Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Sometimes I think I sound like a broken record - but here I go again: Sharon Silverman has done it again! This time, though, it's not a book. It's a video class from Annie's - 
Learn to Crochet Ripples.

 If you've never taken an on-line class before, what are you waiting for? You get to see the actual stitches as they are worked. And it's close-up. If you missed something the first time you watched, or just want to see it done again, you can replay the video for 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or 90 seconds, so you can watch a particular technique until you get it! You can also hit the rewind button, and replay however much you want. You have access to the class forever, so you can watch it where ever and whenever you want. As many times as you want. You can ask the teacher questions, and she'll answer you. And you can stop the class at any time, and pick up where you stopped it the next time you want to watch it. And in her class, Sharon is very thorough - giving you hints and tips along the way. She seems to be talking directly to you, and it feels like she wants you to have a good experience in her class. 

So, what will you learn in this class? Sharon shows you 5 different ways to create ripples, in 5 different patterns. In your class materials, which you can download, you get patterns for a ripple dishcloth, a ripple scarf, a ripple tote, a ripple cowl, and a different kind of ripple blanket. And there are 5 different ways to make the ripples. The patterns include stitch diagrams, with the pattern stitch repeat marked. So if you like one ripple stitch pattern, but want to make something different than what is shown, you can. (You might like the stitch pattern for the purse, but want to make a scarf with it, or you might like the stitch pattern for the cowl, but want to make a shawl with it, or you might like the stitch pattern for the blanket, but want to make a scarf with it - you can do all of this.) The stitch pattern diagrams will show you how many chains you need for each stitch pattern repetition, so you can figure out how many chains you'll need to begin, if you're going to change up the pattern. (And Sharon even tells you not to worry if you have too many chains. She shows you a great tip to get rid of those extra chains.) This is one of my favorite aspects of good books and videos – you can take the basic info (like the stitch patterns and the stitch multiples) and use them to crochet something else. So you're not only getting a pattern book (or video project class in this case), you're getting a stitch dictionary.

These are the patterns that Sharon has in her class:

Blue Waves Washcloth

Lavender & Lilac Scarf

Go-To Ripple Tote

Peekaboo Cowl

Happy Waves Toddler Blanket

If you want to know more about ripples (or chevrons, as they're sometimes called) this class will also give you many methods of making them - each pattern uses a different technique - back loop only, working in the round, color work, and openwork ripples. And you'll learn various ways to make the ripples - increasing and decreasing, or working stitches of different heights to create waves. You'll learn how to make ripples that are aligned or offset. And, finally, if you just want to learn the techniques, but not work all the patterns, you don't have to. Annie's states: 

"You can take any class without making the projects. Class skills can be learned by working with materials you have on hand to make swatches, blocks or small samples."
 In fact, Sharon does that herself in class. She shows the techniques on smaller samples when the actual design is larger. 

Now here's the good news. Annie's has given me a way to give you all a chance to win this class - yes, for free. As a thank you for reading my review. Just leave me a comment about what you would create with ripples, and make sure that I can contact you by leaving me your email address. (Don't worry, your email won't get published - I can remove it from your post before I publish the comment.) I'll do a random drawing for the lucky winner on Monday, July 18. So you'll have time to leave the comment. 

And if you crochet something from Sharon's class, I would love to see a picture!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

