves includes the best things about a well-produced pattern book: a coordinated look, a range of styles, and a variety of techniques and skill levels to choose from.
The book’s idea is simple: 17 designers were asked to choose a single inspiration and transform it into three looks. The inspiration might include a texture, a stitch pattern, a motif, or a shape. Each section opens with the inspiration and brief outline of the three projects, which are often presented in coordinating colors and yarns. Each sample is well photographed and each page is laid out in the clear manner I’ve come to expect from Sixth & Spring.
The book includes 12 easy patterns, 42 intermediate patterns, and 6 experienced patterns.
In terms of patterns, there are 27 scarves (including 1 keyhole scarf), 12 variations on the cowl (including infinity scarves, gaiters, neckwarmers, etc.), 9 stoles/wraps, 4 capelets, 4 shawls, 3 shawlettes, 1 poncho, and 1 shrug.
The patterns are written with US knitting abbreviations, and 28 of the designs include one or more charts (typically, for lace or colorwork).
So besides, the layout and the concept, what makes this book special? Well, it’s the designs and the way different designers approach the inspiration. (Ravelry members can see all 60 designs on the book’s source page here.)
Here’s a sampling of my favorites.
Irina Poludnenko‘s Fun and Funky collection uses the inspiration of embellishments to create three completely different projects: the I-Cord Scarf, the Zigzag Scarf (using short rows and bobbles), and the Loop Scarf (using looped trim) (shown left to right, below).
With the Power Cables collection, Anastasia Blaes creates three dramatic looks by combining cables with three different yarns. Shown below, from left to right, are the Cabled Scarf (in DK/#3/light weight yarn), Cabled Neck Warmer (in chunky/#5/bulky yarn), and Cabled Wrap (in super fine/#1/sock/fingering weight yarn).
If you enjoy trying out new stitches, reading about the inspiration behind your favorite patterns, or tend to be more excited by visually stunning pattern books, I would definitely recommend this one. It’s geared towards intermediate knitters, but an advanced beginner could “grow” with it, and an experienced knitter will likely find a few patterns to catch the eye. And, of course, if you enjoy knitting scarves or other functional, (mostly) rectangular women’s accessories, you will likely find many to love in this book.
I’m actually keeping this one, rather than offering a giveaway. I feel pretty confident that it will come in handy as I start working on holiday gifts!
Today is the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month and also the end of this year’s interview series. Here’s a recap in case you missed some of the interviews. All photos are used with permission. (Click on the photos to link to the interviews.)
Cristina Mershon, a Galician expat crochet designer.
Daniela Montelongo, the Mexican crafter behind Pompon’s Party.
Karen Abarca, the Mexican-American crafter behind Knit By Pearl.
Spanish crochet designer, Teresa Alvarez.
I’d like to extend my thanks to each of these twelve talented women. It is very difficult to find time for extra activities when running a small business, so I really appreciate your responsiveness! You can find links to the 9 yarn crafters I interviewed for the 2012 series here.
Today, I’m sharing an interview with Celia Diaz, an emerging Spanish crochet designer, also known as Abejitas.
All photos are used with permission and are copyright Abejitas. Click on the pictures to link to the pattern pages.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet?
Celia: When I was a teenager, a friend from high school taught me the basic stitches. Then I bought some magazines and I was learning some more stitches and different ways to combine them to create lace. When my grandmother and my aunts knew about it, they gave me an amazing used book with lots of stitches (around 200) and I began to crochet “by inspiration,” not necessary following an actual pattern.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Celia: I have been designing all the time since I learned to crochet, but I hadn’t realized at that moment. I enjoy creating my own projects. It’s a challenge every time I take the hook and let my hands work out what is on my mind.
But I had never thought about my way of doing it until last year. I went to a knitting and crochet meeting and I showed a new hat (Anna hat) and everybody there fell in love with it. I was really shocked! They all asked me about how I did it and I decided to write the pattern so they all could make their own Anna hat. The feedback was terrific and I decided to write the patterns of my designs from then on.
UC: All of your patterns are self-published. What do you enjoy about self-publishing? What are some of the challenges?
Celia: I hadn’t thought about publishing until a few months ago. And I hadn’t thought about how to do it. I just write a pattern and release it. What I love most is the instantaneous feedback and the direct interaction with other crocheters.
UC: All of your patterns are available in English and Spanish. What do you see as the benefits of offering your patterns in two languages, and what are some of the difficulties?
Celia: I wrote my first pattern in Spanish and there were many people who asked for an English version. I translated that one and all the new patterns since then. Patterns available in two languages are easier to share than if it is written only in Spanish.
It’s not always easy for me to write in English because it is not my first language and there are words and expressions that I don’t know and I can’t use it properly. This is an additional reason to test my patterns in some groups (like Abejitas). By testing it, I can be sure that the instructions are clear and that the English expressions are right.
I’m adding pictures to the patterns to make them easier to understand, regardless of language. I’m also starting to record videos so I’m really excited about the results!
UC: You live in Seville, Spain. Is that also where you grew up? What was the yarn crafts scene like when you were growing up? How does it compare to the yarn crafts scene in Seville today?
Celia: I grew up and live in Seville. Crafts were just for a few people and they all were made at home. I liked all kind of crafts since I was a child. I think I’m influenced by my mother, who sewed my dresses when I was younger. And I can remember my paternal grandma sewing, too, and knitting with my aunts for all the children on the family.
When I began crocheting, my brothers used to laugh and tell me I looked like a grandma because of my hobbies. Now you can see people of all ages doing these kinds of crafts everywhere: on the bus, in cafes or in the streets. And from time to time you’re asked to be photographed.
Since crafts and DIY are trendy, young people are picking up needles and hooks, too. A year ago, the first urban knitting took place in Seville. I was astonished seeing so many people there, knitting and crocheting together, having a really great time.
Until few years ago, there were just some yarn shops in Seville, without much variety of yarn brands. Lately, it is possible to find new fibers, and many craft shops are opening. Some of them are offering courses and kits for many kinds of crafts.
The Internet is making it easier to find different brands and materials, offering a huge variety of yarns and tools you couldn’t find here.
UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?
Celia: I liked all kind of crafts since I was a child. I think I’m influenced by my maternal grandpa and my paternal grandma. He was a very handy and careful craft worker and she had wonderful hands for everything (from the kitchen to embroidery).
And, as I said, I’ve always seen my mother sewing above all, but knitting, too. She taught me the first knitting stitches and I sewed some purses and knitted very little blankets for my dolls. I didn’t feel like doing anything else – I would have needed more time to make something I could use.
When I learned to crochet I discovered that I could make little projects. I could start and finish a whole project in just one day! Then I started crocheting to customize my t-shirts and I joked with my mother to become partners: she sewed and I adorned. We haven’t done it yet but we still have time. Later, I crocheted gifts for friends and their babies. I made my first hat and a granny poncho for Marta, my niece, when she was three.
UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet, knitting, or craft blogs to share?
Celia: I have been subscribed to no8das since many years ago and now I’m one of them. This is the blog of a very kind group of knitters and crocheters in Seville.
I like Pinterest very much. I take a look every day to see what’s trendy.
Some others blogs I usually read:
Thanks so much for stopping by, Celia!