I live in Massachusetts. It's cold here. Not all the time, but right now in the middle of winter we're seeing some pretty low numbers! Add in the wind chill and we're talking negative numbers! And as much as I'd love to stay hunkered down in the house with a hot steamy cuppa and my latest project, the need to eat, which necessitates the need to work, means that I have to brave the elements. The best way to combat the wintery winds? Layers. And the final layer before the coat? The Wrap. Don't get me wrong - I love a good scarf, but The Wrap is what I reach for when I'm dressing for the weather. I have wraps in all shapes, sizes, colors and materials - I love each one and I will never have too many! As if their powers of warmth weren't enough, wraps are so stylish and versatile that they simply beg to be worn anytime and anywhere you need to keep a little (or big) chill off your shoulders and neck. Wraps are a wardrobe staple that can see you through every season and any kind of day - from work to weekend, casual to formal there is a wrap for every occasion!
So when Tammy Hildebrand's new book Crochet Wraps: Every Which Way landed on my doorstep, I knew that I was in for a treat. Not only is it about my favorite accessory, it showcases 18 patterns and SIX different techniques! How perfect for someone (me me me) who is always looking to try something new?! Tammy has put together 3 patterns (easy, intermediate and advanced) for each method: Traditional Crochet; Motifs; Broomstick Lace; Hairpin Lace; Tunisian; and Double Ended! Wow!
With so much to choose from, it's hard to know where to start! The Introduction and Tips & Hints at the beginning of the book are quite uplifting and inspirational. It's easy to see that crochet brings Tammy great happiness and she wants us to enjoy it just as much as she does. She offers lots of encouragement to experiment with new colors and not to be afraid to tweak the patterns to suit your personal taste. Because there are six techniques, Tammy's advice to seek out on-line video tutorials and practice along with them is a great idea. The book does have a How-To section with step-by-step instructions and clear photography to help you, but sometimes you need a little more guidance - especially when learning something new.
I have lots of projects on my hooks and needles at the moment, so I wasn't able to commit to a new wrap that I would finish by the time my stop on the blog tour came around. I did however recently have the opportunity to purchase two pairs of giant (US 35/20 mm) knitting needles - perfect for making broomstick lace. It must have been fate! I'd been admiring the look of the "peacock" design you see in typical broomstick work, but had no idea when I'd ever get my hands on those huge needles. I decided when I saw them that I'd keep one pair to give it a try - and give the second pair away as part of the blog tour prize package! Wielding the large needle feels pretty awkward. I had more trouble getting the loops on than working them off. I'm sure that with practice it gets easier, just like everything in crochet! I don't know that I'll be jumping right into a big broomstick project, but I can see it looking great as trim on a scarf, table runner or place mats.
Since I didn't actually make anything from the book I'm not able to comment on the accuracy or clarity of the instructions. However, each project is beautifully photographed with many shots showing different ways to wear the wraps, as well as the stitch details. In reading through the patterns things look complete and I wasn't thrown my any unfamiliar abbreviations or wording. Plus, I was able to figure out how to do the basic broomstick lace by following the pictures.
Tammy has put together a lot of kick in a little book! It's rare to see so many different techniques all in the same place, and I think using the wrap to showcase the variety of stitches is a brilliant idea! Although there are patterns that are "easy" a true beginner may be overwhelmed. I'd say a confident beginner who is familiar with the basics and is looking for a challenge or the intermediate crocheter who is ready for something new will be very happy with Crochet Wraps. Also, to complete most of the projects specialized tools are required. In addition to the "big" knitting needle for the broomstick lace, you need a loom for the hairpin lace, an extra long hook for the Tunisian crochet and a double ended hook for the double ended crochet. All of these tools are available on-line, but chances are they're not part of your everyday tool box.
And finally, my personal pet peeve about craft book bindings. Like most paperback craft and pattern books this one has a traditional glued binding. While in most instances this is just fine, in craft books it's a bit frustrating because they don't easily stay open while sitting in your lap. You can press the pages open and it will sort of do the trick, but it's hard on the spine, and after a while the book flops open to the page you've used the most. I'm always much happier when my pattern books have a spiral binding! That said, it's certainly not the kind of thing that stops me from buying a book - it's just my personal preference! (I'll be getting of my soap box now and moving on to the fun stuff!)
