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Patterns, Websites, Instructions, Oh My

Knit Afternoon Tea

I love the internet. It is packed with a plethora of information. It is easy to spend hours and hours looking at pictures, patterns, web sites, emails of all things knit and crochet. For a new knitter or crocheter, it can be quite overwhelming trying to find the right pattern to knit or crochet. Over the years of frolicking the web, I find that there are a few websites and blogs that I tend to return to more than others. Here are just a few locations that I think are quite helpful for those of us afflicted with yarn:

RAVELRY Here you can find all kinds of information about yarns, patterns, designers, people, groups. If you are looking for information on a particular yarn, you can search for it on Ravelry. I have recently been purchasing beautiful designer yarns and some of those yarns only have the name of the company and the yarn color. I am not too familiar with yardage on cones, so I search for the yarn, and Ravelry pulls up all the information I need: ounces, yards, grams, needle size recommended, hook size recommended, if its discontinued or not, even other colors.

It’s also one of the places for patterns, patterns, and more patterns. Whether they are Free or A Fee, you can definitely spend hours just on Ravelry searching for patterns. Last week, my library of patterns was 10 pages, about 500 patterns. I edited the library and now it has 400 patterns in it. I have not knit or crocheted each of them, but right now I have 8 WIPs (works in progress) of patterns on page 1.

I have decided to revisit a shawl that took 1 year to complete. It’s called Afternoon Tea, a knit shawl by Helen Stewart. In 2012, my knitting guild chose this shawl as its quarterly knit item. The first time I had tried to knit it, I got about half way done, and put it away to be finished at another time. I was insecure about my knitting techniques at that time. One year later I picked it up and finished it in a weekend, and it sold at an event I was participating in. Now with new yarn on the needles, I am already half way done with it. My skills have improved quite a bit this past year, and I feel comfortable knitting the pattern.

ALL FREE CROCHET/ALL FREE KNITTING. I receive their newsletters which are filled with many ideas. In each email, you can easily get 10 patterns to try to knit or crochet. Whether it’s a scarf, hat, shawl, afghan, baby blanket, you will find many patterns to choose from, ALL FREE. That’s right, no charge to you.

LION BRAND YARN. This is the first website I ever visited, way back in 2001. In fact, I learned how to crochet animals from Lion Brand. My first animal was a turtle I crocheted in 2003; 14 years later, I still crochet it. The step by step instructions are easy to follow. The patterns use Lion Brand yarns. If the yarn is discontinued, it will give you suggestions for other Lion Brand yarns.

Turtle

Some of the patterns I knit and crochet with are from Bloggers that I have followed for years. These include:

MOOGLY. Tamara has been crocheting and blogging for years. One of my all-time favorite patterns is for a shawl called Fortune’s Shawlette. The shawl can be made with any yarn, no matter the gauge, from lace weight to chunky yarn. She has great tutorials on her blog, along with many patterns.

REPEAT CRAFTER ME. Sarah is another crocheter and blogger who is known for her C2C—corner to corner —afghans. I found her while researching kid’s character hats, and her daughter is her model for her hats and all things kids. One of my all-time favorite patterns is Penguin Earflap Hat. Her hats include all sizes from infant to adult, all easy to follow with plenty of pictures and details.

Penguin hat

These are just a few sites that I find both informative and educational. What are your favorites websites? Comment below and let’s see what we can come up with.

YarnKat trainee

Gizmo here: My roommate and mentor Baggy is taking a little R&R because of a bad tummy. So he asked me to fill in and let you know about Kathy’s FREE patterns! From now until August 12 all patterns are free. So, check them out and grab one or two. Hey, are you going to use that yarn? 

crossbody close up1

Summer’s Ready Cotton Crossbody Bag

My original crossbody bag

Have you ever flipped through a magazine, walked into a store, found an article of interest and said to yourself, “I can do that”? Well, that happened to me recently and I had to do something about it. 

While walking through the local mall, I came across a purse on a mannequin that caught my eye. It had fringe on it, with a long strap and it was crocheted! My thought was, “I could make that.”

I couldn’t get it out of my head, I just had to crochet that bag or one similar. Maybe make one with fringe, a long strap to be worn crossbody, big enough to put wallet and sunglasses in it, but not too big.

On Saturday morning, with a cup of hot tea in my hand, I sat down in my “cave” (aka the office) to begin the process of crocheting a bag. First I had to determine a few things. Such as, how big would the bag be? What yarn would be used? What size crochet hook? And, so on.

