Which one makes cables easier?
Greetings Friends! Here my stitches happily hang!
Are you afraid to try knitting cables? You love the way they look - the texture and motion they give to garments, but the idea of adding another needle into the mix is more than you're willing to attempt?
Fear no more!! For I was once like you! Timid and leery of a third needle for stitches to slip off of. Because really, how would I possibly fix that kind of mistake when it takes every once of concentration to pick up a dropped stitch in a simple knit row? The skills required to make cables are basic. It's no more than slipping stitches and knitting (and sometimes purling). The tricky part is wielding that third needle.
It's typically a three step process:
1) Slip the stitches onto the cable needle and hold it in back (or in front) of the body of the project.
2) Knit the required number of stitches (according to the pattern) using the main set of needles (making sure the slipped stitches on the cable needle stay in back or in front of the project).
3) Knit the slipped stitches from the cable needle to the main needle.
That's it. Piece of cake right? I know you may not believe me yet, but I promise you can do it. The two biggest challenges I have with cables are making sure the stitches don't slid off, and actually knitting from the cable needle. While working on this cowl I had an ah-ha moment. I was looking through my supplies for a larger cable needle (I have several that were given to me when I started knitting) and I came across my 12 inch circular bamboo needles. Honestly these needles haven't been good for a whole lot (they're too small for most projects and the short needles are tedious to work with). But I thought why not use it instead of the short slippery metal cable needle? Ah-ha!
Right away I knew I was onto something. Once you slip the stitches onto the circular needle you can just let it hang in back or in front of your project. No more worrying about dropping stitches! When you're ready to knit the slipped stitches just slide them up to the tip of the needle and you're in business. I find that it really works like a dream. There was some concern that the hanging circs. would get in the way, and I imagine if you don't have a short stubby pair of 12 inchers that could be a problem. For me the piece of mind that I get from not worrying about dropping stitches is worth it. Don't have circular needles? I've been told that using a bamboo double pointed needle is a much better option than a slippery metal cable needle.
Here I'm working C6B using my 12 inch circular bamboo needles instead of a traditional cable needle.
The other part of cables that took me some time to master is the language. Cable abbreviations seem confusing. The first time I saw C6F and C6B I was stumped. Now that I understand the construction of cables it makes perfect sense. Here's what I learned. Basic cables are formed when you work stitches in front and in back of other stitches. The C tells you you're making cables, the number is how many stitches you'll be using in total and F or B lets you know where to hold your slipped stitches. So C6F is a Cable worked over a total of 6 stitches, holding slipped stitches in Front. That means that you will slip 3 stitches onto your cable needle and let it hang in front of your main body of work. Knit 3 from your main needles, then knit the 3 slipped stitches. C6B is a Cable worked over a total of 6 stitches, holding slipped stitches in Back. So that means you slip 3 stitches and let them hang in back of your main body of work. Knit 3 from your main needles, then knit the 3 slipped stitches.
Like everything in knitting, cables come in many shapes and sizes. They can be classically simple or wonderfully complex. Personally they are one of my favorite fabrics. I love the texture and movement they bring to any garment. My desire to create cables is one of the reasons that I learned to knit! Using the short circular needles instead of a standard cable needle has really been a breakthrough! I still have plenty to learn, but understanding the language and how they're made makes me feel like I can tackle more complicated patterns with much more confidence!
So what do you think? Are you ready to give cables a try? I hope you do. And for my knitting friends who are well versed in the ways of the cable, I would love to hear from you! What kind of cable needle do you use? Do you have any tricks or tips to share? One last thing, I'm looking for my next cable project and welcome any pattern suggestions you might have.
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me!
Until next time friends,
Be Blessed and Stitch & Read with Love!
Hello Friends and Welcome! I'm so glad you're here. Today I have a fresh and exciting new book to tell you about, plus a prize package of crochet goodies to get you hooking in style!
So lets get right down to it!! Fashion Crochet: 30 crochet projects inspired by the runway by Claire Montgomerie Carlton Books, (reprint) September 3, 2013 Hardcover, 173 Pages When Katie from Sterling Publishing
contacted me about this new book I almost said no thank you. Why you ask? Well, the hard truth is I am about as far away from fashion conscious as you can possibly be while still wearing clothes, and my only experience with the runaway occurs when I happen to pass by Project Runway
on my way to National Geographic
. I changed my mind when I realized that it might be interesting to try something new and step outside of my crochet box. I' d be lying if I didn't say I was nervous about what I'd find. When my copy arrived I anxiously flipped from back to front to see what secrets it may hold. I was quite pleased to find a very
friendly union between fashion forward and traditional patterns. The book is set out in sections that include: Practicalities, Wraps & Scarves, Accessories, Dresses, Skirts & Shorts, Tops & Jumpers. Plus the usual intro, resources, index and acknowledgements. What sets this one apart from so many others is you can actually see the pieces that inspired the patterns. The work of fashion icons (that even I've heard of) like Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs become accessible to all of us. You also get to see the originals in action with some of entertainments most trendy names (Angelina Jolie and Sienna Miller). There are lots of photographs and whimsical water colors of the designs that give it the feel of a coffee table book. There are written instructions as well as charts where appropriate. There's a real variety of styles allowing something for everyone. The Granny Square Cowl is an updated take on the classic motif. The Chain Shoulder Bag is a great blend of function meeting fashion. And the Little Black Dress is a classic beauty with its yoke and sleeves done in an open floral stitch set against the solid form fitting body. Wow! I've never seem crochet look as grown up and sophisticated as it does in this book. I think that's one of the reasons why I found myself enjoying these patterns. While I don't necessarily see myself wearing any of the skirts or shorts it features, it's nice to know I have the means to make them should I want to. And while they might not all be my style I definitely can see myself carrying the Bobble Bag that I decided on.
