Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Plus size crochet/etc

Good Morning all,

Some one, on the crochet list, has alerted me to the fact that has already listed my new book PLUS SIZE CROCHET (FASHIONS THAT FIT & FLATTER), for pre orders.  I must admit amazon, truly does amaze.  I just found out the title yesterday, and they already have it on amazon - WOW.

I had promised a while  ago to periodically post some of my favorite stitches in both knitting and crochet, that I use mostly in my free form work, so today I am posting the spiral. 

Give it a try, have some fun.


The Spiral is basically worked as a circle, increasing every round, always having one stitch  more between increases each round, and changing colors as you work.


To begin, make a loop with the first color and work 1 sc, 1 hdc, 1 dc into the loop, drop col 1, drawing up the loop so as not to lose it (now and throughout),  join 2nd col, working into same loop,  work sc, hdc, dc, drop col 2, drawing up loop, con’t in this manner with a 3rd, then a 4th col.  Tighten original loop so you now have a circle with 4 segments, each in a different col (3 sts each col, 12 sts in all). From now on you will be working in dc.   Place a long, different colored thread in your work, to carry up as a marker for beginning of rounds.  This marker indicates beginning of round, not beg of color changes.


First inc round:  Continuing with col 4, work 2 dc into each st in col 1   Leave col 4, pick up the loop of col 1 and work 2 dc into each st of col 2.  Leave col 1, pick up col 2, work 2 dc into each st in col 3, leave col 2, pick up col 3, work 2 dc into each of the first 3 sts of col 4.  You have now completed one round, you have 4 segments, 1 in each color, 6 sts each.   You should be at the marker, but you will not be at the end of col 4.  The rounds begin and end at the marker, THE COLORS DO NOT CHANGE AT THE MARKER. 


Second inc round:  Continuing with Col 3, working into the remaining sts of col 4,  work [*1 dc in next st, 2 dc in next st , rep from * 2 times more], leave col 3, pick up 4, rep between [ ] on sts of col 1, drop col 4, pick up col 1, rep between [ ] on sts of col 2, leave col 1, pick up col 2, rep between [ ] on first 6 sts of col 3, you now have completed 2 rounds, you are at marker which is end of round, not end of col. 


Third inc round:  on this round you will be inc every 3rd st of each col. Segment.


Con’t in this manner, changing colors increasing 12 sts eachround, always having 1 st more between inc, until desired size is reached, then end each segment with a hdc, sc, s. st, and end off the color.

Have a great day!


Monday, February 26, 2007

Another New Book

Happy Monday All,

It is snowing in NY this morning, and my yard looks like a winter wonderland.  Very beautiful to look at, not so nice to drive in, so I will not be running out to my usual Monday morning class today.

On February 1st, I turned in the manuscript and the final garments for my latest book.  Up till now, I have not been at liberty to discuss the contents, but this morning my editor has given me permission to talk about it.  The new book will be called CROCHET PLUS.  It will cover sizes from 1 X to 4 X. 

About 2 years ago, I took a trip to Australia and part of the time I stayed with Prudence Mapstone, .     Prudence had a knitting book in her guest room that was all plus sized garments.  The book was published in the UK, and it was more one size fits all.  I thought at the time, that I would investigate to see if there was anything out like that in crocheted garments. The book that I envisioned would have a range of sizes and some shaping involved.   I put the idea on the back burner, and never did anything with it.  Last July, at the Chain Link Conference in King of Prussia, Pa, several attendees asked me why designers so rarely designed in the plus sizes.  These questions renewed my interest in the idea, I then made a proposal to my publisher, they liked the idea, and I immediately started on the book.

I had fun doing the book.  I wanted to make things that were lovely and flattering to the fuller figure.  I used a large range of yarns from the more moderately priced yarns to designer yarns.  I give weight, yardage, gauge etc, so that making substitutions is easier.

The book usually takes about six months before you see it in print, but its on its way.

