The Crochet Wildlife Guide Review + FREE Penguin Pattern + Giveaway!

I am so excited! I love showing off a great book to you… and there are so many goodies! Keep reading to grab a FREE download of the Chinstrap Penguin by Philip Ha (aka Sir Purl Grey) AND enter to win a digital copy of the book, The Crochet Wildlife Guide.

The Crochet Wildlife Guide

You may have heard me say this before on the blog, but I get a lot of amigurumi books across my desk and for many of them, I say, ‘oh, ok. This has some cute patterns.’ And it ends there.

And I’ll admit it, my books are among them.

Much of the bare-bones nature of many books you see is completely driven by the publisher’s desire to save money. Cute illustrations? You have to pay an illustrator for those. Step-by-step detailed instructions? Nope. That takes too many pages. Fancy shaping techniques? Oh, no. That doesn’t appeal to a wide-enough audience.

For a crocheter who wants extra information either because they’re a beginner (and need the help and explanations) or are adventurous and want to try something new (hence, needing explanations of new and complicated stitches), this formula can be very frustrating.

Needless to say, when a book comes to me that breaks the mold, I jump out of my chair with glee!

The Crochet Wildlife Guide

The Crochet Wildlife Guide is a self-published book by Philip Ha and Jeff Wiehler, and the book is filled with creative crochet ideas and an artist’s touch. I was impressed by the coverage of basic crochet techniques as well as detailed instructions and illustrations for each animal.

The Crochet Wildlife Guide bird

Each project contains a diagram (as shown above) that allows you to see each piece and how they are put together. These photos are often what takes a good pattern and makes it amazing and easy-to-follow. (It’s why I include step-by-step photos in all of my individual patterns… no matter how many words you have, sometimes, you just need a photo!)

I was also enchanted by the darling illustrations in the book (including this table of contents).

The Crochet Wildlife Guide table of Contents

The patterns included in the book walk the line perfectly between wildlife-realism and kawaii cuteness. Amigurumi like the red panda on the cover, have little details so the animal is instantly identifiable and unique, but not fussy and still cute with wide appeal.

The book also includes a table of the skills required for each pattern. This is such a great idea… you can identify the project that’s just right for you!

The Crochet Wildlife Guide difficulty levels

Throughout the book, the authors emphasize places where you can become your own designer, by highlighting small changes you can make or pointing out the design techniques used to create a particular shape.

The Crochet Wildlife Guide Bat

The photography, with animals photographed in nature, is lovely as well.

The book is available for purchase in digital or print form, from The Crochet Wildlife Guide website or from Amazon.

FREE Chinstrap Penguin Pattern

Free penguin crochet pattern

Phillip and Jeffrey have given us a pattern that didn’t make the book for FREE so that you can get started on some crochet cuteness right away!

Click here to download the pattern:  Penguin pattern by SirPurlGrey

Happy stitching!

Quick Crochet for the Home Review + Giveaway!

Yes, you have a chance to win this book until July 28, 2017! Keep reading for details on how to enter!

I’ve known Tamara Kelly of Moogly for years: she’s a delightful (and fun!) person and a total powerhouse in the crochet world. Moogly is known for amazing crochet tutorials, Crochet-a-longs and fabulous giveaways, and has an astounding following.

So, when I found out about her new book, Quick Crochet for the Home, I suspected it would be good!

Good news. I was right! It’s fabulous!

We all like a quick project… but sometimes ‘quick’ equals ‘Easy and boring thing with big hook’. Not true at all in this case!

I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting the stitch patterns and color combinations used in this book are. Take a look at this pillow:

Look at that stitch pattern! And the fun color-blocking! It looks complicated, but Tamara’s done a lot of crochet patterns for beginners, so she knows how to design patterns that are both interesting and totally approachable.

I would say the patterns in this book are for an ‘adventurous beginner’. So, you don’t want most of these to be your first or second project (for those, I recommend beginning with amigurumi!), but the patterns in this book definitely have a firm grasp on ‘explaining the details’.

