Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Coastal Crochet Book Review and Giveaway

My review of Karen Whooley's newest book

Coastal Crochet

I totally see the West Coast in Coastal Crochet. Storm, the cover tank top evokes the storms that come in to the Pacific Northwest. Coastline and Beachcomber remind me of the greens of the trees on the cliffs, moss, ferns and Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach OR. 

Let me just say that I am an east coast girl, a shore girl, but I have lived on the west coast for many years before landing back east in Florida.
Karen gave me a PDF copy of Coastal Crochet for review purposes, I still purchased my very own book (books purchased from Karen come with a download code too). I never have to think twice about buying one of Karen's books. They are clear, easy to understand with written patterns, charts and schematics.  The photographs give you a clear picture of the design. I am giving away one PDF of Coastal Crochet. Enter at the end of this post. 

When I saw the cover design, Storm, I knew I had to make it, living here in Florida I chose Skacel CoBaSi purchased at Jimmy Beans  Wool which is a Cotton, Bamboo and Silk blend. 

Here is the front so far...

Karen chose Lace weight or Fingering weight for all of the designs here.  You can feel  the cozy in Beachcomber, above or Coastline, below. A Lace weight Waffle stitch perfect for those cool days and nights on the rugged beaches of the northern pacific coast. 

Coastline, above, is a Swancho, a cross between sweater and  poncho, love it. 

           Deep Blue Sea, above, clearly is the pacific ocean from up on the cliffs. This is an open airy shawl perfect for dinners while on vacation.       


Ah, now this picture above is Shoreline.  What I see is driftwood. All the shades of grey. I love the shape of this shawl and the changes in stitches to give a visual of ruggedness. I think the first time I saw the ruggedness of the Pacific was on the beach in Tofino British Columbia. It was so dramatic and different from the Jersey Shore. Darker sand, lots of driftwood, cloudy skies and white caps. See it in this shawl? 

These are pictures of beaches on Puget Sound in WA when I lived on the Hood Canal. 

In Coastal Crochet Karen discusses the importance of gauge and the possibility of substituting a heavier yarn, honestly, I love her choices and wouldn't want to lose the softness or drape of these designs. If you have never taken one of Karen's classes you can tell from her books she is a great teacher of crochet. 

Karen self publishes her books and has a fantastic group of talent for photography, layout and technical editing. The thing I love about the actual book is the front index of designs with a picture for quickly finding the design you're looking for. The size and weight of the book are perfect for in your project bag too. 

I'm sure by now you would love a copy of your own. Don't forget to enter below. The winner will be chosen Sunday October 7th. 


Ok, the picture above is a Florida beach.....but see how different it is? 

Here is Karen Whooley. Her website has all  the info you need to see her patterns and purchase her books. 


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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Day at the Lion Brand Outlet

I was recently in NJ and NY for family business.  As always I find a way to visit a yarn store, this trip was visiting two biggies.  I was heading to Newark airport from Westchester County NY and thought I would Google Map directions to the Lion Brand Outlet.  This has been on my list every time I go north from FL, I never seem to make it.  When I saw the directions were basically right off Route 46 I knew it was an easy stop before the airport.  (Route 46 from Westchester, yeah, I take the Palisades through Fort Lee to Turnpike).  Anyway...

I found my way through to the back of a light industrial area of warehouses, lots of trucks and see the Outlet along with the Corporate offices of Lion Brand.  I was greeted by Sandy, the gal who runs the shop.  I asked if Jack or Shira were in the offices next door. She checked for me and Jack Blumenthal came over personally to say hello and give me a tour.  I have met Jack previously at CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) meetings. The first thing you notice are the HUGE displays mostly crocheted. These are previous window displays from the Lion Brand Studio in NYC.  Another must if you're in the area of Chelsea/Soho. 

Notice the snake above, it took days to stuff him.

Notice the gift boxes wrapped in crochet paper. Lion Brand sells this gift wrap paper. 

After Jack took me through the family history of Lion Brand, currently in their 5th generation, we went into the lounge/classroom.  A great open space to sit, crochet and chat with others.  Sandy was in the middle of organizing 120 framed photographs of celebrities knitting and crocheting over the years.  

Ahhh... the aisles and aisles. At the Lion Brand Outlet they do sell regular priced yarns as well. Not all of the yarns but the newest ones and the whole LB Collection.  They also have for sale the sample garments that were made for their ads. 

The outlet deals are great prices on packages of 3. Discontinued yarn lines, like Modern Baby :( and discontinued colors of existing lines are here.  You can see in the picture the sides of the aisle is chalkboard with the yarn name and price listed. 

There is much more here to shop for too, like accessories, hooks, magazines....

Ok... so I did come a little prepared, I bought a rolling duffel bag at a thrift shop just in case...

So some of my new stash is enough Modern Baby in Grey and Black to make myself a summer top, tank? T?  
I will be playing with a new LB Collection yarn Soft Spoken, I fell in love with the colors of this yarn.  Also, the NEW Feels Like Butta, and it does. (when I saw the title I was brought back to a NYNJ deli getting a bagel with butta (my native language)... It is unbelievably soft, perfect for baby blankets and sweaters or adult sweaters and cowls.  Having it against your skin is heavenly. 

