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  • In Praise of Yarnbombing Your Own Home

    It's September.  I have already enjoyed a pumpkin spice latte, gone hiking, placed the fall wreath on my front door, and decorated my balcony with a banner made from Square 3 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.

    I'm really in the swing of things this fall!

    I recently took down the banner I made from Square 49 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.   I loved that banner.  With cotton yarn and a slightly nautical look, this was a perfect summery banner for my balcony.


    But we're slipping slowly out of summer weather, and the banner has been starting to show some wear and tear.  It needs a good trip through the washing machine, and some squares are a little faded from the sun.  It was time for a new look.

    When I made my fall banner last year, I didn't think about the length of the banner.  I don't know why I wasn't thinking, but I definitely wasn't!  Maybe I got excited about the fall colors, or the fact that I was crocheting granny triangles instead of granny squares.

    Something went a little haywire in my excitement and I made quite a few granny triangles and when I strung them up I had a banner longer than any space in my home.  The balcony is a good place for this!

    Sometimes I feel a little weird about tossing my handmade items out into the elements.  I worry that having a bunch of things out on the balcony will look a little trashy.  I almost worry about some yarnbomb-hating person reading this and getting all huffy (I've seen it happen before. Did you know people on the Internet have really strong opinions?!), but not quite because I'm an adult and don't care.  If I had made someone a blanket and they left it out in the rain, I'd be in a huff to end all huffs.  But these are a few squares that I enjoyed making and now I've out where I can enjoy them.  I can't think of a more fun way to declare "A crafter lives here!" than doing silly things like this every once in a while.

    We live in an apartment and since we're stuck with Apartment Beige walls we can't change and ugly carpet we can't change and a really ineffective dishwasher we can't change, decorating our little home is a big change we can make to make this space truly ours.  We have family photos and my daughter's drawings on the wall, my husband's posters and cookbooks spread everywhere, and I've covered every major piece of furniture with an afghan.  Banners and blankets make our home cheerful and inviting.  I think adding a little yarn to our balcony keeps it looking festive and homey.

    I'm starting to wonder about Christmas decorations.

  • Gift Ideas for Mother's Day! There's Still Time!

    Mother's Day is just a few short days away, and if you don't have something yet for the special mom/moms/mom figures in your life you might want to get on that.  I'm here to help.

    Yes, a better blogger would have prepared a list of patterns to knit or samplers to stitch weeks ago, and so would a better daughter.  But y'all (and my mom) just have me.

    We'll get through this.  We always have.

    (Hi, Mom!  Thanks for always reading!)

    No surprise, I'm a big advocate of DIY gifts.  Part of this is due to my lack of funds, and part of it can be chalked up to my crafting tendencies.  Mostly, though, I was raised to believe that things you make with your hands carry a significance that just can't be bought.  Handmade things carry emotion and time and your own special skills that you used to make something to suit your own special gift recipient.

    And who is more special than your mom?  Or your grandma?  Or that nice neighbor who always had time for you?  Or anyone else you like to celebrate on Mother's Day?  You may have guessed I like to share a lot of the love on Mother's Day.  Here are just a few of the ways you can share that love with your special mom figures.

