Tag Archives: knitting

Guest Post: Anna Lisa Brown from Make Mights Wave

Anna Lisa Brown from Make Mights Wave, Guest Post on Underground Crafter

Today, I’m sharing a great guest post from Anna Lisa Brown at Make Mights Wave. When I was getting ready for this year’s (Inter)National Crochet Month celebrations, I knew I wanted to include a few posts about crochet styling, so I reached out to two fashion and design bloggers. Anna’s post is the second one I’m sharing.

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Anna is a self-described ” textile designer, pattern nerd, and a calico enthusiast.” She blogs at Make Mights Wave and can be found online at Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. All images are copyright Anna Lisa Brown and are used with permission. All crocheted designs are handmade by Melissa from Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

Guest Post: Wearing Your Handmade Items

Hello! I’m Anna Brown and today I’m here to talk about wearing handmade items. Let me be up front with you and admit that I am not a crocheter. I’m am a designer and feel much more comfortable in front of a sewing machine than with a hook or knitting needles in my hand. For this post my friend Melissa from Sew What Scarves helped me by crocheting these beautiful infinity scarves.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

I know from making my own clothing that wearing a handmade item out can be unsettling at times. I am aware of every mess-up, every loose thread, every unaligned stitch on the piece and I convince myself that everyone around me can see them too. Even though I know I spent hours on this project my mind tells me my co-workers think I’m wearing a pillowcase with arm holes cut out. In reality, that is not the case. Think about it. How often to you scrutinize what the people around you are wearing? Unless you have a conversation lasting longer than five minutes do you even remember what most people wear everyday? Now I’m not trying to say your handmade garments and accessories won’t get noticed. They will, but all the imperfections you see will not.

Now, let me be up front again and say I am in no way a fashion expert, but here are three tips that help me feel more sure of myself when wearing handmade apparel out and about.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

1. Be confident.

I know, easier said than done.

When I’m wearing a handmade item out for the first time I try to channel, what I like to call, my “inner mom.” Moms are the greatest. In my experience, moms are always proud of what their children accomplish, no matter what. Whether it’s loosing your first tooth, creating lumpy clay coffee mug in grade school, or decorating a ragged hoodie with puffy paint to express your teenage angst, moms are always there to hug, smile, say “good job” and brag when applicable.

You have every right to be proud of what you made. You’ve put time, effort and probably money into creating something out of nothing. Celebrate that! You don’t have to throw a party or yell it in the streets but you’ve got to do something … like … show it off, wear it out! You made this thing. The fact that you’re contemplating whether you should wear it out in public or not means you’re at least a little bit proud of it, right? So go for it! I would bet the majority of people you encounter face to face on a daily basis can’t say, “I made this.” You can! Why not be proud of that? Your time, skill and determination are worth celebrating no matter how grand or minuscule.

Celebrate National Craft Month

2. Don’t point out imperfections.

No one is perfect, and that’s ok. As I mentioned above, people are rarely as aware of everything on your person as you are. Not because they are unobservant, but because they are more worried about themselves. There’s no need to point out that tiny, unavoidable mistake. Most people won’t notice it unless you point it out. Instead, revel in the learning process and discuss your mishaps or new discoveries with other creators in your field.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

Anna Lisa Brown wearing a crocheted infinity scarf by Sew What Scarves on Etsy.

3. Be comfortable.

This is so important! Make sure whatever creation you’re showing off fits you properly and makes you comfortable. There are definitely positives to stepping outside your comfort zone and trying new things but there is a time and a place for everything. If you usually wear jeans and t-shirts, don’t force yourself to wear that awesome tight dress out on your daily errands. Schedule a date night with your significant other or best friend instead. If you know you’re going to a building that is usually warmer than you like, don’t suffocate yourself with that fabulous new scarf the whole time. (I am so guilty of this!) If you’re trying a new style make sure to pair the new accessory or garment with items you know you’re comfortable in. When you’re looking to crochet a new sweater choose a style and color that you know will look good with your favorite dress or pair of jeans. If you’re comfortable in the rest of your ensemble it makes it easier to create a familiar bond with your new attire. You can’t be confident if you’re not comfortable!

