Tag Archives: baby

Interview with Letty Giron (Hispanic Heritage Month series)

HHM Letty Giron

I’m continuing my Hispanic Heritage Month series today with an interview with fellow New Yorker and Etsy seller, Letty Giron. Letty is a Guatemalan-American crocheter and maker sells her creations as Simply Baby by Letty. Letty can also be found on Instagram as SimplyBabyByLetty.

 

All images are copyright Letty Giron and are used with permission. Click on the image to be brought to the listing in Letty’s Etsy shop.

This post contains affiliate links.

Letty Giron.

Letty Giron.

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

Letty: As a young girl, I always saw my mother with a crochet hook in hand doing little dresses and sweaters for babies in pastel colors and I remember thinking that they looked like cotton candy, because she used to hang them in a line.  They were beautiful and she made them all herself after going to craft classes.

Then, as a teenager, my older sister taught me the basic stitches. As my mother had so many magazines, all of them about doilies and tablecloths, I started to read them and learned more about stitches, and I started to follow the instructions. So in the beginning I only learned how to make doilies. Not major items. But that’s how I began and slowly it grew from there.

A dress combining a sewn cotton skirt with a crocheted, mercerized cotton top. (Size 6-12 months.)

A dress combining a sewn cotton skirt with a crocheted, mercerized cotton top. (Size 6-12 months.)

UC: What inspired you to open an Etsy shop?

Letty: I’ve always made baby clothes for friends and family who are expecting and sometimes they would ask me to make something for their friends.  Also, I’ve been working with children for four years and it helped me learn the different sizes of babies as they grow.  Someone suggested that I open an Etsy shop and just see if these little things I make might be of interest to other people.  Although I’ve only just started, I’ve already had some success and I imagine more is to come.

A unisex, crocheted sweater and hat set, featuring moon and star buttons. (Size 3-9 months)

A unisex, crocheted sweater and hat set, featuring moon and star buttons. (Size 3-9 months.)

UC: Your shop focuses on crochet for baby. What do you enjoy about baby projects?

Letty: I really do enjoy all kind of projects for babies, but I’m more focused on sweaters, hats, and dresses that I combine with fabric, because I love prints – specifically floral, animals, and galaxy print – but really all kinds in general.

UC: What was the yarn craft scene like in your community when you where growing up?

Letty: I grew up in a small town outside of the city in Guatemala, and as a child I can remember my maternal grandma baking all kind of bread and cakes and different kind of food. She really enjoyed her kitchen.

Since she used a lot of eggs for her baking, I remember when she broke the eggs she did it very carefully, breaking them only on one side because she used to decorate the shells with so many different colors and fill them up with confetti. Then all the kids in our neighborhood used them for a celebration that we call Carnaval and also for Easter time which in Spanish we call Semana Santa. It was a great activity for the children to be involved in the creative process of decorating them.

We didn’t have so much yarn around in my family before my mother began her crochet classes, though my maternal grandma often sewed shirts for all the boys in the family.

A crocheted brown and pink set including a hat, booties, and a cardigan. (Size 3-9 months.)

A crocheted brown and pink set including a hat, booties, and a cardigan. (Size 3-9 months.)

UC: How does that compare with the current scene in your neighborhood in New York?

Letty: When I came to New York at age 21, I knew very little English. I was interested in continuing my crochet skills but could not find any magazines in Spanish so I started to buy in English and with a dictionary in hand I could read and translate all the abbreviation into Spanish and that is how I managed to continue doing it. Similarly, in the beginning I did not know where to find yarn. Now it is possible and easy to find stores with many magazines, yarn brands, fibers, and some of them even offer courses for sewing, crochet, and knitting.

Additionally, the internet makes the whole community much wider and easier to find.  Today the scope and reach of crafters is truly global – I have followers on Instagram from all over and we share our projects and tips. 

A crocheted hat and sweater set. (Size 3-9 months.)

A crocheted hat and sweater set. (Size 3-9 months.)

