Thursday, December 20, 2012

My New Favorite

I know that I am not the first person to talk about ChiaoGoo needles. Many people already tried them and fell in love with these sleek circular needles. I am a bit fussy, to say the least,  about my tools. I knit continental style and am pretty fast at it, so I need my needles to not be on a way of my flying stitches. That means: great points, flawless joint at the transition from needle to the cord, not coiling cord, and affordable. Too much to ask?
Well, at the market during the last Interweave Knit Lab I have met Amy Dzula, the owner of Mimi's Needle Basket. After chatting with her about this and that, I bought from her 3 sizes of ChiaoGoo needles to try. They looked like a perfect tool.
When I came home and started to knit, I confirmed to myself that these are the needles I want to use for my work. Here is the overview:

A perfect point


A flawless joint



The cord is not coiling


And the price is right


As a matter of fact, I am thinking of buying the interchangeable set of needles, so I can take it with me when I travel. 
If you are a fan of bamboo needles, they have them too. If you are a crocheter, they have crochet hooks as well. 

Check it out for yourself and let me know what do you think about it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Sugar and Spice: Six Bakery-Inspired Crochet Fashions

Linda Permann is a wonderful crochet designer who is also an author, teacher, and a full-time employee at Craftsy.com. Her books are very popular and her beautiful and whimsical designs range in difficulty to accommodate any crocheter.

This time Linda published an e-book. It is so great to have it on a computer or iPad and take it with you anywhere you go. Now, if you are not that much into using computers for your patterns, you have an option to print it out and use it as a regular book.



All projects are made with Malabrigo Yarns and it is one of MFPP booklets in collaboration with Malabrigo yarn company.  MFPP stands for Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project.

Here is what Linda says in her introduction to explain the title of her book:

" The six designs in Sugar and Spice were inspired by my love of crocheted texture—and desserts, ranging from simple to ornate. Bubbling cherries swim a cobbler crust, embossed designs adorn an Italian cookie, and glowing beads of sugar dance along the edge of a freshly baked pie. Just like a delicious dessert, a beautiful hat, shawl or sweater will leave you feeling warm and content."

So, let's look what's inside of this lovely book. It has 6 patterns:one is better than another. 

This is a snapshot from Ravelry page. It is just published and each pattern has many hearts already. You can download it right there on Ravelry.


As you see there are 2 delicious hats, a cowl, a shawl, and 2 tops.
What strikes me the most in these patterns is the similarity with knitting texture. Talking about taking crochet to a new level! Who said it has to be granny square all over again? 
These designs are innovative, delicate, stylish and very wearable. 

This beret is worked in a way that it looks like a traveling knitting technique. Just gorgeous!



My favorite piece is the cardigan. I love everything about it. The fit, the color, the stitch, and  the length. It looks terrific on Linda herself, don't you think?




The shawl is my next favorite. It is long and narrow to wrap around your neck in a beautiful swirl still showing its beautiful and airy border.


I love all the projects and think that they are not pretentious or complicated, but with just enough interest to make them irresistible. 

You can find this book on Ravelry or Cratfsy and download it as a book or you can purchase each pattern individually on Ravelry. Have fun with this delicious book! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

START TO FINISH BEFORE YOU START

 I can't tell you how thrilled I am about this book. In summary, it is an awesome book from an awesome designer Faina Letoutchaia.

 

This is something that so many of us were waiting for: a step-by-step video accompanied by the text on how to make a perfect sweater. There are two DVD's and the book that has 14 chapters that coordinate with videos.

Faina is a perfectionist when it comes to finishing and she wants you to be one. She is very generously sharing with us all the tips and tricks on how to do increases and decreases in a correct way, how to do a button band, collars, flattering shapes and impeccable sleeves. Her videos are very clear and mindful of a knitter who is watching them.

To give you an idea of the content here is the list of chapters that takes you through planning and executing a project.

Chapter 1: Planning before you start
Chapter 2: The very beginning-Cast-On
Chapter 3:  Planning your bottomband and cuffs
Chapter 4: Planning your buttonband
Chapter 5: Increases and Decreases
Chapter 6: Armhole, Neck, Sleeve cap shaping
Chapter 7: Shoulder shaping and 3-needle BO
Chapter 8: Buttonbands and Buttonholes
Chapter 9: Picking up sts around Neckline
Chapter 10: Binding off
Chapter 11: Kitchener Stitch and invisible BO
Chapter 12: Collar Obedience School
Chapter 13: Putting it all together
Chapter 14:Cleaning up
Just to show you what to expect in the video:

Working with collar to make it look good and lay nicely


 


And later you learn how to treat the seams using towel and tailor's tools. This is a very valuable lessons and you do not see it any books.

Faina takes us through her process on seaming showing every detail of that work. 
Learning about common mistakes like this one when you sew using Kitchener stitch.

Or marking with the contrasting yarn, so you are always in the right spot.


Such details as button holes and buttonbands can spoil the look of otherwise nicely knitted garment. Faina is teaching you how to do it right that it becomes a point of attention in a good way. People will ask:"How did you do it?"


Working with shaping and perfecting it.

 
 
 
 



 And the basics.

 There is so much more to this book and it is all illustrated and on the video.
 Everything you need as a tool is out and discussed in a friendly and very clear way. Going through this book and doing along with Faina all the swatches you feel that you have a knowledge that no class anywhere offered in the past. This is the most comprehensive guide I have ever seen And I took tons of classes in my life and own tremendous number of books on finishing.

Faina is a great teacher and a great designer. Just look at her new sweater.


 

I am dying to see the pattern for it. Do you see how precise every detail is? If you appreciate this, you will treasure this book for ever.

