Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Trip to Maker's Mercantile

The Rainy Sunday Knitters recently took a trip to Maker's Mercantile, a lovely store with yarn, findings, fabrics, classrooms, a sit-and-stitch room, and even a cafe! The store is located about 30 minutes out of town, so we all made an excursion out of it! We went to dim sum beforehand (the first time I had ever been) and my friend Sooz used her knowledge of Mandarin to do all of the ordering for us! It was amazing and delicious. I even got to try durian 

Maker's Mercantile was lovely and very crochet-friendly. I got some yarn there that is going to become my next pattern! In the meantime, enjoy these pictures.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Friendly Food for Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope you're having a great day today, no matter what you celebrate. Did you make any crochet presents this year? I've been so busy with secret crochet that I was worried I wouldn't be able to make any. However, I managed to squeeze two gifts in! The first is a small crochet taco that I made for my recipient in a Secret Santa exchange. She really likes tacos, so I included the little guy along with her gift. He has a string so that he can be used as an ornament.

I free-handed the tiny taco in Cascade Cherub Aran scraps. No pattern this time. However, if you wanted to you could probably recreate him. I started with a yellow, single crochet circle that had too many increases towards the center and too few on the outer rim (so that it would give him a taco-y shape), ending with a rim of single crochet in front loops only. I then folded the circle in half and placed the eyes and mouth. For the lettuce, I double crocheted a half circle and ended with an outer row that had three dc in each dc. This created the ripple. The meat was a simple half double crochet strip. The tomato was a round of double crochet followed by a round where I worked [1 hdc into dc, 1 fpdc around post of same dc]. I layered the fillings inside the taco and sewed him up under the single crochet ridge. Finally, I slip stitched into the back of the taco and chained to add the hanging strand. All in all he took me about 40 minutes to complete.

The other gift I made was a slice of pie for my pie-loving boyfriend. I used this crochet pie pattern by Sherry Rohekar. It was easy to follow and fun to make. If you decide to follow the pattern, I highly encourage you to add the optional single crochet finishing border. The difference between adding the border and not was very noticeable. I used Berroco Comfort Chunky to make this pie slice. The face was my own addition, as well as the whipped cream.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Favorite Things Giveaway Winner

Thanks to those of you who entered the contest by posting on Instagram! The winner of the contest is...

Congrats! The rest of you should stay tuned. I have a giveaway plan for the coming year that should be super fun for everyone.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Crochet Patterns for Last Minute Gifts

Being a teacher, I have the winter break off from now until January 4th. Well, I do have about a million things to accomplish by the end of December (and a major secret crochet project coming due!), so I guess I don't really have "time off". Perhaps you have similar struggles and limited time. Luckily, I have a few free and paid crochet patterns that are here for you to use as last minute gifts. If you've just realized that you don't have anything for Aunt Charlotte or you've decided spur-of-the-moment to make something for your best friend's daughter, you've come to the right place. The following patterns should each take about three hours or less to complete.

Paid Patterns

Free Patterns

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sara's Favorite Things: Yarn Edition with Giveaway

Were you ever an Oprah fan? I used to watch a lot of Oprah with my mom when I was growing up. The best episodes of all were her Favorite Things episodes. Around holiday time, she would select a bunch of awesome stuff, tell the audience why it was awesome, and then give out free stuff. (Now she simply posts them online.)

Today I'd like to tell you a bit about my favorites when it comes to yarn. I love many, many yarns and there are many yarns that I haven't tried, but over time I have bonded with a few yarns in particular. I can't give out the yarn to each member of the audience... that would be hundreds to thousands of skeins of yarn, depending on how many people view this particular post! However, what I can do is have a small giveaway. It's been a while since I've hosted a giveaway! Here's the sitch: One lucky reader will be able to choose a yarn that is described below and I will send them a few skeins in colors of their choice. Ready to enter the giveaway? Meet me at the bottom of the post to find out how. In the meantime, here are my...