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

Letty: Yes, as when I was young I had an aunt who had a sewing machine, a very old machine.  I used to sit on her chair and pretend to sew. But mostly I think I was influence by my maternal grandma, she really had very good hands – baking all kinds of goods, sewing by hand, and also embroidering. And of course, by my mom and my sister.  As crafting and working with one’s hands was such a large part of my heritage, I have continued that relationship with physical objects.  We didn’t buy new things and continuously throw them away – we made our treasured items, put our time and effort into them, so they were special and unique.  It meant that we took care of them as they have a history.  Family is so important to me and my community so we also pass on objects that were important to one family member – we cherish these things as reminders of them – so we like to make things that will last.


As time passed by I have learn to crochet so many things, like scarf, hats, for adult and young ones.  Then I started to crochet blankets, sweater, hats, booties, to give as a gift. By now I can crochet all kind of items and I don’t have to follow a magazine but design it myself.
Knitting I know very little, but what I most love and enjoy is doing crochet and work with fabric. All handmade, special items.

Crochet receiving blanket.

Crochet receiving blanket.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books and magazines in your collection?

Letty:

Crocheted striped sweater set. (Size: 3 to 9 months.)

Crocheted striped sweater set. (Size: 3 to 9 months.)

UC: Are there any Spanish or English language crafty website/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Letty: I mostly like to check Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration, and I also like to watch the cooking channels, particularly the baking shows – the colors and the softness of the confectionary items seem so much like a pile of soft yarn.

Dover Books

UC: What are you working on now?

Letty: I’m currently working on adding new items to my Etsy shop and experimenting with different shapes – I’ve done a lot of narrow sleeves for the baby sweaters but I’d like to try some variations.  I’m also adding new receiving blankets as these are great baby shower gifts.  All of my items are customizable, so someone could add a special fabric, color or print to the back of any of the blankets.

Thank you for sharing your time, Letty! Good luck with your Etsy shop!

Frantic Holiday Crafting Update

YOP3 sheep

On December 1, I set a goal of finishing a project every other day in December.  With just a few days to go, I’m happy to say that I did pretty well.

First off, I finished three secret for future publication.  (You can read vague details on my Ravelry project pages here, here, and here.)  I can’t show pictures of the finished projects, but I can share the yummy yarns that I used.

Yarn collage

All of these were new-to-me yarns, and I really enjoyed discovering each one!  On the left is Imperial Yarns Columbia, which is a great workhorse yarn, but with a bit more softness than you would expect for a sturdy, worsted weight, wool.  In the center is Rowan Big Wool, which has a delightful feel as well, and it works up very quickly since it’s a super bulky yarn.  And on the right is Valley Yarns Valley Superwash.  The colors in real life are much richer than what you see on the screen.

And then there are the projects I already shared on the blog, a crescent shawl I made for my sister with Mountain Colors Twizzle, which has stunning colors and a scrumptiously soft feel (thanks to the silk content); the plain, ribbed hat I knit for MC using Studio Donegal Soft Donegal; and the brimmed hat I crocheted for my friend using Patons Shetland Chunky.

I did manage two other finishes in December.  Both were inadequately photographed in the holiday rush.  The first was a lap blanket for my grandpa, crocheted with two strands of what Ravelry calls “vintage” Bernat Softee Chunky that I bought at the famous Smiley’s Manhattan yarn sale.

Grandpa lap blanket

I created an ombre effect by changing the strands I held together for each row.  I also made a little heart motif on some of the squares, since my grandpa just had a pacemaker installed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make new projects for my other relatives, so I dug through my collection to find some existing projects to gift.

Holiday gift Collage

I gave my grandma the original sample of my Pineapples for Everyone Shawl pattern, my uncle the hat I originally knit for MC (that was deemed “too fussy”), and my aunt a cowl I made as part of a CAL in January.

And then on Christmas Day, I did the last finishing touches (but forgot to photograph them) on the headband for my sister’s boyfriend.  It’s something he could wear to a football game in his current home (New Orleans) or in the new city he’ll be moving to after graduation (Houston).  Each side has a different flavor.

