Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Review: Granny Square Flowers

Title: Granny Square Flowers: 50 Botanical Crochet Motifs and 15 Original Projects

Author: Margaret Hubert

Book Review by Kim Guzman (www.kimguzman.com

From one of the hardest working crochet designers in the US comes Margaret Hubert's latest book, Granny Square Flowers.

I've always been a fan of flower motifs and these wonderful flower grannies are fabulous; a plethora of flowers!

The first chapter includes techniques used in the square construction such as making a chain ring, an adjustable (magic) ring, and how to crochet in the round. It discusses an invisible join at the end of the round and there is information on gauge/tension and adjusting sizes of the blocks. Seaming is illustrated with a whipstitch seam, weave seam, single crochet seam, chain join and lacy chain seam.

Then, you move onto the square patterns. As the title states, there are 50 individual square patterns. There are designated flowers for each month of the year, which would be perfect for making a birthday afghan. I just love August's poppy flower! After these 12, there are the remaining 38 squares, each unique and beautiful.

All patterns include a large, well-lit photograph of the block, written instructions and a stitch diagram. Wait until you see the Large Dahlia with Leaves square! Wow! Oh, and the Poinsettia. My goodness, I could go on and on.

Some of the squares aren't actually named after flowers. There are Orange Slice and Lemon Slice, for example. But, that just shows you the huge variety available in the book.

After the square patterns, I got a wonderful surprise. There are projects too! Unlike most square or motif dictionaries, this one includes some terrific projects as well.

There is a cardigan, a shawl, a tasseled ski hat, a short sleeve jacket, a scarf, a handbag, a trio of little amulet bags, a little girl's sweater and matching hat, a little toddler summer dress, a mesh long-sleeve pullover, adorable slipper boots, placemats, a baby afghan, a hassock, toy blocks and a lapghan.

The great projects show the variety of ways squares can be used to make something extraordinary.

Working flower squares is more of an intermediate level skill so a beginner would need to "work up to" the patterns. But, making squares is a really wonderful way to build your skill level!

I don't think I could ever tire of this book. I can imagine using it for years. The designated birthday flowers are especially intriguing for gifts. And, I have always loved exchanging squares for friendship-ghans.

Granny Square Flowers is available in hard-copy (spiral bound) and Kindle download.

(Creative Publishing, 2013; 144 pages, ISBN: 978-1589237803)

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Granny Square Flowers was provided by Creative 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.

Book Review: Crochet for the Kitchen

Title: Crochet for the Kitchen

Author: Tove Fevang

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

Originally published in Norway last year, this title now comes to America. Crochet for the Kitchen is packed with 45 kitchen worthy accessories. 

Potholders abound, with modern designs as well as cute retro-inspired hot pads. There are also placemats, a dish cloth and a hand towel. 

The yarns represented in the book are not all easily obtainable in the U.S. CYCA numbers are given for the yarns, but if one is substituting yarns, it might be prudent to look up the yarn in the book online, as all of the yarns are listed in the book as CYCA #1 or #2, but one example given is Rowan Hand Knit Cotton, which is actually a worsted weight. If the stitcher is alert to the size hook used and looks up the yarn, it should just be a simple matter of finding a suitable substitute to recreate the author’s projects. 

As an added bonus, Fevang’s projects include Tunisian crochet items as well, which wear very well in the kitchen.

If you like making potholders, this is the book for you!

(Trafalgar Square Books, 2013; 119 pages, $22.95, ISBN: 978-1-57076-606-0)

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet for the Kitchen was provided by Trafalgar Square 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: Elegant Beaded Bags

Title: Elegant Beaded Bags

Author: Sonja Hood

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

If you have ever wanted to experiment with wire crochet, this book gives some excellent pointers. The project count is twelve. All of the bags are small and crocheted with 30-gauge paddle (floral) wire. 

The author is quick to point out that crocheting with wire is hard on one’s hands, so she suggests using a pair of cloth garden gloves when crocheting. 

The projects incorporate sequins, beads and ribbons to create lovely little purses, suitable for a night out on the town or for a little girl’s play purse. There is a section on creating linings for all of the bags, as well as tips on how to finish wire ends so that they don’t work loose or poke out. 

The suggested hook for all projects is a size E (3.5mm). 

This is a great guide to beginning to crochet with wire and the bonus is that you will end up with a cute bag!

(Leisure Arts, 2013; 40 pages, $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-60900-334-0)

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Elegant Beaded Bags was provided by Leisure Arts. 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 at Home

Title: Crochet at Home
Editor: Brett Bara

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

Crochet at Home: 25 Clever Projects for Colorful Living is a collection of contemporary home decor projects edited by Brett Bara.  If you were a fan of Crochet Today! when Brett was the editor-in-chief, you will find the types of projects and colors you might have seen in the magazine in this book.

The book is organized into three chapters, Bright and Modern Living Room, Tranquil Bedroom, and Colorful Kitschy Kitchen.  The names accurately describe the types of projects you can find in each chapter.

In the back, you can find pattern abbreviations, a techniques section using the standard line illustrated instructions you may be familiar with from other Interweave publications, a resources section with yarn company contact information, and an index.

The book includes a range of pattern types:

  • 4 blankets,
  • 3 potholders/pan handle covers,
  • a set of 3 nesting dolls,
  • 3 bowls, 
  • 3 cozies (for a tissue box, a teapot, and a cake plate),
  • 2 pillow covers,
  • 2 wreaths,
  • 2 buntings,
  • and an ottoman, a doorstop, a rug, a trivet. a scrubbie for pots, a dishcloth, coasters, a table runner, and a seat cushion.

(You may notice that I list 31 patterns, though the book’s subtitle mentions 25.  Some of the patterns include multiple variations, which is why the counts are different.)

All of the patterns are written with US pattern abbreviations, and most also include international stitch symbol charts.  The patterns don’t include difficulty levels, but most can be accomplished by an advanced beginner with a little patience.  Each pattern includes multiple, well-lit photos showing the projects in use in a residential setting and is made with yarn in contemporary colors.

My favorite patterns are the Stitchy Nesting Dolls by Amy Gaines, the Sleepy Kitty Doorstop by Brenda K.B. Anderson, the Overstuffed Seat Cushions by Ellen Gormley, the Flowering Trivets by Regina Rioux, and Berry Pie, a cake plate cozy by Ana Paula Rimoli.

If you enjoy crocheting for the home and are able to crochet beyond the basics, this book could be a great addition to your collection. Like all pattern books, the decision about whether or not to buy this book will be largely dependent on personal taste.  You can try out the nesting dolls patterns for free here on the Petals to Picots blog, and Ravelry members can see all of the book’s patterns on its source page.  If you have an extensive crochet pattern collection, you may already own similar, classic designs, but the contemporary colors and the styling suggestions may be worth the retail price of $22.95 for the softcover (or $17.95 for the ebook).

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet at Home 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: Car Seat Blankets

Title: Car Seat Blankets
Author: Becky Stevens

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

Car Seat Blankets by Becky Stevens is a portable pattern booklet that includes eight small crocheted blankets, designed to fit around an infant or toddler in a car seat.  Each pattern includes a small version, usually measuring about 16 in (40.5 cm) x 21 in (53 cm) in light (#3) weight yarn and a larger version, generally measuring about 20 in (51 cm) x 28 in (71 cm) in medium (#4) weight yarn following the same pattern.

Each pattern is written with US crochet pattern abbreviations and detailed instructions for working a gauge swatch.  All eight patterns are rated easy.  One of the patterns is worked in the round, and the rest are crocheted flat in rows.  Three patterns include a variation on a chevron, but each one uses different stitch types to create that motif.  The small size of Car Seat Blankets makes it portable enough to bring with you to work on the go.  The booklet easily lays flat, so you can crochet while reading.

On the other hand, the booklet doesn’t include any international stitch symbols and there isn’t much variety in construction methods. If you enjoy crocheting small projects for babies and toddlers while on the go, and have advanced beginner skills, you may enjoy this booklet.  The retail price $5.99 for the booklet and $4.99 for the ebook.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Car Seat Blankets was provided by Leisure Arts. 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: Boot Cuffs & Ear Warmers

Title: Boot Cuffs & Ear Warmers
Author: Deborah Molnar

Book Review by Jennifer J. Cirka (www.jaybirddesigns.com)

I really enjoyed Boot Cuffs & Ear Warmers by Deborah Molnar. I have been seeing boot cuff patterns all over the internet and I was excited to have the opportunity to make myself a pair. I loved the idea of adding a matching ear warmer to the set to make a complete, fashionable look.

