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ePatterns

  • A Cowl to Crochet Again (and Again and Again!)

    After yesterday's post, I started thinking about my crafting tendencies.  In crafting, and in everything really, I am a creature of habit.  I wear outfits like uniforms--weekend outfit, work outfit, date outfit (ha).  I will listen to the same CD for months on end.  And if I find a pattern I like, I will make it as many times as I think is reasonable until I've had enough.  And then, after an appropriate waiting period, I'll make it again!  The Shells with a Twist Cowl from Crochet Cowls has my number. 

    Seriously.

    The first time I made it, I loved it.  I wound up keeping this for myself, and I feel so warm and cute every time I wear it.  I used some worsted weight wool-alpaca blend yarn and it's so soft and warm and glorious.

    The next time I made it, my pink-loving sister got a wonderful birthday present.  She wears hers for warmth and style as well.  I crocheted this in a sport weight yarn, but it's wool.  So it's still incredibly warm, and I still used an H hook.  An H hook is apparently my default hook for nearly every project.

    I used the same lightweight yarn in a bright red color for a friend's birthday present.  She squealed and did a weird flailing thing with her hands when she saw this.

    I know this sounds insufferable, but her reaction is what I was partly hoping for and partly expecting.  I think this pattern is so pretty!  And I think everyone else should think so too!  I mean, I keep making this pattern because I enjoy it.  But I keep writing about it because I want to talk about it a lot and I want you to look at it and think about it and try it.  I'm pretty sure it could improve your life. 

    I know most people have gift stashes, but I'm not sure about favorite pattern stashes.  I'm sure some of you have certain baby bootees or dishcloths that you can churn out at a moment's notice or build up a secret arsenal with because they're so perfect for any lucky recipient.  I think the Shells with a Twist cowl is my absolute favorite fall-back pattern.  It's just so great!

     Which is why I'm really happy that I dug this out of my craft corner.

    I'm going to finish this up and it's going to be beautiful and I'm going to enjoy repeating those same two rows over and over until I have another lovely cowl to show for it.  The repetition is meditative and the result is beautiful.  It's perfect!

    Every single time.

  • Christmas Gift Guide: Pattern Books for Yarn Crafters

    Do you have yarn crafters in your life?  I hope you do.  Yarn crafters make excellent knitted or crocheted things and give them to the special people in their lives.  They're talented and kind, and always smell really nice and have the best jokes.  Or so I tell myself because I'm a yarn crafter.

    We're also smart!  And attractive!  And humble!

    Anywayyyyyy, something yarn crafters like receiving as gifts even more than yarn is pattern books.  Think about it: patterns can be used more than once, always come in the right amount, and no one is ever, ever allergic to them.  If you want to make a yarn crafter happy but aren't sure about what yarn to buy him/her, then patterns are the way to go!

    Here are some of my favorites:

    Crochet Cowls.

     I know I've talked about this pretty recently, but I wanted to recommend this pattern book one more time because these patterns are so fantastic.  They're lovely finished products, and really fun to make!

    Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps.

    Hats are so fun to knit.  They're easy, portable projects and well, hats.  I love hats!  And I'm wondering why I've never made the pattern on the cover. It's beyond adorable.

    Hats and Diaper Covers

    And Hats and Diaper Covers 2

    Oh my goodness.  If your yarn crafter person has any small people at all to love (or just enjoys the odd bit of charity crocheting), then please give him/her some silly little hats to crochet.  Who doesn't want to make a giraffe hat?  Or a frog hat or a ladybug hat or a bear hat or a puppy dog hat?  Because I've tried each of those and been completely and ridiculously in love with my own handiwork when I was done.  Seriously.  Such fun patterns!

    Hats and Scarves.  I have to confess that I haven't made any of the patterns in this.  But I can recommend it as a gift because I keep looking in here and it's killing me that I haven't had time to crochet any of these patterns.  These look fan-freaking-tastic.  See?

    One day I will make that hat in the bottom left corner for myself and I will enjoy a wonderful and warm day, you guys.  I can't wait.  Really, I'm incredibly eager to make this.  I've been dreaming about making a new hat for myself lately.

    The Knook Value Pack

    Do you know someone who's interested in trying out Knooking?  Or maybe you know a crafter who's up for anything?  The Knook Value Pack would be a really exciting and fun gift!  Throw in a pattern book like Simple Scarves Made with the Knook, Dishcloths Made with the Knook, or--just to be incredibly straightforward--Learn to Knook, and TA DA!  You have a great gift!

