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Review | Lion Brand BonBons Yarn

Reported by Chel Micheline

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Rustic Modern Crochet by Yumiko Alexander

Reported by Chel Micheline

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

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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.

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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.

Books | Crochet At Home by Brett Bara

Reported by Chel Micheline

Disclosure: This site participates in the Amazon.com affiliate program.

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I’ll admit it- I consider myself a bit of a lazy crocheter. Crochet is something that I do for fun, to relax, not something I do to achieve a certain level of mastery simply for the sake of increasing my skill level. I’m sure many other hobbyists feel the same way.

I spent many years doing needlepoint as a hobby, and as a result, have spent many hours hunched over and squinting at complex stitch and color charts. The better I got at needlepoint, the more complex the charts got, and the more complex the charts got, the less interested I became in the whole process.

Crochet was my “break” from needlepoint. When I started to crochet, I promised myself I wouldn’t do anything that involved patterns or stitch guides. I just wanted to simply work the yarn with my fingers and the crochet hook, letting muscle memory take over.

I quickly mastered a few different stitches, and I have been able to crochet many, many basic things with those stitches – most notably, straight afghans, blankets for the cats, and scarves. But how many scarves can a person crochet (especially when said person lives in Southwest Florida)? Of course, I turned to the internet for some ideas. But there’s so much out there that after spending several hours searching for potential projects, I became completely overwhelmed and went back to making more scarves.

A few months ago I started referring back to the crochet books I purchased when I first began the hobby and realized books are a wonderful resource for someone interested in crochet simply because they are edited. I say “edited” meaning that there’s someone else out there who culls through all the thousands of projects out there, and then chooses just a handful, organizes them, and makes sure that the instructions are written in a concise way and that all supporting illustrations and information are provided. Basically – a good crochet book is having someone hand-select projects and deliver them to you in an easy-to-use format.

Crochet At Home: 25 Clever Projects for Colorful Living“, edited by Brett Bara, is one such book. There are several things I enjoy about this book.

The first is that every project in the book is fairly unique. By this, I mean it’s not some variation on a giant granny square. There is everything from wreaths to dolls to bowls and coasters in this book. And every project is not only beautiful (without being cheesy), but in addition none of the projects require extreme skill.

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Don’t get me wrong, there are many projects that are based on the granny square motif (it is a foundation of crochet, after all), but those that do include it are well thought out and designed in such a way that even if you fill your house with them, it won’t look like a crochet explosion from the 1970’s.

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In addition to the projects that make use of the traditional stitches and construction of crochet, there are some lovely items that introduce new approaches to crochet.

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And a bonus is that many of the projects in this book are very easily adapted to other projects – table runners can be adapted to shawls, bowls can be adapted into bags. The possibilities are endless.

“Crochet at Home” is a modern, inspiring book that deserves a place on any beginning to intermediate crocheter’s shelf. Overall, I rate this book as highly recommended.

Pros

  • Beautiful and appealing projects.
  • Easy to follow instructions and patterns.
  • Colorful and well-designed layout.
  • Perfect for the beginner.
  • All yarn weights represented.

 Cons

  • Projects may be too basic for very advanced crocheters.

Crochet At Home: 25 Clever Projects for Colorful Living is published by Interweave Press and is available in paperback and for Kindle from Amazon.com.