Blogiversary and A Tour Through Crochet Country!

Today marks my two year blogiversary, and I’m one of the stops on A Tour Through Crochet Country!  If you haven’t been following along, this is a wonderful blog tour organized by Crochetville.  The tour features over 50 Associate Professional or Professional members of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA).

Click here for the free pattern for the Recantgular Sampler Blanket.

If you’re new here, welcome!  I’m a crochet (and knitting) teacher, designer, and blogger.  In addition to sharing my own projects and news on my blog, I also do a lot of interviews (I’ve even won a few awards) and book reviews.  I’m really honored to be part of A Tour Through Crochet Country.  To celebrate National Crochet Month and my blogiversary, I’ll be sharing a free pattern below.  But first I’d like to talk about how important the CGOA has been to me.

As many of my regular readers know, my grandmother taught me to crochet.  After she passed away in 2007, I didn’t have any important people in my real life to talk with about crochet.  Through my membership in CGOA and my involvement in the CGOA Professionals listerv, I’ve had the chance to virtually meet many wonderful crocheters who share the same passion for the hook as I do.

Me and my grandparents, at about the age when I learned to crochet.
Me and my grandparents, at about the age when I learned to crochet.

Back in 2009, I had the honor of being introduced to a wonderful mentor, Mary E. Nolfi, through the CGOA mentoring program.  When I was first exploring design, Mary guided and encouraged me.  Her primer is a great intro for aspiring crochet designers.  I still remember my excitement at emailing her when my first designs were selected for publication.   I’m also grateful to Michelle Maks, yesterday’s stop on the the tour, for taking a chance on me when she was the editor of Crochet World.  I’m thrilled to have another mentor, Marty Miller (March 13’s stop on the tour), who is helping me explore tech editing.

Now I’m paying it forward by volunteering to write book reviews for the CGOA newsletter and blog, and by serving as a mentor to another designer.

My first designs, published in Crochet World in 2010.

And, of course, CGOA membership has other benefits, even if you aren’t a professional (or aspiring professional) in the industry.  You get a subscription to Crochet! magazine and discounts at national retailers as well as on CGOA educational offerings.  You can also participate in your local chapter.  (I’ve been a member of the NYC Crochet Guild for years and in addition to great monthly meetings where I can hang out with fellow crocheters, they also offer classes and local discounts.)

I’d like give a shout out to a some other CGOA members I’ve met (in real life or virtually) who have been very helpful to me in the past few years.

Vashti Braha (interview) has taught me so much through her Crochet Inspirations newsletter, which has also inspired me to keep experimenting! Kim Guzman (interview) is so generous with her knowledge online and is a great teaching author.  Juanita Quinones (interview) is a wonderful tech editor that is volunteering on the Home work project on Ravelry, which is giving a second life to vintage designs.  Mary Beth Temple (interview) is a very strong advocate for crochet and has been a professional inspiration.  Charles Voth (a.k.a. Stitch Stud) (interview) is a talented – and nice! – designer and tech editor who always shares so much of his knowledge with his fellow hookers online.

If you’ve made it this far, your probably asking yourself, “Didn’t she promise a freebie?”

Charity Crochet for Project Night Night – The Rectangular Sampler Blanket

Early in my career, I worked for an organization that provided temporary housing for hundreds of homeless families, so the tour’s featured charity, Project Night Night, is really close to my heart.  I wanted to create a project that was beautiful to look at but also fun to make.

blog Rectangular Sampler angle view

The Rectangular Sampler is a variation on the traditional granny square that incorporates a stitch sampler to keep things interesting.  There’s a granny rectangle, an alternating v-stitch, staggered puff stitches, and a fun edging.

blog Rectangular Sampler flat

Click here for the Rectangular Sampler Blanket pattern!

This makes a great stroller blanket or play mat, or even a baby or comfort blanket.  I plan to donate my sample to Project Night Night, and I hope you’ll consider making one to donate to Project Night Night or a local children’s charity.
Rectangular Sampler V st detail

I crocheted the sample with Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in Pacific, Cordovan, and Alaska Sky.  None of these pictures really do justice to the Alaska Sky, which is a pale, sky blue.  I like using non-traditional colors for children’s blankets because I think it gives them a longer life cycle when they can be displayed in more settings.

blog Rectangular Sampler on chair

And now back to a A Tour Through Crochet Country

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the tour.  I’ve actually had the pleasure of interviewing several of the CGOA pros on this list, so I’ve also included the links to those interviews below.  I hope you will stop by and check out all the posts (and tutorials, giveaways, and discounts) the other participants have to offer.  Enjoy the rest of National Crochet Month!

