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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Writing A Crochet Book - My Experiences

           My Thoughts as the Process Happens

 My intention is not to discourage anyone from trying to get a book published. I just want to be "real" and let you know what all it involves, even with the stress of deadlines. It is well worth it! Your excitement and desire to see the finished book is what will keep you going!
There is tremendous pressure with writing a book. Especially doing a pattern book. There is so much more involved than doing a regular book. With a pattern book you not only have the table of contents, dedication, acknowledgments, "how to" sections (with explanations and diagrams, chapter headings, description of the design, etc) you also have to spend months designing clothing from scratch. I get an idea in my head and then do a sketch. (See photo below) Sometimes they don't always come out right. Most of the time they do, but if they don't, you either have to take it all out and start it over or change it up from your original concept. Occasionally, a "mistake" turns out to be better than what you envisioned! Then it takes me sometime hours to type up a pattern, making sure every little word, comma, and * is in place.

Sketches for Positively Crochet - Before and After
Crochet language is not like regular language or regular grammar. If you plan to submit a book proposal, its imperative that you study the proper crochet language. Any little error could throw the whole pattern off! (as far as someone being able to understand it)  Then after it is typed up, you have to grade the sizes. Grading the sizes just means you are writing the instructions for the other sizes, by adding more rows and stitches.  This is sometimes very difficult to do. What it involves is deciding how much bigger (in inches) you want the next size larger to be. Normally you would make the next size anywhere from 2" - 4" larger, depending on how snug or loose you want it to be. The Yarn Standards website has measurements you need to go by. Then you add sizes from size xsmall to 3x. More and more people are asking for the larger sizes, and all books don't go up to 3x. This is very important to me in doing crochet books. I want to do what people are asking for. I think that's one reason my books have done so well.
The math part is the worst for me. It's easy on some patterns but very difficult on others, especially figuring out the correct number of stitches and rows on a lace garment. You add stitches and rows according to the extra inches for each size. This is usually "in multiples of....", which is the number of stitches it takes for the stitch pattern you are using.
Tunique Unique Pullover
Colorful Crochet Lace

Then after a garment or accessory is finished, I find a model (usually my daughter, Jamie, or my DIL, Anca) and we have a little "photo shoot". I take pictures of only 1-3 items at a time and so this has to be done many different times on the other items. I have to have my own photos and I also take pictures so the photographer and the publisher know how the item is supposed to be worn or photographed. Believe me, sometimes they get something backwards in a book and you cringe at the thought of it being wrong in the book for all eternity!  I take many different shots of 1 item and even pay people for this because it does take time.

I'm posting some of my own photos I took before sending them to the publisher.


Scallop Shells Capelet from
Crochet Young and Trendy
(Worn here as a cowl)

Then it's a matter of getting the photos on the computer, cropping them, putting them on a page with a description. I then send it to the publisher/editor to kind of approve it. So far they've liked everything I do, but the positive feedback is important to me. After that, I have to find a pattern tester who will make the item to see if they can follow my instructions. I tell them not to ask me any questions unless it is absolutely necessary. And I tell them to make any notes on the pattern that is not clear or if they find where I left off things like "sew side seam" or "weave in loose ends". Sometimes a pattern tester doesn't get back to me for a while and they loose their notes or forget where they made changes. This is frustrating, because I may have already paid them. For Positively Crochet (published 2007) I hired 18 pattern testers. For Crochet That Fits (published 2008), my editor had wanted me to remake some things in other colors (first time that's happened) and since I didn't have time to remake them all, I had to hire contract crocheters to make the actual piece that would be photographed for the book. (you pay them more) I guess I hired a contract crocheter on 4-5 things in my last 2 books. But then I do all my finishing, like sewing the seams, adding an edging, etc.

