Category Archives: Reviews

Color My World

While I was in the hospital I got into “adult coloring”. The phrase sounds like you’re adding color to vaguely illicit pictures, but I mainly like to color flowers and nature things.

I kind of got a reputation as “the one that colors all the time”. I even had one doctor that would insist on seeing my coloring for the week when he would take over for his associate. Even other patients would wander in to take a look at my coloring. This was slightly disconcerting as everyone on my floor at the time was on containment—meaning we were deemed either highly contagious or highly likely to catch anything from anybody (as in my case).

As it turned out, the gift shop at the hospital has a great selection of adult coloring books. They’re one of the few places that sells spiral bound books. It makes them easy to color and you can keep them like a sketch book. And they’re reasonably priced. Now that coloring for adults is a “thing” everybody wants to charge an arm and a leg for a coloring book.

I’ve decided that when I’m back able to do more computer work, I’m going to make my own coloring book and market it. I might sell it for two bucks, just to be contrary.

But as usual, I digress.

I’ve always had a thing for colored pencils. As I got into the world of graphics to support myself, I decided I liked Prismacolor pencils above all. I like that they lay down a nice, saturated color with their waxy cores. But over time, Prismas have become extremely expensive. And the quality is going down. You glance at them wrong and the core breaks making them impossible to sharpen unless you do some work on them. But at two bucks or more for a pencil, you shouldn’t have to work on it!

While I was in the hospital, some fellow colorers and artists weighed in on their favorite colored pencils. Several people recommended Prang. I found a set of 36 Prangs for under 20 bucks and snapped it up. Even if I didn’t like them for all coloring needs, they could be useful.

I got them in the mail today. I tried one and was thinking I wasn’t impressed. It didn’t color as smoothly. I decided to give it a better chance and chose another color. Even with my beloved Prismas, some colors are “scratchy” for lack of a better term. The second Prang was great! It wasn’t as saturated in color as the Prisma but it really did color nicely! They blend well, too.

After coloring for a little bit, I noticed that they were holding a point well, too. I like to color with a sharp point, and with Prismas that means a lot of sharpening and waste of expensive pencils. The Prangs keep their point for a decently long time. I haven’t actually tried sharpening one yet, but for now, I’m thinking I might switch, if only to save some money. I don’t think Prang is open stock which is a drawback. I use a lot of certain colors (red and green) and open stock pencils let me replace those. But I can live with it. I could buy a whole box of Prang for the price of a few single Prismas.

Do any of you guys color or use colored pencils a lot? What kind do you like?


Posted by on February 7, 2017 in Reviews


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Blue-Ribbon Afghans

Blue Ribbon Afghans

Another book gift! This one contains 40+ patterns for full-sized afghans as well as baby ‘ghans. It has patterns for both knitted and crocheted projects. Many of the afghans are worked in one piece, but there are several made with motifs. One, called “Blue Star”, uses basic granny cluster stitches to create something that looks like a quilt. One of these days I WILL make it. It’s one of those where you really need to use coordinated yarn so my scraps won’t do! All of the patterns are pretty and there’s something there for everyone–cables, southwestern flavor, argyle, colorwork. It’s another enjoyable book for my crochet collection for sure!

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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Reviews


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365 Granny Squares

365 Granny Squares BookA while ago a Ravelry friend had run out of a Red Heart yarn in the middle of a project and found they’d discontinued it. I happened to have a big ball (well, it was a collapsed cake to be honest) of it and I sent it out to her.

On Friday this lovely book arrived at my door! I hadn’t expected anything in return for my yarn so this was a real surprise! This book was only recently published and is wonderful to look at. It features a wire binding that lets the book lie flat when you’re using it. It also has instructions for stitches and choosing yarn and abbreviations included.

The book actually contains 365 patterns. Sometimes books claim a high number and then you find that a lot of those are just different colors of the same pattern. (I’m looking at you, 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans.) The patterns range from easy to advanced. There are squares worked in the round and in rows. There are lacy squares and dense squares. Some have surface crochet and some are asymmetrical.

This book falls into the same trap that a lot of crochet block books do–they assume you’re going to work the squares in the colors they show you. The book is divided into color sections, ostensibly making it easier to work a batch of squares that will go together if you work within the section or use complimentary sections. But I guess it’s a nice touch if you DO use the colors they specify.