Yarn.

Originally, I grabbed my stash of Lily Sugar & Cream Cotton yarn, in the colorway Sonoma Print for the bag. The skein is large, 12 ounces, approximately 600 yards, but I need both ends to crochet the bag with 2 strands held together, so my husband wound off half the large skein onto the yarn winder. It’s great to have a yarn winder, much easier than rolling into balls.

Choosing the crochet hook.
Cotton yarn will stretch a bit, so a larger hook, like P, will make the bag airy and will stretch whatever you put in it. A J hook will make the bag stiff, which is good but you do want some give in the bag. My choice for the bag is N-9mm. It will make the bag flow, while still hold its shape.

Let’s crochet.
If you do not want to follow this with all the photos, commentary and instructions, you can pick up the pattern from the patterns link above. For 1 week, you can get the pattern for FREE, afterwards it will be priced at $4.00.

There will be abbreviations in the pattern here:
ch  chain
st-stitch
ss  slip stitch
sc  single crochet

hdc  half double crochet

Round 1 of bag

 

For the sample shown the directions I am using Lily Sugar & Cream yarn-Americana Ombre colorway. With 2 strands of yarn held together, make a slip knot and chain 22. SC in 2nd ch from hook, across to last chain, 2sc in last chain, turn work to underside and 2sc in same stitch, sc across chain, 2sc in last stitch.

10 Rounds SC

 

Place a removable stitch marker, SC in each stitch around for 10 rounds. As you can see from the photo here, this is what it will look like. After the 10 rounds, which forms the base of the bag, you will now hdc around for 12 rounds.

13 Rounds HDC

Do not bind off, its time to add the shoulder strap. HDC in the next 4 sts, turn, sc in each st, continue to make the strap… it will be at least 100 rows. But don’t worry about counting the rows. Just crochet as long as you want the strap. When you have the strap length, lay bag flat, lay the strap on top of the bag, and sc the 4 stitches to the bag.

Attaching strap to bag

DO NOT BIND OFF. You will now make the closure flap. SC in same stitch as the strap edge, sc the next 19 sts, ending with sc in strap edge. Turn and continue to sc across this for 10 rows. Decrease first 2 stitches, and last 2 sts of each row, until there are 2 sts remain. Chain 5, slip stitch in 2nd chain from hook. Add a cute button to close and you are done.

Envelope Decreasing

 

If you do not want to make the envelope closure as in the Americana sample, and just want the flap to be a straight edge, as in the tricolor purse, all you have to do is single crochet 15 rows. Cut fringe to a length that will meet the bottom edge of the purse. And there you go.

Summer’s Ready Crossbody Bag

 

Let me know what you think about the bags. They are fun to make and can be made in less than 8 hours.

baggy paper

Finding my niche

R.B. Craft Show 2008

Last Saturday I participated in the El Segundo Hometown Fair. It’s an annual event for the city that brings out families. The kids get to play in the bounce houses, the adults chatting amongst themselves and the arts and crafts vendors get to make new customers.

Typical of beach living it was a cold, windy, damp day. I am often approached by customers asking some common questions about my knit and crochet items. Such as if I teach children and do I teach knitting.

The answer to both is yes.

 I do teach kids how to crochet, with minimum age of 10 years, and not more than 6 kids at a time. If there are more than 6 kids in a class, they lose the one on one teaching, with some catching on and others not at all.

I also teach knitting. Sometimes privately in my home and sometimes through other venues like yarn shops or through a city program.

Customers also ask how long I have been crocheting animals. This question always brings back memories of the first arts & crafts event I participated in. It has been 10 years now that I have been knitting and crocheting for fairs.

To be honest, I cannot remember exactly how I got into selling at craft fairs. My first show was at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. My table had knit and crochet scarves and crochet beanies. The beanie hats were the first time I had ever crocheted in the round. People complimented me on how well I knitted scarves, and that I should have raised the price of the scarves. (Lessons of the newbie!)
I went online and spent many hours looking at patterns.

Turtle was my first animal.

 

My first animal I ever crochet was the turtle. Many mistakes were made but I had to try. Once I got the hang of it, I found it to be easy to crochet.

Some of my wares you can find at Buy Hand Laguna Beach.

In 2007, I participated in a show at a senior center, brought along 8 crochet animals, along with other items. The animals were a hit! I had found my niche and have been crocheting animals for 10 years. I create my own designs too which include the octopod, jellyfish, seal, teddy bear, ducky ball with more to come.

