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Book Review & Giveaway: Doris Chan’s Crochet Lace Innovations

Hairpin Lace, the Crochet Speciality of the Month for May, 2015 on Underground Crafter

Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

As part of this month’s focus on hairpin lace, I’m sharing a review of Doris Chan‘s Crochet Lace Innovations: 20 Dazzling Designs in Broomstick, Hairpin, Tunisian, and Exploded Lace, along with a giveaway sponsored by Potter Craft/The Crown Publishing Group!

This post contains affiliate links.

Book Review

Crochet Lace Innovations by Doris Chan -  book review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

Doris Chan is well known for her flirty crochet garments and her focus on lace. Crochet Lace Innovations, first published in 2010, is a pattern book that explores three specialized crochet techniques (broomstick lace, hairpin lace, and Tunisian crochet) along with what Doris calls “exploded lace” (crocheting lace patterns similar to what you would see in thread in yarns with a larger hook for a better drape).

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The book opens with an introduction where Doris shares her passion for crochet. This is followed by a How to Use This Book page.

The next 3 sections, Broomstick Lace, Hairpin Lace, and Tunisian Lace, include an overview of the crochet lace technique along with a written and illustrated tutorial and a list of tips for success. The next 3 sections focus on variations of exploded lace: Exploded Motifs, Exploded Doily Lace, and Exploded Lace Trim. The book closes with a section called Garment 101, where Doris shares detailed annotated patterns for Jacket 101 and Skirt 101. Finally, there is a resources section which includes a guide to crochet stitch symbols and abbreviations, and links to yarns, tools, and crochet websites.

  • Skill level: This book is geared towards an intermediate to advanced crocheter. There are 8 easy patterns, 6 intermediate patterns, and 7 experienced patterns.
  • Techniques: There are 3 broomstick lace patterns, 3 hairpin lace patterns, 4 Tunisian crochet patterns, and 11 exploded lace patterns.
  • Project types: There are 8 top patterns (including jackets, vests, sleeved tops, and a poncho), 4 skirt patterns, 4 wraps/stoles/scarves, 2 belts, 1 dress, and 1 collar.

What I like about this book:

  • Doris has a conversational style but isn’t too chatty.
  • The designs are striking and the photos make you want to pick up your hook and start crocheting!
  • There are schematics including for the garments and there are stitch symbols for most patterns in addition to US pattern abbreviations.
  • This book allows you to explore several different crochet techniques while making women’s garments and accessories.

Some challenges about this book:

  • A true beginner to some of the special techniques may find the illustrations difficult to use as a primary learning resource. Luckily, there are many online tutorials for broomstick lace (you can find a roundup here), hairpin lace (a beginner’s roundup here), and Tunisian crochet.
  • There isn’t much discussion about under layering. It would be great if Doris would have shared more ideas about how to layer to wear these designs in real life.
  • Like all mostly pattern books, your enjoyment will be based on how many of the patterns you want to make. Check out the Ravelry source page for the book here to see thumbnails of all designs included in the book.

Overall, I would recommend this book to an intermediate to advanced crocheter (or an adventurous, confident, and patient beginner!) who enjoys crocheted women’s garments and accessories. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Giveaway

So, has this review left you itching for your own copy of Crochet Lace Innovations? To enter, visit the Ravelry source page here and leave a comment letting me know which pattern you would crochet first. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers only. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, June 2, 2015! Please note that only entries in the Rafflecopter widget will be counted, so be sure to log your entries there.

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Full disclosure: A review copy and giveaway copy of Crochet Lace Innovations were provided by Potter Craft/The Crown Publishing Group. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Blog tour giveaway and review: Knits for Boys

Knits for Boys review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

This post contains affiliate links.

I’m happy to join the Knits for Boys blog tour today, even though it’s NatCroMo and I usually keep my content 100% crochet in March. (You can find the full blog tour schedule here.)

I made the exception because there are a lot of great things about the book, and some of it is even applicable to crochet! Read on for my review and a giveaway, sponsored by Stackpole Books, that will give you the chance to win your own copy.

