Tag Archives: kim guzman

Guest Post: Sharon Silverman on Tunisian Crochet

Today, I’m sharing a guest post with Sharon Silverman as part of her blog tour for her latest book, Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets.  I previously interviewed Sharon here as part of her blog tour for Crochet Scarves: Fabulous Fashions – Various Techniques.  I was all ready to write an introduction to Sharon, but she’s been kind enough to introduce herself in the guest post!  You can also find links to where to find her online at the end of her post.  All photos are copyright Sharon Silverman and used with permission.

I’ve inserted a few comments in purple.  Enjoy the post!

Tunisian Crochet Hits Its Stride

by Sharon Silverman

Tunisian Honeycomb Stitch.
Tunisian Honeycomb Stitch.

Thank you to Underground Crafter for the invitation to write a guest blog. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share my thoughts on Tunisian crochet.

First, a little bit about me. I became a crochet designer in a roundabout way. After writing several travel guides for Stackpole Books, editor Kyle Weaver asked me to do another guide to an area about ninety minutes away from my home. It just wasn’t the right project for me. My children were little, it would have involved a lot of commuting, and I didn’t have the essential insider knowledge that the book deserved. However, we really liked working together, and Kyle mentioned that Stackpole had just started a craft line. His exact question to me was, “Can you do anything?”

Why, yes! I crochet. The timing was perfect, since Stackpole had just released Basic Knitting. They hired me to write Basic Crocheting: All the Skills and Tools You Need to Get Started. I rediscovered my love of the craft, was introduced to the fabulous yarn produced today, met a lot of fantastic designers, developed a great working relationship with photographer Alan Wycheck and editors Mark Allison and Kathryn Fulton at Stackpole, and have never looked back. After that first volume, I wrote Beyond Basic Crocheting, Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting, Crochet Pillows, Crochet Scarves, and Tunisian Crochet for Baby (coming September 2014), all for Stackpole; and Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets for Leisure Arts. My designs have appeared in the 2006 Crochet Pattern-a-Day Calendar and in Crochet Red: Crocheting for Women’s Heart Health (reviewed by Marie here).  I am a design member of The National NeedleArts Association and a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America. I have taught at venues large and small, and was featured on three episodes of HGTV’s “Uncommon Threads.”

When I was browsing through a stitch dictionary while designing for Beyond Basic Crocheting, I came across something I hadn’t seen before: Tunisian crochet. I didn’t have a long Tunisian hook, but I tried a few stitches on a regular crochet hook. Wow! I had never seen fabric like that created with a crochet hook. It immediately hit me that Tunisian crochet was the perfect solution to the problem I refer to as “rivers of double crochet.” That look does not have much to commend it, in my opinion, and I am always disappointed when I see it in today’s designs. (I think when people disparage crochet, that’s the style they’re reacting to. Can’t blame ‘em.)

Anyway, Tunisian had none of that “loopy” look. I started with a swatch of Tunisian simple stitch. It went so fast! I remember laughing out loud because it was simply so much fun to do. Soon I grabbed some scrap variegated yarn to see how that would look. The way the colors on the return pass appeared between the vertical bars of the forward pass…it was stunning. In short order I tried every single Tunisian stitch pattern in that book. Wait a minute: you mean I can make fabric that looks knitted and purled? Lace? Cables? Relief stitches without having to work around a post? And I can do all of that with a crochet hook? I’m in!

Tunisian Checkerboard Stitch (Medium)
Tunisian Checkerboard Stitch.

After putting one Tunisian pattern in Beyond Basic Crocheting, I started thinking about a book with all Tunisian patterns. With the right size hook and the right weight of yarn, Tunisian didn’t have to be bulky or just for blankets. It was perfect for garments and accessories as well. I wanted to call the book Tunisian Crochet: Not Just for Afghans Anymore! but Stackpole preferred the more sedate Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting.

At that time is wasn’t unusual for crocheters to say, “Huh?” when I mentioned Tunisian crochet. But everyone I taught it to was crazy about it. This was near the beginning of what I happily think of as the Tunisian crochet renaissance. Other designers were discovering or re-discovering Tunisian and doing fantastic things with it.

Fast forward to today. The Tunisian crochet group on Ravelry has almost 5,000 members—we’re waiting for you! Major magazines now feature Tunisian patterns as a matter of course. And the books! Scads of books either exclusively Tunisian crochet, or with a substantial number of patterns. The Tunisian Crochet Group on Yahoo is an excellent resource and a place to get questions answered. And, of course, you can check YouTube for tutorials.

