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Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with Stacey live during my show 12 Questions with Martiel about her book, creativity and life as an artist. You can watch the entire video anytime online, just click to go!
Stacey was also gracious to share some free stuff with us during the show. Visit her site for all the goodies and explore on your own or check out the list below for an itemized list.
Visit Stacey’s Website, http://www.freshstitches.com/
Like the critters from the book, try these out!
I’d like to thank Stacey for taking the time to visit with me during this live interview. We had a great time and I hope you enjoy learning about her book and what makes her stay creative.
See you next month for another author interview!
Coming Next Month!
Join me for my show 12 Questions with Martiel during Tuesday Schmoozeday on Nov. 13, 2012 for an interview with author Lisa Solomon of “Knot, Thread, Stitch”. We are going to have an interview and a DEMO.
Every once in a while, we are lucky enough to witness a small revolution going on in the world. And I think I just saw one land on my desk.
If you were to ask me, “What do you think of when you hear ‘Leisure Arts’?”… I would say, “Books about: crocheting 24 hour baby afghans, learning to crochet in 10 minutes and making doilies.” (a quick glance at their website confirms my associations). Leisure Arts is known as the publishing company that makes the booklets that appear in Big Box craft stores.
Let’s jet back to the year 2002. This publishing philosophy came to be as a reflection of a more general divide between Big Box stores (Jo-Ann’s, Hobby Lobby, Michaels) and LYSs (Local Yarn Stores): Big Box stores carried cheap (i.e. icky) yarns and LYSs carried high-end, luxury yarns.
Fast forward a decade to 2012… the times, they are a-changin’! The gulf between Big Box stores and LYSs is narrowing. Lion Brand (a leader in the Big Box yarn-world) now produces the LB Collection: a line of fine yarns only available online and in it’s LYS-like Studio Store. Debbie Stoller is just one big-name designer who has put her name on a line of reasonably priced, high-quality yarn (Stitch Nation) available at Big Box Stores. And on the other hand, luxury brands have developed reasonably-priced acrylic and machine washable yarns that match the high standards expected by LYS customers and owners (think Berroco Comfort and Cascade Superwash).
This slow fuzz-i-fication (yes, that’s a technical term) of the boundaries between Big Box stores and LYSs shows us one thing: customers are no longer satisfied with scratchy yarn, frumpy clothing patterns and limited choices.
Not everyone in the US is a quick car trip away from an LYS (For instance, my mom lives in Kansas and is more than an hour away from an LYS). But, nowadays, even folks out in farmland can hop on the internet, and drool over fabulous pattern on Ravelry and yearn for oh-so-soft merino. The increased awareness of amazing patterns & yarns has lead to a boom in online LYSs (like WEBS and Jimmy Beans Wool), but nothing can replace touching the yarn and seeing it in person. So, Big Box stores have incentive to make yarns and books available to this new breed of demanding customer.
And so, back to Leisure Arts. To be a successful, on-trend publishing company… they can no longer simply publish booklets for Granny Square blankets. They’ve gotta step it up. It seems like they’ve heard the call, and published Urban Edge.
Urban Edge (if you haven’t already gathered) is published by Leisure Arts… and is a fabulous deviation from the company’s stereotype.
The book is written by the Shannon Mullet-Bowlsby from ShibaGuyz, and features patterns for crocheted garments inspired by urban life. The designs are innovative, and the book includes patterns for a hoodie, a waterfall cardigan (I’m seeing those everywhere!) and a saucy cocktail dress:
The stitch patterns included are also guaranteed to keep a crocheter’s interest: cables, amazingly interesting stitch patterns (did you see the cover garment?) and fun colorwork.
As a crocheter, I’ve felt particularly entrenched in the divide I discussed at the beginning of this post. There’s a stereotype that crocheters only like cheap yarn and they only shop in Big Box stores. To counter this perception, I’ve met crocheters that would never dare step foot in Jo-Ann’s, for fear they would be viewed as perpetuating this awful perception.
But there’s a beautiful middle ground that accepts the roles of both types of shops (and yarns) in the world. I was delighted to see that Shannon selected yarns from both sides of the divide when making the samples in this book. You’ll see garments crocheted from Malabrigo and Takhi, but also yarns made by Caron. It’s about finding the right yarn that works for your project.
As a designer, I couldn’t agree with Shannon’s message more: he has created beautiful designs, and he wants to help you make them! It doesn’t matter where you live! He wants you to make a beautiful garment that you’ll adore, using the yarns available to you.
Rock on, Shannon!
The designs are beautiful. There are a few other features that sets this book apart:
Urban Edge is a fabulous book with tremendously inventive crochet designs. While there are patterns accessible to all skill levels, those with a daring spirit will be kept on their toes with adventurous stitch patterns in some garments.
