Fall in love with this season-spanning wrap and the yarn it’s made of. The Absaroka Poncho, a knit poncho pattern, is easy enough for advanced beginning knitters. Better yet, when you’re ready to wear it, it can be styled several ways: worn over the shoulder as an asymmetric wrap, draped over the back neck to show off the striking colorwork, or left as a rectangular shawl to be worn over the shoulders.
Knit two rectangular panels from the bottom up, and graft them together at the center. Sew the sides together, or use clasps or screw-in leather closures to create the poncho style.
Most of us begin the new year by looking forward, but I’m starting 2018 by taking a look at two knitting and two crochet books from 2017 which I never got around to reviewing. If by some chance you missed hearing about these, now’s your chance to find a new recommended title. These are keepers.
Stackpole Books, Interweave, and Fallingblox Designs provided copies of these books for my review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This page may contain affiliate links, which help support me but don’t cost you anything extra.
I’m a huge fan of mosaic knitting. I love color, I love pattern, and I love how slip stitches can make simple knitting into something spectacular. I’m a fan of simple lace, as well. But when I heard about Mosaic & Lace Knits, I thought, “Huh? Can you even do that?” The answer is a resounding YES! Using her innovative techniques, designer Barbara Benson shows us how to meld slip-stitch knitting and simple lace techniques into fascinating accessories.
I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the projects up close, and they are truly eye-catching. I also met Barbara in person last summer, and I think I may have squeed just a little bit over her work.
Who It’s For: Intermediate knitters up for a challenge. Experienced lace knitters and mosaic knitters looking for their next project will be sure to find something here to fascinate.
If you want to try out basic mosaic knitting first, check out my Mosaic Knitting class on Creativebug.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Alasdair Post-Quinn intimidates me a little bit. Not because he’s the least bit scary or mean—he’s a gentle, soft-spoken unassuming guy— but because his mad skills when it comes to double-knitting just blow me away.
In this self-published sequel to his first book, Extreme Double Knitting, Alasdair takes us where no one has gone before, presenting in-depth double-knitting techniques along with colorful patterns that are truly stunning. He provides many step-by-step technique photos, and nice large charts to help you on your way. Running throughout the text are sidebars of Alasdair’s “Craftstory”; his life story (to date) is so interesting and so different from mine that I read it all the way through, flipping from page to page, before I started the knitting portion of the book.
I have seen some of the 14 jaw-droppingly lovely projects in person and all I can say is, if you are a knitter looking for a challenge, Double or Nothing is well worth your time.
Who It’s For: Experienced knitters. As the book’s subtitle says, this is “Reversible Knitting for the Adventurous”. You may also want to look into Alasdair’s Adventures in Double Knitting class on Craftsy**.
How did I miss bringing this one to your attention when it came out? <head smack>
Dora gives us 14 fashionable and flattering patterns that any crocheter would be proud to wear. Many crocheters shy away from making sweaters, but with top-down sweaters, there’s no need to be afraid. You can simply try on the sweater as you work and make adjustments for fit along the way. You’ll learn about choosing yarn and stitch patterns, what makes a wearable fabric, and how to adjust the patterns for a perfect fit.
Who it’s For: Intermediate and advanced crocheters who want to make attractive, fashionable garments.
Step Into Crochet is the book that everyone has been asking me about, when they ask me to recommend a crocheted sock book. Rohn provides clear and complete information on crocheting socks that fit, the basics of sock construction, and variations on heels, toes and cuffs. Knitters have had this information readily available for years, but until now we’ve been lacking a resource specific to crocheted socks. The eighteen sock patterns can be modified to fit your foot and ankle, and there are plenty of options for colorwork and texture to keep things interesting.
Who It’s For: Beyond-beginner crocheters who want comfortable socks that fit.
**Coupon Details: Get 25% off the full retail price of any Craftsy class. Excludes classes from our special Mastering in Minutes series as well as from our partner, The Great Courses. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires March 29, 2018.
Storey Publishing provided a copy of Design Your Own Crochet Projects for my review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. This page may contain affiliate links, which help support me, but don’t cost you anything extra.
