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  • Backseat Pet Hammock

    You will need:

    • 60" wide corduroy fabric (for durability)
    • four 1" D-rings
    • ¾"w Velcro® (the sew-on kind)
    • chalk
    • scissors
    • sewing pins
    • sewing machine and thread
    • iron and ironing board
    • hand-sewing needle and thread
    • iron-on fusible web
    • felt for appliqué
    • clear nylon thread
    • non-slip rug pads (optional)


    To customize our Pet Hammock to fit your vehicle, you must carefully measure your backseat area.

    1. Measure from the top of the backseat down the seat and up to the top of the front seat (Fig. 1). This is the length of your finished blanket.Fig. 1
      Fig. 1 - Backseat Pet Hammock Fig. 1 - Backseat Pet Hammock
    2. Measure the width of the backseat for the width of the finished blanket (Fig. 1).
    3. Measure how far the headrests are in from outer edges of seatback for strap and D-ring placement (Fig. 2).Fig. 2
      Fig. 2 - Backseat Pet Hammock Fig. 2 - Backseat Pet Hammock
    4. Use your finished length and width measurements to figure out how much fabric to buy.


      1. Cut two pieces of corduroy fabric at your finished size with an extra inch added to length and width for the seam allowance. Round all four corners for a more finished look.
      2. Cut four 3"w x 22"l strips of fabric for long straps and four 3"w x 4"l strips for short straps. Fold each strip with right side facing out and topstitch down the center. Sew a 4" strip of hook Velcro right at the end of each of the four longer straps. Sew a 7½" strip of loop Velcro about 3" further along the strap on the same side of the strap (Fig. 3).width
        Fig. 3

        Fig. 3 - Backseat Pet Hammock Fig. 3 - Backseat Pet Hammock

    3. At top and bottom along the width of one panel of your fabric, use chalk to mark the points where your backseat headrests begin from the outer edges of the seatback. Insert a short strap through each D-ring and tack both ends of each strap to a chalked point on the wrong side of the panel (Fig. 4). Measure over approximately 6" from the chalk point toward the center and tack the end of the long strap without theVelcro to the wrong side of the panel. Repeat for each long strap. (Suggestion: This would be a good point in the process to take your partial Pet Hammock out to your vehicle to test the placement of the straps and make any needed adjustments.)

    Fig. 4

    Fig. 4 - Backseat Pet Hammock

    4. To monogram your Pet Hammock, pick your favorite computer font and print out the letter you prefer at the size that you like. (You may have to experiment with the font size to discover that perfect size.)

    5. Cut out your monogram letter to use as a pattern.

    6. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to iron fusible web to the back of felt and pin letter pattern in place.

    7. Cut out your monogram letter and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse letter in place on front of Pet Hammock.

    8. Using clear nylon thread, zig-zag around the edges of the letter to secure.

    9. Stack the two panels of fabric with right sides together. Pin in place and sew around the edges, leaving an opening for turning.

    10. Turn, press out seams, and close opening.

    11. For a more finished look, topstitch about ½" from the edge around the entire Pet Hammock.

    12. Velcro Pet Hammock securely in your backseat, and Fido’s ready to travel. (Suggestion: If your vehicle upholstery is leather or vinyl, place non-slip rug pads between Pet Hammock and seat to prevent sliding.)

    Click here to download pattern

  • Knitting a Prayer Shawl: What it is, What it Does, How to Get Started

    I've been reading a lot about prayer shawls recently, and I thought I'd talk about it.

    A prayer shawl ministry's website explains that prayer shawls can be used for comfort during times of loss or stress, or for celebration, or to mark an important transition: "Shawls can be used for: undergoing medical procedures; as a comfort after a loss or in times of stress; during bereavement; prayer or meditation; commitment or marriage ceremonies; birthing, nursing a baby; bridal shower or wedding gift; [or] leading ritual."  I like the sound of that.

    I've seen books and patterns for prayer shawls in stores or on Ravelry, and occasionally I'd overhear someone in a yarn store mention making one, but I hadn't given them much thought until a month or so ago.

