Thursday, June 27, 2013

Friday Focus: Heather Sonnenberg

Yesterday was Thursday. Today it is Friday. We so excited. We gonna have a ball today. A ball of yarn, that is! Alright, I get it, you're excited to read about today's featured crocheter and here I am spouting silly nonsense. You'd do well to be a little less serious yourself at the moment because Heather Sonnenberg's bright, clean designs are quite youthful and ever so sweet. Her pattern shop has a little bit of everything fun, from pigs to pine cones.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
I taught myself online! Amazing what you can learn with the combination of Google and YouTube :) [How long?] Probably about 5 years now. 

Why do you crochet?
I started originally knitting and eventually decided to learn to crochet. I love creating things, and I particularly love crochet because I find that I am more able to make what I want with crochet than with knitting. Crochet is much easier to alter, and more difficult to make serious mistakes.

Crochet Favorites
I am in love with ruffle yarn at the moment, I hope in time to come up with a pattern using it, recently I have just been making lots of scarves! In terms of yarn for everything else - I am allergic to wool unfortunately, which leaves me with two real options: Cotton or acrylic. As acrylic is much easier to find in a greater variety of colours, it is generally my yarn of choice. I generally use Bernat for most things, although Patons has a very nice soft acrylic as well. 

What are you working on right now?
Recently I have been working on a brown lovey (Haven’t decided yet whether it will be a dog or a bear!).

A few finished objects...
Although this wasn’t my first published design, it was my first true design idea. I really wanted to make a nurse had and just could not find a pattern anywhere! I decided to figure it out myself and make my own, and once that was done I thought why not work out some more sizes and write a pattern!


Another pattern that came from a previous fruitless search. Though there were certainly some shamrock coaster patterns out there, I just wasn’t thrilled with what I was finding. The idea for this design was already in the back of my head when one of my testers suggested it. With that reinforcing the idea I went straight to work and this was the result! I was particularly happy with the Gaelic look these coasters had, and they are still one of my favorites.


I actually just finished this little guy the other day and the pattern is being tested right now! I am very excited about him. Again another idea of my own that was solidified when the pattern was requested by a tester! Stay tuned for the release!


Are those patterns cute or what? You can find those patterns and more in Heather's Ravelry shop. You can also find her work on Etsy and Craftsy. I personally adore all of her coaster patterns, but if I had to pick a favorite pattern from her shop it would be this delicious ice cream. It's the best pattern for ice cream that I've seen. Sweeten your day with a little something from HGSDesigns. Thanks, Heather!

If you or someone you know would like to be featured, contact me at illuminatecrochet@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Under the Sea

The ocean rocks. It's just incredible. The wonder and awe that the ocean inspires in me comes close to the awe I feel when faced with the universe. The immensity of the ocean calms and humbles me. I care very much about the health of the ocean and its vast numbers of marvelous creatures and you should too. This post is going to be written in honor of those delightful, spooky, diverse deeps.

First up on the ocean pattern agenda is this darling little lobster. What a great scrap project! It worked up quickly with great results. Maybe he'll be first lobster in the nativity play this year.
 
                           

I am very pleased to report that the happy little guy now lives on my husband's desk at work.

Next up is this fabulous octopus pattern. There are so many octopus patterns out there because octopi are very trendy at the moment. I have always loved octopuses (both plurals are acceptable!) for their intelligence, curiosity, and general impressiveness. To be honest I'm not really a fan of the many octopus patterns that are overly comical or what I like to call 'squidgy', like if you were to squeeze them they would squeak. When I found this pattern I was thrilled that it was both straightforward and realistic. Maybe I love it a little too much...I made five of them and I'm likely to make more! It translates so well between multiple yarn types and sizes. In case you're wondering, and I know you are, their names in order of appearance are Mondo, Dawn, Dusk, Ingrid, and Henry.





Another amazing ocean-themed crochet project is hyperbolic crochet. Grounded in math and science, this form of art is unique to the structure of crochet as opposed to knitting. I think it would be a perfect learning opportunity for kids because it demonstrates the order and structure present in nature in a very tactile way. I haven't yet worked up my own hyperbolic crochet. When I do I hope to donate it to the Crochet Coral Reef. If you haven't yet checked out this project, I highly encourage you to do so! What a wonderful way to use crochet to inspire and educate others.

I see many more ocean related crochet projects in my future. Wouldn't it be cool to crochet a big wave and hang it on the wall with various creatures all over it? If you have some favorite nautical or oceanic crochet patterns, drop in on the comments! We'd love to hear about them.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Colors! Rainbow Baby Blanket and Hat Set

I am so thrilled with this pattern. I spent a lot of time working on it and the whole thing came out just as I envisioned it. Have you ever had a project just floating around in your brain, driving you nuts until you create it? That's how this felt. The pattern is on sale in my Ravelry pattern store, which you don't need an account to access. The pattern is built around my personally invented modified bobble stitch.







Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Focus: Tamara Kelly

Hello lovelies! Something tells me you need some pops of color in your life this weekend. Let me introduce you to the talented Tamara Kelly and her bright, textured work. Tamara's patterns are varied and unique, and when I found them on Ravelry I knew I had to share them with you. Here's what she had to share with us this fine Friday.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
My sister-in-law taught me how to chain and how to single crochet. It took about 10 minutes and that was it! I fell in love and taught myself the rest from books and videos. [I have been crocheting] since 2002, so about 11 years.

Why do you crochet?
I love crafts in general, and I love crochet in particular because it’s portable and practical. And it’s versatile - I can go from a project that’s a no-brainer to something that takes a ton of concentration, whatever I’m in the mood for!


Crochet Favorites
I have an old stitch guide that’s out of print - 300 Crochet Stitches (The Harmony Guides, V. 6). It taught me how to read a chart, how to do all the different stitches, and inspires me to this day. It’s my prized possession!


What are you working on right now? What is your next project?
What I’m working on right now is a lightweight and lacy scarf worked in Fingering weight - free pattern for it coming very soon! After that it’s a special request for my daughter, based on the Leaping Stripes and Blocks Blanket.

A few finished objects...
This is the pattern that started it all! It’s actually the second pattern I ever wrote, but it’s probably the most popular pattern as well. Moogly actually started as a commission business before I started writing down my designs, and I made dozens of these! Now I prefer to write the patterns and let others make their own.


The Artfully Simple Infinity Scarf is another popular pattern. Perfect for beginners, it forgives almost any mistake and comes out looking great! People message me all the time sharing how much they love it, and I love reading their notes.


Earlier this year I led my first ever Crochet-A-Long, and to add to the fun it was a mystery! No one knew what they were making until the last day, and it was so funny reading all the guesses as people completed each day’s section. I hope to do another one soon - the trick is coming up with a pattern that’s so sneaky until the end!


Such fun patterns! Check out Tamara's blog where she shares all of her free patterns, roundups, video tutorials and more. She would also like you to know that there’s a thriving and active community of crocheters (and a few knitters) on the Moogly Facebook page! It’s a great place to comment, ask questions, and interact with other crafters. Moogly goodness can also be found on Ravelry, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr. If I had to pick a favorite pattern, I would have to go with her Shark Time Pouch! It's so cute and different. Thank you, Tamara Kelly, for brightening up our day with your delightful crochet!

If you or someone you know would like to be featured on an upcoming Friday, please contact me at illuminatecrochet@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yarn Bombing

Yarn bombing is the act of altering public spaces with crochet or knit fabric, usually by wrapping or overlay. Popular items to yarn bomb seem to be stop sign posts, tree trunks, statues, benches, and bike racks. This form of public art is gaining a significant following. I personally have never done this, but sometimes I consider it. I suppose I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. Here is a crochet yarn bomb I stumbled upon while visiting friends in my hometown of Boise, Idaho. It is by the Grove fountain.