If it's looks good on Angelina imagine what it will do for me! I was hoping to have it finished to share with you, but it's not quite there. The pattern and extra large chart are easy to follow - although I did get confused for a moment when I started. For some reason I failed to realize that the patterns are all written in UK terms. Once I replaced my tr with dc
I was fine! I'm done with the first side and about 10 rows for the top of the second. The geometric pattern has great texture and is an excellent photo backdrop for the goodies in my giveaway. All in all I think Fashion Crochet is a unique and trendy collection that will add variety and style to your library. Most of the patterns are in the intermediate level so a good foundation of basic skills will be helpful.
We often fall back on things that are comfortable and easy. This book moves beyond the ordinary and reminds us to push the envelope and take risks. The world of crochet is a big and wonderful place. There's plenty of room for chevron afghans, cozy hats and lacy shawls as well as sleek tunic dresses, beach shorts and pineapple halter tops! Now it's your turn to try something new. The folks at Sterling have given me a copy
Fashion Crochet to share with you, and I've put together a selection of some of my favorite crochet notions. The giveaway is free, easy and open to residents of the US. Log in to the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance(s) to win this awesome prize package.
Step outside of your crochet box and take a chance on something new!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me!
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
Greetings Friends! I am so excited to announce that our Etsy shop is now officially open!
If you've been reading the blog then you know that we've been working on this for a while. And let me tell you it's been work! I really had no idea what is involved in opening up a shop. It's a lot like when I started the blog. Learn as you go. Be patient and flexible. If somethings works - keep doing it and if it doesn't, change it! Our shop is called Nirvana Designs and it's development has been a somewhat organic process. I learned how to crochet, started writing about it and the blog was born. I took up knitting and wrote about that. As I learn things I like to share them with you. It's a way for me to record my experiences and hopefully lend a hand to you along the way. My husband ties flies for fishing. It's small, precise work. One day I admired the beaded earrings a patron at the library was wearing. It turns out her daughter made them. I thought we can do that! And so we did. With John's amazing dexterity and my creative motivation we began making earrings. Then came stitch markers. And more jewelry. It's fun and a terrific way for us to share a hobby. We didn't set out to sell anything, but since we've pretty much saturated our friends and family with gifts and we're not ready to stop making things a Etsy shopped sounds like the obvious next step.
For nearly a year we have been refining our techniques, searching for raw materials and slowly building our inventory. The past month I've been doing product photography and learning about Etsy. Believe me there is a lot to learn! Thankfully there are plenty of books available and more importantly, the site is designed for people just like us.
Now after more that 1000 pictures and many hours on the computer we are happy to welcome you to our grand opening. We're hopeful that you'll take a look at what we've been busy making. To break the ice, we're offering 50% off your first purchase. Use the coupon code: WELCOME at checkout. Initially we're only listing our stitch markers. The jewelery collection is coming next and eventually I hope to offer a selection of knit and crochet pieces.
We're having a great time with our new project and we're looking forward to learning, growing and finding our place in the world of Etsy boutiques! Drop in for a browse and maybe even treat yourself to a little something!
Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing a bit of your day with me.
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
Join the Love Affair with Yarn!Guest Post by Author and Yarn Enthusiast Betty Hectman
A lot of people are going to be celebrating I Love Yarn Day on October 11. According to the Craft Yarn Council there are over 50 million people of all ages who knit, crochet or otherwise work with yarn. And it’s no wonder. It’s not just the destination of getting a scarf or sweater; the journey is full of benefits. Knitting and crocheting are great anxiety busters, offer something productive to do while waiting and can be a social outlet when done with a group. Want to Join in? Getting Started
It’s great if you have a friend or family member to teach you, but if not, there are other options. Check out your local yarn store. According to Lisa Garcia of the Close Knit Circle yarn shop in Tarzana California, for a nominal fee they will teach someone to knit or crochet. In addition with a yarn purchase comes the invitation to hang out at the group table in the store and get help on a project. Some of the craft stores like Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s offer group lessons. Try your local community college. Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California offers yarn craft classes as part of their extension program. *Your local library is another spot to check out. Many have groups that welcome sharing their skill and experience with new members.
