Tag Archives: Tunisian crochet

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 Review: Crochet Red

Today is National Wear Red Day, the American Heart Association‘s annual event to bring attention to women’s heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.  This year, Jimmy Beans Wool founder Laura Zander is bringing her Stitch Red campaign to crochet, with Crochet Red: Crocheting for Women’s Heart Health, a collection of 31 patterns. Since I don’t have much red in my wardrobe, I thought I’d spread awareness by reviewing Crochet Red, instead.  (A portion of the proceeds from this book are donated to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to support The Heart Truth campaign.)

crochet red

The book opens with a stunning image of a stack of red crocheted items, and then shares a thumbnail of each of the designs in the table of contents.  Not surprisingly, the book then launches into a series of notes, forewords, and prefaces (by the director of the Heart Truth, Deborah Norville, Vanna White, and Laura Zander), each of which discusses women’s heart health.

The next section of the book, Projects and Profiles, includes 30 patterns.  Each pattern includes a designer profile.  In many of these, the designer shares their own story related to heart health.  Most patterns also include a health tip from the designer, such as their favorite heart healthy foods or exercise.  Most patterns, especially the wearables, include multiple views of the project.  The exceptions are the two wraps, neither of which is shown on a model, and the smaller projects, like the mitts, which just include one picture.  The garment patterns also include schematics (in red, naturally).  All patterns are written in U.S. crochet abbreviations, and five patterns also include international stitch symbols.

The next section, Heart-Healthy Living, includes a variety of information about heart health, such as self test, exercise recommendations, tips for staying motivated about healthy lifestyle changes, and nine recipes.

The Crochet Know-How section shares the standard “back of book” information like a glossary of abbreviations, hook sizes, yarn weights, and a US to UK abbreviation conversion chart.  It also includes short photo tutorials of the basic crochet stitches (chain, single, slip stitch, half double, and double crochet) and the adjustable ring for crocheting in the round.  The book ends with a bonus pattern, a list of yarn suppliers, and an index.

Throughout the book, images of mountains of red yarn, piles of red crocheted fabric, and models in red garments are presented against mostly white backgrounds.  The contrast creates a really beautiful effect and you just want to keep flipping through the book.  The layout is particularly helpful in the Heart-Healthy Living section because it contains a lot of text.  The contrasting colors and the images break up the wall of text and keep the book visually interesting.

Overall, the book includes 31 patterns.

Pattern Type

  • Women’s top (cardigans, tunics, shrugs, pullover, etc.): 9
  • Women’s coat or jacket: 4
  • 3 each: cowls, scarves, bags
  • 2 each: hats, blankets, wraps
  • 1 each: pillow, mitts, sachet

 

Difficulty Rating

  • 13 easy,
  • 13 intermediate, and
  • 4 experienced.

 

Three of the designs – the Tunisian Chevron Scarf by Sharon Silverman, the Tunisian Shrug by Kristin Omdahl, and the Vintage Tunisian Shell by Rohn Strong – are Tunisian crochet patterns.

My favorite designs are the Flower Garland Cowl by Robyn Chachula, the Gingham Afghan by Tanis Galik, the Heart Shaped Coat by Nicky Epstein, the Petal Cabled Hat by Linda Permann, the Slouchy Cowl by Edie Eckman, and the Sweater with Cowl by Marly Bird. Ravelry members can see the 30 main patterns on the book’s source page here.  (The bonus pattern, Kristin Nicholas‘ Heart Sachet, is visible on the book’s front cover.)

Although this book has a stunning layout and a great collection of patterns by many of today’s most popular designers, there are a few things I wish were done differently.  I would have liked to see the wraps on models, particularly since they can be challenging to style.  I think many crocheters would want to see more patterns with international stitch symbols.  Most of the garment patterns are in 3-4 sizes and some crocheters will be looking for more.  The Heart-Healthy Living chapter is a bit lost at the end – putting it up front would have made everyone look through it and would probably have a greater impact on awareness.  I wish there was more information about how much of the proceeds were going to The Heart Truth.  (Is it a percentage?  A fixed amount per book?  Is there a maximum donation? etc.)

