Tag Archives: lion brand

Gerbera

This week, I’m releasing another square pattern inspired by the Spring Garden theme of Crochetville’s National Crochet Month Designer Blog Tour.  I’m sharing one new pattern a week during NatCroMo, and these new patterns are available as free Ravelry downloads through March with the coupon code NatCroMo14.

I call this square Gerbera.  Unlike the other 3 square patterns, it isn’t inspired by childhood memories but just my love of gerberas and daisies!

blog Gerbera blocked

I used Lion Bran Heartland in Shenandoah and Joshua Tree for this sample.  (As an aside, I love that these yarns are named after American landmarks and natural treasures.) I had some left after working on a big project, and I just loved the colors! I had to think about which yellow flower would look best in them – so I guess you could say the yarn inspired the block.

Download the pattern here.  Use the coupon code for the discount through March, 2014!

FO Friday: Brooklyn’s Baby Blanket

Way back in February, I learned my cousin had a newborn daughter via Facebook.  Her name is Brooklyn. (Yes, like me, my cousin was born in Brooklyn, but he hasn’t lived there for about 20 years).

I decided to make her a baby blanket using some stash yarn.  I started with the motif from Frankie Brown‘s Jelly Mould Blanket and some leftover Red Heart Super Saver in Candy Print, but I ran out of yarn after 14 squares.  The stiffness of the yarn was the perfect pairing with this pattern.

Jelly Moulds through 2013-02-06

Since I didn’t have another complementary color in my stash, I thought it would be the perfect time to use my 20% off coupon to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio.  Once at the shop, I decided I wanted to go in a new direction, and instead of choosing more pink, I picked up three skeins of Vanna’s Choice in greens.  (I was feeling a bit spring-like at the time.)  Vanna’s Choice is much softer than the Red Heart, so it wasn’t as suited for the 3D shape of the Jelly Mould motif.

Jelly Mould and African Flower

At around the same time, Barbara from Made in K-Town released her African Flower Square Tutorial, and I decided to make 14 African Flower squares.  I had to make some adjustments, of course, to get the motifs to be the same size.

African Flower

And then, for good measure, I decided to make 14 (modified versions) of Ellen Gormley‘s Sunny Spread motifs.

Sunny Spread Row

I used a stash skein of Caron One Pound in white for all the borders, and joined each of the motifs in rows of 7.

Brooklyn Baby Blanket

I had a bit of a tough time taking pictures (thank you Central Park, for serving as a backdrop!), but I really like how the blanket came out.  It’s about 32 inches square, and I used about 990 yards of yarn (including about 530 yards of stash yarn!).

Brooklyn baby blanket folded

The whole project was much more improvised than my baby blankets usually are.  I guess you could say that the motifs came about organically.  And I used different techniques for joining the squares together to form rows, which helped to even out the slight differences in sizes.  I also used two different methods for joining the rows together (the green join is a very decorative v-stitch join, and the white join is a chain join).  These joins were inspired by ones I found in Robyn Chachula‘s Crochet Stitches VISUAL Encyclopedia.

Brooklyn baby blanket 2

I think this means that my next blanket may be a bit more spontaneous!

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

Interview with Johnny Vasquez from New Stitch a Day

Every Monday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be interviewing crocheters.  Today’s interview is with Johnny Vasquez, a crochet teacher.

As a crochet and knitting teacher, I’m constantly looking for online resources to share with my students so they have additional supports when I’m not around.  I can’t remember how I first came across New Stitch A Day, but I regularly refer my students (and my crocheting and knitting friends) to it.  Today I’m excited to share an interview with Johnny Vasquez, the Founder of Craftory Media.

I should mention that Johnny offered to use his technological abilities to set up a Skype video interview, but I wasn’t able to figure out scheduling on my end, so he was gracious enough to do a regular interview via email.

You can find Johnny one the New Stitch A Day website and blog, TwitterFacebook, and Ravelry group.  You can also find him online as JohnnyVasquez or on his designer page on Ravelry, at Fiberstory.tv, and at Yarn Nation (coming soon).  The pictures in this interview are used with his permission.

 

Johnny Vasquez.
Johnny Vasquez.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting and knitting?
Johnny: My great grandmother was big into the fiber arts. She was a weaver, a spinner, knitter, and hand dyer. She’s gone now, but my dad still has her spinning wheel and loom.

My grandmother, on the other side of the family, worked as a seamstress for years and has been knitting and crocheting most of her life. I often got crocheted afghans for Christmas. But they were exactly what you would think they would be like: Red Heart scratchy yarn in horrible color combinations. Basically whatever colors were on sale at the local craft store.

The funny thing is, even though yarn craft was all around me, I never had an interest. I thought knitting and crochet was for old people.

