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)

2012 Year in Review: Exploring Ravelry

Although I’ve been a Ravelry member since December, 2007, I barely used it until 2011.  Last year, I finally started to browse Ravelry regularly for pattern searches and began to participate in several groups.  My Rav goal for 2012 was to use the notebook to track all of my projects.

Adding projects (and even taking pictures of them) eventually became like second nature for me.  Looking through my notebook, I discovered that I completed over 160 projects in 2012.  Before you congratulate me for being the most prolific crocheter/knitter in America, let me mention that number includes many, many small projects (like an individual granny square for charity).

I actually think tracking my projects helped me to complete more (if only because seeing all of those WIPs can be distressing), and it definitely encouraged me to take more pictures!  If you don’t already track your projects on Ravelry, I encourage you to start!

These are my 5 favorite completed 2012 projects using other designers’ patterns:

My first “magic loop” project – a hat for my dad.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: A Hat Fit for a Fella by Shana Kreikemeier.

 

My first Bruges lace project – a scarf for one of my best friends.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: Sparkling Wave Scarf by Tatyana Mirer.

 

 

Yoga socks for my mom.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: Pilates Peds (Crochet Yoga Socks) by Pam Daley.

 

 

My first knit shawl (made during and after Hurricane Sandy).
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: Terribly Simple by Caitlin ffrench.

 

 

Super cute crochet slippers, made as a swap gifty.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: Granny Slippers by Bernat designer.

 

 

And these are my 5 favorite completed 2012 projects using my own patterns:

The All Weather Cowl, which I’ve been wearing a lot lately.
Ravelry project page.  Free pattern available here.

 

 

The Sandworm’s Journey Beanie, my first knitting design, and a gift for my friend, JP.
Ravelry project page.  Free pattern available here.

By the way, JP proved herself very knitworthy by sending this email after opening her hat (which I was worried might be too small for her):

I love my new hat! It is perfect in every way!!!!! I love the color, cables, shape, size, etc…. PERFECT!!!!!

My very first infinity scarf/cowl.  Now I finally understand why everyone wears these – so warm!
Ravelry project page.  Pattern available for sale here.

 

 

My first Bruges lace design.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern available for sale here.

 

This hat is way cuter with the pom pom added.
Ravelry project page.  Free pattern available here.

 

 

And this last project, a combo of my own layout with the pattern of another designer…

The never ending New Orleans Saints themed double Irish Chain granny square bedspread for my little sister.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: I used my own layout, but my granny square was a four round version of the Basic Granny Square by Julie A. Bolduc.

On a related note, I started using Ravelry’s stash feature after reading this great post by FreshStitches.  I definitely don’t have all of my stash listed, but it has helped me to sell some stash and also to keep track of my stashbusting efforts this year.

What’s your favorite Ravelry feature?