Tag Archives: crochet today

The Flamies Nominations!

FlamiesI’m excited that the Flamies crochet awards are back this year after a two year absence. I’ve seen some great posts by other crochet bloggers sharing their nominations (like this one from Stitch Story and this one on Ambassador Crochet), and I decided to do the same! If you’re going to nominate, do it today! Voting starts in November.

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Best crochet blog

I read so many crochet blogs that it was tough to narrow it down. I decided to nominate two: Crochet Concupiscence and Fresh Stitches. You can read my interviews with Kathryn Vercillo from Crochet Concupiscence here and here, as well as a post I did for National Crochet Month talking about why I love her blog here. I interviewed Stacey Trock from Fresh Stitches here, reviewed her book, Modern Baby, here, and talked about why I love the tips she shares on her blog here.

Best crochet YouTube channel

I nominated Tamara Kelly from Moogly for her YouTube channel. I previously interviewed Tamara here. Truthfully, I don’t watch many YouTube videos. However, I have seen that over the past few months, Tamara has been posting videos for many of her new patterns, and I watched a few to check out her video technique (hoping for some tips!). Her videos have clear audio and video and seem really integrated into her blog.

Best crochet magazine and digital magazine

I nominated the newcomer, I Like Crochet, in both categories. (If Crochet Today hadn’t shut down, it would probably have gotten my vote for best print magazine.) I Like Crochet is a new digital subscription magazine that includes a range of different designs. I’ve had my patterns and articles published in several issues and so I’ve had a chance to read through those issues and find some fun projects.

Best handcrafted or artisan made crochet hooks

I nominated Diane Soper from Sistermaide on Etsy. I developed a bit of a fascination with bullion stitches a few years ago, and Sistermaide sells these wonderful tapered crochet hooks that make bullions so easy to crochet. You can see the two hooks I ordered from her below.

My two Sistermaide hooks.

My two Sistermaide hooks.

Best commercial crochet hook

Once again, I had to nominate two companies. I think it’s well established that I like Tulip Etimo hooks.

My trusty Tulip Etimo sneaking it's way into a tutorial picture.

My trusty Tulip Etimo sneaking its way into a tutorial picture.

But I recently discovered the Knitter’s Pride Symfonie Dreamz Interchangeable Tunisian Crochet Hook set when one of my free patterns, Tadley’s Diagonal Blanket, was featured on their blog here. These are now my go to hooks for Tunisian and double-ended crochet projects.

Best instructional crochet book

I gave a 5 star review to Kathryn White‘s The Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs. (You can read the full review here on the CGOA blog.) I nominated this book because it finally demystified Irish crochet!

Go-to book of Irish crochet motifs

Best crochet technical editor

I nominated the wonderful Juanita Quinones, also known as BoricuaCrochet on Ravelry. After interviewing her as part of my Hispanic Heritage Month series in 2012, I started working with Juanita for my independently published patterns. She is very thorough, timely, and also provides great feedback and suggestions! (Hopefully, this nomination doesn’t lead to her becoming too busy to tech edit my patterns!)

Best new crochet designer

This was a tough category because it seems that many of the designers I’ve been following have been publishing since before 2012. I nominated Lorene Haythorn Eppolite from Cre8tion Crochet. You can find Lorene’s pattern page on Ravelry here. I love her color sense and the shapes and textures that she creates.

Lifetime achievement award

This was also a tough category, because Lifetime Achievement always implies that someone is about to retire. I decided to nominate Kim Guzman, even though I’m sure she has many more years of designing, teaching, and writing ahead of her. Kim is a very talented designer and she is always willing to share her advice and (virtually) mentor those entering the yarn industry. She is also a great teacher. I learned so much from her Pattern Grading class on Crochetville, and also from reading her many great books. I had the honor of interviewing her here, and you can read my reviews of three of her books here, here, and here.

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.

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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!

Interview with Carolyn Christmas

I’m so excited to share an interview today with Carolyn Christmas. Carolyn is one of the crochet designers whose work inspired me to start designing.

Interview with crochet designer and author, Carolyn Christmas, on Underground Crafter blog.

Crochet designer and author, Carolyn Christmas.

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Carolyn is the author of Rodale’s Visual Encyclopedia of Needlecrafts, The Portable Crafter: Crochet, and one of my all time favorite stitch guides, 101 Easy Tunisian Stitches, along with dozens of pattern books published by DRG and Leisure Arts. She is also the former editorial director and product development manager for DRG (now Annie’s), and the founding editor for Crochet! magazine. Her designs have been featured many magazines, including Crochet!, Crochet Today, and Crochet World.

Carolyn is focused on self-publishing these days, and you can find her print patterns for sale on her site, Gourmet Crochet. Her PDF patterns are available on her site here, as well as in her shops on Ravelry (where she is carolynchristmas), Etsy, and Craftsy. Carolyn also has a blog where she shares free patterns, Pink Mambo. You can also find Carolyn on the Pink Mambo Facebook page, on Pinterest, and on Twitter. All images are copyright Carolyn Christmas and shared with permission.

Interview

Circle Dance Afghan by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Circle Dance Afghan, free pattern by Carolyn Christmas. Click image to link to the pattern.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you get started crocheting?

