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  • Garter Stitch, Daydreams, and General Tomfoolery

    I'm knitting a Tomten Jacket for my daughter.  I pulled out her old one out last week and put it on her, only to discover that it's getting a bit short.  I made this a couple of years ago and it seemed like she could wear it until she was five.  Um, nope.  I don't mind, though.  I love this pattern, and I love garter stitch.  I haven't gotten super far on it yet, but I've already had plenty of time to zone out and make plans for other garter stitch projects.  I mean, there's Garter Stitch for Baby, and Projects for Baby, and a bunch of the hats in Warm Hats for Wee Noggins.  So much garter stitch!

    And I'm realizing that these are all baby patterns.  I do love garter stitch for babies.  There's just something about it.  Maybe because it grows with its wearer.  Maybe because I just love knit stitches so much.  Garter stitch fabric lays flat and looks all cute and bumpy.

    I love it so much I've made several hats for my daughter and my nephew that use garter stitch.  Several of the hats in Warm Hats for Wee Noggins are just garter stitch knitted flat and then seamed up with some embellishments.  Like this Valentine's Day hat!  I love this one.

    And there's the Baby Hat from Garter Stitch for Baby.

    And the booties.

    It works for bibs in Knit in a Day for Baby.

    I just....ugh, I love garter stitch so much.  If I had to pick a favorite pattern from these, I don't even know if I could.  Which reminds me!  Well, I'm reminded of two things.  Firstly, if you have a Ravelry account (seriously, go get one. You can lose hours of your life looking through patterns!  Doesn't that sound like so much fun!?) you need to join the group Fans of Leisure Arts Patterns.  It's run by friend of the blog Debbie and it's a fun place where people share their project photos of Leisure Arts patterns they've made. I'm snoopy and love it so dang much.

    And! Secondly, there's a thread in the group's discussion board right now for a giveaway!  All you have to do is link to your favorite Leisure Arts pattern to be eligible for the chance to win a $10 coupon code for Leisure Arts.  Get over there and check it out!  Even if you don't win, you'll probably come away with a few more patterns to list in your queue. I love seeing what other people love, and I've had a nice time lurking.  The thread will be closed on October 12, so hurry on over and talk about what you like because I've got a lot of garter stitch to work through, and I'm dying of nosiness. 

  • An Interview with Kristin Omdahl, Designer of Beginner's Guide to Knitting in the Round!


    Leisure Arts has just published the Beginner's Guide to Knitting in the Round, and it looks fantastic!  I had the chance to email Kristin Omdahl, the fantastic designer of these fantastic patterns, and she kindly agreed to do an email interview with me.  I loved hearing about her motivation to write up a beginner's guide for this sometimes tricky knitting technique.  Here's what we talked about!


    When and how did you learn to knit?
    I taught myself to knit and crochet while pregnant and living overseas twelve years ago with a great desire to learn how to make baby booties and blankets for my soon-to-be-born son.

    What do you like best about knitting?  And what do you like best about designing knitting patterns?
    Knitting lace is probably my favorite type of knitting but there is something incredibly soothing and meditative about stockinette in the round as well. Shawls and scarves are probably my favorite type of projects to make and wear. But afghans are my all-time favorite project for gifts and my family.


    What made you decide to design these patterns?
    As a self-taught knitting and crochet designer, and now a teacher, I realize how many different steps there are in learning to knit. I jumped right into the deep end, but as a teacher I am able to segment the different aspects and techniques and teach them thoroughly and in-depth. So a group of people I've helped learn to knit as beginners watched me knitting in the round on circulars one day (which I find completely normal) and they were astonished. We discussed it a while, then I pulled out a project I was knitting in the round on double points, and they were even more starry-eyed. It was shortly after that I sent a proposal to my editor about a beginner's guide to knitting in the round. Simple stitches, simple techniques, with projects for the whole family.


    What is your favorite pattern from the book?
    Probably the lace capelet to wear myself, but the baby blanket for a gift. I'd actually love to knit this on bulky weight yarn and large needles to make a blanket sized for me!

    What would you say to someone who is new to knitting in the round (or even knitting in general), and a little hesitant about trying more techniques?
    Knitting in the round is a great skill set to add to your repetoire once you are comfortable knitting in rows. It adds a professional finish to hats (no seams!) and eliminates lots of seams actually. I'm not saying seams are the worst thing in the world, but seamless does save time (no weaving in ends) and they are rarely invisible on both the right and wrong sides... I'm pretty sure once you get the hang of it, you'll never knit a hat in rows again!

