Tag Archives: freshstitches

#Crochet #TipsTuesday: How to design a beautiful blanket using granny square patterns from multiple sources

#HowTo design a beautiful blanket using granny square patterns from multiple sources on #Crochet #TipsTuesday with Underground CrafterIf you’re participating in the Mystery Lapghan Crochet-a-long (with 36 crochet patterns by 30 designers), or if you’re just a granny square lover like me, you’ve probably spent lots of time thinking about how to piece together a blanket using squares by different designers.

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One option is to make a folky, scrappy blanket. These “stash buster” blankets are often pieced together at random, or squares are joined to the larger project as they are finished.

But what if you want to use many different squares to create a blanket that looks more cohesive and planned? I’m sharing 5 tips for designing a blanket that has the look that you want while combining granny square patterns from different sources.

1) Start by selecting colors

For a scrappy look, follow the quilters’ adage and use 7 or more colors. Surprisingly, with this many colors, you don’t have to worry much about whether they all “match” as long as colors placed side by side look harmonious.

I used this approach with my Temperature Scarf. I started with seven yarns (and added an additional color later when I ran out of one).

I used this approach with my Temperature Scarf. I started with seven yarns (and added an additional color later when I ran out of one). You can find the free crochet pattern here.

For a planned blanket, choose a more limited color palette of 3-4 colors for the squares and 1 additional color for borders and joins. If you feel anxious about choosing colors, stick with one brand and one line of yarn since these colors usually work well together. Or, read this great post on color theory for crocheters on FreshStitches.

ILC October 2015 square

2) Pick patterns that connect easily

Your blanket will have a more uniform look if each row is the same size. The simplest way to do this is to select square patterns of the same size. 4”, 6”, 8”, 12”, and 20” square patterns are common options.

Another option is to choose sizes that can easily be combined. For example, the diagram below shows how you can connect nine 4″ squares (at right) to one 12″ square (at center) and four 6″ squares (at left).

#HowTo design a beautiful blanket using granny square patterns from multiple sources on #Crochet #TipsTuesday with Underground CrafterOf course, when you are working with patterns from multiple designers, you will may find that designs that are supposed to result in squares of the same sizes don’t always end up the same size due to differences in your tension, yarn choice, hook, and so on. You might choose to “square up” the smaller squares by working a border of stitches around the square (including 3 stitches in each of the four corners to keep the corners from puckering).

Craftsy3) Lay out the final blanket before joining

A blanket will look most cohesive if you lay it out and choose your favorite arrangement before joining squares together. You can lay out motifs on a large flat surface (like your bed), or you take a picture of each square and sample your virtual layout using PicMonkey collages. Moogly has a great tutorial on using PicMonkey to plan a blanket here.

4) Choose a join to create the right look

There are three major ways to join granny squares.

An invisible join on the wrong (back) side of the blanket is best if you don’t want the seams to be part of the blanket’s design. I have several tutorials for invisible seams available:

On the other hand, a more visible join, like using single crochet join on the right (front) side to create a dimensional sashing, or using a lacy join to create a more delicate look, might be the right fit for your project. You can find my tutorial for a single crochet join here.

A third option is to “join-as-you-go.” Unless you plan your layout before starting your squares (or if you are going for a scrappy look), this technique is more difficult to use when working with squares from multiple designers.

5) Unify the blanket with a border

Finally, pull all of the squares and colors of the project together with a border. Choose a solid color for a classic look, find a variegated yarn that includes colors like those in the blanket, or use multiple colors. My favorite book of crochet border patterns is Around the Corner Crochet Borders by Edie Eckman.

I hope you found these tips helpful. What are your favorite ways to combine granny squares from different designers into one project?

Craftwich Creations: Interview, Crochet Hook Review, and Giveaway!