    First, I read a post on The Rainey Sisters' blog about a program in their area which counsels women grieving after infant loss that needed more donations

    I'm not in a place to donate money to anything right now, but thinking about losing a baby really got me.  I was blessed with an uneventful and joyous pregnancy, followed by a safe birth, and now I have a beautiful and healthy little girl.  She's the very best part of my life and I can't imagine life with her.  I can't imagine what it would be like to lose her (and I have to admit, I haven't tried very hard to think about it because it's just, well, unthinkable), and I wanted to donate a shawl to the program.  They linked to the Wrapped In Care program's free pattern (PDF), but I cast on the Sideways Shawl from Shawls, Wraps, and Ponchos.  It's not described as a prayer shawl, but I noticed the directions included thinking warm thoughts about your recipient as you worked through your rows and that was good enough for me.  I actually didn't notice that little instruction until I had already started.

    Then, Lion Brand Notebook began a series about prayer shawls.  This week's post seemed especially helpful because it addressed that weird area of when you aren't religious, but still want to make a prayer shawl for someone you love.  People who don't pray are obviously still capable of sending good wishes and gifts to others who are hurting.  When my grandfather died, one of my favorite things anyone said to me was when a friend wrote simply, "I'm holding your family in my heart right now."  I thought that was a wonderful sentiment, and could be something worth repeating as you work.

    And then my knitting newsletter from Leisure Arts featured their prayer shawls books.  Knit Prayer Shawls, The Prayer Shawl Ministry, and The Prayer Shawl Ministry Vol. 2 are all available in ebook form now along with 20 other titles--and that includes crochet patterns.

    By the time I'd started reading the Lion Brand posts, I already knew the shawl I'd cast on was going to be much, much, much too large.  The bulky weight yarn I was using hadn't seemed too bulky, until all of the sudden it did.  So it had been sitting in a corner for a little while before I decided to try again with some Caron Simply Soft that I had on hand.

    The sideways shawl is pretty simple, and I like the look of it.  I think I'll take my bulky yarn and try it out again on the Knit Triangular Prayer Shawl (Ravelry download) that has been published by several people, including Leisure Arts.  It's a free pattern and has a good rating by Ravelry users, so it's a good place to get started even if you've never made a shawl before.

    If you're considering making a prayer shawl for a loved one or a charity, a few last thoughts:
    -Use yarn that's easy to care for, preferably something that is safe for machine washing and drying.
    -I've read that most people recommend solid colors.
    -Using needles a size or two up from the recommended size will give the shawl extra drape, and hug its wearer a little more easily.
    -Think good thoughts.

  • Valentine DIY Inspiration and Instruction

    I really love Valentine's Day.  It's a celebration of love and friendship and there's a big sale on all kinds of chocolate in the middle of the month!  There's so much to love about this time of year! There are years when I decorate my home, and get as serious about mailing out my Valentines as I do my Christmas cards.

    But this is not one of those years.  I began to accept this reality last night after I failed to crochet or knit a fifth or sixth heart (different patterns yielded different disasters), and completely embraced it after I tried to take adorable pictures of my daughter for photo cards and got this:

    I got a nice in-focus picture of her sock before she completely scurried away.

    As festive as I feel, I don't know how much holiday crafting I'll be doing for this particular holiday.  I do know I probably won't be making something awesome (or something that seems awesome to me), and writing all about it on here.  But that's okay!  You probably didn't want to copy my ideas anyway!  But this won't be a tiny and unhelpful post.  No sir/ma'am!

    This post is a roundup of all the helpful posts this blog already has!  I did the searching for you, and now I have a head full of ideas for projects I may just have to make time for anyway.  Ready?  Okay!

    First off, we have to talk about decorating.  Valentine decorations are my favorite part of Valentine's Day, right after the actual Valentines.

    Here's a guest post from a designer on how to decorate your home for Valentine's Day.  There are nice ideas for how to brighten up your home, and I think it looks festive without being too over-the-top.  You could follow some of her tips and leave your decorations out for the whole rest of the month.  Speaking as someone who has a pumpkin on a ledge and a plug-in Santa in my living room, this appeals to me.

