A Photographic Break

On an arch in Utah.

I mentioned in my email last week that this month has been bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Not in a tragic way, thank goodness, but in a many-things-on-fire-all-at-once way. It’s left me little time for play, and even less time for rest.

Last night, Greg shoved this photo (from our road trip last year) in my face, and it was exactly what I needed. (That, and some whiskey, The Americans, and a few minutes in my art journal before I collapsed into bed.)

Introducing the Maker Concierge!

The Maker Concierge will give you a plan for how to start making something you don't know how to make! Tutorials, classes, books, and more. It's free!


You know how there’s a fancy person at nice hotels whose job it is to make sure you have an awesome time? The concierge. They’re whom you ask for advice about fun activities nearby, or about where you can get an awesome vegetarian meal that’s accessible by transit, or what shows are playing in town.

And, kind of unrelated to that, you know how somewhere in the depths of your mind you have a fantasy about making some kind of particular thing? Maybe it’s something super special, or maybe it’s just something you’ve always had a hankering to do? But you just have no idea where to start, or even where to look to get info about starting? (Or maybe it’s just that the prospect of your fantasy even touching the edges of reality is just too much…)

Well, enter the Maker Concierge! (That’s me.)

You tell me the thing you dream of making, and I’ll make a plan for you to start making it. Not, like, a written-in-blood plan, but the kind of plan a hotel concierge might make for you if you ask them for something fun to do. I’ll send you links to a few ace tutorials, some titles of good books, some tips to get you started, and if you tell me your city, I’ll include info about local-to-you classes and supply shops if I can find them.

Easy peasy, amiright?! I told you this was going to be fun!

All I need to make your plan are your answers to a few basic questions. Answer those right here to get started!


Joy and Neighbourliness and Books All Over the World

I went to the postal depot at the end of my street today, and over tea, which Sal, the owner, insisted on making me, I sent a signed copy of my book to a reader in Latvia, and another to a library in Oregon that’s in desperate need of a new roof and can’t afford it without a massive fundraiser, of which my book will play a very small part.

While I paid Sal, we chatted about the holidays, and assimilation. I didn’t realize his family is Muslim – they do such a great job of spreading holiday cheer at this time of year. Of course, “holiday cheer” is totally Christmas. So we talked about raising our non-Christian kids (and grandkids, in his case), and how they love Santa and singing Christmas songs at school, and sharing their own identity and practices with their friends, and how we all love seeing family at this time of year because most of our relatives are off work. I realized last week that of course my Christmas-birthday kid will never have to work on his birthday (unless he decides to become a doctor or nurse, or do some other kind of work that non-Christmas-celebrators do on Christmas so Christmas celebrators can celebrate). What a gift.

Sal handed me some biscotti to go with my tea. We wished each other well, and I left with a smile and a wave.

What a lovely errand to run this morning.

Introducing the Resa Shawlette

Resa Shawlette

Every so often, some yarn touches a hook and they have a conversation about how they’re meant to be, and then they dance off into their inevitable destiny.

That’s how this design came about.

As it happens, this particular instance of kismet became a shawl that’s perfect for first-time shawl-makers and for people like me, who love them some simple, rhythmic crochet.


Meet the Resa Shawlette, a simple pattern that uses just one skein of fingering weight (or sock) yarn, and looks amazing in high-contrast colourways (also in low-contrast colourways and in solid colours).

Get the Resa Shawlette Pattern

The yarn I used for the sample is Sweetgeorgia Yarns Silk Crush in a colourway that’s unfortunately no longer available. But as I said, any fingering weight yarn at all will work (this would be a great, lower price-point option).

Resa Shawlette crochet pattern, perfect for beginners!


Yarn: 375 yards (343 m) fingering weight yarn, shown here in a merino/silk blend. The shawl is easily made larger, so you can use up every last bit of yarn in whatever skein you choose.

Hook: 4 mm (size G/6)

Finished Size: 51” (129.5 cm) wingspan and 25” (63.5 cm) depth at centre-back.

Gauge: 4 (v-st, ch 1) and 9 rows = 4” (10 cm) in pattern, blocked.