Cloverleaf Top - Positively Crochet
About every 3 weeks, I'd get a group of designs tagged and mailed in to the publisher. They require you to label the item with a note. I ususally pin the label (or attach with yarn) on the project with name of the project, size, whether its the front or back, my name, phone number and email for identification. I have my own custom made fabric label I sew inside all my designs, making it easy for them to know which is the front and back. I ordered mine from Charm Woven Labels, and I had them print "An Original Design by Mary Jane Hall" onto some black labels with white writing, but also on some cream labels with blue writing. I found out they are no longer in business, so I found Label Weavers for you on the web.  They're great and it makes the garment look more professional. The special little details  will impress them! We have to mail in the first half of the designs on a date they give you (with paper label of info on each item) so they'll know the designs are actually getting done and you won't have to send them all at the same time when its time to turn the manuscript in. They require this too. I think it's a good idea, because it motivates you to get them done.

Très Chic Neck Warmer - in Colorful Crochet Lace
( worn here as a Capelet)



After mailing the items I have to go over each written pattern (maybe 10-20 times each with fresh eyes everyday) looking for errors or anything that needs to be reworded. Of course there is also the author bio and author picture to be taken, and I have to have a list of all the yarn companies who donated yarn for the book (with their contact info) and even info on stores where I bought notions, such as handles, from places like Michaels, JoAnns, Hancock Fabric, Hobby Lobby).




To get the whole manuscript ready to send, I hired a friend who came over to my house to help me get it all together in the right format the publisher requested. On Positively Crochet it took us 4 days to get everything together, but on Crochet That Fits (since we knew more about what to do) it took us 4 hours. I still had to go over everything again with a fine tooth comb before actually emailing the whole manuscript. So even though Cindy (my friend) helped me get it all together, I didn't actually get it sent that day. It took me all night, all day the next day and all night again the next night till 4:30 am getting it all perfected. I litterly stayed up all night for 4 nights in a row and had only 3 hours sleep each day getting it ready to send before the deadline.

Cap Sleeve Top from Crochet That Fits



Aftef I thought everything was finished, I found that we left off a pattern for a hat. Then I had all kinds of trouble trying to email it. Even though I tried to send it in 5 parts in zipped folders, they came back saying they were each too big for my editor's email program. They were too big because of the pictures. You have to insert your own photo with the actual pattern, so they'll know where it goes. You do this with all the diagrams too. So the pictures make the files huge. The contract also tells you to send the whole manuscript on a CD, and I also have to send a hard copy (paper copy) of the whole manuscript. I finally got the manuscript on a CD and my husband overnighted it for me.


In the meantime I was stressed wondering if I would meet my deadline. I had heard many talks at conferences from seasoned designers saying that "If you miss your deadline, the publisher will never work with you again!" so that's what was on my mind!. But it finally all got sent!

La Vie en Rose Shall - in Colorful Crochet Lace

The next step is that after the editor and tech editor have gone over the book, they will send it back to you to check on any corrections they have made. It usually comes back marked up, but try not to stress over this! It may not be as bad as you think. This is a very difficult process for me, because when the tech editor changes some of the wording, it's hard to know if it's correct, without me actually making the item over so I can follow along. Sometimes the tech editor makes mistakes and this is the most frustrating part of all! You just have to "let go" and "trust" that everything will be ok.

Update (2016): I wrote this years ago and things were different this time when I wrote Colorful Crochet Lace. F+W, the publisher on the other books, partnered with Interweave Press and some ways of going about things were different. They did not require me to put the manuscript on CD and I did not have to mail them a hard copy. They just wanted me to send it by email, which was great. Another thing that was different was that instead of me contacting the yarn companies to order the yarn, Interweave contacted them and had them send me the yarn. They also got together all the info on the yarn companies for the back of the book. I had to do that myself before. With the new book, they just had me email all the photos separately from the patterns, which made it easy. Of course I had each project numbered so they'd know how to identify the patterns with the photos.

Toddler Capri Outfit - in Positively Crochet

Pink Filigree Capelet


Well,those are just some of the things you go through when writing a crochet book, but I hope I have helped you in some way to know what to expect! There are a lot of headaches, but believe me, all the work and stress that goes into it is worth it! There's no other feeling like getting that book, "your baby", in the mail and actually holding it in your hands! Look for more blog posts on How to Get a Book Published.

