Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween! Part 1

This is part one of two Halloween posts. I have to wait until tonight to take photos of the kids for Halloween so that I can post them here, so while you wait, here is the Demon Halloween Cat. He's actually very sweet and afraid of people who aren't family. Matter of fact, my brother in law calls him the "fictional cat" because he said in all these years of talking about Charlie and visiting our house...he has never seen him.

Here is 2006 photo of Chickee and Chief. That superman outfit is now 5" too short on him! Wow how they grow!

I know, I know, what about crochet? Well, if you can hang in there, tomorrow's post has 2007 photo of the kids Halloween, and one of them will be wearing SOMETHING CROCHETED!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Have I shown you this yet?

You may recognize this little wedding cake from the Accord Pattern-A-Day Crochet Calendar, 2007. It was so fun to make! When I was done, I think I brushed it with a white glue/water solution to help it stiffen up. It's tiny, like 6" tall. It's almost Amigurumi, only it's not an animal, so I guess it's not at all like Amigurumi. The very top is a little lid and the top "layer" is a secret hiding spot. For what? Well, the ring of course!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fancy party

Sometimes, with my husband's work, we get to go to black-tie events. We had such an event this past weekend. I made this little beaded wristlet bag out of Moda Dea Beadnik for the event. The glass, is one that was my Mom's and I just love it, but rarely use it for fear of breaking it! This was taken at home before we left. The bag is just designed to be convenient to hold a beverage in one hand and shake hands with the other, or hold a cocktail plate or whatever. Because at these events, there is much time standing for cocktail hour, and it's just too hard, and not terribly graceful, to juggle everything.

Chickee took these photos of me and DH,

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Free as a bird, and other myths

I may have given you the wrong impression....I may have made you think that when I design I am completely carefree and open to the possibilities. While this is partly true, many times I design with a more strategic plan. Really, I make GOALS, then I SWATCH, SWATCH, SWATCH, then I do the MATH, and then I do the MATH, again. I make sketches and diagrams, I make 'Project Summary' form that goes in a binder to help me keep track of all my designs. I assign the design a number and a title. I put a proposal package together with all of this stuff.

But today, let's talk about goals:

I really do think about drape, size, lacy-ness vs. dense-ness, I think about how colors will sit next to each other. I think about what hardware (handles, clasps) will look best on a handbag or tote, I think about closures (buttons, flaps, snaps).

Then I think about the art stuff:

repetition with variety





negative space

forground, background depth


See, I may seem all fancy free, but really, I'm a thinker.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Real Life

I'm thinking about selling these hats on my etsy store as ready-mades. What do you think? the flowers are removable and can be pinned on a coat or sweater instead.

Do you read Real Simple magazine? I like it. At the end of each issue, real women answer a few questions about their 'real life'. Here's my answers. (I was too lazy to submit my answers to the magazine).

What's Your Favorite Feature?

Probably my eyes. They've betrayed my emotions, but they've also shown my sincerity. I can keep no secrets with eyes like I have. I'm also a licensed counselor and I once had a client who refused to work with me at the first session because my eyes were too "sharp". I didn't get to work with him, so I'll never know how much of that comment had to do with his own thinking and how much was me. My husband says I have 'cat eyes'.

What Scares You?

The usual, my kids getting lost/taken/hurt. Oh, and turning on and off the garbage disposal when my hands are still wet from washing dishes. My Step-dad says it doesn't work that way, but I'm not so sure...

Someone should Invent....

a way to make all vegetables really, really yummy, without adding fat or cheese, or butter. I would really like to like vegetables, but I just don't. (I like a few).

What amount of money would make you feel as if you were set for life?

It would have to be enough to pay off the house, buy a new car for Captain and me, pay for the kids to go to the colleges of their choice, and allow us at least one great vacation per year.

How many books have you read in the past year?

Not counting a gazillion children's books, probably at least 12, (one per month on average)

My life would be simpler if...

my kids would eat what I cook....if Jazzercise were closer to my house...if I never had to return an item to the store....

The Big Decision I'm currently wrestling with is...

How to do everything at to prioritze all the things I want to accomplish so that some of them actually get done! oh, and the clock is ticking...

Here's a photo for you...

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Remember a few days ago in my post about "Designer's Block?" I said that I just sort of trust that something creative will come out... I found this quote!

"Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work" Rita Mae Brown.