Carolyn: I’ve crocheted all my life. I remember learning to knit at age 5, and crocheting came right on the heels of that. I didn’t get serious about crocheting until I was in my teens, though.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Carolyn: When I was in my twenties, I found myself at home with newborn twins and a six year old. I had a lot more time on my hands than I thought I would during naptimes, and I’d always been intrigued by the idea of designing for publication. I used to study magazines at length, checking the bylines of each design, and finally decided to gather my courage and send something off. I told myself I would give it up if I hadn’t published anything by the time the girls started kindergarten. As it turned out, I was working as editorial director of a needlework publishing company by that time.

Calypso Shawlette by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Calypso Shawlette, a free crochet pattern by Carolyn Christmas. Click image to link to pattern.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Carolyn: Everywhere and everything. Just life, really. For example, I’m working on a rug design now because I decided I needed a rug in my bedroom. I’ll be doing a lot of baby designs soon because we are looking forward to a new grandchild in November.

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

Carolyn: I’m inspired by designers with widely varying styles, and not all are knit and crochet desginers. I love the whimsical work of knit designers Jean Greenhowe, Alan Dart, and Jan Messent; the color work of Kristin Nicholas, the freeform work of Prudence Mapstone and many others; I also love newer designers Amy Gaines and Stacey Trock, the thread designs of Ann White and Kathryn White, the graphic style of Katherine Eng, cuteness and precision of the work of Michele Wilcox, the wonderful doll designs of elinor peace bailey and the fabric designs of her daughter-in-law, Heather Bailey. I could go on and on.

UC: Recently, you revived your blog.  What motivated you to start blogging again?

Carolyn: I decided to start the new blog, Pink Mambo, because there are a lot of designs that run through my head and off my hook that I’d simply like to share, and the blog will be a home for those. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying designing smaller things for Pink Mambo. I’m intrigued by the idea of ads supporting the blog so that I’m able financially to show the patterns for free. The blog is not self-supporting yet, but I’d love it if I could give all my patterns away at no cost. Another reason for starting the blog was that there is a big, thriving crochet blog community out there and I wanted to join in.

Surfside Bag by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Surfside Bag, a free crochet pattern by Carolyn Christmas. Click image to link to pattern.

UC: You’ve written books with major craft publishers, self-published print patterns, and now are selling your e-patterns on your website, and on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy.  Can you talk about your transition from book publishing to self-publishing and what you see as some of the advantages and challenges of self-publishing?

Carolyn: My own journey from book publishing and having a “real job” in the industry to self publishing came because I became ill and found myself at home needing to start over and redefine my goals. I had been working as product development manager at DRG when I had to leave because of my illness, and as I recuperated, I realized I wanted to spend my time creating new designs and publishing them myself.  I wanted to primarily create, rather than primarily manage people.

Self-publishing is a very freeing experience after working for mainstream publishers for years. There are a lot of new designers out there who have never known anything but self-publishing. You don’t have to send a design off and wait for weeks, sometimes months, to hear back from a publisher. You can just get it out there when it’s ready. And of course, owning the rights to your own work is a benefit that’s a whole subject in itself. One thing to remember for those who want to self-publish—you have to wear the hats of editor, copywriter, technical editor and more. Sometimes this involves hiring outside help in the form of tech editing and testing. The best thing, I think, about self-publishing is that it allows a designer to find his or her own “voice” in crochet, so to speak. You don’t have to try to design to fit the mainstream market if you don’t want to—you can design what your heart, and your own customer base, wants you to design.

Tunisian Crochet Entrelac by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Tunisian Crochet Entrelac, the pattern booklet by Carolyn Christmas that taught me entrelac crochet! Click image to link to pattern shop.

UC: In the past few years, you seem to be really drawn to circles, including your recent Circle Dance Afghan Crochet A Long.  What do you like about designing with this motif?

Carolyn: I love circles! I don’t know what it is exactly about circles, but I can just never get enough of them. I’m doing a series on Pink Mambo about how to crochet flat circles in several variations, and I’ll move on to doing multicolor circles with invisible beginnings and endings, and turning a circle into a square.

UC: You’ve done a lot of work with Tunisian crochet (one of my favorite crochet techniques).  How’d you get started with Tunisian and what do you enjoy most about it?

Carolyn: I got started doing Tunisian crochet in my teens. My mother and I made a lot of designs where you crochet a big swath of off-white Tunisian simple stitch, then cross stitch on it. Back then, I didn’t think about the possibilities too much and I didn’t realize the textures that could be achieved. I enjoy the nice drapey fabric that is possible with Tunisian crochet. I also love Tunisian entrelac and have done a lot of experimenting with that technique, including working it in a circle with my Giant Dahlia design. My most enjoyable Tunisian crochet experience was when my husband and I designed the Easy Tunisian hooks formerly manufactured by Annie’s. These are in really short supply now but we do have another manufacturer interested in having these made, so we’re hopeful these will plentiful again soon.

Adelaide crochet pattern by Carolyn Christmas, interviewed by Underground Crafter

Adelaide, a crochet pattern for sale by Carolyn Christmas. Click image to visit Ravelry page.

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

Carolyn: I visit Ravelry, Craftsy, Etsy and lots of blogs. I also love the color palettes at design-seeds.com. I belong to several Facebook groups and try to keep up with those.

UC: What’s next for you and crochet?

Carolyn: For the foreseeable future, I’ll be putting the bulk of my crochet energy into Pink Mambo. I just love working on it and traffic is increasing every day.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Carolyn!