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10 Ways to Spread the Love of Crochet during NatCroMo!

Are you ready to have a great month celebrating crochet? I know I am!

March is (Inter)National Crochet Month, and I’m thrilled to share my love of crochet with pretty much anyone who is willing to listen! I’m also excited to kick off Crochetville’s 2015 NatCroMo Designer Blog Tour! Visit Crochetville here to see the daily schedule of blog stops, learn more about the featured charity, Halos of Hope, and find out more about the daily giveaways.

I’ll be sharing my own special gift for readers at the end of this post, so read on for details!

10 Ways to Spread the Love of Crochet During National Crochet Month on Underground Crafter

I love celebrating (Inter)National Crochet Month every March, and I know a lot of other crocheters feel the same way. Here’s a list of 10 ways you can spread the love of crochet during March (and all year round).

This post contains affiliate links.

Share, share, share!

There’s plenty of eye candy on display during NatCroMo so it’s easy to share! Set up a special Pinterest board, share links on your preferred social media platforms, or create roundups of your favorites on your blog.

I have over 30 crochet boards on Pinterest, including this one you may enjoy!

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Crochet Pattern Roundups on Pinterest.

Show appreciation

Do you have a favorite crochet blogger, designer, author, or teacher? What about a crochet-friendly local yarn shop (LYS) or yarn company? Is there a crochet book, hook, or magazine that you love? Show your appreciation by commenting or reaching out on social media, making recommendations to your friends, or writing reviews.

Start a crochet circle in your community

March is the perfect time to start a local crochet circle. Crochet circles are great ways to meet people and have fun together while crocheting.

I’ll be sharing my tips for starting a crochet circle on the blog on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (I was going to share my tips tomorrow, but I’m hosting a giveaway instead, HINT HINT.)

Share your skills

Teach a friend to crochet or host a lunchtime class at work; volunteer to teach children, seniors, or hospital patients; or ask to lead a stitch demonstration at your next crochet guild meeting. You’ll have fun sharing your love of crochet and you may inspire someone else to pick up the hook!

Make a gift

Crochet an unexpected gift for a loved one. To keep the experience stress free, make it a surprise and choose a project you’ll enjoy making!

Wear your own crochet

If you gift more crochet projects than you keep, make something extra special for yourself and be sure to wear it to display your crochet pride!

Donate to charity

Contribute to a local or national charity by donating yarn or hooks, or crocheting blankets, chemo caps, or other items for distribution. Crochetville’s featured NatCroMo charity, Halos of Hope, lists their donation guidelines for chemo caps here. You can find other organizations that accept crochet donations through…

Always check with the charity to make sure the information is up-to-date before delivering a project.

Crochet in public

Take your hook outdoors and crochet on public transportation, in the library, at a coffeehouse, or wherever people spend time outdoors in your community. Be prepared to chat with strangers about what you’re working on, and don’t be shy about explaining that knitting is the one with two needles.

Learn something new

With all the excitement surrounding crochet this month, it’s a great time to learn something new. Pick up a new stitch, learn a new technique, or even try out a new project to keep up your enthusiasm for crochet.

Geek out on crochet gear

Visit Café Press or Zazzle and add a crochet t-shirt, bag, bumper sticker, mug, or other conversation starter to your collection!

Some of my favorite crochet-themed shops are:

What other suggestions do you have for spreading the love of crochet during NatCroMo?

I’ll be celebrating NatCroMo all month long on the Underground Crafter with great giveaways, interviews with crochet designers, and more! To start the month off right, I’m sharing a coupon code with my readers:

Use coupon code natcromo15 to download one free crochet pattern or ebook of your choice from my Ravelry shop through Saturday, March 7, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.

Enjoy!

Interview with Tanis Galik, intermeshing crochet designer

Underground Crafter's Crochet Specialty of the Month: January 2015 intermeshing crochet

 

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.

Tanis Galik is probably the crochet designer most associated with contemporary intermeshing crochet, so I’m thrilled to share an interview with her today as part of my January focus on this crochet technique. I first was introduced to Tanis’s work through her book, Interlocking Crochet, which I reviewed here (along with 20+ other crochet stitch guides). 

