Friday, December 2, 2011

Last Minute Gifts to Crochet

Has this happened to you lately? Last week, all of a sudden, I realized that there were only a few more weeks until Sparkle Season! And I still had presents to crochet! How could I get them all done? Well, I went through my patterns that have been published, and discovered that I have designed a lot of quick and easy accessories, for both children and adults, that I could make in no time. Problem solved! And even though I may crochet the same pattern for two presents, they wouldn't necessarily look alike because the yarn would be totally different. So I made a list of what I had to choose from, and this is what I came up with. If you're looking for quick and easy presents to make, all of these patterns are accessible on the web. You can download them, or order a print copy. Here they are:

Easy Hat at Annie's Attic; 
This is a self-published pattern of mine, on sale through Annie's Attic - download only - and yesterday I wanted to see how easy the directions were, and how long it would take me to crochet one. One hour - that's all. From start to finish! Couldn't be easier! The pattern calls for bulky yarn, and an N-15/10mm hook.

Goldilock's Family of Hats at the Interweave Store

This is what Interweave said about these patterns (there are 5):
Marty Miller has designed the Goldilock's Family of Hats to suit every member of the family, with distinctive differences in brims and details. The five hats have something for everyone, from simple details for a woman and man to cute stripes for a boy, flower embellishment for a girl, and a tiny hat for a baby.

Bonsai Shawl/Scarf in Interweave Crochet Accessories, 2011

I just made one for myself, in a light-weight wool self-striping yarn. It keeps me warm when I wear it tied loosely around my neck, without being bulky or getting in the way. I'm going to make more for myself! (Just as soon as I finish these presents!)

Totes for All Reasons - at Leisure Arts
There are 7 different totes in this book. All the totes are made and shown twice - once with craft store yarns and once with yarn shop yarns. So no matter where the yarn comes from, you can make the tote and it will look great! You will also learn new stitch patterns, and how to felt crochet.
This booklet is available in print form, and also through the iTunes store and the Leisure Arts app.

So don't panic! You can get all your presents crocheted before Sparkle Season! And each one will be loved and appreciated, especially because it's made by YOU!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Robyn Chachula's new book - Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia

If you want to read my blog post about Robyn Chachula's great new book, Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia, head on over to my other blog:
You may even win a copy of the book.
Have fun and good luck!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blog tour winners

Using a random number generator, I picked 2 winners from the comments posted. Congratulations to Stitch 'n Frog and CrochetBlogger. You will be contacted soon by Leisure Arts - I hope you like your prize book - Totes for All Reasons.
If you didn't win ( and I'm sorry that you all couldn't win!), you can order the book from LA, either in hard copy or digital!  (Yes - it's available as a digital download!!!)
And keep watching this blog. For the past 2 or 3 weeks, I've been making these totes using my stash yarn, so that I can display them at the CGOA Chain Link conference in Greenboro. I am going to be signing my book at the Gate City Yarn booth on Saturday, September 24, and would love to meet you and show you my totes. You'll be able to purchase the book there, and I can help you pick the best yarns for the totes you want to work on. As soon as I get the ends woven in on the last two bags, I'll take some pictures of the totes I made and post them here. 
Meanwhile, remember - You Can Never Have Too Many Totes!
And once again, congratulations to the 2 winners - Stitch 'n Frog and CrochetBlogger!

Monday, August 29, 2011


One can never have too many totes! And a day without crochet is a day without sunshine. These are two facts of life for me. So in early August, when I was home after teaching at the Chain Link summer conference in Minneapolis, and I found myself with no "have-to-do-immediately" projects, I decided to go "shopping" in my yarn stash and make something for the fall Chain Link conference in Greensboro, NC. I thought I could make a sweater to wear – but then I realized I already had 2 new sweaters finished, and two more on the hook. Well, then, what about a tote – or multiple totes – to carry my supplies to my classes? I'll be teaching 6 classes, and I'll have a lot of yarn and stuff to give away. Totes would be good. So stash-shopping I went. I found a great lime green bulky cotton. Oh – that would be perfect for a Circle Mesh tote

And then a worsted weight cotton on a cone. Oh yes, another tote. A Trellis Stitch tote.

