Saturday Book Review: Complete Crochet Course - The Ultimate Reference Guide

From the back cover:  Whether you're a beginner who has never picked up a hook before or an experienced stitcher looking to advance to the next level, this comprehensive book will become your ultimate reference for crochet. It's like having crochet experts Shannon & Jason Mullett-Bowlsby right there with you every step of the way. They lead you through the essential skills and techniques you need to know and provide fabulous, stylish garments and accessory projects that apply the concepts and principles you've learned. Filled with step-by-step photography throughout for an easy-to-follow and fully visual experience, this book is your go-to source for everything crochet.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I'm an avid knitter and knitting always is first in
my crafting life.  However, I do love crochet just as much and at times equally.

So today I am sharing a fantastic book that came out earlier this year called, Complete Crochet Course: The Ultimate Reference Guide by Shannon & Jason Mullett-Bowlsby. This 336 page book is by far (in my humble opinion) the best guide on the market to teach you how to crochet and to help brush up on your crochet.

What do I love most about this book ?  The photography hands down.  Each page offers the reader not only gorgeous photos, but well thought out step-by-step photos an easy to follow visual learning experience.   I also love how it is written, especially on more advanced techniques and terms.  It's almost as if the authors are sitting next to you teaching you one-on-one.

Inside you'll find .....

  • Before You Stitch - This chapter has 59 pages covering tools, hooks, how to pick up and hook yarn, pattern reading, chart reading and swatching.
  • Making Stitches - This chapter has 69 pages covering your first stitches made, first stitches of a row, foundation stitches, variations of stitches, shaping and variation fo increasing and decreasing stitches.
  • Beyond the Basics - This chapter has 43 pages covering motifs, cables, colorwork and pattern stitches.
  • Finishing - This chapter has 29 pages covering blocking, special techniques, before you sew, seams and joins, buttonholes and zippers.
  • The Projects- This chapter has five projects that include My First Cardi, a Colorwork Throw, a Rectangle Wrap Vest, Signature Vests and a Drape Front Cardigan.  (click on each to be lead to Ravelry for each design).
  • Resources - This chapter has 15 pages of resources that include worksheets, charts and guides, stitch chart symbols master key and material resources.
I honestly can't say enough about this book.  If you are wanting to learn how to crochet or simply need a refresher on crochet, I truly encourage you to take a look at this book and buy a copy for your personal library. 

About the Authors:  Shannon and Jason Mullett-Bowlsby are the co-owners and creative directors of Shibaguyz Designz. Their previous books include Designer Crochet and Crochet Geometry(both Sterling). Their much sought-after patterns have been published in books and magazines, including Crochet! MagazineCrochet TodayInside Crochet, and Knitting Today. They are members of the Crochet Guild of America, the Knitting Guild of America, the Crochet Liberation Front, and the National Needle Arts Association, and are Craft Yarn Council Certified Teachers. They live in Seattle, WA.

On a side note, I also encourage those of you who have issues with arthritis or other hand problems, to check out the Crochet Coach's post - 7 of the Best Ergonomic Crochet Hooks.  There are many wonderful hooks out there designed specifically for these types of needs.

Until next time ~
Remember that a happy day is stitches at play!

Friday Pattern Spotlight ~ Summertime Crochet

I'm an avid knitter but during the hot summer months I enjoy working on light airy crochet projects, especially scarves and shawls.  Today I am spot lighting a few of my favorites, and one I'm currently working on.

First up is Nanci by Julie Blagojevich.  This project requires approximately 520 yards of light fingering weight yarn.  I love the airy look and the beautiful lace detail.

Photo Courtesy of Julie Blagojevich
From the Designer:   Nanci is a light, asymmetrical wrap which can also be worn as a scarf. The design begins with one stitch and gradually increases in length and width. It is finished on one side with a fun, lacy edging

Next is the Floss Scarf by Eline Alcocer.  I'm a huge fan of Rowan Fine Lace and Rowan Kidsilk Haze.  The use of both of these in this design is perfection!

Photo courtesy of Eline Alcocer

From the designer:  This scarf was designed to use up small leftovers of beautiful alpaca silk and mohair yarn. It combines them into a captivating stitch pattern - a bit of lace, some mindless panels of dc, ombre-effect colour changes using linen stitch - to ensure Floss is as fun to make as it is lovely to wear.

Next is Haiku by Rebecca Velasquez.  This shawl is very soothing design to work on, which  I can honestly say this as I've made three!  This shawl will require approximately 442 yards of fingering weight yarn.

