Sep 17

I’m excited to announce that I’m helping out with a fun project — donating a free pattern to support one of my favorite crafty sites in Portland, the Knittn Kitten, our own craft thrift store!

Each week a different local crafter will be offering up a free project sheet (pick it up at the Kitten) to try, and you can find all the supplies for it in the shop to make your own version. There’s also a new flickr pool celebrating the shop — please join and add your photos of treasures you’ve found, projects you’re making with these patterns, or anything else Kittenish!

The Knittn Kitten

Here’s a list of the crafters participating so far…

September 22 – Me!

September 29 – Teresa Sullivan

October 6 – Diane Gilleland

October 13 – Joey Groendes

October 20 – Christine Blystone

October 27 – Susan Beal

November 3 – Lee Meredith

November 10 – Bridget Benton

All of us will post photos of the new projects on our blogs every week and of course you can also see them all in the flickr group as they’re unveiled!

Please help spread the word about the pattern giveaway, and if you’re local and have a chance to stop by the Knittn Kitten, we’d love to see what you make!

Sep 16

Title: The Big Book of Socks
Author: Kathleen Taylor
Release Date: September 8, 2009

Kathleen Taylor is the author of I Heart Felt, and brings us a book full of 75 original sock patterns. I’m not much of a knitter, but I know the basics. I haven’t tried my hand at sock knitting, but this book makes it look achievable.

Things I like about this book:

  • Love the section in the beginning about yarn selection and why or why not to choose different types of yarn for your sock knitting
  • Lots of sock patterns!
  • Eye candy: lots of great photos of great-looking socks!

I love these Norwegian-inspired socks (little and big!!) – so cute. Waaaay beyond my skills, but adorable.

Jun 2

I took part in a recent Craftster zine swap, and have received so many high-quality zines, many by first-time zinesters. It makes me proud of all of them. I should also tell you if you are even the teeniest bit interested in writing a zine, you totally should!!

Disco Queen Highness “Bad Mommy” – a zine on those “bad mommy” moments you’ve either been on the giving or receiving end of. Contains a lot of favorite recipes and some activities, along with two “instant activities” enclosed.

Lmcbride “Born into Color” (I haven’t read this one yet, so apologies for lack of commentary!)

Also got poppyache’s zine “A Library of Fascinating Facts and carefully researched stuff.” (Apologies again, I plan on enjoying this after I blog about it)

Here’s EdelC’s zine “Edel” I got a few weeks ago. It’s completely beautiful, and full of unique touches like a one-of-a-kind inchie, and pretty tabs sewn into the front & back covers.

Some more of my favorite details about it: She gives you an “Intermission” inside that lets you go take a break, get a drink and make popcorn. Reminds me of the affirmative nature of SARK’s books.

And these cool tabs were sewn into the front & back covers. So neat!

Here’s “My Nonexistent Teenage Rebellion” by Natalie Brown, which is a great zine with four or five fractured fairy tales in it – very creative and well-written!

As far as I know, none of these are available for sale, but let me know if you are interested and I will talk to the authors for you!

Dec 31

Alma Stoller just announced her newest zine project, soulcraft. Alma is an artist who makes beautiful zines full of handmade details. You can just tell from this cover how much time, care, and soul went into the creation of this zine!

Alma describes the zine this way: soulcraft is a mixture of zine, journal and workbook made of recycled and original materials. Take in all the little bits and pieces included in this zine and see the hidden potential. Inside you will find collage items, images, original rubber stamp designs, fabrics and inspiration.

Check her blog entry to see more photos and read more description of this zine. She’s going to list 20 for pre-order on her etsy shop.

I have been the lucky recipient of one of Alma’s zines and I can’t tell you how amazing they are!

Dec 7

Feel like reading a zine?

“Bookstore Thief” By Carrie M.
Half Size / 20 pages
$3 at

This zine is the story of a bookstore and the night it got robbed, as well as some bookstore-related anecdotes and info. Interesting writing of a harrowing situation makes this zine worth picking up!

“Christmas Digest 2008” By Diane and Katin
Half Size / 56 Pages
$5 at

This is Sister Diane‘s family’s annual holiday zine, and it is super-interesting (just like all her endeavors, in my opinion!). I’m a huge fan of Diane’s and this zine is a great holiday read, with craft and cooking projects, holiday info and anecdotes, and other non-holiday but interesting articles. The covers are custom-altered with a star cutout and the liner papers are gift wrap that peeks through the hole. Just one of the delights that awaits you in this fun zine! Oh, and did I mention there’s a thread running through the zine that refers to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? Oh yeah.

Nov 10

We are now printing again, and CROQ Zine, issues 1-11 are now available again in the CROQ shop and also in our Etsy shop (if you prefer that route)! We are hard at work on the long-awaited issue 12! I hope to have it out for sale (and in the mail to our subscribers) in the next two weeks!

