Lately I’ve been more careful about purchasing craft books. We’ve moved into a smaller house and there just isn’t room. But I never pass up the opportunity to use a new stitch dictionary. So I was thrilled to hear that one of my favorite designers (and best designer buddies) Robyn Chachula was publishing a new one: Crochet Stitches VISUAL Encyclopedia). I wanted to hear all about the making of a stitch dictionary first-hand, so I asked Robyn if she’d consent to an interview. You can read the result:

1) Tell me a little about how the project came about. Have you always wanted to write a stitch dictionary?

ROBYN: Wiley approached me about writing an encyclopedia to fit into their new line of “Visual Encyclopedia” books.  They were not sure what to include, but wanted a large book filled with pictures and diagrams.  For me, I always wanted a chance to compile all my favorite stitch patterns, motifs, tips, and tricks into one book.

2) How did your narrow your field–what criteria did you use for choosing stitches? Did you get to play a lot and invent new ones? If so, what did you like more? Making up stitch patterns, or cataloging existing ones?

ROBYN: To be honest, I wanted to include every type of crochet I know.  So I started at the beginning with simple stitches and worked my way out.  I wanted cables, pineapples, grannies, edgings, filet, color, on and on.  What I ended up doing is trying to have at least 3-4 of every type of crochet I know.  I say that because I know there is a ton more versions and types of crochet that I have not even discovered yet.  Once I brainstormed, I came up with 9 chapters; simple, cables, lace, weird lace, Tunisian, color, grannies, flowers, and edgings.  We originally were working with 350 stitch patterns, so I tried to shove into each chapter a few of every technique I could think of.  Like in the lace chapter, I divided it in to chain space stitch patterns, cluster sp, shell, pineapple, and waves.   Then I looked at designs of mine to see if I could pull from those first, then I headed to my antique pattern books from the turn of the century, I then headed to 60s and 70s pattern books, then to foreign (mainly Japan, Ukraine, and Belgium); and finally swatched.  I pulled from so many sources since I really wanted a well rounded stitch dictionary.   In each chapter, there are some classic, some foreign, some antique, and some new stitch patterns.  I have to say the hardest part was not getting sucked into the fun of crocheting everything in any pattern book I was looking at, or coming up with 10 times the amount of patterns I needed.  There are many chapters that I cut a ton of patterns because I was coming up with 100 flowers, when I only needed 25.

3) What yarns did you use for making swatches and how did you choose it? Did you have help crocheting all the swatches? (Not counting toddler and canine help!)

ROBYN: I got a mix of yarn from acrylic (Red Heart Soft Yarn and Eco Ways) to wool (Cascade 220 Sport and Naturally Caron Country) to Cotton (Cascade Pima Tencel and Lion Brand Cottonese) to luxury (Blue Sky Alpaca Silk).  I wanted to have a number of fibers on hand, because as you know different fibers show off different stitch patterns.  I knew I needed a lightweight animal yarn for the cables, and a shiny plant yarn for the lace.   I wanted a large palette of colors for the color stitch patterns but also to make the book look more interesting.

I did have help crocheting.  A lot of help.  I only had 9 months from when I start to when it was published.  As soon as I finished a diagram I would send it off to a crocheter.  In the end, I probably crocheted about a third of the book.  It was really hard since I had to be really tough on what I could use in the book; since these little swatches would be what others used to make sure they did the patterns correctly. It was amazing what 350 stitch patterns really look like.  The boxes where huge.  I sent them in in 100 batches and it took me all day to catalogue and photo them.

4) I was fascinated by the names of the stitch patterns. I know some of them are traditional, but you clearly got to make some up. Did you have a method, or did you just pick names that sounded cool?

ROBYN: That was one of the hardest parts of the book.  I pulled from every resource I could think ok.  I used Victorian names in with antique snowflakes, I used eastern European names in the Brussels lace, I used African towns in the color work patterns.  Basically if the pattern reminded me of a time period or place, I would either use Proper Names or Places associated with it.  And when all that failed I named them after my family or names we had on our baby list of names.  Man, I thought coming up with Elianna was hard.  That was nothing compared to this.

5) There are many great uses for a stitch dictionary. How would you especially like crocheters to use the book?

I would love crocheters to use the book anyway they want.  Use it to learn a new form of crochet, use it as inspiration in their next project (by crocheting a bunch of the grannies and joining them into an afghan, or taking an edging and adding it on a fleece blanket, or using a Tunisian color pattern to make a woven shawl), use the tips to make their current projects even more wonderful.  I just hope they grab the book and hook (and yarn) all in one swoop.  These patterns are meant to be tested out and crocheted, so I hope they enjoy it enough to get stitching.

Thanks so much Robyn for taking the time to chat!

Which brings us to the final exciting part of this post. Robyn’s publisher, Wiley, has agreed to give away a copy of the book to one reader of this blog. Leave me a comment sharing how you like to use stitch dictionaries, and I’ll pick a winner on 10/20/2011.