For more information about the book and purchasing it please go to 2 Ply Productions website.
And when you get the book, please leave your comment here. I want to hear your opinions about this DVD-book combo.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Congratulations to the winner of Complements Collection by Kristin Omdahl

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER

meppybn !!!

Please check the post on the review page.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Custom Crocheted Sweaters

I am looking through a fabulous book by Dora Ohrenstein called Custom Crochet Sweaters . This is her latest book published by Lark Crafts.


What can I say. The designs in this book take my breath away. I love that every single design is elegant, wearable and fits beautifully. The focus of this book is on providing the reader with certain tools and knowledge that he/she will be using to make the next garment fit.

Dora begins with an important and a lot of times underestimated stage of the custom design: taking correct measurements and understanding the fit for your body. For those who are new to making garments in crochet, there are lessons on reading a pattern and schematics, shaping and alterations, importance of gauge (if you ever thought it's o.k. not to make a gauge swatch, after reading this book you will change your mind. I guarantee that.), and finishing.

Each of the designs can be done as is, if the measurements fit you just as you like it, or you can modify it with the help of the author. At the end of each pattern there is a lesson that you can study and follow to alter that particular pattern. After reading through all the patterns and their lessons, you can also combine what you have learned and apply to other designs or, if you are that brave, design your own garment.

So, this book is not the type you look through, put on the shelf and never touch again. It is a reference book with the information on custom design and a perfect fit. It is a huge leap from what many people used to think when they heard the word "crochet".









Dora loves good and sophisticated clothes and loves to crochet. In this book she is sharing with us both the craft of designing in crochet and the fashion trends that she admires. Above are some of the designs from this book. The rest you will appreciate only after reading through it. I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giveaway of Complements Collection by Kristin Omdahl


You are at the next stop of the blog tour for the Complements Collection.
This collection is a product of wonderful collaboration of a prolific designer Kristin Omdahl and Bijou Basin Ranch. This collection of 13 designs is released at a perfect time. Summer is coming and we all want to work on small projects either we are on a trip or at home. You can choose patterns that use only one skein of yarn or up to three.


Whatever you choose, I guarantee that you will enjoy working with this exquisite yarns and well-written and clever designs that Kristin offers in this collection. When I look through this book I recognize the yarns featured there. I worked with Bijou Basin Ranch and I can appreciate the way Kristin is letting the natural characteristics of these yarns shine by the way she is using them in her designs. The drape is incredible and when you look at this knitted shawl, for example, you want it to hug you with its softness.

The designs in this book call you to explore the use of both crafts and see the exceptional qualities of both. If you do only one of these crafts, maybe it is time for you to try the other? This shawl is crocheted and looks very soft with a nice drape.


I think it is wonderful to see a book that gives us this opportunity to expand our skills and do something different. The projects in this book range in difficulty and the are some designs for a beginner.  I love this cowl. It is interesting and fun. Wouldn't you like to make it? It is on my list, for sure.



I had a chance to ask Kristin a few questions. See our conversation below.

FG: Kristin, I love this elegant collection of small projects that people can take on a trip. Can you say a few words about the yarns you chose for these projects? Are they easy to handle? What behavior were you expecting from the yarns for some specific projects?

Kristin: Thank you! I love the yarns I chose for these projects. Some I chose based on weight, others on yardage, and I'm always drawn to how the color varies from one fiber blend to another.

FG: This book has both crochet and knit designs. It is about time that we see such collection. Are you encouraging people who only knit or crochet to try something new as they are looking at your beautiful designs? Or you are offering a little bit of each so everybody can find a pattern that apply to the skills they have?

Kristin: Both, actually. I have always knit and crocheted simultaneously. I wanted to explore being inspired by something and creating a vision in each craft, but not identically. For example, the shawls are inspired by a scallop sea shell from the beach near my house. Each shawl has a predominate scallop shape, but they are not identically made but in the different crafts. And the tiered cowls, while they are both tiered, they are constructed differently and have different types of edging (and obviously one is knit and the other is crocheted).

FG:. Should we hope to see more of this type collections from you?

Kristin: I still have a few tricks up my sleeves :) Thankfully!!





This book is available on the Bijou Basin Ranch website. A few of the projects from the book are also available separately as kits.
 
And now...
 GIVEAWAY !  GIVEAWAY!

Bijou Basin Ranch is very generously providing a copy of this eBook for me to give to a lucky reader of my blog. What do you need to do to win this book? Just leave a comment with a few words about Kristin Omdahl's designs and if you ever used the Bijou Basin Ranch yarns. Any fun stories about your knitting experiences or your trip projects also will count. Let's have some fun here. Summer is coming after all.

Do not miss all other wonderful blogs on this tour. Next stop is tomorrow at Romi's Studio.



CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER

meppybn !!!

 Could you send me your email address, please?  I will forward it so you can get your e-copy of this wonderful book.

 




Thursday, March 1, 2012

HOLD YOUR NEEDLES 1 and 2

Two amazing designers from Finland Mari Muinonen and Suvi Simola joined their forces to produce these 2 fabulous books full of interesting designs while staying true to their own design esthetics.



You probably recognize their names from Vogue Knitting, Twist collective, their own lines of patterns, and some books.
I love the name of their book sequel Hold Your Needles. I thought it was to the point and humorous. There are designs  for men, women, and children. Every design is supported by charts, interesting schematics, and clear instructions with careful explanation of used techniques. The photography is gorgeous and shows us some insight into life in Finland. Here are some of my favorite designs from these books.














All designs are very wearable, and well designed. I hope you will take a look at them on Ravelry.com
and I have no doubt that you will find something that you just have to make. There will be Mari's interview  published soon on the Designer's Studio, so stay tuned.