Crochet Like You Knit It

When Robyn Chachula asked me to be part of her book, Unexpected Afghans, I jumped at the chance.

For the record, WHENEVER Robyn asks me to do anything I jump
– I love her that much!

I love working both with Interweave AND with Robyn, so this project was a no-brainer for me!

My own contribution to the book is called “Croises” – a nod to the fact that the design element I chose was cables that resembled the knit version, but are worked using long post stitches in crochet.

It’s a much easier technique than one would think, and simply involves leaping down several rows with your hook to grab onto an existing stitch and working from there.  Think of it as rappelling with yarn.

Anyway, I loved working up this project, I loved making the cables and even more I LOVED working with the lovely, simple greenish-grey Brown Sheep yarn (Lamb’s Pride Superwash) that showed the texture so beautifully!

The design is both charted and written out (but try the charts, you’ll surprise yourself at how simple they actually are!) and here’s what I wrote in the pattern for a good tip to consider while working up the piece:

It may not be popular, but the best tip I can give is to create a SWATCH and practice the front post stitch. If you’re not used to it, it can be a hard technique to handle over a large number of stitches. By chaining 20–30 stitches and playing with the technique, it will make sense much more quickly.

My idea of photographing it with folks’ feet sticking out, as if the afghan was in use in someone’s house, was nixed.  Dang.

The photo below was one I took in my own house before sending the piece off to be photographed by Interweave.  That USPS Priority Mail box in the background is placed there to lend authenticity.

Crochet By Way of Faye*!

I learned to crochet YEARS before I learned to knit, and in many ways it remains my go-to hand craft (especially when traveling, crochet travels so well!)

There are a lot of great crochet guides out there, many stitch dictionaries and ‘designer favorite’ patterns and motifs.

I’ve got the best one in my hot little hands, though!

To me, Robyn Chachula is the Alexander Borodin of crochet design.  Allow me to explain…

Crochet is Robyn’s love, her passion, but it wasn’t what she was trained to do.  Robyn didn’t imagine herself as a crochet designer as she was growing up (who does?)

Never Known to Crochet

Robyn was trained and worked as an architect and sort of backed into crochet design, and I am very glad that she did!

Like Borodin (a chemist and composer), Robyn (an architect and designer) is occupied with math, numbers and patterns found in nature.

Unlike Borodin, Robyn doesn’t need to ‘play sick’ to find time to crochet.  Right now it seems her problem may be finding time to do anything else!

Robyn’s Visual Encyclopedia is so much more than a compilation of stitch motifs.  Yes, there are the basic color work, lace work and texture stitches, presented very clearly in photography AND in FABulous charts.

But this stitch dictionary has SOUL!  You can feel the gears turning in Robyn’s mind as she crafts some of these lovely motifs – her thinking process is non-linear and very exciting.

I’m well known as a kind of a chart enthusiast, and I LOVE the charts in this book!  They’re clear, they’re easy to read, and they’re intelligently drawn.  I’d like to stress that I DID read this book for the articles, too! 

Actually, there aren’t articles per se, but there ARE written instructions for every motif, so folks who aren’t entirely comfortable with charts aren’t forgotten!

I have a few go-to motif dictionaries that I return to over and over.  Often this is a habit, I fall into using a book because I have become familiar with the layout, or I’ve practically memorized the table of contents.

I have a feeling that THIS wonderful compendium will be taking the place of several of my current stitch dictionaries!

I’ve written and rewritten this next sentence to make it more poetic, but there’s no need; everything I want to say about Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia is contained in the following 8 words…

If you like to crochet, get this book

*for those who may not know, Faye is Robyn’s wonderful German Shepherd!

Baby Blueprint Crochet

I’ve been quiet for more than a week, my reason is not-great health and maybe a touch of laziness.  And, ironically, being very busy with submissions and figuring out patterns for a few upcoming designs.

I’d write in detail about the designs, but they’re for various publications that frown on my disclosing salient details before they do, so I’ll keep mum.  I hate this, I love to write about my process, but I also know it’s important to play by the rules sometimes.

What I CAN write about is the most wonderful baby book for crochet that I’ve read.  Ever.  I know that’s saying a lot, and I don’t mean to disparage any other great kids/baby crochet books out there, but this book knocked my socks off.

I was prepared for that – Robyn Chacula is, to my mind at least, one of the most inventive and creative designers out there.  I love her work, and I adore her as a person (in full disclosure Robyn is a good friend of mine, but even if I didn’t know her from Adam I’d recognize this as a book that anyone serious about crocheting for kids should own!)

And at $15 from Amazon, Baby Blueprint Crochet: Irresistible Projects for Little Ones would make a wonderful AND well-priced gift for anyone you know who crochets.

Excellent Illustrations

Symbol Key

As usual with Robyn (and Interweave Press), the how-to section and illustrations are magnificent.  Even a new crocheter could make many of these great designs, and they’d grow into a more experienced and adventurous crocheter.

The explanations of stitches are great, and even better is the use of the crochet symbol chart on the inside flap of the front cover.  How clever to know that everyone uses that flap to mark their page, and to use that knowledge to make the chart reading a bit easier.  Bravo, Robyn!

Long-time crocheters will see things here that will make them grab their hooks before finishing the chapter.

Fair Isle Crochet

For example, the use of crochet to create what has been until now a traditionally KNITTED motif is pure genius.  It’s presented in a very concise way, and there’s just enough of the colorwork to make the piece interesting without forcing the crocheter into a daunting proposition.

Robyn assumes that her readers WANT to make intelligent garments, and that they WANT to learn to become better crocheters.  Anyone I know who crochets falls into both of these categories, and that’s one thing that makes this book so refreshing and exceptional.

Robot Love

One of Robyn’s goals is to make her garments ‘parent proof’ – meaning the garments are as easy to care for and put on the child as they are beautiful.  As a mom, I really appreciate the extra thought that has gone into the details like explaining how to secure snaps into the crocheted fabric.

Sculptural crochet is delightfully represented using charts, and even though I don’t have a baby in my life I think I’m going to have to make one of the tiny flying elephants.  The robot is pretty darned cool, too!

1st Down

The kids are, as most kids in craft books, adorable and charming.  I was especially struck with the form of this fellow and I’m wondering how long until the Vikings sign him up.

All in all I highly recommend Baby Blueprint Crochet ( and you still have time to get one for a friend – or yourself – for Christmas!)