Tag Archives: giveaway

Blog Tour: Crochet for Baby All Year book review

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Today, I’m pleased to be a part of Tammy Hildebrand’s blog tour for her latest book, Crochet for Baby All Year: Easy-to-Make Outfits for Every Month. (I interviewed Tammy back in January about her other book, Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, which I also reviewed on the CGOA Now! blog here). I’m sharing a book review along with a giveaway. Read on for details!

Crochet for Baby All Year

Crochet for Baby All Year is a collection of 39 crochet patterns for baby/infant wearables with accessories. In the introduction,Tammy shares that she was inspired to crochet great baby items after learning she was going to become a first-time grandmother in 2012. Although her grandbaby was a girl, Tammy aims for an equal opportunity book by sharing theme patterns for boys and girls organized around the calendar.

The book is arranged in chapters by month. Each chapter opens with a large (nearly full page) photograph of an adorable infant boy or girl (or, frequently, both) wearing that month’s outfits with accessories. Each month’s patterns are either unisex or include variations for both boys and girls. Tammy describes the holiday or seasonal activity that inspired the outfit, and then the chapter continues with the patterns. Each pattern includes more photographs of the projects on the cute little models, the skill level, special stitches, and schematics when appropriate. Garments are generally available in 3-5 sizes from newborn through 18 months. Most of the patterns are considered easy, with one intermediate and one experienced pattern included in the book. The patterns are written with US crochet terminology.

The project breakdown is as follows:

  • Hats and bonnets: 14
  • Cardigans/sweater/jersey: 5
  • Dresses: 4
  • Booties and sandals: 3
  • Sleeveless tops: 3
  • Headbands: 2
  • Christening gowns: 2
  • Bikini/swim trunks: 2
  • Rompers: 2
  • Pants: 1
  • Bow tie: 1
  • Costume: 1

The book ends with a heartfelt acknowledgements page, information about the yarns used in the book, a glossary of pattern abbreviations, and thumbnails of each project for a quick visual reference.

Like all pattern books, your enjoyment will be increased by the number of projects you actually want to make! (My personal favorites are the Stanley or Stella the Stegasaurus Costume; the Fall Festival Cardigan, Hat, and Booties set; and the Varsity Cheerleader Girl Dress and Headband.) You can see pictures of each project in Stackpole’s lookbook here.

There are no tutorials or stitch illustrations included, so this book is geared towards an advanced beginner or intermediate crocheter who has their basic skills down and is comfortable with reading US pattern abbreviations.

I would recommend Crochet for Baby All Year to an advanced beginner crocheter who enjoys making projects for babies and infants and prefers reading pattern abbreviations. A more advanced crocheter might wish for more complex patterns, and a crocheter who prefers international stitch symbols won’t find them in this book.

And now for the giveaway! Please note that my blog is still having difficulty accepting comments, so blog comments WILL NOT count as giveaway entries (since I won’t be able to read them!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Full disclosure: A free review copy of  Crochet for Baby All Year: Easy-to-Make Outfits for Every Month was provided by Stackpole Books. 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.

2014 Sampler MKAL May Giveaway Sponsor: Erin.Lane Bags

blog MKAL logo supplies with sample block edit

You can find more information on the 2014 Sampler MKAL here, and can order the pattern here.  Join in any time for a fun project with great prizes!

 

This month’s giveaway sponsor is Erin.Lane Bags. Lindsey and her mother, Lisa, sell their fabulous knitting organizer bags and cases on Etsy.  In addition to the Etsy shop, Lindsey can be found on Twitter and as followingaslan on Ravelry. Lindsey was nice enough to stop by for an interview today. All pictures are copyright Erin.Lane Bags and are used with permission.

Interview

ErinLaneBags bucket bag 3

A bucket bag from Erin.Lane Bags.

Underground Crafter (UC): Tell us about your company, Erin.Lane Bags. When did you start it and how has it grown since the beginning?

Lindsey: When my mom and I learned to knit, we were a hugely unaware of how expensive a hobby it was. However, we learned quickly. As a teacher, I know most of you know, I am pretty much, broke, all the time. My aunt, who owned a yarn shop for 23 years in Grosse Point, Michigan, was kind enough to set us up with a few balls of yarn, and some needles. Yarn meaning Rowan, and needles meaning, Addis. She wasn’t setting us up to have good taste at all, right?!

I lost 6 sets of needles, and when I went to replace them, I realized I was in it for almost $100 bucks. I couldn’t do that. So I spread it out over several months. While I was working on rebuilding my needle collection, I went to my mom, the consummate seamstress, and asked for help. She had had similar problems with her needles so we started working, and when we finally liked a case, we showed it to our ladies at our local knit night. One lady asked for one, then another, and then we realized we had a business here.

We started developing other products to help everything be coordinating, and we took some big risks.

In 2006, my father had quadruple bypass surgery and one month later had to have his sternum removed due to a MRSA infection inside the bone. Shortly thereafter, he lost his job, and then about 6 months after that, my mom lost hers. We needed the money, and so Erin.Lane Bags became a business. We worked hard to try to get ready for our first show, STITCHES South, and then basically started going on a yearly STITCHES Tour. We have done all of the shows several times with great success.

We have been blessed to have wonderful customers who always have an unique problem, They need something to do this, or that, or the other, and that is really how we grew our product line. Our goal because being the best solution for knitters’ organizational woes.

When we went to our first show we had six products, and now we have almost twenty. It is super exciting to see what we have accomplished, and how this has impacted so many people’s lives. It is so amazing when someone tells you how much she loves her bag, or how her needle organizer is perfect for what she needs it to do. It makes the long hours at the sewing machine seem worth it in so many ways.