So there are my tips for wearing handmade accessories and garments in public. Thank you to Marie for letting me share my thoughts with you!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your tips with us, Anna!

Interview with Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux

Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

I’m finally back on track with my posts for (Inter)National Crochet Month, and today I’m sharing an interview with one of my favorite crochet (and knitting!) bloggers and designers, Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux. Back in January, I was honored to be interviewed by Jennifer on her blog, and of course when NatCroMo came around, I wanted to share her story with you all.

This post contains affiliate links.

Jennifer can be found online at Fiber Flux, as well as on FacebookGoogle+Pinterest, Ravelry (as iheartfiber and on her designer page), Twitter, and YouTube. I’m also including a roundup of my favorite free crochet patterns from Fiber Flux (as well as one free knitting pattern thrown in for good measure!). All images are used with permission and are copyright Jennifer Dickerson/Fiber Flux.

Jennifer says,

Thanks so much, Marie, for having me here on your awesome site!  I have a lot of admiration for you as a crafter and business person and am honored to be here today.

Thank YOU so much for stopping by, Jennifer!

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Jennifer Dickerson.

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

Jennifer: I taught myself to knit years before I learned to crochet.  Being a member of Ravelry, I often would come across gorgeous examples of crochet.  I wanted to learn for quite some time and a lovely (and very patient) aunt of mine who is a very experienced and talented crocheter taught me the very basic stitches.  She is known in our family as the “afghan queen” and was the perfect teacher.  After that I was quite taken with the craft and have had the crochet bug ever since!

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Alpine View Wrap, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: What inspired you to start designing? 

Jennifer: It is really amazing all of the things you can do with some yarn.  My very first pattern, Lightning Fast NICU and Preemie Hats, was created because I wanted to make a large donation of little hats to a local hospital.  As a mother, I love the idea of wrapping the tiniest babies in something lovingly handmade.

I Like Crochet April 2015 banner

From there, I began making other things inspired by the people around me and from that came a scarf for a loved one, a hospice shawl, and lots more.  I still design each of my patterns with someone in mind as I am creating them.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Raspberry Sorbet Button Cowl, a free knitting pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: Although you have a lot of variety in your patterns, you definitely have quite a few cowls and scarves. What do you enjoy about designing neckwarmers?

Jennifer: I am somewhat of a scarf and cowl fanatic.  From early fall to mid spring, I honestly wear one every single day!  I have very heavy ones for the coldest of days and lighter ones for the house and when it warms up a bit (hopefully that will be soon!).  One of my blog friends even dubbed me the scarf queen at one time!  When I get together with friends and family, I will often send them home with a scarf around their neck too.  I love to wrap those I care about with a warm wooly neck hug.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Pumpkins on a Fence Scarf, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: You have tons of videos available on YouTube. How’d you get started filming videos and they’re numbered in episodes. What’s your approach to sharing videos with your fans?

Jennifer: Actually I make videos entirely because of my readers.  They have been asking me for years (yes, years!) to make videos of my projects.  I launched my YouTube channel in the fall of 2013 and have had a great time exploring this fun way of sharing information.  I have the most awesome readers and they have been very supportive and appreciative of my new endeavor.  I often accompany a video along with my written patterns, so that people can refer to it if they get stuck or need additional information.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Philomena Shawlette, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: In addition to crochet, you also share knitting and embroidery patterns and tips on your blog. As a multi-craftual lady, how do you divide your time between these different crafts? Do you have a favorite?

Jennifer: Percentage-wise I definitely have more crochet patterns and videos, but I definitely find joy doing both.  Crochet and knitting are so similar in many ways, but just different enough, so when I feel stuck or need to take a break from one craft, I will often switch and pick up a pair of needles or vice versa.

Celebrate National Craft Month

I am thankful for both of them because it often will help me “reset” my creative button from time to time.  I will always knit and I will always crochet. They are both such a big part of my life!

