Friday, December 30, 2011

Crochet and Knitting Contests 2012

by Kelly

                                Pincushion Contest

Knitting Daily is having a design contest! Design a pincushion in any of their five categories (knitting, crochet, beading, needlework, or lacemaking/tatting).

Submit your design by April 16, 2012 to win a top prize of $500.00. Entries must be no larger than 4" x 4" x 4". Click here for more details. Just to give you an idea of what you're up against, here's last year's grand prize winner.


                                     Iron Craft 2012

This is a creative challenge, not a contest, but it still looks like a lot of fun. During 2012, Just Crafty Enough will pose 26 separate crafty challenges. Participants will have two weeks to prepare their entry. Visit their site to register. The first challenge will be January 4th, 2012.

Check out some of the challenges from 2011 here.

             Knitting and Crochet Pattern-a-Day Calender

Entries are closed for 2012, but they are now taking new, original patterns for their 2013 Calender. Check out rules and details here.

 Added Feb.27th:

Lion Brand Yarn is hosting the Martha Stewart Crafts Contest

You must be a 18 years old and a US resident to enter. Knit, crochet or weave a project using Martha Stewart's Crafts Yarn, then submit a photo of your project digitally or by mail. Grand prize is 100 skeins of yarn. Entries must be received by April 12, 2012. Visit the  Lion Brand Yarn contest page for more details.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hate Knitting? Here's a Song For You

by Kelly

While searching for something completely different, as is the way of the Internet, I stumbled upon something I had never seen before and instantly fell in love with.

An anti-knitting song. Courtesy of Fraggle Rock. Anyone else remember Fraggle Rock??

courtesy of About

Here's a sampling of the lyrics :

You know knittin's friendly
And knittin's fun
Knittin's good for everyone
but then later in the song, things change...

There's a green there's a red
There's a knot in my thread
A knitter needs his noggin read

And here's the Youtube video. Disregard the name, it truly is about knitting. For the lyrics to the full song, click here. Enjoy. And pitch that knitting out the door.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Eyeglasses to Embroider - DIY

by Kelly

While reading Craft this morning, I ran across a post about 'Tapestry Eyeglasses', and since I'm always in the market for something as geeky as DIY eyeglasses, I had to track it back to the original site.

These utilize 3D printing technology. The glasses are printed with tiny holes, which enables you to use the yarn or thread of your choice to make your glasses match your style. Aside from the design diva aspects here, I can already forsee at least one practical use for something like this. They would be a great temporary measure for those with broken glasses (not that I have ever borne the shame of eyeglasses held together by tape-of course not!), especially if they could be made to fit the lenses you already have. And since all eyeglass frames have design info printed on the earpiece, this would be easy enough to do, provided there was some kind of database that the printer could access.

These are from the site Fashioning, which has quite a few other interesting articles, not least of which is this article about a research project devoted to integrating a sport coat with a mobile phone so that gestures made while wearing the coat can dial numbers or post your location. Were I involved in this project, I would have developed a gesture link that ties a common upraised finger gesture to a site like Navteq that notifies people of traffic problems. Sadly, that feature doesn't seem to be available...yet. has just made my list of daily reads, at least for the moment. It looks like a great place to find out the latest news in fabric art mixed with technology.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve!

by Kelly

I'll let someone else post on the big day, if they want to. In the meantime, though, if anyone wants  to track Santa's flight, click here any time after midnight on December 23rd, EST. Find out why these guys track Santa here

And if you have a smart phone, make sure to download the free santa tracking app.. Yes Virginia, there's an app for that.

So, Merry Christmas Eve! Have a safe and happy holiday and try not to go overboard.

Celebrate a Public Domain Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

Noro Scarf - Northern Lights

by Kelly

Well, what I think of as 'long coat' weather has finally arrived here, so it was time to dig out the winter garments - gloves, boots and scarves.

I have too many scarves these days. Ever since I learned to knit and crochet, I seem to have a surplus. Here's one I don't think I showed off before...

That's Noro wool combined with some vintage Navy wool that I found in a great big bag of random yarn Donna scored for me. The pattern is knitted cartridge belt rib and the tasselled edging is crocheted.