Interview with Monica Lowe from Craftwich Creations with crochet hook review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

Today is the last in a series of weekly (Inter)National Crochet Month posts where I feature an artisanal crochet hook maker, share a review of the hooks, and offer up a giveaway where you can win your very own hand crafted crochet hook necklace!

Craftwich likes to add a touch of mystery to the packaging.

Craftwich likes to add a touch of mystery to the packaging.

This post contains affiliate links.

Today’s post features Monica Lowe of Craftwich Creations. Monica can be found online in the Craftwich Creations Etsy shop, and on Facebook, Instagram, Ravelry, and Twitter. Today, I’ll be sharing an interview with Monica, followed by a review of her crochet hooks, and a giveaway for you to win your very own Craftwich portable crochet hook necklace! Read on for more details.

Left: My custom Craftwich hook. Right: The giveaway prize!

Left: My custom Craftwich hook. Right: The giveaway prize!


All images in the interview are copyright Craftwich Creations and used with permission.

Interview with Monica Lowe from Craftwich Creations with crochet hook review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

Underground Crafter (UC) How did you first get started working with wood?

Monica: I tried making my first hook a few years ago, and boy did it SUCK. HA! I used an oak dowel, which was so hard to hand carve with an Xacto blade. But I really got the hang of it after taking a class on hook carving with Jimbo (of Jimbo’s Front Porch) at Crochet@Cama four years ago. Once I started, I couldn’t seem to stop, and soon my husband was asking me WHAT was I going to do with all those hooks? Worked out how I liked to make my hooks, what worked best for me, and a business was born.

Craftwich Creations Studio.

Craftwich Creations Studio.

UC: What initially inspired you to make handmade crochet hooks?

Monica: In my crafting, I always have enjoyed the process more than the finished piece. It’s always a bit disappointing when it’s finished, no mater how cool it is. SO, when I moved to the Pacific Northwest, and was able to stay home with the kids, it was a natural progression to first wanting to know how to make my own yarn, and then my own tools. I want to know my craft from the beginning to end.

Craftwich Creations shawl pins, crochet hook necklaces, and other and accessories

Craftwich Creations shawl pins, crochet hook necklaces, and other and accessories

UC: Do you crochet yourself? If not, who tests out your new hook designs?

Monica: I crochet every night, on the couch, with my Ott light and my pillow, LOL! I’m a more advant-garde hooker, so I like unusual designs, and since I tend to have crafting Short Attention Span, I like to make shawls (asymmetrical are my faves) and other patterns with a variety of stitches. I do like to have anyone I see in person test my hooks – one can never have enough feedback.

Craftwich Creations knitting needles.

Craftwich Creations knitting needles.

UC: Many crocheters have never owned a handmade hook before, and you prefer to make custom hooks. Talk us through the process of working with a customer to create a great hook.

Monica: Well, my goal with my business is to make a piece of art for everyone, that is a useful tool also. If I don’t make something with someone in mind, then I want to make something that the wood tells me it wants to be. If someone is interested in my hooks, but doesn’t see one that leaps out at them (don’t laugh, it has literally happened at a craft show!) then they can request a custom order, which is SO much fun.

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First, I need to ask what kind of grip they have, small or larger hands, and whether they use a thumb, forefinger, etc. Any quirks they might have in their hook hold. For example, I have a knife hold in my left hand, and I use my fingers to throw off the yarn. (it was dubbed the “spider crawl” by Julia M. Chambers, who wrote an excellent series of articles in Interweave Crochet on hook holds). Since crochet hooks are held differently by literally each person, some of my natural hooks will NOT work for some people, and others will be PERFECT. I want to match people up with THEIR hook. Nothing makes me more pleased than hearing someone tell me, “it fits like it was made for my hand,” or “it caught my eye right away and I love it.” That means more to me than the money (although getting paid to make people happy is nice too).

I send pictures of the hook in progress as needed. It’s a small step to take, to make sure someone loves what they get.

Craftwich Creations kits and more.

Craftwich Creations kits and more.

