6.02.2016

Book Review: Continuous Crochet

This post contains affiliate links. It helps my bottom line when you click on one and load up your cart, so thanks in advance.

Today I'm here to review a new crochet title for you dear readers. This is Continuous Crochet by designer Kristin Omdahl.

(C) Interweave Press
Available from Interweave Store for $22.99
The lovely thing about all of the projects in this book is that there is very little finishing involved. From Kristin's introduction:

"This collection is dedicated to a variety of ways in which one can crochet designs and shapes and joining, all without cutting the yarn. I love sewing as much as the next person, but not when crocheting. So in this collection, I've placed considerable emphasis on reducing the number of ends to weave in, while pushing the envelope on what can be done within the parameters of garment design."


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Designer Kristin Omdahl and Interweave Press are a wonderful team and you can feel confident that you'll find well-written patterns in this book. There are stitch diagrams for every project, schematics for all the garments, and other diagrams and graphics where needed for explanation. The back contains a key to all the abbreviations and explanations, and graphics of any special techniques used.

Now let's get to the fun part! I am happy to share my three favorite projects in the book:

Twilight Skies Cardigan
 This is a lovely cardigan. I think it would look especially nice to work the 5 sided motifs in a separate color from the body so that they would really stand out. The motifs are all fastened off at the end of the motif, but they are joined together as-you-go to form the yoke, then the body continues off the bottom of those. I really love the yoke, don't you?!

Alfresco by the Lake Cape
 I really like the versatility of this cape! You can wear it with a belt or without. I think it could be great over a cami in warmer weather, or it can be a nice outer wear piece in cooler weather. The pattern doesn't look complicated, so I'm hoping this could make a nice chatting-with-friends pattern.

Tigress Pullover
The construction of this top is really interesting. It is made with Bruges lace, which if you've never tried, is pretty neat. The Bruges lace spirals around the body and is all joined as-you-go. I really think I may have to try this! Not only is this a neat project to make, it is really pretty! I like the wide waist and cuffs as well. They look ribbed, but they aren't. They are also joined as-you-go.

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I have the opportunity to give away one copy of this book to a reader in the US, Canada, or UK! The book is provided by the publisher, Interweave/F+W, so, many thanks for their generosity! Please leave a comment here for a chance to win, or share the link to the blog post in Twitter or Facebook. In order for Twitter entries to count you'll have to tag me, or I won't see it. My handle is @BananaMoonStdio (notice the missing 'u' in Studio). For a Facebook entry to count, you'll have to share the post from my Facebook page and make your share public, again, so that I can see it. I'll choose a winner in one week and announce it here!

Happy stitching!
April

5.10.2016

Book Review: Vintage Modern Crochet

This post contains affiliate links. It helps my bottom line when you click on one and load up your cart, so thanks in advance!

(C) Interweave/F+W

Today I'm here to review a new crochet book for you! This is Vintage Modern Crochet by Robyn Chachula.

I love this book! The idea of this book is to take vintage crochet techniques and show them off in ways that are sure to appeal to modern stitchers. There are so many patterns in here that I would love to make for myself! Let's start by showing off my favorites!

(C) Interweave/F+W
Fleur Swing Top
Designed by Megan Granholm
I love this top! It is made in Cascade Heritage Silk. A sweater made in dreamy soft merino and silk sock yarn?! Yes please! That just sounds so delightful. I love the different stitch pattern in the yoke vs. the body. This is not a complicated pattern, but it's just simply beautiful. The button detail is a really neat idea that adds so much character to it. This is Tunisian crochet. I've never made anything this large in Tunisian, so this interests me because it's different than other things I've made.

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(C) Interweave/F+W
Leopold Pullover
Designed by Robyn Chachula
This top is classic Robyn Chachula. She's designed a lot of motif tops that are really fabulous! They make for really beautiful lacy tops! What's interesting about this one is that the motifs are joined using Bruges lace techniques. I've done a little with Bruges lace in my Scamp Bandana, but I've barely tapped the surface of the incredible things that Bruges lace can do, and this book contains four patterns that will allow you to really dive into the awesomeness that it produces!

