Ideas for the Crocheter on your Gift Giving List

ScannedImageSo this is the time of giving. I often feel a little overwhelmed with feeling obligated to purchase gifts. Often the people in my life really do not need anything, and choosing a “special”, “you probably wouldn’t buy it for yourself, but you will love it gifts” are feel daunting to find. So I thought I would offer a little help in purchasing for that favorite crocheter.

I know the people in my life feel that they cannot purchase anything for my craft as they don’t know as much about as I do, and they think I probably already have everything I want or need, but I have been surprised over the last year from friends that have given me crochet gifts that I find really impressive. So here is what as impressed me, and hopefully will help you shop for that favorite crocheter, even if that is yourself.


My beautiful set of Tulip hooks. Everything I need all in one place .

An actual set of hooks. This sounds a little odd, since I have been crocheting for over years, I should have hooks…and I do, but receiving them in a case where they all match and are coordinated, that is something special. I received a set of Tulip hooks, I had never really used Tulip hooks before, but I will admit I was pleasantly surprised. The set included 10 hooks ranging from 2mm- 6mm (they did not have the standard US letters, but as most every pattern now lists that millimeters of the hook within the pattern, it does not really affect the usage). The handles on each were ergonomically correct with cushioned handles, which are pleasant, and there is absolutely no weird plastic smell that I have noticed with some other plastic handles (there is nothing worse than having your hands smell odd after you have been crocheting). The set also came in a nice case, which also had yarn needles and small scissors, so it included everything I need to take a project on the go. The hooks are not going anywhere and it looks a lot better than the zip lock bag I use to carry things in. The price can look a little overwhelming at a first glance, but there are other size kits and sets, so prices can vary, but when you figure that a good -crochet hook alone can cost between $7-12 US dollars, purchasing a full set can give a price break on the overall cost of the hooks, and then give some added bonuses. (You can check out some Tulip sets, including the one I have here)


My “paint it yourself” Yarn Bowl gift. Fun, practical, and keeps memories alive.

Another gift I received this year was a yarn bowl. I had never had one before, and then I received two as gifts this year. I find that I use them all the time now. One was actually part of an additional gift from a “paint it yourself” Ceramic store, where the gift included me getting the opportunity to paint it and have it fired. This was a fun gift that brings extra memories to heart when I use it. The second is a ceramic bowl that is handmade and fired with a beautiful lustered sheen. Now, I know that it might sound odd that I use two yarn bowls now, but it is an easy way to keep multiple projected contained and organized, and looks beautiful. (Find your own handmade and fired yarn bowl here) 


Yarn is always a great gift for crochet lovers, especially if it is something that they do not usually purchase for themselves.

Other lovely gifts can easily include good yarn. I know that it can seem difficult to purchase yarn, especially if you do not usually use it yourself, but if you visit a local yarn store the staff can usually address any questions you have and steer you to something in your price range and give you an idea about quantities needed. You should not really worry about how much yarn you purchase for a gift, as there are websites that can easily assist the recipient to patterns and ideas for the yarn. One such website is The recipient can simply do a search for patterns using the yarn and the quantity, so any yarn, in any amount is a great thing! (You can not find either of these in your local yarn store, but find some beautiful natural fiber, hand dyed yarn with Lisa Souza here, or if you like some beautiful cottons or Jelly Yarn check out Designing Vashti here)

Speaking of Ravelry, you can actually purchase patterns as a gift and have them downloaded to the receipts account or email. Selecting a pattern for someone can also seem like a challenge, but if you have seen that things that they currently create, be it afghans, hats, scarves, toys, garments, etc. you have a point to start from. You can search patterns and books similar to what they currently work and choose things that you feel fits their style. I guarantee that none of these go to waste. Even if the recipient never actually works that pattern you gave them, it does give them a new level of inspiration, a new idea, which you have shared with them. (Check out my pattern store on Ravelry here)


Crocheting with beads is a nice addition to a crochet project that many stitchers do not think about, thus making beads a nice gift.

Some gifts that are completely unexpected are beads. I know this can sound a little off base since I am discussing crochet gifts, but beads can bring a new challenge and help the recipient undertake a new approach to their skill. There are several ways to incorporate beads into crochet projects, and it offers a little something extra, and many crocheters never take the time to go bead hunting for themselves, so it make a great gift. (Here is a link to great online provided)

I would be remised if I did not mention that you could give the gift of membership with the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). This organization promotes all things crochet and the recipient would receive a subscription to Crochet! Magazine with the membership, as well as discounts to conferences, opportunities educational programs such as the Master’s Program, as well as explore the various ways that they can utilize crochet as a possible career, it really can be a gift that keeps on giving. (See what CGOA has to offer here)

So, if you have a crocheter in your life (they use one hook with yarn, not two needles, in case you were not sure which craft you were dealing with), I hope this gives you a couple of ideas for things that your crocheter really will use, and enjoy, even if they never realized for themselves.

Halloween Costume Confessions

ScannedImageWith tomorrow being Halloween I have seen many adorable crocheted costumes on various social media outlets. There are so many creative and talent stitchers, that I will admit put me to shame.