The folks at Stackpole Books have generously offered a copy of Tammy's book for me to share with you. To spice it up a little I'm including a set of hand crafted stitch markers from Nirvana Designs and a pair of US 35/ 20 mm knitting needles to get you started on your broomstick lace! The contest will run for a week, is free and open to US residents.
Win: A Selection of Goodies to Add to Your Library & Tool Box!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me!
I hope you enjoyed the review and will take a moment to enter the contest.
Until next time friends,
Be Blessed and Stitch & Read with Love!
In July I began this adventure know as A Year of Projects. The premise is to choose a goal (or several as the case may be) that you wish to achieve over the course of one year and then track your progress with blog posts. Support and camaraderie are found in the Ravely group Come Blog-A-Long where participates share their posts and chat about their successes (and failures) in various threads.
It seemed an intriguing way to bring some structure to my otherwise random crafting, plus many of my blogging buddies participated last year and had a really good time. I had the advantage of their experience when I put together my list of goals. The main point taken to not be too lofty in what I think I'm capable of accomplishing.
Now that we've just begun our second quarter of activity it seems that a progress report is in order. Let's take a look!
What I've Done
What I'm Doing Next
What I Still Have (Want) To Do
What do you think? Does it seem manageable? Giving it careful consideration I remain optimistic that I'll be able to accomplish everything between now and June. I imagine that my biggest hindrance will be getting involved in projects that aren't on the list. In hindsight I realize that I should have chosen a sweater from Dora's book instead of starting the Marlo cardigan, but I like Marlo and I don't want to abandon her - or frog all the progress I've made!
There you have it! One quarter down, three to go! I'm having a great time working on my goals and seeing the progress that my friends are making. You can check out what they've been up to here.
Pulling my pictures and thoughts together for today's post I'm struggling to find an appropriate opening line or catchy title. Typically I'm not at a loss for words - especially when I'm talking about crochet. Strangely enough, this Tunisian washcloth is a different story. It seems to have left me flat and uninspired. Weird isn't it? I love learning new techniques, and the excitement that goes with beginning a new project. I had all of that when I got started last week, but sadly it seems to have fizzled out. I think the reason is that I didn't really enjoy my first foray into Tunisian Crochet. That's not quite it. It's not that I didn't like it. Let's just say that we're getting to know each other and I'm not sure how close we're ever going to be!
It felt awkward at first - with that big hook wobbling around, and I wasn't sure where to hold on. After a few (okay 8 or 9) rows of the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS) I got a little bit of a grove on. (Notice the book is close by offering reassurance.)
I decided to try the Tunisian Knit Stitch (TKS). And since that was alright I thought what the heck and tried the Tunisian Purl Stitch (TPS). That was hard to do. It took a long time and lots of grumbling to complete two rows. I recovered by creating a pattern with a few more rows of TKS before switching back to the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS). Which is what people usually mean when they refer to the Afghan Stitch.
In addition to not knowing where to put my hands, my work was extremely curly. I significantly loosened my tension on the second half, but as you can see it remained unruly and determined to twist. I thought finishing it off with a SC border might help. It didn't. I know that this is a washcloth and destined to be wet, but I felt compelled to block it into submission. Mostly just to see if I could!
Overall, I liked seeing all those loops on the hook, and it did go quickly in the TSS once I got the hang of it. That said, I'm still spastic with the big hook and it never felt natural to me. Also, I noticed my wrist was sore. I'm not sure if that's because I was holding on so tightly or because I was moving my hand in a strange way! Since this is a washcloth I used cotton. It's absorbent, but not very flexible while you're working with it. The fabric I made is very stiff and the thickness varies greatly with each type of stitch.
What will become of me and Tunisian Crochet? I can't say for sure. I've been considering making a Tunisian Entrelac washcloth as part of my Year of Projects quest. Since it's done with a regular hook I think that it might be easier for me. Other than that, I don't see it being a big part of my future. I am glad that I gave it a try. Now that I'm done I can cross it off my list and move on to the next big thing.
Now if I can only figure out what that is!!
Thanks for stopping by. There's a whole group of us at Come Blog-a-Long on Ravelry taking part in a Year of Projects. I'm going to go see what everyone else is working on this week. Why don't you come with me? It's always a lot of fun! While we're out, let's stop by Nicole's at Frontier Dreams. She hosts a charming bit called Keep Calm and Craft On. Who knows what projects we'll be inspired by?