A woman of like mind! She just said it so much more succinctly!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cool Gadget: Purse mate

One of the main arguments against a crocheted handbag is the lack of pockets... but just look at this what a great idea! Now you can get a purse insert from Joey Junior, it comes in several different orientations/sizes to keep all your "stuff" organized inside any purse. It would be especially awesome for crocheted handbags! Imagine, you can have your whole wardrobe of crocheted bags, keep all your "stuff" inside this purse mate, and you can just remove the whole purse mate from the bag and put it in a new bag DAILY! With ease, you can transfer all your essentials from one crocheted bag to another. Voila'!

Above, you see my "Zippered Satchel" which was published in Spring 2006 in Crochet Fantasy. A purse mate would be a great addition to this little one-shoulder bag!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

60 Scarves all Wrapped up!

I finished my second scarf for Crocheting With Dee's 60 Scarves in 60 days challenge. Go see Dee's blog for all the details. This is the finished Bernat Glacier in lavender, knitted, scarf. It curled, of course, because it is in stockinette st. I tried to de-curl it by placing a row of sc all the way around, but that did not help. It was fun, and I learned some lessons, and Threads of Compassion got a donation, so it's all good. Isn't Chickee gorgeous?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Book Review: Designing Knitwear

Nope, it doesn't come with two Clover Crochet-Lite hooks, but it does come with a whole lot of design information. Written by Deborah Newton in 1998 for Taunton press, this book is really, really good. I found my softback copy on amazon used books. The retail price on the cover is $24.95. It's 263 pages with many color photos in addition to excellent sketches by the author (and a few others) and diagrams throughout the book.

Yes, it is a book based on Knit, but as designers, we are always changing the combination of stitches that make up the fabric of the design. Whether it be knit and purl or sc and hdc, it is still only one of many factors that go into garment design. Yarn choice, gauge, drape, the shape of the pieces, the method of seaming, all make the garment into the finished product.

She has a chapter on yarns, designing with yarns, and why that's different from designing with fabric. The most dog-eared section of the my copy is chapter 3, "Fit and Silhouette". The inventor of the "ease" chart on page 44, Deborah Newton describes how many inches of "ease" to add to a body measurement to achieve the type of fit you want. Just smart! This chapter is just magical in it's ability to communicate how body measurements are taken, where they are taken, and what to do with them! The explanation of sleeve options on page 48, 51 and 53 are a must see. I don't know if I could live without the neckline diagrams and measurements on page 56!

Are you getting what I'm trying to say? This book is more than a pretty book, it's an essential text for learning garment design.

Now, I don't think I can completely appreciate the knit/intarsia diagrams right now. I admit that I glossed over them with hardly a glance. But, as my knitting skills increase, I am sure that these sections of the book will become more treasured. For you knitters out there, you will like to know that there are actually patterns in this book as well, in addition to the lessons.

It's just a great book. The only thing that would be better is to have the book be crochet! Deborah are you out there? Do you crochet? I need to go back to Lily Chin's Crochet Couture workshop and see how they compare or if they are apples and oranges. I remember Lily's book to have more patterns with less text and Deborah's is more text with fewer patterns. I'll have to review Lily's for you sometime! (Assuming that you haven't already drooled all over your own copy).

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Now Chief, is 4. What possibly could be so important to warrant such an earnest face, even while I take his photo? Halloween of course! The subject has been a constant source of conversation for weeks. This is Chief explaining what he wants to be for Halloween. (Of course, it's actually changed a few times already). Do any of you crochet Halloween items/costumes/accessories? When Chickee was seven months old, I made her some pointy-toed booties and a funny little hat and she sat in her pumpkin/car seat while we handed out candy. I wish I had that photo on digital!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peek for you! I hope this doesn't give away too much.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Crochet in the media

Oprah's "O" magazine for November 2007 has an ad in it near page 200 for Pandora Jewelry. In the add is a close up of a lady lounging on a black/white/tan/lime green crocheted afghan! See if you can find it! You might also see if it is is on Pandora jewelry's website.

Here's a photo for you:

do you remember the fairy tale The Princess and the Pea? Do you think Charlie could feel a pea under this mountain of afghans?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Designer's Block?

