Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Art Show Recap

As I mentioned before, last week was super busy! My friend Angela asked me about three weeks ago if I'd like to be part of, and help plan, an inaugural art show at Vision 5. Vision 5's goal is to be an affordable housing option for artists who are also interested in sustainability and sustainable building initiatives. There are two traditional galleries on the ground floor where artists can display their work, as well as small gallery areas in each common room. The rooms start at about $600 per month, which is crazy low for our area. I accepted her invitation and got straight to planning both the events and my display.

There were two events. The first was on Thursday and was mainly geared toward community members with some influence, like reporters, city council members, etc. The second and main event was on Saturday and was open to the public with free food and entertainment. Artists of many types displayed their work all through the building. There were filmmakers, metal workers, wood sculptors, painters, digital artists, cartoonists, and more. Angela, her sister Vanessa, and I were the planners. The parts that I helped with were the brainstorming, dessert order, pamphlet creation, coffee order, table and chair rental, balloon order, and floral order.

Those two photos were taken by Crystal Edwards, one of the artists during the event. I spent most of my time with my work since I was eager to talk crochet to anyone who happened by. I made a few sales and had a good time. My lovely husband kept me company and brought me dinner and refreshments. Thank goodness he is so understanding and patient. I talk a lot under normal circumstances, and lately I've been talking about crochet non-stop! Angela also stopped in often to chat and be supportive.

It was super nuts trying to prepare my own booth while also planning the event, but I feel like I pulled it off. Many folks took my business cards, which made me happy. I also got plenty of compliments on my work, making me beam with pride.

This was my first time tabling for crochet. In high school and college I sold jewelry semi-successfully, but I stopped when the materials became too expensive and I lost my inspiration. Jewelry making is fun but also pretty limiting unless you are willing to put a lot of money into materials and learning new skills like metal work or glass blowing. I much prefer crochet, not only because the results are a little more practical, but also because it is so accessible. You can buy yarn for $3 a skein or $30 a skein. You can stick to basic stitches or expand to hundreds of new stitches. You can buy patterns, find free patterns, or make your own patterns. You can make things to wear, things to play with, things to snuggle under, things to cook with, things to look at...the possibilities are endless and inspiring! Participating in this event really solidified my resolve to make crochet my lifelong hobby and hopefully small business. In these past few months I've really gotten serious about it and I've already enjoyed a bit of success in pattern sales, gathering a blog following, and selling a few items. I am very hopeful about the future.

I got to be a part of Vision 5's beginning. Thanks for being a part of my new beginning as I grow as a crochet creator, designer, and blogger.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Starling Purse

I'm a fan of futuregirl's blog as well as her patterns. I hooked up a sweet little purse thanks to her Starling Handbag pattern. Making purses is a great way to use up any lower quality or scratchy yarn that you may have on hand because purses take a lot of wear and tear anyway. I decided to add a flower to the purse to give it a little twist. The flower turned out a bit full, but still pretty. The crocodile stitch is really popular nowadays, so I made my flower by layering a single row of scales over itself.

The availability of excellent free patterns is amazing. I am really thankful to all of those people who make the effort to create a detailed pattern only to give it away, especially since I now know just how much work goes into pattern making. Make another 'hooker' smile sometime and drop them a line thanking them for their free pattern. They will really appreciate it. I appreciate you, futuregirl!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Focus: Jess Rollar

Man, I have had an incredibly busy week. I have been helping to plan an event that I can't wait to re-cap for you as Monday's post. Many things have been accomplished and many cups of coffee have been consumed. But ya know, it just wouldn't be Friday without our Friday Focus, so I made sure to dedicate some quality time to the delightful Jess. Her designs are very unique and creepy-cute, with a splash of color thrown in. Let's shine a light on Jess and her brand, Milky Robot!

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
I have been doing crochet since late 2010. I am 100% self taught! I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and then just went at it. I tried for many years but it just never clicked with me until one day out of the blue.