(C) Interweave/F+W
Temperance Jewelry
Designed by Robyn Chachula
I'm in love with this jewelry set! It reminds me of peacock feathers, which are so colorful and exotic! I really like the color combinations! I've never made crochet jewelry either, so this is another project that would be something new for me.

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(C) Interweave/F+W
Priya Cowl
Designed by Robyn Chachula
What draws me to this project is the color combination, the edging, and the buttons. I have a lot of cowls, scarves, and shrugs, but none quite like this one. This is also a Tunisian project that uses several different stitch patterns, so it's a great project to explore what Tunisian crochet can do.

So, besides great projects (so many more great ones in addition to these!) what can you expect from this book? Every project has at least some stitch diagrams. All the garments contain schematics. There are lots of diagrams included, everywhere you'd want them. It comes from stellar designers, and a great publisher and book team! You can be assured of quality patterns. As you may have noticed from the patterns that I featured above, Robyn isn't the only designer whose work is in the this book, but she had a hand in choosing all the patterns. The other designers included in the book are top notch as well!

I have the very fun opportunity to offer a free book to a lucky reader (in the USA, Canada, or UK only), courtesy of the publisher, Interweave/F+W. You can comment here, or on my Facebook page, or on Twitter (@BananaMoonStdio). Tell me which project in the book is your favorite, and you'll be entered in the drawing! I'll announce the winner in one week, so be sure to check back!

Happy stitching!
April


3.22.2016

Berry Scarf for NatCroMo

This post contains affiliate links. It helps my bottom line when you click on one and load up your cart, so thanks in advance!



Happy National Crochet Month everyone! I am happy to join you in this month-long celebration of my favorite craft! Today I'd like to share with you a new free pattern in honor of the occasion!

This is "Berry Scarf." This scarf is simple to make. It will make a great project for a newish crocheter, or a good TV watching project for an experienced stitcher. It will also be a great travel project since it is small and easily memorized. The finished scarf will be a good one to keep stuffed in your purse or carry-on for when you are somewhere that is a bit chillier than you'd like.


This is sized well for an adult, but I especially loved these colors on my daughter, so she is modeling it for me, but no worries, you can make it for anyone you like! On her, the scarf is long enough to double. It probably is not long enough to double on an adult, but it won't be difficult to add more length if you want it. Visit Ravelry to favorite and queue the pattern!


Berry Scarf

Design by April Garwood

Difficulty Level: Easy

Finished measurements: About 8" x 34" (20.5 cm x 86.5 cm)

Yarn: Valley Yarns Longmeadow (60% Cotton, 40% Microfiber; 117 yds or 107 m; 1 3/4 oz or 50 g; weight category: 3 or light): #04 Pink (A): 2 skeins, Fuschia (discontinued) (B): 1 skein, #10 Lettuce (C): 1 skein, #01 White (D): 1 skein.

Crochet hook: I/9/5.5 mm or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: yarn needle

Gauge: 6 pattern repeats x 11 rows = about 4" or 10 cm.

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Note: 
- To change colors, fasten off last color used at end of row. To join new color, skip first st, sl st in first ch sp, ch 1, and continue in pattern with (sc, ch 1, dc) in that same ch sp.
- Stripe pattern is as follows: *3 rows A, 1 row B, 1 row C, 1 row D, 5 rows A, 1 row B, 1 row C, 1 row D, 7 rows A, 1 row B, 1 row C, 1 row D**, 9 rows A, 1 row B, 1 row C, 1 row D, repeat from * 3 times, ending last rep at **.

Scarf
Ch 38
Row 1: (Sc, ch 1, dc) in 2nd ch from hook, *skip 2 chs, (sc, ch 1, dc) in next ch, repeat from * across, turn -- 13 pattern repeats.
Rows 2-96: Ch 1, skip 1st st, *(sc, ch 1, dc) in next ch sp**, skip 2 sts, repeat from * across, ending last repeat at **, turn. Fasten off.

