NatCroMo13 in Review!

If you’re like me, you have been following along with many special 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!

Crochet Hook Review and Giveaway: Lantern Moon Featherlight Hooks

Every Sunday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be reviewing crochet hooks.  Today’s post features Featherlight crochet hooks, along with a giveaway for one hook, courtesy of Lantern Moon Handcrafted.

Lantern Moon has a beautiful, sustainably produced wooden hook for all of you inline hook lovers!

Lantern Moon Featherlight crochet hook.
Lantern Moon Featherlight crochet hook.

The Featherlight is made with an eco-friendly wood with a rich, dark color.  Like most inline hooks, it has a flat throat.  The hook has a long thumb rest.  I found the tip to be slightly pointier than most inline hooks, which I liked.  The end of the handle has a nice decorative look to it.

The wood is finished smoothly, and has a wonderful feeling against the hand.  As the name suggests, it is very light weight.  According to Lantern Moon, the wood is “organically treated to add density and hardness.” The hook size (in US letter, number, and mm) is written in white towards the center of the handle, and is highly visible against the contrast of the dark wood.

There aren’t any unusual features on the handle that change its shape, so this hook would be ideal for all different types of crochet.  You could even make a small Tunisian crochet project on this hook, because while the thumb rest is long, it doesn’t taper outwards as so many do so it wouldn’t stretch out your stitches.

This would be a great hook for a crocheter who prefers an inline hook, who prefers purchasing eco-friendly and ethically produced products, and/or who enjoys the comfortable feeling of a wooden hook.

The hooks are available in US letter sizes from D through K.  The retail price of the hooks are $18.90.

And, it’s no secret that I love my Tulip Etimo crochet hooks.  These are probably the set I use most regularly.  Lantern Moon is now U.S. distributor for these and other Tulip products!

Full disclosure: A free review sample of this product was provided by Lantern Moon. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the distributor/manufacturer, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. You can read my complete review disclosure here.

Giveaway

When I contacted the nice folks at Lantern Moon to tell them about my plans to review a variety of crochet hooks during NatCroMo13, they were generous enough to send along a Featherlight US size I-9/5.5 mm hook for a giveaway for one lucky reader.

Lantern Moon prize pack

This giveaway is open internationally.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, April 6, 2013.

Favorite Online Crochet Resources: Project Inspiration at Crochetbug

Every Saturday during National Crochet Month 2013, I’ll be highlighting one of my favorite online crochet resources. Today’s featured site is Crochetbug.

This post contains affiliate links.

There are many great blogs that I follow.  Crochetbug, written by Leslie Stahlhut, is unique among them.  Crochetbug is Leslie’s personal crochet odyssey.  Her posts read like a personal journey or diary of her crochet life.  At the same time, crocheters everywhere can relate to the experiences she shares through her compelling writing and photos: the challenges of managing stash, finishing projects for deadlines, dealing with creative blocks, and the joys of finding new patterns and projects.

I always find inspiration in her posts, even when she is using patterns or colors that I’m not necessarily attracted to.  If you’re looking for some political inspiration, check out her Crochet Manifesto.  And, if you like suspense, following the progress of Leslie’s annual crochet entry into the county fair is a guaranteed nail biter.  (Spoiler alert: She’ll finish on time, and her project will be awesome.  But you’ll still be on the edge of your seat!)

Leslie also loves vintage books, and introduced me to three that I now own: Magic Motif Crochet (her posts about the textured square), Crochet Workshop (her post), and Better Homes and Gardens Crocheting & Knitting (her posts on the sampler blanket).

You can also find Leslie on Ravelry as crochetbug13.  I hope you’ll check out Crochetbug if you haven’t already!

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

VintageNPotW 400

This post contains affiliate links.

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!

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)