I’m excited to share an announcement and giveaway with you today! Knit and Crochet Now! is entering it’s sixth season this month, and the folks at Annie’s are sponsoring a giveaway for a complete set of DVDs for the season to one lucky U.S. winner, so read on for details!
Knit and Crochet Now! airs through local public broadcasting stations. You can find your local schedule here by entering your zip code or state. My local station plays two episodes a week, and each episode is also repeated in a different time slot.
Season 6 includes 13 episodes and 43 new patterns, including 14 scarf and cowl patterns (perfect for the bitter cold!) in the “Scarf of the Week” segment.
You can find all kinds of fun projects and tutorials on the show, and each 30 minute episode is commercial free! And, all of the patterns can be downloaded for free here once you create a free account.
As I mentioned, Annie’s is providing one lucky winner with a full set of Knit and Crochet Now! Season 6 DVDs! To enter, leave a comment letting me know when your local station airs Knit and Crochet Now! and whether you’ve seen it before. You can earn extra points by sharing on social media. But remember, I only count entries logged into the Rafflecopter widget below, so be sure to let me know how you’ve entered!
Every Sunday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be reviewing crochet hooks. Today’s post features the Crochet Dude ergonomic hooks, along with a giveaway for 6 hooks, courtesy of the Crochet Dude by Boye.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Boye hooks – I have a collection of sizes B through P in my hook drawer, and I even have several sizes of steel Boye hooks for cotton thread. I prefer not to use an inline crochet hook, and so naturally Boye became my “go to” brand over the years.
But as crochet has become a bigger and bigger part of my life – and especially when I’m crocheting on a deadline – I’ve found that a solid aluminum hook can put too much stress on my hands. In the last 18 months or so, when I start a crochet project I usually reach for a comfort hook.
After using Boye hooks regularly for over 20 years, I know readily what size hook to use with different yarns and can be pretty consistent about my gauge. This familiarity was what excited me about the Crochet Dude ergonomic crochet hooks.
Each Crochet Dude ergonomic hook features the familiar Boye point and throat with a molded, soft handle covering most of the hook’s shaft. The handle is squared towards the middle, has a flattened thumb rest, and then tapers down at the end. Each size comes with a different color handle and the size in etched on the handle in both US letter size and millimeters. These features allow you to quickly pick up the right size if you have a full set.
The Crochet Dude ergonomic crochet hooks provide cushioning and comfort while allowing me to use my preferred type of point and a tapered throat. It’s one of the most affordable comfort hooks on the market. (The suggested retail price is $5.99 per hook.)
Like most comfort hooks, the shaft of the hook is mostly covered by the soft handle, so the Crochet Dude ergonomic hook isn’t ideal if you are doing certain dimensional stitches (like bullions or puff stitches) where you may need more space to keep multiple loops on the hook, or where a tapered shaft might make it easier to work the stitch.
My overall review: The Crochet Dude ergonomic crochet hook is a great, affordable comfort hook option for a crocheter who doesn’t need an inline hook.
Full disclosure: Six review/giveaway samples of this product were provided by Boye/Simplicity. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the distributor/manufacturer, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. You can read my complete review disclosure here.
When I contacted the nice folks who manufacture the Crochet Dude by Boye collection to tell them about my plans for reviewing the hook during NatCroMo13, they were generous enough to send along a prize pack of 6 different ergonomic Crochet Dude hooks (in US sizes B, E, G, H, I, and L) for me to share with one lucky reader.
This giveaway is open internationally. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 9, 2013.
This morning I dragged myself out of bed for day two of Vogue Knitting Live. I don’t know if it was because of the cold weather yesterday or all the excitement from the event, but I was extra sleepy this morning. I decided to wear the Irish rose choker I made myself last year. I actually like it better with the button in the front.
You can see I have extra bags under my eyes this morning!
I was excited to see so many crochet hook options in the Marketplace. Confession time: I’m a collector of crochet hooks. In addition to a full array of sizes in the classic Boye aluminum crochet hooks, I also have a set of Denise interchangeables, a Tulip Etimo set, and a set of Eleggant hooks (reviewed here). I also have a random assortment of one or two sizes from the Addi Swing, Laurel Hill Nam Oc, and Crochet Dude lines. And, some lovely handmade hooks from Sistermaide. (We could get sidetracked here so I’ll skip the list of my Tunisian crochet hooks.) Anyway, I was on the look out for new (to me) and exciting hooks while I was in the Marketplace and I wasn’t disappointed!
The nice folks at Magique Enterprises are actually the first booth on the way into the Marketplace.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’ve been really trying to reduce my yarn stash this year. But, you also know that I find giveaways very hard to resist – and I’m kinda lucky.
So when I saw this giveaway on Robyn Chachula‘s blog, I had to enter. In my defense, it wasn’t clear exactly how much yarn would be in each of the five goodie bags Robyn was assembling. Even after winning, I was blissfully ignorant for the next few days.
And then, this arrived.
That’s a mighty big box you got there.
And when I opened it, this is what I saw.
The Mother Lode.
