Saturday, November 18, 2017

Back to School Sweater CAL - Celebration of Making

What an amazing few months Helen of Making at Number 14 and I have had planning and running our Back to School Sweater CAL (crochetalong) and blog hop. We'll be closing the FO (finished objects) thread on Ravelry shortly and running the random number generator for prizes. As we write there are 53 gorgeous finished objects in there and/or tagged with #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL on Instagram. Seven makers have made two garments and two speedy makers have made three in the eight week period of the CAL from September 16th to November 17th. Incredible!

We've loved hanging out in the Ravelry chatter thread, kindly hosted by the wonderful Fay of the Crochet Circle Podcast, and over 50 of us have shared our garment making experiences together. We even had a frogging party where a fair few of us, Helen and myself included, had to frog our garments to get them to fit correctly!  There have been over 400 super photos posted on Instagram with the hashtag #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL

Many participants have been making sweaters for the first time. We've had comments on how they now see themselves as garment makers as a result of taking part. We've also received lots of feedback about how useful the blog hop posts have been (details here just in case you missed it). This has made the whole crochetalong so worthwhile for us, SO much better than just making our own garments by ourselves.

We'd like to say a huge thank you to all the bloggers who wrote a blog article (or two!) for us: JoJoTwinkletoes, The Crochet Project, Sam of SingASimpleMelody , Fay of the Crochet Circle Podcast and Knit It Hook It Craft It and Marta or MrsDaftSpaniel and for all the folk who have donated prizes: Marta, The Crochet Project, Fay, Rosina from Zeens and Roger, Yael from Emyahandmade and Lisa too. A special extra thank you goes to Fay for letting us host our CAL and FO thread in her Crochet Circle Podcast group.

And a huge thank you and congratulations to all the people who have taken part and made a wonderful handmade garment of their own!!! Let us know if you'd like to do it all over again next year!!?

I'm taking a little blog break over the holidays (here in the US we have Thanksgiving next week) so I won't be blogging next week but I'll be back soon depending on how I'm getting on with my frenzied Christmas making! In the meantime you can find me over on Ravelry, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as CraftyEscapism.

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Review of The Knit Show

There's just one more week of our Back to School Sweater CAL left so the perfect thing to binge-watch on YouTube while you're finishing off those sleeves is The Knit Show with Vickie Howell. This publicly-funded studio quality series, launched just last month and is so inspiring! Just watching the show makes you a member of the Knit Hive. The definition taken from the website is:  "A nod to the knitting bees of old and the modern, “hive mind” mentality that refers to the gathering of stitchers, either physically or virtually, for the purpose of supporting and sharing a common passion for knitting, crochet, crafts and creativity."

I meant to donate but I totally forgot and I must admit that the name "The Knit Show" put me off (I can and do knit but I don't like crochet being left out). But I was being a bit silly really because I know that Vickie Howell loves her crochet and knitting equally. The show is SO much more than just knitting. There is plenty of crochet content too.

The ten themed episodes last around 30 minutes each. I flew through them and found so much inspiration. Each episode features mini tutorials, famous yarn industry guests, free patterns....  and much more. It's has been fascinating to watch and the content feels so on trend. I am hopeful there will be a second season.

The highlights for me were:
  • The Trends Episode - Pompom socks
  • The Big Knits Episode - Aster Flower knit stitch pattern
  • The Global Episode - scarf and sweater patterns
  • The Lace Episode - the Visit to the Furls crochet hook workshop and Kristen Omdahl demoing a new stitch for me
  • The Bags Episode - Drew Emborsky demoing his crochet bag design & the visit to the Independence Fiber Mill
  • The Color Episode - the brioche fix and bargello knit stitch pattern
  • The Amigurumi Episode - Twinkie Chan
  • The Multicraftual Episode - the crochet/woven purse
  • The Vintage Touches Episode - Granny squares!
  • The Handmade Holiday Episode - The visit to Hill Country Weavers
If you've already watched the show please do let me know what your highlights were. If not, what's stopping you!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Houston International Quilt Festival 2017

This week the International Quilt Festival is taking place at the George R Brown Convention Centre in Downtown Houston. I'm not a quilter but I can appreciate the artistry and skill involved. And I love quilts that tell a story or illustrate a specific social or political issue. I've never visited before but Nimblefingers, the yarn store where I teach, are vending at the show for the first time. So I organized a little trip for members of my Yak & Yarn group on Thursday, the opening day and I'll be working on the Nimblefingers stand on the day this blog post goes live.

This is a huge event with over 55,000 quilt lovers traveling from 35 different countries to attend. It's part marketplace, part quilt competition and part quilt exhibition. There are also a huge number of classes taking places. I headed first to the yarn sellers (they sell everything at the quilt show - buttons, fabric, frames, dyes, embroidery, bags, sewing machines...) just to see what they had going on and have a little squish: The Hen House , Threads & Ewe , WC Mercantile , Yarnorama  all from Texas and RedFish DyeWorks from California.

Then I entered the exhibition hall - a gallery of hundreds of quilts curated into 46 exhibits. So many of the quilts tell a story - collections highlight civil rights, feminism and more. As Thomas Knauer, the creator of the exhibit entitled "Between Me and the World: Identity and Activism Quilts wrote

"Quilts can certainly carry social and cultural implications. Here, they translate specific concerns into material form, and explore a wide range of issues—both personal and political. Ideas are made concrete, and a quilt becomes an expression of the complexities that make up a life in the world."

I'd picked this exhibit out beforehand from the brochure online and it just happened to be the first one as I entered the hall. I didn't know what to expect. Thomas' most recent quilts cover two issues - the epidemic of gun violence and his personal struggles with chronic illness. After looking at his collection, I could have left the festival. I had enough going on in my head at that point...

But I continued, trying to see as many exhibits as I could. I took a lot of photos hoping that I'd be able to remember more. I've limited myself to including just two other exhibits here which I found particularly moving but I could fill half a dozen blog posts...

The 70,273 Project is a worldwide collaborative art project. The quilts are made up of blocks of fabric marked with two red crosses on a white background to commemorate the reported number of physically and mentally disabled people killed by the Nazi regime between January 1940 and August 1941. Jeanne Hewell-Chambers is collecting 70,273 quilt blocks from around the world. Around 7,000 or one tenth of the blocks were on display at the quilt festival this week. The blocks will appear at Rochester, Lincoln and Durham Cathedrals in the UK in January 2018, to mark National Holocaust Memorial Day. 

HERstory: A CELEBRATION OF STRONG WOMEN was an amazing exhibit organized by Susanne Jones who had asked for submissions of quilts of a woman who had inspired them since women attained the right to vote in 1920. Quilts had been sent in from 8 countries. Susanne said I could take photos so long as I attributed the quilter and the collection. I picked out Nina Simone: A Theme with Variations by Sherri Culver because I love her songs and her voice. And it reminded me of the amazing crochet mural currently on display of Nina Simone in Raleigh North Carolina as part of the Love Across the USA community art project. It's funny how things lead back to crochet for me.

I hope you've found this slightly off topic post interesting... most people I know who crochet and knit are interested in other crafts. Have a super week y'all!!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Yarn Review - Crafting Oasis Yarn Co

This week I'm reviewing hand-dyed yarn created by my talented friend Cat. She is a very crafty young lady - I am sure you know the type, they do it all crochet, knit, spin, dye, paper craft, embroider and more.. whereas I am firmly stuck on the crochet with the occasional knit project for variety. And of course Cat is really good at all of these things, is one of the sweetest people I know and lives in Houston too.

When Cat asked if I'd review a skein of her hand-dyed yarn on my blog of course I agreed and I decided it was going to be a one-skein shawl as my second shawl for the #SeptemberShawalong organized by lovely Hannah of the Cozy Cottage Crochet Podcast. I always like to link my hooking to an -along, don't I?

I didn't specify a color but wow - when I opened the parcel I just couldn't do anything but smile - that pop of bright pink red was irresistible. And when I posted it on Instagram lots of other people loved the color too. Fortunately Cat told me this is a color she can replicate. It's called "Pinkberry" and it's fingering weight on a 100% merino platinum base.

The color is just the best. Everything else about the yarn is good too. It's super soft around my neck (and I am very sensitive). It smells good. It didn't split at all when I was working with it.

The pattern I chose was the Metro Kerchief by Yuliya Tkacheva also known as Ms Weaver. It has a fabulous track texture which is achieved with lots of slip stitches which slowed me down a little but I do love the end result. I will wear this when it's a little dull outside and I want to cheer people up.

So please do head over to Cat's shop on Etsy Crafting Oasis Yarn Co to see what she has in stock.  She told she was going to be dying some Christmas themed yarn next. How fun!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Woah We're Halfway There

Lovely Rosina from the Zeens and Roger podcast wrote a wonderful blog post this week about our Back to School Sweater crochetalong which included several photos of herself sporting not one but two sweaters. She is one of several talented crocheters out there who had never made a crochet garment until our CAL. I just love that!! 

Her blog post reminded me that we're only halfway there. You have until November 17th to finish a garment and post a photo of in the Ravelry finished objects thread in the Crochet Circle Podcast Group or post the photo on Instagram with the hashtag #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL Come on, you can do it! It's four weeks today.

If you need guidance on making a crochet garment we have our helpful blog hop series. Helen of Making at Number 14 my amazing CAL co-host came up with a really comprehensive list of topics. So please do check them out if you 
Week 2 - Current Trends / Choosing a Style to Suit you by Jojotwinkletoes
Week 3 - Yarn Substitution by Helen
Week 4 - Measuring & Swatching by The Crochet Project
Week 5 - Making Alterations to Fit by Sam
Week 6 - Finishing and Blocking by Fay

And there are some wonderful prizes to tempt you!
Baby cardigan pattern & yarn to make it from Marta MrsDaftSpaniel
A pattern from The Crochet Project
Blocking kit from Fay of Knit It Hook It Craft It
Set of stitch markers from Helen Making at Number 14
Three Squirrel crochet hooks from myself
A pattern of your choice from Rosina Zeens and Roger
A project bag of your choice from Emyahandmade
Sugar & Cream 100% cotton yarn from Lisa

Anyway to finish up I'd though I'd share some of the lovely FOs (finished objects) posted so far on Instagram. These talented folk have all given me permission to share their photos. I know not everyone who reads my blog is on social media and you just have to see all this crochet garment loveliness! Have a wonderful week everyone!

 From top left clockwise @sophiexuan @crogemcrochet
@_toni_white @thecrochetninja

 From top left clockwise @alicecloseknit @hayrie
@jojotwinkletoes @aspoonfulofyarn

From top left clockwise @knitithookit @andthentherewasmorgan
@zeensandroger @heleneccles1

From top left clockwise @justalilbitcrafty @alicecloseknit
@flicmerrison @lisapinenotes

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Back to School Sweater CAL - Garment in Progress

In January I decided this was going to be the Year of the Crochet Garment - I even blogged about it - and I bought a book: Top Down Crochet Sweaters by Dora Ohrenstein and wrote a review on it. I managed to make one garment the Tunisian Entrelac Yoga Top by Elena Fedotova and finish off another the Classic Sweater by Rachel Choi but then was hopelessly distracted by CALs (crochetalongs) and preparing my class on crochet socks for the Houston Fiber Fest. Fortunately Helen, amazing crocheter and blogger at Making at Number 14 proposed that we organize a Crochet Garment CAL and the Back to Sweater Sweater CAL was born so this year has been turned out to be the Year of the Garment after all - and not just my garment which is even better!

