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Archive | Knit & Crochet

Review | Lion Brand BonBons Yarn

Reported by Chel Micheline

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

bonbonspack

I usually choose bulky, nubby yarns to crochet with, but every so often I’ll go through a phase where all I want to do is crochet with “fine” or “sport weight” yarns (which are very thin in diameter and not very plush). The Bonbons yarns from Lion Brand are perfect for this. They come in a package of eight color coordinated mini-skeins, and are priced at $7.99 MSRP for a pack of eight skeins. While the skeins are quite small, the entire package is more than enough yarn to make a variety of projects. No, you won’t be able to crochet a large afghan with one package, but you will be able to make quite a variety of accessories and home decor projects.

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I decided to crochet something I had never attempted before, a small iPod holder/cross-body purse for my daughter. She’s nine years old, and into anything bright and cheerful, so I figured the “Party” set with its intense color selection and bright metallic touches would be perfect for this project.

One of the key benefits of the BonBons is that the color palette is already figured out for you. I have been known to spend hours in the local craft store agonizing about color matches with yarn, so having the yarn colors come pre-selected is a wonderful time saver. I chose three from the pack for this project: red, pink, and purple. There was just enough of the yarn using just those three colors to complete the project.

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As usual, I didn’t follow a pattern with my crochet. And since I don’t enjoy “crocheting in the round”, I realized that if I was going to make a purse, it needed to be shaped like a pouch or a pocket.

So the way I went about it was to simply crochet, in single crochet stitch, a 15″ long and 4.5″ wide rectangle- basically, a tiny scarf. I kept the gauge of my stitches VERY tight, because crochet does tend to stretch with use, and since I wasn’t going to be lining this purse, I wanted it to be sturdy.

To add some variation in design, I alternated colors every three rows.

colorway

When I was done with the basic rectangle, I folded it into three sections. The bottom two sections would form the front and back of the purse, and the top third would be the “flap” that folds over the front.

I used a simple crochet stitch with the purple yarn to “sew” the front and back panel together to make a pocket, and then went around the remainder of the purse with more of the purple yarn to give it a nice contrast piping.

purseopen

Then I used the remaining pink yarn (plus a little from my stash) to make a thick strap, a strip of five rows of tight single crochet stitches about 35″ long. I edged the strap with contrasting colors of the Lion Brand BonBons, just for a little extra pop. Then I attached the strap to the back of the bag using a single crochet stitch.

purseback

My daughter is on vacation with her grandparents, so I haven’t been able to measure the purse on her and get the exact strap length, so I left one of the strap ends “unattached” and when she returns home I will fit the purse on her and attach the strap in a good spot so the purse sits cross-body at just below her waist.

While the purse is not exactly high-end couture, I’m fairly pleased with it considering I’ve never crocheted anything like it before and just sort of “went for it” as far as design and execution. And since my daughter loves handmade things (thank goodness for that, because pretty much everything I crochet ends up either on her bed or in her closet!) and she loves tiny purses, I think she’ll be happy with it.

 All in all, after working with them for this project, I really love the Lion Brand BonBons.

Pros:

  • Pre-coordinated color sets
  • Enough yarn in one package to complete a variety of projects
  • Easy to work with
  • Great color and quality

Cons:

  • A little bit price-y for the amount of yarn you get

 Lion Brand BonBons Yarn are available in seven variety packs: two acrylic packs (Brights,Pastels), two cotton packs (BeachNature), two metallic packs (PartyCelebrate) and one combination metallic/cotton pack that is holiday themed (Jingle Bells). The cotton and acrylic skeins are 28yds each, while the metallics are 38.3 yards. MSRP is $7.99/package.