Noro wool is really colorful and makes neat striped patterns, but the yarn itself is pretty irregular - thick and fluffy in some places, but thin and straggly in others. I thought at first it was just my skeins, since I bought them on sale, but Dawn had the same experience. Noro also seems a bit scratchy, but then, they don't advertise it as a supersoft Merino.

I like this scarf because it's long and colorful and warm. Also, that poisonous green color reminds me of the Northern Lights. And while I was looking for an image of that eerie green glow to share here, I stumbled upon a beautiful bit of weaving on the blog  Rurification. Check it out if you have a second.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Crochet and Knitting Books

by Kelly

Handknit Holidays - Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukah, and the Winter Solstice.

Handknit Holidays: Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice
 The Thread Crochet Christmas Village

The Thread Crochet Christmas Village

Our best Christmas Thread Crochet by Leisure Arts

Our Best Christmas Thread Crochet (Leisure Arts #2941)

Twas the Knits before Christmas

Twas the Knits Before Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2011

Embroidery Contests 2012

by Kelly

Hand and Lock embroidery contest for 2012. Open to students worldwide, including graduate and part-time. Submission must be an original work based on their list of three fashion trends  predicted for 2012.

First prize is $5,000 USD plus some extras, including publicity on their site. There is an entry fee required to register.

I thought their predicted fashion trends were interesting. Here is a brief rundown:

Faded summers -
Use faded colors and fabrics reminiscent of old postcards. Some of the suggested inspirations include 'Vintage street parties, bunting and national flags.' When I read this I couldn't help but think of the tomato hurtling celebration held in Spain every year. Hey, that's a street party, isn't it?

Association D'ermites - 
(hermit inspired) This category sounds a bit rambling, which I suppose is appropriate for a hermit lost in a hot, waterless desert, but basically you're supposed to use metallic blues and silvery colors to imitate a desert sky, or the reds and sandy colors of a desert sunset.

open mind -
basically a hodgepodge of fabrics and colors that 'refuses all dictates', so if you wanted to empty your scrap bag, this would be the category to use. Just so long as you maintain a 'restrained liveliness'.

As usual, I came up with a ton of ideas that would be quite neat to try, including a waterfall of stars over a desert landscape, which would fit the second category very well. Unfortunately, I have about five thousand other ideas that I'm working on at the moment, and don't meet the qualifications to enter this contest anyway, so if anyone would like to steal that idea for their submission, feel free. It could be truly beautiful, and people do say that the starry sky over a desert is breathtaking.

If you have a little free time, check out the description of categories here. (scroll down towards the bottom of the page). It's sort of amusing, and goes a long way towards explaining the odd designs I've seen on fashion show runways, if these are the kind of guidelines that designers are expected to follow.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eskimo Amigurumi

by Kelly

Christmas is funny. So many people stress the importance of 'decommercializing'  the holiday, yet we are continually bombarded by news stories about the importance of stimulating the economy, especially at this 'critical' time of the year.  I can hardly sleep at night for the terrible images in my mind of raggedly clad CEO's of major retail conglomerates selling matches on street corners, trying to raise the funds necessary to stay open for another financial quarter.

Well, my mom doesn't feel that commercializing Christmas is a bad thing. She has always been a big believer in cash for Christmas. To her mind, it's the one present that never disappoints.

Also, she does what I think of as a 'reverse guilt trip', by telling my husband and I that she doesn't need anything for Christmas because we do so much for her throughout the year. She likes 'simple gifts'  because she 'hates to be a bother'.

And so my mom is hard to shop for, because no matter what I buy for her, I am always plagued by doubt. I have this nagging feeling that a shoebox stuffed with the green stuff would have made her happier, especially if the only 'trouble' that I took with her gift was to take care that the numbers on the bills were non-sequential. Not that I've ever felt that my mother was just gathering resources so that she could flee the country. Well, almost never.

So when a  little birdie told me that my Mom wanted a couple of my amigurumi figures for Christmas, I was relieved. So I dug out one of my poor, unwanted bears, happy to be giving the little guy a better home than a plastic bag in my closet. I also made her this little Eskimo.