This is a surprisingly affordable collection of patterns, particularly since there are so many garments.  I would give it 4 out of 5 stars for a crocheter who likes pattern collections and who enjoys crocheting projects for women.

 

 

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet Red was provided by Sixth & Spring Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Interview with crochet designer and teacher, Beth Graham

Today, I’m really excited to share an interview with Beth Graham, a fellow crochet designer and teacher.  Like me, Beth is also participating in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long.  In addition to her self-published works, her designs have appeared in Crochet One-Skein Wonders: 101 Projects from Crocheters around the WorldCrochet World, and Quick & Simple Crochet for the Home.

By the way, if you want to join in on the Gift-a-Long (GAL) fun, there are two live Twitter Parties this week.

  • One is today, Wednesday, December 4 at noon EST (convert to your time zone here) – follow @bezencilla (interviewed here) and use #giftalong to join in for your chance to win some great prizes!
  • The next is Friday, December 6 at 7:00 p.m. EST (convert to your time zone here) – follow @ukeeknits and use #giftalong for great conversation and fun prizes.

Now, back to the interview :).  Beth can be found online on Ravelry (as zagraham and on her designer page) and on her design and teaching Facebook page.  If you’re in the Ontario area, you may also find her at her local yarn shop, Shall We Knit?

All photos are (c) Beth Graham (except where noted) and are used with Beth’s permission.  Click on the pictures to link to the pattern page.
Beth Graham, modeling her A Crinkle in Time Cowl.
Beth Graham, modeling her A Crinkle in Time Cowl.

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

Beth: I grew up believing myself to be completely incapable of anything the least bit crafty. I am left-handed, after all. My mom half-heartedly tried to teach me how to knit at one point by demonstrating the movements facing me (mirror image), but I just couldn’t get it, so we both gave up.

Later, as I started working as a librarian, I borrowed a book on left-handed knitting from the library. It was so complicated, and I had no one to help me, so, again, I quickly gave it up. There it was: confirmation that I couldn’t do crafty things!

Years later, my family moved from the United States to Canada, and I was in work limbo for a bit while I was waiting to get permanent residence status. I remembered that I’d always admired a baby blanket that my sister-in-law had made for my son and thought that maybe I’d give crochet a shot. So that first cold, dark winter, not really believing I could do it, I bought Mary Thomas’s First Steps In Crochet and was finally on my way!

You see, this somewhat dated booklet included a “Note for Left Handers” that started, “We strongly recommend that left handers learn the right-handed way. It may seem awkward at first, but this is true for all beginning crocheters.

Something clicked. Crochet is really a two-handed activity! It’s going to be awkward starting out no matter what! I could do this!

This is one of the first things I tell my beginning crochet students: I could do it! And they can, too.

 

Stitch Sampler Runner.
Stitch Sampler Runner.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Beth: Karen Crouch, the owner of Shall We Knit? in Waterloo, Ontario, where I work part-time, inspired me to start designing. As the resident “crochet guru,” I teach beginner crochet classes, and Karen persuaded me to try my hand at a few designs for those courses.

Things kind of exploded from there. I discovered, for example, that designs I thought of as “too easy” actually found an audience, and that even my knitter friends were interested in them! That sort of encouragement has been enough to keep me working toward finding my design voice.

I love teaching and I love learning. For me, design work has been all about learning: about good writing, about how to design, and about how to teach most effectively.

 

Criss-Cross Applesauce Cloth.
Criss-Cross Applesauce Cloth.

 

UC: Most of your patterns are for neckwear and dishcloths.  What do you enjoy about designing these types of projects? 

Beth: My crochet design is informed by my teaching, mostly. I want to offer students – along with knitters dipping their toe for the first time in the crochet waters! – easily managed, quickly accomplished projects. My goal, always, is to write simply and clearly, while offering the crafter enough interesting tidbits along the way to keep them hooked.

As well, I really enjoy making one-skein projects and utilitarian objects. Dishcloths are a fabulous way of exploring new techniques without having to commit to a lengthy project. And, even if your cloth ends up a little wonky, who cares? It’ll still get used – and may even give you a bit of a lift as you tackle those dreaded chores!

