Friday, March 27, 2015

Happy National Crochet Month from CGOA Secretary, Susan Lowman

Happy National Crochet Month! It’s great to have a whole month to celebrate crochet! Since CGOA is an integral part of National Crochet Month, it’s fitting that the CGOA Board members participate in Crochetville’s National Crochet Month Blog Tour again this year. Many thanks to Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka for putting together this blog tour. We’re supporting the charity, Halos of Hope again this year. For more information about Halos of Hope, visit their website here: www.halosofhope.org.  


I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Susan Lowman. I’m a professional member of CGOA, working as a freelance crochet designer, technical editor and teacher. I’m the secretary on the CGOA Board of Directors again this year, the liaison to the CGOA Masters committee and co-chair in the CGOA Masters program. I’m also one of the 2 co-chairs of this year’s CGOA Design Competition. But I’ll let the other co-chair (Bobbie Matela) tell you about the Design Competition in her blog post tomorrow! I love being involved in CGOA!!!

I’m very excited to tell you about the first full-length CGOA Masters Day that we’ll be presenting this year at the CGOA Conference (aka: Knit & Crochet Show or Chain Link Conference) in July in San Diego, CA. Our first CGOA Masters Day was held last year at the conference in Manchester, NH, but it was only a half day. Our full-length CGOA Masters Day this year will be loaded with helpful information on how to improve your crochet, including such topics as getting gauge, weaving in ends invisibly, joining smoothly, fastening off neatly and much more. We’ll also be reviewing swatches in the program to teach you how to review your own work and we’ll explain what we’re looking for in the portfolio reviews. The day is split up between the morning session and the afternoon session, so you can pick the session you’d like to attend or attend both!

Jane Rimmer (the other co-chair of the CGOA Masters program) and I, along with some of the other Masters Committee members (aka: portfolio reviewers), are very excited about this Masters Day and we hope you are, too! We’ve got a lot planned for the day and look forward to sharing it with all those in attendance to help further everyone’s crochet skills and knowledge!

If you’re currently enrolled in the CGOA Masters program or you’d like to learn more about the program, you’ll want to attend the CGOA Masters Day on Wednesday, July 22 from 9 am – 12 noon and 2-5 pm. To read more about this year’s conference, including the schedule for the CGOA Masters Day, please check out this page.

For more information about the CGOA Masters program, visit the CGOA website here. This is the main page for the Masters program on the CGOA website. From here, you can go to other pages on the CGOA website to find out even more about the program.

For more information about the Knit & Crochet Show, check out this website. The complete show schedule, including more specific information on the classes, is all there for you to read and plan your conference experience, along with registering for a fabulous time!

Happy National Crochet Month and happy crocheting!

Susan Lowman

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy National Crochet Month from CGOA Vice President, Tammy Hildebrand

If you are anything like me and I think most of you reading this are, EVERY day is a day to celebrate crochet, but there is just something fun and exciting about setting aside an entire month to celebrate in an even bigger way than usual. I certainly have enjoyed reading all of the blog posts from many of CGOA's professional members and the daily giveaways from Red Heart Yarns have been fantastic. We are so grateful to Crochetville for their never-ending support of the Crochet Guild and I would like to thank Amy and Donna for once again hosting this blog tour.



Crochet has always been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. I learned to crochet and created my first project at the desk of my second grade teacher, Mrs. Crooks. My great grandmother had crocheted but she was gone by this time and no one else in my family (still to this day!) crocheted or knitted. So CGOA is even more special to me as our members are my fiber family!



I have had the honor to serve in a number of different ways including mentor coordinator, professional development chairperson and now as vice president, and with each new venture, I find myself learning more and benefiting by the experience. Isn't it so neat how you set out to serve others and in return you find yourself being blessed! So I encourage everyone to get involved! Look around our website and see where your talents might be best put to use.

We also encourage you to explore and take advantage of the many wonderful resources CGOA offers. There is the "Masters Program" , recognition as a professional in the industry as well as a mentoring program for aspiring professionals, design competitionlocal chapters, national and retailer discounts and so much more! And don't forget the high light which is our annual conference when we all come together and take over a conference center for what is always too short of a time! This Summer the Knit and Crochet Show will be in San Diego, CA! You want to do everything possible to be able to attend! Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to learn and network, but we sure have some fun! I hope to see many of you there!


Tammy Hildebrand
CGOA Vice President
https://www.facebook.com/HotLavaCrochet
https://www.facebook.com/Healthybeginswithyou

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy National Crochet Month from CGOA President, Susan Sullivan

As the new President of the CGOA Board, I want to share a little of my background and why crochet is important to me.