If you’re more of a do it yourselfer, it is possible to learn on your own. There are numerous books on the market, but Betty Hechtman, author of two yarn related mysteries series suggests doing what she did and trying a kids’ kit. “I found that the instructions were broken down into easy to follow steps with lots of illustrations. And if the instructions would work for a ten-year-old, I figured they would work for me. I learned how to crochet granny squares with a kit meant for kids and it changed my life.” First Projects
Don’t defeat yourself by choosing something too complicated for a first project. Also, it is best to stick with easy to work with yarn like basic worsted weight. A scarf is a great project to start with using either this free knitting pattern
or this free crochet pattern
. Both use only the most basic techniques. The Beauty of Handmade
Every knit or crocheted item has its own story. The experience of picking the yarn, making the project and what was going on in your life are all woven into the stitches. Remember that what makes handmade items special is they look like real hands made them. That means there might be a wiggly stitch here and there, but just look at it as part of the tale. About Betty Hechtman Betty Hechtman
is the author of “Yarn to Go,” the first book in the Berkley Prime Crime Yarn Retreat mystery series, as well as the author of the best-selling Berkley Prime Crime Crochet mystery series. The eighth book, “For Better or Worsted,” comes out in November. She has also written newspaper and magazine pieces, short stories and screenplays as well as a children’s culinary mystery. She has a bachelor of fine arts degree and has been active in handicrafts since she was a small child. Hechtman divides her time between Los Angeles and Chicago. I hope you enjoyed Betty's post!
I couldn't agree with her more. In fact, I learned how to crochet by checking out children's books from our library. And when I needed more help I turned to our resident experts - The Knit Wits, who have been meeting on Wednesdays at the library for years! The comment following the * is mine. I had to mention the library, not just because I work there, but because they're such a great resource in so many communitiesThanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me.Until next time friends,Be Blessed and Stitch & Read with Love!
Greeting Friends! It's October already! Wow! For so many reasons this is my favorite time of year. New England foliage and the brisk, refreshing weather rank at the top of the list, but so do the bounty of holidays: Halloween, Day of the Dead, I Love Yarn Day, and my birthday! I try to come up with an October project that embraces all of these favorite things. Last year I filled our house with little pumpkins. (Check out the post, and the link to the super easy pattern!)
This year's inspiration comes with a story. Last year I signed up for an account with Stumble Upon. As instructed, I selected several categories I was interested in (crochet, knitting, photography, nature etc.). Like Pinterest, these were the topics that I would see when visiting their website. I did a bit of stumbling (that's what they call it), and promptly forgot about it. Because really, how many social networks can I be a member of ? Anyway, I must have signed up for emailed "highlights" because about once a month I'll get a message with links to what's hot in my categories. Usually I just glance, but recently something caught my eye. It was a skull scarf and a series of pictures showing how to make the skull. Cool. This is something I'm willing to stumble over to! After 15 frustrating minutes of trying to remember which version of my username and password I used I finally made it to the page. As it turns out, it was just a jpeg - with no link to the website or person who contributed it. But that's okay, because I just wanted to print the picture and try making the skull. Printing proved another challenge and required saving the image to my desktop and printing from there. I'm not so thrilled with my stumbling experience, but I am glad they delivered the skull picture to my inbox. I made the skull according to the pattern. It came out okay, but as I was making it I was thinking of all the things that I would do differently next time. After a few hours of trial and error I came up with my version of the skull - and this is what I am sharing with you today. Because next to pumpkins, what can be better in October than skulls!?! However, I realize that if it hadn't been for the creative person who posted their skull scarf on the internet, I wouldn't be sharing my version with you today. The original picture has a watermark on it for a face book group: ClubeDasCrochedeiras
. After much searching, I was able to locate them and the original picture! It appears that the group is Portuguese. While I wasn't able to figure out exactly who posted the pattern, I was able to reach out to the group and say thank you. I know that there are only so many ways that you can make a skull motif, and that nobody would have ever known if I just posted my version without this story. But I know, and even though I could have come up with the pattern on my own by looking a pictures on the internet, someone in Portugal gave me a good foundation and made it a whole lot easier, and for that I am thankful! And so my dear friends, here in my version of the skull motif. I've been having a great time making them
. Once you've done a few they're super quick. Like all motifs there are lots of ways you can use them. Link them together like our Portuguese friends to make a scarf, use them as coasters, hang them in your window as spooky decorations or just make them because they're fun. No matter what you do with them - Enjoy!!
I used worsted weight cotton and an f/5 - 3.75mm hook for the white skull. I've made several and prefer this combination. The finished size is about 3 3/4" x 5". The cotton has nice structure for this kind of motif. However, use whatever you have on hand. Skulls are a great stash buster!! The first one I made was a little messy, by the fourth one I had the pattern memorized and they came out neat and even!
Step 1: Ch 14, sl st in beg ch to form loop.
Step 2: Ch 14 (again), sl st in 14th ch from hook to form another loop. Now you should have 2 loops that look like the number 8 or a pair of glasses.
Step 3: Work 18 sc evenly around the first loop, then work 18 sc evenly around the second loop.
Step 4: Using the yarn tail left at the end of the starting chain, wrap it snugly around the space between the eyes 3 or 4 times. Secure the end by pulling it through the loop you make while wrapping. This gives your skull a nice finished look.
Now you’ll be working in rows to create the Top of the Skull above the eyes (the forehead!)
Set Up Row: Sl st in the next 7 sts. This will get you from between the eyes to the top edge so you can start working in rows.
Row 1: Ch 1, turn. 14 sc across top of eyes.
