Book Review – This Long Thread: Women of Color on Craft, Community, and Connection

This Long Thread by Jen Hewett is stunning collection of interviews, essays, and survey responses by a variety of makers that discusses their experiences as crafters of color. I’m delighted that this title provides a beautiful space to many voices, there were over 269 interview contributors, 19 interviews, and many commissioned essays. The result? A book that ties together the diverse threads of participants and crafts to create a common fabric of creativity.

Organized into nine sections it covers all parts of the crafting experience. Starting with why we do it, how we learn, and leading into craft as business and the political. It continues by sharing experiences of crafting history, creating one’s place within craft, representation, community, and teaching. I’ll admit that I thought I would find the variety of response formats a challenge – I’m more used to reading a group of essays – however I found that variety made this an even more approachable collection to read cover to cover. Each individual voice carries through the survey responses, the essays, and the interviews adding their own thread to the work. Hewett has worked to create a feeling of the reader conversing with each contributor.

I enjoyed reading it especially now during this continued time of limited social interactions due to the pandemic. It was nice to connect with like-minded individuals; I know that despite outward differences our childhoods and early forays into creating things were similar. It’s delightful to meet in the pages creators, many of whom I was not familiar with before opening this book. My experiences as a white woman who now resides in a middle-class suburban house mean it’s impossible for me to experience most of the challenges these crafters face every day. I found by reading this book it reiterated how much we have in common. May I learn from this and remember it. I highly recommend searching out this title and more importantly reading it.


Book cover for "This Long Thread". An orange background showing subtle texture with 3 diverse hands (none are white) touching threads of reds, browns, and other earth tones.

This Long Thread: Women of Color on Craft, Community, and Connection

By Jen Hewett

November 2021 | Roost Books | 376 pages

ISBN: 9781611808247

Find a copy:

  • Bookshop.org
  • Public libraries: Worldcat.
    I read a copy of this book in print form thanks to my local library as well as an e-book through Overdrive.

Book Review: The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches

We know that I have a thing for stitch dictionaries. I’m especially fascinated by crochet pattern libraries because I didn’t know they existed for the first decade or so I crocheted. The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches is the book I wish I had when I first started to figure out how to do more than crochet granny squares.

It is a beautiful and clear guide to crochet stitches and useful for both beginner and experienced crocheters alike.

Everyone will appreciate that each stitch includes both written instructions and a chart. The photographs are clear and highlight not only a complete swatch of the stitch, but many of the steps are shown to help you successfully work it.

The book covers a range of stitches, and they are grouped by type of stitch; this allows you to quickly turn to the section you might want. There are basics which include not only the standard stitches but also fans and shells, clusters, puffs, and popcorns. If that weren’t enough there are examples of spikes, raised stitches, waves, chevrons, and textured stitches. I can keep going, there are 200 stitches in all. There are also mesh and filet as well as other lace and open work stitches, you can also explore Tunisian stitches, colour work, and finish off with eleven different edgings! Finally, there is an illustrated tutorial section that shows tips for changing colors, fastening off and weaving in ends, and more.

The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches is a useful one for any crocheters bookshelf.

Book cover: The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches. The background is a tan woven type perhaps paper background. There is a teal ball of yarn in the upper right. 6 swatches are spread on the left showing different stitches.

The Step-by-Step Guide to 200 Crochet Stitches

By Tracey Todhunter

January 2019 | Interweave | 192 pages | ISBN 9781632506573

Notes: The book is published in the UK by Search Press Ltd as 200 More Crochet Stitches. This review was initially published in a slightly different form at NetGalley on 08 April 2019.

Crochet Collection Review – Pineapple Passion by Karen Whooley

The pineapple crochet stitch is the focus of Karen Whooley‘s newest pattern collection, Pineapple Passion. It includes five designs including a top, two shawls, a skirt, and a cardigan.

What is the pineapple stitch? It is one that looks complex yet is a clever combination of double, single, and chain stitches. Traditionally this type of crochet is worked in thread, however Karen has chosen to use modern lightweight lace yarns that create beautifully airy fabric. She also provide guidance for substituting yarn at other gauges.

Every pattern includes both charted stitches and written instructions and where beneficial, a schematic is included. The photographs showcase the designs and also highlight the details. There are subtle book design details that make this a beautiful collection, attention has been made to layout and making the best use of each page.

My work with this collection began a while ago. I crocheted the sample for the skirt, Pineapple Elegance. It is worked top down so you could alter the length and the pineapple edge provides a subtle lace touch. The skirt looks complex, but is straightforward to make! Here’s a tip, this design is worked in the round, however, you turn at the end of each one in order to create the beautiful simple cluster that makes up the body of the skirt. This is clever — no unsightly seam to work later.

Pineapple Passion is a collection that is surprisingly wearable — each item is classic with a modern twist. The pineapple stitch is used in a manner that adds to every design without being ostentatious.