Sometimes people ask me if I get "designer's block" or run out of ideas, and the answer is "no!" I have so many ideas I have to keep a list/sketches of what I want to do when I get the time. Occasionally though, I am asked to design something with a particular yarn or design a certain type of item, like a baby afghan or a toddler sweater, and I have to stop and think. Maybe I didn't have any ideas in my sketch book that would work, and I find myself with hook and yarn with no ideas.

I think the worst thing that I could do is get nervous. I don't need to psych myself out! I really truly "trust" that something will come out (good or bad) and that I will be able to spring forth from there and find something that I like (even if the editors don't!).

My first step when I am sitting with hook and yarn and no ideas is to:

just start.

Without expectations, without commitment, without a plan. Just start and see what happens. If I sort of like what I make, I'll fasten it off and set it aside to explore more. If I don't like it, I frog it and start in a new direction. Eventually, I believe something worth while will come from my time. (And it doesn't hurt to pray a little...)

Here's a quote for you:

"Amateurs wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work." Chuck Close.

or to quote another obscure source: "Just do it" (Nike, of course)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ripples Galore!

My neckroll/bolster pillow was published in Crochet World! Dec 2007, page 18. Here's my photo of it:

You might remember this sneak peek:

And great news! Crochet World is going to be adding 16 more pages to their magazine! Yay! To subscribe, click here
It's great when any crochet magazine can expand it's issues!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sneaky Peeky Spying

Sneaky Peeky Spying!

As you know, Chickee is in the first grade. Right now, her favorite books are by Barbara Park in a series called "Junie B. Jones". The one we started reading tonight is called, "Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peeky Spying". Hence the name of this post.

Look at this sneaky peek! I can't wait until I get to reveal what it is and where it can be found! It really turned into a surprising project. One where I just started with hook and yarn with no expectation of where it could lead!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A no-crochet day...

boy, I hate it when a whole day goes by and I don't get to crochet! Yesterday was that kind of a day! I was just busy with family stuff, a work party hosted at our house, cooking and cleaning. But no crochet! I just feel the day is incomplete without at least getting a few rows in!

These are birthday flowers from the Captain, Chickee and Chief. Chief thought I would like the red one. They were all gorgeous.

Friday, October 12, 2007

60 Scarves in 60 days

The deadline is creeping closer! I just resumed work on the Bernat Glacier knitted scarf. Everything is a learning process...right? This week I learned "tinking" or rather, I tried "tinking". Tinking is knitting backwards. When you make a mistake that is not a dropped stitch, you can un-knit by tinking. The thing is, I wasn't sure how to do it. I was working basic stockinette stitch and it came time to add a new ball. I have done this only once or twice before, but I managed to do it successfully...not this time. So I added in my new strand, but somewhere along the way, I continued knitting with the old strand that had like 12" still on it, but I wanted to switch yarns at the beginning of the row, and I didn't think 12" would make it all the way across. So halfway through the row, I run out of yarn, and I realize that I was knitting with the wrong yarn. So I try to un-knit the stitches that I just made, only I must not have put them back on the left needle correctly. I must have turned them or something. I did get it un-knit and I was able to salvage the row, and keep working, but it doesn't quite look right. A person who isn't looking might not notice the change in what? gauge? twist? orientation? but I noticed. I haven't decided if at the 40" mark I'm going to now start over on the scarf or keep going and chalk it up to a learning experience.
"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted". Another one of my favorite quotes, but I've never been able to find out who said it. I say it all the time!

Here's a dog picture for you dog lovers out there. I heard some distant rumbling about the presence of "the cat" but no dogs! So here is the Neph-Dog "Corduroy" with Chief (who badly needs a haircut, Chief, not Corduroy). He's my Nephew's dog. He's a great dog. The funny thing about this dog is that when you walk into their house to visit, Corduroy won't leave you alone until you bend over and let him smell your hair! It's really funny. I guess that's how he knows who you are? At first I thought it was a little odd now I find it a little endearing. He's a 10 year old border collie.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Last Warning

Also, if you have a link to my old blog on your blog, please delete the old link.

I learned a hard lesson, I'll share it with you... here it is: Never, never, never, delete a blog. It's ok to leave it hanging out in cyberspace. Us "type A" personalities have difficulty leaving things "out there", but look what can happen! Apparently spammers and other unscrupulous people hang out and wait for blogs to be deleted so they can take the address, and grab the advantage of any viewers to view their site. Blogs are free after all, so they wish to benefit from the bookmarks and links that are already in place to the site name.
Back to crochet tomorrow, really.