Why do you crochet?
To me, crochet is very mindless and relaxing. I use crochet mostly for plush making and it helps me get my ideas made more accurately than knitting.

Crochet Favorites
Love the book Hello My Name is Amineko! My favorite yarn to crochet with is Dream in Color, it's so squishy and nice! I also love super cute crochet markers, I tend to just buy zipper pulls with the clasps and they work great!

What are you working on right now? What is your next project?
I'm actually getting ready to work on a ton of plush for my Indiegogo campaign rewards. I'll be sketching up some new amigurumi monsters in a couple weeks and diving in!

A few finished objects...

What I love about Jess is that her work is unlike anything I've ever seen before. There are only so many crochet stitches and shapes out there and it just amazes me how people like her can imagine something so different from what is already available. Look at those details! 

I recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to get my plush back in business! I am in need of new supplies so thought I would reach out to my friends and fans. I have been making plush since 2010 and love every minute of it! There are some awesome funding rewards that include plush, patterns and prints! The campaign will continue on till the end of July! You can check it out here

There are only five days left to claim rewards for her campaign, so check it out right away if you're interested. Thanks for sharing your interesting plushies with us, Jess! I think my favorite one is third row down all the way to the right. Didn't you know that severed head has always been my favorite flavor? ;)

You can find Jess and her work on her website, her blog, Facebook, and Etsy. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Freebee Applique

If you want to add interest to your crochet pieces, you have a few options. You could crochet pictures or patterns directly into the work. This usually entails either carrying another color along your working row of stitches and switching out as needed, or dropping the color but leaving it attached so that you can come back and pick it up later. The former is the more popular method and it is usually called tapestry crochet. I wrote a blog post about an incredible designer who specializes in tapestry crochet if you are interested in learning more. The pictures and color work are a seamless part of the object and the results are usually patterned on both sides.

Another way to add interest is with embellishments, commonly called appliques. In this case you work up a completely separate object and then stitch or sew it to your work. This is my preferred method of livening up my projects. Some people don't like the small amount of stitching that you can see on the back of the work after attaching an applique, but I don't mind it. I like that appliques add texture and dimension to my finished object. They can lie flat or pop out depending on how you sew them on. A yarn needle and yarn in the same color as the applique work well for this, but you could also use a needle and thread if you wanted the stitching to be less visible.

Here is a hat with a skull applique that I worked up for my Redditgifts Hat and Scarf Exchange rematch recipient.

Here is a hat with a strawberry applique from my Strawberries and Cream Baby Set pattern. This was my first original applique and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

I am happy to say that I have come up with another applique, my Freebee (Get it, it's free and it's a bee? Ba dum ch). One of the reasons I like appliques so much is that you can take any object idea and fiddle around with yarn until you come up with a shape that you like. For example, I undid the wings on this little bee several times before I was satisfied with their position.

What are your favorite applique patterns? If you haven't found the perfect applique for your project yet, consider inventing your own!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Little Owl

A dear friend of mine loves owls. She's in luck because owls are super trendy right now! For her birthday I decided to try out this popular free owl pattern. The finished object is very nice. I used much larger yarn than the pattern calls for resulting in a much larger owl. If you decide to try out the pattern for yourself, be aware that it has some really weird color changing instructions. Ignore them and use your own judgement like I did and you should be just fine.

Such a cute little bird! It's also kind of a blank slate that's begging to be dressed up with little scarves, bows, etc. I'll most likely be making more in a variety of colors. What add-ons would you like to see adorn our little fellow?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Focus: Stacey Trock

When I began to get serious about crochet a few years ago, I couldn't get enough of it. I bee-lined for the crafts section every time I went to the bookstore, closely examined crochet items that I found in shops, and of course scoured the internet for crochet resources. During my journey I came upon the work of Stacey Trock. Her brand FreshStitches is an inspiration to crocheters and entrepreneurs alike. Stacey is a woman of many hats, and I instantly fell in love with her unique designs, blog, podcasts, tutorials, and cheerful personality. She has done so much work to brighten the lives of crocheters, especially beginners. She even has two books out! It is with great pleasure that I present her as today's Friday Focus. As you can tell, I'm a little star struck! Take it away, Stacey...