You can find Tanis online on her website, Interlocking Crochet, on Pinterest, YouTube, and Ravelry (as tanisgalik, in the Interlocking Crochet group, and on her designer page). She has a wide collection of video tutorials on the intermeshing technique if you are excited to dive in! You can find links to her 3 starter videos in this roundup of 4 free online resources to learn intermeshing.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter

Tanis Galik.

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

Tanis: My paternal grandmother taught me. It seems there is a long line of crocheters on my father’s side of the family. (My father remembered his grandmother crocheting all the time.) Of course, back then it was mostly doilies my grandmother made. Her house was covered with them. Each had tiny colorful fruits incorporated into the doily. They also had delicate ruffled edges starched with sugar water to make the ruffles stand up. The most amazing thing (which I did not realize until much later) was the yarn she used. It was like fine thread. How did she see it? Or work with that tiny metal hook? Unfortunately, I never thought to ask for a doily.

I stopped crocheting; however, in high school crochet fashions started becoming popular so I picked up a pattern and began re-teaching myself. I think grandma’s training and my family “crochet gene” helped me to pick it up easily. Once I started, I never stopped.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter

Watermelon Parfait Baby Blanket by Tanis Galik. Published in Crochet! Image (c) Annie’s.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Tanis: I’ve often taken a crochet pattern and adjusted it for my preference or taken a basic crochet stitch pattern and used it for something else so I guess that was the beginning. However, it was really learning the basic Interlocking or intermeshing crochet technique that started me designing and submitting to publishers.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter

Diamond Baby Blanket, free intermeshing crochet pattern by Tanis Galik.

UC: Since your book, Interlocking Crochet: 80 Original Stitch Patterns Plus Techniques and Projects, was published, you’ve been strongly associated with that technique (also known as intermeshing crochet). How did you begin working with this method and what do you enjoy about designing with it?

Tanis: Several decades ago I took a CGOA class from Sylvia Cosh and James Walters. They had been crochet innovators for decades when I met them. At the time they were just beginning to experiment with intermeshing crochet. I learned the basics and a few designs. They said they were going to publish a book. I went home and experimented myself, continuing to come up with various designs. I waited for a book to be published. When the Internet became popular, I searched for a book and never found one. I decided even though I had never been published, I had better try so this technique could be shared with others before it was lost.

I enjoy coming up with new designs, especially those that have a different pattern and dominate color on each side. I used to go to baby showers and watch the seasoned crocheters turn the blanket (usually with three or four panels of double-sided designs) over and over again, trying to figure out how I had done it.

Interview with intermeshing crochet designer Tanis Galik on Underground Crafter

Irish Blossoms Baby Blanket by Tanis Galik. Published in Crochet World. Image (c) Annie’s.

UC: What are your favorite projects to design?

Tanis: I tend to do accessories – scarves, hats, bags, ponchos and comforting items – baby blankets, afghans, lap throws, dog mats. Since I donate most of my crochet to charities, these items are the ones they usually want.

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

Tanis:  Needless to say, I have a large library of crochet books since I have been collecting them for decades.

I tend to like books that have a large selection of crochet stitch designs, including granny squares. Many of them are older books from England that have 200 – 300 stitch patterns. These give me ideas of some different stitches to use in my designs.

I’m beginning to collect Tunisian Crochet books and Irish Crochet books since I want to work more with both of these techniques.

I’m also the first to buy any “new” crochet technique book for my library. I love looking at and trying these different crochet approaches.

3-in-1 Double Crochet Woven Scarf, free crochet pattern by Tanis Galik.

3-in-1 Double Crochet Woven Scarf, free crochet pattern by Tanis Galik.

UC: Do you have any crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Tanis:  I do have a place on Pinterest and Ravelry. I’m one of the moderators on a Ravelry group called Interlocking Crochet.

Interlocking Crochet Reversible Placemat, free crochet pattern by Tanis Galik. Published in Knit and Crochet Now! Season 5. Image (c) Annie's.

Interlocking Crochet Reversible Placemat, free intermeshing crochet pattern by Tanis Galik. Published in Knit and Crochet Now! Season 5. Image (c) Annie’s.

