Book Review & Giveaway! Edward's Managerie: BIRDS, by Kerry Lord

This book is a hoot!  (Pun intended…) Let me start by saying that I’m not naturally a fan of amigurumi, but this book by Kerry Lord may change all that. Just one perusal of this beautifully designed book - dedicated to the author’s sweet little boy, Edward - has reminded me of just how much I do love birds and that perhaps this book will have me covered on more than a few Christmas gifts!


[Edward’s Menagerie—Birds: Over 14 Soft Toy Patterns for Crochet Birds

By Kerry Lord

David & Charles/F+W; $22.99]

I believe that this is an excellent book for crocheters of all levels, and that this book is very user friendly. The edging of the book is color coded for you so that you can find the design of your level easily. That said, you will want to be aware that this book uses British terms, but on page 14 all of the easy conversions are clearly explained. The instructions for constructing the various body parts of these birds are laid out very clearly and include crisp photos.


As a mother, I can really appreciate the child safe design which uses only yarn for the accents instead of buttons or other small things that can be chewed off and swallowed. This makes these beauties excellent gifts for children of all ages!


All of these critters were made using TOFT yarn (, which is the author’s own alpaca fiber grown on the farm of her home in rural Warwickshire, England named Toft.  The making of these beautiful birds led to the expansion of the colors available in this line of luxury yarn. I’ve personally not crocheted with this brand of yarn, but I will definitely be exploring it in the near future. Of course these birdies can be made using the yarn you already have in your stash, and just about any weight of yarn can be used. The larger the yarn, the larger your bird will be, it’s as simple as that!


When this book arrived, I knew which bird would be my favorite: Sophia the Flamingo! Having grown up in tropical Hialeah, Florida, a town famous for its race track where flamingos were first bred in captivity in the United States, I grew up enjoying the rare beauty of these birds. But my “crochet list” has quickly grown to include Abraham the Bald Eagle, Rohit the Peacock, Ernest the Canary, and being a Carolina Gamecock, I’ll need to add Mateo - the Cock of the Rock (although I'll name mine "Cocky" for the South Carolina mascot)!


The author has written a delight personality description to match the name of each bird, making this book even more entertaining to read! Combined with the stunning photography, this book is an excellent choice even for non-crocheters. It would easily qualify as a table top book in my home.


You can follow Kerry on Twitter @kerry_lord, and should you decide to make one of these animals, be sure to share a photo with her at #edsanimals! You can also check out her shop on-line at  


To have a chance at winning your very own free copy of this beautiful book courtesy of Interweave, please do one of the following:  "LIKE" the Bonnie Bay Crochet page on Facebook, follow "Crochetw/Bonnie" on Twitter, or send Bonnie an e-mail at and simply say "enter me!" 


Book Review & Giveaway: Quick Crocheted Accessories

I really like this new accessory book published by Interweave (Quick Crocheted Accessories: 3 Skeins or Less, by Sharon Zientara, $23.99), but it did take me a while to warm up to it. Let me explain… 

My first glance at this book was purely that - a glance. This book is a compilation of several different crochet designers, giving it a pretty wide spectrum as far as style goes. Because of this, my heart didn’t naturally gravitate towards some of the designs at first. Let’s be honest, we all have different styles and preferences, especially when it comes to garments and accessories. However, because of this variety, I think this book is an excellent choice if you are looking for a special gift to bless your favorite crocheter! While you may not see yourself making all of the designs, (who would realistically make all the designs in any book anyway??) you are sure to find several to tickle your fancy. The variety of designs also provides many new opportunities to learn new crochet skills, which I truly enjoy. 

Another plus is that these designs won’t cut too deeply into your budget since they require only one to three skeins. Even if you are using high end yarn, you won’t need much. I was able to make two of the designs using comparable yarn from my stash. Speaking of our budgets, I have heard some folks fuss about how buying a book is too expensive as opposed to buying a single pattern. As a former math teacher and a mom on a tight budget, I respectfully disagree! With the many on-line buying options these days offering deep discounts, I know that buying a book of crochet patterns is actually a much better deal! For example, if you bought this book today from Interweave’s store (only $12.00!!), that makes each pattern only 52 cents! If you adjust for shipping, that may bring the price per pattern to 60 or 70 cents at the most. That's about the cost of 2 1/2 hot drinks from your favorite coffee shop!