Have a great day


Sunday, February 25, 2007

More on the Mall of America/Felted Bags

Hi Everyone,

I received a lovely e-mail from Pam Gillette, who was an attendee at the festivies at the Mall of America.  Pam wrote to tell me how much she enjoyed my demo.  It always makes me feel good to hear that.

I discovered that Pam's site has some great pictures from the fashion show and lots more pictures of the event.  I loved visiting her site, seeing her pictures, but I also loved seeing her creations and reading about her.  Be sure to visit Pam's site, I'm sure that you will enjoy it as much as I did. 

I have been experimenting with Felting over the past few weeks.  I tried it a year or two ago, but did not have a good result.  Then I discovered Patons Classic Wool, and I have been having fun.  I took a class with Nicky Epstein on felted, cut flowers, and that really got me started. 

The first picture is the knitted bag that I made, and attached the felted flowers that I made in Nicky's class.  The second bag was crocheted, and I knit separate petals and leaves, felted them, then sewed them together to create the attached flowers.

Both bags were made the same width and length.  I used one ball of black for each bag.  I used a # 6 knitting needle and stockinette stitch for the knitted bag, a # 8 crochet hook and single crochet, for the crocheted one.   In order to get the crocheted one the exact same length as the knitted one, I had to add a few rows of green and rose to each end (or buy another ball of yarn).  I followed the same process in the washer etc, and you can see that width wise, they both ended up the same, but length wise, the crocheted one did not shrink nearly as much as the knitted one. 

I did this strictly for my own information and to satisfy my own curiosity.  Both fabrics look good, and if you do not knit, felting crochet works just fine.  It does look a little different though, as the knit has a smoother texture, the crochet a rougher texture. 

I love making the flowers, and will experiment a little more with this aspect.

Have a great evening


Saturday, February 24, 2007


Happy Saturday Everyone,

Sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to this, but sometimes life gets in the way.  I am off to do a class this morning, but had some time to add more pictures from the Knit/Crochet Event at the Mall of America.

The Fashion Show, as always, was the highlight of the event.  The fashions were gorgeous, and there was a segment that showed a whole group of garments in both knit and crochet.  The same fashions were done in a knitted version and a crocheted version, which I thought was just great.  There was also a group of fashions that combined knitting and crochet in the same garment, which I love to do.  I am so happy that more of this is going on now.  There was a bridal gown and a bridesmaid dress, that drew loud applause from the crowd, and so many other great fashions.  I believe the bridal gown combined knitted panels with crochet panels.

The people were in their seats for the fashion show, literally hours before it started, so I did not have a very advantageous seat for getting good photos. 

Evie Rosen was honored for her work in founding Warm up America, and Minnesota was honored for being the state that donated the most preemie caps for the Caps to the Capital project.

The Fastest Knitter and Fastest Crocheter contests are always fun.  There was a big age range in the entrants, from a 13 year old on up.  Lisa Gentry won both contests, but she gave her prize to the 13 year old, who was a runner up. 

Great fun all around.  If you ever have the opportunity to get to one of these events do go.  It is so great to meet so many people, with a passion for knitting and crocheting.  It is also wonderful to see so many people wearing their creations.  Its like the crowd is a fashion show in itself. 

Have a great weekend everyone.   Next time I'll try to have photos of my crocheted felted bag, and tell you about my experiences with both the knitted version and the crocheted version.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Knit/Crochet Event at The Mall of America

Good Morning Everyone,

Wow, what can I say about the Mall of America.  I did not know what to expect, and planning a trip to MN in the middle of winter, was a little intimidating.  The storms in New York, days before I was to leave, were not helping to ease my anxiety.