One indefatigable proponent of Tunisian crochet is Kim Guzman (interviewed by Marie here). I think I have all of her Tunisian crochet books. Kim wrote a wonderful post encouraging all of us to be Tunisian crochet cheerleaders. You can read it here.

Along with Kim, many other designers are hard at work creating fantastic Tunisian patterns. I hesitate to name them because I know I’ll forget somebody—whoever you are, please forgive me, and post your name in the comments!—but some people whose work you might be interested in are Doris Chan, Dora Ohrenstein (interviewed here, book reviews here and here), Kristin Omdahl, Robyn Chachula (book review here), Vashti Braha (interviewed by Marie here), Marty Miller, Lily Chin, Karen Whooley, Sheryl Thies (book review by Marie here), Tammy Hildebrand (interviewed by Marie here), Darla Fanton, Jennifer Hansen, and others. A quick search for “Tunisian crochet” on Amazon gives a long list of titles.

As for my own work, my most recent Tunisian publication is Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets from Leisure Arts, available here.  (Ravelry members can see the book’s patterns on its source page here.)

TCBB cover (Medium)

The book gave me the opportunity to try some interesting Tunisian techniques, including stranded colorwork. I used that for the Bright Strands blanket.

Bright Strands (Medium)

Tunisian Crochet for Baby is currently going through the editing process. Here is a sneak peek at some of the projects.

Sharon Silverman Sneak Peak Collage

I hope you are inspired to do some projects in Tunisian crochet! Please share them with me on my Facebook page and my website. You are welcome to visit my Pinterest page also. Happy crocheting!

 

Thanks for stopping by, Sharon! 

Frantic Holiday Crafting Update

YOP3 sheep

On December 1, I set a goal of finishing a project every other day in December.  With just a few days to go, I’m happy to say that I did pretty well.

First off, I finished three secret for future publication.  (You can read vague details on my Ravelry project pages here, here, and here.)  I can’t show pictures of the finished projects, but I can share the yummy yarns that I used.

Yarn collage

All of these were new-to-me yarns, and I really enjoyed discovering each one!  On the left is Imperial Yarns Columbia, which is a great workhorse yarn, but with a bit more softness than you would expect for a sturdy, worsted weight, wool.  In the center is Rowan Big Wool, which has a delightful feel as well, and it works up very quickly since it’s a super bulky yarn.  And on the right is Valley Yarns Valley Superwash.  The colors in real life are much richer than what you see on the screen.

And then there are the projects I already shared on the blog, a crescent shawl I made for my sister with Mountain Colors Twizzle, which has stunning colors and a scrumptiously soft feel (thanks to the silk content); the plain, ribbed hat I knit for MC using Studio Donegal Soft Donegal; and the brimmed hat I crocheted for my friend using Patons Shetland Chunky.

I did manage two other finishes in December.  Both were inadequately photographed in the holiday rush.  The first was a lap blanket for my grandpa, crocheted with two strands of what Ravelry calls “vintage” Bernat Softee Chunky that I bought at the famous Smiley’s Manhattan yarn sale.

Grandpa lap blanket

I created an ombre effect by changing the strands I held together for each row.  I also made a little heart motif on some of the squares, since my grandpa just had a pacemaker installed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make new projects for my other relatives, so I dug through my collection to find some existing projects to gift.

Holiday gift Collage

I gave my grandma the original sample of my Pineapples for Everyone Shawl pattern, my uncle the hat I originally knit for MC (that was deemed “too fussy”), and my aunt a cowl I made as part of a CAL in January.

And then on Christmas Day, I did the last finishing touches (but forgot to photograph them) on the headband for my sister’s boyfriend.  It’s something he could wear to a football game in his current home (New Orleans) or in the new city he’ll be moving to after graduation (Houston).  Each side has a different flavor.

Geaux Saints I am a Texan

At this point, I’m averaging something closer to a finish every 3 days, which isn’t bad for the holiday season.  And, I’m on my way to (hopefully) finishing ten projects by the end of the month.

I have one more secret project to knit.  The yarn, HiKoo Simpliworsted, was a bit delayed in arriving and it looks lovely.

