Tag Archives: val pierce

Winner: Crocheted Granny Squares

According to Random.org, the winner of Crocheted Granny Squares (Twenty to Make) by Val Pierce, courtesy of Search Press, is number ten…

Sheila from Sheila O’Keefe Designs!

Thank you to everyone who entered, and congratulations to Sheila!  If you missed it, you can read my review of Crocheted Granny Squares here.

Book Review and Giveaway: Crocheted Granny Squares (Twenty to Make)

 

Today I’m reviewing Crocheted Granny Squares (Twenty to Make)the latest book by Val Pierce in the Twenty to Make series.  I recently received a review copy from Search Press.  (I previously interviewed Val and reviewed four of her other books in this series: Mini Christmas Crochet here, Knitted Mug Hugs here, and Crocheted Bears and Knitted Bears here.)

Like the other books in this series, Crocheted Granny Squares is a book focused on projects, not techniques.  The small size and light weight make it portable for crocheting on the go.  Beginners will be terrified by the intro, which mistakenly says that “Each square takes only a few hours to make…” (!)  Not to fear, granny squares like the ones in this book (most of which are 4 round patterns) usually take just a few minutes each.

After the intro, the book has a short Hints & Tips section, which explains the difference in terminology between US and UK abbreviations.  The patterns in this book are written with the US terms first and the UK terms in parenthesis (e.g., “31 dc (UK tr) into ring”).  The motifs were crocheted with DMC Petra cotton thread, but suggestions for both US and UK hooks sizes to use with different weights of yarn are included.  Val also wisely recommends weaving in the ends as you go, rather than at the end of large projects, to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

The book defines granny square broadly, and includes 15 square motif patterns, 1 triangle motif pattern, and 2 patterns each for hexagon and circle motifs.  The patterns don’t indicate a difficulty level, but most use simple stitch combinations so should be within the reach of any beginner crocheter who can crochet in the round.

In addition to the motif patterns, the book includes instructions for 9 projects made with motifs: a vase cover, a cushion, a baby blanket, hand warmers, a pincushion, the Daisy Loop Scarf (my favorite project, made with the lacy Daisy Loop square), a shoulder bag, and a table mat.

This book is ideal for a crochet or granny square newbie, or for a commuter crocheter since it can easily fit in a purse or other small bag.  The vibrant colors, fun backgrounds, and cute projects make this book visually appealing.

The down sides: Unfortunately, the patterns aren’t listed on Ravelry yet, but you can see many of the motifs on the book cover.  Some newer pattern readers may find it confusing to see both US and UK terms in the same pattern.  The book uses only pattern abbreviations and no stitch diagrams.  The use of yrh (yarn round hook) instead of yo (yarn over) may be confusing to some American crocheters.

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for new crocheter or a granny square pattern collector who would like some patterns for crocheting on the go.  If you are more interested in techniques or have crocheted oodles of grannies already, this book may not be the right fit.

 

Giveaway

I’m giving away my review copy of  Crocheted Granny Squares (Twenty to Make) by Val Pierce, courtesy of Search Press.  This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, December 16, 2012.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your granny square experience: are you a granny pro or a newbie?  What projects do you usually make with grannies?
  • 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!

2011 Crochet Book Reviews

I’ve done many needlecraft book reviews this year.  But, as you know, crochet is my first, true love (amongst the needlecrafts, that is), so I thought I’d highlight my crochet reviews from this year in case you missed some of them.

Roundups

Crochet stitch guides - reviews of 20+ crochet stitch guides from my collection (and, yes, I’m working on part II since my collection has since expanded!)

