Monday, December 30, 2013

Dandy Dan's Rad Rock Blanket

Today is the day! I am so freaking excited! I can finally tell you all about my biggest pattern yet. Here it is, Dandy Dan's Rad Rock Blanket!


The pattern is named after my younger brother, Dan. Dan is an avid guitar player. One of his nicknames growing up was Dandy Dan, and I think it has a nice ring to it. The resulting blanket is twin-sized. It is all single crochet, all 55,590 stitches of it. While that does make it a bit tedious to craft, no stitch rivals single crochet when it comes to crisp tapestry designs. Best of all? I provide complete line-by-line written instructions for the blanket along with the chart. This means that you don't really have to think much if you don't want to. All you have to do is follow my drop, carry, and stitch count instructions. I provide instructions for color changing as well, a method that leaves the blanket smooth on the back, no strings hanging out. A little bit of texture is provided by the appliques for the strings, output, bridge, and tuning pegs. I am confident that someone who has been crocheting successfully for at least six months or more would be able to complete the pattern.

The blanket took quite a long time to make and write up, about two and a half months. While that may be a relatively short amount of time when it comes to crocheting blankets, I usually finish my patterns in one to two weeks so I felt like the blanket was taking me quite a long time indeed. Here are a few pictures of the blanket while it was in progress.





I just gave the sample blanket to my brother for Christmas. The pattern is available on both Ravelry and Craftsy. Before we part ways for today, here are a few more detailed pictures of the blanket including one with a smartphone for scale. I couldn't be more proud!






I think the guitar would look pretty cool if variegated yarn were used in place of the red. What color would you make your guitar?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Focus: Jen Atchison

The holiday season may be winding down, but winter has just begun. You may find that you have a bit more time for yourself now that the festivities have died down. Are you itching to start up a new project? There are so many cute winter wear patterns available. Don't know where to start? Let me help you out! A while back a friendly lady named Jen liked my Facebook page and wrote me a nice note. I soon found out that she is a new designer as well, Jen Atchison for LPCrochet. Her pieces are classic and cozy with clean lines. All of her current patterns are free which is very generous of her. She's here today to share her crochet story as our featured designer.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
I taught myself using an old book of my grandmother's several years ago, but never progressed further than a half trivet haha! Then a little over two years ago, I decided to give it another go. Armed with books, a few YouTube 'how-to's', and advice from crocheter friends it finally clicked and I was hooked (no pun intended :P).

Why do you crochet?
It started because I was always oooing and awwing over the cute little hats I'd see for babies and toddlers (at the time, my youngest was 2 and a half). I decided I could make them myself and said as much to my husband who gave me the "sure you can...." sarcastic look. The very next day I completed my first project to spite him (ha!). A hat, that admittedly, was TINY and wouldn't even have fit a newborn, but still... I DID it! I was so proud I just kept going; striving to get better. Now I actually make a little side income, which feels amazing.

Crochet Favorites
I've got a slight obsession with Vickie Howell's Sheepish. I LOVE the colorways and the finished look of products made using it is amazingly gorgeous! My typical "go to" is Vanna's Choice, but I also use a lot of Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn and I just got my first shipment from KnitPicks.com and I LOVE them all! 

My all time favorite hooks are Clover Amours. My hands, wrists, and forearms can withstand a LOT more crochet time with no pain or numbness. I'm lusting for a set of Etimo hooks, though. 


What are you working on right now?
I'm currently buried in orders. Mostly wholesale for some local businesses. I LOVE IT! I'm hoping to make some time to write a pattern or two for my blog soon. I've been severely neglecting it lately!

A few finished objects...
Flower Top Slouch -- Dubbed, "The Rosie" hat by a Facebook fan. My own design, made with Vickie Howell's Cotton(ish) DK weight yarn.



Criss Cross Chunky Cowl -- Made with a bulky weight yarn and fun texture, this cowl is a cute accessory that works up quickly.


Chevron Slouch -- The worsted weight version of my chevron pattern -- pattern conversion can be found at the bottom of the original (written for DK weight yarn). A craft show crowd pleaser!


All patterns in pictures shown are my own and can be found for free on my blog!

Awesome! It will be fun to see what other patterns Jen comes up with as time goes by. If you're not a crocheter but like her work, you can also purchase finished objects from her. She can be found on her blog, Facebook, Etsy, and Ravelry. Thanks for joining us today, Jen!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Perfect Purse

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying yourselves, no matter what you do or don't believe or celebrate!


