Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Begin! Tunisian Patina Scarf CAL

The Tunisian Scarf Crochet ALong starts TODAY! WooHoo! A little history for you: The scarf was published in Inside Crochet magazine in the UK last December. I was called the "Tunisian Scarf" and written in UK terminology. I re-wrote the pattern in US terms and renamed it the "Patina Scarf" because the green Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb yarn reminded me of the patina that happens on metals when they encounter wind and air. Here is the link to the Ravelry page for the Tunisian Scarf. If you are a Ravelry member, please make a project page for your project! Also, if you are a Ravelry member, you can join the forum, 'GoCrochet with Ellen Gormley' and participate in the thread on this CAL. Above, in the photo, I am wearing the scarf like a shawl.

Regardless if you are a Ravelry (which is free and you'll love it) or not, I want to see photos! I want to hear about your progress! I prefer you send me links to your Flickr or Tweetphoto or Facebook photos... you can email me, my address is on the right sidebar of this page.

You can use any yarn you want! You can use any hook that does not have a thumb rest. The length of your hook needs to be close or a little shorter to the width of the scarf you are going to make. (You can squish the stitches on a little, but don't crowd them too much).

The pattern comes with 10 or 11 (I forget) process photos and Chickee filmed a little Tunisian tutorial video for me that you can view to help you. If you don't have the pattern yet, you can get an instant PDF download now for $6.00 by clicking on the Buy now button:

I'm casting on a new Patina scarf now too. I'm using Malabrigo Silky Merino and I hope to have a photo for you tomorrow of my early progress. Any questions you have, I will post answers here on the blog and in the Ravelry group.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yep, I'm working at a desk

Well, not right this minute, but I'm trying to work in the office much more... Crochet design is a real job.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Secret Weapon

OMGosh look what I found at Target for $1. I bought 2.

All these triangles! think of all the fun you can have figuring out different configurations of triangles! I wish they had bags in EVERY shape. I would have bought them all. Apparently they're made of EVA foam and are often called 'Eva blocks'. They are used to teach math and counting and manual dexterity to preschoolers and people with hand manipulation issues. Oh, what I wouldn't give for a set of squares, rectangles, trapezoids, hexagons and octagons!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chickee Crochets

Here is Chickee crocheting the pot holder Pumpkin pattern from Crochet Today magazine by Alicia Kachmar. Chickee is planning to use it to decorate for Halloween.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chickee's Lunch Bag

Chickee and Chief went back to school today. Chickee is carrying her new lunch bag. She chose the colors from Hobby Lobby's "I love this Cotton" yarn selection. We'll see how well it holds up. The handle is big enough that she can dangle it from her wrist as she carries her other school stuff! She didn't want a frilly edging or flower but suggested the curly'qs.

Don't forget about the Patina Tunisian Scarf CAL, it starts next Tuesday! Some of you have already begun! I like to see that kind of excitement. If you are joining us and you are on Ravelry, please make a project page for your project and post your progress. Feel free to comment on any of the CAL posts questions or comments. Check out yesterday's post for a quick 3 min or so Tunisian video tutorial.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quick Tunisian Video Tutorial

Here's a quick Tunisian Tutorial, filmed by Chickee. It includes, Tunisian simple stitch, a traditional bind off, twisted simple stitch, how how to miss the first and last vertical bars, and how to bind off the project.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spontaneous Family Day

Friday we took one last spontaneous family day before the kids go back to school this week. We drove a couple hours South to the Louisville, KY Zoo. Here are some of the highlights:
It was so hot! Thank goodness for the spray park!

Family portrait...
The gorillas were so funny. Literally 10 seconds after this was taken, the gorilla did a disgusting trick on purpose, causing all the onlookers to go "ugh!" Too gross to mention, but really pretty funny.

