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Interview with Rhelena from CrochetN’Crafts

Underground Crafter Crochet Specialty of the Month 2015

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

As part of this month’s focus on broomstick lace, I’m sharing an interview today with Rhelena, the blogger behind CrochetN’Crafts. Rhelena shares free crochet patterns along with craft and sewing tutorials on her blog. Rhelena happens to have quite a few broomstick lace patterns and tutorials available, and I’m also sharing a mini roundup of my 4 favorite free broomstick lace crochet patterns from her collection.

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You can find Rhelena online at CrochetN’Crafts, or on Facebook, Pinterest, Ravelry, and Twitter. She also maintains a free pattern directory, Crochet Pattern Bonanza. All photos are copyright Rhelena/CrochetN’Crafts and are used with permission.

Interview with Rhelena from CrochetNCrafts on Underground Crafter with free crochet pattern roundup

Rhelena from CrochetN’Crafts.

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

Rhelena: My sisters taught me the double crochet when I was kid. One of my older sisters and I crocheted a huge blanket using scrap yarn that someone had given us. After that I learned by following pattern books. In my late teens/early 20s, I began working with crochet thread and enjoyed making pretty doilies.

Broomstick Lace Wrap, free crochet pattern by CrochetN'Crafts.

Broomstick Lace Wrap, free crochet pattern by CrochetN’Crafts.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Rhelena: One of the biggest reasons behind it was that nothing ever fit me when I followed patterns. I’m very short, and it didn’t matter what pattern I followed it was always way too big for me. So I found it easier to just design my own from scratch. A few of my first patterns were a pair of slippers and a tank top.

Broomstick Lace Cowl, free crochet pattern by CrochetN'Crafts.

Broomstick Lace Cowl, free crochet pattern by CrochetN’Crafts.

UC: Several of your patterns include broomstick lace. How were you introduced to broomstick lace, and what do you enjoy about designing with it?

Rhelena: I learned about broomstick lace when I began to study the history of crochet. I was intrigued to discover that in the olden days, they had used actual broom sticks to create the lace. Knitting needles are commonly used today, which in my mind makes broomstick lace a cross between crochet and knitting. And for me it’s simpler than knitting because you work with only one needle and one crochet hook.

Kids Knook Value Pack

Another reason why I love broomstick lace is because it creates a nice lacy texture on the fabric. It’s great for wraps, blankets, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

An 18-inch doll dress Rhelena sewed for her niece.

An 18-inch doll dress Rhelena sewed for her niece.

UC: You also sew and share sewing tips on your blog. Do you have a favorite craft or does it depend on the project or season?

Rhelena: Crochet is by far my favorite hobby because it’s so easy to do. In school I was taught the very basics of knitting, but I soon discovered that holding one hook was far less complicated than trying to work with two knitting needles. At the same time, I love the gorgeous drape of knit fabrics and I hope to one day learn how to knit beautiful sweaters and other tops.

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As for sewing, at one point I had this crazy dream to be a seamstress. During the course of that dream I made quite a few pajamas and simple clothes for myself. I also made a graduation dress for my one niece and a doll dress for her younger sister. Both dresses were done in a satin material, which is difficult to work with. As a matter of fact, I ruined the first dress and had to go back to buy new material and start over. At that point I realized that although I enjoyed sewing, it wasn’t something I wanted to do for a living.

Broomstick Lace Chunky Crochet Scarf, free crochet pattern by CrochetN'Crafts.

Broomstick Lace Chunky Crochet Scarf, free crochet pattern by CrochetN’Crafts.

UC: What are your favorite crochet and sewing books in your collection?

Rhelena: The books that taught me how to read and follow crochet patterns will always be my personal favorites. My sister-in-law once gave me an old worn out book that gave you basic instructions on various arts and crafts, including crochet. I no longer have that book, but it will always have a special place in my heart because that book taught me how to read a crochet pattern. After that I resorted to those Leisure Arts pattern booklets that I picked up at Walmart. Two of my personal favorites are Dainty Little Doilies and Pineapple Doilies.

I also have a digital stitch directory that I’m finding very inspirational, especially when it comes to designing patterns.

Broomstick Lace Beaded Valance, free crochet pattern by CrochetN'Crafts.