What do I mean? We’ve all followed patterns that make lots of assumptions, and it’s easy to get lost, even if you have a little experience under your belt. Not this one! I was delighted that even small pattern notes, such as ‘ch 1 at beginning of row is not included in stitch count’, are included. Those are the tiny things that are often omitted from patterns- turning a simple-ish pattern into a nightmare for beginners.

Check out the shaping on these placemats… so fun, right?

Ooh, and this bathmat! Lovely!

The back of the book contains a glossary with a definition of each stitch used in the book, including illustrations for nearly all of them.

That afghan! That basket!

I loved seeing all of the creative textures used in this book, including a few patterns using front/back post double crochet.

This book is a great pattern collection for a crocheter looking for fun and approachable projects, but also interested in learning a few new skills and techniques. They’re fast projects that aren’t at all boring. But not too hard, either! Perfect!

Grab a copy of Quick Crochet for the Home for yourself!


Sorry – the giveaway is closed now.



Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook: Review

This book. Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook. Drool.

I saw it. And I bought it.

I don’t buy a lot of craft books. (Seriously, all of my books fit on one shelf!)

But I bought this one and love it. And I added my old cable stitch dictionary to my ‘Spring Cleaning’ pile. Because I don’t need it any more.

Norah Gaughan's Knitted cable sourcebook

(does this inside cover give you an idea of all of the amazingness inside?)

I had read a lot of amazing reviews about this book, but I’m a bit of a skeptic. I thought, ‘oh, they’re probably just saying nice stuff because Norah Gaughan is really famous’. (geesh, that makes me sound really awful, doesn’t it? It’s just that in my job, I see a lot of books.) And the cable on the cover is nice, but it didn’t make me pass out from the amazingness.

But once my book arrived I discovered that my skepticism was unwarranted. It actually IS really amazing.

The introduction isn’t very long, but it’s packed with pretty juicy information. The topics covered include:

  • Using a double point needle as a cable needle
  • Left vs. Right slants
  • How to slip stitches onto a needle & how to work the held stitches
  • Cable terminology
  • How to read cable charts
  • Tips for keeping your place on a chart
  • A full explanation of Norah’s own Stockinette Stitch Equivalent System (SSE), so you can swap different cable stitches into different patterns
  • How to fix a mistake in a cable
  • How to count cabled rows

I read the introduction and felt like, ‘Wow. That has everything I need to know.’

The cable designs (many not previously published) are just stunning. Look at this one.

Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook


Very few are this complicated… most of the stitch patterns are two notches above ‘simple’, but stunningly beautiful and hovering significantly below ‘crazily complex’. Which is exactly what you want in a stitch dictionary.

I fell in love with the Seed Rib Half Drop (#84 in the book) and cast on for a scarf immediately.

Seed Rib scarf from Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook

Isn’t it gorgeous? (The cable pattern, I mean… not my knitting!) It was so enjoyable to knit… I felt like each cable was a little piece of knitter’s candy. I just kept wanting to get to the next one!

FreshStitches scarf cable pattern norah Gaughan's

The book also contains 15 projects, which are all quite lovely and creative projects using cables, in addition to the more than 150 stitch patterns in the book.

Pullover Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook

Whoa. This book is just plain fabulous. Treat yourself.

Those links are affiliate links. That means I earn a tiny commission if you buy after clicking through. 🙂

Zoomigurumi 5 Review + Giveaway!

Zoomigurumi 5

Today I’m reviewing and having a giveaway for Zoomigurumi 5! I’m really excited about this one… keep reading for details on how to enter the giveaway.

The Zoomigurumi series is published by the folks at, which, in my opinion, is the premiere place for amigurumi patterns. The offerings are curated (giggle, I’ve even had some of my patterns rejected!), so you’re browsing through a lovely selection of both paid and free patterns by the leading designers.  There are over 22,000 amigurumi patterns on Ravelry. It can be overwhelming.