When I arrived at my hotel on Friday afternoon, the desk clerk told me that the mall shuttle was about to leave for the mall.  I literally dumped my bags in my room, and got on the bus.  I had to see what all the hype was about.   The Mall  was very close by, we could see it from the hotel, but you do not walk in the bitter cold and you cannot cross the very busy highways.  I was exhausted but decided to head for Nordstrom.  I had bought a pair of jeans at the Nordstroms in Texas and decided I really should have another pair of these great jeans.  I walked into the store, and within minutes spotted a dress that I loved.  I needed a dress for a wedding coming up in May, but had no intentions of shopping for the dress right now.  When I told the wonderful sales person, that I had really come into the store to buy jeans, she offered to get them for me, while I tried on the dress.  You guessed it!  in the space of about 25 minutes, I bought the dress and my jeans, and was ecstatic. 

I walked around the overwhelming space for about half hour, then headed back to the hotel, ready for some dinner and a quiet evening.

Early Saturday morning it was back to the Mall, this time to set up for my Free Form Knit and Crochet demonstration, and acquaint myself with the layout.  The quiet of the huge, near empty mall, was a big contrast to the bustle of Friday night.  Armed with a map, I found my way to the Knit/Crochet Event location.  Everyone was busily unpacking boxes, setting up displays and getting ready for the first day opening. 

One of the first things that I spotted was a display of my books in the Barnes and Noble window, which was right in the rotunda, that was a real thrill for me. 

Lily Chin, author of so many books, and such a fun person,  was sitting next to me at the fashion show,  Lily introduced me to Evie Rosen, who is the founder of Warm up America.  Evie was given an award as recognition for all of her great work.  I met Evie again in the airport on the way home and we chatted for a bit, what a great lady she is.

Vicky Howell, host of Knitty Gritty, was sitting at the table next to me.  Vicky was constantly surrounded by media cameras and fans.  She is so vivacious and fun to be around.  My first Free Form Knit and Crochet demonstration was filmed for the show, and I had to sign a release for them to use it.  No guarantees though, if or when it will air. 

Another hit of the show was the Lion Brand Yarn Booth.  They had a mascot lion in attendance, and they were giving away lots of patterns and a huge, cloth bag, that people were standing in line for.  The line continued to be endless, for both days, from opening till closing, and the supply of bags was also endless, no one left disappointed.  Many companies had fantastic give-aways.  Patterns, bags, hooks, needles, and lots of yarn.  In addition to the display booths, there were knit and crochet lessons going on and every time that I passed by, there were also crowds in these areas.  I have never seen such huge crowds at any other needlework event that I have ever attended.

Both my demonstrations had enthusiastic crowds, and I was so busy, I totally forgot to get out my camera.  When I finally remembered,  there were still a few of the group left.  I asked a young woman sitting close by if she would take our picture.  Turns out the woman that I asked was Dawn from the crochet group.  She had been looking for me, and did not realize that I was right near where she was sitting. At least we did get to meet. 

Got to run now.  Tomorrow I'll try to get up some pictures from the fashion show.  I was so far away, that my pictures are not great, but I'll see what I can do.

Have a great day


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Felting Fun

Good Morning Everyone,

I am late to the joys of felting/fulling, but I have just had the most fun making the little bag shown in the photo.  About 5 years ago, I tried felting with disastrous results. I used the wrong yarn, and my machine just would not felt it properly.  I ended up  literally throwing the item in the garbage.  Later on, I tried a felted hat, with a different yarn, and it turned out okay, but I had a lot of trouble getting it to felt etc, so I gave up.  I decided felting was not for me.

On my recent trip to CA and the TNNA show, I took a class in making cut felted flowers, from Nicky Epstein.  Nicky had us knit  10 X 10 inch squares and  felt them.  I asked my local yarn shop owner, Marie Stewart, from Yarn Box Pawling, NY what she recommended for felting, and she said that her customers told her that Patons Classic Wool was great for felting.  So I bought some in green and pink, and made two knitted pieces.  Threw them in the washing machine, and they  felted instantly.   I brought these pieces of knitted, felted fabric to class, then, under Nicky's direction, cut the petals and leaves and assembled the flowers.  The class was fun, we made 2 flowers in the 2 hour class, and I was thrilled.