Now, I know that some might think that this Eskimo isn't especially politically correct, but I swear I was only trying to make him look like he's squinting into the blinding sunlight reflecting off a glacier. And this was my first amigurumi that I made from my own pattern, so I think I deserve credit that it's not a shapeless lump of fun fur.

Anyway, I have a vague childhood memory of owning a  Weeble that looked like an Eskimo that had this same expression on it's face, although a prolonged Internet search failed to turn anything up.

Does anyone else remember Weebles? And after viewing the commercial in the link above, I'd like to say that I had no idea there was so much Weeble swag available. I counted myself lucky to have a slightly cracked Weeble treehouse. Of course, having seen what that thing goes for on , I'd still count myself lucky to have one.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some Christmas Shipping

by Kelly

I did a little shipping today:

In the next picture you can see my lovely assistant helping to package the goods.

I visited the SmoothFox  site recently and read the square totals that she has listed on the sidebar.  I couldn't believe it when I read that Christine Clyburn from Florida submitted enough squares to earn 500 points for the month of November. And she's competing as an individual. Christine, I bow down to you. Seriously.

And by the way, sorry for the darkness of the pictures, but that's how things are in Illinois in the winter, even with all the lights on. Gray. Gloomy. Depressing. Unlike sunny Florida.  Sigh.

Monday, December 12, 2011

MST3K Scarf for Christmas

by Kelly

Shhh...don't tell anyone, but I made this scarf for a friend for Christmas. I feel perfectly safe posting this before The Big Day, since the recipient doesn't read this blog, or in fact any crafting blog.

I found the free pattern chart on Ravelry, courtesy of sewgeeky.  Thank you, sewgeeky, whoever you are!  This chart was great - just look how perfect those figures are!

Here's another picture showing the shameful and ugly stranded back. I could have made this as an intarsia project, but it actually looked better less awful with stranded knitting on the back. Tip for others who want to do this - knit it in the round so that you have a tube scarf, and no one will ever see the ugly stranding process that goes on behind the scenes.

For those of you who don't know what MST3K is, check this link.
For those of you who now need an MST3K fix, see RiffTrax or Cinematic Titanic.

For those of you who don't care, happy holidays anyway!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Ornaments

I'm sure everyone knows by now that my favorite thing to crochet is Christmas ornaments. I make ornaments in both thread and yarn. This hot air balloon is one of my favorites. I have crocheted around a satin ball, added a basket, and there is even a little Santa in the basket. Here are some others: a clothespin angel, an angel, a rose, a butterfly, a ball and a bell. I make lots of snowflakes. I also make things out of yarn such as: a snowflake, a wreath, a snowman. These are just a few of the things I crochet.

I know a lot of people find crocheting with thread a bit overwhelming but as you can see you can also make ornaments with yarn. Click here for the pattern for Sweetie Snowflake pictured above. Maybe you would like to make a stocking. Click here for the pattern for the stocking pictured below. Or maybe you would like to try a wreath.

Click here for the pattern for the wreath pictured below. Or how about these darling snowman faces in a star. Click here for the pattern.

There are loads of free patterns out there on the internet. Check them out and make a Christmas ornament.

Friday, December 9, 2011

All Mitten Tree Contributions

by Kelly

Here are the rest of our contributions to The Mitten Tree.

Isn't that butterfly scarf and hat set awesome? Those are Donna's.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Craft Show

So my girls day care is having their first annual craft show. They're letting parents set up booths for free to show off or sell their items. I've signed up so that way I can show off some of the blankets that I've made. I'm thinking of making little cards with the stores web address and my contact info in case anyone is interested in buying/custom ordering items. I'm thinking too of printing off some of the pictures of everyone's items and letting the people know that they're available online.

I'm so excited about it!!!! Now I just need to figure out a way to make some nice business cards.

Etsy Shop Angels

by Kelly

New to our shop - gorgeous angels for the holiday season!

