Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ravelry - my new hero

As a crochet pattern designer, I began using Ravelry for my pattern sales.  I had several customers ask me if I would put them on Ravelry, so I decided to do so.  Since then, all of my patterns are available through  Little did I know that this move was going to save me.

I also started buying patterns, almost exclusively, through Ravelry because they allowed for me to "gift" a pattern to someone else.  And what better gift is there for a fellow crocheter than yarn and a  pattern???  Although I don't often use other people's patterns, I do buy them just in case I get in a designing funk -- it does happen.

So, last month, my computer's power button died - at least that is the current diagnosis.  Although I have attempted to replace the power button, I have not found a suitable replacement.  I know enough about electronics and computer hardware to be dangerous, not effective.   So, all of my own designs and every pattern I had purchased became inaccessible to me.  I was totally panicked.

Popsicle Kozie from Kidz.At.Heart.Krochet
Pattern available at Ravelry:

I needed to look at one of my own patterns to be able to answer a customer's question.  I didn't know what to do.  Just out of desperation, I went to ravelry, and sure enough I could download my own designs.  Everything that had been released was right there at my fingertips.

And imagine my surprise when I attempted to purchase a pattern I knew I had lost on the old computer, Ravelry let me know it was already in my library.  I went to my library and WOW was I shocked.  I could not replace all that was lost, but I was able to replace a LOT of patterns.

So, if you haven't tried ravelry - give it a try.  You will not be disappointed!   This is one convert that won't ever go back.  If you want me to buy your pattern, make it available through Ravelry!!!

All of my patterns can be found here:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An interview with Crochet Creations by Steph


Witch Hat
The owner of Crochet Creations by Steph is Stephenie Hickok, and she is a dynamo with a hook and some yarn.  She can take any pattern and create magic and she can design her own patterns and just rock them.  This candy corn Halloween Treat bag is an adaptation (just changed the braid and added another stitch to bring the size in a bit) of her Candy Corn ear-flap hat pattern.

Candy Corn Ear-flap Hat Pattern
by Crochet Creations by Steph
My version of Crochet Creations by Steph's
Candy Corn Ear-flap Hat Pattern

I have purchased patterns and completed items from Stephenie and have always been amazed at her work.   I thought it might be nice to learn a little a bit about the lady behind the hook.  So, Stephenie gave me a little bit of time and gave me a little bit of background information.....

     Hi!  I am a stay at home mom of 5 wonderful kids, and the fiance of the love of my life.  We have been a wonderful blended family for almost 10 years now.  Our kids range from 17 to 9 and I realized last year that they are gone more than they are home anymore.  So I decided to take my love of crochet and keep myself busy.  I learnt to crochet sometime back in elementary, and grew up watching Mom and multiple Aunts, and Grandmas making blankets and doilies.  Until last year I had only made a few blankets of my own and too many washcloths to count.  I then decided to start my own photography business and I thought, Hey, I can make my own props.  I made a few and posted them on my Facebook page just to brag because I was so proud of myself.  I sold all the hats that I posted and had orders waiting in line.   Well, that was the beginning of Crochet Creations by Steph.
     I was a bit scared to take the step and start a business page, but after watching a few other pages and all the fun that I had with them, I was really inspired to take the leap and make this work.  Almost a year later, here I am.  
Red Riding Hood Poncho
Crochet Creations by Steph's version of
Snappy Tots' pattern, Mini Poncho pattern

I asked Stephenie a few questions to get to know her a little better.
What or who inspires you?
Simply put, my Mom.  As far back as I can remember, my Mom has worked hard and gave 110% to give me and my siblings a good life. She always made sure we were taken care of, but it's the little things I remember most. Letting us stay up late to watch a movie on a school night, or that something extra at dinner just because she knew it was our favorite.  Now that we are grown and have kids of our own, she is one AWESOME Ma-maw.  I am almost 36 and if I turn out to be half the woman my Mom is I'll be happy.
Crochet Creations by Steph's version of
Bonita's Patterns' Marte, A Crocodile Stitch Hood
 If you could do one thing, what would it be?
The one thing on the top of my "Bucket List", that I want to do the most, Is be able to take our kids to Disneyland.  Growing up that was one thing I always wanted to do. My fiance and his parents took me 4 years ago on a mini vacation and they surprised me with Disneyland.  Now that I have been, I want to take our kids and experience it through them.  It is my hope that in the next 2 years we will be able to do just that.
I thought I would share some of her original designs with you.