Row 2: Turn (don’t ch 1), skip 1st sc, 12 sc across, leave last sc unworked.
Row 3: Turn (don’t ch 1), skip 1st sc, 10 sc across, leave last sc unworked.
Row 4: Turn (don’t ch 1), skip 1st sc, 8 sc across, leave last sc unworked.
Row 5: Turn (don’t ch 1), sc in each sc across. (8 sc)
Stop here and use stitch marker to hold your place. Cut yarn leaving about 36 – 48 inches. After finishing the lower portion of the skull you’re going to come back to the marker and use the extra long yarn tail to create the border around the skull. You can fasten off after Row 5 and the reattach the yarn for the border, but if you do it this way there are fewer knots and tails to weave in.
Bottom of the Skull (the nose and teeth)
Turn the skull upside down. Find the center under the eyes, count 7 stitches right and join the yarn in that stitch.
Row 1: Sc in same st as join and in next 3 sc, ch 4, skip 6 stitches, sc in next 4 sc. (8sc, ch4 sp)
Row 2: Ch 1, turn. 4sc, 4sc in ch 4 sp, 4 sc. (12 sc)
Row 3: Turn (don’t ch 1), skip 1st sc, sl st in next 2 sc, ch 4 (counts as 1 tr ch), tr ch in next 5 sc, leave last 3 sc unworked. (1 unworked, 2 sl st, 6 tr ch, 3 unworked = 12 sts)
Row 4: Ch 1, turn, sc in each tr ch across , sc in top of ch 4. (6 sc)
Border around the Skull
Go back to the top of the skull where you left off (at the stitch marker). Ch 1, then evenly sc all the way around the skull. Work 2 sc into the corners at the cheeks and bottom of the jaw for smoother transitions. (52 sc)
Finish off with the invisible join or with a sl st into the starting ch.
Weave in the ends, and lightly block to the correct shape. Enjoy!!
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I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with my skulls. When I brought them into the library a co-worker suggested stitching one on to the pocket of a pair of jeans. While this is a great idea for some I'm sure there are plenty of you out there like me who try to draw attention AWAY from the posterior! Perhaps the sleeve of a hoodie would be a better choice!!
Being so close to Halloween skulls seem to be everywhere. I'm especially fond of the sugar skulls that are so important in the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration. I've always been fascinated by the bright and brilliant artwork that feels like such a contrast to the white, somber skull. I figured that these crochet motifs are the perfect canvas for doing a little embelishing of my own.
But first I decided that I should probably know just a little bit more about the tradition. I'm happy to report that the skulls are used as a way to recognize and remember loved ones who have passed on. Day of the Dead is celebrated in central and southern Mexico on November 1 & 2. The indigenous people believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. The sugar skulls, which are often adorned with the name of the deceased, are part of the alters that families prepare in anticipation of their loved ones visit. If you'd liked to read more about this interesting tradition visit MexicanSugarSkulls.com
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Well my friends, I hope that you enjoyed my story about finding inspiration and sharing it with others. The internet is a terrific place with lots of amazing, talented people, and I'm thankful to be part of it!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me. Until next time,
Be Blessed and Stitch & Read with Love!
Click on the button for the complete downloadable PDF pattern and photo tutorial.
Hi there! One of the things that I really enjoy about crochet is learning new things. So when the folks at Annie's Catalog contacted me a few months ago and asked if I was interested in reviewing one of their on-line classes I jumped at the opportunity!
If you're not familiar with Annie's they're a cornerstone in the crafting industry. Their first catalogs were mailed to homes in 1975 and crafter's have been turning to them for patterns, supplies and instruction since. There are on-line classes for crochet, knitting, card & paper crafts, quilting, sewing and beading & jewelry. In each category you'll find several different topics to choose from. The classes range in price from $19.95 to $24.95. Once you pay for your class, it's yours forever. You can access it as many times as you want, anytime you want.
I chose Crocheting with Beads. It's something that I've been wanting to try and this was the perfect opportunity. The class includes the video instruction which is broken down in segments for each technique and project. It has a total running time of just over an hour. There is a downloadable / printable PDF file that contains the pattern for each of the projects. There is something called "My Notebook" which allows you to record your own notes as your watching and practicing. I used this are to keep track of what yarn and hook I was using and what kind of beads I chose. I also used it to note the projects I liked the most and the things that I had trouble with. There is also a place to "Ask the Instructor" with several FAQs that get immediate responses. I did ask a question that wasn't on the list. Later the same day I received an email letting me know that Ellen had answered my question! I logged back into my class and sure enough there was my response! That's pretty cool. Overall the course is easy to access and I had no trouble navigating through it or downloading my patterns.
Now, let me tell you about the class. First of all, it's very well done. The audio and video are clear, the instructor, Ellen Gormley, is easy to listen to and does a great job showing you what to do and how to do it. Like many of you, I've watched plenty of videos on YouTube and while the intention may be good, the end result often leaves a lot to be desired and you can never be sure of what you're going to get. I feel confident that all of the videos in Annie's series are the same caliber as this one.
