Tag Archives: leisure arts

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! 

Book Reviews on CGOA Now!

Two of my crochet booklet reviews were posted on the Crochet Guild of America blog last week.  Both booklets are published by Leisure Arts.

 

Add-on Crochet Cables
Add-On Crochet Cables by Frances Burks teaches an interesting new method for crocheting cables.  (Reviewed here.)

 

Make in a Weekend Shawls

 

Make in a Weekend Shawls is a collection of 12 shawls crocheted in medium and bulky weight yarns.  (Reviewed here.)

 

Check out the reviews if you’re considering either title.

Book Review: Knit Stitch Guide by Rita Weiss

Knit Stitch Guide

Knit Stitch Guide by Rita Weiss of the Creative Partners is a pattern booklet featuring 96 knit stitch patterns.

The booklet is arranged into six chapters. The first five, Simple Knit & Purl Stitches, Ribbings, Embossed Stitches, Multi-Color Stitches, and Eyelets & Cables, include stitch patterns. Each stitch pattern includes a color photograph (about 1/4 to 1/2 of the page size) of a sample in Red Heart Luster Sheen (a fine weight yarn) photographed on a black background; a stitch guide including any terms (outside of the standards like CO, k, p, BO) used in the pattern; and stitch pattern instructions written in U.S. pattern abbreviations. Most patterns take one page, but there are a few that are only half the page (with smaller pictures). Because the stitches are organized into types, it is easier to find a favorite later on. The last section, General Instructions, includes a list of pattern abbreviations and tips for pattern reading.

This booklet is one of the new pocket sized guides published by Leisure Arts. At about 5 inches by 8 inches and 96 pages, this booklet is small enough to carry around in your knitting bag. I see the portable size as the main strength of this book. For those of you that never know what you want to knit when traveling, this book will give you 96 options. Because of the small size, the booklet lacks a lot of the features I prefer in a complete stitch guide, such as illustrated tutorials of basic stitches or unusual techniques. Therefore, it really isn’t suitable for a beginning knitter because you would already need to know the basic stitches and have some understanding of pattern reading.

I would recommend this booklet to knitters who enjoy creating spontaneous projects on the go, or emerging designers who knit during their commute or travel time. A stitch guide collector will find that many of the stitches are already represented in their other books.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of this booklet was provided by Leisure Arts. 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.

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!

Rectangular Sampler Blanket CAL Wrap Up and Winner!

The Rectangular Sampler Blanket CAL wrapped up last Friday, and I’m excited to share these great blankets with you.

Rectangular Sampler Blanket g120luvs2crochet

Baby Boy Rectangular Sampler Blanket by g120luvs2crochet

Rectangular Sampler Blanket jaye-yarns

Sand ‘n’ Sea Sampler Blanket by jaye-yarns

Rectangular Sampler Blanket Marie W in MI

Marie W. in MI’s version (submitted via email)

Rectangular Sampler Blanket ss9904

ss9904‘s version (along with an adoring fan)

There are two other versions that aren’t in the drawing for the prizes (Everything the Internet Didn’t Teach You About Crochet by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss and Crochet Stitch Guide by Jean Leinhauser and Mary Ann Frits, courtesy of Leisure Arts).

Rectangular Sampler Blanket Phyllis G

Phyllis G. shared a picture of her version on Facebook before the CAL began…

Rectangular Sampler Blanket yarnpumpkin

while yarnpumpkin shared her first Double Trouble – Blankets for Twins project during the CAL.

Since yarmpumpkin won the prize in the last CAL, she was kind enough to bow out of the competition for this round.

(Drumroll, please.)
(Drumroll, please.)

According to Random.org, the winner is number 2, g120luvs2crochet!  Congratulations to G in Virginia and thanks to everyone who participated in the CAL!

Book Reviews: Leisure Arts portable crochet books

Recently, I received two new crochet books from Leisure Arts for review: Everything the Internet Didn’t Teach You About Crochet by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss and Crochet Stitch Guide by Jean Leinhauser and Mary Ann Frits.  Usually, I have a giveaway for the books I review, but these two will be the prizes for the Rectangular Sampler Blanket CAL.  (You can find out how to enter that giveaway here.)

 

Everything the Internet Didn’t Teach You about Crochet

everything the internet crochet

This book aims to fill in the gaps for anyone who primarily learned to crochet from YouTube videos.  One can learn quite a lot online these days, but a newbie without a framework for the questions to ask can also miss out on a lot of important foundation knowledge.

The first section, Tools, focuses on crochet hooks and discusses sizing, material, and hook anatomy.  There is a some discussion of other tools, including those for specialty crochet techniques like broomstick lace.

The next section, Yarn, includes information about yarn weight, fiber content, care instructions, and reading ball bands.

The Importance of Gauge notes that “[m]any new crocheters tend to shy away from gauge as if it were a dirty word.”  As a crochet teacher, I can say that is absolutely true!  This section not only explains why gauge is important, but shows how to measure gauge and gives tips for adjusting your gauge.

The next chapter, Reading a Pattern, provides a glossary of crochet abbreviations along with an explanation of the symbols like the famous * * and terms like work even.  My favorite chapter is the next one, Working a Pattern, which includes three annotated patterns.  In each, the pattern with U.S. abbreviation terminology is shown on the left while on the right, full written instructions with explanation are provided.  This would be a wonderful way for a pattern reading newbie to check their understanding of pattern abbreviations.

In Making Fringe and Tassels, illustrated instructions are included for these finishing touches.  The final chapter, Refresher Course in Crochet, provides written and illustrated instructions for the basic crochet stitches, post stitches, increases and decreases, and basic finishing techniques.

Everything… is written in a conversational tone that is easy to follow.  It’s about the size of a folded piece of letter paper, and at 96 pages, it’s thin enough to fit into your project bag or purse to carry around as a reference guide.  The book definitely shares a lot of information that would improve the stitching, pattern reading, and yarn/tool selection of a newbie or an internet taught crocheter with more experience.

I would have liked to see some discussion of crochet stitch symbols included.  A more detailed index would have been really helpful because a newbie crocheter might not even know which chapter to explore for the answer to their question.  In spite of these shortcomings, I think the book is a worthwhile companion to the library of a newbie or advanced beginner crocheter.  It would also make a great gift for a new crocheter in your life.

 

Crochet Stitch Guide

crochet stitch guide

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of crochet stitch guides.  You might even say that I’m a stitch guide collector.   The Crochet Stitch Guide is designed to be an on-the-go stitch guide.  The book is about the size of a folded piece of letter paper, and at 96 pages, it is thin enough to be truly portable.

The 86 stitches are organized into 7 sections.

  • Clusters includes 27 stitch patterns.  Many of these are quite lacy, although there are several that have a denser feel.  
  • Textured Stitches includes 7 stitch patterns that use post stitches, clusters, combinations of different heights, and working into the front or back loop to create textured surfaces.  
  • Picots includes 6 lacy, picot stitch patterns.
  • V-stitches includes 8 variations on the v-stitch.
  • Special Stitches includes 10 patterns using a variety of stitches such as popcorns and spikes.
  • Shells includes 14 stitch patterns made with some combination of shells/fans.
  • Miscellaneous includes 14 patterns using a variety of stitches.

There is a short appendix in the back that includes a guide to U.S. crochet abbreviations and terminology.

Each stitch pattern includes a swatch photographed against a black background. Special stitches are explained at the beginning of the pattern, so you will not need to flip back and forth.

Since many contemporary stitch guides show swatch pictures against a white background, the stitch pictures in this book have a vintage feel.  It isn’t immediately clear why some patterns are in the Special Stitches section while others are in the Miscellaneous section.  There are no international stitch symbols in this book, and only a brief explanation of the differences between U.S. and U.K. pattern terminology.  There is no index, and there are no illustrations to demonstrate unusual stitches.

Overall, this is a solid stitch guide for a crocheter without an extensive stitch guide collection.  If you have an existing American stitch guide collection, you may want to skip this book because some of the patterns will be familiar.  On the other hand, the portability of this book makes it a good addition for a crocheter who travels a lot or crochets during while commuting.

Announcing the Rectangular Sampler Blanket CAL!

I’m really excited to announce the lastest crochet-a-long for one of my  patterns.  You may remember the Rectangular Sampler Blanket as the free pattern I released on my second blogiversary.  (It’s also available here as a Ravelry download.)


This is a quick pattern for baby, stroller, or charity blankets. You can use up scraps with a stashbuster, or you can used planned colors, like I did in the sample.

blog Rectangular Sampler flat

This blanket is a twist on the traditional granny square pattern. It uses different stitch patterns (a granny rectangle, an alternating v-stitch, staggered puff stitches, and an edging) to keep things interesting. I’ve rated the pattern intermediate, not because it is difficult to make, but because it really helps if the crocheter is able to “read” her/his stitches when switching between the different patterns.

The finished size is 34” x 29” (86 cm x 74 cm), but it is pretty easy to size the blanket up by adding repeats to any of the different stitch pattern sections.

My sample is made with Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash. I used 4 skeins of 1960 Pacific (CA), 2 skeins of 1914 Alaska Sky (CB), and 1 skein of 863 Cordovan (CC). (You’ll need 1,540 yards (1,408 m) in any medium weight yarn.) I used a J-10/6 mm crochet hook, but I tend to be a tight crocheter, so you may want to use a smaller hook.

blog Rectangular Sampler angle view

The CAL will start tomorrow on Friday, May 10, 2013 and will run in the Underground Crafter Ravelry group here.  If you’re not on Ravelry, feel free to share your progress on my Facebook page, through a link in the comments here on the blog, or via Twitter.

And because everything is more fun with a giveaway…

Rectangular Sampler Blanket prizes Leisure Arts

everyone who shares a finished picture of their blanket via any of the links above by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Friday, May 31, 2013 will be entered for a chance to Everything the Internet Didn’t Teach You About Crochet and the Crochet Stitch Guide, courtesy of Leisure Arts!

I’m looking forward to seeing your variations, and do let me know if you have any questions about the pattern!

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!

 

New Year’s Giveaway Winners! (Part 2)

Today, I’m announcing the winners for the final set of New Year’s giveaways!

According to Random.org, the winner of a set of specialized crochet hooks for knitting – also known as knooking or knitting with a crochet hook (KWACH) – from my Etsy shop, is number 20…

Kacy from Meandering Home!

 

The winner of a copy of Modular Mix: 12 Knitted Mitered Squares to Mix & Match by Edie Eckman from Annie’s is number 9…

Ellen Margulies from the Times Union Fiber Arts blog!

And finally, the winner of 40 Favorite Ripple Afghans, courtesy of Leisure Arts, is number 16…

Amanda Kate from Life.As.I.Know.It!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to the winners!