I have exciting news to share: I recently filmed another Craftsy class and it’s live!
Professional Finishing for Perfect Crochet is an exploration of finishing techniques (& some that you work as you go) that will make your work shine. And most of them are really easy, once you know what you are doing. For instance- have you ever been crocheting along and suddenly notice your sides aren’t straight? If you’re working on a blanket, that might be 1500 stitches to rip, if it takes you 5 rows to realize it. I’ll show you how to add back the stitches in an almost unnoticeable way, with NO ripping. Then I’ll also show you how to prevent that problem in the first place! I give both “perfect” and “close enough” suggestions, cause I get it– it doesn’t always need to be perfect, sometimes it just needs to be done. I filled in the missing slice of stitches on both swatches below so you could see- it’s noticeable, but in a matching color?– hardly!
We’ll explore everything from neater colorwork and smooth stripes without a zillion ends to blocking, seaming, and evenly spaced buttons. It’s a great compilation of all the tips and tricks I have learned over the years in creating projects for magazines and books– the hardest part was deciding what did and din’t make it into the class! I demonstrate a lot of techniques on real projects– like blocking sweater pieces and seaming the curve of a sleeve, because it’s one thing to sew up a swatch and quite another to match side-edges with top edges in a lacy pattern. You’re going to get an excellent first-person view–these photos are actually screen shots I took from the class- plus the ability to ask me about that project that you just can’t figure out how to block/seam/ edge.
I even take a deep breath and show you ways to cut your crochet to shorten the length (with virtually no risk!), and how to seamlessly graft length to the bottom of your piece, so that the stitches travel in the same direction– for both basic stitches and a lace swatch. You may have seen this before but my method involves securing all of your stitches before you cut, so there’s really nothing to worry about. You can even use this method to repair a foundation chain that’s just too tight, again, without having to rip back to the beginning. The second image shows 2 swatches with additional length (in pink) seamlessly grafted to the bottom. You know, for when you make that sweater and it’s too short, but darn it, you don’t WANT to add ribbing.
The class is only $29.99 but I have two deals for you. You can enter to win it free by following this link to register for a giveaway (contest entries end Monday, 7/23/14 at midnight mountain time). Since the class is online– international entries are welcome! Or, if you can’t wait, just use this link to go ahead and sign up for 50% off. At $14.99 that’s less than 50 cents per technique– there are over 33 contained in 7 lessons, and that’s just what was obvious to count. I had so much fun filming this one, and I can’t wait to show you all of the stuff I’ve learned over the years, and see what your questions are. You can watch the class whenever you want, and I love to answer student questions. My favorite part? When all of the students chime in and all of us get to learn something! I hope to see you there.
Whoa, trying to log in to write this post I realized that it’s been so long that I almost forgot how to log in! Life has been busy but slowly I have been able to squeeze in some time to do a few crochet designs for fun, and I wanted to share them with you. Each is available as a kit on Craftsy, with the pattern and yarn included in the price. Pretty sweet.
First up is the Craspedia Cardigan. You might remember when I made this in green, but I re-crochetd it in delicious Miss Babs “Yet” and I love it in this yarn, too. It’s light and breezy, perfect for Spring and Summer. I’m actually working on a third version right now, so you know it’s not that hard to crochet. There is a lot of shaping (don’t be afraid, that means increasing and decreasing) and seaming, but that’s what gives it such a lovely structure and shape. Try it out.
Next is the Hexagon Flower Pillow, which I just adore. Cables in the round are one of my favorite, favorite things to crochet. The written instructions include info on how to sew the hexagon insert (starting with a pillowform) so you can get a nice look. Having a white pillow form show through this would not look quite as good as sewing a simple cover that matches the yarn.
And for something that’s just easy and quick, here’s the Everyday Lace Pillow. It’s a simple repeat that’s classic and goes with any decor. I made an interior cover for this one too, to keep it smooth looking– but I think it would be fun with a contrasting color too.
Hope you enjoy these kits & please post pics if you end up making them! Individual patterns are also available on Craftsy & Ravelry.
Over the past couple weekends, I had some time to work on a sewing project– hooray! I was inspired by the Sorbetto tanks I kept seeing around the internet and bought a bunch of dottie bias tape at Fancy Tiger. When I got home, though, I realized that I really wanted sleeves, and no pleat, and and and… so I landed on the Scout Tee (a $6.50 download) from Grainline Studios. It looked easy enough, and I like easy!
