Tag Archives: annie’s

Blog tour interview: Tammy Hildebrand, author of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way

Today, I’m thrilled to share an interview with Tammy Hildebrand as part of the blog tour for her latest book, Crochet Wraps Every Which Way: 18 Original Patterns in 6 Techniques, published by Stackpole Books.  The nice folks at Stackpole have also shared a giveaway copy of the book with me, so read on for more details on how to enter for your chance to win a copy.

Tammy is a crochet designer, author, and teacher, as well as the current Vice President of the Crochet Guild of America.  Her three previous booklets, Wheelchair Afghans & BagsEasy Bead As You Go, and Easy Side-to-Side Jackets & Shrugs, were published by Annie’s.  Her patterns have appeared in numerous collections including Unexpected Afghans and 50 Sensational Crochet Afghans & Throws, and magazines such as Crochet World, Interweave Crochet, and Crochet!

Tammy is sometimes known as Hot Lava Crochet – hmm, I wonder why? ;) – and you can find her online on her Facebook pageblog, on Ravelry (as Tammystreasures or on her designer page), on Pinterest, on Twitter, and on Craftsy.  You can also learn more from this recent interview with her on the Red Heart blog.  Updated to add: You can find my review of Tammy’s new book on the CGOA blog here.

Tammy Hildebrand

All project pictures are from Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, are copyright of Stackpole Books, and are used with permission.  You can find pictures of all 18 patterns here in the Stackpole lookbook.

Interview

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

Tammy: My second grade teacher offered to teach crochet to anyone in our class that wished to stay after school. I was the only one that stayed! My first project was a floppy, purple hat that we worked on together sitting at her big wooden desk.

 

cascading rivers

 

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Tammy: We moved to North Carolina from Niagara Falls when my kids were babies. I saw an ad in the newspaper for crocheters and thought it would be a great way to make a little money while I stayed home with my girls. After a couple weeks a light bulb went off and I thought “Wow! I could do this!” and so I started designing myself.

 

chica mala

 

UC: You’ve held a variety of positions in the Crochet Guild of America. Can you talk about why you become involved with CGOA, and share any advice for professional crocheters who are interested in becoming more involved?

Tammy: I have served as the mentor coordinator, the professional development chairperson and I currently serve as the vice president. Initially I became involved because I wanted to give back to CGOA after how beneficial the organization had been for me but with each new opportunity, I find myself learning and receiving even more. To anyone that wishes to be involved, contact me or anyone of our board of directors and let us know. Each person has wonderful talents and strengths which are such a huge asset when we all work together as a team.

 

you are my sunshine

 

UC: Tell me about the development process for Crochet Wraps Every Which Way. How was it similar or different from the process of developing your previous booklets?

Tammy: I’m not much of a planner so in typical fashion, I learn as I go and tackle obstacles as they present themselves. The photography was done by a local photographer so it was my first time participating in the styling and photo shoots. That was a lot of fun!

 

perfect pineapples

 

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

Tammy: My Harmony Guides as well as a Japanese stitch dictionary are always on my desk and I refer to them all the time.

 

UC: What’s next for you?

Tammy: I am scheduled to teach my first two classes at Crochetville‘s 10th anniversary retreat in February. The details are here.  (UC comment: If you can get to Huntsville, Alabama in February, this looks like a great event!)

 

Tammy, thanks so much for stopping by for the interview.  We wish you the best for the rest of the blog tour!

 

Giveaway

crochet wraps every which way

Are you ready to win your copy of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, courtesy of Stackpole Books? This giveaway is open to all readers with an email address.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, January 26, 2014.

To enter:

  • Check out Stackpole’s lookbook and leave a comment telling me which pattern you’d crochet first and why.
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter or Pinterest, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • Let me know if you want to use additional entry for different prizes.
  • One winner of will be chosen at random on or about Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

Good luck!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Cristina Mershon

Today, I’m pleased to interview crochet designer, Cristina Mershon. Cristina is originally from Galicia, Spain, and she currently lives in Oklahoma. Although she has only been publishing her designs since 2011, she has been quite prolific.  You can find Cristina on Ravelry as CristinaMershon or through her designer page.

Each photo is linked to the pattern page on Ravelry.

Cristina Mershon.
Cristina Mershon.

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

Cristina: It seems like avid crocheters have similar beginnings: mom or grandma taught them around 8 years old, and my story is no different. I loved seeing my mom knitting and crocheting beautiful things. Knitting used to be my favorite thing to do when I was younger back in Galicia, but with time crochet became my obsession. My mom and her friends only crocheted with white thread that they bought in big skeins from a factory in Portugal, and they would only do household items. Knitting was for wearing, and crochet for the home.

