Sunday, October 30, 2016

Crochet Podcast Roundup

I love, love, love listening to podcasts. I haven't shared any of these with you for a while so here's a little roundup of recent crochet podcasts for your listening pleasure.


I just discovered a super new-to-me crochet podcast from Potter and Bloom which started back in May this year. Late to the party again! I am currently binge-watching these video podcasts. I spotted the #crochetgirlgang hashtag on Instagram a while back and Emma Potter, the podcaster, is the head honcho of this movement. How cool! She's a freelance crochet designer, maker and teacher. Emma has great taste and is a little cheeky in a very good way. 

And I found another fantastic new crochet video podcast Crochet Cakes which started in June. Clarisabeth is a super sweet crocheter who lives in tropical Puerto Rico. She likes to crochet and bake hence the name Crochet Cakes. I am so enjoying seeing what she makes because we also have hot weather here in Houston. When we moved here from the UK four years it was a real issue wondering what people crocheted and knitted in hotter climates.

And of course I continue to listen to the truly marvellous monthly Crochet Circle podcast which I reviewed on this blog back in May. I just love listening to the always entertaining Lynne and Fay. They are hilarious and highly interesting ladies. 

And while I'm at it here are some one-off crochet podcasts which I've enjoyed in recent months:

Vickie Howell, knitter, crochet and craft designer based in Austin, Texas interviewed Twinkie Chan on her podcast Craft-ish. Twinkie is a crochet food designer - isn't that the best job title EVER? You must have seen her designs! My most favorite recent design of hers is the Giant Donut Floor Pouf. It's it great?

Kara Gott Warner, self-described Obsessed Knitter, Podcaster, Maker and Mindfulness Junkie, in her Power Purls podcast which is usually focused on knitting has recently interviewed two crochet designer greats. Yay! You don't want to miss these: Dora Ohrenstein and Robyn Chachula

Well, that should keep you going for a while!! If you've heard/watched any other great crochet podcasts recently I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mainly hooking crochet borders

Recently I have been hooking crochet borders for a program that I taught earlier this month at my local knitting guild: Houston Knit at Night for the Chicks with Stix chapter. There were 20 odd ladies - the largest number I have taught in one go but as I reminded myself they were all learning the same thing. My regular weekly workshop involves helping up to 12 students with their own specific requirement on the individual crochet (or knitting!) project that they are working on. And I also teach one-to-one lessons.

I did A LOT of preparation for the program. As well as watching Edie Eckman's wonderful Craftsy class on borders (reviewed here on this blog), I made samples, wrote a handout and just had to buy three books on borders: 

My favorite was probably the book by Edie Eckman. I like the way she provides border design charts as both horizontal borders as well as actually going around the corner. Edie doesn't leave you guessing what to do. Kristin Omdahl has a very modern take on borders and edges in her book and unlike the other two has project patterns which include the featured edgings. One of these is the incredible Memphis Bag which I am just going to have to make. It's gorgeous! Linda Schapper's book contains the largest number of borders of the three and I love how Linda categorizes her borders into different types. If I wanted a shell border I could look through dozens of patterns to find the one I like best.

For my samples I picked out single color borders from my new books, trying to show a range of different types of stitches (picot, shell, post stitch, bobble etc.). I also prepared square samples of simple border stitches on knitted squares: single crochet, picot, shell and crab stitch.

I gave the ladies prep work too: to bring a knitted square to add a crochet border to. I was impressed that almost everyone had actually done their homework and arrived with their squares ready to learn.  By the end of session I was admiring many pretty shell borders. Marvellous!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hill Country Yarn Crawl to my nearest store

On Thursday this week I travelled with two of my Yak & Yarn group friends to our nearest Hill Country Yarn Crawl participating store: WC Mercantile in Navasota, Texas. I had to wear my cowboy boots of course and take my overlay crochet Peacock Tail bag which I've been showing off a lot lately.

The staff were lovely and the store spacious with lots and lots of wonderful yarn to touch, much of it local. I put my name down for a door prize, picked up my two exclusive patterns: the knitted Lampasa Cowl, crocheted "Balcones Escarfment" and started squishing... As I type this I've just received messages in my Ravelry account for the patterns so I have hard copies AND they are also now in my library. Thank you SuperSteph!