Let me show what I made…

The first design that caught my eye was Sharon Zientara’s Buttons & Lace Hat on page 7. I’m a fan of buttons and can be easily lured by them when shopping. I have been holding on to a set of beautiful buttons given to me by my friend Diane Irvine ( for something special. Combined with less than one hank of Cascade’s Heritage Silk, I loved the way this hat turned out! The directions were very straightforward and easy to follow. What do you think? 

The second design I chose was the Flourish Cloche. It wasn’t until I was almost finished with this hat that I realized that this too was designed by Sharon Zientara! I used some Berocco’s Ultra Alpaca on this one. I think this could be a good seller at the upcoming holiday craft fairs this fall. It would be a good use of some of the worsted weight yarn in my stash.


Some of the other designs I have earmarked in this book include the Annulet Wrap by Cristina Mershon (cover photo), and the Oblique Cowl by Beth Nielsen. The Stellina Hat & Fingerless Mitts by Terri Keller are a blast from the past using the star stitch. I still have the Layette set using this stitch that I made for my babies more than 24 years ago! I'm so glad that this book is now a part of my personal crochet collection! 

(Above) Oblique Cowl by Beth Nielsen

Stellina Hat & Fingerless Mitts by Terri Keller

You can find more of Sharon Zientra's designs here on her Ravelry page.


Celebrating Crochet at the Montgomery County Fair 2015

It's that time of year again!  I just got home from judging day at the fair and have some really beautiful things to share with you.  For many years I so loved entering my designs, but now that I'm an author of crochet designs, I've decided to step back, admire and encourage what others are doing in my community.  It truly is more blessed to give than to receive, hence I had the joy of giving two awards (which includes a monetary award) for the second year in a row! Here is the winner of the Bonnie Bay Crochet Design Award.... Congratulations to Micki Palmer!


Micki crocheted this amazing afghan using the puff (or popcorn stitch), making a Maryland crab in the colors of the Maryland State flag!  Well done Micki!  Her lovely afghan was even trimmed using the "crab stitch" (below)!

Micki Palmer (right) and me.


And the winner of the Bonnie Bay Crochet Youth Award is....Miss Lillian McSweeney! Lilly is 15 and crocheted this cute little octopus, which was beautifully and skillfully crafted.  Lilly was a student of mine a few years ago, but I honestly didn't know this was her work until after selecting it!  Congratulations Lilly!!


Here are some more entries that stood out to me today... 


One of the most exciting things for me today was to see some of my designs that others have crocheted. Some even won special champion awards! This makes me very, VERY happy!!  Congratulations Terry W.!





And last, but certainly not least, our ever faithful Crochet Chairwoman, Teresa Morse with another familiar looking design!  This too received a blue ribbon!



Book Review & Interview: Colorful Crochet Lace: 22 Chic Garments & Accessories

Book Review by Bonnie Barker

This is hands down one of the most beautiful books that I’ve been able to add to my crochet collection in a long time. Many books on the market today are very creative and artsy, but don’t contain designs I would personally feel comfortable wearing. This book is different. I immediately decided to make a design to help me to write a truer, hands-on review, but found myself stumped as to which one I would make! To date I have completed two, yet every time I peruse the book something else catches my eye.

The first design I decided to try is the lovely Haute Couture Peplum Top (book cover above), which embodies MaryJane’s Graduated Stitch Method. I was indeed surprised as to how easy it was to crochet the front and back of this top, even though I had to change crochet hooks every row. I decided I would skip counting when changing from single crochets to half-double crochets and to instead make use of a stitch marker - made from one of the hook earrings I happened to be wearing! This worked for me. This method is so easy that I would recommend this to anyone who has never left the “afghans only” crowd, or is the least bit hesitant to make a garment that really fits. Just be sure that you work in the back loop only (BLO) as you go. Also, be sure to take the time to make a small gauge swatch so that you use the correct crochet hook. I personally had to go down one hook size, so my time was well spent!

I did however, find a small glitch that needed some sizing numbers added in (on the sleeve section), but this is easy to understand and does not interfere with the integrity of the pattern in any way. These corrections can be found here.  Let me say a word about this. It is not uncommon for there to be errors in any text, which is why most publishers/authors will have what is called an “errata listing” with the corrections to these sections. These are usually easy to find just by using Google, and I would recommend doing this before beginning ANY pattern from ANY publisher. As long as we are living on this side of eternity, nothing is perfect, and this shouldn’t surprise us. I’m so thankful that this is now so easy to find the needed corrections in this age of the internet.