 For more specials, reviews and travel stories sign up for the       I Hook Design Newsletter at the top right of this page. 

Thanks for coming along. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Almost Spring Mitts are NOW Available

I'm happy to announce the Almost Spring Mitts pattern that was part of the CGOA Mega CAL is now available to non CGOA members (and members who may have missed the CGOA promotion).

The yarn I used is Zauberball Sock from Skacel available here. The yardage is generous enough to make 2 pair of the mitts.

I love these color because they scream SPRING to me.  I know in parts of the country winter will not stay away, these mitts might be the way to bring spring to the end of cold winter. They work up fast in an interesting textured stitch. 

You can purchase them at an introductory price.

If you would like more specials like this when new patterns become available, sign up for my I Hook Design Newsletter at the top right of this page.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

My Day at Kraemer Textiles and Yarn

This photo is courtesy of Kraemer Yarns, the day I was there was a very rainy day and I couldn't get good outside pictures.

While I was in NJ on family business I took a yarn day.  I drove to Nazareth PA to meet in person the team at Kraemer Yarns. I arrived just before 10 am when the Yarn Store opens to a warm greeting from Sharon. 
Here is an excerpt from their website on their history:

Kraemer Yarns continues its legacy of spinning fine quality yarns for over a century.
At the beginning was Kraemer Hosiery Mills, spinning & creating the most sought after silk stockings made in America.

Time marches on and Kraemer Textiles diversified into carpet, upholstery & industrial yarns becoming one of the premier spinners of American made carpet yarns for companies like Burlington & Mohawk in the 60’s & 70’s. The business continued to diversify developing yarns in areas like paper production machinery, rope yarns and military contracts to name a few. Our mill’s ability to spin novelty yarns for which few other mills in the country had the production capabilities, brought us into the apparel industry. We have worked for “celebrity designers” and well known labels to create traditional & current fashion looks and with the likes of L.L. Bean and Remington developing demanding, hard working outdoor yarns for sweaters, hats, gloves & socks. Kraemer Yarns proudly walked in the opening ceremonies at the winter games of 2014 in the hats & sweaters of our United States Olympic athletes!
Noticing the unique "twist" in our commercial garment yarns brought hand knitting yarn companies to our door looking to source high quality “maker” yarns & roving. After quite a few years creating & producing yarns for other companies our company president, David Schmidt, decided to branch out & offer our yarns to individual fiber artists through local & regional yarn stores. Kraemer Yarns was born. 

I first toured the shop. The very organized cubicles of their yarns (click to see the whole line) and samples in knit and crochet everywhere. Above is my design for Kraemer Yarns, Au Natural Infinity Scarf on display. (click for details) 

The shop is housed is the original mill building
so character is everywhere.  The town of Nazareth is very northeast PA in feel and history.  They are located not far from I 78 near Easton and Bethlehem PA.

I fell in love with this knitted Perfection Chunky "Steel City" sweater  here.

This piece was designed by Beth Aidala.  The Caribbean Cover-Up is crocheted with Saucon Sock (click links for more information)  I can't wait to make it, I won't have it made in time for my next cruise but being in FL it's just perfect.  I would wear it over capris and a tank top. 

My private tour started with a mystery box.  Sharon took me through the many things that Kraemer Textiles sources fiber for.  Above  is a sample of 2 discs are for a polisher used on cars. 

Carpet samples too. These are custom rug samples.  I generally think about wool and fiber as yarn and clothes, this made me realize wool and fibers are used everywhere and they have to come from some source...

One of the many machines used for spinning.  These machines are very old and well maintained.  When they do die they are saved for parts, imagine the stories they can tell from over a century of spinning....WW I, WWII hoisery, uniforms, 70's ponchos.

Can you guess what this is?    It's pure linen on left and flax on the right. Very different is feel. 

This is a huge carding machine, so many needles it's scary and dangerous.  Respect the machines always.  

Racks of bobbins ready for work.

This strange mess is actually the recipe for the color below.  Yes their are recipes, each color is weighed out and placed on a dedicated section of a conveyor belt, put through a machine that mixes them, 

Then another that blends them still until you have the above result, a beautiful sage green.  Maybe next time I can play with some recipes.  Sharon is so lucky to actually design the colors we get to use. 

Just a snippet (6 seconds) of the enormity of the machine and the noise...The bright light is blocking the machine mixing the components.

A big poster shows Kraemer Yarns products and that they are very proud to be Made in America.

Take a look at their new website and all of their products here. 

I am very happy to offer you a chance to win the Crochet Go to Market Bag Kit. This kit includes the yarn and the pattern to make the bag.  I have already made one for my cruise, my pool bag. Works up really quick. Made with Tatamy, a cotton/nylon blend. 


My bag is in sunny colors, the kit is with muted earthy colors. The bag will be perfect and just in time for the Farmer's Market Season in most of the country (except FL, ours closes for 

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I'd love to read any comments about my trip or similar trips you've made on your "Yarn Day". 

I really loved my day at Kraemer Yarns and Textiles. Thank you so much for a great day Sharon, Beth and David.  It will be a regular stop when I'm in the general area. I intended to leave by 2:30 to beat NJ rush   You know me and talking, I left at 4 and got stuck right in the middle of it on I 287 and 202 206 in NJ.