I made the first one with fabric that I have had in my stash for a while, but wasn’t particularly attached to– a muslin that was enough of a shirt that I’d work to get it right. Before I cut, I lengthened the front and back by 3 inches. After I tried it on, I also realized I needed to raise the shoulder line by about 2 inches– so that was 1 1/2″ off the back and 1/2″ off the front (the shoulder seam should line up with your shoulder, which will tell you which part to take away–this I learned in Lynda Maynard’s Craftsy class, Sew the Perfect Fit. Thanks Lynda!). Even though most of it needed to be raised in the back I had to split the difference to keep the armhole from becoming a wreck. Then I adjusted the armhole depth, and I also had to take in the sleeve seam (the sleeves hung off a bit too far from my shoulder). Finally, I added shaping to the sides of the tank, which is sort of boxy and created drag lines that were not flattering in this fabric. I was able to modify the fabric pieces pretty well on the fly, and I’m super happy with this version. I used the dotty bias tape for the neckline and let it show, and I love that touch, it makes me like the fabric even more.
When I finished it, I made all of the adjustments I made on the fabric to the pattern pieces, and cut again. This time, I used *the* fabric I have been holding on to forever- Liberty of London cotton lawn that I bought in Portland as a splurge when I went to sign my first book. I have been waiting for the perfect project to sew this up, and the confidence to not end up with something I didn’t really like. I used some more tips that I gleaned from my days of producing sewing classes, to really make a wonderful looking finish. I took my time and pressed, I used stay stitching to make even hems, I did all of that stuff and still did it relatively quickly. I added spotty bias tape. I pleated the sleeve caps instead of pressing them. The result: I absolutely love it.
In the end, I think I’ve modified the pattern so much that it’s not really the same tee, but it is so, so good, to take the time to make something flattering that fits. And now I have a tee that I will make again and again– next, I hope to try it in a knit. Of course, next might mean months or years from now. But I bought new fabric to replace my “best” stash cut, so, now all I need is to marinate on it.
By the way, Craftsy is having a summer sale this weekend- check it out if you’d like to enhance your skills. It’s hard to pick favorites, but I learned a *lot* from Pam Howard (The Classic Tailored Shirt), Linda Lee (Sewing with Silks and Sewing Fashion Knits) and Lynda Maynard (Sew the Perfect Fit). I highly recommend them– and if you have the app, you can watch them right at your sewing machine! Check it out!
Lately I’ve been getting back into sewing and embroidery. I still get hung up on crochet, thinking I need to write a pattern if I want to start something, since I did that for so long, so I’m keeping my projects simple for now.
Last weekend I made a rope/clothesline basket for our bathroom. You can make this just the same way as the fabric wrapped bowl tutorial I did on Craftstylish a few years ago, but there’s also a Creativebug class too. Super, super simple to do–although without having to stop every few minutes to wrap the rope, it seemed way more easy to get mesmerized by the sewing and I had to be careful to keep my eyes on the road, so to speak.
I also bought some embroidery kits from Rebecca Ringquist after finishing my other sampler, and went to pick out colors while I wait for them to arrive. (psst, she’s having a sale till July 8- code, MICHIGANSUMMER). Yay! More and more, I don’t want to have to think so much about the idea, I just want to make something.
Which leads me to the 70-something hexagons I’ve stitched up over the past few nights. I’m not sure what they’ll be yet, perhaps a bag or a set of placemats, but for now I’m having fun making the hexies.Projects like this used to turn me off because, at least in my head, they took so long. But now I want a project that’s going to take a while, so I won’t have to constantly be thinking of what to work on next. Funny how that goes, isn’t it? I also have a sock yarn granny square project in the works, very similar in feeling to these hexies. No deadline, just fun.
I hope you’re diving into some crafty stuff this summer, too! Just in case you need some inspiration, this weekend only (through July 7, 2013) you can find all of the patterns/ebooks in my ravelry store on sale at 20 percent off, no coupon needed! Thanks for reading!
About two years ago, I ordered a Dasiychain Sampler kit from Alicia Paulson (before you ask, it’s no longer available as a kit but you can buy the printed fabric, wool and needles on here site). I opened it, all excited, and promptly set it aside before I even began. I’m not sure exactly why, but the idea how time consuming it would be overwhelmed me.
A few weeks ago we did an exercise at work which involved watching an excerpt of a class, and it was an embroidery excerpt. It was fun, relaxing, and easy to do. I remembered my kit, and started it that weekend (June 1st). I’ve been stitching like mad ever since, with NBA playoffs and The Wire to entertain me. I made the last stitch on the last letter, V, Sunday night. All in all, it probably took about 30 hours– still kind of overwhelming, to think of all at once, but each letter felt like a victory, a completion of sorts.
I really enjoyed working on this kit. One big plus was that I didn’t have to make any decisions. I make a lot of decisions in my everyday life and you know what? I don’t need to design everything. It’s nice to just *make* too. I enjoyed this so much that I’m on the lookout for more fun crewel kits (though they seem few and far between– please point me in the right direction!). I also want to get back into some of the other crafts that fell by the wayside over the last couple of years, like sewing and quilting. Of course, that requires cleaning the craft room, so I’ll probably stick to the yarn crafts for now. I’ve been itching to crochet, even though it is crazy hot outside.