If you’ve been following the blog tour for Design Your Own Crochet Projects, you’ve already heard from others about how Sara Delaney has made crochet design accessible. How she walks you through the process of using gauge swatches and plug-in templates, How she makes it easy to create your own crocheted accessories. How she provides a small stitch dictionary (cheering here!) to get you started.
Those things are all great and important, but did you hear about the Online Crochet Project Calculator? Read the book to learn about the design process, and move on over to the calculator, and let it do the math for you. You must check this out!
If you have been designing by the seat of your pants (i.e., try this, rip it out, try something else, rip it out, try another thing, now it’s kind of OK), Design Your Own Crochet Projects is the book you need. It has templates for socks, scarves, cowls, hats, mittens and gloves.
I was lucky enough to see an early draft of the book, and was honored to be invited to write a back-cover blurb! I’m excited to see a good crochet design resource hit the market. I’m just sorry I didn’t think of writing it! Sara got to it first, and I’m happy for her.
In October, I spent a couple of days at the Merritt Bookstore booth at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. And guess who was standing next to me all weekend? Designer/Author Sara Delaney! We didn’t have a lot of time to chat, but we did find a few minutes in a semi-quiet corner, where she could explain what makes Design Your Own Crochet Projects awesome. Watch the video for Sara’s low-down on stepping into crochet design.
Want to win a copy for yourself? Leave a comment below telling which part of crochet design you find the most challenging. One comment per person. A winner will be selected at random from the comments on November 20, 2017. U.S. and Canada residents only.
Check out Sara’s My First Crochet Cardigan class on Craftsy. Coupon Details: Get 25% off the full retail price of any Craftsy class. Excludes classes from our special Mastering in Minutes series as well as from our partner, The Great Courses. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires February 3, 2018.
For other crochet design resources, check out this page.
This post may contain affiliate links, which provide me with a small income but don’t cost you anything extra.
My newest crochet design, the Three Pines Shawl, made its debut at the Shelridge Yarns booth at Rhinebeck. It was a big hit with crocheters looking for an interesting wearable project using beautiful yarn.
This rectangular crocheted shawl wraps you in jacquard-look coziness. Contrasting colors in a simple four-row repeat make up the eye-catching reversible all-over fabric. The subtly ruffled edging complements the main fabric while adding movement and texture.
The shawl is designed for gradient colors of dk-weight yarn set off by a single contrasting color. I used Shelridge Yarns Classic DK, one of my all-time favorites because of the many beautiful colors available. (It’s what I used for all the samples for Connect the Shapes Crochet Motifs.)
The shawl has been made up in two different colorways, a green/purple and a grey/red. You can also see it in a coral colorway from test crocheter huntm on Ravelry. You can buy a kit for the yarn AND the pattern from Shelridge Yarn here.
It would also work with a color-changing yarn with long repeats paired with a contrasting solid.
You may be surprised by instructions that tell you not to turn at the end of some rows, but never fear! These instructions minimize the number of ends you’ll need to weave in. I’m looking out for you! Once you get the hang of the stitch pattern it’s easily memorized.
As with almost all my crochet patterns, I provide both text and charts to make the instructions as clear as possible. The pattern has been professionally tech edited and tested by seven different crocheters, so any bugs should be gone.
Won’t you make one and share a photo on Facebook or Instagram? #threepinesshawl
Three Pines: The Name
A few people have already asked if I’m a Louise Penny fan, because of the name of the shawl. Yes, I’ll admit that I “discovered” Inspector Armand Gamache as I was finishing the first shawl, and I was inspired to name it after the fictional Canadian village. Plus, I was using Canadian yarn, so it seemed right. If you are a fan of mysteries and haven’t yet discovered Louise Penny, check out her books below.
And just for fun, here’s a totally unglam picture of me taking a picture of the shawl, on a pine-wooded hill in Virginia.
This week’s National Craft Month project is shibori dyeing. Shibori is a Japanese resist-dyeing technique–a way of creating pattern by preventing dye from reaching all parts of the cloth. Shibori uses some combination of binding/stitching/folding/compressing the fabrics before dyeing, typically with indigo. In other words, it’s fancy tie-dyeing.
Dyeing is a fascinating process, but to someone who has never gone beyond dyeing with Kool-Aid*, the idea of buying all those supplies and fumbling around with them is somewhat off-putting. It would be so much nicer if someone who knows what they are doing could set up all the equipment, mix the dye, and show me how to do it, so I could be assured of success, or at least as much success as I’m capable of when trying a new thing.