Cascade Cherub Aran
Cascade Cherub also comes in DK weight, but I like the Aran weight best. This yarn is one of the softest acrylic blends that I have come across, mixed with nylon for extra softness and durability. It has a light halo that gives it an inviting, cozy appeal. This yarn comes in tons of vibrant colors, both solid and variegated, making it easy to find the colors you want for your project. I have written several patterns with this yarn because I think it is excellent for babies. It is washable and durable while still being very soft. I imagine a garment made with the DK weight would be heavenly. That's something I would like to try in the future. This yarn is also very reasonably priced.

Berroco Comfort Worsted and Berroco Comfort Chunky
This is another really soft nylon-acrylic blend. While Cherub Aran is fuzzy and has a lot of halo, Berroco Comfort is sleek and has excellent stitch definition. The finished projects are both super classy and delightfully squishy at the same time. Being another great choice for babies and kids, I have written several baby patterns with this yarn. It comes in tons of great colors and is very affordable. My friend Suzanne recently knit a baby blanket in this yarn and totally loved it, so I have anecdotal evidence that it is great for knitters as well as crocheters.

Crystal Palace Mochi Plus and Crystal Palace Chunky Mochi
I love one ply yarns so very much. They provide projects with such sweetness and show off colorways. This one ply yarn comes in the best colorways ever. So pretty and exciting! This yarn is a merino and nylon blend, giving it superior softness and shine. Each ball is quite petite, less than 100 yards, but I promise you that it is so worth it. Every time I use it I just want to rub it all over my face. What? I'm not a weirdo...I don't know what you're talking about.

Mountain Colors Twizzle
This yarn is such a joy to work with. It is so very soft because it is a blend of wool and silk. The special twizzle color patterning makes for very interesting finished projects. I first got this yarn as a review item, and I was totally hooked (pun intended!) from the moment it came out of the package. This is yet another yarn that is very inviting and awesome to squish. I must have a thing for cozy, squishy yarns! The price point is a touch above other yarns, but with the silk content that isn't surprising.

So there you have them, four of my favorite yarns. There are many more yarns that I love, but these are the examples I felt like sharing with you today. Ready to enter the giveaway? Simply Instagram a picture of one of your favorite crochet things and add me as a tag. For example, you could post a pic of your favorite hook with the description "This is the best hook ever! @illuminatecrochet". Your favorite could be anything from a favorite crochet buddy to a favorite spot to crochet. The deadline is Monday, December 21st at 11:59pm Pacific Time and the winner will be announced the following Tuesday. See you on Instagram!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Crochet Deadlines

Have you ever had to crochet on a deadline? Maybe you planned a crochet gift for a holiday or birthday. Maybe you accepted a commission. Maybe you have secret crochet tasks like I do right now. Sometimes expectations of time spent don't quite line up with the realities. It doesn't really matter how we got to this place, how much we completely love both crochet and the recipients, whether or not we should have accepted these challenges, or how important our deadlines are. The fact of the matter is that there are many of us on a tight crochet deadline right now and we've got to fight for our survival and success. My friends, I'd like to take a moment to laugh/cry with those of you who empathize. Let's take the edge off with some humor (and then get back to work)!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Reusing Crochet Swatches as Erasers

As many of you know, during the day I work as a teacher. Though I studied psychology as my Bachelor's and elementary education as my Master's, I am currently teaching humanities courses to middle and high school students, with a few younger kids in there whenever the need arises. The one-on-one style school that I work for is dedicated to providing a distraction-free environment where kids who are having a hard time in public school can focus and achieve success.

Though we understand the need for a crisp, clean teaching environment, my fellow instructors and I have found a few ways to make it more personal without distracting students. My contribution to the workplace was...can you guess? Crochet! I don't know about you, but I have an entire drawer of swatches just hanging around waiting to be utilized. Thus, I put them to work as whiteboard erasers!

Now there is a spot of crochet color in each station and my swatches have found a new life. Win-win! How do you like to reuse your swatches?