 

Erin LaneDrawstring Bag

Large drawstring bag from Erin.Lane Bags.

UC: How did you first get started sewing?

Lindsey: When we started this crazy journey, my mom sewed, and I did all the prep work. I cut the fabric and ribbon, ironed the ribbon, and did ALL of the seam ripping. (Trust me, that was almost a full time job.) I watched my mom sew. I studied her hands, the way the used a seam ripper as a regulator to turn the perfect corner, and didn’t think I was learning anything.

Then providence stepped in. The owner of our local yarn shop asked for a cute, functional project bag to sell. We developed it, and then, armed with 10 bags, my mom went in to the next knit night. By the time I got there after a faculty meeting at school, they were all sold, AND we had requests. We knew we were on to something. We decided to make more that weekend, and they were simple enough for me to be able to sew, so we bought a $100 machine and I sewed a few things. I then realized how much I had actually learned watching my mom sew. I started saving money to buy a “real” sewing machine. After a year, I had enough and bought my first machine – a Brother NX-Q850. I loved it. We used my mom’s 20 year old machine and that little Brother to get us to our first four shows.

The rest, I guess, is history. I have been sewing ever since, and now I have LOTS of sewing machines that do LOTS of different things!

 

Erin Lane Bucket Bag

A bucket bag from Erin.Lane Bags.

UC: Do you still have time for knitting? 

Lindsey: I am a knitter. At least, sometimes I pretend to be. I buy LOTS of yarn at all the events I go to, but mostly I don’t have time to knit due to all of the sewing I have to do. I love knitting, and when I can throw a couple rows into a sock or scarf, I do. Mostly I knit small things though.

We started making organizers because when I learned to knit, my aunt taught me she taught me on Rowan wool an Addi Turbos. Nothing too expensive (smile). When I learned how expensive this hobby was going to be, I realized quickly that on a teacher’s salary, I couldn’t afford to lose even one set of needles. However, by that time, I had lost like 6 sets of Addis. I went to my mom who had been sewing since forever, and asked her to help make something for me. We tinkered and tinkered. There were lots of “prototypes.” When we figured out a design we liked, we made one and took it to our local knit night. The people at my local yarn shop are still my market research. They are some amazing ladies!

 

ErinLaneBags Small drawstring bagSmall drawstring bag by Erin.Lane Bags.

UC: You have over 1,600 sales on Etsy (!). What tips do you have for a new Etsy seller?

Lindsey: Stick with it. I know it is hard to look at a shop and see that the number of sales is in the thousands. To be honest, I look at shops, and think 10,000 sales? When did they open? Oh, great same time as me. Perfect. But at the end of the day it is about perseverance. If you don’t stick with it, it will never be successful. Sometimes, it sucks. Sometimes, you think you are not doing anything correctly, just keep going.

I know that social media has played a huge roll in getting me to that number of sales. Also, Etsy is an amazing community. You can find a tutorial on just about every topic. Etsy wants you to be successful, and they have the best tutorials on how to be successful in their online marketplace.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Etsy is a wonderful community of like minded people. Ask someone who has been doing it longer. I know I have asked people for help, and it has been great. Mostly, everyone on Etsy is happy to see others succeed. I think that is what sets it apart from places like Ebay and other online shop sites.

Also, have a plan. Make all of your listings when your sales are slow and just keep them as drafts. Set up a regular update. A lot of the searches are based on what is most recently listed and not what is most relevant. That helps a lot. That way when you have a few minutes you can list something from your computer or phone/tablet without having to interrupt what you are doing or stop a work flow.

 

ErinLaneBags Bucket bag

A bucket bag from Erin.Lane Bags.

 

UC: What’s on the horizon for Erin.Lane in the next year?

Lindsey: This next year is going to be a whirlwind. (And by year, I mean school year: I’m a teacher – that is how we think.) We are planning on being a several shows like STITCHES Midwest, Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza, and maybe a few more. (We are on a couple of waiting lists.) And that just takes us through September!

We are also working on a club with A Hundred Ravens called Random Fandom. If you are a nerd or geek, or just a big fan, you should totally check it out!

On the design front, we are working on developing a spinning bag. My husband just took up spinning, thanks to a few friends from DFW Fiber Fest, and he can tell me what works and what doesn’t. I have no idea when it will roll out, but know that it is in the process of being developed. We also have another new needle case to roll out, hopefully this summer.

Other than that, I will be teaching another year, hopefully my last, but we will continue to sew to meet all of your organizational needs!

 

Thanks for sponsoring our giveaways, Lindsey, and for stopping by for an interview!

 

Giveaway

Erin.Lane Bags is offering the winner of this month’s giveaway their choice of any bucket bag or drawstring bag in their Etsy inventory.

To enter the giveaway, post a picture of any 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-A-Long sampler square you knit during May in the relevant spoiler thread on Ravelry by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, May 31, 2014.  (KAL participants who are not Ravelry members can instead share pictures with the Underground Crafter Facebook page or Tweet pictures to @ucrafter.)  Each square you share a picture of will count as one entry.  One winner will be chosen at random on or about June 3.

Blog tour: Interview with Amy Gunderson, author of Knitted Mitts & Mittens

Today, I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for Amy Gunderson’s new release, Knitted Mitts & Mittens: 25 Fun and Fashionable Designs for Fingerless Gloves, Mittens, and Wrist Warmers. I’ll be sharing an interview with Amy and offering a giveaway of the book, so read on for details!