Finishing
Place RS of ends together. Working through both thicknesses, join A with sl st at right edge and sl st across.

Weave in all ends. Block if desired.

All done!


There have been and will be so many exciting blog posts, freebies, features, and giveaways on the blog tour! Follow along and find all of today's other goodies at Crochetville!

Happy crocheting!
April


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3.01.2016

Book Review: Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet


Cover photo (C) 2016 Brenda Bourg

Today I'm sharing a new crochet book with you. This, is "Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet" by writer and designer Brenda Bourg, published by Stackpole Books. There are 16 designs in this book including 2 boot cuffs, a jar cozy, a bag, 3 headbands, 3 cowls, 2 fingerless mitts, 2 sweaters, and 2 afghans.

I love this technique! It produces a really thick fabric, so it is great for warm projects! I also think it will be great in a bag. If you've ever done intarsia in standard crochet, you know that you don't typically get clean crisp lines because of the wrong side rows. Not so with fair isle Tunisian crochet! There is no turning in Tunisian crochet, and therefore, no wrong side rows! Its fun to watch the pattern emerge as you work. It reminds me of watching my mom cross-stitch when I was little. I loved to watch the picture take shape as she worked!

(C) 2016 Brenda Bourg
 The projects are varied and lovely. Here are a few of my favorites. Above: Annabel Bag. I love the effect of the color changing yarn against the black background!

(C) 2016 Brenda Bourg
 Cora Sweater. Isn't that breathtaking? I would truly love to have such a sweater! It would be so striking, and warm!

(C) 2016 Brenda Bourg

Emma Afghan. I wish this photo were zoomed in a little more so that you could see the fair isle pattern better. You can see the picture better in the book and it is really pretty! Again, I would love such a warm blanket!

I had never tried this technique before, and was a little intimidated by it. I was determined though to try it, so that I could share my experience with you all. I have been wanting to make a small crocheted purse lately, so I decided to use this technique and base my bag off one of the patterns. I began with the pattern for the Sabela Cowl (below).

(C) 2016 Brenda Bourg

I worked 2 rows in Tunisian knit stitch, then began the colorwork. I made a piece of fabric just big enough for 2 flowers side by side. I'll fold this in half, seam 2 sides, and add a button, button loop, and strap. I finished the piece with maybe...4 or so hours of work. It's hard to estimate. I never pay enough attention to the time when working. Keep in mind that I had never done this technique before, and also that I don't typically crochet all that fast. I take it easy most of the time when I stitch.

Here's my piece:

In progress

All finished
One thing I'll say about my piece, my gauge is a little too loose. I should have used an L hook, but I don't have a Tunisian L hook (a Tunisian hook is longer than a standard hook and doesn't have a thumb rest). I had a Tunisian M hook, so I used that. No biggie. It still turned out pretty great!

What this goes to show is that the first thing Brenda takes care of in the book is to teach the technique. If you don't know Tunisian crochet, or fair isle Tunisian crochet, no need to worry. She walks you through both with lots of pictures. I've learned a few basic Tunisian stitches over the last few years, but had never tried or heard/seen explained the Tunisian purl stitch. Thank you Brenda! I've got that one in my bag of tricks now!

I highly recommend this book. In full disclosure, Brenda Bourg is one of my best friends, however, there is no false praise here. If this technique interests you, purchase this book with confidence, it's a good one!

Now for the fun part! I get to give one away to a lucky reader! It can only be shipped to a US address, sorry to my foreign friends. If you are in the US, please enter by leaving a comment below. I'll choose one winner on March 8th and do my best to get in touch with you. I recommend you come back and check because I sometimes have a hard time getting in touch with winners.

Happy stitching!
April



2.23.2016

"First Time's a Charm" Knit Blanket - Part 3

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Hi friends! I'm back today to share the last square that makes up my "First Time's a Charm Blanket." This is what I call the eyelet square because it reminds me of eyelet lace. This is a very basic, beginner lace pattern. Trust me, if you've done the other two squares, you can do this! My goal today is to walk you through it.



