Thursday, April 30, 2009

Adventures in Making Soap - Part 1

A lovely photo I found online of the kit I bought back in December, mayber, perhaps even earlier.

This week in the land of Jenn, all signs have been pointing toward, "No, really, you should whip out that soapmaking kit you bought months ago and try it out. Seriously. Do it."

It all began with an episode of Martha Stewart Crafts in which she makes the home version of Savon de Marseilles... or something. You can't hear me right now, but I'm totally butchering French over here. Then, I was watching Creative Juice one night where they made soap, chapstick, and other bath essentials. And now, I just read a post over at Naughty Secretary Club that there will be a weekly YouTube series about making soap.

And so last night, after traipsing through my sad excuse for an ACMoore where I did not have much success and ending up at the grocery place next-door, I bought a Pyrex container I will dedicate just to soapmaking.

This seems like a craft that was made just for me. Take some stuff, melt it down, get all artsy with it, put it in a mold, then let it sit for a bit while you go do something productive. Like knit or crochet while watching really bad TV (is anyone else pumped for the new episode of Daisy of Love this coming Sunday?).

Ergo, while Nick watches the Celtics probably barely scrape through to another win in the playoffs, I'm seriously thinking about whipping out my kit and seeing what all this hubbub is about in an attempt to go handmade this Mother's Day. I even bought some fun tulle and ribbon to put the soap in when I'm done for gift-giving purposes. I'll keep you updated, but I'm sure I'll probably just boil a finger off before this is all said and done.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Want-It Wednesday: Pop Goes Crochet

I did it. I caved. Much to my fiance's chagrin, I bought Vickie Howell's new book: Pop Goes Crochet. Because, of course, all I needed was yet another pattern book. I wasn't going to, but then I saw her Helena Bonham Carter-inspired poncho thingy (pictured on the cover, as well) and just had to do it.

And so begins another few months of staring longingly at projects I want to make when I definitely don't have the time or money to do so, haha.

So for this week's Want-It Wednesday, allow me to chronicle (or drool over, whatever happens first) the Pop Goes Crochet patterns I want to tackle immediately.
  1. The aforementioned Helena Bonham Carter poncho. I just think it's super cute, even for me (my rule has always been to stay away from ponchos, but now I'm seeing all these cute ones popping up that I must create! Or maybe I've just hit rock bottom, I don't know).
  2. The Vera Wang pullover, designed by Robyn Chachula (of course!). I'm starting to really learn her style, so I was not shocked to think I really wanted to make this pattern only to discover it was her design! It's beautiful, clean, and looks like something that will hold my interest the whole way throughout. Like me, she hates sewing, so I can only imagine how great this pattern will be!
  3. The Cameron Diaz-inspired hoodie. I'm not sure why, as I usually abhore granny squares used for clothing. But I think this is handled really well and looks great. I'll be heading to the beach for a couple days during my honeymoon, and this might look really awesome for the cooler October nights down in Florida.
  4. The Drew pendant. You know, I have to say I didn't really have a huge interest at making this until I discovered it's all done on a hairpin lace loom. I guess you can call me hairpin lace's new biggest fan after a few scarves I've made recently (nothing intricate at all, just basic technique, and they get such rave reviews!) and I'd really like to learn more. I didn't realize you could do so much with one of the hairpin lace looms.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand so many more. My advice is really just to pick up this book. I've been trying to be good, I really have, but I couldn't resist this one. And for under $14 at amazon, it's well-worth the purchase (and the holiday gifts you can probably get out of it!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Want-It Wednesday: Earth Day Crochet Creations

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

I've mentioned before that I'm terrible at remembering to recycle, or going the extra mile to make sure the Earth is taken care of. I'd love to switch to the new lightbulbs they have out, but they give me migraines. I'm pretty good at not using styrofoam, though. You get the drift - I just haven't found anything that makes me excited about recycling.

Until now.

This week's Want-It Wednesday will teach you how to take those bad-for-the-Earth plastic bags and turn them into something functional. Worst-case scenario: you have a new discussion piece that can be used to tell people more about your craft, recycling, the environment, what have you.

Below are some great links to help you get started. I apologize to my knitter friends out there, as most of these projects are for crochet. That said, once you get the yarn-making down, you can do anything with it that you do with regular yarn.

  • Very cool photo tutorial on how to make plastic bag yarn.

  • More of how to make plastic bag yarn and tons of links to projects for it!

  • Different ways of cutting plastic bags to create yarn and more.

  • Cassette Tape Crochet: Here's one I had never thought of before, but pretty awesome. I could see this working for projects that need to look more delicate, like perhaps jewelry. Speaking of jewelry:

  • Plastic Bag Crochet Necklace: Who knew?