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

Monica: I wish I had more time to visit all the blogs i WANT to! I spend most of my time on Facebook, I’m afraid. But some of the blogs I have visited, besides yours, include Moogly, ReCrochetions (Laurinda Reddig, the crochet designer, is a good friend of mine), Cre8tion Crochet, Crochet Concupiscence, Fresh Stitches, and….there’s more but my brain is not working.

Craftwich Creations crochet hooks and knitting needles.

Craftwich Creations crochet hooks and knitting needles.

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Monica: I am actually going to keep doing what I am doing! I have sold most of last year’s hooks, so March will be a big carving month for me – more gorgeous crochet tools for all my fellow hookers!

UC: What’s coming up for Craftwich Creations?

Monica: I will be at a few craft shows this year around the Pacific Northwest, so watch my Facebook page for details.

I always like to explore fun new fiber crafting ideas that I can make for people…at the end of last year, I really got into the large Tunisian hooks, so I’m gong to be making more and trying to get more people to try it! What a blast.

Most exciting of all for me, I’m partnering up with Laurinda Reddig of Reversible Color Crochet book fame, to create an exciting new tri-monthly crochet kit. We’ll have top notch hand painted yarn, an exciting pattern, an accessory that goes with them that I make (AND an option to get a custom hook to go with!), and best of all – a story that ties everything together and adds excitement to the kit. We’re putting together the details now, and I can’t wait to introduce the kits to everyone! Watch for details on the Ficstitches Yarn website!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Monica, and sharing your love of creativity with us!

Craftwich Creations CrochetHook Review

My custom crochet hook from Craftwich Creations.

My custom crochet hook from Craftwich Creations.

I had a great conversation with Monica via Etsy convo and email. The process was just as she describes in the interview above, where I shared my preferences (for a tapered hook), my grip (knife hold), my eccentricities (using my forefinger heavily), and my favorite hook sizes (I through K). After back and forth discussion, I even sent her a video of me crocheting, and ultimately, she created a custom US K-10.5 (6.5 mm) crochet hook for me to review. You can see the hook in action and hear my full review in the video below.

What I like about this hook:

    • It’s visually appealing.
    • It’s very smooth.
    • It’s extremely lightweight.
    • It has a long handle to avoid the abrasion against the side of your hand that sometimes happens when you use the knife grip to hold your hook.
    • The hook has a tapered throat, which I prefer to an inline hook.
    • It has a wider circumference on the handle, allowing for a more relaxed grip while crocheting.
    • It’s custom made and it actually feels custom made. It’s like Monica jumped into my mind and knew exactly what I wanted! What an awesome conversation starter.

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What might take some getting used to about this hook:

  • Crocheters who prefer hooks with inline throats to tapered hooks may find it harder to pull the yarn through their loops with this hook – but I’m sure Monica could make another one that suits inline hook lovers.
  • Neither the company name nor the hook size are indicated on the hook, so you may not remember where to order from again. Similarly, you will need a Susan Bates Knit-Chek (or something similar) to check the hook size if you have multiple Craftwich hooks.
  • The hooks has a non-standard shape, so it may not fit into your existing hook holders.

Craftwich Creations crochet hooks currently sell for $18 – $26, depending on the size, style, and wood used. You can find more of Monica’s hooks and her other products, including wood buttons and knitting needles, in the Etsy shop here.

Full disclosure: A free review sample was provided by Craftwich Creations. 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.

I Like Crochet April 2015 banner


Monica from Craftwich Creation is offering up a portable crochet hook necklace for one lucky U.S. reader!

This could be yours! Perfect for crocheting on the go, or to pick up dropped stitches in knitting!

This could be yours! Perfect for crocheting on the go, or to pick up dropped stitches in knitting!