Geaux Saints I am a Texan

At this point, I’m averaging something closer to a finish every 3 days, which isn’t bad for the holiday season.  And, I’m on my way to (hopefully) finishing ten projects by the end of the month.

I have one more secret project to knit.  The yarn, HiKoo Simpliworsted, was a bit delayed in arriving and it looks lovely.

SimpliWorsted

And I received a fabulous gift from Kim Guzman (interviewed here) on Christmas Eve.  She sent me some of her famous apple butter (yum!) and packed the box with yarn (the now discontinued NaturallyCaron.com Country).  So with that, I started a baby blanket for my cousin (who, according to Facebook, may already be in labor).

Heart blanket thru 2013-12-27

This is a refinement of the pattern I made for my grandpa, where the hearts are a bit pointier and the squares are easier to join as you go.  The color that looks brown in the picture is actually a dark purple.

In other yarn related news, my sister gave me some yarn from her recent trip to Montenegro for Christmas.

Ana yarn

It’s now official that my yarn stash is better traveled than I am, since I also have skeins from Italy and Patagonia.

How did your holiday crafting go?

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

FO Friday: Booties, 30 Min-Knits Book Review, and Giveaway

This post contains affiliate links.

I have just a small finished object today, my very first pair of knit booties.  But they come with a long story!  (And, to thank you for reading the whole story, I’m also including a book review and giveaway at the end of this post.)

I have a friend that I haven’t seen in ages.  She used to date (and then was engaged to) a friend of mine from college.  There were about 3 or 4 years when the three of us would get together very frequently and have a great time.  They lived in a nearby neighborhood for a few years and then they moved to the Boston area, but I actually kept in touch and visited regularly for some time.  Then there was a lot of upheaval in my life in 2007-08 and, at the same time, they broke up and this friend moved to California.  I haven’t seen her since then and now we are “Facebook friends.”  (You know what I mean – I think about her, occasionally see a status update, but haven’t actually called or written in ages.)  Via Facebook, I learned that she got married and eventually that she was pregnant.  She actually kept a rather entertaining weekly blog during her pregnancy which I only discovered in about the eighth month.  The humor in her posts reminded me why I enjoy her friendship so much, so I decided to make her newborn baby girl some gifts.

Since we haven’t seen each other in about 5 years and I am completely pressed for time, I decided that my standard baby gift (a blanket) was out of the question.  I also didn’t want to buy any yarn, so I started looking for a group of smaller projects that I could make with stash. And that’s where these cuties come in.

I had a second ulterior motive.  I recently received a review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum from Barron’s Educational Series.  As the self-professed world’s slowest knitter, I figured I had to time myself making at least one project from the book.  I decided that if I could make one of the projects in 90 minutes, a normal knitter might be able to do it in 30.

The Broad Strap Booties seemed the perfect solution:

  • A pattern fit for a baby (check),
  • Made with small amounts of yarn (check),
  • In a yarn weight where I have some “girl colors” in my stash (check),
  • In an easy care (machine washable) yarn (check).

I used just a wee bit Lion Brand Wool-Ease Sportweight (now discontinued) that I bought years ago at one of the Smiley’s Yarns famous Manhattan yarn sales.  I think they came out pretty cutely.

I’m looking at Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers and Baby Blueprint Crochet: Irresistible Projects for Little Ones, both of which I won in blog giveaways (yippee!), for inspiration for some other small items to include in the package.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.  And to learn more about the Ripple Mania CAL giveaway, open to all readers on earth with prizes donated by Leisure ArtsLion Brand YarnMagique Enterprises, and Red Heart Yarn, check out this post.

Book Review

I recently received a review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum from Barron’s Educational Series.  The book positions itself as “a collection of knitting projects that you can really fit into your spare time…creating fun and imaginative pieces in a half-hour or less.”  The concept appealed to me totally, especially since I knit extremely slowly, but I’ll admit that I was dubious that anything can be knit (by me) in thirty minutes or less.  The book comes with a few disclaimers that put me more at ease.  Finishing is not included in the 30 minutes, and when the project is for multiple pieces (e.g., a set of mittens), only one piece can be made in 30 minutes.  Ok, perhaps there is such a project out there.