    Okay.  I don't know whether this last suggestion is a good idea or not.  Dishcloth patterns.  I'm just linking to the search results page for dishcloth pattern books on leisurearts.com so you can browse and use your own discretion.  There are so many wonderful knit and crochet dishcloth patterns out there that you can make for just about any occasion.  Downside: someone might think you think they should clean up their house more often because sometimes little things like eating and cleaning and going into work don't seem that important when you're trying to finish up a project.  Proceed with caution.  When in doubt, go with Dishcloth Dresses because those have a decorative function.  And they're really fun.

    Or just go with yarn.  We'll figure out something to do with it, I assure you.

  • 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!

  • 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 www.leisurearts.com to get some patterns on sale.  
    And then turn your yarn into something beautiful.

    Happy I Love Yarn Day!

  • Thoughts I had While Making a Crocheted Giraffe Hat for a Baby

    Could I make this in a size for myself?  Would that be weird?

    That would probably be weird.  I think I could handle it, though.

    This is so cute.

    What if I make this for my baby nephew and he doesn't wear it on his first trip to the zoo?  Would I ever come back from that?

    What are those things on giraffes' heads called?  Horns?  Nubs?

    Oh, wikipedia says they're ossicones.  Weird.

    Why has it never occurred to me to make the little pieces first, and then make the hat?  I always balk a little once I've made a whole hat and then I have to fiddle around with eyes or ears or beaks or ossicones.

    I could be a baby hat-making machine!  A machine, I tell you!

    I may already be a baby hat-making machine.

    I don't know if that's a good thing.

    I probably don't care.

    I love baby hats.

    This would look so much better on an actual baby head.  I'm not sure what it says about me as a mom or a crafter that I can guess if a cake of yarn is the size of a baby's head.

    If I made the ears a bit bigger and used green yarn, could I make a Yoda hat? 

    I bet I could make a Yoda hat.  I don't know of any babies who need one, but it could be a nice thing to have in case of a Star Wars baby emergency. That's probably a thing.

    I forgot to lightly stuff the ears!  They seems to stand up okay.

    I hope the baby doesn't mind.

    I hope he loves this hat.

    I love this hat.

    *The Giraffe hat pattern is from Hats and Diaper Covers.

  • Knitting a Jack O'Lantern Dishcloth for Halloween!

    It's October!  I celebrated the first day of the month by knitting a jack o'lantern dishcloth.

     I know.  I party hard.

    I love themes!  I love holidays!  I can't stop!  I'm already planning to give this to a friend as a hostess gift.  If you love holidays, this is perfect for your kitchen.  If you know someone else who loves holidays, this is a perfect gift for that person's kitchen.

    True story: sometimes, when I'm making a dishcloth, I start to think about friends who might be moving and whether the particular dishcloth I'm working would be a perfect part of a housewarming present and then I get incredibly excited when I realize it is!!!!

    This is an actual source of giddiness.

    Seriously, if my friend doesn't scream at the novel hilarity of a jack o'lantern dishcloth when I present it to her at a pumpkin-carving party.....well, I don't know what I'll do exactly.  But a profanity-filled tirade about how I'll never make anything for anyone ever again might take place.

    (It would definitely take place.)

    I just think this is incredibly fun!  It's a dadgummed seasonally-themed dishcloth.  It's not over the top with the Halloween decor, so you can use it year-round.  But it is bright and funny, and would probably make you smile every time you see it.

    Don't even get me started on the Christmas tree dishcloths.  I'm just.....I'm so ready.

    Okay, now that my flailing is done, let's talk about this dishcloth's more relevant points.

    It's the Jack o'Lantern pattern from Holiday Knit Dishcloths and, like all of the patterns in this great little book, uses knits and purls to make seasonally lovely textured patterns.  The pattern is both written and charted.  I like to follow written instructions, but I caught myself checking the chart to measure my progress every now and then on this project.  Maybe I'm getting more comfortable with charts!

    If you're new to charts, this is an excellent introduction to following them.  If you know the basics of the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and counting, you're all set!  It's a great pattern for a newer knitter and interesting enough to keep a more experienced knitter entertained.

    This is also the perfect book for people who love seasonal dishcloths.  And if you don't think you're a seasonal dishcloth kind of knitter, stop and ask yourself "Really?"

    Because maybe you are.  I hope so, because I want to like you.

    And I want you to like these dishcloths.

