Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Basket Weave Cowl Pattern

I designed this Basket Weave Cowl ages ago!  I'm talkin' years!  Super easy using fat yarn and large needles, but I never got around to writing the pattern.  I get asked about it every time I wear it.  Many are fellow knitters/crocheters and a few non yarny types.  I managed to eek out the pattern just as the year is about to end.  

Perfect for all body types.  One size fits all.  If you are petite, like my daughter (above), or tall and "fluffy" like me, you can knit and wear this.  

Knit in the round, it's just a simple knit and purl pattern.  If you have not tried knitting in the round, this pattern is great place to start.  Light colored yarn allows the basket weave pattern to shine!  Cinch it up to keep your neck warm or.....

bring it down over your shoulders.  This way would look stunning over your coat or jacket!  

You need:
 needles in size US 13 32" circs
2 skeins of super bulky weight (6) yarn
one stitch marker
tapestry needle

You can find the pattern in my Etsy shop


Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Yarn tip:
Having trouble seeing the stitches when using black yarn?  Lay a white pillowcase or dishtowel across your lap.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Crochet Interview That Is Really a Love Story

As the new year approaches, we reflect on the last 12 months.  

I became an official senior citizen in May turning 55.  Yikes, where did the time go!  

My wonderful husband and I have had great joy in watching our daughter graduate from college.

(here she is with her boyfriend, Andy)

Joyous weddings, new babies, travel and the dearest of friends.  I am still blessed to have my parents living and two brothers, with families, not too far away.    

I did an interview for Crochet Concupiscence a little while back.  She has shared many stories on how "crochet saved my life".  I thought I would post the interview for you today.  It's really a love story.  A story of loss and making it through.  A bit lengthy, so I thank you in advance for getting to the end!

What is your basic story of how crochet has healed you or improved your quality of life? 
When I was a young woman in my mid 20’s, I married a wonderful man named Cory. A big, handsome, strapping guy of 6’ 3” and 205 pounds, blonde, almost white, hair and a reddish beard. We had a Big Fat Greek/ Scottish wedding complete with bagpipes, Greek dancing, Ouzo (a Greek liquor) and 500 guests. It was a lovely day. He made me feel safe and loved. We had a house, great friends, good jobs and dreams of children and a life together. We were very happy.  

Nine months after we were married, on Thanksgiving, Cory
was diagnosed with Leukemia. Our happy world came to a crashing halt. Right in to a hospital the very next day to start treatment. We were very optimistic. Months of chemo, radiation and two bone marrow transplants means more days in a hospital than out. The loss of his job meant I was the breadwinner. Every day, I would get up, go to work, go home, change my clothes, go to the hospital until 10 or 11 at night, then go back home.  Wake up the next day and start it all again. 

Back in those days, you filled out your own claim forms for the hospital and doctors which was very time consuming and frustrating. When the insurance money arrived, you paid the bills. I was exhausted, scared and heartbroken. When Cory was at home, he was, of course, depressed, nauseous, bored, angry, lonely and scared. He also was hooked up to an IV, at home, and it was my job to administer medication and fluids. What on earth was I going to do to keep my sanity? How was I going to help him?  I have been a crafter all my life, so that was the answer. 

I would crochet during the hours at the hospital. Hooking away at baby blankets for friends babies. Hand towels for all seasons. Scarves for the cold days in Nebraska. Reading a pattern kept my mind diverted, for a time, on something else. Mindless, rhythmic, easy stitches during the long hours at the hospital. The yarn running through my fingers, the colors, all coming together in fabric. It was relieving some of the horror, some of the tension, some of the anxiety, for a while. 

Hooking away at blankets, thinking of a new life coming into the world when it was very likely I would be losing the love of my life. Which I did, two years, almost to the day, later. We were 29 years old.  

                  Here's Cory

All those items I worked on were just too heart wrenching to keep. I couldn’t look at them without weeping. The scarves and towels were gifted to the many people who supported us through our long journey.  On a side note, I remarried 3 years later to my current husband of 23 years, Brian. We have a lovely 22 year old daughter, Zoe, my BEST creation!

When did you learn to crochet? 
I was in my early 20‘s. 

I already new how to knit, having been taught by my mother. I picked up a beginner crochet book at a craft store, bought some worsted weight yarn and got started!