Pattern: The pattern I chose had to be from my Dora Ohrenstein book having bought it so long ago and raved on about it. I chose the specific pattern I did, Zora, because the stitch design looked fun and I thought the vertical lace and v stitch panels would be flattering.

Yarn: I used mainly stash yarn, Rowan Pure Wool 4ply, bought from a super sale at John Lewis in Norwich in the UK visiting my sister-in-law a few summers ago. I bought it because it was in the sale, wool wasn't too scratchy and I liked the color. I didn't have quite have enough and it was discontinued but I found three extra balls from Love Knitting

Progress: My progress has been variable on the sweater. It took forever to get my yoke right. Gauge in the round is not the same as flat gauge. And my gauge swatch was for the v stitch pattern. My yoke had v stitch panels with eight sets of lace stitches between them. My lace stitches stretched a lot, far more than the v stitches. Plus my stitches are wide and short so that was another variable to factor into my calculations. I know I could use the golden loop method to increase the height of my stiches but I stubbornly stick with my shorter stitches. If I was seriously going to get into designing I would probably make a concerted effort to change. Here's a link to a video by Deja Joy Fixing Gauge When Height Is Incorrect AKA Golden Loop Method if you're wondering what I'm going on about. Anyway, after frogging back the yoke three times, I eventually got there.

I was not alone though! Over on Ravelry in The Crochet Circle Podcast Group we had a yoke frogging party going on for those who had chosen top down designs. But the bonus of so much frogging was that I nailed that stitch design and consequently the rest of my sweater was fast.

I slowed down again waiting for Fay's blog post on Blocking to finish it. I thought I knew everything about finishing and blocking but no, apparently not. So here she is my Zora!

Hope you enjoyed our blog post last week from Marta with Designing a Crocheted Garment. Next week, continuing on our blog hop, we will have a garment in progress blog post from Sam of Sing a Simple Melody. I can't wait! Have a great week y'all!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Garden of Shawls - Book Review & Giveway

Taking part in the AutumnWAL2017 made me seek out my WIPs and I found the shawl I made while on holiday in Colorado and have duely blocked and finished it. Hurray!
This is the second shawl that I've made from Karen Whooley's latest book A Garden of Shawls so I thought I was in a good place to provide a review. I also contacted Karen to see if she would be able to offer a giveway for my blog readers and she agreed to provide a electronic version so that I could make it available internationally (I know I have regular readers/listeners in the US, UK and Australia, probably other places too).

I wasn't going to buy this book, I was being strong, because even though I wanted it I am sort of in denial about my great love of crochet shawls. Anyway, it was meant to be because I was listening to the amazing Marly Bird interview Karen Whooley and there was a giveaway of the book at the end and I won! I was SO amazed! Listen to the interview and you can hear me laughing hysterically. And so the book arrived and I've made two shawls and there are more that need to be made. I am beyond helping and I don't really care.

I love that fact that this book is self-published and also that Karen has used yarn entirely produced by indie dyers. All twelve of the shawl designs are lace or fingering weight. But Karen does have advice for using heavier weight yarn too if that is your jam. Every shawl has full written instructions and is charted and also there's a schematic of what it looks like so you know the shape of it. I think that's quite important because I'm definitely drawn to particular shapes of shawls - I have my favorites. The designs are inspired by Italian lace and are absolutely gorgeous.

I made Violaceous first because it called for lace weight yarn and there are 8 pages of charts for it, every single one of the 158 rows is charted. I was kind of testing myself to see if I could make it or if I'd go crazy in the process. But I actually loved it and couldn't put my hook down when making it. All that hooking of crochet socks in lightweight yarns has really paid off. And when I wore it to the yarn store where I work everyone thought it was knitted (they are all knitters so that's a massive compliment for them) and I wore it both days to Houston Fiber Fest and loads of people were asking me who the designer was...