This simple booklet from Leisure Arts features five different pattern sets for trendy boot cuffs with matching ear warmers/headbands. All patterns are Easy in skill level and use medium weight yarns (CYC #4) that can be found at any local craft store. The booklet also includes a General Instructions section that includes abbreviations and terms, hook and yarn information, and detailed instructions for some of the specific stitches used in the patterns.

I would have to say that my favorite set is the Versatility Set. I love the simplicity of it, but was really impressed with the author's suggestions and modifications for three different options for this style. I was equally happy to see her hints for additional ways to wear the boot cuffs.

This is a great book for some adorable, quick crochets that will help you spruce up your wardrobe. You can be fashionable and chic with these great designs. I can't wait to finish my set.

(Leisure Arts, 2013, 48 Pages, $5.99, ISBN 13:978-1-4647-1205-0)

Full disclosure: A free review copy of  Boot Cuffs & Ear Warmers was provided by Leisure Arts. 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.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Come join us!

Hey All!
Welcome to the last week of NatCroMo! Here at crochet.org, we're all about crochet every day, every week, every month of the year.

And, for four days each year, we are totally about crochet. These are the days we leave everything behind except our hooks and yarn, and we head to a place to be with crocheters 24/7 for four solid days. It's even more fun than it sounds. It's the annual Knit and Crochet Show aka Chain Link, being held this year in beautiful Manchester, New Hampshire from July 23-27.

I've been to lots of different sorts of conferences in my various careers, and often you look around and say, "This is all very well and good, but I wouldn't want to spend my life with these people." Chain Link? Not like that at all. You want to spend every day forever with these people. Everyone at the conference is there to crochet, learn about crochet, talk about crochet, wear crochet. These are your people. It's the friendliest conference ever. That pattern you just made? You'll likely meet the designer at Chain Link. And you'll meet other people who made that design, each putting their own mark on it. And you'll all have a grand time talking about your adaptations.

Pictures, or it didn't happen, you say? Here you go:

From the left: Susan Lowman, secretary of CGOA and head of the Masters Program; Amy Shelton, past president of CGOA and mayor of Crochetville aka the hostess with the mostest on this NatCroMo tour; yours truly, Marcy Smith, editor of Interweave Crochet magazine and happily president of CGOA for 2014; and Doris Chan, designer of the dress we are all wearing (Rockin Red Dress), with Doris wearing her own variant of this design.

More fun than you can shake a stick at here. Oh, and those bags on the right? Full of goodies that get handed out willy-nilly at Fun Night. (Really? Every night is Fun Night)

And if you crochet up all the yarn you packed? Not to worry -- there's a marketplace where you can score more yarn and hooks.

If you've been to Chain Link, you know -- and I'll see you in Manchester in July! If you haven't been yet, registration opens tomorrow. Come join us. You'll be glad you did. (Check out the classes and events, and sign up for your faves. If you have a design you'd like to enter in the design contest, do that. And if you have a project you'd like to show off in the fashion show, get your form in. First-time show attendees should be sure to sign up for the Buddy Program, too!) On Wednesday, July 23, we'll be yarnbombing Manchester! Check the site to find out where to send your swatches by June 1.

There are more blogs to come on the NatCroMo tour! And, there's still time, always time, to donate hats to Halos of Hope, the focal charity for the tour.

Happy crocheting and all the best,
Marcy Smith

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Happy NatCroMo from Kate Steinke, Newest Member of CGOA Board of Directors!

Welcome back now to the CGOA Now blog for another stop on the on the Crochetville NatCroMo Blog Tour!  Big thanks to Amy and Donna at Crochetville for setting up this extremely successful and super-fun event again this year ;)  I hope you have had a chance to follow along this month reading about all of the other amazing members and leaders of CGOA.  As well, it is my extreme honor to be sharing this day with the founder of CGOA, Gwen Blakely Kinsler, go over and read her blog today as well!  Perhaps you have also had a chance to make a hat (or two!) for our featured charity this month, Halos Of Hope.  Cancer has hit my family far too many times, as I am sure it has hit many of yours, so I know first-hand how much that little bit of warmth and love can mean to someone fighting every day for their life.

I have to admit that this post is not what I had intended to write just a couple of weeks ago when I found out I was going to be on the tour.  I was going to talk about all the amazing work being done behind the scenes on the board, what our functions and responsibilities are, how I got there, and a whole bunch of other stuff.  Not to worry, I will definitely be posting about all of that soon, but today I really want to tell you about my “Crochet Ladies”!

My husband and I moved here to Durham, NC back in 2005 from Rochester, NY.  We really did not know anyone down here except for the people we worked with.  And being the only female engineer at a company is one thing, but at the company I worked for at the time, I was the only woman in the whole office!  It was nice to have my own personal bathroom (they even let me decorate it a little!) but it certainly was not a great way to meet anyone with any of the same interests outside of the office.  So one day, I was surfing around the old Crochet Partners forums looking for anybody else near me that got together to crochet.  I did have one woman reply back that she was a member of the Tarheel Crocheters that met up at a Shoney’s once a month and that I was welcome to join them anytime.  I was so excited, the next meeting was in 2 weeks and I wanted to have at least 3 amazing things to show everybody as well as have the perfect project to be working on at the meeting that I could tell them all about ;)  I can’t even remember what I was going to show them except for the fact that I left all of them at my office because I was still sewing in ends on my lunch break and had somehow left them on my desk.  I was so upset when I had finally made it to the restaurant and realized what had happened that I almost didn’t go in.  But, I still had many skeins of yarn in my car (you always need backup yarn, right?), a couple of patterns I was hoping to try and even a couple of hooks that would work, so I shoved them all into my too-small purse and headed in.  This was the first time that crochet had changed my life and these were my Original Crochet Ladies!

The ladies were all so intriguing, I had never met a whole group of other crocheters that I wasn’t related to, so seeing all of the different projects and hearing their stories was just awesome!  Sure, I was the youngest one there, and I am sure a few of the older women didn’t quite know what to make of me, but they welcomed me all the same.  We met every month for 5 years, we moved to an IHOP for a while, then a Bob Evans, new members would join and some just stopped showing up.  We worked on all sorts of different charity projects, sometimes a member would teach a new pattern or technique, we always had show-and-tell, and we even started coming up with games and events that were crochet related, especially during March!  Those ladies saw me through many life changing events.  When I was due to have my first child and couldn’t travel to any of our families, they gave me a baby shower.  When my sister’s husband was dying of a brain tumor hundreds of miles away, they made an afghan for him that he cherished till the day he passed and that my sister still has out.  And after I had my second child and realized I couldn’t juggle being a full time engineer and a mommy to 2 little ones under 15 months old, they were my only saving grace when I found myself at home all day with 2 babies and no more career. 

It was around that time when I first heard about CGOA, (I had started to write out the whole story for this blog post too, but it’s almost like an entire chapter of a book, so I will spare you for now!), and I attended my first conference in the summer of 2010.  The Buddy Program was in its first year, and since I had signed up to be a member of CGOA at the same time that I registered for conference and to be a Newbie, it seemed like overnight I had found hundreds of new Crochet Ladies!

I was completely blown away by my experiences at my first conference.  It was so remarkable to meet people from every walk of life and from all around the world who may do something completely different for the other 51 weeks of the year, come together and share their passion with each other for that 1 week in July.  This is when I truly realized what it meant to be a crocheter, not only because I like to make and create things with a hook and yarn, but because I love being a part of this community where we are all each other’s Crochet Ladies!

It has been an honor to be in charge of the Buddy Program myself for the last 3 years.  I have been so fortunate have been able to meet so many of our newest members of CGOA as well as some of our longest, and to witness on a daily basis the generosity of the members in sharing their knowledge, experiences and talents.  Whenever I needed help, there was always so many eager to do whatever they could for the program as well as for each other.

Unfortunately, I have had to step down as the Buddy Program Coordinator so that I may focus on even more responsibilities as a member of the Board of Directors. You can bet that I have loads of new ideas for our community to keep growing and enriching, but for now I would just like to take a moment to thank Gwen Blakely Kinsler and all of those first CGOA members for their hard work to create and sustain this organization for the last 20 years.  

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read all of this.  It probably would have been much more interesting with a few pictures, so I will try for a few more of those the next time I post!  I hope you have a fantastic rest of National Crochet Month and I urge you to reach out and not only learn a new skill this month, but to meet another crocheter!