    Is there anything else you'd like people to know?
    Currently, I just launched my first yarn ever: Bamboo So Fine by Kristin Omdahl. It's a gorgeous, hand-dyed bamboo yarn that comes in whopping 650 yard skeins! I include an ebook of 6 one-skein shawl patterns (retail value $6.99) with each skein sold, and a single pod of Wrapture, my all natural, no-rinse jasmine delicate wash (retail value $1.00). The kit comes in a drawstring mesh project bag. I ship worldwide through my Etsy shop

    I have a new crochet lace book coming out in Spring 2015 and I'm currently working on the next 3 books to come out thereafter.  I also have dozens of tutorial videos on my YouTube channel, and frequently add new videos.  You can find my patterns on Ravelry here, and my professional Facebook page here. And my professional Facebook account is here.
    I've designed custom fabric with my artwork for Erin.Lane Bags' newest collection. The pre-order sales will launch at Stitches Midwest next weekend in Chicago. Sign up for my free newsletter to be the first to hear about it and all my upcoming promotions and sales.

     A big, big thanks to Kristin for taking the time to tell me about her process and upcoming projects.  The patterns in Beginner's Guide to Knitting in the Round look wonderful, and I can't wait to try some of them out very soon!

  • 4 Reasons This Needs to Be Your Next Crochet Project

     I finished my first afghan!

    Finished Rainbow Set Afghan


    And I LOVED it! I am already thinking of when I can make it again and I highly recommend this for your next crochet project.

    I know I’m writing a blog for the company that publishes this pattern. But read this whole post and then see what you think about it.
    This Baby Afghan pattern from the Rainbow Set is immensely popular. However, we have always been puzzled by what makes this 70’s pattern sell like crazy.
    So, I made it, and now I understand. So now I have—with confidence—4 reasons on why it’s worth your time and yarn.
    • 1. Because You Love Crochet 

    You know that feeling you get when you finally have time to sit down and crochet. You’ve just poured yourself a hot cup of your favorite tea (or coffee) and there is nothing else that needs to be worried about right now. Absolute heaven. You love crochet.

                 I remember seeing an e-card saying, “If I wanted a sweater that fits, I would have bought it”. It’s silly, but so true! We enjoy our craft so much that it isn’t the end result that is alluring, it’s the process. This pattern has everything: Simple DC, complicated DC, Granny Squares, HDC, SC, slip knots… everything that makes crochet wonderful.
    2. Because The Yarn: If you love crochet. Then you probably love yarn, too. You appreciate when yarn is put to good use (which is why some crafters don't like yarn-bombing). This pattern is simple, but beautiful. There are so many different color combinations that would look just stunning in this afghan (see for yourself on Ravelry)! The ripples in the pattern show off every color. You can use that yarn that you love but don’t want to waste it on a project that won’t do it justice.
    3. Because You Need a Gift… or will eventually: Since this is a baby afghan, its likely purpose would be as a gift.—Unless you end up keeping it, no judgment here!—It’s something that could turn into a child’s blanket-of-choice, or special “blankie”. 
                It’s also great if you have specific colors in mind. If, for example, you are making it for a baby shower and want to match the “theme” of the baby’s room, this is perfect! They are so nice to make, why not make several for future gifts? From what I hear, this is the kind of pattern that you make several times. We all have those projects lingering around the house. The right gifting opportunity just hasn’t presented itself yet.

    4. Because of the Creative Release: 
    Last weekend I wrote about creativity. It’s so great to have an opportunity to find and use your creative ideas! This pattern is a great opportunity because there are so many options! How ever will you decide? (check it out).
    Thanks for reading! If you have made this pattern I would love to see it! Post it on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media site with the hash tag #LeisureLife. 
    Stay Crafty!



  • An Interview with Annastasia Cruz, Designer of Baby Hats!

    I was incredibly excited to talk to Annastasia Cruz about her pattern booklet, Baby Hats recently! Baby Hats has ten crochet patterns for some unbelievably adorable hats in sizes for babies 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months.  The Pixie Bonnet in particular just about knocked me over with its sweetness and I can't wait to get started on some of these cute little hats.

    The Pixie Bonnet.  You can't tell me this doesn't knock you over with sweetness!
     I emailed Annastasia some questions about Baby Hats, crocheting, and her inspirations for these sweet designs, and this is how it went!

    How did you get started crocheting?
     I started crocheting when I was 16 and just picked up a crochet hook and yarn and just started playing around. I ended up making a scarf out of nothing but slip stitches, I didn't know that they were slip stitches at the time.  After that, I picked up a book from the library and taught myself how to crochet.  I ended up loving it.

    What do you like about crocheting/what other crafts do you enjoy? 

    I love being able to make something from from simple supplies.  I love the creative process and love making beautiful things.  I also sew, knit, embroidery, smock, and am learning how to tat.