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it?
My mom taught me to crochet when I was about 5 or 6... so I've been doing it basically as long as I can remember!

Why do you crochet?
I've always loved stuffed animals, and crochet creates a stiff fabric that's perfect for making animals. Sewing also makes lovely toys, but a sewing machine is noisy and isn't portable! That's why I always have some crochet with me.

Crochet Favorites
Yarns: Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool,  Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton, Spud and Chloe Sweater, Cascade 220 Superwash, Ella Rae Classic Wool.
Hook: Susan Bates Aluminum (inline)
Book: Any Japanese animal crochet book... they're so cute! 

What are you working on right now? What is your next project?
Right now, I'm crocheting a lion... I'm really excited about his mane! Next up, I'm thinking of a baby koala and some dog breeds!

A few finished objects...
I adore slugs and snails... and so when I was looking for something fun for my hair, I just *knew* I had to make a slug hair barrette!

I had been putting off designing a doll for the longest time... I just couldn't decide how to get the styling right. And then, one day, the idea for Mia hit me! And I love her :)

I just can't get enough of this guy's mane! I love rainbows :)

Those amigurumi speak for themselves. Super adorable! She certainly has a way with shape that has given all of her patterns a very recognizable style. Stacey has over 200 patterns to choose from, so there is certainly a pattern (or two!) for everyone. You can find her on her website, Ravelry, Facebook, and Twitter (@freshstitches). Amazing! My personal favorite pattern is the planet since I'm such a space nerd. What's yours?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wheel of Dreams Baby Blanket

I have an event coming up at the end of next week (which I will tell you all about after it happens!) that I am working hard to prepare for. Part of my preparations include me attempting to finish three of the patterns I've been thinking about and working on. This means not only creating the item itself, but also taking the time to capture in-progress pictures and writing instructions for the pattern PDF. I have been crocheting so much that I'll probably get tendonitis if I'm not careful, but the show must go on! Today I finished the first of the three patterns on my list. Here is my Wheel of Dreams baby blanket.

As you can see, the pattern heavily relies on Catherine's wheels, which are super fun to make. I'm happy with the way the blanket turned out. I hope to use the applique pattern I wrote in later projects as well. What other color combinations would look nice? I chose the two blues so that the blanket would look like the sky. The pattern is available in my Ravelry store

Ranna would like you to know that she was very helpful to me while I wrote this pattern. Indeed, she often acts like a second shadow to me and "helps" me with all of my daily activities. 

I'd like to pretend that I'll take a break for a day, but I know I won't. There are too many awesome things in my head that I need to bring to life with my hooks! Stay tuned for more original patterns and a recap of my upcoming event. Ta ta for now!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Special Edition: Basketweave Tutorial

So here's the deal. I had a few comments requesting a tutorial for the basketweave stitch. This has inspired Illuminate Crochet's first Special Edition post. That's right folks, today you get two posts instead of one! I may do this from time to time as I see fit. The following is an explanation of the basketweave stitch for all interested parties. To be successful you will need to be confident in your ability to chain and double crochet. You may also wish to have a notepad and pen to tally your rows as you complete them. Any size hook and yarn is fine, but I recommend 5.5 mm or 6 mm in a light color when you are learning something new. Each picture will be followed by text instructions. Ready? Here we go!

Start by chaining a multiple of 4. I chained 16 for my swatch, but I would chain 20 or 24 for a scarf width depending on the yarn and hook size. Add 4 more chain stitches. Since I started with 16, this brings my total to 20.