First, something neat happened when I started stitching the squares together. I hadn't really planned it this way, so it was neat when it happened! The diagonal lines of eyelets are just right so that when two squares are side by side, the lines continue from one square to the next, looking like they were meant to do that. This was actually just a happy coincidence! Anyhow, on with the knitting!


"First Time's a Charm Blanket," Eyelet Square
Design by April Garwood

Finished Measurements: About 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" (16.5 cm x 16.5 cm)

Yarn: Brown Sheep Company Cotton Fleece CW-767 Hawaiian Sky (80% Cotton, 20% Merino Wool; 215 yds or 197 m; 3.5 oz or 100 g; Weight Category 3 or light).

Needles: US Size 8 or 5.00 mm, or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: Yarn needle

Gauge: 17 sts x 22 rows = about 4" or 10 cm

Eyelet Square
CO 28 sts.
Row 1: Sl first st, K all remaining sts -- 28 sts.
Row 2: Sl first st, P all remaining sts.
Row 3: Sl first st, K4, *k2tog, yo, K3, repeat from * 3 times, k2tog, yo, K1.
Rows 4-6: Repeat Row 2, repeat Rows 1-2.
Row 7: Sl first st, K3, *k2tog, yo, K3, repeat from * 3 times, k2tog, yo, K2.
Rows 8-10: Repeat Row 2, repeat Rows 1-2.
Row 11: Sl first st, K2, *k2tog, yo, K4, repeat from * 3 times, k2tog, yo, K3.
Rows 12-14: Repeat Row 2, repeat Rows 1-2. 
Row 15: Sl first st, K1, *k2tog, yo, K4, repeat from * 3 times, k2tog, yo, K4.
Rows 16-18: Repeat Row 2, repeat Rows 1-2.
Row 19 Sl first st, *k2tog, yo, K4, repeat from * 3 times, k2tog, yo, K5.
Rows 20-22: Repeat Row 2.
Rows 21-35: Repeat Rows 1-15.
Row 36: Repeat Row 2. Bind off.

Or, if you are a visual person, here is a chart for you to work from. I went in to chart-reading a little bit in Part 2 of the "First Time's a Charm Blanket" posts. Also, if you need a refresher on the basics of knitting, please look again at Part 1. I included video tutorials there for casting on, knitting, purling, and binding off.


You now know how to make all three squares. The next step is to join them all together. When you've made all your squares, decide how you want to arrange them. Next, you'll use a yarn needle and yarn to whipstitch the squares together, or you can use a crochet hook and yarn to slip stitch them together. I used crochet to put mine together. I prefer this method, because you don't have to pre-cut a length of yarn to work with, so you wind up with many fewer knots and ends to weave in.

You hold 2 squares right sides together and stitch through both thicknesses. Once you've done that set of squares, you can continue right to the 2 squares that come next along that same seam line, just don't let your yarn get too loose, or too tight, between sets of squares. (I know these instructions are a little vague. Hopefully, I can put together a tutorial on this later on for those that don't know how).

Once all your squares are joined you can edge it as you like. You can do something as simple as rows of single crochet stitches, you could use applied i-cord, or you can search through books of edgings and pick one you like. Just keep in mind that you need to increase around the corners. I basically did: Rnd 1: *Sc, ch 1, skip next st, repeat from * around.
Rnd 2: Sl st in first ch sp, ch 2, *2 dc in each ch sp to next corner, 4 dc in corner ch sp, repeat from * until you get back to the beginning, then join with a sl st.

It's important to work evenly around. If your work is bunching up or puckering, then you may need to adjust how spread out your edging stitches are.

Now, if you've never made lace before, I have some photos below to walk you through the two stitches that are new to this knit square: knit 2 stitches together (k2tog), and yarn over (yo).