Pink lacy Capelet below is from the booklet Crochet In Style. It has long fringe.

Writing A Crochet Book - My Experiences

           Writing a Crochet Book - My Thoughts as the Process Happens

 My intention is not to discourage anyone from trying to get a book published. I just want to be "real" and let you know what all it involves, even with the stress of deadlines. It is well worth it! Your excitement and desire to see the finished book is what will keep you going!
There is tremendous pressure with writing a book. Especially doing a pattern book. There is so much more involved than doing a regular book. With a pattern book you not only have the table of contents, dedication, acknowledgments, "how to" sections (with explanations and diagrams, chapter headings, description of the design, etc) you also have to spend months designing clothing from scratch. I get an idea in my head and then do a sketch. (See photo below) Sometimes they don't always come out right. Most of the time they do, but if they don't, you either have to take it all out and start it over or change it up from your original concept. Occasionally, a "mistake" turns out to be better than what you envisioned! Then it takes me sometime hours to type up a pattern, making sure every little word, comma, and * is in place.

Sketches for Positively Crochet - Before and After
Crochet language is not like regular language or regular grammar. If you plan to submit a book proposal, its imperative that you study the proper crochet language. Any little error could throw the whole pattern off! (as far as someone being able to understand it)  Then after it is typed up, you have to grade the sizes. Grading the sizes just means you are writing the instructions for the other sizes, by adding more rows and stitches.  This is sometimes very difficult to do. What it involves is deciding how much bigger (in inches) you want the next size larger to be. Normally you would make the next size anywhere from 2" - 4" larger, depending on how snug or loose you want it to be. The Yarn Standards website has measurements you need to go by. Then you add sizes from size xsmall to 3x. More and more people are asking for the larger sizes, and all books don't go up to 3x. This is very important to me in doing crochet books. I want to do what people are asking for. I think that's one reason my books have done so well.
The math part is the worst for me. It's easy on some patterns but very difficult on others, especially figuring out the correct number of stitches and rows on a lace garment. You add stitches and rows according to the extra inches for each size. This is usually "in multiples of....", which is the number of stitches it takes for the stitch pattern you are using.
Tunique Unique Pullover
Colorful Crochet Lace

Then after a garment or accessory is finished, I find a model (usually my daughter, Jamie, or my DIL, Anca) and we have a little "photo shoot". I take pictures of only 1-3 items at a time and so this has to be done many different times on the other items. I have to have my own photos and I also take pictures so the photographer and the publisher know how the item is supposed to be worn or photographed. Believe me, sometimes they get something backwards in a book and you cringe at the thought of it being wrong in the book for all eternity!  I take many different shots of 1 item and even pay people for this because it does take time.

I'm posting some of my own photos I took before sending them to the publisher.


Scallop Shells Capelet from
Crochet Young and Trendy
(Worn here as a cowl)

Then it's a matter of getting the photos on the computer, cropping them, putting them on a page with a description. I then send it to the publisher/editor to kind of approve it. So far they've liked everything I do, but the positive feedback is important to me. After that, I have to find a pattern tester who will make the item to see if they can follow my instructions. I tell them not to ask me any questions unless it is absolutely necessary. And I tell them to make any notes on the pattern that is not clear or if they find where I left off things like "sew side seam" or "weave in loose ends". Sometimes a pattern tester doesn't get back to me for a while and they loose their notes or forget where they made changes. This is frustrating, because I may have already paid them. For Positively Crochet (published 2007) I hired 18 pattern testers. For Crochet That Fits (published 2008), my editor had wanted me to remake some things in other colors (first time that's happened) and since I didn't have time to remake them all, I had to hire contract crocheters to make the actual piece that would be photographed for the book. (you pay them more) I guess I hired a contract crocheter on 4-5 things in my last 2 books. But then I do all my finishing, like sewing the seams, adding an edging, etc.

