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!!!