Have you ever taught anyone else to crochet? 
I don’t consider myself a very good teacher, but I have taught a couple friends how to make simple dishcloths.

Where are you most likely to crochet? Do you watch TV or listen to music while you work? 
I mostly like to crochet in front of the television, except during Downton Abby!  We take many a car/airplane trip, so, that is another favorite time to crochet.

Are you alone when you crochet? 
As I make a living crocheting and knitting, I do most of it at home, in “my chair”, surrounded by pattern books, fabric and yarn. 

Have you ever crocheted in a crafting group? Do you consider yourself part of a craft community (online or offline)? 
I do consider myself part of a crafting community as I have 6 online pattern stores and make many custom blankets and scarves. 

How do other people support your craft (or not!) and how does that impact the healing benefits? 
I have paid for my daughters college tuition with the support of crocheters and these online patternstores. The joy of designing and crocheting continues to heal. I am in my mid fifties now with minor health issues that keep me off my feet.

What is the number one most healing / beneficial aspect of crochet for you? How exactly is it helping? 
The process of
choosing great yarn colors is half the fun! Crocheting it all up and seeing it come together is wonderful and the final moment of seeing this creation around someones neck, on a little body, noggin or in a stroller is the BEST!

Who do you typically crochet for? 
Crocheting for babies is my favorite! Small projects that often get handed down to siblings. Family heirlooms that get passed down the generations is very gratifying. 

Do you find it more healing to crochet for yourself or others (and why)? 
I don’t mind crocheting for myself, but gift giving, now that’s healing!

Have you seen crochet heal / help anyone else in your life?
I have read many a blog or story of how this craft has
helped others and it always makes me smile.

Do you do any other crafts besides crochet? If so, which
ones and do they offer the same benefits? 
As I have been a crafter all my life, having learned from my mother, I have done it all! Knitting, cross stitch, pottery, painting, glass bead making, sewing, etc. They all offer benefits and can heal the soul.

Finish the sentence: “The number one reason that I crochet is ....” 
if I don’t, I feel like I will explode!

Thank you for getting to the end!  

I'm sure many of you have had some kind of struggle in your life.  Some big, some small.  One must go on.  There is light at the end of the tunnel and I find that creating art will get you there.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Pile of Projects

I've got a slew of projects surrounding "my chair"!  New patterns, Christmas prezzies and photo shoots still to do.  I'm working on a new pattern.....Boyfriend Beanie and Arm Warmers set,

...a scarf pattern using one skein of yarn in 3 or 4 different weights.  One skein of Artyarns (above),

One skein of Mizzrahi chunky weight,

and one skein of Red Heart Boutique.  Same pattern, different weight yarn and only one skein for each scarf.  Perfect for the costly, yet oh so yummy, Artyarn skeins in your stash.

I'm also working on a boyfriend blanket.  Not MY boyfriend!!!  My daughter is seeing a great guy from Michigan.  He is a big Detroit Lions fan, so he is getting an afghan in team colors!  I've GOT to get that finished by this weekend.

I've finished another Sockhead Hat using one skein of Fiesta Baby Boom in Cedar Crest.  You might have to check back after the holidays to get that yarn.  I see they are sold out of many lines.  Here's the link to my Ravelry project page for the pattern link.  Not the greatest pic.  The yarn colors are very rich, as are all the Baby Boom colors are.

I've also been working on Blanket Scarves.  I know you have seen them all over Pinterest.  


I adore them.  So chic and ever so cozy.  Get yourself some flannel fabric.  I found some on sale at Joann's Fabric for $4.99 a yard.  Look in the flannel section AND the shirting section.  You need anywhere from 1 1/2 yards to 2 1/2 yards.  As the saying goes....go big or go home!  If you're fluffy like me, try 2 to 2/12 yards.  My petite daughter likes the 1 1/2 yard size.  All you do is pick out the edges, 

one or two strings at a time.  That's it!

I used a pointy size 1 knitting needle to help them along.  I'm sorry I don't have photos on a live model.....working on that too!  

I hope to see you next week with new patterns!

Yarn tip:
When you are working on something in the round that starts with one or two inches of ribbing,  I like to do the rib section back and forth as you do on straight needles.  After that section is complete, I join and then start knitting in the round.  When the project is complete, I just seam up the rib section with the cast on tail.  Doing it this way is so much easier to join without fear of twisting your cast on edge.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Luscious Yarn and a Custom Knitting Mug

I've been so very tardy in posting.......I don't know how some bloggers get it all done!  I think I just love to knit/crochet more than anything else.  Well, except traveling!  