Broomstick Lace Beaded Valance, free crochet pattern by CrochetN’Crafts.

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

Rhelena: Yes, there are many designers who inspire me. A few of my favorite websites are Cre8tion Crochet, Jessie At Home, Kim GuzmanPatterns For Crochet, and Red Heart. (UC comment: I previously interviewed Kim Guzman here.) I love their designs and seeing them inspires me to bring out my own creativity.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Rhelena, and sharing your love of broomstick lace with us!

February, 2015 Crochet Specialty of the Month: Tapestry Crochet

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

Underground Crafter Crochet Specialty of the Month Tapestry February 2015

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Although I grew up seeing tapestry crochet projects (bags, especially) on the streets of New York, my first introduction to tapestry crochet patterns was through Carol Ventura.

Purrfect Kitties Go Round in Tapestry Crochet by Carol Ventura, from Leisure Arts' Afghans for All Reasons and All Seasons.

Purrfect Kitties Go Round in Tapestry Crochet, pattern by Carol Ventura, from Leisure Arts’ Afghans for All Reasons and All Seasons.

I was lucky enough to interview Dr. Ventura in 2012 as part of a series of posts I did about Crochet Master Class. If you are interested in learning more about tapestry crochet, check out her books, Tapestry Crochet, More Tapestry Crochet, and Bead & Felted Tapestry Crochet. This past fall, I also interviewed Andres Nevarez, another crochet designer who specializes in tapestry crochet.

Tempo Crochet Caps, tapestry crochet pattern by Andres Nevarez, published by Skacel. (Image (c) Skacel.)

Tempo Crochet Caps, tapestry crochet pattern by Andres Nevarez, published by Skacel. (Image (c) Skacel.)

So, what is tapestry crochet anyway?

Tapestry crochet is a method of using multiple colors in the same row by working over the unused color yarn rather than carrying or “floating” it. Because you are working over the unused color(s), you don’t have to weave in a lot of ends when you finish your project. At the same time, working over the colors can create a firmer fabric, so tapestry crochet makes great bags, bowls, and other projects that need to hold their shape.

What’s special about tapestry crochet?

Tapestry crochet uses basic crochet stitches (typically, single crochet) so it’s suitable for beginners. You can create stunning multi-color motifs using graphed/charted designs, and in many cases you don’t need to be able to read pattern abbreviations.

To see more examples, check out my growing Tapestry Crochet Pinterest board!

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Tapestry Crochet on Pinterest.

Free Tapestry Crochet Tutorials for Beginners Roundup

  • If you’d like to try tapestry crochet for the first time, I recommend starting with Carol Ventura’s website, Tapestry Crochet. Dr. Ventura has several videos and free patterns available that are perfect for tapestry crochet beginners. You can also find special tapestry crochet graph paper that will help you create your own designs!
  • Amy Solovay shared a photo tutorial on About.com. She included a free beginner checkerboard pattern.
  • Tamara Kelly has a video tutorial that explains the basics of tapestry crochet. The video demonstrates how to make a tapestry crochet project in the round or flat.
  • Kristin Omdahl has a video tutorial on the Red Heart Yarn YouTube channel that shows the difference between tapestry crochet and changing colors with floats. The patterns she works on in the tutorial are Sunset Throw and Desert Pillows, both by Marianne Forrestal .

I hope you enjoyed this post! I’ll be back later this month to share more tapestry crochet fun!

Have you tried tapestry crochet? If not, do you plan to try it now?

Dress Up Your Pet Day 2015 – Roundup of 10 free crochet patterns!

Dress Up Your Pet Day 2015, free crochet patterns for pets, roundup on Underground CrafterDid you know that January 14 is Dress Up Your Pet Day? Other than a failed attempt to photograph my cats in tiny Santa hats years ago, I haven’t had much success dressing my cats. I do have the honor of dressing my mom’s dog in her winter coat when I dog sit, though.

To celebrate Dress Up Your Pet Day, I’m sharing a roundup of 10 awesome free crochet patterns!

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1) I love the Doggie Tutu by Sara Sach of Posh Pooch Designs! Sara includes a great tutorial for measuring your dog correctly, and the pattern is customizable to any size dog.

Doggie Tutu, free crochet pattern. Image (c) Sara Sach/Posh Pooch Designs.