And what about that orange worsted weight cotton in a huge skein? A shell tote – the color just looks like summer, and shells remind me of the beach. And, I love large skeins or cones of yarn best of all, just 2 ends to weave in. A Beach Tote!

Oh - what about this worsted weight pink cotton? It's a bright pink and everyone loves the color. Another tote, and I can practice a new stitch. A Puff Stitch tote.

And I have just one skein of this pink marled cotton – a small skein – so how about a tote that has mostly chains. A One Skein tote.

And worsted weight cotton in many different colors of small balls – how about a Granny Square tote? I'd have to weave in ends on Granny Squares, anyway.

 And I can use this wonderful wool bulky weight yarn that self-stripes, for a felted tote. A Bucket tote.

Wow, I thought, that's a lot of totes to design and crochet in a short time! Can I do it? And write my thank-you notes for the donations for the Professional Development Day raffle to raise money for breast cancer research? And what about all those notes to remind the donors about our raffle in Greensboro to raise money for ovarian cancer research? And what about all the thank you notes for the yarn that companies sent me for my classes to use? And I would need to write them to ask for more for the Greensboro conference. That's a lot of writing to do. And finish writing up 2 of my classes. Would I still have time to design 7 totes?
But wait a minute! I realized that I already designed the totes. And they were already in my book Totes for All Reasons – published by Leisure Arts. Whew! So I didn't have to re-design them. All I needed to do is crochet them again! And then I can bring them with me to the conference, and use them. I can also display them at the Gate City Yarns booth when I do my book signing on Saturday.
So with that decided, I started crocheting.
For the past 2 weeks I've been working on the totes. And it is interesting. I didn't remember the patterns because I wrote them a year ago when I was working on the designs. So I wanted to see if I could follow the patterns without any problems. Good news! I can!  :-)  As I was crocheting them, I realized that I liked the versatility of the designs. Each one is different. And, I was able to use just about any yarn I had on hand. For the book, I made each of the totes twice, in 2 different yarns – one was in yarn that you would get from a craft store (we call it a big box store), and the other was in yarn you would get from a local yarn store. So no matter where you shop, (even in your stash), you can find yarn for the totes. And most of the yarn is interchangeable (except for the 2 bulky yarns), so with one worsted weight yarn, you have your choice of 5 totes to make. They didn't take me long to crochet, either. And it's not because I'm a fast crocheter (although I am pretty speedy!) I still have 2 more to finish, but they're nearly done. They are all quick projects. One of my students bought my book and she's making at least 2 totes a week. And she's a fairly new crocheter, too. She is also working on a sweater at the same time. 
These totes are some of my favorites, and include some of my favorite techniques. Granny squares are my passion. Felting is my passion. Heck – crocheting is my passion. So I hope you will find your passion in these totes. Remember – you can never have too many totes!
And, if you post a comment on this blog, telling me which tote you want to make first and what yarn you're going to use, your name will be entered in a drawing for a copy of my book Totes For All Reasons. I will pick 2 winners, by a random number generator. You have until the end of the blog tour to win. That's September 5, 2011, at midnight, eastern time. (The tour is over September 4th.) And don't forget to check out the other tour stops, one each day. Many of them will also have drawings for copies of the book.
Here are the blogs and dates for the rest of the tour:

August 29: Marty Miller (this is me, and here is where you are)
August 30: Ellen Gormley
August 31: Drew Emborsky
September 1: Kimberly McAlindin
September 2: Doris Chan
September 3: Vashti Braha
September 4: Kate Steinke

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Winners of the Knook Giveaway!

Congratulations to Stitch 'n Frog  and Maggi, the two winners of the Knook giveaway. And thanks to everyone who commented. I had a great time reading the comments, and I hope you all get to try the Knook! Remember, it's available at Walmart.
And don't forget to check out the Leisure Arts web site to see video instructions on how to Knook, and all the free patterns available to you, once you get a Knook.