And by the way, Zoomigurumi 6 is available for pre-order! It’s your chance to get one of the first copies!

Zoomigurumi 6

The Review

All of the Zoomigurumi books are curated by the editor of… and the result is 15 amazing and adorable patterns! Other AmigurumiPatterns books (like Amigurumi Circus) are created by customer votes on submissions… isn’t that such a great idea, too?

table of contents for Zoomigurumi

I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but I’m going to say it: this book is as close to a perfect amigurumi book as you can get. At least in my opinion, anyway.

Look at all these cuties!

Zoomigurumi 5It’s a pretty thin book, only 80 pages. So I was expecting compromises. Sometimes small books skimp on the step-by-step photos. Or they don’t include tutorials on the basics, like how to single crochet or do magic ring. Or they write the patterns in a super-cramped format (like “[inc, 2] 6 times”). Or the patterns are crazy simple to keep the instructions really short. But this book doesn’t take any of those shortcuts.

inside of Zoomigurumi 5

The patterns are delightfully complex (not overly complicated, but have significant character) and the pattern pages feature step-by-step photos of advanced parts. The introduction covers all of the basic stitches and skills (with illustrations!) and the patterns are well-written and include the specific rounds in the attaching instructions.

And a beautifully illustrated table of contents and biographies of the authors! How did they squeeze it all in? I have no idea.

caterino the walrus from zoomigurumi 5

Each pattern features multiple photos of the finished object, so you can see it from every angle.  It’s truly very lovely.

Each pattern includes the yarn weight, recommended hook size and yarn shown in the sample, something that is often omitted from amigurumi books. Sometimes you really DO want to know what yarn the author used!

If you love these cuties, then grab this book. I don’t think you’ll see patterns done much more clearly in a printed book. And they’re adorable!


Would you like to win a copy? Sure you would!

To enter, just leave a comment on this page! It’s that easy! A winner will be randomly chosen on Tuesday, February 14th.

Ami Club members should have a peek at the forums for an additional chance to enter! Good luck!






Huggable Amigurumi Review + Interview + Giveaway!

Today, I’m excited to share Huggable Amigurumi: 18 Cute and Cuddly Animal Softies with you! I’ve known Shannen for a long time and I couldn’t wait to get her first book into my hands!

Huggable Amigurumi

Interview with Shannen: a behind-the-scenes peek at making the lamb

Hi there! I’m Shannen from Sweet N’ Cute Creations and the author of Martingale’s newest crochet book: Huggable Amigurumi!

When Stacey and I were talking, one cutie kept popping up: Little Lila the Lamb.

Making her was way more complicated than what I had in mind, but I was adamant on making sure that her fluffy-ness didn’t just rely on the yarn used. For this, I used a puff stitch! (Honestly, it was also because I’m not really used to using fuzzy yarn and it’s not as available in the Philippines)

The first few versions of little Lila was not good. Like it just looked odd. I knew I wanted to use a puff stitch for the body, but I never really thought of doing that for the head – quite frankly, I didn’t think it would look this weird ahahah.

Here’s a photo of how I was starting with the body. I experimented between puff stitching every round or just alternately, I ended up going with alternate rounds as seen here.

beginning of making lila the lamb

This photo is the very first version of Lila. She looks SOOOOO different from the finished version. Here, I started troubleshooting already. From this point, I saw that maybe she did need that added bit of fur. If I had to add the fur, I had to change the ears, or at the very least just switch up the positioning of the ears (which I did, I made it face front instead of down)

progress photo of lila the lamb

Here Little Lila looks more like the Lila on the cover! I added blush on to the ears, added ‘fur’ to the head, and changed up the nose to use thread instead. I actually decided to remove the weird little accessory I made (I don’t even know what I was thinking that was!)

