Tag Archives: wide ripple scarf

Blog tour book review: Kristi Simpson’s Sweet & Simple Baby Crochet

This post contains affiliate links.

I’m pleased to share a review of Sweet & Simple Baby Crochet: 35 Adorable Designs for Newborns to 12 Months by Kristi Simpson as part of the book’s blog tour today.  As my regular readers know, I also review crochet books on the Crochet Guild of America‘s blog, and Stackpole Books asked CGOA to share a review for the tour, which I’m hosting here.

For the past several years, Kristi Simpson has been specializing in quick and simple crochet designs for newborns and toddlers using contemporary styling and colors.  You may know her as the designer behind RAKJ Patterns.  You can also find Kristi/RAKJ patterns on Facebook, Etsy, and Ravelry.

Sweet & Simple Baby Crochet: 35 Adorable Designs for Newborns to 12 Months is Kristi’s first book.  (Her next book, Mommy & Me Crochet Hats: Silly, Sweet & Fun Hats for Kids of All Ages, is already available for pre-order.) Kristi is also the founding publisher of Inspired Crochet digital magazine, now known as Entwined.  (Full disclosure: My Wide Ripple Scarf pattern will be on the cover of the November issue.  This didn’t impact my review, but I thought I’d mention it!)

If you’d like to check out the other stops on the blog tour, you can find a full listing here.  I’ve shared some pictures of my favorite patterns in the book with the publisher’s permission.  You can check out the look book, with images of every design in the book, here.

 

Book Review

Sweet & Simple Baby Crochet

What is it about babies that cause people to pick up their crochet hooks?  I suppose it’s some combination of memories of those special handmade items gifted to us as babies, the way a wonderful gift can come together in a relatively short time with not too much yarn, and the fact that babies look just so cute in handmade items.

Love Me Lots Toy.

Love Me Lots Toy.

 

In the introduction of Sweet & Simple Baby Crochet, Kristi notes that as the mother of five children, she understands “that buying cute clothes and hats that your baby will outgrow in a just few months is an indulgence not everyone can afford.”  (That’s the other reason we turn to those hooks for babies: many of us can crochet something for less money than we can spend on a store bought gift – not including labor, of course.)

Moose Hat.

Moose Hat.

The book then launches into the patterns.  There are actually 46 designs included because several patterns are sets – like matching hats and diaper covers – with two pieces.  Each design includes a beautiful, full page, color photo on a child model or realistic doll by Lindsay Kubica Photography, followed by a description, notes, and the pattern.  Each design includes multiple pictures of the project (typically, at least one laid flat, and often pictures on different models).

Old-School Jacob Vest.

Old-School Jacob Vest.

 

The book ends with three helpful appendices.  Like many designers who started their careers self-publishing, Kristi’s patterns are written in a style that is different than what you mind find in a traditional print crochet magazine.  Nonetheless, her patterns are very clear and consistently written, and she provides tips for her shorthand in both the intro and How to Read My Patterns.  In Stitch Guide, Kristi includes step-by-step photographs and instructions for forming basic crochet stitches, changing colors, and carrying yarn.  The book concludes with Finishing Touches, which includes photos and descriptions of the finishing touches that make projects look even more striking (and which safely secure ends away from tiny fingers.)

Vivianne Slippers.

Vivianne Slippers.

 

The book includes a range of pattern types:

  • 24 hats,
  • 4 tops (including a sweater and a shrug),
  • 4 pods/cocoons,
  • 3 blankets,
  • 2 diaper covers, and
  • a pair of socks, a skirt, leg warmers, a toy, a head band, a bib, a pair of pants, a poncho, and a pair of slippers.

 

Most patterns include multiple sizes (either newborn, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 6-12 months, or 9-12 months) but some patterns are only available in one size.  Kristi does include tips for upsizing many of the patterns, as well as the actual measurements for each project.  My favorite designs are the Old-School Jacob Vest, Love Me Lots Toy, Moose Hat, Puppy Hat, Vivianne Slippers, and the Giraffe Hat and Button Diaper Cover.

Giraffe Hat and Button Diaper Cover.

Giraffe Hat and Button Diaper Cover.

 

Kristi’s writing style is very conversational, and her designs are on trend.  The photography is great, and the pictures of the cute projects on cute kids can only inspire you to get crocheting.