I was so happy with my haul! I bought two skeins of Gussie by Austiana  (merino/silk light fingering weight, top left). This was a local featured crawl yarn with 25% off. Along the bottom of the photo are my three skeins of Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic Lite mercerized cotton in Christmas colors to make overlay crochet stars. My friend Erin who is fantastic at working out which colors go together helped me chose. And finally I couldn't resist Wild and Wooly Woolworks and Mountain Colors Bearfoot sock yarn. Crochet socks are ALWAYS a good thing.

Lunch was a yummy chicken sandwich at the Java Hot Spot CafĂ© and we visited Martha's Bloomers Garden Store and Tea Room too. I didn't even get my crochet hook out of my bag despite being a passenger - far too much chat! And we timed our road trip to perfection making it back to Houston for kids finishing school. Can't wait to get started with my new yarn!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A new technique - Tunisian Simple Entrelac

I'm always trying out new crochet techniques. It's one of my favorite things. And last week I decided to have a go at Tunisian Simple Entrelac stitch. There is a written description and a chart in my favorite crochet bible: The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by Margaret Hubert I am usually pretty good at reading written patterns and charts don't freak me out either but this stitch had me totally flummoxed. After an hour or so of trying to figure it out I went to google for a video. Mikey of the Crochet Crowd has a extremely good one on this technique: How to Tunsian Crochet - Entrelac Blankets in Rows and this did the trick. I was once more diving into my donated yarn stash and here's my rather seasonal charity blanket. It's all about the pumpkins right now in Texas.

I found making these cute little textured squares incredibly absorbing. I've had a little go at Tunisian before but I didn't fall in love with the technique. It was one of the required swatches when I took my second Craft Yarn Council certificate back in late 2014/early 2015. I recall taking the longest time to figure out what to do with the edges of my swatch. I'm not quite sure what I was doing. I just wasn't happy and ripped it out half a dozen times. I did like the texture of the completed swatch a lot though when I finally got there.

Three things that I now know about Tunisian Simple Entrelac stitch are:
  • You can use a standard crochet hook rather than a Tunisian hook for entrelac since you only have at most 7 loops on your hook (well for a six stitch wide square).
  • You must chain the number of stitches you want for the whole width of your blanket before you get started.
  • You use a crochet hook two sizes larger for Tunisian crochet than a standard crochet hook because the resulting fabric is extremely dense.

There is an amazingly gorgeous top I might try now I that have mastered entrelac technique: Yoga Top by Elena Fedotova  Take a look at it. I'm sure you may well be tempted too!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Book Review of Indispensable Stitch Collection for Crocheters

This summer I was bitten by the crochetalong bug and took part in three CALS, one after the other. CAL #2 was an interlocking crochet scarf designed by Maria Segares for the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) Summer CAL.

Many CALs have prizes, chosen randomly from those who complete the project and post a photo of it. And I was absolutely stunned to find out that I was a winner. There were several prizes for the CGOA CAL and I won Melissa Leapman's Indispensable Stitch Collection for Crocheters 200 Stitch Patterns in Words and Symbols. If you check out my blog post where I wrote about the CGOA CAL Five Reasons to Join a CAL this was the prize that I wanted most.

I firmly believe that everyone who crochets should own a stitch dictionary. It's an essential resource if you're a designer. And even if you're only getting to grips with basic crochet stitches this book would be perfect for expanding your crochet skills.

Each stitch pattern is described in written and charted form and accompanied by an appealing brightly-colored crochet sample. Some of the stitch designs are familiar, many are unique to this book and some just jump out at me from the page saying "make me now!" I know this is going to be a book that I return to again and again.

There is a wide range of stitch designs to appeal to crocheters of all skill levels. The stitches aren't rated by difficulty but you generally figure this out by looking at the written pattern, specifically by looking at how many words there are in each row and the number of rows there are in total. The Stitch Collection is grouped into: Simple Solid Patterns, Shell and Fan Stitch Patterns, Openwork and Lace Patterns, Textured Patterns, Colorwork Patterns and Edgings. Reversible patterns are helpfully highlighted with a special symbol if you're making a project where you'd see both sides. The resources section includes super information on abbreviations, a glossary of symbols, tips on reading crochet charts and diagrams of how to do basic stitches and stitch variations.

Melissa suggests trying out the patterns you like by making six inch squares and in the process creating an assortment of spa washcloths or useful dishcloths: the perfect gifts with holiday time approaching. I'm going to get hooking right now!