  • Recycle Plastic Carry-All: This one is super cute. Now, if only I shopped at more stores with different-colored plastic bags!

  • Plastic Bag Crochet Shoes: Well, still not sure about this one, but why not? Could be cool for some light gardening or just for walking around by the pool.

  • Recycled Plastic Easter Basket: Now that Easter is over, why not get a head start on next year? Haha. This is a cute idea, though, and could be used for other holidays, too. You could even make some outdoor bowls with this pattern or something.

Well, I've been saving all of our plastic bags for the past month or so and have a rather larger ball of "yarn" wound and ready to go. I can't wait to try some of these projects I found and start helping out in my own special way.

Have you guys ever knit or crocheted with plastic bags? Or other recycled materials?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Pattern - Crochet Long Fitted Fingerless Gloves & Arm Warmers

So here it is: my first "for-sale" pattern! I feel like I've reached a whole new level. That said, I highly doubt it'll pay off my car or anything like that, but so far the response has been excellent (at least, with people who want to buy it). Everyone seems to love the color choices I made for the examples, which is great!

I didn't set out to write a pattern for these. I had seen similar ones and knew I could make them myself, so I sat down one weekend and came up with my own design. The pairs I had originally seen were kind of boxy, and I'm sure that's fine. I, however, have the wonderful "problem" of super tiny wrists. Every glove/arm warmer I had made in the round just never fit me right and would be crazy loose around my wrists. Well, my patterns solves that problem.

I think these gloves/arm warmers are really cute and feminine for those of us who like to show off our slender wrists. The pattern is easily adjustable (if you want it bigger, just go up a hook size, which should solve everything) and easy to embellish. One suggestion I had was to put shells at the top and bottom as an accent instead of the two different trims I unclude with the pattern - I think it's an excellent idea!

And honestly, I can't wait to see what people do with them color- and embellishment-wise.

So now... I sit and wait :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Progress: Ruffled Capelet and Frosted Waves by Robyn Chachula

My weekend projects are sadly lacking in abundance, but I figured I'd come and post about them because I mean - what the heck?

I finished the main part of my friend's ruffled wedding capelet and started the bottom ruffle. I'm actually almost done with the it (the ruffle) at this point, which means only two more ruffles and thousands of stitches left to go! It sounds like I didn't work on it at all when I say I'm only almost done with the ruffle after a weekend, but let me tell you something - ruffles. take. FOREVER. I thought about taking another picture, but decided to spare you all yet another picture of brown and sparkles.

Thing is, I'd have gotten more done had I just taken my knitting in the car with me on our way to the Damien Jurado show. I remember looking at the yarn on my way out the door and thinking, "Well, I could, but it really shouldn't be necessary." And then... it took 2.5 hours to travel 56 miles because it's construction season here in PA, and I ended up staring at the same "Central Philadelphia" exit sign for multiple eons. I could have probably finished the capelet and started a good portion of a knit Ferrari or something in that time.

What a waste of time traveling right now is. Let's put it this way - I work 7 miles from my apartment and not one road that I use to get to work isn't under construction. I've tried taking several alternative routes to no avail because they are all under construction, also.

Anyway, I digress. Don't live in PA.

Because I started getting fed up with knitting ruffles (haha, but seriously, I was able to get only 2.5 rows done during the Rock of Love Bus Reunion show last night), I started the Frosted Waves sweater designed by Robyn Chachula. This time, I decided to get all professional on it by actually whipping up a gauge swatch, and boy am I ever glad I did! Based on the swatch, I learned I had to go down a hook size (to a G). I thought that was strange, since usually I crochet super tight and thought I'd have to go up a size, but maybe all those ruffles have gotten to me and I've started to crochet more looseley.

So far, I think it still looks like it might be a bit big on me (I'm doing the medium size), but we'll see how it plays out. It's supposed to be a bit baggy in the middle, and it seems like it'll fit around my bust, something I'm not used to sweaters doing! I also think my brain took a little vacation over the weekend because it took me three times to get the first row to match up with the amount of chains I did. Don't ask me why. I did spend 10 minutes on ravelry hoping to find some kind of errata to prove I wasn't crazy, but I knew deep down that Robyn Chachula, of all people, would never let that happen. But so far, so good now.

Hope you all had a good weekend and are enjoying this ugly, rainy Monday!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Internet Accolades and Big Craft Weekend Ahead

Okay, first, can we please discuss the fact that Vickie Howell commented on something I wrote on her blog?! My heart stopped for like 10 seconds and I immediately emailed all my friends (well, quite a few) to let them know. I want to print it out and frame it. I feel like I've been blessed or something. SQUEE!