Then I heard about this Kickstarter project by Rebecca Burgess. She wanted to source all of her clothing for a year from within 150 miles of her home. The idea was to be more connected to the people who are involved in making these garments that are so intimate to our lives.

She documented going to an organic farm to plant the indigo dyes, buying waste wool from a sheep stock rancher, and working with an old mill to process that into yarn. She took that yarn to a local knitwear designer and had it turned into a hat.  (UC comment: You can read more about Rebecca’s Fibershed Project on her website here.)

At that moment a light clicked in my head. Something about the story of how that hat was created really resonated with me. I decided I wanted to knit a sweater so I could be more connected to my clothing.

But first I needed to learn to knit. So I went Walmart, bought a teach yourself to knit kit, two balls (skeins I found out later) of Simply Soft, and the rest is history.

New Stitch a Day

UC: What inspired you to start teaching?
Johnny: I’ve been teaching in different capacities most of my life.

I started teaching bible study in Jr. High.

In high school, I directed plays and was section leader in choir. I also started an alumni chapter for a leadership program that had all of LA county as its jurisdiction.

In my college years, I was a substitute teacher and taught an after school drama program.

So I’ve led and taught for a long time. When I learned to knit and crochet, the transition was pretty natural.

Johnny juggling (or, is he just throwing the yarn in the air?).
Johnny juggling (or, is he just throwing the yarn in the air?).

UC: Why did you launch New Stitch a Day?
Johnny: That’s a LOOOONG story.

I was in Chicago at a yarn store called Loopy, and I was chatting with this lady about knitting. I had only been knitting about 6 weeks. She was looking at one of those perpetual knitting calendars and mentioned that it would be cool to knit one swatch a day for a year from the calendar and then turn it into a sampler afghan. I thought . . . “that would be cool . . .”

A few months later at Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me a couple of stitch dictionaries. At the same time I had been following another blog called New Dress a Day. The girl who ran that site gave herself $1 a day to make a new piece of clothing out of stuff she got from the bargain bin at a local thrift store.

I thought that was a great project and I was reminded of that lady in Chicago and her stitch a day calendar. I figured it would be cool to do my own blog to help me become a better knitter and I would call it New Stitch a Day.

That thought festered in my mind for a few days, until I was trying to knit a particular stitch out of one of the books and I couldn’t figure out the instructions. I tried going online to find a video to help and there was none for that specific stitch.

I’ve been doing stuff with video since I was a pre-teen. When I was a freshman in high school, I made a short film instead of writing a final project in English. I’ve worked on a reality TV pilot, some short films, and an indie music video.

Light Bulb!

I knew I could put together better videos than a lot of what I was seeing and I had an HD camera in my iPhone. I figured it wouldn’t be that hard to put out a new video tutorial each day. But I’m also the kinda of person who thinks, sure, I can do a triathlon with three months of training. My ambition is often bigger than my ability.

Johnny's mustache cowl.
Johnny’s mustache cowl.

UC: Tell us about how it’s grown since then.
Johnny: I started doing 1 video knitting tutorial every Monday through Friday.

The first video took me 8hrs to complete. I got that down to about 4 hours per stitch, but for the first year and a half I never did get a stitch a day out.

Eventually I added one crochet stitch video on Saturdays, but that was pretty sporadic.

One day in the spring of 2011, my wife and I were in New York for work and we tweeted to the Lion Brand people that we wanted to visit their store, which also happened to be their offices. They said to let them know when we dropped by.

When we got there we were greeted by Jessica, who handled their social media at the time. She let me know they loved what we were doing and wanted to know how they could help. A few months later, they were our first official sponsor. They provided yarn and paid a small advertising fee to have their product featured in our videos.

That’s the first time I thought this could be a real business. By June, my wife was graciously working a couple part time jobs and both our parents helped out from time to time so I could work full-time on the site.

New Stitch A Day is a family affair.  Here's a yarn monster concept sketch by Johnny's brother, Donnie.
New Stitch A Day is a family affair. Here’s a yarn monster concept sketch by Johnny’s brother, Donnie.

By the next June, I was getting a bigger and bigger vision for what I wanted to accomplish, but I didn’t have the man power to do it. My wife, Lacie, was pretty tired of living in CO where it was actually cold during the winter. So I convinced my brothers to help out. We sold pretty much everything we couldn’t fit in a couple suitcases and moved back to Los Angeles.

Today we put out 1 knitting and 1 crochet tutorial every Monday through Friday and it takes us about 2.5 from start to finish for each. And they’re completely free to watch. In fact, all of the more than 500 videos we’ve made so far are Creative Commons, so people can use them on their sites and even sell them in their patterns for free.