My hubby and I took a little break from the frigid cold of the midwest, the day after Thanksgiving, to drive to Arizona where it was in the upper 70's the whole week!  A visit to a local yarn shop in Scottsdale was one of MY highlights.  The shop had a lovely staff, coffee, cookies and chairs for bored husbands!  You have to love them taking the time to "cake" your skeins too.  

Just look at the gorgeous deal I found!  Jessica Knits....and crochets had this Mango Moon in the sale bin.  It is hand dyed in Napal and provides safe shelter, health care and education to the women there.

150 yards for $11.00 is a good price, but, in the sale bin for $6.00 is a GREAT price.  I snatched them all up.  I bought one in Bluebell, three in Butter and two in Carnation.  Aren't they just gorgeous?  I've worked with this yarn before to make a giant rectangular shawl in a multi and it turned out lovely. I might do the same here.

We also had a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright winter home there....Taliesin West.  For those of you who don't know who Wright is, I snapped this off of Wikipedia:

We took a wonderful tour of this home, which is now a school of architecture with the students living there.  He built this in the late 1900's and was extremely cutting edge when everything was so victorian in nature.  

If any of you remember this flower pillow post, I had the photo transferred to coffee mugs for a few Christmas prezzies!  

Walgreens had all their photo products half off, so I thought I'd see how they turned out.  I made four.  Keeping one for myself, giving one to my Scottish mom filled with tea bags and a gift card and one to one of my best girlfriends with a chocolate candle inside.  That leaves one extra for a future gift to someone.  I like how they turned out.

Super easy to do online and they came out to $6.00 each.

That's all for now, thanks for stopping by!

Yarn tip:
When you purchase skeins from a yarn shop, ask them to wind them into cakes for you.  Then, they are ready to start your project when you are.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Autumns Bounty Blanket Pattern

 I have a new pattern to show you today.....Autumns Bounty Blanket.  The colors are brilliant and rich, just like the fall leaves here in the midwest USA this time of year.  I adore the entrelac stitch, the results are dazzling.  Interlocking rectangles which resembles a basket weave pattern.  All you are really doing is knitting and purling on only 10 stitches at a time.

 If you use gradient yarn, there is no need to change colors.  It's not a quick knit, but very satisfying, indeed.  I knit a simple, garter stitch, slightly ruffled border in a complimentary color, so the entire project is knitted.  

 I contemplated doing a crocheted edge, in the same gradient yarn, but felt it would be too busy and compete with the body of the blanket too much.  Also, I am mindful that not every knitter also crochets.    However, if you do, any crocheted border would look stunning in the solid color.  Get out those crocheted border books or use your fav edging.

Here's the way the pattern listing reads on Etsy:
The color changing yarn is the brilliance in this basket weave look stitch pattern. No need to change colors as you go. The effect is stunning! 

I have included video links for the entrelac stitch so you can see how to knit this beautiful stitch. It's not a quick knit, but very satisfying with gradient yarn.

I have included the brand names, colors and amounts of yarn needed for the blanket.

Easily make it larger or smaller to fit your needs. 

Skill level: intermediate. Some experience, more intricate stitches, shaping and finishing. I'm always available to help you along the way!

Measurements: 35” W x 49” L (89cm W x 124cm)

I wouldn't recommend this is for the beginner, however, I don't like to discourage either.  I have included a video link in the pattern, to show you how to knit this stitch.  Watching it done is extremely helpful.  If you have knit a scarf in entrelac, you can certainly make this blanket.

Crafsty has a class....Entrelac Knitting with Gwen Bortner, if you are interested in that.  

So, there you have it!  Thanks for stopping by and have a great hump day!

You can find all my pattern shops at the top of this page in the header, or

Click here to find the pattern on Etsy

Yarn tip:
When working a large entrelac project, consider knitting backwards to avoid turning your work!  Here is a helpful link backwards-or-mirror-knitting/  .

Side note:  11-14-14.  I used Mary Maxim Prism yarn for this blanket and it happens to be on sale, this weekend only, for $4.99.  Regular price is $6.99!
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