Cloverleaf Top - Positively Crochet
About every 3 weeks, I'd get a group of designs tagged and mailed in to the publisher. They require you to label the item with a note. I ususally pin the label (or attach with yarn) on the project with name of the project, size, whether its the front or back, my name, phone number and email for identification. I have my own custom made fabric label I sew inside all my designs, making it easy for them to know which is the front and back. I ordered mine from Charm Woven Labels, and I had them print "An Original Design by Mary Jane Hall" onto some black labels with white writing, but also on some cream labels with blue writing. I found out they are no longer in business, so I found Label Weavers for you on the web.  They're great and it makes the garment look more professional. The special little details  will impress them! We have to mail in the first half of the designs on a date they give you (with paper label of info on each item) so they'll know the designs are actually getting done and you won't have to send them all at the same time when its time to turn the manuscript in. They require this too. I think it's a good idea, because it motivates you to get them done.

Très Chic Neck Warmer - in Colorful Crochet Lace
( worn here as a Capelet)

Aftef mailing the items I have to go over each written pattern (maybe 10-20 times each with fresh eyes everyday) looking for errors or anything that needs to be reworded. Of course there is also the author bio and author picture to be taken, and I have to have a list of all the yarn companies who donated yarn for the book (with their contact info) and even info on stores where I bought notions, such as handles, from places like Michaels, JoAnns, Hancock Fabric, Hobby Lobby).




To get the whole manuscript ready to send, I hired a friend who came over to my house to help me get it all together in the right format the publisher requested. On Positively Crochet it took us 4 days to get everything together, but on Crochet That Fits (since we knew more about what to do) it took us 4 hours. I still had to go over everything again with a fine tooth comb before actually emailing the whole manuscript. So even though Cindy (my friend) helped me get it all together, I didn't actually get it sent that day. It took me all night, all day the next day and all night again the next night till 4:30 am getting it all perfected. I litterly stayed up all night for 4 nights in a row and had only 3 hours sleep each day getting it ready to send before the deadline.

Cap Sleeve Top from Crochet That Fits
Aftef I thought everything was finished, I found that we left off a pattern for a hat. Then I had all kinds of trouble trying to email it. Even though I tried to send it in 5 parts in zipped folders, they came back saying they were each too big for my editor's email program. They were too big because of the pictures. You have to insert your own photo with the actual pattern, so they'll know where it goes. You do this with all the diagrams too. So the pictures make the files huge. The contract also tells you to send the whole manuscript on a CD, and I also have to send a hard copy (paper copy) of the whole manuscript. I finally got the manuscript on a CD and my husband overnighted it for me.


In the meantime I was stressed wondering if I would meet my deadline. I had heard many talks at conferences from seasoned designers saying that "If you miss your deadline, the publisher will never work with you again!" so that's what was on my mind!. But it finally all got sent!

La Vie en Rose Shall - in Colorful Crochet Lace

The next step is that after the editor and tech editor have gone over the book, they will send it back to you to check on any corrections they have made. It usually comes back marked up, but try not to stress over this! It may not be as bad as you think. This is a very difficult process for me, because when the tech editor changes some of the wording, it's hard to know if it's correct, without me actually making the item over so I can follow along. Sometimes the tech editor makes mistakes and this is the most frustrating part of all! You just have to "let go" and "trust" that everything will be ok.

Update (2016): I wrote this years ago and things were different this time when I wrote Colorful Crochet Lace. F+W, the publisher on the other books, partnered with Interweave Press and some ways of going about things were different. They did not require me to put the manuscript on CD and I did not have to mail them a hard copy. They just wanted me to send it by email, which was great. Another thing that was different was that instead of me contacting the yarn companies to order the yarn, Interweave contacted them and had them send me the yarn. They also got together all the info on the yarn companies for the back of the book. I had to do that myself before. With the new book, they just had me email all the photos separately from the patterns, which made it easy. Of course I had each project numbered so they'd know how to identify the patterns with the photos.

Toddler Capri Outfit - in Positively Crochet

Pink Filigree Capelet


Well,those are just some of the things you go through when writing a crochet book, but I hope I have helped you in some way to know what to expect! There are a lot of headaches, but believe me, all the work and stress that goes into it is worth it! There's no other feeling like getting that book, "your baby", in the mail and actually holding it in your hands! Look for more blog posts on How to Get a Book Published.