Yarn Craft Academy

One thing we started at the beginning of 2013 is our Yarn Craft Academy, which is our premium education classes. This is where we go in depth on topics like double knitting, Tunisian crochet, and making amiguriumi toys. The classes last between an hour to two hours and most come with two practice patterns to test out your new skills.

The coolest thing though, is we do a free version of every class about once a week. We do this through a live Ustream event and I actually get to interact with people all over the world in real time through the chat room. If they want to watch the class again, they can purchase a recording that has a bunch of bonus content. We also have an all you can eat option where people can pay per month to access all of our classes.

Another cool thing is everyone gets to vote on what classes we do next. Every couple of weeks we have a survey where we post 8 options for future classes. These come from suggestions from our audience in previous surveys. They pick their top 3 or 4 and we turn them into classes.

We’ve only been doing those for about 5 weeks, but we’ve had an average of 1,000 people register for each, often in as little as 36 hours.  (UC comment: That’s great news, Johnny.  It’s wonderful to see your site expanding.)

Check out Johnny's live free classes every week.
Check out Johnny’s live free classes every week.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?
Johnny: I actually don’t own a lot of crochet books. I have four and they’re all stitch dictionaries. My favorite of those is The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet.   (UC comment: My review of this book and an interview with author Margaret Hubert.) But Erika Knight recently put out a book called Simple Crocheting and I’m really eager to pick that up. Actually, I think I’m gonna order that as soon as I’m done with this interview . . .  (UC comment: My review here.)

Side Note: Erika Knight edited the Harmony Guides, which we use all the time for New Stitch a Day. I met her a couple weeks ago at TNNA. (UC comment: The National NeedleArts Association trade show.)  She’s super cool and very British. I love her sense of style, especially the neon pink tennis shoes she wore with her pant suits every day.

Johnny Vasquez in his MailChimp hat.
Johnny Vasquez in his MailChimp hat.

UC: What advice do you have for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
Johnny: Well, first, don’t call your site “(Something Random) a Day”. It’s a huge commitment and for the most part unnecessary. If I were to start again I’d call it knitting stitch weekly, or crochet stitch a week. There are advantages to posting content on a daily basis, but it’s very taxing if you’re doing it by yourself. I’m lucky to have an uber supportive wife and a brother who gets the vision.

Two: Building an email list is incredibly important to communicating with your audience. If you visit our site, we call people who join our email list VIPs and they get special benefits that random visitors to our site do not get. Things like free patterns, invites to live classes, special discounts, and contests and giveaways.

Email is really important to interacting with our community, so we have lots of opportunities to sign up on our site. If you don’t have an email list, it’s free to start one through MailChimp. (Disclaimer: MailChimp did give me an awesome crocheted monkey hat to say that.)

Three: Don’t be afraid to put stuff out there for free. And by free I mean people don’t pay you money for it. We give out free patterns all the time, but you have to be on our email list or share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest in order to download it (see Sidewinder free for an example).

Four: Community is essential to success.

If you’re a designer, feature some of the projects people have posted on Ravelry of your stuff in a monthly newsletter.

If you own a yarn store, pick a customer of the week and put them on your Facebook page.

If you blog, ask your audience who they want you to interview or what questions they want you to answer. Better yet, interview someone from your audience!

When people feel involved in your process they will help you succeed. We have rarely done advertising for New Stitch a Day but we’ve grown to almost 17,000 email subscribers through word of mouth because we make people feel like family.  (UC comment: Thanks for sharing these great suggestions, Johnny!)

Sign up for an early invite to Yarn Nation.
Sign up for an early invite to Yarn Nation.

UC: What is next for you and New Stitch a Day?

Johnny: For New Stitch a Day we’re working on a new year long Knit and Crochet a Long we call the New Stitch Afghan. We’re planning a monthly design contest where our subscribers have to use a stitch from our site to make a 12 x 12 inch afghan square. We’ll put three up for a vote on Facebook and the winner each month will win a prize of some sort from one of our sponsors. That should get started in late March.

But what I’m super excited about is our newest venture called Yarn Nation. This is going to be the heart of a new network of sites we’re developing for the yarn craft industry.

Want a sneak peak? Here’s some of the stuff we’ve got planned:

  • Fiberstory.TV – Interviews with People doing cool stuff with yarn
  • Yarn Tripper – A travel show for fiber enthusiasts
  • Knitting Helpline – A live Q&A show where you get your knitting and crochet questions answered by industry professionals (preview here)
  • Yarntreprenuer – Business advice for designers, yarn store owners, and fiber arts professionals of all kinds
  • Yarn Review Daily – Daily video product reviews
  • The Yarnist – a new kind of online magazine for yarn lovers.