Book Review

Knits for Boys: 27 Patterns for Little Men + Grow-with-Me Tips & Tricks by Kate Oates from Tot Toppers and When I Grow Up is more than just a knitting pattern book. It’s a great guide to knitting for children and for adjusting garment patterns.

The book opens with an introduction where Kate explains that her book features not only “classic designs with a modern edge” but also great suggestions for making knits that children will love.

Every child is unique and has his own style and preferences, and the various designs and options in this book give you plenty of ways to create knits your boys will want to wear.

Expand Your Knitting Skills

Kate also shares her four steps for creating customized projects for boys:

  • Flatter Them With Fit,
  • Tempt Them With Texture,
  • Captivate Them With Color, and
  • Offer Them Options.

Naturally, she provides more detail than I have about how to follow each of these steps, most of which are great tips for gift knitting (or crocheting) in general.

Kate then shares a 25 page section, Grow-With-Me Sizing and Styling, which includes detailed information about gauge, blocking, taking accurate measurements, adjusting patterns (for fit and for style), sizing charts and growth patterns for children, and adding pockets and hoods. Kate also includes 9 detailed tips for creating designs that children can grow into. While Kate always writes these notes in reference to knitting for boys, many of the tips are applicable to knitting garment in general, and certainly the stylistic suggestions also apply to crocheting for children.

The next section, Materials, Techniques, and Abbreviations, is 7 pages long and provides some great tips on yarn substitution and written (and sometimes photographic) instructions for several techniques including I-cord, multiple cast on and bind off methods, wrap and turn, buttonholes, and zipper installation.

The next 3 sections focus on patterns. Grow-With-Me Projects, includes 8 patterns for tops and and a set of long johns (with top and bottom). Touch Me Texture includes 10 patterns for accessories and tops. The Color Collection includes 11 patterns for tops and accessories. Each pattern includes lovely full-page photos as well as numerous smaller pictures. Most patterns include notes and all of the garments include large schematics. Kate includes details in her patterns that will allow knitters to easily make all of the adjustments she describes in the earlier sections. For instance, she labels each part of the pattern to indicate which part of the garment is starting and whether it is an increase or decrease row. The book closes with a visual index that will help you find a cherished design later.

As with all pattern books, your enjoyment will probably be increased if you like the designs, and you can find great pictures of all of them on the Ravelry source page here. However, because this book includes so much more than just patterns – discussions of the math of knitting, a primer on customizing garment patterns for picky recipients, etc. – it is well worth purchasing if you are new to creating garments and want to know more about the details.

Kate’s writing style is conversational but not overly chatty, and you feel like you might be taking a class with her. The patterns are in contemporary colors and are vibrant but not too “fussy” for the average young man. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars for a knitter who likes to make projects for children, or one wants to learn more about customizing garment patterns for style and fit.

Giveaway

Stackpole Books has been generous enough to provide an additional copy of Knits for Boys: 27 Patterns for Little Men + Grow-with-Me Tips & Tricks to one U.S. reader! To enter, let me know what pattern from the book would you knit first in the comments. (Here’s the link to all of the patterns.) Don’t forget to log in on the Rafflecopter widget so your entry is counted. Be sure to enter by Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Good luck!

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Full disclosure: An electronic review copy and paperback giveaway copy of Knits for Boys were provided by Stackpole Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Read Across America Giveaway 2: My First Crochet Book

Celebrate Dr Seuss Day with Kids Crochet Books Giveaway on Underground Crafter

Did you know that March 2 is Dr. Seuss Day (also known as Read Across America Day)?

This post contains affiliate links.

It’s a great way to encourage kids to read more while honoring the legacy of one of the most beloved children’s book authors, Theodor Seuss Geisel (also known as Dr. Seuss). 

I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan (two more of my childhood favorites are My Book About Me and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!), and I thought the best way to celebrate children and reading during (Inter)National Crochet Month would be by hosting a giveaway for a children’s crochet book! This is my second giveaway (you can find the first one here), and this one is for My First Crochet Book, courtesy of CICO Books.