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Real Example of Copyright Infringement

I'm a nice girl. I like to bake treats for friends, read to small children, and give directions to tourists who are lost in Seattle. I'm an honest girl. I admit when I've broken something on accident, when I've said something that I shouldn't have, and I'm open about my feelings.

Today I need to be open about my feelings of anger. It's hard to be nice when someone has done something not only blatantly unkind to me, but also illegal. Dear readers, I need to talk to you again about copyright infringement, both for my own emotional release and to give you a real life example of something that can feel abstract. Despite my efforts to go through the proper channels about this situation, nothing is being done. This leaves me with the feeling that the only thing I can do is expose them.

There is a seller on Ebay UK who is illegally selling one of my free patterns, the Strawberries and Cream Baby Set. They claim that my pattern is "out of copyright", which is obviously false. The pattern states that it's okay to distribute it ONLY if the distributor is not charging for the pattern, which this person clearly is.

It boils my blood that they are exploiting not only me but anyone who buys my pattern from them. It's free! I have several free patterns available. I provide free patterns to give potential buyers an idea of what to expect from my paid patterns, to invite readers to visit my blog, and to give back to the crochet community. How dare this person interfere with that! From comments that others have made, it seems like they are illegally photocopying other patterns and are none too kind when buyers point that out.

This is not the first time I've had to fight for my copyright and it won't be the last. I hope that the digital landscape catches up with copyright issues and starts providing more effective ways for people like me to approach meanies and get issues dealt with. Thanks for listening to me talk about this issue today and extra special thanks to all of the readers and followers who have alerted me to copyright issues regarding my patterns in the past few years.

UPDATE 12-8-15
The pattern was finally taken down! I guess messaging about it repeatedly finally worked.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Novice Dye Kits

The other day I visited Jo-ann Fabrics. While I was there I spotted a whole end cap devoted to indie yarn dyeing. Interesting! DIY yarn dyeing has become so popular that kits are being sold by major retailers who aren't fiber specific.

Have you ever used one of these dye kits? Have you ever dyed your own yarn? I have yet to do either (gasp!), but I hope that next year will provide me with more opportunities of that nature.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dangling Doily

Short post today. I was out at a shop recently when I saw this interesting example of crochet. It was a tiny motif inside a glass case on a chain.

I love the interesting ways that crochet has been incorporated into fashion lately. What examples have you seen?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hook to Heal by Kathryn Vercillo

Kathryn Vercillo, one of the most supportive and active voices in the crochet community, has just released her new book, Hook to Heal.

This is her second book on the health benefits of crochet, which she is an expert on. What makes this book unique is its goal of providing you with the most health benefits possible by guiding you through activities. If you've struggled with anything lately, big or small, Kathryn's new book can help you use your crochet time to its best stress-relieving advantage. Thank you for putting more good things out into the world, Kathryn!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Flower Your City with CausticWear

So, today is my birthday. Yay! I am older (*gasp* 29), hopefully wiser? Definitely no less likely to wear my hair in pigtail braids or pick up jeans off of the floor to wear them again. Wanna know what I love? Flowers! I am a girly girl, indeed. Today for my birthday I want to tell you about the flowers of a friend of mine, Lauren.

Lauren is something of a VIT, or Very Important Tester. She's one of a few who have been with me since the beginning and whose support and help I value very much. She is something of a crochet flower expert.

Guess what? She's got a new project going that you can get in on. It's a collaborative paperwhite flower project. Make sure to get in on it by the due date of December 12th!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Knit Fit 2015

How was your weekend? Mine was great! I had a chance to go to a special annual Seattle fiber event called Knit Fit with some good friends. I am so very lucky to live in an area where fiber culture is alive and strong. Sooz, Lindley, Hilary, and I met for a delicious lunch and a visit to the fiber market at Knit Fit.
There were also knitting classes available, but I didn't catch any this time around. Sooz enjoyed her classes on knitting for health and Portuguese knitting. There weren't any crochet classes offered. Maybe I should change that? :p It's sometimes hard to go to events that exclude crochet, even now that I know how to knit. However, nothing will change unless folks like you and me get out there and change it. We love fiber, too!