    Why did you want to design baby hats? 

    My son is in Boy Scouts and he was working on his Eagle Scout project, and this is a project that requires 100+ hours of work doing a community service project.  He decided that he wanted to make baby kits and donate them to a group that helps new mothers in need, so he collected baby blankets, cloth diapers, diaper pins, and baby bottles as well as other needed items.  For each kit he wanted me to make baby hats and booties, so that is where designing baby hats came in.  He ended up collecting enough for 52 kits.

    The patterns in Baby Hats are classified as "Easy" and look like they would be a great project for newer crocheters.  What would you say to someone who is interested in learning to crochet, but is still a bit nervous about really getting started?  
    You will love it. With patience and determination, anybody can learn and it is so rewarding knowing that you made something yourself.

    What is your favorite pattern from this book? 

    Picking my favorite pattern is like picking a favorite child. I love them all!  I love the bunny hat because it's so adorable but I also love the heirloom hat because I love heirloom stuff and as I was designing the stitch pattern it just felt like something that would be treasured.  The pixie hat is just too cute with the point sticking up, and then there's the spiral hat--I just love everything that spirals.

    I appreciate Annastasia taking the time to answer my questions and fill me in on her approach to designing and handcrafting in general.  You can keep up with her on Ravelry here, and you can buy your own copy of Baby Hats here.  Look for the print version at a craft store near you soon!

  • Crocheting A Cowl of Many Colors


    I crocheted the cowl from the Toasty Set in Hats & Scarves.  This cowl is going to be incredibly toasty once cooler weather comes, I can assure you!

    The pattern calls for approximately 370 yards of any bulky weight yarn with an N hook, and the model in the book uses Lion Brand Homespun. I even tried that at first.  Y'all, I want to love Homespun so badly.  I really do.  But I can't crochet with it!  Knitting is okay, but crocheting is just not a good idea.  I can chain my stitches just fine, but once I start trying to find my stitches to crochet into it's all over.  This is how far I made it last time:

    Yup, that's a beginning chain. And nothing else.


    This time, I decided to use up some of the bits of Patons Roving instead.  You and I both know that Patons Roving is super bulky weight yarn, and so does the yarn page on Ravelry.  But!  The label will tell you it's merely bulky weight.  The label is a liar.  I was super surprised when I was halfway through the Garter Ridge Cowl at my knit night a few weeks ago--which calls for super bulky weight yarn and was knitting up just fine with #13 needles--and happened to notice that the yarn was labeled as being bulky weight.  I couldn't believe it, and neither could the other knitters at the table when I demanded they all check the label as well just so I could make sure I could trust my eyeballs.  So weird!

    Anyway!  I bet you could use either a bulky weight yarn or a super bulky weight yarn to crochet this.  As long as you've got a hook you're comfortable using (I had my N hook) and enough yarn, you can really do whatever you want.  This is made of eight rows of double crochet stitches worked in the round.  You can use all one color of yarn, or you can use a different color for every stripe!  It's a cowl!  There's not much that can go wrong as long as you don't run out of yarn! I used the remains of some skeins in Aran, Orchid, Pacific Teal, and whatever colorway the pumpkin-orange yarn is.  I thought they would look fun mixed together, and they do!


    It's also 100% wool, so this is fluffy and warm.  Whatever yarn you use, I would advise you to make sure it's good and fluffy.  This thing is large and you don't want to carry around too much weight!

    I think this is going to be a great accessory in the fall.  I could wear it alone, or layer it over a cardigan or jacket.  The teal keeps this from looking too stereotypically fall-esque.  It's warm and lovely and can be looped around THREE whole times if I want it to, and I'm pretty pleased with this cowl of many colors.  I'm sure it will bring me luck and happiness.*

    *With apologies to Dolly Parton for ripping her off a little bit.  And apologies to you if listening to that song made you cry the way it always makes me cry.  But I do always think of Dolly Parton's sweet and resourceful mama whenever I get the chance to use up every last bit of my resources to make something.

  • Crocheting (Another) Granny Hexagon

    Last night, I went home and crocheted Granny Square #95 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.

    Just because I wanted to.

    I also had a cookie before dinner because I wanted that, too.

    Even though I'm in the crochetalong group on Ravelry that makes a square or two from this book every month, I never post my projects!  I also don't always crochet the square of the month.  But I like to lurk, and today I saw that one of April's squares was another hexagon!  Crocheting hexagons is new to me, and I love how granny hexagons look.

    Making them is pretty much like making a square, but they just look so different!  They look like they take so much more work!  And they're pretty.