    1. Dinner.  No, I am not talking about taking someone out to lunch on Mother's Day.  I'm actually begging you NOT to do that. You would have a more peaceful time at a livestock auction.  I know this because I've been to livestock auctions and they seemed less crowded than a restaurant on Mother's Day and there were fewer people yelling about money. Ugh. Go out to eat on the Tuesday after Mother's Day.  Or better yet, make dinner yourself.  Only do this if you're a moderately good cook.  (This is why my husband is the designated dinner-cooker.)  It doesn't have to be a fancy dinner--it just has to be tasty.  Bonus points if you don't ask Mom how she "always makes XYZ" and you remember to clean up afterwards.
    2.  A nice experience.  It could be a weekend camping trip, a walk through a museum, or the promise of everyone leaving the house/everyone coming to the house (the difference between a mom's idea of a good time and a grandma's idea of a good time is pretty stark).  As long as it's something that brings your recipient joy, it's a good gift.
    3. Pictures.  If you're an adult, this can feel a little silly.  Your special person does not care.  I have rarely seen my parents as excited as I did the time we gave them portraits of us for their anniversary--my siblings and I were all in our twenties and there were no adorable grandchildren.  I once did a year-in-review style photobook for my mother-in-law featuring my husband and his ridiculously camera-averse brothers, and she loved it.  She would have loved it more if they smiled and had gotten more frequent haircuts that year, but a big part of being a mom is remembering to manage your expectations.  I'm not in the habit of taking lots of pictures of myself, but I like to occasionally order little brag books of my little girl to send to my grandmothers who live far away.  You can use Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Snapfish, Shutterfly....there are so many others.  And several of these sites offer express shipping!  I think I You might need it by this point.
    4. Something handmade.  If your mom likes scarves, make her one.  If she likes to cook, decorate an apron. Paint a flower pot for the gardener.  Give her a stack of crocheted dishcloths because I think that is an appropriate gift to give to anyone at any time.  Heck, just draw a nice little sketch on the inside of your card!  Doing that extra little something with your own two hands just adds a wonderful personal touch.
    5. Something she can make with her hands.  May I remind you that this is a blog for a craft pattern publication company?  Head over to Leisure Arts and if you see something that reminds you of a special lady you love, then go ahead and purchase it for her!
    6. Whatever she wants.  If she says "Oh, I just want the whole family to be together," then you'd better haul everyone down there for a visit and bring some flowers.  My gift for my own mom isn't especially personal this year, but it's something I know she wants and I think she'll like it.  And that's all I'll say about it because, like I said, she's a super supportive mom and reads this.   Moms and aunts and grandmas and extra special Sunday school teachers are all deserving of a little--probably a lot--of extra love and attention on their day.

    I hope this helps!  If nothing else, you can either give something wildly expensive or a homemade card.  Those are always winners--especially the handmade card.  (Note to self....give everyone's favorite granddaughter some more glue and buttons!)

    What are your go-to gift ideas for Mother's Day?

    This post was originally published on May 7, 2013.  I don't think moms have changed very much in the past year, and I certainly haven't gotten any wiser or creative with my gift ideas.  So I'm recycling this post in case you haven't seen it.  Enjoy!

  • Happy Valentine's Day!

    Pattern from Treasury of Holiday Crochet.

    Okay, I promise I won't write about Internet things every Friday but I really wanted to write about love, crafting, and the glories of the Internet today.  So I did.  And I threw in a billion links to interesting things because I like you.  Happy Valentine's Day!  I love the Internet.  I love yarncrafting.  And I love enjoying yarncrafting things on the Internet.  I apologize if this post seems disjointed, but I have a few links and updates I'd like to give you.  So let's talk about the wonderful things I like about the Internet on this happy day of love!

    -Sharon Silverman wrote a post about her new book's blog tour on her own blog.  I loved emailing with Sharon when Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets first came out, and if you read her post you'll get to see a ton of reviews of the book from other bloggers.  There are a lot of blogs that I didn't know about before that I want to follow now because I read her post.  Awesome!

    -Friend of the blog Debbie Trainer said some nice things about last Friday's post in a recent blog post of hers.  I've had fun swapping blog posts with Debbie this past year, and I really love dishcloth dresses.  Like a lot of awesome designers, Debbie has a Ravelry group where people can upload pictures of their dishcloth dress projects and I love seeing what color choices knitters have made to those fun designs.

    -Let me say this for the millionth time: you should join Ravelry!  If you're not on there, you should be because it's an absolute godsend to yarncrafters.  I love seeing what other people are doing with patterns, and if I have the chance to see what a project looks like when it's not featured in a perfect pattern book illustration I'm going to check it out every time.  I love finding out what kind of modifications other people are trying out, and what yarns they're using, and um....I'm just very nosy.  I like seeing what people do with the Rainbow Set afghanI like that a lot.  And I loved checking out all the amazing ways people were making the Crocheted Surprise Jacket.