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Adventures with the Knook

My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 5. At the same time, she taught me how to knit. So I was bi-textural at a young age! She taught me lots of needle arts: how to sew on her old Singer treadle sewing machine; how to darn socks; how to thread a needle (sewing or yarn). She also knew how to make lace, do Tunisian crochet (she might have taught me that, too), do Broomstick crochet, Hairpin lace and tatting. She probably would have liked using the Knook – not just because it's so much like knitting, but with a hook instead of 2 needles. But because she couldn't read English, and had to learn her skills by looking at pictures or having some one teach her. She would have loved the videos that Leisure Arts has on their web site – you know, the ones that teach the 'how to's" of Knooking. 

When I was asked by Leisure Arts to be a part of this blog tour, I jumped at the chance. I had noticed the ads for the Knook, and really wanted to try it. It looked so interesting. Like Tunisian crochet (which I love, do, design with, and teach). It looked like knitting (which I love, do, and do some designing with), but there were subtle differences with both Tunisian crochet and knitting. I was anxious to try Knooking.

By now, if you've followed the blog tour for the past 2 weeks, you've seen how to thread the Knook with it's cord. You know how to chain and load your Knook hook with stitches. You know how to pull the cord out from the base of the stitches, and then push those stitches off the Knook hook onto the cord and bring the cord and stitches around so you can start a new row. You know that you insert the hook from left to right into the stitch, and you don't "yarn over" – you "yarn under". You may have watched the video many times. You may have even Knooked a sampler piece like I did. It sounds complicated, but it really isn't.

Here is the video, in case you haven't seen it. And some of the patterns that you can make with the Knook.

In my sampler, I did a few rows of the Knook Knit stitch, and then I worked one knit row, one purl row, and repeated that for a few rows. Here is what it looks like:

When I Knooked this sampler, I looked at the pictures and read the instructions in the book that's included in the set. But first – I looked at the video on-line. And even then, I missed some points that were made about how to insert the hook into the stitch. I went from right to left, what I'm used to, instead of left to right, which the directions tell you to do. Sometimes I forgot to do a "yarn under" - I did a "yarn over" like in crochet. I should have read each line separately, or stopped the video at each part of each step. Instead, I thought I would remember what to do. And that's why my sampler looks a little "different" in places. Remember, this is my first try at Knooking. And I plan to work at this some more. A lot more, because it's really a lot of fun to do. It's knitting with a hook! The fabric is so much like knitted fabric – if you didn't know how it was created, you would think I used 2 needles, not one Knook hook. I just have to practice!

If you're interested in knitting, this will help you learn. If you know how to knit, this will give you another way to knit. Just remember, it takes practice! And more practice! Remember when you first learned to crochet or knit? You had to practice! But once you got it, you were okay. It's the same with Knooking.

The Knook kit comes with 4 easy patterns to practice with, so you can be making a scarf or baby blanket, spa cloth or lap throw before you know it. I think my first Knook project is going to be the spa cloth. I may even enlarge it to make a scarf! I'll be able to practice my knit and purl Knook stitches, and from there – I can conquer the world!!! Okay – maybe not the world, but at least some pattern that's a little more difficult!  

Here are some more Knook patterns that I want to try:

Bottle Cozies - but I'll turn them into Coffee Cozies

Potholders - I'll learn a basketweave stitch and can make a baby afghan!

What are you going to try Knooking first? If you leave a comment about what you hope to make with a Knook, you'll be entered into a drawing, and you could win one of 2 Knook kits that I'm giving away. Write your comment before midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) on Monday, August 8, 2011, to be entered into the drawing! Please include your email address. I'll pick 2 winners using a random number generator.