One-Skein Baby Projects by Sharon Silverman

When I was growing up, I remember my mother used to sit on the couch in the living room after she came home from work, and crochet or knit. What did she crochet or knit? Gifts for her children, her nieces and nephews, her grandchildren, her children's friends, her children's friends' children. In other words, nothing for herself. That was the way she was. There was always someone who needed a present. She even crocheted and knit baby gifts in advance - when there were no new babies. But she stored the gifts away, for those times when she would need them. She had a "baby gift storage" closet. Between her crocheting, and my grandmother's knitting and crocheting baby gifts, I never had to worry when I started needing to give baby gifts! I learned a lot from my mother and grandmother about gifting. Years later, I started crocheting baby gifts when my niece had her first child. I remember my mother had passed away and I was the only one in our family who could crochet the official baby afghan (it was a granny square one), so I put hook to yarn and I did it! I designed my own version of the afghan, but it was still the "official" family baby gift. Since then, I have made many, many more of them - for relatives, friends, family, etc. There seems to always be someone who needs a baby gift. It doesn't necessarily have to be an afghan. It can be a bib, booties, a hat, a rattle, a toy, washcloths, and yes, a little afghan (I like to call them "shlep-along" afghans, because they're perfect size for the baby to drag with him/her.) I keep trying to fill my baby gift storage closet, and this new book - One-Skein Baby Projects - Quick and Thrifty Gifts to Welcome New Arrivals - by Sharon Silverman - (published by Leisure Arts) will help with this. 

What's in this book? There are 9 projects. Each one uses one skein or a few "mini-skeins". These are the 9 projects:

Note what is written in the red rectangle - "LOOK FOR THE CAMERA in our instructions and watch our technique videos made just for you!"

In other words, not only can you add projects to your Baby Gift Storage Closet (you do have one, don't you?), you can learn some new techniques while you're at it. What techniques? How to work front and back post stitches, how to whipstitch motifs together, how to work a Foundation Double Crochet, how to make a pom-pom, how to crochet evenly spaced stitches across ends of rows, how to crochet in the back loop only, how to sew a backstitch, how to work split single crochet stitches, how to work a Foundation Half Double Crochet, how to join yarn with a single crochet, how to work a cluster stitch, and more. And the projects don't use much yarn. I like the baby bibs, and the rattle, and the hat, and the bouncy block, and the booties for cuties.... I guess I like all the patterns in the book!

Oh, another thing that's a positive for this book - they print the instructions for different sizes in different colors - so the patterns are easy for you to use. And they have pictures of how to make the stitches, when necessary. And stitch pattern templates when needed. 

The book is available as a digital download, or a paperback. And here is the website where you can order it from:
Leisure Arts

I would love to see your crocheted baby projects from this book. Be sure to post a picture! And I hope you're Baby Gift Storage Closet gets full to overflowing!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cloudborn Yarn from Craftsy

Craftsy, the awesome online site that offers courses in just about everything you've ever wanted (like crochet, knitting, drawing, painting, sewing, quilting, cooking, photography, and more!) has just started offering an exclusive line of yarns, for all of us yarnies (some people might call us yarn addicts) out there. The yarn is called Cloudborn, and it comes in weights from sock yarn to bulky roving yarn. And colors - just take a look at a picture of just some of the colors:
 Craftsy reached out to some of their instructors (my class on Craftsy is Mastering Foundation Crochet Stitches, and if you click on the title, you'll get a 50% off coupon to purchase the class, if you haven't done it yet) to review the yarn, and I eagerly accepted. I asked Craftsy if they could send me a skein in worsted weight, to swatch with. They did better than that - they sent me three skeins - one, a Wool Bulky Twist in Charcoal Heather - 228 yds in a skein, two - a Superwash Merino Worsted Twist in Oatmeal Heather - 221 yds in a skein, and three - one Highland Worsted in the color Storm Front - 220 yds in a skein. Here's a picture of the 3 skeins:

Lots of yardage in each skein, as you can see. And the yarn was so soft - not scratchy like wool often is. So now I had a problem. While I was waiting for the yarn to arrive, I was thinking that I would just swatch with the yarn - do different stitch patterns, make small squares and rectangles - just see how the yarn looked and felt and worked up. But when I actually received the yarn, got to touch it, got to look at it, I decided to do something else. I had about 660 yards of super soft yarn, in 3 colors that looked good together. I didn't want to just swatch with it, I wanted to crochet something that I could use. Something I could wear. A sweater, perhaps, or maybe a shawl. I had to pick a stitch pattern that would show off the yarn, and would be easy to modify if I ran out of yarn before I finished the sweater. So - I picked one of my favorite stitch patterns - a Granny Rectangle. And I got started. (You can find the pattern to a Granny Rectangle in my above-mentioned class.)