Is it art or is it vandalism? I'm inclined to think the former. It doesn't damage the surface it is attached to like spray paint might. It can be removed with the snip of a scissors if necessary. One of my favorite things about yarn bombing is the feeling of whimsy that it brings to public spaces, hopefully brightening the day of some random, over-worked passerby. What do you think? Do you have any experience with yarn bombing? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Redditgifts Hat and Scarf Exchange

Throughout the past year I have participated in a few redditgifts gift exchanges. Some of them have gone well and some not so much. The best exchange that I participated in was the Hat and Scarf Exchange. I signed up with a mind toward making something instead of buying. My giftee requested a cloche, an item I had never made before. Not to be deterred, I scoured the internet for an appropriate pattern and finally settled on this one. It was well written and the directions were clear and easy to follow. However, I would caution you to use a hat chart to make your initial circle rather than following the pattern as the first time through my circle was much too small and I had to frog it. Here is the final result.



She said she enjoyed the item and it pleases me to know that a random woman in New York is wearing my work! Since I had so much fun making the cloche I also included a scarf that I made using my personally created bobble stitch.




She told me that grey is her favorite color and she began wearing the scarf as soon as she received it. Success!

I also received my own gift from a random internet stranger. Through a great stroke of luck my gift giver was also a crocheter! Here is what I received.

Reddit user Liz4tin sent me a beautiful handwritten note along with a fanciful owl hat and a pineapple motif scarf. How thoughtful and exciting! Sometimes the internet can be a magical place, in this case connecting me with another crochet lover. As an aspiring elementary teacher, I plan to use the hat as a "Hat of Knowledge" since owls are typically used to represent knowledge and wisdom.

It was so much fun the first time that I will definitely consider participating in the redditgifts Hat and Scarf Exchange again in the future.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Focus: Carol Ventura

When I say the word "crochet", what pops into your head? Is it something airy? Something lacy? While loose airy stitches are certainly pretty, today I want to show you another side of crochet, one that is tight, smooth, and intricate. The color work in Carol Ventura's tapestry crochet patterns is simply stunning. She began working with tapestry crochet over thirty years ago and has since developed her very own pattern diagramming system. Her beautiful work has been featured in a variety of books and magazines. Some of it is beaded as well!

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it? 
 I learned from a neighbor when I was very young - maybe 6 or 7 years old. I knitted and crocheted a little in high school, but didn’t get into it seriously until my daughter was born, over 30 years ago. She needed a Christmas stocking, so I decided to tapestry crochet her one with her name on it. That’s what got me started again.

Why do you crochet?
I find it challenging and relaxing. I love that it’s portable so that I can do it anywhere. I also like it better than knitting because I can rip it out and then pick up the loop very easily. Trying to rip out knitting and get all the loops in the correct direction is too difficult!

Crochet Favorites
I only do tapestry crochet. I try different yarns and threads, but find myself preferring worsted weight cotton because the tight stitches produce the stiff type of fabric perfect for bags.


What are you working on right now? What is your next project?
I'm crocheting a purse. I’ll be crocheting a bag for a magazine - the yarn is on it’s way to me now.

A few finished objects...
Carol asked me to select a few items to show you. It's hard to choose because her work is so incredible, but here are a few of my favorites, taken from her Ravelry page.

Here's her Eye Dazzler Reversible Basket from her book Bead and Felted Tapestry Crochet.


You gotta love her Purrrrfectly Wonderful Tapestry Crochet Kitty Bag (pattern available for free!).


This is her Desert Sunrise afghan, featured in the book Unexpected Afghans: Innovative Crochet Designs with Traditional Techniques


What an amazing woman. Carol Ventura is a true master of the craft and she's certainly someone to admire. Don't let your exploration end here! Go check out her Ravelry page, gallery, blog, and website for patterns, resources, and more information. Thank you for sharing your work with us today, Carol!

If you or someone you know would like to be featured on an upcoming Friday, please email me at illuminatecrochet@gmail.com.




Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Scrap Projects

Wha-...what's that noise? It's coming from the direction of your yarn stash. Tiny screechy voices are calling out to you. Use us up! We're taking up space! You should feel guilty, GUILTY! That's right, it's an attack of the scraps! All of those half skeins and little piles are coming to get you.

Never fear, for all is not lost. I have a few projects to share that help tackle the scraps. Note that I am not talking about small clippings of yarn, which can be used to stuff amigurumi, but the yarn balls that are too big to toss out and too small to use in a substantial project. Each of the following projects can be hooked up in a single sitting.