Chief and I pet a Cashmere goat as Captain looks on.
Can you see this goat waving? Very cute.
This angora goat has a face only a mother could love. He was just sheared a few days earlier.
Ahh, gratuitous giraffe photo. This baby was born last month! Amazing.
Halfway home we stopped for a festival along the Ohio River and watched the boats and had ice cream.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010


HEY!!!! It's a BIG Day! My Title just showed up on Amazon! And it's got a delivery date listed as JANUARY! But don't get too excited, there are no photos up yet. Also today, there should be a delivery of the book for the preliminary layout edit... that has to be done and returned to the editor by Monday. WhooHOO!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chief finds a turtle and on my hook today

Still working on a super secret project in Malabrigo yarn. It's very nice and I'm excited by the prospect of getting to keep this project eventually. Pattern designing for me seems very slow. Very deliberate. Definitely this is not a project I can work on at soccer practice! Right now, at soccer practice, I'm working on a little cotton lunch bag that Chickee requested. It is in Hobby Lobby 'I love this cotton' yarn.

The turtle was trying to cross the road... So Chief collected it and put it in the tall grass by our pond.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More from the Knit and Crochet Show

While we were at the Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester, NH, there was a team of crocheters who were working on a secret project. That project is now revealed in a 4 min YouTube video. Go watch it, you'll love it.

Crochet Anonymous video on YouTube

Monday, August 16, 2010

Zoom Tunisian Cardigan

Look! We used one of Chickee's handmade Polymer Clay buttons as a closure for the Zoom Tunisian Cardigan! This one has ended up about 6 mos size and is a gift for Tom's co-worker's new baby girl. This sweater was so much fun, I can't wait to make another one! But first, I need to finish writing the pattern.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Free Pattern: Lake House Hat and Scarf Revealed

Free Pattern Revealed

I'm so proud of this pattern, I just really like the light texture that I came up with. I hope you like it too! Stitch Nation yarn is offering it for FREE! Yay for you!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The Daughters by Joanna Philbin. A pretty good teen angst book. Three friends who happen to all be rich teens of famous New York people struggle to find their own identities separate from their parents. Written by Joanna Philbin, real-life daughter of Regis Philbin, the story drops the names of many famous fashion designers and products. It was pretty innocent and I read it with my 9 yo daughter. I got a little nervous at one point when there was an allusion to teen drinking but I think Chickee didn't notice the subtle reference. At least, the reference was that teen drinking was not a good thing. It wasn't glorified. This is the first book of a new series and the next book is now available on pre-order. We will likely read it together (or I will read it first, just in case the girls aged too much from the first book).

True Confections by Katharine Weber
From a literary point of view, I'm guessing this is a pretty interesting book. The main character narrates as is if she is giving a legal affidavit. There is very little dialogue but plenty of interesting characters and relationships. The main character (I can't remember her name) marries into a family owned candy business. The story begins with a subtle reference to a divorce and a fire. The character tells the story about how everything got to this point. I used to work in the court system and there is frequently at least one player who is desperate to tell their long, detailed, drawn-out point of view even if it lasts a week. This character seems to be one of those people who resorts to writing a book to finally get her story out. Of course this is fiction and the narrator, of course, tells the story from her own skewed point of view. By the end, it's pretty comical how through the course of explaining, she only digs herself deeper in the hole. Very inventive.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich I read book number 11 and enjoyed it, so I thought I should go back and read book number 1. I enjoyed the quick wit and fun colorful characters. I think number 11 was better, but that leads me to believe that the author only gets better the more she writes. Makes me want to go get book number 2.... A Stephanie Plum novel, Stephanie is a reluctant bounty hunter who gets caught up in a murder mystery and places herself in many dangerous spots.

Covet by JR Ward
I really enjoyed this book so much that I immediately went to my library web-site to hold book number 2... which isn't out until October! It's dark, it's got questionable morals. Here's the premise... the main character has a shady, questionable past. Clearly he is a tough guy but we don't know if he is good or bad. He encounters some age old mysteries regarding death/afterlife/angels/demons redemption and damnation. He is sent on a mission and we don't know exactly what he is fighting, who is on his side and who is sabotaging him. Clear as mud, right? I don't want to give it away but it was compelling. There was violence and "adult situations", questionable business establishments, etc, but all of it is presented in a way that the characters question their own morality along the way.

