Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: Mastering Founation Crochet Stitches with Marty Miller

I have had the pleasure of taking several classes with Marty Miller at various conferences over the past few years. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review her brand new Craftsy Class: Mastering Foundation Crochet Stiches. I have taken a couple of Craftsy Classes, but until recently there just wasn't much selection for crocheters. So I am excited to see all the New Crochet offerings they have added from great instructors and designers like Marty!

This class begins with a lesson on extended stitches. You may be wondering why a class on Foundation Stitches starts off talking about the elongated versions of regular crochet stitches, and so did I. But I quickly realized that they are basically the same thing. Although I had done both types of stitches before, I had not realized that the extra chain that makes an extended stitch longer is the same as the beginning chain formed when making your foundation stitches.

Be sure to have yarn and hooks ready to swatch each of the stitches as Marty demonstrates them to get that hands on experience. She repeats each new stitch several times to give you plenty of time to get the hang of it.

Once she shows how to make foundation stitches in each of the basic crochet stitches (single, half double, and double crochet), she goes on to demonstrate how to use these stitches with unusual and hard-to-work-with yarns, then moves in to alternative stitch patterns.

Marty gives TONS of tips and tricks along the way, as she explains the benefits of starting with foundation stitches rather than a beginning chain, and explores alternative ways of using foundation stitches beyond the first row. I had never thought of using foundation stitches to create buttonholes! Marty shows how much better they look than the standard way of making buttonholes by working into a chain space.
Foundation Filet eyelets and Shells
One walks away from any of Marty Miller's classes with so many new techniques and tips that it may be awhile before you have the opportunity to use them all. The great thing about her Craftsy Class is now I can refer back to any of the techniques I learned about in this class whenever I am ready to apply them to a new project, so I don't forget anything. And all from the comfort of my own home! I have to say I am excited to see Craftsy adding so many new crochet classes to their line up over the past year. I am looking forward to checking out many more, and hope to see more from Marty as well! Go check it out today!

Foundation Ripples!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tour Tuesday: Astoria Stitchfest and Yarnie Evening in Portland

There are just a couple of days left to sign up for my classes at Astoria Stitchfest this coming weekend! Hurry and reserve your spot. What a great excuse to come out to the coast for the day, or for the whole weekend (they have nearby hotel info on the webpage). You can still register online today and tomorrow! Jump on this great opportunity!

I am excited to teach at my first Retreat. Two days of teaching including Where to Stick It and Edgeless Cables on Saturday, and Introduction to Reversible Intarsia on Sunday! This is a rare opportunity to learn the technique featured in my new book, as it is only the 2nd time I am teaching the all-day class. There are also 3 great knitting instructors if you want to try something besides crochet.

The weekend will kick off Friday with an "I Love Yarn Day" gathering at 2pm followed by StitchFeast in the evening: dinner at Baked Alaska, including book signing and fashion show (with my designs from Vogue and the covers of CrochetMore and Crochet!). This is the first year the Astoria Fiber Arts Academy is putting on a knitting and crochet retreat, so sign-ups have been a little slow. I am hoping a few more folks will decide it's a great way to spend the weekend at the last minute, so they can really make a go of this new event!

So, go sign up now! You know you want to come out to the coast (and see the Goonies house while you're at it).
(photo courtesy of my friend Carrie who visited recently)
But first this Thursday evening 5pm-9pm, I will be at Fluevog Shoes and Boots in Portland for their "Yarnie Evening" featuring local designers and yarn! We will be yarn bombing the entire store with crochet and knit (including samples from my book). Many designers and crafters will be on site with wares to share and sell including Me, Stephania of 3 Fates Yarns, Ariel of Stariel Knits, designer and published knit author Theressa Silver, designer Nance, the crafty Lee Meredith, and the infamous Larissa Brown. Creativity and inspiration will surely strike you as your make your way through the event with an adult beverage and snacks. Come on down!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tour This Week: OFFF and the Yarn Thing!