SimpliWorsted

And I received a fabulous gift from Kim Guzman (interviewed here) on Christmas Eve.  She sent me some of her famous apple butter (yum!) and packed the box with yarn (the now discontinued NaturallyCaron.com Country).  So with that, I started a baby blanket for my cousin (who, according to Facebook, may already be in labor).

Heart blanket thru 2013-12-27

This is a refinement of the pattern I made for my grandpa, where the hearts are a bit pointier and the squares are easier to join as you go.  The color that looks brown in the picture is actually a dark purple.

In other yarn related news, my sister gave me some yarn from her recent trip to Montenegro for Christmas.

Ana yarn

It’s now official that my yarn stash is better traveled than I am, since I also have skeins from Italy and Patagonia.

How did your holiday crafting go? (And, my comments are now restored, so I’ll actually be able to read and respond to what you write!)

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Book Review: Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet by Sheryl Thies

My regular readers know that I’m a lover of Tunisian crochet.  I recently finished reading an ebook copy of Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet: Learn How with 13 Projects by Sheryl Thies from Martingale, and I’m sharing the review today.  (Sheryl’s second Tunisian crochet book with Martingale, Tunisian Crochet Encore, was published this spring.)

Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet

In Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet, Sheryl Thies takes an interesting approach to the craft.  The other beginner Tunisian crochet books I’ve recently read (Kim Guzman‘s Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet, reviewed here, and Dora Ohrenstein‘s The New Tunisian Crochet, reviewed here) are written by (primarily) crochet designers.  When Sheryl wrote the book, she was primarily a knitting designer and it’s interesting to see how that lens impacted her writing.

Get Hooked opens with a brief history of the craft (which, like most crochet histories, has gaps) and then moves onto an overview of different hooks.  Then there is a written and illustrated tutorial of Tunisian crochet basics.  As someone who learns best through reading, I found Sheryl’s detailed explanations of each stitch very helpful.  My regular readers know that I personally find line illustrations useless for learning crochet techniques – my brain just doesn’t work that way.  I can imagine that the lack of photo tutorials might make this book challenging for a true newbie who learns best through images.

Sheryl includes a troubleshooting chart right in this section, with causes and fixes to common beginner Tunisian crochet issues, and I applaud her for not burying that critical information in the appendices.  Similarly, Sheryl includes information on increasing and decreasing and color changes right up front, rather than hiding it in the appendices.  This formatting decision makes the book very beginner friendly, as you can see immediately what instructions are available to you while reading through the book.

Sheryl then dedicates a few pages to a discussion of gauge and blocking.  I think her background as a knitting designer influenced her to emphasize blocking, which is generally discussed minimally in crochet books.  For Tunisian crochet, which tends to curl, blocking can truly transform a project so it is great to see it discussed right up front.  (Actually blocking instructions are in an appendix, however.)

Button Down pattern.
Sheryl’s Button Down pillow cover pattern.

 

The book then dives into the patterns.  I count 17, while the book subtitle lists 13.  There are a few patterns with multiple components (i.e., a pullover with matching handwarmers) that could be completed separately, which accounts for the difference.

Pattern difficulty:

  • 1 beginner pattern,
  • 10 easy patterns, and
  • 6 intermediate patterns.

Project types:

  • 8 home decor projects, including 3 pillow covers, 2 bags, a blanket, placemats, and coasters,
  • 6 accessories projects, including 4 shawls/wraps, a scarf, and a pair of handwarmers, and
  • 3 women’s garments, including a cardigan, pullover, and jacket.
Sheryl's Rogue Ribs unisex scarf pattern.
Sheryl’s Rogue Ribs unisex scarf pattern.

All of the home decor patterns use medium weight yarns, and the accessories and garment designs feature several weights (mostly lighter than medium weight).  There is a diverse mix of yarns including some large brands and smaller, independent companies.  Again, I think Sheryl’s background as a knitting designer made her (and her publisher, and the yarn companies) more open to including lighter weight yarns.

My favorite patterns are the Button Down pillow cover, the Motivated Heretic entrelac shawl, and the Rogue Ribs scarf.  While Sheryl includes a range of pattern difficulty levels, the projects are beginner friendly.  Most have minimal shaping, and for the entrelac project, she uses one, multi-color yarn rather than have beginners using many different skeins.  Even the garments use simple construction techniques.

The book ends with appendices which discuss finishing (seaming, blocking, and adding “regular” crochet edges); charts for yarn and hook sizes, metric conversions, and pattern skill levels; and a list of materials resources.