I am smitten with the Cardigan. I’m not sure if I’ll use the suggested yarn (Fibra Natura Whisper Lace, also used in the skirt and a delight to crochet) or swatch with another yarn in my stash.

book cover pineapple passion by karen whooleyPineapple Passion is available digitally and in print (with digital download code).

Learn more at karenwhooley.com

two book ideas for easy crafting

I love challenging myself with complicated designs, though I also take great joy in the beauty found within simple patterns. After a long day I don’t always want to knit another garter stitch washcloth, it’s nice to have easy to work patterns on hand. The two books in today’s post fit this basic criteria.

Drop-Dead Easy Knits

by Gale Zucker, Mary Lou Egan, Kirsten Kapur

With this title on your shelf you’ll never be without a knit, from a quick and cozy project when you need something warm to a lightweight item keeping you occupied at the beach after you’ve finished your latest guilty read. With classic designs, Drop Dead Easy Knits will become a good knitting friend that you pull off the shelf again and again.

The designs are grouped by topic, not the expected type of item, but rather the knitting environment. You’ll find items to work confidently while distracted at knit night with the Shandy Headband or you can turn to the joggle scarf when enduring a family get-together. At the seashore sit with your toes in the sand while working up a Searsport Market Bag or warm your toes at the fire as you whip up an instant gift, also known as a Portillo Cowl.

The range of projects suits a variety of knitters, yarns, and situations with the benefit that they really are easy! There are tips and notes in each pattern for if you can engage cruise control, or if success requires paying attention. This is a title I recommend for all bookshelves.

Want to know more? Gale, Mary Lou, and Kirsten filmed a short video with great additional tips:
[youtube https://youtu.be/AFgnuV0fIkE]


Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies: 101 Projects for Infants & Toddlers

by Judith Durant, Edie Eckman

The eighth book in the One-Skein Wonders series does not disappoint, and even more delightful is that it’s for crocheters! While several earlier titles include a token project or two, this volume celebrates all designs crochet.

The projects are arranged by standard categories: hats, socks, tops, blankets, and numerous types of accessories. In addition to a standard index is one by yarn weight. These are helpful for those situations when you have yarn but aren’t quite sure what you want to make. Many different tips are included to ensure successful projects. Two I like are nice reminders for hats: a larger hat can be grown into, a smaller one is pointless and to keep bonnet tie lengths short. Symbol diagrams are included where feasible. Attention to layout means the symbol key and abbreviation chart are facing each other in the print copy.

If you crochet and wish to expand your repertoire, I recommend this versatile addition to your bookshelf.

I received an eARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The FTC wants you to know.

five books for your spring bookshelf

It’s officially spring, and my reading pace hasn’t slackened one bit. The “to be reviewed” pile is threatening to overtake one of the “to be read” piles, so here are five titles that recently caught my eye. They are each unique and diverse in topic and skill; I’ve decided their trend is colour. I love colour most during late winter and early spring as I wait for the snow to slowly melt. Without further ado, let’s jump in.

Crochet

A Garden of Shawls
by Karen Whooley
Review copy provided by the author. I crocheted a sample for the collection.

It’s delightful to finally be able to talk about this collection of twelve crochet shawls by Karen. Karen’s expertise and professionalism is evident in every page of this title from her new imprint, Occhi Blu Press. The patterns are beautifully photographed, schematics are included, and the stitches are provided in both written and diagram form. I had great enjoyment working up the sample for Trellis. Now I need to decide which design I’ll work up for myself, I have a feeling that in time I’ll work through each of the twelve designs.

Knitting

Coffee with C.C. (and Dami Too) ~ Another 7 Pattern Caffeine Inspired Knitting Collection
by C.C. Almon & Dami Almon
Review copy provided by the author.

When C.C. let it be known she was working on a new collection, once again I almost spilled my coffee in my rush to reply! I very much enjoyed her first title, and this time she is joined by her daughter Dami. Five of the designs are for socks, there’s a brilliant pair of fingerless mitts, and a new wrap to help keep away the chill of your favourite coffee shop. Once again, I love that the sock patterns are written for both toe-up (my personal preference) and cuff-down (many other knitters’ preferred sock knitting technique). While I am not a fan of instant coffee I really like Dami’s Instant Coffee Socks. CC’s 1 Shot, 2 Shots, 3 Shots Fingerless Mitts are brilliant, I am the only person I know able to be holding a hot drink and still sport ice cold hands. The newest 7 designs from the adorable mother/daughter duo of C.C. and Dami Almon is sure to delight.

Mosaic & Lace Knits: 20 Innovative Patterns Combining Slip-Stitch Colorwork and Lace Techniques
by Barbara Benson
Review copy provided by Netgalley/Stackpole Books.

