Friday, December 8, 2017

The Most Special Kind of Crochet!

I have to be honest that I've always been just a little envious of the people that share the love of crochet with their families. So often you hear that someone learned to crochet from their grandmother or their mother. Having learned to crochet from my second grade teacher, I was the lone stitcher in my family. I knew that my great-grandmother had crocheted and while I did have her in my life briefly, she passed on when I was about 10 years old. When I had two daughters of my own, I thought for sure that I would finally be able to pass on my love of all things fibery but that was not to be either. Sigh.

Earlier this year, my mom showed me a tote box full of crochet items that my great-grandmother had made. I had no idea that these even existed and was so thrilled for the discovery. We didn't go through the items and only peeked at them through the clear box. I have no idea why. My mother said when she was gone that she wanted me to have them. Sadly, neither of us knew that would be just a few short months later.

So yesterday, I went through the box for the first time. It was an amazing experience to hold these pieces in my hands knowing that my great-grandmother had created them! They are beautiful works of art that are somewhere around a hundred years old! I am so thankful that my mother took care of them all these years but it's sad that they were tucked away in a box. I plan to block them and starch the gorgeous ruffles to put them on display to be enjoyed. Oh, and I think it's pretty obvious to see where I get my love of complexity!

And now....I would like to share them with you!



Friday, November 17, 2017

Cable Crochet Made Easy by Bonnie Barker book review

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Bonnie Barker's new cable book which is nothing short of spectacular! If you have always loved cables, this is the book for you. If you've never done cables but always wanted to try, this is the book for you too! Not only is there a wide variety of beautiful designs but every single pattern includes a link to a video tutorial! Cable patterns can be wordy and confusing on paper so Bonnie will SHOW you how to create them! 

The book contains patterns for 2 hats, 4 scarves (including one that can be made larger as a shawl), a cowl and cuffs, 2 ponchos, a baby blanket, a throw with matching pillow, a bottle cover, mittens with a matching headband, a stole and a shrug. Like I said, something for everyone!

I had a difficult time deciding which pattern I wanted to try first but I ended up going with the Abigal Scarf. Even though I have been crocheting for hundreds of years, I learned 2 new stitches in this pattern which was really exciting for me. While working the Celtic Weave, there were a number of different ways I might have interpreted the instructions so it was extremely helpful to pop over to the video tutorial for Bonnie to show me exactly how the stitch was to be made. I love the versatility of this design. Different yarn weights with different sized hooks all create a marvelous new look and this is the pattern that includes instructions to keep going if you wish and turn your scarf into a shawl!

I love all the little personal touches in this book that show Bonnie's beautiful heart. All the glory is given to God from the first page to the last! This compilation was a labor of love that included Bonnie's husband, children and friends and in spite of all the hard work that clearly went into this book, you can see and feel that they had a wonderful time producing it together. 

If you can't wait to get your own copy of this amazing book, it is now available on Amazon. You can also visit Bonnie at Bonnie Bay Crochet to see more of her incredible creations!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy National Crochet Month 2016!

Welcome to my stop on The Crochet Express! I am so happy you are here! Big thank you to Crochetville for once again putting together this incredible blog tour in celebration of National Crochet Month. I'm sure you are just like me and celebrate crochet EVERY month but March is exceptionally special and it's so much fun to celebrate in a much bigger way!

I developed a new appreciation for things we often take for granted after I reclaimed my health almost 3 years ago and there are many things I never thought I would experience that I now celebrate. I had been sick for over 7 years and I am so thankful that I had my crochet with me but once I found healing, I just wanted to get up and MOVE all the time. The problem that presented would be less crochet time! Or would it?  I love to get creative and blend the various aspects of my life together for the best efficiency. So I didn't see any reason why I couldn't get up and get moving and take my crocheting with me! 

Just because I'm working on my legs doesn't mean there is any reason I can't still be using my hands to crochet, right? 

And so I challenge you to incorporate your crochet into all areas of your life! Especially something that gets your body moving and improves your health! We already know that crocheting is good for your health, now let's step it up to the next level! I know sometimes it can be hard to get and stay motivated so find a friend to keep you accountable and you do the same for them! And if you can't find a friend, make your own! ( excuses!) and so I give you "Workout Wendy" to motivate and inspire you. Plus, she is just really cute and I love making doll clothes. Please click on the link below to get the pattern which will be free for a limited time as a thank you for celebrating crochet with me! If you are ready to take charge of your life and you are ready to improve your health, lose some weight, gain a whole bunch of energy or if you are just ready to look and feel amazing, please send me a message! I would love to help you! You can also visit me at


Monday, February 29, 2016

Fair Isle Crochet by Brenda Bourg

What a thrill and an honor it is to be reviewing this wonderful book which is Brenda's very first! It is a spectacular book that has set the bar pretty high and will be a hard act to follow with any future books but if anyone can do it, Brenda can!