Kudos to Shannon. And kudos to Leisure Arts. Great job.
I’m a newbie to crocheting with wire, so I was excited to get my hands on Crochet Wire Jewelry!
This is a beautifully-composed book with lovely projects and a medium-sized (but contains everything you need!) introduction.
Each crochet stitch that you’ll need to use is fully illustrated at the start of the book, so if you’re adventurous, you could use the patterns in this book without having crocheted before!
The introduction also contains fabulous tips on crocheting with wire… since it’s a completely different material from yarn. Reading the tips definitely prepared me for having a lovely-looking finished piece!
There are a wide variety of projects in this book: rings, broaches, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and even a belt and handbag!
The projects in this book have a modern feel, and quite a few could easily slip into your everyday wardrobe.
There are no difficulty levels listed in the book, but the majority of projects seem to use single or double crochet and would be appropriate for an advanced beginner. Experienced crocheters may not find the actual stitches challenging, but will enjoy working on projects with a novel medium like wire.
I think this is a lovely book, and would recommend it to anyone interested in getting started with wire crocheting. The highlights are:
I don’t have a lot to complain about, but there were a couple of (minor) downsides:
So, if you’re interested in crocheting with wire, give Crochet Wire Jewelry a try!
Have you heard of the Knook (pronounced ‘nook’)? It’s a very clever hook/technique that allows you to form a fabric that looks like knitting by using a special crochet hook.
While it’s a very interesting idea, it requires learning new stitches (not crochet stitches or knit stitches), so isn’t exactly a short cut for learning to knit. I’ll show you how knooking is done, then chat about the pros and cons, so you can decide whether you’d want to learn to knook, or would rather just learn to knit.
The knook is a crochet hook with an eye at the non-hook end (exactly like a locker hook, if you’re familiar with one) accompanied by a nylon cord. I haven’t seen knooks for sale alone in the store, so you’re probably best off grabbing The Knook Beginner Set, which comes with a variety of hooks, cords and a beginners book. Videos about how to knook are available on the Leisure Arts Website, and they’re pretty clear and easy to follow.
You begin knooking by threading the cord into the eye in the hook. The first row is done by crocheting a single chain, nothing tricky!
To Knook the first row, you insert your hook into the chain stitches and pick up your working yarn… similar to how you would work in Tunesian Crochet. Then, you slip all of your loops onto the cord:
To continue, you use the hook to pick up a new row of stitches, inserting the hook into the loops that are now held on the cord. Whether you make knit or purl stitches depends on which way you wrap the yarn around the hook.
The fabric looks pretty impressively like a knit fabric!
The advertisement is true: you can accomplish a fabric that looks like a knit fabric by using only the knook (crochet hook + cord). For crocheters, there are some big advantages:
There’s no doubt that it’s a clever tool, but there are some downsides to learning knooking, especially if your goal is to make knitted items that you’ll see in patterns:
I’m going to start with an interesting statistic that I’ve gathered after years of teaching knitting and crochet. Knitters, when first learning crochet, typically do no better than the rest of the novice crocheters. (sorry, knitters!) However, crocheters, when learning to knit, typically learn much faster than newbie knitters!
Crocheters already know how to tension the yarn, hold things in their hands, and all they really need to learn (in order to knit) is how to pass a stitch from one needle to another. In my experience, with a good teacher and when learning to knit continental (i.e. holding the yarn in the left hand, which is how a crocheter holds it when crocheting), crocheters have a fairly easy time learning to knit.
So, if you’re deciding whether to learn to knook, it’s important to think about your goals. Do you want to knit socks? Learn to knit. Do you want to knit sweaters? Learn to knit. Do you just love the look of knitted fabric and want to make small projects? Maybe knooking is for you.
One main factor is that the knook is a product manufactured by one company… so you only have one hook style available to you and a limited selection of pattern books. Both crocheting and knitting have available lots of different hooks/needles to suit your particular style, and patterns made my thousands of designers. In order to invest time in learning to knook, you’ll have to be sure that you’re happy being limited to the options available.
I have spoken with some people who love that the action uses a crochet hook, and much prefer knooking over learning to knit. Wonderful! I’m happy whenever someone finds what works for them!
But if you have a hankering to knit… I’d recommend giving knitting a try!
Today I’m reviewing a stitch dictionary: Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia.
Before I start the review, I want to take a moment to clarify what makes a stitch dictionary different from your usual ‘crochet book’. Stitch dictionaries are collections of crochet (or knitting) stitches, motifs and edgings that you can use as the foundation for whatever item you’d like to make. They aren’t intended to tell you how to crochet an afghan- but if you know the basics of making an afghan, then you’re going to find some lovely stitches that you can use.