Sheryl's Motivated Heretic entrelac shawl pattern.
Sheryl’s Motivated Heretic entrelac shawl pattern.

Like many books which include techniques and patterns, your enjoyment of the book will be improved if you like the patterns and are enthusiastic about learning the techniques by crocheting them.  (Ravelry members can see all of the patterns from the book here.)  While the book does include technical information about Tunisian crochet which would be helpful to a newbie, it may not be enough to let the book stand alone if you don’t find some patterns that you enjoy.  I recommend this book to new Tunisian crocheters, particularly those who enjoy working with lighter weight yarns, who enjoy learning the background details (the “whys”) of different techniques, and who learn from reading rather than primarily visually.  If you are an experienced Tunisian crocheter, you should take a look through the patterns to decide whether this book may be right for your style.

 

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet by Sheryl Thies was provided by Martingale. 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.

Year of Projects, Year 3: The List

YOP3 dates

In the last few months, I’ve been blogging less due to personal reasons and because I have been designing secret projects on a regular basis.

Just last week, I realized that the third year of the Year of Projects had kicked off weeks ago when I saw posts about it in the Ravelry group.  I’ve always really enjoyed the concept behind the Year of Projects and the process of blogging along with other crocheters and knitters, but I wasn’t sure I could handle the regular blog posts.  After a few days of contemplation, the desire to be a part of the community won out over my fear of commitment :).

A few different things came together in the last few weeks, all of which influenced my Year of Projects list of goals.

  • I recently learned about the Head to Toe Knitting Challenge (which is apparently crochet-friendly, too), hosted by Bubsby in this Ravelry group.  Each month through the end of 2013, she will designate a body “zone” and challenge us to crochet or knit something for that area.  (The points system, if you’re a competitive sort, is explained here.)

head-to-toe-challenge-logo

  • Last week, I finished Kim Guzman‘s awesome online crochet pattern grading class on Crochetville.
  • One of my very best friends is having her first baby in December.  We are crafting buddies, and I want to make her baby boy all kinds of handmade goodies.
  • I’ve been working really hard on busting my stash, but I still have a big collection of yarn.
Most of this bag of yarn is still waiting in my stash.
Most of this bag of yarn is still waiting in my stash.
  • I’ve been ruminating about writing a crochet book for several years, and I’d like to self-publish that in 2014.

I realized that I need to practice my grading and self-publishing skills on smaller, manageable projects.  It’s also easier to make baby and infant projects from yarn stash since I don’t necessarily need a large amount of any particular yarn.  I like to crochet and knit with purpose, and would rather create samples that I can use as gifts than just for the sake of designing.

With all of that in mind, here are my goals for the third Year of Projects.  By June 30, 2014, I’d like to…

  1. Explore my new pattern grading skills by designing small projects for each body zone (hands, feet, torso, legs, head) as part of the Head to Toe Knitting Challenge.
  2. Crochet/knit design samples – using stash yarn, when feasible – which will double as gifts for my friend’s baby.
  3. Develop a pattern booklet in multiple formats (e.g., print and ebook versions) to get familiar with self-publishing before finalizing my “big” crochet book.

Though I only have 3 goals, each one is major for me!

For more Year of Projects posts, visit A Year of Projects blog-a-long on Ravelry.

Recent Crochet Book Reviews on CGOA Blog

You may know that I volunteer to review crochet books on the Crochet Guild of America‘s blog, CGOA Now!  In 2013, most of my book reviews have been published there.  Here are the links in case you missed the reviews.

crochet-saved-my-life1

Crochet Saved My Life: The Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Crochet by Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence

CGOA blog review * interview 1 * interview 2 * mini interview

 

 

Crocheting with Lucy Loop

Crocheting with Lucy Loop by Karen D. Thompson of Hooksations

CGOA blog review

 

 

Learn to Crochet Socks for the Family

Learn to Crochet Socks for the Family by Darla Sims

CGOA blog review

 

 

tunisian cables to crochet

Tunisian Cables to Crochet by Kim Guzman

CGOA blog review * interview

 

 

Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide

Tunisian Crochet Stitch Guide by Kim Guzman

CGOA blog review

 

 

Ultimate guide to thread crochet

Ultimate Guide to Thread Crochet by Leisure Arts

CGOA blog review

 

Enjoy!