I may have lost consciousness for a few seconds. But then I came to and took some more pictures. Here’s what I found inside the box:
A notions case – I’ve been using this to store all the goodies for the socks I’m making for the Ravellenic Games. It is the only one I have long enough to fit the size 1 double pointed needle I’ll be using as a cable needle.
A circular Susan Bates Velocity knitting needle – This looks like just the right size for subway knitting.
Thanks, Robyn, for sharing all of these wonderful goodies with me! It certainly didn’t help with my stashbusting efforts, but I’m thrilled nonetheless.
In the early 2000s, when I first learned to read crochet patterns, there weren’t many good crochet websites. One that I would visit time and again for help understanding a new technique was Crochet Cabana. Even now, as a crochet teacher I often refer beginners to this wonderful site. So I’m really excited to interview Sandie Petit today, the founder of Crochet Cabana.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Sandie: In the summer of 1980, I went on vacation with some girlfriends in Mississippi. They pulled out their hooks and started crocheting and offered to teach me. That got the ball rolling. When I returned home the local TG&Y became my primary source for patterns, yarn, and hooks. The yarn was Sayelle at the time. For many years I thought Boye was the only kind of hook manufactured! With the advent of the Internet a whole new world opened up to me and I now have quite a nice hook collection! My house is often overrun by yarn and I have more patterns than I could complete in several lifetimes!
First Crochet Cabana banner.
UC: What was the original inspiration behind Crochet Cabana?
Sandie: Crochet Cabana began in 1997 as a couple of pages on my personal website, Sandra’s Backyard. The original purpose was to have an area where I could jot down what I knew about crochet for my own reference. I also wanted to provide information for those just learning to crochet. I wanted to write it all down, with pictures, in a way that I hoped could be easily understood. All of my first tutorials were written with the new crocheter in mind. As I learned more myself – both in the field of crochet and also in web design – more was added.
In my wildest dreams I never imagined the site would get so large. As I got requests for information on this or that topic, I would add those topics also to the site. In 2001, my husband purchased a domain name for Crochet Cabana as a gift for me. Then in December 2004, we decided to purchase hosting space so I wouldn’t have to keep moving the site as it grew too large for the present host.
Current Crochet Cabana banner.
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Sandie: For designing, inspiration is everywhere. The world around you. Television. The Internet. Sitting in a doctor’s office or in traffic I might notice a particular color or pattern that is intriguing. Quite often it is a matter of need. I need a gift and I have xx amount of time (usually a very short window). It’s actually quite difficult to come up with something new and I always wonder if someone else has already done it. There are so many wonderful designers out there! I don’t feel that I do that much designing really, but when I post a picture of something I’ve worked up I know someone will ask for the pattern as soon as it’s posted.
As to inspiration for tutorials and videos, that generally comes from visitors to the site who inquire if I can show them how to do this or that. If enough people seem to be having the same problem or are interested in a particular technique, I consider adding it to the site. I do fairly often get requests for me to do a video or tutorial on how to work a particular pattern. That is something I cannot do because of copyright issues.
(One of Sandie’s videos. We start our foundation chain the same way!)
UC: You are a true pioneer of the DIY/craft scene on the internet. What were the benefits of establishing yourself online early, and what are some of the changes you’ve had to deal with in recent years?
Sandie: How nice of you to say! When I first began, I had no clue how to put up a website. My husband created the original site and showed me how to update it. Since then, I’ve done most of the work myself though my family, who are much more computer literate than I, have been a great help over the years. My daughter created the logo presently on the Cabana.
One of the benefits of being established so many years ago is that I can appreciate the technological advances available today. I clearly remember having to move the site over a dialup connection! What took many hours then would take mere minutes now. I am still using the same program to update the site (Microsoft Front Page). It is no longer supported so I will eventually have to find a new program to use – which is something I dread.
In those beginning days, way back when, one didn’t have to worry about Internet theft. In recent years, there has been a problem with people taking the work of others and claiming it as their own. Just a few months ago I found photos lifted from one of my tutorials on which the person had placed her own name right on the photos and put them on her site as her own. It was a foreign site and though I requested she remove them, that didn’t happen. You really have no recourse in these situations and it is quite discouraging since it is a lot of work to take photos, edit them, and add all the text to a tutorial, as well as making videos. Sadly, this has also happened to other designers. Sometimes you will even find people selling your patterns on Ebay, particularly if they are free patterns. They just copy them and sell them. It’s really terrible. In fact, I removed all the patterns I had on the site after one such incident. Since then, I’ve put a few back and opened Etsy and Ravelry shops. There are still quite a number I haven’t put up anywhere again. I am really torn about what to do as I love sharing my work with others. (UC comment: What a shame!)
Another change is that people are more and more moving to video teaching. I LOVE video teaching. It is amazing to me that I can create a video demonstrating how to do something, giving the tips I’ve learned through the years, and have someone in another country watch it and learn the technique. I guess I am showing my age here, but it just fascinates me. I often wish I had my own video studio and staff! I still have much to learn. I hope the industry doesn’t change too much while I’m learning!