    -Did you know that all 99 granny square patterns from 99 Granny Square Patterns to Crochet have project pages?  And there's a group for a crochetalong for all of the squares?  Let's take a moment for me to hyperventilate with joy.

    -The Leisure Arts Facebook page always makes me happy.  People upload pictures of their projects, the nice media interns interact with crafters, and it's a good way to get Leisure Arts news.  If you have a Facebook account, you should like them.  And 'Like' them.  Get it?  Sorry.

    -Lastly, there is a Ravelry group for fans of Leisure Arts!  So fun!  It's brand new, and I can't wait to see what happens next! 

    Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope you love some of these links to projects, blogs, and groups as much as I do.  And if you don't, there's always tomorrow's super-cheap chocolate on sale to make you pretty happy instead.  Happy crafting this weekend!

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Super Romantic Dishcloths for Valentine's Day!

    Can dishcloths be romantic?  I don't see why not.  I really like the Sweetheart pattern from Holiday Knit Dishcloths

    If the picture looks familiar, it's because I've made this project and talked about it before.  I was going to knit this in a different color for today, but I could not knit a dishcloth this weekend to save my life--or to at least drum up enough content for a blog post. 

    Seriously, I tried out 2 patterns 3 different times and it was not pretty. 

    The top of the heart got all mangled.  This is what happens when you try to count at knit night.

    But Valentine's Day is just a short little while away!  I wanted to talk about dishcloths with hearts.  They're a nice way to dress up your kitchen.  They're nice gifts to give to people you love, whether in the romantic sense or not.

    Plus, knitted hearts are so darn adorable.

    See? So darn adorable.

    So I thought I'd at least mention that this is a great pattern to make when you're not in some sinus-aggrieved hell because Holiday Knit Dishcloths has plenty of cute patterns for holidays, but I think the Sweetheart pattern is my favorite because I love these two simple lines that 'draw' a heart in the knitted fabric.  It's just so cute.  I gave it to a cousin as a wedding present this past fall, because I'm cutesy like that.

    If one heart--however beautiful--is not for you, there's always Dishcloths from the Heart.

    There's not an ebook version of this available, but the more I look through the project pages of these patterns on Ravelry the more I think I might go ahead and order this.  Surely I could I could knit a couple of those lovely dishcloths before Valentine's Day, right?  This could be the cure for my bad-dishcloth-knitting affliction!

    I may be a little biased since I believe there's nothing a good dishcloth pattern can't fix, but whatever.  It certainly can't hurt!

  • Merry Christmas

    Presents for my family: dishcloths and homemade jam.

    Merry Christmas from my family to yours.  I hope it's a wonderful day filled with joy, laughter, and loved ones.

    And that maybe you'll find some good yarn in your stocking!

  • A Magical Holiday Dishcloth Dress

    Remember when I mentioned the Mrs. Claus Kitchen Helper pattern?  I tried it out!

    And it gave it to a friend!

    She cried a little!

    She also cried a little when I gave her the Short but Sweet cowl from Crochet Cowls as a present, but she's kind of an emotional person and it's a pretty sweet cowl.  Seriously, if you want to get hugged hard enough to hurt your bosom and have some back fat gripped a bit too tightly, giving cowls out as Christmas gifts is the way to go.  My friends give good hugs.  Anyway, let's talk about this pattern a bit!

    I didn't have any Christmas-y variegated yarn that this pattern calls for, so I went with red and white instead.   Red and white is always Christmas-y if you want it to be.  But this would work nicely in other color combinations--which is what I'm counting on, because I'd love to try this again.  Look at these zig zags.  So dadgummed cute!

     Plus, this has a lot of variety: SSK, K2TOG, knitting in the front and the back of stitches.  All that on top of knits and purls and color changes!  It's a quick little project that calls for worsted weight cotton yarn and Size 6 needles, and you can finish it in an hour or so.  I think it's a great hostess gift if you're going to a holiday party, or it can just be a fun project that makes your own kitchen look a little more festive.