The book includes 60 projects, most of which are small and can be made with stash yarn, or which are made with bulky yarn or two strands of yarn held together.  You can tell that Carol is primarily a teacher, because the book is organized by skill level (40 Easy projects and 20 Intermediate projects), and then sub-divided by technique.  At the beginning of the book, there is a gallery of  project photos along with the page where you can find the pattern.  Some of the patterns include a technique marker (e.g., Cable Knitting) on the side of the page.  These techniques are explained in a 14 page illustrated section at the end of the book.

I made the Broad Strap Booties (pictured on the cover) to test out the 30 minute theory.  I gave myself 90 minutes per bootie since I know that I knit extremely slowly.  (As a reference point, it took me 25 minutes to make half a gauge swatch for the pattern – 22 stitches by 15 rows.)  I was able to complete both booties (not including swatching but including knitting and assembly/finishing), in just under 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I consider that a resounding success.

What I liked about this book: 

  • Each project is photographed several times from different angles.  The projects appear against a white background in the gallery, then again in “group photos” every few pages (with each item numbered for reference to the pattern), and then again on the pattern page.  This gives you a really clear idea of how the finished project will look and is also visually interesting.
  • Even though I personally don’t see myself knitting some of these projects (e.g., a Dali mustache), everything inside is actually very cute.  None of the projects “look” like they were thrown together in 30 minutes or less.
  • Most of the projects are great stashbusters.
  • There is an opportunity to try out techniques like shaping, cables, beading, or colorwork on a small and low-risk project.  The technique section in the back includes a “Practice This” box which directs you to the appropriate patterns using the technique.
  • If you tend to procrastinate on gift knits, this could be a great “go to” resource for inspiration.

What I don’t like about the book, or what’s missing:

  • Like other paperback books, it doesn’t lay flat so it is difficult to knit and read at the same time.  There are front and back cover flaps that you can use to hold your place, though.
  • When a pattern includes charts or a template, those are in the back rather than next to the pattern page, so you will need to flip back and forth a bit.
  • Though most projects are clearly made with just a small amount of yarn, the patterns list the full size of the skein used for the project.  For example, the booties that I made used about 34 yards in the main color and about 9 yards in the other color, but the pattern just mentions that I need two balls of Rowan Handknit Cotton DK (93 yards each).  I think the book could get more mileage as a stashbusting book if Carol included the approximate yardage for each project.  Instead, the knitter needs to guess whether they have enough yarn in their stash for any given project.
  • On a related note, it would help if the weight of the yarn was listed for each project.  If it isn’t part of the brand name (e.g., Rowan Handknit Cotton DK), then there aren’t many clues about the yarn weight.  I’m guessing the Rowan and Coats yarns that Carol used for the book are ubiquitous in the UK, but it would be great if it was easier to make yarn substitutions.
  • While arranging the book in order of difficulty is a great idea, it is hard to find projects by type (e.g., women’s accessories) with this system.  It is difficult to determine the scale of a project from the gallery, so it would be helpful if the index listed projects by type.  (The baby projects are listed as a category in the index, though.)

Unfortunately, the patterns are not posted on Ravelry yet and you can’t “search inside the book” on Amazon, so it is hard to get an idea of what is included if you don’t see the book in person.  I would recommend this book for a beginner, advanced beginner, or newly intermediate knitter who likes to make small, portable projects.  If you are trying to bust some stash and enjoy gift knitting, this could also be the right book for you.  The book includes 60 projects, which is more than you would generally find in a book at this price point, but many of the projects are primarily decorative.  I think this would be a fun book to use when knitting with children or teens since the projects are cute and fast to make, and the accessories are on trend.  If you are a more experienced knitter or like more detailed/involved projects, then this is probably not the book for you.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.

Giveaway

To kick off the last minute holiday gift making season, I’m giving away my review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum, courtesy of Barron’s Educational Series.  This giveaway is open to all readers with a U.S. mailing address.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, November 29, 2012.