Yet another change I have seen is the availability of e-books and e-patterns, both free and for sale. Being able to get a pattern you want immediately certainly has its up side. One thing I like about this is if I sell a pattern this way, I know exactly who purchased it and if I update it or find a significant error, I can let them know quite easily. Along with this is the self-publishing industry, such as Lulu, which has grown tremendously in the past few years.
The problem with all this availability is that much of it is free. This hurts the designers for whom crochet sales are a significant part of their earning power. I think this may be why we are seeing more complex designs as magazine publishers have to find a way to entice people to spend their discretionary income. It’s a dilemma I’m sure we will be addressing for some time to come as the industry works to find a balance between paper publishing and e-publishing.
One of Sandie’s charity scarves, donated to Knit Your Bit.
UC: You do a lot of charity crochet. Can you tell us about some of your favorite charity projects, causes, and organizations?
Sandie: There are so many worthy organizations out there. I find that people generally gravitate toward a cause that is in some way meaningful to them. For example, I have lost many loved ones to cancer so if an opportunity arises I might donate to that cause. I had two preemies so I will occasionally donate preemie hats and afghans.
I also like to help out organizations that are based in my own state when I can. I also love to make scarves and squares. Those things came together for me in Scarves for Special Olympics where I could donate to the Louisiana branch of their organization. I was even able to deliver the scarves and meet the people there. That was rather exciting. They do require you to use particular brand and colors of yarn and there are size specifications, but I find that a challenge. I like to try and find different ways to make the scarves unique within those boundaries. This is an annual project so if you haven’t participated in the past you can always pick up and join in the next go round.
Then there is the National WWII Museum’s Knit Your Bit which is also located nearby and accepts scarves. I have had many family members in the military, including my son, and I am happy to be able to do something for the soldiers who put their lives on the line for us. Knit Your Bit gives a bit of a thank you to those soldiers. They accept any pattern, any color so it’s very easy to participate. Most of the vets are men so colors tend to lean in that direction.
I also like to be sure my work makes its way to the people for whom it was intended. With that in mind, I am cautious about sending to people I don’t know. I have known Sandy Holladay for many years and have no qualms about sending items to her for The Bridge and Beyond Project, which helps the homeless. She accepts many different items including scarves, mittens, and socks. She does amazing things with donated squares, putting together afghans which are then given to one of several local missions. Each day I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, clean clothes, and food to eat. It’s a shame there are so many who don’t have these basic needs met.
Heartmade Blessings has been around quite a number of years. They accept 12” squares which are put together into comfortghans. Several people I know personally have benefited from this effort. (UC comment: I’m actually working on several squares right now to donate to Heartmade Blessings as part of the Crochetlist March charity challenge.)
Crafting for a Cause is a wonderful group that supports our Native Americans. Most of the items made are sent directly to the reservation so you can be sure they are getting where they are needed.
In addition to official organizations, I like to donate where I can locally. As time goes on, postage costs for mailing packages has gone up so anything I can deliver is a plus.
That said, I occasionally like to send to SIBOL, way across the pond from me. I just love to go to Sue’s blog and Flickr page and see all the beautiful things. Everything is so artfully shown. She accepts 6” squares which are joined into lapghans for nursing homes in her area. Her challenges are fun too!
One of Sandie’s charity scarves, donated to Knit Your Bit.
UC: You are a CGOA Master of Advanced Crochet Stitches and Techniques and a CYC Certified Crochet Teacher. Tell us why you decided to pursue these certifications and how/if they’ve been helpful to you.
Sandie: I am going to share with you my REAL reason for taking these courses. Shhhh. I never think my work is good enough and I thought that if I took these courses someone else could tell me if I was doing things correctly and, if not, I could learn the proper way. Having the certificates does not mean that I am a wonderful crocheter, but it does mean, to me, that I’ve run the course and persevered to complete it successfully. I may have a tiny bit more confidence than I had before since I did pass the courses.
I also thought that having the certificate would give a bit more weight to my qualifications as an instructor if I decided to teach community education classes or even paid classes through a craft store. (UC comment: I am also a CYC Certified Crochet Instructor and Teacher, and will actually be attending classes this weekend to become a CYC Certified Knitting Instructor and Teacher. For more discussion on the pros and cons of certification, see this post.)
The two courses are very different. I did learn some new techniques through my work on both courses, particularly the CGOA course because it covered more of a variety – like hairpin lace, which I’d not done a lot of before.
I find that every step you take is one step closer to your goal. You mentioned knitting. I’ve been trying to learn to knit for many years. I can cast on and I actually can knit, but if I drop a stitch, that is it for me. However, every time I try I get a little bit further in my understanding. It is the same with crochet. When I did the CGOA course, I did not work much with thread and I had to complete a filet thread project with thread, which I did successfully. I did not pick it up again until recently, but those things I learned at that point have come back to me and I find I just love filet!
I don’t know if the certificates mean anything to those who look at my work. I think your work really has to speak for itself. When I pick up a magazine or look online at a pattern I may purchase, I don’t know if that person has a certificate or not. I just like the pattern, the colors, and the way it was photographed, perhaps the stitches used or the yarn. I think taking the course was for me more than anything.
I would dearly love to take Pauline Turner’s course. I understand it is difficult and I think if I passed that one I would really feel like a crochet master.