I’ve always been passionate about handwork. Needlepoint, embroidery, and sewing were early interests. My mother-in-law taught me how to crochet not long after I married into the Sullivan family. I still use my Boye crochet hooks from the set I bought at Wal-mart in Berryville, Arkansas in 1973! That Christmas, everyone on my list (well, the gals), received a shawl made from a pattern in Family Circle magazine with Dazzleaire yarn. I continued honing my skills on baby afghans for family and friends and like most crocheters I gave almost everything away but here is the first afghan I ever made. It is a pattern from a Columbia-Minerva book, Teach Yourself to Crochet, and as you can see it was made in those 70s signature colors; avocado, harvest gold, and orange. I was so intrigued by the square turned on point inside the circle, inside the outer square!

I was majoring in art in college and as I explored new art forms, crochet patiently waited for me to return. The pottery studio became my new home and consumed all of my creative energy.

Fast forward to 1988 and it was time for this mother of a one-year-old son to go back to work. I joined Leisure Arts as a technical writer for surface stitchery and crafts.  In 1995, I took over as managing editor of all crochet and knit publications with 17 technical editors for the various leaftlets, books, and one crochet magazine. Over the next 19 years, while I was still involved in all of the other categories, crochet was my favorite. The most treasured part of my job was working with designers across the industry. I soon realized how much I loved dreaming and planning with these amazingly talented women and men to bring great designs to life. 

In 2014, due to changes in the company, I found myself contemplating my next adventure and am excited to be continuing in the industry I love. I've formed my own consulting firm and am humbled by the opportunities before me. I count being on and leading the board of CGOA as one of those opportunities for which I am very grateful.

While CGOA offers so many fun and educational programs to its members, I think it's so very important to recognize the role it plays in providing crochet designers a platform to further their professional goals. The Crochet Professional and Crochet Associate Professional recognition programs are unique in our industry. There are significant qualification requirements to receive these titles which helps the designer grow and strengthens the level of professionalism in the industry. In my previous role in publishing, the CGOA conferences allowed me to meet with numerous designers under one roof. This is good for the publisher as well as budding and seasoned designers.

Whether you are new to crochet and just want to make your first baby afghan, dreaming of your name on your first book, or have been in the "biz" for decades...

When you think CROCHET, think CGOA!

All my best,
Susan





Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Time to Reflect, Time to Set New Goals, Take Your Crochet to the Next Level!



The beginning of a new year is often a time of reflection and making resolutions. This encompasses almost every area of life, and do not let your crochet be over looked.

Regardless if you are a professional in the industry of crochet, a hobbyist, or simply an enthusiast, there are simple goals to improve your stitches.

Before you set a resolution, first you need to reflect what you have done and the skills you already have. This can be as simple as reviewing all the things you have created in the last year. As a professional you can take stock of how many patterns you’ve written, how many samples you’ve stitched, how many patterns you’ve edited, how many blog posts you’ve written, how many designs you’ve submitted, how many classes have you taught, how many students have you instructed, whatever resembles your business. As a hobbyist or enthusiast you take stock of the techniques and stitches you are most comfortable with, the projects you have completed, and how you felt about the ones you have finished, and the reasons why you did not finish others.

After the reflection, you are able to set some goals for the next month, the next season, the next year, or even the next five years. Where do you want your business to be? Where do you want your skill levels to be? What kinds of projects do you want to work on? Do you want to expand your experiences into new fibers? Do you want to attempt a new skill? Determine what you want to accomplish and set goals to attain it. Plan on taking classes, plan on putting your-self out there more, plan on taking chances, and plan on challenging yourself.

With simple reflection and goal setting you can take your crochet to places far beyond your dreams.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: It Girl Crochet



Title: It Girl Crochet: 23 Must-Have Accessories
Author: Sharon Zientara

Book Review by Reneé Rodgers (www.crochetrenee.com)

(Interweave, 2014; 135 pages, $22.99, ISBN: 978-1-62033-096-8)
True to its title, this book is chock-full of wonderful accessories that any crocheter would love to make, and anyone would love to receive as a gift. 

Have you ever bought a book for just one or two patterns that you liked? You will buy this book because you like every project. 

The eye-catching designs include the Bon Vivant Stockings and the Gypsy Slouch hat. Yarns used in the projects range from laceweight to bulky. Techniques include lacework, color work, Tunisian, tapestry, adding beads, crochet I cord, and textured crochet. 