 

Stitch Sampler Cowl.
Stitch Sampler Cowl.

 

UC: You work a lot in Tunisian crochet (one of my favorite techniques!).  How did you get started with Tunisian?

Beth: My crochet mentor, Judith Butterworth, introduced me to Tunisian crochet. Its “bicraftual” nature really appeals to me. It’s a little bit like knitting, with its two-part method of picking up stitches and then, essentially, binding them off on each return pass. It’s more than a little like crochet, though, too, in the manner in which yarn and hook are managed.

And, if you get the gauge just right? It produces a fantastically tailored-looking fabric. (See, for example, my Practice Makes Perfect Scarf – one skein of Smooshy wonderfulness!)  UC comment: Smooshy is one of my favorite yarns!

 

Practice Makes Perfect Scarf, photo (c) Gillian Martin.
Practice Makes Perfect Scarf, photo (c) Gillian Martin.

 

UC: What’s your favorite crochet book in your collection (besides the ones you’re featured in, of course)?  

That’s really a toughie. I love books and value having lots of information at my fingertips. The book I’ve been recommending the most lately, though, has got to be Edie Eckman’s The Crochet Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask.

 

UC: Tell me about another crochet designer you discovered through participation in the GAL.  What attracted you that designer’s work?

Beth: I’ve organized a wee CAL with some friends locally using Yuliya Tkacheva’s Metro Kerchief that is coinciding with the Ravelry GAL. I’m a big fan of classically tailored patterns (ones that are, dare I say, “knitterly” in their design?), and Yuliya’s scarf is just right!

 

Wedgie Blanket.
Wedgie Blanket.

UC: Do you have any favorite crochet related websites or blogs that you read regularly?

Sad to say, I really don’t. I’m on Ravelry all the time, though.

 

UC: What’s next for you?

Beth: I’ve got two pieces in slip stitch crochet coming out on December 30 in the Knit Picks Under 100 Crochet Collection that I’m pretty excited about. As well, look for some Tunisian crochet dishcloth patterns in Cooperative Press’s Fresh Designs Crochet series and in the Knit Picks IDP in the new year.

 

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Beth!

Book Review: Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet by Sheryl Thies

My regular readers know that I’m a lover of Tunisian crochet.  I recently finished reading an ebook copy of Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet: Learn How with 13 Projects by Sheryl Thies from Martingale, and I’m sharing the review today.  (Sheryl’s second Tunisian crochet book with Martingale, Tunisian Crochet Encore, was published this spring.)

Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet

In Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet, Sheryl Thies takes an interesting approach to the craft.  The other beginner Tunisian crochet books I’ve recently read (Kim Guzman‘s Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Tunisian Crochet, reviewed here, and Dora Ohrenstein‘s The New Tunisian Crochet, reviewed here) are written by (primarily) crochet designers.  When Sheryl wrote the book, she was primarily a knitting designer and it’s interesting to see how that lens impacted her writing.

Get Hooked opens with a brief history of the craft (which, like most crochet histories, has gaps) and then moves onto an overview of different hooks.  Then there is a written and illustrated tutorial of Tunisian crochet basics.  As someone who learns best through reading, I found Sheryl’s detailed explanations of each stitch very helpful.  My regular readers know that I personally find line illustrations useless for learning crochet techniques – my brain just doesn’t work that way.  I can imagine that the lack of photo tutorials might make this book challenging for a true newbie who learns best through images.

Sheryl includes a troubleshooting chart right in this section, with causes and fixes to common beginner Tunisian crochet issues, and I applaud her for not burying that critical information in the appendices.  Similarly, Sheryl includes information on increasing and decreasing and color changes right up front, rather than hiding it in the appendices.  This formatting decision makes the book very beginner friendly, as you can see immediately what instructions are available to you while reading through the book.

Sheryl then dedicates a few pages to a discussion of gauge and blocking.  I think her background as a knitting designer influenced her to emphasize blocking, which is generally discussed minimally in crochet books.  For Tunisian crochet, which tends to curl, blocking can truly transform a project so it is great to see it discussed right up front.  (Actually blocking instructions are in an appendix, however.)