This small pouch can be made in almost any size. Whip up a flat piece of single crochet fabric, folding it in half every now and then to see how big you want your pouch to be. When your work is the desired size, decrease on both sides until you are almost at a point. Make a button hole by chaining across 2 to 4 stitches in the center of the row depending on the size of the button you want to use. Skip an equal number of stitches before finishing out that row. Voila! A simple horizontal button hole. Decrease until there are no stitches left and fasten off. Fold the fabric until it reaches the beginning of the decreasing rows and sew up each side with a yarn needle, working from the left bottom corner and wrapping around the edge of the flap until you reach the remaining side, then sew that side together. Turn the whole thing inside out. Sew a button to the body of the pouch under and just a tad bit lower than the button hole, and you're golden.

Want a different kind of scrap pouch? Here's a round one. Single crochet in a spiral round, following the normal increase pattern, without chaining or turning until the base is the size that you want. By the way, if you are new to crochet or you need help with a term or technique that I mention, drop me a line in the comments! I would love to make a tutorial for you. In the meantime, a number of great tutorials can be found on YouTube and the like. Explore the web and you'll find some really great stuff!

Back to the pouch. With the base done, chain three and turn. Work one dc into each stitch around, slip stitch into the top of the turning chain, ch 3 and turn. Continue adding rows of double crochet until your pouch is about one inch shy of your desired height. Work one row as follows: Chain 4, skip 1 dc, 1 dc in next dc, ch 1, skip 1 dc, 1 dc in next dc, and so on until you come all of the way around. Now finish by doing two more rows of double crochet, making sure to stitch a single dc into each dc or ch, and then fasten off. Cut a length of ribbon in a complimentary color and weave it in and out of the double crochet posts of the third to last row. Cinch your bag shut with a bow. You're done! Now you have a place to keep all of the sedatives you no longer need because your scrap panic has subsided.

If those projects were too much of an investment for you, here's a third project that should do the trick. It works especially well with bulky yarn but could also be made with multiple strands of yarn worked together or by using a hook that is one size too small for the yarn.

 This bowl is made by doing half double crochet in the round with the normal increases, turning, and chaining. Continue until the base is as wide as you want it to be, then switch to single crochet and stop increasing, turning, and chaining. Just single crochet around until you run out of yarn or your bowl is the size that you want it to be. That's it! Do make sure that your stitches are tight so that your bowl has good structural integrity. I find that these scrap projects make great last minute additions to birthday gifts.




Monday, June 10, 2013

Writing My First Pattern

It can sometimes be difficult to find the right pattern. Even with the abundance of both online and print resources, it is essential to become confident enough in your crochet that you can alter patterns as necessary. I have often changed patterns to suit my needs. Hats can be made bigger or smaller, details can be added or removed, yarns can be substituted, etc. I have also developed a habit of whipping up my own simple scrap yarn projects, like buttoned pouches and flowers. Because I had done these things, I was under the impression that writing my first pattern would be easy.

I was wrong.

I decided to start my design career by writing instructions for a matching baby hat and blanket with strawberry applique. Pattern writing is a completely different experience than simply improvising. If you don't intend to repeat an action it is easy not to justify it. "Oh, I'll just add a few stitches here to fill it out a little", you may think. The finished product is what really matters. Contrast that to pattern writing. Every stitch needs to be accounted for. Your directions need to be clear and uniform. Not many assumptions about the skill level of your audience should be made, meaning that you must explain everything you're doing, no matter how easy it may seem to you. Pattern writing is like the scientific method of crochet. The formula needs to be repeatable by others with the same result if you want your idea to be taken seriously.

I really learned a lot during the process of writing my first pattern, which took about a week. I intend to carry that knowledge forward so that I may write purchase-quality patterns. This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download. If you would like to critique my pattern I would love some feedback! You can always comment here or contact me at illuminatecrochet@gmail.com. I'm happy with the way that it turned out (especially the strawberry) and have been so thrilled by the positive response it's getting on Ravelry. Expect more patterns from me soon!






Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Focus: Rose Langlitz

TGIF! Friday is the best day of the week in my opinion. There is a sense of accomplishment in completing another weeks' tasks with a tingling anticipation for the weekend. How better to spend your time this weekend than treating yourself to patterns by today's Friday Focus, Rose Langlitz! Her amazingly realistic crochet food is a feast for the eyes. A highly-rated book of her designs is available on Amazon. Sweet! She is such a talented woman and her work is not limited to food patterns. Read on to see what else she has in store.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
I was taught to crochet when I was about 7 years old by my babysitter, a wonderful lady named Sally Campbell. Though I learned when I was very young, I didn't really start seriously until I was 25, after the birth of my second child. So I suppose that I have been crocheting for 10 years, give or take. 

Why do you crochet? 
I crochet because it is wonderful to be creating something! I love that feeling of starting a new project and the satisfaction of making something beautiful. Crochet is so wonderful in all of the different kinds of fabric you can create with it. Lacy, textured, structural, drapey, stiff...the sky is really the limit when it comes to crochet. Like many other people, I have a hard time sitting still and just not doing anything. I crochet when I watch TV with my husband, or if it's a rainy day, I'll listen to books on Librivox and crochet. It's also nice to be able to complete something that my children aren't going to go behind me and undo.

Crochet Favorites
I've really been digging my handy-dandy Crochet Stitch Bible lately. I've been doing more work with finer weight yarns such as fingering and thread weight, and experimenting with different stitch patterns, and it's a nice resource to have. 

What are you working on right now? What is your next project? 
Well, I just finished my first doily, and it was really fun to make! I still have to pit it out and block it though, so no pictures yet. I'm not sure what I'm doing next, because I have so many things I want to do! I want to make some new pillow covers, and I'm really loving vintage patterns for baby and household. I can't decide which should come first!

A few finished objects...
I improvised this vest for my youngest daughter. I didn't have any money set aside for pattern purchases, and I didn't care for any of the free vest patterns out there. I used the Craft Yarn Council's sizing guidelines, made a gauge swatch, and went to town. It was really fun to create my own garment without using a pattern. 


This is Confucius! I made him after a local coffee shop offered to promote my book for me when it first came out. They got a lot of requests from people who wanted to buy Confucius, but he wasn't for sale. He has since retired from advertising and is now used by my husband (he dabbles in quilting) as a pin cushion.



These are from the lacy river rocks pattern from Crochet Today. I made these ones a few years ago, but I've dusted off my copy of the magazine to make some more for my vegetable garden and the community garden that I participate in. I like the patterns because they're really pretty, as well as being quick and easy.



If you're interesting in learning more about Rose and her work, be sure to check out her blog. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!

If you or someone you know would like to be featured on an upcoming Friday, let me know at illuminatecrochet@gmail.com. Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Little Blanket for My Little Kitty

Spending the time to make this blanket was a real gamble. After all, everyone knows that cats rarely use items as intended. Sink? That's a bed. Fruit bowl? That's a bed. Your chest? That's a bed. Basket bought specifically for use as a cat bed? That's a waste of money. She was seriously trying to curl up in her toy box rather than use the nice basket that we got for her, bless her heart. I thought she might give it a second chance if I put something soft inside of it and...it actually worked! Call the media! Our cat actually sleeps in her basket now.


Aww, isn't she cute when she's not trying to steal your earbuds or play with a toy mouse on your bed at 2am? All that aside, I love her so very much. I was so happy that she decided to use the blanket and it melts my heart every time she sleeps in her basket.

The pattern of the blanket is a modified bobble stitch that I came up with. I haven't found it anywhere else, so I will continue to proudly believe that I invented it unless someone tells me differently! If you have an idea for what I should name it I'd love to hear about it.

I am currently working on a baby blanket pattern that will utilize this stitch. Stay tuned if you're interested in trying it out yourself!



The work grows at a decent rate while using this stitch. Because you work bobbles for every row instead of every other like a traditional bobble stitch, the bobble portion of the blanket looks the same on both sides. The piece is quite flexible and moves nicely while still being plush. I have already used this stitch for several items and it will probably be a go-to when I need to make something fluffy.