The second shawl I made was Foliole. I was drawn to this one because the shapes looked like mitochondria cell drawings (I was helping my 7th grader study for her end of year finals). I know that's a really odd reason for a stitch design to appeal to you. But anyway it is my latest shawl so it's the one I love the best and I'll be wearing it every day until I made the next one (which is already on my hook). I'm a SSH - serial shawl hooker.

To enter the giveaway to be in with a chance to win an electronic version you can follow me on Instagram or Facebook and leave a comment or send me a message on Ravelry. I'm craftyescapism in all these places. You've got a week to do this. I'll randomly select a winner on October the 16th. Good luck and have a wonderful week everybody!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Autumn WiP-Along Starts Tomorrow

I'm joining in with Love Charlie Crochet's Autumn WiP Along that she's running with Gosling and Plumb. It takes place throughout the month of October so is starting tomorrow. WiP stands for Works in Progress and any craft qualifies: knitting, crochet, sewing... etc. It's happening on Instagram with the hashtag #AutumnWal17  Charlie is a new crochet podcaster I've been following for a while and she is extremely sweet and very talented but she doesn't seem to know it. Head over to her LoveCharlieCrochet You Tube Channel to check it out.

And good news - my sock crojo has been rekindled by a Sock-a-long run by StarryEyesAli. It's called the Strictly 2017 Sock-a-long and you're only meant to work on your socks while you're watching Strictly Come Dancing. This is a British show that I've enjoyed in the past so I thought I'd try out the US equivalent which just started, Dancing with the Stars, but it's not going work because even though we have lived in the US for five years I don't know any of the stars. I just don't watch enough TV obviously. However, the rules for the Sock-a-long are very flexible and you're allowed to work on your project as long as you're watching a podcaster who is participating in the Sock-a-along. Of course I love this blatant rule-bending because I've discovered more lovely podcasters: Little Drops of Wonderful (by StarryEyesAli herself) and Nordic Stitches by knitting designer Lilli who lives in Norway. And my socks are coming along nicely. There must be other podcasters also taking part - I need to hunt them down using the #strictly2017socks hashtag on Instagram and in the Ravelry thread. Do let me know if there are any more!

No doubt I'll be sharing the latest on my Back To School Sweater CAL (and I have a "Garment in progress" spot in our blog hop on the 14th of October so you'll get more chatter on my specific garment from me then). I finally made a yoke that fits - hurray! - and I'm just about ready for the next stop on our blog hop from lovely Fay of the Crochet Circle Podcast. It's on the subject of Finishing, Washing & Blocking. Check it out here on Fay's company website which is: Knit it Hook It Craft It  and have a wonderful week everyone!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Back to School Sweater CAL is underway!

Our Back to School Sweater CAL started just one week ago... and it's just so exciting. It's probably in my top three most exciting crochet-related things that have happened to me along with getting a job at my local yarn store and teaching at the Houston Fiber Fest. I have really got to stop checking our hashtag #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL on Instagram so often. I've become quite obsessed. There are over 150 posts as I write this ... and every day there are more. And we have 50 voices in our CAL Ravelry thread in the Crochet Circle Podcast group. I've forgotten about ALL my other WIPs. It's all consuming.

I am making Zora by Dora Ohrenstein. I thought I'd get to know Dora a little better and if you read this blog or listen to my podcast version you know that I absolutely love my podcasts. I found an interview on the excellent Power Purls Podcast which took place around about the time that Dora released her book Top Down Crochet Sweaters.

Kara Gott Warner doesn't have many crochet guests on her podcast so that's an indication of how great Dora is and after listening to this
I have a total fan girl crush on her and I've had to buy another one of her books called to The Crocheter's Skill-Building Workshop: Essential Techniques for Becoming a More Versatile, Adventurous Crocheter just to see if I'm adventurous enough yet. Maybe I am, maybe not! It's a technique book and I love techniques.