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
Work is progressing on my Juliana Mod wrap. It was slow going last week as the heat wave we were enduring made work on anything that rests in your lap unbearable. That lead me to search for something light and cotton to work on. Washcloth patterns are plentiful on Ravelry and I popped several into my queue. I decided on this simple star pattern. It's proven a good choice and I'm certain in no time I'll have a collection going.
Keeping the washcloth mojo going, as part of my Year of Projects I'm continuing my lessons in Tunisian Crochet. As with any type of crochet technique there are simple stitches, and complicated multilayer stitches that take lots of practice. I'm still getting the hang of working with the extra long hook, so complicated isn't in my future - yet! Check in on Sunday for my YoP update and I'll tell you all about it!
The fiber theme continues into the world of fiction with the latest knitting mystery from Maggie Seffton, Cast On, Kill Off. This is the tenth installment in the series. Set in Fort Connor, Colorado, the House of Lambspun is the LYS that keeps the varied cast of characters connected. Plans for Megan's wedding are all coming together, until her seamstress is found murdered. Then the gang at Lambspun put down their needles to figure out who-done-it so they can get back to happily ever after. I call these books "mystery lite". They're often more about the relationships than the mystery and so far that seems to be the case here. Easy reading after a long, hot day!
Wednesday is a busy time, with lots of project updates and books to hear about. I hope you'll come along and visit my friends at these great blogs:
Thanks for stopping by! I love it when you leave me comments and let me know that you were here. I always try to pop over an see what you're working on too!
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
I thought it was going to be hard to figure out how to get started with my Year of Projects. Turns out it wasn’t. Here’s what happened. I’ve got quite a bit of cotton in the stash and I want to make washcloths with it. I’m in New England where it’s been in the upper 90s - hazy, hot and humid for way to many days in a row. Small cotton projects are where it’s at. I was searching for patterns on Ravelry and found two for cotton Tunisian Crochet Washcloths. In spite of the heat the light bulb was flashing and I knew that I discovered the first lesson in my year long learning adventure. And that friends is how I came to spend my weekend learning Tunisian Crochet.
I am venturing into uncharted territory, so I began where I always do with something new – I hit the books. A Rainbow of Afghans (Sedgewood Press1989) offers very limited written information, but a good diagram for the basic technique. The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting & Crochet Stitches (Readers Digest 2003) lives up to it’s name with a whole chapter dedicated to the technique. Additionally, it offers 39 pattern variations. 39! Until yesterday I was only aware of one!
Wondering what it’s all about? Me too! Here’s what I found out:
Tunisian Crochet is often referred to as the Afghan Stitch (which explains why I thought there was one pattern/stitch!). It’s a technique that is worked on a special hook that looks like a cross between a crochet hook and a knitting needle. The hooks are available in the same circumferences used in traditional crochet. Why the long hooks? Because you need it to hold the loops you create on the forward half of the row before you work them off on the return half. Confused? Don’t worry, keep reading and I’ll explain.
Typically in crochet, fabric is created by working a row of stitches, turning the piece over then working another row of stitches. Repeat until desired length. In Tunisian Crochet, each row is done in two parts. Forward and Return. Forward is done working right to left and pulling loops or stitches onto the hook. (I imagine that this might be what it’s like to cast on in knitting, but since I’ve never done it, it’s pure speculation!). On the Return, the loops are worked off the hook going left to right. The fabric is created without turning so the right (correct) side always faces you. There is a noticeable difference between the sides – unlike traditional crochet which makes a fabric that is basically reversible.
The fabric produced can be dense and thick. The Sourcebook recommends that you use a hook at least 2 sizes larger than what you ordinarily use based on your yarn choice. I’m using worsted weight (4) cotton which means they suggest I use a J hook. I don’t have a J hook. I have a G hook, and for better or worse – that’s what I’m using. For the purpose of my washcloth I think I’ll be okay.
Basic Tunisian fabric is made using the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS), and the Basic Return (BR). When you see a reference to the Afghan Stitch, this is what they mean. The pattern stitches are worked using the same Forward and Return technique with variations on how you create and remove the loops. It seems like sound advice that you become familiar with the basic Tunisian fabric before moving onto the pattern stitches.
Now that I’m comfortable with my understanding of the world of Tunisian crochet, it’s time for the yarn and hook to meet. Join me next time when I put the basics to work and (hopefully) I’ll have a washcloth to show you!
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read with love!
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My name is Robin. I am a wife, mother and strong believer in the power of faith. I'm a maker, a crafter and an artist. I love exploring new mediums and sharing my adventures with you.
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