If you've got some holiday parties lined up and still need a purse to go with your outfit, I've got a great free pattern for you. The Perfect Purse by Lion Brand is a really versatile pattern. It's quite simple to make it bigger or smaller to suit your tastes and you can make it with almost any yarn you have available. I made it with some leftover Simply Soft. Is it sacrilegious to work up a Lion Brand pattern with a Caron yarn?


The original pattern suggests attaching a button in the middle of the top flap, but I decided to attach magnetic snaps to either side. I then covered the raw outsides of the snaps with small double crochet circles.



Check out the linked project pages on Ravelry for tons of creative slants on this pattern. Perhaps it's just what you need to spice up your outfit. It only took me about 2 hours in total, so it's possible to work it up in one sitting if necessary.

Before I go, can I just say how excited I am that folks are opening my crocheted gifts this morning? Be on the lookout for some long awaited FO posts in the coming days.

Happy Chrisma-hannu-kwanza-solstice!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Crochet Sightings

While shopping for the holidays with Alex I spotted a very funny crochet item indeed. This turkey hat was in a small, whimsical store in the mall.


Why just eat turkey when you can be the turkey? Later on while watching my very favorite holiday movie, Love Actually, I noticed a crochet hat on the head of Claudia Schiffer.


Have you noticed any crochet while out and about? Wear it on your fingers, wear it on your toes. Crochet is all around us, and so the WIP grows. Yeah... I'm a little silly. :)


Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Focus: Lee Mac

In the world of crochet it sometimes takes another crocheter to properly appreciate your work. A project that might elicit an "oh, that's cool" from a random friend or relative might very well get a "WOW, holy crap!" from a fellow hooker or brocheter. When you know just how much work must have gone into an object or pattern to make it possible, when you can feel the tingles of all of those stitches being made in your own hand... it makes you a bit more appreciative.

I don't know how anyone could look at Lee Mac's work and be anything but amazed. Also known as totallee, Lee has created some freaking sweet tapestry portraits that surely make fans everywhere squee. So many colors, so much detail, so much nerdy-ness. If you crochet you will intimately appreciate just how much effort goes into her pieces. If you don't crochet I want you to understand that the patience and effort that Lee is putting into her art could be likened to a person moving thousands of grains of rice from one bowl to another with a pair of tweezers. Really, I don't even know why I'm still talking. I'll just let Lee show you how incredible she is. She's been featured in many more illustrious places and I'm honored to have her here. Let's welcome her as today's featured designer!

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
My Mum was nagged into it when I was about 7 or 8 years old -_^! I saw her crocheting a massive granny square rug with every colour of yarn you could imagine and instantly nothing else in the world mattered except for learning how to do it. I made a massive granny rug of my own in some really pretty pastel shades (full of zillions of holes that you could fit your freaking head through), then BAM, excitement over and I think I took up tennis. Which lasted a week. I think after that it was beaded friendship bracelets. Lasted a week. Pretty obvious pattern in my personality is coming through here now isn’t it?! -_^!

In December of 2008, I came across the AMAZING world of crocheted portraits courtesy of Todd Paschall over at crochetbynumbers.com on a random surf one day and BAM! That instant AGHH-I-HAVE-TO-LEARN-HOW-TO-DO-THIS-LIKE-RIGHT-NOW feeling came back. I bought a few patterns from Todd, learnt the awesome cut and tie technique and BAM! Addicted. For longer than a week this time!!! Three cheers for progress!!!


Why do you crochet?
Oh man, too many reasons!
I love the freedom of creativity it brings.
I love the endless possibilities.
I love working with every shade of colour I can get my hands on. Colour = happiness.
I love the sense of peace and relaxation that comes with curling up in bed, with a cuppa, a good Korean drama and balls of yarn dotted about the place.
I love finding out half way through a complicated colour-changing-nightmare of a row that I’ve completely stuffed up and get to hurl my hook at the wall with great force.
* I love crocheting as a stress relief. *see previous sentence.
I love the amazing friendships that have come with sharing my projects on the world wide web. Finding other folks who love all things Harry Potter, Back To The Future, Monkees and Star Trek related is a really tough ask!!

I guess I keep crocheting out of the pure joy you get in creating a finished piece to be proud of, but also in the awesome and always surprising journey you take in starting a piece, watching it grow and then getting to share it with the world.