Pink lacy Capelet below is from the booklet Crochet In Style. It has long fringe.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Southern Fried Catfish

Southern Fried Catfish Nuggets cooked in Peanut Oil

I fixed catfish for dinner tonight (or as we said in the south "supper") and thought I'd post my recipe on my blog so my kids have access to my favorites after I'm gone someday. I have many more of my favorites to post but it's just getting the time to do it. Even though I like catfish fillets, I prefer the catfish nuggets, because the pieces are smaller, which makes them crispier when cooked. Plus you'll be glad to know if you're on a budget, they are about half the price of the fillets. At Kroger they are $2.99 a lb as opposed to $6.99 you'd have to pay for the fillets.

When I was growing up in the deep south, I did not like catfish because it tasted muddy to me. That was because they swim on the bottom of muddy ponds and rivers. But when people started raising catfish in channels with fresh water, that changed everything. "Channel Cat", as its called now, is so much better tasting! It's fabulous and people laugh at me because I say I like catfish because it doesn't taste like fish!

One of the secrets to making this recipe tasty and crispy is using peanut oil. You can use any oil you like and others are less expensive, but I think its worth the price to make the catfish extra special. Peanut oil is allowed on the Paleo Diet, and is pretty healthy. I used to use only salt and pepper, flour and cornmeal when I cooked catfish and I love it that way, but now I use a few more spices and I think it's better.

I almost always make Cole Slaw (will post my recipe soon) with fried fish along with a vegetable and another side dish. Tonight I fixed Southern Summer Squash Casserole and a big fruit salad. Of course I fixed sweet iced tea to go along with this meal. The squash casserole is one of my favorites and similar to one I used to fix but lost the recipe. I halved the squash amount (1 and 1/2 lbs instead of 3 lbs) but did not change the other ingredients. I added more Vidalia onion than it calls for.  I cooked the casserole for 50 minutes at 350°.
I hope you enjoy my catfish recipe and the squash too!

                                             Southern Fried Catfish
                                                   (I usually double this recioe)

1 1/2  lbs Catfish Nuggets or Catfish Fillets
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 eggs
Peanut Oil

Mix the cornmeal flour, spices, salt and pepper together. You may want to use more. If you taste the dry mixture it will taste like there's enough or maybe too much, but after frying the fish, you will not taste the spices as much. That's why I say you may want to add more. Just experiment.  Using more cornmeal than flour is what helps to make it crispy. The flour helps hold everything together.

Next, beat the eggs into a bowl and add a little milk, stirring till blended. Then dip each piece of fish into the eggs, let drain, then put it into the flour misture, pressing the dry mixture to the fish. It will be better if you do this step before you heat the oil in the pan. Not doing this first will cause stress trying to keep up with the frying fish while you coat the rest of the fish.

Heat about 1/4" - 1/2" of oil into a large frying pan (medium hi heat) till hot. The oil will be ready when you sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in the hot oil and it sizzles. When the oil is hot enough, fry the fish on the first side till brown, then turn each piece over to fry the other side. It doesn't take real long, but I like my fish extra crispy, as you can see in my photo.

As the fish gets done, drain on an oven safe flat cookie sheet that has been lined with paper towels. Keep the fish in a warm oven as the other pieces are cooking.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Baja Beef - Mexican Layered Dish

Baja Beef
I asked someone before if they knew where Baja was and they said California but I didn't know the connection with Mexico. Then a friend on facebook said The Baja Pennisula is part of Mexico...although it juts off south of California...and the j is pronounced h in Spanish.

I've been fixing this for 24 years and all this time I thought Baja was an Indian term or town. It makes much more sense to me now that it's a Mexican dish. All this time I've been confused because I thought "why would anyone give a Mexican dish an Indian name?" Haha 

Sorry I don't have a better picture, but you will see in the ingredient section this is a layered Mexican dish. I know it looks like any other typical Mexican layered dish, but this is different and much tastier.  