In this class there are 6 projects. Ellen shows you how to make each one of them from beginning to end. Each one uses a new beading skill. Every skill is demonstrated step by step using heavier yarn and large pony beads. By practicing with the bigger beads you can really get the hang of it before switching to the smaller beads the pattern calls for. In addition to beading, other techniques like joining motifs as you go, making button holes and using jewelry notions are also covered in detail.
So what did I make? After watching the video all the way through, I decided that I was going to try to make the beaded bracelet which is basically a tube with a bead in every stitch. It's the second project in the class and Ellen made it look so easy!! Actually, the technique itself wasn't too bad with the pony beads - but I know myself well enough to realize that I needed to start with a different project. No sense in getting frustrated right off the bat. Next I decided to try the beaded scarf. This is the third lesson. Again the technique was easy to pick up. I really liked that I could start and stop as much as I wanted. After making one pattern repeat with the pony beads I got started on my scarf. I didn't have the yarn the pattern called for so I made do with what I had on hand. This was much easier going! The hardest part (most tedious?) part was stringing the beads. Mainly because I didn't have the right tools. I think with the proper weight yarn and beading needle it would be much faster. I haven't finished the scarf, but after completing about 2 dozen rows I was ready to try something else. Not because I didn't like it, but because I wanted to actually finish something to show you!!
Which brings me to my final project - the Wristlet Clutch. How cute is this?! This is actually the first project in the class and as it turns out the one that I should have started with! It's a small project and if you want you can use pony beads like I did. We have a big pile of these wonderfully fun skull beads. John has been making stitch markers with them, but I was able to grab a few in order to make my bag.
As with my previous class experience, this technique was a snap to master. Ellen shows you how to do everything from making the handle and the button hole to creating the button itself! I made this little beauty in two afternoons and everything about it was fun and easy.
The best part was putting it to use! I often ride my bike to the country store and I always have to make sure I have pockets. Not any more!! Now I just slip my little bag over my wrist and I'm good to go!
There are 3 more projects that I haven't tried yet. The beaded shawlette uses the "hooked on" technique. I'm looking forward to seeing the difference between pre-stringing them vs. adding them as you go. I feel confident that I'll be able to follow other patterns that include beading, especially knowing that I have my class available to me if I need a quick refresher.
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I really have enjoyed my beading experience. Everything about it is easy to use and professionally done. It's true that I do like to find things for free, but the trouble with that is you can't count on the quality being consistent. I did a little figuring. This class is $24.95 and you get 6 patterns. That's $4.15 each. The average cost of a pattern on Ravelry
is $7.39 (based on the top 10 of paid "hot right now" patterns), and that's just the written pattern! With these classes you get so much more and I think that makes them a really good value.
In case you're wondering, Annie's hasn't paid me for my endorsement. I was given the class in exchange for my honest review. That's it. Happily this is a fun and informative program that I feel good about recommending. Especially if you take advantage of the coupon code they gave me to share with you! Just click here
and you can take 50% off any of their on-line classes. Now that is a great deal. Unfortunately, the code expires soon so you have to act fast. The good thing is once you pay for it you can watch it whenever you want - so even if you don't have time right now, it will be ready for when you do.
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me.
Until next time friends, Be blessed and stitch & read (& bead!) with love!
Scarves, Shrugs & Shawls
22 Knitted Designs with Their Special Techniques by Sarah Hatton St. Martin's Griffin February 26, 2013; 136 Pages
Scarves and wraps are the perfect canvases for experimenting with new stitches and practicing new techniques. From well-respected Rowan Yarn designer Sarah Hatton with Sharon Brant as the technical editor, Scarves, Shrugs & Shawls
offers over twenty easy-to-make and fun-to-wear designs that explore a range of knitting techniques—from gorgeous textured and cabled stitches, to intricate openwork and lace patterns, to interesting and appealing shaping. A gallery of designs features the garments photographed in full color and includes a helpful and inspiring "How to Wear It" section, showcasing the myriad ways to wrap your shawl, twist your neck warmer, or tie your scarf. Making these popular accessories even more versatile so you can wear them over and over, and still keep them looking fresh! (from Amazon.com
Welcome to a new review and an awesome giveaway. First, let me tell you about the book. As most of you know I'm a lover of books - that includes all kinds from fiction to dictionaries and everything in between. As a crocheter and more recently a knitter I love browsing through the pages of pattern books looking for projects and inspiration. Having checked out many titles from our library I fancy myself a bit of a connoisseur. So how does Scarves, Shrugs & Shawls measure up? On a scale of 1 - 10 I give it a solid 8.
The book is set up in sections. Right away I was drawn in by the full page photographic spreads featuring each item. So often in pattern books you get one little picture. Not here. After you've had a chance to view each piece from a variety of angles it's on to the patterns. Again there are more (different) pictures that really show you what you're making. Along with the line by line instructions charts have been included allowing you to use whichever format you prefer. Now I haven't made any of these items, so I can't speak to the accuracy or ease of following the patterns, but I did read through several and it appears that they are well laid out and complete.
As the publisher promises, there are a variety of different techniques featured in the patterns providing an opportunity to try new things. As a beginner I feel like several of the patterns are more advanced than I am, however the technique section at the back of the book seems to offer good insight on the skills needed by covering everything from how to avoid holes when doing two handed fair isle work, how to string beads using a needle and thread, to making a no-turn bobble. I'd say the projects are best suited for those with knowledge of the basic skills and some experience under their belt. A confident beginner should be able to handle many and might be inspired to give some of the more complicated designs a try. Intermediate and advanced knitters will be pleased with the options available. There really is something for everybody.