    If you do want to get a little more overt with your decorating, these posts may help.  The post "Paper Crafted Party Ensembles" shows some of the Valentiney ideas in the book Party Ensembles.  And this post has some wonderful banner inspiration pictures.  I love banners, and who wouldn't after seeing this?

    If you want to sew or crochet some Valentine's gifts, then you're in lucky.  Pink and red and button-covered luck.   The post "Crochet for Valentine's Day" has project ideas and links to Leisure Arts ebooks and pattern books.  Super, super cute.

    And here's a free pattern for a pin cushion jar topper. This would be a perfect gift to make your crafty loved one smile. Or, you could just decorate your craft area for the season.

    I love this idea.  You could fill the jar with pink buttons or purple or red ones.  Or small bobbins of thread.  Or small balls of scrap yarn.  This is a really pretty way to dress up something practical without getting crazy with the whimsy.

    Another sweet gift (or decoration) is the felt heart ornament.  I know I already said I won't be doing any big crafts for Valentine's Day this year, but this doesn't seem so big.  A couple of these would look nice hanging on a door, or over an entryway.  Who wouldn't love to have more love around the house?

    I know, you probably love this as much as I do!  Especially with the embellishments. So sweet.  Click here to read the post.

    If you're one of those people who makes candy or cookies as gifts, God bless you.  (You're probably getting the 'not a cook' vibe from me right now.  You're reading me right.)  I don't cook much, but I do love eating.  Homemade treats are such a nice way to let someone know you love them.  I mean, you're giving them nourishment!  Or at least a sugar rush!  People tend to be appreciative either way.  Here's a post with a recipe for sugar cookies (sugar!) and here's a recipe for some very fancy-looking chocolate candies.

    Raspberries are involved.  You KNOW things are getting fancy now!

     If you want to go the extra mile and present these presents (ha) in handcrafted style, here's a post for Valentine's Day gift bags.  I don't know why I'm getting to be more and more of a sucker for buttons as embellishments, but I am.  It really may have had something to do with writing this post.  I seem to have converted my own self my own self just by uploading a few photos.  It's not too hard to see why, though!

    I linked to this project in a Christmas post (and now that I've gone back and read it, I'm really sad that I've already made the 'present your presents' joke once before), but it was originally written for this time of year, and I think it's just precious.

    I know I didn't include any links or pictures about making your own Valentines, but I think that's best left to your imagination.  My only advice would be to do the first thing that pops into your head.  And also maybe find out how much someone hates glitter (so sad!) before you put any on his or her card.  I think any card, but especially a Valentine, is most beautiful and meaningful when you come up with the idea yourself.  Even people who don't consider themselves big crafters tend to go for more handmade and personal gifts for Valentine's Day.

    I think it's just the nature of the holiday.  You may buy a small Christmas gift for everyone in your office, but you probably don't do that when February rolls around.  (Unless you're one of those people who does the classroom Valentines with suckers.  Trust me, you're everyone's favorite person. Those make my day!)  You don't send Valentines out of a sense of social obligation, or because someone sent you one.  You send them to your dear friends and your close family.  You're telling people you love them, and it only makes sense to make your card or gift more personal by making it yourself.

    Also, I once sent a Valentine to a teenage boy that just was a stamp of a black raven sitting in a leafless tree and I wrote "You are all alone." across the top.  It disqualified me from giving card-making advice to anyone ever.

    I hope these links helped, or at least got you more in the mood for the holiday.  And I especially hope you have fun trying some of these ideas out!  I might be getting more into the spirit myself now!

  • Husband Houseshoes

    It's cold out there, you guys.  That probably goes without saying.  But after a pretty mild winter last year, we are a little surprised to be freezing this year.  Literally.  This is a cold and frosty morning and it's only going to get colder (This is Arkansas!  We've already had snow once!  Why would there be more?!).  So I thought it would be a good time to share a houseshoe pattern to keep you warm and cozy.

