Saturday, August 26, 2017

5 Reasons to Make a Crochet Garment

I'm really excited to be kicking off the Back To School Sweater Blog Hop with this first blog post in the series. Helen and I have had a super response so far from fellow crocheters who are planning to join us in the crochetalong starting on the 16th of September. But for those who are hesitating....and need that extra bit of persuasion here's my top 5 list of reasons to make a crochet garment.

1 Master new crochet skills
Making a garment that fits is, in my mind, one of the more advanced crochet projects you can undertake. There's just more involved with this kind of project including taking body measurements and making gauge calculations. You can make blankets and scarfs without ever calculating gauge - sort of winging it and end up playing yarn chicken and win or have to buy an extra ball. We've all done it. But with a garment it just won't fit if you don't calculate gauge. But please don't feel daunted by this because our blog hop is aimed at helping you to master these skills. Joanne and Kat from the Crochet Project will cover measurements and gauge in their blog post on 16th of September and Sam of Sing a Simple Melody will cover alterations in her blog post a week after that.  You will be ready!

2 You have enough shawls, honestly you do!

You have made enough shawls for yourself as well as other crochet-worthy family and friends. Be honest with yourself -  do you need another shawl? I really love making shawls and I'm not going to stop anytime soon but if I am really truthful, and you should be too, it's time for another type of project.

3 Make a handmade wardrobe
A handmade wardrobe has been very on trend in recent years. My sewing skills are not the best but I can join these hipsters with my lovingly crocheted handmade sweater. Now it's fashionable to have a more sustainable wardrobe. We buy fewer items and wear garments that last a long time. This suits me because I've never really been very fashionable, I don't like clothes shopping but I do like yarn shopping and now I get to be cool for the first time with my crochet garment.

4 To show off
You are skillful enough in your craft to do this. Wear your crochet garment and own those skills. Enjoy the compliments when people ask you "Did you make that?" and you can answer with pride "Well, yes I did!" And if you've going to a yarn event it's almost obligatory to wear something that you made. The Rhinebeck New York Sheep and Wool Festival in October even has a name for the sweater you make to wear at their event "The Rhinebeck Sweater". I'd forgotten all about this but in our Ravelry group we have a crocheter who is making a garment specifically to show off at Rhinebeck! 

5 A crochet garment is calling you
This happens to me quite often (it happens with yarn as well). I see a crochet garment and I feel totally compelled to make it. I keep thinking about it and I just have to give in to the call. If you don't currently have a garment in your favorites list, we have gathered together some patterns in a bundle on Ravelry for you. Check it out. Perhaps one of the garments is calling you....

Our next stop on the blog hop, one week today on 2nd September, will be prolific crocheter Jo or  @JoJoTwinkleToes as she is known on Instagram writing on her blog about current trends, choosing a style to suit you and designers to check out. Plenty of inspiration is coming your way! 

Please do join us in the Ravelry chatter thread hosted in the Crochet Circle Podcast group which is become rather lively and if you're an Instagram fan we're using #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL We start three weeks today!!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Book Review - Make Money Teaching Crochet

I am a huge fan of Marie Segares. She's a crochet and knitting teacher, designer, blogger at Underground Crafter and podcaster living in New York. Her podcast is the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show and the episodes are packed with useful information about how to run your yarn business.  When I was figuring out how to write and publish my first crochet pattern her mini series was invaluable. I'm a member of the Facebook group that is linked with the Show and when she asked for reviews for her book  "Make Money Teaching Crochet: Launch Your Business, Increase Your Side Income, Reach More Students"  I was only too happy to do so, having bought it when it first came out last summer.

The book is a extremely good hands-on guide to how to develop a part-time business teaching crochet. It would be perfect if you're just starting out and it will definitely be useful if you're already a teacher wanting to expand your business and make more money.

The book is wonderfully comprehensive and covers a wide range of essential topics in five sections: goal setting, business basics, marketing strategies, class preparation and teaching resources. Marie presents the information with all the options and then you work out how your own business is going to operate by filling in worksheets. The book is packed with so many good tips and valuable information. That's what Marie does well!

I found the first section on goal setting extremely useful and working through Marie's guiding questions really helped to clarify my next steps in teaching. I've been teaching just over three years now and this book inspired me to apply to teach at my very first Fiber Fest this Summer. Business basics covering business structure, payment, pricing and tax is aimed at those starting out.  Marketing strategies is a really good section which all teachers would learn from. The quick marketing 101 overview is useful and I really liked the worksheet on how to figure out your competitive advantage. It's a book to return to over time because there is so much information in here. I've only really touched a few things here that I liked but there were many more! I'm very big picture in the way see things and  operate and this book fills in all the details for me, which is really what I need.  

For more information on how to buy the book visit Marie's Creative Yarn Entrepreneur website.  And Marie has very kindly offered to provide a copy of the ebook version as a giveaway so just message me on your preferred social media channel within the next week (before midnight on August 26th ). You can be anywhere in the world! I'm on Instagram, Twitter, Ravelry and Facebook as Crafty Escapism and I'll pick one person at random to receive this book! Good luck and have a wonderful yarn filled week y'all.

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Spinning at the Scottish Crannog Center

Each summer I take my kids back to the UK to visit family and friends, leaving my hubby behind with the dog. I do enjoy being a tourist and this year, while staying with my folks in Perthshire, we visited the Scottish Crannog Center. I didn't know very much about this place before our visit, thinking Crannog was the name of a place rather than an actual thing but seeing a real Scottish loch appealed to me - the center is based at the beautiful Loch Tay.

I now know that a crannog is a man made dwelling built on water. They have been around for 5000 years in Scotland and were still being build and lived in in the 17th century. There are hundreds of unexplored crannogs in Scotland and we had a guided tour of a replica of a 2,500 year old crannog that had been discovered in the 1990s submerged in Loch Tay. Underground archeology has revealed how these early Iron Age people lived and what technologies they used in their everyday life. And this is when it got even more fascinating for me!

Weaving and spinning were two of the technologies we were able to have a go at in the hands on second part of our tour. I bought a drop spindle at Houston Fiber Fest encouraged by my spinning and weaving friends and it has languished with my yarn collection but I was able to have a go! The hat and cloak were not my own - the center provided them because it was a little chilly on the loch!

I was awful at spinning only managing a few centimeters before the yarn split but I am not disheartened. My lovely crafty friend Catherine Peacher, @Craftingoasisbykat on Instagram, has provided me with a link to a helpful video Basic Drop Spindle Tutorial by MeganERiskTutorials and I got a book out from the library to help me too - Spinning and Dyeing Yarn by Ashley Martineau. I will report back on my progress at a later date. I'd love to know if you've had a go at spinning or if you are indeed proficient! 

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review of Modern Tapestry Crochet

I was sent a copy of Modern Tapestry Crochet by Alessandra Hayden of Just be Happy Crochet from the publisher for this review.They enjoyed my recent review of Rohn Strong's new book Step into Crochet and now I'm on their list of reviewers. How cool is that? I get to pick the titles that appeal to me which is ideal because I wouldn't really like to write a negative review. And I was actually going to buy Modern Tapestry Crochet because I enjoy learning about techniques and some of the projects looked gorgeous. Just look at the colorwork of the cowl on the front cover!

I was hoping to learn how to improve the neatness of my colorwork with some tips on tapestry crochet technique and I was not disappointed. There are 12 pages on technique and now I know the secret of how to make everything line up really neatly. I'm a teacher so these are the kinds of questions I've been asked. 

I felt I should make at least one project from the book before writing the review. I chose a two color design - the Evergreen Country Cowl. I was staying at my parents in Perthshire in Scotland with limited shopping venues or opportunities to escape but I managed to get to the amazing Fluph yarn store in Dundee and buy the owner the lovely Leona's very own hand-dyed yarn, Rusty Ferret, to make my cowl. The pattern called for aran weight yarn but Rusty Ferret didn't come in aran weight so I bought chunky weight instead and guestimated how much yardage I needed. Back at my parents' house I checked my tension and fiddled around with the chart a little to make it work. What a delight to be working in heavier yarn than fingering for a change and even though I had to have a couple of goes at the joins and messed up my chart a few times the project was complete within two days. I loved how quickly it worked up and following the charts and the squishiness of the yarn made it a very pleasurable crocheting experience! Here's my 13 year old wearing the cowl - the colors are more her than me.

There is a good range of patterns all in aran weight yarn - 2 scarfs, 2 cowls, a shawl, 4 hats (two of them slouches), a headband, 2 throws, 2 bags, a clutch, 2 mittens, slippers and socks. There is something for everyone. I'd definitely say the patterns would appeal to younger crocheters and/or would make a good holiday gift for teens and young adults. In Texas we call Christmas "holiday".The colorwork and geometric designs are really on trend. The book and patterns aren't yet on Ravelry but the wonderful Kathryn Vercillo, who I first heard about this book from, has also written a review of the book here with a few more of projects photos for you to peruse! I've picked out my next project already! Have a wonderful week everyone!!

Listen to the Audio Podcast