Books | The Crocheter’s Companion by Nancy Brown

Reported by Angela Butler-Carter

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

I do not knit. That’s not to say that I’ve never knitted, but I currently do not knit because I was not good at it. It was frustrating because I so wanted to be good at it. I have a co-worker who is an exceptional knitter, and she makes the most wonderful things for her kids and family. Being the crafter that I am of course I wanted to try it and so a knitting soiree was had. I tried –  I really did – and I had moments of proficiency and then it vanished. Just like that! I’d do so well for a few rows then ruin! And I never picked it up again. I sadly thought my time playing with yarn was done.

Then I received this book, The Crocheter’s Companion, written by Nancy Brown and published by Interweave Press.

Crocheters Companion cover
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Using the book I was able to try crochet, which I find to be so much easier that knitting! I still didn’t have much success by my high standards but I must say that the book was a great help. With it by my side for reference, I was able to understand many of the crochet videos I was watching and learn a lot.

The Crocheter’s Companion is intended as a reference book, so it has an extensive table of contents to easily find the topic you want. There’s also a spiral binding so it will lay flat while your hands are kept free to crochet. The book is thorough, with plenty of illustrations on every topic. International readers are taken care of with British and Metric measurements, and there’s reference for international stitch symbols, too.

Pros:

  • Measurements provided in U.S., UK, and Metric sizes
  • Illustrations at every step including yarn labels, and each crochet stitch
  • Reference for abbreviations & international stitch symbols

Cons:

  • Yellow orange tones of all the drawings can be a bit drab for reading.

The Crocheter’s Companion: Revised and Updated by Nancy Brown is available on Amazon.com for around $15.00.

Rustic Modern Crochet by Yumiko Alexander

Reported by Chel Micheline

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

cover

Most of us who crochet tend to look to the internet when we are searching out new ideas or inspiration. In this age of Pinterest, Ravelry, and a tremendous amount of crochet video tutorials on YouTube, sometimes it’s hard to imagine what a crochet book might offer that the internet does not.

In the book “Rustic Modern Crochet: 18 Designs Inspired by Nature” by Yumiko Alexander, the benefit is found in the innovation of the designs and patterns.

Yumiko Alexander is not just a master at crochet, but an incredibly gifted designer as well. The crochet patterns offered in “Rustic Modern Crochet” are truly out of the ordinary. Inspired by the natural world (particularly sea life), the finished pieces look like a combination of wearable art and haute couture.

contents


There are 18 patterns in this book, and the majority of them are for shawls, scarves, and shrugs.

Each garment is named for the sea life that inspired it, and each pattern is completely unique and quite stunning. I’ve seen a lot of crochet patterns in my online travels, and I can honestly say I haven’t seen many things like the designs in this book.

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The caveat to that is some of the designs are more about being fashionable than they are about being versatile.

If you are looking for instructions on how to crochet a timeless, traditional, heavy-duty  sweater that will keep you warm through through the next decade of winters, “Rustic Modern Crochet” is not the source for information on how to do that.

However, if you are looking for interesting and innovative ways to crochet yarn into fascinating yet completely wearable apparel, you should absolutely consider adding this book to your collection.

Because the designs are progressive, this is not a good book for total beginners. Although there are wonderful pattern guides, including illustrated layouts, the variation in crochet stitches requires a bit of experience.

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However, if you have the patience, the crochet experience, and are looking for a fresh and modern take on crochet, “Rustic Modern Crochet” is an inspiring and unconventional book full of really  designs. Overall, I rate this book as highly recommended.

One very important note about “Rustic Modern Crochet” is that (like happens to many pattern books) it went to press with a few errors in the patterns. If you visit Yumiko Alexander’s “Pattern Errata” webpage, you will find necessary corrections.

Pros

  • Innovative and inspiring crochet designs.
  • Well-presented instructions and patterns.
  • Beautiful photographs and layout throughout.

 Cons

  • Projects may be too complex for beginners.
  • Designs may not be to everyone’s taste.
  • There are several errors in the crochet patterns in the book so you’ll have to download corrections.

Rustic Modern Crochet: 18 Designs Inspired by Nature by Yumiko Alexander is published by Interweave Press and is available in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.com.