UC: What are some recent designs you’re excited about?

Tanis: I was very happy to have two projects included on Knit & Crochet Now! Season 5. One of them was an Interlocking Crochet placemat. This month (January 2015) I have Irish Blossoms Baby Blanket in the current Crochet World magazine.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story with us, Tanis!

Crochet Book Reviews on the CGOA Blog

As my longtime readers know, I’m a volunteer book reviewer for the Crochet Guild of America. I recently had four crochet book reviews published on the CGOA blog. I’m sharing the links today, in case you are on the hunt for new books to add to your crochet collection!

This post contains affiliate links.

Crochet Stitch Dictionary

Crochet Stitch Dictionary: 200 Essential Stitches with Step-by-Step Photos by Sarah Hazell (link to book review)

Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs

The Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs by Kathryn White (link to book review)

Open Weave Fashions

Open Weave Fashions by Tammy Hildebrand (link to book review)

Beautiful Baby Boutique II

Beautiful Baby Boutique II by Rebecca Leigh (link to book review)

And, in other news, I decided to challenge myself to participate in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily this month.

NaBloPoMoI’ve done a few blog challenges in the past, including Blogtoberfest in 2011 and 2012, and a self-imposed challenge to blog daily during National Crochet Month in 2013, but I’ve never participated in NaBloPoMo before.

I’m looking forward to see what I share. I decided to be more spontaneous than planned about this challenge.

Are you participating in NaBloPoMo (as a blogger or a reader)? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tour book review: Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler

This post contains affiliate links.

Today, I’m excited to participate in the blog tour for The Fine Art of Crochet: Innovative Works from 20 Contemporary Artists by Gwen Blakley Kinsler. I had the pleasure of meeting Gwen online in 2011 when I interviewed her as part of my blog series, Getting Started as a Local Needlecrafts Teacher, and have since learned more about her many contributions to the crochet community (including founding the Crochet Guild of America). Gwen’s latest book is another way of sharing her love and support of the crochet community.

Fine Art of Crochet

The Fine Art of Crochet is an exploration of crochet’s role in contemporary fiber art. Gwen opens the book with an introduction exploring the development of art crochet since the 1960s. The book then continues with profiles of twenty contemporary artists:

The profiles, typically 3-5 pages long, generally include a brief biography, large pictures of several representative works featuring crochet, and quotes from the artist. Quotes from the artists may discuss the creative process, the significance or interpretation of particular pieces, inspiration, and/or crochet as a medium.

The book ends with a reference list of articles, books, and websites on crochet art, freeform crochet, and crochet history, as well as a note about Gwen and some pictures of her art crochet.

In The Fine Art of Crochet, Gwen does a great job of sharing her excitement about crochet in all forms along with insights about some of today’s most innovative crochet artists. The background information and quotes from the artists are delightful.

On the other hand, the formatting is a bit challenging. Sometimes, due to the relative font size, it’s difficult to distinguish clearly between caption and narrative text. Additionally, some of the text could have used another round of editing to help smooth out the transitions between the artists’ quotes, historical information, and Gwen’s analysis. While it’s great to have a more affordable book, a hardcover option would have been wonderful for those of us who are looking for the ultimate crochet art coffee table book.

Overall, I would highly recommend Gwen’s book. It’s the only book of it’s kind currently on the market, and the enthusiasm Gwen and the artists share for crochet is infectious. It’s wonderful to see all the possibilities of crochet that many of us who typically create functional pieces may want to explore, too.

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.

Interview with Pauline Turner

I’m excited to share an interview with Pauline Turner today as part of National Crochet Month.  Pauline is a multi-craftual artisan, designer, author, and teacher.  I was first introduced to Pauline’s work in the early 2000s when I read How to Crochet as I was learning how to (finally) read crochet patterns.  Since then, I’ve learned more about her incredible work.

You can find Pauline online via her websites, Crochet Design and the International School of Awareness.  She is also on LinkedIn and has a Ravelry designer page. All photos are copyright Pauline Turner and used with permission.

 This post contains affiliate links.

Pauline Turner

Pauline Turner, wearing a design composed entirely of triangles.