 We are now ready to begin the first row. The entire pattern will be worked as double crochet. Skip the first 3 chain stitches, yarn over, and insert your hook into the fourth chain stitch.

 Work 1 double crochet stitch into each chain stitch across. I have 18 posts including the turning chain made by skipping those first three stitches.

 Chain 2 and turn. We will now begin our second row by working around the posts. We will not be working into the "v's" like we would if we were doing another row of double crochet. We will be working around the posts made by the stitches of the previous row.

Skip the first post. Yarn over and insert your hook from right to left under the following double crochet stitch. In this picture you can see the post resting over the front of my hook, followed by my yarn over, followed by my working loop (the loop that always stays on your hook as you work).

 Yarn over and draw up a loop just like you would with any other double crochet stitch. 

 Finish your double crochet stitch as you normally would (yarn over, pull through two, yarn over, pull through two again). Congratulations! You have made a front post double crochet stitch. Notice that the stitch is now raised in the front.
Work three more stitches in just the same way, inserting your hook under the posts. 

We will now start a new set of four, this time back post double crochet. Yarn over and insert your hook from right to left under the next post from the back of the work. The post will rest on the back of your hook. Here you see a view from the top.

Here is a view from the front. Notice my hook is behind the work and the post of the current stitch is resting on the back of my hook. 

Yarn over and draw up a loop.

You now have three loops on your hook. Finish the stitch just like a regular double crochet to complete your back post double crochet stitch.

Here I have completed 4 back post double crochet stitches, inserting my hook from behind each time, pulling the posts back. Notice the difference between the four front post stitches and the four back post stitches.

Here is a view from the top.

Remember those front post double crochet stitches? Work another set of four. Continue working alternating sets of four until you reach the end of the row. I worked 4 front post dcs, 4 back post dcs, 4 front post dcs, and 4 back post dcs.

To finish the row, work 1 double crochet stitch into the top of the turning chain from the previous row. Chain 2 and turn.

For row three simply repeat row two. In other words, when you come to a front post like the one above, work a front post double crochet stitch. When you come to a back post, work a back post double crochet stitch. 

Here is my first completed front post stitch of my third row.

Remember to insert from the back when working a back post double crochet.

Yarn over.

Draw up a loop.

Finish the stitch as you would a normal double crochet stitch. 

Finish the row by working a double crochet stitch into the top of the turning chain as before.

Whew! We are done with row three, our second row of around the post crochet. Remember, our first row was regular double crochet.

Work two more rows as we did before. Here is my swatch at the end of my fifth row. I worked 1 row of regular double crochet and then 4 rows of around the post crochet.

Four our next row (row 6) we will start by chaining 2 as before. 

Don't panic. We are going to reverse the position of our posts. Instead of starting with a front post double crochet, we will start with a back post double crochet. Here I have yarned over and inserted my hook from the back, pulling the first post back as well. 

This is what it looks like from the front. Complete the stitch as you would a normal double crochet.

Here is a view from the back after I completed the stitch. Repeat this process for the following 3 front posts, converting them into back posts.

When you reach a back post, work a front post double crochet stitch, inserting your hook from the front. Here I have drawn up a loop before finishing the stitch.

This is what your work should look like at the end of row 6. The front posts are now back posts and vice versa. It may feel funny to work these stitch changes but I know you can do it! If you make a mistake simply pull it out and try again.

Don't forget to work 1 double crochet into the top of the turning chain at the end of every row. In this picture you can see the turning chain just hanging out and waiting to be crocheted into.

For rows 7, 8, and 9, go with the flow. When you reach a front post work a front post, when you reach a back post work a back post. Here I am at the end of row 9 after completing two sets of 4 rows each. To continue your object, continue working 4 rows alike and switching the posts on every 5th row. These sets of four identical rows are what form your basketweave. 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments! If you need a good video, I suggest All Free Crochet's YouTube series with Mikey. Happy hooking!