Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

The Joy of Foundation Crochet

Hello Dear Readers. Your unfaithful blogess has a glorious tip to share with you. For those that crochet, it may even be LIFE CHANGING!

From the very beginner to the most advanced, all crocheters are well versed in the nightmare that is crocheting into the beginning crochet chain. That first row is the bane of my existence, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. I’d like to expand my crochet skillz, and start crafting some full fledged garments. I love the ease of shaping in crochet, the freedom to create textured or openwork stitches, the rapidity with which fabric seems to fly past my fingers.

Unfortunately, most garment patterns begin something like “chain 208. single crochet in second ch from hook and each ch around.”

The mere thought of wedging my hook into 100 or 200+ chain stitches makes me shudder in horror.

Cue the FOUNDATION CROCHET STITCH!!! It’s amazing! A miracle! Foundation crochet essentially combines a chained edge with your first row of single, double, or half double crochet.

Rather than use my clumsy layman’s terms to explain, I am providing a link to a straightforward set of instructions and diagrams. Click the links below and rejoice.

Foundation Single Crochet Instructions

Foundation Double Crochet Instructions

Foundation Half Double Crochet Instructions

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Goodies and Parisian Rambles

I have been a neglectful blogess of late, and I feel quite badly about it. I’ve been a busy girl recently– holding down the fort at my boutique and trying to get my sea legs at my shiny new internship. Have I mentioned I’m the Yarn Intern for a group of magazines called Interweave Press? Yes, yarn is in fact part of my official title. Swoony swoon. I now spend my days immersed in fiber crafts, and have decided to get a little more indulgent with my supplies.

Without any more hooplah, I’d like to share the two things that I’m most excited about adding to my craft stash.

Preface: I have not yet fully explored the world of sock yarn, and there are oodles of tasty merino/nylon blends. But I REALLY like the colorways available from Lorna’s Laces. I couldn’t resist picking up a skein of the classic Shepherd Sock in Unicorn Parade. I mean, duh. The color is called Unicorn Parade. I’m a total sucker for names.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Unicorn Parade

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Unicorn Parade, courtesy of EatSleepKnit.com

Turns out, the color is quite a bit more flamboyant than I imagined. I’m thinking it may be better suited to a baby garment than the cabled socks I originally planned. This yarn is handpainted, so I’m not sure if my personal skein is the norm. I purchased online (EatSleepKnit.com has a nice selection) and only have a tiny sample. If I remember, I’ll try to get a good shot of my swatch to show the color.

Secondly, these macaroon stitch markers. On my last, and very brief, trip to Paris, I went on a Special Expedition to track down the best macaroons in Paris. I went several Metro stops out of my way, got lost in a very posh neighborhood, asked several people (some surprisingly helpful, some confused by my Okie-twangin’ français) for directions, and elbowed my way through an out-the-door line, all to order half a dozen of these babies.

I really like macaroons. And now I can ponder their tastiness while I knit.

Macaroon Stitch Markers from Beadpassion

Macaroon Stitch Markers from Etsy seller Bead Passion

Unfortunately, these ship from the Philippines, so I don’t yet have them in my hot little hands. They are 1.3 cm wide, and profess to fit up to size U.S. 10/6 mm needles. This seller also has stitch markers and jewelry shaped like sushi, cupcakes, donuts, mushrooms, etc. Yum.

Macaroon Stitch Markers from Beadpassion

Kawaii!

Until next time,

Love!

Knitting for Dudes (or, the ticking timebomb)

Knitters are a giving bunch. After all, a gal can only wear so many of her own creations. It’s only a matter of time before the men in a knitter’s life start to look suspiciously in need of a handmade sweater.

So, after weeks of hard work, you hand your man a masterpiece. You picture delight, gratitude, and awe for your knitting prowess. “Aw, shucks,” he’ll say, as his friends ooh and ahh over his new oversized alpaca hoodie. After weeks of tireless knitting, how could you expect any less?

Here’s the thing; non-knitters will never appreciate the amount of love and anguish in every stitch. More importantly, few things are worse for the knitter than shelling out big bucks and lots of time on a project for a guy that rejects them.

So, here are my suggestions for gift-knitting for men without the heartbreak.

The Guy Friend: Scarves are the perfect gift for friendly guys of all non-romantic varieties, from your next door neighbor to the barista slinging lattes for your weekly Stitch and Bitch. While they’re super easy, scarves tend to take FOREVER, and are best saved for someone who’s going to be around awhile.

