Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Focus: Olka Novitskaya for AradiyaToys

Holy cow, is it really the end of May already? Good grief. The time has just flown by! It's the last Friday of the month. Do you know what that means? It's time for the Friday Focus! I told you it was here to stay in addition to Remix Friday.

I'm really excited to have our featured designer with us today to share her amazing work. Olka's toys are so very detailed and crisp. They look as if they could come alive at any moment! In light of Stacey Trock's important reminder about copyright, I want to tell you something super cool... the game-themed toy designs depicting Plants vs. Zombies characters that are featured in today's post have totally been ok'ed by the game developers. Sweet! Alright, Olka, take it away!

Who taught you to crochet? How long have you been doing it? 
Internet. Everything I know and everything I do was found on the internet. I watched tons of YouTube videos, how-to pictures and then practiced a lot. I don’t have any heartbreaking story behind this :) But to be true, watching videos and surfing pictures of crocheting is only 5-10% of all you need to do. Other 90-95% is practice. I made many different toys before I found my style and learned how to pay attention to the details, that was the hardest thing. I started crocheting at April 2013 and I liked it very much, because I wanted to make toys, but could not choose the right way of doing it, crocheting is the most comfortable for me.

Why do you crochet?
I tried different kinds of handiwork and liked crocheting the most. Before that I did cross-stitching, made flowers and trees from beads, etc. But as I mentioned before, I always wanted to make toys and once I tried crocheting I just could not stop. The other reason is that I like monsters and other strange creatures. I never liked all those crochet glamour dolls or cute puppies :) Also I like playing weird games such as “The Binding of Isaac”. My taste is a little different than other crochet masters have and I’m trying to express my tastes in my toys, for example PvZ ones :) I feel happy when I crochet, maybe that is the main reason why I do this.

Crochet Favorites
My favorite hook is 1.25 mm, I like it because it is small enough to make tiny details on my toys and it is big enough to replace 2.00 mm hook, for example. But usually I work with 0.75-2.00 mm hooks, they do all I need and even more! Talking about yarn, I really love 100% cotton yarn by Kirov Yarn Mills, I love everything about it. But most of all I like its color scheme. That is the most important thing I care about. I love matching colors, maybe that is one more reason why I love crocheting so much.

What are you working on right now?
Right now I have few parallel projects: a toy for my boyfriend’s game, a few mushrooms for my PvZ collection, and an as yet nameless bear of my original design. I’m always trying to make a few projects at the same time, because I spend so much time making every toy, that’s why sometimes I get bored (when I make ten versions of the same toy, until I get the perfect result) and need to shift attention to another toy. That helps me a lot not to give up big projects.  

A few finished objects...
Chomper by AradiyaToys (Plants vs. Zombies)

Peashooter and Snow Pea by AradiyaToys (Plants vs. Zombies)

Monkey Elnino by AradiyaToys (AradiyaToys Design)

See what I mean? Olka's designs are so crisp and the shapes are spot-on. Amazing! Elnino is such a cute little monkey. It will be great to see what original designs Olka comes up with in the future. If you want to learn more about Aradiya Toys you can visit her Etsy, Ravelry, Craftsy, Facebook, and Instagram. Thank you so very much for joining us today, Olka!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Colorful Crochet Tools

Aside from hooks and yarn there are several other tools that I use for crocheting and designing. The other day I noticed something fun about them. Here's a picture. Can you guess what I noticed?

I must really like rainbows! The bag is made of plastic. I use it to transport my WIPs to and from my house and coffee shops where I can work in a slightly different environment. It keeps my projects safe from the Seattle rain. The spiral notebook contains my pattern rough drafts. I use the purple pen to write my patterns as I work them up before I digitize them. I've always been the sort of person who hand writes rough drafts. Both the bag and the notebook came from Borders before they closed *single tear*. The small booklet is where I doodle my design ideas using the Staedtler rainbow pen set. The booklet is covered in Lisa Frank stickers. I bought the vintage 90s stickers from Urban Outfitters when they were having a special deal on original Lisa Frank swag.

Despite what these tools may indicate, I really am 27 ;)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spotting Crochet on a Special Weekend in Portland

Alex and I are spending a special long weekend together for his 27th birthday. As part of the celebration we went to Portland, Oregon to see one of his favorite bands in concert and to have a little fun at all of the traditional Portland locations. We went to college in Salem and lived in Eugene for a few years so we've been to Portland many a time and it's very familiar to us. It's a great city! I found some time for crochet spotting while we were there.