I'd say my favorite part is the "How to Wear It" section. What a brilliant idea! As a scarf and shawl enthusiast I'm always struggling to find new and interesting ways to wear them. While this section is showcasing the garments from the book they make it easy to see how it would work on any item of similar shape and dimension. In addition to the pictures they tell you what to do to achieve each look! For the fashionably challenged like me this is important!
The paperback book is nicely bound and lays open fairly easily. It's 9.7" x 9" size makes it big enough to see things clearly, but small enough to fit in your bag if you wanted to take a project on the go. I like the matte finish of the pages, too. Overall I think this is a well done book that any fan of shoulder and neck wear would be happy to have in their collection!
Now, for the fun part - the giveaway!!
I love giving things away! I'm so blessed and thankful to the people at St. Martin's who send me all kinds of books to review. It only seems right that I spread the joy and share them with you. I've been collecting little trinkets to put together a fun knitting prize package. In addition to the book, there are stork scissors!! These are a classic item and a huge favorite of my Facebook friends. This pair is 3.5" tall making them perfect for home or on the go in your travel bag. I have a 5" pair that I use every day - they cut beautifully! Next I found a pair of Rosewood knitting needles from Boyd. They're US size 6 and 14" long. They're quite lovely and while I've never tried them, I know that my Rosewood crochet hooks feel warm and natural and seem to get better every time I use them. Finally there is a set of handmade cobalt blue glass stitch markers. They're one of a kind and will help you keep your place in style! So there you have it! All the tools you need - just add your favorite yarn and you're on your way to knitting nirvana!!
Enter now for your chance to win!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me. I hope that you'll take a moment and throw your name in the hat. I've tried to come up with lots of different ways to enter giving you plenty of options. This time I'm opening the drawing to everyone everywhere! If I can send you mail through the US Post Office than you're welcome to enter. If you're a crocheter and are feeling left out - don't! I've got something special planned for you coming up towards the end of the month! I promise you're going to love it!
Until next time friends,
Be Blessed and Stitch & Read with Love!
Working with thread can seem intimidating. I know the first time I picked up a tiny steel hook and #10 cotton thread I thought isn’t thread for sewing?! I felt out of my element. There were a few rough moments, I won’t kid you, but with a little perseverance I discovered the magic feeling you get when bits of thread suddenly come together into a recognizable work of art that you created!
As an avid reader, bookmarks always seem in short supply at our house. How better to combine my two passions than by designing a pattern for thread crochet bookmarks!
For the thread newbies out there I’ve taken lots of pictures to show you how it’s done. If you’re very new to crochet, and have never made a granny square before I do recommend that you make a few with worsted weight yarn and an H hook before you try the thread. As long as you’re comfortable with basic crochet techniques, and know the standard stitches than you should have no problem entering the wonderful world of thread.
1. Don't be afraid! I know the hook and thread seem impossibly small, but give it a chance.
2. All projects look messy and are hard to hold/work during the first few rows or rounds. Keep going and it will come together.
3. Always work in good light and when you're not tired.
4. Many patterns for yarn can be adapted to thread, and doilies are always in fashion.
5. Take the time to use an invisible join
instead of a slip stitch to join rounds.
6. Use standing stitches
to start rows/rounds instead of starting chains.
7. Learn the join-as-you-go technique
for motifs and grannies.
8. Weave in ends as you go.
9. If your hook is too thin to hold comfortably try wrapping the end with scrap yarn for an easy custom handle.
10. Blocking and stiffening your finished project are worth the time.
The Classic Granny Square Bookmark Pattern
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Rnd 1: With A make magic loop (or ch4 and join with sl st to form loop), ch3, 2dc in loop, ch2, (3dc in loop, ch2) 3 times. Join with sl st in top of starting ch3. Fasten off.
Rnd 2: Join B in any ch2 corner space. (ch3, 2dc, ch2, 3dc) in same ch2 space, ch1. (3dc, ch2, 3dc, ch1) in next 3 ch2 sps. Join with sl st in top of starting ch3. Fasten off.
Rnd 3: Join C in any ch2 corner sp. (ch3, 2dc, ch2, 3dc) in same ch2 sp, ch1. * 3dc in next ch1 sp, ch1, (3dc, ch2, 3dc) in next ch2 corner sp, ch1. Repeat from * 3 times. 3dc in last ch1 sp, ch1. Join with sl st to starting ch3. Fasten off.
Joining Rnd 3: Join C in any ch2 corner sp. (ch3, 2dc, ch2, 3dc) in same ch2 sp, ch1. 3dc in ch1 sp, ch1.
