Friday, February 29, 2008

Toddler Jacket REVEALED

I just found this on Caron's website as a free pattern! You can find it here It is in super-bulky yarn. My niece loved it, and she got the 3T size for her birthday. It is sized in 12 months, 2T and 3T. Shown is a 2T. If you are a Caron yarn fan, there are several new free patterns up, including some awesome things by Kim Guzman, Vashti Braha, Mary Beth Temple, Doris Chan, Tammy Hildebrand, Noreen Crone-Findlay....just to name a few!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mom's Broomstick

Basic Broomstick Lace. I think I was 12 or so, when my Mom made this one for me. I chose the colors, and she put it together. I think it was her second broomstick lace attempt, but I can't be sure. I remember my Mom crocheting, but she was also a beginner knitter and she liked candlewicking. There were a few half made embroidery projects around at various times in our lives. Between her and my Tanta Margaret (aunt), who lived next door, they taught me to crochet probably around 9. Anyway, the point is, I got this afghan out the other day. My Mom died almost 11 years ago and I was thinking how cool it is that I still have this, knowing that it was made just for me. And every inch of that yarn pulled through her fingers as she made it, just as the yarns for my kids' afghans have passed through my fingers as I dream dreams for them.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stitch markers

ee-nee, mean-ie, my-nee, Mo! Which is your favorite, I want to know! I just finished a project in which I used many stitch markers. By far, my favorite is the ones on the left, the locking stitch markers. They also make a larger size, but the little ones are fine with me. The split rings in the middle of the photo are fine, but have blunt ends that 'caught' on my yarn. The markers on the right also seemed to snag on my yarn....Yuck!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008


Here's one of my very favorite yarns... Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino, a chasmere, merino wool blend. Very, very soft.

'How do I organize my stuff' you say? Well, DH would say "you don't!" But there is a method to my madness!
Now, if I crocheted 'just for fun' I would probably organize my yarns by color or fiber content. I organize my yarn by Brand. Mostly as a designer, I rarely mix brands within a project because I have less opportunities to sell the item if it is mixed brands. (yarn company A doesn't want to buy an item that has yarn company B's yarn in it).
So I have big plastic bins with labels for each company, then I have an "other" drawer for all the odds and ends.

I keep a bin of "swatches", and a separate bin of "sold swatches"

I keep a bin of Notions.
I need more bins!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

National Craft Month

March is National Craft Month, of course that means NATIONAL CROCHET MONTH to me and you!

What are you going to do this month to celebrate? Chickee likes to draw pictures and tape them to all our windows for every holiday, so maybe I can get her to tape some crochet related things to the windows???? I know she can make massively long chains and wrap them around our banisters like garland.

How about learning a new skill for National Crochet month, or a new stitch! Oh! There's an idea!

As you can see, Charlie is into it! Don't worry, I made sure that he didn't hurt himself. Always keep pets away from plastic bags, really :(

Friday, February 22, 2008

Stitch Markers

Do you ever wish you had an endless supply of stitch markers in a minimum of 8 colors? That's me right now. More later.

Crazy Busy!

Whew! Between President's Day (the kids off of school), and a snow day on Wednesday (kids off of school), snow yesterday afternoon at rush hour, oh yeah, school's off again today. Luckily, Chickee's school has a cool system where they send out a recorded phone message to the house when the decision is made. We actually knew at bed-time last night that there would be no school today. Now, to keep the kids from hurting each other while they are bored to tears and can't go outside for more than 10 minutes at a time (with a 15 minute get dressed prep-to-go-outside and a 20 minute get-wet-clothes-off-and-mop-up-the-wet-floor), that will take care of 45 minutes of our day. Now what?

Well, there's always, Yahtzee (with real dice). Maybe I'll teach Chickee how to do Solitaire with real cards.

