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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review of Broomstick Lace Crochet + Giveaway!

Designer and Author Donna Wolfe proudly showing her book!
See my interview with Donna and info on the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post.
The first thing that caught my eye when I saw this book were the pretty colors on the cover. I'm intrigued by the book because I've never seen a crochet book based solely on Broomstick Lace. I have a collection of over 300 crochet books and magazines, which includes vintage as well as modern contemporary books. I learned to do broomstick lace many years ago but all I ever made with this easy to do unique method was a scarf so its great to have a whole book of projects! You'll love it!

Donna has come up with at 20 different projects including accessories, a skirt, little girls ballerina dress and a darling baby outfit. I would say the skill level on most of these are easy enough for a beginner but others will be challenging enough if you've been crocheting for many years!

Patterns for these projects include how to make an infinity scarf, a pillow cover, boot cuffs, tote bag, baby sweater, baby hat and booties to match, an evening bag, a cell phone case, a skirt (or swimsuit cover), a wide headband, a lacy wrap/scarf, fingerless gloves, a hoodie scarf, a dishcloth (or hot pad), a ballerina dress for a child, a blanket, a triangle kerchief scarf, a slouchy hat and a valance curtain. Each project can be adapted to custom fit a larger size such as the cell phone case being made larger to fit a tablet or laptop cover, a larger or smaller tote bag or a longer, wider scarf made into a wrap.

All the projects are unique but I think my favorite is the pink baby sweater, hat and bootie set shown above. It is just adorable and one of the cutest baby pictures I've ever seen! I also love the triangle kerchief scarf at right. Most items I've seen over the years are made from squares or rectangles and this is unique in that it is a triangle. You could easily make it into a larger triangle shawl or make 2 of them to form a poncho shape which would be seamed at the shoulder. I designed a triangular poncho in a book I did in 2005 this exact way. It's 2 large triangles with the lover's knot stitch sewn together to make the poncho. You can make a short or long poncho this way.

The patterns are written so that they are easy enough for anyone to understand and there are numerous, colorful “how to” photos with detailed instructions for anyone learning this for the first time. If you've dabbled in broomstick lace in the past, you probably already know the story of how it got started by using a broomstick to form the stitches, but in today's times, most people would use a very large knitting needle and a crochet hook for this craft, as Donna shows in the book. 

I think Broomstick Lace would be the perfect craft to get a young girl started on. Just think of all the fun and bonding you can have with your daughter or granddaughter. And if you're a crochet instructor, this is a great way to get others introduced to crochet.

The author, Donna Wolfe, has come up with a book that I think will be around for years! She's been able to fill a void in the crochet community with her ideas and patterns. Well done and good luck on the success of this unique book!

To see all the projects go to Donna's website here: 
Other Free Patterns here:

Interview with Donna

1. Mary Jane - How long have you been crocheting and how did you get into designing professionally?
Donna - I have been crocheting since I was 5 years old, which would make that about 37 years. My grandmother insisted I learn to knit, crochet, sew, embroider, quilt, bake, cook, garden, and do many other hands-on things at a very young age. In her world, crochet wasn't really viewed as a fancy art form per se. Instead, it was a very useful skill everyone should know early on so you can make hats, scarves, blankets and baby booties for friends and family.

2. Mary Jane -  What are your favorite items to design and what is your all time favorite?
Donna - I started designing on a  professional basis around 2000. At that time the Internet was becoming more photo-intensive, as opposed to the text-based service most of us used since the late 80's, and I began displaying my work online. As you well know, when people see something they like online, the first question they ask is, "Where can I find the pattern?" My initial pattern writing was actually quite complex - I enjoyed the intricate lace patterns that took 25 rows just to complete one motif. However I soon realized not everyone is accustomed to working with size 5 crochet thread and directions that take up 10 pages. Instead I focused on creating patterns that are relatively easy and quick to make, yet have an interesting visual flair to them. And these types of written patterns are much easier to film for my YouTube videos. YouTube tutorial videos open up the world of crochet to many more people, most especially the younger generation.
Mary Jane - I completely agree Donna, that if we want to be successful as a designer we need to design patterns that are in demand!