Yarn Nation will be a community that connects these awesome sites together and will let you share your passion for yarn with people all over the world. You can sign up for a free invite by visiting YarnNation.

We’ve got some other cool stuff planned too, but I’ve already said too much!

If you want to become a New Stitch a Day VIP sign up for our email list and get free tutorials in your inbox every day plus a bunch of other cool stuff.

Thanks so much for having me! If you have any questions put them in the comments. I’d love to chat with you all!

 

Thank you for stopping by for an interview, Johnny, and for sharing such great resources online.  (Hint: New Stitch A Day will be featured this Sunday as one of my favorite online crochet resources.)

Announcing the Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL!

Whether you’re a pineapple pro or you’re just a wee bit scared by crochet lace…

If you have a shawl for every day of the week or you’ve yet to take the shawl plunge…

I’m inviting all crocheters to join the Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL!

The Pineapples for Everyone Shawl is my latest free pattern, available in the Spring, 2013 issue of Crochetvolution here.  It’s a shawl “recipe” that allows you to customize the size of your finished shawl (or shawlette).

The version shown here was made with 3 skeins of Galler Yarns Inca Eco, an organic cotton yarn dyed with low-impact, environmentally friendly dye.  It’s a thick and thin yarn, so it covers up those little boo boos you might make if it’s your first time crocheting pineapples.  Since this is a recipe pattern, you can size it up or down and gauge isn’t critical.  (However, if you’re working with a different gauge, I can’t predict how much yarn you might need for your desired size.)

If you need a little more support with crocheting the shawl, each week I’ll be sharing progress pictures as I make my second, striped version.

My CAL shawl will be crocheted with Inca Eco Denim and Raspberry.

Or you can just dive into crocheting at any point during the CAL!  I’ve shared a schedule below, but of course you can crochet at your own pace, and you can make your shawl larger or smaller.  To be entered in the giveaway, you must share a picture of your completed shawl by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, March 29.  More details about prizes will be available in March.

Attention all readers in Southern Maryland: Be sure to stop by Crazy for Ewe in Leonardtown or La Plata for the in-store CAL with prizes sponsored by Galler Yarns!

Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL Schedule

Friday, February 15: Start your chains: Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL kick off!  Ravelry members, join us here in the Underground Crafter group to chat.  Use project tag 2013PFEcal.

Friday, February 22: Laying down the foundation: Rows 1-8

Friday, March 1: The first repeat: Rows 9-14

Friday, March 8: The second repeat: Rows 15-20

Friday, March 15: The third repeat: Rows 21-26

Friday, March 22: Finishing off: Edging and blocking

Friday, March 29: The big reveal: Flash your shawls on Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter, and/or your blog for a chance to win prizes from Galler Yarns!

 

If you’d like to crochet your shawl in Inca Eco, too, you can find a list of most of the yarn shops that carry it here, and if your LYS doesn’t stock it, I’m selling kits to make the shawlette size in the picture in my Etsy shop here.

And if you’re new to shawls and need some styling tips, I recommend these tutorials:

 

I’m looking forward to crocheting together!

Year of Projects, Year 2: New Year, New List

After reviewing my progress in last week’s post, I decided to revise my list for the last half of the Year of Projects.  This may not seem as ambitious as my original list, but for right now it works for me.

I’ve been purposely vague about the exact numbers of projects, etc. because I would like to keep my Year of Projects participation fun and not obligatory!

So without further ado, here’s my new list.

1) Continue to reduce my yarn stash and track my yarn consumption.  I’m an active member of the Surmount the Stash group on Ravelry, but I’m always looking for new ways of tracking my yardage.  I started using KnitMeter yesterday, and I think this will be quite helpful.  I’ve already learned a lot from entering the projects I completed (and didn’t unravel) in 2012!

My goal is to have one less plastic bin of yarn by the end of 2013, so I guess I should be about halfway there by the end of the Year of Projects.  I have no idea what that represents in yardage!

2) Make more projects for myself.  I never seem to focus enough on projects for myself.  I’d like to make myself a pair of crocheted socks and a full winter accessories set (hat, scarf/cowl, and mittens or convertible gloves).  If I could do this by the end of June, I’d be pretty pleased with myself.

3) Learn at least one (hopefully more) new (to me) knitting technique or skill.  Some options I’ve been thinking about are entrelac, efficient use of DPNs (the horror!), circular knitting that starts with a small amount of stitches and increases rather than a large amount of stitches and decreases (like some of the great motifs from Knitting in Circles), and more advanced cast on, bind off, or colorwork methods.

4) Host at least 2 CALs or KALs in my Ravelry group.  I had a lot of fun with the Ripple Mania CAL last year and the Chubby Sheep CAL going on now in the Underground Crafter group.  I’d like to be more organized about how I approach these, though.  Maybe I might even write up a mystery project for a fall CAL…?