So stop by Craftwich Creations and let us know your favorite hook from the shop in the comments! Follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for your chance to win by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Only entries logged through the widget will be eligible to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Modern Baby Crochet

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I’m continuing my celebration of National Crochet Month with a review of a new book by one of my favorite crochet personalities, Stacey Trock. (You can find my interview with Stacey here, as part of her blog tour for Crocheted Softies: 18 Adorable Animals from around the World, and a mini interview here, as part of last year’s NatCroMo festivities.)


Modern Baby Crochet: Patterns for Decorating, Playing, and Snuggling by Stacey Trock is a book of patterns featuring contemporary colors and designs for baby decor.

Stacey opens the book with an Introduction that explains her approach.

I focused on the hub of baby life: the nursery. I wanted to create a book of baby designs that would suit any modern nursery, whimsical and adorable, both with a chic twist.

She moves on to the Getting Started section. Here, Stacey explores how to choose an appropriate yarn for a baby project, how to properly measure gauge (and why you should), finding the right crochet hook for you, and the other supplies needed for projects in this book.  In this section, she introduces several inset boxes with tips that are featured throughout the book.

The next section, Anatomy of a Stitch, identifies the major components of crochet stitches (front and back loop and post) with illustrations and swatches showing the different looks created when you crochet into different parts of the stitch.  The Crochet Stitches section includes written and illustrated instructions for the slip knot, chain, slip stitch, single crochet, double crochet, front and back post double crochet, and several decreases.  Stacey also includes her instructions for a bobble that doesn’t leave a hole in the crochet fabric.

The Additional Techniques section includes written and illustrated instructions for several other important techniques used in the patterns: changing colors, working in the round, surface crochet, finishing off, weaving in ends, and 3 different assembling methods.

The book then moves onto the patterns, which are organized into color themes: Bold and Bright, Pretty In Pastel, and Naturally Neutral.  Each theme includes 5-7 patterns.

The book includes 21 patterns in total.

  • Skill level: 3 beginner, 13 easy, 4 intermediate, 1 experienced.
  • Project types: 7 blankets, 4 toys, 3 pillows, 2 floor mats/rugs, 2 mobiles, and 1 pouf, 1 bunting, and 1 set of bookends.

The patterns are clearly written and include explicit assembly instructions, including how to stuff and join toys and how to line rugs and mats.  My favorite patterns are the Mondrian-Inspired Afghan, the Funky Argyle Afghan,  the Asymmetrical Circles Blanket, and the Colorful Wiggle Pillow.

The next section, Finishing and Care, thoroughly explains the advantages of blocking, and provides instructions on how and when in the project’s life it should be blocked.  (This section is also referred to in the instructions for any pattern that is meant to be blocked.)  It also discusses appropriate cleaning of the various project types in the book.  Useful Information includes a chart of standard yarn weights, skill level descriptions, and metric conversions.  Abbreviations and Glossary provides a list of the US crochet abbreviation terminology used in the book and a list of links to resources including yarns, hooks, and notions used in the various projects.  The book ends with acknowledgements and more information about Stacey.

The book includes only US pattern abbreviations with no stitch symbols.  I reviewed an e-reader preview of the book, but it is available in paperback, too.  It focuses on illustrations rather than photo tutorials for explaining stitches and other techniques, which some crocheters may find harder to follow.

Overall, I think Stacey achieved her goal of creating patterns that would provide contemporary and whimsical feel for a nursery.  Many of the patterns can be used in other settings, as well.  Most of the patterns are simple enough for an advanced beginner, and the detailed instructions would help a patient beginner to work through the more complex patterns.  Many of the projects would interest more advanced crocheters as well.  However, as with all pattern collections, your enjoyment will be based on whether you can find enough patterns to suit your style.  Ravelry members can see all of the patterns on the book’s source page, here, and Stacey also has a video trailer of the projects available here.

I would give the book 4 out of 5 stars for a crocheter who enjoys making projects for baby, or crocheters who are looking for home decor projects in contemporary colors.

Full disclosure: A free electronic 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.