 

Alpine Shawl, published by Cascade Yarns.
Alpine Shawl, published by Cascade Yarns.

When I first come to the United States, I was shocked at the new world of crochet in front of me. I could do anything and everything with yarn and a hook!

 

I am graphic designer during the day, working on book covers, web layouts, logos and all kinds of promotional materials, trying to make my clients happy with the use of color and fun shapes. But at night, when I am home, after spending time with my hubby and 4 little kids, it’s my time to create crochet items with a modern twist.

 

St. Tropez Tunic, published by Interweave Crochet.
St. Tropez Tunic, published by Interweave Crochet.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Cristina: A lot of my inspiration comes from knitting. I love the seamless flow of the knitted fabric, and the intricate detail of the lace. So when I stared designing, I wanted to accomplish a knitting look using a crochet hook. One of my first published works was a series of shawls, but not your old school grandma ones. I wanted to do modern style shawls for everyday use, for the office, or to take your kids to school. In fact, I wear them all the time, and they make any everyday outfit into a sophisticated look.

Designing helps me create what I really want and I cannot find. I love creating super easy to make items, nothing complicated, easy shapes, simple stitches… all combined to created something really special.

Cristina's designs on her baby, Sedora.
Cristina’s designs on little Sedora.

 

UC: You have many great designs for children as well as lovely accessories for women. What appeals to you about crocheting wearables?

Cristina: I reconnected to crochet when I first got pregnant with my first baby. Something in me (crazy hormones!!) pushed me to make things all the time, a nesting instinct that wouldn’t go away. So that’s when I began to crochet baby items. I started with lacy edges for receiving blankets and it just went off from there.

I got pregnant again with my second (they are only 1 year apart!), so I made everything from jackets, to blankets, to towel edges, and booties… and then baby number 3 and number 4 came along… then my collection of baby hats and jackets was so big, that my friends asked to me sell some to them.

Then, I went to a baby boutique and the owner asked where did I buy my baby’s hats… so I started to sell those too. All of that while working full time in the advertising agency.  Those were a few crazy years!

Melania Dress, published by Interweave Crochet.
Melania Dress, published by Interweave Crochet.

And one day I realized that I never did anything for me, so I started designing shawls and shrugs, and anything that would inspire me to use basic shapes, like circles, squares, rectangles, and hexagons, to create one of a kind items. A great example of that was my first work for Vogue Crochet, where they asked me to design two different projects.  It was an amazing experience.

Grace Shrug, published by Inside Crochet.
Grace Shrug, published by Inside Crochet.

 

UC: How did you make the shift from designing finished objects to designing patterns?

Cristina: I am always going to be very thankful to Cascade Yarns and Crochet Today! They gave me my first opportunity to create crochet patterns. I didn’t even know I could do that, or that anybody would ever like them. I knew how to crochet visually, but I didn’t have any idea of how to follow a pattern. Everything I did before then was by looking at a existing finished piece or graphic pattern.

I remember working on my first design ever for Cascade Yarns, the Alpine Shawl, and trying to figure out how to write a pattern.  It was very very hard! After that pattern was published and liked by hundreds of people within a few weeks, I started getting requests for designs. I couldn’t believe that a hobby like mine could translate into a little career, but how exiting.

 

Galician Sea Shawl, published by Annie's in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.
Galician Sea Shawl, published by Annie’s in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.

UC: In 2012, you published your first booklet, Exquisite Crochet Shawls.  Tell us about what that was like and what the design process was like for those shawls.

Cristina: When I got the opportunity to create the shawls for Annie’s, Exquisite Crochet Shawls, I was delighted. Every shawl in that book is inspired by my country of Spain. I am from the Northwest region of Galicia, a very magical place where knitting and crochet were not just a hobby a few years back, but the only way to create wearables and items for the home. My mom used to get the whole fleece from her own sheep, wash it, card it, rove it, spin it and wind it all by herself.

Alborada Shawl, published by Annie's in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.
Alborada Shawl, published by Annie’s in Exquisite Crochet Shawls.

So the Alborada Shawl (meaning  “dawn”) has the purple tones of the sun coming up in the morning, with beautiful pineapple lace motifs. The green Celtic Nature Shawl was inspired by the round markings by the Celts found in ancient stones; the blue Galician Sea Shawl shows the ripples and waves of the wild Atlantic ocean; the Volvoreta Stole (meaning “butterfly”) is light and airy; and the Art Deco Shawl is a mix of structured and freeform crochet, if that even exists.

Shades of Blue Shawl by Cristina Mershon.  Photo (c) Soho Publishing.
Shades of Blue Shawl, published by Soho Publishing in Crochet Noro.

UC: Last year, your design also graced the cover of Crochet Noro.  Tell us about that experience.