First, I had to wind the yarn. I usually do that by hand - and this was super easy. No tangles at all. Then, I had to decide what size hook I would use. I wanted the stitches to be light and lacy, but not too lacy. I had 2 different weights of yarn - bulky and worsted - so I had to be careful that the hook I picked worked with both weights. Luckily, the bulky yarn is not that much different from the worsted. So I thought either a J-10 (6mm), a K-10.5 (6.5mm) or an L-11 (8mm). I went for the middle size, tried it, and I liked the way it felt and worked up. I also tried the L hook - the stitches were too loose. And the J hook - the hook caught on the yarn. So K-10.5 it was. These were Susan Bates in-line hooks, in case you're wondering.

Second, I had to figure out how long and how wide I wanted my 2 front panels. And how many rectangles across I would have. I decided 2 rectangles across each side of the front, and 2 rectangles down. I know how loose I like my sweaters (my friends call them Marty Cardis, because I make so many of them) so I divided the width of one front panel in two, to get the width of each of the two Granny Rectangles on one side of the front. I know how long I like my sweaters - so I divided that measurement in two, to get the length of each of the two Granny Rectangles that are in the column. Then, I figured out the size of the center starting row of my Granny Rectangles. (How to figure it out - length of finished rectangle minus width of finished rectangle is how long your starting center row should be. More information is in my Craftsy class - link is above.)

Then, after all these preliminaries, I got started. I finished one front, and took a picture. It's going to be a "join-as-you-go" sweater, and I'm one-quarter finished. But, when I took the picture of the finished front, I noticed that I joined one part of one of the rectangles in the wrong place. (That's what happens when you watch a tension-filled NetFlix series while you're working!) So I had to fix it before I went any further.
Here's a picture of my sweater with the mistake in the joining:

 In case you were wondering - the two rectangles on the bottom, the bottom corner join that joins the two rectangles is the one that's not joined in the right place. 
Here's a picture of the corrected joining:

Can you see how much better it looks? It's important to check every thing you do, as you do it! Also, the picture shows the columns on their side. Imagine them rotated 90 degrees, and you'll get an idea of what one side of the front will look like. 

And look at the colors - the dark gray is the Charcoal Heather Bulky Twist, the lighter gray is the Highland Worsted Storm Front, and the lightest color is the Superwash Merino Worsted Oatmeal Heather. I think the colors look great together! And even though there are two different weights of yarn (bulky and worsted) the rectangles still fit together nicely. 

Now here's some really good news! This yarn is on sale from now until Wednesday, April 20, 2016.  And you can buy skeins or kits with patterns included. And here's the link:
Cloudborn Yarn
 But wait - there's more! There's free shipping for $99.00 or more, for orders to the US.

Here is what Craftsy says about their Cloudborn yarns:

"For fiber addicts, Cloudborn Fibers is the brand of affordable indulgence that’s so stunning, you’ll want to use for all of your projects. Other yarns can’t compare to the luxe hand and exceptional, innovative color of Cloudborn, especially at such a great value."

And they are absolutely right! 

Meanwhile, keep checking back here - I'll post a picture as soon as I'm finished with my Marty Cardi!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Classic Crochet Blankets - 18 Timeless Patterns to Keep You Warm

I live in what most people think is the South, (I know thought it was the South before I moved here many years ago), but it's not far enough south to escape the cold winters. And this winter seems to be extra cold. All I want to do is sit by the fireplace and crochet warm afghans. So when I was asked to review a new book of afghans by Interweave Crochet, Interweave Presents Classic Crochet Blankets, 18 Timeless Patterns to Keep You Warm, I jumped right on it. Just what I needed!!  And if you're like me, it's just what you need, too!

Let me tell you what's inside: 4 patterns by Kristin Omdahl, 3 patterns by Ellen Gormley, 2 patterns by Bonnie Barker, 1 pattern by Doris Chan, 1 pattern by Kathy Merrick, 1 pattern by Marly Bird, 1 pattern by Maryse Roudier, 1 pattern by Leigh Radford, 1 pattern by Kathie Eng, 1 pattern by Sarah London,  1 pattern by Tammy Hildebrand, and 1 pattern by Mari Lynn Patrick. 
They all use a variety of yarns: 12 use worsted weight (#4), 4 use Dk light (#3), and 2 use sport weight fine (#2). So no matter what yarn weight you like to work with, you'll have choices!
The book goes beyond the afghans, though. It describes optional edgings you can use - with directions. And all the patterns have stitch diagrams that help explain the stitches and stitch patterns. But more than that, at the end of the book is a tutorial on how to read stitch diagrams. 
These are some of the patterns that tickled my fancy:

Kaleidoscope Afghan by Tammy Hildebrand

Dots + Dashes Blanket by Ellen Gormley

Exploded Pineapple Afghan by Doris Chan

Behrens Colorblock Afghan by Leigh Radford

Chevron Bedspread by Kathie Eng

Granny Sofa Blanket by Sarah London

And the cover afghan - Moroccan Tile Afghan by Kristin Omdahl

Another thing that's nice about many of these afghans (the ones pictured here, and more in the book) - they're made with motifs, so you can crochet them with scrap yarns. It's a great way to use up your stash, have something nice that you crocheted, and make room for more stash!!! :-)

To find out more about this book, and to order it, here's the link:

Post a comment and let me know what you like to crochet when it's so cold outside! And if you do crochet one of these blankets, I would love to see it. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

New Year's Crochet Resolutions

Last year – 2015 – (that still sounds strange!) – I decided to see what yarns I had in my stash. Or, at least, in some of my stash. For the past few years, at the beginning of the year, I made a resolution regarding my stash yarns. A couple of times, I decided that each month I would select one of the plastic containers or plastic storage bags of yarn that I have, and do something with the yarn that was in it. Either crochet something, or donate the yarn to a person or organization that crochets or knits for charity. Just so I would use up all the yarn in the bag or box. I've done that, and it's been fun, plus it lets me accumulate more stash yarn.
Last year, 2015, I went searching in some of the yarn and project containers that I hadn't searched for awhile. And I found a lot of yarn. But I also found a lot of unfinished projects (UFOs) – lots of sweaters that I had forgotten about. Many of them just needed the finishing touches – an edging, joining together, weaving in ends, etc. I also discovered totes and baskets that I started and hadn't finished. And some cowls and scarves and shawls. So, I decided that my New Year's resolution for 2015 would be to finish at least one of these each month – focusing more on the sweaters. Also, if I decided to start fresh on a sweater, I had to use stash yarns and finish it!
I am happy that I succeeded in this – and more. This is what I did that counted toward my resolution goal:
Finishing a sweater – I did the finishing touches on 4 sweaters – a white one, 2 blue ones, and a self-striping one.
New sweaters – I crocheted 4 sweaters, start to finish, all out of stash yarns – a white one, a green one, a blue one, and a self-striping one,
Shawls – I finished up 2 shawls.
Afghans – I started and finished 2 baby afghans, and 1 "schlep-along afghan, all out of stash yarns.
Baskets – I started and finished 3 large baskets, 12" or more in diameter, out of stash yarns.
I started and finished two more projects  – a tote bag that I felted, and another sweater – both out of stash yarns.
I also started 2 other sweaters, but decided to put them aside for a while.

I know I did more projects – another baby afghan for Redheart Yarns (here's the link to the FREE pattern Tropical Baby Blanket), and other projects I can't mention yet, but the 17+ projects above are the stash-buster ones – they're the ones that I either finished, or started and finished, made with my stash yarns. Oh – I also donated some yarns to various organizations that crochet for charities. And I used some stash yarns to make scarves and hats and shawls for our Yarn Guild's Chase the Chill project (and had to finish some of them that were already crocheted!) I also finished a couple of cowls. And a tote that I had started. So I think 2015 was a successful stash-busting year!

Here is a picture of a pile of projects that I made or finished in 2015.

And here are 2 of the baskets I made.

I will take a picture of some of the scarves and cowls I've made, just as soon as I can gather them all together!  :-)

This January, for 2016, I made the same resolution – because I still have unfinished projects staring me in the face. Three of them I just started in January – a sweater and 2 totes. The sweater is finished, all the ends woven in. The totes are also finished. All ends woven in! I've worked on cowls and scarves – and finished them. (I've lost count of how many!) And I'll soon continue on a few more sweaters that need a little more work – and finish those. And if my goal is just one for each month, I will be able to meet that goal again this year. (In fact, it's just 2 months, and I'm almost at that goal!) And I'll have more sweaters to wear! And more totes and bags to use! And more scarves and cowls to keep me warm. And less stash yarn, so I'll have to replenish it! Yay!!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Crochet Home: 20 Crochet Projects for your Handmade Life, by Emma Lamb

If you are a crocheter, (or knitter), I know you're most likely busy at this time of year, crocheting (or knitting) presents for your family and friends. That's what I'm doing. But there is one problem with this – I have lots of little balls of yarn left over from each project – not enough to do any big project with, but too much to just throw away! So I save my little skeins and leftovers, thinking someday I'll do something with them. I've been putting them in a basket, but now, the leftovers are taking up more than one basket. And those baskets are BIG! Here's a picture of my latest basket holding some of my leftover yarns.

That's why I was happy to be asked to review the book Crochet Home: 20 Crochet Projects for your Handmade Life, by Emma Lamb

Many of the projects in this book use small amounts of different colored yarns. And if they call for a large amount of one color, you can most likely substitute your small amounts of many colors. And while some of the projects call for light-weight yarns, you can also substitute worsted or bulky yarns. You just have to realize that the drape of the project will most likely be different with the heavier yarns.
My leftover yarns are mostly worsted weight, so I tried some of the small, individual patterns to see what would happen. I was really happy with the results.

The above is a picture of the Geometry Garland. You can see the circles, stars, triangles,  squares, and hexagons.
And here are my crocheted pieces for the garland, all made with little bits of worsted weight yarn.

In the directions for the geometry garland, Emma Lamb gives an interesting technique to make sure the points on the figures are sharp! (Notice my hexagon above!) 

Here's another garland - a Flower Garland:

I made the leaves for this garland, and here they are. Cute!

Here is another garland I really liked - the Polka Dot Streamer:

And here is a picture of my Polka Dot:

There are a lot more patterns in the book - patterns that don't necessarily use scrap yarn (although some parts of them might). But they all will make your home look cozy! And creative!

Here are some of them.
The Granny Chic Pinwheel Blanket:

The Log Cabin Cushion:

The Oversized Wallflower Hanging:

The Scarborough Rock Floor Throw:

The Simple Folk Circle Pot Holder:

The Filet Daisy Potholder:

I hope your mouth is watering like mine is! I love the ideas in the book, and I love the floor throw and the pot holders!

These patterns are great if you have some empty space on your walls (the garlands and the Wallflower hanging), on the floors (the rug), in the kitchen (the potholders) or just about anywhere in your home. You'll find a pattern in this book that is perfect!