Button Down pattern.
Sheryl’s Button Down pillow cover pattern.

 

The book then dives into the patterns.  I count 17, while the book subtitle lists 13.  There are a few patterns with multiple components (i.e., a pullover with matching handwarmers) that could be completed separately, which accounts for the difference.

Pattern difficulty:

  • 1 beginner pattern,
  • 10 easy patterns, and
  • 6 intermediate patterns.

Project types:

  • 8 home decor projects, including 3 pillow covers, 2 bags, a blanket, placemats, and coasters,
  • 6 accessories projects, including 4 shawls/wraps, a scarf, and a pair of handwarmers, and
  • 3 women’s garments, including a cardigan, pullover, and jacket.
Sheryl's Rogue Ribs unisex scarf pattern.
Sheryl’s Rogue Ribs unisex scarf pattern.

All of the home decor patterns use medium weight yarns, and the accessories and garment designs feature several weights (mostly lighter than medium weight).  There is a diverse mix of yarns including some large brands and smaller, independent companies.  Again, I think Sheryl’s background as a knitting designer made her (and her publisher, and the yarn companies) more open to including lighter weight yarns.

My favorite patterns are the Button Down pillow cover, the Motivated Heretic entrelac shawl, and the Rogue Ribs scarf.  While Sheryl includes a range of pattern difficulty levels, the projects are beginner friendly.  Most have minimal shaping, and for the entrelac project, she uses one, multi-color yarn rather than have beginners using many different skeins.  Even the garments use simple construction techniques.

The book ends with appendices which discuss finishing (seaming, blocking, and adding “regular” crochet edges); charts for yarn and hook sizes, metric conversions, and pattern skill levels; and a list of materials resources.

Sheryl's Motivated Heretic entrelac shawl pattern.
Sheryl’s Motivated Heretic entrelac shawl pattern.

Like many books which include techniques and patterns, your enjoyment of the book will be improved if you like the patterns and are enthusiastic about learning the techniques by crocheting them.  (Ravelry members can see all of the patterns from the book here.)  While the book does include technical information about Tunisian crochet which would be helpful to a newbie, it may not be enough to let the book stand alone if you don’t find some patterns that you enjoy.  I recommend this book to new Tunisian crocheters, particularly those who enjoy working with lighter weight yarns, who enjoy learning the background details (the “whys”) of different techniques, and who learn from reading rather than primarily visually.  If you are an experienced Tunisian crocheter, you should take a look through the patterns to decide whether this book may be right for your style.

 

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet by Sheryl Thies was provided by Martingale. 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.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Interview Series: Paula Prado from De Origen Chile

Today, I’m interviewing Paula Prado, a multi-talented Chilean yarnie.

Paula can be found online in her Etsy shop, De Origen Chile, her website, and on Flickr.  All photos are copyright De Origen Chile.  Click on photos to link to the product pages on Etsy.

Paula Prado.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you learn to spin, knit, and dye?

Paula: I learned how to dye – tie dye really – when I was 12 years old. Then, after school I took a Natural Dyes class that my dad was going to take but couldn’t because of work, and I loved it.  After a while, I got a job dyeing for a a store that sells cross stitch and wool yarn.  My dad taught me all about dyeing with colorants and creating colors. I had already opened the store by then, and asked my grandmother to teach me how to knit. I used to knit these long skinny scarves, but I didn’t know how to cast on so she would do that for me :).

Berries, a 1-ply handspun Merino art yarn.

The spinning part came out of frustration, As I was no expert knitter, I wanted interesting textures so the knits were simple but original because of these awesome yarns I had in my mind, and I couldn’t get anyone to make them.  Spinners, especially countryside ladies here in Chile, are so traditional, so then I understood I was almost offending them.  I made a drop spindle with a knitting needle and a weight I took from a knitting machine, and taught myself how to spin thin and thick yarn, using wool tops. I fell in love with spinning.  Then, I started developing art yarns, and bought some books, I couldn’t find anybody in Chile spinning these yarns.  So I spent a lot of time on my wheel, creating textures than I can apply to my production.  And I even had the opportunity to travel to other cities to teach these techniques to traditional spinners and even give a workshop to teachers of Textile Design at a university in Santiago. There is no doubt that spinning is what I enjoy the most about textiles.