Keeping busy

Recently, I’ve been hard at work designing all sorts of secret projects.  It’s been hard to blog when I can’t really talk about what I’m working on, and of course, there’s also that pesky thing about only having so many hours in the day.

Last week, I had two designs accepted for upcoming publications.  These two are extra exciting because I’m allowed to talk about them a little bit!

I’ll have a knitting design in a collection of patterns Knit Picks will be publishing next February for their Chroma line.

Knit Picks Chroma Worsted in Parakeet (left) and Galapagos (right).  Picture (c) Knit Picks.
Knit Picks Chroma Worsted in Parakeet (left) and Galapagos (right). Picture (c) Knit Picks.

This pattern has a really quick turn around time, so Knit Picks actually knits up the sample.  They will still send me yarn but I’ll be able to work on my own sample at my own pace.  Since I’m a very slow knitter, that is very good news indeed.

And, I’ll have a crochet design published in the winter issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, a relatively new, multi-craftual magazine based in London.  (I love their story, which you can read here.)  This design will be in Quince & Co. Puffin.

One of the great things about designing patterns for publication is that I get to try out so many new-to-me yarns.  I’ve heard really great things about Quince & Co, so I’m looking forward to playing around with the Puffin.  And I had my first foray into Knit Picks yarn earlier this year, when I made this secret project in Swish and Swish Tonal.  I loved both yarns, so I’m very excited about getting my hands on that Chroma…

In other news, I won’t be able to attend the Knit & Crochet Show this summer.  This seems to be the annual story of my life, but I had actually thought this would be the year.  I had to cancel my trip at the last minute.

I won’t be sitting at home sulking next week, though.  Instead, I’m scheduled to take an online Pattern Grading class with Kim Guzman (interviewed here) on Crochetville (interview with co-owner, Amy Shelton, here).  And for those of you who are attending the show and the CGOA Fun Night, look out for some Underground Crafter goodies from me in the bags!

Blogiversary and A Tour Through Crochet Country!

Today marks my two year blogiversary, and I’m one of the stops on A Tour Through Crochet Country!  If you haven’t been following along, this is a wonderful blog tour organized by Crochetville.  The tour features over 50 Associate Professional or Professional members of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA).

If you’re new here, welcome!  I’m a crochet (and knitting) teacher, designer, and blogger.  In addition to sharing my own projects and news on my blog, I also do a lot of interviews (I’ve even won a few awards) and book reviews.  I’m really honored to be part of A Tour Through Crochet Country.  To celebrate National Crochet Month and my blogiversary, I’ll be sharing a free pattern and a coupon code today.  But first I’d like to talk about how important the CGOA has been to me.

As many of my regular readers know, my grandmother taught me to crochet.  After she passed away in 2007, I didn’t have any important people in my real life to talk with about crochet.  Through my membership in CGOA and my involvement in the CGOA Professionals listerv, I’ve had the chance to virtually meet many wonderful crocheters who share the same passion for the hook as I do.

Me and my grandparents, at about the age when I learned to crochet.
Me and my grandparents, at about the age when I learned to crochet.

Back in 2009, I had the honor of being introduced to a wonderful mentor, Mary E. Nolfi, through the CGOA mentoring program.  When I was first exploring design, Mary guided and encouraged me.  Her primer is a great intro for aspiring crochet designers.  I still remember my excitement at emailing her when my first designs were selected for publication.   I’m also grateful to Michelle Maks, yesterday’s stop on the the tour, for taking a chance on me when she was the editor of Crochet World.  I’m thrilled to have another mentor, Marty Miller (March 13′s stop on the tour), who is helping me explore tech editing.

Now I’m paying it forward by volunteering to write book reviews for the CGOA newsletter and blog, and by serving as a mentor to another designer.

My first designs, published in Crochet World in 2010.

And, of course, CGOA membership has other benefits, even if you aren’t a professional (or aspiring professional) in the industry.  You get a subscription to Crochet! magazine and discounts at national retailers as well as on CGOA educational offerings.  You can also participate in your local chapter.  (I’ve been a member of the NYC Crochet Guild for years and in addition to great monthly meetings where I can hang out with fellow crocheters, they also offer classes and local discounts.)

I’d like give a shout out to a some other CGOA members I’ve met (in real life or virtually) who have been very helpful to me in the past few years.

