Saturday, June 28, 2008


Raw, Uncensored Designs Straight From Today’s Designer

STRAIGHT FROM TODAY’S DESIGNERS (SFTD), a designer-based self-publishing group, announces a new venture that heralds the future of crochet patterns: designers going direct to their public. With its first release entitled “Crochet Belts from the Hip: Raw, Uncensored Designs Straight From Today’s Designers,SFTD offers no less than eighteen original belts from top designers, a veritable treasure trove of wearable art and innovative stitching. The thirty-four-page booklet is available for instant download from for Fifteen Dollars.

The list of participants include some of the best-loved names in contemporary crochet, as well as talented up-and-coming designers. In alphabetical order, along with their projects, they are:

Angela Best Beaded Lacy Sash
Gwen Blakely Kinsler Yummy Licorice Belt
Vashti Braha Barbed Wire Belt
Robyn Chachula Bubble Sash
Doris Chan Hip Hemp Belt
Noreen Crone-Findlay Autumn Leaves Belt
Pam Gillette Waist Cincher Belt
Lisa Gentry Beaded Hip Cable Belt
Kim Guzman a-Maizing Ribbed Belt
Mary Jane Hall Feminine Lace Belt
Tammy Hildebrand Easy Beaded Belt
Margaret Hubert Freeform Belt
Christy McMahon Lilac Waves Belt
Marty Miller Spiderweb Sash
Dianne Moyer Circle on Circle Belt
Dora Ohrenstein Popcorn Medallion Belt
Carrie A. Sullivan Pretty Tunisian Knit Stitch Belt
Mary Beth Temple The Felt Belt

Belts were the project of choice for this launch, as they are a must-have accessory, quick projects with no complex shaping, and ideal for experimenting with new yarns and techniques. The beautiful designs in Crochet Belts from the Hip use a variety of techniques, including freeform crochet, felting, lace, beading, cables, Tunisian crochet, surface embellishment, motifs, and much more. Yarn choices range from perennial favorites to the adventurous, such as hemp, jelly yarn, ribbon and wire.

Each designer writes “straight from the hip,” creating instructions in her own voice, free of editorial agendas, imposed formats or word count restrictions. The personality of each designer shines through in these pages, providing a unique opportunity for crocheters to get to know their favorite designers better.

SFTD is a new model representing the wave of the future in crochet publishing: designers making their own assessment of what crocheters will enjoy making and wearing, eliminating middlemen, and cutting costs by distributing patterns via the web. This new business model also allows designers to realize sales income directly, a promising alternative to the depressed design fees paid within the industry. The savvy designers behind SFTD have combined their considerable expertise in technology, graphic design, marketing, and packaging to bring the project to fruition. Layout and graphic design of the booklet is by crochet designer Amie Hirtes.

Purchasers can buy Crochet Belts from Hip by credit card at for the price of $15. Ravelry members can purchase it at

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

TNNA Report Part 4

I haven't even begun to tell you about all the new books that were at TNNA. At least the covers! Most of the new ones that I wanted to see haven't been published yet, but I got to view the covers of some of them, and sneak a peak at some of the inside pictures. One book that I did get to see and coveted, but was not able to get a copy of, was Nicky Epstein's new book, Crocheting on the Edge. Nicky is a great designer, and fun to talk to. So when I got home, I checked out my local book store, and there the book was. Of course, I bought it. It's a great book with lots of good ideas for edgings.

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to work any of the patterns yet - I'm busy getting my classes in order for Chain Link, the Crochet Guild of America's (CGOA) national conference in Manchester, New Hampshire at the end of July. If you haven't yet, check out the web site
to see the entire list of crochet and knit classes, and all the other great events that are going on at the same time. Especially the Yarn Marketplace.