Till next time, STAY STITCHIN'!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

CGOA twenty years strong!

Mary Colucci
Board of Directors, CGOA
Executive Director, Craft Yarn Council

Wow, it’s been 20 years since CGOA was formed. I remember meeting CGOA Founder Gwen Blakely Kinsler back in the mid-1990s when she was organizing the first Chain Link conference. It’s amazing to see how CGOA has grown from that small group of enthusiasts to a national network of crochet fans.

CGOA is credited with raising awareness of crochet in the industry. Before CGOA, the yarn industry tended to be more knit-centric. As CGOA provided crocheters with a more unified voice, yarn manufacturers and publishers took notice. They began to realize the diversity of crocheters and the need for finer yarns, a more extensive selection of crochet patterns and they responded with exciting new yarns and an array of magazines specifically devoted to crochet.  

The organization also reached out to crocheters nationwide to create local chapters. Today, at guild chapters around the country, crocheters regularly gather to enjoy the camaraderie of their shared passion.

CGOA’s national conference also has evolved. Its educational programs now provide members with the opportunity to take classes from nationally and internationally known crochet experts. Most importantly, the conference continues to serve as a community meeting place for crocheters from around the country to meet, greet, and share.

Of course, CGOA has done much more, including developing its acclaimed Masters Program. It’s this program that provides members with the opportunity to build their expertise with guidance from crochet experts.

From a personal perspective, CGOA and TKGA national and its chapters have always been tremendous supporters of Craft Yarn Council’s education initiatives. When the Council organized Knit Out & Crochet Events, it was guild members who committed to staff the Learn to Crochet and Knit tables at these venues. They literally taught thousands of novices how to crochet and knit. We couldn’t have done it without them and hopefully in the process many of these newbies went on to join that local guild.

Guild members have also been generous supporters of Halos for Hope, the wonderful charity that is being supported by the Crochetville blog tour,  Warm Up America! and other industry charities, along with some of the Council’s more fun events like I Love Yarn Day, which is the celebrated on the second Friday of October. A number of guild chapters planned special events on that day to teach crochet to others and once again helped to raise awareness of the craft.

CGOA and its chapters have created an amazing community, which should be celebrated in March and year round! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Love to Crochet Your Own Originals? Enter the CGOA Contest!

Love to Crochet Your Own Originals?  Enter the CGOA Design Contest!

If you are a crocheter who often does your own original wonderful creations, here are a few reasons you should enter the CGOA Design Competition.

·         It is fun to see your creation exhibited with other outstanding crochet designs.

·         It will give you a reason to really stretch yourself and create something that will give joy to yourself and others.

·         It may lead to crochet fame and give you credibility with magazine editors, book publishers and yarn companies (if you’d like to become a designer in the industry). I know as Design Manager at Red Heart I found new designers this way.

·         And last (but not least), there are monetary prizes in each of the 5 categories: Fashion, Accessories, Home Décor & Afghans and Thread Crochet. And this year there is a special category, the CGOA 20th Anniversary Award, that will be given to the entry that best celebrates and exemplifies the spirit of CGOA in 2014.
Last year I was one of the judges lucky enough to see the amazing designs up close and personal. Boy was I wowed! The Design Competition grows each year as CGOA grows. It is the most exciting part of the conference (other than seeing crochet friends and meeting new enthusiastic crochet people and taking classes and shopping the market and so on and so on). So I encourage you to enter the contest and let the world see what you can create!

You'll need to become a member of CGOA (if you are not already) and check out the competition rules that will be on the CGOA site soon (or maybe they are being added as I upload this).

Here are a few photos of memorable winners from 2013:

Mille Fleurs Dress by Dot Drake (Grand Prize)
Granny’s Tree of Love by Deborah Bagley (Afghans and Home Décor Honorable Mention)

Owl Sit with Your Yarns by Deborah Bagley (Artistic Expression 3rd prize)

A big thumbs up to Amy and Donna for hosting the Crochetville Blog Tour! As a new member of the CGOA board, I am very pleased to be a part of this community. We are supporting the charity, Halos of Hope. Please see their site for how you can help. halosofhope.org

Monday, March 17, 2014

CGOA Masters Program Update

Happy 20th Anniversary, CGOA! We’ve come a long way since 1994!