I'm thrilled to say that my "Sunny Spread" afghan pattern (the yellow squares one) is now the 4th most active recently published design on Ravelry. There are currently about a dozen or so people making the pattern and several more who have put it in their 'que' to do when they can. What fun! By far, seeing people interested in my designs is the best part of Ravelry!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chief and the Ball Winder

If I want to keep Chief happy and away from the permanent markers, I just need to hook him up to the yarn ball winder!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sneak Peek

It's like it's Sneak Peek Week! Whoo Hoo! Some of these sneak peeks are all going to be REVEALED in the same publication, so the sneak peeks are clustered together and the Reveals will be clustered too!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lynn's second lesson

Between lessons, Lynn went out and bought herself a set of hooks! I can't believe she didn't buy any yarn! But, she called me for a second lesson, so we got together. This lesson she learned how to make a slip knot, how to sc into chs and how to change colors. Her tension is much improved and she is feeling much more relaxed. I'm thrilled for her because she is excited about learning something new. Her son, (Chief's age) is so interested in crochet and watches are lessons with interest! I am going to keep him interested a few more lessons then either encourage Lynn to teach him or offer to teach him myself.

Lynn's next lesson I plan on teaching her hdc, dc and maybe some pattern reading tips. I am careful when I teach her, that I use the exact words and phrasing that she will read when it comes time to read a pattern. Hopefully when she reads instructions they will be familiar to her because we have been using proper terminology all along.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sneak Peek

Shhh! It's a Sneak Peek! This one has a destination! I will let you know when I can REVEAL!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Latch hook

Here's Chickee enjoying her new Latch Hook kit she got for Christmas. The kit is from Caron.
It took a few lessons to remind me how to do it, and a few lessons for her to get it, and she's off!

Even Charlie has found it intriguing!

Friday, February 15, 2008

101 Easy Tunisian

Hey all, I just checked the Tunisian book on Annie's Attic and it's ON SALE Go check it out!

Book Review: 101 Easy Tunisian Stitches

First, Happy Belated Valentine's Day to you, Dear Readers!

I deeply appreciate your reading this goofy blog and take delight in every comment and the steady upward tick of the site meter. Thank you!

Ok, for a book review! This book is published by Annie's Attic

I bought my copy at Hobby Lobby, sticker price was $13.46 but I'm sure that I used a 40% off coupon. It was definitely a bargain! I love the bright color photos of each stitch. It is separated into sections: General information (a primer to Tunisian or afghan technique) and then: Puffs, Pebbles & Popcorns; Shell Stitches (my favorite); Openwork patterns; Cable & Post stitches; and Pattern stitches.
If you want to learn Tunisian crochet, this is an excellent start. It is only stitches though, and no patterns. When you're ready to go to patterns, you'll need to get Nancy Nehring's book on Tunisian Crochet (I'll have to look up the title for you, I have that one too and it is indispensible). My only criticism of this 101 Easy Tunisian stitches book is that it doesn't address Tunisian -in-the round. If you are interested in this, I did a post on it months ago, look under the Tunisian crochet label on the labels list at right.

Still, this book I keep right on my easy access shelf right next to my other stitch dictionaries.
PS, sorry if there are any typos, my spell check hasn't worked in Blogger for days!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Teaching Neighbors

A few neighbors have wanted to learn how to crochet. When my neighbor, two doors down, had foot surgery, and was stuck in the house, it seemed like the perfect time to gather for a little lesson and company! I was thrilled how fast the three newbies picked it up! We also hada fourth neighbor, who already knew how to crochet but came for the fun! I teased the ladies that they could pick any nicknames they wanted for the blog, like I do for Chickee and Chief... but they declined. We're thinking about making this little get-together a monthly thing! Wouldn't that be fun! Oh, I hope it works out.

Here's one of the highlights... the new neighbor who already crochets, I'll call her "K", I met her at this get toghether, and she walks in with... The January issue of Crochet Today....another lady asks, "Ellen, do you have a design in this one?" and I said, "as a matter of fact, I do!" So K says, "which one?" and I show her Sunny Spread, and she says, "That's why I bought this issue!" I was floored! What an honor and a thrill! I don't know if I will ever get used to people liking my stuff! I think I read Robyn of Crochet by Faye saying something similar recently (to paraphrase) "somebody other than my Mom likes my stuff!" LOL!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Well, no more hooks after these two.... I have so many hooks! And really, how many can you use at one time? I love my hooks though. I'm not a hook snob either, I like all functional hooks. I'll let the hook collectors collect the collectible hooks. (how many times can you put 'collect' in one sentence?) The collectible hooks don't really appeal to me because I don't feel that I can use them without worrying about them. I don't want to lose them, drop them, break them, lend them, so what's the point in having them? yes, I know they are pretty.

