Well everyone, you’re in for a treat this weekend! My crochet buddy Andee Graves has a new crochet book out called Texting Mitts! And not only do I get to be a part of her blog tour celebrating the book’s release, but you have a chance to win a copy too! If you can’t wait to get your “mitts” on it (see what I did there?) you can find the book at JoAnn stores and Leisure Arts website. Which is good, because as of this writing, Amazon is temporarily out of stock!
So Who’s On The Tour?
Well I’m the last stop on this week’s blog tour, but if you’d like to catch up on the others, here’s the whole list of us. A great list of crochet designers and enthusiasts you should consider checking out if you don’t already know us.
- Andee Graves, Two Hands Healing And Creative Arts
- Susan Lowman, The Crochet Architect
- Kathryn Vercillo, Crochet Concupiscence
- Jocelyn Sass of Cute Crochet Chat
- Lindsay Stephens of Poetry in Yarn
- Karen Whooley of KRW Knitwear Studio
- Ellen Gormley of Go Crochet
- Julia of Aberrant Crochet (me!)
As the last stop on the tour, I was trying to think about how I could really add to the blog tour for you and for Andee with my post. And of course, rebel that I am, I gotta do it my way anyway. And if it ain’t honestly informative, lively or fun, it’s not really my cup ‘o tea. So Andee, readers, et all, hang on for the ride – I hope you like it. Gritty or not, here we go.
First, let me share how I know Andee.
I guess Andee and I actually initially met online in the Crochet Liberation Front group on Ravelry. But getting to know her really soared later when we finally met in person at the Crochet Liberation Front’s 1st Ever Crochet At Cama Retreat.
She was funny, laid back and we’re both October babies! So we were both enjoying the crochet retreat as part of our birthday gifts to ourselves. Hers near the beginning and mine near the end. :) I liked her immediately!
I discovered Andee to be an enthusiastic crochet designer, and excellent teacher as I watched her interact with people. She has a deep background in massage as well, and she demonstrated a lot of understanding about making the most of crochet while minimizing damage to your hands and wrists and more. She gave an excellent talk at the retreat addressing carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues many crocheters face, which of course as someone fascinated with hook shapes and hand holds, I found fascinating too. Plus Andee carves hooks at home too. These aspects to her of course add to her foundation in design. The importance of caring for our hands is a subject near and dear to her heart.
Onward For The Tour: Fingerless Mittens – Why I Like Them And You Should Too
Let me tell ya – fingerless mittens are a must for me. I’ve been in business for myself for 10 years now. I started out doing shows and selling my finished goods. And many of those shows were local outdoor festivals. But while everyone else was suffering in the chill, I wore my wool cape and fingerless mittens and muffatees that were an asset to me “in the field.”
And today, while I use Square to accept credit cards at shows and use my smart phone for commerce, even at chilly indoor shows during the summer fingerless mitts can be an essential tool because smart phones don’t work without skin contact. (It happens – Central Texas where we sometimes over compensate indoors for the heat outside!)
So if you’re looking for a useful kind of gift, that isn’t really limited to just winter use, definitely consider fingerless mittens. I know folks who use them for typing at work too.
So What About The Book?
So what do I think? Well, let’s start with first impressions.
It’s been awhile since I looked over a Leisure Arts crochet book. And reading over Andee’s new book involved a colorful and visual experience I hadn’t remembered before. So, being who I am, I had to make a trip to my local craft store to thumb through the books and see if it was my imagination or not. Sure enough, I found that books more recently published by Leisure Arts were sporting a whole new design approach not found in my mother’s or grandmother’s books. It threw me a bit at first, but in analysis, I actually think it’s good.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
Colorful and color-coded text. A definite visual plus. If you like to use highlighters and colored pens in your notes, you’re going to be surprised when you see that a lot of the text is already color coded in helpful ways. One such helpful note is how all the size variations are printed in different colors in order to make them easier to find quickly when you’re working.
Visual Icons. Wherever you see a little video camera symbol like this one, it means you can go to the Leisure Arts website and watch a video demonstrating that specific stitch or technique! Now ain’t that about time!
Shopping Lists. I suppose this is something most good patterns already sport, however I do like the way they put it together, highlighting it and making it very easy on the eyes to read, complete with universal standard yarn symbols for the weight.