Photo courtesy of Carrie Bostick Hoge
From the Designer:  I love the wearability of long, narrow shawls and am equally in love with interesting, yet simple, stitching. This shawl has a very modern and clean feel while keeping its wooly, relaxed comfort.

Last is the Quicksilver Shawlette by Tamara Kelly of Moogly.  I'm actually working on this design as my summer crochet project.  The pattern is very well written, easy to follow and quite beautiful!

Photo courtesy of Tamara Kelly
From the Designer:  The Quicksilver Shawlette features gorgeous neutrals and the interplay of stitch patterns, finished off with a beautiful and striking edging. And it uses (less than) 2 balls of yarn - and takes only a few evenings to make!

Do you have a favorite summertime project that you enjoy doing ?

Tuesday Snap ~ Patio Knitting

During the summer in Arizona, most folks tend to get out very early in the morning to enjoy the cool before the day becomes to hot to handle.  The last few mornings I've been taking advantage of this coolness by enjoying my cup of coffee with knitting.  It's been in the mid-70s, which is perfect during this time of the year!

Today I'm working on the front right panel to my 2914 Cardigan.  I casted this on late last night and have made a lot of progress.  I do believe this is going to go very quickly!


I have a feeling once completed, this cardigan will turn into a favorite and will be worn quite often in the cooler months.

Until next time ~ Happy Knitting!

A Little Shetland Love and a Bit of Planning

I have been on a all "Shetland" kick here lately, including watching the BBC Series Shetland on Netflix.  I absolutely love this series, so much so that I bought the first book in the series by Ann Cleeves called Raven Black.  I truly enjoy reading mysteries and think this series will be perfect to kick off my summer reading !

It only seemed fitting to take a photo of what I was reading along in front of my treasured plate and my knitting.  As you can see too, I have two more books on my table to read, The Jane Austen Project and Ties that Bind.  I'm hoping these two books will be great for my summer reading too.
Raven Black begins on New Year’s Eve with a lonely outcast named Magnus Tait, who stays home waiting for visitors who never come. But the next morning the body of a murdered teenage girl is discovered nearby, and suspicion falls on Magnus. Inspector Jimmy Perez enters an investigative maze that leads deeper into the past of the Shetland Islands than anyone wants to go.
About the AuthorAnn is the author of the books behind ITV's VERA, now in it's third series, and the BBC's SHETLAND, which will be aired in December 2012. Ann's DI Vera Stanhope series of books is set in Northumberland and features the well loved detective along with her partner Joe Ashworth. Ann's Shetland series bring us DI Jimmy Perez, investigating in the mysterious, dark, and beautiful Shetland Islands 

I've also started planning a shawl knitting project using my  very own handspun in the colorway called Hummingbird by Hello Yarn.  My finished skein is 2-plied and measures 415 yards, perfect for a wonderful pattern by Rachel Henry called Nahant.  This pattern has been written for using handspun, especially when fractal spinning.  I'm hoping this will show off the colors of this yarn as well as Rachel's design.

Photo courtesy by remily    
From the designer:   "I read about fractal spinning and had to try it out. Like magic, colorful high-contrast fiber fluff became self-striping-ish prismatic handspun. I absolutely adored the finished yarn, but it needed to be knit up into something special. Pattern searches left me unsatisfied -- the only solution was to design the perfect stole.  My requirements: mostly stockinette, with just enough pattern to keep my interest without distracting from the colorful yarn.  Nahant highlights the color changes of my fractal handspun with a subtle leaf pattern that doesn’t fight for attention. Knit on the bias, it resists curling. Use any weight yarn (just choose the appropriate needle), and make it as wide or as narrow as you like. Length is flexible too, so you can make the most of that precious handspun yarn." ~ Rachel Henry

I'm looking forward to caking my handspun and casting on this lovely design by Rachel.  I have a feeling this will be quite a soothing knitting project.

What's on your summer reading list?

Until next time ~ Happy Knitting!

Sunday Happenings .... Sweater Knitting and Knitting Bag Accessories

I'm so excited to have finished the back of my 2914 Cardigan!!!  And yes, that is vintage thread holding the edges down for my photo (another hobby I have is sewing on vintage machines).  I have already casted on the front right panel and believe it will knit up super fast.

I am quite pleased with the construction of this cardigan and the pattern is really easy to follow.  The best part, it is knitted up on a US size 10 needle, so this makes it a super quick knit.

And now for the knitting bag accessories ....  Several months ago while shopping at Hobby Lobby, I picked up this Knitter's Pride bag on clearance for $7.00.  I love it!!!