Good luck, and happy Knooking!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jean Leinhauser - my friend

Many years ago, when I was living in Chicago, I could have run into Jean L., while she was working there. We shopped at the same big department store/yarn department - Marshall Field's. But I didn't. And even though I had been a designer since the early 70s, when I started designing, crocheting, and selling puppets at craft fairs, and even though I knew the name Jean Leinhauser, because I bought many of the books she wrote and edited, I didn't get to meet her until we both were at the same Chain Link conference about 7 or 8 years ago, I think it was in New Hampshire. She was sitting at a table with her business partner Rita Weiss, and another designer, Tammy Hildebrand. I knew no one at the table, but as I was passing it to go out to the hall (dinner was over), they all stood up to leave. Tammy looked at my name tag, and said something about that she lived in a town that was 1/2 hour from my town. We introduced ourselves - I had heard of Tammy, and was pleased to meet her. It's wonderful to have a designer friend who lives close by! And we became good friends. Tammy also introduced me to Jean and Rita, and I was in awe. First, Tammy got to sit with them - that meant she knew them! And second, Rita took a look at what I was wearing (a poncho - yes, this was the time of the ponchos), grabbed my arm, and shook it while she said to me "Why haven't you submitted this to me?" I stammered something about that I was going to submit the idea for their new book. And Jean said something about it. And this was my first encounter with the 2 legends - the dynamic duo - the doyens of the needle arts. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the conference!
Fast forward a year or so - Jean and Rita published some of my designs in their books. And I looked forward to getting their books, even if my patterns weren't in them. They always had such nice designs, good ideas, and wonderful instructions. One day, I was looking through one of their new books, and stopped at a page where they were explaining how to calculate the yarn needed for a design. I wanted to read what they had to say, and when I did, I knew something didn't make sense. I was a math teacher and a math major in my previous life, and I grew up loving math. I still do love math. So when I saw the calculations I knew that they had made a common error. I read on, looking at some patterns. I saw some more errors in numbers and in directions. Now, when I read books, patterns, etc., I don't look for errors - they just seem to jump out at me (except my own patterns). So, just browsing through the book, I found 4 or so mistakes. I thought I should tell the Legends that there were these errors in their new book, but I wasn't sure how to do it. So I just did it. I wrote Jean an email, telling her what happened. She wrote me back, thanking me, and suggested that I become a tech editor. I really had never thought of that, even though I had edited many papers and articles for my advisors and friends. But when Jean suggested it, I knew she was serious. So - I started tech editing. And the rest is history! This year, I was nominated by the Crochet Liberation Front for a Flamie award as Best Tech Editor for 2010. And I WON!!! Thanks to Jean for getting me started on this branch of my designing career. And thanks to Jean and Rita for their enthusiasm over my first Poncho design for them, and all my future designs for them. I will miss Jean, so much. She was fun to talk to, be with, and always had a positive word for everyone. As her pin that she wore to all the conferences stated: "Old Broads Rule". And she did!

This July, at the CGOA conference in Minneapolis, Jean is going to be the first inductee to the Crochet Hall of Fame. I know she had to be proud of that honor, and I know she'll be with us in spirit. I also know that there won't be a dry eye in the house! Rest in peace, Jean. Know that we love you!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pam's Comfort Cables Crocheted Afghan

Last year, some friends and I found out that another dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. We all wanted to do something for her, and because we were all crocheters and designers, we came up with the idea of crocheting a comfort afghan for her. We thought about how to do this - we all were in various parts of the country. How could we get together for one afghan? How could we all use the same yarn, same dye lot, same gauge? How could we make the afghan especially for Pam? Well, we thought of doing squares - each one would make one. What kind? Cables - Pam's favorite stitch. What color - her favorites. And Pink for breast cancer. What yarn? Knit Picks graciously provided the yarn for this project. So we set out to do this. We crocheted. All the designers put in time to make one or two original squares. We decided we would like to publish the patterns as a downloadable booklet, so we had to do more. Some of us tech edited the projects. Some donated money for shipping the extra yarn, that the designers didn't use, to Tammy Hildebrand, who not only put the afghan squares together, but also coordinated the whole effort! Thanks Tammy! And  then we had to write an introduction to the booklet - Diane Moyer and I did that. We had to have someone with awesome graphic art and layout skills to make this whole thing work. Amie Hirtes Bentley did this. And Knit Picks decided they wanted to sell this on their web site. So here is the site:

Details about the book:
Title: Pam's Comfort Cables
20 pages including front cover, table of contents, and contributor's page
24 cabled designs
100% of proceeds go to Pam Gillette

And here are some of the pictures from the book:

This is my cable design. It's an easy one. 