Warning about my old blog

Hi all, I'm sorry to bother you with this... I had another blog briefly (about 2 months) before this one, and when I got this one, I got rid of the other one. Anyway, someone has turned the old blog address into a nasty adult content site. If you have any links to the old blog in your browser, please know that I am not affiliated with that address and be warned.

yuck, you go to look up crochet and see something entirely NOT crochet.


I love quotes, don't you? And one of the best sources for great quotes is Reader's Digest. My Dad gifts the subscription for us each year, and I love it. Here's a good quote that makes me think of crochet/creativity/design,

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." by Scott Adams in The Dilbert Principle (Collins)

So True! I often say that some of my favorite designs have evolved from a mistake! whoops! oh! maybe that doesn't look so bad after all, maybe I kind of even like it this way better. And there it is.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gift Bag

My Sister-in-law is getting a bracelet for her birthday (don't tell her!). And I didn't have a nice box to put it in, and I didn't have a gift bag that was small enough... so what should a crocheter do? Crochet one of course! So I made this little pouch out of Caron Felt-It. It's small enough for the bracelet, but she can use it as a tiny purse. She likes to take walks, so she can wear it on her wrist and it can hold her keys and cell-phone (if she has little keys) and she can probably still hold the dog leash in ne hand, and a water in the other. I hope she likes it. If not, no doubt one of her three daughters will!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ogee, Oh my!

This design, I designed while playing with my kids out in the driveway, playing with chalk. We were drawing castles at our old house. Chickie must have been about 5 and Chief was 3.5 or so. And I remember doodling this one out on the concrete as I watched the kids play. It is "Ogee, Oh My" and it is a free pattern on Coats & Clark's website.

It was originally seen on NeedleArts Studio with Shay Pendray. That's Shay on the left and Kathleen Sams on the right in the photo above.

This is an alternate color scheme.
Here's the only photo I can find of the actual colors of the finished afghan, and the only photo with some detail. Sorry it's just a swatch photo.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Sneaky Peeky

It's sneak peek time! This one is especially fun, because you'll never guess what it is! It's coming soon too! Hmmm, what could it be? I love giving clues. I just love being able to share sneak peeks with you.

Editors, you know, closely, carefully guard their secret acquisitions so that when you open the publication you say "Aaahhh" or "Oh!" or "Wow!". They don't want you to run to your mailbox on delivery day and say, "oh, I've seen that!" or "that's already been all over the Internet". They work hard to get you to see the designs as what they are... red carpet premiers of the latest thing! The Internet is so much fun, don't get me wrong, but a design just seems to have so much more impact when you see it on a printed page than seeing it on a monitor. I love the computer, but I will always love the printed page more. E-zines will never take the place of the glossy pages delivered amongst the bills. A shiny indulgent delivery just for me! It's like a present when they arrive. And usually, at less than $25 for a year of a subscription, I feel it's a real bargain!

Saturday, October 6, 2007


So, I saw my step-dad the other day (Hi Dave!) and after not living in his house for, I dunno, 17 years or so, he is still bringing me my "stuff" that I left behind in my old room when I left for college. So he brought me this big rubber tote full of things that I had never seen before, and sure were never mine, but hey, he obviously doesn't want them, so I'll take it. (to be fair, some of it was mine, and I did leave too much stuff). In the tote, was this:

and this....

I have never seen these before and have no idea who made them or where they came from. I admire thread work, though I've never been terribly interested in making it myself...but I might be feeling inspired...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Crochet Kits for kids!

Look what I found! These two items are from Lillian Vernon.

This one is $19.98 and has plastic crochet hooks, plastic needles (I see a tapestry needle in the photo), 250 yds of "poly" yarn in 6 colors, and "easy" to follow instructions and a "sample square". Ages 8 and up. (But we know that kids even younger can learn, don't we!)and

This on is on the website, I didn't catch the details.

Hmmm, I wonder if Chickie would want something like this for Christmas? You can even have the tin personalized with the name! How cute!

I guess I could make up a kit myself with aluminum hooks and yarns, but there's something about having a "personalized" item that little girls love! I could crochet a felted case/bag and do a tapestry technique with her name. Good thing it's only October.