Fresh off the road from visiting yarn shops in Northern California, life is going non-stop. I got in late Monday night and am now getting ready for another busy weekend at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, OR. This afternoon I head down to judge their Crochet Competition. I had the honor of judging for them last year, and am looking forward to seeing what crocheted creations people have come up with this year.
Saturday I will be doing a Book Signing at OFFF from 1 to 3 pm. Copies of Reversible Color Crochet will be available at the Eugene Textile Center booth. On Sunday I get to teach my first all-day Introduction to Reversible Intarsia Class, teaching the technique in my new book. There are still a few spots in my class on Sunday, but you can still sign up onsite!
Yesterday did my first live podcast interview on the Yarn Thing with Marly Bird. When I started out designing I discovered the Yarn Thing and old Getting Loopy podcasts, and listened to all the archived episodes (still available through iTunes and BlogtalkRadio). Nearly everything I learned about this business I learned from their shows, and now I've been on one of them. I have to admit after listening to years of podcasts, I was quite nervous. But having met Marly in person, it was just like chatting with a friend (with lots of people listening in). If you missed listening live, you can follow the link above - and be sure to head over to Marly's webpage to leave a comment and enter for a chance to win a copy of my book!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Guest Post: Row-Counting by the Numbers: The Tools

 Here is part 2 of Carissa Reid's guest post. Find Part 1 here.
Row-Counting by the Numbers: The Tools (Part 2)
By Carissa Reid

Row-Counting in the margins might take only a pencil, but I did take care in choosing the right pencil. I bought a package of mechanical pencils that are 2/3rd the length of full-sized mechanical pencils. That way I have multiple pencils for multiple project bags, the lead doesn’t accidentally mark on the yarn as it retracts, and I can fit the pencils easily into the project bag or my hook pouch.

The only issues I’ve encountered with this technique is being diligent with my check-marks. I find that marking every time I finish a row isn’t efficient, as I forget to do so in my excitement to move on to the next row. Instead, I mark each number after completing the series of repeats. It’s a natural place to pause, since I am moving back up the pattern to begin the next set of repeats. I check off each number for the rows I’ve completed before continuing. If I cannot finish the series of repeats, I mark the row I do complete before setting the project aside. If I am forced to stop in the middle of a row, I circle that number, so I know where to pick up again.

If I’m working out of a pattern book or magazine where there either aren’t margins or I don’t want to mark on the page, I use sticky notes. I keep a package of them with my crochet supplies. I was fortunate to find a couple packages of sticky notes held in a matchbook-size cover. They are perfect.

When I do use sticky notes, I am always mindful to write the name of the pattern and the page number on the sticky note, just in case it falls off the page. It hasn’t happened yet, but I could see it happening the first time I forget to note what pattern the note is for.

This technique has served me well over the years and saved me much frustration. I’d be curious to learn how others mark their row repeats when following patterns, but in the meantime, I’ll be marking up my margins with a little pencil as I crochet.
Carissa Reid is a writer, crocheter, blogger and has recently started her own proofreading business, offering proofreading services to writers and bloggers. She blogs at Information on her proofreading services can be found at

Monday, September 22, 2014

Guest Post: Row-Counting by the Numbers: The How

While I am on the road for my Book Tour this week, I have asked Carissa Reid, my good friend (contract crocheter, proofreader, end weaver, and sometimes copy writer) to write a couple of guest blog posts for me. I had noticed Carissa's unique solution to keeping track of row repeats in patterns, and asked her to share it with my readers. Enjoy this two-part guest post, today "The How" and tomorrow "The Tools"!
Row-Counting by the Numbers: The How
By Carissa Reid

When I was first beginning to use crochet patterns, I encountered a problem that I’m sure others have faced: How to keep track of row repeats. It was easy enough to check off the rows as I progressed through the pattern, but when I hit a section that read “Rows 5-25: repeat rows 2-3,” I was at a loss. Unless they were very short rows, chances were I’d have to set the work aside at some point to pick up later, and who wants to spend the first ten minutes of precious crochet time counting rows to figure out where to pick up again?

I thought a row counter would solve the problem, but that only told me the current row, not which of the repeats I needed to begin. I might be on row 20, but was that a repeat of row 2 or row 3? Repeats of only two rows aren’t too difficult to figure with basic math, but there are times when I’m repeating three, four, even up to six rows and my basic math became word problems. If Carissa repeats six rows for 32 rows, and she ends on row 24, which row repeat would she begin to start row 25?

And what happened if the row counter accidently reset or was lost? I have curious children with quick hands. I needed a method that would factor in multiple repeats, remain with the pattern, and couldn’t be reset or stolen by little fingers.