A Portland must-do is Powell's City of Books. I swear I could truly live inside it. No matter how many times I go there its winding layout and massive bookshelves impress and delight me. A picture doesn't do it justice. If you've never been to Powell's, drop in someday and prepare to be amazed.

Alex and I spent a long time in Powell's picking out some treasures. I got three books from the crochet section, all of them stitch dictionaries. I also got a Stephen King book to read when I'm finished with my current novel, The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson.

Another Portland must-do is the Saturday Market. There were many crochet related booths present, but my favorite this time was Jim's Woodworking and his wooden crochet hooks. Wooden crochet hooks always remind me of magic wands, which is fitting since we surely do magical things with them!

Look at the gigantic crochet hook in the corner! I love it. We tried to buy it, but it was only for display.

A special dinner was spent at Mother's Bistro. It was so delightful! They had really good food, a good atmosphere, and reasonable prices. We tried to go back for brunch on a different day but they were totally packed! 

While we were at the restaurant I discovered this lovely framed filet crochet doily hanging in the entryway. Crochet is everywhere :)

 The band we went to see, Mogwai, played a great show. I really loved their light effects. The concert was very captivating. If you haven't heard of Mogwai you may have heard their music without realizing it. They did the soundtrack to the French television show Les Revenants (The Returned). It's on Netflix streaming if you want to check it out.

I'm so happy that Alex was able to see Mogwai for his birthday. Mogwai is a special band for us because it was the subject of our first conversation. The first thing I ever said to him as he sat concentrating in a study group with his headphones on was "What are you listening to?". It was Mogwai. 

We intend to enjoy the last of our long weekend together today. What have you been up to?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Remix Friday: Mommy and Me Divine Hats

When it comes to making a project your own, a simple change can make a big difference. Perhaps you'll work up a shell border instead of a ruffle border on a baby blanket. Maybe the amigurumi dinosaur you're making needs wings to make it a dragon. Whatever the change, small alterations can make a project feel totally new and personal. Today we're going to look at how Katrina's simple changes to a much loved hat pattern make it special for two happy recipients.

The Crocheter
When I needed a screen name, my husband dubbed me his PearlofGreatPrice and it seemed to fit my yarn related interests so I go by Pearl when talking knit and crochet.
Crochet was a second language my Mother taught me when I was 8 years old.  She had learned it from a friend's mother when she was a little girl.  No one else around us showed any interest so it was our special bond that we shared and loved for many many years and passed on to my daughter when she wanted to learn.  It was through crochet that I found much needed comfort and closeness to my Mother when she went on to her reward in glory.  Now when I see my Granddaughter wrapped in or wearing something I made for her from what I learned at my Mother's knee, I can feel her love enveloping us both in every stitch and that makes me smile inside and out.

The Original Pattern
Divine Hat by Sarah Arnold

The Story
The Divine Hat was a little miraculous answer to prayer.  Wanting to make a matching Mother+Daughter hat, I asked which was their favorite.  My Dear Daughter-in-law showed me one someone else had made and the baby had already outgrown.  She enthusiastically said she really wanted a larger one but I had no clue where to find the pattern.  One day I happened to be on Ravelry looking up projects made with a yarn from my stash and low and behold there was the Divine Hat Pattern! 

The Remix
I made the first one according to the pattern in the baby size, but realized I wanted to give it more depth so I added some extra rows in the next one.  Both the original hat and the first one I made seemed too snug with the front and back post stitching at the head band so I switched over to single crochet in rounds so it would have a little more give.   Then for the matching set I added several rows to the body of the adult sized hat so it could also be worn back like a slouch hat or pulled down snug.  For extra versatility there's room to fold up a cuff with the 12 rows of single crochet in the round (it's also a smoother finish without slip stitch joins).  For fun, I added my favorite crochet flower, Frothy Layered Flower by Ali Burdon, with a pin on the back so it can be placed in different positions according to the way the hat is being worn.

Note: All pictures belong to PearlofGreatPrice.


Crochet is... Creativity, Compassion and Comfort.

You can usually find me at for those who knit and crochet.  One visit and you'll probably be calling it your on line home too.

What a fun twist on a hat pattern I totally love. What small changes have you made to patterns to make them your own? Thank you so much for joining us today, Katrina!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Seaspray Mandala

If you haven't already gotten in on Attic 24's community mandala project for Yarndale 2014, there's still time! As far as I know Lucy will be accepting mandalas until the end of June. I participated in last year's Yarndale project and had a lot of fun.