Before I tell you about all the fantastic things this book has to offer, let me give you a little background on how Brenda and I came to know each other. Brenda and I met online about 8 years ago when she contacted me on Ravelry about a design of mine that she had made. We got to chatting and a friendship was born. Brenda was just getting started in the industry as a professional and as a CGOA member she wanted to take advantage of our mentoring program. She asked me if I would be willing to be her mentor. Initially, I said "no". Not because I didn't want to but I had a lot going on and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to devote the necessary time. However, as I thought more about it, being a firm believer that people don't come into our lives by accident and God places them in our path for a reason, I told her on second thought I would love to be her mentor. The official mentoring program lasts 2 years and here we are 8 years later! We have both learned an awful lot more than we knew way back then and I have learned every bit as much from her as she has from me. It has gone far beyond mentoring to a truly wonderful friendship that I treasure.

So on to the book. It is incredible and I know you are going to love it! Brenda is extremely thorough and covers everything you could think of so even a beginner could create these projects. There are step-by-step photos for all the stitches which I found enormously helpful. I'm a very visual person so this was great!

Brenda includes sections with tips and hints, seaming, blocking, tension, changing colors and all that entails as well as helpful tools and choosing your own colors! She has provided everything you need to know to sit down and get started right away. The only thing that you are going to find extremely difficult is which project you would like to start with first!

My personal favorite is the Cora Sweater. This design just speaks to me! I love the colors and the complexity. I love the shape and the ribbing. I just really love everything about it!

I also adore the Annabel Bag! Is this not absolutely gorgeous?! 

There are lots of little projects if you're someone that likes instant gratification. Fingerless mitts, cowls, headbands and boot cuffs to name a few. 

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Fair Isle Tunisian Crochet, please enter our giveaway! And if you don't win, no can order a copy right here! Enjoy! I NEED THIS BOOK NOW!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of this page and not to Facebook. US Residents only please!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

We are so incredibly blessed!

When your heart is so touched by the kindness, generosity and insurmountable outpouring of love from others, how do you possibly put that into words? "Thank you" just doesn't even begin to cover what I would like to say to each of you. I have been at my computer for hours staring at a blank screen as this is by far the most difficult post I have ever written. There are so many things I want to say to all of you and yet, I just have no words. Part of me wants to get in my car and drive around the county, knocking on the front door of each and every one of you to hug you in person while another part of me just wants to wrap myself in my afghan and curl up on the couch never to leave.

For those of you that found your way to my blog that may not know my story, let me just briefly share. I have been involved in the crochet community and active with the Crochet Guild of America for many, many years. During that time I have had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful, beautiful people. It goes far beyond friendship and I have always referred to them as my crochet FAMILY. October 2015, we tragically lost our precious 22 year old daughter, Chelsea. Many in my crochet family knew Chelsea and had watched her grow up. She is the mother of our very special granddaughter, Willow, who is quite frequently seen on my Facebook page. My crochet family immediately banded together to do what they do best - create. And in doing so, they sent us a 27 pound box which if we had a scale that measured how much care and love was in it would have weighed thousands upon thousands of pounds.

And they didn't stop there! Also enclosed in our box of love was an album with a picture of Chelsea with her gorgeous smile that we miss so much, cards, letters, a perpetual membership in the Association of the Miraculous Medal, poems and a certificate stating that 200 trees are being planted in Chelsea's memory. Chelsea would have thought that was SO cool! And lastly, you just have to see these one-of-a-kind afghans by themselves. They are absolutely breathtaking. I am so grateful that even a master list was included for each blanket so we could know who lovingly created each block. We will treasure these always just as we will always treasure having each and every one of you in our lives. I love all of you so very much! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

George Tammy Shelby Little Willow And even one for Willow to grow into!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Colorful Crochet Lace by Mary Jane Hall Review and Giveaway!

I have had the pleasure of reviewing Mary Jane's new book, Colorful Crochet Lace and it comes as no surprise that it is absolutely gorgeous! If you're already a fan of Mary Jane's, this is exactly what you would expect and if you're not, what are you waiting for? Go and check it out right now! You will not be disappointed!

Designing is such a personal thing and a little bit of our soul goes into each project. Our designs can feel like our babies and I always find it so interesting to learn a little more about the designer. It is my privilege to share these fascinating tidbits with you about Mary Jane. Also be sure to enter to win your very own copy of Colorful Crochet Lace at the end of the interview!

We want to know:: What are some of the other jobs you had before becoming a designer? (I know you used to sing professionally and I think that is so cool!)
Mary Jane's Response: I was a stay at home mom while my kids were growing up because I felt like that was the best job in the world but when they got into HS, I became a Realtor. I also had my own Graphic Design business designing custom candy bar wrappers for all occasions such as weddings, birthdays and many other special events. Then I became a supervisor for Gifts by House of Lloyd, which included Christmas Around the World and Cookin' (similar to Pampered Chef).
As far as my singing career, I started singing on stage when I was 14, along with my sisters and brother when we lived in Mississippi. We had our own radio program every week and were regulars on a live show every Sat night. We had 4 part harmony and sang folk songs, pop and a few country songs. We also did several TV appearances. Another fun thing was when we got to travel around Mississippi with a local man running for state senator. We wore our matching red, white and blue dresses with our Uncle Sam hats as we sang on a huge truckbed on the "square" of small southern towns.  When we all got married and moved away from home, we started our own separate singing careers. I sang for many events such as weddings, United Way campaigns, Christmas and New Years Eve parties, etc but I also performed at fairs and festivals in a 2 state area. That was my life for so many years and I loved it! My singing style is that of Karen Carpenter, Ann Murry, Linda Rondstat, Amy Grant, Patsy Cline, Gloria Estafon and others.  My daughter started performing with me when she was only 14 and we were regulars on a weekly TV show here in Dayton, singing mostly songs of the Judds. I stopped all that when I started designing in 2005. I miss it but my voice is not in shape anymore!