Rag Doll Boy Pattern
Rag Doll Girl Pattern
SeaScape Photo Prop Cape Pattern
Bumble Bee Photo Prop Pattern

Scarecrow Pattern
Crocodile Falls Set Pattern

And some of her work using other people's patterns:

Incredible idea using a 12 pt star pattern!
One of my purchases from Crochet Creations by Steph
Note: my son LOVES it!
Very impressive sweater!
I just Love this pattern by Retrend You
and really love this version of the pattern!
This hat is just too cute!
Crochet Creations by Steph really ROCKED
this pattern by Desert Diamond Crochet
And of course, as a designer, I LOVE when
Crochet Creations by Steph tests my patterns!!!
So now you know a little bit more about this shop, and it's owner.  What do you think so far?  If you have more questions for Stephenie, you can reach her through these links:

Friday, August 24, 2012

GET SKINNY Belt / Scarf Pattern

Any weight of yarn  (I used RH Boutique Unforgettable)
The amount of yarn is dependent upon how wide and how long you make it.  I used less than one skein.
Hook suggested for yarn you are using - see yarn label.
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

Special Stitch:

DCL: [small daisy stitch or daisy cluster stitch]

DCL in First Row: Insert hook in st closing previous DCL, y/o, pull up a loop, insert hook in same
stitch as last spike of previous DCL, y/o, pull up a loop, skip ch, insert hook into next chain, y/o, pull up a loop, y/o pull through all 4 loops on hook, chain one to close cluster.

FIRST DCL in a Row: Ch 3, insert hook into second ch from hook, y/o, pull up a loop, insert hook into 3rd ch from hook, y/o, pull up a loop, skip stitch, insert hook into next stitch, y/o, pull up a loop, y/o pull through all 4 loops on hook.

ALL OTHER DCL: Insert hook in st closing previous DCL, y/o, pull up a loop, insert hook in same stitch as last spike of DCL, y/o, pull up a loop, insert hook into next DCL, y/o, pull up a loop, y/o pull through all 4 loops on hook, chain one to close cluster.  

Helpful videos:
If you have NOT worked a DCL, this video may help you understand how to work this stitch.    

This video is just how I work the first stitch in each row of sc, hdc, dc, and tr.

Ch 11 (you can chain less for a skinnier belt or lots more for a wide scarf - just make sure it is a an ODD number), 
1. hdc in 3rd ch from hook, (first two ch count as hdc), hdc in remaining chains across.
2. ch 2, hdc in next stitch and each across.
3. repeat 2 until you reach desired length of belt.
4. (Working DCL along LONG side of belt) ch 3, insert hook in 2nd ch from hook, pull up a loop, insert hook in top of stitch just completed, pull up a loop, insert hook in base of hdc from row just finished, pull up a loop, pull a loop through all four loops, ch1 to close,  work DCL stitch down the side, skipping one space between the 3rd and 4th loop on each stitch (see photo explanations below).  Continue to work DCL down the side, to corner.
5. ch 3, insert hook in 2nd ch from hook, pull up a loop, insert hook in top of stitch just completed, pull up a loop, insert hook into ch from beg ch, pull up a loop, pull a loop through all four loops, ch 1 to close, work DCL across beginning ch row to corner.
6. (Working DCL along LONG side of belt) ch 3, insert hook in 2nd ch from hook, pull up a loop, insert hook in top of stitch just completed, pull up a loop, insert hook in ch from beg ch, pull up a loop, pull a loop through all four loops, ch1 to close,  work DCL stitch down the side, skipping one space between the 3rd and 4th loop on each stitch (see photo explanations below).  Continue to work DCL down the side, to corner.
7. ch 3, insert hook in 2nd ch from hook, pull up a loop, insert hook in top of stitch just completed, pull up a loop, insert hook into top of first hdc, pull up a loop, pull a loop through all four loops, ch 1 to close, work DCL across beginning ch row to corner.

Fasten off, weave in ends.

If desired add fringe to the narrow ends of belt.

To add fringe, cut strand 7" (or double the length desired) pieces.  I used 5 strands for each DCL.  Fold all the strands desired for the DCL in half, pull up a loop of all the strands using hook, make sure ends are even, pull all strands through loop and pull tight.  Repeat for each DCL.  Trim Fringe to ensure it is even.

If you have questions, just ask!

DCL photo explanation:

Insert hook into 2nd ch from hook

Pull up a loop

Insert hook into top of last stitch completed.

Pull up a loop

skip the space of one stitch, insert hook into next space

pull up a loop

Y/O and pull a loop through all 4 loops on hook

Ch 1 (DCL completed)

Where the 3rd and 4th loops go on this edge!