I bought these two hooks because 1. they were on sale 50% off at Hobby Lobby 2. they are aluminum size N and M (more rare than the other hook sizes I have) and 3. They have the Bamboo handles which I LOVE.

I will buy more hooks IF I can find a 14" Tunisian/afghan hook in a size "N" or anything larger than a K.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hollywood Knits by Suss Cousins

This book was published in 2002, but I just discovered it. It's a hardback, 30 designs by Suss Cousins. It only got 2.5 stars on Amazon, but I really liked it. There are designs that are simple enough and wearable enough to appeal to a new knitter like myself. Many of the designs are based on the simple rectangle shaped pieces. A baby cardigan, a couple of blankets, a couple of hats, a couple of scarves, two cute halter tops, etc. It made me want to make them in knit, and design more stuff in crochet. I bought my copy from Ebay for a very reasonable price.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Using the digital camera in design

I'm sure there are a dozen easier ways to do this, but this is what I do... I make one motif of every color scheme I want to explore. This also helps me refine the written instructions and tweak the design while I re-make each one. Then I lay them all out together and photograph them. I print it out small on plain paper. (I think some people just paste them in PhotoShop, but I don't do that). I'll print out 5-6 or more copies. I cut them out so that each motif is on it's on piece of paper. I think these are about 1.5" each. Then I lay them out in several different configurations, and usually take a digital photo of each new composite. (I can delete the unwanted ones later and I can look at my camera's viewer to be my "guide" where to put the motifs later! Or how to make a diagram for my written instructions). Below is the one I ended up choosing. I ended up omitting one of the five motifs above. The one on the bottom right of the five above is the one I decided not to use. I just was too boring compared to the others. When I make motifs that are different, I try to look at each one individually and make sure it is really, really nice, even if used alone. If it is weak on it's own, then it's too weak to be included.

When I made the color schemes for the above swatches, I tried to alternate light/dark/medium values. I didn't want it to be unbalanced, all dark over here and all light over there....

When I do a submission, I will make a color copy of this composite photo below, and include it with my proposal to show the buyer what it is going to look like when it's done... without me having to actually make the whole thing.

It also helps me guess how much yarn I am going to need by figuring out how many squares total I am going to have. I can make an educated guess how big the final project will be. I don't remember if I did this with this particular project, but I could have taken apart the one unwanted motif color scheme and measured the yards used for each row. If row one is 5 yards times the number of motifs plus some for edging.... you can do the math. Then you look at the number of yards per ball of that color and divide to find out how many motifs you can get per ball.... and add a ball for good measure, for edging, and in case there is a flaw in the ball.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Goal Setting for a new design

Inspiration for designs come from all places. Sometimes the editor, Brett Bara, of Crochet Today, asked me to make a throw using these yarns. So she gave me my inspiration on this one! But there were many yarns and I had to figure out what to do with them....quick!

I started with pen and paper to help crystallize some ideas.

Goals- Fields of color (for eye to rest)

Unifying element (center always Spellbound?)

Variation- not always one round, one color. Up to 4-6 different combinations

DONT be like Babette blanket from IC

Visual balance, pink is weighty, Majesty carries weight.

little texture to compensate for strong color weight

choose 1 hook to accommodate all yarns -J?

Don't run out of yarn.

Use digital photos for composition

Not all lacy, not 100% all dense

Here is some further explanation of my notes:

Spellbound is one of the yarns.

The yarn colors reminded me of the Babette blanket. Babette is a gorgeous blanket and I wanted to be careful not to mimic it. It was in Interweave Crochet in 2006 (I think).

I also thought that Spellbound would be good for the centers, because it is a slippery ribbon yarn, so a tighter weave/stitch would help it keep its shape and help the ends stay woven in when finished.