Someone said this looks like  Frito Pie, but it's not like just any frito pie. The typical recipe has taco seasoning in it mixed with ground beef and I'm not crazy about that. The sauce to this Baja Beef is what makes it more special and I hope you think so too. Enjoy!

Baja Beef  - serves 5 - 6

1 - 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 - 8 Oz can tomato sauce
1 - 6 Oz can tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt

Brown meat, garlic and onions. Drain. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, and 2 cans water. Add spices. Simmer 30 - 50 minutes. 

To Serve on each Individual Plate:
Place regular Fritos on plate. Add meat mixture. Then add any or all of these: 
Green onions, chopped
Black olives, sliced
Avocados, cubed
Tomatoes, chopped 
Lettuce, shredded
Grated cheese
Sour cream






Saturday, April 2, 2016

Romanian Meatball Soup - Ciorba de Perisoare

Romanian Meatball Soup
This is a simple but delicious soup. As some of you know, my daughter, Jamie, married Virgil Vaduva, a Romanian who she met while he was attending college in Ohio. They were married about 16 years ago. Her older brother, Brian, had been writing Virgil's younger sister, Anca, who was still in Romania. Well, they fell in love and Brian took a trip to meet her in person. They eventually got married and of course are living here in Ohio too. A few years later their parents and 2 younger sisters were able to get their visas and so the whole family is here now. This was a real dream come true for the family, as it took many years for this to happen. The 2 couples have 6 kids between them and they are the most wonderful, sweet, grandchildren!

This soup recipe is one of their family favorites. Of course, I know I can't make it as good as Anca or her mom, Maria, does but it's still delicious.


Ingredients

1 lb ground pork (you can mix this with ground beef or ground chicken if you like, but I used all pork - not sausage)
1 egg
1 Tb oil for sautéing vegetables
1/2 cup carrots (chopped in very small pieces)
1/2 cup red sweet peppers (chopped in small pieces about 1/4")
1/2 cup onions (chopped in small pieces)
1/2 cup chopped celery (this was not in Anca's recipe, so I haven't used it, but celery is an ingredient in several Romanian soup recipes I found on Pinterest)
7 - 10 cans (15 oz) chicken broth or 12-15 cups water with chicken bullion added ( or you may not need that much broth - I like a lot)
1 6oz can tomato sauce
1/2 - 2/3 cup dry rice
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley (fresh or dried)

Chop veggies and place in large pot with hot oil that has been heated. Saute for about 5 minutes in oil. While veggies are cooking, mix ground meat with 1 egg and sat snd pepper to taste. Roll into small meatballs, about 1" in diameter. Set aside.
Note: or if you'd like you can roll the meat into meatballs as you are adding them to the broth. I believe this is what my daughter in law does.

Add chicken broth (or water and bullion) to vegetables and bring to a boil. Add uncooked rice and as soon as it comes to a boil again, add the meatballs.
Note: I let the rice cook for 5 mniutes, then added the meatballs. Do not do this because the rice will end up being too mushy by the time the soup is done. So add the meatballs right after you put the rice in the pot.
Next, after you've put the meatballs in, add the can of tomato sauce. Let this all heat through and it's done! Don't cook it too long like I did or your rice with get mushy. Add fresh or dried parsley at the end if you'd like.
Note: I doubled this recipe and did not have 2 cans of tomato, so I used 1 can tomato sauce and 1 can tomato paste. You have to make sure the tomato paste is desolved before serving though. Keep stirring, because it takes a while. This doesn't happen with the tomato sauce.
I did not have to add any additional salt and pepper because of the chicken broth, but you may need to do that, depending on how salty you like it. My Romanian friend,

Buy Vegeta on AMAZON here
Maria Vaduva, who's daughter and son married my son and daughter, gave me some kind of Romanian seasoning, called Vegeta, and I'm sorry but I don't know what there is her in the states to compare it to. I haven't always used this seasoning in the soup, so you don't have to have it. If I find out there is a substitute for it here in the states I'll post it here.

Enjoy the soup! I'd love to hear what you think of this recipe!

