March 7, 2011

Guest Post/Blog Tour: I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting SOCKS!

Good morning, yarn friends!

Today I am SO excited to have a well-known, expert crocheter visiting the blog as part of her blog tour for her new book, I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting Socks! I was so fortunate to be one of the bloggers hosting Karen Ratto-Whooley this month, and I would like to give you a little review of her new book, plus share an interview with her!

Karen sent me a preview copy of her new book:

and when I opened the package, I was so excited:

Many family and friends (ahem.. Keven) have been requesting crocheted socks, but I have always been a bit nervous. To me, sock yarn is beautiful and oh-so-soft, but never seemed to leave a lot of room for improfections. Socks seemed so meticulous and time consuming!

Karen's new book is styled perfectly for a few reasons:
-the photos are clear and crisp (and huge!).

-the font size is so easy to read with or without glasses (a major bonus since most crochet books use a teeny tiny font to squeeze the pattern onto the page).

-Each row is separated out by a space, so the pattern is very easy to read and finding your spot is easy to do!

-a super helpful "Before you Begin" page that details the various fibers and the pros and cons in using them for socks (a major bonus for a sock newbie like me!).

-there is a very easy to understand General Instructions page at the end followed by all the resources you can use to find the yarn used in the book!

Here's what I think:
I am attempting to go through the book from beginning to end. It seems like the patterns are purposefully in order to accomodate any crochet level. Even though I usually consider myself an intermediate crocheter, I wanted to start with a pattern that made sense to me just by looking at it. So, I started with the "Basic Cuff-Down Socks" on page 5. Each piece of the sock is stitched in a different color in the photos, and this was BEYOND helpful for me! I really thought these socks worked up nicely and gave me a good experience trying out such a foreign territory. This book is really amazing!

Now, let me introduce you to this amazing yarn lover and stitcher extraordinaire!
(I wanted to ask questions that weren't typically related to socks. Hopefully you'll find them entertaining and helpful in getting to know Karen!)

1. Of all the crochet stitches, which stitch is your favorite?

Wow… That is a tough one! If you are talking about the basic 6 stitches, I love the Half Double! I love the fabric it forms by itself and in combination with other stitches. There is something about that extra loop on the backside that really is striking to me!!

Now if you are talking about texture, I love the 6 stitches that were discovered in the early 90s in the Middle East. (Afghanistan Actually) My book, Savvy Single Crochet highlights these stitches. They are really cool because they look similar to knitting, you use a larger hook than normal to create the stitches (which is AWESOME for those with arthritis and/or CTS) and I have found that I use a whole lot less yarn when making them. And the best part is that they are all a variation on the single crochet.

But I have discovered the Japanese stitch dictionaries! There is no way I could even pick a favorite out of those.. they are so new and different..


2. What is your favorite item to crochet as a birthday gift?

I love scarves for birthday gifts! They can be like fiber jewelry! Every year it seems that I have found a new cool pattern, whether it uses beads, or as specific yarn like my Cha Cha scarf, I can make a fast gift that everyone appreciates.

3. Your new book is all about socks, which is awesome because there are not many resources for crocheters who would like to hook socks. Do you have any general advice before getting started on your first pair?
I think there are 2 things that I would recommend before starting your first pair.

1) Start with a cuff down pair first. The toe of the toe up is what gets everyone the first time! If you do the toe from the top down first, it won’t be as confusing from the toe up!

2) If you struggle with the smaller yarn and hook size, drop that for a little while and work the pattern in worsted weight and I hook. What this will do is help you get comfortable with what you are supposed to be doing, and then once you can see it, then you will be able to understand it with the smaller stuff.


4. How do you keep your yarn and hooks organized in your home/studio?

I got lucky! When we bought this house, there was a huge walk in closet that I got to claim! It is actually in my 14 year old son’s room, but he and I have a deal that mom has in and out privledges! His room came with 2 closets. My closet is about 16 feet by 8 feet and in there is most of my yarn! I use those wire gird cubes and organize the yarn by fiber and weight.

I am a hook collector so I have lots and lots of them everywhere. For my complete sets, I have a separate case. I am partial to wood when I am designing so I am make sure I have a cushioned case to hold those. For the onesie-twosies, well, they are everywhere, I have extra cases that hold some, I have a glass vase on my desk that hold some, and in a drawer I have a zip lock bag that holds all my grandmother’s and my Nonna’s Hooks! My first hook ever is in a spot so that I will not lose it. It is very precious to me, even if it is plastic!

5. What advice would you give younger crocheters who are just entering into the crochet world and want to improve their skills and advance their networking?

Definitely Join Ravelry and immediately join the Crochet Liberation Front Group. The CLF is commited to promoting the art of crochet. You will meet lots of younger like-minded crocheters there, along with many of us who have been crocheting for lots more years! (I am coming up on 37!)

Ravelry is a great place to start for networking. To improve your skills, definitely find a LYS or online Classroom like mine and Crochetville to gain more knowledge and learn new techniques!
6. Which is your favorite weight of yarn?
I am hopelessly addicted to sock yarn. The colors and the fibers that are out there now are just amazing. And have you seen some of the indie dyers? WOW! I could spend days on Etsy and spend millions on the gorgeous yarns out there.

Thank you for stopping by, Karen!

You can find Karen:

1 comment:

  1. I have been following this blog tour and think that this is another great installment in it. I love the questions you asked and the fact that you reviewed the book as well. I once tried making crochet socks but it was early on in my crocheting and it turned out to be too soon. I don't own this book (yet?!) but this blog tour is definitely inspiring me to think about trying it out again.