Although she has several options available for mandala making, I decided to contribute my own free-hand mandala. No pattern this time, just random crochet fun. I can't wait to send it off to the UK in the next few days. Here's my Seaspray Mandala.

I used Martha Stewart Extra Soft Wool Blend in two colors and a 5mm hook for my mandala. I wanted to pretty it up a bit so I also attached some small pearls by running thin wire through the stitches. The pearls were leftovers from my jewelry making days and I was really happy they got some use.

Community crochet projects are so exciting! I love it when people can share their love of crochet with one another. There are two more upcoming community crochet projects that I'll be writing about soon. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Diamond Strike Banded Scarf

I recently acquired Crochet One-Skein Wonders and finally found the time to work up one of the projects. There are many awesome patterns in this well-organized book, so it was rather difficult selecting the right one to start with. I settled on the Diamond Strike Banded Scarf by Kristen Stoltzfus. It was quite a fun pattern to work up. Several months ago I purchased some DK weight yarn from Huckleberry Knits and that's what I used for this project. It took me a few sittings to memorize the repeat but once I did it went by much more quickly than I expected!

A little light steam blocking did wonders for this project. I'm really pleased with the result. What do you think?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Remix Friday: "Hook" Hook Case

I have a lot of respect for people who are bistitchual. Also referred to as multicraftual, which sometimes includes crafts outside of needle arts, bistitchual people are proficient in both knitting and crochet. My forays into knitting haven't gone so well, but I'm not giving up hope! It's especially motivating when I see awesome hybrid projects like today's featured Remix. Kristy's crocheted Hook Hook Case goes from simple utility to truly inspired with her special knitted addition. Take a look!

The Crocheter
My name is Kristy.  I have my BA in Textiles, and I teach different kinds of textile classes to both children and adults.  My main teaching focus right now is crochet (I teach 3 to 4 crochet classes a week - depending on the week).

The Original Pattern
Aluminum Crochet Hook Case by Priscilla Hewitt

The Story 
This hook case was for me, and it has been a real conversation starter.  The reason why I made it was that there was a challenge in one of the Ravelry challenge groups that I was in at the time.  I don't remember what the challenge was, I just remember what my inspiration was.  I was a member of a Disney team, so my tie in had to have something to do with Disney.  I was watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates while crocheting the case, and it was an episode about Captain Hook's hooks being stolen by an orange octopus.  Bingo!  I knew that I wanted to add an orange octopus to the case and call it Hook's hook case.  I love that I was able to combine both knitting and crochet together, and that I could control what the octopus looked like on the case (how I sewed the tentacles).

The Remix
I followed the pattern exactly.  The inside plastic canvas is brown, because the store was out of black at the time.  What I added to the pattern was a knitted orange octopus around the outside of it.  I also added a black snap button to keep it closed.

Crochet is... fast, easy, and fun.

Incredible. I have a soft spot for octopi because they are so intelligent and mysterious. Certainly sneaky enough to steal those hooks! What a beautiful bridge between knit and crochet. For more crafty goodness check out Kristy's blog, YouTube channel, Facebook group, and website. Thank you so much for showing and telling today, Kristy!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Yarn Review: Celestial Strings

Celestial Strings is a new indie yarn brand by dyer and shopkeeper Angela Moon. I recently had the opportunity to test out two of her yarns. Score! Since I love all things space, hence the name of my own brand and the appearance of my blog, I was all too excited for my yarn to arrive. It was worth the wait! I got two adorable little sample hanks, one worsted and one DK. I wish I had thought to take a picture of them in their cute little hank form, but I was apparently too focused on getting down to business. Here's what I did with them. Side note: This is my honest opinion and I am not being compensated in any way for writing this review.

The worsted weight yarn was so squishy and inviting that I immediately thought of making a hat with it. Here's my tiny hat swatch. I should have included a scale object. This little guy is only about as big as my hand. The yarn was really smooth to work with, no snags at all. The colorway is Cosmos. Love it! I have totally been wishing for a tweedy yarn that has tasteful built-in white star flecks (no, really!), so I totally adore it.

Here's a closeup to show more of the colors. I had a hard time capturing them. It's just gorgeous in person. I think I'll end up frogging this swatch and trying to make something useable out of the yarn because I really don't want it to go to waste.

Since I worked in the round for the worsted I decided to work in rows to test the DK. It worked up just as smoothly as the other. This colorway is Quasar. I like the worsted better but that's just because I'm a worsted or bulky weight kind of girl in general.