The second design I completed is Café au Lait t-shirt (p. 82).  This design was also easy to follow and complete!  I even made an adjustment here and there and was able to do so easily because of the clear sizing diagram provided on page 87.  The Knit Picks Comfy Fingering yarn was great to work with as well as being very economical.  


Now I would love for you to meet MaryJane Hall!


BB:  How long have you been a crochet designer? 

MJH:  I have been designing professionally since 2005. Before that, it never occurred to me even once to make my own pattern, which is surprising because I have always been creative and did just about every other craft you can think of, including sewing, quilting, country home decor, jewelry making, flower arranging plus many more! But with crochet I always followed other people's patterns.

BB:  Well, I’m surely glad you decided to write your own patterns! What influenced you to begin designing?  Can you tell us your story?

MJH:  For many years I felt a little alone as far as crochet. I didn't know anyone else who knew how so I didn't have others to get together with, but kept plugging away, making baby blankets, buntings or layettes for all the baby showers that came along. From the time I learned to crochet as a teenager I only did crochet in the winter, making hats, gloves and scarves as Christmas gifts. In 2004 when crochet came back onto the scene, of course I was excited. Ponchos were in style again and several teens and ladies from my church started asking if I'd teach them to crochet. I finally agreed in Oct 14' and we had around 30 who attended once a month. That was very challenging - trying to teach that many people to crochet at once! In fact it was downright overwhelming to me but I didn't let on and kept teaching them because I was thrilled they all wanted to learn. Even though I was excited crochet was back, I kept thinking it was just a fad and for sure it'd go out the next year or 2. I had no idea crochet would become this popular again and 11 years later, it's going stronger than ever! 

BB:  Where do you get your ideas for designs?

MJH:  I watch runway shows, and keep up with the current trends through fashion magazines and the web. But then, I can be anywhere and get an idea for a design. My family and friends laugh at me when I see a design in common things such as in iron scrollwork, a melting ice cube, printed fabric, doodling and even in nature. Sometimes I can't go to sleep at night because I have an idea in my head and the only way I can go to sleep is if I get up and do a sketch before settling down to sleep.

BB:  Do you have a favorite technique you enjoy using in your designs?

MJH:  I've tried everything from cables, Tunisian, hairpin lace, broomstick lace, but I rarely use those. I probably use my signature Graduated Stitch Method of making garments and accessories without increases or decreases quite a bit. There are 4 designs in the new book made with that method.

BB:  Yes, I enjoyed completing the Haute Couture Peplum Top using this method and found it so easy to use!  You do use a variety of yarns in the designs in your new book.  Can you tell us about what draws you to particular yarns?  Do you have an all-time favorite yarn or fiber?

MJH:  My favorite yarns are ones made from bamboo, silk, mercerized cotton, linen, sugar cane or blends of those. I like them because of the sheen, defined stitches and they are easy on the hands. I've never really liked yarns that have fuzz, so I'm not crazy about wool, but there are some nice wool yarns that have a blend of the other fibers. Some of my favorite yarns are Cascade Ultra Pima cotton that comes in many gorgeous colors, Panda Silk fingering by Crystal Palace, Malabrigo (beautiful color blends), Be Sweet Bamboo, and SMC Egypto Cotton fingering because it is super soft!

BB: Can you tell us why you chose to write a book on crochet lace?

MJH:  I love anything Victorian from fashions with big hats and beautiful long dresses to houses with beautiful scrollwork in the doorways, swag curtains, lamps, claw foot tubs, rose tapestry rugs, furniture and dishes. In fact I have Victorian lace all over my home and was fortunate to live in a mansion-like Victorian home, completely furnished when I first got married. The furniture was larger than life with a headboard that almost touched the ceiling! I love anything with ornate scrollwork in fences or furniture and I especially love Victorian gazebos. I would love to have lived in that time period as my ancestors did. It's not quite the same but since lace has become so popular in garments I wanted to take advantage of this time and create my own crochet lace garments. I presented 44 original projects, and believe me, I had such a hard time trying to narrow it down to 22. There were a couple of my favorites that didn't even get started and will have to be saved for another book!

BB:  I personally love the color selection for your book!  Were these all your choices or a publishing team choice?

