Every Saturday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be highlighting one of my favorite online crochet resources. Today’s featured site is Crochet Boulevard, my favorite crochet link party.
I was first introduced to Barbara from made in k-town shortly after I began blogging in 2011. I honestly can’t remember how I found her, but I fell in love with her striking photography, great projects, and clear writing. Soon after I found made in k-town, Barbara started hosting crochet link parties which eventually needed a home of their own — the Crochet Boulevard.
There are just so many reasons I love this link party, but I’ll start with the reality. I’m only aware of less than a handful of others that are only for crochet and not a mix of crochet and knitting. But even if there were hundreds of crochet link parties, I’m sure Crochet Boulevard would still be at the top of my list. Barbara’s readers get to be involved with choosing a theme by voting, so people tend to pick topics where they have great projects to share! Crochet Boulevard is also very international and multicultural. I’m always introduced to new blogs (many of of which are in languages other than English) and I get to “meet” bloggers from all over the world. Even amidst these differences, our commonality – the love of crochet – clearly brings everyone together.
Make sure you stop by Crochet Boulevard this week to share your projects in the latest Free Topic Friday link party! Barbara can also be found online at the made in k-town Facebook page. Although Barbara is a busy lady including being in the midst of wedding planning, she did have some time to stop by for a NatCroMo interview. (As a side note, to keep her blog active during this busy time, Barbara has invited some great guest bloggers to made in k-town.)
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Barbara: It’s been so long, I actually can’t remember it very clearly. My earliest memory is sitting on the couch on my parents’ balcony (yes, there was a time when we had a couch out there), learning my first chain stitches. I must have been six or seven years old. My first “projects” were potholders and bed socks. Crochet has always been a part of my creative life, so it always felt easy and natural, like painting with watercolors or crafting with paper – the “normal” stuff that every child grows up with.
UC: What inspired you to start blogging? And then how did you decide to host a link party?
Barbara: There was a time in my early twenties when I lost interest in crochet because I somehow felt like there was nothing new to discover (oh, how wrong I was… *gg*). Then, ten years later, I was sick at home for weeks and somehow discovered the colorful and inspiring world of crochet on the internet. I decided two things: first, I just HAD to grab my hook again and try all the new things I had seen on various blogs, and second: I wanted to be a part of the the online crochet community and share my work, too.
icrochet was one of the sites I visited regularly before I even started blogging myself: it was great to look at the pictures, then follow the links and discover even more crochet goodies. I could spend hours browsing icrochet and all the blogs that were connected there! When I started my blog, made in k-town, I wanted to host my own link-party, too – but somehow I wanted it to be different from the others, and so I had the idea of hosting monthly theme-parties, with topics like “granny squares,” “flowers,” “Christmas crochet” and many more. After a few months I decided to outsource the parties to another blog, because I thought it was a pity that those awesome galleries were somehow lost in the archives with all the other stuff I was posting – and so I started The Crochet Boulevard!
UC: Since it is NatCroMo… Can you share a favorite crochet memory with us?
Barbara: It’s funny, I can still remember the night when I first picked up a hook again after my decade-long abstinence. I had discovered the internet crochet world just before I went to bed, but then I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep. So I got up again, sneaked downstairs to my parents’ apartment and searched for my old hooks and some yarn. Back in my own living room, I made myself comfortable on the coach, put on the Country station on satellite radio and started hooking – “just a few stitches” to see if I still knew how to do it. Next thing I remember is my boyfriend getting up the next morning, asking me what I’m doing up so early ;). Luckily, it was a Saturday morning, so I could get some sleep later. That night I had tried all the different granny squares I could find on the internet – they never made it to a bigger project, but I’ll never forget how I got my crochet-mojo back.
UC: What was your favorite crochet theme party on Crochet Boulevard?
Barbara: Ah, that’s a tough one! I generally think that the parties are getting better with each month, because there are more and more girls who join us and share their work. So our last party, Colorful, is really a pleasure to look at in its whole! And instead of looking back, I’m really looking forward to the parties that are still to come. I’m dreaming of a huge freeform or yarn-bombing link party, but since both topics are rather specific crochet niches, I’m afraid that only very few of us could actually share their work (although we’d all love to see a little freeform or yarn bombing, right?). Maybe one day…
UC: What are your favorite types of crochet projects to make?
Barbara: Oh my, I’m already bored with my answer: blankets and potholders :). On the other hand: who could ever be bored with blankets and potholders? (UC comment: So true! Check out the beauties in the Crochet Boulevard Blanket link party here.)
UC: What are your favorite websites for crochet-related content and community?
Barbara: Although there are lots of crochet websites I’ve bookmarked for further investigation, it always comes down to two: Pinterest and Ravelry. Pinterest is my daily crochet inspiration and my favorite resource for general browsing. I’m following lots of crochet boards there, and everytime I visit Pinterest, there’s always something new to discover and re-pin. When I’m looking for something specific, I rely on Ravelry. They’ve got a huge database, and so far I was always lucky to find exactly what I was looking for.
Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Barbara, and for creating and maintaining my favorite crochet link party!
Confession time: I never read blogs until I started blogging. I would occasionally Google something and find a blog post that answered my question, but that was about it. I never subscribed or returned or remembered which blog I had read. The main barrier for me was my (irrational) fear of blog readers – the descriptions always seemed overwhelming, and with no place to organize the blogs I was interested in, I couldn’t really keep track of any. (I eventually started using Google Reader, which is much less overwhelming than it seemed to me when I read about it!)
