Sunday, May 25, 2014

An Outstanding Book on Crochet Lace

First of all, yes, the book does include instructions for the beautiful gloves on the cover!  It also includes well-researched history of crochet.  Hooks, charts, abbreviations, and all the essentials are covered as well as the great variety of techniques: filet, Irish crochet, and even joining daisy-loom flowers.

This book is written in British terminology, but provides conversion charts for hook sizes and stitch names.  Avid crocheters are already familiar with the differences and should have no trouble using this book on either side of the pond.

I received a free review copy of Crochet Lace by Pauline Turner from NetGalley for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Outstanding Teaching Resource: How to Knit by Leslie Ann Bestor

This outstanding beginner's book from Storey is one I can recommend as a knitter of over 30 years and a sometimes knitting teacher.  Bestor recommends beginners get someone experienced to cast on for them and I heartily agree!  Beginners tend to cast on too tightly, making every stitch of the first row a struggle to get the needle in and out, causing discouragement, etc.  For children, I even knit a row or two to give them something to hold on to.

This book also has excellent illustrations and an emphasis on "reading your stitches". Understanding how stitches are oriented on the needles and how they connect to one another is something many experienced knitters still don't/can't do.  Teaching this skill from the beginning is as fundamental as a musician learning to read notes and rests.

I will add this to my list of recommended knitting books, especially since it includes both Continental and English knitting.  This book will be available in August.  I received a free electronic review copy through NetGalley.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Crochet Flashback to 1979

Crochet Workshop by James Walters is a reprint from 1979.  I was in high school at that time, so the designs were an enjoyable flashback for me.  I appreciate the way Walters pushed the boundaries of crochet far beyond granny squares and doilies.

As a person with training in engineering, I really like the visuals showing what is really happening as fabric is created and shaped through crochet rounds and rows.  If you are not a “blind follower” of instructions and really want to understand why you are doing what you are doing and why it works to create a certain shape, Walters is your man.

I love the chapter on related techniques: woven crochet, Tunisian crochet, and hairpin lace are all handy tools for the designer’s bag of tricks.

I received a free electronic review copy through NetGalley and am happy to recommend this book to any crochet enthusiast.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sneak Peek at New Knitting Projects

First is a simple slip stitch pattern I'm doing with a main color and scraps of other colors used as accents.
Here is a low-contrast blue design.  Notice that the stripes get progressively wider according to the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13...)

These scarves and other new accessory patterns will be in my new pattern book, coming out as soon as I can finish knitting up all the samples!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Colorful Sewing Projects

A Review of Stitch it Simple by Beth Sheard

As soon as I learned that Beth Sheard had worked with Kaffe Fassett, I knew I would love this book.  I enjoy experimenting with color and Kaffe is the master of color.  Beth presents simple yet wonderful projects using Kaffe Fassett amazingly colorful fabrics.  She also conveniently includes basic sewing, embroidery, and applique instructions for the beginner.

While it is hard to choose what to make first, my favorite projects from my review of the book include: Peacock Table Runner, Beady Owl Card, Circles Cushion, and Stuffed Cats.  Other colorful fabrics could be substituted in the projects, of course, but the fabrics used are fabulous!

I received a free review copy of Stitch it Simple through NetGalley.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Felting by Elvira López Del Prado Rivas

This book is a feast for the eyes as well as a comprehensive guide to felting materials, techniques and projects.  Even if you haven’t considered felting as a craft, you should look through this book for artistic inspiration.

A wide variety of skills are presented in great detail. Projects are also provided to practice those skills.  Whether one uses ready-made felt sheets or fiber from one’s own sheep, there is something for every skill level and commitment level.

I received a free electronic review copy of this book through NetGalley.

How to Crochet by Sara Delaney

This book is a standout in the crowd of “how to crochet” books.  Even if you already have several books, I’m willing to bet they do not have illustrations as clear as those in Delaney’s book. Sketches use contrast to show individual stitches and rows clearly.  Learning to tell front from back (not always easy in crochet) and seeing turning chains and joining rounds so clearly pictured with nice, large sketches really enhances understanding of the “why” of crochet.  I’ve been crocheting for about 30 years and still learned from this book.

As a teacher, I also like her idea of letting beginners start by crocheting into a piece of tulle with large holes instead of crocheting into a chain at first.  I use a similar concept when teaching children to knit--I cast on and knit a few rows, giving them something to hang on to while they learn to knit rows.  Once they are able to make rows, I teach them to cast on.  Sometimes beginning in the middle can give students the confidence they need; much like I learned to bake a cake from a boxed mix before I made one from scratch.

Get this book if you crochet and especially if you teach.  I received an advance copy for review through NetGalley.