TNNA Report Part 3

If you've never been to a TNNA trade show before, just imagine you are in a HUGE needlework store, with aisles and aisles of yarn and needlework supplies. Such a huge store, it would take you days to walk up and down every aisle and look at all the goodies! Imagine you can touch and feel and pet the yarns to your heart's content. But you can't buy any to take home with you! So it's a bit frustrating, especially when you see a yarn that you simply fall in love with, you simply MUST have! That's how I felt when I visited the Plymouth Yarn Booth. JoAnne took me around, and showed me all their new yarns. She knows I love Fantasy Naturale, and she had a big surprise for me! A new yarn, Fantasy Linen. Yes, Fantasy Linen! It's 72% mercerized cotton, 11% linen, and 17% rayon. It's machine washable and dryable, and comes in skeins of 130 yards. And great, soft colors. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a sample to try at the show, but later that day I ran into the two women from my local yarn shop who were scoping out the new yarns and needlework supplies. I suggested (strongly) that they go to the Plymouth Booth and look at the Fantasy Linen so that they can recommend it to the owner! I wanted to have this wonderful yarn available locally. I know it's going to be a big hit!

Then, this past weekend, I went to the beach, and stopped in to Coastal Crafts in Atlantic Beach. They have all sorts of crafty things there, and yarn! And a lot of Plymouth yarns. And they had Fantasy Linen! So, of course, I had to buy a couple of skeins to try. This is what the yarn in the skein looks like:

And this is what it looks like when crocheted in a stitch pattern:

It has great stitch definition, it's soft, drapes well, and if you look at a close up (double click the picture) you can see a bit of linen threads sticking out. So it looks like linen, feels like cotton, and crochets like a dream!

Check out the Plymouth web site for more information about the yarn. (And ask your local yarn shop owner to stock it!)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

TNNA Report Part 2 continued

As I promised - here's the picture of the swatch I worked up, using the S hook that I got from BagSmith, and 5 strands of Plymouth Fantasy Naturale. I love the 5 multicolored strands together! If you double click on the picture, it will get bigger, and you can see the great stitch definition.

TNNA Report Part 2

I am a collector of hooks - my basic philosophy is that one can not have too many crochet hooks! So when I saw the Bagsmith booth, and the large (they call them "extreme") knitting needles, I stopped to talk. I wanted to know if they were making "extreme" hooks. The answer was Yes! I just HAD to have one or two. And at the end of the show, I got to buy 2 of them, an S (17mm) and a U (25mm). If you go to BagSmith you'll be able to see the "extreme" needles and the U hook.
In the booth, there were examples of knitted and crocheted pieces. The "extreme" tools are made to work with multiple strands of yarn. So - on the way home, I took multiple strands of Fantasy Naturale, and crocheted a little sample with them, using my new S hook. I'll take a picture, and post it tonight, and you'll see what a great fabric these hooks create!
Meanwhile, take a look at this picture:

From left to right: U hook, S hook, H hook for comparison.

And this picture:

Top to bottom: U hook, S hook, H hook for comparison.

And finally, look at the two hooks, in all their glory!

One thing about crocheting with these big hooks - if you hold your hook with a pencil grip, you probably will have to change to a knife grip to work with them. I found that it was easy to get used to that grip!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

TNNA Report Part 1

I just got back from TNNA - The National Needlearts Association trade show - in Columbus, Ohio. Oh, my! What an experience! So many new yarns to swatch with. So many new gadgets to use! The trade show was three days of wandering around in the biggest yarn store ever! Except, I couldn't buy any - I just had to look, and drool, and think about all the great projects I can crochet with all the yarns.

I want to first mention the new yarn on the block - PolarKnit yarn. It's made of Polarfleece, and it is amazing! Find out more about it on the PolarKnit website. I had heard about this yarn, but had never seen it. It was debuting on the show floor, so Saturday, the first day, I went to check it out! I was in heaven! Soft, warm, gorgeous colors! What more could you ask for? I talked with Taren and Amy, and told them some of my ideas for the yarn. They gave me two balls of the orange - (great color, by the way!), and that evening, I sat in our "office", and crocheted a hat for them. With less than one ball of yarn. The next day, I brought it to them, and they got so excited. They will be offering it soon on their web site. (I have to get the pattern to them.) I also will be designing other patterns for them - keep checking their web site, and my posts, to find out more about that! And look at their Yarn Dots, and enter the contest to create your own Yarn Dot.