Christmas Angel Ornament

Visit our shop for more, plus a new selection of Christmas ornaments

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Ornaments with Scrap Yarn

by Kelly

Scrap yarn...we all have it. Tiny balls of yarn made from scraps just a little too long to toss out, but not long enough to actually be useful, except maybe as cat toys. But no longer! (pun intended). Now you can put that scrap yarn to good use and make yourself Christmas decorations at the same time!

You can take the quick gratification route and just cram the yarn ends into a clear glass ornament :

Design Sprout

or take a more sophisticated approach and glue them to a tiny (or large, I suppose, if you have lots of yarn bits) styrofoam wreath,

make a yarn wreath ornament
Yarn Wreath Ornaments from Crafts 'n Coffee

or do something crazy that requires breaking out the whole basket of crafting supplies.

Of course, if you really want to go over the top, there's another option...

1-tree yarn bomb

Has anyone out there seen a yarn bombed Christmas tree?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Peppermint Hat and Scarf Set

by Kelly

Here's a hat and scarf set that I made for this year.

The pattern for the hat was one I found on The Midnight Knitter, but the scarf design is my own. If you haven't been to The Midnight Knitter site yet, I really encourage you to pay a visit. Her knitting and crochet patterns are fun, contemporary, and sometimes free.

The scarf pattern is easy peasy. It's just stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row) for four rows, then purl one row. The final purl row makes a 'purl stripe' across the front of the fabric. There's no border because I wanted it to curl up naturally into a tube so that it looked more like a peppermint stick.

I used super bulky acrylic white yarn, some ancient variegated red, white and green yarn, and size 13 needles. I managed to get that neat 'peppermint stripe' look by purling the final row of the above pattern with both yarns held together. At the end of the 'purl stripe row', I dropped the variegated yarn and went back to knitting only with the super bulky white.

When I made the hat, however, I ran into a problem - I was knitting with different yarn and different needles, so the hat came out far too lacy (full of holes, in other words) to actually be useful as a hat. I mean, any poor kid who walked around in the winter with this hat on would just be asking for a terrible case of the flu.

So I did some online searching for a solution. Here's what I found: 


Thrumming is basically a way to add a felt backing layer while you're knitting. This would work equally well for crochet. There's a great tutorial showing this at hello yarn. However, thrumming requires loose wool or wool roving, and I didn't have any of that.


This would have been great if I had started from the beginning, but not so great to start in the middle of a project.

                                    Adding a layer

Buy fleece or some other warm material, or even a cheap off the shelf beanie, and sew it inside the knitted hat.

And then the best solution became pretty obvious. So I bought an off the shelf hat from Ebay and sewed it into my hat as a liner.

That's not cheating, is it????

All in all, though, I had some fun, learned a lot (most importantly, that a hat should not be full of holes) and sold the finished project. Not a bad outcome, really.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fair Isle on Ribbing

by Kelly

This year I decided I'd try my hand at a very simple Fair Isle or stranded knitting pattern. I picked up the skull and crossbones  from Evelyn Skae on Ravelry, and the blue snowflake through a Google Search for Fair Isle graphs.The patterns were great for me, since they were A) Free and B)Easy

 I learned a lot about stranded knitting in the process. The most important lesson being that it's really, really easy to accidentally leave holes in your knitting while stranding two colors, so it's important to twist your threads. I saw a few extremely detailed tutorials on exactly when and in which direction to twist yarn that were way over my head. The most useful info I found on this was at The Complete Idiot's Guide.  It's a great tutorial for beginners.

Holes on the right side

Also, it doesn't seem to be possible to do stranded work on any kind of ribbing, since ribbing moves the yarn from back to front constantly, and you really can't do that with Fair Isle. Any kind of stranded knitting has to have a 'dedicated back' where you can hide all the less than pretty color changes.

So, how did I make two ribbed scarves with a Fair Isle pattern? I cheated. I did the ribbing (for these scarves I used K1, P1) until I reached a good place for the pattern, then switched to stockinette (Knit one row, Purl one row) to do the Fair Isle pattern, then switched back to ribbing.

It really worked out pretty well. The stockinette part isn't that noticeable except to other knitters, especially on the black scarf. I did try to do a design using only stockinette with a seed stitch border, but in the end it didn't look very scarf-like, so I frogged it and tried this method instead. Success!