Vashti Braha (interview) has taught me so much through her Crochet Inspirations newsletter, which has also inspired me to keep experimenting! Kim Guzman (interview) is so generous with her knowledge online and is a great teaching author.  Juanita Quinones (interview) is a wonderful tech editor that is volunteering on the Home work project on Ravelry, which is giving a second life to vintage designs.  Mary Beth Temple (interview) is a very strong advocate for crochet and has been a professional inspiration.  Charles Voth (a.k.a. Stitch Stud) (interview) is a talented – and nice! – designer and tech editor who always shares so much of his knowledge with his fellow hookers online.

If you’ve made it this far, your probably asking yourself, “Didn’t she promise a freebie?  And a coupon code?”

Charity Crochet for Project Night Night – The Rectangular Sampler Blanket

Early in my career, I worked for an organization that provided temporary housing for hundreds of homeless families, so the tour’s featured charity, Project Night Night, is really close to my heart.  I wanted to create a project that was beautiful to look at but also fun to make.

blog Rectangular Sampler angle view

The Rectangular Sampler is a variation on the traditional granny square that incorporates a stitch sampler to keep things interesting.  There’s a granny rectangle, an alternating v-stitch, staggered puff stitches, and a fun edging.

blog Rectangular Sampler flat

Download the Rectangular Sampler Blanket PDF Pattern

(You can also find the pattern on Ravelry or Craftsy.)  This makes a great stroller blanket or play mat, or even a baby or comfort blanket.  I plan to donate my sample to Project Night Night, and I hope you’ll consider making one to donate to Project Night Night or a local children’s charity.
Rectangular Sampler V st detail

I crocheted the sample with Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in Pacific, Cordovan, and Alaska Sky.  None of these pictures really do justice to the Alaska Sky, which is a pale, sky blue.  I like using non-traditional colors for children’s blankets because I think it gives them a longer life cycle when they can be displayed in more settings.

blog Rectangular Sampler on chair

Coupon Code

To celebrate National Crochet Month and my blogiversary, I’d like to spread the love by sharing a coupon code for my Ravelry shop.  Use coupon code NatCroMo13 for a 25% discount on any pattern through April 1, 2013.  Thanks for your support of independent designers!

Besides here on my blog and on Ravelry, you can also find me on Etsy, Facebook, Goodreads, Kollabora, Pinterest, and Twitter.

And now back to a A Tour Through Crochet Country

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the tour.  I’ve actually had the pleasure of interviewing several of the CGOA pros on this list, so I’ve also included the links to those interviews below.  I hope you will stop by and check out all the posts (and tutorials, giveaways, and discounts) the other participants have to offer.  Enjoy the rest of National Crochet Month, and don’t forget to enter my current blog giveaways here and here.

March 1 Shelby Allaho

March 2 Ellen Gormley (interview) and Nancy Nehring

March 3 Phyllis Serbes and Mona Muhammad

March 4 Amy O’Neill Houck and Akua Hope

March 5 Mary Jane Hall and Lindsey Stephens (interview)

March 6 Edie Eckman and Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby

March 7 Jennifer Cirka and Annette Stewart

March 8 Andrea Graciarena and LeAnna Lyons

March 9 Dawn Cogger and Angela Whisnant

March 10 Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten and Renee Rodgers

March 11 Joy Prescott and Donna Childs

March 12 Pam Daley and Deb Burger

March 13 Tammy Hildebrand and Marty Miller

March 14 Jocelyn Sass and Jennifer E Ryan

March 15 Andee Graves and Kimberly McAlindin

March 16 Laurinda Reddig

March 17 Brenda Bourg and Susan Lowman for CGOA

March 18 Rhonda Davis and Tammy Hildebrand for CGOA

March 19 Julie Oparka and Cari Clement for CGOA

March 20 April Garwood and Mary Colucci for CGOA

March 21 Alaina Klug

March 22 Erin Boland and Jenny King

March 23 Margaret Hubert (interview) and Jane Rimmer for CGOA

March 24 Bonnie Barker and Marcy Smith for CGOA

March 25 Kim Guzman (interview) and Susan Huxley (interview)

March 26 Susan Lowman and Michele Maks

March 27 me! and Brenda Stratton

March 28 Kathy White and Lori Carlson

March 29 Amy Shelton (interview) and Donna Hulka

March 30 Linda Dean and Kristin Dragos

March 31 Karen CK Ballard and Gwen Blakley-Kinser (interview)

 