Amy is a (mostly) knitting designer who is also the creative lead for Universal Yarn. Previously, she was the design coordinator for both Universal Yarn and Premier Yarns. Amy can be found online on Ravelry (as AmyGunderson, on her designer page, and in the Amy Gunderson Designs group), on her blog, Get Off My Lawn Designs, and on Twitter as @gundersonamy. All images are used with permission, and are copyright Burcu Avsar unless otherwise noted.

 

Interview

Amy Gunderson

Amy Gunderson. Image (c) Sarah Heady.

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

Amy: When I was about 20, I had a job cooking pizzas back in Iowa City, Iowa, home of the Iowa Hawkeyes (University of Iowa). Our busiest times were after 1 am when drunken college kids are in their prime (joke). But when it wasn’t bar time, things could get very quiet. Crossword puzzles entertained me for only so long, so I decided to learn how to crochet. My grandmother crocheted but her Alzheimer’s got the better of her before she was able to teach me. I picked up a “how to crochet” booklet at my local craft store and took off from there. I learned the basics from that little booklet but “invented” everything else I did. I’m so happy that was the way I learned, because it taught me to be in tune with what I was doing, and that nobody could tell me I was doing something wrong. I totally thought I had come up with a brand new idea which I eventually learned was called tapestry crochet. Ha!

Fast forward about 10 years, when my (now) husband and I owned our own pizza place. He delivered the pizzas, I cooked them. This was in the same college town with the same sort of down periods when college kids weren’t living it up. I unsuccessfully tried to learn knitting a couple of times before it finally clicked. Because I was a crocheter first, the throwing method of knitting where yarn is tensioned with the right hand just didn’t make sense to me. I found a video online that demonstrated continental knitting and I was finally able to “get it”. I delved into as many aspects of knitting as I could and drowned myself in technique knowledge. I did eventually learn how to throw-knit when I got into stranded knitting. Being able to hold one color in each hand makes the job much faster.

 

Twisted Brown Sugar

Twisted Brown Sugar pattern.

 

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Amy: My answer is probably very similar to a lot of knitwear designers out there. I would have in my mind this perfect sweater that I wanted to make and would scour the internet for such a pattern. When I couldn’t find what I wanted, I’d end up starting out with a base pattern and then adding my own modifications. It was soon clear that I didn’t really need that “base” pattern to start with, and that I could simply start from scratch. Ravelry makes it possible for someone like me to write up a pattern and offer it to the world, so that’s what I did. It was this combined with my incessant need to be “making stuff” constantly that led me to design knitwear. Ravelry also made it possible for me to have a place to house my portfolio. When I made my first submissions to Knitscene, Lisa Shroyer was able to see what I had done previously and that I actually know how to knit.

 

Gradient Flip-Top Mittens

Gradient Flip-Top Mittens pattern.

 

UC: You’re currently the design coordinator for Universal Yarn and Premier Yarns. Tell us how you entered that work. What are your favorite aspects? What are some of the challenges?

Amy: I’d been knitting for a couple of years and designing for maybe 6 months when I saw a post on Ravelry advertising for the position. I asked Kirk (my husband) how he’d feel about moving to North Carolina before applying for the position. I’m sure neither of us imagined I’d actually get the job, but after an interview process, I did! I don’t have a design degree or formal training. Being formerly self-employed taught me a lot about understanding people on both sides of a situation. In addition to crochet and knitting, I have a sewing background (self-taught) that has been instrumental in garment construction, shaping, grading etc.

I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have my job. I get to help develop yarn, pick colors, name them, draw, knit, etc every day. I just got back from our mill in Turkey where I was able to learn more about exactly how our various yarns are produced. After that, I was in Cologne, Germany at the annual Handarbeit craft trade show where I was overwhelmingly inspired for a couple of days by all the up and coming trends and new products in the craft world. I also feel lucky that I actually still love to knit and crochet, even though it’s my job!

Although I work for a yarn company, we’re not this huge corporation. The number of people in the office is actually very small. It can be very challenging to be constantly creative and have good ideas. The trick is realizing which ideas are not so great and trying to forget I had them! But that’s a joke, really. It’s a process, this creative thing is. And it’s important to keep an open mind and explore all options. Another thing that plagues me are pattern mistakes. Everyone who writes and edits patterns has them from time to time. I do my best to make sure the patterns I’m responsible are as accurate as possible, but they still work their way in some times. When I field a phone call or email from a customer with a pattern problem, I always take it fairly personally and feel awful. I know what it’s like to be confused in a pattern and wonder if it’s me or the pattern. It stinks!

 

Swedish Mittens

Swedish Mittens pattern.

 

UC: Your first solo book, Knitted Mitts & Mittens, has just been published. What was the development process like for this book? Will you take a mitt(en) hiatus after this, or are you more excited to knit them than ever?

Amy: Pam Hoenig, the craft editor at Stackpole Books, gave me great freedom with the projects in this book. It was basically just like, make 25 fingerless gloves and mittens, I know you’ll do a great job. And that was it. I thank her in the book for this liberty and I will thank her again now: Thank you Pam for your trust! Limitations can be helpful, but it was great to not really have any with this book. This was a liberating experience! Obviously, that all the patterns are for mitts/mittens are a limitation in and of itself. But I can’t lie, there were times when I wondered if I could possibly come up with another idea for a fingerless glove. In those times, I’d do what I usually do when I’m blocked about something in life: forget about knitting completely and do something else (possibly involving a glass or two of wine). It’s fun how one idea can lead to another. I think it’s so important to keep an open mind in designing. If I’ve imagined something and sketched it out and my stitching ends up going a different direction I let it take me there if that’s where it needs to go. I try not to robotically do things, but to be mindful of each step and detail.