                              Some tips on doing this

1. Leave a border of ribbing on either side of your stockinette section. This will make it a lot easier to pick up the ribbing when you're done with the stranded work, and the edges of the scarf won't have an obvious border change that will make the stranded part really stand out.

2. Also, the stranded work will be wider than the ribbed part of the scarf. See how the scarf flares out where the skull and crossbones section is?

The next time I do this, I'm going to switch to a smaller needle when doing the stranded section. Hopefully that will prevent that flared look.

3 .Knit the graph from bottom to top on the first end of the scarf and from top to bottom on the other end. Otherwise, the scarf will have one upside down image when the wearer puts in on.

4.The back isn't going to make you happy.

On a sweater or hat, the stranded back is hidden, but not on a scarf. One way to fix this would be to make your scarf extra wide so you can seam the sides together, or you can knit a tube scarf in the round. Or you can just live with it. Hopefully the strands on the back won't catch on too many things (keys, bicycle handlebars, etc), especially if you do the floats correctly.

5.  Make sure you tension things properly. If you pull the yarn too tight when you're knitting with two colors, the image will end up puckered. If you leave things too loose, the floats on the back will cause a lot more problems. This part takes a little practice, but keep trying and you'll catch on.

And the last and most important thing to remember is that if you want to make your own design, use knitting graph paper. Knitting stitches are wider than they are tall, so knitting from a design made with regular graph paper will produce an image that looks horizontally squished, as though it had been stepped on. Simple images, like a Christmas tree, will still be recognizable, but anything complex might end up as a hopeless mess. Trust me on this one.

Knitting graph paper is available in many places online. Incompotech is one source, if you want to make your own to suit your gauge, or if you're like me and can't figure out gauge correctly, you can get this kind, which will help you make a simple pattern.

These scarves and hats are for The Mitten Tree, a local charity that distributes donated items to children at local schools. Hopefully the kids will look past or ignore the flaws that I can see, and enjoy them anyway. And next year, maybe I'll give gloves and mittens another try.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Mitten Tree

by Kelly

Last year Donna and Dawn and I made some things to donate to a local charity drive called The Mitten Tree. They distribute donated hats, scarves, gloves and of course, mittens, to kids at local schools. This drive is organised through a library, so it should be no surprise that there is a book titled The Mitten Tree. It should also be no surprise that I find this really neat and decided to write a post about it.

I found the review below on a great site that I've visited before called Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site. 

cover artSarah, an old lady, lives by herself. She misses her grown children and so, she watches the children who wait for the school bus near the big evergreen tree. Although Sarah smiles at them as she walks by, they ignore her. When she notices a little boy, dressed in blue, who can't enjoy the snow play because he has no mittens, she finds some blue yarn and knits a pair of mittens which she hangs on the tree at the bus stop. Nobody sees her do it but the little boy in blue arrives first at the bus stop that morning, and seems to know the mittens are for him.

According to my husband the librarians were really happy with our donations last year, so that inspired me to make even more this time. So here's my contribution for this year.

Everything is knit with the exception of the hat in the far right corner, which is a purchased hat that I embroidered with yarn and my trusty size 13 tapestry needle.

I originally tried to decorate the hat with embroidery floss and needle, but the flowers were just too tiny. Using the yarn worked much better.

Oh, and that's just my portion of the donations. Wait until you see them all together. I'll post about that just before we take them in.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Crochet Jewelry

by Kelly

It's really pretty amazing the kind of things you can do with crochet.

Wire Jewelry

But what can be used to make crochet jewelry? Usually, it's beads and wire. So you can buy beads...

Or make your own lampwork beads...

Beautiful Flower Bead
via Soda Lime Times
 Soda Lime Times is a new (July 2011 was their first issue) magazine and web site for lampwork bead makers.

Or use found objects, like seashells or beach glass..

West Coast Sea Glass

West Coast Sea Glass is a great place to find sea glass and sea glass jewelry.
They'll even drill the glass into beads for you!

Or you can just use wire to make bead-like shapes, like Joan Dulla, featured on The Ganoskin Project

Joan Dulla
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