Giveaway for My First Crochet Book on Underground Crafter

My First Crochet Book is a comprehensive crochet book geared towards children. The book opens with a 1-page Tools and Materials overview, followed by an 8-page Crochet Techniques section that includes written and illustrated instructions for basic crochet stitches, increasing, decreasing, and more. The book uses bright colors and includes cute illustrations of animals playing with yarn or hooks throughout.

The book then moves onto the patterns, which are organized by project type. The first section, Clothes and Accessories, includes 11 patterns. Jewelry includes 7 patterns, Bedroom Essentials includes 7 patterns, and Perfect Gifts includes 10 patterns. Each pattern is written out in U.S. pattern abbreviations and includes multiple illustrations. Some are informative (e.g., to show how to finish a project) and others are entertaining (e.g., an elephant holding a pair of scissors). There are also multiple full color photos of each project. The book ends with a list of suppliers with links to websites and a written index.

Although the subtitle on My First Crochet Book by CICO KIdz is “35 fun and easy projects for children aged 7 years +,” I would actually recommend it for older children in their tweens and teens for several reasons. It is fairly text-heavy, relies on illustrations rather than progress photos to provide instruction, and uses pattern abbreviations in the patterns. I think younger children would struggle with the translation from English to crochet pattern abbreviations (I know many adults do!), so I recommend this book for an older audience that has stronger reading skills and a longer attention span. Also, because the patterns are arranged by type rather than by skill level, I think a younger child might get frustrated if s/he unknowingly chooses a project that is too difficult. However, for an older child, or with parental guidance, I think this book has some really fun projects for kids. The cute illustrations and varied color palette make it visually appealing as well.

So, are you ready to enter the giveaway for My First Crochet Book, courtesy of CICO Books? Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget to enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, March 8. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

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Full disclosure: A free review/giveaway copy of My First Crochet Book was provided by CICO Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

NaBloPoMo BlogHer 2015-03

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through March, 2015.

Read Across America Giveaway 1: Crochet for Kids

Celebrate Dr Seuss Day with Kids Crochet Books Giveaway on Underground Crafter

Did you know that March 2 is Dr. Seuss Day (also known as Read Across America Day)?

This post contains affiliate links.

It’s a great way to encourage kids to read more while honoring the legacy of one of the most beloved children’s book authors, Theodor Seuss Geisel (also known as Dr. Seuss). 

I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan (some of my childhood favorites are I Wish That I Had Duck Feet and Ten Apples Up On Top!), and I thought the best way to celebrate children and reading during (Inter)National Crochet Month would be by hosting a giveaway for a children’s crochet book! I’m hosting two giveaways today, and the first one is for Crochet for Kids: Basic Techniques & Great Projects that Kids Can Make Themselves by Franziska Heidenreich, courtesy of Stackpole Books.

Crochet for Kids giveaway on Underground Crafter

Crochet for Kids is formatted like a high quality beginner crochet book but with details that make it just right for children learning to crochet. It opens with some great introductory material, including A Short Guide to Yarn, Basic Equipment, and Crocheting Step-by-Step. Each of these sections includes many pictures and is written with simple, straightforward sentences. The Crocheting Step-by-Step section includes photo tutorials for all the basic crochet stitches, increasing, decreasing, and more.

The next section, Ready To Go! includes 12 beginner-friendly patterns that kids would love to make, like finger crochet shoelaces, a unisex brimmed hat, and hacky sacks. The patterns are written out in words without abbreviations and include lots of progress pictures to help. The next section, Moving Up, includes 10 slightly more advanced projects, like a slouchy beret with a bow, and appliques to sew on to to t-shirts or jeans for customization. The last section, Projects for Pros, includes 5 more challenging projects. These projects don’t necessarily require more skills, but they do require more patience! These include a blanket and other larger projects with frequent color changes. The book ends with a visual index so it’s easy to find a favorite pattern again, and a bio of the author.