The next step is to frame it– you can already see above what a big difference pressing made. I’ll press again and use Alicia’s framing tutorial. But you know how it goes– it can take me 2 weeks to “finish” a project and another 2 years to actually finish it!
For those of you still reading, I’ll be at TNNA this weekend in the Craftsy booth. Come say hi, I’m looking forward to reuniting with all of my yarny friends!
I’m happy to announce the release of my latest crochet pattern, Craspedia Cropped Cardigan. Made from springy sock yarn, it’s the perfect light weight cardigan for summer breezes and air conditioning. I’m one of those people that doesn’t love to show my upper arms, so this design comes with full coverage sleeves that have a slight poof on the top for fun.
Craspedia is made in five pieces from the bottom up, which are then seamed and edged. The pieces are quick to work and easy to transport, plus they allow for detailed (but not complicated) shaping that hugs your body in all the right places. I love the drape and color that sock yarn gives, but I also think one made with a nice cotton would be lovely. The pattern comes in five sizes for 34.5 (39.5, 43.5, 47.5, 51.5)” bust circumference.
I’ve been sitting on this pattern for quite a while, waiting to get it right (thanks to the help of my tech editor, KJ Hay). It’s available on Ravlery and Craftsy for $6.50. I’m happy to send it out into the world and hope to see your versions soon!
I have two exciting things to tell you about this week.
(photo courtesy of the Yarnover Truck)
First off, for those of you in the Los Angeles, California area– this weekend is your friendly local yarn crawl! If you’ve never been on a yarn crawl, they are so much fun! You hop from shop to shop, stamping your passport (and um, emptying your wallet building your stash) as you go! And if you happen to be in LA and on this particular yarn crawl, be sure to stop by the Yarnover Truck!
(photo courtesy of the Yarnover Truck)
The awesome ladies who own it are hosting a trunk show of my patterns, so you can see them in person. You can buy my patterns directly from the truck and they’ll hook you up with great yarns to use, too! I sure hope I get to visit the Yarnover Truck myself one day, it is such a fun idea. Be sure to check their Yarn Crawl Page to see where they’ll be each day. If you do go, please snap a pic and send it to me, I’d love to see it!
Another place that’s now selling my patterns is Webs (yarn.com). Even better, to kick it off they are doing a crochet-along of my Sugar Sparkles Shawlette. The crochet-along includes some great videos that will help you learn some of the techniques needed to complete the shawl, including choosing and working with beads. Be sure to check it out and then add your photos to Ravelry so we can all see.
Here are direct links to Week 1 and Week 2. And don’t worry, you can work at your own pace, so you’re not behind!
Two weeks ago, Paul and I got married (finally)! It was a wonderful, small ceremony & it was the day full of love that everyone said it would be. To keep it manageable and meaningful, we limited our guest list to about 50 people and did a lot of DIYing with the help of our wonderful families.
(Almost all photos in this post (C) Sleeping Owl Photography)
We got married at my Aunt Beryl+ Uncle Dean’s property in Round Mountain, TX, which overlooks the Pedernales River. It was an amazing view and we are still pinching ourselves that we got to have such a nice setting. I also think it’s pretty awesome that we’ll see this setting again and again over the years and remind ourselves of the vows we took.
I made my veil using Craftsy’s Vintage Veils class, some etsy and random craft store finds, and silk thread that my grandmother gave me years ago. I also altered my dress about 3 days before the wedding, using info that I’m sure I gleaned from all of the conversations I had with Angela Wolf while producing her Tailoring Ready-to-Wear class.
I crocheted my shrug using the Piped Petals Cardigan pattern I designed and Fiberspaytes Scrumptious (just over 2 skeins). I ordered the yarn from Craftsy early on, thinking it was white-ish laceweight, and it came in the color you see here– so I was disappointed. But, then I found my dress and the yarn was a perfect match! It all worked out wonderfully. I got to use some special buttons that I found at a Stitches show and cover my shoulders from the Texas sun, it was a win-win.
My other favorite special touch was our “Ring Pillow”. We actually just used a ball of roving with a crochet hook to secure the rings, and it was perfect. I had been working on a crocheted pillow and I think it was Paul’s idea to just use the yarn instead. I figure one day I’ll spin this roving into yarn and make something meaningful with it, and I like that symbolism. Plus, I’ve never seen it done before. Bonus, the blue looks great with my sweet nephew’s glasses.