5) Donate crocheted (or knitted) projects to charity.  Crochetlist is a Yahoo group that I’ve been involved with on and off for years.  I’ll be hosting the September challenge this year (pet blankets for Bideawee again), and I’d like to donate my own projects to at least one of the other challenges.

Some possible projects are

  • Cotton washcloths and hand towels (a great way to use up some cotton stash) due at the end of April for Mothers and Infants Striving for Success (MISS Inc.), a shelter for women and children.
  • 6″ squares (and I think we all know that I love to make grannies) for Casting Off the Cold  by the beginning of June.  But I’m not sure about the cost of shipping to Canada…

I could also participate in a charity drive through the New York City Crochet Guild or to send some 8″ squares to Sandy for Bridge and Beyond.  And I’m actually hoping to find a charity that accepts crocheted toys.  I know that I can look charities up on Bev’s Charity Links or Lion Brand’s Charity Connection, but if anyone has a suggestion of a US based charity that accepts crocheted toys that don’t need to be made in any particular colors, please let me know!

 

Right now, this list seems incredibly ambitious since I have two samples due next Friday, another one due at the end of the month, and I’ve just volunteered to help out Crochet Happy with her January CAL.  But I’m sure once February arrives, I’ll be amazed at the small size of my list.  I can always add more things to it if need be!

For more Year of Projects posts, visit Come Blog-a-long on Ravelry.

Ripple Mania CAL giveaway winners!

I’m so glad that I said the Ripple Mania CAL giveaway winners would be selected randomly because it would have been impossible to choose my favorite projects from among all of the great entries!  I had a wonderful time during the CAL, and I hope you did, too.  I want to thank everyone who participated and everyone who entered the giveaway, and of course, the fabulously generous prize sponsors: Magique Enterprises, Lion Brand Yarn, Leisure Arts, and Red Heart Yarn.

You can find full sized pictures of all the entries in this thread on Ravelry or here on my Facebook page.  (You can also find most entries on my Ripple Mania Pinterest board, along with some other ripple inspirations.)

But I know what you’re really waiting for – the winners!  I made a list of entries in the order they were posted, and then used Random.org to select someone on the list randomly for each prize.

The first prize goes to abhall76 for her Buckeye’s Blanket.  She started this project about 20 years ago (!) and finished it up during the Ripple Mania CAL.  This definitely gives me hope for all of my lingering works in progress.

abhall76 is the winner of the Red Heart prize package, which includes an issue of Crochet Today!, a copy of the Ripple Effect pattern booklet,  and everything you need to make the Windsor Ripple Throw - 8 skeins of Red Heart With Love yarn (2 skeins each 1530 Violet and 1814 True Blue D; 1 skein each 1907 Boysenberry, 1701 Hot Pink, 1401 Pewter, and 1805 Bluebell), a 6 mm (US J) Susan Bates bamboo handle crochet hook, and a Red Heart tote bag.

 

The next prize goes to linda74, the blogger at alottastitches, for her Iris Garden blanket using the Eyelet Ripple pattern.

Linda74 is the winner of the Leisure Arts prize package, filled with 69 crochet ripple patterns from 40 Favorite Ripple AfghansBeauty of the Earth AfghansVanna’s Choice Color It Beautiful AfghansRipple Afghans to Crochet, and Rippling Effects.

 

Our next winner is izybit, who designed her own Kindle cover inspired by the Classic Ripple pattern.  If you’d like to make your own ripple Kindle cover, izybit shared design and construction tips on her Ravelry project page.

izybit won the Lion Brand Yarn prize package, 4 skeins of Amazing in Strawberry Fields, enough yarn to crochet the Candy Color Ripple Cowl.

And our final Ripple Mania winner is MelissaGreen from the Etsy shop MyissaG for her Blue Chocolate blanket.

Melissa is the winner of the Eleggant Hooks set from Magique Enterprises, which includes the Eleggant comfort crochet handle, six interchangeable hooks (in steel sizes 1.25 mm, 1.75 mm, and 2.25 mm, and in aluminum sizes 3.5 mm, 5.0 mm, and 6.0 mm), and o-rings.

 

I will be contacting all winners via private message on Ravelry so the sponsors can ship the prize packages out as soon as possible.  Again, thanks to everyone who participated in the CAL and who entered the giveaway.  I’d like to host another CAL in February, when everything is settled down from the holidays.  If you have any project suggestions, feel free to share them here!

There’s still time…

…to enter the Ripple Mania CAL giveaway for your chance to win amazing prizes from Leisure ArtsLion Brand YarnMagique Enterprises, and Red Heart.

You can find all the details in this blog post!  Share your pictures by 11:50 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, November 28!