    I should say that by "pattern," I mean "this thing I wrote down while making stuff up."  I'm mostly sure that counts as designing.  And I remember mentioning a while ago that if you liked rib stitch, you could make some killer bootees.

    I'm wearing mine now.  They're essentially just some tubes that my grandma knit for me with double stranded magenta Red Heart.  I've had them for maybe 15 years or so, and they're holding on just great.  I stared at them for a while in December to help me make a larger pair for my husband.

    Now might be a good time to mention that I am a bit smaller than my husband.

    My husband has a wide foot and wears a size 12 or 13, so I made these pretty large.  If you know a Hobbit, or if you just really enjoy a comfy pair of slippers yourself, then you'll probably enjoy these.

    I used Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool and Size 10 1/2 (6.5 mm) knitting needles.  This probably uses a full skein, give or take a little bit. I bought another skein to use with my scraps just in case, but I probably didn’t need it.  But I didn't know that at the time, and then at least saved me from trying to knit from both ends of the skein and tangling myself up.

    There's really no trick to doubling up your yarn--just set the balls or skeins close together and make sure you always have both strands in your hand while knitting.  With such large needles, you shouldn't have too much trouble with the stitches being tight.  But if you do, move up to a larger size--especially if you're using a thicker yarn.  I only used the Fishermen's Wool because I wanted to use wool, and because the brown seemed like a good choice for my husband (most of the things I knit for him are brown).  Use any ol' yarn you want, though!

    Okay, let's set things out in a more orderly fashion. 

    600-800 yards of yarn, preferably in two skeins
    Size 10 1/2 (6.5 mm) knitting needles or corresponding Knook
    Tapestry needle for finishing off and weaving in ends

    Cast on 46 stitches
    Knit in K1P1 ribbing for 16"

    After your knitted fabric is long enough to suit you (lay it against the foot that's going to wear it to get the best idea), decrease by knitting two stitches together for a row.  On the next row, purl two stitches together for a row.  K2TOG for another row.

    Cut an extra long tail on your yarn pieces, and thread the tapestry needle.   Thread the yarn through the remaining stitches and pull it up tightly.  The seam goes on the top of the foot, and tends to make the houseshoe curve a bit, and I think it helps it stay on your foot a bit better. 

    If you want your houseshoes to be smaller, just cast on fewer stitches.  As long as you have an even number, you should be fine.

    Reading back over this reminds me of trying to get a recipe from a friend when neither of you have a pen and paper.  Sorry about that.  I just blog over here, man.

    Still, if you want some warm feet--and who doesn't right now?--and are in the mood for tons and tons of rib stitch, I think you'll like these simple houseshoes.  Or maybe someone else will. 

    I'm kind of in the mood for a new pair now....

    Stay warm and safe!

    Oh, and one other thing!  I just re-read this and thought I should mention that my husband likes these.  They're a very warm and squishy knit!

  • Free Knook Pattern: Ridges Baby Hat



    Unfortunately, the baby does not come with the book.  Sorry.


  • Free Knook Pattern for the Holidays

    Merry Christmas!  If you don't already have this pattern, I think you should.  The Sampler Scarf pattern (PDF) is a fun mix of crochet and knitting, so you can work a variety of knit patterns and crochet techniques.  I know the download's been put out there before, but I haven't seen a lot of project pages for it on Ravelry.  So I wanted to put it out here on the blog for another round of discussion, and to bring it to you in case you missed it because I don't think there's much better this time of year than a nice scarf.

    Scarves sometimes get badmouthed by experienced crafters, and I'm not sure why.  "Back when I only knew how to make scarves," they say.  And "If you want to move beyond scarves," gets tossed around when they talk about improving your station in life or something.  For a long time I only made scarves and got annoyed with myself because I wanted to make other things, but was too scared to branch out.  But if you really like making scarves, then there's a ton of different ways to do it.  Even if you're making the same thing over and over again, you're usually not doing the same thing over and over again.  And even if you were, you'd have to give a lot of scarves as gifts before people got tired of receiving a handmade object that keeps them warm.  Trust me.  But you can knit a few long rows, or a bunch of short rows.  You can do garter stitch, stockinette, basketweave, and my personal favorite is a ribbed scarf because those are really sturdy and warm.  Scarves are a great way to show off a lot of different techniques (and then there's the part where they keep people warm).