My Zora is not really going very well. My yoke is too wide. I'm on my third try. But I am loving it anyway despite my low level frustration and Dora's book Top Down Crochet Sweaters has a decent technique section to help. There are V stitches and lace parts with picots. It's lovely. Fortunately this week's blog post on our fabulous blog hop is on the subject of alterations. It's by Sam of Sing A Simply Melody. She is a crochet designer and tech editor (in fact she edited my leftover sock pattern). Check it out: Making Alterations.

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bring Back the Stash

As you may know I live in Houston in Texas and was very fortunate to stay dry throughout Hurricane Harvey last month. One evening the water came halfway up my front yard. It was quite scary at the time. An estimated 10,000 homes were affected and my neighborhood was one of those that flooded. Five friends from my Yak and Yarn group and the sweet owner of the yarn store where I work lost most of their belongings including their yarn stash. So when Claudia from the Crochet Luna Podcast, who would make an amazing reporter by the way, mentioned "Knit Two Together for Hurricane Relief" in her latest podcast Oh Boy I had to investigate, sign up and felt compelled to help spread the word.

Copying verbatim from the Ravelry group Knit Two Together For Hurricane Relief here:

"Yarnies unite! There has been much devastation due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and we'd like to help get yarn back in the hands of those who lost their stash! Please join whether you wish to donate OR are in need of stash! 

Knitters/Crocheters/Yarn lovers in Louisiana understand how it is to lose your entire house, possessions and stash. We want to give back!

Please join us as we try to bring back the stash for so many who lost their yarn stash in Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Specific details forthcoming, but our goal is to match up recipients with a knitter/crocheter who can gift some stash to someone who lost theirs in the storm.

We ask that those who can, agree to mail at least 1 skein to a recipient. Personal information will not be shared, the recipients address will only be given to their match partner.

IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF STASH! You are MORE than welcome to join the group!!! Please do! But you can also find the google link to receive stash here:

We will post more details ASAP! Thank you for helping!!!"

The group has, at the time of writing this, almost 700 members which is wonderful to see. The organizers provided me with the cute Texas image for my site. I'll be sharing the group all over social media - please do help me to spread the word too. Thank you in advance!!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, September 9, 2017

7 Days & Counting Until the CAL

Yay - it's seven days and counting until our Back to School Sweater CAL starts on the 16th of September.... It has been SOOO hard not to get started on my sweater. Some people have been a little bit naughty and in their enthusiasm have already started on theirs (and even finished!) Anyway, please do go over to the chatter thread in the Crochet Circle Podcast group on Ravelry to join us and you'll see which patterns and yarn choices people are making. I've guestimated we have at least forty makers... going by comments in the group and those on Instagram using our hashtag #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL (this is another way to join in if you're not a Ravelry person).

And our accompanying blog hop is underway already. I was first up, two weeks ago and my post 5 reasons to make a crochet garment is already my third most popular of all time on my blog. And I'm stunned by how many comments I've had. I love it! Jo (JoJoTwinkleToes) wrote a fabulous second post last week on Current Trends and Choosing a Style to Suit you and it really got me thinking this week about my garment making history - the successes and the huge fails. Why did some garments turn out so badly? And when they looked good, how did this happen? I've come up two theories:

1. The style has to suit your figure
Jo was right that you've got to carefully choose a style that suits you and that you've got be honest about your body shape. I'm not going make a cropped top and my upper arms need covering up. A garment that is shaped to my waist works because of my curvy figure. And I find a wider neckline balance my hips. I very carefully scrutinize all of the project photos on Ravelry to see what the garment looks like on different body shapes.

2. Fitted garments look better in lighter weight yarn

I've found that fitted garments made from thicker than a DK / light worsted weight yarn just don't look flattering on me. I am not going to link you to one of these horrors. However, I have had success with a heavier worsted weight yarn with my Butterfly Garden Cocoon Shrug because it wasn't loose fitting. Helen is writing about this in her blog post this week Making at number 14 so I'm looking forward to more insight on yarn choice.