The patterns do not have a skill rating, but with both written as well as graphic instructions, even a crocheter with knowledge of the basic skills should be able to complete most of the projects. 

The back of the book has a section that reviews the basic stitches and a few finishing techniques. The projects in It Girl Crochet are guaranteed to make you the "It Girl" of your stitching group!
Full disclosure: A free review copy of It Girl Crochet was provided by Interweave. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: Crochet Red



Title: Crochet Red-Crocheting for Women's Heart Health
Author: Laura Zander

Book Review by Reneé Rodgers (www.crochetrenee.com)

(Sixth & Spring Books, 2013; 144 pages, $17.95, ISBN: 978-1-936096-61-9)
"Stick it to heart disease!" That is the rallying cry that unifies this book. Following on the heels of the successful “Knit Red”, author Laura Zander gives crochet fans equal time with a volume chock full of beautiful crochet creations. The premise of the book is to not only raise awareness about the number one killer of women in the US, which is heart disease, but a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in support of The Heart Truth®.
The list of designers contributing to Crochet Red is a Who’s Who of stitchers from the crochet universe. There are 30 fabulous designs as well as heart healthy tips on diet and exercise, including a few recipes. There is a good mix of wearable fashions, accessories and a few home décor items thrown in for good measure. My personal “must makes” from this book include Marly Bird’s Sweater with Cowl, which is a lacey pullover with a twisted and draped cowl front, Kathy Merrick’s Peplum Jacket (a feast of textured stitches on a classy fitted cardi) and Vicki Howell’s Yoga Bag.

Crochet Red is primarily a pattern book, but it does have a brief instructional section in the back for crochet basics, and the instructions are accompanied by photographs. The instructions are all written, no charts. Many of the smaller projects are within the scope of a beginner, but there is plenty here to keep the more experienced stitcher entertained as well. You can feel good about purchasing this book, knowing that part of your purchase goes to a worthy cause. 
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet Red was provided by Sixth & Spring Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: Crochet Stitch Dictionary: 200 Essential Stitches



Title: Crochet Stitch Dictionary: 200 Essential Stitches with Step-by-Step Photos
Author: Sarah Hazell

Book Review by Marie Segares (www.undergroundcrafter.com)

I know I’m not the only crocheter who considers herself a “stitch guide junkie.” I have several dozen crochet stitch dictionaries, in multiple languages, in my collection. Crochet Stitch Dictionary by Sarah Hazell breaks new ground by combining process photos with the standard information typically found in a good stitch guide.

The book opens with a Getting Started section that features information about hooks, yarn, and notions. Illustrations and text explain how to hold your yarn, start a foundation chain, and work in rows. The book goes beyond the basics of a stitch guide to include finishing instructions for weaving in ends, seaming, blocking, and caring for your projects. There is also a completely illustrated section with written explanations describing the basic stitches, variations on where to put the hook, and tips for forming specialty stitches such as bullions.

The rest of the book is devoted to a directory of stitches. The table of contents features a color thumbnail of each stitch, so they are easy to find. Each stitch features its own introduction, where Sarah shares alternate names, construction details, comparisons to other stitches in the guide, and project suggestions. Each stitch is shown in a large colorful picture against a white background. The stitch explanations are provided in international stitch symbols and “steps.” Each step is equivalent to a row, and includes the explanation in US pattern abbreviations and, usually, one process photo.  The book ends with a four-page guide to US pattern abbreviations and symbols and a thorough index.

Crochet Stitch Dictionary has a wonderful layout, with clear and inspiring photographs. It offers more details than a typical stitch dictionary, so it would be suited for both beginners and more advanced crocheters. The process photos add great detail, but beginners might appreciate more photographs. The photos typically show where the hook might be inserted, or how a stitch should look when finished, but they don’t show each action within a stitch since each “step” is the equivalent of a complete row. If you already own a collection of stitch guides, you will see duplicates, since this book covers many of the popular crochet stitch patterns used in the US.

I wish the font for the row instructions was slightly larger, especially since the layout made good use of white space so there seems to be more room available. However, the beautiful layout and the addition of photos make this a wonderful stitch guide overall. I would recommend it as a general reference book for a beginning crocheter, for a more advanced crocheter with a limited (or non-existent) stitch guide collection, or a crocheter who learns best through photographs.