The nice thing about this pattern book is that you can use any of the 24 different designs. All of them, or some of them. You can use any colors you want. You can personalize the afghan and learn how to make crocheted cables, all at the same time! We'd love to see pictures of your completed afghans. We're on Ravelry - you can go to my Ravelry page (martyagm), and post your picture. 
And thanks for helping to support our friend!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Crochet Flamie Awards - results

I finally have time to post the results of the Crochet Flamies. Because of all of you who voted for me, I won the Best Tech Editor award! I am so excited about this! I have been tech editing for 6 or so years, and, as I said on the podcast, I started because I found some errors in a book that was edited by a friend - Jean Leinhauser. When I let her know what they were, and how to correct them, she thanked me and suggested that I try tech editing. I took her advice, and here I am! Best Tech Editor for 2010! Wow!
For those of you who are going to be at one or both of the Crochet Guild of America conferences this year, I will be giving an afternoon "breakout" session at Professional Development Day on how to become a tech editor - what skills you need, what to expect, etc., etc., etc.
And here's my virtual statuette for winning:

If you want to check out all the winners, here's the web site:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crochet Flamie Awards

A short note to my readers:
Well, they're doing it again! The Crochet Liberation Front is holding their 3rd annual Flamie Awards - to honor and recognize crocheters for their art. There are many awards that will be given in April on the Getting Loopy podcast. The voting is open now, through March 30. And, anyone can vote. You don't have to belong to the group. So check out the website:

Once you're there, you can see who's nominated, and look at their blogs or websites and designs. You can read about the candidates, and then you can vote. And when you do go to the site, you'll see that I'm nominated for 2 awards: best technical (tech) editor, and Lifetime Achievement Award! I would love it if you voted for me!!!! 

Marty Miller

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tunisian Crochet Wrap

One of my favorite techniques in crochet is Tunisian crochet. It used to be popular in the 60s and 70s, and probably even earlier than that. It's coming back now with a vengeance! And the great thing about it is that there are so many techniques and patterns and stitches to discover with Tunisian. One of my first efforts at bringing Tunisian crochet back to the masses is now a free pattern at Caron Connections. Check it out, and see for yourself how easy Tunisian crochet is - even if you are a beginning crocheter, or mostly a knitter. I like to say that Tunisian crochet is a marriage between Crocheting and Knitting. You use one hook, but you load stitches onto that hook like in Knitting, and then work them off.
I'll be teaching two different Tunisian classes at TNNA (The National Needlework Association) trade show in Columbus in June. Come see me and learn so much more about Tunisian crochet.
Here's the link to my pattern at Caron Connections.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Crochet Today! The Ultimate Blankets Handbook

I have been crocheting for umpteen years - and designing for just about that long, too. And I still am thrilled when I see a pattern of mine in a publication.  I tend to remember how easy, or difficult, it was to come up with the design and then to crochet it and write the pattern. I remember how many ends I had to weave in, and any finishing steps I had to take (sewing on a handle to a purse, putting a lining in a crocheted sleeping bag, and then sewing in the zipper, etc.) It's as if I were taking a walk down memory lane when I see my patterns published. Last week I saw the new issue of Crochet Today! The Ultimate Blankets Handbook at the book store, and had to look inside to see if they republished any of my patterns. And I saw that they did! Four patterns - afghans - that I really like. Here are pictures of them:

Big Love Blanket

Green Dream Throw

Homework Blanket

And Single-Skein Blankie

When I first started designing for publications, I never thought that I would enjoy designing afghans as much as I do! I like to see what I can do with different stitch patterns. Or figure out how many ends I have to weave in. When I design an afghan I find that I often push myself to do something or design something that I've never done before. I like to work with motifs, figuring out different ways to join them, and I like to work with solid pieces. I like few ends to weave in, but I like the bragging rights when I have hundreds of ends to weave in. I like to make the motifs when I'm riding the recumbent bike, or riding in the car. I like designing afghans in the winter - they keep me warm while I'm crocheting them. I like designing afghans in the summer - I think of how cuddly they'll be in the winter. I guess I just like designing afghans.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How to Crochet Anywhere - Part One: the Recumbent Bike

I am a crochet designer, teacher, tech editor, editor, independent publisher of my own patterns, past president of the Crochet Guild of America, and author of 3 crochet books (one is out of print, 2 will be published soon). Sometimes I wish there were 48 hours in one day, just so I can get everything done that needs to be done. But, there isn't, so I have to multi-task a lot of the time. One way I have learned to multi-task is to crochet anywhere and everywhere I can. And "anywhere" includes on an exercise bike at the club I go to. It's a recumbent bike - it has a back rest, and the pedals are in front of, not under, the seat. On a recumbent bike, there are usually hand grips or handles at the sides of the seat, and also handles in front, by the controls. I exercise most every day, riding the bike or taking or teaching a Body Pump class. When I ride, I listen to a pod cast on my iPod, or listen to NPR, or even watch a tv program on one of the tvs in front of the bikes. And I crochet. I thought you might like to see what I take with me to make crocheting on the bike easy to do. The most important thing to have is a tote or a bag to hang on the side handles. This bag will hold your yarn, your hooks, scissors, and directions if you need any. Also, you can add your water bottle (just to carry from the locker room to the bike) and your iPod and ear buds. And maybe some reading glasses, if you need any. I have tried many bags - some I crocheted myself, and some I purchased - but the best one that I've tried so far is my Nantucket Bag. It's a short version that I got at the Chain Link conference in 2010. I also have the full size one, and I know that would work, too. I LOVE my Nantucket Bags! Check out the bags here: The Nantucket Bag
A funny story about Nantucket Bags - my husband and I were at a Boat Show in Philly, a few years ago. We saw the Nantucket Bag booth - the company had just started up, and I think this was their first retail show. We stopped at the booth, and my husband said - what a great bag for boating - well, I'm sure he really said sailing. I looked at the bags, and said - what a great bag for crocheting! And so we both bought one. And I have been a devoted fan ever since!
Here's a picture of the one I'm currently using for my bike crocheting.

Now, the other thing to think about is what kind of projects are you going to work on when you're on the bike. I'm talking from personal experience now. They have to be small - a large afghan, or even the beginning of a large afghan - is going to be too cumbersome to work on. And it might get caught in the pedals. Projects that are made with lots of little pieces may be too "busy", too detailed, to work on. Projects with lots of color changes might be too "busy", too detailed, also. All those different colored skeins can get tangled in the tote, and if you have to use a scissors to end off too often, you might be cutting more than you're crocheting. I also have found out that if I have to concentrate on a pattern, it's better if I don't work on it on the bike, while listening to a pod cast, and talking to the curious person on the next bike who's never seen anyone crochet on a bike! Mindless patterns are best!

So what can you crochet while sitting on the bike? Lots of stuff. I swatch a lot when I'm on the bike. I play with yarns. I make small bowls, dishcloths, and hats. I try out different stitch patterns. I make up my own stitches and stitch patterns. I have fun - and I try not to sweat too much on what I'm making. (That's one reason that I don't work on any project that has to be sent somewhere for publication.) Here's a picture of some of the projects/swatches I crocheted just this past week.

Have you tried crocheting while you're riding a recumbent bike? I'd love to hear from you if you have. And if you have any other hints, please share them.

I will write another post about crocheting in the car during an evening ride, and crocheting in a movie theater. If you have any questions about crocheting in any other "strange" places, please let me know. I'll try to give you some hints about how to do it.