(now we start the joining edge) 3dc in ch2 corner sp of working square, ch1, sc to join in any ch2 corner of finished square, 3dc back in same ch2 corner sp of working square. Sc to join in first ch1 sp of finished square. 3dc in ch1 sp of working square, Sc to join in next ch1 sp of finished square. 3dc in ch2 corner sp of working square, ch1, sc to join in next ch2 corner sp of finished square, 3dc back in same ch2 corner sp of working square, ch1. (join is finished) 3dc in next ch1 sp, ch1. (3dc, ch2, 3dc) in next ch2 corner sp, ch1, 3dc in last ch1 sp, ch1. Join with sl st in top of starting ch3. Fasten off.
Attach remaining squares in the same fashion.
Rnd 1: Join B in any ch2 corner sp. (ch3, 2dc, ch 2, 3dc) in corner, ch1, (3dc, ch1) in each ch1 sp and each joining sc around. (3dc, ch2, 3dc) in each corner. Join with sl st in starting ch3. Fasten off.
Rnd 2: Join A in any ch2 corner sp. Ch1, *3sc in corner (mark center sc with st marker), sc in each dc and ch1 sp to next corner. Repeat from * around. Join with sl st in starting ch1. Fasten off. (168 st)
Rnd 3: Join C 2 sts to the left of any marked corner st. Ch1, sc in same st, tr in next st, *(sc in next st, tr in next st) to corner, (sc, tr, sc) in marked corner st (mark tr with st marker), tr in next st. Repeat from * around. Join with sl st in first sc. Fasten off.
Rnd 4: Join A 2 sts to the left of any marked corner st. Ch4 (counts as tr), *(sc in next tr, tr in next sc) to corner st, (sc, tr, sc) in marked corner st, tr in next sc, sc in next tr. Repeat from * around leaving out last tr. Join with sl st to top of starting ch4. Fasten off.
Weave in any remaining ends.
To really make your stitches stand out, take the time to either block or stiffen your bookmark.
It’s worth the effort!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me. Be sure to check back for the final installment in my working with thread mini-series. I'll show you how to stiffen your bookmark and other thread projects using plain old white glue. For your convenience I've included a downloadable copy of the pattern, just click on the link below and enjoy!
Until next time friends,
Be Blessed and Stitch & Read with Love!
Greetings! Throughout the summer I've been dabbling with different thread projects. Keeping them short and sweet helps to ensure that I'll stay interested and
actually follow through to the end! I was working on the review of the book 100 Colorful Granny Squares to Crochet
which meant that I tried out several of the patterns. I made some with worsted cotton and more with cotton thread. It didn't take long for a collection to develop. They were just too pretty to leave in a basket, so I bought a bunch of plain white washcloths and hand towels to embellish. Stitching one square to each washcloth worked beautifully (you can see how I did it in this post
). I wanted to try something different with the towels. Flipping through my library of books and magazines I came across a pattern for lace edging that was perfect - the Dolly Dish Towels in the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of Crochet Today.
It was just a coincidence that I had the same color thread they used on hand. The soft cotton towel was supple enough to work the foundation row without pre-poking any holes, and once that was done the design rapidly took shape. Perhaps the toughest part was making sure that I had the right multiple of stitches evenly spaced along the bottom of my towel. After finishing this quick and easy project I understand why lace edging is such a classic embellishment. In times past if you wanted something fancy you had to make it yourself, unless you were wealthy enough to pay someone to make it for you. Adding lace to household linens makes them look good and was probably excellent practice for more intricate pieces like wedding dresses, veils and christening gowns. While I don't see any of those in my future, my towel and washcloths make a lovely addition to our bathroom. My husband says they're too nice to use, but I say they're too nice not to!
That's all for now. Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me.
Until next time friends,
Be Blessed and Stitch & Read with Love!
A Little History
Crochet is one of the youngest of the fiber arts. Textiles are easily traced back to the Stone Age, but the first written reference to crochet (or crotchet as it was sometimes spelled) wasn’t until 1812. The early patterns (of the 1840’s) gave detailed instructions on the use of the hook, possibly implying that crochet was not a needle craft familiar to the ladies of the day. We know that fine lace was tremendously popular during the Elizabethan Period (1558-1603). These early laces were made using needles or bobbins of thread that were woven into intricate patterns. They were very expensive and took a long time to produce making it available only to the wealthy nobility.
Even though the art of crochet is a relative newbie its history is quite impressive. In 1846 & ‘47 crocheted lace helped save many Irish from starvation during the Great Potato Famine. How? A group of nuns taught men, women and children the art of making lace. When Queen Victoria accepted the laces as a gift and started wearing them they became instantly fashionable. With their work in such high demand, many families were able to earn enough money to survive the famine and even immigrate to America.
Irish Lace was all the rage and its popularity continued to grow as patterns became available. Mlle. Elanore Rigeo de le Branchardiere, one of the most gifted artists/designers of the time, published numerous books of thread crochet techniques and lace patterns from 1846 - 1887. She was best known for her ability to write clear and precise instructions allowing anyone who could afford her books to produce the intricate designs of the Irish style.
In America, crochet was a past time that proved as versatile and adaptive as the pioneers who settled this new nation. Along with the Irish Lace techniques, Filet crochet became a staple. This method of creating designs worked in a grid pattern was quite possibly adapted from techniques used by the Berlin Wool Works (in the 1840s). Wall decorations depicting inspirational Bible verses or the sentiment ‘Home Sweet Home’ were common in the most rustic dwellings. Across the new territories of the Great Plains and the Wild West thread crochet was used to bring a little beauty and refinement to the harsh, untamed lands.