    But this pattern is only available until December 22, so hurry and buy it now!  And if you need even more dishcloth dress magic in your life, check out Dishcloth Dresses because that's available all the time and is incredibly delightful.

    I know you need this kind of magic in your life, and in your kitchen.

  • A Tutu for Every Occasion--Maybe Even for a Snow Day!

    We were snowed in this past weekend, and by Day 3 I was starting to get a little stir crazy.  The fridge and freezer were cleaned out, laundry had been done, and several projects had been started and cast aside out of restlessness.  I stuck my daughter in her high chair with some pieces of felt and glue while I unraveled a scarf for yarn because I couldn't get out to the craft store for some of the other projects I wanted to try.

    Or couldn't I?

    I saw that the Christmas Tutu and T-shirt pattern from A Tutu for Every Occasion was available for individual sale on the Leisure Arts website.

    This is just so cute!

    My child, tutu-lover extraordinaire, would look adorable in a Christmas tutu!  And she loves Christmas!  And this has bells!  And glitter!  This would be so fun to make!

    But.  I knew my nearest Michael's didn't have the green tulle ribbon with dots.  Or it didn't last week when I looked. 

    But maybe it did now that Christmas is a little closer.  And maybe if I dressed up my little girl in such a Christmas-y outfit I could finally take a good picture of her (translation: any picture with her hair out of her face and her pacifier out of her mouth).  And then maybe I could get some Christmas cards out before Christmas! 

    And maybe the roads were mostly clear enough that I could put on non-pajama pants and brave the slick spots and bad drivers in order to check out the tulle selection and spend my evening making a tutu!

    But then I imagined the look on the AAA tow truck driver's face when I explained my motive for getting out in the ice and inevitably got stuck in a ditch somewhere--or worse.  And I imagined how long I would have to wait in my car for a tow.  And once I reasoned with myself that I could pack measuring tape and a pair of scissors to make a tutu while I waited for rescue, I realized that cabin fever had completely eaten my brain and I had no business operating a car in any kind of weather.

    So.........maybe in the next few days?

    Because this is adorable and needs to happen in my home.

    Maybe you're crafting and travel prospects look a bit better than mine.  I hope you're staying safe and warm with plenty of power and important supplies like glitter tulle!

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Christmasy Mods and A Chance to Give Back this Christmas!

    Since I enjoyed going back to the book Dishcloths so very much last week, I thought I'd try it again for this week's dishcloth.  I tried out the Around the Block pattern, which calls for white, lime green, and black yarn.  The effect in the book is pretty striking, and I think it would be really interesting to see this in shades of blue.

    See?  It looks good enough to make the (back) cover of the book!  It's in the far right corner.

    But it's December and my creative vision took me in a completely different direction.

    A very Christmas-y direction.

    I am a firm believer that anything can--and should!--be made Christmas-appropriate if you just have these three colors in your stash.

    Ecru, Kelley Green, and just plain Red.

    And I do, at nearly all times.  Bright white is also nice, but I prefer ecru just because I always like ecru.  Also, lime green is bright and pretty and cheerful.  But for whatever reason, I wanted to use the darker green because that would make the dishcloth more closely resemble the homemade Christmas decorations I liked when I was growing up.

    I think it does.

    I was only able to carry the greens on each colorful section, so there were a lot of ends to crochet over and trim but it was worth it.  I really like this pattern and will probably try it again in other color combinations.   This is worked in the round, but you turn your work for every row.  I used an I hook, which is what the pattern called for--but that's a size up from what I normally use.  Just something I wanted to let you know about in case you don't want a super-stiff fabric.  Or if you do.  Whatever.  This will be lovely either way.

    When I was working on this, I asked my husband if this seemed over-the-top and tacky.  He hesitated for a moment and offered "I think it looks very Christmas-like and bright."  So I guess it does look over-the-top and tacky.  Which is kind of what I was hoping for!  I'm so pleased with how this turned out that I'm keeping it for myself.