 

And to keep the review balanced, I’d like to mention a few things that are missing from the book.  In spite of the title, there are quite a few intermediate level patterns, so some may challenge a beginning crocheter.  (Most projects with unusual stitches or techniques include photo tutorials and/or extensive notes, so with a little patience and persistence, even a newbie should be able to create most of the patterns, though.)  There aren’t any international stitch symbols, so this book is more suited towards crocheters who prefer reading patterns with U.S. pattern abbreviations.  There are a few adorable projects for boys and some unisex projects, but there are more projects for girls in this book.  If you are specifically crocheting for little boys, this may not be the book for you.  As a softcover book, it doesn’t lay flat easily so it is difficult to crochet and read at the same time.  Some of the patterns have already been published online, so if you are a big fan of Kristi, you may have a few of the designs in your collection already.  Finally, I personally find some of the realistic dolls used as photography props a little creepy.  I fully understand that is difficult (and probably not desirable) to take pictures with newborns, but it’s worth mentioning :).  (Updated: Kristi responded in the comments to me that all of the pictures are of models and no dolls were used in this book.  Then I guess the part that is creeping me out is the type of lighting used with the newborns that makes them look artificial!  In any case, it’s a minor point, and definitely not enough to turn you off from the book.)

Puppy Hat.

Puppy Hat.

 

If you enjoy crocheting for babies and toddlers, this book would be a great addition to your collection. This would be a wonderful book for a new crocheter, and Kristi specifically recommends three of the patterns – Cream Puff Hat, Football Cocoon and Hat Set, and Cotton Candy Hat – for novice crocheters.  Advanced beginners and experienced crocheters looking for quick and easy projects would enjoy this book also, particularly if they enjoy crocheting hats.  And, of course, if you’re already a fan of RAKJ Patterns, you can get 46 of Kristi’s patterns for a retail price of $19.95, far less than you would pay when buying individual patterns online.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided to the Crochet Guild of America 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.

Giveaways: Quick & Simple Crochet Booklets

F+W Media was kind enough to provide two contributor copies of each Quick & Simple pattern booklet that I had a pattern published in, so I’m hosting giveaways for the extra copies!

I usually share a book review with my giveaways, but I didn’t dare review these booklets because, ya know, it would be hard to be unbiased about my own pattern ;).

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Quick and Simple Crochet Hats: 8 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers! includes my Twisted Cable Hat, the Turnbuckle Cap and Cardinal Hat by Barb Mastre-Stanford, the Slouchy Pompom Hat and the Fair Isle Hat by Anastasia Popova, and the Side Button Hat by Jennifer J. Cirka, along with patterns by Melissa Armstrong and Ava Lynne Greene.


Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves: 9 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers! includes my Wide Ripple Scarf and the Rustically Elegant Shoulder Warmer by Denise from Voie de Vie,  along with patterns by Tanis GalikMelissa Armstrong, and Anastasia Popova.

Any of these would make great “for me” projects in January once the flurry of holiday gift knitting is over.

Giveaways

I’m giving away my contributor copies of Quick and Simple Crochet Hats and Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves courtesy of F+W Media.  These giveaways are open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, December 31, 2012.

Good news!

This past week, I’ve gotten great news on several different fronts, and I really wanted to share the excitement with my readers!

This post contains affiliate links.

New Patterns

On Tuesday, two of my designs were released in new pattern books: Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves: 9 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers! and Quick and Simple Crochet Hats: 8 Designs from Up-and-Coming Designers!  I have one design in each book.  You can buy the books through Jo-ann Fabric and Craft Stores or online.  The interesting thing about this book series is that it features indie designers and the designers retain the rights to sell the patterns individually online.

© F+W Media (Photos by Corrie Shaffeld of 1326 Studios)

The Wide Ripple Scarf is one of my first self-published patterns.  I made this version using just over two skeins of Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe in Periwinkle.  I love the long length, and you may have noticed that I’m a big fan of ripples.

I designed the Twisted Cable Hat because I love the look of mini cables and twisted stitches.  My version was made with just over one skein of Patons Classic Wool in Leaf Green.  It is super warm and thick because of the way it is crocheted.  I haven’t decided yet when I’ll offer a PDF version of this pattern.

Kollabora also published another one of the secret projects I made for their display at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago.

(C) Kollabora. The pattern is actually crocheted even though the model is holding knitting needles ;).

The Lattice Shell Tunic is available as a free pattern on their website.  (Side note: The schematic hasn’t been uploaded yet, so if you’re getting started on the project, let me know and I can email it to you.)  The small is a great one skein project using a jumbo skein of Kollabora’s Nora’s Pantry yarn, which is a soft alpaca.

It’s always fun to see your designs published, but there was other great news this week…

 

Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival

I’ll be teaching two classes at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival in March, and my mom and I have decided to make it a weekend road trip!  I’m really looking forward to spending a few days out of town with my mom.  I booked the hotel this week and am already thinking about what to pack.  (Can you tell I don’t travel much??)  I’ve been wanting to check out Pittsburgh for a while, so this is a great opportunity.   And, since my mom is driving us up, we’ll have a car to get around town with, too.