The Hey-I-Might-Like-You Guy: You’re fresh in the throes of love. He’s everything you dreamed, he treats you like a queen… but you’ve only been dating three weeks. Do yourself a favor, and stick with a Simple Hat for this one. A nice crocheted beanie will show your affection and skillz without scaring him off. Avoid fancy patterns and pompoms, and show the depth of your feeling with the caliber of yarn you choose. Try an inexpensive cotton for your summer fling, or spring for a sumptuous cashmere blend for a real keeper.

The Serious Boyfriend: He knows all your friends’ names, he waters your plants, he uses the words We and Our. This one gets an Afghan. An afghan you say? Isn’t that the most committed project ever? Well, yes and no. Yes, afghans are gigantic. BUT, with a simple pattern and large needles, toiling away on a collection of squares or strips will ultimately cost you far less pain and heartache than weeks of sweater shaping. Besides, if he’s around long enough for you to finish a blanket, he probably deserves it. I like Granny Square Afghans for the endless variety.

The Husband: He shelled out for the ring. He’s danced with grandma. You share dental bills. This dynamo deserves a Fisherman Sweater. Now that he’s stuck with you through thick and thin, knit him something that will keep him warm in all kinds of weather and last for decades.

All pattern ideas are clickable links to free patterns. Knitting With Balls is another great resource, as are vintage patterns. Choose your own adventure!

Bottle Cap Magnets

This project is so simple I almost feel guilty writing up a tutorial. Bottle cap magnets are a quick, easy, way to recycle, and they look pretty darn cute boozing up your fridge.

bottle cap DIY

You Need:

a few beer bottle caps (twist-off caps will look neater)

a few small, plain, glue & stick magnets

craft glue (I used the classic Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue)

First, make sure your caps are clean and dry. Place them face down, put a pea-sized dab of glue in the center of each one, and press a magnet into the glue.

bottle cap magnetsLet dry. Place on fridge. Done!

bottle cap magnets

Your guests will now marvel at your ability to make green glamorous. And your taste in beverages.

Daisy Buchanan Earwarmer

The 1920s were all about hats, but I can’t imagine the famous cloche being very kind to your hair. This quick little project is made for the modern Daisy Buchanan who hates hat hair as much as I do. The Great Gatsby is set during a broiling summer, but I imagine the Golden Girl herself might wear this come winter.

Simple, charming (if I dare say), and simply adorned with a bold flower, this earwarmer has all the glamour of a cloche without the hair-smushing. Turn one out in a few hours and give to a chilly fashionista. Or yourself.

You will need worsted/Aran weight yarn in 2 colors and a 5 mm hook.

Abbreviations: HDC = half-double crochet. ch = chain. sl st = slip stitch. DC = double crochet.

Row 1: Begin by chaining 73 stitches. Half-double crochet (HDC) in 3rd ch from hook and each ch across. Turn. 72 HDC. Alternatively, measure around your head with a piece of yarn, make a starting chain of that length PLUS 2 stitches, and carry on.

Row 2 and following: Ch 2 (counts as first HDC), HDC in each chain across.

Work even for 3 1/2 inches.

Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing. Thread tail through a yarn needle and sew the short edges together with wrong sides facing.

To Make the Flower:

Work loosely! Or you will be sorry once you hit the spiral bit.

Row 1: Begin using the magic loop method. Ch 3, make 7 DC into ring. 8 DC.

Row 2: Ch 3, 2 DC in each st all the way around. 16 DC.

Row 3: Ch 2, 2 DC in next st. *1 DC in next stitch, 2 DC in following st* all the way around. Join with a sl st. 24 DC.

Row 4: Ch 1, *(hdc, dc, hdc) in next DC, sl st in following DC* all the way around. 8 petals.

Row 5 and continuing: You will be working in a spiral in the front post of each DC. I made this flower as an experiment but I will make another so that I can post a photo tutorial soon.

Continue in pattern (HDC, DC, HDC in next stitch to make a petal, sl st in the next stitch to anchor it down), but work petals and sl stitches in the front post of each dc. Have fun with it, and space the petals out however you like them. This WILL make more sense as you try it. Just slowly curve them inward, and don’t worry too much about which loop you are working in.

I am super proud of how this flower turned out. Working the middle of the spiral takes some finagling, but it’s really not so bad.

When you get to the middle, stop with a sl st and fasten off. Pull yarn through to the back of the flower.

Finishing:

Place the flower over the seam of the headband on the right side. Pull both ends (the magic loop tail and the fasten-off tail) through to the wrong side. Tie them in a square knot and weave in ends. With some scrap yarn and a yarn needle, sew the edges of the flower (the third row of DC) to the earband.

Block flat if desired and get those ears toasty!

::Note:: I will eventually have more pics up. My model made off with this one, but I’ll make another.