Nov 4

What do you think about Social Media (by which I mean social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter)? Do you use them? Have you jumped in with both feet? Do you spend too many hours a day on them? Are you afraid to dip your toe in? Do you have absolutely no use for them?

I use both Facebook and Twitter, but for different reasons. I keep Facebook mostly personal, to keep track of friends and family I know in real life (or have a pretty comfortable online friendship with). I use Twitter as an outlet for my more online crafty pursuits, sharing good craft links, links to my current online crafting offerings, connecting with online crafty acquaintences, and sharing and some personal (but not too personal) insights about my life. Follow me on Twitter — be sure to send me a note to introduce yourself!

I signed up for Twitter a couple years ago, but started using it regularly last year after Sister Diane from CraftyPod wrote about how much she enjoyed it. I now use it as a part of my everyday online crafty life.

Well, Sister Diane recently wrote an eBook called “Social Media for your Crafty Business,” about, you guessed it, using social media sites as a tool for your crafty business.

If you are looking for a hardcore online marketing bible about giving people the hard online sell, this is not the book for you. But if you’re looking for an honest and down-to-earth guide to what really works in your online social community, Sister Diane’s book is a great resource.

This book isn’t shy in telling you that old-school, traditional “broadast marketing” (think traditional one-way advertising where the marketer sends out a message to everyone and there is no back-and-forth between sender and receivers) probably isn’t the most effective way for you to use your social networking time and presence. The book will tell you how to build trust and relationships with people in your social network, and why that is the best way for you to use social networks to their best advantage in your crafty business.

Who is the book for? Those who are already involved in social networks (specifically Twitter and Facebook), or wish to be, and who have a crafty business or blog, etc. that they’d like to tie into their presence on social networks.

What will you learn from the book? General info about social networking, friends and followers, and how to provide value in the social networking space. Also, tips for using social media to its fullest, and managing your time on social networks.

What I like about it: This book has a lot of information, and a lot of good principles to think about. It will help you determine why you are involved in social networks, what you hope to accomplish on social networks, and help you make a plan for using them. Sister Diane writes in an engaging voice, is easy to read, like a friendly note from someone who really wants to help you.

Where to get it: It’s available at the CraftyPod Shop for $12.50

FTC Disclosure: Thanks to Sister Diane for providing a free review copy of her eBook for this article.

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.

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.

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 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.)

Feb 19

Do you heart felt, too? Felting (or technically, fulling) is the process of knitting with wool fibers and then shrinking the final product to lock the wool fibers together to make a unique wool cloth. I received I [Heart] Felt by Kathleen Taylor to review just in time for its release into the world today! Because I want to share the love, I am going to give away a copy of this book! To enter the giveaway, please email me with your name and address. (My email: heather AT croqzine . com). On Friday morning (Feb 22, 2008), I will draw a name and send the book to the lucky winner! Be sure to get your email in before 8am Pacific time on Friday.

I [Heart] Felt by Kathleen Taylor

One thing I love about this book is that it includes complete instructions for how felt from the ground up, with all the information a person needs to go from knowing nothing, to being a confident felter. The book contains 33 great projects that use all different types of knitting, from basic to intarsia, to fair isle, to cable. Taylor also experiments successfully with knitting double-stranded with a wool and non-wool novelty yarn (such as eyelash), and then felts them up for a really unique felted look. I have never seen novelty yarns used so impressively! (I don’t know about you, but I really never know what to do with a novelty yarn… they have a tendency to come off looking cheesy.) If you’re looking for a place to start with felting, this book could definitely be it!

Aug 29

CROQ was reviewed in the new issue (#25) of Zine World. This zine, by the way, is a great resource for anyone involved in the zine scene, or who would like to be involved.

If you are a zinester, you can send your zines for review to Zine World, too. Check their submission guidelines for details.

May 2

Here’s a review of CROQ #7 at The Feminist Review.

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