I turned my DK swatch into this sweet little bow. It is going to become either a hair clip or a pin, I haven't quite decided yet. And guess what? This isn't going to get sold in my Etsy store. I'm keeping this one for myself because I like this space yarn so much!

I have no complaints about this yarn and I intend to purchase some in the future. I may even design with it! Celestial Strings is certainly a brand to watch. As far as I can tell Angela is still setting up shop and ramping up, and I can't wait to see the awesome colorways she comes up with as time goes on. Thanks for the samples, Angela! I had a great time experimenting.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Little Crochet Crab

Here's a sweet little crab that I made following this pattern by Eden Dintsikos. Nautical stuff is always on my mind in spring and summer.

Woo, red sure shows up hot on my camera! I used Caron Simply Soft for this amigurumi, though I wouldn't really recommend using SS for toys. The shine is quite nice but it's a bit difficult to work with when you are trying to crochet tightly. This little crab is destined to live on my husband's desk at work along with his octopus and lobster.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Remix Friday: Amineko 2013 Temperature Cat

Hello, friends! Today is the day for the first ever Remix Friday! As I mentioned in this post, Remix Friday is a time to celebrate beyond-the-pattern projects by everyday crocheters. I am so excited to show you what talented crafters from all over the world have been up to. We're kicking things off in a big way with Karin's Amineko 2013 Temperature Cat. This project is super impressive and creative.

The Crocheter
I'm Karin, 33 years old and from the Netherlands. I'm a freelance programmer. I've been doing crafts all my life, when I was little it was one craft after another and back. My main hobby from 2005 onwards was scrap booking, which I still do too. There wasn't much in the way of fiber arts, I did do my share of making friendship bracelets when I was 14-15 but that was it on the fiber front until three years ago when I saw a book in a craft store ad about making amigurumi dogs. I went to town the next day to pick up the book and materials and got started. From there it kept going, I quickly found Ravelry and of course the Amineko pattern. I bought the book on Amazon and finished my first Amineko in February, about a month after I started crocheting. I made several more and a few months later made and gifted a couple modeled after my friend's cats. She liked them so much she also started crocheting and then ended up challenging me by making them smaller and smaller, using the original pattern but thinner yarn, up to the point where we made one with size 80 tatting cotton using a 0.6mm crochet hook. I also crocheted several shawls, cowls, a bag, and a big blanket that proudly lays on my bed every day. I also started knitting in 2012, and my Aminekos soon got company from a couple of Jacobus monkeys. Recently I've added weaving to the lineup of fiber arts. 
I mainly use acrylics and sport cotton, for budgetary reasons mostly. I crochet because I like doing it so I don't mind using cheaper materials, I find it a challenge to make something beautiful out of something cheap. Color wise I often lean torwards pink but mostly I like to find color combinations that really work.

The Original Pattern
Amineko Crocheted Cat by Nekoyama

The Story
I was chatting along in the Crochet Small Talkers group on Ravelry where I learned about the year in temperatures scarf idea. This 'pattern' by Kristen Cooper is a concept where you take a pattern with rows to make up a total of 365 rows where each row represents the temperature for a day in that year. I loved the idea, and then I thought I could take it a step further by altering the Amineko pattern. I wanted to do this for 2013 for a few reasons. First of all I'd had a few rough years before and I had the feeling this was going to be 'my year', when things would get better. A year worth remembering. Secondly, even though I'm not superstitious I often found myself avoiding the number 13. If I was on a project and I was about to call it a day but I found myself on row 13 I would continue and finish row 14 before stopping. I figured this would be the ultimate way of stopping that, doing a project all about 2013. As it turned out it was an interesting year temperature wise too, which was a nice bonus.

The Remix
For the Temperature Amineko I carefully looked at the differences between the original and bigger Amineko patterns from the book. Basically you'll see that for the big pattern the number of rows and stitches is multiplied by two. So for the head, for example, you'd normally start with 6 and increase by 6 for 8 rows giving you 48, now you increase for another 8 rows giving you 96 stitches at the widest point. I wanted to recalculate this pattern in such a way that you'd have 365 rows from the coloured part of the legs up to the tips of the ears. This meant multiplying the big pattern by about 2.4. This made the widest part of the head 228 stitches long! I picked 26 colours for the different temperatures from my sport cotton stash. I did a lot of the calculations and charts for which color to use for which rows in Excel (actually, libreoffice calc, which is like Excel).