We want to know::What was your very first design? What was your very first published design if it is different from your first design?
Mary Jane's Response: My first design was a poncho. I was teaching about 30 girls to crochet in 2004 when it became popular again and they wanted some updated, shorter ponchos and capelets. I came up with several different shapes and when I decided to submit them to a publisher, all 8 were accepted and published within 5 months of them being accepted. That
was Donna Kooler of Kooler Design Studios and they partner with Leisure Arts as the publisher. Donna said, "We not only want to do 1 booklet of your designs, but we want to do 2 booklets of your designs!" Of course I was in shock, but so thrilled! I sent them in, along with a few scarves, and Crochet in Style and Crochet Young and Trendy were published in June of that year.

We want to know::What does your design process look like? Do you swatch and sketch and calculate all your measurements in advance or do you just grab yarn and hook and create?
Mary Jane's Response: Good question. When I get an idea, I do a sketch first, then I decide on the yarn, and start designing it as I go, writing down the instructions as I'm working. Occasionally, I will write down instructions with measurements  before I start, but not usually.
If there was one thing that you could make sure everyone knew about crochet, what would it be?
For anyone thinking about learning, especially if they are intimidated, I tell them that crochet is incredibly easy! I say that the hardest part is learning to hold the hook and yarn, but with practice it becomes 2nd nature. I feel like any beginner can make anything as long as they practice holding the hook and yarn. Having some determination and passion about wanting to make crocheted things helps too! With the stitch pattern charts we have today, there's no reason they can't go forward and try an intermediate pattern. But one of the other most important things is that they need to learn crochet language. This will save them so much frustration in working a pattern!

We want to know: Do you make things for yourself to wear and for around your home?
Mary Jane's Response: Believe it or not, I don't make myself much crochet to wear because I just don't have the time. I'd really like to though and that's one of my goals in life! Lol. The only crochet in my home is a heart shaped rug I made years ago and some doilies made by my great grandmother, from Montgomery, Alabama and Rice, Texas. Some of the doilies could have come from my other great grandmother who was from Corsica (part of France) and Florence, Italy.

We want to know::What is the most unusual place you’ve ever crocheted?
Mary Jane's Response: A few times I was on a very strict deadline and worked on a project at a Wed night Bible study in my home. I always asked first if it was OK with the others. I've never crocheted in a swimming pool like you have Tammy! Way to go!

We want to know::What do you do for fun when you’re not designing (is there ever such a time?!)
Mary Jane's Response: We both know that when designing, there's always something going on, whether it's sketching, swatching, searching for yarn, submitting designs or working on designs that have already been accepted with a deadline. Then of course there are book signings, intrviews, posting on our blog and other social media. Doing all that while at the same time being with family keeps us so busy that it is hard to find time to take a break. My designing is my biggest source of income and we, as designers are constantly working on something. I'm sure you can say the same thing Tammy, but I eat, sleep and drink designing! It is really exciting to me, which keeps me going, but sometimes my ADD brain causes deadlines to overwhelm me. It wouldn't be so hard if I didn't have anything else going on in my life.

We want to know::Tell us one interesting thing about yourself that we might not know.
Mary Jane's Response:1. Well, I love to cook and have a collection of around 300 cookbooks. I have just as many food boards on Pinterest as I do crochet boards and have always loved having family and friends over.
2. I am obsessed with the History channel and love watching shows about history. I especially like to watch America Unearthed and  shows about Lost Civilizarions that have been found under hills or water. They have actually found pyramids under water near Pennsylvania, Egyptian writings in caves and so much more.
3. I have been called the "Thrift Store Queen" by many of my friends. My 40+years of experience led me to do a 1 day seminar on thrift store shopping. We had a special lunch, and in the afternoon we had a fashion show of women wearing outfits they had bought at thrift stores. Then we all took a bus to my favorite thrift stores here in Dayton for those who had never been. It was so much fun!
4. I run a "free" clothing store owned by the church I attend. I am there only 1 day a week, but we get donations from people in our county, and you just wouldn't believe what all we have and how many people we clothe. Everything is set up like a store with most clothing hanging on racks. We have a little bit of everything to give away including household items. Bob Evans headquarters are here, so they generously give us 2 freezers full of sausage every couple of months to give out to people. Sometimes it's overwhelming, but is very rewarding.