First, lets look at how to k2tog. This is a decrease stitch. It takes 2 stitches and makes them into 1 stitch. Typically when making lace you will use lots of decrease and increase stitches. See, right after this k2tog, we are going to yarn over (yo) in order to make a "hole" in the fabric. A yarn over, is an increase stitch. It adds a stitch where there was not previously a stitch. Thing is, I want my piece to remain square. I don't want it to get wider as I work. I began with 28 stitches; I want to end with 28 stitches. So, it is necessary to decrease (k2tog) just before you increase (yo) so that the total stitch count stays the same.


To begin the k2tog you will insert your right needle just as you would for a regular knit stitch, except that you will insert through 2 stitches, instead of just 1.




Then, wrap the yarn around your right needle just as you would for a regular knit stitch.


Pull the new stitch through the two old stitches.


Pull the two old stitches off the left needle.


Now you have one new stitch on your right needle, and the two old stitches can be seen there grouped together under the right needle.


Now, to yarn over, wrap your yarn around the front of your right needle. My sister once helped me out when I first started knitting. I was doing all my yarn overs backwards. She told me that when you yarn over, you wrap the yarn the same direction as if you were working a knit stitch.


I hold that yarn over in place for a moment.


The next stitch in this square is a knit, so I hold the yarn over in place as I begin the next stitch.


Now I have completed the k2tog, the yo, and one more knit. The orange arrow here points to the space under my yo. This will be one "eyelet" in my lace square. The big hole to the left of it is just a stretched open knit stitch that will close up when I stop pulling on it. The eyelet will remain open.

Ta-da! There it is. You can do this too!

Happy stitching!
April


2.16.2016

"First Time's a Charm" Knit blanket, Part 2

This post contains affiliate links. It helps my bottom line when you click on one and load up your cart, so thanks in advance!


Today I'm back to share the pattern for the textured square of my "First Time's a Charm Blanket." This is the yellow/green block.


If you look closely, you can see a diagonal line on the square. This square is textured. On one side of the line is stockinette stitch, and on the other side is reverse stockinette stitch. This is easily accomplished, and I'm here to tell you how.


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"First Time's a Charm Blanket," Textured Square
Design by April Garwood

Finished Measurements: About 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" (16.5 cm x 16.5 cm)

Yarn: Brown Sheep Company Cotton Fleece CW-844 Celery Leaves (80% Cotton, 20% Merino Wool; 215 yds or 197 m; 3.5 oz or 100 g; Weight Category 3 or light).

Needles: US Size 8 or 5.00 mm, or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: Yarn needle

Gauge: 17 sts x 22 rows = about 4" or 10 cm

Stockinette Stitch Square
CO 28 sts.
Row 1: Sl first st, K all remaining sts -- 28 sts.
Row 2: Sl first st, P all remaining sts.
Rows 3-5: Repeat rows 1-2, repeat row 1.
Row 6: Sl first st, P25, K last 2 sts.
Row 7: Sl first st, K2, P all remaining sts.
Row 8: Sl first st, P23, K last 4 sts.
Row 9: Sl first st, K4, P all remaining sts.
Row 10: Sl first st, P21, K all remaining sts.
Row 11: Sl first st, K6, P all remaining sts.
Row 12: Sl first st, P19, K all remaining sts.
Row 13: Sl first st, K8, P all remaining sts.
Row 14: Sl first st, P17, K all remaining sts.
Row 15: Sl first st, K10, P all remaining sts.
Row 16: Sl first st, P15, K all remaining sts.
Row 17: Sl first st, K12, P all remaining sts.
Row 18: Sl first st, P13, K all remaining sts.
Row 19: Sl first st, K14, P all remaining sts.
Row 20: Sl first st, P11, K all remaining sts.
Row 21: Sl first st, K16, P all remaining sts.
Row 22: Sl first st, P9, K all remaining sts.
Row 23: Sl first st, K18, P all remaining sts.
Row 24: Sl first st, P7, K all remaining sts.
Row 25: Sl first st, K20, P all remaining sts.
Row 26: Sl first st, P5, K all remaining sts.
Row 27: Sl first st, K22, P all remaining sts.
Row 28: Sl first st, P3, K all remaining sts.
Row 29: Sl first st, K24, P all remaining sts.
Row 30: Sl first st, P1, K all remaining sts.
Row 31: Sl first st, K26, P last st.
Row 32: Sl first st, K across.
Row 33: Sl first st, P across.
Rows 34-36: Repeat Rows 32-33, repeat Row 32. Bind off.