One thing that I really like is that each square is named. It’s confusing when you work out of a lot of books that have their squares numbered only. I end up with multiple squares named “Square 10” and so on. So kudos for taking the time to name each one!

I’ve really enjoyed looking at this book and can’t wait to get working on it. I could spend a whole year just working one a day out of it….

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Posted by on February 15, 2015 in Reviews


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BOOK: A Treasury of Crochet Patterns

Treasury of Crochet Patterns

I scored another vintage crochet book for my collection! It’s A Treasury of Crochet Patterns by Liz Blackwell, published in 1971. It’s 213 pages in mostly black and white. This book is put together in a confusing manner. And the “patterns” are more like a stitch dictionary than anything else. Each section is dedicated to a stitch–like DC, SC or clusters. Each one just has a number and not a name. But right in the middle of the numbered patterns, there will be a color section with patterns for squares, and those are numbered separately! All confusion aside there are some motif patterns that I haven’t seen before that I’ll be making, and many of the stitches presented are nice, too. All in all it’s well worth the $4.30 I paid for it (including $3.99 shipping).

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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Reviews


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Crochet Today!

I was RAK’ed with four back issues of Crochet Today! Magazine. I’ve been trying all sorts of crochet magazines lately, from new and trendy to vintage. I’ve decided now that Crochet Today! is my favorite. I can’t really say why. Crochet magazine is similar in style and yet it doesn’t feel “comfortable”. The high-end crochet magazines contain things that I would never even consider making. The things in Crochet Today! seem to have a nice mix of homey, stylish, cutesy and practical with an occasional “who would make that!?” item thrown in for good measure. I think I will save up and subscribe to Crochet Today! I enjoy reading it all the way through.

Do any of you have favorite crochet magazines? Why do you like them? What do you look for in a crochet magazine? I’m curious!


Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Reviews


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Another Vintage Crochet Magazine

Crochet World Feb 2000You may remember I’ve recently started picking up old crochet magazines of different types when I can find them for cheap or for free. It’s interesting to see crochet trends over the years. My most recent find is a Crochet World Magazine from February 2000. I often see people talking about everything that’s “wrong” with crochet, and this magazine pretty much embodies all of them! Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of maligning any kind of crochet. If you enjoy it, then do it. I happen to like sixties and 70s type things which makes most everyone roll their eyes. But that’s ok. This particular magazine is almost all filled with doll clothes and oddball household items like a computer monitor cover and boxes to hold your VHS tapes and cassettes. There is one pattern for a nondescript cardigan, and a couple of filet patterns, but the rest is mostly doll related. I liked the tagline on the cover: Fun Projects for the New Millennium! I’m not sure if this issue is representative of this title or not. I might buy a newer issue and see what it’s like. But if nothing else it was a fun look to the beginning of the new millennium of crochet!

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Reviews



BOOK: Carry Along Crochet

Carry Along CrochetOk. I’m going to admit it. I have a certain fondess for 60s and 70s era chrochet. Maybe it’s because that’s when I grew up. Or maybe it just reminds me of my great aunt who crocheted even more than I do! I inherited her stash of yarn when she passed on and it was an amazing array of acrylics in oranges and yellows and bright greens.

I’ve been lucky in finding vintage crochet books and magazines on Listia and my latest find is an out of print gem called “The Woman’s Day book of Granny Squares and Other Carry-Along Crochet”. A big name for a great little book. The first pattern that just brought a smile to my face was the “Girl’s Headhugger”. Does anyone remember these as a kid? It was basically just an oval shaped piece with two ties that tied under your chin and clamped that fabric right down over your head depending on how tightly your mom decided to cinch it up. But nostalgic clothing aside the book also contains plenty of things that look right in style. There’s a “Paripatetic Pouch Bag” that looks useful. (Yeah, I admit I had to look up how paripatetic related to a bag). There’s also another really nice tote worked with rug yarn. Midi skirts, berets, vests, ties–all the sixties and seventies fashions that you could want!

All kidding aside, there are some nice patterns that I will probably attempt in the near future–another jacket and a cute pullover. And yes, a poncho!!!

If you’re fond of vintage crochet and you run across this book, it’s worth picking up. My copy happens to have been a discarded library copy, so you might find it there, too.


Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Reviews


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