Granny square book review roundup – reviews of 10 granny square books in my collection

Must-have beginner crochet books – my “required reading” list for the crochet newbie

Vintage crochet finds and Sidetracked – a peak inside my growing collection of vintage crochet books

 

2011 Releases

(in chronological order by book’s release date)

Review and interview with author, Renate Kirkpatrick

 

Review and interview with author, Ellen Gormley

 

Reviewed here

 

 

Review and interview with author, Val Pierce

 

Reviewed here

 

Reviewed here

 

Review and interview with author, Sarah London

 

Reviewed here

 

Reviewed here

 

Review and interview with author, Stacey Trock

 

Other book reviews

Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Crochet

Teach a Group of Kids to Crochet by Kay Meadors

 

What is your favorite new crochet book of 2011?  (Mine is Crocheted Softies: 18 Adorable Animals from Around the World!)

Awesome Crochet Blog Award! from Crochet Concupiscence

Woohoo!  Kathryn from Crochet Concupiscence just awarded me her first Awesome Crochet Blog Award of 2011 for best interviews.  Kathryn is one of my favorite crochet bloggers and I check her blog daily for all the latest happenings in crochet.  I feel very honored.  Thanks Kathryn!

You can read all of my interviews here (and my interview with Kathryn herself here).

In celebration of receiving this award, I’ve picked out ten interview highlights.

By the way, Kathryn is hosting 31 days of giveaways and daily blog awards throughout December, so be sure to stop by her blog and check these out!  Thanks again, Kathryn, for the award, and thanks to all of the wonder artisans who have shared their time with me for interviews this year!

Handmade Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Handmade Gifts to Make

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the U.S., the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) signifies the official start of the holiday shopping season.  In the spirit of keeping the holidays a little more handmade and small business and a little less mass produced and corporate, I’m sharing several holiday gift guides today.

Handmade gifts to make

This time of year, many crafters are using every spare moment to make holiday gifts for their loved ones.  Tracie Barrett‘s Gift Giving Guide on the Fibers by Tracie blog gives some great suggestions for quick-to-make holiday gifts and Fearless Leader recently posted a teaser for the Crochet Liberation Front‘s upcoming Official Guide to Super Awesome Gift Giving.

My personal favorite last minute crochet gift projects are scarves made with bulky yarns (or multiple strands of yarn), hats, and cotton washcloths.

For scarves and washcloths, I turn to my stitch guides for inspiration.  Don’t have any stitch guides?

Not sure how many stitches to start with?  This post in my Crochet 101 CAL explains how to use your gauge to figure out how many stitches to start with if you want to make a project of a specific size.

Some of my holiday 2011 washcloths.

Hats make wonderful, quick holiday gifts.  Some of my favorite crochet hat patterns:

Stocking Caps. (Photo (c) House of White Birches.)

I just reviewed 60 More Quick Knits, which has some great knitted hat patterns, as well as patterns for mittens and scarfs.  My favorite crochet mitten pattern, amazingly available in 8 sizes from infant to XL adult, is Heart Strings by Cathy Pipinich.

Amigurumi can make a fun gift, too.

Filled with great gift ideas!

Speaking of books I haven’t had a chance to review yet, there are three great patterns in Little Crochet: Modern Designs for Babies and Toddlers by Linda Permann that would make speedy children’s gifts: Cozy Crawlers Leg Warmers (6 mo – 2 years, and available here as a free excerpt), Tiny Tee Appliques to add to store bought or hand sewn clothes, and Beanie and Bonnet (in baby, toddler, and child sizes).  (Beanie and Bonnet errata available here.)

handmade gift bag can be a wonderful addition to a handmade or store bought gift.  These bags can be also reused, unlike conventional wrapping paper, making them more eco-friendly.Kathryn from Crochet Concupiscence has a great list of crochet patterns for bags in this blog post.  The Mel Stampz blog has a list of 50 templates and patterns for papercrafts gift bags.

Deborah Atkinson from Snowcatcher has excellent crochet patterns and tutorials in her Snowflake Monday posts.   (It would be great if you could contribute to her charity of choice, Bike MS, so that she can send you a PDF of her 20 most popular designs.)  These snowflakes would make great holiday decorations or embellishments for gifts.  Some of the patterns would also work well as a set of holiday coasters.

