Crochet Refresher Book Review & Giveaway

Crochet RefresherCrochet Refresher

Publisher: Leisure Arts

Number of Pages: 32 pages

Number of Projects: 9 projects

Types of Projects: Washcloths, baby blankets, hat, and mitts.

Difficulty: Projects range from easy to intermediate.

Yarn Used: #4 worsted weight; (One pattern uses #3.)

First Impression: This is a great book for those who would like to pick up crochet again, especially for those who are visual learners.

Favorite Project: The Puffs Blanket is my favorite project, but my favorite feature of the book is the links to video tutorials.

Puffs BlanketPuffs Blanket

Review: There are some great projects in this book for anyone looking to freshen up on their crochet skills. I was also very impressed with many of the other features that were included in this book. Leisure Arts and Sharon Silverman have thought of everything! The book starts by refreshing you with the easiest stitches first and then works harder stitches and techniques into subsequent projects. It covers everything like the basics of sc and hdc, to changing colors and post stitches. In addition to photos for almost all the stitches used in the book, they also have photos for left handed crocheters. There is also general information (gauge, terms, abbreviations, blocking, and more).

Bonus: There are links in the ebook that will take you to online video tutorials. I believe this is an invaluable tool for those who are visual learners. 

Crochet Refresher washcloths

I’ve only shown you a couple of my favorite projects. You can click on any of the photos, or the link under the cover photo, to go to the Leisure Arts website and see the rest of the projects.

Leisure Arts has offered to give away a copy of Crochet Refresher to one my readers. (digital or print version – readers choice) Please visit Leisure Arts here and leave me a comment telling me which project you would like to make first. Winner will be announced 10/15/15.

Happy Crocheting!

 *Disclaimer* – This book was provided to me for a review, but all opinions are strictly my own.
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Crochet a Zoo Book Review

Crochet a ZooCrochet a Zoo

Publisher: Martingale

Number of Pages: 80 pages

Number of Projects: 15+ (some projects have more than one pattern associated with it)

Sizes: 2″ – 10″ tall

Types of Projects: Lions, tigers, & bears…..and monkeys, seals, a giraffe, and so much more. There are also zoo keepers and zoo food.

Difficulty: All projects are listed as beginner or easy; except the primates (gorilla, baboon, & chimpanzee) and zoo keepers which are listed as intermediate.

Yarn Used: #3 & #4 – Felt is used for facial features and food on some of the projects.

First Impression: Impressed with the facial details.

Favorite Project: Elephants & primates

B1185 Finals.inddPrimates (gorilla, baboon, chimpanzee)

Review: I don’t make a lot of animals (lots of sc with a smaller hook bothers my hands). But I’m very impressed with the detail on these animals for their sizes. Example: The primates (see above photo) are approx 5″ tall and yet they have some amazing facial detail. The author does recommend safety eyes but cautions against using eyes for children under 3; which I agree with.

There is an entire section of resources on how to choose (and use) stuffing, eyes, yarn, hooks, felt and more. Also included is general information (gauge, terms, abbreviations), as well as stitch help and photos. I was very impressed with the number of “extra” tutorials, such as “how to cut felt”, etc.


Zoo KeepersZoo Keepers

I’ve only shown you a few of my favorites. You can click on any of the photos, or the link under the cover photo, to go to Martingale‘s website and see the rest of the projects.

Happy Crocheting!

 *Disclaimer* – This book was provided to me for a review, but all opinions are strictly my own.
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16 Before ’16

As the end of the year rolls around it’s always a reminder of the things I wanted to accomplish during the year. And if I’m honest, it’s an even bigger reminder of the things that I did not get done that I wanted to, or resolutions that were broken, or changes that didn’t stick. I recently looked back on my 2015 Word of the Year, which is Believe, and I realized something was missing from that list. I should have added, “Believe in myself.” It’s something I’ve always struggled with so I’m going to try to make that part of my focus for the remainder of the year, and beyond.




On top of the typical changes I always want to make (better bookkeeping, keep my house clean, lose 10 lbs) sometimes there are other things. Things that would just be so nice to cross off your list as completed. Those unfinished crochet projects. Patterns I never got around to publishing. Growing my business. I’ve been on a mission to be more focused, and I’m pretty excited about it, so I decided to make a list. I didn’t want the entire list business because I have personal goals I want to get to this year also. So I went for balance. Some of these have been a work in progress and I need to finish them up. Others were on my 2015 list and have been neglected. Here they are. The 16 things I want to finish and/or accomplish before we ring in 2016.