Easy To Read Stitch Glossary. These back pages are pretty well laid out, with clear sections, making it easy to read and find what you’re looking for.
Three Column Layout. I personally find three columns per page to be the sweet spot as far as ease on the eyes. I like it way better than one or two, which is what I usually see.
The Designs/Patterns Themselves
“Texting Mitts” offers a pretty decent collection of fingerless mittens with different stitch techniques as well as design looks to try. Whether your style is lacy, textured, casual, or tailored, you’ll find a design to suit your needs in here. Projects range in skill from beginner to intermediate. And all the patterns are designed for sock-yarn, or any other super fine lace-weight yarn. I can see that the construction for all of these is geared towards flexibility and active use. This is a plus.
If the tamer yarn color choice presented in the photos are not really your type, don’t worry, the design structure is solid for bolder, and earthier tones.
Also, if you’re wondering if this book is only suitable for making gifts for women, think again. While looking over Andee’s book my 13 yr old son leaned over and pointed to a design he’d like me to make him. (In camo or black of course.) So don’t knock it until you try it. I can’t help but wonder if it would have been a good marketing move for LA to have included a male model, even a teen one?
The two mitts pictured here are the ones that I took a little time with to try out the patterns. These are the Seashell Mitts and the Twisted Cable Columns Mitts. The Twisted Cable Columns Mitts will help you exercise your foundation single crochet (Fsc) skills. But if Fsc has you stumped, Andee has a neat little technique for you to try in the Seashell Mitt pattern. I would like to see a little more time taken to explain the round joins and beginnings when involving the cross stitch and chain 3, as there’s a step that seems to be assumed in there that someone with less experience might not be able to figure out. Also, the patterns use stars, () and  , so be sure to hit the glossary in the back to familiarize yourself with their use in the patterns upfront. And it’s clear to me that swatching is going to be important for many folks as well. I’m a more relaxed crocheter as far as stitches, so right off the bat my no-gauge test was turning out larger than it should have with the right sized yarn and hook. So do swatch for size. I would also have liked to see just one advanced pattern to ice the cake with. But that’s just me.
“Texting Mitts” is an artful book with a nice selection of design variations and is full of what I consider “crochet intelligence.” From a critical technique point of view, these designs have interest and challenge that will appeal to most crocheters. All the patterns are fingerless mitts, but each pattern brings something new to the table in design or skill. I encourage buyers to experiment with other colors and post their photos and their reviews. Overall I like the new colorful and thoughtful layouts Leisure Arts has come up with for reading their pattern books, even if it does take me a little getting used to the change in colored text. And I like the 3-column layout. I think in the long run the attention to details like this will be very helpful both as a teaching tool, and for those who have eyesight issues.
Enough! I Want A Copy! How Do I Win, Win, WIN!?
I thought you’d never ask! First off, this contest can only be open to US residents (I’m sorry, it has to be). And it’s Presidents’ Day Weekend, so I thought we’d make this a little special. To enter the contest to win a free copy of Andee’s book “Texting Mitts,” here are the giveaway contest rules:
- First, you also must be a U.S. resident with a domestic mailing address.
- Second, you should subscribe to both Aberrant Crochet (my blog) and Andee’s crochet blog.
- Then, leave a comment below, answering this fun holiday trivia question: “If you could make a pair of fingerless mittens to give to any president in U.S. history, who would they be for and why?”
(Answers do not technically have to be rational, but must include the name of a U.S. president in history.)
- Include your email and website/blog (if you have one) in the comment form. (Emails are not viewable by the public.)
- Winner will be chosen by Random.org!
My answer to the trivia question? I would totally make a pair of fingerless mittens for President Abraham Lincoln and Founder Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t ever president of the United States, but he was a diplomat who traveled the world and he spent time out there in a storm with a kite! And Abraham Lincoln? All that writing, lawyering, giving speeches and leading a country during one of its darkest times. I bet some fingerless mittens would have been appreciated by them both. And Abe as movie legend in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter? Wielding a pen in congress and an ax in battle? I bet some fingerless mitts would have comforted sore hands after a long day of saving the world!
OK, so now how about you?