Crochet, Lace Making

Homespun Comfort Shawls

crochet shawls

This review has been a bit delayed, but that has turned out to be a good thing. I like to be able to include my own photos when I am doing a review and the delay has allowed me to use much better ones than I had originally intended.

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

This book of “Comfort Shawls”, made using Lion Brand Homespun yarn, is very relevant for me at the moment as we are in the middle of winter here in New Zealand. As with previous Leisure Arts books I have reviewed, I was again very impressed with the range of different styles included in this book. There should be something to appeal to everyone.

Homespun Comfort Shawls

The pattern I was drawn to when I first looked at the book was the “Broomstick Lace Shawl” (the third photo above). I had heard of this technique before but had never had the opportunity to try it out. Fortunately one of our local yarn suppliers had the Lion Brand Homespun yarn on sale just when I needed it, this being the reason that the delay was a good thing for me.

IHomespun Comfort Shawls had originally planned on getting a light colour for my shawl, but was really taken with the wonderful rich colours in this darker one. While I still love the colours, I have found this yarn a bit of a challenge to work with. The dark colours and the boucle effect of the yarn make it difficult to see and count the stitches, particularly the setting up chain stitches, so it required a lot of concentration at the beginning. Having said that, I really like the way the garment is turning out, and the lovely soft, warm feel of it.

The instructions in the pattern I am using are very clear. I have found a bit of discrepancy between the instructions and some of the diagrams given, but I have found that sticking to the instructions has produced a good result. The book contains clear instructions and diagrams for all the patterns as well as a number of stitches and techniques, for example fringes.

This yarn and these patterns are a lot different to my usual projects, but I have enjoyed the challenges and learning some new techniques. For more pictures of these lovely shawls please check out the Leisure Arts website.


Crochet, Knitting

Crochet and Knitting Proven Stress Relievers

Crochet and Knitting Proven Stress Relievers
A knitted or crocheted tote is something a lot of people simply walk past in tourist shops or push to the back of their closet most of the year. This is not the case in my family. Knitting and crochet have always been a big part of my grandma’s life, and I never really knew why until last week.

For every holiday my grandma would give her grandkids a knitted or crocheted tote along with another little gift. I think she knew I didn’t really use them, even though I always hung one on the back of my door like I would need to use it at any time. Grandma said she made so many that she didn’t need them for herself. I think she always hoped I would start getting interested in crochet or knitting just like she did when she was my age.

I volunteered to drive my grandma to her knitting and crochet club last week, without realizing it was over half an hour away. She walked up to the car with her usual knitting and crochet tote and supplies in tow. We had time to kill, so we naturally started talking about her knitting club meeting that day. She told me how she first began knitting and crocheting and why she continued to keep the hobby for 62 years and counting. She said that with all the stress in her life from working and raising three kids, she needed something to keep her calm. She needed anything constant that could keep her mind off of everything else that was bothering her.

I didn’t believe her at first that each knitting and crochet tote she carried somehow acted as a stress reliever. After later research online, I found out that she was actually right! Activities like knitting and crochet have a calming effect that can help manage anxiety. As a result, these activities even help medical conditions like asthma or panic attacks. Because of the stress relieving properties, knitting and crochet can also strengthen the body’s immune system.

Yesterday when I drove Grandma to her last club meeting, I saw her knitting and crochet tote and had a feeling of admiration and interest. I decided to do something I usually vowed never to do. I went into the meeting. I did go in there very well prepared, though. I looked up a Complete Beginners Guide to Knitting and Free Easy Crochet Patterns. I was baffled on my own and getting stressed just trying to figure out what all of these new terms meant.

At this last meeting I began something of my own. I made a crochet tote bag that was so easy, and I finally had a tote bag of my own for all my supplies. I finally made a bag that I’m going to actually use! After the meeting I decided that I’m going to look into some other stress relieving techniques, like a Ripple Afghan Crochet Pattern for my new apartment. Who knew staying calm and healthy could be so easy?

For even more fun knitting and crochet projects, check out! Marly Schuman is a food editor at, but has learned a lot about crafting through her experiences working for FaveCrafts too!


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Lace Making

Traditional Bobbin Lace

Traditional Bobbin Lace
All images are courtesy of Google

Bobbin lace is woven using pairs of threads wound on bobbins. A variety of designs can be woven using only three basic stitches, the half stitch, the whole stitch, and the twisted whole stitch. It is an old technique dating back to the 15th century.

Traditional Bobbin Lace Traditional Bobbin LaceThe weaving is done over a full sized pattern mounted on a pillow. Traditional pillows were either round with a flat base (cookie pillows) or cylindrical (bolsters – see left), and were stuffed with straw. Modern pillows can combine these by having a revolving cylinder in the middle of the flat round pillow (see right). This facilitates the production of continuous lengths of lace. Pillows are now often made from polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) shaped to purpose, or from other dense padding material.

Patterns are usually made from heavy weight paper or card, replacing the parchment which was originally used. They are called “prickings” because the design is perforated into the card to make it easier to insert pins as the work progresses.

Traditional Bobbin Lace

Bobbins were originally made of wood, bone, or ivory, and weighted with glass beads to maintain tension on the thread. Today bobbins are made from wood or plastic. Many still use spangles to weight the end of them. Spangles are decorative and serve to help identify pairs of bobbins.

Traditional Bobbin Lace

Traditional Bobbin LaceTraditional threads were very smooth and finely spun, and were made of silk, linen, silver or gold. Most modern bobbin lace uses a smooth cotton thread, although there are still a few linen and silk threads available.

Bobbin lace is classified by technique. Sub-classifications within these main groups are often named for the areas where they originated, for example Bedfordshire, Maltese, Genoese, Honiton, Bruges and Brussels.

Now I’m itching to go and dig out my lace pillow, bobbins, threads and pins!

Lace Making

Lace Making

Lace Making
Image courtesy of Google

Lace can be made using a number of different techniques. It was originally made using fine threads of linen, silk, silver or gold. Today it is most commonly made from cotton, although it is also possible to get linen and silk thread. Machine made lace is often synthetic.

Bobbin lace is made using a cushion and pairs of bobbins. It can range in complexity from simple edging or bookmarks, to extremely intricate pieces using large numbers of bobbins.

Lace MakingLace Making






Both photos courtesy of Google

Needle lace, as the name suggests, is made using a needle and thread. Hundreds of small stitches form the lace. Some types can be made more quickly than bobbin lace, but others take a lot longer. Purists see it as the pinnacle of lace making.

Cutwork lace includes Broderie Anglaise. It is made by removing small pieces in a woven fabric, then binding the resulting holes, or filling them with embroidery. It is related to drawn thread work.

There are two variations of tape lace. Mixed tape lace usually uses machine made tape and various needle lace fillings. Bobbin lace makes the tape at the same time as the lace.

Lace can also be crocheted or knitted. Knotted lace includes macramé and tatting.

Lace evolved from other techniques so it is not possible to pinpoint where and when it originated. In the late 16th century there was a rapid development in lace. Bobbin lace and needle lace became dominant in both fashion and home décor.

My interest lies in bobbin lace, crochet and tatting. These are the areas I will focus on, but I may look at other techniques as well. It is always stimulating to try something new.