Crochet Favorites
I’m a bit boring and uninformed when it comes to brands, hooks and basic materials in general! As I mainly stick to crocheted portraits, the key is finding the right shades of colours, rather than what brand to use. I’ve been known to use crochet cotton, yarn ranging from 4 to 8ply, and also string in one portrait alone!

The majority of my pieces to this point have been made with an el cheapo plastic grey 4.5mm hook. However at the start of this year, my chubby little hands decided to give a 3mm hook a try and my god the friendship has blossomed. Services for the 4.5mm hook will commence once it has completed duty on a few works-in-progress.


What are you working on right now?
I have a number of projects on the go at the moment (said every crocheter EVER -_^). I have a MASSIVE Beatles piece that is currently at 20% that will probably take approximately 20 years to complete, as it measure 260 stitches wide. One row takes around an hour and a half to complete on that big boy.

 
I also have projects depicting folks such as – KPOP superstar G-Dragon, Uhura from the Original Star Trek series, Mary Poppins and Bert, and Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World on the go!!

A few finished objects...
Gone With The Wind: Was completed in 2010. After experiencing the film for the first time, I was exploding with the need to make a piece in tribute <3 What a film!!!


The Hogwarts Bunch Blanket: Was a complete labour of love! I am a self-confessed Potterhead and had the idea of making separate portraits of Harry, Ron and Hermione with the intent of turning them into 3 fun cushions for the couch. However, when I lined the three panels up for a picture on the floor, I got a flash of the opening credits to the Brady bunch as it looked like each character was stuck in a box. So I then went ahead and created the ‘Hogwarts Bunch’ and turned them into one almighty double-sized blanket!


Twinkie Chan!!!: Since re-entering the world of colourful crochet back in 2008, I have been an avid blog reader and admirer of all things Twinkie Chan <3!! She’s an absolute superstar and her creations never cease to inspire me and make me smile.


I have a website where I blog about current projects and also share some free patterns ^__^

There you can find links to my Facebook page and my ravelry.com group ^__^

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Sara for thinking of me and giving me the opportunity to share my work! Thank you!! xox


Isn't she just so vivacious? The words 'totes adorbs' come to mind. Thank you so much for the shout-out, Lee! However, it is I who is all too pleased to be featuring your incredible tapestries. Thanks for joining us today!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bri Leigh Infinity Cowl

It's been a while since I've published a pattern, hasn't it? The ginormous pattern that I've been working on for a million years (and have finally finished!) can't be revealed until after Christmas. In the meantime, I have just published a brand new cowl pattern. Cowls and other chunky neck wear seem to be on everyone's hooks this season and I wanted to get in on the fun! I have a very dear friend of about 14 years (that's over half our lives!) named Brianne who just adores winter scarves, sweaters, and other cozy items, so I named this pattern after her: the Bri Leigh Infinity Cowl. It's made with bulky weight yarn so it has some sass and the lacy stitches add a feminine touch. Here it is modeled by my obliging friend Katie.


There are two versions of the cowl included in the pattern, the longer and thinner version that is seen above and meant to be worn wrapped twice, and the shorter and thicker version that is wrapped once and has a twist. Here's the second version.


I had a lot of fun writing this pattern because the stitch I chose, shells and v's, is really enjoyable. Plus, it was about time that I publish a pattern in honor of Brianne. She is a loyal friend whose charisma is unparalleled. Fitting that this pattern is bold!




The Bri Leigh Infinity Cowl pattern is available on both Ravelry and Craftsy.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lonely Snowflake

Do you ever get hit with a desire to say or do something kind of strange? Most of the time I ignore these desires, but sometimes they wiggle out of the folds of my brain and manage to escape into the real world and I end up telling a stranger on the escalator with me at the grocery store that I like the cart conveyer belt because it's like putting your groceries on a roller coaster. Or I start singing along to the song on the loudspeaker at a clothing store. Well, I've done it again, this time in crochet. I made a snowflake. Just one. I didn't really feel like making a garland, or a table runner, or a blanket. I simply desired to make one small crochet snowflake. So I did.