The book is available in print for a retail price of $22.95, and as an ebook on several platforms including Kindle.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet Stitch Dictionary was provided by Interweave Press. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: The Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs



Title: The Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs
Author: Kathryn White

Book Review by Marie Segares (www.undergroundcrafter.com)

The Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs is a booklet by Kathryn White that combines an introduction to the stitches and techniques common in Irish crochet with over 100 patterns for motifs, edgings, and insertions written in modern US pattern abbreviations.

If you’ve always looked longingly at Irish crochet but haven’t the faintest clue how to recreate one of those patterns, you will find this booklet very helpful. In the Introduction and first chapter, Stitches & Techniques, Kathryn provides an overview of the basics of Irish crochet. She also shares some tips for simplified, contemporary versions of different techniques or patterns.

After the basics are introduced, the book continues with seven chapters of patterns, including one each on Flowers, Leaves, Fill-in Motifs, Edgings & Insertions, Dangles, Overlays, and Fill-in Lace. The next chapter, Irish Crochet Sampler for Fill-In Lace, explains several different methods for assembling Irish lace. The final chapter, Squares & Motifs, includes several larger motifs that can be joined together.  At the end of the booklet, there is a one page illustrated stitch guide and charts with metric conversions and hook and needle size conversions.

Each chapter opens with a brief introduction and then continues into the patterns. Each pattern includes the skill level and a color photo, created in white cotton thread against a light colored background. I enjoyed having the option of keeping the project authentic or simplifying the methods. Kathryn did a good job of clearly explaining the methods.

I would have liked to see more process photos displaying visual techniques. In some cases, international stitch symbols would have been a helpful addition to the book, especially for the patterns that flow over a page. Nonetheless, The Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs does a great job of clarifying the methods used to create traditional Irish crochet while also offering some simplifications for the modern crocheter.

This booklet would be most enjoyed by a crocheter who is interested in learning more about Irish crochet, or who enjoys lace. Although all the samples in the book are crocheted with thread, many of the patterns would translate well into yarn for a completely different look.

The booklet is available in print or as an electronic download for the retail price of $14.95.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of The Go-To Book for Irish Crochet Motifs was provided by Annie's. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: Open Weave Fashions



Title: Open Weave Fashions: 6 Year-Round Designs
Author: Tammy Hildebrand

Book Review by Marie Segares (www.undergroundcrafter.com)

Open Weave Fashions is a pattern booklet featuring six openwork crochet patterns for women.
The booklet includes four women’s tops, a shawl and a hat. Most of the patterns are crocheted in some combination of panels/strips and motifs. The final projects, the Perfect Color Lace Pullover & Hat, are shown in both vibrant, four-color versions and subdued, off-white versions.

All of the patterns are written with US pattern abbreviations and are rated at the intermediate level. A patient beginner, comfortable working with chain spaces, could also complete these projects.  Most patterns include multiple, well-lit photos showing the projects from different angles on a model; the only exception is the Red Hot Tunic, which is only shown from the front.  All of the garments are available in 5-6 sizes. At the end of the booklet, there is a one-page illustrated stitch guide and charts with metric conversions and hook and needle size conversions.

This booklet would be most enjoyed by an intermediate or adventurous beginner crocheter who is interested in creating lacy garments with minimal shaping and seamed construction. Like all pattern booklets, the decision about whether or not to buy this book will be largely dependent on personal taste.

The booklet is available in print or as an electronic download for the retail price of $8.95.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Open Weave Fashions was provided by Annie's. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: Mollie Makes Weddings



Title: Mollie Makes Weddings
Authors: the editors of Mollie Makes

Book Review by Reneé Rodgers (www.crochetrenee.com)

(Interweave Press LLC, 2014; 96 pages, $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-62033-541-3)

From the editors of Mollie Makes comes a book dedicated to creating the perfect wedding. The projects are cute and modern. The list includes the wedding day flowers, a ring pillow, invitations, the table centerpiece and even a needle-felted cake topper. 
If you are planning your special day and need some cute and unique wedding day accessories for your DIY wedding, be sure to check out Mollie Makes Weddings.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Mollie Makes Weddings was provided by Interweave Press LLC. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: Beastly Crochet



Title: Beastly Crochet
Author: Brenda K.B. Anderson

Book Review by Reneé Rodgers (www.crochetrenee.com)

(Interweave Press LLC, 2013; 167 pages, $22.95, ISBN: 978-1-59668-574-1)

In this unusual collection of scary crochet goodness, there are six chapters broken down as: 
  • Classic Monsters
  • Welcome to the Jungle
  • Skulls Were People, Too
  • Myths (and Other True Stories)
  • Silly Monsters, and
  • My Own Personal Robot