I naturally am drawn to knitting garments. What can I say; I love clothes! But doing all these small projects that can be completed in such a short period of time have made me rethink my garment love. Yes, I’m excited to make more fingerless gloves. I forgot how nice it can be to start and finish a project over the course of just a day or two!

 

Boutros the Beetle

Boutros the Beetle pattern.

 

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

Amy: I actually own almost no knitting books. I have the first three books in Barbara Walker‘s library which I love to refer to from time to time. The most recent knitting book I purchased was Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor. (UC comment: You can find my review for Bestor’s book here.) I’m always most interested in finishing details and other persnickety things in knitting. (I’ve been trying really hard to find a good reason to use “persnickety” lately).

 

Energy Mitts

Energy Mitts pattern.

 

UC: What’s your favorite fiber to work with and what do you love about it?

Amy: Linen, definitely. It just feels good. I read lots of complaints by people who don’t like working with it. Certainly, it’s not as pleasant as knitting with springy wool. Soaking linen (and letting dry) helps the stiffness. The drape and breatheability of linen are just unbeatable. Something about the raw natural texture draws me in like nothing else. Plus, it only improves in softness each time it’s washed and dried!

 

UC: Are there any crafty websites/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Ravelry! And the Universal Yarn blog and Premier Yarns blog, of course!

 

Thank you for stopping by Amy!

 

Giveaway

Knitted Mitts & Mittens cover

 

Are you ready to win your copy of Knitted Mitts & Mittens: 25 Fun and Fashionable Designs for Fingerless Gloves, Mittens, and Wrist Warmers, courtesy of Stackpole Books? This giveaway is open to all readers with an email address.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

To enter:

  • Check out Stackpole’s lookbook and leave a comment telling me which pattern you’d knit first and why.
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter or Pinterest, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • One winner of will be chosen at random on or about Thursday, April 24, 2014.

Good luck!

2014 Sampler MKAL April Giveaway Sponsor: Bending Flow Designs Guest Post

blog MKAL logo supplies with sample block edit

You can find more information on the 2014 Sampler MKAL here, and can order the pattern here.  Join in any time for a fun project with great prizes!

This month’s giveaway sponsor is Bending Flow Designs (formerly known as Alchemic Viscera). Jesse sells blown glass and wire wrapped creations on Etsy.  In addition to the Etsy shop, Jesse can be found on the Alchemic Viscera Facebook page.

I asked Jesse to share a guest post today, so we could all learn a bit more about the creative process behind Bending Flow Designs and the origins of those glass knitting needles! All pictures are copyright Bending Flow Designs and are used with permission.

 

Riding the Glass Ship

Guest Post by Jesse W. from Bending Flow Designs

Glass Daisy by Bending Flow Designs

Glass Daisy by Bending Flow Designs.

How to begin to explain my journey into the world of glass is a feat in itself. One thing, though, that I can say is that journey has been an inspiring, enlightening, humbling, and an extremely engrossing experience. Art, sculpture, and creating has always been a part of my life. I have been creating and conjuring since I can remember. Whether it was weird paper sculptures constructed of used loose leaf paper and Elmer’s glue, skate ramps built of salvaged wood, or clothing and bags made of scrapped remnants from an upholstery factory my neighbors owned, I was always creating something. Most of the time it was out of some salvaged material, but the satisfaction of finishing a piece that was built from “garbage” and being able to wear it to school the next day kept my drive alive. I also loved that I was able to create something with my own hands and energy, and I could enjoy it or even use it throughout the day. I just kept creating; flitting from project to project, medium to medium. Eventually, after trying many different mediums (metals, textiles, ceramics, etc.), I came across the wondrous medium of glass and got on board the “glass ship.” From there on it’s a continuous story that keeps unraveling itself as my life goes on.

 

Glass Fish and Fishing Net by Bending Flow Designs

Glass fish in glass fishing net by Bending Flow Designs.

Throughout my journey on the “glass ship,” I have created many different things. Many of them custom orders, and all of them drawing inspiration and building confidence. Working with both hollow and solid glass forms, I started to build knowledge and explore the parameters. Doors just kept opening, and I kept discovering more and more of what was possible. Making the glass daisy and the fish in the fishing net pictured above have really helped show me how much I was able to push the limits of glass.

Custom Boulder & Fire Opal Sterling Silver Wire Wrap Pendant by Bending Flow Designs

Boulder and fire opal sterling silver wire wrap pendant by Bending Flow Designs.

My work does not trend towards an specific style. I just really like to create things that can be worn or are useful. I like to use mixed media for some of my pieces. Intricately wrapping them with wire to see how I can accentuate features. And sometimes not using glass at all, and just using metal and minerals. High energy and the relentlessly turning gears in my mind are constantly driving me to create. Everything that’s built is derived from that ruthless energy, and I have learned over time, not to fight it. If there’s a project that I don’t want to give my time to, but I have already conjured it up and started it; I found that it’s best to just go with the flow and stick it out. Some of my best work has resulted in this. This was how the glass knitting needles were born.

 

Custom Beach Glass and Sterling Silver Wire Wrap Pendant

Beach glass and sterling silver wire wrap pendant by Bending Flow Designs.

With all the different types of arts and crafts that I like to explore, I decided one day that I wanted to make myself a scarf. To challenge myself, I decided to try to knit this scarf. I do not have the most extensive background in knitting as I somewhat do with crocheting, so naturally all I had laying around the house were several different size crochet hooks. Though they are nice hooks, and have helped me along many times before, they were not going to aide me in my knitted scarf journey.