When I got home, I bought some black in the same yarn, hoping to try a bag.  I put it aside because I had other things to do, then I started playing with my jacket, so the black just sat.  Two days ago, when I finished the jacket, I started knitting with the black.  I just knit till I used up the whole ball.  I made a strap, with the left over green.  Sewed the whole thing together and threw it in the machine in a lingerie bag, threw in a pair of jeans for friction, and my little black bag was perfect.  I added the flowers that I made in the class.  What fun!!!!  This could easily become very addictive :-). 

For the bag, I used # 6 needle, cast on 56 stitches, garter st for 4 rows, increased on the next row to 60 stitches, and continued in stockinette stitch till 20 inches from the beginning, decreased to 56 stitches on the next row, then garter st for 4 rows, then bound off.  This used the whole ball of yarn except for a few yards left for sewing.  I folded it in half, sewed the sides, added the strap, all before throwing it in the machine. 

The bag did shrink much more than I thought it would lengthwise.  Before felting it measured 15 inches wide, by 21 inches long.  It now measures 12 inches wide, by 11 inches (folded in half, makes the bag 5 1/2 inches X 12 inches).  The strap shrunk from 30 inches to 20 inches.  I read somewhere that felting in the machine did shrink more one way than the other, but I thought this was a lot.  I am as far from being an expert at this, as you can get, but I will have to do a few more experiments.   I think that I will try a crocheted one next. 

Have a great day


Sunday, February 11, 2007


Hi Everyone,

On the Free Form Forum we have been discussing the color orange, and how you either love it or hate it.  For years and years, all of my free form was done in beiges, creams and off white.  Several years ago, I was inspired by the beautiful arrangement of colors in a yarn shop in Woodstock, NY.  When I walked through the door of the shop, I felt as if I had stepped into a rainbow.  The shop was arranged totally by color, not by company or type of yarn, just ceiling to floor of one color after the other.  That day, I chose several shades of red, and started a red jacket.  That was the beginning of my color break through.  Since then I have done many colorful designs, but the red is still my favorite.  It is also the hardest to photograph, and the colors do not really photograph as beautiful as they are.  It is also the one featured in the Free Form Calendar. 

Last spring I made an orange jacket, and I have loved wearing it so much.  Stacy Charles, of Tahki/Stacy Charles yarn, saw me wearing it at TNNA, and asked me to re-design a version of this jacket using their yarns.  It  will be featured on the cover of one of their new instruction books.

After the orange, I made the bright pink.  The jackets are all different, yet I used the same template for all of them, including the floral one that I just completed.

Enjoy the rest of the day.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Modern Technology, the gift of time, and New Jacket Finished

Good Afternoon Everyone,

This has nothing to do with knitting or crochet really, but in a way it does.  About 3 years ago, my daughter gave me a robot vacuum for a gift.  I thought it was just another toy, because my children never know what to get me for Christmas or birthdays.   Well I was wrong, I love this thing.   I have thanked my daughter over and over again, because what she gave me was the gift of time.  I set my little robot going, and as it vacuums my room, I sit and crochet or knit or do whatever else needs doing. 

This Christmas she gave me the floor washing robot.  No, I do not work for the company, or represent it in any way, or even know any one who works for the company, but I have to tell you I love this thing too.  As I finished my jacket this morning, my little robot was busy washing my kitchen floor.  Now as I am  working on my blog, trying to post my new pictures, etc, it is busy doing the bathroom floor.  I have to admit, it took me some doing to get it to work, but after a few phone calls, my daughter had me all set.  Thanks Sharon, you could not have given me a more wonderful gift. 

Back to my jacket.  I finished it this morning, buttons sewn on all ends tucked in, ready to wear.  I should mention something here about "ends" when doing free form.  Making so many different pieces does generate a lot of ends.  I try to stop every so often and tuck in the ends.  If you save this job till you are all done, it becomes overwhelming.  Much easier to do it a little at a time. 