Many crocheters will have a stitch dictionary on their shelf as a reference guide and inspiration. Once you are familiar with the basics of crocheting, a stitch dictionary is a fabulous tool to help you design and modify projects. Is your triangle shawl looking a little drab? Check out the edgings section and select a great lace pattern.
I just wanted to clarify about what this book is intended to be… if you’re looking for a hat pattern, this isn’t the book for you!
Crochet Stitches is a fairly comprehensive stitch dictionary. It contains over 300 stitch patterns (combinations of basic stitches to make an interesting fabric), edgings and motifs (squares and other shapes that you would assemble into a larger piece).
This book covers a wide range of stitches, including:
Each stitch pattern/motif is written in standard crochet instructions, as well as charted.
The charts are a fabulous feature of this book. With complicated stitch patterns, the chart can often be easier to read/visualize than the written instructions, so it’s a real boon that both are included.
The book also includes ‘tips’ throughout the book that are tremendously helpful while crocheting.
Robyn Chachula’s Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia includes a number of stitch patterns and motifs, including non-traditional and Tunisian stitches that don’t appear in most dictionaries.
Each stitch pattern includes a photo, a description of when the pattern would be advantageous to use, written instructions and a crochet chart.
The book includes no additional illustrations. There is a page of stitch descriptions (that will tell you how to do the Tunisian Purl Stitch, for example), but these are simple descriptions, and unlikely to be adequate for most people to learn the stitch the first time. So, you may need to use the book in conjunction with another resource that with more stitch illustrations.
I think this book is a great resource… and I definitely find it inspiring! I recommend it to anyone looking for a comprehensive stitch dictionary!
I’ve never crocheted jewelry before, so I was excited to get my hands on a copy of Crochet Jewelry: 35 Fantastic Pieces of Jewelry to Make & Wear! Guilty confession: I’ve never even crocheted with beads before!
Just from my first flick through the book, I knew I’d like Crochet Jewelry. It’s not just a collection of patterns- it’s a book with a hefty introduction that teaches you the basics of crocheting and wire-working, followed by 35 beautiful patterns.
The crochet instructions are comprehensive enough that you could crochet the projects in the book without ever crocheting before… although crochet experience is no doubt helpful!
There are also introductory sections on wire and beading, which I (as a crocheter) found very helpful. By reading these sections, I was able to get an understanding of the materials so that I felt comfortable making substitutions in the projects.
The projects are quite varied: earrings, necklaces and bracelets, made by crocheting with wire, crocheting with textured yarns, adding beads and every combination thereof. So, even if you can’t find wire locally (or it just hurts your hands), there’s something for you.
You know I love doing a project from the books I review! I tackled the ‘Amethyst and Bead Necklace’, a great project for a beginner. It uses only chain stitches, with seed beads and non-seed beads applied along the chain. Here’s how it turned out:
What do you think? I couldn’t find the same gauge wire (in fact, all the store had was black wire… teach me to go shopping on the third day of a huge sale!), and I preferred the pretty blue teardrop beads to the Amethyst chips used in the pattern.
But, I love the look! And I think that’s what’s great about the patterns in this book… change the bead colors, and it’s like you have a whole new piece!
I really like this book, and would happily recommend it to anyone interested in getting started crocheting jewelry. I think it’s appropriate for crochet novices as well as those with crochet experience, but new to beading/wirework. I like the book because:
I don’t have a lot to complain about, but there were a couple of (minor) downsides:
So, if you’re interested in starting crocheting jewelry, check out Crochet Jewelry- I think you’ll like it!
Click the book to purchase this title from the publisher.
First I have to say that it is with some trepidation that I approached this book as I am not a knitter. In fact, my experience with knitting began and ended in the seventh grade with a horror of a home economics teacher that told my mother at the end of the year that it was her first year teaching and that it would be her last because of me.
Not a good experience for either of us, lol. Between my refusal to hold knitting needles properly (I’m left-handed although they tried to fix that) and my use of butter knives to weigh down patterns when cutting them out ( which I still do and totally had to laugh when someone came out with commercial weights for the same purpose) we didn’t see eye to eye.
38 years later I was giving the size 3 knitting needles the fish-eye in my kitchen but no one grows without getting past their prejudices so I plunged in.
The instructions in the book are clear and I actually found that with the little fragments of what I recalled I was able to cast on and get going fairly quickly. I did have to refer to some video tutorials on you tube because, as I’ve said, I’m left-handed. There are some wonderful free video tuts for getting started with left-handed knitting and I was stitching away in no time.
However, understanding the basics and applying them are two different things. I stitched merrily away and soon ended up with what looked like bad fishnets because I was dropping stitches all over the place. I need practice.