Another plus – the patterns are easy to follow, and are written in easy-to-understand crochet language, with stitch diagrams provided for each one, just in case you like to follow diagrams rather than try to figure out where you are when you're reading a pattern.
One thing I did notice, though, and you should be aware of – the crochet language that's used is British, so the stitches are called something different than what they’re called in American crochet language. That's one reason it's handy to have the stitch diagrams, because the diagram for the stitch is the same, no matter if it's called one thing in one language and another thing in another language. But, in case you're new to this situation, the translation of each stitch and term is listed in the back. Essentially, a double crochet stitch in British terms is a single crochet stitch in American terms. A half treble stitch in British terms is a half double crochet stitch in American terms. A treble stitch in British terms is a double crochet stitch in American terms. It's not too hard to remember. And again, all you have to do is look at the stitch diagrams, and you can figure out what the stitch is. Or refer to the translation of terms in the back.
Here's the info on the book:

David & Charles/F+W; $24.99

I would love to see any projects that you crochet from this book. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Crochet Refresher by Sharon Silverman

Many years ago, when I was back in school working on my PhD., I had no time to crochet. I was taking classes, writing my dissertation, teaching classes at the University as part of my teaching Fellowship, and teaching group exercise classes at the local health club. I could only multi-task so much! So I had to stop crocheting for a few years. But during my last year, just before I was going to graduate, while I was still writing my dissertation, my niece had a baby. Now, in my family, whenever there was a new baby arriving, my mother crocheted at least one baby afghan for the new arrival. Of course, it was a granny square afghan. Well, my mother was no longer living, and no one else in the family crocheted, except me. (At least that's what I thought!) So it was up to me, I figured, to make the traditional granny square baby afghan. At least my version of it. I told my niece that as soon as I handed in my dissertation, I would make her baby the family baby afghan. And indeed, I remember that day when I finally turned in the final version of my dissertation. After school, I went to the local yarn store to buy yarn. I didn't know what brand of yarn was available then – it had been about 5 years since I went in that store. But the owner suggested some yarn, and I bought enough skeins (I hoped) to make the afghan, and I probably bought a hook or two (you can never have enough hooks), and I went home and hoped that I still remembered how to crochet, and especially how to crochet a granny square.
When I got home, I sat down with my hook and yarn, and started crocheting. And I remembered! I was able to crochet a granny square, and, I could figure out what I did so I could crochet the same blanket that I had made for myself, many years before. It wasn't my mother's traditional granny square blanket, but it was mine. When I finished it, I wanted to crochet more, but I was having a hard time following written patterns, and working other stitch patterns. I had forgotten a lot about crocheting. So I went looking for a book for people who needed a refresher course in crochet. I wanted easy-to-follow patterns that would review basic stitches and techniques. And I wanted them all in the same book. I didn't want beginner patterns. I wanted easy or a little more difficult patterns. What they call "intermediate". What I needed, what I was looking for, was a book like this new book by Sharon H. Silverman – Crochet Refresher, published by Leisure Arts. (Unfortunately for me, it wasn't available 16 years ago!)

Sharon's book has it all – it's a great refresher for beginning stitches and basic stitches. And it has projects all for baby! (So they're not long projects!) It starts with a washcloth worked with beginning stitches (sc and ch), shown on the cover and in this picture from the book -

and then gives you 4 easy patterns for baby afghans. It then has 2 intermediate patterns for afghans, and 2 intermediate patterns for a baby hat and mittens. And they are all adorable. Each would be a great gift for a baby.
Here are my 2 favorite afghans:

Circle of Love Blanket

And Waves Blanket

I also love the hat shown on the cover!

9 patterns all together, and by the time you have crocheted them, you will have become "reacquainted with your long-abandoned crochet skills!"
(I keep thinking of all the time this would have saved me! Time to crochet!)

This book is available through Leisure Arts, in a paperback version or digital copy. Here's the link:

I know you'll like this book. Just recently, I had a student in my crochet class at my local yarn store (the same one I went to when I was looking for yarn to make the granny square baby afghan 16 years ago - I'm now teaching there!), who hadn't been crocheting for over 6 months. She wanted to just practice her stitches, and didn't know what references she should use. I suggested this book, and she thought it was a good idea. So I know you'll like it too!