    Which is why I like this pattern a lot--you can mix the pattern squares according to your tastes.  If you wanted to skip the crochet squares, or the knit squares, you can.  If you didn't want to work the pattern repeats, you could crochet the ends together after just 6 pattern blocks and presto!  Cowl!

    I was thinking of alternating the Knit Check piece, the Knit Basketweave piece, and the Knit Pennants piece for a cowl.  The combination would make a nice texture for a cowl and would change enough for me to stay entertained.  Most cowls are about half the length of a scarf, which is why I suspect so many people make them for Christmas gifts.  It's pretty rare when the stylish and prettiest option is also the easier one.  Jump on this bandwagon and ride it for as long as you can, friends.  This is a dream come true for the time-pressed crafter.

    I think this is a great pattern for a quick and beautiful gift, or maybe even a fun project to work on for yourself during this time.  Yes, you can make stuff for yourself during the holidays!  I may start doing it myself.  I really want a new scarf now!  I haven't made one in a couple of years, and I caught myself bunching up a shawl the other day just because I like wearing bulky scarves.

    Which reminds me: if you're interested in Knooking more scarves, Leisure Arts also has Simple Scarves Made with the Knook

    Pine cones are not included, which is too bad because they'd look great in your house this time of year.

    I wish I could tell you what I thought about it, but before I ever had a chance to open my copy and flip through it, my friend Jessi asked to borrow it and I haven't seen it since.  I guess that tells me all I need to know!  Until then, I'll think happy thoughts of scarves and projects finished on time.  Best wishes in all your holiday crafting endeavors!

  • Learn to Crochet: Foundation Stitches and a Free Pattern

    Remember when I said that chain stitches were the foundation of any crocheted item?  Foundation stitches are also of any crocheted item!

    Simply put, starting your project with foundation stitches is another way to start your project as you're crocheting your first row.   As the nice lady says in the video, beginning your project with foundation stitches saves you the trouble of counting chain stitches on a large project and your finished product will have a stretchier edge.

    And before I forget, here's the video for the left-handed crocheter.  I wouldn't want to leave you hanging.

    Back to it: a stretchier first row helps you set the right tension for your project.  If you crochet your chain stitches too tightly, you'll have a hard time crocheting into the stitches and your crocheting may get a little puckered-looking by the time you have a few rows of stitches done in the right tension.  This probably won't be too noticeable on something like a scarf or a cowl, and you're likely to be the only person it bothers.  But if you're making a hat or a sweater--or even something that needs to be seamed together with other pieces of crocheting--you're going to notice that inflexible edge a lot.

    (I thought about including a picture of how this has happened to me, but pride and my disorganized photo-organizing habits have saved your eyes from this horror.)

    Not to be a fear-monger, but does anyone want to think about what happens if you're several rows in on an afghan and figure out that the problem with the pattern is due to the wrong number of chain stitches and you're going to have to rip the whole thing back?

    Man, I really am getting into the spirit of Halloween!  I'll stop now before things get too terrifying.

    My point is, foundation stitches are a great way to start a project and it's always helpful to know different methods for starting a project.

    AND!  If you follow along with the video, you'll know how to do the single crochet stitch!  You're crocheting now!  High five!  Here's a free scarf pattern!

    I know, I know.  A scarf.  But scarves as a beginner's project are cliched for a reason.  They're straight, simple, and scarves.  I'm sure my personal bias for scarves is showing now, but whatever.  We're settling into fall, the air is cooler, and this scarf idea is super cute.

    Just a tip for reading patterns: "ch" means "chain" and "sc" means "single crochet."  You'd probably figure that out on your own, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.  

    I also think I should mention that the pattern tells you to chain your beginning row, but there's obviously nothing stopping you from trying out your new skills at crocheting foundation stitches.  Do it!  It's going to be fun!  You're crocheting!

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