Happy Monday!

Oct 9
scrumptious toppers

scrumptious toppers

Title: Scrumptious Toppers for Tots & Toddlers
Author: Debby Ware
Release Date: October 10th, 2008

I have admitted before that I’m not a knitter, but I have also confessed that I LOVE children’s products. I was really excited to get my hands on this book, with all its promise of cuteness overload. The image on the book should have given me a twinge of fear, though. If I would have studied it, I would have noticed the faux fleur topping the cover girl and been duly warned.

Peppermint Candy Cap

Peppermint Candy Cap

(Okay, maybe stuff from the plastic flower department of your local craft store is cute on top of a two year-old’s head. I don’t know. It’s not my cup of tea.) If I would have studied the cover image, I would also have come away with something else. The hats inside the book are bright, zesty, and full of fun. And if a toddler can’t wear a zesty chapeau, can’t nobody.

I am not familiar with Debby Ware, but Taunton’s website calls her a “children’s knits maven.” Her website displays some children’s knits that are pretty cute. She definitely has a style, and these hats fit into that style. They’re not my style, but they are pretty fun.

What I liked: Debby admits to being a designer who just jumps in and goes wherever he designs take her. I can definitely get behind that type of Auntie Mame creativity. She graciously stuck to the same types of novelty yarns for all the patterns in her book, so, as she says “buy just one skein and you’ll be set.” I love considerate designers with a mind for the every-knitter! The hats are cheery, whimsical, and fun.

Cute use of novelty yarn on the Holiday Hat

Cute use of novelty yarn on the Holiday Hat

Notable Patterns: I liked the clever use of novelty fur yarn to evoke shiny Christmas lights on the Glittery Holiday Hat.

Circles & Dots Beret

Circles & Dots Beret

The Peppermint Candy Cap is sweet (maybe I could reinterpret it in sailor blue, white, and red for my boys). Oh wait, I don’t have to, because the Circles and Dots Beret would work instead.

What I didn’t like: maybe because my tastes run more Ralph Lauren simple than Betsey Johnson crazy, there were few hats in the book that I want to make. Most of the hats have multiple colors, bobbles, zigzags and I-cord sticking out at odd places. I couldn’t really even imagine my toddler wearing any of these. (I could, however, imagine a lot of kids in my Southeast Portland kooky neighborhood wearing them!) The

Fizzle Ruffle Beanie fizzles for me

Fizzle Ruffle Beanie fizzles for me

Fizzle Ruffle Beanie really fizzled for me. What’s that on top of that adorable girl’s head?

The good news and the bad news: She uses similar techniques to embellish each hat, which is good if you are trying to practice a french knot, for example, but bad because it seems kind of repetitive. There seem to be some silhouettes that repeat in the book (to me, it seemed like she was trying to stretch one pattern into two or more by switching out the yarn colors). She uses some striking novelty materials (novelty feathers, for example, on the Black and White and Red All Over hat) that look awesome, but are totally impractical. Babies wearing a be-feathered hat will likely try to eat the feathers (that seems really icky) and my toddler, while not being tempted to eat the feathers, would pick all the feathers off the hat, rendering it extremely un-awesome.

A full view of the Holiday hat

A full view of the Holiday hat

This book does live up to its name: “scrumptious.” It’s frothy, billowy, and sparkly. Maybe it’s just the kind of book you need to inject some whimsy into your kiddo knitting.

Sep 18

If you are a zinester, sooner or later you will probably want to own a stapler that has a longer stapling range than the standard red Swingline you keep on your desk.

Here are some of your stapling options:

  • I have a standard (not heavy-duty) long-armed stapler, which I use for CROQ. It has a guard on it to ensure it staples in the right place on the booklet, and comfortably staples through about 15 sheets. It’s less than $40 from an office supply place (or $30 at Amazon).
  • I have used a saddle stapler at work, which has heavier duty staples, but you must use it with something that is already folded. In my experience, it’s difficult to fold multiple sheets of paper neatly before they are stapled, so it’s not ideal for zines (but maybe there’s something I don’t know about saddle stapling?). Pricing starts at about $80.
  • I also have a long reach electric stapler which is the size of a sewing machine and operates with a foot pedal. It makes a really loud sound (like a staple gun) when stapling, and is great if you have a big stack that you must staple (and if you have a good workflow set up, where you don’t have to move to reach the stacks and thus remove your foot from the pedal)e. Retail for that is about $600 or you can find them on eBay occasionally (I got mine for $150).
Sep 5
classic elite knits

classic elite knits

Just looking through this book is making me super-excited for fall! Autumn is my favorite season, and the shorter days and cooler weather make me want to pull out my yarn and knit up some cozy sweaters!