After all those changes, here’s little Lila now!

finished lila the lamb


This book is an adorable collection of 18 amigurumi cuties! These are plush-sized animals, with most of the finished animals 9-12″ tall (when using the recommended yarn and hook).

The patterns in the book use a variety of stitches and techniques, so they will be exciting and a learning experience for a crocheter with a bit of experience under their belt. Moby whale even has some beads! 3 pages of basic stitch instructions are given in the back of the book, but I wouldn’t recommend that information for those started out: it serves more as a refresher for those already familiar with the techniques.

Most of the animals have some extra details, such as hats, a smile or accessory. These features give the animals a bit of extra pizazz, but may feel fussy for folks who aren’t a fan of attaching. The assembly instructions are just a few sentences (such as “Stuff head, arms and legs. Sew arms legs onto body.”), and do not include specific placement instructions, so you will need to closely follow the provided photos.

Exact gauge and yarn information is not included, so readers can feel free to experiment!

The book retails for $18.99, and with 18 patterns, it’s a good value if you spot a couple patterns that suit your fancy (It’s the price of 3 pdf individual downloads). The tradeoff is that the patterns are detailed and the book is only 64 pages, so there isn’t much space for step-by-step instructions. A crocheter with a couple of amigurumi under their belt will enjoy these cuties!


Enter to win a copy of the book! Just leave a comment on this page, and you’ll be automatically entered! Entries are open until noon, January 24th EST. International folks, too!

Update – Sorry! the giveaway is closed now, but you can still get the book here.

Good luck, everyone!

Children’s Books with Knitting (and Yarn!)

It’s gift-giving time! And I LOVE giving books as presents!

So I’ve compiled a list of Children’s books that contain knitting (or spinning or weaving or yarn… but it’s mostly knitting)! Not all of these books is about knitting, but yarn gets either a mention or an illustrated appearance!

Maddie of FreshStitches reading a book, recommendations for books about knitting for children

Some of these we already own… but I’ll tell you, I added quite a few to Maddie’s Wish List! Thanks so much to everyone who chimed in on Twitter and Facebook to contribute their faves!

This post contains affiliate links to amazon.

book recommendations with knitting for young children

Books for Small Children (to 3 years)

Knitting book recommendations for children

Books for Bigger Children (4 – 8 years)

Knitting book recommendations for young children

More Lists!

I’m not the first one to put together a list of books of children’s books featuring knitting! Check out these other lists!

Any I’ve left out? What’s your fave?




Book Review – Stitch Love: Sweet Creatures Big & Small

Stitch Love by the awesome Mollie Johanson

As soon as I found out that Mollie Johanson from Wild Olive was writing a book, I knew it was going to be wonderful. She’s incredibly talented and one of my very favorite designers. Everything she makes is just so amazingly CUTE!

This book is everything I hoped it would be – and more!

Let’s start with this line on the cover. . .

“Cute Kitties and Cows and Cubs and More. . . and a Yeti.”

Because Yetis! I love Yetis! I was excited before I even opened the book. 🙂

Inside there are terrific projects to sew and embroider – very simple projects that don’t require any advanced skills. I especially loved this rooster apron. . .

Rooster Apron from Stitch Love by Mollie Johanson

Look at the extra sweet detail of the footprints on the waistband!

And these reversible placemats are great!

Reversible Placemats from Stitch Love by Mollie Johanson

On one side you stitch the cute critter – like that adorable bear. On the reverse you stitch what that critter likes to eat – that sweet smiling honey pot. What a cute idea! And lots of fun for kids. 🙂

I also loved this cute furoshiki – a Japanese-style gift wrapping cloth.

Mouse Furoshiki from Stitch Love by Mollie Johanson

And that mouse? He’s shown with a birthday hat and gift, but Mollie provides patterns for a whole bunch of different hats and things for him to hold, representing all the major holidays of the year. So clever!

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but one of my favorite projects was this possum.