1) Lose 15 lbs. in 2015 – Now here’s the thing. I was SO close. I was only 3 lbs away from my goal. Then I tore my ACL and had knee surgery. I was forced to give up working out for the 2nd half of the year. Before I knew it I had gained almost all of it back. BUT….I’m not giving up. I’m changing my eating, and now that it’s 2 months after surgery I’m at least up and about, even if I’m not working out.

2) Get on a schedule – my life is crazy. I still have 5 children living at home, and I homeschool all 5 of them. They are all heavily involved in dance and we spend 5 days a week at the dance studio. I have my own business. I also have a husband who tolerates our craziness. But I want organization. I want set business hours. I want to know I have a moment set aside for everything that needs to be done. I’ve started the schedule, but now I just need to implement it.

3) Make working out habit again – I miss it. Even once I get the ok from the doctor I know it’s not going to be easy. I need want to make it a priority again. I was so much happier when I was doing that for myself.

4) Finish unpacking – we moved in July. Two weeks later I had surgery. Whatever wasn’t unpacked got left until I was back on my feet again. Now I’m sick of looking at it.

5) Budget – Get on one! Hubby and I have done them verbally and even sometimes we write it down. I want to make it a way of life!

6) Christmas gifts – whether it’s shopping or making, I’m behind. I’m normally done shopping by now and just have the handmade items left. I want to finish with time to spare this year!




7) Double my readership & income – plain and simple I love helping people and I want to get better at it. My goal for 2015 was to double both my readership (over all social media platforms) and my income (which included my pattern sales and tech editing income).

8) Book outline – work on my book outline. (I can’t tell just yet, it’s a secret.)

9) Sell one design to a publisher – My Polaris Wrap was published in the winter 2015 issue of Interweave Crochet. My goal is to sell to one more publisher this year.

10) Create editorial calendar – and stick with it! Planning ahead will make my blog posts much more consistent.

11) Make 2016 business plan/outline – I want to have next year all laid out so it’s easier to stay on track.

12) Evaluate all my 3rd party shops –  and close the ones that aren’t bringing me income.

13) Newsletter – Get my newsletter up and running.

14) Add downloads to my site – I want you to be able to purchase and download my patterns right from this blog/website.

15) Have paperwork ready for taxes – my goal this year was to stay on top of this….FAIL! lol

16) Classes – Get caught up on business classes I’m taking.

What would you like to cross off your to-do list before the end of the year? My hope is that if you have things that you want/need to accomplish that this will motivate you too. My plan of attack is to sit down and re-evaluate all these items on Nov. 1st and Dec 1st. Feel free to hold me accountable. Together, maybe we can finish 16 before ’16.


Happy Crocheting!


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Designer Interview & Review Series featuring Janet Brani

Throughout 2015 I had planned to do one designer interview and review each month. With our move and then my knee surgery, I put this series on hold for the summer, but am now returning to it.

Each month I will feature one industry designer, ask them some questions, and then I will actually make something from one of their patterns and do a review of the pattern.

Janet Brani Interview


For September I am featuring Janet Brani from OneLoopShy Designs. Last fall I received my issue of Interweave Crochet (Fall 2014 issue) and I fell in love with the Canyon Cowl. I started it right away but sometimes I have too many projects going on and, well…. let’s just say it sat for a LONG time. When we moved this summer I made a decision that I was going to finish this scarf – along with my other UFO’s. I was just about done when I decided to look up the designer and ask her if I could do an interview with her along with a review of the pattern. Imagine my surprise when I looked at Janet’s shop only to realize that I already owned a couple more of her patterns! As I looked through her designs I realized she has so many more designs that I would use/wear. I love when a designer just resonates with me and I can see their style in everything they do!

Read to the bottom of the interview for a special offer from Janet just for my readers.



Kristine (Me): How did you get started designing?

Janet: I worked for several years at a yarn shop, and a good friend and coworker encouraged me to write out the patterns I created for my crochet students. I began submitting to magazines after attending a CGOA conference, where I was able to meet with several magazine editors and take classes from published designers. There was no one time where I thought “I want to be a crochet designer” . . . it just evolved rather organically. And, fortunately for me, at a time when crochet was resurfacing as the hot trend it is!