Knitting Cables 101 (left) and Bruges Lace Basics (right).

If you’re in the area (or are planning a road trip, like me), I’d love to see you at either of my classes: Knitting Cables 101 on Saturday morning or the Bruges Lace Basics Stitch Sampler on Sunday afternoon.  Also, if you have any Pittsburgh tourist suggestions, let me know!

But wait, there’s more good news!

 

Press Pass

 

I was granted a press pass to Vogue Knitting Live in New York City!  You may remember that I went last year and had a lot of fun.  I later interviewed two vendors I met in the Marketplace: Liz Cooper from Seabury Organizers (here) and Vivian Osborne from Arctic Qiviut (here).  I’m thrilled to be able to spend three days focused on yarn in my home town.  I’m looking forward to blogging and Tweeting from the event!

Awesome Crochet Blog Award

And as if I hadn’t already had enough excitement for the week, yesterday I learned that I won the 2012 Awesome Crochet Blog Award for Best Interviews from Kathryn at Crochet Concupiscence!

When I won the award last year, I was thrilled, but this year I’m even more excited.  It may not be evident, but I put a lot of work into my interviews – probably more time than for any other type of post.  But (even without these two awesome awards!!) it is completely worth it because I learn so much from the interviewees and I’ve been able to “meet” some of my crochet heroes by contacting them for an interview.

When I started blogging, I naively thought interviews would be a good way to have content on days when I didn’t know what to blog about.  You know how they say that ignorance is bliss?  If I would have known then what I know now about interviewing, I might have never started ;).  About half of the people I contact may never respond while others may be interested but aren’t available to answer the questions for months because their schedules are so tight.  Each interview can require hours of research before I even write the questions – everything from reading the interviewee’s books to searching the web for information about their background.  Once the interview answers are returned, taking the time to organize the pictures and links for the posts, as well as editing out typos and adding in my own comments, adds in another hour or two.  I feel so honored that Kathryn would highlight my interviews again this year, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed them.  You can find all my interviews here.  (I’m also planning a recap of my favorite interviews from this year later this month.)

This has been an amazing week for me, and I hope yours has gone just as well!

FO Friday: Mother’s Day Shawl and other fun stuff

A few weeks ago, I shared a picture of a pineapple shawl I decided to design and make for my Mom seven days before Mother’s Day.  (Cue up the “What were you thinking??” comments from the peanut gallery.)

This is how it looked on May 8 (4 days before Mother’s Day).

I wasn’t sure if I would finish it on time, and I didn’t even know if my mom would like the bright color.  The Saturday before Mother’s Day, I went out to my mom’s and had a secret late night consult with my sister, who assured me it would look great on my mom.  (I had previously been informed by a co-worker who is my mom’s age and has met my mom a few times that it would be loved because “chartreuse is the new black.”)

So, I powered through and was able to finish the shawl a few minutes after midnight, just in time for Mother’s Day.

Here’s a secret picture I took of the shawl in the morning on my Mom’s couch before giving it to her.

Here’s the stitch detail.

I’m happy to say that my mom loved the shawl!  Even though it was pretty hot out that day, she found a way to wear it with style.

I’m glad I went with my gut on this one, and thanks to everyone who encouraged me to keep going with the color.  This is definitely way better than whatever weird last minute gift I would have had to buy.

This project was my first time I’ve used a madelinetosh yarn (tosh merino light).  The color is really lovely and my mom didn’t believe it was wool because it was so soft.  On the other hand, there were a few spots with little felted bits of yarn that I had to cut out.  Also, there was a lot of twist that made it not always fun to work with, but that may be due to the way it was wound in the shop.  There are more pictures and notes on my Ravelry project page.

I also finished the sample of my Wide Ripple Scarf pattern in Periwinkle last week.

My tall friend was kind enough to pose for this finished object picture.

This is a sample for a pattern booklet that will be published by F+W Media and distributed at Joann Fabric and Craft Stores.  I used Bamboo Ewe in Periwinkle.  My Rav project page is here.

And, I finished two small projects for myself which I shared on Sunday for my Year of Projects update.  But just in case you missed the pictures, I’ll share them again.

This is a small trivet made with embroidery floss using the “painted crochet” technique of changing colors.

This project definitely encouraged me to use up more embroidery floss for crochet.

This is a coaster/trivet made using hairpin lace.

Since this round of the Year of Projects ends on June 30, I have quite a few more techniques from Crochet Master Class that I’m trying to learn and work on before then.

My Ravelry project page for the painted crochet trivet is here and you can find the page for the hairpin lace coaster/trivet here.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.