I really completed this jacket in record time, less than 2 weeks.  I started it Jan 29th.  I did not have any previous scrumbles made, did not even have an idea, until the night that I started it.  Once started, I could not put it down.  Like the Energizer Bunny, I just kept going and going.  I was having so much fun watching the garden bloom and come to life.  It definitely did bring a bright spot to the dreary, cold winter days. 

Hope to see some of you in MN next week.

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

More on the New Jacket

Good Evening Everyone,

I thought that you might be interested in the construction of the free form jacket that I am currently working on.  I use a few different methods when creating free form, and this time I decided to use the template method.    Several years ago I bought a Simplicity jacket pattern.  I cut the pieces out of polar fleece to create a template that I could use over and over again.  I find using this cloth pattern, especially when beginning a garment, a little easier than working right from my dress form. It makes handling and sewing of the many smaller pieces much easier. It also takes the guesswork out of getting a proper fit.   As I make each scrumble, I pin it right to the polar fleece.  I do not start sewing together immediately, but move the scrumbles around a little till I find the right "fit".  When I am sure of the placement, I start sewing.  I continue to work in this manner, usually working from top to bottom, until done. 

You will notice on the sleeves in the pictures, that I started sewing the top parts, but have not sewn the bottom at all.  I knew how I wanted the the cap and the cuffs to look, so I did them first, now I am working on filling in the center.  The cuffs will be the last things that I sew. 

I made the back and fronts in the same way, trying it on the dress form only after I got quite a few pieces sewn together.  In this way, I could really see how it was coming together and how it would fit. 

Free Form is definitely not your weekend project, but I love working in this manner and I love the results.  I hope that I have encouraged some of you to give it a try. 

Have a good night


Monday, February 5, 2007

New Jacket

Happy Monday Morning Everyone,

It is bitter cold in NY this morning.  My thermometer is reading 0 degrees, but the wind is blowing really hard.  No more new snow, but no melting from two days ago either.  We're in for a deep freeze for several days, great for sitting by the fire and knitting or crocheting. Unfortunately, I have to run out and do a class this morning.  I have some faithful students who come out in all kinds of weather, so I will be there for them. 

Last Monday morning, I mailed out the final two projects and everything else that was due for my latest book.  I had two full days coming up,  with nothing on my calendar.  I planned to have lunch with friends, catch up on some reading and do some chores that I have been putting off etc, but by Monday night my fingers were itching to start something. 

Ever since I made a flower quilt for Alchemy yarns, I had envisioned making a garment using this theme.  I love florals, I love making flowers in both knitting and crochet and I have made several bags, but not a jacket. 

I am going to be doing a demo at the Mall of America in MN in February, and I thought wouldn't it be great if I could make something that would bring Spring to Minnesota.  My mind and my fingers started working, and one week later I have the back and fronts almost done, and a beginning on the sleeves.  I really think that I can do this.

The pictures tell the story,  I'll keep you posted.

Keep warm and have a great day.


Friday, February 2, 2007

Sharing Finished Projects

Good Morning Everyone,

I finally finished my latest book, delivered the last two garments, all the text and instructions, then took two days off.  Well not really off, but I got a chance to play, and started a new jacket for myself.  I am trying something new, but not ready to share yet, maybe in a day or two.

About a week ago, I received photos from Saundra, one of the attendees at Camp Crochet Texas, who took my workshop.  I was delighted to see her finished project and posted her photos here.  To see Saundra's bag, scroll down a little.  I asked her to encourage other attendees to send me photos of their  finished work, and Phyllis C sent me two photos of her bag.  Phyllis said her bag is just large enough to carry her wallet and her cell phone.  She was unhappy with the shoulder strap  that she made, so she put it aside again.  I like a twisted cord for a shoulder strap because it is so easy to do, and looks great.

One of the most intriguing things about Free Form, be it knit or crochet, or a combination of both, is how different each person's finished item looks.  I give everyone the same homework for a workshop, and the diversity is so amazing.  I love it!

Have a great day