It's super roomy and it's currrently holding my 2914 Cardigan project.  I also picked up the coordinating circular needle pouch and needle accessory pouch, both costing $5.00 each.  Needless to say, I had to pick up a few more pieces to compliment what I already had and I now have the stitch marker holder, the zipper pouch, the double zipper pouch, the triangle zipper pouch and the project bag.

Do you have a favorite knitting bag that you use?

Until next time ~ Happy Knitting!

Saturday Book Review: Vogue Knitting, The Ultimate Knitting Book

Several months ago I received a copy of the revised and updated Vogue Knitting, The Ultimate Knitting Book.  First published in 1989, the Vogue Knitting- Ultimate Knitting Book was a the main resource in many personal knitting libraries.  I for one received a copy from Mother-n-Law as a Christmas gift in 1995 and I still remember how excited I was to receive such a wonderful gift.
I was completely enthralled with this book and it soon became my "go to resource" for learning many new techniques.

What do I love most about this book?  It's a comprehensive resource that includes cables, color knitting, lace knitting , circular and directional knitting, techniques for binding on and binding off, finishing and more.  Yes, you can purchase books that are more extensive for each technique presented inside this book,  but if you just need the basics, on a budget or a newer knitter this is a wonderful book to add to your library collections.

I especially like the chapter that covers yarn, gauge and needle size.  Often this part is just glazed over and not much detail is given, but in the first chapter, Yarns & Supplies, there are five detailed pages covering many aspects of yarn.

Here's what you will find inside:

  1. Yarn's & Supplies - yarns, tools, accessories and getting organized
  2. Basic Techniques - the structure of knitting, holding yarn and needles, casting on, binding off, basic knit stitch, basis purl stitch, basic stitch patterns, joining yarns, increases and decreases.
  3. Cables - introduction to cables, types of cables, understanding cable symbols, reading cable charts, cable stitches and symbols and cabling without a cable needle.
  4. Color Knitting - stranded knitting, intarsia, bobbins, charts, horizontal stripes, vertical stripes, slip stitches, mosaic knitting, short-row color knitting and plaid knitting.
  5. Lace - introduction to lace, yarn overs, decreases, reading lace charts, shaping in lace, lace borders and edgings, blocking lace and correcting mistakes in lace knitting
  6. Circular Knitting - knitting in the round, circular needles, double pointed needles, two circular needles, magic loop, jogless join, stepping and moebius knitting.
  7. Directional Knitting - entrelac, how to knit entrelac in the round, modular knitting, bias knitting, center out knitting, center out squares, center out circles, center out geometric shapes and center out stars.
  8. Advanced Techniques - brioche knitting, double knitting, tucks, loop stitch, elongated and drop stitches and felting.
  9. Understanding Structure - understanding garment knitting, schematics, gauge, gauge swatch for knitting in the round, counting rows, knitting and crochet abbreviations explained, knitting terminology, symbols and unusual and alternative symbols.
  10. Correcting Errors
  11. Finishing - introduction to blocking, blocking materials, seaming, grafting, pickup stitches, sewing in a sleeve and attaching separate pieces and hemming.
  12. Designing Sweaters - this is a very long chapter that covers many aspects of designing  a sweater, including planning yarn amounts, shaping, sizing, buttonholes, bands, hems and much more.
  13. Designing Shawls - introduction to shawls, designing shawls, square and rectangular shawls, shetland construction, triangular, circular and have circular, crescent and short row, faroese shawl construction, nupps and beads, and ruanas.
  14. Designing Acessories - designing hats, mittens and gloves, socks , techniques and blocking.
  15. Embellishments - embroidery, knitting with beads and knitting with sequins.
  16. Caring for Knitwear - cleaning, folding and storing.

$39.95 US / $53.95 Can
Sixth & Spring Publishing
From the Publisher:  With updated, revised, and fresh material throughout, 65 additional pages, and more than 1,600 photos and hand-drawn step-by-step illustrations, Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Knitting Book is surprisingly easy to navigate with thorough indexing and footnote cross-referencing. From beginners needing to learn the very basics to seasoned knitters wanting a refresher on a complex technique, every knitter will cherish this guide for years to come.
I hope you enjoyed my review of the revised and updated  Vogue Knitting, The Ultimate Knitting Book.  I do encourage you to take a good look at this book and consider it for your knitting library.

Until next time ~ happy knitting!

Friday Pattern Spotlight

Each Friday I will post a collection of patterns that I find interesting, creative, colorful and just plain fun.  Today I'm spot-lighting pull-over sweaters.  When it comes to sweaters and cardigans,   I love beautiful color-work, cables and simplicity.