My “Mummy” and “Witch”

Several people believe that my kids must have adorable hand crocheted costumes to wear to various Halloween parties and trick or treating events. They would be grossly incorrect. I am not saying that I spend a fortune on the costumes that are available in many stores, heck; I even balk at spending $25 for a costume that will be worn for only one night, so many of my kids’ costumes are homemade, relatively speaking.

One year my son wanted to be Indian Jones, so a pair of khaki’s, a white shirt, brown hat and a piece of rope (to simulate a whip) and he was quite happy. Another year, a mummy, white face paint some medical gauze rolls, done. My daughter wanted to be Iron Man, her red sweat pants, a red sweat shirt, and some felt cut into a few shapes and tapes on to the clothes…okay I did crochet a red hat to attach a cardboard mask to, but that was it.

There are a couple of years that I spent more time in putting a costume together. One year I made Toothless, the dragon from the How to Train Your Dragon movies, this was a little more involved, but only in taking felt to make the tail and the wings. The rest is just black sweats. Another year the kids both wanted to be a Genie, I had some extra fabric around, so I made some harem pants and simple vests, but these were my more involved years. Fortunately, Toothless has been worn my more than one child, and more than once for Halloween, the Genies have had many play-times at home.


My “Genies”

This year, the kids are putting together their own costumes, my daughter is creating a Spider Witch and my son…well, my son has come to the age, that he only wants to dress up because that is what needs to be done to trick or treat and receive candy, so he is putting together some mask with a cape.

While I greatly admire the costumes many have created in crochet, and the talented ideas and artistry these creators have, I am one of the moms that is keeping it simple, and stitching up some sweaters for use on more then one night.

A Review: The Fine Art of Crochet by Gwen Blakely Kinsler

ScannedImageGwen Blakely Kinsler, has done much for the skill of crochet. Twenty years ago she began the Crochet Guild of America, creating a national, excuse me, international setting for crocheters of every level and area of interest to come together and share the love they have for a hook and the fabrics it creates. She continues bringing new life to crochet by highlighting those utilizing crochet in fine arts with her new book, The Fine Art of Crochet Innovative Works from 20 Contemporary Artists.

So I have an admiration of art, even fine art, but I will admit that contemporary art does not always speak to me. So reading through this new book was a revealing time for me. Just flipping through the pages I would see photos of various pieces of art, things that I would have to be in a different mindset to fully appreciate, but then I began to read. 51LhiyLx5ML

Each artist has a very different approach and message that they are expelling through works that involve crochet and this book allows you to enter the creative process and approach by each artist, as Gwen gives each a personal voice. It gave me a greater appreciation of the work that they do, I could see more in their art then I ever could on my own. It was interesting to see how each artist discovered crochet as a medium, as no one ever set out and imagined using crochet in their art, but came to it for different reasons and spoke different things.

Even days later, the work of some of the artists have remained in my mind. The way Jo Hamilton uses crochet as a form of paint, while “showing the brush strokes” was amazing to me, and I can vastly appreciate the skill involved to accomplish the “painting”. Soonran Youn work has such meaning that I may have over looked without understanding her theory of expression. The work of Carol Hummel feels like home, yet really is revolutionary in its approach and undertaking.  Jerry Bleem has such a message in his work by his materials used that it really is thought provoking. I have had the pleasure of taking a class from Dr. Carol Ventura, so I have appreciated her work up close, but her chapter allowed me to see more about her creative process and growth of her art.

The Fine Art of Crochet is more than just an outline of an artist’s life and how they use crochet in the art that they place in museums. It can speak to you, as it spoke to me, and allow of an awaking in a new approach that my crochet can take, and at very least provoke a new understanding of crochet elevated from a craft, a hobby, to fine art.

Understanding Where I Need to Grow


I think that just about everyone I have spoken to has never really given themselves credit for what they really can do. Is that people are really that modest, or is that we are not really sure how to evaluate our work.

Okay, it is a given, most everyone never considers themselves a “Master” at the crafts they follow. I think this is because the more you know, the more you realize that you don’t know. That classic learning process that when you think that after you accomplish this next skill there is nothing left to learn, but you get there and realize that there is a completely new level that you have yet to understand. It is almost like mountain climbing, you get to one peak thinking that it is the top, but then you see a higher peak. But at least with mountain climbing there really is a “highest” peak, which is not really true in the crafts. So you may have reached the peak of one skill, just to be a beginner starting on a new one. I believe that this is why many people, who may be very skilled in the craft, might only consider themselves an Intermediate or maybe advanced, but never an expert. It is also a reason I believe others always feel like a beginner, even though their work shows hours of practice.

So how do you assess your work? Mountain in Himalayas

First I should preface this by stating that I do not think that you should place a label of yourself of your skill. I believe that people tend to live up to a label, and not their potential. However sometimes it is necessary to reflect on what we already know in order to understand what we have yet to grasp. With that in mind there are some ways to “self-assess” by asking some questions of ourselves.

·         What are my goals?

·         Have I accomplished the goals I had when I started this process or technique?