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
This was really a fascinating premise. The main character, Daniel, believes that he has been reincarnated multiple times and remembered in great detail all his past lives. He remembers his first true love from his first life, Sophia. He chronicles all the lives in which he has searched for Sophia and encountered her briefly in some of them. Sophia never remembers him. Their love story is complicated by another character who was Daniel's brother in an earlier life and has held a grudge over the centuries. The only thing I didn't like was the ending, which felt like a sequel was coming. Ok, if she writes a sequel, I'll read it, but I'm not happy about it...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More Tunisian Questions

Sara writes: "Do you usually foundation crochet the first row for tunisian?"

No, I usually do a row of Tunisian Simple Stitch like you saw in an earlier post unless I start right in with the pattern on the first row.

KnitPurlGurl wrote: "I like Tunisian, but it seems to curl."
Yes, you are right! Just like in knitting how stockinette seems to curl toward the purl side, it is in the nature of Tunisian to curl in Tunisian Simple Stitch unless you take measures to prevent this tendency. I think also, when you pull up a loop, the loop has to be tall and loose enough that it is not acting like a tether holding it tight to the row before. I good bind off final row is also important.

Susan writes: "I like tunisian , but mine just doesn't turn out with straight / even sides"

Susan, as with traditional crochet, when our edges get wonky, it is usually with failing to work the last stitch in the row or omitting the first st. With Tunisian, sometimes people accidentally work an extra stitch at the beginning and then also fail to do a Tunisian Simple Stitch (Tss) in the edge vertical bar at the end of the row. I'll try to post some photos soon with detail. Always count the loops on the hook before doing the return pass. The number of loops on the hook will tell you if you have been increasing or decreasing or if your number of stitches has remained constant.

Don't forget, the Tunisian Crochet-Along starts September 1 with the Tunisian "Patina" Scarf project.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Zoom Tunisian Cardigan

Here is where I am right now with the Zoom Tunisian Cardigan. I think I'm going to self-publish it. It's still a ways away from being ready, but I'm working out the kinks with the sleeves. I think I have found an easier way to do it! This model is in size 12 months. It's an easy 2-row repeat and has an easy, predictable increase for the top-down raglan shaping. It's made of Universal Cotton Supreme, which is my favorite cotton. This model is made in 2 colors, yellow and pale green. I'm also using the Denise Interchangeable Crochet hook set, love it! It's so easy to change to a short cord when you no longer need a long one (like for the bind off) or to add to a longer cord when you reach the full chest circumference.

Oh, sadly, we are down to 11 chickens. We found raccoon prints on the cage roof, a hole in the roof and one chicken missing this weekend. :(

Friday, August 6, 2010

If it's not a showstopper but it's still successful, what is it?

We've talked in the past about what makes a showstopping design. But really, while beautiful and arresting and innovative, not everyone is up to the challenge of actually crocheting a showstopper. Still, there are many great patterns out there that are still very beautiful but are perhaps a little less challenging or intimidating as a project to actually make. What do we call those? I call 'em "Go To" projects. What are the characteristics of a great, crochetable project?

1. Easy to memorize
2. Looks great in many different yarns
3. Versatile
4. The pattern is written well (easy to follow)
5. Gauge is either not critical or is easy to get
6. The project is the kind that makes you want to make another one in another color, and another,

Really, when you think about it these are the projects people love to make. Showstoppers, perhaps sell magazines, but Go-To projects sell yarn. Chime in! I'd love to hear what you think.

An example of one of my go-to projects... The Tunisian Lace Ascot! and here on Ravelry for the details and purchase button.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tunisian Tip!