    It's going to be 'Christmas-like and bright' in our kitchen all year long!

    In other dishcloth news, friend of the blog and occasional guest poster Debbie Trainor has designed another dishcloth dress just for the holidays!  It's Christmas-like and bright, but not tacky--and the perfect amount of silly and seasonal.  I love these dishcloth dress patterns she comes up with, and I don't know if it would be more fun to get a stocking stuff of this all knitted up OR just a printed off copy of this sweet pattern!

    The Mrs. Klaus Kitchen Helper pattern is being sold on Debbie's designer page on Ravelry, and nearly half of the proceeds of each sale go to buying a sheep through Heifer International.  This is a tremendously worthwhile cause, and a really cute dishcloth dress pattern.  For more details, please check out her blog post about it here.

    There's even a donate button if you want to contribute directly to the sheep-buying goal without purchasing a pattern.  I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to purchase this pattern, but I'm told there are folks out there who don't want to knit dishcloth dresses.  But it's Christmas time and I believe in miracles.  May Santa bring the power of dishcloth dress-knitting into your heart this year.

  • Thankful

    Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you're with loved ones and that you have many things to be thankful for.

    I'm feeling especially grateful this year for supportive family and friends.  And for the sale corner in my local yarn store.  And for Michaels weekly email coupons.  And my knit group.  And to my husband for taking pictures of me for posts.  And for my little girl even though she dislikes every hat I make for her.  And for people who graciously appreciate and use the handmade items I give them.

    And you. Thank you for reading and commenting and for letting me prattle on about my crafting misadventures.  It's so much fun to talk to you about so many fun things, and I'm grateful that I get to use this space to do so. 

    Where else can I talk about crocheting a turkey?

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Have You Told Your Yarn You Love It?

    It's I Love Yarn Day!  I like this holiday because I love yarn.  LOVE.

     Maybe too much.

    There's a good chance that if you're reading this blog (bless your heart! And thanks!), you also love yarn.  So hi!  Leisure Arts also seems to love yarn because all of their crochet and knitting titles are 25% off this weekend (October 11-13, 2013) in celebration of I Love Yarn Day!  Whoa. Nelly.

    I could finally figure out what to do with this one skein of Lion Brand Amazing.

    I've been getting emails from my local yarn stores about this most blessed of days.  Many stores are having sales on this wonderful product so that crafters can get even more colorful, squishy, soft, YARN.

    I'm also getting emails from yarn stores that aren't so local because sometimes when I go visit family or new places, I check out the yarn store and put my name on their email list.  Which is why I think of my 'local' yarn store across the state line whenever I think about certain brands of yarn. 

    2 out these 3 yarns were bought in Memphis when I was visiting my sister.

    Like I said, I love yarn--all brands, weights, colors, and fibers.  From this:

    To this.


    I love seeing what it can turn into.

    A Zimmermann garter stitch heart with a pocket made out of Aracunia Nature Cotton. This was my husband's Valentine this year.

     I love all the possibilities I consider when I'm buying it, stacking it together in my lap while I look at a pattern, or just when I photograph because I like to see it.

    A granny square (triangle) banner with fall colors.

     I love seeing what other people can do with it.

    Yarn bomb at the Arkansas Arts Center last month.

    I love anything strange and odd.

    Yes, I know ruffle yarn isn't a big deal to some of you but when I loom knitted a scarf with this stuff I felt like the most adventurous crafter EVER.

    I love that you can give (or get!) it as a present.

    Beginner crochet starter pack I made for one of my sisters.

    In case I haven't said it enough, I love yarn.

    Yes, I did arrange this and take a picture of it for a post. And because it's pretty.

     So tell your yarn that you love it.  And maybe even run out and buy some more of it.  And then head out to to get some patterns on sale.  
    And then turn your yarn into something beautiful.

    Happy I Love Yarn Day!

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