Title: Classic Elite Knits: 100 Gorgeous Designs for Every Occasion from the studios of Classic Elite Yarns

Release Date: September 9th, 2008

As it states in the title, this book contains 100 knitting patterns, most of which are patterns for sweaters of various types for women, men, and children. There are also a number of accessories patterns of the usual type: scarves, hats, and bags. The patterns range from beginner, easy, and intermediate to experienced, which means there is something for everyone here.

seed stitch blazer

seed stitch blazer

Each pattern is titled and then just jumps right into the instructions, with no introduction to the pattern or explanation of its name or special features. Experienced knitters are probably fine with this, but for me, a beginner, I found it to be a little disconcerting. I like to get a little bit of chat with each pattern, even if it’s just a sentence to tell me where the intriguing title for the sweater came from or why that particular yarn or colorway was chosen.

As far as the patterns go, again, I am not an experienced knitter, but I didn’t find anything that knocked my socks off as far as knitting couture or cutting edge ideas are concerned. What I did find was a nice selection of quality patterns that seem to be really well-designed. I would call these patterns “classic” for the most part. This book could have been published in 1980 or 2020 (I’m assuming it will still seem classic by then!). The patterns do showcase the yarn beautifully! I have not used any Classic Elite Knits yarn, but there are some beautiful examples in this book.

Patterns I would most like to try (or wear): Seed Stitch Blazer (nice and tailored sweater blazer – this is definitely a stand out pattern… I lied, this one did knock my socks off. Too bad I’m not an experienced knitter!) The Garter-Stitch Color-Block Cardigan has a zipper, which is fun. I don’ t know if anyone else would be into that pattern, but I can see myself wearing it.

awry cardigan - what were they thinking?

awry cardigan - what were they thinking?

“What were they thinking” patterns: The “Awry Cardigan” that is designed to look like you buttoned it up wrong… Uh, even if it was designed that way, it still looks like you buttoned it up wrong! And there’s nothing wrong with this pattern, but the photo for the Lace-Panel Vest makes the model look pregnant, which, I’m pretty sure she’s not. My mama always said: if the pattern photo makes the model (who you know is a size 2) look pregnant, STEER CLEAR!

Charming detail: There are several adult patterns that have accompanying children’s patterns (and most of the adult patterns are men’s sweaters – nothing says cuuuuute like a dad and kid with matching Cosby sweaters! Cue jazz music and dorky dad dancing here!)

cabled purse

cabled purse

Cute accessories: I love the Rainbow Scarf (but probably more just for the colors chosen than the pattern itself.) The Cabled Purse is super-cute, too, and I bet it’s a great thing to make to practice your cabling.

cat sweater and mouse skirt

cat sweater and mouse skirt

My personal favorite section: has to be the kids’ knits. You might think it’s because I’m a mom, but I think it would have been even before I had kids (Martha Stewart Kids magazine is my all-time favorite, and it bit the dust before I even had my first child!). These patterns are cute and pretty chic in a kid-in-a-sweater kind of way. They really don’t scream “my Grandma KNITS!” at all, which is saying something. I love the Cat Sweater and Mouse Skirt (there are matching socks, too, but to have a kid wear all three at once would definitely be taking it into “my Grandma KNITS” territory). The Rib Pocket Hoodie is an adorable pullover, that would look great on any kiddo, and the Large Flower Pattern Cardigan is cute for your little pre-tween (too bad there’s a matching mommy sweater… a little TOO cute).

My favorite kid pattern is the Zip-Up Sweater (wow, my favorite

zip-up stripe sweater

zip-up stripe sweater

pattern choices appear to be chosen by the hyphenated titles) which features multi-striped non-matching sleeves. Super cute, and something you would see in a kids’ boutique for $200. Another bonus is that even though the pattern uses six yarns (wowee-wow-wow!), the “pieces are worked flat but are worked on circular needles to eliminate cutting and rejoining colors, leaving ends to weave in later. Simply slide the stitches to the end where the next color to be used was left and work the next row in pattern.” I don’t actually know how to do that (the pattern is intermediate, and you know, I’m not), but it sounds easy and a lot more reasonable than weaving in millions of yarn tails.

If you are looking for a book with lots of classic patterns, look no further. If you are looking for the hippest and the most cutting edge, try another book (or better yet, a magazine, as their shorter production time allows them to get the hottest styles to you sooner.)

Aug 29

When we left you, we were talking about Tender Loving Empire and how we visited their table at the PDX Zine Symposium.

After TLE, we met a craft collective from British Colombia, Canada called Squid Inc Craft Collective. We picked up two awesome zines, “Arts & Crafts Revolution”, vols. 1 & 2, and met the author, Terri. It was great to meet them! Look for our reviews of these zines soon!

We were excited to meet Ally and Jeremy of Guapo Comics. If you come to visit Portland, visit them early in the morning for some coffee – they open at 6am!

They carry CROQ, too. In fact, they had a couple issues on the table at the symposium! Woo hoo, thank you guys for representing us there!

« Previous Entries Next Entries »