Possum Hanging Sachet from Stitch Love by Mollie Johanson

I don’t like actual possums. We have a really persistent one right now who keeps getting into the chicken coop to eat their food. How do I know when he’s in there? Because the chickens go into absolute panic mode. (They’re such a bunch of. . . chickens.)

But this possum sachet is adorable! I love how you loop the tail around a hanger to hang it in your closet. It’s just – fun!

So all of the projects are great. Easily doable for beginners, relaxing and fun for more experienced stitchers. Exactly my kind of projects.

But the real gem of this book comes later – in the pages and pages and pages of embroidery patterns. Over a hundred of them! And every one of them is incredibly cute! Here’s just one page. . .

adorable embroidery motifs from Stitch Love by Mollie Johanson

That tree sloth! And the baby elephant! And the orangutan! Mollie has them grouped by theme – wild animals, pets, farm animals, mountain and prairie, etc. so you really have every reason to use them in clusters.

Of course, my first thought when I see a group of cute animals is to make a quilt out of them. So that’s what I did!

I didn’t make a whole quilt – but I made a single block that can be used in a pillow, tote bag, T-shirt or anything else you want to add a dinosaur to. 🙂

Applique dinsoaurs from an embroidery pattern in the book Stitch Love by Mollie Johanson

What a cutie, eh?

I’ve got a tutorial here showing how to enlarge or reduce any digital pattern, and one here showing how to use an embroidery pattern for applique.

So if you get this book you not only get 25 sewing patterns and over 100 embroidery patterns, you also get a ton of applique patterns! What a deal! 🙂

I should also mention that the book has an excellent instructional section that details all the basic sewing and embroidery tools, illustrates the embroidery stitches used in the book and any sewing skills you’ll need for the projects. The templates for most of the sewing patterns are not printed at full size – which is usually an irritation for me – but there’s a link to get them all at full size online, which I’ll take over tracing any day! 🙂 It’s all in here!

The book is called Stitch Love and it’s terrific! Buy it! Make cute things with it! Give them to people you love and make them smile!

Happy stitching!

That's me!

Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary Review & Giveaway

I’m so excited about what I have to share with you today! I’m going to tell you about my buddy, Wendy Bernard‘s, new book and we’re having a giveaway so you can get a copy!

Wendy Bernard's book signing

(Picture from my instagram!)
It’s called Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary: More than 150 stitch patterns to knit top down, bottom up, back and forth, and in the round and it’s an amazing book! And all of the samples are knit in one of my favorite brands of yarn, Blue Sky Alpacas… and you can win some of that, too!

Keep reading for details on how to enter the giveaway!

Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary

You may be asking… why should I be excited about another stitch dictionary? What’s new about that?

Well, let me tell you.

Up Down All Around Stitch Dictionary

Have you ever been trying to work a stitch pattern and gotten stuck because you’re knitting in the round? And the stitch dictionary only gave instructions for how to work the pattern flat?

Or have you wanted to add a fun pattern to your top-down sweater and then discovered that your pattern would end up upside-down?

No more! Because this stitch dictionary has the stitch patterns written in a variety of directions! (Get it? Up, down and all-around! Giggle.)

Up Down All Around

It’s the first stitch dictionary its kind, offering up to 4 different directions in which a stitch pattern can be knit. There’s no need to do all kinds of crazy re-figuring for your particular project! And every pattern is in both written instructions and charted.

So, no matter how you like to get your stitches, it’s there!

Look what I made!

The book just turned up on my doorstep a couple days ago, but I couldn’t help but get started on a swatch right away. I fell in love with this super-cool chevron pattern in the Knits and Purls chapter:

chevron knitted swatch

The swatch is Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton Worsted, a super-lovely cotton that has great stitch definition.

The other chapters (in case you’re curious) are:

  • Ribs
  • Textured, Slipped and Fancy
  • Yarnovers and Eyelets
  • Cables
  • Lace
  • Colorwork
  • Hems and Edgings
  • Projects

Doesn’t it sound amazing?

