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

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 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.

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.


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.

Awesome Crochet Blog Award! from Crochet Concupiscence

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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

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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 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!