Monday, December 30, 2013

Crochet Coats for our Tortoises!

Winter is here in Kuwait, and tortoises are looking for warmth! My daughter has been asking me to crochet coats for her pet tortoises "Shelly" and "Looey", so I decided to raid my bag of samples and scrumbles. I was lucky to find some pieces just their size. The large flower on Shelly was a sample I made when designing the Pillow Corsage pattern for Crochet Me magazine, and the mohair roses on Looey, were leftover from a clowns hat I made for my friend's daughter. I love finding a new purpose for leftover crochet pieces. I am not sure if any other tortoises live in our area, but I think they must be the fanciest in our neighborhood!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

In the Designer Spotlight: Berroco Design Studio Blog

I am thrilled to be featured on Berroco Yarn Company's blog, in their most recent Designer Spotlight Interview. Berroco so generously gave yarn support for the Bella Necklace Trio that appeared in Issue 45 of Inside Crochet Magazine. They wanted to know a little more about the necklaces, and about me as a designer. You can read the full interview here.

I love working with Berroco yarn company and many of my designs are created with their yarn, including 6 designs in Crocheting Clothes Kids Love

I have also used their yarns in the Beseme Scarf, Echelon Hat, Loken Cowl, Blumen Bouquet, Helleborus Gloves, Fanfare Cowl, Cirque Du Crochet Bean Bags, Mademoiselle Necklace, and the Plaid Wristlet Purse. As you can see, Berroco's yarn often calls my name when I am designing!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When a Crochet Career Dream Becomes a Reality...

Writing a crochet book has been a dream of mine since I started designing crochet patterns back in 2005. Fast forward to 2013: I am trying to wait patiently for my advance copy of Crocheting Clothes Kids Love to arrive! It is somewhere between California and Kuwait right now. Ellen Gormley got her copy last week, and was debating whether to open it or put it under the Christmas tree to prolong the moment of opening it! I jokingly suggested to her on Twitter that she could wait for me to receive my copy, then we could open them together via Skype and go through the book page by page. To my happy surprise, she agreed. I am super excited, not only to share the experience together, but to actually "meet" her. We have never met face to face or even spoken before! When we started the book, we thought we would need to talk on the phone, but as it turns out, email and photos worked well. That doesn't mean that many times during the process, I didn't wish we lived in the same city, so we could get together and talk about details! 

It will be incredible to hold the book in my hands, and being able to open the package live with Ellen will be the icing on the cake. I am looking forward to showing the book to family and friends who supported me when I was working so hard on it. The book will be a reality to me once I actually have it in my possession! Here's hoping the postal service is running smoothly and Ellen and I won't have to wait too much longer!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bella Necklace Trio Pattern is Now Available!

I am excited to release the Bella Necklace Trio, for individual sale in US terminology. These patterns first appeared in the UK magazine, Inside Crochet.

Once you master the basic concept of making the links, the pattern can be a jumping off point to other necklace designs. You can vary the configuration of the link sizes to create a myriad of looks. Included in this pattern download will be all three versions that you see above. Version 1 features links that are graduated in size, version 2 has a mock bow, and version 3 adds interest with a cord woven through the links.

It is a great project for gift giving, as you can make several with one skein of yarn and it is possible to make them for a group of friends, and choose the style that best fits their personality!

Design Details

Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca (50% wool, 50% alpaca; 215 yd [198 m]/ 3.50oz [100g]; CYCA # 4): 6253 (Dijon), 1 skein.

Hook: E/4 (3.50mm)

Tools: Yarn needle, rust-proof pins, blocking or ironing board

The pattern is for sale in my Ravelry pattern store for $4.95.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

First Photos from Crocheting Clothes Kids Love!

Now that the book has been printed and the advance copies are coming soon, Ellen Gormley and I have been given the green light to show actual photos from the book! It has been hard to keep the details of such an exiting project a secret for so long! I didn't know what to show you first! I decided to reveal the Rochelle Hat today, because I especially like how they styled it to be suitable for different ages. It looks very sweet on a little girl and stylish and cool on an older girl. The hat is designed to fit a 20-21" (51-53cm) head, but it is very forgiving in size as it stretches well (the same hat sample is being worn by the two models). This is important to know if you are making the hat for a gift, since you don't always know the exact head size you are crocheting for.