And, the book is spiral bound so that it lays flat while you’re reading… fabulous!


Blue Sky Alpacas Up Down All Around Giveaway

Follow the Tour!

I’m just the first stop on the blog tour hosted by Blue Sky Alpacas! Be sure to follow the rest of the stops… bloggers will be sharing their thoughts, works in progress and customization ideas!

Wendy, the author of the book, is a real hoot. I had the pleasure of having dinner with her this TNNA and she’s fabulous! So, you’ll probably want to check out her blog:!

Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

Published By Abrams | STC Craft

Photos by Thayer Allyson Gowdy


Do you have this awesome design resource?

This week, I’m headed off to Stitches South and teaching a packed schedule of classes!

One of the classes I’m teaching is Designing Crochet Afghans. Since I’ve designed a few afghans in my day, I’m excited to teach other folks the tools they need to design their own!

One of the books I’ll be recommending to my students is Crochet Stitches VISUAL Encyclopedia* by Robyn Chachula.

book cover

It’s a great resource for crochet stitch patterns! I’m terrible at coming up with new stitch patterns… but with a book like this, you can be terrible and still come up with new afghan designs. Isn’t that great news? (If you’re interested in more info, click over to my review of the book)

Check out this pretty little swatch I made from one of the stitch patterns in the book:

crochet swatch by FreshStitches

Can’t you picture this as a full-sized afghan? Or this would be a square in an afghan with various squares?

The possibilities are endless!

So, check out this book… and maybe I’ll see you at Stitches South! I’ll report back with photos for those of you who can’t make it!


This post contains affiliate links. That means I make a little commission if you buy something after clicking through. All affiliate links are marked with an *.

Book Review: Beastly Crochet

As soon as I saw the cover of Brenda Anderson’s new book, Beastly Crochet, I knew there would be some cuties inside:

Beastly Crochet

But… I had no idea there would be so much other awesome stuff! Let’s peek inside, shall we?

The Beasties

You know me, I can’t resist a cute stuffed animal. (Are monsters really animals?!? Hmm… I digress.)

The thing I really love about the creatures in this book is that they feature a variety of crochet techniques. Check out ‘A Zombie named Skip’, a marionette who sports an open mouth with beads as teeth!

Crochet Zombie Pattern

The other critters (including a Frankenstein & his bride and an adorable yeti-type monster among others) feature colorwork, textured stitches, appliques and even felting (the cuties on the cover!). While there are a few patterns suitable for beginners, this book is targeted at crocheters who are looking for innovative patterns and want to add a new skill or technique to their repertoire.

The Wearables

The ‘Beastly’ part of the book is broadly construed to include: zombies, monsters, skulls, robots and myths. I was really surprised by some of the fabulous wearables in the book:

skull zipper cowl

This fun skull cowl is just one of many clothing patterns in the book. There are Sasquatch slippers, a couple great sweaters for kids as well as bibs and bags.

Seriously, how did Brenda fit all of this stuff in one book?

And more!

gnome coin purse

Look at that coin purse! Isn’t it ridiculously cute?

And this Tiki pillow:

Tiki Pillow

So clever and fun!

I particularly love the book’s section on ‘Principles of Cuteness’, where Brenda talks about eye shapes and spacing, so you’ll get the maximally cute monster!

The Verdict

With Halloween coming up, the timing of this book couldn’t be better! It contains 23 fabulous projects for anyone who loves monsters/robots/fantasy.

This book is aimed at the advanced beginner/intermediate crocheter. It doesn’t contain a lot of introductory material (so, expect to learn how to single crochet elsewhere!), but it’s packed with patterns that have great assembly/finishing information. A crocheter with a standard cache of skills won’t get lost, and will learn a bundle of new techniques and methods.

It’s a fab book! You can get it here.