And THEN... the always-talented Robyn Chachula was holding a Knit & Crochet Today DVD giveaway on her blog. While I didn't win the DVD, she listed one of my comments as her favorite (for the favorite interview entry). I can't believe it - these people know I exist!

I should throw in the fact The Crochet Dude himself friended me on ravelry just because, and then I can die a happy woman.

End fan-girl moment.

Okay, back to some real stuff. Like pictures of what I'll be working on this weekend.

Here we have some more progress on the brown sparkly wrap my friend wants to wear before her wedding. As you can see, I haven't done much more than in the last photo :) That said, it feels like it's flying now because I've decreased so much and put 10 stitches on holders on each end that I'm only knitting/purling about 90 stitches or less each row now.

In two more rows, I'll put the remaining live stitches on a holder and then start making the ruffles. I doubt you can see from the picture, but at the very bottom (that's curling, of course) and for every 3", there is a row of garter stitch. This will help me pick up and knit the three rows of ruffles. It's actually a really fun pattern, though I guess it looks kind of tedious. It gets pretty mindless once you're in the groove, though.

Next up, and speaking of the talented Robyn Chachula, we have this crocheted top from, I think, the Jan/Feb issue of Crochet Today. I tried to get the yarn used everywhere in a price range I could afford (as much as I wanted, I just couldn't rationalize $70 on yarn to my fiance, and I didn't feel like going through buyer's remorse). I ended up getting a lovely color of sport weight yarn from Herrshner's that I'm excited to try. It feels so soft and it looks so pretty. The yarn arrive a couple days ago and has been sitting in its box, all sad and lonely, crying for me to come do something with it. Please don't worry, dear yarn, I will be visiting you soon!

But isn't the pattern pretty? I can't remember what sparked me to go back and find it, but I went home that day and scoured my library. Lucky for me, I had just put everything in its right order, or I would have been there for hours.

Well, I do have other pictures, but they just don't seem blog-worthy. Included are a knitted scarf (I finished the tunisian crochet one and felt like using up more scraps, so scarves it is!) and a photo of the poncho pattern I was whining about in my last entry :)

So, I guess it looks to be a busy yarn-filled weekend for me, but I have a car trip to Philly tomorrow to see the wonderful indie artist Damien Jurado - I'll need some form of entertainment, right?

What are you guys up to this weekend? Any big plans?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Want-It Wednesday - Poncho Pattern

Happy Tax Day, everyone! I hope it's everything you ever dreamed of. I was later this year than usual - Nick and I sent in our local taxes this past Friday. Jeez. But... I suppose I'm just happy not standing in line at the post office today!

Now don't you all go clamoring over at once, but I thought I'd write up an about page for my blog. Nothing fancy. I just figured most people visit my blog instead of the main site, being that this is really the only thing I update anymore, haha. I'm even considering switching my domain straight to this blog to save on hosting costs, but for now, I think I like having them separate.

Anyway, so I'm here because I'm in a bit of a pickle, and I've decided to turn it into a new weekly feature: Want-It Wednesday. Every Wednesday, I will post something I really want to make or have that other crafters have made. This week, I freaking want this poncho pattern and don't know if I'm getting it or not.

A couple weeks ago, we had some friends visiting, and my one friend was wearing this hand-crocheted poncho her grandmother (I think) had made (see picture at right, but imagine it in a sparkly brown). It was great, and I searched high and low for the pattern to no success.

So I was ordering yarn online to make a sweater last week when I finally came across the freaking pattern. And you know what? You can only get it free with purchase of Moda Dea® Cheerio™ Yarn. Guess what yarn the place I was ordering from no longer carries? Yeah.

I ordered the pattern anyway, hoping I'd still be able to get it. No red "NO, STOP HERE"'s popped up on my screen, so we'll see if that's the case. The order arrived this morning and I'm dying to get home to see. But if not - does anyone know where else I can get this pattern?

Am I the only person who would obsess over something like this?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ah Monday, we meet again

Well, I guess it's actually Tuesday... but I had yesterday off. So not only am I confused, but today is the Monday of my work week. To kick it off right, Mother Nature is cold, rainy, and grey.

Easter weather wasn't anything to write home about, either. It looked beautiful outside, but then you'd get out there and freeze. I luckily hadn't gone too spring-y on a dress this year, but nevertheless - it killed me to wear a coat on Easter Sunday! I hope everyone had a great holiday, though, and got lots of candies and other treats. Nick and I are now the proud owners of a mini Aerogarden, so that'll be tonight's project :D This is all in my attempt to be the lazy version of Martha Stewart.

My weekend was chaotic, as usual, but I thought I'd stop by and show you pictures of my two most current projects (because I wanted to play with my new camera ;)).