Get the Resa Shawlette Pattern

How to Write a Crochet Pattern: Kate Atherley on the Value of Professional Editing

This guest post by technical editor Kate Atherley is part of an in-depth series on how to write an outstanding crochet pattern. In addition to designing her own knitwear patterns and serving as the lead tech editor at Knitty.com, Kate has written an incredibly useful book called Pattern Writing for Knit Designers. She and I have spent considerable time discussing the particular challenges crochet presents when it comes to writing clear, enjoyable patterns.

This is the 6th post in a 7 part series on how to write an outstanding crochet pattern. The rest of the series can be found here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7. There are five posts from me, and two fabulous guest posts from Kate Atherly. 

 Crochet Pattern Pt 6 V1.0

A final step before you release your pattern into the wild is to have it tech edited. No matter how careful you are, no matter how good you are at spelling and grammar and math, your pattern needs to be looked over by someone else who knows exactly what to look for to ensure your pattern is the best it can be.

Typos do happen, and it’s remarkably difficult to proofread your own work. You just can’t read your own writing closely enough – you see what you want to see, you automatically fill in any gaps because you know what is supposed to be there. (Indeed, it’s actually pretty difficult to proofread anything… we tend to read quickly, we let our brain fill in what we know.)

Tech editing a pattern is about more than just checking the spelling and grammar – it’s also about logic and clarity and numbers.

Even the most experienced designers use an editor – in fact, the most experienced designers rely very heavily on editors. Specifically, technical editors are people (typically very detail-oriented and numerically inclined) who read through a pattern to make sure it works. There are two aspects to it: does the pattern work, and can it be worked? That is, do the instructions produce the thing that they’re supposed to: if you work the pattern stitch with the yarn stated at the gauge stated, does the scarf look like the thing in the picture? Is it the same size as listed in the pattern? And can it be worked: are the instructions complete and accurate and clear?

A technical editor checks to make sure you’ve included all the key information: yarn and hook details, size and measurement information, and complete instructions, from first chain through to finishing touches. She also checks to make sure the numbers are right. (I recently typed up a hat pattern that, due to a slip on the keyboard, told the crocheter to work a chain of 6000 stitches to start. Oops.) A technical editor can also make suggestions to improve the pattern. I rely on a technical editor to help me figure out if my explanations are clear. The instructions I write will always be clear to me because I wrote them and I know what they mean! I recently ran into trouble with instructions for creating a tassel for the ends of a scarf. I wrote that you should make sure you have enough yarn left to make tassels when you finish the scarf, but I hadn’t given any information about how much yarn was required for a tassel. My editor pointed out that without that information, my instructions weren’t helpful. Good point!

My technical editor also knows to check spelling: being a Canadian of UK origin who works for many US companies, I am hugely inconsistent about the “u” in colour!

And if your editor finds a mistake (or two or three), don’t feel bad! Rejoice! Better that your editor find the mistakes than someone who is trying to follow the pattern. Approach the edits as a way to improve your work going forward. For example, after my tassel experience I wrote up a complete and clear description of how to create tassels and how much yarn they require, and I’ve saved that for use in future patterns.

Any set of instructions needs to be checked. Cookbooks have editors, too! After all, it’s just as bad to start a hat with a chain of 6000 stitches as it would be to use 1 1/2 Tbsp of salt in a cookie recipe, when it should have read tsp.

Thank you, Kate! And a final note to say that both Kate and I work as professional editors (Kate of the technical variety, me of the prose variety), and we both hire someone else to edit our patterns and ebooks. Being great at editing doesn’t mean you can do a good job editing your own work. True story: Even though I wrote this post, my tech editor had to remind me to put a note about using American crochet terms in my pattern. She used a smirking emoticon and reminded me of what I wrote, too. Busted.

Look for the final part of the series, and the Resa Shawlette pattern, next week!

This has been the 6th post in a multi-part series on how to write a top-notch crochet pattern. The previous post was all about The Images and creating a first impression. In the next post (and last post) we talk about Pulling It All Together and the big reveal, you can find that post right here.