Anyway I'd love to know if you have any alternative theories about making successful garments! Let me know in the comments below...

Still on the subject of the CAL, I wanted to let you know that the Crochet Project have very kindly offered CAL participants a discount until the 20th of September on the patterns in their Ravelry store. The 25% discount code backtoschool25 can be applied to individual garment patterns as well as books that contain cardigans, sweaters or tees  

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Six CALs for Fall 2017

I thought I'd do a little CAL round up this week because we have a few starting this month including my very own - the Back To School Sweater CAL!! I just LOVE a good crochetalong . Check out my post 5 Reasons to Join a CAL in my blog archives! 

1 Back To School Sweater CAL
I'm hosting this CAL (the accompanying blog hop is already underway) with Helen of Making at Number 14! It starts on the 16th of September and runs for 8 weeks until 17th of November. All the details are on my CAL page on my website here. You can chose to make any crochet garment and a few enthusiastic folk have started already!!  We're using the hashtag #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL to share our progress on Instagram and there is chatter in Fay's Crochet Circle Podcast Ravelry group here

2. Spotting Clouds Top CAL
Clarisabeth from the Crochet Cakes Podcast is hosting a Spotting Clouds Top CAL. This top is designed by Christina Hadderingh who designed the extremely popular Hotel of Bees Shawl so I know the pattern will be well written because I've made this shawl. It started on 21st of August and runs until 14th of October so there is still time. You could make this one for your Back to School Sweater CAL... that's a possibility!! The details and chatter are here in the Podcast Ravelry group.

3, September Shawlalong 
Hannah from the Cozy Cottage Podcast is hosting a shawl crochetalong called the September Shawlalong which runs for the months of September and October. I'll definitely be joining in with this ...  and I may well be double dipping with the next CAL on this list. But I am also very tempted by the crochet version of the Wonder Woman Wrap designed by Clarissa Browning who also designed the knit version. And I still haven't made a Blurre Shawl and I really want to.  The chatter thread for the shawalong is on Ravelry here. Hannah is also going to be running a Tunisian Crochetalong with Claudia from the Crochet Luna Podcast and I believe Claudia will be talking about this in her podcast this weekend. Another CAL to look forward to!

Emma from  the Potter and Bloom podcast has a shawlong (well it's actually a stolealong rather than a shawl) with a pattern that she designed herself Liula which runs through September and October. Emma's stole is a beautiful stitch pattern and uses a color changing cake of gradient yarn hence the name #cakecal. Here's the chatter thread in the Potter and Bloom Ravelry group. I just watched Emma's most recent podcast and the CAL will run for an additional two weeks to a month to give everyone a chance to buy their yarn. 

5. #HiddenTempleCAL
Rohn Strong has a crochet sock CAL running in collaboration with Happily Hooked Magazine which started just yesterday, September 1st. There is a Happily Hooked Crochet Along group on Facebook to join. The design looks lovely. I am a total sucker for crochet socks so I might have just have to join in while I wait for my CAKECAL yarn!!

6. Welcome Blanket CAL/KAL/QAL
This CAL/KAL/QAL (is a quilt along called a QAL?) is already running and the dates to get your blankets sent off by has recently been extended to November 4th. The blankets are currently being displayed at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. When the show ends all of the blankets will be given to refugees and immigrants to welcome them to the US. We moved here five years ago and were made to feel very welcome in Texas so I feel that this is a good craftivism cause to participate in. Further details (and patterns) are here. I'm using one of the designs but rather than crocheting squares and joining them together I am making a tapestry crochet blanket in two colors with tassels at the sides (see the photo).