My answer is simple, direct, and only needs a pencil. When I see a repeat in the pattern, I write the row numbers in the margin of the pattern. I like to keep it close to the row instructions, so I don’t have to flip pages or keep track of more pages than necessary. I only need the numbers and a small space beside each, so it doesn’t take much room and the margin serves well. If the repeats include multiple rows, then I divide those numbers in sections for however many rows repeat. So I might have:

in the margin for a single-row repeat. Or I might have:
5    6    7
8    9    10
11    12    13
in the margins for a three-row repeat. The numbers mark the current row on the pattern, and the placement notes the row repeated, so in the second example, if the pattern reads, “Rows 5-13: repeat rows 2-4,” then the number 5 would be the fifth row of the pattern and would repeat row 2.  As I complete the row, I put a check-mark beside the number and move to the next column and the next repeat, following the row numerically and knowing which repeat I’m on by the column the number is in.

It’s simple and it’s effective and all I needed was a pencil. But more on supplies next post.
Carissa Reid is a writer, crocheter, blogger and has recently started her own proofreading business, offering proofreading services to writers and bloggers. She blogs at Information on her proofreading services can be found at

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's New Wednesday: Sierra Sweater

Have you seen my Sierra Sweater in the recent Crochetscene issue out from Interweave Crochet? This one is for those who saw the Dancette Dress I did for the summer issue, and asked for an adult version. I was actually so inspired by making the original dress for my daughter that I wanted to make myself a top using the same top-down chevron style.

My original used only two colors, skipping the changes in the middle. But when they suggested 3-colors, I wanted the zig-zags of the first color changes to begin lower than they did on the dress, so they would fall well below the bust line. I also considered adding some of the lower colors on the sleeves, but decided I like the simplicity of one color on the sleeves.

Another big difference from the girl's dress are the sleeves. I wanted to provide a little more coverage than simple sleeve-caps for an adult top. When Interweave first posted the preview photos of this issue, I was so excited to see how well the sleeves fit the model! I am nowhere near the size small of the sample, and trying a sample on my dress form as I go is nothing like seeing it on an actual human.

This was actually my first garment design with sleeves. I made my original version in a larger size for myself. But the yarn was a bit heavier weight, so I had to make several adjustments.

All Photos © Interweave/F&W
The biggest adjustment was the waist shaping (another design first for me). I have always understood the basic concepts of shaping, but my first few garments have been for little girls and lacy tanks with a lot of stretch that did not need shaping.

The fun challenge of shaping in chevrons (or really any stitch pattern) is working out how and where to decrease and increase your stitches without interfering with the look and feel of the fabric. In this case, I did all the shaping in just the chevron right under each armhole, where it is far less noticeable and often covered by your arms. Although if you look closely at the photo above, can you spot the slightly smaller chevron second from the right?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tour Tuesday: California Bay Area this Week!

On Thursday I am hitting the road again. This time all the way down to northern California. I am hitting 2 yarn stores for book signings and trunk shows this weekend and would love to see some of you there!

On Friday afternoon I will be at K2TOG in Albany, CA. I met the ladies from this shop when they were ordering my books at the Interweave booth during TNNA. They were very excited about the technique, and especially Tyler's Space Adventure blanket. I believe they plan to hold classes on the technique in the near future. So come out and see the designs up close and personal.

I will be signing books 3pm to 5pm, and be teaching a one-hour Make-n-Take as a basic introduction to the Reversible Intarsia Technique, all materials and instruction for just $15.

On Saturday, 11am to 1pm, I will be visiting the Stitch'N It Meetup Group held every month at Exclamation Point in Santa Clara, CA. This is a group for all sorts of stitchers from knitters and crocheters to cross stitch and needlepoint. I'm looking forward to sharing my Trunk Show and Books with their wide variety of customers. Some of my intarsia patterns were even inspired by cross stitch patterns.

I was planning to visit a third shop down in Aptos, CA (near my old college stomping grounds of Santa Cruz). But sadly, Yarns by the Sea is dealing with water damage and the shop is closed until they can repair the damage. If you live in the area, be sure to visit their shop when they reopen and buy some yarn. They will need some love to make up for this unfortunately loss of business.

Hope to see you at one of my other events!