Friday, December 19, 2014

Remix Friday: Bloomsbury Dress

Every once in a while we need a bit of glamor in our day. Sometimes glamor means adding glitter to your eyelids, sometimes glamor means a sassy strut while walking down the street, and sometimes glamor means remixing your crochet project in a new and fabulous way. Today I'm going to share a glamorous twist on an already wonderful pattern. Aleksandra made her project pop with amazing bell sleeves and other alterations. C'mon and vogue!

The Crocheter
Hi! I’m Aleksandra, I work as a software developer by day and a rabid crocheter(and sometimes knitter) at night. I live in the greater Chicago area with my two cats, Heath and Freya. I started crocheting a few years ago when I was working as a traveling consultant for a tech company. I was literally in and out of airports every week and I needed some sort of creative pursuit that I could easily travel with, so I ended up choosing to crochet and I’ve been loving it ever since.

The Original Pattern
Bloomsbury Top by Tammy Hildebrand

The Story
I seek a lot of inspiration from Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Medieval styles and I’m especially fond of the large flared sleeves worn in the middle ages. I searched for a pattern that I thought I could modify to suit the design I had in mind and I ended up choosing the Bloomsbury Top. 

The Remix
I made the Bloomsbury Top longer by adding an extra round of motifs and I used a basic trellis stitch for the sleeves. I used the edging for the collar on the arm holes also to give a sturdy base for the sleeves (they are very heavy). I started with a round of 15 5-chain spaces and then I made 5-ch space increases (evenly spaced out) on the 2nd round of the sleeves, and then did the same increases on every 4th round until I had completed 5 rounds with increases. After that I just continued the trellis stitch in the round until I had the length desired. 

Crochet is... Output for creativity

Look at that picture. Just look at it! So. Much. Glamor. Thanks for sharing your totally gorgeous dress with us, Aleksandra!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 Pattern Retrospective

With the year coming to a close soon I thought I would take a moment to look back at all of the patterns I published in 2014. I am really proud of what I have accomplished this year! Look forward to more awesome patterns and blog posts from me in 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Learn to Crochet Lesson One: How to Tie a Slip Knot

There are a lot of folks out there who are getting into crochet for the first time. Bravo! It's a wonderfully relaxing, creative, and rewarding hobby. I'd like to help encourage those who are new to crochet by providing a series of short lessons intended for complete novices. Today's post is the first in that series, a lesson on slip knots.

A slip knot is used to anchor your yarn to your hook so that you can start crocheting. Crochet is a series of interlocking loops, so you have to have a loop to start with before you can make anything. Here is how to tie a slip knot. When learning something new it's best to work with a light color of yarn. I've chosen Martha Stewart Extra Soft Wool Blend and a 5.5mm hook for this tutorial. I also recommend Lion Brand Vanna's Choice and a 6mm hook for novice crocheters.

Find the end of your yarn. You can pull from the outside of the skein or from the inside of the skein if your yarn is center-pull. Read the label to find out.

Cross the tail of your yarn over the rest of the strand. We will call the part of the strand that connects to the skein the 'working yarn'.

Put your index finger and thumb under the loop and get ready to grab the working yarn.

Grab and pull the working yarn through the loop.

Pinch the working yarn that you just pulled through. Tighten the slip knot by pulling on the tail with your other hand.

You now have a loop that can slide over your hook. Tighten the loop by pulling on the working yarn strand.

Insert your hook into the loop and tighten it until the loop is slightly snug on the hook. 

Congratulations! You have successfully made a slip knot and can now begin to crochet. Have any questions about this tutorial? Feel free to ask them in the comments.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Remix Friday: Cheshire Cat Bookmark

TGIF! Have any fun plans for the weekend? I'll bet many of you are frantically working on holiday gifts. If you're still in need of something small and customizable for your co-workers, for stockings, etc, take a hint from today's Remix Friday project. It's small but completely creative and adorable. Think about how you could run with Rachel's idea and make your own Remix.

The Crocheter
Hello! My name is Rachel Ballew. I am known on Ravelry as yarnaddict12. Now here's the fun ones; my siblings call me Roach and Rachelina Ballerina(and no, I have never done anything with ballerina). I am 24 years old. I have been crocheting for several years now, I learned when I was a teen. I am left-handed. My favorite yarns would have to be Red Heart Super Saver and Red Heart Soft. I personally do not like the super soft yarns. I am weird about the way things feel. My favorite colors are purple, green, and turquoise. But I also love lots of color! I am happily married without children. My husband nor I want any. We have 3 wonderful dogs known as Alice, she is a 60 pound, 4 year old, bull terrier; Mia, she is a 70 pound 4 year old, wolf hybrid; and Scootie, he is a 14 year old, 25 pound mutt. I am a stay at home wife.

The Original Pattern
Cat Bookmark by Justyna Kacprzak

The Story
I made the cat bookmark as part of a Crochet Along(CAL). I am obsessed with all things Alice in Wonderland. Even my craft room is decorated with Alice memorabilia! The Cheshire Cat in the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland inspired me to make it turquoise.

The Remix
I changed the shape of the tail so that it would be fatter and short to resemble the Cheshire's tail more. I also added craft felt to make the eyes, smile, ears, nose, and all his stripes.

Crochet is... Creativity, Inspiration, Imagination

Such a cute cat! Just think of all of the ways you could use felt to decorate your very own cat bookmark. Thanks for the great Remix, Rachel!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Illuminate Crochet Won an Award!

Yay! I am honored to report that Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence has awarded me with Best Promotion of the Crochet Community for her 2014 Awesome Crochet Blog Awards! Head on over to see what she had to say about me. Thank you, Kathryn!