Although the book was originally written in German, it does seem to be translated clearly and I don’t anticipate children struggling through it. I do wish the lighting was better in the Crocheting Step-by-Step photos, but I’m sure that most children have better eyesight than I do ;). It’s filled with brightly lit pictures of children crocheting and wearing crochet gear, so it makes crochet seem really fun. It also doesn’t ask children to make the mental translation required for reading pattern abbreviations. The author seems to really understand how to teach children to crochet. If your child is confident about reading, this would be a great book to nurture a love of crochet.

So, are you ready to enter the giveaway for Crochet for Kids, courtesy of Stackpole Books? Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget to enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, March 8. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Full disclosure: A free review/giveaway copy of Crochet for Kids was provided by Stackpole Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

NaBloPoMo BlogHer 2015-03

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through March, 2015.

Book Review and Giveaway: Tapestry Crochet by Renate Kirkpatrick

Underground Crafter Crochet Specialty of the Month Tapestry February 2015

Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

This post contains affiliate links.

Today, I’m excited to share a review of Australian crochet designer and teacher Renate Kirkpatrick‘s Tapestry Crochet: 64 Playful Patterns for Children (Milner Craft Series) as well as a giveaway for a copy of the book, courtesy of Sterling Publishing.

Tapestry Crochet by Renate Kirkpatrick

I’m a big fan of Renate’s work. I had the pleasure of interviewing her back in 2011 here, and I’ve also included her Crochet Techniques (Milner Craft Series) on my list of Must-Have Beginner Crochet Books. So it’s perhaps no surprise that I also enjoyed Tapestry Crochet.

Renate’s purpose with this booklet is to introduce her readers (and students) to a new technique through a sampler rug (that’s a blanket to U.S. readers). She opens the booklet by describing 3 different crochet colorwork techniques – intarsia, tapestry, and jacquard. Interestingly, she describes jacquard as what we call tapestry crochet in the States – where the unused color is worked over.

Renate then shares an 5-page Crochet Fundamentals section which includes tips for changing colors, maintaining tension with frequent color changes, reading grids, finishing, and blocking. A 6-page How to Work the Squares section includes general instructions for the squares and edging, tips for joining, and illustrated instructions for double crochet (U.S. single crochet) and crab stitch.

The rest of the booklet includes 64 full-color charts for squares. Each chart also includes a photograph of the finished square. Renate includes a handful of numbers and letters (1, 2, 3, and A, B, C), but most of the charts are more detailed graphics including signs, people, transportation, food, household items, and animals. Most charts include multiple colors. Each chart includes a full count of rows and stitches, directional arrows to remind you of how to read the chart for alternating rows, and numbered counts for each group of colors within a row – basically, everything you need to keep track of your color changes ;).

This is a great booklet for a crocheter interested in trying out color changes using tapestry crochet or other colorwork methods. It’s also a great book for a crocheter who enjoys making blankets or gifts for children, since the patterns come together to make a great baby blanket. Because each square includes the same number of stitches, the squares are easy to mix and match with each other, or with your own designs.

The booklet is shorter than some of Renate’s previous books, and it doesn’t include as much detail. However, since tapestry crochet (and other methods of changing colors using single crochet stitches) is much more straightforward than the topics covered in her other books, I think the length is appropriate. As with other (mostly) pattern books, your enjoyment will be increased if you like the included patterns. Unfortunately, the square patterns are not listed on Renate’s Ravelry page, but she does share images of 24 of the squares on her website here.

I would recommend this booklet to a beginner crocheter who wants to start experimenting with color, or a more advanced crocheter who enjoys tapestry crochet and/or making blankets.

I’m pleased to offer a giveaway for a copy of Tapestry Crochet: 64 Playful Patterns for Children (Milner Craft Series) today, courtesy of Sterling Publishing. The giveaway is open to U.S. readers only. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 for your chance to win.

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Review disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review and an additional free giveaway copy. While I accept free items for review, I do not accept additional compensation for positive reviews.  Additionally, when accepting a review sample, I do not guarantee a positive review to the company.  My reviews are entirely based on my honest opinions and I always indicate whether I’m reviewing something I received for free.