Doggie Tutu, free crochet pattern. Image (c) Sara Sach/Posh Pooch Designs.

2) The Doggie Shrug by Molly Mahoney is another cute pattern for your favorite female dog. The flower embellishment is adorable! This one is available in three sizes.

Doggie Shrug, free crochet pattern by Molly Mahoney. Image (c) Red Heart/Coats & Clark.

Doggie Shrug, free crochet pattern by Molly Mahoney. Image (c) Red Heart/Coats & Clark.

Cuddles to Crochet for Pets, now available on LeisureArts.com!

3) The Rigby Scarf by Sincerely Pam is a cute kerchief available in 5 doggie sizes. It’s easy to adjust it to a larger (human) size if you’d like to match your furry friend on your next walk.

Rigby Scarf, free crochet pattern by Sincerely Pam. Image (c) Pamela Dajczak.

Rigby Scarf, free crochet pattern by Sincerely Pam. Image (c) Pamela Dajczak.

4) Stitch 11‘s Size Small Dog Sweater is a classic style that will suit even the most traditionally dressed dogs. Corina also has an extra small version available here.

Size Small Dog Sweater, free crochet pattern by Stitch 11. Image (c) Stitch 11.

Size Small Dog Sweater, free crochet pattern by Stitch 11. Image (c) Stitch 11.

5) If, by chance, you have a Saint Bernard, s/he should definitely accessorize with Jennifer Gregory‘s crochet Whisky Barrel Pouch for Saint Bernard dogs. The pattern includes helpful tutorial photos to assist with assembly.

Whisky Barrel Pouch for Saint Bernard Dogs, free crochet pattern by Jennifer Gregory. Image (c) Niftynnifer's Crochet & Crafts.

Whisky Barrel Pouch for Saint Bernard Dogs, free crochet pattern by Jennifer Gregory. Image (c) Niftynnifer’s Crochet & Crafts.

6) The Shell Stitch Cowl by Manda Lynn’s Crochet Treasures is a great winter accessory available in 5 sizes.

Shell Stitch Cowl for Pup, free crochet pattern by Manda Lynn's Crochet Treasures. Image (c) Manda Lynn.

Shell Stitch Cowl for Pup, free crochet pattern by Manda Lynn’s Crochet Treasures. Image (c) Manda Lynn.

Check out Dog Photography: Sit, Stay, Click, now available on Craftsy!

7) If you want a solid color cowl, check out Sara Sach‘s Cable Stitch Dog Cowl with Buttons. As a button fanatic, this is definitely one of my favorites. This is also a great small project to try crochet cables!

Cable Stitch Dog Cowl with Buttons, free crochet pattern by Sara Sach. Image (c) Posh Pooch Designs.

Cable Stitch Dog Cowl with Buttons, free crochet pattern by Sara Sach. Image (c) Posh Pooch Designs.

8) Sara Sach shares another tutorial in her Small Dog Shrug. She demonstrates how to measure your dog so you can customize the shrug to a larger size.

Small Dog Shrug, free crochet pattern by Sara Sach. Image (c) Posh Pooch Designs.

Small Dog Shrug, free crochet pattern by Sara Sach. Image (c) Posh Pooch Designs.

9) And, if you’re looking for a more old school cowl, try Sara Sach‘s Retro Collar. This would be a great stashbuster to use up scraps from larger projects.

Retro Collar, free crochet pattern by Sara Sach. Image (c) Posh Pooch Designs.

Retro Collar, free crochet pattern by Sara Sach. Image (c) Posh Pooch Designs.

10) Last, but certainly not least, is this cute dress from Manda Lynn. The Chihuahua Angel Wing Pinafore Dress makes a lovely outfit for your small lady dog.

Chihuahua Dress by Manda Lynn's Crochet Treasures. Image (c) Manda Lynn.

Chihuahua Angel Wing Pinafore Dress by Manda Lynn’s Crochet Treasures. Image (c) Manda Lynn.

I hope you enjoyed this roundup! You can find more crochet and knit patterns for pets on my Pinterest board!

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Crochet and Knit for Pets on Pinterest.

What projects have you crocheted or knit for your pets?

Book Review: Knit Stitch Guide by Rita Weiss

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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 book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.

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.

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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.