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Ocean Air Scarf, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Jennifer: I suppose many crafty people can relate to this, but I really do find inspiration everywhere…colors of produce at the farmer’s market, the high fashion runway, the local yarn shop, the way a particular fabric drapes over a shoulder, the juxtaposition of texture.  My background in art certainly helps me make creative decisions too…prior to being part of the yarn world, I was a painter, making large abstract paintings and showing them in local galleries.  This training in classical art making with regards to color theory, composition, perspective, etc. most definitely influences me as a designer too.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Crochet Class Cowl, a free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection?

Jennifer: I am a bit of a book collector…I have piles and piles of them and enjoy flipping through them often.  I love Sarah London‘s use of color and pretty much anything from Linda Permann.

Laurinda Reddig‘s latest book (that I had the pleasure to review recently) has been an exciting read too.  My stitch dictionaries get a lot of milage are are jam packed with post-it notes, full of things scribbled in the margins, and most of the corners are folded in to mark a spot. (UC comment: I’ve previously reviewed Sarah’s book here and Laurinda’s books here and here.)

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Cherries in Bloom Infinity Scarf, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

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

Jennifer: To get a big picture view of what is going on in the craft word at any given time, I am a frequent visitor of Ravelry and craftgawker.  I just love to peruse the beautiful handiwork and see the collective beauty of so much talent!  I am so grateful to have made friends with lots of other bloggy stitchers who inspire me not only with their talents, but their wisdom and business savvy as well…I find myself hopping onto their blogs regularly too.

Free pattern roundup & Interview with crochet & knitting designer & blogger Jennifer Dickerson from Fiber Flux on Underground Crafter

Renaissance Button Wrap, free crochet pattern on Fiber Flux.

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Jennifer: My crochet hook is pretty much an extension of my hand, I will most likely be doing what I already do on a daily basis…crochet, crochet, and more crochet!

Thanks again for stopping by, Jennifer! I’m looking forward to oodles more videos on your YouTube channel.

And, if you like neckwarmers as much as Jennifer and I do, you may want to check out my Crochet Neckwarmers Pinterest board!

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Crochet Neckwarmers on Pinterest.

Blog tour giveaway and review: Knits for Boys

Knits for Boys review and giveaway on Underground Crafter

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I’m happy to join the Knits for Boys blog tour today, even though it’s NatCroMo and I usually keep my content 100% crochet in March. (You can find the full blog tour schedule here.)

I made the exception because there are a lot of great things about the book, and some of it is even applicable to crochet! Read on for my review and a giveaway, sponsored by Stackpole Books, that will give you the chance to win your own copy.

Book Review

Knits for Boys: 27 Patterns for Little Men + Grow-with-Me Tips & Tricks by Kate Oates from Tot Toppers and When I Grow Up is more than just a knitting pattern book. It’s a great guide to knitting for children and for adjusting garment patterns.

The book opens with an introduction where Kate explains that her book features not only “classic designs with a modern edge” but also great suggestions for making knits that children will love.

Every child is unique and has his own style and preferences, and the various designs and options in this book give you plenty of ways to create knits your boys will want to wear.

Expand Your Knitting Skills

Kate also shares her four steps for creating customized projects for boys:

  • Flatter Them With Fit,
  • Tempt Them With Texture,
  • Captivate Them With Color, and
  • Offer Them Options.

Naturally, she provides more detail than I have about how to follow each of these steps, most of which are great tips for gift knitting (or crocheting) in general.

Kate then shares a 25 page section, Grow-With-Me Sizing and Styling, which includes detailed information about gauge, blocking, taking accurate measurements, adjusting patterns (for fit and for style), sizing charts and growth patterns for children, and adding pockets and hoods. Kate also includes 9 detailed tips for creating designs that children can grow into. While Kate always writes these notes in reference to knitting for boys, many of the tips are applicable to knitting garment in general, and certainly the stylistic suggestions also apply to crocheting for children.