Did you know that March is National Crochet Month, along with National Craft Month? Since CGOA is an integral part of National Crochet Month, it is fitting that the CGOA Board members participate in Crochetville’s National Crochet Month Blog Tour again this year. Check back on the CGOA blog to read more from the other CGOA Board members this month. Many thanks to Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka for putting together this blog tour. We’re supporting the charity, Halos of Hope this year. For more information about Halos of Hope, visit their website at www.halosofhope.org

I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Susan Lowman. I am a professional member of CGOA, working as a freelance crochet designer, technical editor and teacher. I am the secretary on the CGOA Board of Directors, the liaison to the CGOA Masters committee, one of the 2 co-chairs of the CGOA Masters program and a senior portfolio reviewer in the CGOA Masters program. As you can tell, I’m “involved” in CGOA!!!

I’m very excited to tell you about the first 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 Manchester, NH. Our first CGOA Masters Day is really only a half day this year, but it 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 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.

Jane Rimmer (the other co-chair of the CGOA Masters program) and I, along with 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 3 hours 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 23 from 2-5 pm.

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 and CGOA Masters Day, was delayed on the website by a few weeks. So if it isn’t there yet, please give it another week or two (it should be posted on the Knit & Crochet Show website by the end of March, at the latest).

Happy National Crochet Month and happy crocheting,

Susan Lowman

Friday, March 14, 2014

Celebrating National Crochet Month 2014

Welcome to the next stop on the Crochetville blog tour in celebration of National Crochet Month. We'd like to thank Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka for putting this event together again this year. I hope you are enjoying all of the stops and you can find the complete list here in case you missed any of them.

Please join us in supporting Halos of Hope as we collect handmade hats for cancer patients. You can find all of the details here including where to ship your hats and many hat patterns you can use.

For those of you who don't know me, I am Tammy Hildebrand and I currently serve as the Vice President of CGOA. It is an exciting time as our board of directors are working on many new ideas to bring as much value to your membership as possible.

If you haven't visited our Facebook page yet, please stop by. This is where we post our announcements making it the perfect place for you to hear our latest news. We wouldn't want you to miss out on anything!

In celebration of National Crochet Month as well as the fact that our Facebook page is approaching 30,000 fans, we would like to offer you the opportunity to win a prize! We value each and every one of you and hope you will consider joining CGOA if you are not already a member. You can read the top 25 reasons to join on our website but there are just too many benefits to list them all.

To enter for your chance to win a copy of Rustic Modern Crochet, simply leave a comment on this blog telling us why you love the Crochet Guild of America! You can also earn another entry by "liking" our Facebook page if you aren't already a fan. Please share the crochet love by sharing our page and let others know about CGOA! We will also select 5 additional entries to win the pattern of their choice (up to $9.99) from Crochetvile! Good luck everyone! We will announce our winners next Monday, March 24.
Tammy Hildebrand

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

CGOA 2014 Design Competition Ready to Launch

I am excited to announce that we're just about ready to post the Official Information Package for CGOA 2014 Design Competition. Fame, crochet glory and cash prizes await your talent. I know many crochet fiends... uh... friends have already been working feverishly on their designs. Look for a link this week to download the official pdf for all the rules and regs. There are a few changes from previous years, including a special prize to celebrate CGOA's 20th Anniversary, so read up.  Deadline for entries is July 1, 2014. Thanks for your patience.  Can't wait to see what crochet brilliance you create for our event!


Doris Chan
Chairman, CGOA 2014 Design Competition Committee

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Contract Crocheter...

Sometimes the least recognized crochet profession is the Contract Crocheter. They often do not have their names listed in magazines, they are not highlighting their work on websites, or doing podcasts, but they are silently working behind the scenes creating samples that are photographed in book, that are displayed in store fronts, and are walking on runways. Some might think that this less highlighted profession is an easier one, but they would be greatly mistaken. 

Contract crocheters often work as a part time position, usually holding full time jobs in other career fields. Contracted jobs creating samples are “feast or famine” as jobs are usually more available when new yarns and books are being created to enter the market, this is because many patterns that will need to be completed at once, but then as deadlines pass there can be a lull in work options. 