A New Stitch Dictionary! An author interview and giveaway

46 thoughts on “A New Stitch Dictionary! An author interview and giveaway

  • October 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm
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    I have a favorite style of beanie I make frequently.  I don’t have a pattern, I just start stitching.  I would use this new crochet dictiionary to jazz up my basic beanies and make them really special!

  • October 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm
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    I use stitch dictionaries to improve my crochet skills and try something new.  I love seeing how the written instructions and pictures translate into something colorful and textured.  I use dishcloths or scarves to try out new stitches, maybe an afghan for motifs.  Eventually, I’d like to figure out the science behind shaping, then I may bravely try a new stitch to design my own garment. 

  • October 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm
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    I loved reading about Robyn’s new book and how she came up with everything. I am addicted to stitch pattern books and use them to create new designs. I really want this book and can’t wait to see the new stitch patterns! 

  • October 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm
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    I love to use stitch dictionaries as inspiration! I get so many good ideas for my own designs through other peoples designs! I’m so excited to get my hands on Robyn’s take on a stitch dictionary!

  • October 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm
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    For when I’m jaded, to refuel my crocheting engine.

  • October 13, 2011 at 9:50 pm
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    So true, Swapna–they’re great for simple inspiration!

  • October 13, 2011 at 9:50 pm
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    That sounds like fun, Karli! I love it ANYTIME someone tells me they’re making something without a pattern.

  • October 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm
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    Kacy–I love that you create “practical” swatches. It’s one of the things I often urge my students to do. Good for you!

  • October 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm
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    In my opinion stitch dictionaries are the most versatile of handbooks.  They can be used as a reference for a stitch you don’t know, or can’t remember how to make.  They can inspire you to create something new, and they are also great to absently flip through.  It’s amazing what you can create from one stitch, and stitch dictionaries help to broaden our knowledge of our craft, and inspire us to try new things, and travel less traveled roads.  Stitch dictionaries are the king of the craft books because rather than showing us what a project will end up being, they show us where it can begin. 

  • October 13, 2011 at 10:36 pm
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    I love stitch dictionaries! The more the better and one by Robyn would be the cat’s meow 🙂

    MariAngel (rav id)

  • October 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm
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    I always work without a pattern when I crochet so I always refer to stitch dictionaries to create my designs. Very excited to hear about a new one and especially pleased to hear thought has been given to how the samples look; I have one stitch dictionary where every sample is made in the same green or yellow wool – I think they added a bit of cream for the three colour pattern. As you can imagine, its not the most inspiring!
    Thank you for sharing a very interesting article and giving us the chance to win.

  • October 14, 2011 at 2:01 am
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    I like to look through stitch dictionaries to get inspiration for an interesting ribbed cuff or to make squares for the numerous blankets I like to make!

  • October 14, 2011 at 4:09 am
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    I would love a book where all the stitches I may need to know are in one place – great refence.  In addition a book like this would provide great inspiration – it fun to look at a pattern or a stitch diagram and to “run” with it! 

  • October 14, 2011 at 5:00 am
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    I would love a copy of this book to help me come up with new scarf patterns

  • October 14, 2011 at 5:08 am
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    I love stitch dictionaries. I’d love to have a copy of Robyn’s book. I just bought a DVD she did and she’s a wonderful instructor.
    Sandie

  • October 14, 2011 at 5:57 am
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    To be honest I have not used a stitch dictionary yet.  I am very excited that Robyn has created one!  I love her patterns because her directions are easy to follow and her diagrams are so helpful when you get stuck.  I think that I would use this book most to make blankets.  Each year for Christmas I make a blanket for someone in my family.  I usually use a pattern that I find in a book but sometimes I like to look for an interesting stitch pattern and then design my own blanket from that.  This would be great for the blanket that I make for this Christmas! Thanks for the chance to win!

  • October 14, 2011 at 6:21 am
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    Well, I don’t have any stitch dictionaries! I think it might be a whole new world for me!

  • October 14, 2011 at 6:49 am
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    I love stitch dictionaries for inspiration. this one is at the top of my wishlist.

  • October 14, 2011 at 8:23 am
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    What a neat interview! I only have the perpetual knitting calender, but I like the concept behind stitch dictionaries. Right now I like to follow patterns, but using a stitch dictionary allows you to get creative by using the stitches as a springboard.

  • October 14, 2011 at 9:03 am
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    Without my stitch dictionary, I would not be able to create unique projects – I use the dictionary for everything from simple scarves, hats, dishcloths to afghans and sweaters.  As my skills grow and I branch out into other clothing I will be looking for special stitches to make each project one of a kind.

  • October 14, 2011 at 9:16 am
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    Because I am new to crochet (or returning to it after way more years than I like to admit actually) I’ve never had a stitch dictionary. I think the way I would be using this one (or any other) is to help me learn all the things I need to know in order to learn again. And really since all I ever did learn from my Mom was a chain stitch, I am sure this book would be invaluable to me since Mom is no longer around.