  • In Praise of Dishcloths

    I had the lovely chance to spend most of the weekend with my family this weekend, and at one point my sister looked at a dishcloth I'd made for our mom sitting on the counter top and she said "Hey Jen, you know those washrags you gave me for my birthday?" 

     

    I cringed because she's not always super appreciative of handcrafted things. 

    Let me fix that: she is always appreciative of handcrafted things.  She's watched me knit and crochet for most of our lives so she knows how these things go, and she proudly wears my scarves and hats.  She always appreciates the time and effort people put into making items when they could be doing any number of other things instead.  But she doesn't always get why people would want to do that.  She seemed a little taken aback when I wore a cowl out to dinner as an accessory (rather than wearing it to keep warm).  Sometimes she sees me working on something and just blurts out "Why?" because she's nothing if not honest, and really sometimes I don't have an answer. 

    So with all that in mind, I cringed when she brought up the dishcloths I'd given her for her birthday because I was afraid she wouldn't use them or one of them had somehow turned out to be 'deficient' in some way (no, I don't even know how that would work).

    "Yeah, are they alright?" I asked.

    "I kind of put them all over my house.  Like decorations."

    I loved it. 

    I don't quite know if they're on a pile on her table, or being used as coasters in her living room, or if she has managed to find a way to artfully scatter dishcloths around her home like they're something to be showcased.  But I'm glad she likes them and they're not shoved in the back of drawer somewhere.  I had kind of been planning to give out a lot of dishcloths as gifts to friends and family and co-workers this year, but I was a little afraid people would have the same confused reaction they'd have as if I'd given them a box of Swiffer cloths or something.  This boosted my confidence a little that even the not-so-crafty people on my gift list will enjoy some nicely crafted cleaning supplies. 

    I've built up a nice collection of dishcloths this past year because 1) I maybe have a slight compulsion with dishcloths now and 2) they're kind of perfect. 

    Want to try out a new stitch?  Do it on a dishcloth.

    Need a quick gift? Make a dishcloth.

    Trying to take care of scrap yarn? Dishcloth.

    Dishcloths are pretty dang perfect and I love making them.

    I've crocheted several of the patterns from Dishcloths 

    and I think I've crocheted at least half of the patterns in the other Dishcloths.

    I knitted a few of the patterns in Knitted Dishcloths--see the blue dishcloth in the picture of the dishcloths I gave my sister?

    I just started working on a pattern from Holiday Knit Dishcloths, and so far so awesome.  (I can't show a picture yet!)

    There are so many great dishcloth pattern books out there!  Knitted dishcloths, crocheted dishcloths, and Knooked dishcloths--they're all fantastic!  You don't even have to take my incredibly biased word for it.  Even my noncrafting sister agrees.

    But I mean, look at this birthday bundle.

    How could she not?

  • Back to School Sale at leisurearts.com!

    It's back to school time!

    There are pros and cons to this (I do not enjoy my morning commute once the school year begins), but even though no one in my family is in school right now I get pretty darn excited about the sales that happen this time of year.

    And now that I'm all stocked up on notebooks for the year--and I hope you are, too.  You can never have too many notebooks--lets talk about the books and patterns on sale at Leisure Arts right now!

    Back to school crafts?  Why not?

    Here's Magnets Thru the Year:

    Cutesy misspellings aside, this looks like the perfect thing for teacher gifts!  Also, I love magnets.  These look so cheery!  Beach balls!  Pumpkins!  A surprisingly detailed turkey!  These happy little canvas crafts would make anyone smile.

    Up next is Paracord Crafts

    I don't understand these, but I'm told this is what the kids are into these days.  I'm not trying to joke about how out-of-touch I am!  I have actually heard from parents with crafting-age children that kids really enjoy making and wearing paracord bracelets.  I was intrigued by this information, so I tried it out for myself.  I'll tell you more about it soon.

    Fleece for Babies & Kids looks awesome.  I don't know why these projects are only for babies and kids, but I'm really excited to have a baby-kid living in my home so I can try some of these some time.  I'm seriously wondering how to convince my little girl that she likes teepees.....

    Go Crazy With Duct Tape looks like it's chock-full of important knowledge, like how to cover a recliner in duct tape:

    And if you don't understand why anyone would need to cover an entire piece of furniture with duct tape, then I envy you because you have clearly never seen the furniture by the dorm dumpster at the end of a school year.  It can be....really something.  Whoa.