Yesterday Nordland by Winterludes caught my eye.  This sweater has a just a touch of colorwork for interest. This one is definitely going in my queue for fall knitting!

From the designer:  Nordland is a top down sweater designed to match the Under the fir tree set for dolls! obviously, you don’t need any doll to need this sweater.  Nordland is inspired by long winter walks in the hills, when the air is so cold and the snow crunches under your feet… it’s a very easy and fast made project.
Photo courtesy of © winterludes

Sarah Crawford just released an awesome "guy" sweater called He Oak.  This one is pure simplicity and perfect for the manly man in your life.

From the designer:  White Gum Wool’s She Oak yarn is a beautifully heathered combination of greens, browns and russet, with a slightly felted handfeel. The simplicity of this jumper makes the most of these winter-friendly qualities: a shawl collar to pull up to block the wind or down to insulate the shoulders with another layer, mistake ribbing to add texture, a neat but comfortable fit, and classic casual styling for comfort and ease. Saddle shoulders and lots of stockinette make for a fun but quick knit.
Photo courtesy © Sarah Crawford

One on my favorite designers, Heidi Kirrmaier, just released a sweet little summer top called Night Sky.  This design is knitted up in Shibui Knits Twig, a lovely sport weight yarn.  Just look at that scalloped edge, this is a must for my summer knitting!

From the designer:  This summer tee is knit seamlessly from the bottom up. Short rows are worked at the back neck, and otherwise it is knit entirely in the round. Length from underarm is 35 cm (13.75 inches) for sizes XS - L1, and 39 cm (15.25 inches) for sizes L2 - XXL. If you wish to lengthen it, you may need more yarn.
Photo courtesy © Heidi Kirrmaier

Do you have a favorite design that you are dying to knit or crochet ?
I would love to know!

Until next time, happy knitting!

On the Needles and Languishing On the Needles

Like most knitters I have many projects going at once with a few of them really going no where.  I see new patterns posted on Ravelry or photos of test knits on Instagram and I immediately have the urge to buy the pattern and cast on.

This happened to me several months ago when I saw someone post a photo of their finished Buttercup ( design by Heidi Kirrmaier) on Instagram.  This pattern has been on my list of must knits for a very long time and of course I had to buy the yarn and cast on immediately.

Hmmmm.... that was in April and I haven’t made much progress.  For this project I’m using 10 skeins  of Elsebeth Lavold’s Hempathy and a size US 4 circular needle.  I have two more increases to go for the body and then it will be smooth sailing to the bottom edge.

Languishing on my needles are two pairs of socks.  I started a modified version of  Los Monos Locos  and I’m just about finished with the first sock. I’m using Premier Yarns Serenity Sock Prints in Surf.  I really love the yarn and the striping, I just can’t seem to get this one done so I can start the mate.

Actively on my needles is my 2914 Cardigan.  I absolutely love this design, and the yarn.   I'm still on the sleeves but should start the shoulder and neck shaping very soon.

What's on your needles and hook today ?

Until next time, happy knitting!

Ohhhh.... Let's Do a KAL!

When I saw the blog post from Marie over at Olive Knits, I knew I was ready for a sweater knitting challenge but knitting an entire sweater in four days, what am I thinking!!!

Now mind you I cannot resist a good challenge and this one I fell for head over heels for, simply because I love Marie's Beekeeper Cardigan.  To me, this has fall written all over it and I need a sweater for a October trip that I'm planning to Kentucky.  Marie's KAL timeline is six days for those knitting a size 44, which that will be me.  If I knit like the wind, this is doable.

© Marie Greene 

For this project I plan to use my stash of Ella Rae Amity Solids.  I know that this is a light worsted weight, but I will make a gauge swatch before casting on.  I'm thinking that I will simply need to go down a size to get what I want.

If you're ready for a fun challenge, then please join in and follow the progress in Marie's Ravelry Group and in her group on FaceBook.

I can't wait to cast on!!!

Until next time, happy knitting!

Sweater Knitting, Is This Crazy for summer ???

I know to many of you that knitting a nice wool cardigan in the heat of summer is nuts, but I'm loving my new cast on, the 2914 Cardigan by Vanessa Ewing.  I have found that this project is moving along quite nicely and knitting up just as I hoped.   I found the short row shaping at the bottom interesting, which is giving the back a slight curve.

Courtesy of Plymouth Yarn Co.

For this project I'm using Plymouth Yarn Company's Mushisni Big in the color 103, a mix of brown, red and blue.

What do you knit in the summer ?