The Ripple Mania Prize Package from Leisure Arts.
Lion Brand Ripple Mania Prize Package.
Magique Enterprises Ripple Mania Prize Package.
Red Heart Ripple Mania Prize Package.

And, for all you knitters out there, you have until Thursday, November 29 to enter the giveaway for my review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum, courtesy of Barron’s Educational Series, here.

Enjoy the week, and good luck!

FO Friday: Booties, 30 Min-Knits Book Review, and Giveaway

I have just a small finished object today, my very first pair of knit booties.  But they come with a long story!  (And, to thank you for reading the whole story, I’m also including a book review and giveaway at the end of this post.)

I have a friend that I haven’t seen in ages.  She used to date (and then was engaged to) a friend of mine from college.  There were about 3 or 4 years when the three of us would get together very frequently and have a great time.  They lived in a nearby neighborhood for a few years and then they moved to the Boston area, but I actually kept in touch and visited regularly for some time.  Then there was a lot of upheaval in my life in 2007-08 and, at the same time, they broke up and this friend moved to California.  I haven’t seen her since then and now we are “Facebook friends.”  (You know what I mean – I think about her, occasionally see a status update, but haven’t actually called or written in ages.)  Via Facebook, I learned that she got married and eventually that she was pregnant.  She actually kept a rather entertaining weekly blog during her pregnancy which I only discovered in about the eighth month.  The humor in her posts reminded me why I enjoy her friendship so much, so I decided to make her newborn baby girl some gifts.

 

Since we haven’t seen each other in about 5 years and I am completely pressed for time, I decided that my standard baby gift (a blanket) was out of the question.  I also didn’t want to buy any yarn, so I started looking for a group of smaller projects that I could make with stash. And that’s where these cuties come in.

I had a second ulterior motive.  I recently received a review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum from Barron’s Educational Series.  As the self-professed world’s slowest knitter, I figured I had to time myself making at least one project from the book.  I decided that if I could make one of the projects in 90 minutes, a normal knitter might be able to do it in 30.

The Broad Strap Booties seemed the perfect solution:

  • A pattern fit for a baby (check),
  • Made with small amounts of yarn (check),
  • In a yarn weight where I have some “girl colors” in my stash (check),
  • In an easy care (machine washable) yarn (check).

I used just a wee bit Lion Brand Wool-Ease Sportweight (now discontinued) that I bought years ago at one of the Smiley’s Yarns famous Manhattan yarn sales.  I think they came out pretty cutely.

I’m looking at Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers and Baby Blueprint Crochet: Irresistible Projects for Little Ones, both of which I won in blog giveaways (yippee!), for inspiration for some other small items to include in the package.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.  And to learn more about the Ripple Mania CAL giveaway, open to all readers on earth with prizes donated by Leisure ArtsLion Brand YarnMagique Enterprises, and Red Heart Yarn, check out this post.

Book Review

I recently received a review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum from Barron’s Educational Series.  The book positions itself as “a collection of knitting projects that you can really fit into your spare time…creating fun and imaginative pieces in a half-hour or less.”  The concept appealed to me totally, especially since I knit extremely slowly, but I’ll admit that I was dubious that anything can be knit (by me) in thirty minutes or less.  The book comes with a few disclaimers that put me more at ease.  Finishing is not included in the 30 minutes, and when the project is for multiple pieces (e.g., a set of mittens), only one piece can be made in 30 minutes.  Ok, perhaps there is such a project out there.

The book includes 60 projects, most of which are small and can be made with stash yarn, or which are made with bulky yarn or two strands of yarn held together.  You can tell that Carol is primarily a teacher, because the book is organized by skill level (40 Easy projects and 20 Intermediate projects), and then sub-divided by technique.  At the beginning of the book, there is a gallery of  project photos along with the page where you can find the pattern.  Some of the patterns include a technique marker (e.g., Cable Knitting) on the side of the page.  These techniques are explained in a 14 page illustrated section at the end of the book.

I made the Broad Strap Booties (pictured on the cover) to test out the 30 minute theory.  I gave myself 90 minutes per bootie since I know that I knit extremely slowly.  (As a reference point, it took me 25 minutes to make half a gauge swatch for the pattern – 22 stitches by 15 rows.)  I was able to complete both booties (not including swatching but including knitting and assembly/finishing), in just under 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I consider that a resounding success.

What I liked about this book: 

  • Each project is photographed several times from different angles.  The projects appear against a white background in the gallery, then again in “group photos” every few pages (with each item numbered for reference to the pattern), and then again on the pattern page.  This gives you a really clear idea of how the finished project will look and is also visually interesting.
  • Even though I personally don’t see myself knitting some of these projects (e.g., a Dali mustache), everything inside is actually very cute.  None of the projects “look” like they were thrown together in 30 minutes or less.
  • Most of the projects are great stashbusters.
  • There is an opportunity to try out techniques like shaping, cables, beading, or colorwork on a small and low-risk project.  The technique section in the back includes a “Practice This” box which directs you to the appropriate patterns using the technique.
  • If you tend to procrastinate on gift knits, this could be a great “go to” resource for inspiration.

What I don’t like about the book, or what’s missing:

  • Like other paperback books, it doesn’t lay flat so it is difficult to knit and read at the same time.  There are front and back cover flaps that you can use to hold your place, though.
  • When a pattern includes charts or a template, those are in the back rather than next to the pattern page, so you will need to flip back and forth a bit.
  • Though most projects are clearly made with just a small amount of yarn, the patterns list the full size of the skein used for the project.  For example, the booties that I made used about 34 yards in the main color and about 9 yards in the other color, but the pattern just mentions that I need two balls of Rowan Handknit Cotton DK (93 yards each).  I think the book could get more mileage as a stashbusting book if Carol included the approximate yardage for each project.  Instead, the knitter needs to guess whether they have enough yarn in their stash for any given project.
  • On a related note, it would help if the weight of the yarn was listed for each project.  If it isn’t part of the brand name (e.g., Rowan Handknit Cotton DK), then there aren’t many clues about the yarn weight.  I’m guessing the Rowan and Coats yarns that Carol used for the book are ubiquitous in the UK, but it would be great if it was easier to make yarn substitutions.
  • While arranging the book in order of difficulty is a great idea, it is hard to find projects by type (e.g., women’s accessories) with this system.  It is difficult to determine the scale of a project from the gallery, so it would be helpful if the index listed projects by type.  (The baby projects are listed as a category in the index, though.)

Unfortunately, the patterns are not posted on Ravelry yet and you can’t “search inside the book” on Amazon, so it is hard to get an idea of what is included if you don’t see the book in person.  I would recommend this book for a beginner, advanced beginner, or newly intermediate knitter who likes to make small, portable projects.  If you are trying to bust some stash and enjoy gift knitting, this could also be the right book for you.  The book includes 60 projects, which is more than you would generally find in a book at this price point, but many of the projects are primarily decorative.  I think this would be a fun book to use when knitting with children or teens since the projects are cute and fast to make, and the accessories are on trend.  If you are a more experienced knitter or like more detailed/involved projects, then this is probably not the book for you.

 

Giveaway

To kick off the last minute holiday gift making season, I’m giving away my review copy of 30 Min-Knits: What Can You Knit in Half an Hour or Less? by Carol Meldrum, courtesy of Barron’s Educational Series.  This giveaway is open to all readers with a U.S. mailing address.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, November 29, 2012.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your quick knitting experience: do you make a lot of fast projects, do you knit gifts at the last minute, etc.
  • 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!

Ripple Mania CAL: Giveaway

Whether you’re just joining in or you’ve been participating in the Ripple Mania Crochet-a-long since October, I know you’re excited to hear more about the prizes!  The Ripple Mania CAL has four fantastic sponsors, Coats & ClarkLeisure ArtsLion Brand Yarn, and Magique Enterprises, who have each put together a great prize package.  This post describes the prizes, explains how you can enter the giveaway, and includes the schedule for the Ripple Mania CAL.  All images are used with permission.

The Prizes

Red Heart Ripple Mania Prize Package (Retail value: $75)

Red Heart is sponsoring a fabulous Ripple Mania package including an issue of Crochet Today! and a copy of the Ripple Effect pattern booklet,  along with everything you need to make the Windsor Ripple Throw - 8 skeins of Red Heart With Love yarn (2 skeins each 1530 Violet and 1814 True Blue D; 1 skein each 1907 Boysenberry, 1701 Hot Pink, 1401 Pewter, and 1805 Bluebell) and a 6 mm (US J) Susan Bates bamboo handle crochet hook.  And, to make it easy for you to work on your project on the go, they’re also including a Red Heart tote bag.

 

 

Leisure Arts Ripple Mania Prize Package. (Retail value: $48.85)

Leisure Arts is sponsoring an awesome Ripple Mania prize package including 69 ripple patterns in 5 pattern books!  The package includes 40 Favorite Ripple Afghans (Ravelry page), Beauty of the Earth Afghans (Ravelry page), Vanna’s Choice Color It Beautiful Afghans (Ravelry page), Ripple Afghans to Crochet (Ravelry page), and Rippling Effects (Ravelry page).  These books will definitely keep you crocheting for quite some time!

