Sunflowers Crochet Book Review, Author Interview and Giveaway

by Kathryn on May 6, 2013 · 7 comments

in Crochet Books

Post image for Sunflowers Crochet Book Review, Author Interview and Giveaway

 

All the way back in August 2012 I did a post on 7 crochet books I was looking forward to seeing in 2013. One of those was Kristin Nicholas’ 50 Sunflowers to Knit, Crochet & Felt: Patterns and Projects Packed with Lush and Vibrant Color That You Will Love to Make Sunflowers Crochet Book Review, Author Interview and Giveaway. The book is now out, I’ve enjoyed working from me and today I’ve got an interview with the author and then a giveaway of a copy of the book for you.

Crochet Sunflowers Review

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First let me say that I love the niche theme of this book which shows a bunch of different ways to craft sunflowers. There is just something so fun and joyful about sunflowers; how could you not be happy making them??! The book has instructions for both knitted and crochet motif flowers (as well as a few other garden related things, like a crochet ladybug pattern). Then it also includes 15 different knit and crochet projects, like a giant sunflower crochet pillow. I haven’t done any of the big projects, yet, but I’ve made several of the crochet motifs in the book and am really enjoying them.

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I really loved that the flowers are made primarily with simple stitches but also offer the opportunity to practice a lot of different techniques. Just in crochet a few of the sunflowers I was able to practice:

  • Crocheting in a spiral
  • Creating layered, textured pieces by crocheting one round in a front loop and one in the back loop of the same base round
  • Crochet along chains when working in the round
  • Picots
  • Color changes
  • Increases and decreases for a flower with a stuffed center

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I feel like I learned a lot about crochet flower petal design just in working a few of the motifs so this is also great inspiration for coming up with your own designs inspired by what you see here.

Interview with Designer Kristin Nicholas

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I was lucky to get to interview the designer. Here’s what Kristin Nicholas and I talked about:

Q: You mention in your intro that your family grows sunflowers. What is it that makes sunflowers special to you compared to other flowers? Do you have a good sunflower memory to share with us?
sunflower Sunflowers Crochet Book Review, Author Interview and Giveaway
Photo of one of Kristin’s real sunflowers from her blog
Kristin said: My fascination with sunflowers is a visual thing. I have always lusted after the photographs of sunflowers growing in Tuscany and the south of France. I have never seen them in person but they are stunning. We own a piece of farmland that is on a main road. One year, I asked my husband to plant a few rows of sunflowers for me. The project got a bit out of hand – each year, he tilled more land for sunflowers. I ordered more and more seeds. I discovered that there are all kinds and colors of sunflowers. I order mostly from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine. Pretty soon we had so many flowers that we set up a roadside stand (self-serve honesty based) and I picked the flowers, put them in buckets – mostly to earn back part of the cost of the seeds. Word got out. People came from all over to buy bouquets. Sunflowers became our family’s life during the summer. Planting, weeding, picking.

I started taking photos of them and posting them to my blog. The different colors and varieties were gorgeous. It was fun to share the sunflower love with my readers. Then I began knitting them. I taught classes on how to design sunflowers and other flowers. I wrote a handknitting pattern for knitted and felted sunflowers and sold it on my website. I wrote a book proposal about sunflowers and it got accepted. It all began with one little seed and some raw earth.

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Q: I am so glad that I asked. I really love learning about people’s passions and interests and how they can combine different interests with their own skills in their attempts to make a living. It’s tough to live a creative life but it’s so valuable and your story is such a great inspiration for just following what you enjoy and taking it day by day and allowing it to turn in to something.
Okay, so next question, am I correct that this is your first book that includes crochet? What made you choose to include the craft this time around rather than focusing only on knitting?

 

Kristin said: Yes, this is the first book I have written that includes crochet. I learned how to crochet when I was about 10 years old. I liked it much more than knitting when I was a kid; it was much easier and more forgiving. My grandma Frieda was an unbelievable crocheter and she helped me through the questions and problems. Somewhere along the way I fell off the crochet bandwagon. I began knitting in college and then worked as a Creative Director at a yarn company – Classic Elite Yarns. Crochet was pretty much in the doldrums during that period of time. Most crocheters didn’t use our yarn; it was natural fiber based and cost way more than the acrylic yarns that were popular with crocheters at the time. But now crochet seems to be experiencing a rebirth in popularity. The new crocheters are willing to spend more money on yarn.

 

Yes, definitely! For a long time crochet kind of had this bad reputation as the lowly sister to knitting. There were definitely people working with natural, hand-dyed organic fiber-based materials in crochet but the attention on doing so wasn’t big. These days that’s not true at all. I’ve seen several surveys that show that there are more crocheting households than knitting ones in the U.S. and also that these people are spending more money on yarn! So you did know how to crochet but you weren’t doing it for awhile … then what?

 

Professionally, I never HAD TO crochet for my job. I knew the basics and have been a casual free-form crocheter for years. When this book project developed, the publisher wanted half the projects to be knit and half crochet. (50 Sunflowers is part of a series that sells very well at chain stores like Michael’s and Joann’s and their yarn customers are primarily crocheters). They asked me if I could do it and of course I said yes. They didn’t need to know I didn’t know how to write a crochet pattern nor had I picked up a hook in years! I had faith in myself that I could figure it out.

I began with the crochet projects first because I knew that the sunflowers would naturally grow easily with crochet. They did – it was hard to stop when I reached 25. Every evening I dreamt of crochet sunflowers. When I got to the critter and bug part of the book I had to split the techniques in half. The crochet critters are the ladybug and the monarch butterfly. They were easier to design in crochet rather than knit.