This is my second year participating in Blogtoberfest, and I want to spread the blog love today by sharing five crochet blogs I started following this year. For me, this was easier than trying to pick from the larger group of blogs I’ve been following since last year :). These aren’t necessarily blogs that are participating in Blogtoberfest, by the way. If you’d like to check out any of the 300+ blogs that are participating, stop by I Saw You Dancing.
This blog is written by Linda74, who is a prolific ripple crocheter. Although I only learned about this blog a few weeks ago, I actually dove into the archives and found some really cool posts! Linda74 does a lot of charity crochet, and common posting topics are finished objects, yarn hauls, and information about upcycled crafts.
And speaking of Made in K-Town (which I’ve been following since last year), Crochet Boulevard is my new favorite crochet link party. I always find awesome new blogs there. Unlike many of the other blogs I follow, Barbara seems to have a very international following. You can find bloggers from all of the world posting on her link parties. The current theme is Free Topic, so why not stop by and link up one of your favorite projects?
Robin is one of the bloggers who joined in the Year of Projects this year. She is a librarian and often shares research in her posts, which I find really interesting. She also really engages her readers with posts and questions. Some of my recent favorite posts are Robin’s tips for stiffening crochet lace and her explorations of the granny square.
If you aren’t already following these blogs, I recommend that you check them out!
Have you found any new (or new-to-you) crochet blogs recently?
Today, I’m interviewing Guatemalan crocheter Ana Contreras, the bilingual blogger behind Lanas & Hilos. I’m a big fan of Ana’s blog and the great pictures she shares of her projects. Ana, also known online as AnaBC on Ravelry, is also a crochet (and, occasionally, knitting) designer. Her patterns can be found online here. All pictures are used with Ana’s permission.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to crochet?
Ana: My mom taught me how to crochet and knit when I was a teenager. I continued learning through books and magazines. The funny thing is that now my mom calls me “teacher,” because I am sharing with her new techniques that I have been learning through my reading and internet research, which is mostly in English (and my mom is not so fluent in it).
Lately I have been crocheting more than knitting, maybe because I find it easier and faster. But I actually love both. Each has its own charm.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Ana: I would define my inspiration in two words: easy and modern.
EASY. I confess I don’t like “difficult” when it comes my yarn crafts. It has to pleasurable for me…it is a hobby, not torture. Therefore, I am always looking for ways to make things easier and likable.
MODERN. I am always looking for modern options of classic or old-fashioned styles. Yarn pieces don’t have to be boring.
Both goals have kept my mind in a creative mode.
UC: Tell us about the crochet scene in Guatemala.
Ana: In general, here in Guatemala, crocheting and knitting are considered crafts for grandmothers and older people. But I think things are changing. Younger people are wanting to learn to knit or crochet, because nowadays there are more modern patterns and options in the yarn crafts. The yarn stores are now offering classes.
The problem that we have here in my country is that there are not many yarn stores; and the variety of yarn available is very poor. But we learn to work with what we have, and make the most of it. Personally, when I have the chance to travel, I love to make a stop at a yarn store and buy something special. (But, how much yarn can you bring in a suitcase? Not much!) (UC comment: I love visiting yarn shops when I travel, too! You can find shop reviews from my last trip here and here, and my Visitor’s Guide to New York City Yarn Shops here.)
UC: Tell us about your blog.Why did you decide on blogging in English and Spanish, and what are some of the challenges associated with bilingual blogging?
Ana: I started my blog a few years ago. I named it “Lanas & Hilos” which is Spanish for “Yarn and Thread.” I started blogging in Spanish, my native language. But later I started to connect and follow other bloggers in the world (from England, Germany, Holland, U.S., Canada, Israel, and Greece). Then I thought of adding an English version to connect and share with them.
I kept the Spanish version because I know many of my Latin friends don´t speak English. But adding English opened up the world for me.
UC: You have some great photos on your blog, and your own style of watermarking them that doesn’t look tacky. Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers, especially on photography for those who struggle with capturing those perfect pictures?
Ana: From experience, I have a few tips for new bloggers:
Keep it clean and simple.
Show big pictures and keep the text short. Most people don’t have the time to read long posts.
Take your photos with lots of light, but not direct light. Later, you can always PhotoShop them. If you don´t have a computer program, there are a few free photo editors online, such as FotoFlexer, LunaPic, and PicMonkey (this last one is the one I usually use, and I love it). (UC comment: I use PicMonkey a lot too, and it is really fun!)
Watermark your photos (with the photo editor), preferably with a fading effect in order not to spoil the picture. Believe it or not, people “steal” photos in the internet, and the watermarks is a deterrent.
Share details of the pieces you are showing that might be interesting to readers, such as the pattern you used, and where you can get it, as well as yarn type, hook number, colors, etc.
UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet or craft blogs to share?
Ana: There are too many to even mention. Among my favorites are the ones I have on the sidebar of my blog.
I highly recommend searching blogs beyond “your circle of friends,” because there are a lot of new and interesting blogs opening every day. Side bars are very useful in this way. When you visit blogs, leave a comment. Many of them will visit your blog in turn, and that is a great way to meet new bloggers and make new friends. (UC comment: I completely agree. It’s actually through a German blogger, Barbara from Made in K-Town, that I discovered Ana’s blog. Barbara hosts a great monthly link party on The Crochet Boulevard and it is a great way to find crochet bloggers from all over the world.)
UC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Ana: Probably most people think of me as a crocheter, but I love knitting as well. Actually I have been working on a knit scarf pattern, and I will share it with all of you soon!
Thanks for stopping by, Ana, and we’re looking forward to seeing that new knitting pattern soon!