Friday, May 29, 2015

Freebie Friday!


The fifth Friday of January, May, July, and October is Freebie Friday! Tune in to find out how to enter my exciting giveaways. You could win yarn, patterns, findings, and more! Today I am giving away two lovely hanks of Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace in a beautiful dusky purple colorway. So soft!




Are you ready to enter the giveaway? Here's how. Simply pin any one of my patterns to Pinterest and then send a link to your pin to illuminatecrochet@gmail.com. A screenshot would be okay too :) If you've already pinned one of my patterns, that totally counts! I will randomly select a winning pin on Monday, June 1st at 11:59 pm and I will post the winner the following Tuesday. Don't delay... enter now!

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Learning to Knit: Branching Out and Reflecting

Once a month I blog about fiber crafts other than crochet. I do this because I value learning and I think there are many benefits to be gained from trying new things. I have decided to put my ideas into practice and have recently been learning to knit in addition to my crochet. All I did was buy some needles, get some recommendations from friends, and search for good tutorials online. I started small.


I certainly ripped out my work and started over several times. However, slowly and surely I made my way. After learning a simple "cast on" (similar concept to a base chain) I learned to make garter stitch fabric, made by making only "knit" stitches.



Then I learned how to do the "purl" stitch. This meant that I could do all knits on one side and all purls on the other, making what's called a stockinette stitch. See the little v's?


Being a beginning knitter has really helped me to reflect on my crochet and my pattern writing. I have several patterns in testing right now and learning something new reminds me of what it's like when you're unsure and trying your best. I am refocusing on making sure all of my instructions, pictures, and diagrams are accessible and inviting. It's easy to forget that I've spent hours and hours and hours crocheting. Things that used to be difficult for me barely register anymore. However, I'm now sitting and wondering things like "How do I fix that stitch I dropped?", "How do I count my rows?", and "Did I just do a knit or a purl? I don't even know..." Struggle is good for us. It forces us to work hard :)

Have you tried something new lately, perhaps one of the crafts I've mentioned for Fiber Arts Friday?

Friday, May 22, 2015

From the Source Friday: Mini-Review


The fourth Friday of every month is From the Source Friday! Show your appreciation to these dedicated fiber farmers as they teach you all about where your yarn comes from.

So far we've had several animals featured here this year. We've had...



 

and Bison

What animals and plants would you like to see featured here for the rest of the year? I have several ideas in mind, but I thought I'd give you the opportunity to request certain fibers :) What are your favorite natural fibers? Let us know in the comments. Also, next week's feature is a Freebie Friday. The prize may or may not be something related to natural fiber...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Barn Owl Baby Toy Set

It's been a while since I've released a pattern. My testers have been hard at work on a few of them, and I have one ready to share today! It's my Barn Owl Baby Toy Set, available on Ravelry and Craftsy. I'm so excited about this set because it includes three baby favorites: a stuffed animal, a crinkle toy, and a rattle. I also like it because it is a more realistic take on the owl theme that is so very hot right now. Check it out!





Friday, May 15, 2015

Reach Out Friday: Teaching Crochet to Others


This Reach Out Friday I'm doing something a little bit different. I was recently inspired by a few posts on Crochet Concupiscence which mentioned teaching others to crochet. When you teach others to crochet it not only positively affects their life, it also affects the lives of those that the student crochets for. I've featured several different charities so far, all of which depend on the generosity of crocheters. I figure if each crocheter reading this takes the time to teach one other person to crochet this week then in the future there will be even more of us to support crochet charities. 

Here's my challenge to you: Reach out this week by teaching just one other person to crochet. You never know how much good will come from it in the future!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Antique Store Crochet Treasure Trove

The other day I went to a local antique store. I like to collect bottles and keys, so looking through the vintage and antique offerings is always thrilling to me. What I didn't expect to find there was crochet... and lots of it! Seriously, everywhere I turned I found more examples of gorgeous crochet. I took about a jillion pictures and I'd like to share them with you today. Feast your eyes on the treasures I found!









Friday, May 8, 2015

Indie Dye Friday: Three Fates Yarns


The second Friday of every month is Indie-Dye Friday! Feast your eyes on lovely yarn in gorgeous colorways developed by talented independent yarn dyers. Stephania of Three Fates Yarns is here with us today to talk about her dyeing experiences and show us her beautiful yarn.

A bit about Stephania
"I live in Salem Oregon, about an hour south of Portland. I've been with the same person since 1993 and we have a daughter, aged 5 going on 9."

How long have you been dyeing fiber? How did you get started?
"I've been knitting since I was about six years old. Around 2004, I stumbled into the yarn harlot's blog, fell in love with a pair of socks she was making (Pomatomus by Cookie A) and developed an incredible addiction to hand-dyed yarns. I knew at some point I was going to dye some and it was just a matter of time. With some encouragement by Jodi Danenberg and Janis Thompson, I decided to open a kit that I'd owned for over two years. A few months after that I started selling a little bit of what I made to friends."