A scarf can be woven through or a very wide ribbon. The size of the hat is easily customizable for any size. It would also be a nice style for adults! If you add or subtract stitches from the first round, you can change the size. All of the other instructions remain the same. Each stitch added or subtracted, alters the finished measurement of the hat by about 1 1/4” (3cm).  I used Universal Yarn's, lovely Uptown DK. It has a nice sheen, is non pilling, soft, and machine washable. The actual amount of yarn used is approximately 120 yds (110m). This is great news, because that means you could make two hats out of one skein. Two hats for $6.00!   

I knew I wanted to accessorize the hat with a scarf, and it was quite an adventure to find just the right print! In Kuwait we have a marvelous fabric market with rows and rows of fabric and trim shops. You are sure to find what you want there, but it takes some time. I wanted to find a silk print that was suitable for a child. It was hard for the salesmen to grasp that I wanted silk for a child. I wanted something more interesting than just regular polka dots or flowers, and something that didn’t look too adult. I peaked too early... after going in 20 shops I bought the first one I liked, then 2 shops later I found the perfect fabric for 1/2 the price! It was all part of the amazing process of writing a book! I hope you like the first real look at one of the projects in the book, and I look forward to showing you more and more!

The Actual Fabric I used for the Scarf
The First Fabric I Chose

Friday, November 22, 2013

Holiday Gift Ideas!

The creative marketing department at Craftsy contacted me to ask if I would like them to put together a special page for me for the holiday season. A page that would include my patterns, as well as yarn and class suggestions. I jumped at the offer, how fun to have my own special page!

The gift giving season is approaching fast, and crocheted gifts are especially thoughtful. On Craftsy, you can buy patterns, supplies, and classes. You can buy these in preparation for making gifts or to give to someone else. Wouldn't it be great to be gifted a class! No need to fight the crowds in the shopping malls either. Shop online at your convenience!

Here is the link to the actual page if you would like to see what I suggest for the holiday crocheting season. Happy crocheting!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Saving the Day with Crochet: How to Make Crochet Headphone Covers

More and more every day I am convinced that you can crochet practically anything! I often find that being able to crochet, saves me shopping trips as well. Many times I have whipped up a birthday card decorated with crochet, which can be more special and meaningful to the recipient than buying one. 

Recently we were getting ready to go on a weekend trip, and when packing my daughter's headphones, we noticed that the foam covering on the ear pieces was falling apart. We bought these great Sony children's headphones in America. I haven't seen any like it in Kuwait, so I knew it was pointless to go searching for replacement foam covers or even a new pair of headphones. Then it occurred to me, that crocheted covers would be quick and easy to make. My daughter had fun going through my yarn stash to choose a lovely pink variegated yarn. In 20 minutes, the headphones had been fixed and upcycled into something unique and stylish. Problem solved and time saved, crochet to the rescue!

I am not sure if the size of the earpieces on headphones are standard, but these measure 1 15/16" (48mm) in diameter.
Sony Children's Headphones

Headphone Covers 

Yarn: DK weight, preferably a soft yarn that will be comfortable to wear on the ears.

Hook: Size E (3.50mm)

yo= wrap the yarn around the hook
ch= chain
dc= double crochet
sl st= slip stitch
st/ sts= stitch/ stitches
sc= single crochet
blo= back loop only of the stitch
flo= front loop only of the stitch

Stitch Guide

Invisible Fasten Off: Cut yarn leaving a 3" (8cm) tail. Insert the hook into the blo of the first st in the rnd, yo, and pull the yarn all the way through the loop on the hook, as if to fasten off in the usual way. Insert the hook in both loops of next st, yo with tail end and pull through st. Finally, insert the hook in the flo of last st in rnd, yo, pull yarn down through.

(make 2)

Rnd 1: Wrap the yarn twice around your finger to form a magic loop. Insert hook into loop, yo and pull up a loop, ch 3. Then, make 12 dc into ring. Sl st in first dc to end the rnd. Pull on the tail end of the yarn to tighten the magic loop and close the hole in the center. 

Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in the same st, then 2 dc in each of the remaining sts around. Sl st in first dc to end the rnd. 

Rnd 3: Ch 3, dc in the same st, then dc in each of the remaining sts around. Sl st in first dc to end the rnd.

Rnd 4: Ch 1, sc in the same st, then sc in each of the remaining sts around. Invisible Fasten Off.

Weave in all loose ends with a yarn needle.

Now, simply slip the covers on and enjoy listening!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Make a Necklace with the Tinker's ToolBelt Pattern

Sometimes designs that are submitted to publications are accepted with modifications. The Tinker's ToolBelt was originally submitted as a necklace, and the editor decided that it would fit into their publication as a belt to go along with their Steampunk theme. Fortunately, it didn't require any changes to the pattern, it just needed more motifs to make it longer. That shows how versatile this design is! Fewer motifs tied together make an eye-catching statement necklace, and 2 motifs can make a wristlet. To make jewelry, you will need to use a little finer thread than what was used in the magazine. The belt motifs measure 3" in diameter, and the necklace motifs measure 2 1/4". I didn't change the pattern, only the thread. For the necklace I used DMC Petra No.5 and I went down a hook size to B/1 (2.25mm).

If you prefer fewer motifs, you can make the two ties on each side longer, join them together at the ends, and include a bobble on one side and a chain loop on the other for fastening. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Crocheting Clothes Kids Love- a Sneak Peek!

In my last post about the book, I showed you the original sketches for designs that are on the cover. Today, I wanted to show you a design from inside the book. The publisher hasn't given us official photos to share yet, so I am showing you the design as I presented it to the editor. 

This is one of the boys designs from the book, although by changing the colors it could easily become a lovely girls scarf. I had the most fun choosing the colors for this project. If you haven't had a look at Cascade Yarns Superwash 220's 132 stunning colors, you should. If you can't find the color you are looking for in this yarn, it may not even exist! This was the first time I have used a yarn by Cascade, and it will definitely not be the last. It is really wonderful yarn to work with, and it is so soft you will forget it is wool! 

I wanted to design something colorful, fun, and that would look great with jeans. The asymmetrical arrangement of color blocks and stripes, looks especially good when it is tied. The personality of the scarf could change completely, depending on the colors you use. If you make the scarf a little longer, it could also be worn by a teen or adult. I used an unconventional hook placement with a simple crochet stitch to create a bold texture. I am looking forward to showing you actual photos of the scarf so you can see the texture and how well the colors play together!

Friday, October 25, 2013

How to Tie the Bows on the Tinker's Toolbelt

One of the key details on the Tinker's Toolbelt is the way the bows are tied. I experimented with many ways to tie them, and this method makes the bows lay just right.

1. Tie the top two ties in a half hitch, crossing the right tie over the left tie and wrapping the right tie around the left tie (like you are beginning to tie a shoe), and pull the ties tight.

2. Tie the bottom two ties in a half hitch, crossing the left tie over the right tie and wrapping the left tie around the right tie (like you are beginning to tie a shoe), and pull the ties tight.

3. Take the two ties on the left and make a loop and hold onto that with your left hand. Take the two ties on the right and wrap them around the loop made from the ties on the left, making sure that you begin wrapping from the bottom.

4. Bring the right ties through the loop just created, between the left side loops and the beginning of the right side wrapping.

5. Pull the bow tight and separate the loops.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tinker's ToolBelt for Interweave Crochet Accessories

It my favorite time of year...time for the Interweave Crochet Accessories Issue! This year, I have a fun belt featured in the issue.

This is a great “on the go” project, because it stays in small pieces until the end when you tie all of the motifs together to make the belt. Two motifs are crocheted together to make each medallion. This gives the belt stability and makes a bolder statement. Make an extra set of motifs in case you want to wear the belt over layers of clothes, so you have the option to make it larger. This pattern could also have a home d├ęcor use as an interesting curtain tie-back.