Pink is weighty- what I mean is that it is a dominant color and I knew that it would draw your attention wherever it would be placed. So I wanted to place it strategically so that it didn't overpower the other colors. It carries more visual weight than the other colors. (It gets your attention more).

Majesty carries weight- The Spellbound ribbon color is Majesty. I knew it would also get attention because of it's shiny look and varigated color (compared to the other solid yarns).

Little texture to compensate for strong color weight. I thought that if it was too textured, with all those colors, it would just be too much going on and it could look "messy" easily. One way to avoid this was to not use too much texture (avoid bobbles, avoid clusters, avoid cables, not too many post stitches).

Choose 1 hook. Because I was going to move the yarns around and not put them in the same place in the motif, I thought it would be easier to put bigger yarns into little yarn stitches if I use all the same hook. The Spellbound I think is a Bulky yarn, the Soft Yarn is much smaller. The yarns were not all the same size.

Don't run out of yarn! The yarn was supplied to me, and I didn't want to ask for more and risk getting a new dye lot. As it was, I had plenty of yarn. But in the design, I knew that I couldn't make it 90% one yarn and 10% everything else or I'd run out of the dominant yarn.

Use digital photos for composition practice- I'll talk more about this on another day.

Not all lacy, not 100% all dense. I knew with all those colors that there would be many ends to weave in. It's easier to weave in ends on a denser stitch pattern than a lacy one. Or I could alternate rows of dense and lacy to give the ends somewhere to go. Also, again the Spellbound is slippery and harder to weave in, so I didn't want to make my life more difficult.

After thinking about all this, I started swatching. I probably swatched 3 concepts? A row plan, a ripple plan, a motif plan. The squares appealed to me the most (are you surprised?). I showed all three concepts to Brett along with my recommendation that we choose the squares. She agreed and I was on my way! It probably took about 2 or 2.5 weeks to make, plus an additional 3-5 days of goal setting and swatching.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Sneak peek- woven

Here's a spicy sneak peek! I don't know whate else to say, except this project was very "free-ing". I don't know the publication date of this one, but it has a place secured and I'll let you know when I can!

Tomorrow you can expect a post about my "goal setting" efforts for "Mosaic Throw". I frequently do this goal setting exercise when beginning new designs, so you aspiring designers out there may be interested. The rest of you might find it interesting how 'thoughtful' the process can be.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hat girl, that's me

I think I'm the only one in my city who wears hats regularly (besides baseball caps anyway). I am a hat girl. Here's a new one, the brim is not really crooked, it just looks that way in the photo. Though it is kind of jaunty! It's made out of Lion Brand Suede.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A new scarf for Captain

Yep, black wool, dense, Tunisian, very little texture....he'll love it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I am the I-Cord

WooHoo, I have mastered the knitted I-cord. Here's a photo of my second try....I won't bore you with my first try, you'll just have to be bored with my second! I love learning something new.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Revealed! Baby Grannies!

Also in Crochet Today, March/April 2008. This is the first time I have ever had two designs in the same issue of a magazine that weren't designed together. It's too bad you can't see the subtle sparkle of this fun yarn. It is made with TLC Sparkle Soft.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Revealed! Mosaic Throw

It's in the March/April issue of Crochet Today! I had originally called it "Tierra Throw" because the colors seemed "Mediterranean" to me, so I went online and looked up Baby names with Spanish origin. I came across "Tierra" which I think is Spanish for "land" or "earth" and I thought that was perfect! Although, to be fair, it is also a great mosaic of color and I do think of Mosaics when I think of that region of the world. More on another day about how I designed the motifs.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Little Boy Blue...

....come blow your horn,

there's a ring in the bathtub,

your mother with mourn,
Why did you choose
to color your feet?
you were bored when mama thought
you were fast asleep...
An ode to the re-birth of the Smurf, in honor of Chief, age 5.

Sneak peek BIG

These sneak peeks are deliberately designed to deceive and leave some mystery. but I know you like surprises though don't you? This is one is very fun to make, and my good friend Jeannine thinks it's fun to receive too!

Tomorrow, Sneak Peek REVEALED!