A small bit of thread was affordable and went a long way in creating something lovely. Early crocheters produced yards and yards of lace trim. Everything from petticoats to bed and table linens were adorned with lace.
At a time when resources were limited and ingenuity was necessary, other forms of crochet proved indispensable. Of course I’m referring to the granny square. This simple motif (that may have originated as a thread pattern) when worked with scraps of yarns left over from other projects or recycled from old garments became a favorite for crocheters allowing blankets and throws to be fashioned from otherwise useless materials.
Thread crochet in the 20th century adapted to the ever changing conditions of our economy. Like all of the leisure arts, in times of moderation projects would take on a utilitarian style. Crocheters would focus on making items that were relevant because of their function and affordability. During times of prosperity function could become secondary and crocheters would create exquisitely frivolous projects purely for pleasure. However, thread crochet projects nearly always have the ability to look good! Even the simplest washcloth is easily adorned with a little lace border turning it into something special without adding much to the overall cost.
Thread Crochet Today
In the 200 years since the first mention in print, thread crochet has moved in and out of fashion. Proficiency in needle work was once necessary for ladies as part of their education. As women’s roles have changed so has our relationship with fiber. What we were once expected and even required to do we now must choose to learn. However, fiber arts such as crochet, knitting, spinning and weaving have experienced a resurgence and they are now more popular than ever. Many of the patterns that were originally written by our foremothers have a timeless quality that makes them just as relevant today as when they were published. So what’s changed?
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Traditional thread crochet is done in white and ecru (off white). That’s it. Studying pictures of vintage designs you very rarely see colors. Occasionally you might find a flower in blue or yellow, but it’s unusual. Until fairly recently you could only buy thread in a limited assortment of colors. Today, quality thread is available in a huge variety of colors and weights. Jewel tones, pastels, primary colors and variegated combinations are commercially produced and available on-line. If you’re looking for something unique, fiber artist create breathtaking hand painted threads in stunning colors that rival those found in nature.
What We're Making
With the colors that are available and the adventurous spirit of the latest generation of crocheters there’s nothing old fashioned about thread today. Of course there will always be a place for doilies and lace edging, it just might look different than you expect! Here's a glimpse at what we're making today:
· Jar Toppers
· Head Bands
· Picture Frames
· Pot Holders
· Table Runners
· Headphone Cord Cover
· Baby Hats
· Hair Scrunchies
· Phone / I Pod Covers
· Table Cloths
· Wall Hangings
· Place Mats
· Trim / Edging
· Pillows/ Bolsters
· Laptop / Tablet Covers
· Gloves (fingerless too!)
· Book Marks
· Stuffed Animals
· Christening Sets
Who's Doing It?
Everyone! Young, old and in between! Let’s just say that the image of gray hair and rocking chairs has been replaced by tattoos and pink hair. Okay, maybe not everyone has pink hair, but today's crocheter is young (no matter how old, we’re young at heart!), hip and through various electronic devises virtually connected to other fiber enthusiasts. And it’s definitely not just for the ladies. In fact some of today’s top designers are men!
I think that we’re at something of a crochet crossroads. Historically we’ve seen that what we make and how much time we spend making it has been influenced by what’s going on in the world. Given our current climate, history would dictate that we’re making utilitarian projects and not spending a lot of time enjoying the leisure arts. But that’s not what we’re doing. Sure, we’re making (pretty, colorful) things you can use, but we’ve discovered that crochet is a great way to relax and unwind. Our lives our hectic and busy, we’ve got lots to do, and our resources are limited. We’ve learned that we have to take care of ourselves and that we need economical outlets that help us to decompress when dealing with tough situations. Thread crochet fits the bill perfectly. For a minimal investment you can purchase several balls of thread and a set of steel hooks that will keep you stitching for months! It’s portable, easy to learn, and convenient. There’s also the added bonus of the on-line fiber community. Not only can you find groups dedicated to crochet on social networks like Facebook
, we have our very own network in Ravelry
! It’s like the modern version of the quilting bee where like-minded fiber enthusiast get together to share friendship, tips and encouragement!
Are you Inspired?
Are you ready to grab your steel hook and get started creating something exciting? If you’re worried that it’s too hard or too small, don’t be. The stitches and techniques are the same whether you make them with yarn or thread. Yes it does take some time to get your tension right and to feel comfortable with the hook. But, with a few helpful hints and a little practice you’ll be amazed at what you can do!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this look at the evolution of crochet. We are the new generation and it’s up to us to carry on the traditions while continuing to expand our craft. We have the opportunity to make our mark on history by ensuring that the designs we create today are available to the crocheters of tomorrow.
Be sure to come back for Part II of my series on Thread Crochet. Next up is a pattern and tutorial for a project that’s perfect for all skill levels. If you’re looking for more information on the history of crochet The Encyclopedia of Crochet
by Donna Kooler is an excellent resource. Or you can check out The Granny Square Project
. It’s a 5 part series all about crochet's most popular motif, and you'll find the links at the top of blog in the sidebar!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me.Until next time friends,Be Blessed and Stitch & Read with Love!