Five years after that beginning All of my ocean related animals are shipped to Buy Hand – Laguna Beach, where I consign them. Their customers love my crochet animals —they have even been photographed for a local newspaper article on the shop!

My Octopod gets featured in article about Buy Hand Laguna Beach.

How did you find your niche?

Baggy here: I love a good story. Tell me how you found your niche in the comments below.

SAMSUNG

2017 Spring Arts & Crafts Fairs Update

Here are 2 of my Spring Arts & Crafts Shows I am participating in. I hope to see you at either event. Earth Day is April 22, come out, see some fine crafters selling their wares.

Arts & Crafts Fairs are not only for fall and winter, they are also for the springtime.

I am confirmed for the following 2 local events and I hope you can come out and support my art.

Saturday April 22, 10am-2pm. Anderson Park, 3007 Vail Avenue Redondo Beach, supporting the North Park Seniors. I will have a table outside the center, and it will have shawls, crochet animals, felted wallets and coffee cup cozies.

Saturday May 6, 10am-3pm. Hometown Fair, 600 Main St El Segundo. This event has arts & crafts vendors, carnival rides, game booths, music & entertainment, community expo, bake off contest and a Rubber Ducky Derby benefits C.A.S.E. Buy your rubber ducky during the Hometown Fair.

I will have a  canopy full of my products for you to purchase. My new item this year is the repurposed tote bag: made from cotton yarn, its great to use for groceries, the farmers market, beach.

Sorry, Baggy will not be in attendance.

PartyBag

LA Yarn Crawl 2017 “Wrap” Up

Yarn Crawl selfie

 

Did you get a chance to “crawl”? How many shops did you visit?

I crawled, and my husband was gracious to drive me from store to store. We even found a couple book stores for him to “crawl” in.

We mapped our route, packed a snack bag of water, sodas, chips, then started the 2-hour drive at 7:30am, along 3 freeways, to Claremont. It was faster than we anticipated, arriving at 9:00am, so we had time to eat breakfast. Knitting was my companion during this time. Occasionally an LA landmark made it into my photos.

Well known L.A. landmark

 

The goal all was to spend 15 minutes at each store, browsing the shelves, drooling over all the yarn lovely and meeting the shops owners. Twelve of the 17 stores we had never visited before, so it was nice to see what they have to offer.

Everyone had a hand in it

Instagram & Twitter also played a role in visiting the shops. Each shop had 2 yarns featured for the crawlers to snap a “yarn selfie” and post to social media. Photo bombing was prevented at most locations, except one or two, (you’ll see an extra limb or two in those photos) only because of a lack of seating.

Each shop gave the crawlers a logo pin to put on the official LA Yarn Crawl Tote Bag and a FREE knit and crochet pattern. And, several stores gave a free “gift with purchase”. There were product demonstrations, artist trunk shows, and exclusive dyed yarns.

Kathy with Tunisian Crochet Designer & Author, Sharon Hernes Silverman

On Friday morning, I met a Tunisian Crochet Designer/Author, Sharon Hernes Silverman. She demonstrated a different way to crochet Tunisian without the long double ended crochet hook. I had a nice conversation with her, and cannot wait to start crocheting from her books that I purchased.

Not only is yarn available for purchase on the crawl, so are the tools and accessories for both knit and crochet. See the photo evidence of my purchases. You can never have too many locking stitch markers or tape measures, right?

One store even had “$5 & $10 Mystery Bags”. You buy the bag, and inside is a mystery as to what you purchased. I purchased the $5 bag, and inside was Tapestry Needles, Folding Scissors and Row Counter. It was a good purchase.

As you can see, yarn was acquired for crochet animals (Chunky Baby yarns), scarves, shawls, project bags and tote bags. New colors, new fibers, new year.
After 3 days of crawling, 10 freeways, over 300 miles, now the real fun begins… Winding Yarn!

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The Yarn Crawl, What’s It All About?

L.A. Yarn Crawl Participating Locations

 

Any fiber artist, that is crocheter, knitter, weaver, knows what this is. For anyone else, here is what Google has to say about it: A “yarn crawl” is a multi-day event for yarn and fiber lovers connecting them to local yarn shops within a specific area or city. Yarn crawl participants are encouraged by their local yarn shops to develop a self-guided itinerary for a weekend of exploration and fun.