Book Review and Giveaway: The New Tunisian Crochet by Dora Ohrenstein

Every Tuesday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be reviewing crochet books.  Today’s post features  a giveaway of my review copy of The New Tunisian Crochet by Dora Ohrenstein, courtesy of Interweave/F+W Media.

new tunisian crochetIt’s no secret that I’m a fan of Tunisian crochet, and I’m thrilled to see it regaining popularity.  Dora Ohrenstein‘s latest book, The New Tunisian Crochet: Contemporary Designs from Time-Honored Traditions, is one of several recent crochet publications that explore the versatility of Tunisian crochet.  I recently received a review copy from Interweave/F+W Media.  Though it pains me to part with such an awesome book, I will be giving away my review copy, so read on for details.

The New Tunisian Crochet opens just as anyone familiar with Dora’s writings at Crochet Insider and elsewhere would expect: with a history lesson.  The first chapter, What is Tunisian Crochet?, reviews the appearance Tunisian crochet stitches in needlecrafts publications in the 1850s and discusses the possible origins of the craft.  This section will delight your inner history nerd and will also appeal to your intelligence.  Dora’s writing style assumes her readers have brains and she doesn’t feel the need to talk down.  She sites her references and even includes a reading list.  Dora also mentions some of the contemporary Tunisian crochet designers, such as Carolyn Christmas and Angela “ARNie” Grabowski, who have helped to re-popularize and reinvigorate the craft.

In the next chapter, Tunisian Crochet Techniques, Dora writes in a conversational tone and provides tips and explanations that are useful even to an experienced Tunisian crocheter.  The book includes illustrations along with descriptions of the basic Tunisian crochet stitches.  In general, I don’t find Interweave’s illustrations helpful and it is hard for me to tell where the yarn and hook are placed.  I wish that these illustrations made use of multiple colors (as most of the Japanese stitch guides do) so that it would be easier for me to identify the difference between the previous rows and the current stitch.  In many ways, the illustrations are in keeping with the general tone of this book, which assumes a level of knowledge of the basics of crochet and Tunisian crochet.  More experienced crocheters will find this lack of review refreshing, but Tunisian newbies may need to consult other resources for more support.

Chapter 3, Tools for Tunisian Crochet, reviews the various available hooks and tools for blocking.  Dora includes a list of web resources.

The next chapter, Special Techniques and Effects, is where things start to get very interesting.  Dora covers a myriad of Tunisian techniques here, including basic double-ended crochet, short rows for circles, stranded colorwork, and entrelac.  Each technique includes a small project or pattern and you will want to pull your hooks out right away and get swatching.

For all you stitch guide junkies, Chapter 5, Stitch Dictionary, is for you.  This section includes 33 Tunisian stitch patterns organized into five sections: Basic, Intermediate, Lace, Textured, and Tunisian and Standard Crochet.  Each pattern includes US abbreviations and international stitch symbols.

The final chapter, Projects, includes 12 project patterns.  The project breakdown is

  • Women’s Accessories – 6 (a shawl, a hat, mittens, a scarf, a bag, and slippers)
  • Garments – 4 (a cardigan, a pullover, and a skirt for women, and a vest for men)
  • Home Decor – 2 (a sampler throw and a rug)

This section features patterns by many talented designers, including Dora herself.  My favorites from this section are actually the first four patterns: the Marisol Cardigan by Andrea Graciarena, the Mago Vest by Charles Voth (interviewed by me here), the Rivuline Shawl by Vashti Braha (interviewed by me here), and the Shantay Skirt by Doris Chan.  I also like the Sierra Bag by Margaret Hubert (interviewed by me here), which changes up the typical entrelac pattern by including different sizes.  I can also imagine myself trying out some of the stitch patterns from the Ariadne Sampler Throw by Lisa Daehlin.  (Ravelry members can see all of the book’s designs on its source page.)

The book closes with a reference section in the back, which includes a key to the stitch symbols used throughout the book and a glossary of US pattern abbreviations.  It also includes illustrated and written instructions for all of the basic crochet and Tunisian crochet stitches.  Finally, a bio of each contributor is included.