But these are not merely all stuffed toys. There are hats, pillows, bags, scarves, hair ornaments, slippers and sweaters.  
The last chapter, Special Topics, includes how to assure that your projects come out seriously cute, installing zippers and finishing techniques. 
All of the instructions are written, without charts. My favorite of all is the Tiki Head Bolster. I picture it looking quite beastly, sitting in my favorite armchair. 
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Beastly Crochet was provided by Interweave Press LLC. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: Mollie Makes Crochet



Title: Mollie Makes Crochet
Authors: The Editors of Mollie Makes

Book Review by Reneé Rodgers (www.crochetrenee.com)

(Interweave Press LLC, 2013; 144 pages, $19.95, ISBN: 978-1-62033-095-1)
The editors of Mollie Makes have compiled a collection of cuteness, including blankets, pillows and tech cozies. The crochet basics section includes reading patterns, abbreviations, gauge and working from charts. The projects include a set of Russian Matryoshka dolls as well as some super-cute monster gadget covers. 
The instructions are all written, without charts. There are line drawings which illustrate the basic techniques and stitches. There are also sections on surface crochet and embroidery as well as finishing. Mollie Makes Crochet is a sweet collection of crochet goodness. 
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Mollie Makes Crochet was provided by Interweave Press LLC. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: Cute & Easy Crochet with Flowers



Title: Cute & Easy Crochet with Flowers
Authors: Nicki Trench

Book Review by Reneé Rodgers (www.crochetrenee.com)

(CICO Books, 2013; 128 pages, $21.95, ISBN: 978-1-78249-067-8)

The theme is floral; the projects, cute. Trench has written a book with 35 flowery projects, many home décor, along with some baby projects and fashion accessories. 
The book is conveniently divided into three sections based on the level of challenge. The introduction gives a nice overview of crochet technique and includes line drawings to reinforce the textual instruction.  
The “Starting Out” section in Chapter One includes 13 projects suitable for beginners. My personal favorite is the crocheted Bunting, because, well, who doesn't need a crocheted flower bunting? 
Chapter two, “Practice Makes Perfect”, has 14 projects, my favorite being the delicate Blossom Necklace. 
In Chapter three, we move on to “Confident Crocheting”, where we find the remaining 8 patterns, including the ethereal Floral Lace Scarf, worked in fine mohair and edged with colorful blossoms. 
All instructions are written only; no charts are included. If you love flowers and would like to include them in your craft, Cute & Easy Crochet with Flowers is for you.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of Cute & Easy Crochet with Flowers was provided by CICO Books. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: Calamity-Free Crochet



Title: Calamity-Free Crochet
Authors: Katherine Hurst

Book Review by Reneé Rodgers (www.crochetrenee.com)

(Harper Design, 2014; 192 pages, $19.99, ISBN: 978-0-06-228786-1)
Subtitled Troubleshooting Tips and Advice for the Savvy Needlecrafter, this book delivers on its promise. It would make an excellent teaching tool for a beginner. It’s slightly larger than digest size, so will still fit comfortably into a work bag for reference. 
There are no real project patterns, but there is a nice stitch directory, including some motifs. 
This volume includes the typical sections on hooks and yarns, but goes further still, with discussion on International vs US terminology, color theory, yarn substitution and a hook conversion chart. There is a section on techniques, including making buttonholes and set-in pockets. All instructions are written, minus charts. However, the instructions are accompanied by clear line drawings to assist the crocheter in figuring out how the stitches are formed.
I recommend Calamity-Free Crochet as a great reference tool in the beginning crocheter’s library.


Full disclosure: A free review copy of Calamity-Free Crochet was provided by Harper Design. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.

Book Review: 500 Crochet Blocks


Title: 500 Crochet Blocks
Authors: Hannah Elgie and Kathie Webber

Book Review by Reneé Rodgers (www.crochetrenee.com)

(Quintet Publishing Limited, 2013; 288 pages, $18.95, ISBN: 978-0-85762-227-3)
This book promises to be “the only compendium of crochet blocks you’ll ever need”.  This little chunky book is packed full of motifs; squares, triangles, circles, flowers and more. Instructions are presented as both written as well as charted, making this book suitable for all stitchers.  The size of the book is perfect for tucking into a work bag. 
500 Crochet Blocks is a great resource for the beginning crocheter as well as for the more experienced stitcher. It may not be the only book you’ll ever need for crochet blocks, but it will keep you entertained for awhile.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of 500 Crochet Blocks was provided by Quintet Publishing. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.