·         Is my work even and consistent?

·         Do I understand the concepts for the project?

·         Can I expand upon the process or technique and “play” with it?

·         Do I feel comfortable with the concentration level I use to complete the technique?

·         Can I explain the process, if only to myself, without reference to outside materials?

·         Are you happy with what you are doing?

The answers to the questions above will vary from person to person, just as a skill assessment is not a definitive answer, but self reflection reveals more to yourself then others- just as it should. Do not be overly critical when addressing your answers, but sit back and attempt to be as open minded and objective as possible.

This self assessment does not translate readily to a pattern that you may pick up, with their skill level indicators. These “skill” levels are defined by the publication, but some use the guidelines of the Craft Yarn Council of America. They are designed to help gauge a patterns difficulty and have some outline has to how they qualify. Basically it outlines a “Beginner” level as a project for first-time crocheters using basic stitches and minimal shaping. An “Easy” level are projects that use basic stitches and repetitive patterns, have simple color changes and shaping as well as simple finishing.  The level of “Intermediate” indicates that a project uses a variety of techniques, such as basic lace or color work patterns, which has mid-level shaping and finishing. Finally “Experienced” level is reserved for projects that have intricate stitch patterns, techniques and dimension, such as non-repeating patterns, multi-color techniques, fine threads, small hooks, and detailed shaping and refined finishing.

Close-up mid section of woman holding seedlingYou can not accurately define your abilities by the skills assessed to a pattern, as your world of crochet, or any craft for that matter, is not so narrowly or neatly packaged. By reflecting on how we have grown, and where we would like to grow to, we can really expand our skills and give ourselves the credit we really do deserve. We are often our own worst critic, and do not see that we have grown and expanded our craft, not just for ourselves but for all of those that are touched by the work of our hands.

Remember to continue to GROW.

Differing Yarn Weights…what are they really…

ScannedImageI was asked a question the other day, of something I kind of take for granted; yarn weights. You hear a lot about different yarn weights, and as a crocheter I have always had a grasp of the traditional worsted (medium) weight acrylic yarns, but when you hear phrases like “I need to get some DK”, or “ I really enjoy this fingering”, there is a smile and a nod, but not a full appreciation of the statement.

So I will address my perspective of yarn weights (note; this is not about threads, that is a whole different discussion, but the same conclusion applies). The Craft Yarn Council of America has been attempting to help standardize many things in the yarn industry for consumers, including yarn weights. But that doesn’t mean that all worsted weights are created equal.

You have probably noticed numbers listed on the skeins of many commercial yarns, these are on a gradient scale with 0 being thinnest and 6 (or greater) being thickest.

So for the 0, listing this is categorized as Lace weight yarn, but has gone by other names such as Fingering, and 10 count crochet thread. While 1 is categorized as Super Fine, and has gone by the name of Sock, Fingering, and Baby. Not to be confused with 2, known as Fine, also called Sport or Baby. Confused yet? Basically the name terms have a more loose interpretation of what they really are. The number scale is devised of by using yarns with hooks that given an even drape and measuring the number of double crochet stitches over 4 inches (just like a swatch, that we are suppose to do before every project…and sometimes realize later that this is good advise). The greater the number of stitches, the finer the yarn (You can find the complete table and all the hooks used, and stitch range used for each category here).


Yarn weights, 0 to 5- lace to chunky

This may work great when shopping at larger box stores, but not always helpful when buying yarn at some smaller local yarn shops or at larger events such as Stitches, or other venues that small distributors, yarn dyers, and personal yarn spinners. As they may not use the numbering standards and instead using the other terms; Fingering, Sock, Baby, Sport, DK, Light Worsted, Worsted, Afghan, Chunky, Craft, and Bulky (At these large events I don’t usually see a lot of the heavier weights, often it is hard to find what I would consider a worsted weight yarn), or simply give you a number of stitches per inch on certain size knitting needles (not really helpful to someone that doesn’t knit). Often they are using another unit of measure to determine the classification they are using such as the number of twists per inch in a length of yarn (the higher the number of twists the finer the yarn), or the numbers of yards in a pound (meter in a gram) (the more yards per pound the finer the yarn), so don’t feel intimidated to ask. I know you may feel like you will get slighted as a crocheter by knitters for asking, but if the booth wants to really sell yarn they will treat you like the valued customer you are.

A good mental note to use is to close your eyes and gently rub the strand between your fingers, let your instincts guide you. If you were to pick up a hook just now and crochet what hook would you pick up? The other thing to remember, if you like it, you’ll find a way to make it work. The classification only really matters if you want to substitute exactly, but let’s be honest, how often do we follow the patterns to a tee? (Okay I am not suggesting that you can substitute a lace weight yarn for a chunky and not have some difficulties, but reasonably close and you can make it work). We know how to make it our own, even if we don’t feel confident in explaining this. Everyone crochets differently, no two are the same, and we always make adjustments for this, yarn weight is no different.

If you have not left your comfort zone and have not attempted some finer weight yarns, what are you waiting for? There are many beautiful yarns that are finer weight that you can have fun with, remember ultimately you set the rules.