Where do you get the inspiration for your colorways?

"I've been around dramatic and bold colors my entire life. I have two parents who are in the arts - one was a graphic artist with a focus in theater arts and the other is a folk artist and children's book illustrator. They are both so madly talented that I never bothered to learn how to draw. The color theory is built in through osmosis. I think if you take a look at Sun Grumble you will probably understand where I get ideas for colors like orange plastic.

I'm not as extroverted as my father though, so I tend to wear more muted shades. Knitting socks for a long time taught me not to care so much about wearing bright colors on my feet so I am really much freer with sock yarns than with what I'd put into a full sweater."


What fibers and dyes do you love to work with?
"I love them all. I worth with light-fast and wash-fast acid dyes like Washfast, sabraset and jacquard. Jacquard is a mainstay while I use the other dyes to make adjustments to make my colors my own.

My favorite thing to do at the moment is to over dye fibers that began as brown, grey or black. Check out helios, a merino/yak/silk blend that I picked up from Ashland Bay.
"

Behind the scenes...




A few colorways...



Aren't the colors fabulous? You can find out more about Three Fates Yarns on Etsy, Stephania's blog, Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you for visiting with us today, Stephania!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Family Crochet Appreciation

I have so many talented friends in my Rainy Sunday Knitters group. Vicki, one of my good friends, recently brought in and shared a lovely tablecloth that her grandmother had made. Take a look!


It was quite large and I wanted to be respectful, so I didn't unfold it all the way. The tablecloth looked to be made of motifs in a join-as-you-go style. Vicki said her grandmother, who lived almost 104 years, made a tablecloth for each granddaughter. Wow! Her grandmother made the tablecloths out of different brands of cotton thread that she happened to collect and then tea-stained the finished projects to give them a uniform color. How neat! Just look at those stitches... her grandmother had perfect tension.

Thanks for sharing, Vicki!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Rug Hooking with Cindy Irwin


The first Friday of every month is Fiber Arts Friday! Join me as we expand our horizons beyond crochet to focus on other interesting fiber and needle arts. Enjoy the beautiful projects and learn something new along the way. Today we are going to learn about rug hooking from expert Cindy Irwin. Rug hooking "is both an art and a craft where rugs are made by pulling loops of yarn or fabric through a stiff woven base such as burlap, linen, or rug warp. The loops are pulled through the backing material by using a crochet-type hook mounted in a handle (usually wood) for leverage." You just can't imagine the beauty that rug hooking can create without seeing it for yourself. Cindy, show us what you know!

About Cindy
Cindy Irwin is an empty nester with a nearly perfect husband, two adult children, and three grandchildren. Last year they sold their farm and moved into a townhouse in Lancaster, PA.  She now has a wonderful studio with a dye kitchen and teaching space, and more time to devote to her craft.

She enjoys spending time with her family, lifts weights; several years ago, she held a national record in the dead-lift with a 265 lb. lift. She also enjoys playing tennis.

Cindy is a juried member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, President of the Conestoga Guild of McGown Rug Crafters, and the ATHA Area 2 Rep. She is also the assistant director of The McGown  National Teachers Workshop. (She is working on learning to say no).


How long have you been rug hooking? How did you get started?
Cindy has been hooking rugs since 1983 and has won numerous awards for her work.  She is a certified McGown teacher and holds classes in her home studio and throughout the area.  Of the many creative endeavors she has explored, rug hooking is both the most challenging and the most rewarding. For her, there is nothing to compare with the satisfaction of bringing together all the elements of a finished piece: making a pattern, finding just the right colors to bring it alive, dyeing the wool and finally hooking and finishing a rug that is utterly unique.

What advice do you have for folks who are interested in rug hooking?
"Advice to new hookers: Find a teacher in your area. I have taken classes with over 45 teachers. I learn something new from each one! The McGown website has a list of certified teachers. The ATHA website has a list of guilds near you."

Here is some of Cindy's work... 
"Several years ago, I started making purses embellished with semi-precious gemstones."



"This is a wall hanging I made for my mother…she loves roosters."

 
"This rug is a tribute to my father. It is his first grade picture. You can read more about it on my website."


"My students have wanted to hook fairies for a long time.  We have been working on them in class.  Here is my fairy.  I used my granddaughter as a model.  I think it looks like her!"


"Several years ago, I met the artist Lisa Arkus at an art show.  Her work translates beautifully to rug hooking.  Here are two rugs based on her work."


"My current project is my version of Gustav Klimt’s 'The Virgin'. I am using lots of pearl embellishments."


Wow, so detailed and truly gorgeous! Are you hooked on Cindy's rug hooking? You can see more of her work on Facebook and on her website.