Or, if you are a visual person, utilize this handy chart below. If you've never used a chart before, I encourage you to look it over and see if you can figure out how to use it. This is a diagram of the actual square, with a key on the right.

Every row begins with a letter "v" in a box. This symbol means to slip the first st. For this square, you'll hold your yarn to the back when the next stitch is a knit, or to the front when the next stitch is a purl. Where you see empty boxes, you'll be working in stockinette stitch: knit on the RS, purl on the WS. Where you see boxes filled with dots, you'll be working in reverse stockinette stitch, which just means that the RS of your fabric will look like the back of stockinette stitch, and the WS of your fabric will look like stockinette stitch. So, in that area you will purl on the RS, and knit on the WS. This makes a square with a diagonal line across it with two distinct textures.


If you need a refresher on the basics, please see my post "First Time's a Charm" Knit Blanket, Part 1. This post includes tutorial videos on the cast on, knit stitch, purl stitch, and bind off. This textured square takes those same basic skills and mixes them up just a little. Just recognize that when you knit one stitch and then have to purl the next, you'll bring your yarn to the front of your work. If you have just purled and next you need to knit, move your yarn to the back of your work.


Happy stitching!
April

Yarn Samplers From Knit Picks

2.09.2016

"First Time's a Charm" Knit Blanket, Part 1

This post contains affiliate links. It helps my bottom line when you click on one and load up your cart, so thanks in advance.


Introducing a new pattern! The blanket squares are knit, but I joined them with crochet slip stitches and stitched a crochet edging. These squares are very easy to make, and so are all the stitches that I used to join and edge this throw blanket.

I plan to write a post about every step of this blanket project with in depth photo and video tutorials to guide you through it. I hope you'll join me and learn some things along the way!

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First up will be the pink squares that you see in the photo. These are just simple stockinette stitch. What does that mean? You may wonder this if you are new, or fairly new, to knitting. There are two basic stitches used in knitting: knit and purl. Stockinette stitch uses all knit stitches on one side of the fabric, and all purl stitches on the other. This is the most typical fabric you may think of when you see something that is knit. 


I'm going to use videos to show you the basics of casting on, knitting and purling, and binding off, so that you can complete these squares. My blanket has a total of 42 squares. It is 6 x 7. Only 7 of my squares are pink, and these are the only ones that are basic stockinette. The placement of squares is random in my blanket. Feel free to mix it up: colors, patterns, placement...make it yours!

Craftsy

"First Time's a Charm Blanket," Basic Stockinette Square
Design by April Garwood

Finished Measurements: About 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" (16.5 cm x 16.5 cm)

Yarn: Brown Sheep Company Cotton Fleece CW-240 Pink-a-boo (80% Cotton, 20% Merino Wool; 215 yds or 197 m; 3.5 oz or 100 g; Weight Category 3 or light).

Needles: US Size 8 or 5.00 mm, or size needed to obtain gauge.

Notions: Yarn needle

Gauge: 17 sts x 22 rows = about 4" or 10 cm

Stockinette Stitch Square
CO 28 sts.
Row 1: Sl first st, K all remaining sts -- 28 sts.
Row 2: Sl first st, P all remaining sts.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 for pattern. Work 36 rows in pattern. Bind off. 

Below are video tutorials to show you how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off. I'm hopeful that this will help even you newbies figure out how to knit this simple blanket square.




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Also, view Part 2 (Textured Square pattern) and Part 3 (Eyelet Square pattern).

Happy stitching!
April