Donna - My favorite type of items to design are those that are very meaningful to people. I designed an awareness ribbon scarf that can be made in any color (e.g. pink for breast cancer, yellow for our troops). The positive feedback and photos I receive from people wearing their pink ribbon scarf for breast cancer, or purple for pancreatic cancer, or lime green for lymphoma is truly amazing. I also like to design items for children for the holidays. There is nothing cuter than a crocheted Santa hat on a newborn baby. And these types of crochet items are guaranteed to be treasured by the recipient for years to come.

Adorable Free Patterns - Click Here
3. Mary Jane - I read book about how your grandmother taught you to do hairpin lace. Is this your favorite technique or do you have other favorite stitches too?

Donna - As far as stitches, I have a love/hate relationship with the half-double crochet stitch. You will find that I use it quite often in my patterns, especially when I need to fill an area with stitches rather quickly. It creates a nicer, softer drape than the tighter single crochet stitch, yet it doesn't create the large spaces and holes like the double crochet stitch. But for some reason I have a heck of a time actually crocheting it! And yet I continue to use it in my patterns, because it's one of the nicest stitches, visually speaking.

As far as techniques, one of the common denominators you will find in my early YouTube videos is I demonstrated all of the more unique crochet techniques, including broomstick lace, hairpin lace, solomon/love knot, tunisian crochet, etc. I don't have a favorite technique, but tunisian crochet interests me the most. The stitch variations, many of which look like knitting, and visual effects you can create with tunisian (like picture blankets) is just mind-boggling. I really need to design more patterns using tunisian crochet.

4. Mary Jane - What are your interests other than designing? Hobbies, talents, collections?

Donna - If you were to poll 100 of my Facebook friends, 90 of them know me as a fiber artist. However I have spent almost 25 years in the IT/computer world. My main occupation is a business consultant specializing in the tech industry, and I also teach IT-related courses at colleges. This background sure has helped with using photography and video editing software, designing my website, and using all the social media outlets to promote my work.

5. Mary Jane -  How do you manage your designing career and deadlines with a family? I
More Free Patterns!
didn't start designing till my kids were grown and on their on and I 

know it would have been difficult for me back then.

Donna - I am very fortunate to have a lot of help with my kids, with a huge portion of the credit going to my parents. It also helps that I am a late-night owl, and can get more work done between the nice quiet hours of 10pm and 1am than most office people do during their not-so-quiet 8am to 5pm workday.
Mary Jane - We must be kindred spirits Donna! I also do my best work in the evening! It's amazing how much more I can get done when everyone else is asleep!

6. Mary Jane - What is your proudest accomplishment in your career?

Donna- In my fiber-art career, achieving over 7 million views on my "Basic Crochet" video on YouTube definitely made me smile. Good thing I paid close attention to all the chains and single crochet stitches Gram had me make. It's too bad my grandmother isn't alive today to see the impact she has had on so many people around the world.
Mary Jane - Wow! I am amazed at that! I know your gram would be so proud of you! 

7. Mary Jane - What is your next crochet venture? What are you working on?

Donna - Right now I am focusing on designing more free patterns and making corresponding YouTube tutorial videos based upon the requests I have received from current viewers. I have over 120 items on the request list. That should keep me busy for quite some time!
Mary Jane - I'd say so! Thank you Donna, for a very interesting interview and especially for your beautiful book! I'm so happy I found you and hope this post helps to spread the news!

See some videos with Donna below!

Marie from Underground Crafter runs a podcast show, so I did a Broomstick Lace podcast for her online article:  http://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2016/01/12/guest-post-donna-wolfe-tells-all-about-broomstick-lace-and-her-new-book-broomstick-lace-crochet/

My editor at Stackpole asked me do a YouTube video on the Broomstick Lace book, which they give to their distributors to link to and such:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJX9gA6h9dA

                               BROOMSTICK LACE CROCHET GIVEAWAY!
To have a chance to win this book in this GIVEAWAY, all you have to do is leave a comment saying you'd like to be entered. I will leave this contest open for 2 weeks from today and then I'll choose a winner. Please leave your info because when I've done a giveaway in the past, I could not contact the winner because she didn't leave her info. I had to chose another person, and that's what I'll do here if I'm not able to contact you. 


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