Monday, December 1, 2008

A Hooker Book Review - The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs

The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs
500 Classic & Original Patterns
by Linda P. Schapper
ISBN 1-57990-915-9
Revised Edition, published 2007 by Lark Books

Originally published in 1985, this revised edition is much easier to read and has all new updated photos.
The book includes 33 chapters, an introduction, illustrations of basic stitches, International crochet symbols, and a pictoral index of all the stitches.
I really love the pictoral index. Set up with 6 columns and 5 rows, the mini pictures are clear enough to search for a particular stitch or design that you are looking for. For example, if you want a stitch pattern that is more detailed vertically than horizontally, it is easy to browse and visually pick out one that may work for you. Each picture in the index also includes a number and the page number where the details can be found.
When you go the page that has the stitch details you will find a larger photo, a symbol pattern chart (I love these!) and step by step instructions.
Every stitch design book is unique and different in its own way, and this book is much more than a guide to basic stitches and the simple patterns that we all know and love. If you are searching for a lacy pattern for a lovely evening shawl, or an openwork pattern for a tablerunner, or popcorn stitch patterns for a new scarf, you will certainly find them here!
This is a great reference book for any crocheter, beginner to experienced, that makes it easy to design and create your own projects.

What do you think? Visit your local library and if they do not have this book in their collection, ask them to loan it from another library for you. It’s a free service, and a great way to preview books if you are considering purchasing them.

4 out of 5 "Hooks Up" Recommendation

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Boggy Bloggy Me

An alternate definition of the word boggy is "To be hindered and slowed." Yep, that's me. Hindered. And Slow. *sigh*
I have so much on my plate right now that I thought I would take a brief moment to update my boggy blog and put a few things into perspective. So, here's a few things I've managed to accomplish.
1. I managed to update my Etsy banner, and I've also uploaded the new one here.
2. I've added a new pattern to my shop. (That's my Daphne in the pic - awww, isn't she cute!)

3. I'm working on another new pattern that I've almost finished, and I hope to offer with a crochet kit in my shop soon.
4. I finished a scarf project for The Special Olympics.
5. I'm *mostly* caught up with all the EtsyHookers team stuff I have to do.
6. I reminded myself today that I am very grateful - for my wonderful husband and family, for my adorable and affectionate pets, to have a job that I love, and to have the gift of being able to making something out of simple tools of hook and yarn.
Okay, so no more feeling boggy, and I've just updated my bloggy :) Thanks for stopping in!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Hooker Book Review - The Crochet Answer Book

The Crochet Answer Book

by Edie Eckman

ISBN 1-58017-598-8

“Solutions to Every Problem You’ll Ever Face, Answers to Every Question You’ll Ever Ask.”

This handy little guide is packed with tons of information. The author, Edie Eckman, is also a pattern designer and crochet instructor. In her introduction she states, “I’ve tried to answer some of the most common questions crocheters have and to anticipate some questions you didn’t know you had.” I think she’s accomplished this very well! Set in an easy to read Q&A format with well defined chapters, this book also includes clear and concise illustrations.

Many of the questions are aimed at the beginning crocheter, but I was surprised and delighted to find lots of information included here that would be helpful to intermediate and experienced crocheters as well.
While going through the book there were quite a few questions where I thought, “I wish I had this book when I needed that answer!” Such as; “Do I always have to work a foundation chain?”, “How do I make an oval?”, “How do I tell the Left Front from the Right Front of my sweater?”, “How do I join separate motifs?”, and so much more!

Also included in this guide is a hook size chart, graph paper, a chart for suggested sizes of accessories and household items (such as afghan sizes), standard measurements and sizing charts, standard abbreviations, stitch symbols, yarn care symbols, common crochet terms and phrases, more resources, and an index.

I am very impressed with this book and I think every crocheter should have a copy in their toolkit. Not only a useful guide for questions you may have, but also for those answers you may have forgotten.

What do you think? Visit your local library and if they do not have this book in their collection, ask them to loan it from another library for you. It’s a free service, and a great way to preview books if you are considering purchasing them.

5 out of 5 “Hooks Up” recommendation

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Hooker Book Review - 200 Crochet Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets

200 Crochet Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets

by Jan Eaton
ISBN 0-312-36187-4

Colorful and well photographed, this book is a feast for the eyes. It is neatly organized into 7 chapters and the chapters include:
Hooks, tools, and yarns
Patterns and charts - Explains how to read patterns as well as symbol charts, including filet crochet.
Design - Learn the importance of gauge as well as garment fitting and design basics.
Crochet Techniques - Explains working with basic stitches, edge treatments, and garment details such as pockets, zippers, collars and making your own crochet buttons.
Working in the round
Fun with color - Includes a short explanation of color groupings and color theory. This chapter also includes yarn dyeing instructions for the beginner.
Assembling and Finishing

Found at the back of this book is a Resource section. It includes size chart lists which give average body size measurements: baby, 3 months to 24 months; child, 2 to 16 years; women, X-small to 3X; men, small to XX-large. Also has a handy head circumference chart (preemie through adult). Yarn and laundering symbols are also explained, and like all crochet books of this type should have, includes hook size information, and crochet abbreviations. The index is thorough and easy to use.

A major fault I found with this book is that specific patterns were not included in the Crochet Techniques chapter. For example, in the section about chevron patterns, there is information and photographs on how to create the peaks and troughs. Several swatches are pictured showing variations of the chevron stitch, however, there are no pattern instructions on how to create any of the swatches themselves! You can figure out the pattern from the pictured swatches, but I found this annoying and would not recommend this book to a beginner wanting to learn new stitches. Because of this fault, I would recommend a book of crochet stitches instead.

The “trade secrets” are nothing new and generalized like all the information in this book. There are many other books that serve this purpose better, such as The Crochet Answer Book, by Edie Eckman.

Overall this is a beautiful book and contains a lot of general information that beginners may find helpful, but personally, this is not a book that I would purchase for myself or as a gift.

What do you think? Visit your local library and if they do not have this book in their collection, ask them to loan it from another library for you. It’s a free service, and a great way to preview books if you are considering purchasing them.

2 out of 5 "Hooks Up" recommendation

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Pattern Has Been Published!

I am so excited! Today my issue of Crochet World arrived and I’m in it - woot!

I had sent this pattern in last fall for their pattern of the month contest. It wasn’t chosen for the contest, but the editor contacted me and told me they would like to publish it. Since their editorial schedule had been filled last winter, she told me it would be published this fall. Seems like it took FOREVER, but here it is and I couldn’t be happier.

And it’s so much fun to see my name in print.

And I also have the pleasure of being included as a designer on the Crochet World website:

I really loved making this scarf, and designing patterns is my passion. I’m so glad that I get to share this pattern with so many wonderful crocheters!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Pattern Shop!

Late last week I received word that my pattern shop was available for business. It is through Ravelry, (thank you Ravelry! I love you!). If you are a Ravelry user you can also view my pattern shop here and use the shopping cart. Your new patterns will be added to your Ravelry library. It’s a great way to keep your patterns organized in one place.

But the best news is that you don’t have to be signed up on Ravelry to purchase my patterns! You don’t even have to have a PayPal account. You can find my patterns here or by clicking on the button in the right column.

And the bestest (is that even a word?) news is that once your payment is received, you’ll instantly be able to download the pattern! Yay! How’s that for instant gratification?

I’ll be adding new patterns as I design them, so please be sure to check back often. And as always I have the completed items for sale in my Etsy shop. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Crocheting with Twine - Mini Baskets, New Items and Patterns

I like to experiment crocheting with new materials and my latest is 100% natural jute twine. Twine is fun to work with and, of course, much different than working with yarn. It’s very rough on the hands and I noticed that my hands got tired much faster too. But I think it was well worth the effort.

I made a small round basket several years ago and managed to find my pattern that I had created then. It’s amazing to look back at something you created and know that you can make it much better! So, that’s what I did. Instead of using the old pattern I created a completely new one. Plus I also made two other basket shapes, a square and an oval. I like to challenge myself with different shapes and sizes. I think the three baskets work well as a trio.

The round basket, I discovered, also makes a great can cozy and it will also hold a drinking glass. I can imagine using these for an informal party, perhaps a barbecue? Change out the ribbon and they would also be fun for a tiki bar!

Of course, they will also add a nice decorative touch to any room and will hold your small trinkets and treasures.
I have listed a set of these available for purchase in my shop:
Mini Twine Basket Trio

and for those of you who like to crochet, I also have the pattern for sale. You get all three patterns for one great price! Purchase here for an instant download.

It’s fun to experiment with new materials and there are so many to choose from! Aside from all the new novelty yarns that are available, I’d like to try using recycled materials. Fabric, plastic bags, yarn from recycled sweaters, the possibilities are endless! I think that’s what I love most about crochet, there is always something new to try and even old techniques tend to get recycled.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Etsyversary! RedBerryCrochet

Today is my Etsyversary! Two years ago I signed up on Etsy to become a seller. With my crochet hook in one hand and high hopes in the other I set about adding some items to my shop. If you list it they will come - right? So wrong! I was busy with another selling site at the time and didn’t devote much to my new shop. And it showed. From July through December of 2006 I had 3 sales.

Fortunately, I decided to get serious about Etsy around March of 2007 (I’m a slow learner) and sales picked up. My highest month so far has been December of 2007 with 24 sales. While I certainly don’t break any Etsy records, I am happy with my sales record and I can only hope that my monthly sales averages increase.

There are always tons of thread posts on Etsy for newbie shop owners and they offer sound selling advice, so I won’t repeat those words of wisdom here (except to list/relist regularly). But what I can tell you is to think positive, relax, create what you love, and to love what you make. There’s someone out there in cyberland who will love it too!

‘Nough said, time to celebrate with some cake :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Busy Bee and Ladybug - Catch the Reading Bug, Felted Crochet

It all started with an idea from my boss at the library where I work. She suggested I should make something as prizes for our summer reading program. The theme this year is “Catch the Reading Bug” so what better something to make than a bug? I started with the ladybug and I was really happy that it turned out so well. It is crocheted in one piece and then felted, and the spots and wing line are hand needle felted.

Then I got the idea of making a bee. I had checked out a few picture books with awesome illustrations for inspiration.

Bug Safari, by Bob Barner

My first bee didn’t turn out so well, I just couldn’t get the wings right. My husband commented that it looked like an airplane! So, back to the drawing board, and my next idea turned out much better, and "bee" like.

The bee and wings are crocheted separately, attached, then felted. The eyes are hand needle felted and the antennae is made from stiffened yarn. It took me awhile to figure out what size pin back to use on both these pins. Sometimes what you think is going to be simple turns out to be much more complicated. I was hoping to have these listed much sooner, but it’s been a very busy couple of weeks. But finally, here they are all finished! And I couldn’t “bee” happier with the way they turned out. I also plan on the selling the patterns for these cuties in my shop.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Crochet Hooks - Celebrating Etsy Style!

I came home this weekend to find that I had sold my 200th item. So, to celebrate I decided to do some online shopping at my favorite place ( of course!). Here’s what I purchased, this lovely polymer clay handled crochet hook from thefancifulfeline.

I purchased a size G hook several years ago from this seller, and I am still awed by its beauty every time I pick it up. The photos do not show all the intricate details and variations in layers and colors. If you’ve ever seen how long it takes to make 1 design in polymer clay, you can only appreciate the literally hundreds? of hours that goes into one handle. Needless to say, I can’t wait until my new size J hook arrives.

Typically I use wood crochet hooks for my everyday crocheting. I find them much more comfortable to work with and the wood warms to my hands, whereas aluminum hooks are always cold and my hands would literally hurt from using them.
My husband bought me a complete set of Brittany birch hooks and I adore them. I also have a set of rosewood hooks that I use often. My hooks have 2 different styles of ends on them, and depending on what I’m making I’ll choose one or the other.
For my hair scarves I always use the Brittany because I can get really consistent chains with them. For my pet blankets I use a rosewood hook. I crochet with 2 yarn strands and the rosewood hooks hold the yarns much better with no slippage.

Here are some gorgeous handmade wood hooks that I found on Etsy:

Lilac Lavender Wood Hook by rparishwoodworks

Exotic Wooden Brazilian Cherry Crochet Hook by fancykitty

And I just had to share this delightful hook I found from another online vendor Craft Designs for You

Now it’s time to put my lovely crochet hooks to some use, and thanks for stopping in!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Egg Came Before the Chicken!

As least in my case, lol!
I’ve been working on a set of amigurumi chickens that I haven’t finished yet and in the meantime I came up with the idea for a fried egg potholder. It’s a cute potholder that has a bit of country charm to it.

I designed this potholder from my own drawing and paper pattern that I made. I was very happy with the results and will create more patterns using this technique in the future. It is my goal to design many more patterns and offer them for sale in my shop along with the creations made from them.

I have the fried egg potholder pattern listed for sale in my shop as well as the potholder. I love creating items that are functional as well as fun. This potholder is a whimsical compliment to any kitchen and the double layers keep your hand safe from burns.

So why did the chicken cross the road? To visit my Etsy shop, of course! But you can visit me virtually at
I plan on having the chickens completed by next week, so check back often to see what new and whimsical designs I’ve created!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Etsy Pet Week - Exciting News!

Some exciting news this week! I’ve been featured in an Etsy Storque article!
Etsy Pets in Vogue: Getting The Right Shot
That’s my cat B.C. proudly displaying his toys in the main photo and in the photo at right. Last week cbarjcrafts contacted me regarding my photos and asked me if I'd like to participate. Of course I was happy to! She asked me several questions and here are my answers.

What type of set up do you use to photograph your 'pet model(s)'?
I use natural light to photograph my pets, which also works best for my crochet items. Flash photos are too harsh and I don’t like the reflections in the eyes. For indoor shots I also use a tripod and I set my camera timer. Using the timer gives me a few seconds to attract their attention by snapping my fingers or waving a toy above the camera.

Do you have any tips for others who would like to use their pets as product models?
Make it fast :) Take as many photos as you can in a short amount of time. B.C. was resting comfortably on the couch and I just put a white sheet underneath him and started shooting. Take photos when they are relaxed, and don’t fuss too much and get them excited. Keep your voice low and calm. Save the treats until the session is over. And don’t forget lots of praise!

What are the name(s) and breed(s) of your model(s)?
B.C. (aka Barn Cat, aka Bubba Chubs) and Daphne my Yorkie.

I really enjoy taking photos of my pets and I love to include them in my shop listings. B.C. has gotten lots of compliments and many buyers have sent photos to him of their pets playing with their new toys. Hmmm, maybe B.C. should have his own blog . . .

Please also visit cbarjcrafts (Christy's Critters) shop to find adorable polymer clay creations. And thank you Christy for including me in your terrific article! Happy Pet Week!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hi and welcome!

About 7 years ago I bought myself a “Teach Yourself to Crochet” kit and I haven’t stopped crocheting since! It seemed to come naturally to me and I really enjoy creating new things. I’m amazed at the things you can make from simple tools of a hook and yarn. I opened my Etsy shop in July of 2006 and it’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve recently started selling my own patterns in my shop and I’ve been fortunate to have a purse pattern published in Country Woman magazine in Sept 2006. I have a felted scarf pattern I sold to Crochet World which will be published this fall.

I also hope to teach a crochet class this fall. I’ve taught several beginner classes and I really enjoy it. To think that I can possibly give the gift of crochet to someone that will last them a lifetime is truly amazing!
I went through the correspondence course offered by CYCA (Craft Yarn Council of America) and I am a Certified Crochet Instructor. It really helped me to create a lesson plan and pick appropriate projects for my classes. Plus I have a really nice portfolio from the lessons I had to make during the course. I would highly recommend this course if you would like to teach.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll check back to see all my new projects!