With all of this holiday crocheting and knitting, you may be running low on yarn.  So why not stop by your Local Yarn Shop to celebrate Small Business Saturday?  You can even register your American Express card in advance to get a $25 credit on your statement if you spend at least $25 at a small business on Saturday, November 26.  Your LYS employees are guaranteed to have some additional project ideas and maybe even a few new patterns or yarns for you try out.  (If you’ll be yarn shopping in NYC, check out my Visitor’s Guide to New York City Yarn Shops.)

If you aren’t in the mood for knitting, crocheting, or papercrafting, handmade food gifts are another option.  I like to make jar mixes:  I don’t exhaust myself with last minute baking, the mixes last longer and can be used after the holidays end, and the jars can be reused in the kitchen or for craft storage.  Nestle‘s Very Best Baking is a good site for finding classic gift recipes.  My favorite jar mixes to give are the classic Toll House cookies mix, the chewie brownie mix, and the hot cocoa mix.  For those who don’t like chocolate (and there are some of them out there), I like the pumpkin cranberry bread mix or the oatmeal chip cookie mix (substituting butterscotch chips, raisins, or craisins for the chocolate chips).  You can also check out the Best Cookie Mix in a Jar Recipes and Dry Soup Mix Recipes pages at Allrecipes.com for more ideas.  If you can’t find canning jars in your area, there are many online options for ordering these days.  Just remember that if you are shipping jar mixes, you need to be careful about packaging.

Enjoy the first gift guide, and feel free to share your favorite gifts to make in the comments!

Winner! Mini Christmas Crochet by

(Check out this post to read my review Val Pierce‘s of Mini Christmas Crochet (Twenty to Make).)

According to Random.org, the winner of today’s giveaway of Mini Christmas Crochet is # 24.  Congratulations to

Kylie of Mealy and I!

(Kylie and I both participated in Blogtoberfest, and she has her own giveaway going on right now.)

Thanks to everyone who entered, and to Search Press for providing me with the review copy prize.

Book review and giveaway: Mini Christmas Crochet

Search Press was nice enough to send me several of Val Pierce‘s books to review when I interviewed her several weeks ago.  I’m reviewing another of Val’s books in the Twenty to Make series, Mini Christmas Crochet (Twenty to Make) and I’m also hosting a giveaway for my review copy of the book, so read on for more details!

Book Review

Mini Christmas Crochet (Twenty to Make) is part of Search Press’s Twenty to Make series.  I am not really in the target audience of this book, since I grew up in a multi-faith family and never inherited the tradition of creating Christmas decorations from my grandmothers.  (I’m am not much for seasonal decorations, in general.)

The book includes twenty patterns for crocheted Christmas decorations.  All of the patterns are made using crochet cotton thread and a 2 mm (US size B) crochet hook.  The book aims to be bilingual (U.S. and U.K. terms) and includes a key at the beginning, as well as parenthetical translations.  The ornament patterns are Pine Cones, Festive Wreath, Dove of Peace, Glimmering Snowflake, Christmas Stocking, Wishing Star, Christmas Bell, Christmas Pudding, and Christmas Bear.  The character projects are Rudolf the Reindeer, Good Fairy, Baby Penguin, Cool Snowman, and Little Angel.  The table top decorations are Christmas Cracker, Tabletop Tree, Yuletide Coaster, and Festive Napkin Ring.  The other projects are the Snowy Fridge Magnet and the Poinsetta Gift Topper.

In general, the projects remind me of the types of decorations my maternal grandmother used to make for the holidays – very traditional crocheted items made primarily using reds, golds, and whites with some greens and other winter colors added in.  Most of the projects include additional embellishments, such as buttons, ribbon for the ornaments, or holly berry embellishments, and quite a few projects are stuffed.

The target audience is advanced beginner to intermediate crocheters comfortable working with thread (or willing to make larger projects by substituting yarn) who decorate for Christmas and/or give away decorative gifts.  This could be a fun book if you are participating in a yarn related Christmas swap or “secret Santa” exchange.  The book itself, like the others in the Twenty to Make series, is a slender, short paperback which is very portable, but it doesn’t lay flat for you to read while crocheting.  The projects are quite small (as the title suggests) so they can be made with a minimal amount of crochet cotton.