If you have never done Tunisian Crochet before here are a few tips. In the photo above, this is how I mark stitches in tunisian. I mark the vertical bar of the stitch I want to focus on with a locking stitch marker. I move the marker up to the next vertical bar when subsequent rows are worked or remove the marker according to the pattern instructions. Also this gives you a clear view of a vertical bar. The markers are placed on a vertical bars. There is one vertical bar for each stitch. This is the first row of a swatch. There are 30 chains and I pulled up a loop (which becomes the vertical bar) in each chain. This photo is in process of "binding off". which means, as a right hander, I'm working by yo and pulling the hook toward the right under the loop on the hook and the next vertical bar. This first row is TSS or Tunisian Simple Stitch.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Decision Day

Dum, Dum, Dum (queue dramatic music). Today I need to make some decisions regarding 2 projects that need to be stitched pronto! I've taken a few days off with the kids having fun with a little crochet thrown in here or there. Now is the time to take what's been percolating in my head and get it to happen in yarn form.

A question was asked about the Tunisian 'Patina' Crochet A long. Indeed, the pattern version published by Inside Crochet either in hardcopy or digital download are in UK terminology. Frankly, I don't think there is much difference between the UK terms and the US terms for Tunisian crochet. In the PDF download I am selling through here and Ravelry, I started from scratch and re-wrote the pattern using all the US terms. Get your yarn ready, we start on Sept 1.

Feel free to comment here about your goals or join us in my Ravelry group where you can share your goals for the CAL. (Ravelry is free).

Uh oh, I don't have a photo ready... let's see what I can find for you. OK, above is a swatch of a Tunisian baby/toddler sweater that I am designing for self-publish, as soon as I can get around to it. I will get to use my Denise Interchangeable crochet hooks to work this top-down raglan sweater. (It's another easy two-row repeat).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tunisian Scarf CAL

The Tunisian "Patina" Scarf CAL is going to happen! It begins September 1. The pattern is available from either hardcopy of Inside Crochet, Issue 5, or you can get a digital download of Inside Crochet's issue 5 on Yudu. (I don't know exactly how this is done)... or you can get the PDF download from me for $6.00

Above is just one of the several (11? I think) process photos that are in my PDF download.

In the past, with Crochet-A-longs, we have been much more relaxed than it is my nature to be. My nature wants us to have structure! Goals! But many of you don't work the same way. We'll begin officially on Sept 1. I would think we would have this wrapped up by Thanksgiving for sure, don't you think?

Feel free to ask questions on any of the CAL: Tunisian posts and I will re-post your question and the answer for everyone to benefit both here and in the Ravelry group.

I'll try to post at least once per week on the blog to help motivate you along the way. There is no official 'sign up', just 'show up'. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yarn explosion and Green Cupcakes

Work, glorious work! When you are an freelance contractor you are never quite sure if the work is going to keep coming! Here's most of my upcoming least the ones I have yarn for. A big box of yarn arrived on Friday. It was so big it took the efforts of both kids to bring it in from the porch! I'm so excited about having a nice huge pile of work! What a compliment! What a challenge! I can't wait to finish one so I can get to the next.
Above, are shopping bags from Simplicity/Boye and I have separated each project into its own bag. Also, all the information for the project is in the bag... my sketches, swatches, notes, emails etc. I love separating projects into shopping bags, so easy to grab and go. While it's tempting to write the due date on the bag... I don't because I re-use them over and over. I need about 10 more bags though because there are some projects that I'm working on for submission that I wish had their own. Now I just need a system to hang them in my closet on a motorized rotating rack like the dry cleaners.... buzz as they drive their way down the track to the front of the line. Yes, some of the projects are too big for a bag. In that case, I will just put 4-5 skeins in the bag and reserve the rest of the yarn in it's shipping box until it's needed.
This is turning into the summer of baking for Chickee. She has been taking baking mixes (cookie and brownie) and putting her own spin on them. Above is what came from a chocolate chip cookie mix. She added marshmallow creme, cinnamon, sprinkles, and of course, green food coloring. They weren't too bad...I ate 3. LOL.