Barbara possesses one of those brilliant, creative, and generous minds that I would love to take out for coffee. She has figured out colourwork lace by building upon Barbara Walker’s Mosaic technique. This melding of brilliant Barbaras has created many new and fascinating possibilities. It has been difficult for me not to tell my schedule to go away and swatch the projects for days on end. Benson takes you through how she created this process, tips for getting started, and things to keep in mind aloncg the way so your mosaic lace projects are successful. The first project is a basic bulky mosaic mitten, without lace, to help you become comfortable with mosaic knitting. From there, the possibilities expand not only to shawls and scarves at various yarn weights, but also hats, a bag, fingerless mitts, and a delightful pillow. Several designs caught and held my eye that I hope some day to find the spare time to work up, including Isochronal Arc, Lacy Pinstripe Cowlette, and Fractured Helix. What will you knit first?

Creativity

I think that combined these two titles could be quite powerful to helping jumpstart your creativity.

Pattern Studio : A Creative Workbook for Sketching Unique Repeats
Kulik, Shayna.
discovered on the shelves at my local public library

I keep thanking the acquisition librarians at my library for adding titles I don’t think I would otherwise ever encounter. Kulik’s book is one of those rare gems. I’m also thankful I found it while it’s new, it was very tempting to start doodling on the enticing blank pages! This title provides 56 worksheets (6 warm-ups and 50 exercises) that will help you to develop the tools in order to create unique patterns of your own. The second portion of the book offers patterns, bios, and quotes from a diverse group of 50 artists to help you see the infinite creative possibilities. The exercise pages include subtle doodles so that you don’t need to fear the blank page. The exercises range from geometric patterns such as from the soles of your sneakers or the zigzag of a staircase, to patterns of buttons or stacks of books. This is a title that will definitely help direct your creativity and take your pattern and texture creation to new places.

Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking
by Emily K. Neuburger
Review copy provided by Netgalley/Storey Publishing.

I don’t see myself as an art journaler, but I know the value of regular focused practice. I requested a review copy of Journal Sparks with the desire to find ways to improve my doodling and my creative thought process. Neuberger has created a beautiful and thorough book with many different ideas and prompts that will inspire; my notes of the title have many more doodles than I expected. I think this would also be fun to work through with another Storey title, Knit the Sky. The creative possibilities are endless and I have many new ideas to help nudge my creativity when I feel stuck.

stitch dictionaries, some new, some old

I love stitch dictionaries and they seem to follow me home from book sales as if I’m the pied piper. In this post I’ll share a few dictionaries that are new and several classic favorites. Please also check out these previous posts, knit resources and crochet resources.

Why do I like to have so many? Sometimes seeing a stitch explained a little differently, next to another stitch, photographed a different way can make all the difference from my skipping swatching to it hopping on my needles or hook.

Upcoming Release

Every Which Way Crochet Borders: 139 Patterns for Customized EdgingsEvery Which Way Crochet Borders
by Edie Eckman
Storey Publishing
Expected publication: January 24th 2017

This title will be a great resource for those who always turn to the same handful of crochet borders. Eckman begins with basics of crochet borders onto a variety of base fabrics and then jumps into creativity far beyond the simple foundation. I’m slowly working on adding a border to a fleece blanket, once I progress past my first round, I’ll need to make a decision one which border from the vast catalogue provided. The attention to detail is what makes this book stand out, with clear photos, easy to spot categorizations of each border (wide/narrow, reversible, textured, etc.), instructions in both written and charted form, and more. I hope to provide a more detailed review when the book is available.

I received an early review copy from Storey Publishing through NetGalley, the FTC wants you to know.


New Release (Relatively)

The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary: 150 new stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth & in the roundThe Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary: 150 new stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth & in the round
by Wendy Bernard
STC Craft

Sometimes I knit flat, sometimes I knit in the round, sometimes I knit something toe or brim-up, and sometimes I knit cuff or crown-down. While I could convert most stitches quickly sometimes I just want to knit. I find that possible with Bernard’s stitch dictionary. There are many classic stitch patterns from knit and purl combinations, to ribbing, to cables, and even lace. The first volume is Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary.


Classics

The Harmony Guide To Knitting Stitches (The Harmony Guide to Knitting, #1)The Harmony Guide To Knitting Stitches

While this title is a new addition to my library, it’s a classic; I’m very thankful to have found it at a local library book sale a few weeks ago.



Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting PatternsMary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns
This was the very first knitting stitch dictionary I purchased. Even in this age of ebooks, I still turn to it when I want something light to tuck into my bag.

A Treasury of Knitting Patterns A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns Charted Knitting Designs: A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns A Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns
I’m a fan of the Barbara Walker Treasury of Knitting Patterns series. They are expensive, but if you are very very lucky and patient and haunt used book stores, it is possible to find them second hand. I use these in combination with Reversible Pattern Stitches in Barbara G. Walker’s Treasuries Compiled by Mary Lee Herrick and The Walker Treasury Project. If you would like to purchase them as a complete set, I suggest ordering from Schoolhouse Press.

pile of stitch dictionaries

Do you have a favourite stitch dictionary?