Musings of a Designer on Jewelry, Crochet, Crochet Patterns, Knitting, Running a Crafty Business, Movie Costumes, Books, Art, Design, Steampunk & the Geek Girl Life

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Summer with Mochi Ice Cream and Men's Handwarmers


I was strolling through Whole Foods grocery store the other day and found this: Bubbies Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream! Well, I'd never had mochi ice cream before, but always wanted to try it, so into the basket it went.

The verdict: this stuff is awesome! Chewy, sweet and refreshing. Perfect thing to eat out on the patio during those long, warm summer evenings. The green tea flavor was nice and light, but I think I'll go with chocolate next time :)

While chewing my mochi ice cream I've been playing with some new yarn. I really want to make a bunch of men's handwarmers for the holidays and I love Rowan yarn .... so..... I bought 2 skeins of  "cashsoft" (who doesn't love the softness of cashmere?) and two of "felted tweed", which the store clerk assured me could stand up to whatever outdoorsy, rugged things the recipients might do. Both are DK weight so I should have enough to make 4 pairs of gloves. Now I just need to find a nice pattern for men with large hands! Any suggestions?

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Little Knitted Bunny with His Little Crocheted Carrot


I was going through my camera card and found a few things I made this year that I hadn't posted yet. Like this little guy! I made this for my son for when he went to the hospital this Spring. Love how it stands up by leaning on it's tail!

Here's my Ravelry page with all the knitty details
 
 
The carrot is part of a whole set of crocheted vegetables I made as play food for my kids when they were little. All 100%  wool and they have lasted beautifully! The carrot was too perfect an accessory to not include in this photo shoot.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tiny Twist - Coffee Cozy

Alrighty! I finally got the free coffee cozy pattern I was raving about uploaded!


Tiny Twist -- Coffee Cozy

I wanted to design a coffee cozy that men would use, but one that still showed a touch of handmade goodness and wasn’t just utilitarian plain.

Quick and easy to make, this makes a great gift for the guys in your life, especially paired with a coffee gift certificate. Make it in hot pink or another bright, feminine color and it’s fabulous for women too!
  • worked in the round on double pointed needles
  • quick knit suitable for beginners/advanced beginners
  • approx. 3” tall; will fit a medium take-out coffee cup
  • easy to modify for smaller or larger take-out coffee cup
This is available as a free PDF download at my Ravelry Store. You shouldn't need a Ravelry account to access and download it, but I am still pretty new to the mechanics of the Ravelry Store so if you are having trouble let me know and I'll try to sort it out.

Enjoy!!

Friday, May 03, 2013

Seamless Knitting in the Round

Hiya all! Well, the weather here is just DIVINE. Perfect Spring weather with dappled sunlight, flowers, singing birds .. the works. It's inspired me to sit in my sun-drenched studio most mornings with an iced mocha and good music and write up patterns for some of the designs I've been working on this winter.


One thing I really wanted was an easy, quick coffee cozy pattern. I wanted something I could whip up for last-minute gifts (the coffee cup itself stuffed with tea/chocolate espresso beans/candy), but that was plain enough to work for men as well as women, without losing that handcrafted touch or being too boring. I worked on a crochet one for a while, but crochet just can't achieve the same reliable stretch as ribbing in knitting. I'm writing up what I think is the perfect pattern for my needs now, but how I did hate that gap/bump on the cast-on row (from joining your yarn when working in the round). I went searching for a simple seamless join. And I found this one! "Joining in the round" by Nancy Wynn.

Great tutorial, clear instructions, and nice big needles so you can see what's going on! I didn't want to embed the video, so you'll need to follow the link, but if you struggle with getting a nice-looking edge on your cast-on row, I recommend you give this a look. She's got a bunch of other great videos on her site .. all the knitty basics for learning and expanding your knitting skills!


 
I've also been busy planting flowers, mulching, and getting the garden in order. The photo is of my new violas .... so pretty all in a row. I do wish they weren't so popular with the slugs though!