If you like making relatively traditional Christmas decorations (or have people on your gift list who like to receive them), it would definitely be a good book to have in your hand this time of year.  If not, you will probably not have much use for these patterns.

Giveaway

I’m giving away my review copy of Mini Christmas Crochet (Twenty to Make), courtesy of Search Press.

You will have 7 days to enter this giveaway.

To enter,

  • Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, October 31, 2011.  Be sure to include your email address (which won’t be displayed) so I can contact you if you win.  (Please note that my comments are moderated, so if you are a new visitor, your comment will not appear immediately.)
  • For another chance to win, like the Underground Crafter Facebook page.  Then you can either post a comment on Facebook or here again so I will give you another entry.  (If you already like my Facebook page, just post a comment for another chance to win.)
  • For another chance to win, join my Ravelry group.  Then you can either post a comment on my Ravelry group or here again so I will give you another entry.  (If you already are in my Ravelry group, just post a comment for another chance to win.)
  • For another chance to win, share the link to this giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, or your blog.  Then post a comment here with the link to your Tweet or blog post, or leave a comment on my Facebook page so I will give you another entry.

Good luck!

To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl.  For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.

Thursday craft goals update – Week 25 – and Knitted Mug Hugs winner

Thursday Craft Goals Update

Last week, I did some reflection on the craft goals I haven’t made any progress on, and I really appreciate everyone who took time to comment and share some feedback.   I decided that I will trim and replace on my list to be a bit more realistic about what I can accomplish in the next half of the year (and to keep having fun!).  I present to you my updated list of craft goals that I hope to complete by May 1, 2012.  (I kept the ones that I’ve already accomplished on the list, because it is great to see them there!)

Personal crafting goals

  1. Work my way through Crochet Master Class: Lessons and Projects from Today’s Top Crocheters.  Instead of using the patterns, I’d like to create my own project (for myself and/or for teaching) for each technique/skill in the book. * In progress * (view these posts for details)
  2. Make something handmade for my mom and sister for the holidays (or their birthdays).  Possible sources of inspiration include Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks or something from my growing collection of vintage crochet books. * Modified/combined *
  3. Read Knitting from the Top.
  4. Create a contemporary interpretation of one of the vintage patterns I have in my collection. * Modified *
  5. Limit new yarn purchases, increase the ratio of natural to synthetic fibers in my stash, and continue to destash any yarn or notions that I won’t be using in the near future.  * Modified *
  6. Make and donate more charity crochet projects in 2012 than in 2011.  * New *
  7. Participate (however briefly) in a Ravelry CAL.  * New *

Professional crafting goals

  1. Read Producing Video Podcasts. * Finished (sort of) *
  2. Create and post at least three videos (tutorials or projects/patterns) on my blog or website.  * Completed *
  3. Publish at least five patterns. * Completed *
  4. Blog at least twice a week. * In progress *
  5. Teach in at least two conferences/festivals.  * Completed *
  6. Read The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design.  * Completed *
  7. Write the book proposal that I’ve been thinking about – and send it out.  * In progress *
  8. Figure out how to do super cool stuff on WordPress.  * In progress *
  9. Take better photographs, along with all that entails.   * In progress *
  10. Become a CYC Certified Knitting Instructor (Level I-Instructor).  * In progress *

You can check out my original list here.  Next week, I will go back to my routine of providing weekly updates on my progress.

Knitted Mug Hugs winner

The winner of Val Pierce’s Knitted Mug Hugs (Twenty to Make) giveaway, courtesy of Search Press, is…

Rose!

Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who entered!  I have one more Search Press book to review and giveaway, so check back in the next few days for details!

To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl.  For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.

Reminder:

  • If you want to learn to crochet or improve your skills, you can still join in on my Crochet 101 crochet-a-long.  For details, read this post.

Crocheted Bears and Knitted Bears winners!