See the space between 3rd loop and fourth loop??

What the edging looks like...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Yarn Giveaway!

I am giving away some yarn as a Thank you, to some really great ladies.  They went together to get me a spinning wheel -- completely surprised me!  So as a Thank you, I am giving away all of this yarn to one lucky winner!

Yarns:  (Top, Left to Right) Soleil Lavender ; Lighthouse Alpine Valley Pink, Blue and Blue, Crystal Palace Musique Monet and Tulips; (Center, Left to Right) Filatura Lanarota Easy Wool Green; Knit Picks Shine Sport Yellow; Universal Lush Mohair Blue and Tan; (Front, Left to Right)  Filatura Lanarota Easy Wool Teal (x2), Gedifra Pink and Blue Ribbon yarn.

Total Weight: 26 oz.
Total Yardage: over 1400 yards

How do you enter?  Use the form below.  If you can, please thank each page.  Neauveau Fiber Arts is responsible for inspiring my desire to spin yarn.  All the other pages are responsible for me having a wheel.  I also want to publicly thank Penny, Anita and Tim who I was not able to find business pages for.  They are also a part of my miracle!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If for some reason you are unable to enter, please let me know so that I can find out why not.  I do know the application does not seem to work well with mobile devices.

Yarn Weights and what is WPI?

Most crocheters have heard the terms worsted weight, and many in the US understand (4) or (5) on a package of yarn.  But what does yarn weight mean?

Yarn weight is not how many ounces it weighs but how many "Wraps Per Inch" (WPI) it has.   You can determine a yarn's weight using a ruler and wrapping the yarn around the ruler and determining how many wraps it takes to make an inch.  The width of the ruler is irrelevant, because you are not measuring length, but measuring the width of the yarn.  So, if you have yarn that you have no idea what it is or what weight it is, grab your ruler!

The WPI charts vary around the world; which can make things even more confusing.  And even more frustrating is commercial yarns are not universal either.   Some yarns state worsted weight, when they are clearly lighter weight than other worsted weight yarns.  What adds even more confusion is the "light worsted weight" and "heavy worsted weight" designations some yarns state.

The Yarn Wench has a great chart that is helpful.  I also like the information at Knit Picks, because it matches commercially available yarns (most of the time).

So, what do you do when you want to substitute yarns, and the "yarn weights" are not universal.  One really easy trick is to match the suggested hook or needle size.  So if it recommends a 4.5 mm (#7) then you would find another yarn that recommends the same size needle or hook.  This can be beneficial when wanting to substitute in a pattern.  If the pattern calls for Homespun yarn, you know that it recommends a K hook.  So you search for yarns from your stash that use a K hook.

It is really important to not substitute a yarn that matches the recommended hook size in the pattern!  Many patterns are designed to be worked really loose by using a much larger hook than the yarn would normally use, or very tight, by using a slightly smaller hook.  So be careful not to match the hook size recommended in the pattern, but the size recommended by the yarn itself.   Lets look at an example:

Pattern calls for Knit Pick's Shine Sport Cotton blend yarn.  The pattern uses a J hook.  You don't have any Shine Worsted Cotton and you need to find a substitution.  You go to Knit Picks website,, and you notice that the yarn recommends E hooks.  So, you then look at your yarn stash for a yarn that recommends an E hook.  If you tried to match with a yarn that uses a J hook, your work would not match at all.

Again, we have to use the tools we are given, and not all of our tools are specifically helpful.  However, we can get better at yarn substitutions by thinking a little outside of the box.

One website that does a GREAT job at yarn substitutions is LionBrand.  They have a great substitution chart that shows want yarns will substitute for others.  Mind you it is only their yarns they discuss, but it may be a helpful tool for you!  Lion Brand Yarn Substitutions

Below are some further helpful links that I have used as resources.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to choose the "right" yarn....

I have been asked lately how do I choose yarns.  Well first of all, I don't make amigurami, nor do I make character hats, or toys.   But the yarn you choose should be right for that project.

Examples:  I have Caron Simply Soft, I Love This Yarn, Soft Silk, and some Bamboo blend.

I want to make a character hat.    Which yarn would I choose?

For the base of the hat, any yarn would be perfect.  But for the add-ons, the best yarn would be the I Love This Yarn because it will hold the shape.

I want to make a shawl.  Which yarn would I choose?

Well, the Bamboo blend, depending upon thickness would be a great choice because of the drape quality of bamboo, but all of the yarns except the I Love this yarn, would be okay for a shawl.

I want to make a sweater for fall weather.  Which yarn would I choose?