Here's another version of this Romsnian soup I found on Pinterest.
http://www.cookingglory.com/recipes/meal-ideas/soups-stews/meatball-sour-soup/




Friday, April 1, 2016

Cold Weather Crochet by Marlaina Bird Book Review

Cold Weather Crochet by MarlaIna Bird
I love winter and was immediately drawn to the front cover of this book, full of cozy crochet garments and accessories. Oh yeah, and some afghans to snuggle up with too! For 35 years before I became a professional designer, I mostly worked on crochet during the winter months, because being indoors most of the time drew me to working on those warm accessories I made as gifts. After becoming a designer, I began working every day of the year on projects since it was a big part of my income.

But this cozy looking cover with the warm hooded scarf, white background and soft lights brought me back to those magical days of big snowflakes falling while gazing out the window. As an adult I moved from the deep south to northeastern Ohio, known as the “snow belt”, and even though I live in southern Ohio now, we get plenty of snow. People don't understand why I love snow so much especially growing up in the deep south. I love cuddling up on the couch with a warm afghan, and hot chocolate, sitting in front of the fire with loved ones. Winter was also the time I'd get together with a group of ladies once a month on a cold day, to visit, eat lunch and crochet. The older women helped the younger women, not only with our crochet, but giving us much needed advice on being a young wife and mother. I give those women, who've already passed on, much of the credit for me becoming a designer.

Sorry I got on a nostalgia trip, but those are the thoughts that affected me while browsing through this book. Marly has so cleverly come up with such an interesting variety here. These is something for everyone to keep them busy for years to come. Read more about Marly, her YouTube Podcast, and other books at the bottom of this post.

Thrummed Slippers - Slipper is inside out at right
My favorite project in the whole book and what immediately got me excited were the cute, quirky Thrummed Slippers. I love anything that's multicolored, not to mention they remind me of gumballs, a favorite childhood memory. I actually like the slippers best when they are turned inside out!

Another favorite is the green Cabled Shawl, not only because I love textured cable stitches but because green is one of my favorite colors.


Cabled Shawl

If you've never made cables before, I believe  this would be a good one to learn on.

The Favorite Socks look so comfy and are calling out to me even though I don't have time to make them right now.

The Hooded Scarf reminds me of a fantasy world and maybe that's why they chose the magical font for the titles. Very unique.

I'm happy Marly added the Lace Motif Wrap simply because I love lace!

Another thing you don't see much in books are men's items. You'll find 2 hats for your hubby or boyfriend.



African Flower Afghan
The colorful African Flower Afghsn is beautiful and I just love the colors.


Other perks of this book that Marly and Interweave have put together are:

1. Plenty of beautiful pictures
2. Much needed stitch charts and schematics
3. Instructions for hats include sizes sm, med and lg (up to xl on slippers)
4. Extra notes with each pattern
5. Variety of yarn weights from # 1 (fine) - bulky
6. Variety of stitch patterns - cables, shells, open lace,  lose stitch projects and lots of color!



More projects!

Hat and Chevron Cowl
Lace Motif Wrap
New Favorite Socks



A Little About Marly Bird

My Ravelry username is MarlyBird and my website is marlybird.com
Marlaina “Marly” Bird fled the world of financial services to launch her Yarn Thing podcast and hasn’t looked back since. To Marly, a bi-craftsy girl who both knits and crochets, the yarn is the star, not how you work with it.
She’s the co-author of Curvy Crochet (Leisure Arts, 2011), I Can’t Believe I’m Knitting Entrelac (Leisure Arts, 2014), and Knitting for Dummies 3rd ed.(Wiley, 2013). Marly is also creative director for Bijou Basin Ranch Yarns and you’ve seen her designs in Love of Knitting, Love of Crochet, Knitter’s, Knit Simple, Interweave Crochet, Knitscene, Inside Crochet, Wild Fiber and Petite Purls, and in many collaboration knitting and crochet books. In her spare time she raises three kids with her husband in suburban Denver.
Marly has 3 classes available on Craftsy.com-- Curvy CrochetCurvy KnitsMittens & Gloves Galore.
I guess the one typical thing for me is every Tuesday at 10am I do the live podcast. It can be found atwww.blogtalkradio.com/yarnthing or on my website www.MarlyBird.com

Monday, March 7, 2016

Crochetville's 2016 National Crochet Month Designer and Yarn Shop Blog Tour


It's here! Today, March 8, is your next stop on the blog tour! I hope you've been following it to find all about your favorite designers, and yarn shops. If so, you've also been able to enter drawings for GIVEAWAYS and access to free patterns.