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

Pauline: I reluctantly learnt to crochet almost 40 years ago. I was teaching 41 other crafts and did not wish to learn something else.  (UC comment: You can read more about Pauline’s introduction to crochet in this feature in her own words from Crochet Insider.)

Polish Star Stitch

The Polish Star stitch.

UC: What inspired you to start designing and writing about crochet?

Pauline: The reason for learning was because my Principle and Head of Department at the Lancaster and Morecambe College of Further Education, where I was a full-time lecturer of crafts and allied subjects, insisted I taught crochet at the end of that year.

Zip insertion

A close of up the zip insertion on the cable hooded jacket from Finishing Techniques for Crochet: Give Your Crochet That Professional Look.

UC: Does your experience as a crochet teacher influence your designing or writing?

Pauline: Absolutely – in every way. To my surprise, I discovered I could incorporate crochet into all 41 of the other crafts I was tutoring. This in turn led me to produce innovatory mixed media designs and also to write about crochet from a traditional/historical point of view in order to fill in the gaps that were missing in those early days. Then eventually this led me to start my own business, Crochet Design.

pauline crocheting ice cream

A younger Pauline, crocheting with ice cream.

UC: What was the development process like for Finishing Techniques for Crochet?

Pauline: The Beginner’s Guide to Crochet, published by Search Press, which I wrote some eight years ago, has been extraordinarily popular and is in the process of being re-printed again in a different, very useable, format. There was a need for a publication that showed all the little tips and tricks that would help potential crochet designers to produce professional finishes. Anova Books suggested I produced the material for such a book in the form of Finishing Techniques for Crochet: Give Your Crochet That Professional Look. Anova is part of a group that includes the publishers Collins and Brown and also Batsford, two publishers I had previously written for with my Crocheted Lace and How to Crochet books.

The contract for this book was signed, the lead time was doable, yarn was sponsored by Rowan, and the rest was ‘eyes down, fingers flying on keyboard and with hooks’. To complete the deadline time, two outside crochet workers were asked to crochet and check the patterns of two projects. I went to London to be there as a consultant during the shoot.

Surface crochet collage

An early example of Pauline’s surface crochet collages.

UC: Tell us about the International Diploma in Crochet.

Pauline: Originally a distance learning course in three parts for crochet was devised during a brief spell when crochet was popular. I worked with Lancashire County Education Authority in course planning for adult education and they liked the format of this course but were dubious as to whether it was viable.

In 1983, the Diploma in Crochet was born for teaching crochet (Part I), designing and writing patterns for crochet (Part II), and for original creative crochet in the shape of art and sculptures as well as haute couture (Part III).  As the diploma course became more widely spread, recognised, and accepted, it attracted people from around the world and became the International Diploma in Crochet.

I did try to get my Diploma in Crochet course validated by an examining body but they all wanted me to lower the standard. The pass mark is 80% (a credit or distinction level in other courses).

There is no time limit as the course as been devised for people living in a real world with a real life. The bi-monthly newsletter keeps student interest – a necessity when learning alone. There is no starting time, and no time for the conclusion. Crochet Design needs to know if student has left the course. (We tend to prompt every 9-12 months to clear files.)

The take up of the course was slow because it was never advertised. It became known only by word of mouth. However, as more people realised its incredible content and high standard, the take-up began to gain momentum. Existing students were asked to work commercially in different fields and they in turn were subliminally advertising the course. Once I had qualified teachers who could assess Part I students, it was possible for Crochet Design to advertise the course overtly. Therefore, in the last three years, Crochet Design has enrolled an exponential number of students

mandalaA crocheted mandala in a ring, using textured yarns.

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

Pauline: This is an impossible question as different books become my favourites for different reasons.

Whatever I am working with will link me to favourite skilled authors, many whom I have met and therefore know that particular area of expertise I can rely on to confirm, deny, or consolidate what it is I am producing. Ironically, I only look at my books if I get a question about something one of them contains.

freeform crochet

A freeform crochet piece.

UC: Do you regularly visit any crochet blogs/websites for inspiration or community?