 

Tourmaline Aquamarine Ring

Tourmaline aquamarine ring by Bending Flow Designs.

 

That’s when it began. I started to search the house for long slender items that could substitute for knitting needles. Well, I tried chopsticks, pens, pencils, smooth pieces of drift wood; nothing worked.The diameters weren’t right with some, and the others weren’t long enough. I started to get frustrated, and wanted to quit even before I started. Then it dawned on me, I had piles of clear glass stock in my studio in whatever diameter I wanted. I ran down to my studio and made the first pair, let them cool, and started knitting with them. AMAZING! They were the smooth and exactly the length that I wanted them. They helped me so much with my project that I decided to make more of them, and share them with whomever was interested.

 

Black & White Glass Knitting Needles by Bending Flow Designs

Black and white glass knitting needles by Bending Flow Designs.

 

Since that point in time, I have been making more and more of them and selling them in stores around my town and in my Etsy shop, Bending Flow Designs. I have been getting great feedback on there design and function. I am going to continue to come up with more styles. I have several different styles of toppers now, but I enjoy getting custom orders from people because they open up my mind to new things.

Colorful Glass Knitting Needles by Bending Flow Designs

Colorful glass knitting needles by Bending Flow Designs.

Art, glass, and the process of creation has always been something that has intrigued me. I love the way that you become fully entranced by the beauty as you first see a piece that draws wonder, and audible ooohs and aaahs. The connecting energy between myself and the piece seems to be stronger when I am using it. I appreciate fine arts and the beauty that can send your mind swirling, but the appreciation that I get out of a piece of art that I am able to use everyday, and at the same time its upholding its own beauty is enchanting.

 

Giveaway

Glass Knitting Needles by Bending Flow Designs

Jesse will be providing the winner’s choice of a set of swirl top knitting needles in US Size 10 (6 mm) or US Size 11 (8 mm). The winner can also choose from a blue, green, red, purple, orange, yellow, or pink color blend in the swirl top.

To enter the giveaway, post a picture of any 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-A-Long sampler square you knit during April in the relevant spoiler thread on Ravelry by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.  (KAL participants who are not Ravelry members can instead share pictures with the Underground Crafter Facebook page or Tweet pictures to @ucrafter.)  Each square you share a picture of will count as one entry.  One winner will be chosen at random on or about May 3.

2014 Sampler MKAL March Giveaway Sponsor: Michelle’s Assortment

Underground Crafter MKAL button2

You can find more information on the 2014 Sampler MKAL here, and can order the pattern here.  Join in any time for a fun project with great prizes!

This month’s giveaway sponsor is Michelle’s Assortment.  Michelle sells her wireworked shawl pins, stitch markers, bookmarks, and charms on Etsy and at fiber events around the country.  You may remember that I had the opportunity to meet her at Vogue Knitting Live in January.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelle's Assortment Michelle

I snapped that picture of her in her booth, where I helped out for a few hours.  Michelle has some lovely work.  In fact, I’m the proud owner of three of her stunning shawl pins.

Michelles Assortment shawl pins for Marie

In addition to her Etsy shop, Michelle can be found online as CraftyFlutterby on Ravelry and on the Michelle’s Assortment Facebook page.  Michelle will be a vendor at several upcoming fiber events, including the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival from March 14 through March 16.  (I had a fabulous time at the festival last year, which you can read about here.) She’ll also be at several Ohio events in the next few months: A Knitter’s Fantasy in April, OddMall in May, the Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair in August, and the Autumn Fiber Festival in October.

Michelle will also be the MKAL giveaway sponsor in November.  Thanks, Michelle, for your generosity and support!

 

Giveaway

blog Michelles Assortment Shawl Pin Collage

Michelle will be providing the winner’s choice of any straight pin with a single bead in her shop inventory.  You can find her current inventory of straight pins in her Etsy shop here.  Be aware that her stock is likely to change by the end of March after the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival.  (The shawl pins shown above are, from left to right: the Heart Shaped Stone Bead, the Winter is Coming Shawl Pin, and the Glass Bead with Hot Pink Wrap.)

To enter the giveaway, post a picture of any 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-A-Long sampler square you knit during Marcj in the relevant spoiler thread onRavelry by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Monday, March 31, 2014.  (KAL participants who are not Ravelry members can instead share pictures with theUnderground Crafter Facebook page or Tweet pictures to @ucrafter.)  Each square you share a picture of will count as one entry.  One winner will be chosen at random on or about April 3.

2014 Sampler MKAL February Giveaway Sponsor: An interview with Sarah Kincheloe

Underground Crafter MKAL button1

You can find more information on the 2014 Sampler MKAL here, and can order the pattern here.  Join in any time for a fun project with great prizes!

This month’s giveaway sponsor is sarahkincheloe on Etsy.  Sarah’s shop carries an array of beautiful and functional organizers for crochet hooks and knitting needles.  In addition to donating a prize for the giveaway, I asked Sarah to share some background with KAL participants and my readers in this interview. All images are used with her permission.

Sarah Kincheloe

Sarah Kincheloe with her vintage sewing machine in the background.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started knitting and sewing?

Sarah: My mother and aunt are truly remarkable crafters. My aunt sewed all of her husband’s suits and button down shirts back in the day and my mom made most of my and my brother’s clothes (with matching dresses for my dolls, of course). I wholly resisted learning to sew, but did pick up crochet and needle point among other things.