Overall, this is a great book for a crocheter interested in going beyond the basics of Tunisian crochet.  In addition to the wonderful tips and tricks, stitch guide, and history lesson, the book includes many great projects – several of which highlight or teach a specific Tunisian crochet skill.  The stitch guide and the patterns use both US pattern abbreviations and international stitch symbols.  The downside to this book is that the illustrations assume prior knowledge and are really just there to trigger your memory of particular stitches.  Also, it is a softcover and it doesn’t stay open when flat.  If you are a true Tunisian crochet newbie, you may need to supplement this book with something else (I would recommend Kim Guzman‘s Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet).  I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars for any crocheter interested in learning more about Tunisian crochet.

 

Giveaway

As I mentioned earlier, I’m hosting a giveaway for my review copy of Dora Ohrenstein‘s The New Tunisian Crochet: Contemporary Designs from Time-Honored Traditions, courtesy of Interweave/F+W Media.

This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, March 31, 2013.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your experience with Tunisian crochet.  How did you learn, what are your favorite types of projects, and what would you like to learn to make with Tunisian crochet?
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, 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!

NatCroMo13 Week 2 Giveaway Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered and spread the word about my giveaways a few weeks ago.  According to Random.org, the winners are…

Kelly from Hokie Thoughts

Susan Bates Bamboo prizes

Kelly commented that she’s frantically crocheting for her niece, who is on the way, so hopefully these hooks help!

Sandee

short row tunisian fashion

Sandee mentioned she knows how to do Tunisian crochet, but didn’t have any patterns.  This book will definitely inspire her to make some great projects.

If you missed out on either giveaway, there are plenty more coming this month.  If you’d like to check out my review of Susan Bates Bamboo Handle Crochet Hooks, courtesy of Susan Bates, click here.  For my review of Short Row Tunisian Fashion by Kim Guzman, courtesy of Leisure Arts, click here.  Thanks for entering!

Book Review and Giveaway: Short Row Tunisian Fashion

Every Tuesday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be reviewing crochet books.  Today’s post features  a giveaway of my review copy of Short Row Tunisian Fashion by Kim Guzman, courtesy of Leisure Arts.

 

short row tunisian fashion

Short Row Tunisian Fashion is one of Kim Guzman‘s latest contributions to the Tunisian crochet world.  (You can read more about Kim’s inspiration for this book in this interview I posted with her back in January.)  I recently received a review copy from Leisure Arts, and though I loved it, I plan to offer it as a giveaway at the end of this review and buy my own copy.  (Yep, it’s that awesome.  Plus, I want to support all of the work Kim has done to advance Tunisian crochet in the crochet community!)

Short Row Tunisian Fashion is a pattern booklet featuring six Tunisian crochet women’s wearables shaped with short rows.  Ravelry members can see all six projects on the booklet’s source page here.  Since this is a booklet by Kim Guzman, who is also a wonderful and dedicated teacher, Short Row Tunisian Fashion is also chock full of information about Tunisian crochet and Tunisian short rows.

The booklet opens with an introduction to two different techniques for making Tunisian short rows including both text and step-by-step pictures.  In addition, Leisure Arts is  hosting instructional videos for the booklet on their website, and an icon of a video camera indicates when a video is available.  The booklet then includes six patterns, along with reminders to view up to 11 short videos that will help the reader with the pattern and process.  (Many of the videos are repeated, but the video page on the website re-links them in order under each pattern so you don’t have to do any searching.)

My two favorite patterns are the Puff Sleeve Cardigan, which, gasp!, actually makes me want to crochet a garment for myself and the Sapphire Wrap, which features Tunisian crochet pineapples.  (Yep, you read that right.  You can find out more in this blog post Kim wrote.)

Like most pattern booklets, this one lays flat so you can crochet and read at the same time.  Instructions for different sizes are color coded to make it easier to follow along with the pattern.  The booklet only includes written pattern abbreviations, not stitch symbols.  The only other downside I can see to this booklet is that it is too short – you will definitely want to make more things with Tunisian short rows after reading it :).  As with most pattern booklets, if the designs are not your style, you may not get as much from the book as other crocheters.

I give this booklet 5 out of 5 stars for Tunisian crochet junkies and 4 out of 5 for crocheters who haven’t yet discovered the wonders of Tunisian crochet.

Giveaway

As I mentioned earlier, I’m hosting a giveaway for my review copy of Short Row Tunisian Fashion by Kim Guzman, courtesy of Leisure Arts.

This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, March 17, 2013.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your experience with Tunisian crochet short rows.  Is this part of your Tunisian crochet repertoire, or are short rows new to you?
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, 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!