The Soft Silk would be the best choice for this project.  The silk/merino blend would be great to keep one warm.  Moisture would fall off, instead of being sucked into the project.  And it is next to skin soft.  You could use any of the yarns, but the Soft Silk would be the best choice.

I want to make a winter beanie. Which yarn would I choose?

Again Soft Silk would be a great choice, but you could use any yarn except the Bamboo blend.  Bamboo is water absorbent.  The last thing anyone wants to do is wear a hat full of cold water, so the Bamboo Blend would be a bad choice.

I want to make a baby blanket.  Which yarn would I choose?

The Simply Soft would probably be best for this choice, as it is a light worsted weight yarn, and 100% acrylic.  It can be washed over and over, but it also starts off soft to the touch.  The Soft Silk would not be practical in price, nor in ability to wash, as it has to be handwashed in cool or cold water.

So, when choosing the best yarn it is important to know the fiber characteristics of the yarn you are thinking of using, and comparing that to the project you want to make.

Some helpful links:

Learning a little about the fiber characteristics helps us determine which yarn to use.

What are you thoughts?  How do you choose which yarn to use?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My favorite yarns - well, today!

Handspun Alpaca yarn
Yes, I admit it, I have become a yarn snob.  The last 3 trips to Michaels and Joanns saw me leave with nothing in hand.  Why?

In three short years, I have gone from LionBrand Homespun yarns to yarns totally NOT available to me locally -- because they are much nicer yarns.  It is not because the widely commercially available acrylic yarns are not appropriate for crochet.  It is because I find extreme joy in creating something from yarns that are a dream to touch, and a dream to crochet with.

So, what makes a yarn "YUMMY" to me?  Fiber content can be a factor, color choices can also play a role, but what is vital for me is the feel of the yarn.

So I thought I would share some of my favorite yarns.  Mind you I have not yet been able to experience ALL the yarns out there and most likely will never be in that position.   So this list of favorite yarns is specific to today, and is likely to change tomorrow.

Handspun yarn from Fiber Optica
  I love this yarn from Fiber Optica!  It is so soft, and so easy to work with.  And her colorways are always so vibrant!

Knit Picks Shine Worsted
Extremely Soft Cotton Blend 
 I cannot work with most cotton yarn.  It is usually stiff and just plain hurts my hands.  But this Shine Worsted from Knit Picks is absolutely divine.  It is one of the softest yarns I have.  And what is even more amazing is the softness does NOT change at all when worked up into a project.  This and Comfy Worsted from Knit Picks are the only cotton yarns I can use, but I totally prefer the Shine Worsted.

Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable 
 This is a relatively new yarn available through Red Heart.  It is softer than many yarns out there, but probably the LEAST soft of the yarns I use.   However, I love self-striping yarns, and especially those with amazing colorways.  And this yarn has some awesome color choices!

Godiva Yarns 
 The yarn from My Sweet Spot 2 is incredibly soft.  I LOVE bulky and super bulky yarns, and the colors are very vibrant.  One of my favorite yarns.

Tencil/Baby Alpaca/ Merino Handspun Yarn
The Fine Lime 
 I am rather addicted to The Fine Lime's yarns... and This fiber blend is one of my favorites.  If I could ONLY use these fibers for the rest of my life, I would NOT be unhappy.

Patons Silk Bamboo

 I absolutely love the drape of the Patons Silk Bamboo.  This yarn does amazing things.

Valley Yarns Colrain 

This is one really awesome yarn at a VERY reasonable price.  If someone were wanting to try a higher end yarn, Valley Yarns Colrain would be my suggestion.
100% Alpaca Yarn
I apologize that I can't remember where this skein is from!
 I am over the top addicted to Alpaca Yarn, and Alpaca Fiber.  The animals are beautiful, the fiber incredibly soft; and most of all no allergic reactions.

Reynolds Rapture 

Reynold's Rapture is another good entry into a little higher yarn value.
Filatura Lanarota Kaleidoscope
 Unfortunately this yarn I cannot find anywhere but Smiley's Yarns in New York, but this is a really nice bulky yarn.
Filatura Lanarota Soft Silk
 Just like the Kaleidoscope yarn, this one is only available through Smileys.   I have designed quite a bit with the Soft Silk, and I LOVE it!
Plymouth Yarn Co. Mulberry Merino
 This yarn is my replacement for the Soft Silk (as the colors keep becoming "Sold Out" at Smileys).  This Mulberry Merino is uber soft, and so nice to work with.

So now you know some of my favorite yarns.  Which one is your favorite and Why?  And what would you make with the yarn?