 

As for knitting, it’s one thing no one in my family did, and maybe that’s the reason it intrigued me. I bought a book for $4 at a craft store and a pair of needles and taught myself when I was 24. My first project was a scarf that rolled horribly but by the time I got to my third or fourth it was a double knit scarf with intarsia that had even the old Polish ladies at my knitting shop in Brooklyn scratching their heads. I’ve never been much for huge projects but I’ve knitted a lot of little toys and stuffed animals as well as blankets, socks, mittens and the like.

 

Circular Needle Organizer

Chocolate Brown and Blue Dots Circular Knitting Needle Organizer.

 

UC: What was the original inspiration for opening your Etsy shop?

Sarah: I wanted a nice knitting needle organizer and couldn’t find one I liked. I asked my mom to sew me one for Christmas and she did. I think this is what convinced me that sewing is actually useful. I flew back to grad school in Chicago with an old school metal Singer sewing machine in the carry on.

 

I already had an Etsy shop selling hand painted and black and white photography, another passion of mine, but my darkroom was in Texas and I was in Chicago so I decided to try my hand at sewing useful things that were also nice to look at.

 

DPN rolls

Purple and Green DPN organizer.

 

UC: Your organizers and cases are geared towards knitters and crocheters. Why did you focus on these products and what do you enjoy about making them?

Sarah: I focus on knitting and crochet because I understand those things. I can anticipate how a dpn roll should work because I have an unwieldy amount of dpns myself. People have requested organizers for everything from paintbrushes to bookbinding tools to midwife equipment but I always feel more confident creating something I can really envision using myself.

 

Interchangeable Knit Picks Organizer

Inside of an interchangeable needles organizer.

 

UC: Your photographs have a really clean look. Do you have any photography tips to share with crafters?

Sarah: Seek out good natural light and edit your photos to reflect the real item. I use Photoshop to get a white background as well. It adds extra time and effort to each listing, but I think it’s worth it for the cohesive look in my shop.

 

Straight Needle Organizer

Whales straight needles organizer.

 

UC: How do you balance your business with your professional job? What tips do you have for other small business owners who are also working at another job?

Sarah: This is a constant question in my mind as I do have a full time career that I love as well as a toddler, a husband, and a huge urban garden where I grow as much of our food as possible. I set aside chunks of time to sew and make sure to keep up with orders on a daily basis. Luckily winter is my busiest time of year, and that is when the garden is quieter. I have used slower times to build up a lot of inventory (about 300 items) so I never have to enter panic mode.

 

Since my day job is pretty intense and requires me to be “on” (I’m a social worker doing therapy with adults with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), it’s nice to have time to just sew and listen to podcasts and unwind a little.

 

Thanks for stopping by for an interview, Sarah, and for sponsoring this month’s MKAL giveaway!

Giveaway

Sarah will be providing the winner’s choice of any needle organizer in her shop inventory with a price of $42 or less.  You can check out her organizers in the straight needle cases, circular needle cases, dpn rolls, for interchangeable sets, and hanging needle organizers sections of her Etsy shop.

To enter the giveaway, post a picture of any 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-A-Long sampler square you knit during February in the relevant spoiler thread on Ravelry by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Friday, February 28, 2014.  (KAL participants who are not Ravelry members can instead share pictures with the Underground Crafter Facebook page or Tweet pictures to @ucrafter.)  Each square you share a picture of will count as one entry.  One winner will be chosen at random on or about March 3.

Blog tour interview: Tammy Hildebrand, author of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way

Today, I’m thrilled to share an interview with Tammy Hildebrand as part of the blog tour for her latest book, Crochet Wraps Every Which Way: 18 Original Patterns in 6 Techniques, published by Stackpole Books.  The nice folks at Stackpole have also shared a giveaway copy of the book with me, so read on for more details on how to enter for your chance to win a copy.

Tammy is a crochet designer, author, and teacher, as well as the current Vice President of the Crochet Guild of America.  Her three previous booklets, Wheelchair Afghans & BagsEasy Bead As You Go, and Easy Side-to-Side Jackets & Shrugs, were published by Annie’s.  Her patterns have appeared in numerous collections including Unexpected Afghans and 50 Sensational Crochet Afghans & Throws, and magazines such as Crochet World, Interweave Crochet, and Crochet!

Tammy is sometimes known as Hot Lava Crochet – hmm, I wonder why? ;) – and you can find her online on her Facebook pageblog, on Ravelry (as Tammystreasures or on her designer page), on Pinterest, on Twitter, and on Craftsy.  You can also learn more from this recent interview with her on the Red Heart blog.  Updated to add: You can find my review of Tammy’s new book on the CGOA blog here.

Tammy Hildebrand

All project pictures are from Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, are copyright of Stackpole Books, and are used with permission.  You can find pictures of all 18 patterns here in the Stackpole lookbook.

Interview

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

Tammy: My second grade teacher offered to teach crochet to anyone in our class that wished to stay after school. I was the only one that stayed! My first project was a floppy, purple hat that we worked on together sitting at her big wooden desk.

 

cascading rivers

 

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Tammy: We moved to North Carolina from Niagara Falls when my kids were babies. I saw an ad in the newspaper for crocheters and thought it would be a great way to make a little money while I stayed home with my girls. After a couple weeks a light bulb went off and I thought “Wow! I could do this!” and so I started designing myself.

 

chica mala

 

UC: You’ve held a variety of positions in the Crochet Guild of America. Can you talk about why you become involved with CGOA, and share any advice for professional crocheters who are interested in becoming more involved?