Cristina: The cover of Crochet Noro: 30 Dazzling Designs was a huge surprise. I never though the shawl would make to the cover since all of these incredible crocheters were a part of it.

The Art Major: Color Wheel Cowl and Beret by Cristina Mershon.  Image (c) Crochet Today!
The Art Major: Color Wheel Cowl and Beret, published by Crochet Today!

One day I stumbled onto the book on Amazon.com before it was published, and I thought that the shawl looked very familiar.  When I realized it was my own design, that was a great feeling. The same thing happened with my first cover of Crochet Today!: I couldn’t believe my first ever magazine project would make it to the cover.

Vogue was very unexpected, to the point that when I got the email to be a part of it, I though it was a joke. I felt so blessed.

Buttoned Cowl by Cristina Mershon.  Picture (c) Rose Callahan/Soho Publishing.
Buttoned Cowl, published by Soho Publishing in Vogue Crochet.

UC: How does your background influence your design process?

Cristina: My art and design background definitely influence my crochet design. I want to push the envelope with every design. Right now, I am working on a series of crochet wearable patterns that I will be selling on my own through Ravelry. I think it’s time to work on patterns where I get create what I really want to wear, maybe pushing the envelope a little bit.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Cristina!

 The next interview in the series will be posted on September 23 with Monica Rodriguez Fuertes/Hand Made Awards.

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!

New Year’s Giveaway Winners! (Part 2)

Today, I’m announcing the winners for the final set of New Year’s giveaways!

According to Random.org, the winner of a set of specialized crochet hooks for knitting – also known as knooking or knitting with a crochet hook (KWACH) – from my Etsy shop, is number 20…

Kacy from Meandering Home!

 

The winner of a copy of Modular Mix: 12 Knitted Mitered Squares to Mix & Match by Edie Eckman from Annie’s is number 9…

Ellen Margulies from the Times Union Fiber Arts blog!

And finally, the winner of 40 Favorite Ripple Afghans, courtesy of Leisure Arts, is number 16…

Amanda Kate from Life.As.I.Know.It!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to the winners!

 

Giveaway and Book Review: Modular Mix by Edie Eckman

I recently received a review copy of Modular Mix: 12 Knitted Mitered Squares to Mix & Match by Edie Eckman from Annie’s.  If you’re interested in learning more about mitered squares or modular (or domino) knitting, or if you like to knit sampler projects, this may be the booklet for you.

The booklet opens with a three-page section called Mixed Miters which walks readers through the basics of creating mitered square projects including materials, gauge, and techniques for casting on, decreasing, and joining squares.  Fans of Edie know that she likes to include the knitting math, and in this section you will also learn how to design your own mitered squares and determine the appropriate number of stitches to cast on.  Edie also explains why you might want to use different cast on methods, which is helpful for other projects, too.

The next several pages are devoted to the Modular Mix Afghan, made up of 20 blocks (some of which are formed by 4 to 16 smaller blocks).  Because modular projects are joined as you work, this overview is helpful before diving into the square patterns if you plan to recreate the sampler featured on the cover.

The 12 module patterns are presented in the next section.  Each pattern includes a brief introduction, information on the stitch multiples in case the knitter wants to adjust the size, the color sequence, and the pattern.  The patterns are simple, but Edie doesn’t do as much handholding as some modern knitters may expect.  These patterns are written like recipes, not as line by line instructions.  I found them easy to understand, but a beginner (or beginning pattern reader) might be confused when reaching the last set of decreases, for example.  Each square is also clearly photographed, so it is easy to see the differences in the patterns.  Each square is available in 3 sizes (3 inch, 6 inch, and 12 inch).  The projects all use medium (worsted) weight yarn and size 9 (5.5 mm) knitting needles, but of course could be adapted to other size yarn and needles for a different effect.

The book closes with a list of knitting abbreviations used in the booklet, charts showing recommended needle sizes for different yarn weights and conversions from inches to metric measurements, and an illustrated Knitting Basics section.  There is also a photo index in the back that makes it easy to find patterns in the book.  Like other Annie’s booklets, this lays flat and is easy to read while knitting.

Overall, this is a fun pattern booklet for anyone interested in exploring mitered squares.  While the booklet is brief (only 28 pages), Edie does pack in a lot of information, so it is suitable for knitters with a range of abilities.  An adventurous beginner would have fun learning new stitch patterns, decreases, and increases, and a more advanced knitter could follow Edie’s tips to design their own mitered squares.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Giveaway

I’m giving away my review copy of Modular Mix: 12 Knitted Mitered Squares to Mix & Match by Edie Eckman, courtesy of Annie’s.  This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, January 5, 2013.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your experience with modular knitting.  Have you made mitered squares or other join as you go knitting projects?
  • 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!