Crochet Style: Review

 

Every Christmas I receive a generous Amazon gift card from work. I am an admitted autodidact, so I spend a good amount of the gift card on “continuing education” for myself. This year I purchased some books on writing, and specifically, copy writing. I also picked up an updated version of a book on non-profit fundraising. With a bit of money left over at the end, I decided to focus on my new favorite hobby–crocheting.

If you have read here, or  have been hanging around my Facebook or Instagram–or even following me on Pinterest, you can’t help but noticed that I fell down a crochet rabbit hole.

Crocheting was a great diversion when my oldest went off to Basic Training last spring, and I found, over the course of the year that it has had a fabulous effect on my stress levels.

I made several blankets–all multicolored stripes, with mixed stitches, which was a great way to learn to crochet. Crochet is an incredibly forgiving craft. And the community of crocheters is always willing to help.

Here in North Dakota we have notoriously long winters. I have made some cold weather gear with patterns that I have found online–which is hit or miss in regards to pattern quality. As a relative beginner, I like a well-written pattern, and as someone with a few miles of yarn in my stitch history, I appreciate a more complicated design.

I hit the jackpot when I ordered Crochet Style, Over 30 Trendy, Classic and Sporty Accessories for All Ages, by Jennifer Dougherty. Jennifer has several crochet patterns for sale at both Ravelry and Etsy, and this collection of more than 30 patterns is a great bargain–and will keep me busy for many more weeks!

Dougherty  is a very skilled artist and writes crystal clear patterns. This book is chock full of cold weather gear for the family–and each pattern has sizing for several different sizes–all written as a separate pattern.

I’ve made several hats from the book so far, including this cute cabled beanie that I made for myself (I never get a chance to make things for myself!)–Never mind the awkward office selfie–a working mom has to do what she has to do! Cabled beanie

I’ve made several hats for the girls using this book. These are not necessarily quick projects, as they are almost all highly textured (which does add warmth for these North Dakota winters).

Most designs call for worsted weight or bulky yarn, and a very few call for super bulky yarn.

The photos in the book are gorgeous. Each design has a really good summary page at the beginning with suggested weights of yarn, hooks and special supplies needed.

Another great feature is the lay flat binding. This softcover book is stitched such that I can have it open on my lap while working and not lose my place.

While there are a few projects that would suit a beginner, I think this book would be best enjoyed by an intermediate crocheter.

I’ve really enjoyed working on projects from this book during my daily Morning Make time after dropping a kid off at swim practice and before the other kids wake up.

 

How I am Teaching Myself to Crochet

You might have noticed I’ve been a little scarce. I’m fine, really! I am always active on our Facebook page and I am working towards a better writing schedule. (We creatives struggle with things like order, and schedule. . .and well, sometimes life!)

When we last visited here, I was chatting about how I am managing some life transitions–mostly the reality of my kids growing up–which is why my “mommy blogging” days ended several years ago and I became a working mom blogger–which is infinitely more interesting, but far less cute.

My evenings were beginning to be an endless stream of Candy Crush and Netflix. While there is nothing inherently wrong with either pursuit, I was getting the side-eye from my husband. Couldn’t I be more productive with my time?

After our annual family trip with my Bestie’s family, I knew what hobby I was going to give a try. Crochet. Essie was able to whip up a baby gift and three scarves for my kiddos that weekend, over glasses of wine and conversation. She had a hobby that was portable, seemed to be fun, and coordinated well with a love of Netflix.

I made a trip to the fabric store and picked up some crochet hooks and some yarn, as well as  a magazine that looked promising and settled down with a glass of wine.

And then, a few hours later I had a heap of tangled yarn in my lap and an empty bottle of wine.

So, the next day I decided to try again. . . this time with YouTube videos. I had better luck, I was able to crochet a few rows of some basic stitches.

Then, because I don’t do things the easy way, I decided to hook a hat. A hat for a small, picky, six-year-old. A hat to be hooked in the round. With ear flaps. It turned out OK, even if it was too large for even a LARGE six-year-old.


Then the other six-year-old wanted a hat. . .so I made her one that looked like an owl.


It fit a little better.

Then I tried to make a Peep. And it turned out OK, but I said bad words.


And then I copied my friend Esther and made a baby gift.


And then, my cousin reminded me that her kids don’t have a grandma who can crochet like we had, so I started my first “flat” project. . .a cozy blanket.


And I felt pretty accomplished until I tried this mixed stitch striped blanket that I had been seeing all over Ravelry.com. It started out well enough, but a few  more rows in and obviously I was dropping stitches, as it was beginning to narrow like arteries after 30 days of McDonalds. . .


And thusly, I became frustrated. I needed an intervention. I am pretty sure I have started some REALLY BAD habits. What I really need is a weekend with just Essie and I and a few bottles of wine and a bunch of yarn. . .but since we both have jobs and kids–it is not in the cards. So, I did the next best thing. I clicked through on a Facebook ad and claimed a free class from Craftsy.com. I swallowed my pride and started at the VERY beginning, with “Crochet Basics and Beyond”, and since classes are on sale through tonight, I picked up “Next Steps in Crochet” as well. I also picked up a free mini-class on textures in crochet to use later. All of the classes have a lifetime accessibility and I can even ask the instructor questions. Other students share photos and projects, and I can learn from them. Each class has a project to work through, and since I saw at least FIVE things I was doing wrong in the first lesson, I’m pretty sure this will be worth my time.

As usual, I’ll keep you posted!

So, dish. What have you been working on creating lately? I want to see it, the good, that bad and the ugly!