The Valley Yarns Valley Cotton thread used for the sample, comes in 1260 yd cones. In case you would like to know the exact yardage to make the belt to fit a 24” waist, it is: 60 yd [55 m] Madder Brown (A), 96 [88 m] yd Sponge (B), 42 yd [38 m] Amber Gold (C). Each set of joined motifs with ties, requires 10 yd [9 m] (A), 16 yd [15 m] (B), 7 yd [6 m] (C).

Next week I will post a tutorial on how to tie the bows. I tied them in a special way, so they lay straight. I think it is important to show you how I did it, so your belt will look its best. Also, stay tuned for a post about how to use this pattern to make a necklace!

Here is a blog post on how to use this pattern to make a necklace. The Interweave store now has this pattern available for purchase and download.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Inspiration for Yarn Storage

Today is I love yarn day, and it has me thinking that I need to show my yarn more respect. Not that my Ikea storage boxes aren't working, but I think I need to decorate my studio with the same energy I put into my crochet designs. I was so inspired by Raising Up Rubies studio. She really demonstrates what I am talking about, and everything she puts in her studio has personality. I have a studio, but for some reason, I usually work at the dining room table! I think if I had a studio as amazing as Raising Up Rubies, I might never leave it! 

I want everything in my studio to be something I love. Antique treasures I have found, or  clever uses for things I already have. I have decided the first thing I want to collect are vintage candy/ cookie jars to store yarn in. They would be especially great for my collection of yarns for freeform crochet. I think they look wonderful sorted by color like this:

Dottie Angel repurposed a pair of clogs to use as a needle holder. I love the idea of making a souvenir into something useful!

This old library card catalog was converted into a sewing and yarn storage unit by bitsandbobbins. So charming!

Now I have a good excuse to go antique shopping again. I feel truly inspired today!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

News About Tangled Webzine

Yesterday, I got an email from Tangled webzine. They told me that they will no longer exist, and their website will only be available until the end of October. It is sad news, as it really was a great publication filled with innovative and stylish knit and crochet patterns.

I designed two free patterns for them, the Helleborus Gloves, and the Cirque Du Crochet Bean Bags. I will be moving these patterns to Ravelry, so they can be downloaded from there. I am not sure if all of the designers will make their patterns available elsewhere. If you are interested, now is the time to go to their website and download any patterns you may want, before they disappear or become difficult to find!

Cirque Du Crochet Bean Bags
Helleborus Gloves

Monday, September 30, 2013

Talking About Crocheting Clothes Kids Love

I recently heard from our editor that our book, Crocheting Clothes Kids Love, has gone to print. It is getting exciting as we approach the book release in February, and I am really looking forward to the day I get to hold the book in my hands!

Now, the fun part! Little by little, we get to start talking about the projects in the book. I want to introduce two of the pieces that are on the cover: the Caravan Scarf and Hopscotch Legwarmers. 

In the planning stage of the book, Ellen Gormley and I came up with ideas and sketched them for the editor to review. Ellen was great to work with, and we agreed quite quickly as to what each of us would make. It still amazes me that with the editor in Minnesota, Ellen in Ohio, and me in Kuwait, we were able to coordinate everything easily without even a phone call. The internet really does make the world a much smaller place, and makes my crochet career possible!

Normally I like to finish a piece before submitting it to a magazine or yarn company. This is because many times my designs develop into something very different than my original sketch. My sketch is usually my jumping off point. For the book, the designs needed to be approved by the editor before we could move forward. There was no time for advanced swatching! I was wondering if I would stick exactly to what I had sketched or deviate like I often do. This scarf and legwarmers came out just as I sketched, so I thought they would be great designs to share with you first! Some of the other pieces in the book went in a little different direction, but most of the changes were to the embellishments. Surprisingly amazing things happen when you get to experiment with the actual project yarn!

I had been dreaming about a scarf like this for a very long time. My favorite part was attaching the crochet "coins". I added my signature lazy daisy embroidery embroidery to the corner coins to make it even more my style. I can't wait until I am able to show you some detailed photos so you can see the scarf flat.

I love the ribbed look in crochet, so that was my starting point for the Hopscotch Legwarmers. I spent some time creating just the right shape, so they would fold over nicely. My favorite thing about these legwarmers has to be the multicolored pom poms. They are such fun to make, and they give the legwarmers a unique and special look. 