I also hand felt, like two weeks of the year.  It’s so fun. I try to always have some felted pieces at the store, and Merino scarves, cowls, and shawls.

Love It, a hand dyed DK weight wool yarn.

 

UC: What inspired you to open De Origen Chile on Etsy? Do you sell elsewhere, too?

Paula: I was inspired by the idea of giving value to handmade, which is hard in Chile.  We are just learning to do that as a country.  Lots of people think because you handmade your items, they have to bargain.

On Esty you see how people really give value to their work and give positive feedback or advices so you can improve.  I sell at my workshop in La Ligua and a few stores carry our yarns and knitting tools across the country. I also sell at different yarn and crafts events.

 

Big Handmade Tunisian Hook.

 

UC: In addition to yarn, you also sell knitting needles and crochet hooks. Do you carve those yourself or do you work with another artisan?

Paula: Every tool in the shop Is made at the workshop by Osvaldo (my boyfriend and now business partner).  He also makes spinning wheels and looms, and any knitting and spinning related tool our clients ask for.

Hand spun and hand dyed thick and thin Corriedale yarn.

UC: You’re coming to Chicago for Vogue Knitting Live in November. Tell us a bit about what you’ll be selling and why you decided to be a vendor at this venue.

Paula: I am spinning a limited edition art yarn, mixing natural fibers (Corriedale, Mohair, Merino, linen, and silk), hand dyed linen, viscose and wool yarns, and the giant knitting and crochet tools that go from 6 mm to 40 mm.

I’ve been going as a vendor to yarn events in Santiago and getting really good results.  The biggest one is organized by a knitting magazine, Tejidos Paula. I thought since I was selling on Etsy, and some of the clients want to really touch and squeeze the yarns, it would be a great idea to travel to an event organized by a major knitting magazine and meet those clients so they can see the quality of the products, then come back and develop new lines based on the experience.

 

A 2-ply Merino yarn.

 

UC: You were born and raised in Chile. What was the yarn crafting scene like when you were younger? Has it changed much over the years?

Paula: It has changed a lot! I always saw my grandmother knit and my mom crochet.  People in La Ligua used to finish a lot of the sweaters using crochet. But knitting in general was an old women thing. Since 2003, lots of young people started knitting and crocheting.  Men, kids, and women would meet to knit at cafes.  There are stores only selling yarns now, and it’s growing :).

 

Extreme Crochet Hook.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?

Paula: I think that working with natural fibers is the way my background has influenced my work from the beginning. I can’t think of working with other materials, they don’t talk to me. I don’t feel like spinning a bunch of nylon, for example, but I am obsessed with wool or alpaca or mohair or cotton.  And then I can see my grandmother’s knit sweaters, my mom’s crochet cotton curtains, and my dad talking about natural fibers.

 

A 2-ply bulky Merino yarn.
A 2-ply bulky Merino yarn.

 

UC: Do you have any favorite Spanish or English language crochet, knitting, or craft blogs to share?

Paula:

Here in Chile, I love:

  • Camila Larsen’s blog, Corriendo con Tijeras.  It’s really fun.  It has tutorials and teaches some classes I hope I can have the time to go to soon!
  • Debbie’s blog, Daiverdei. She crochets really cool amigurumis.
  • Patricia from Pupol spins art yarns and hopefully she will travel with me in November to Chicago for Vogue Knitting Live.

I also read some fiber artists’s blogs, like the felter Andrea Graham, and the wooldancer blog.  She is such an inspirational artist.

But nowadays, I spend a lot of time on Tumblr and Facebook.  I’m more of a visual person :).

 

Thank you so much for stopping by, Paula, and I wish you the best at Vogue Knitting Chicago!

 

The last interview in this year’s series will be posted on October 15 with Celia Diaz/Abejitas.

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!