    And lastly, here's one of the lovely yarn craft patterns:

    It's a sweater with crayons.  That uses primary crayon colors.  I love this!  Six-year-old me would have tried to wear this every day!  Present-day me is kind of wondering if I could squeeze into the Size 10 (children's) size of this.  It calls for medium weight yarn and size 6 needles, so there's still time for you to make this for your special student before the colder months get here!

    Or for yourself, if you're lucky enough to squeeze into a children's size 10.

    Did I mention that this sale is 25% off selected items?  25%!  Just enter the coupon code "BACKTOSCHOOL" at checkout while you still can!

  • Christmas in July Sale!

    It's time for a Christmas in July sale!  If you head over to the Leisure Arts website and check out their sale on Christmas items, you can really get into the Christmas spirit without entering a crowded store blaring "The Little Drummer Boy" over loudspeakers and straight into your brain.  The coupon code "JulyChristmas" will take 25% off of some great Christmas patterns and craft books.  I was looking through some of the books on sale and now I'm full of festive ideas.

    And naturally, I have to talk about them.

    Are you a cross stitch person?  Look at these cross stitch stockings from Donna Kooler's Ultimate Stocking Collection!  The designs remind me of something out a children's storybook.  I love how cheerful they look.

    Then there are these knitted stocking patterns from the Stocking Trio epattern. Look at that stripey one!  It's really pretty, but looks simple enough that I can delude myself into thinking I could make it!  I tend to get a bit over-ambitious with my Christmas crafting ideas.  Whatever.  There's still time.

    If you'd rather crochet a Christmas stocking, that's cool too because there's Crochet Christmas Stockings.  I love all the different types of stocking patterns that this book has.

    Because, you guys?  I could write a whole post about this carrot stocking.  Why do you need a carrot stocking?  Does this make it acceptable to keep your Christmas decorations out until Easter?  Could this double as baby bunting?  Do I need any more reasons to convince myself to crochet this?  Because I'm really feeling it.  It even has roots!

    If you're looking for even more amazing crochet designs, then there's the pattern for Crocheted Thread Snowball ornaments.  I think these are stunning.  

    There are also these crocheted angels.  My Mamaw made us a few of them, and I kind of "borrowed" one for my Christmas tree after I got married.  These are my very favorite tree toppers.  They're so beautiful and make such wonderful heirlooms.

    If a more modern look is your thing, then Jolly Stuff looks pretty good.  I don't know when owl crafts are going to be played out, but I hope it's not any time soon because I think they're really cute. I think "jolly" is a sorely underused term for happy holiday things.  

     

    Okay.  I kind of don't want to talk about this one because then my mom will know about it.  But maybe she already does.  Look Mom, here's some Christmas quilt patterns!  I have a copy of Christmas Sparkle if you want to look at it (and I'm pretty sure you do).  These designs are incredibly lovely. 

    And to my dad, or anyone else who is not ready for the most festive of seasons: sorry. 

    To everyone else: the sale ends July 31, so you may as well get crazy while you can.  It's the most wonderful time of the year!

  • Halloween ePatterns for Inspiration!

    Holiday season’s coming up, and I always like to have an appropriately holiday-themed project to work on for each occasion. With Halloween on the horizon, I thought I’d take another look at some of my favorite ePatterns from our website to cross stitch, crochet, stitch on plastic canvas, sew and paint…
    Cross Stitch...
    Happy Halloween! Cross Stitch ePattern—Any of these little designs would be fun on a Halloween shirt to wear to work!
    Halloween Wear Applique ePattern—Black cats for my sweatshirt!
    Crochet...
    I just love this Halloween Bear Crochet ePattern! He’s got such a sweet face.
    Spiderweb Doily Thread Crochet ePattern—This quick little doily will make a nice addition to your Halloween décor.
    Plastic Canvas...
    Halloween Hobgoblins Plastic Canvas ePattern—These magnets are fun on the fridge, or you can add a pin back for a simple wardrobe accent.
    Halloween Treats Plastic Canvas ePattern—If you follow this blog at all, you already know I’m a fan of the black cats.
    Miscellaneous…
    Punkin the Sock Monkey ePattern—How could you resist a sock monkey in a pumpkin costume?
    Spookie Ghost Ivy Bowl Paint ePattern—I may need to paint an ivy bowl this year as a Halloween treat for a friend!
    What’s your project for Halloween this year? Need more inspiration? Check out all of our Halloween-themed publications and patterns!

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