March 1 Shelby Allaho

March 2 Ellen Gormley (interview) and Nancy Nehring

March 3 Phyllis Serbes and Mona Muhammad

March 4 Amy O’Neill Houck and Akua Hope

March 5 Mary Jane Hall and Lindsey Stephens (interview)

March 6 Edie Eckman and Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby

March 7 Jennifer Cirka and Annette Stewart

March 8 Andrea Graciarena and LeAnna Lyons

March 9 Dawn Cogger and Angela Whisnant

March 10 Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten and Renee Rodgers

March 11 Joy Prescott and Donna Childs

March 12 Pam Daley and Deb Burger

March 13 Tammy Hildebrand and Marty Miller

March 14 Jocelyn Sass and Jennifer E Ryan

March 15 Andee Graves and Kimberly McAlindin

March 16 Laurinda Reddig

March 17 Brenda Bourg and Susan Lowman for CGOA

March 18 Rhonda Davis and Tammy Hildebrand for CGOA

March 19 Julie Oparka and Cari Clement for CGOA

March 20 April Garwood and Mary Colucci for CGOA

March 21 Alaina Klug

March 22 Erin Boland and Jenny King

March 23 Margaret Hubert (interview) and Jane Rimmer for CGOA

March 24 Bonnie Barker and Marcy Smith for CGOA

March 25 Kim Guzman (interview) and Susan Huxley (interview)

March 26 Susan Lowman and Michele Maks

March 27 me! and Brenda Stratton

March 28 Kathy White and Lori Carlson

March 29 Amy Shelton (interview) and Donna Hulka

March 30 Linda Dean and Kristin Dragos

March 31 Karen CK Ballard and Gwen Blakley-Kinser (interview)

Book Review – Crochet Noro: 30 Dazzling Designs

Yay, it’s my first book review of 2013!  (I actually read this book back in December, but life got in the way of me posting a review earlier.)

The book I’m reviewing today is Crochet Noro: 30 Dazzling Designs, and the publisher, Sixth & Spring Books, was kind enough to send me a review copy.

Crocheters who are fans of Noro Yarns – or of Sixth & Spring’s two prior Noro books, Knit Noro: 30 Designs in Living Color and Knit Noro: Accessories: 30 Colorful Little Knits – have been waiting for this book for a while.  The concept is simple: 30 crochet patterns that are perfect matches for the color combinations found in Noro yarns.

The book is made up of patterns by 21 designers (including 8 by Kazekobo/Yoko Hatta and 2 each by Mary Jane Hall and Linda Permann).

There is a range of skill levels and project types included.  All patterns are written in U.S. pattern abbreviations, and several also include charted stitch symbols.  Here is a breakdown of the patterns in this book:

Skill level:

  • 12 Easy
  • 16 Intermediate
  • 2 Advanced

Project type:

  • 7 Garments (2 Cardigans, 1 Pullover, 1 Skirt, 2 Tunics)
  • 7 Scarves/Cowls
  • 5 Shawls/Capelets
  • 4 Hats
  • 3 Bags
  • 2 Mitts/Wristers
  • 2 Home Decor (1 Throw, 1 Nesting Bowl)
  • 1 Necklace

Techniques:

  • 8 Motif projects (5 assembled using join-as-you-go methods)
  • 3 Beaded
  • 1 Felted
  • 1 Short Rows

Stitch Symbol Charts:

  • 13 charted in pattern
  • 3 charted in back of book

 

I had the opportunity to see a trunk show for the book at the December, 2012 meeting on the New York City Crochet Guild.  I was looking forward to seeing the samples for Doris Chan‘s Bias Mini Skirt and Yoko Hatta’s Flower Blossom Purse and Lacy Capelet.  (Warning: Keep in mind these pictures were taken in a church basement.)

Bias Mini Skirt.
Flower Blossom Purse.
Lacy Capelet.

I wasn’t disappointed.  I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the Chrysanthemum Shawl by Anna Al.

Chrysanthemum Shawl.

 

All of which brings me back to my book review.  My overall reaction to this book is virtually identical to my review of Knit Noro: Accessories.  To my eyes, this book is presented as an artsy tribute to Noro yarns and not as a crochet pattern book.  While I can attest to the fact that the designs are, in fact, quite beautiful (because I’ve seen them in real life), there is so much going on visually in this book that it is often difficult to see the projects.

Most projects are photographed against walls with floral wallpaper, on models with clothing in bold colors with elaborate patterns or adornments.  It’s almost as though the entire layout is competing with the projects for your eye’s attention.  Nonetheless, the projects overall are quite lovely (and would probably work well in other yarns, if you’re not a Noro fan).

This is a hardcover, and it does lay flat while you crochet.  Crocheters who enjoy working with thinner yarns or colors will definitely enjoy these projects.  The range of skill levels make this book appropriate for all but beginners to pattern reading.  As with all pattern books, your enjoyment will be closely related to how much you like the designs.  Ravelry members can view images of all but one design on the book’s source page here.

My overall rating is 4 out of 5 stars.  Though I have concerns about the presentation, the patterns I’ve looked through are clearly written and the projects I’ve seen are beautiful.  If you were hoping for a giveaway, you’ll have to look elsewhere because I’m keeping my review copy.  I’m hoping to make at least one of these projects in 2013.

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.