Book Review: Hug It Out!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Title: Hug It Out! 9 Crochet Designs to Offer Comfort

Author: Drew Emborsky aka The Crochet Dude

Book Review by Jennifer J. Cirka (

Charity stitching is something close to my heart, so when I had the opportunity to review Hug it Out by none other than the CGOA's very own Crochet Dude, I jumped at the chance. I personally crochet and donate many items a year locally and am always looking for unique new ideas for objects to create. And Drew's book through Leisure Arts does just that!

Whether you are looking for a stash-busting Kennel Blanket to donate to your local animal shelter or if you are in need of a unique cap for a friend fighting cancer and starting chemo, Drew Emborsky's book has a design for you! My favorites include the Baby Comfort Blanket and Baby Hat which any premature newborn would love to snuggle in. Plus the Mobius Cowl is a wonderful idea for anyone with mobility challenges. And what scared little child would not adore a Comfort Teddy when sirens come blaring to an accident or crime scene!

This book features nine beautiful designs perfect for giving and range from beginner to intermediate in skill level. Most designs use basic stitches and easy finishing techniques too. Hug it Out offers excellent ideas for many different charitable opportunities, and if you don't have a specific charity that you donate to, the book offers a list of national organizations which are all willing to accept your handmade goodies. And of course, the book also includes your standard general instructions with abbreviations and yarn information.

While reviewing this book, I quickly whipped up a Kennel Blanket to donate to my local no-kill animal shelter. I selected this design for many reasons. First, it is a GREAT stash buster and like many of you, I have a huge stash! Second, my daughter and I usually spend part of our Fridays at our shelter walking and playing with the dogs, but over the last few months our time there has been nil because of our own dog being ill and needing constant care. And my third reason for choosing this design was the opportunity to try a new-to-me stitch called the linked double crochet. The blanket came out beautifully, I loved the new stitch, and I can't wait to see some sweet little dog snuggled in my blanket the next time we are there.
I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys charitable stitching. I loved that Drew offers a touching note at the beginning of the book about how he began his charitable giving quest after his mother passed away. I can't say it any better than he did in his note... “Giving is the heart and soul of every 'crocheter' I have ever met, without exception!” I urge all of you to make something to donate whenever you can. Not only does it bring a smile to their face, it makes you feel wonderful too! Show how much you care with these easy crocheted “hugs.”

(Leisure Arts Inc., 2011, 28 Pages, $7.95, ISBN-13: 978-1-60900-279-4)

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Hug It Out! was provided by Leisure Arts, Inc. 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.

Board of Directors Election Ballot

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Please check your Chain Link newsletter in the current issue of Crochet! magazine for the Board of Directors Election Ballot. If you have not received your issue soon, it should arrive shortly. The mailings began last week.

Book Review: 12 Shawls in 2012

Title: 12 Shawls in 2012
Author: Renee Rodgers

Book Review by Kim Guzman (

To say this isn't your ordinary book would be an understatement. Renee started on an adventure in November 2011, challenging herself to design, create and write patterns for 12 beautiful crochet lace shawls. Her challenge to herself was to create one each month and she has really out-done herself with these jewels.

Now, I'm not a shawl person. Wearing a shawl never seemed to fit into my lifestyle. But, I discovered that you don't necessarily have to wear a shawl in traditional fashion. You can wear it in more creative ways. I have found that I love to wear a shawl as a scarf, draping down with the points in the front. I also love to wear a triangular shawl, with the center point in the front and the ends hanging around the shoulders. It's so easy to change your look and attitude with a gorgeous shawl. And, with just the right wrapping and just the right shawl pin, a shawl can even be transformed into what appears to be a garment! I've seen them draped and pinned to look like a vest or a poncho, with one side left open at the shoulder.

Now that I've discovered that even a non-shawl person like myself can wear shawls, I really enjoy making them. It's my answer to that doily challenge that lives deep down in my crochet soul. I love doilies. They challenge my skills and are fun to make. But, you can only have so many doilies. I love them and I know so many of you do as well. A lace shawl is my answer to my doily desires. 

And, that's why I know you're going to love this e-book from Renee Rodgers. You'll be able to download all the PDFs for the year and you can even send the patterns to your e-reader and take them on-the-go. You can purchase the patterns individually or altogether as one, your choice! Patterns, a la carte! I love it. 

Because this is an e-book and the patterns are listed individually, there is no true book cover. The photo above is one that I chose because it's my favorite. "Vilano Beach" is the May installment and is made in one of my favorite laceweight yarns, Ivy Brambles Silk. Just gorgeous.

And, imagine my surprise when I was drooling over browsing through this e-book and one of the models is our CGOA President, Amy Shelton! Amy is modeling "Summer Storm", the July installment, made in MadelineTosh Merino Light. Isn't that stunning?!

View all projects in this e-book at

Full disclosure: A free review copy of 12 Shawls in 2012 was provided by 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: Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Tunisian Crochet

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Title: Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Tunisian Crochet
Author: Kim Guzman

Book Review by Marie Segares (

Tunisian crochet has been increasing in popularity for the past few years, and if you’ve been waiting to learn, now’s your chance!  In the Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Tunisian Crochet, Kim Guzman walks you through the basics while offering nine projects of increasing difficulty. The book focuses on Tunisian crochet creations that mimic the look of hand knitting.

The book includes an introduction to the types of hooks that are available for Tunisian crochet, as well as ways to modify standard or double-ended crochet hooks for Tunisian crochet.  

An eight-page section with step-by-step photos demonstrates the basic stitches including Tunisian simple, knit, purl, reverse, and extended stitches.  This section is helpful even to a more experienced Tunisian crocheter because Tunisian crochet stitch names are not always standardized, and the pictures allow you to identify stitches you may already know, which may have been called a different name in prior publications.

After introducing you to the stitches, Kim shares techniques for increasing, decreasing, changing colors, seaming and other finishing.  The remainder of the book is devoted to the patterns, with a brief section at the end that includes information on reading patterns and the yarns used in the book.

Kim writes in a conversational tone and reading this book is like having a great teacher looking over your shoulder.  Some of my favorite features are that the book lays flat so you can read along while crocheting; projects list yarn by type rather than by brand for easy substitution (a list of yarns used for each project is provided at the end); and many pictures and illustrations demonstrate various techniques throughout the book.  Kim assumes that you have at least some knowledge of standard crochet (i.e., how to make a chain) and familiarity with pattern-reading conventions. 

Ravelry members can view pictures of all the patterns in the book here.  Kim will be hosting a TCAL (Tunisian Crochet-A-Long) for the Cabled Mitts starting November 15 in her Yahoo group.  You can learn more about it here.  Since Tunisian crochet cables can be challenging to even more experienced Tunisian crocheters, you may want to join in!

This book would appeal to crocheters who want to learn Tunisian crochet, crocheters who want to explore different techniques, and Tunisian crocheters who are looking to expand their skills beyond the basic stitches.

Project types: 2 vests, 2 scarves/cowls, 1 ruana, 1 hat, 1 blanket, 1 bag, and 1 pair of mitts.
Skill levels: 1 Beginner project, 4 Easy projects, and 4 Intermediate projects. 
Retail price: $12.95 ($9.99 ebook)

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Tunisian Crochet was provided by Leisure Arts Inc. 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: 101 Crochet Tips (Kindle Edition)

Title: 101 Crochet Tips (Kindle Edition)
Author: Phyllis Serbes

Book Review by Jennifer J. Cirka (

Now who doesn't love crochet tip books? I know I do! And is it possible to have too many? Definitely not in my house! One of the newest tip books I've come across lately is 101 Crochet Tips by Phyllis Serbes. Some of you may know her from her company, Many Creative Gifts or even as the Crochet Guru over at Life Tips. I recently had the pleasure to review this all-inclusive book and can't wait to tell you more about it.

The first thing you will notice is that this is no ordinary book, it's an e-book, and it is made especially for all Kindle users. But don't fret if you do not own a Kindle. Amazon offers a free reading application that you can download for use on your computer, making it possible to read Kindle books directly on your computer. That's what I did, and boy, was it worth it! I will admit, that it made me wish I had an e-reader. I can envision how nice it would be to throw this little item into my crochet tote along with my current project. It would be right there, at the perfect time, exactly when I need it. Plus all the tips are short and sweet. Such an easy read, especially when waiting in a doctor's office or waiting in line somewhere. 

This book features 48 pages of crochet goodies. It is broken down into eleven chapters that are sure to please. You'll find tips about the health benefits of crochet (did you know you can burn up to 400 calories crocheting for an afternoon?) to creative finishing techniques. (I never thought of putting my amigurumi stuffing into nylon hosiery before putting it into the crocheted item to keep the stuffing from popping out!) Other chapters include Crochet Resources, The Language of Crochet, and even a section on Good Projects for Beginners.

Although the book seems to focused towards a beginner crocheter, I think it would be a great addition to any crocheters library and I am in love with the fact that it is so conveniently found on your e-reader. I can only imagine how nice it would be to have it at hand any time you need it. Plus, I believe you can also read a lot of crochet patterns, books, and magazines on your e-reader, so you can easily keep this publication right next to your current pattern and WIP. Now, if only I could get my hands on a Kindle! Oh, Santa...I've been a very good little crocheter this year!

(Phyllis Serbes/Many Creative Gifts, 2011, 48 pages, $9.95, ASIN B005NTZDBE)

Full disclosure: A free review copy of 101 Crochet Tips was provided by Phyllis Serbes. 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 in a Day for Baby

Title: Crochet in a Day for Baby
Author: Candi Jensen

Book Review by Reneé Rodgers (

If you are anything like me, the announcement that a friend or family member is having a baby makes my crochet hand twitch! But more recently, life has been so busy, that I have had difficulty finding the time to make my usual gorgeous baby blanket. Enter Crochet in a Day for Baby, by Candi Jensen. I have long been a fan of Candi’s designs, and her baby designs are no exception.

Jensen has created 20 adorable, yet simple projects that any new mom would be happy to receive for her baby. There are pullovers, cardigans, vests, booties, washcloths, bibs, hats, mitts, and yes, blankets. There is even a pattern for a cute set of soft blocks and covered baby hangers, which would make a great pairing with one of the pullovers or cardigans.

One of the things that I really appreciate about Jensen’s book is the fact that she gives good solid, basic patterns, and then customizes them with different colors and different stripe combinations. She encourages the reader to experiment and use their own design sensibility to make them their own. She has also included a good balance of designs that could be gifted for boys or girls. As a long-time crocheter of baby gifts, finding something for a baby boy can sometimes be a challenge.

Jensen doesn’t suggest it, but I think that any of the combos of pullover/cardigan, hat, booties and bib, done in the same yarns and colors would make a nice custom layette. If there’s time, add one of the blankets or some matching covered hangers for a really special set.

Or, if you’re more like me, and time is at a premium, and you only have one day, make any one of the projects and you’ll have a well-appreciated handcrafted gift for baby. Crochet in a Day for Baby is a great title for any crocheter’s collection, whether they are a beginner or more experienced. The concept of a book that focuses on projects that can be made in a day is a great one. In fact, I think I need to make the Pink and Ivory booties for a little girl who’s on her way. There’s a baby shower coming up soon! 

(Leisure Arts, Inc., 2012, 96 pages, $19.95, ISBN 987-1-4647-0265-5)

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Crochet in a Day for Baby was provided by Leisure Arts, Inc. 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.

The CGOA Website Gets a Facelift!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Check out the new look of the Crochet Guild of America's website here!

Knit and Crochet Show Dates for 2013

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The following dates have been announced for the Knit and Crochet Shows scheduled for 2013. Please visit the Knit and Crochet Show website here for more details as they are added.

JULY 17-21
Sheraton Keystone Crossing
Indianapolis, IN
Classes from Wednesday, July 17 through Sunday, July 21
Shopping from Friday, July 19 through Sunday, July 21

Embassy Suites Charlotte-Concord
Charlotte, NC
Classes from Wednesday, October 2 through Sunday, October 6
Shopping from Friday, October 4 through Sunday, October 6

Book Review: 100 Snowflakes to Crochet

Title: 100 Snowflakes to Crochet
Author: Caitlin Sainio

Book Review by Marie Segares (

As we move towards the winter, crocheted snowflakes seem to be cropping up everywhere. In 100 Snowflakes to Crochet, Caitlin shares snowflake basics, 100 fun patterns, and seven project ideas to get you started on a great snowflake project.  

The Basics chapter reviews materials, techniques for blocking and finishing, and pattern abbreviations and symbols, and provides an illustrated review of basic crochet stitches. For more advanced crocheters, Caitlin provides tips for designing your own snowflake patterns.

A 20-page snowflake showcase features pictures of each snowflake along with the name of the pattern and the page where it can be found. The Snowflake Patterns section includes 100 patterns, each with a brief introduction, a listed finished size, and the yardage used. (Caitlin uses size 10 crochet thread and a US 5/1.9 mm hook for all of the patterns in this book.)  

The patterns are shown with both US pattern abbreviations and international stitch symbols, and are also arranged in order of difficulty. To keep the book visually interesting, the snowflake samples are made in several colors.

The final chapter, Projects, includes pictures of seven projects made with the snowflake patterns in the book, along with a paragraph explaining how to assemble the project. 

This book would be a great fit for threadies, crocheters who enjoy motif patterns, and those looking for unique and beautiful winter holiday projects. If you are a thread crochet newbie, Caitlin provides some tips for getting comfortable with thread and starching in this interview.  I’ve been motivated to dust off the steel hooks and start on a set of snowflake cards for the holiday season.

Project types: 100 snowflake motif patterns, 5 home décor and 2 accessories projects.
Skill levels: Not listed, but arranged in order of difficulty. 
Retail price: $21.99

Full disclosure: A free review copy of 100 Snowflakes to Crochet was provided by St. Martin's 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: Granny Square Crochet

Title: Granny Square Crochet: 35 Contemporary Projects Using Traditional Techniques
Author: Catherine Hirst

Book Review by Marie Segares (

Granny squares have been making a fashion resurgence in the last few years. Old and new fans of this classic motif pattern will find a lot to like about Granny Square CrochetThe book was released by CICO Books and is written with UK pattern abbreviations and yarns that are commonly available in Britain. (If you’re not familiar with the differences between US and UK pattern abbreviations, you can find the translations on

Catherine's patterns include the classic granny square, granny stripes, granny triangles, and several other motif variations. She uses bright, modern colors and a variety of yarn weights to achieve different looks. The book is organized by project type with a short Useful Information chapter at the end which includes written and illustrated instructions for all of the stitches and techniques included in the book.

Although Granny Square Crochet includes some tips for making grannies, it is primarily a pattern collection, not a technique book, so you’re most likely to enjoy it if you love the projects inside. This book would be a good fit for granny chic lovers, crocheters who are moving beyond the basics, and those who like to work with stash yarn and colorwork.  

Project types: 15 home décor, 11 accessories, and 9 for babies and children.
Skill levels: 11 Easy, 15 Intermediate, and 9 Advanced 
Retail price: $21.95

Full disclosure: A free review copy of Granny Square Crochet: 35 Contemporary Projects Using Traditional Techniques 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.
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