Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Prize to Give Away!

I am going to give this prize package away to a lucky winner!  I have extended the deadline, and will now be accepting entries until January 8, 2010.  I will announce the winner here, on my blog.  The winner will be randomly selected.  To enter, just make a comment on this post.  After I announce the winner, I will ask them to email me with their snail mail address.  I will ship anywhere in the world, so this contest is open to all!

I am celebrating the fact that the Blossom Necklace Pattern, now has been made a favorite by over 130 people on Ravelry!  I love these Pony knitting needles, glitter crochet hook and French knitter, for introducing children to the needle arts. Thank you so much for your interest and good luck!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Aslan Trends Knitting Challenge

I just noticed that Aslan Trends has put up photos of the winning entries for their "Knitting Challenge".  They are here if you would like to see them.  I would love to see all of them on a live model.  Especially the "Fit & Flare Cathedral Maxi Dress". 

I am planning to photograph my "Silhouette Shawl" soon, so that I can get the pattern up for sale!  It is one of my goals for the new year.  There is a special person who has given me great encouragement in my design career, that I want to give the shawl to before winter is over.  So I have a great incentive to do it soon!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Etimo Crochet Hooks, a Review

I just received a box of goodies I ordered from America, and inside, was my long awaited set of Etimo crochet hooks!  They are a gift to myself for selling a design to a yarn company. 

The first thing I noticed was the case.  It is so stylish, it looks like a fashion accessory.  It has lovely flecks of silver running through the fabric.  It also has a nice little magnetic closure.

I got the set of the larger size hooks, sizes"D" through "J" with the addition of a 4.5mm hook.  The set also comes with a small pair of Italian made scissors, a 4 1/2" ruler and tapestry needles in two sizes.  They also sell a smaller size set that includes sizes 0-14 (8 hooks).

I love the ultra smooth rubber handles.  They are firmer than I thought they would be.   For some reason, I thought the handle would be slightly squidgy.   They are comfortable to hold and are a nice weight.  I am thrilled with how the yarn moves so easily on the the hook.  It is much smoother than a Boye or Bates hook.

I do like working with them, but they will take some getting used to.  I have found that the throat of the hook isn't quite as deep as I would like it to be, so the yarn slips out sometimes.  The other thing I have to get used to, is the large handle.  I hold my hook with a pencil hold and have found it is a little awkward when I rotate the hook.  When I hold it with a knife hold, it is fine.  I am just not as comfortable holding the hook that way. I will have to practice with these hooks to find the best way to work with them.   I am not ready to use them for designing just yet, but I am determined to make them work for me as they are such nice hooks!

I purchased this set by email from Knitty City in New York, a shop I hope to visit in person one day!  The owner, Pearl was very helpful and dispatched the order the next business day.   This set cost me $79.95 plus shipping.  They also sell the hooks individually if you would like to try one before investing in an entire set.

UPDATE (September 7, 2010):  Please see my latest blog post on Etimo hooks for new online availability information.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Inspiration from the Souq

I have been enjoying the new digital camera that my husband bought me for my birthday.  You never know where inspiration will strike!  This time it was in the form of color and texture.  We were shopping in a traditional market in Kuwait called Souk Embarakiya.   There were several prayer bead stores, but this one was the most colorful.  The turquoise walls just set off the colors of the beads.
 I also found the basket shop a charming example of old Kuwaiti life that is still relevant today.  I especially love the gold baskets with the colorful tassels.  I want to buy one some day for a festive occasion.  

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blossom Necklace Pattern

The "Blossom Necklace" is a new version of the "Blossoming Fleur-De-Lis Necklace" Pattern that I did for the 2006 Accord Publishing Crochet Pattern A Day Calendar.  Since that calendar is long gone, and I love the design, I decided to offer it as a free pattern download.

To the old version, I added an extra row of stitches to the foundation and some embroidery embellishment.   I also changed the yarn to Berroco's Ultra Alpaca Light, because it comes in many beautiful colors and is really nice to work with.

This necklace would make a great gift or a lovely addition to your own jewelry collection!  The link to the download is below, under the pattern details.

This elegant necklace takes very little time or yarn.  It is a versatile piece that is easily customizable.  Make a wool version for winter to wear over turtlenecks, and a cotton version to wear in the summer.  You can also make the blossoms multi-colored and add beads or sequins to them.  The possibilities are endless!  This blog post features the necklace with beaded blossoms, and here is a pattern for earrings inspired by this necklace.


Skill level:  Intermediate
Finished Measurement:  17”


Yarn:  Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, (a DK weight Alpaca and Wool Blend)
Color A:  8 ½ yards, Turquoise Mix, #4294
Color B:  4 ½ yards, Oceanic Mix, #4285
Color C:  1 ½ yards, Pea Soup Mix, #4275

Hook size:  (E) 3.5mm
Notions:  Tapestry needle

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Friday, December 11, 2009

New Logo, New Blog!

Finally, my logo is finished, thanks to the wonderful help and patience of my talented friend, Jennifer Jacobs, a graphic artist and embroidery designer at Southeastern Embroidery Works in Atlanta.  I am thrilled with it!  I had some time today to add it as a banner on the blog. I wasn't able to make a large banner with the old "dots" template, which I really liked, so I had to make a major chang to the blog.  I am still tweaking it here and there, so it make take a little time to settle in, but I am hoping that it will look better than ever!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter

While shopping for yarn in my local yarn shop this week, I came across these adorable knitting needles for children by an innovative company in India called Pony.  My 3 1/2 year old daughter was immediately drawn to them and wanted all the colors.  I did too, but bought one set for now to see how it goes.  She chose this bright pink yarn and promised the saleslady there that she would come back to show her the scarf she was going to make.  She doesn't quite have the attention span for knitting yet, but I will keep these until she does.  I am looking forward to the day when we can sit side by side knitting or crocheting! 

I read about teaching 5 year olds to knit, so I am hoping that in another year, she will at least be able to work on the  French knitter that I bought her last time we went yarn shopping.  I found some good tips on teaching young children to knit here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

At the Mall....

Yesterday, I was on my way to Ikea to buy some curtains for my studio, and this amazing window display caught my eye.   These balls are knitted.  I would love to create some light fixtures that hang down from the ceiling like this!  The shop windows this winter are so inspirational!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Most Useful Piece of Crochet

Less than 30 yards in front of my house is an Iranian bakery that makes the most delicious flat bread. The balls of dough prepared are flattened, and next, the flat disc of dough is flapped between the hands very quickly. Then it is stretched in an instant on a convex shape covered with the cloth. Finally, the bread is thrown very abruptly on the inside of the oven where it will stick and cook, forming bubbles.

It is a very simple operation and when you buy bread, you either take it by hand, or wrap it in the newspaper they sometimes provide. The bread becomes dry very quickly, so you must keep it covered after it cools. I crocheted a large single crochet square with a crab stitch border. Then, I put velcro in the corners to close it in the middle. That way, it stays covered, but the steam can escape. We use it several times a week. I love it when I can create something so useful and functional!