Tammy: I have served as the mentor coordinator, the professional development chairperson and I currently serve as the vice president. Initially I became involved because I wanted to give back to CGOA after how beneficial the organization had been for me but with each new opportunity, I find myself learning and receiving even more. To anyone that wishes to be involved, contact me or anyone of our board of directors and let us know. Each person has wonderful talents and strengths which are such a huge asset when we all work together as a team.

 

you are my sunshine

 

UC: Tell me about the development process for Crochet Wraps Every Which Way. How was it similar or different from the process of developing your previous booklets?

Tammy: I’m not much of a planner so in typical fashion, I learn as I go and tackle obstacles as they present themselves. The photography was done by a local photographer so it was my first time participating in the styling and photo shoots. That was a lot of fun!

 

perfect pineapples

 

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

Tammy: My Harmony Guides as well as a Japanese stitch dictionary are always on my desk and I refer to them all the time.

 

UC: What’s next for you?

Tammy: I am scheduled to teach my first two classes at Crochetville‘s 10th anniversary retreat in February. The details are here.  (UC comment: If you can get to Huntsville, Alabama in February, this looks like a great event!)

 

Tammy, thanks so much for stopping by for the interview.  We wish you the best for the rest of the blog tour!

 

Giveaway

crochet wraps every which way

Are you ready to win your copy of Crochet Wraps Every Which Way, courtesy of Stackpole Books? This giveaway is open to all readers with an email address.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, January 26, 2014.

To enter:

  • Check out Stackpole’s lookbook and leave a comment telling me which pattern you’d crochet first and why.
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter or Pinterest, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • Let me know if you want to use additional entry for different prizes.
  • One winner of will be chosen at random on or about Tuesday, January 28, 2014.

Good luck!

Book Review and Giveaway: Curvy Girl Crochet by Mary Beth Temple

Today, I’m excited to review Curvy Girl Crochet by Mary Beth Temple.  I actually received a review copy of this book from Taunton before I interviewed Mary Beth at Vogue Knitting Live last January (egads!) but life got in the way of me finishing the book and writing the review.  To reward you for the long delay, I’m also offering a giveaway today!

Book Review

Curvy Girl Crochet

In Curvy Girl Crochet: 25 Patterns that Fit and Flatter, Mary Beth Temple takes a two-pronged approach to crocheting for the plus-sized woman.  In her introduction and the first two chapters, she shares the information you need to find, alter, and crochet garments that fit.  In the last three chapters, she shares 25 patterns (designed by Mary Beth and 5 other designers) that are developed with the curvy woman in mind.

Mary Beth opens the book by explaining that

[i]f you put 50 plus-sized women in a room, no two of them will be plus-sized in quite the same way.

I worried about this when I began creating this book – how would I come up with patterns that would suit everyone?  In the end, I decided this was a wonderful opportunity to create flattering garments for all sorts of different body types.  Not every piece will suit every body, but everybody will find something within these pages that will satisfy their need to create and to express their individual styles.

In Chapter 1: Projects that Fit and Flatter, Mary Beth suggests readers explore what flatters them in the ready-to-wear world before choosing patterns to crochet for themselves.  She also shares tips for taking accurate measurements and for selecting an appropriate yarn for a garment project.  In Chapter 2: Finding Your Fit, Mary Beth discusses how to modify your crochet garment.  She deeply explores gauge (critical for crocheting garments), how to assess the pattern, decide on the size and amount of ease to select, and adapting hemlines, waist shaping, and sleeves.  She walks us through a sample project, describing how and where all the modifications could be made.  And Mary Beth reminds us that a strong finish – with blocking, seaming, and details like buttons – can really make a crocheted garment outstanding.  While both chapters are chock full of information, the clear writing and the formatting make them easy to read.

Chapter 3: Pullovers, Tunics, and Tank Tops, includes 9 patterns (5 are easy and the other 4 are intermediate level).  My favorite patterns in this section are Verdant Pullover and the Progressive Tunic.  The Essential Pullover is a simple pattern that will ease a newbie garment crocheter into their first sweater and which can be modified easily.

In Chapter 4: Cardigans, Coats, and Jackets, there are 7 outerwear designs (1 beginner, 3 easy, and 3 intermediate level).  Again, Mary Beth includes an Essential Cardigan pattern that is simple to crochet and easy to modify.  It also has delightful details, like the picot edging.  My favorite patterns in this section are the Intertwined Poncho (available as a free download from Lion Brand here) and the Peacoat for Rule Breakers.

Chapter 5: Wraps, Bags, and Accessories, includes 9 patterns (5 easy and 4 intermediate level).  My favorites here are the Sensible Shawl, Charles Voth‘s Coalesce Wrap, and Andee GravesSkirt the Issue.  (You can check out my interview with Charles here.)

Each pattern in Chapter 3 and 4 includes multiple pictures of the garment on a plus-sized model, and, true to Mary Beth’s introduction, there are quite a few different shapes represented by the models.  Additionally, there are clear schematics and the major stitch pattern is also included in international stitch symbols, while the full pattern is written with U.S. pattern abbreviations.  All garment patterns are written for six sizes (L, XL, 2X, 3X, 4X, and 5X).  In Chapter 5, some of the projects are only shown in one photo, but since they aren’t garments, it isn’t a problem.  (Ravelry members can see all the patterns from the book on its source page.)

The Appendix includes “a little extra how-to information” such as tips for pattern reading, creating linked stitches, beading, the crab stitch, and blocking.  There are no illustrations here – the book assumes you already have the crochet basics down – but the written explanations could be helpful to an intermediate crocheter.  This section also includes an explanation of the skill levels, a key to the stitch symbols and U.S. crochet abbreviations, a sizing chart, information about yarn weights and hook sizes, a metric equivalency chart, and information about the yarns used in the samples.  The book ends with a project index with a thumbnail of each pattern for easy reference, a detailed index, and designer bios.