In addition to letting us borrow their awesome space, Beryl and Dean catered the whole thing. Amazing! And– Beryl, an ex-bakery owner, made this awesome, super tasty cake for us– with the crochet hook representing yours truly and the paintbrush and pencil for Paul. It was all her own idea! We couldn’t have asked for anything better, she did a great job. (There was also a grooms cake featuring chocolate ganache, peanut butter and YUM. Paul is still missing it) .
There were lots of other little details to the day, you can see a full sneak peak on our photographer’s blog HERE. Above- the last but not least thing I couldn’t resist sharing- a card box made by Paul’s mom, Elizabeth. Her embroidery blows me away, and I want to frame the box top to preserve it.
We are so grateful for all of the ways everyone chipped in so we could have a really memorable day. If you are planning a wedding anytime soon, here’s my unsolicited advice to you: Do what you want and don’t worry about what other people say (even people you really trust who have your best interest in mind) and remember that it’s all about the feeling you create, not the stuff/details, okay? XOXO!
Reminder: Photos in this post (C) Sleeping Owl Photography. Do not post, publish, print, etc without express written permission of the photographer. Thanks!
Recently I had a dream opportunity to create some custom yarn colors with Craftsy and Cascade. They are finally here and now I can share!
I chose Cascade Ultra Alpaca, a super soft and drapey yarn that’s squishy and warm. The colors were really tough to choose– Cascade already has soooo many! So I decided to pick an inspiration point of root vegetables and these three colors were born: Sweet Potato (orange), Blue Potato (purple), and Red Onion (maroon)! Each comes in a generous 220 yard skein and they are available exclusively at Craftsy (just follow the links!).
The best part? When you buy a skein of any color, you get my LoHi Hat pattern PDF for free! I named it after the neighborhood where our offices are located, and designed it specifically for the yarn, of course. It’s satisfying because it uses nearly the entire skein. Even though the yarn is technically a worsted weight, it drapes like a sport weight and doesn’t feel bulky at all.
The pattern is written for four sizes, for toddlers, children, adults, and…..watermelon head adults (you know who you are). You can add a flower or pom-pom with the remaining yarn (speaking for the adult hat and smaller sizes). What I love is that it’s lacy, yet warm, and squishy from all of the puff stitches. It’s been a hit around the office so I hope you like it too! If you have enough stash, you could also just buy the pattern, but what’s the fun in that?. Besides, at the time of this post, the yarn is such a steal, so go check it out. I’d love to see what you come up with on Craftsy and Ravelry!
This weekend, it suddenly became very important that I knit a hat for Paul. I’ve been saying I would do it for a long time and just never quite got there. I’ve been trying to strike a work/life balance lately–or more like a work/craft balance, and we’ve both been sick and miserable, so it was the perfect opportunity to stay inside.
I started this hat using Valley Yarns Greenwich and Knitpicks Chroma from my stash. I removed the girly colors from this colorway but Paul still thought it was a bit too girly, so, oh darn, it became mine.
I left it kind of slouchy at the top and it’s finished now, but you get the idea. I also took this opportunity to test out my Kollage square needles– and let me tell you, I think these may have changed knitting for me. I really, really liked using them and my gauge wasn’t so stinkin’ loose on them either, meaning I didn’t have to go down a zillion sizes. I’ve already ordered a few more pairs- I love that they are metal, which equals quick, but square, which equals steady. Love. Them.
Once I realized this wasn’t going to be Paul’s hat after all, I got started on #2, which I broke my yarn fasting rule for. I bought some Studio Donegal Tweed at Fancy Tiger and followed pretty much the same gist of the previous pattern, but no stripes this time, since it has the wonderful flecking. Between you and me, all those little flecks of yellow, purple and teal might be considered girly, too, but if I end up with 2 new hats, I won’t mind. I’m using needles I had on hand for these, and going with the magic loop technique, which is about the easiest thing ever and you’d think I might never use short circulars again. But no, actually, for sheer laziness I still prefer a 16″ needle when I can find it. And I can’t wait for my Kollage needles to come, they’ll probably get here before I finish this hat because it is that slow going when I’m not using them. I swear this is not an advertisement, I’m just passionate about finding good tools–and of course everyone has their different preferences.
You can see in the photos above that Freddie fastidiously supervised all knitting excursions. I think he may be begging for a sweater from the leftovers, don’t you? He is a loyal companion.
While you’re here, click on over to Alice Merlino (aka Futuregirl)’s blog and check out her review of my E-book, Sugar and Spice. She has nice things to say, she is too good to me. Lots of projects are starting to pop up on Ravelry now and I just love seeing them. This Sugar Sparkles Shawlette is a particular favorite, and what a fun color for the Pizzelle Beret! See them all right here. If you’ve made a project from the book, please love yours– I love to see them!