Yarn Crawl “Passport”

In the Los Angeles area, the yarn crawl is Thursday April 6 through Sunday April 9. There are 21 LYS (local yarn shops) participating this year. Each store has a grand prize gift basket worth over $500 in goodies from the sponsors of the event.

Kathy and her winnings

 

Plan your days out, route the stores, order your yarn crawl tote from a LYS, print out your passport to get it stamped from each store you visit, get free knit and crochet pattern at each store, see the latest and greatest products, see demonstrations, shop the trunk shows. You could win the grand prize at one of the participating shops, like I did 2 years ago.

Yarn Crawl totes and badges

 

For more information if you would like to get “crawling”, you can go to www.layarncrawl.com.

You crawl, I’ll sit here and make wishes
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To Block, Or Not To Block (Knitting)

To Block or Not To Block?

That is the question when it comes to knitting. You have made a lovely shawl with some beautiful yarn. It looks good as is. You wear it, people say it’s lovely, but something is missing. What do you do?

Do you block it?
Most knitters will say, “YES” to blocking. “Absolutely block your garment. The stitches will shine through, and the compliments you will get from it don’t hurt either.”

I’m going to answer a few common questions below.
• Will all fibers block?
• What items are needed block the garment?
• Where to purchase the supplies for blocking?
• How to block a shawl.

Let’s get started.

Blocking pads, cat not included


Blocking Mats:
Foam rubber mats fit together like puzzle pieces to make the size and shape you need. It is an affordable and portable alternative to blocking boards. One side is smooth, one side has texture. The mats shown can be purchased online at  www.KnitPicks.com. You get nine 12″ grey squares in the set. If you want colorful mats, check out amazon.com.

Baggy here: I like the mats, they are soft and squishy. Good for a scratching too, but don’t tell Kathy.

More helping paws and T-Pins


T-Pins.
Pins that are shaped like a capital T, made of nickel plated steel. The pins hold your garment in place on the mats. These can be purchased at retailers like Jo-Ann’s, Michaels, Target, and even office supply retailers like Office Depot and Staples.

Fabric wash


Fabric Wash:
Some fibers, even after knitting, still feel a little rough. Washing the fabric usually will soften the garment. You do not use the washing machine for these laundry washes. SOAK, EUCALAN, UNICORN FIBER WASH, are a few good soaps. Use a capful in kitchen sink, let the shawl sit for 15 minutes, and ring out excess water from garment. No rinsing needed.

Enjoying blocking pads, ignoring T-Pins

As shown in the picture, this shawlette is being wet blocked with T pins and blocking mats.  

Cat not included.

Baggy here again: As you can see, I am a very efficient worker. I am keep the shawl in place with my body, and relax. Sometimes I even make the extra effort to move a pin when it gets in my way.

Acrylic yarns will block if steam is used instead of water. Using your steam iron, set the temp on high and with the shawl pinned, hold the iron close to the shawl, not touching it. Press the steam button to apply steam to shawl.

Blocking Cotton Shawl

 

You can block any type of natural fiber for any type of garment. Animal fibers, like wool, alpaca, yak will wet block nicely. Even cotton yarn will block. This pink, green and white shawl took almost 3 days to block since cotton is a heavier weighted yarn. As you work, remember to get the knitting into the desired shape without stretching it out or damaging the fibers.

With so many yarns out there, why not take some time to block that garment?

Blocking pads are comfy


Baggy here: Some might be asking, what is blocking? It is a technique for stretching, easing, and redistributing stitches in a finished piece of hand knitting. Blocking creates an even fabric, making it easy to work with and nice to wear. And you thought all I did was lay around!

CAKE

Caron Cakes Cherry Chip Review

Cherry Chip “Cake”

Now that I have to take the time to rest my hands, I will be reviewing more products.  Next up is Caron Cakes Yarn. I chose Cherry Chip, a nice color combination of various shades of pinks.

Caron Cakes is quite generous in their “cake:” 7.1oz/200g, 383 yards of 80% Acrylic, 20% wool yarn. Recommended size crochet hook US H, 5mm or US 8 knitting needle. It is only available at Michael’s Art Supplies, Crafts and Framing Store. And, can also be purchased at Michaels online.

It’s a soft acrylic yarn, you barely feel the wool in it. To test out the yarn, I am crocheting the Desert Winds Scarf , a free triangle scarf pattern courtesy of makeanddocrew.com. It’s a quick pattern that uses H hook and double crochet throughout the pattern. The scarf is crochet sideways, with increases on both ends, get to half way point then decreases.