Charlottesville Fiber Arts Guild to the rescue! My local(ish) fiber arts guild has some great programs, and this month it was shibori dyeing. Valerie, our fearless leader, and Susan** came early and set everything up for us. We started with nice clean empty wine bottles***, which we wiped with Liquid Wrench to make them slippery. We used pre-hemmed silk scarves from Dharma Trading Co., which Valerie had dyed; mine was pale blue. The scarves were folded in half lengthwise, ironed, then folded lengthwise and ironed once again.
Now for the hard part: wrapping the bottle. We started by taping the end of our cotton thread on the bottle, then holding the scarf strip at a 45-degree angle as we wrapped the string tightly around the bottle in parallel wraps about 1/4″ apart. Getting started was the hard part and I was glad that Valerie was there to add her two hands to mine. There are no pictures of that (because we were already using four hands, and there were none to spare for the camera) but here’s a picture of the wraps once I got them going.
Every 4-5 wraps, I stopped and scrunched the threads together, causing the fabric to bunch up in between. Wrap-scrunch-wrap-scrunch-wrap-scrunch. This went on for a while until the entire scarf was spiraled around the bottle. Then it was time for a dunk in a vinegar bath to get the fabric nice and wet.
I placed a folded paper towel in the center of an X formed by long strips of plastic wrap. After dabbing off any dripping vinegar, I put the bottle on the paper towel and moved over to the dyeing station.
This was the most awesome part, because Valerie had already mixed up the dyes and put down drop clothes, and generally done all the stuff that kindergarten teachers do to make sure their students don’t make a complete mess.
We had several colorways to choose from; I chose a mix of 3 greens and a purple. It was a matter of a few moments to paint stripes of color vertically onto my scarf. For me, the hardest part here was remembering which brush went with which color-even though she had them labeled very clearly. I had to make myself slow down and think about it. I found that the purple wanted to wick into the green more than I wanted it to, but since I wasn’t trying to accomplish any particular look, I felt pretty relaxed about it.
Now it was time to wrap that plastic up and around the bottle to form a sealed cover, Then into the microwave with a bowl of water for steaming. Cook on high for 3 minutes, then turn, cook on high for an additional 2.5 minutes. Take it out and wait for it to cool.
Waiting is hard.
Once it was cool enough, I took off the plastic wrap and rinsed under cool water until no excess dye remained. On my scarf, there wasn’t actually any excess dye at this point, but others did have some rinse dye out. Here’s where we went off in different directions.
The Reveal, or Being Patient
Some people wanted to see the results and unwrapped their scarves immediately after rinsing. All the scarves came out beautifully, with chevron-like V’s in the original scarf color, where the thread resisted the dye. When you unwrap the silk before allowing it to dry, the scarf turns out flat, but if you wait until the silk is dry, the true folding aspect of the shibori appears.
I decided to wait.
Waiting is hard.
I knew I had to write this blog post and I would have more interesting results if I waited. So I waited. For science.
The Final Reveal
Here’s a super-quick video of the unwrapping. You can see that it is really tightly folded and short. The chevrons are more evident as folds than as lighter dye-resist areas, which is not what I expected but is OK with me.
I haven’t decided yet, but I may try to steam it out just a bit to see if I can maintain gentle folds, but allow it to be a little bit longer. However, I know that if I’m not careful, I can make it too flat and permanently destroy the folds. What do you think? Should I try it, or just see if I can relax the folds a bit by hanging it with light weights attached, like this?****
Taking a class is a great way to try out new skills. (I knew that, but this reinforces it.)
It’s worth the wait.
Be prepared for the unexpected.
I need to start with a much longer scarf if I want to keep the folds.
February is short, but it’s full of great things: Super Bowl Sunday, my husband’s birthday, my daughter’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, National Carrot Cake Day**, AND the blog tour for Every Which Way Crochet Borders!
Starting tomorrow, we’ve got a great line-up of bloggers here, including some from across the Atlantic! I was super-excited to discover a couple of new-to-me blogs, Rest assured that their readership has gone up by at least one this month.
Here’s a list of folks you’ll be hearing from in the next couple of weeks: