Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: Collage with Crochet Art by Macarena Smartt

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Collage with Crochet Art ~ A Beginner’s Guide to Mixed Media
By Macarena Smartt

Collage with Crochet Art
The art of crochet is amazingly vast and varie;. I’ve often said I will never learn it all in my lifetime. The joy of wanting to learn so many techniques in crochet is what keeps us at it for decades. My book, The Fine Art of Crochet  is definitely in a small niche category, and I have recently come upon another exciting book that occupies its own niche as well.

Macarena Smartt’s book, Collage with Crochet Art thrills me! It is collectible and a must for every crocheter/artist’s personal library. She says it is intended for the ‘budding artist.” Many, many crocheters hesitate to say the words, “I am an artist,” out loud. I believe it is because those words bring connotations of educated skills along with the pressure to perform.

This book reminds me of some kids’ craft books I’ve seen in which clear, precise step-by-step instructions, and shapes systematically help turn a child's efforts into art. Macarena uses the same approach for adults and says, “This creative and original approach to mixed media is a great place to start your adventure into making works of art. With a unique and interesting style, Macarena will guide you from a blank canvas to a beautiful work of art.” The thrill for me is that crochet is pivotal in the resulting special niche crochet book I mentioned earlier.  Not only does the reader learn to create with paint, but is also guided to adding crochet embellishments to the canvas. 


On a large and professional scale, you can find examples mixed media expressed with vintage crochet embellishments in the work of Kathleen Holmes featured in her owh chapter of my book.

Kathleen Holmes: "Network"
Collage with Crochet Art may not be for everyone; personally, I am not one who likes to do any arts or crafts in which I get my fingers sticky! However, I highly, highly recommend this book as an important addition to anyone’s crochet library. Looking at this book literally excites me in a physical way because it is so unique, beautiful and is made with the love and passion that Macarena brings to her skill as an artist.  If I still haven’t convinced you to buy the book, consider it as a gift for an artist friend. You will open is/herh eyes to the possibilities of crochet and soon you'll be asked  to teach them how!


Published by Blurb (2012) Collage with Crochet Art is available in soft cover for $24.05 and as an eBook for $5.99. You can learn more about Macarena, as artgirlcrochet on Ravelry.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: The Big Book of Crochet Stitches by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
The Big Book of Crochet Stitches 
by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss


The Big Book of Crochet Stitches
Both authors, Jean and Rita, are icons in the world of crochet and publishing. Their contributions are many and they have touched crocheters with their incredible wealth of published crochet books for decades. Separately, both Jean and Rita have been honored as Honorees to the Crochet Guild of America Hall of Fame!

A visually appealing and colorful Contents page highlights the fifteen categories of stitch types within from Bobbles and Popcorns to Fans and Picots.

Sample Instructions
The Big Book of Crochet Stitches honors the memory of Jean Leinhauser. Weiss' heartfelt introduction of her dear friend reminds us all of how Jean was also a friend to all crocheters she met, and of the many and important contributions she made to the crochet world. Rita also gives an inside look at Jean's passion for "collecting" crochet stitches.

Truly a dictionary of stitches, this book is not based on gauge but on multiples. Colorful, clear photography presents each stitch in a 2 1/2 x 3-inch swatch format which is ample, along with the stitch instructions, for learners from beginning to advanced skills.

Example of Instructions
Readers will probably be surprised to find the wonderful selection of  familiar stitche, like the ripple or shell, with variations that they haven't seen before.  It is a compendium chock-full of over 350 stitch techniques that will challenge crocheters to try their hand and hook at creating their own original designs.

For those who prefer symbol crochet, unfortunately, diagrams are not to be found in this volume of hundreds of stitches and 192 pages.  This should not be a deterrant; and every crocheter will want to have The Big Book of Crochet Stitches in their personal library, both as an important reference and as a fond memento of Jean Leinhauser! It retails for $19.99 and is also available as an e-book for $14.99.

Photos by Brent Kane are used with permission from Martingale.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blog Tour Comes to an End!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sadly my Blog Tour to promote my latest book, The Fine Art of Crochet, has come to an end! Obviously, it is a great ego-trip to receive so many glowing reviews for my pet project which came to fruition in June, 2013 after many years of learning and researching and desiring to see a book of this kind on the market!


More importantly, though, I must thank the fifteen amazing women who participated on the Tour. They took on the task of reading this 106-page book with sincerity and professionalism. With trained eyes, they highlighted, analyzed and complimented the crochet history, the art and the artists' inspirations with intelligence and insight.

They are artists in their own right, and I could not be more honored to have them on my Blog Tour. I am forever endebted to each and every one!

If you missed some or all of the Blog Tour you can re-visit it here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Review: Mommy & Me Crocheted Hats by Kristi Simpson

Tuesday April 15, 2014
If you sent in your tax forms early and already got a refund...Yippee, you can go out and buy yarn to make one of these fabulous hats!

Mommy & Me Crocheted Hats ~ Fun & Stylish Designs for Kids of All Ages
By Kristi Simpson

Mommy & Me Crocheted Hats
Why should kids have all the fun when it comes to hats? Now everyone can get in on the fun with this collection of thirty fashionable styles sized from infant up to adult.

Lamb Bonnet
Kristi Simpson says that her very first design was a hat; thus they have a special place in her heart. The designs she has created are evidence of the many directions that can be explored with hats: “silly, sweet, functional and fashionable!”  

Pigtail Hat
The models wearing Kristi’s hats are “real people,” and they serve a dual purpose. Highlighting the darling and varied selection of crocheted hats, they also prove the old adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” to be true!