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Kudos to you for having the faith in yourself to proceed forward with the project. There have been plenty of times that I was able to make a leap in my own work because I’d committed to someone else that I’d do it! I love that you said, “every evening I dreamt of crochet sunflowers”. Sounds so inspiring! So you obviously got inspired to do more crochet as you worked on this book. Do you have hopes that the multi-craft nature of the book will encourage solo crafters to try another craft (crochters to try felting, knitters to try crochet, etc?)

 

I have always been a dabbler in many different crafts. Because I am, I always assumed that everyone else dabbled too. But that isn’t true. Many knitters I know consider themselves knitters and that is the only craft they know and the only one they ever want to know.I hope knitters, crocheters and crafters start branching out into trying different crafts – crochet, knitting, sewing, embroidery, pottery, painting, quilting. It is way more fun. By learning a new craft, it always helps to bring new interest and techniques to the craft I already know. I learned how to make pottery back in 1991. When I did, it made me look more sculpturally at my knitting. Each craft informs the next you learn and vice versa. It makes them all more fun!

I definitely agree! On a more technical note, I’m not a knitter but one thing I noticed is that there are bobbles in some of your knit patterns. I love crochet bobbles and wondered what the difference is between the two?

 

Knitted bobbles are built on rows. They grow from one stitch to many in the first row and then the increase stitches are worked for a few rows and then decreased back to one.

 

Crochet bobbles are built by increasing into one stitch. I made them by inserting a longer stitch into a shorter fabric. That way they pop right out of the fabric. Crochet bobbles are also much quicker to make. I had never made one until this project! They were fun to experiment with and to add different colors in a flower with crochet bobbles – thus mimicking what a real sunflower looks like.

So you brushed up for crochet on the book and learned some bobbles. Were there any other really new things that you had to learn in order to complete this book?
My biggest challenge was learning to write crochet instructions that the tech editor would understand. Thank goodness for tech editors! I took a lot of photos as I worked so that I could relay my techniques to the tech person. By the end of the design phase, I decided I needed to learn how to draw crochet charts. It was fun to do and very intuitive. I think charting crochet is genius and that every crocheter should learn to crochet off of a chart.
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I think it’s great that your crochet patterns have both symbol charts and written instructions. I tend to have a lot of trouble understanding things in symbols because my brain just doesn’t work that way so those symbol charts aren’t something I use a lot but I do reference them from time to time and I know a lot of crocheters who prefer to work off of them. Out of curiousity, which type of pattern (written or symbol) would you be more likely to use if you were working off of someone else’s patterns?

 

When I am following someone else’s crochet pattern I tend to use both sets of instructions simultaneously. When I write instructions for crochet now, I use whichever technique (written or drawn) will be more clear to the tech editor. Sometimes I give the pattern both ways.

Okay, and finally, I know that things always get left out of books in the editing process. Were there any other projects that didn’t make it into the book that you really enjoyed creating with your own sunflowers?

Funny you should ask this question. There was one project I had such a blast making. It was sculpture made by crochet – crochet art. It was a crocheted sunflower that was made out of very thin crochet cotton. It was part stuffed, part wired. I mounted it on a wood board and painted it. I sent it off but it evidently didn’t float the boat of the editors and they nixed the project. Too bad.
Sometimes my creativity isn’t quite understood by everyone! It’s okay. I have the sunflower crochet art hanging on my porch!

Ooh, that sounds lovely! I adore crochet art and crochet sculpture so I’m sure it’s something that I’d understand. icon smile Sunflowers Crochet Book Review, Author Interview and Giveaway Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for bringing your love of crafting and sunflowers to the crochet world with this book. We’re happy to have you!

Visit Kristin’s blog: Getting Stitched on the Farm

Get the Book in This Giveaway

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Kristin and St. Martin’s Griffin Press generously donated a giveaway copy of the book for one of my readers. Want it? All you have to do to enter is spread the word. Do one or more of the followings things then leave me a single comment on this post letting me what you did and how to confirm it (for example, if you posted on Twitter share a link to the Twitter post).

  • Share any of the images in this post on Pinterest and link back to this post. Kristin and I are both on Pinterest and would appreciate your follows as well! Her book even has a Pinterest board.
  • Share this post on Facebook. Make sure to like / mention Kristin Nicolas and Crochet Concupiscence.
  • Share this giveaway on Twitter. Give the follow and @mention to @KristinNicholas and Crochet Concupiscence.
  • Let your G+ followers know about this giveaway. Mention that it’s from Crochet Concupiscence.
  • Share this giveaway on Sulia and mention CrochetBlogger on Sulia. I’m trying to spread the word about this image-rich social site since I’m one of their crochet experts so I’ll give 3 bonus entries to anyone who does this! Note that Sulia is unaffiliated with this giveaway but I do get a small honorarium for my work with them (disclosure).

Giveaway closes Friday May 10th at midnight PST. Sorry, due to shipping costs this giveaway is for US entries only. Winner will be selected at random.

Note: The real sunflower, the ladybug and the photo of Kristin came from her; the rest are photos of crochet flowers I made using her patterns from the book.

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4 comments
HicksNeunertStephanie
HicksNeunertStephanie

I shared this post on Facebook. I tried to hot link to both of your pages in the header but it did not work for some reason.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] loved doing an interview in May with knit and crochet designer Kristin Nicholas who recently came out with the great book of knit, crochet and felt sunflower designs and [...]

  2. [...] back I shared my review/ interview of Kristin Nicholas’ 50 Sunflowers to Knit, Crochet & Felt: Patterns and Projects [...]

  3. […] favorite crochet flowers I’ve made were the ones using the patterns from the Crochet Sunflowers book by Kristin […]

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