Tag Archives: red heart

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.

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.)