The next section, Materials, Techniques, and Abbreviations, is 7 pages long and provides some great tips on yarn substitution and written (and sometimes photographic) instructions for several techniques including I-cord, multiple cast on and bind off methods, wrap and turn, buttonholes, and zipper installation.

The next 3 sections focus on patterns. Grow-With-Me Projects, includes 8 patterns for tops and and a set of long johns (with top and bottom). Touch Me Texture includes 10 patterns for accessories and tops. The Color Collection includes 11 patterns for tops and accessories. Each pattern includes lovely full-page photos as well as numerous smaller pictures. Most patterns include notes and all of the garments include large schematics. Kate includes details in her patterns that will allow knitters to easily make all of the adjustments she describes in the earlier sections. For instance, she labels each part of the pattern to indicate which part of the garment is starting and whether it is an increase or decrease row. The book closes with a visual index that will help you find a cherished design later.

As with all pattern books, your enjoyment will probably be increased if you like the designs, and you can find great pictures of all of them on the Ravelry source page here. However, because this book includes so much more than just patterns – discussions of the math of knitting, a primer on customizing garment patterns for picky recipients, etc. – it is well worth purchasing if you are new to creating garments and want to know more about the details.

Kate’s writing style is conversational but not overly chatty, and you feel like you might be taking a class with her. The patterns are in contemporary colors and are vibrant but not too “fussy” for the average young man. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars for a knitter who likes to make projects for children, or one wants to learn more about customizing garment patterns for style and fit.

Giveaway

Stackpole Books has been generous enough to provide an additional copy of Knits for Boys: 27 Patterns for Little Men + Grow-with-Me Tips & Tricks to one U.S. reader! To enter, let me know what pattern from the book would you knit first in the comments. (Here’s the link to all of the patterns.) Don’t forget to log in on the Rafflecopter widget so your entry is counted. Be sure to enter by Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Good luck!

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Full disclosure: An electronic review copy and paperback giveaway copy of Knits for Boys were 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.

Knit and Crochet Now! Season 6 giveaway

I’m excited to share an announcement and giveaway with you today! Knit and Crochet Now! is entering it’s sixth season this month, and the folks at Annie’s are sponsoring a giveaway for a complete set of DVDs for the season to one lucky U.S. winner, so read on for details!

Knit and Crochet Now! airs through local public broadcasting stations. You can find your local schedule here by entering your zip code or state. My local station plays two episodes a week, and each episode is also repeated in a different time slot.

Season 6 includes 13 episodes and 43 new patterns, including 14 scarf and cowl patterns (perfect for the bitter cold!) in the “Scarf of the Week” segment.

Some of my favorite sneak peeks from Season 6!

Some of my favorite sneak peeks from Season 6! At left: Butterfly Tee. At right, top: Stripes and Short Rows, and bottom: Star Stitch Long Cowl.

This season, a new designer, Lena Skvagerson, joins the existing team of host Brett Bara and designers Robyn Chachula, Ellen Gormley, and Kristin Nicholas. Jenny King and Drew Emborsky (the Crochet Dude) will also make guest appearances.

You can find all kinds of fun projects and tutorials on the show, and each 30 minute episode is commercial free! And, all of the patterns can be downloaded for free here once you create a free account.

Giveaway

As I mentioned, Annie’s is providing one lucky winner with a full set of Knit and Crochet Now! Season 6 DVDs! To enter, leave a comment letting me know when your local station airs Knit and Crochet Now! and whether you’ve seen it before. You can earn extra points by sharing on social media. But remember, I only count entries logged into the Rafflecopter widget below, so be sure to let me know how you’ve entered!

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Guest Post: Yarn Substitution by Pam Powers & Blog Tour Giveaway

I’m thrilled to share a guest post from Pam Powers today, on one of my favorite topics – yarn substitution! This post is part of the blog tour for Pam’s new book, and Stackpole Books is sponsoring a giveaway, so read on for details!