I chose this free pattern from Red Heart. It was fun and easy to follow. My desire has been satisfied. So, now what do I do with my lonely crochet snowflake? I suppose I could make it an ornament as the pattern suggests. Do you have any ideas?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Focus: Sarah Moss

During my last year of my bachelor's degree I took a painting class just for the heck of it. I've always been pretty bad at painting and I wanted to improve. Part of our third painting assignment was to make a magazine collage and then bring it in to emulate on our canvases. My professor stood looking at my painting for several minutes as I did my best trying to copy my collage filled with flowers, frills, and shiny bits. Finally, she looked at me rather seriously and said, "You like things that are pretty, don't you?". She said it almost like an accusatory revelation. At the time her observation made no sense to me. Of course I liked pretty things, doesn't everyone? Doesn't the word indicate things that are good to look at? Several years have gone by and I think I finally understand what she meant. There is a certain aesthetic that comes to mind when one ponders the word pretty, and it isn't necessarily an aesthetic that everyone can identify with. Soft colors, sweetness, a little je ne sais quoi. If you've ever taken a look at my Pinterest board for crochet you've probably seen what I'm talking about. So yes, I do like things that are pretty.

Pretty is what I think of when I look at the work of Sarah Moss with Momma's Got Mojo. She is a relatively new designer and I think she's got a good thing going. Her patterns capture the chunky and bold style that has become popular recently while also being feminine. She's here with us today to talk about her exciting new love affair with crochet.

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
I was bit by the crochet bug only two short years ago and my hooks haven’t left my hands since. An old friend of mine from college was selling some of her crocheted pieces at that time and I became one of her customers. I greatly admired her abilities and she really inspired me to give crocheting a try. It soon dawned on me that I loved all things yarn so I decided I needed to teach myself. I picked up a copy of the book “Crocheting for Dummies” and the rest is history. I now affectionately refer to my friend as my “Crochet Nemesis.”

Why do you crochet?
I crochet for many reasons, mostly because I seriously go through withdrawals if I can’t get some crochet time in every single day. I believe we all have an innate desire to create and crocheting fulfills that desire in me. I get great satisfaction when a project turns out exactly how I had envisioned it, and I am challenged to improve my skills when I completely bomb a project. It’s also a way to bring in a little extra income as my heart is truly at home with my two young children and my supportive husband. I homeschool the kiddos during the day and I work part-time evenings as a Social Worker. My late nights are busy finishing the occasional custom order that I am roped into against my will by my awesome and loyal customers (unlike most crocheters, I am not a fan of custom orders) or writing patterns which is my true love when it comes to crochet.

Crochet Favorites
I think most women’s purses are filled with items that are essential to their livelihood such as hand sanitizer, make-up, their pocketbook, an ID, cell phone, maybe some tissues. My purse is filled with crochet hooks, yarn needles, scissors, and a measuring tape. I never leave home without a giant crochet hook and some super bulky yarn. I can’t get enough of chunky, squishy, cuddly crochet goodness. I also love incorporating ribbon, wooden buttons, bows, silk flowers, or any other fun and unexpected materials into my crochet pieces. 

What are you working on right now?
I suffer from severe crafting ADD and am usually working on several projects at once. I have a whole notebook full of pattern ideas I cannot keep up with but I take a break from crochet “business” in December in order to make handmade goodies for my loved ones for Christmas. However, I foresee a new year filled with bows and bling as I am currently working with another small-business owner who specializes in handmade bows and flowers that I will be incorporating into my next set of patterns. I’m thinking that some flirty boot cuffs, fingerless mitts, and a new style beanie is just the thing to chase the mid-winter blues away come January.

A few finished objects...
One of my most popular patterns, the Oversized Sweater Shrug, is my kind of fashion and crochet. It’s simple yet stylish, one-size fits all, and so easy to make even a beginner can tackle it!


I don’t have a fashionable bone in my body, so thankfully, many of the pattern ideas I get are a result of a request made by my fashionista sister. The Cables and Ribbons Wrap is one such pattern and was designed after she asked me for a wrap dressy enough to wear to holiday parties, yet versatile enough to look great with jeans.


My Swanky Chicken Trivet Potholder pattern is a great reflection of who I am as a person and crochet designer. Fun, funky, and unconventional, these zany little chickens definitely march to the beat of their own drums and make a welcomed addition to anyone’s kitchen decor.


The Cables and Ribbons Wrap is my favorite of Sarah's patterns, no contest. When I saw it in the search results during one of my usually Ravelry sweeps I practically gasped out loud. It is just. so. pretty. You can check out all of Sarah's designs, from pretty to funky, on Ravelry, Etsy, and Facebook. Thank you so much for telling us a bit about you today, Sarah!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cozy Crochet with a Friend

The holiday season is in full swing here in the city. If you've never been in a big city during the holidays, I highly encourage you to visit one sometime. The excitement is buzzing and there are lights and decorations high and low.