Anyway I'd love to know if you're joining in on one or more of these CALs and if there are any more CALs going on please add these in the comments for us all to see. Have a wonderful week everyone!!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

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

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Announcing the Back to School Sweater Crochet Along

I'm hosting my very own crochetalong this autumn! Yay! I do hope you'll join in!! My friend Helen, fellow British yarn enthusiast and blogger suggested we organize a crochetalong together to spread the crochet garment love. How could I refuse!!!?? The crochetalong, or CAL for short, runs for 8 weeks from 16th September to 17th November.  We also invited some other British crochet bloggers to join us in an accompanying blog hop focusing on different aspects of crochet garment technique. These weekly blog articles start before the CAL on 26th August so we'll all be ready to go mid September!! 

Introducing our group of bloggers:
@craftyescapism - that's me, Tamara, crochet teacher and blogger at CraftyEscapism
@knitithookit - Fay from the Crochet Circle Podcast, owner of Knit It - Hook It - Craft It
@heleneccles1 - Helen, crafter and blogger at MakingAtNumber14
@jojotwinkletoes - Jo, crochet is her thing, at JojoTwinkletoes
@mrsdaftspaniel - Marta, crochet designer, blogging at MrsDaftSpaniel
@samsimplemelody - Sam, crochet designer and tech editor at SingASimpleMelody
and last but not least:
@thecrochetproj - Joanne and Kat at The Crochet Project, designers blogging at TheCrochetProject

And our Blog Hop schedule in brief is as follows:

We will use the hashtag #BackToSchoolSweaterCAL on Instagram and Fay from the Crochet Circle Podcast is hosting a thread in her Ravelry group too. The chatter has already begun so please do visit the thread! We have also shared a few patterns we have made and enjoyed in a Ravelry bundle if you're looking for a little inspiration! Prizes and discount codes on patterns will be revealed in Fay's next podcast which will be available Friday 4th August so make sure you tune into The Crochet Circle Podcast then!

Listen to the Audio Podcast

Monday, July 3, 2017

Conversations at Houston Fiber Fest

Oh my goodness where do I start? The best thing about the Houston Fiber Fest for me personally were the face-to-face conversations I had with so many folk who are just as passionate about fiber as I am. I could fill several posts with all the wonderful people I met up with and what we spoke about. I will have to limit myself!!

First up was Beth Bower from Inner Loop Dyeworks who had provided me with yarn support for my sock design. How kind! I left samples of my leftover crochet sock at her booth. And yes I am seeing pattern sales on Ravelry appear in my in-box since I released it last week!

Then I visited Karen at Round Table Yarns. She provides yarn support to Karen Whooley who as you may know is one of my favorite crochet designers. I wore one of her shawls Violaceous both days from her latest book "Garden of Shawls".

I had a fascinating conversation with Stacey and Penny at the Brazen Stitchery booth about sock blanks. I'd just found out about these from my friend Claudia in the latest episode of her Crochet Luna Podcast Sock it to me! and I had to buy one to see how it worked up in crochet.

My friend Diane had saved me a seat at the Crochet Meet up Table and there I met my two fellow crochet teachers at the event: Kristi Millsap who was teaching an Introduction to Tunisian Crochet and Carole Fitzgerald who was teaching Crochet Fingerless Gloves. They were both great and we compared notes on what we were teaching.

Jessica from Houston Fiber Friends had arranged a meetup for us too. We sat at a table inside the foyer and shortly afterwards starting shopping together. Yes I did shop as well!! Listening to one of our group, Mel, talk about the joys of spinning led me to purchase a drop spindle!

At the Foggy Hollow Ranch booth, farmer Lynda sold me fiber for my new spindle from Demetri the highland sheep who is not only sweet natured but has fleece that is easy to spin, so I've been told. Fun times ahead!

And finally I just loved my twelve fantastic students at my Crochet Sock Techniques class - they were all sooo lovely, had great crochet skills and worked extremely hard. 

Anyway I hope you enjoyed my brief round up. I am now off to the UK this week to visit my family so I'll be taking a little blog holiday for a few weeks. I will return at the end of July. Have a wonderful summer everyone!!

Listen to the Audio Podcast