Soft and pink Cherry Chip scarf.
Cherry Chip Gradient

 

I notice the color changes are not subtle. You start with 1 color and suddenly the next color is there with very little gradient change.

I finished the scarf, and the color changes did happen on the end of the row, as you can see in the photo. Putting the scarf around my neck, I do not feel the wool at all. It’s soft to the touch. I am sure when washed, it will soften even more.

I like this yarn. With the size of the “cake,” you could easily knit or crochet a shawl, or 2 scarves. Definitely worth the purchase price. Be sure to pick up a Caron Cakes, you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

Baggy here: Maybe a Baggy size pet bed with the remainder of the cake?

One last thing, I was able to pick up the new Lion Brand Mandala yarn. Will be knitting a shawl with it, look for my review very shortly.

 

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The Clover Pom Pom Maker Product Review

Clover Pom Pom maker

R & R continues, so today I am reviewing a product that I absolutely love. It is the CLOVER Pom Pom Maker.
I had a 50% off coupon from Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Store, and decided to pick it up. I bought the Large set. It comes with 2 different size pom makers, 2 ½ inch and 3 3/8 inch diameter. There are other sizes you can buy too, including a Heart Shape Pom Maker.

The Clover Pom Pom Maker is quite easy to use. Just wrap the yarn on each half of the maker, cut the wound yarn, tie it off and remove it from the maker. A little fluff and trim and you have a pom pom. Even kids can make poms, with parental supervision.

These can be added to not only scarves and hats, but to shoes, hair clips, wraps, shawls, wreaths.

 

The Sample Diagonal Knit Scarf pictured is made with 1 skein Red Heart Super Saver yarn, 236 yards, 5oz, 141g. I made the poms first, then knit the scarf. As an added bonus, here is the pattern for the scarf.

 

Sample Diagonal Knit Scarf

• 200 yards worsted weight yarn, preferably one that is self striping.
• Size US 8, 5mm knitting needles (straight or circular)
• Clover Pom Pom Maker
• Darning Needle
• Scissors
• Stitch Marker

Directions:
CO 20 sts   you can add more stitches if you want a wider scarf. This scarf measures 4 inches wide.
Row 1: (KFB) Knit front to Back in 1st St; K (knit) across to last 3 sts; K2tog (knit 2 together); K last stitch
Row 2: K across
Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until almost out of yarn, Loosely Bind Off all stitches after Row 2. Cut yarn, weave in ends.
With darning needle, attach pom to each side on long diagonal. Make sure you tie it tight. And now you are done.
Enjoy the pattern, it’s a fun and easy one to knit.

Baggy here: I’ve got a Kathy fun fact. Kathy likes to make the tassles and poms before the scarf. She says it is to make sure there is  enough yarn to make a long scarf. Humans are such interesting creatures.|

Poms on diagonal scarf

 

Here it is, the diagonal scarf with pom poms
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Fiberista Elbowitis Againus

I’m here to help.

Was writing this as we were waiting one of those “big storms of some century.” Not much in the knit and crochet has been going on. Why? Because I am  STILL suffering from Tennis Elbow of my left arm.

As WebMD states: “Tennis elbow is a pain focused on the outside of the arm, where your forearm meets your elbow. It’s related to a muscle and tendons in your forearm. Tendons connect your muscles to your bones. When you constantly use your arm in a repetitive motion”

In other words, a big pain. When I saw my orthopedic surgeon in December, he did state most people recover from it with plenty of rest, from 1 month to up to a year. Needing immediate relief from the pain so I got a predinsone shot. Pain for 2 days and then its gone. He told me to rest, to let it heal. I did, for 1 month, then started to crochet. Unfortunately, this was a bad mistake. I needed more rest that my mind would allow. (Typical of all us creative and crafty folks, right? Argh!)

For now, knitting and crochet are done at small intervals, only 1-2 hours daily. Along with other rigorous therapies to help heal muscles and tendons.

So,  what do I do during the day when not crocheting? I am enjoying my time with jigsaw puzzles. Baggy  likes the puzzles too, demanding  to be entertained, or be the entertainment.

Meanwhile, during my adjustment, I have noticed that always right handed, I lift with my left arm. Picking up groceries with my left arm, I fill the hot water pot with my left arm, I carry my purse on my left arm. So, maybe I’m going  to train my brain, and arm, to grab with my right instead of my left arm.

Maybe I’m becoming ambidexpaws. (What do you think, Baggy?)