Pauline: Not as regularly as I would like. When the office is relatively in order and I have finished a project, I will browse the net for a couple of hours usually to catch up with magazines, CGOA, and student blogs. The difficulty with the net and myself is the time it can eat away when I know I have other deadlines looming. I do not visit these for inspiration, as I take my inspiration from nature and the people I meet even at airports and on trains. I cannot say I have never been inspired by something on the web but writing this, I am hard pressed to know when or what.

plant pot crochet

A crocheted plant pot with flowers.

UC: How did you become involved with the International School of Awareness?

Pauline: Ah, now isn’t that a pearl of a question? It happened without any personal intention, but just followed a series of events. During my crochet workshops, people commented they felt better by just being there. Others commented I had an incredible heat in my hands when I assisted them with their crochet and they were not feeling too well. Another frequently unsolicited comment was how I brought the best out in people. Apparently, I was able to succinctly encapsulate the reason or source of what was happening to them and with that awareness they could resolve the situation – this was not only with their craft but with their life.

My ability to use the seventh sense enabled be more aware of what was happening globally, in the atmosphere and environment. Without my knowledge, this ability was becoming known to the point where I was invited by businessmen and therapists abroad, to teach them how to develop their seventh sense. This happened before the turn of the century and the tools I shared with them were ones that had been designed for what would happen after 2012. Through these stages, the International School of Awareness came into being.

machine knit with crochet yoke

A machine knit design with a crocheted yoke.

UC: Do you have any upcoming classes or projects you’d like to share? (Dear readers, please note that I was quite delayed in posting this interview and these events have already passed.)

Pauline: On 20th October 2013, there is a celebration of the 30 years existence of the International Diploma in Crochet. I felt it was an achievement that deserved to be celebrated for all the sake of all students, past and present, who exist all around the world. It is also an acknowledgement to the supporters throughout the years who believed in its value.

This is an historic event which began in Morecambe, Lancashire UK, and is the reason the chosen venue is the Platform, Morecambe in recognition of Morecambe’s role in Crochet Design. Crochet Design has always resided in Morecambe and is the home base of the Diploma. Just some of what will be happening will be a 30 year ‘story board’. The Mayor of Lancaster will be present to close the event and also present the prizes to the competition winners. The editor of Inside Crochet magazine will open the even and hand the well-earned awards to a full graduate from Northern Ireland, plus certificates to students who have recently completed Part I and Part II. There will be ‘to- die-for’ displays of students work, along with trading tables. In the morning, children will add their stitches to a ‘Playtime on the spot’ collage. Everyone is welcome. The crochet competition will be judged on the previous day and there is more time to take in entries.  (UC comment: You can download a PDF report of the celebration, including winners of the competition, here: International Diploma in Crochet Report.)

Higham Hall near Cockermouth, Cumbria, UK features a residential 4-day course twice a year which I am tutor of, and the next one in January is on textured crochet. In February I will be giving a talk and taking a workshop with the Berkshire Spinners, Weavers & Dyers.

 

Readers, Pauline has shared this revised list of upcoming events, since I was so delayed in posting the initial interview.

  • 21 to 23 March: H&H Trade Exhibition in Cologne where I have been invited to demonstrate the beautiful hooks and knitting needles made by Tulip in Japan.
  • 26 & 27 April: Wonderwool Wales where I will be exhibiting. I will also be taking a woolschool on buttons and one on Tunisian pouches for mobiles etc. Also Helen Jordan (Thread of Life) will have a stand selling a large variety of tools for crochet.
  • 23 to 26 June: At Higham Hall, I will be tutoring a residential course on the ‘Creative Appeal of Crochet” focusing on colour, texture and combining both techniques and mixed media.
  • 27 & 28 June: Woolfest Cumbria, where once again you can come and talk to me on my stand.
  • “Teaching Methods” workshops 2014. The whole course is in 4 parts.  The four parts are being combined over two days on 23rd and 24th August 2014 to allow those from further afield to attend, even to combine it with a summer break with family and friends. The weekend costs £150 but excludes lunch.

Thanks so much for sharing this interview with us, Pauline, and for your patience.  We appreciate all you have done to advance the art and craft of crochet!