I wonder if she would rather have a "store bought" kit? Last year I offered to design her an afghan for her birthday, do you know what she chose? The Cheer Bear Care Bear blanket from the Herrschner's catalog. I made it for her. What's a mom to do?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Yarns And More

Lately, I have been buying yarns from Jean Jezior and her Yarns and More Yahoo group! You'll see the link on the right under "Great Sites to See". Well, it's not really a site, it's a group. Jean has great connections that gets us GREAT prices on Lion, Patons, Red Heart, Moda Dea, Caron, Bernat, some SWTC, etc. She can get notions, books, yarn swifts (hmmm?), pillow forms, purse hardware, hooks, mill end yarns, threads, etc. Usually, you have to order yarns in bags of 3 skeins, but that's what the "group" part in Yahoo "Group" is for. If you only want 2, and there is someone else out there who only wants 1, then you both get what you need.

Jean keeps a database for each order where you can enter in your own order! You know what you are getting and when she will place the order for the "group". Then she ships it out to each individual in a very efficient way! It's like being in an online LYS!

To become part of the "group" or to get more information, go to the link on the right of this blog page. When you "apply" to be part of the group, or to just get more info, tell Jean that you heard about her here at GoCrochet.

I have ordered from her several times now, and I've been very pleased with the prices, service, and accessibility of Jean for questions.

I ordered my Lion Organic Cotton from Yarns and More, and I ordered Mary Jane Hall's "Positively Crochet" book too, among several other items!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hank winding

How do you feel about winding hanks into balls? I find it a necessary evil, at best. I'm sure that I would enjoy it much more if I had a yarn swift, but I don't. I really don't buy/get yarn in hanks all that often so that I would really need a yarn swift. But to tell you the truth, to turn even one hank into a nicely wound, ready-to-use ball is enough to necessitate the use of a yarn swift. I have never been able to turn a hank into a ball easily. I get pretty far through the hank and then something bad happens and it no longer flows easily and smoothly. Anyway, this is a hank of Louet Merlin which is a DK weight wool/linen blend. It retails for about $17.00 per 250 yd hank. I did manage to get this one wound with the help of DH "Captain". He held my yarn with his hands outstretched, just as you would imagine a little old man sitting in a rocking chair next to me in my rocking hair. That is love.

I used the ball winder on this step stool because I don't want to scratch the furniture with it's clamp.

You may not have seen a yarn swift, here's a photo of one:

but I don't know anything at all about this company, I was just looking for a photo to show you!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

To procrastinate, or not to procrastinate!

Do you ever start a perfectly fun, interesting project and then out of nowhere you hit a wall and you don't want to go any further? Maybe you made a mistake and you can't decide if it's worth it to rip it out or not. Maybe a more exciting project came along that made you lose interest in the first project. Maybe you finished but were daunted by seaming or weaving in ends. I had one of those kinds of projects this week, but I FINISHED IT! Woo Hoo! I admit, it sat in the corner, staring at me for two weeks or so, and I knew that it was just calling out, "Ellen, you feel better if you finish me!" So, I indulged in a little procrastination (but just a little, because after all, there is a deadline). Well, I finished it and I'm happy with it and I feel better too! So in general, I'm not the type of person who procrastinates much, because you never really know what tomorrow will bring. What happens if you put off until tomorrow and then a bigger, more involved project gets added to the list tomorrow? Let's be optimistic... Then I'd be kicking myself saying, "why didn't I just do it while I had the chance!" This rule, however, does not apply to housework. That's a whole 'nother thing all together.

So, here's a sneak peek of what I just FO (that's finished off for you non-crocheters out there.) Actually, though, this is the swatch, the final project is in green. But that's it! No more clues!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Aspiring Designers?

Is there any aspiring Crochet Designers out there? I found a great quote for you:

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. " Thomas A. Edison

Wow! You never know how close you are to success! Don't give up!

PS: "I made it!" (I'll explain later, like in Spring '08)

Oh yeah, I promised you the cupcake story:

These are the first 7 cake mixes that I baked into cupcakes on Friday, until I got the revised RSVP count for my husband's company's annual picnic. Then I ran out and bought 4 more, and baked those into cupcakes. I lost track.... somewhere around 250 cupcakes! Luckily, one of the BRILLIANT women on the picnic committee said, "why not make it into a 'cupcake bar' and let everyone decorate their own!" Now, that my friends, is one smart cupcake! So that's what we did! The kids loved it, it saved me a ton of time, and the leftovers are easy to freeze!