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.