The winners of the Crochet Bears (Twenty to Make) and the Knitted Bears: All Dressed Up! (Twenty to Make) giveaways are:

Anne Marie in Texas

and Janet from Caribou Crossing Chronicles.

Congratulations, ladies!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and to Search Press for providing the books.  Don’t dispair if you didn’t win, because I have another Val Pierce giveaway going on right here.

To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl.  For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.

Reminder:

  • If you want to learn to crochet or improve your skills, you can still join in on my Crochet 101 crochet-a-long.  For details, read this post.

 

Knitted Mug Hugs book review and giveaway

Search Press was nice enough to send me several of Val Pierce‘s books to review when I interviewed her for last week’s post.  So today, I’m reviewing another of Val’s books in the Twenty to Make series, Knitted Mug Hugs (Twenty to Make).  At the end of the review, I’ll also be hosting a giveaway for my review copy of the book, so read on for more details!

Book Review


Knitted Mug Hugs (Twenty to Make) is part of Search Press’s Twenty to Make series.  I must start here by saying that I personally don’t use mug hugs.  I am one of those weirdos who is drinking an iced tea during a blizzard, so my need for protection from the hot edges of cups is pretty limited.  However, there are quite a few coffee addicts, er, um, I mean drinkers in my family, and mug hugs would make a fun gift or stocking stuffer for them.  I have seen a lot of patterns for mug hugs, and mostly they look like a strip of knit or crochet fabric seamed or buttoned together – nothing too exciting, but utilitarian.

Val’s book takes the idea to the next level and includes patterns for gift-worthy mug hugs.  These are simple enough designs for knitting newbies, but include a great deal of embellishments like buttons, beads, and knit leaves, so that they look lovely as well as being functional.  The book also includes cables and colorwork using charts.  I actually think it would be a nice way of trying out different techniques on a relatively small, low risk project.  (If your cables are not perfect on a mug hug, it really isn’t that devastating!)  In addition to be a technique sampler of sorts, this book would be great for someone who likes to make knitted gifts.  There are enough different styles that you could make a mug hug specifically to fit the style of almost everyone on your gift list.  The book is small and portable, and is reasonably priced at $9.95.  The book primarily uses U.K. terminology (which is nearly identical to U.S. knitting terminology) and there is a translation chart on page 7.

There are two things which could make the book better.  While the small, thin size of the book is great for knitting on the go, the binding makes it challenging to hold open.  A more flexible binding would be helpful.  Also, there is no gauge specified anywhere in this book.  I think most mug hugs could stand a bit of stretching, but for someone with exceptionally loose or tight stitches, your mug hugs might face some challenges in fitting on a cup.

Overall, I would give the book 4 stars for a knitting newbie who wants to pick up some techniques while working through small projects, or a knitter who likes to make similar but personalized gifts for a large group of people, or for a knitter with a lot of scrap yarn, or for a knitter who wants her/his coffee cup to stand out from the crowd at work.  The patterns are probably too simple for an advanced knitter (but I doubt such a person would choose this book, anyway!).

Giveaway

I’m giving away my review copy of Knitted Mug Hugs (Twenty to Make), courtesy of Search Press.

You will have 7 days to enter this giveaway.

To enter,

  • Leave a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.  Be sure to include your email address (which won’t be displayed) so I can contact you if you win.  (Please note that my comments are moderated, so if you are a new visitor, your comment will not appear immediately.)
  • For another chance to win, like the Underground Crafter Facebook page.  Then you can either post a comment on Facebook or here again so I will give you another entry.  (If you already like my Facebook page, just post a comment for another chance to win.)
  • For another chance to win, join my Ravelry group.  Then you can either post a comment on my Ravelry group or here again so I will give you another entry.  (If you already are in my Ravelry group, just post a comment for another chance to win.)
  • For another chance to win, share the link to this giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, or your blog.  Then post a comment here with the link to your Tweet or blog post, or leave a comment on my Facebook page so I will give you another entry.

Good luck!



To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl.  For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.