I will be able to talk in more detail as soon I have some official photos. I hope you will come back to read more blog posts about the book, as the excitement builds for its release!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Dozen Ways to Wear the Obi Scarf

Last fall I showed you a dozen ways to wear the Ruffles Scarf, so I thought I would keep up that tradition this year with the new Obi Scarf pattern. Before sending the samples off to Interweave, I like to have my own photo session to try out different ways to wear the scarf. It is amazing how different it can look depending on how you wrap it. Whether you decide to wear it as a scarf or a belt it is very versatile. Color choice can really transform the look as well. Contrasting colors used together make a bold statement. The next one I make will be in shades of the same color. I am envisioning shades of pink. There is always one more version I want to make! Can you tell how much I love scarves? 

Here are a dozen ways to wear the scarf. If you make one, I would love to know how you wear yours!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Obi Scarf for Interweave Crochet Fall 2013

Photo By Harper Point
It has been a fun month, having designs out in two different publications. I am ready for fall! Today, I am revealing the Obi Scarf. One of the things that Interweave asked for in their call for submissions for fall, was Asian inspired designs. For a very long time, I have wanted to design an obi style belt. I wanted the piece to be versatile, so I decided to design the obi so that it would be successful as a scarf belt.

I was sent 3 colors of yarn to work with, and the editor told me I could use either the Fawn or the Ocean color as the main background color. I did some drawings with colored pencil to try to decide which combination I liked best, but still couldn't decide, so I made both variations! I think it is nice to see a light and a dark version. I hope that will help crocheters who are making this pattern, decide on what colors they would like to use.

This is a project that will keep you interested, without being too difficult. The end sections are plain with a delightful window pane stitch pattern in the middle. After crocheting the scarf, you get to work surface crochet for the stripes. It is like putting the icing on a cake, the stripes really make it come alive! Sarah Read, the Project Editor for Interweave, has done a blog post about how the stripes are crocheted on her Crochet Me blog.

Like the Ruffles Scarf I had in Interweave Crochet Fall 2012, I did another blog post on some different ways to wear this piece. The sample I made to submit was in another color combination, so you will also get to see a third version. Please stay tuned! In the meanwhile, you can queue it on Ravelry, if you think you might want to make one.

Photo By Harper Point
Photo By Harper Point

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Crochet Celebration in Kuwait!

Yesterday was International Crochet Day, and the new Crochet group "Khayt"(which means yarn or thread in Arabic) in Kuwait, hosted a crochet event to celebrate! Their members exhibited their work in the beautiful surroundings of the Sadu House, a cultural center that exists to promote Kuwait's traditional textile arts. Al Sadu is the name of the traditional style of weaving traditionally produced by Bedouin women. I love the photo above of the crocheted afghan next to the pillow covered in Al Sadu weaving. The two crafts side by side!

Although I had never met any of the group members previously, I was familiar with many of them through Instagram, which is the most popular form of social media in Kuwait. I think it is fueling the growing craft community here, and many people are selling their crochet and crochet supplies on Instagram.

The group members were so welcoming, and gave me and my daughter a tour and information on their group. They meet 2-3 times a month and they choose a crochet project to work on together. This project is started at the meeting, and finished off at home. Usually one of the members is familiar with the pattern and leads the crochet-a-long. A great way to share their skills!

It was really nice to talk with local crocheters about their passion for crochet. They were surprised when I told them that in the USA crochet is less popular than knitting. They told me they love crochet because of its possibilities, its beauty, and also the fact that crochet can only be done by hand. I asked them why they think Crochet is more popular than knitting in this part of the world, and they said they thought it could be because of the hot weather. People don't have as much need to make things for warmth here, so they gravitate to the laciness of crochet and use a lot of cotton thread and yarn.

Below are some of the photos taken by my daughter, who kindly took the photos for me so I could chat. So many gorgeous pieces were exhibited, and the members were happy to discuss how they were made. It was wonderful to be in a room with so much creative energy. I hope this will become an annual event and that the membership of the Khayt group will grow and grow!