  • October 14, 2011 at 10:03 am
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    So far I like to look at them for inspiration, and I am starting to branch out into using a stitch from a dictionary and making something with it.  This one looks so good, too!  🙂

  • October 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm
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    I only have one stitch dictionary and I use it for ideas. It is an older book and only a small portion of it is crochet. I would love to have 300 more choices.

  • October 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm
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    This book is BEAUTIFUL!!!! I received it from Amazon.com 2 days ago and it is beautiful.

    Congrats, Robyn-you did extremely well!
    Be proud!
    Lori

  • October 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm
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    I use stitch dictionaries to learn crochet. I’ve taught myself over the last year and what I did was do the different stitches to learn how they look, what the fabric does, what it does with different types of yarn, and so on. I did the same thing for knitting..I am going to purchase this book (I doubt I will win as I never win anything, but it is fun to try). I saw a couple of exerpts on Amazon and the ones I saw were amazing, there were diagrams showing how to connect motifs too.  It looks like a great resource. 

  • October 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm
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    I use stitch dictionaries to learn new stitches and for inspiration.  I love Robyn’s work so I know this has to be a great book too!  Thanks for the chance to win!

  • October 14, 2011 at 2:32 pm
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    I haven’t use one yet.  I would use them to learn stitches and design.

    melodyj(at)gmail(dot)com

  • October 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm
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    i love stitch dictionaries..i love to take a simple pattern and search away for a fun stitch to make it different..

  • October 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm
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    I always use stitch dictionaries for inspiration when trying to come up with new designs of my own. I also refer to them when I forget how to do a stitch that I don’t do often enough.

  • October 15, 2011 at 3:53 am
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    I only have one but I often use it to make scarves. I go through until I find a stitch I think the person would like and then get to work!

  • October 15, 2011 at 9:33 am
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    I love to use stitch dictionaries to make my own patterns. This one looks like a great one!

  • October 15, 2011 at 10:00 am
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    I adore stitch dictionaries. My favorite pastime is currently browsing pinterest for inspiration, then coming up with my own spin on the item. For example, I saw a fantastic tooled leather tote that I want to reinterpret in fiber and have been looking for a textured crochet stitch to emulate the details in the leather… I have followed Robyn’s blog for several years and am constantly amazed by her designs. I can’t wait to see this dictionary!

  • October 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm
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    I love drooling over crochet patterns, especially the Japanese ones. This one seem to include many different crochet styles.

  • October 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm
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    I saw it at BN Thurs and got to be the first one to crack the spine open.  It is beautiful!!!!!  I love that it nods to traditional but then veers into modern, hip, fun and interesting.

    I love to use stitch dictionaries to make blankets, scarves, and shawls as gifts for friends, family and new babies.

  • October 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm
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    So excited for this one! Thanks for the great interview and giveaway. I use stitch dictionaries as inspiration for all kinds of things…scarves, blanket squares, even color choices. Sometimes I just like to flip through them as a breather from a pattern!

  • October 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm
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    I love that she includes so many different styles of crochet too! I am very excited for this book- and TOTALLY hope to win a copy. 🙂 

  • October 16, 2011 at 9:02 am
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    I use my stitch dictionary (only one so far, but this new one will make two, whether I win it or buy it) for inspiration and the design/making of scarves. I hope to move up to designing more complicated patterns with them too!

  • October 17, 2011 at 7:42 am
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    I just saw this book this weekend at the bookstore & it is gorgeous! It covers a lot more than just the basics (which is what I think the stitch dictionary I own does). I mainly use mine for reference, for stitches that I haven’t used in awhile. But sometimes I pull it out for inspiration on a project!

  • October 17, 2011 at 8:32 am
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    I would love a stitch dictionary.   It would be very helpful I’m sure.

  • October 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm
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    I like using stitch dictionaries for inspiration when making sampler square blocks for blankets. There are tons of stitches to choose from and it helps make each blanket unique.

    I dabble in crochet bun would love to learn more. This book would be a great jumping off point becos my stitching could be desired.

  • October 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm
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    Loved the interview! And really looking forward to this book! I would use this dictionary to help me find solutions to textures I need for my designs. I’ve got a brand new website and I crochet a wide variety of smaller products (hats, toys, etc). So stitch pattern is very important. I would desperately love to win this.

    But I am going to weaken my chances by posting this on facebook and twitter! I can’t keep this good news to myself!

  • October 18, 2011 at 12:58 pm
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    Good questions. This is a great book for any fiber artist! I like to look at these kinds of books when I design. Thanks for offering to give away this book.

  • October 19, 2011 at 5:49 am
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    I haven’t yet invested in a stitch dictionary but it looks like this will be the first… Great interview!

  • October 19, 2011 at 10:04 am
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    I have purchased a couple of stitch dictionaries, I tend to use them to teach myself new stitches. Typically, when a pattern “demonstrates” a stitch, it doesn’t give enough info for the self-taught, like me, and so stitch dictionaries are my savior!

  • November 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm
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    You’re the winner! E-mail me at aoh@ipsmedia.com with your name and mailing address so we can get the book out to you! Congratulations!

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