Some of the prerequisites to doing this kind of work in the field of publishing include the ability to communicate effectively. Often contractors need to ask questions and give feed back to those requesting the work, even offer information about the performance of the yarn and the pattern. There are even times when designers are in the process of working out the pattern yet the contractor is working up the sample, so in effect contractors are creating a sample without having completed patterns and are working from rough descriptions. They also should have to have the ability to keep work private from friends, family and general community; most of the work that they do is scheduled for release at a particular time and speaking of it in a public forum, or posting photos of their work on Facebook, could end their career in this field. 

Another skill needed is neat, even and consistent crochet ability, which must meet gauge, of all projects they work on. Knowing the basics is a must and knowing special stitches and techniques are a great addition to the resume. However in addition, one of the most critical things necessary, they must meet very strict and tight deadlines. Often they receive short deadlines to complete a project, and there is often no wiggle room on getting things done on time. (This includes shipping times; they often have to account for how long it will take for a package to arrive, and adjust their working timeline to ensure that it arrives on time).

Those that provided contract services to local yarn shops or private consumers, have a little more flexibility. Yarn shops owners understand that more yarn is sold when consumers can see and touch a piece completed in particular yarn. Work in these settings may not be as frequent or steady as that in publishing, as shops do not need samples in every yarn for every season. Private consumers sometimes hire contractors to create personalized crochet projects and gifts. There are even some contractors working with clothing manufactures. While this conjures up images of sweat shops, many work from their homes for small boutique designers making edgings, lapels or embellishments. These options give some contractors the ability to create a little more control in their business lives. 

Payment to contractors is almost as varied as the contractors themselves. Some are paid a set flat rate for the work, determined by the size and difficulty of the work, some are paid a percentage of the pattern designer’s contract, others are paid by the yardage crocheted. 

As this profession is looked at more as a support to other professions, it can be more difficult to break into. Many, if not all, contractors have received most of their work by networking and meeting people that might be in need of service. A lot of the work is regional, to reduce shipping costs and time, many professionals find it easier to work with those that live in a close area to themselves. Many contractors have found work from local guild meetings, from conversations with other yarn enthusiasts, national conferences, and some have even had success from following various designers and answering there call for stitchers. 

Many assume that contractors are the same as pattern testers, however there is a subtle difference between the two; more is expected from a contractor. Testers often supply the yarn and keep the samples, offering feed back to the pattern writer about their experienced with the pattern; while contractors are sent the yarn to complete the project, having to return the samples, all remaining yarn, and all yarn labels. Testers may be paid in some instances, but contractors are definitely to be paid. 

The next time you see a beautifully stitches pattern, be it that sweater, afghan, baby layette, have appreciation not only for the design, but for the workmanship that went into creating the sample. There are many unsung heroes of contractors that help ensure deadlines get met and that new inspirations are shared with the crochet world. 

If you are interested in becoming a Contract Crocheter, you may want to have your work evaluated through the CGOA Master’s of AdvancedStitch and Technique Program, and begin networking in the fields that you might want to work in. You may also consider applying for status as an Associate Professional with CGOA. This is a profession that you can create your own unique niche market, but it is not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Review: Learn to Crochet NOW!

Title: Learn to Crochet NOW!

Author: Leisure Arts

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

This new basic instructional book on beginning crochet by the creative minds at Leisure Arts has a lot going for it. For starters, it includes mostly photographic pictures for BOTH right- and left-handed crocheters; as a leftie who initially had a hard time learning to crochet, this is huge! Also, Leisure Arts has included links for further online instructions to reinforce learning. That’s right…you can watch EACH TECHNIQUE ONLINE! The project count is four, with a spa cloth that teaches how to chain and work single, half double, double and treble crochet all in the same project. There is a lacy lap robe that takes things to a little higher level of difficulty, as well as two scarves. All of the projects are worked in worsted weight yarn and size H and larger sized hooks, which help to make learning the foundation of the craft much easier than learning with smaller hooks and yarn.

Leisure Arts has added a good basic title to the crochet world for those looking to either break into learning how to crochet or for those who already crochet, but want a resource to share with those they know who would like to learn how. This book, a skein of yarn and a size H hook are all one needs to learn how to crochet. The next time I teach someone to crochet, this is definitely a good basic resource that I will refer my pupils to.

(Leisure Arts, Inc., 2013; 36 pages, $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4647-0654-7)

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Learn to Crochet NOW! was provided by Leisure Arts. 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.