This award means a lot to me because I do indeed strive to highlight all of the amazing facets of the crochet community, especially through my Friday posts. I'm proud to be part of a community that is so creative, inclusive, and varied. Let's all work to mutually support one another and celebrate the work we do! Kathryn has always been excellent in this regard.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Urban Craft Uprising Winter 2014

This past weekend saw Urban Craft Uprising's tenth anniversary. You may remember last year's blog post about their Winter 2013 show. UCU is an awesome annual indie craft show here in Seattle with tons of delightfully creative booths to peruse. Did I wait in line for a swag bag this year like I did last year? You betcha! Here's a rundown of my Sunday at the craft show. It was very exciting!

I secured my place in line around 8:30 in the morning with the show set to open at 10. It didn't take long for an impressive line to form behind me. Only the first 100 people in line get a swag bag, so competition is fierce.

Last year was so bitterly cold that I made sure to bundle up this time. Waiting in line was a cinch this year. Even though I got there so early I was still number 43 in line. I enjoyed the yarn ball on my little ticket. They also passed out hot drink samples and mini Luna bars to those of us in line.

After a wait in the cold it was quite nice to get my swag bag and filter inside. You'll get to see the contents of the bag at the end of this post. As you can see from this picture, one of the best things about being there early is having plenty of room to explore all of the booths before things get too crowded.

I was able to revisit several booths I've seen at past shows and others in the area as well as chat with the lovely talent behind them. Yarnarchy's booth is always filled with such beautiful yarn. Are you sad that you missed out? Never fear! I have a special coupon code just for you, generously offered by Yarnarchy. Just use code "illuminate" in the Yarnarchy Etsy store and receive 10% off through February. Wow!

10% off gorgeous colorways is a very good thing.

Later on I was lucky enough to catch up with Craftwich Creations. Monica always has the best crocheted outfits ever as well as awesome wooden crochet hooks.

Don't you just love that some of the hooks are on necklaces? Make sure you read to the end of this post for a chance to win a special prize from Craftwich Creations!

Wanna know the coolest thing ever? Monica was kind enough to introduce me to a good friend of hers... Laurinda Reddig! Monica and Laurinda work together on cool crochet kits that you can see in this picture. Laurinda's book Reversible Color Crochet is a big hit right now, so she was at UCU to do a book signing. She was wonderfully warm and friendly. How lucky was I to run into someone so accomplished?

After my fun at Craftwich I paused to admire the beautiful colors over at the booth for Pacific Fabrics and Crafts.

Spincycle Yarns was another gem, and quite busy as you can see in this picture.

By this time the show had really picked up and folks were bustling about all over enjoying themselves.

No visit to UCU would be complete without a trip to the Yarnia booth. Yarnia is a major organizer of the whole event! Such fabulous yarn cones were available. 

All in all the entire show was very enjoyable indeed, the perfect place to get some holiday shopping done! Are you ready to see what I got in my swag bag? Here we go...

My swag bag contained a small wooden parachute man, a card, a postcard, a purple hat with a flower on it, a novelty shirt, a bookmark, a soap sample, pencils, and some screen cleaners. Wow! All that just for waiting in line.

Remember that Craftwich Creations prize I promised you? Here it is! It's a novelty crochet hook in size K. Wanna snag it for yourself? Be the first person to email me at with the subject "I'm a knotty, knotty hooker!" and the hook is yours!

Urban Craft Uprising never fails to amaze and delight. I missed this year's summer show but I'll definitely have to catch it in 2015. Who's coming with me?

Friday, December 5, 2014

How to Identify an Unlabeled Yarn

If you're like me, you've got quite a bit of yarn. Though we all strive to keep organized and keep our yarn stashes manageable there are times when bits and pieces get away from us. One particularly frustrating moment in any yarnie's life is the realization that some of their yarn labels have become lost and left them with a ball of mystery fiber. Another common problem occurs when you receive free yarn from a friend or relative's stash that happens to be unlabeled. Luckily, I have a few tips for you if you need to identify an unlabeled yarn.

How to Identify an Unlabeled Yarn

Compare the yarn to others in your stash
You may have purchased the same yarn in another color. If you compare your mystery yarn to others in your stash it may jog your memory and help you identify it.

"Phone a friend"
Show your yarn to a fellow fiber lover. They may be able to identify it or know someone else who would be able to.

Take it to a yarn store
In general you should be able to tell whether the yarn is craft store quality or LYS (local yarn store) quality. Bring your mystery yarn with you on your next yarn buying excursion and see if one of the folks who work there can help you out. After all, they do stare at yarn all day!

Consult Ravelry's yarn database
Do you tend to catalog your stash on Ravelry? Maybe you've already input your mystery yarn. Perhaps you have an idea of what yarn you have and you can go to Ravelry to look at pictures and confirm your suspicions. Finally, if the ball is half-used perhaps you uploaded and labeled the project that you used it for with the name of the yarn.

Join a group of yarn sleuths
Did you know there are groups of folks who enjoy identifying unknown yarns? Post a picture of your yarn and let the power of the yarnie community work to your advantage.

Try out Yarndex
Yarndex is a large database of yarns that is useful for many things. Their advanced yarn search tool will help you to identify your yarn when you input as much info as you can. If you're not sure about the fiber content make an educated guess, and remember that you can always check the WPI yourself to help figure out the weight.

Still at a loss? No worries! Find a hook that roughly matches your yarn and get to work. Talented crocheter that you are you should be able to make something beautiful even if you're not quite sure what you're making it out of :)