    So!  #95 it was.  I used some medium weight cotton yarn scraps and my trusty H hook and made this in under 30 minutes. Ta da!

    Unlike the last time I made a granny hexagon and maybe got a little carried away, I felt pretty content with #95.  It's not as puffy as #93, and lays a bit flatter.  It's also a little smaller, about 5" measured side to side compared to #93's nearly 6". The pattern only calls for two colors, but you could add more--especially if you wanted more rows.  Once you start the stitch pattern, you're all set! 

    I thought about adding a few more rows, but decided to follow the instructions to the very last letter.  At least for my first try.  I've got the whole weekend ahead of me and I'm in a mood to do whatever I want.  We'll just have to see what happens next.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: It's Actually a Dish TOWEL

    I crocheted the Sunshine Dishcloth pattern from Dishcloths by the Dozen, and it turned out a bit larger than expected. 

    How much larger?

    Much, much larger. 

    The pattern says gauge is 8 stitches = 2 inches.  I didn't work a gauge swatch because I knew that if a pattern was telling me to work with worsted weight cotton yarn and an E hook (like this one does) that I was just going to make some big ol' creation and see how it turned out.

    So I went wild and broke out an I hook, crocheted my prescribed number of chain stitches, and realized this monster was going to be 16" wide.  Dish towel time!

    I worked in the pattern, which is a four-row repeat, until this was about a foot tall and then I felt like my dish towel was done.  Then I worked the border row and ta da!  A dish towel!

    I had checked the project pages for this project on Ravelry, and several other crocheters had remarked on how big this pattern turned out for them.  So I knew it wasn't just me, but honestly I think I would be happy with this as a dish towel even if I had been the reason this turned out like it did.  Because I LOVE this stitch pattern, and I liked my colors.

    I used Bernat Handicrafter's Harvest Home Collection in Maize, and some Sugar n' Cream Denim.  This would make a lovely dishcloth if you just chained half the number of stitches called for, and I think this would have been the level of 'right' density if I had used an H hook.

    Whatever.  Working with cotton yarn every week can wear on my joints and I just wanted a nice, mindless project to take to my Saturday night knitting group.  This was perfect because I didn't feel like I was wrestling with my yarn and the stitch pattern was pretty easy to memorize.  Also--and I almost always forget this--crocheted cotton tends to bunch up a little once it's been washed and dried.  And this is just for my kitchen, so I don't think there's going to be a day when I berate myself for not crocheting a better dish towel when I mop up some type of toddler spill because
    1) there will never be a dish towel good enough to fully take care of a spill created by a toddler and
    2) this is my very first crocheted dish towel!

    I'm pretty pleased with my crocheted dish towel, even though I'm sure I try to make next week's project a more dishcloth-y size. 

  • Crocheting a Granny Hexagon. Or a Dozen.

    Remember when I mentioned that there was a Ravelry group that had a crochetalong for all the granny squares in 99 Granny Squares to Crochet?  Well, they have 2 granny square projects a month and yesterday I noticed that one of the granny squares for February was actually a hexagon.

    So I sat down with some cotton scrap yarn and made #93 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.

    "That's a hexagon," my husband helpfully noted.

    "Sometimes they're like that. Remember when I made the triangles?" I reasoned.

    We got quiet when we remembered the time I stayed up until 2 AM on a weeknight to make a bunch of granny triangles in a variety of fall colors.  Multiple nights.

    "Hey, can you bring me the rest of my dishcloth yarn?  It's hard to get off the couch when I'm sitting cross-legged and I have a lot of scraps" I finally said.

    Shortly thereafter, my husband went to bed early without saying "good night" (or maybe I just wasn't paying attention).

    And then I made a dozen granny hexagons.  And for the record, I only stayed up until midnight.

    (I got an earlier start this time.)

    This is one of the simpler patterns that I've tried from this book, and I really love it.  It's been a fantastic way to use up the scraps I have leftover from all of my dishcloth projects, and these are really pretty!  Since I was working with worsted weight yarn, I used an H hook. That's just what I typically use when working with worsted weight projects.  There's no gauge requirements for any of the patterns in 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.  You make the projects as tiny or gigantic as you want, and you just work with whatever crochet hook suits your yarn.

    Medium yarn?  Medium hook.  This was a super simple project.  It's just chains and double crochets and a tiny amount of counting.

    I have one slight problem now, though.

    What do I do with these now?!

    I thought I would make a banner, but I think I have too many.  And I want to make more!

    Doll blanket?

    Blanket blanket?

    Banners for lots of areas in the house?

    I'm not sure, and I don't really care.

    I'll figure it out eventually, and I'm going to keep making these until I do!

  • 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: 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.

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