UPDATE on GIVEAWY and FREE PATTERN - The deadline to enter the drawing for the book is Monday, March 21. That is also the deadline to make a comment to receive a free pattern. I will try to send the patterns as soon as possible, by the end of the tour. I've been waiting on the individual patterns from the oublisher, but they are in a transition and so I may send my original pattern on the Little Black Dress. I have the sweater pattern too. Please leave your email in the comment, so I can send the pattern. If you do not want to do this, please contact me privately. Thanks for being patient!

As I promised, in celebrating National Crochet Month,  I am doing a GIVEAWAY for my newest book, Colorful Crochet Lace.
Win this Book!
You can enter by making a comment and stating you
want to be entered. Please leave your info on how I can contact you, such as your Ravelry ID, Facebook name or your email. If you have already bought the book I want to personally thank each and every one of you for supporting me and my designing. You don't know how much you mean to me! If you love the book please leave a review on Amazon or the Interweave website. Every review counts and I can't thank you enough for the mostly 5* reviews! If you are hearing about this book for the first time you can go to my designer friend, Natalia's Outstanding Crochet blog  to read her review of the book and see the projects on the inside.

The next thing I promised you in celebrating National Crochet Month is a free pattern. Normally, in the past, I have offered something small, like the socks last year or another accessory other years.

1st Choice for your FREE Pattern - Little Black Dress - Beginner Level!
The Little Black Dress is flattering on any size or shape. Since the beginning chain is at the side, the rows are vertical, meaning that if your gauge is off or you feel like you made the wrong size, all you have to do is add or delete rows to get a perfect custom fit! You can't go wrong with my signature Graduated Stitch Method of making garments! 100's of people have written me saying they made their first garment with this easy method (from Crochet That Fits) and they are thrilled how easy it was and how perfect their garment fits. Some of these people have been crocheting for 30 or 40 years and only made afghans and scarves before! This is the whole reason I created this method! If you've made my "Cap Sleeve Top" that was offered as a free pattern when I appeared on the Knit and Crochet Now TV show, I just want you all to know the black dress is made very similar to that.

This year I wanted to offer something a little more special. I have never done this before and got permission from the publisher. I had the delima of either offering the Little Black Dress on the front of Crochet That Fits or the Ivory Shells Sweater on the front ofPositively Crochet. Since I couldn't decide on which one, I had the idea to give you a choice of which pattern you want for free. I will only be offering the pattern for 1 week after this blog post, which will be through March 14. I realize many of you have both books so that wouldn't be a good deal for you, so if you already have those patterns please let me know, and I'll try to come up with a different free pattern. Leave a comment letting me know which pattern you want and I will send it to you by pdf through email. 


2nd Choice for your free pattern - Ivory Shells Sweater


 Ivory colored sweater at right was made with Berroco Softwist (# 4) yarn (no longer available), and blue sweater at let was worked with Caron Simply Soft, also a # 4, but in my opinion works up smaller than a # 4. Both of these sweaters were made in size small and both girls are about a size 2. If you decide to use Simply Soft (# 4) you may need to go up one size in the pattern. A much larger hook was used with the Simply Soft, so make note of that in the pattern. 

Ways you can find me on the Web
(please look me up so we can connect!)


Thanks for stopping by! 
I want to thank Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka for putting this altogether. I know they've worked all year on making it an even bigger and better blog tour.
Go to this link to see the whole schedule of designers and yarn shops featured:
/http://crochetville.com/2016-national-crochet-month-blog-tour-designer-schedule/

If the designers name is not clickable, just put their name in the search space at the top of the Crochetville.com post to obtain easy access to the post featuring them!