 

 

Lion Brand Ripple Mania Prize Package. (Retail value: $33.16)

Lion Brand Yarn is sponsoring a wonderful Ripple Mania prize package – 4 skeins of Amazing in Strawberry Fields, enough yarn to crochet the Candy Color Ripple Cowl.  You’ll have a fashionable accessory just in time for the deep cold of winter!

 

Magique Enterprises Ripple Mania Prize Package. (Retail value: $24.95CAD)

And for those of you who have been longing to try an Eleggant crochet hook after reading my review, Magique Enterprises is sponsoring a set including the Eleggant comfort crochet handle, six interchangeable hooks (in steel sizes 1.25 mm, 1.75 mm, and 2.25 mm, and in aluminum sizes 3.5 mm, 5.0 mm, and 6.0 mm), and o-rings.

 

Now that you’ve heard about all the amazing prizes available, you may be wondering how to enter this giveaway.  Read on for details!

 

Ripple Mania Giveaway Rules

To enter the Ripple Mania giveaway for your chance to win one of these great prizes:

  • Join in the Ripple Mania Crochet-a-long!  You can participate in the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, in the comments on this blog, on the Underground Crafter Facebook page, or by Tweeting @ucrafter #ripplemania.
  • Photograph your Ripple Mania project!  Smaller projects (accessories, baby blankets, cozies, washcloths, etc.) must be completed.  Larger projects (adult sweaters, large throws, or bedspreads) must be at least 1/3 finished.
  • Projects must have been started and/or completed during the Ripple Mania CAL (between October 17 and November 28).  You can use any crochet ripple pattern, though of course I’d love it if you used one of mine :).
  • Share a photograph and description of your Ripple Mania project by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, November 28.  Each project counts as one entry in the giveaway.
  • To share your project on Ravelry: Add the project to your notebook with the tag ripplemania.  Share the project  in the Ripple Mania CAL Giveaways thread.
  • To share your project on Facebook: Post a Wall photo on the Underground Crafter page.  (Remember that if you don’t “like” the page, I won’t be able to message you on Facebook, so you’ll have to check back to see if you’ve won.)
  • To share your project on this blog: Post a link to a project photo (on your blog, Flickr, etc.) in the comments.
  • To share your project on Twitter: Tweet @ucrafter #ripplemania with a link to a photo of your project.
  • This giveaway is open to all crocheters worldwide.
  • By entering the giveaway, you are granting permission for your project photo to be shared in a collage of all entries on this blog.
  • On or about December 1, 2012, four winners will be chosen at random and contacted for mailing addresses.  Winners must respond by December 15, 2012 or their prize will be forfeited.
Thanks so much for joining in, and I can’t wait to see the projects!

Ripple Mania CAL Schedule!

Wednesday, 10/17 – Ripple Mania Kick Off!

Ripple Mania CAL Chat on Ravelry

Week 1 Chat on Ravelry

  • Supply list and project suggestions
  • Colorize Your Ripple: Choosing a Palette for Your Project

Wednesday, 10/24 -Ripple Basics

Week 2 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 10/31 - Ripple Variations

Week 3 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/7 – Squaring Up Your Ripple

Week 4 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/14 – Adding ripples to hexagon and square motif patterns

Week 5 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/28 – The Big Reveal!

Stop by Ravelry to join in on the CAL.

Ripple Mania CAL: Week 4 – Squaring Up Your Ripple

This week is all about squaring up a ripple – how to combine a ripple pattern with a straight edged stitch.  This week’s Ripple Mania PDF includes a baby blanket project.

I’m also very excited to announce two more sponsors for the Ripple Mania prizes: Magique Enterprises and Lion Brand Yarn are joining Red Heart and Leisure Arts by contributing awesome prizes for participants!  I’m gathering together pictures of the prizes and hope to share them next week.

The CAL is free to join.  Each week, an updated PDF will be available to download on Ravelry, and Ravelry members can chat in the Ripple Mania CAL thread in the Underground Crafter group.  (You do not have to be a Ravelry member to download the PDF.)  Once the CAL ends on November 28, Ripple Mania will be converted to a “for sale” pattern ebook.

Ripple Mania CAL Schedule

Wednesday, 10/17 – Ripple Mania Kick Off!

Ripple Mania CAL Chat on Ravelry

Week 1 Chat on Ravelry

  • Supply list and project suggestions
  • Colorize Your Ripple: Choosing a Palette for Your Project

Wednesday, 10/24 -Ripple Basics

Week 2 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 10/31 - Ripple Variations

Week 3 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/7 – Squaring Up Your Ripple

Week 4 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/14 – Adding ripples to hexagon and square motif patterns

Week 5 Chat on Ravelry

Wednesday, 11/28 – The Big Reveal!

Visit Ravelry to get started with the Ripple Mania CAL!