MJH:  Thank you Bonnie. I was able to choose my colors and had them approved by the "team" at Interweave. It was difficult to find the right yarn, in the right weight, with the right fibers, with colors I really wanted in the book. It took me 2 months to find all the yarn I needed and I still didn't find every color I wanted. 

BB:  Do you have a favorite design in your new book?  If so, which one and why?

MJH:  I believe my favorite design is the Haute Couture Peplum Top, because of the way it fits at the waist, the feminine peplum and the fact plum is one of my favorite colors. The book makes it look like a magenta or fushia, but it's really a medium plum color - not quite as bright as what the book shows, but I still like the color!

BB:  Would you recommend this book to a beginner?  If so, do you have any recommendations as to which designs would be the best ones to try first?

MJH:Most of the projects in the book are at an intermediate level but there are some easy enough for a beginner. They are the Walk In The Park Capelet (mostly chains and dc) and the Amelie Shawl, which is also meant to be a head scarf, neck scarf and a hip scarf. The Haute Couture Peplum Top main body is definitely for a beginner and uses my Graduated Stitch Method without having to use increases or decreases, but then the peplum with the pineapple stitches would be considered intermediate. I don't believe there are any advanced projects in the book, and you need to know I like doing anything easy. That's what a lot of people say about my designs - they are easier to make than they look.  

BB:  I love the dedication in your books, and this one is no different.  Would you care to elaborate on why you do this?

MJH:  I grew up in a Christian home and it's easy to take that for granted, but when I became an adult I developed more of a "relationship" with God over seeing Christianity as just a bunch of do's and don’ts. I take my relationship with God very seriously and try to live it everyday. He created us and is longing to have a relationship with us. I don't see how anyone could ever not want to have Him in their life, guiding them to make the right choices and right paths to walk down. I could never live without God and don't understand how anyone can, so I give Him the glory for everything good in my life. He has really blessed me for that!

BB:  Thank you MaryJane!  I truly wish you the very best!


Here are the additional stops on this tour:

 Colorful Crochet Lace Book Blog Tour Schedule

  1. Knit Crochet Craft – Vickie Howell (Mary Jane will be Vickie's guest blogger that day, kicking off the tour 8/4)
  2. Outstanding Crochet – Natalia Kononova (review and promotional giveaway 8/5) +photos of her project
  3. Bonnie Bay – Bonnie Barker (review, interview, and promotional giveaway 8/6) She's making a project
  4. Crochetville – Amy Shelton (she'll show the Au Naturel Top she made, review, promotional giveaway 8/7) Amy made the Au Natural Cropped Top and will share her picturesj
  5. My Little City Girl – Alla Koval (she'll show the Juliette Scarf she made , interview, and review 8/10). Alla made a project which she will share.
  6. Yarn Thing Podcast – Marly Bird (author interview podcast 8/13)
  7. Hook & Needle Designs – Lisa Gentry (8/14)
  8. GoCrochet – Ellen Gormley (review and author interview) (8/17)
  9. Turquoiz Blue – This is Crochet - Turquoiz Blue (8/18)
  10. Cute Crochet Chat – Jocelyn Sass (review and promotional giveaway 8/19)
  11. Hot Lava Crochet – Tammy Hildebrand (interview, review, and promotional giveaway 8/20)
  12. The Crochet Architect – Susan Lowman 8/21
  13. Crochet Renee – Renee Rogers 8/24



My Newest Leaflet "Bags and Backpacks" is here!


After many months of waiting, I can finally share with you some really fun and quick designs to finish out the summer! The leaflet Bags and Backpacks is published by Leisure Arts and is soon to be available in craft stores and on-line. You can pre-order your copy from Amazon here. Included is eight new designs: totes, technology covers, 2 backpacks and a Celtic cabled messenger bag. Several are made using 100% cotton yarn.

One of the backpacks features a stitch that I an really excited about: broomstick in the round with BEADS! You can watch free instructional Youtube videos to help with this leaflet including this technique here. Or, you can find the video you need to help you with any of the stitches that may seem challenging on this site (in alphabetical order) under "videos".



Here are some more photos of the designs...


Technology covers can be sized to fit your device...





This is one of my personal favorites...a backpack trimmed in jeweled beads!  I used paracord for the straps and love the way it turned out.  You can vary the color of paracord to contrast with the color of the bag.