Kristine: Do you remember the first pattern you ever designed?

Janet: I’m pretty sure it was my “Nine-to-Five Convertible Cowl”, which is a free pattern on my Ravelry site. The purpose for this pattern was to use one skein of a silk/wool blend for a simple cowl that my beginning crochet students could do.

Kristine: Where do you get your design inspiration from?

Janet: I love to browse through the catalogs I get in the mail (Sundance, Anthropologie) and enjoy looking in the trendy shops at the mall (Lucky, Free People, etc.) I have a huge folder of pages I’ve torn from fashion magazines and a big, system-crashing file of photos I’ve saved on my Mac over the years.

Kristine: How long between when you first have an idea to the finished pattern being released?

Janet: I would love to know the answer to this one! I don’t track how much time I spend on any one design (it would probably be a bit depressing!) and I tend to have multiple projects in the works. Releasing a pattern now, with all the digital options available (I sell on Ravelry, Craftsy, Etsy and LoveKnitting/Crochet) is so easy to do. My biggest stumbling blocks are photography and editing . . . there’s always one more thing I want to tweak or change. (I agree with Janet on this! The amount of hours designers spend on new designs from beginning to end is staggering!)

Kristine: What makes your designs unique?

Janet: For most of my designs, I work hard to achieve a look and drape that is usually associated with knitwear. So, I avoid some of the typical stitch patterns and incorporate techniques such as slip stitch, tunisian, and linked stitches (my current obsession). I love it when a knitter asks what size “needles” I used for one of my samples!

Kristine: Any advice to crocheters that want to keep their work fresh and exciting?

Janet: Try some wonderful natural fiber yarns, especially in the smaller sizes . . . lace, fingering and dk weights. Size up your hook and then see what magic happens when you block your project! Reserved Seating Wrap, Surround Sound, and Countervail are patterns of mine with simple stitches that block out looking like lace. (I’ve linked to those patterns for those that would like to check them out.)



Kristine: Favorite part of designing?

Janet: The crocheting!

Kristine: Least favorite part of the designing?

Janet: The pattern writing!

Kristine: Favorite yarn?

Janet: Anzula Yarns “Cricket”, Phydeaux Yarns “Soie”

Kristine: Do you have a crochet “hero” or someone you look up to in the industry?

Janet: I will always be grateful for my grandmother, who taught me when I was 8. She did not have any of the resources I take for granted (a library of books, youTube videos, Ravelry) yet she was so skilled, creative and best of all, eager to share her love of it with me.



canyon cowlMy finished Canyon Cowl.

For my review, I used Hobby Lobby “I Love This Yarn!” in Brown, Hot Rose, and Ivory. I’m still on my fiber diet, so I used skeins from my stash. The only thing I was cautious about was making sure I had more than enough. There’s nothing worse than running out and not being able to match the dye lot! TIP: If you’re going to substitute the yarn called for, check the yardage on the yarn label and make sure you will have enough. Read these 2 articles I’ve written for more info and help.

I love how the scarf turned out! I don’t wear a lot of pink, but it’s just the right amount so that it’s not overpowering to the overall effect. And I’m a fringe girl. I love anything with a western and/or cowgirl feel to it. The pattern was super easy to read, and once you get the pattern and color changes down you can work on it while watching tv, at your child’s sports events, etc. It’s perfect for those times when you want something to work on but don’t want to have to try to focus too much on the pattern itself. The only thing I changed was that I left my fringe at 10″, which is slightly longer than the 8″ that pattern calls for.

Because I love so many of Janet’s designs I want to make something else! There are so many to choose from but I think my favorites are her boot cuff patterns. I bought her Swift Kick Book Cuffs pattern last year, so I’m thinking that will be my next project. I’m wonder if I use the same colors as the cowl if it might make a good set? What do you think?

janet brani - swift kickSwift Kick Boot Cuffs

From now through Oct. 10th Janet is offering my readers 30% off in her Ravelry shop. Please enter code AMBASSADOR at checkout to receive the discounted pricing.

For more information, you can visit Janet at the links below:




If you have any questions you’d like me to ask in upcoming interviews, leave a comment and let me know. Make sure you come back next month!

Other designers in this series:

Jocelyn Sass

Shelby Allaho

Happy Crocheting!