Wow, I have digressed... Here's a bit about my time at the market. I met some super awesome people!

One of the first booths I stopped at belonged to Three Fates Yarns, who I've interviewed here on the blog. 

 Just look at those gorgeous colors!

I also met and chatted with Dave of Dave Yocom's Wood Creations. His yarn bowls are absolutely lovely and he makes them all himself. Such a friendly and talented guy!

Look at this intensely creative interactive wall put up by Hazel Knits. They had each yarn color on a magnet so that you could make your own color scheme easily. So neat!

I was so happy to finally meet Cory Ellen Boberg of Indie Knits. She's simultaneously a local legend and a friend of those in my fiber circles, and she was every bit as wonderful as I had heard. 

Cory had many inspiring knitting patterns available for purchase at the market.

After looking for evidence of crochet all day and wondering if I'd have to leave disappointed, Meg ran in from the rain wearing one of her personally designed dresses.

Look how lovely the crochet elements are!

It was a terrific time all around. I am thinking about how I might want to get involved next year. Hmmm... In the meantime, here's one last picture. It's a weird one that I took after coming in from the cold. My camera lens was all foggy! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ultimate Crochet Gift List: Ideas for Moms, Boyfriends, Best Friends, and more!

As crafters we know that the holiday season is almost upon us. You've probably already started making gifts (if that's something you're into), but you may still be stumped as to what you'd like to make for a certain person. Maybe you feel like you've already made them everything possible for past holidays. Fear not! Finding gift ideas for the holidays and beyond should now be a cinch! I have just put my blood, sweat, and tears into what I hope is the Ultimate Crochet Gift List.

This list is divided into two sections. First you'll see the complete list of all items divided by category. Please note that the list items are broad. For example, "scarf" may be a single list item. However, there are a lot of different types of scarves that include infinity scarves, scarflettes, traditional scarves, etc. I kept the list broad so that it wouldn't get too long.

Next you'll find a series of targeted lists made to help you find a gift for a specific person. Please note that some lists are gendered. This doesn't mean that I believe everyone of a certain gender would like certain things, and I would never endorse judging others for their personal tastes. I simply put together some lists in the hopes that they would be helpful for some folks.

Ultimate Crochet Gift List

Accessories: Head
hat, ear warmer, headband, scoodie, hooded cowl, hair bow, snood, bonnet, collar, earrings

Accessories: Neck
scarf, tie, bow tie, cowl, cape, wrap, shawl, necklace

Accessories: Hands
gloves, mittens, wristbands, wrist warmers, fingerless gloves, arm warmers, bracelet

Accessories: Feet
socks, slippers, boot toppers, leg warmers, barefoot sandals, stockings, anklet

Accessories: To Carry
purse, tote bag, device case, messenger bag, market bag, coin purse, backpack 

Accessories: Other
belt, pin, willy warmer (NSFW)

sweater, cardigan, bolero, jacket, vest, dress, skirt, shorts, top

Home Goods
throw blanket, full-sized blanket, baby blanket, throw pillow, basket, bowl, pocket organizer, ottoman/pouf, tissue box holder, cushion, rug, doormat, valance, pin cushion, stool/chair cover, doorstop, paperweight

Kitchen and Dining
tea cosy, dish scrubbies, hanging towles, dish cloths, place mats, centerpiece, table runner, napkin ring, pot holder, edged towels, edged napkins

wash cloths, bath mat, hot water bottle cover, makeup remover pads, toilet lid cover, soap cover, loofah, drawer caddie

crown, superhero cape, mask, stuffed animal, amigurumi, tent, play food, crinkle toy, game set, ball, stuffed animal net, themed play set

doily, ornament, stocking, garland, wreath, framed art, freeform art, vase/jar cover, candle holder, hanging plant holder, faux flowers/potted plant, covered rocks

bookmark, parasol, hand fan, collar, leash, pet bed, cat cave, lidded box