Crochet is... de-stressing, challenging, cuddly

Wow, what a cat! All of the vibrant colors make it so special. I've heard of temperature projects before, but this is the first time I've seen it done as a stuffed animal. Neat! If you'd like to see more of Karin's ongoing craft adventures you can visit her blog. Thanks for sharing your cat with us, Karin!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Patterns Are Trending!

I was browsing Craftsy a little while ago when I noticed something awesome. Two of my patterns are trending! My Sweet As Honey Baby Set is in the top 50 of all crochet patterns and my Nebula Cowl is in the top 20 of all cowl patterns. I found the baby set when I was just casually browsing. I became curious so I searched for "cowl" as well and that's how I found the other pattern.

Since there are 27,700 crochet patterns on Craftsy and 845 crochet cowl patterns, this puts the Sweet As Honey Set in the top .2% of all crochet patterns (yes, that's a decimal!) and the Nebula Cowl in the top 2.5% of all crochet cowl patterns. Of course, this is all subject to change, but wow! Talk about an uplifting tidbit. Thanks for helping me make my patterns such a success! I promise to keep unveiling fun, imaginative, high-quality patterns for everyone to enjoy.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nautical Infinity Scarf

Good morning and Happy Monday! I don't know about you but I am super ready to start the week. I have lots of mini-goals and lots of drive to accomplish them. Speaking of accomplishments, I posted a new pattern today! The Nautical Infinity Scarf is now available on Ravelry and Craftsy. Take a look and tell me what you think. I think it's pretty darn adorable and a little French-inspired. It can be worn wrapped once or twice around.

Thanks go out to Katie for modeling for me :)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Focus Retrospective

It's May. Did you know that the Friday Focus feature began last May? That's right, this month both the Friday Focus and my blog turn 1 year old. Time flies when you're having fun! In the past year I've had 44 amazing crochet designers and artists visit us on Illuminate Crochet. It's been really interesting collaborating with so many talented people. I am so thankful to each of them for taking time out of their busy lives to be a part of my feature. In order of appearance, here is a list of all of the Friday Focus designers who joined us this year as well as what they specialize in (though they often do much more).

Britni Husband - amigurumi
Rose Langlitz - food amigurumi
Carol Ventura - tapestry crochet
Tamara Kelly - accessories, home, baby
Heather Sonnenberg - baby, amigurumi
Joyce Lewis - afghan blocks
Dendennis - amigurumi
Stacey Trock - stuffed animals, baby
Jess Rollar - amigurumi
Elizabeth Ann White - doilies, home
Susan Lowman - home, accessories
Jade Red - accessories, clothing
Trish - clothing, amigurumi, accessories
Gabriele Meyer - hyperbolic art
Justine Gerns - microcrochet
Aeron Aanstoos - ocean amigurumi
Joy Koestner - amigurumi 
Ann D. Angelo - amigurumi
Renate Kirkpatrick - freeform crochet
Lucy Ravenscar - amigurumi
Aaron Matthew - hats
Sonja van der Wijk - amigurumi
Maja Masar - baby
Liz McQueen - hats
Kathy Clark - accessories, home, clothing
Lara Mouttham - nerdy hats and wristwarmers
Norma Lynn Hood - food amigurumi
Sarah Moss - accessories
Lee Mac - tapestry portraits 
Jen Atchison - accessories
Joyce Overheul - amigurumi, hats
Danielle Kassner - colorwork
Maggie Weldon - home, kids, baby
Jean Herman - amigurumi
Vendula Maderska - amigurumi, accessories, appliques 
Tammy Hildebrand - clothing, home, accessories
Maya Kuzman - accessories
Regina Rioux - home, accessories
Stace Clement - hats
Jenn Wolfe Kaiser - accessories 
Marken - baby, hats
Twinkie Chan - accessories, home, amigurumi 
Carol Wolf - clothing, accessories

Oh man, I am so excited about today's post! I've been keeping an exciting secret for a while and now I finally get to share it with you! I am going to be shaking things up on Illuminate Crochet this year. This month I am unveiling a new feature: Remix Friday!

Here's the story behind Remix Friday. I've had such a fun time interviewing designers. However, for every designer there are about a gazillion hobby crocheters out there who are making amazing things as well. I really want to take the time to appreciate all creative crochet folks, not just designers. Remix Fridays will showcase finished objects by everyday crocheters that go above and beyond the patterns with additions or complete revisions. You're going to love what I've lined up! I hope these Remixed objects will inspire you to make patterns your own and try new things. If you love the Friday Focus, don't worry! I'll still be featuring a designer on the last Friday of each month.

Great things are happening here on Illuminate Crochet. Thanks for reading!