Sunday, August 28, 2016

Yak and Yarn is back

My Yak and Yarn group resumes it's meetups this week after a big summer break. I have so missed these sweet crafting friends. In June we moved our daytime meet up to the yarn store where I teach. Our coffee shop venue had become far too busy during the day. I finally decided a change was due after hearing that one of our group had driven around the parking lot three times and then returned home. The back room at Nimblefingers is a peaceful and welcoming space surrounded by beautiful yarn. Aaaaahh, what better? Bliss!


I designed a sampler crochet baby blanket and distributed patterns modified for two different yarn weights before we broke up for summer. I do tend to give myself these self-imposed deadlines. So we will see how everyone is getting on with these! They are my test crocheters and I'm interested to hear their feedback. I haven't yet completed joining my nine sampler blanket squares or decided on a suitable edging but I must do this before the meeting. I know I will be presented with several more gorgeous baby blankets for our charity cause and as the fearless leader of the group I need to keep up!

I had such fun choosing which nine stitch patterns to use in my sampler blanket. One of the great joys of crochet is the huge number of stitch pattern possibilities. It's impossible to ever get bored. I selected patterns from two of my favorite resource books: The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by Margaret Hubert and The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs by Linda P. Schapper.

My criteria was that they had to have a similar amount of open space to match, be suitable for advanced beginners, have a small number of repeats to easily convert the pattern from worsted to sport weight yarn and have straight edges all the way around for easy joining. On our very first joint charity project, where we all made single crochet squares, joining slightly different sized squares (because everyone works to a slightly different tension) was difficult since single crochet is a dense stitch. Doing the initial joining of my sampler I can see that these more open squares are forgiving and stretchy.

Anyway, do let me know if you'd like a copy of my sampler blanket pattern and once I've had feedback from my group and updated it I'll email you a pdf copy. You can send me a private message via my Crafty Escapism Facebook page or @craftyescapism on Twitter or Instagram.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I love road trips!

A road trip and a crochet project go together perfectly in my mind. We have just returned to Houston, Texas after a whopping fifteen hour, two day road trip from a week in the mountain biking and waterfall mecca of Brevard, North Carolina. We drove through five further states: South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. I spent a large proportion of the trip just looking out of the window at the countryside, quite different from that of my home country. My hubby and I take turns driving too but I still managed to complete almost a whole shawl, starting the foundation row the day before we left and having just a few rows remaining at the top to complete.

My shawl is Humphrey by Joanne Scrace of The Crochet Project. It's my second make from their Shawls Book Two. I've become quite a fan of The Crochet Project recently. Their tagline is "Think Differently About Crochet" and their mission is to design, write and promote beautiful, modern crochet patterns. 
The first Crochet Project shawl, Missed Kingfisher, was made as a gift and I was quite sad to part with it. Having a photo isn't quite the same.


Next time we go on a road trip I am determined to combine shopping along the way. Ravelry has a tool for just this purpose: The Road Trip Planner. It's on the tab "Yarn" on the left hand side half way down just below the search box for finding a shop. Type in your starting location, your destination and specify how far you're willing to detour. Planning when to stop en-route is my department so perhaps I could coincidentally find a dog park or cafĂ© next door to a yarn store. Somehow I don't think my family will be fooled for a second.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Five reasons to join a CAL

This month I've been taking part in a fun Crochet-a-long (CAL): the Crochet Guild of America CGOA Layers of Texture Infinity Scarf by the wonderful Marie Segares. And I thought I'd tell you the reasons why I really love being part of a CAL group.

But first, here's a definition of a CAL from 25 Crochet Terms Defined on Kathyrn Vercillo's Crochet Concupiscence blog:

CAL: As the name suggests, this is a project in which a number of people each crochet the same pattern at the same time, often from different locations. It’s a great way to gain a sense of community while crocheting and to create some deadlines for yourself.
1. Improve your skills
My main reason for joining a CAL is to learn a technique that I don't already know. I'm always looking for ways to build my skills. The Infinity Scarf is made in intermeshing crochet which I've never tried before. This technique is also called interlocking crochet and it's very similar to double filet crochet too. Last month I took part in a crochet sock CAL by Rohn Strong in his Crochet Sock Addict group. (I've been a little obsessed with mastering the crochet sock this summer! If you've been following my blog you'd know about this!)

2. Get help if you're stuck
In a CAL you have an opportunity to ask questions. My current CAL has a Facebook Group and a Ravelry thread for this. If you're too shy to ask questions, you are quite likely to find your answer looking at the issues that other people had and the solutions they found. It's also a valuable experience for me as a crochet teacher to see what difficulties people have and how they overcome them. It helps me support my students better when they get stuck. 

3. More likely to finish your project
Another reason to join a CAL is that you are more likely to actually finish your project. Seeing other people post their progress photos is wonderfully motivating! I was having such a hard time finishing a sock (I kept starting new ones) but last month's sock CAL did the trick. The CAL has a deadline that everyone works to. 

4. Being part of a group is fun!
I love the camaraderie of being a part of a group of people who are into the same thing as you are! It's fun to share your photos and see how other people are doing, look at their color combinations, like and comment on each other's progress...

5. And there are prizes too!
Everyone who finishes by a certain date goes into a prize draw. The haul for the CGOA CAL is pretty impressive. I'm not sure if one person gets the whole lot or several people get one prize each. Of course, rather inevitably, I've seen a book that I'd like to buy among the prizes (Indispensable Stitch Collection for Crocheters: 200 Stitch Patterns in Words and Symbols by Melissa Leapman published by Quarto Group)

Here's a super article on how to find and join your first or next crochet-a-long by Marie Segares on her Underground Crafter blog. Why not give it a whirl?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

My podcast debut - woohoo!

This week I made my podcasting debut!! Woohoo! My audio review of the Houston Fiber Fest has been spliced into The Crochet Circle's monthly podcast (episode six) as part of a Shore to Shore Fiber Fest comparison review. It went live on Friday and you can listen to it here: Crochet Circle Podcast How exciting!! I hope you enjoy it.


It all started when I wrote a review of the Crochet Circle on this blog back in May. The Crochet Circle podcast launched the month before and Fay and Lynne the hosts are so fun to listen to. The podcast is about crochet with a little bit of knitting on the side. It's wonderful!

I tried really hard to record my review in one go but I just couldn't pull it off. It was holiday time and my kids were at home. They are so good at keeping quiet while I'm on a client call but this took far longer so I ended recording it in my tiny walk in closet and even then the dog came wandering in looking for me.

I have put a whole load of photos of the Fiber Fest up on a Pinterest board if this is the kind of thing you're into!

And there is a short written review over on the Crochet Circle Podcast Ravelry group on their Fiber Festival Reviews Thread.

So please do head on over, have a listen and let me know what you think.

Have a wonderful week everyone!