Sassy Girl

These sweet, happy faces fill the book with smiles and giggles!

Buddy Bobbles
Also included is a very informative section which Kristi calls, “How to Read My Patterns,” which includes information on how to choose a pattern consistent with skill levels, sizing, choosing the correct yarn and hook and gauge. These tips will serve the crocheter well into the future on most any crochet project.

Both visually exciting and inspiring, the Visual Index at the end of the book with help you zero in on just which hat you will want to start with. I have a feeling you’ll want to make more than one!

Thick & Thin Hat
Simpson is the designer behind RAKJpatterns, and she is also the author of Sweet & Adorable Baby Crochet. She loves to blog about many things crochet.

As always with Stackpole books, exceptional photography clearly shows the special stitches required to complete each design. Mommy & Me Crochet Hats is available for the retail price of $19.95. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Review: Cute Crochet World ~ A Little Dictionary of Crochet Critters, Folks, Food & More by Suzann Thompson

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Cute Crochet World: A Little Dictionary of Crochet Critter, Folks, Food & More
By Suzann Thompson

Cute Crochet World

Starting with the intro, readers will get the feeling that Suzann is right beside you to help with whatever crochet needs you have! Frequently crocheters are tempted to jump in and immediately start to crochet, but she pleads with us to pay attention to the “read me first!” section found in bright red letters at the beginning of the book.

I’d say it is well worth the minimal amount of time needed to read these thirteen pages. They are chock-full of valuable tips not only for making the motifs in the book, but for a lifetime of future crochet projects as well!

Suzann draws her inspiration from her daily life, but often consulted illustrated children’s books or Google images to find out things like “Where exactly do a sea turtle’s flippers attach to its body?”  The resulting motifs show the immense imagination and almost architectural skills that she used in this book! Suzann has not just re-cycled familiar motifs as is often the case; but she has created new themes and provided some very interesting combinations of stitches that make truly unique shapes.
Robin's Eggs

Once and for all, Suzann has given crocheters the best advice on how to create the challenging bullion stitch. I took her class on this topic at a recent Chain Link Crochet Conference  and I can vouch for the ease of making bullions with the technique that she describes.
Grape Leaves with Bullions
Even if you think you would never want to make “Our Favorite Martian” or a 3 ½ inch “watering can,” I assure you that there is a wealth of crochet knowledge in this book that can be gained by considering these motifs as exercises in increasing your skills!

Our Favorite Martian



Cute Crochet World is published by Lark /Crafts (May 6, 2014). It is available in paperback and retails from $12.04. Reprinted with permission from Cute Crochet World © 2014 by Suzann Thompson, Lark Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Lark Books.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Blog Tour: The Fine Art of Crochet

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
I have assembled an amazing group of bloggers and I am honored that they are willing to read my book, The Fine Art of Crochet, and share their educated opinions with my readers. If you are enjoying the Blog Tour, leave a comment and sign up to follow with your email.


The Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakley Kinsler
Day 1, April 1: Marie Segares, The Underground Crafter

Day 2, April 2: Selena K, Crochet Kitten

Day 3, April 3: Karen McKenna, I Hook Design

Day 4, April 4: Dee StanzianoCrocheting with Dee

Day 5, April 5: J. D. WolfeCraft Gossip

Day 6, April 7: Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten

Day 7, April 8: Elsa Mora, Art is a Way  

Day 8, April 9: Paula Moliver, Hartford Examiner

Day 9, April 10: Margaret Hubert, My Hooks and Needle

Day 10, April 12: Vashti Braha, Designing Vashti

Day 11, April 14: Denise LaVoie, Voie de Vie

Day 12, April 15: Sharon Silverman, Sharon Silverman Crochet

Day 13, April 16: Shelby Allaho, Stitch Story

Day 14, April 17: Linda Dean, Linda Dean Crochet

Day 15, April 18: Annette Petavy, Annette Petavy Design





Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review: Crocheting Clothes Kids Love by Shelby Allaho and Ellen Gormley

Tuesday, April 2, 2014
Crocheting Clothes Kids Love 

by Shelby Allaho & Ellen Gormley
Ellen Gormley is the new editor of Crochet! Magazine. She says in the book that she stitched more than 80 afghans before beginning her design career in 2004. Shelby is an award-winning designer who has widely published her unique accessory designs widely.

Crocheting Clothes Kids Love is every grandmother’s dream: a go-to resource for best-dressed grand-kids! What fun! I have already added several from the twenty-eight featured projects to my To-Do list. When my heart skips a beat and I go right to my stash to pick yarn and get started on one of its projects, I know I love a book! That’s the case with this book and I’ve already started on the quick and adorable daisy head band from the headband trio of designs, for Chloe!

Daisy Headband
Bow Band
This book written by two talented designers is full of colorful photography and fashion-forward instructions to make garments and accessories for school-age kids. New crocheters: don’t be intimidated! You will find lots of helpful information that makes it easy to follow along. Imagine the positive feedback you’ll receive when your very first attempt yields unique and fashionable results. You’ll surely become a lifelong crocheter!

Designed for use with a variety of yarn types, the patterns list the yarn requirements generically which encourages the crocheter to add a personal signature of creativity to the projects. Included are sweaters, vests, a capelet, a dress & skirt, tank top and slipper in styles kids are certain to love plus a variety of accessories.
Chelsea Caplet

Lacy Sundress
Rochelle Hat
I'll be making this hat over and over to have on hand for baby showers and I'll be the hit of the party with my gift. Love, love it!

Crocheting Clothes Kids Love was published in December 2013 and is available in softcover from Creative Publishing for $24.99.