While, as Mary Beth notes in the introduction, a crocheter may not like all of the designs in this book (or find them flattering for her figure), overall the book includes a lot of great information for a plus-sized woman who wants to crochet her own flattering projects that fit. The target market for this book is quite specific, so it isn’t for everyone.  It also isn’t a beginner book – you really must have the basics down or expect to seek help elsewhere.  And, like all paperback books, it doesn’t lay flat so you can read while crocheting.   For all curvy ladies who are eager to dive into garment crocheting but afraid of being disappointed with ill-fitting results, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Giveaway

Are you ready to win your copy of Curvy Girl Crochet, courtesy of Taunton Press? This giveaway is open to all readers with a shipping address in the United States.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, January 18, 2014.

To enter:

  • Leave a comment letting me know about your experiences with fit when crocheting garments.
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter or Pinterest, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • One winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Curvy Girl Crochet was provided by Taunton. 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.

2014 Sampler MKAL January Giveaway Sponsor: Cascade Yarns

Happy New Year!  Best wishes for a joyous and creative 2014!

blog MKAL logo supplies with sample block edit

You can find more information on the 2014 Sampler MKAL here, and can order the pattern here.

You may have noticed that the banner and buttons for the 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-a-Long feature pictures of 220 Superwash yarn by Cascade Yarns. 

When I was developing the pattern, I made my first sample using this beautiful, buttery off-white, called 1915 Banana Cream.

Cascade 220 front

And my second version will combine Banana Cream with 851 Lime and 840 Iris.

Cascade 220 superwash lime and iris

I bought this yarn at my favorite local yarn shop, Knitty City.  As with so many yarns in my stash, these skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash originally started out with different purposes, but they were destined to be part of this MKAL instead!

I’ve worked on quite a few projects with Cascade 220 Superwash in the past two years.  I used it to design three crochet patterns, the Mod Square Blanket, the Rolling Waves Scarf, and the Rectangular Sampler Blanket, and I also knit it up into a Mother’s Day gift and a hat for my Dad.

I’ve found it easy to work with and it holds up in the wash, which is important for a baby blanket.  Cascade 220 Superwash also comes in a fabulous assortment of colors.

Cascade Yarns is sponsoring the January giveaway for the MKAL with 3 skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash in 817 Aran.

Cascade 220 MKAL prize

These three skeins would make up half of a baby blanket sized sampler, and Aran would go wonderfully with any color combination you choose for the rest of your project.

Cascade 220 MKAL prize from top

To enter the giveaway, download the Underground Crafter 2014 Mystery Sampler here (with a 50% discount through January 15) and introduce yourself (in the Ravelry MKAL chat thread, on the Underground Crafter Facebook page, or by Tweeting @ucrafter) by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, January 29, 2014!  One winner will be chosen at random on or about January 31.

Thank you, Cascade Yarns, for sponsoring this month’s giveaway!

Giant Crochet Giveaway!

If you’re like most crafters I know, several (if not many, or most, or even all) of your New Year’s Resolutions are crafty.  I thought I’d help crocheters start 2014 off right by hosting a giant crochet giveaway!

Check out the prize options below, and then leave a comment telling me which one you’d like to win!  (More details about giveaway rules can be found at the end of this post.)

 

Books

New to crochet? Then Rowan’s Learn to Crochet Sampler Afghan (reviewed here) by Laurinda Reddig is definitely the right giveaway prize for you.

Rowan Learn to Crochet Sampler Afghan

 

Or maybe you’re looking for a crochet reference book.  In that case, perhaps Crochet-opedia: The Only Crochet Reference You’ll Ever Need by Julie Oparka is the prize for you.

Crochet-opedia

 

If you’re more of a “threadie,” 100 Lace Flowers to Crochet: A Beautiful Collection of Decorative Floral and Leaf Patterns for Thread Crochet by Caitlin Sainio might be the giveaway prize you’re looking for.

100 lace flowers to crochet

 

If 2014 is the year when you plan to start crocheting garments, perhaps you’d like to win Fashion Crochet: 30 Crochet Projects Inspired by the Runwayby Claire Montgomerie.

Fashion Crochet

Full disclosure: All book giveaway items are gently used, like new review copies provided by the respective publishers.

 

Yarn

Cascade 220 front

Another giveaway option is 2 skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash in the buttery Banana Cream colorway from my personal stash.  This yarn is great for anything that will be washed a lot, including accessories, garments, and home decor items.

Hooks

Have you been itching to try bamboo crochet hooks?  Then perhaps this set of 12 bamboo crochet hooks in sizes from 3 mm to 10 mm from my Etsy shop will be your favorite giveaway item.

bamboo crochet hooks

 

Or maybe 2014 is the year for you to learn a new crochet skill?  In that case, perhaps you’d like this set of 5 specialized crochet hooks from my Etsy shop that you can use for “regular” crochet, Tunisian/afghan crochet, and knitting with a crochet hook!

Knooking hooks set with cords

 

Giveaway Rules

Are you ready to win an awesome crochet prize? This giveaway is open to all readers with an email address.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, January 5, 2014.

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me which prize you’d like to win and why.
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter or Pinterest, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • Let me know if you want to use additional entry for different prizes.
  • One winner of each prize will be chosen at random on or about Tuesday, January 7, 2014.

Good luck!