Guest post by Pam Powers, Knitting designer, on Underground Crafter

This post contains affiliate links.

About Pam Powers

Pam Powers, the author of Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves: 24 Extraordinary Designs for Cowls, Kerchiefs, Infinity Loops & More, is a California-based knitwear designer. In addition to her self-published Art Fiber Design patterns, her work has also been published by Interweave Knits, KnitCrate, Knit Culture, and Twist Collective.

Pam can be found online on her website, FacebookInstagram, Pinterest, Ravelry (as psquared and on her designer page), and Twitter.

Guest Post: Yarn Substitutions by Pam Powers

I get many inquiries regarding yarn substitutions for my patterns. As knitters, we are always trying to find stash-busting projects, especially accessories such as scarves that only require 1-2 skeins. I am going to share with you how I choose an alternate yarn for an existing pattern. Disclaimer 1: I am not the aficionado on all things yarn, but I do know when something doesn’t quite work for me. 

Gauge – This is the first consideration I make. I like the gauge on the ball band to be within one stitch for a 4″ / 10 cm sample of the yarn I am substituting. This gauge should also be accomplished using needles within one needle size of the original yarn also. For example, if a pattern calls for a gauge of 20 sts per 4″ / 10 cm on a US 8 needle, a potential substitute yarn will be anywhere from 19 sts on a US 9 to 21 sts on a US 7.

Yardage / Weight Ratio – I calculate the yards per gram for both yarns by dividing the yards per skein by the grams. If there is more than a 10% difference, I know the drape and feel of the project will be different. Disclaimer 2: I once had someone tell me that this is a ridiculous system, so take it for what it’s worth.

Shirring Cowl by Pam Powers from Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves.

Shirring Cowl by Pam Powers from Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves.

Content – It is important that the substitution yarn has a fiber content that behaves similarly to the original yarn. Different fibers have varying densities and body, regardless of the gauge. For example a hemp yarn will probably not be a good substitution for a wool yarn in a pattern that requires substance or body, like when there are ruffles involved. Most of the scarf patterns in my book have texture and/or dimension to them, so having a yarn that “stands up” is crucial.

There are also other factors such as loft, ply and color (solid versus variegated) that will have an effect on the finished product. I tend to substitute with a yarn that is similar in these areas to the original yarn.

Challah Infinity Scarf by Pam Powers from Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves.

Challah Infinity Scarf by Pam Powers from Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves.

I get a lot of emails from knitters asking if a certain yarn will work as a substitution in one of my patterns. The only way of really knowing, even if this yarn meets all of the criteria above, is to knit a swatch. And let me just say, if you have to talk yourself into believing that the yarn works, it probably doesn’t. However, my intention when knitting a new sample of a pattern is to have the new project emulate the original. Whether something “works” or not is really up to the knitter. In the end, that is the beauty of making a handmade project—creativity rules!

Giveaway

Thanks, Pam, for sharing these tips!

Gingham & Wool Cowl and Fraulein Scarf by Pam Powers from Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves.

Gingham & Wool Cowl and Fraulein Scarf by Pam Powers from Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves.

Like me, Pam clearly has a passion for neckwear! Her book, Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves: 24 Extraordinary Designs for Cowls, Kerchiefs, Infinity Loops & More, includes 24 gorgeous knit patterns for scarves, ascots, cowls, and kerchiefs. You can see stunning full page pictures of each design them here in the Stackpole Books look book.

By the way, if you’re still intimidated by yarn substitution, several of her book designs, including the Chantilly Lace Ascot and the Cowboy Cowl, are available as Craftsy kits (along with Ruffled and Ruched Scarf and other great designs by Pam).

Guest post by Pam Powers, Knitting designer, on Underground Crafter

If you love knitting scarves, you’ll want to enter this giveaway for Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves, courtesy of Stackpole books! This giveaway is open to U.S. readers. Enter by Tuesday, January 13 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern, and be sure to add your giveaway entries to the Rafflecopter widget (since that’s how a winner will be chosen at random). Good luck!

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