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework (1984)

VintageNPotW 400

This week’s pick: Complete Guide to Needlework (Reader’s Digest) by Reader’s Digest.

Source:  MC’s mother’s collection.*

Publication date: Eighth printing (1984) of 1979 edition.

Status: Out of print but available at reasonable prices online.

Condition: Very Good.

Crafts: Applique, Crochet, Embroidery, Knitting, Lacework, Macrame, Needlepoint, Patchwork, Quilting, and Rug-making.

Complete Guide to Needlework cover

You know a book is a classic when you find it in the collections of two amazing women.  I came across this book in my grandmother’s collection after she died, and I took it home with me when we cleaned up her apartment.  Two years later, when I moved in with MC, I found another copy in the books he kept to the side after his mother died.  (I ended up giving my grandmother’s copy to one of my best friends.)

This book is a great resource because it includes information on so many different needlecrafts, but also because it goes beyond the basics in a way that most contemporary books don’t.  There is definitely an assumption that the readers of this book will need these crafts to make garments and home decor items for their families, and as a result, the writers attempt to share the skills needed for designing and finishing great custom items.

From the section on crochet necklines.
From the section on shaping crochet necklines.
From the section on knitting necklines.
From the section on shaping knitting necklines.

The book starts off with a section on embroidery, a craft I love the look of but lack the patience for actually doing.

 

Complete Guide to Needlework 21 embroidery sampler

There are quite a few great embroidery samplers shown, followed by detailed illustrations for making loads of stitches.

Complete Guide to Needlework 46 running sts

I haven’t spent much time looking through the next two sections, Needlepoint and Applique.

The Patchwork section has a lot of beautiful and inspiring pictures, but I’ve mostly avoided it.  (As a fairly lazy quilter, I’m partial to newer books with detailed strip piecing instructions.)

Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern.
Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern.

The Quilting chapter mostly focuses on hand quilting, but there are some tips for machine quilters, too.

The Knitting chapter is one of my favorites.  Some of the highlights include tips for getting neat selvages…

Complete Guide to Needlework 284 Selvages

illustrated and written instructions for different types of double increases and decreases…

Complete Guide to Needlework 291 decreases

Complete Guide to Needlework 293 decreases

and the above-mentioned tips for neckline shaping.

Complete Guide to Needlework knitting necklines 2

There are also some great patterns, like this one for a classic Aran sweater…

Complete Guide to Needlework 315 aran pullover

and this one for a lovely evening set.

Complete Guide to Needlework 354 evening set

And, naturally, I love the crochet section, too.  Like the knitting chapter, it includes a stitch guide…

Complete Guide to Needlework 377 motifs

and sections on quite a few specialized techniques including woven crochet…

Complete Guide to Needlework 383 woven crochet

Tunisian crochet…

Complete Guide to Needlework 387 Tunisian crochet

and broomstick lace.

Complete Guide to Needlework 389 broomstick lace

And also like the knitting section, there is plenty of information about shaping crochet garments.

Complete Guide to Needlework crochet sleeves

After the crochet section, I tend to lose interest since I don’t do any lacework, macrame, or rug-making.  But I do like that there are sections on all of these crafts, because you never know when I might pick one of them up!

The end of an era

Tubby in the window 2013-05-14.jpg

My longtime kitty friend, Yin (also known as Mr. Tubby), was quite sick for the past few weeks and departed this world for the next early Wednesday morning.  This is a recent picture MC snapped of Mr. Tubby, resting in his favorite window spot, surrounded by handmade goodies because he was feeling a little chilly.

I have so many fond memories of Yin and his brother Yang, who passed back in 2009.  The past few days without Mr. Tubby’s cheerful presence have been tough.

Yin and Yang, back in 2004.
Yin (back) and Yang (front) in 2004.

I’m grateful to the staff at Manhattan Cat Specialists, who took compassionate care of Yin in his final few weeks.

I also want to thank the wonderful staff and volunteers at the Humane Society of New York, who introduced me to these two furry gentlemen back in 2000.  I’m planning a donation in their memories soon, and if you’d like to contribute, all profits from the sale of my 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets ebook will be included in my donation.  The ebook includes a variety of crochet and Tunisian crochet stitches that are perfect for pet charity blankets (and other projects, too).  The Humane Society operates an adoption center and free and low-cost vet care, among other services.

