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Book Review & Giveaway: Doris Chan’s Crochet Lace Innovations

Hairpin Lace, the Crochet Speciality of the Month for May, 2015 on Underground Crafter

Welcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

As part of this month’s focus on hairpin lace, I’m sharing a review of Doris Chan‘s Crochet Lace Innovations: 20 Dazzling Designs in Broomstick, Hairpin, Tunisian, and Exploded Lace, along with a giveaway sponsored by Potter Craft/The Crown Publishing Group!

This post contains affiliate links.

Book Review

Crochet Lace Innovations by Doris Chan -  book review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

Doris Chan is well known for her flirty crochet garments and her focus on lace. Crochet Lace Innovations, first published in 2010, is a pattern book that explores three specialized crochet techniques (broomstick lace, hairpin lace, and Tunisian crochet) along with what Doris calls “exploded lace” (crocheting lace patterns similar to what you would see in thread in yarns with a larger hook for a better drape).

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The book opens with an introduction where Doris shares her passion for crochet. This is followed by a How to Use This Book page.

The next 3 sections, Broomstick Lace, Hairpin Lace, and Tunisian Lace, include an overview of the crochet lace technique along with a written and illustrated tutorial and a list of tips for success. The next 3 sections focus on variations of exploded lace: Exploded Motifs, Exploded Doily Lace, and Exploded Lace Trim. The book closes with a section called Garment 101, where Doris shares detailed annotated patterns for Jacket 101 and Skirt 101. Finally, there is a resources section which includes a guide to crochet stitch symbols and abbreviations, and links to yarns, tools, and crochet websites.

  • Skill level: This book is geared towards an intermediate to advanced crocheter. There are 8 easy patterns, 6 intermediate patterns, and 7 experienced patterns.
  • Techniques: There are 3 broomstick lace patterns, 3 hairpin lace patterns, 4 Tunisian crochet patterns, and 11 exploded lace patterns.
  • Project types: There are 8 top patterns (including jackets, vests, sleeved tops, and a poncho), 4 skirt patterns, 4 wraps/stoles/scarves, 2 belts, 1 dress, and 1 collar.

What I like about this book:

  • Doris has a conversational style but isn’t too chatty.
  • The designs are striking and the photos make you want to pick up your hook and start crocheting!
  • There are schematics including for the garments and there are stitch symbols for most patterns in addition to US pattern abbreviations.
  • This book allows you to explore several different crochet techniques while making women’s garments and accessories.

Some challenges about this book:

  • A true beginner to some of the special techniques may find the illustrations difficult to use as a primary learning resource. Luckily, there are many online tutorials for broomstick lace (you can find a roundup here), hairpin lace (a beginner’s roundup here), and Tunisian crochet.
  • There isn’t much discussion about under layering. It would be great if Doris would have shared more ideas about how to layer to wear these designs in real life.
  • Like all mostly pattern books, your enjoyment will be based on how many of the patterns you want to make. Check out the Ravelry source page for the book here to see thumbnails of all designs included in the book.

Overall, I would recommend this book to an intermediate to advanced crocheter (or an adventurous, confident, and patient beginner!) who enjoys crocheted women’s garments and accessories. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Giveaway

So, has this review left you itching for your own copy of Crochet Lace Innovations? To enter, visit the Ravelry source page here and leave a comment letting me know which pattern you would crochet first. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers only. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, June 2, 2015! Please note that only entries in the Rafflecopter widget will be counted, so be sure to log your entries there.

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Full disclosure: A review copy and giveaway copy of Crochet Lace Innovations were provided by Potter Craft/The Crown Publishing Group. 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.

Clover Hair Pin Lace Tool Review and Giveaway!

Hairpin Lace, the Crochet Speciality of the Month for May, 2015 on Underground CrafterWelcome to my themed blog series, Crochet Specialty of the Month! Each month in 2015, I’ll feature a specialized crochet technique, stitch pattern, or project type through several posts.

As part of this month’s focus on hairpin lace, I’m sharing a review of my favorite hairpin lace loom along with a giveaway sponsored by Clover USA!

This post contains affiliate links.

Read on for your chance to win one of two Clover Hair Pin Lace Tools!

Clover Hair Pin Lace Tool in the package. Image (c) Clover.

Clover Hair Pin Lace Tool in the package. Image (c) Clover.

I reached out to the nice folks at Clover because I really love their Hair Pin Lace Tool (also known as a hairpin lace loom).

Craftsy

The tool comes with 3 pins, though I’ve only ever used 2. I love the sturdy construction of the clips, and the clip holes, which allow you to anchor the tail of your yarn.

The top clip is very stable and keeps your loops on the tool when you're doing hairpin lace on the go. The whole.

The top and bottom clips are very stable and keep your loops on the tool when you’re doing hairpin lace on the go. The clip hole anchors your yarn.

Although the Tool is a bit pricier than other looms (it retails at $17), it is definitely worth the price.

The top and bottom clips are sturdy and can help keep your loops from sliding off when you put down your project.

The clip hole is a great anchor for the yarn tail so that when you start your hairpin lace project, you don’t have to worry about about it moving around as much.

Crocheting in Circles

Another great feature is the eyelet at the bottom of the pins. You can thread another color of yarn through that eyelet, and when you are crocheting a long hairpin lace strip, the other color of yarn can serve as a stitch holder. This will help to prevent your strips from twisting when it’s off the loom.

There is also a small guide included in the package, which provides basic illustrated instructions for using the loom to create hairpin lace with 2 or 3 pins, as well as how to combine strips. The guide is available in English, French, Spanish, and German.

If you’re new to hairpin lace, why not pick up a Clover Hair Pin Lace Tool and check out my roundup of free tutorials here? It’s actually pretty fun once you get started, and you can create some stunning projects!

9.95 sub price

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for your chance to win one of two Clover Hair Pin Lace Tools, courtesy of Clover USA. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, May 26, 2015! Please note that only entries in the Rafflecopter widget will be counted, so be sure to log your entries there.

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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!

Interview

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

Giveaway

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!

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