Monday, April 16, 2018

Crochet Loom Blooms

30 Fabulous Crochet Flowers & Projects
by Haafner Linssen
Published by Interweave, an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.
Copyright 2018

I have worked with fibers almost all my life. My grandmother taught me how to crochet and knit when I was 5 years old. Later on, I learned how to do needlepoint and cross stitch – I think my grandmother taught me those skills, also. I know she taught me how to use a sewing machine – she had an old Singer Treadle machine, and that's what I learned on. When I got older, I learned how to weave on an inkle loom and a rigid heddle loom. And I also wove on one of those square peg looms to make pot holders. I loved all things fiber (and I still do)! But I didn't realize I was missing another fun fiber skill – weaving on the Bloom Loom – until Interweave asked me to review a book – Crochet Loom Blooms, by Haafner Linssen.

When I received the book, I was amazed at all the flowers you could make on the same bloom loom. And the different crochet edgings you could use. Or – as the author mentions – you could use the loomed pieces in your weaving, sewing, macramé, or knitting (and crochet). There are 30 different flower patterns she creates with the loom and crocheted edgings. So just think of all that you can do with your loomed pieces. These are just a few of the pieces from the book:

She also has 5 different patterns to crochet – a potholder to start with, a scarf, a bag, a blanket, and a chunky throw. Of course, you can use other patterns – pick a pattern with motifs and substitute one or more motifs that you can make from this book. Or create your own pattern to use the Crochet Loom Bloom motif(s) that you make.

Even though the book comes with its' own flat loom to try, I decided to order the Clover Hana-Ami Loom that the author recommends. It's available on-line. And then I read up on how to use the loom, so I would be ready to go when it was delivered. A few days later, I got the loom, and put it together (the instructions about how to do that are in the book, and also come with the loom). I found the author's instructions about using the Hana-Ami loom to make the various blooms very thorough. She tells what type of yarn is the best to use, but also how to modify your loom if you want to use different weights or yarns. She shows how to put the loom together, how to use different looming techniques, how to use multiple sizes of the loom in one bloom, how to form different shapes in the bloom by changing up the loom, how to form different flower bud centers, how to use embellishments, and all sorts of tips and tricks! The book even has a chapter on basic crochet techniques, and another chapter on different joining methods. So all you need is in this book.

I wanted to make my first bloom, and found in my stash some dk weight yarn to use. That's the weight yarn that the author uses for the blooms in the book. But, she also shows how to substitute other weights. And how to vary the crocheted edging, if you want to use it.  And how to vary the center of the bloom. I decided that I was just going to make a thick bloom, with a thick center, with no crocheted edging.  The second bloom I made was out of Ribbon yarn, also in my stash. I made it thick, also, but it didn't have to have as many rotations around the loom as my first bloom, because this yarn was thicker than the first yarn I used. The picture of both of them is below. I really like both of them. Now all I have to do is tie off the ends and attach a pin, and I'll have 2 flower pins I can wear on a sweater, or put  on one of my crocheted totes or basket or use as a charm on a necklace. I have lots of ideas for them. (The first bloom I made is on the bottom - the second one I made is on the top.) 

Here are more of the blooms and projects from the book. 

And here's an adorable picture. (The afghan is cute, too!)

One more thing that I discovered - if you have leftovers from other yarn projects - you know, those leftovers where the amount of yarn left over is not enough to crochet or knit with, but too much to just throw away - you can always use it on the Bloom Loom. 

And - I almost forgot - the flowers and the patterns in the book have great written directions, AND stitch diagrams for the flowers and the patterns, both! So you're covered, whether you like to work from written directions or diagrams! 

If you want to order a Bloom Loom like the author recommends and used, and like I used, you can order the book and the loom as a set, from Interweave:

(All the pictures in this post, except for the picture of the two blooms that I made, are from F+W Media.)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Crochet Kaleidoscope
Shifting Shapes and Shades Across 100 Motifs

By Sandra Eng
Published by Interweave, an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.
Copyright 2018

When I was asked to review this new book by Sandra Eng – Crochet Kaleidoscope - and found out that it had 100 motifs, all I could think about was PERFECT! I had been reading about other crocheters who had lost what they are calling their "cro-jo" – in other words, their desire to crochet. I had somewhat lost it, too. I was having some muscle aches and pains, some swelling, and just couldn’t get up the energy I needed to crochet a big project. Which I needed to do. But I thought that I could crochet some motifs – and finish each of them quickly. So I said yes, I would love to review the book of motifs. And I'm happy I did!
Sandra Eng has put a lot into this book. Not only does she show the motifs, (and includes the written patterns and the stitch diagrams), she also shows how to vary the colors of each motif – make them only one color, or use different colors and change the colors on different rounds of the motifs. All intended to make each motif your own. In other words, she gives you permission to change things up.
She has a chapter on choosing colors, too, whether it's using your favorite colors, or contrasting colors, or gradient colors.

She gives some good ideas on how to pick colors. And once you pick the colors, you have to decide how many colors you want in each motif, and which order you're going to use them in. 
So if you're not sure about colors, she helps you with that step in making the motifs. (She also says that working a motif in a solid color is good!)

Next, she divides the book into chapters for different shaped motifs – 



and Triangles and Other Shapes. 

Each motif has the written pattern, a stitch diagram (just in case you run into trouble reading the written pattern), and most have alternate colorways you can use. Then, there are directions for 5 different patterns, and how to put the motifs together to make the patterns: a rug, a shawl, a pillow, a blanket, and a table runner. (The Pillow is my favorite – here is a picture of it.)

If you have trouble reading the stitch diagrams, there is a stitch key, and there is a glossary of stitches if you're not sure how to make a certain stitch. There are also two pages of 50 basic square motifs, one in each of the 50 colors that were used in the 100 motif patterns in the book.
So everything you need to know is taken care of. 

I wanted to try some of the motifs, but I wanted to use one yarn for each motif. (Weaving in ends is not my favorite thing to do!) So I picked some yarn from my stash that was either self-striping, or had large areas of one color. I made one swatch 3 times, with 3 different types of yarn. This was swatch #46, the Circle in a Square. Here are the two swatches that are in the book:

And here are the 3 swatches that I crocheted. I used different weights of yarn, too.

I used a "self-striping" yarn (on top), a yarn with different blocks of color (on the bottom left), and another self-striping yarn (bottom right).

Then, I wanted to try a triangle swatch – so I picked Swatch #94. Here are the two swatches that are in the book:

And here is my swatch:

This was a yarn that had large blocks of color, but here it almost looks like I used a solid color yarn.

Last, I wanted to do a smaller swatch that could be used in between two larger ones, or could be used by itself. I picked Swatch #63. Here is the swatch in the book:

And here is my swatch:

This was a self-striping yarn.

After I worked my swatches, I decided that this would be a good book to have – you can use yarn leftover from different projects (we all have that, don't we?), and just about any weight of yarn to make various swatches. Or the same swatch with different yarns of the same weight. If you have yarns of different weights (like I had with the swatches for the Circle in the Square), you can always make individual swatches into coasters, or hanging decorations. Or you can be organized with your swatches and make one (or more) of the patterns in the book. One nice thing about the motifs, they don't take a long time to crochet. So if you have lost your desire to crochet a big project, but still want to crochet, you can pick one of these motifs, work it with various yarns, either one or more colors, and you'll be crocheting again. 

You can order the book from Interweave  here: