Magazine review: Crochet Today! Nov/Dec 2009

So we're jumping right past the autumn issues of the various magazines deemed worthy of my subscription money directly into winter.  Yes, that's right, no reviews will be written for Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, Crochet Today! and Vogue Knitting Fall 2009 issues, nor for the majority of the summer issues either (except for Vogue, which was written in May).  Why?  For one thing, summer is over, and those issues are no longer on the newsstands.  As for fall, let me ask you this:  do you know how long it takes me to write a decent detailed review?  No?  Let me tell you: four hours at least; six is more likely.  We're looking at a minimum of sixteen hours to write up reviews for those four Fall issues and, frankly, I don't have that kind of extra time this week.  Therefore, I say nix to that; and hereby apologize to you, the loyal reader, for my procrastination, laziness, and lack of self-discipline in this regard.  I also promise to do better.

Okay.  Onward.  Crochet Today! Nov/Dec 2009 issue, as can be discerned from its cover, focuses on the upcoming Christmas holidays with a kitschy retro flair.

(Apparently, AMC's Mad Men is a huge influence on fashion trends these days, and we should brace ourselves for an imminent onslaught of 1960s-style bubble dresses.  Never watched the show myself.  Nor worn a bubble dress.)

In Products and News, the usual assortment of gadgets, gizmos, and accessories are presented for our perusal.  The individually-wrapped Eucalan wipes in particular caught my eye, as well as the fabric-as-reusable-wrapping-paper by Furochic (music on link alert).

Need a way to use leftover skeins and ends of yarn?  Want to donate a handmade item to a worthy cause?  Look no further.  People features the charity Heartmade Blessings, which gathers 12" afghan squares from crocheters everywhere and assembles them into blankets, or "comfortghans", for people beset by difficulties such as illness, bereavement, or some other woe.  The organization has a special program which provides these handmade blankets to the families of soldiers fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Now I know where all those yarn remnants lurking in the bottom of the yarn closet will be going.

Crochet Class makes mention of the strangest way to keep a row count I ever heard:  set out as many M&Ms as the pattern has rows, eat one at the end of each row, and when the M&Ms are done, so is the pattern.  Being round enough already, I think I'll stick to my clicker counter, thank you very much.

Reading promotes Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti.  Umm.  No.  Graffiti is graffiti is graffiti, and crocheting an antenna cozy or a pair of sneakers for tossing across overhead power lines is a waste of yarn.  Why not make an afghan square for Heartmade Blessings instead?

What's hilarious about this column is the juxtaposition of the blurb for Yarn Bombing right next to the mini-review of AwareKnits: Knit & Crochet Projects for the Eco-Conscious Stitcher by Vickie Howell.  Yeah.  Because wrapping a lamppost in acrylic is soooo eco-friendly.

Yay!  Patterns! 

On that note, I'm sorry to inform you I won't be linking to the projects on the CT website.  CT no longer maintains a complete archive of projects from back issues, so many, if not most, links would be defunct as soon as the next issue's preview goes up.  However, I will post pictures of my favorites in this blog entry.  You'll just have to jump over to CT's website to see the rest of the projects.

So.  Umm.  Yay!  Patterns!

First is the reworking of a vintage thread crochet ornament:

Twelve crocheted lace pentagons sewn together and stiffened with a sugar solution make up this oversized (approx. 5.25" diameter) ball suitable for hanging on a very large tree or any other decorative purpose.  I think several of them would look spectacular as a garland lit with fairy lights.  The pattern calls for #3 thread.  I'll use #10 for a smaller, more delicate ornament.  And because I have oodles of #10 white thread and virtually no #3.

Next is the Stitchy Gingerbread House, which is just what it sounds like: a house made of yarn with the look of the traditionally baked and decorated gingerbread house.  Utterly adorable.

See what I mean?

If I'm not mistaken I have the yarn I need for this already in the stash.  Of course, spouse will probably cringe in horror at the mere thought of a crocheted gingerbread house for decorative purposes, but I don't care.  It's too cute, and I must have it.  By the way, construction requires a cardboard "frame" for structural support, so do not attempt if you cannot cut a straight line with a box cutter. You'll also need a glue gun and glue sticks, or a fabric-friendly glue such as Elmer's.

The Retro Ripples Skirt takes your under-the-tree decoration back, back, back to the 1970s (or maybe earlier: I'm not really sure when ripple crochet became the "in" thing) in sparkly red, white, and green Red Heart Holiday.  I don't like ripples.  It's a personal thing.  Your mileage may vary.

Next up, Candy Shop Ornaments:  Tiny candy canes, peppermints, and ribbon candy look-alikes made from #3 thread to festoon your tree, or your mantle, or anywhere else that might need festooning.  Really cute.

Of course, no issue of Crochet Today! is complete without at least one afghan.  Sparkly Snowflakes makes use of Red Heart Holiday once more with its shimmery white snowflake motifs surrounded by midnight blue join-as-you-go borders.  SIDE NOTE:  I wouldn't use Red Heart Super Saver (which is what the "Holiday" yarn is) for anything other than a dog toy or maybe that gingerbread house.  Certainly not anything that would be used/worn by people.  It's stiff, scratchy, and extremely hard on the hands.  This is the acrylic yarn most people think of when they turn up their noses and say "Ewww."  Which is too bad because there are some wonderful acrylic yarns out there.  Like my beloved Bernat Berella 4.  Or Plymouth Encore (a wool/acrylic blend).  Or Paton Canadiana.

Granny hexagons, as opposed to granny squares, make up the Stuffable Stockings.  A fun look, and a fun project to use up more odds and ends of yarn. 

Your child won't drive you insane with noise on Christmas morning if you give her the Little Drummer Set.  Yes, a crocheted drum set, complete with cymbals and drumsticks.  More Red Heart Supersaver here, and this is an appropriate project for it.  The pattern also calls for lightweight cardboard and polyester fiberfill.

Oh, hey!  Clothing!  The Icicles Pullover went into my Ravelry queue upon first glance.  I even have the right yarn to use.  Oh, not the yarn called for in the pattern (Red Heart EcoWays Bamboo Wool), but a Bernat cashmere blend in pure pure white that's been sitting in my stash for about three years.  I'm not a big fan of crewnecks so I'll probably modify the neckline to a scoop or a V when I make this.  Otherwise, it's just perfect.

The Snowfall Cowl is a fluffy buttoned concoction that calls for Red Heart Light & Lofty and lots and lots of triple crochet.  Looks like it's as easy as pie and, with that yarn or one similar, should stitch up in virtually no time flat.  Great gift idea.

The magazine copy calls the Capelet Swing Cardi completely customizable.  Yes, all those Cs were deliberate.  Alliteration is our friend.  This cardigan, though, I'm not so sure.  The asymmetrically-buttoned bodice with a cowl-like collar and extended cap sleeves looks like it's part of one garment, and the mid-thigh-length flyaway swingcoat lower half seems to belong to another garment altogether.  I keep imagining it as much shorter and more fitted and buttoned all the way to the hem.  In other words, more as a regular cardigan.   Well, they said it was completely customizable. 

Snowflake Earrings.  Crocheted jewelry.  'Nuff said.

Oh hey!  Baby stuff!  The Candyland Sweater in TLC Baby Amore is a sweet treat for that special baby.  Made as shown in aqua or some other pastel, this longsleeve flyaway cardigan would be suitable for a girl; stitch it in something other than a pastel and your favorite baby boy will be dressed for church on Christmas morning. 

A granny square on steroids makes up the Cotton Candy Blanket.  Yes, it's one giant granny square in alternating colors of Red Heart Baby Clouds.  Another easy to make and quick to stitch project.

Need another quickie baby project?  Try the Gumdrop Booties.  Tiny booties with criss-cross straps stitched up in candy-colored smooth worsted make adorable (and fast) shower gifts.  You'll need decorative buttons and snaps for fastening the straps.

I'm not in Michaels nearly as often as I used to be, but every time I'm in their yarn section, I pet the yarn called for in this project:  Red Heart Moon & Stars.  I can't resist its fluffy chenille-like texture.  The Candy Store Set uses this texture to good advantage with a soft soft soft pair of mittens and matching scarf for the youngster who is too big for booties.

Ruffled spirals make up the Twirly Scarf, created by a special stitch technique which makes the fabric curl in on itself as the stitch pattern progresses.  Suitable for all ages!

The Two-Hour Hat is a basic beanie, but the ribbed single crochet stitch pattern and subtle color changes in the recommended yarn (Red Heart Collage) add visual interest.  Simple, but not boring.

The pompom at the heels elevates the Snuggly Slippers beyond the ordinary crocheted footie.  My only concern with slippers like this is the "slip" part of "slipper."  As in slipping on my tile floor and landing on a tender portion of my anatomy.  If I made these, I'd add a non-slip surface to the sole.  I believe there's a liquid adhesive of some sort made specifically for this purpose; I just have to find it.

Gifty Gloves are colorful and fun and, if the pattern is to be believed, a quick easy project.  Crocheted in sockweight yarn (Red Heart's Heart & Sole is suggested), this fingerless glove pattern also includes instructions for a full-fingered version, should the maker so desire.

Finally, to wrap up the issue, we have the Wrap-Up Afghan.  Constructed of oversized granny squares, this is another good project to make use of leftover skeins of worsted.  Just remember to unify the varying squares with an outside border of a single coordinating color. 

And that's it for the November/December issue! 

(In case you were wondering, writing this review took six hours.  It would have taken longer had I linked to all the yarns mentioned.)

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