Here we have the wrap I'm making for my friend to wear over her gown before her wedding on May 30th. She had seen the pattern in a 2005 edition of Easy Knit & Crochet Ideas and thought it was super cute, especially since she had this sparkly yarn just sitting around. So far, so good. My only concern is that the yarn she had is DK weight and the pattern called for worsted, but she's a tiny person so we might be good :) I'm kind of worried about that, actually.

Anyway, I'm nearing the top of the wrap itself, which means I'll soon be picking up stitches and spending hours knitting some ruffles, haha. The title of the magazine says it all - pretty easy pattern, mostly stockinette and garter stitches. Placemarkers help with the decreasing on the top and the 3-stitch edging. I think the curl on the bottom (stupid stockinette!) will go away once I pick up and knit the bottom ruffle. Right?!

I got home from visiting my family yesterday afternoon and took to some of the craft shows our DVR had recorded before Nick came home from work. On it was a rerun of Knit & Crochet Today where they demonstrated hairpin lace and tunisian crochet. I've made a couple hairpin lace scarves inspired by that episode, but had yet to pick up the tunisian crochet hook I ordered awhile go. So... off to bust my stash I went and started creating this beauty. I love the bigger hook because it doesn't curl (the smaller hooks I had made the stitches tight and curl, which sucks if you want to make a fun scarf or something), and it's just really fun - and fast! - to work with. I can probably go through a TON of my stash making a bunch of these, and store them for gifts and upcoming craft shows. It never hurts to have too many on-hand finished projects.

And now... I'm off to work for the day and hope to finish writing my fingerless gloves pattern to have people test before selling it in my shop. I'm thinking $4 for the pattern, now. I don't think that's a bad price. Is it?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

All About Cowls

So you'd think with two sweaters, a wrap for my friend's wedding on May 30th, and a couple other things on my needles (let's not get into the projects I'm crocheting, as well), I wouldn't want to start another project.

You'd be wrong.

I recently discovered a great podcast called Stash and Burn. It looks like they've been around for awhile, but it's taken me just as long to get into the podcast groove. I guess I just never understood the appeal until now. But lately, it's been nice to put one on in the mornings as I'm getting ready to work, or listen to on my iPhone when it's time for bed and Nick decides we need to have something awful on the TV. You know, something like that.

The latest podcast I've listened to, which I think is #72, covered a bunch of cowls. After listening to them talk about how great they were, how quickly they knit up, and all the different patterns, I immediately took to ravelry and favorited probably far too many cowl patterns for my own good. I will now begin making an endless array of them, I'm sure, that will never get worn because I have a bad habit of making things and never using them.

Here are just a few links to my favorites:
  • Basic Knit Cowl - Might be my first foray into cowls because it looks like it just goes around and around with only some increases and decreases here and there. Not too complicated, just how like things :)
  • Luxury Cowl Hood - I kind of like the hood aspect of this. Should be really nice for the winter, since that's coming up soon now that it's almost mid-April! I swear, my crafty brain's seasons are mixed up to the max. Don't let that fool you, though, because I never get my Christmas projects done on time, anyway.
  • La-La-Love-You Cowl - I La-La-Like this cowl a bunch. I think my new fascination with cowls is that they'll give me a chance to play around with new stitches, like the patterning in this one, without committing to a blanket or something that'll take forever if I don't like it.
  • One Row Lace Cowl - I take back what I said about the Basic Knit Cowl - this crochet one might be the first one I make. Now that I've gotten knitting out my system, I'm ready to venture back into some light crocheting, and I can only imagine the instant gratification something like this will be.
Also, much to my delight, there's a new LYS in Bethlehem! It's called Knitter's Edge, and I pass the building pretty often on my way to friends' houses and such. I remember first seeing the sign about a month ago and thinking, "Nah, they couldn't possibly be putting in another yarn shop here. I'm not that lucky." But lo and behold, several news articles and multiple text messages from my friends later, my greatest wish had come true. (Obviously, I do not dream big). I joined their ravelry group, on which I discovered they'll soon be carrying some Nashua Handknits, as well as a ton of other yummy fibers. I feel like the yarn gods are at last smiling upon me.

Don't get me wrong - there is another yarn store on Main St called Tangled Yarns. Alas, they don't have a website, and some ladies on ravelry confirmed that they don't want to give in to the internet and social media, so I have no way to keep tabs on them! Especially with their wonky hours. So sadly, I have never been, but Knitter's Edge is open until 9PM weeknights. Wouldn't it be marvelous if they wanted to hire me part-time? Wink-wink.

In other amazing news, there's an ACMoore going up about 10 feet from where I work. You can imagine how productive (and expensive) my lunch breaks will henceforth be.

Monday, April 6, 2009

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