I’ll be slowly returning to regular blogging during the coming weeks.  In the meantime, I encourage you to hug your furry friends a little bit closer.

NatCroMo13 in Review!

If you’re like me, you have been following along with many sepecial National Crochet Month features and may be behind on your blog reading.

Here’s a quick roundup of my NatCroMo13 posts.

Free Wednesday posts!

blog Rectangular Sampler angle view

Crochet Book Reviews

NatCroMo13 Book Collage

Crochet Hook Reviews

Favorite Online Crochet Resources

Interviews

Pineapples for Everyone Shawl CAL

Pineapples with Underground Crafter CAL

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week

 

Now, I’m off to recover from posting daily for a month!

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Crocheting for Pleasure by Mildred Graves Ryan

VintageNPotW 400

This week’s pick: Crocheting for Pleasure by Mildred Graves Ryan.

Source: Inherited from my grandmother’s collection.

Publication date: 1983 Book Club Edition.

Status: Out of print and widely available online.

Condition: The inside is in great shape but the dust jacket has seen better days.

Craft: Crochet.

Crocheting for Pleasure cover

This is one of my favorites in my vintage collection.  (I’ve previously reviewed it here.)  I was predisposed to love it because it belonged to my grandmother, but it also has incredibly clear illustrations, an extensive stitch guide, and a positive, creative attitude about crochet!

Crocheting for Pleasure author

The author, Mildred Graves Ryan, is clearly a pioneer (see bio above).  I couldn’t find anything recent about her online, but I did find this racy article about her testimony against using metric measurements.  And Marta Cone is obviously a master illustrator because normally, I can’t learn anything from crochet illustrations (unless they are in multiple colors).

Roll (bullion) stitch illustration by Marta Cone.
Roll (bullion) stitch illustration by Marta Cone.

The book starts with A Beginning for the Right-Handed, which goes through all of the basics, and is followed with Tips for the Left-Handed, which teaches the same information for lefties.  The next chapters, Materials to Choose, Tools to Use, and How to Interpret the Directions, help you prepare to crochet on your own.  After that, there’s advice on Choosing the Right Project, which includes a lot of information about fitting and finding a style that works for your body.  The next chapter, Vary the Basic Techniques, explores different ways to insert your hook as well as dimensional stitches like puffs and bobbles.  There is then a sizable stitch guide, Experiment with Stitch Patterns.

The book next explores specialty techniques in Styles and Types of Crochet.  Reading this section is what taught me broomstick lace.  (It was only later, after I had the basics down, that I checked out the StitchDiva videos.)

Illustrations by Marta Cone to accompany the broomstick lace instructions.
Illustrations by Marta Cone to accompany the broomstick lace instructions.

This book really covers all aspects of crochet, including most of the specialty techniques that are now coming back into fashion.

Hairpin lace illustrations by Marta Cone.
Hairpin lace illustrations by Marta Cone.

There’s even a section on Tunisian crochet which includes 11 stitch patterns.

The next chapters, Importance of Fit and Decorative Details, dive into all of the elements that really make your finished projects look fabulous, like checking gauge, blocking, construction techniques, finishing, and edges.  The final chapter, Crocheting for Everyone, is filled with project patterns, and is naturally the chapter that looks the most dated.

A cute baby set.
A cute baby set.

Sometimes, even when the projects seem classic, like this men’s cardigan, the photo styling shows the age quite a bit.

Crocheting for Pleasure man cardiganThe book is primarily illustrated with some black and white photos.  There is a color insert highlighting some of the project patterns.

Crocheting for Pleasure color fashions

As I mentioned, Ms. Graves Ryan has a refreshing attitude about crochet and its capabilities that is very contemporary.

But my favorite part of the book is the handwritten index card from my grandmother.

Crocheting for Pleasure Nan note

Apparently, leaving handwritten patterns in books is something passed down through generations in my family.  Now that I can knit, I should really try to find out what this index card makes!