Since I am what I consider a knitting newbie I would say that you could learn to knit with the instructions in this book. I have, although I’ve switched over to sock yarn. I am still using the size three needles. I like little tools.
So, although the sterling silver cuff bracelet pictured is based on the patterns in this book I have to admit I cheated – it’s crocheted.
The wire is 28 gauge sterling silver and the beads are Magatama beads by Miyuki in three different colorways. Magatamas are wonderful. Think tiny raindrop shaped beads with wonderful shine. The clasp is a slider and is also sterling silver that I found several years ago at my local bead shop and was perfect for this project. See? You really do use the stuff from your stash.
There are four patterns in the book that utilize yarn and the rest are wire based. While I used 28 gauge and am happy with the results the recommended gauge for this pattern was 32. I do plan to experiment with some color wire and even C-lon and waxed irish linen as time permits. I’m a fiber junkie and this is a fun departure from micro macrame, weaving, and stringing.
The book starts out with sections dedicated to descriptions of various bead types, tools, and materials. From there it moves into a section with excellent step by step pictures on how to cast on, knit, purl, finish off and various basic stitch patterns. The properties of certain patterns (i.e. – stockinettes tendency to roll and exploiting this property in jewelry design) are discussed. There are numerous patterns for bracelets, necklaces, and earrings and for the more advanced a sweet little bag made with Aran cotton yarn.
I have enjoyed working with this book and I think you will too. Especially if you are a knitter you really should experiment with wire and jewelry making. I think an accomplished knitter well versed in the variety of patterns out there could get the basics of working with wire from this book and create some exquisite pieces. The possibilities are endless!
Until next time, happy crafting!
You can purchase this book from the publisher: http://www.larkcrafts.com/bookstore/?isbn=9781600593376
I admit defeat.
I really wanted to do this. Really. I was lusting after this little coin purse which is one of the early projects in the book:
And lest you think I am some sort of thread crochet slouch (and to give you an idea of difficulty level) I do know my way around thread crochet. Here is a down and dirty picture of a filet crochet miser purse I just finished.
FREE! If you will leave a comment on this post and make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you I will send you this miser purse (after it’s been blocked of course)!
Drawing will be held on this Saturday, September 19, 2011. Winner will be announced here and via email.
It hasn’t been blocked yet so it’s not perfect but as you can see from the two pictures below the strings leading up to the bone ring interlock with the two sides of the crochet and through the flap so that when you pull on the bone ring the cords pull the closure tightly shut and no coins, etc., can escape. It’s a victorian era crochet design as is tapestry bead crochet. So yeah, I know my way around a crochet needle and victorian patterns. I entered into this with my usual tenacious “No problem, I can do anything” mentality. I was saying on a lampworking forum where I hang out today that my best quality is tenacity, that I’m like a dog with a bone. It’s rare for me to throw in the towel but I really had no choice here.
For your giggling enjoyment, here is my sample of tapestry bead crochet, LOL:
The author says in the instructions that the initial crochet chain will curl and should be ironed so that when you join to make your circle you won’t have to fight with the thread. I ironed. I say even IF you iron as soon as you start to crochet it begins to curl again (as you can see) and boy, does it curl. I took the photo after I uncurled it. Then there is the fact that you have to string the beads on (you can see that on the left side of the photo) in sections of five or so rows at a time in the order they will be crocheted to form the pattern AND you must string on both sides of the project so really you are stringing on 10 rows at a time. Each row has 142 beads x 5 = 710 beads to string on.
But wait, there’s more.
As hard as this is to get started you will have at least 5 sections like this (restart 5 times, ugh!) to complete and then you have to sew them together to form the carryall.
My hats off to Ann Benson and all the victorian ladies back in the day because I have to say IMHO this is crazymaking.
I restarted 5 times and finally gave up last night in disgust, mostly with myself because I could not only not master this, I couldn’t even get a good running start.
So what’s the problem?
I think, for me at least, it’s the thread. These projects call for #12 crochet thread, not the easiest animal on the planet to locate in the first place and certainly not something I will ever crochet with again because of the curly factor. OTOH, I love to embroider and I think this thread would be lovely for that. Waste not, want not.
I may, at some future point, revisit the concepts here with size 10 (bedspread weight) crochet cotton which understands me and is my friend.
The book itself with the accompanying DVD are wonderfully made, the photos are clear and beautiful, the instructions are concise and well laid out. If you don’t understand how to proceed you can view the DVD and it will become immediately clear.
Excellent publication with excellent instruction, graphs, layout, and video assistance. It’s not that I don’t understand how to do bead tapestry crochet, I just can’t.
You mileage certainly may and probably will vary.
Until next time!