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Tunisian Sampler Scarf CAL Links

In 2012 I did a CAL (crochet-a-long) for a Tunisian Sampler Scarf. The project was a way to learn Tunisian crochet, or even explore some new Tunisian stitches you’ve never tried before. It continues to be wildly popular – thank you Pinterest! But there is one question that seems to be asked more than any other and that is, “Where can I find all the sampler scarf posts?” I’m not sure why, but randomly my site won’t give you all the posts when you do a “Tunisian” search, so I thought I would put them all in one handy spot to save you time.

Tunisian Sampler Scarf

Here is a list of all the tutorials. Just click on each link to take you to that post.

CAL Intro

Part 1 – Tunisian Simple Stitch (tss)

Part 2 – Tunisian Purl Stitch (tps)

Part 3 – Tunisian Knit Stitch (tks)

Part 4 – Basketweave 

Part 5 – Tunisian Double Stitch (tds)

Part 6 – Puff Stitch

Part 7 – Openwork Pattern

Part 8 – Slanted Fabric Pattern

Part 9 – Berry Stitch

Part 10 – Net Stitch

Part 11 – Honecomb Stitch Pattern

Part 12 – Lattice Pattern

Finishing Row – sc bind off

I hope this will save you some time. As always, if you have any questions please let me know.

Happy Crocheting!

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Honk! Beep! Vroom! Crochet Book Review

Honk! Beep! Vroom! Book ReviewHonk! Beep! Vroom!

Publisher: Martingale

Number of Pages: 63 pages

Number of Projects: 8 vehicles

Finished Sizes: 11″ – 16″ long

Types of Projects: Police car, taxi, ambulance, convertible, dump truck, VW beetle, school bus,  & fire truck.

Difficulty: While most of the stitches used are sc, the projects are rated intermediate because of the detail that goes into each piece.

Yarn Used: All projects use #4 worsted weight yarn.

First Impression: Boys will love these! Ok, I do know that vehicles aren’t just for boys, but I have heard many times there isn’t enough crochet patterns for boys, so these will appeal to that audience.

Favorite Project: Dump Truck

Dump Truck crochet patternDump truck actually dumps!

Dump Truck crochet patternUnderneath dump truck

Review: While there are a small number of projects, each one has amazing detail. From the tires to the lights on the emergency vehicles, or the taxicab signage, nothing has been overlooked or forgotten. Cathy Smith did a great job of making these realistic, yet safe for a baby.

I was also impressed to see assembly instructions so that you will have no issues with where to place and sew pieces. There is also general information (gauge, terms, abbreviations), as well as stitch help and photos.

police car crochet patternPolice car

I’ve only shown you a couple of the adorable cars you can make. You can click on any of the photos, or the link under the cover photo, to go to Martingale‘s website and see the rest of the projects.

Happy Crocheting!

 *Disclaimer* – This book was provided to me for a review, but all opinions are strictly my own.
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Play Ball Sports Fan Crochet Pattern

sports fan crochet patternmy cousin’s son

Almost 2 years ago my cousin and his wife were expecting and I wanted to design something special for their baby shower. Their nursery had a sports theme so I set about designing something with colors I found on their registry combined with all things sports related. Here’s what I designed!

Play Ball Sports Fan

While I’m not a fan of applique (it’s just not my thing), it worked for this pattern and I fell in love with the end result. I finished in time for the baby shower, and even wrote up most of the pattern.

Then life got in the way, my computer crashed and I lost a ton of unfinished patterns, and I just never got around to having it tested and/or published. In July I had knee surgery and was forced to sit still. I realized it was the perfect time to pull this out and get it finished.

So, here it is. The official release of my Sports Fan Set. Blanket is baby/toddler size and all 3 hats come with instructions for 3 sizes each. That way you will be able to make each hat in the correct sports season and have hats for an entire year.

Made completely with Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice & Vanna’s Choice Baby.

sports fan set


play ball crochet pattern

This pattern was truly a labor of love for me and I hope you love it as much as I do.

I’m giving away one copy to my blog readers. Please leave a comment and tell me who is the biggest sports fan you know. Contest ends Sunday 9/20 at midnight. Winner will be announced Monday 9/21.

If you purchase the pattern and end up being the winner, I will issue you a refund.

Happy Crocheting!

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