It's been unusually cold outside lately, but that doesn't bother me. I've been spending my time indoors being roasty-toasty. Once a week I get together with my friend Katie, the manager of our complex, to spend the evening crocheting and chatting in the comfy clubroom. It's been so fun to watch her work on her project. She just recently finished the large blanket she's been working on, Ellen Gormley's Sunny Spread. It looks amazing!


Having finished her blanket, Katie spent our last meeting putting together classic popcorn and cranberry garlands for her Christmas tree. Her project smelled so good!


It's so fun having friends who share my love of crochet. Katie and I are hoping to expand our crochet circle. In fact, another resident recently gifted Katie a beautiful scarf that she made following a pattern in a Japanese-style crochet book.


I hope that you are all enjoying winter as much as I am and spending time with friends and family. Happy hooking!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Urban Craft Uprising

This past Saturday I sauntered over to Seattle Center to check out Urban Craft Uprising. It's awesome living within walking distance of such a popular urban hub, especially since I did something a little crazy... I stood outside for two whole hours so that I could get my hands on a swag bag. What are swag bags? They are UCU's increasingly popular door-buster bags full of delights contributed by the vendors. Only the first 100 people in line each day get one, so competition is fierce!


Happily I was there in time to be number 83 and got my swag bag. Can you spot my shadow in this picture? I had to wait hours to get my bag, so I'm going to be a jerk and make you wait until the end of this post to find out what was inside! I thought standing in line was going to be awful, but the lovely people in line with me made it awesome. We had a great time together while trying not to lose our toes to the cold.

There were so many gorgeous handmade items at UCU and I got several holiday gifts while I was there. I'll bet you can guess what else was there... crochet! There were many crochet and yarn related vendors present. Here is a sampling.


Kristen Rask of Schmancy was there selling adorable plushies and promoting her new kits and books. She also did a book signing. Aren't those cacti awesome? Kristen runs a toy shop here in Seattle.


The folks over at the Yarnia booth had many beautiful cones of yarn for sale. If you visit their store in Portland, Oregon you can arrange your very own custom skein of yarn. You can also do this online. Cool! Someone in line with me got one of the cones in their swag bag. I was so jealous! They had two small swatches pinned to every cone, one knit and one crochet. I really appreciated that since most of the time it seems that only a knit swatch is provided.


Anna Sharp of Victory Garden Yarn had delightfully squishy, soft, and cosy crochet winter items for sale in bold colors. I should have asked her what yarn she uses to make her items. It was the softest wool acrylic blend I've ever felt.


Diana Schreiber of Moss was so friendly! Here's a confession: I don't usually like crochet jewelry. It can sometimes be a little gaudy. However, Diana's pretties weren't gaudy at all. They were sweet and delicate with accents of beads and metal. Her tension is perfect. I ended up walking away with a holiday gift for a family member. Truly stunning pieces. To add to her awesomeness, she even dyes the thread that she uses herself.


Yarnarchy was showcasing some eye-catching yarns. I wanted to buy some so badly, but I'm not allowed to buy any more yarn until I finish the projects I'm working on! Fooey. At least she has an Etsy shop so I can snag some when I'm ready. I mean, just look at those beautiful greens and purples! It's like a garden.


In addition to being filled with talented vendors, the exhibition hall was also filled with fabulous craft enthusiasts. Many of them were sporting crochet accessories. I asked a few kind souls if they would mind me taking their picture. They graciously obliged me!

This woman and her darling baby were both wearing crocheted hats. Giraffe baby hats have been really popular this year in the crochet world. It's obvious why. What a cutie!


This felted crochet bag caught my eye from far away and I wove my way through the crowd to get a better look. It's fabulous! This amiable lady also had rad purple hair. Outfit success in my opinion!


A fuchsia crochet cap adorned the head of this genial attendant. The top kind of reminds me of the Divine Hat. I love seeing more and more people wearing stylish crochet items out and about.


I loved chatting with this lively lady. She told me her colorful thrifted crochet hat often sparks compliments. She looked so radiant with her bright hat, coat, and scarf.


Did you think I'd forget to show you the contents of my swag bag? No way! Here's what I got.

A printed doll dress, a notebook made from a used book, a macaroon, a soap sample, a bookmark, and a gift tag. All in all a great morning at the craft show! Urban Craft Uprising happens twice a year, so if you missed it this time around there's always summer. Maybe I'll see you there!