Coffee cozy pattern (it's a free one) coming soon!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Creative Use For Little Scraps of Yarn

Whenever I finish a project, I always have little short lengths of yarn left over that are too small to make anything with, but that I just hate to throw away. This year, I saved all my little bits and pieces in a bag. Today the kids and I cut them up into 4-8" lengths. Then ..... we did this:
We hung up all the bits of yarn in our backyard trees as nesting materials for birds to "find" and take home with them to build their nests. My hope is that as we go about our neighborhood walks this year that we will be able to spot some of the more brightly colored yarn in local nests.

So far, the yarn seems to be a big hit with the birds! Within 10 minutes of festooning our trees and hiding back in the house by the window, there were several flocks of little birds checking it out.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Book Review: Interweave Crochet Summer 2011

The weather is getting warm with flowers popping up all over and my thoughts are turning to summer knitted and crocheted things. In a past summer, I made the Midnight Twilight Shawl and I'm thinking of what summer project I'd like to work on this year. I'm always really impressed with the quality of projects in Interweave Crochet and happened to have an old Summer 2011 issue .... let's take a look at some possibilities.


Here's a shot of all the projects (click to enlarge). Downton Abbey had been airing for only a few months when this issue came out, but you can already see the design influence of that mega-popular show coming through. Note: if you crochet and are a Downton Abbey fan, the Interweave Crochet winter 2012 issue has several patterns you might be interested in :)

If I was looking for a wedding shawl, the "River Walk Wrap" might be a good bet. If I had a little girl, the "Early Girl Dress" is super cute and looks to be easy to both make and alter. I am a fan of sugared bowls and there is a great design for one with "Azalea Bowls". Someday I would love to try to make a sugared bowl design myself .. something with a vintage flower design inspired by my Grandma's glass candy bowls ....maybe later this year :)  The number one reason I like this issue is that knitted wearables have a stretch and cling to them that is hard to achieve in crochet, which leads to a great many crocheted outfits looking like shapeless sacks, pretty lacey sacks, but not very figure conscious. This issue has *4* body conscious crocheted garments, "Pinecone Top", "Zipline Shell", "Trillium Tunic" and "Grove Park Tank" (that last one is on the front cover).

Bottom Line? Not sure I see a "must-make summer project" here, but if your local library or a friend has a copy, definitely worth a look inside.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Super Easy Knitted Bunny & Secrets to An Awesome Pom-Pom

I have a few yarns in my yarn cupboard that I only have 1 lonely ball of. You know, the stuff that is too expensive to buy enough to actually make something out of, but way too pretty or just plain cool to pass up owing a tiny bit of it. This Lana Gatto Class was one of those balls. Italian yarn, 20% angora, sooooo soft and fluffy. In one of those happy accidents, I was looking for stuffie patterns on Ravelry and saw this simple knitted bunny pattern. A bunny stuffed animal out of angora yarn? And it only needed about 1/2 a skein? Sold! Cast on that night and in 3 afternoons I had this little bunny! Isn't he cute!!

This is such a great project for beginning knitters. You basically are knitting a square out of any yarn and any needle size, as long as it produces a tight enough fabric for stuffing not to show through, and then sewing the square in a specific pattern to magically make the rabbit shape appear. I spent more time sewing this than knitting, took my time sewing, and a cute little bunny emerged!

I had plenty of yarn left over to make a matching pom-pom tail. I don't have a store bought pom-pom maker, I just used these simple pom-pom instructions. What's not stated in most pom-pom instruction tutorials:

1) Use a ton of yarn when wrapping. More than you think you need. The more you wrap the fluffier your pom-pom will be. I used *80* wraps for this small bunny tail.

2) When tying that piece of yarn around around the center of your wraps and knotting it, pull super, SUPER tight. Get someone to put their finger on the knot when you are tying it to make sure it stays tight. If it is too loose, little bits of yarn can be pulled out of the finished pom-pom. If in doubt ...... a dab or two or clear-drying glue on the knotted section can work wonders.

My usual black safety eyes didn't seem quite right for this white fellow, so I found some vintage pearl buttons for eyes. But ... my son came home, took one look at the bunny and proclaimed it perfect just the way it was and started snuggling it tight, so no eyes for this little guy. I'd love to make more of these. I think they would look cute with a knitted or felted heart embroidered on the side, or a bow around the neck .. oh, the possibilities!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year from Jeweled Elegance!!

Every year, just as the snow comes and the new year begins ... the winter camellia bush in my backyard bursts into glorious bloom.

What a wonderful way to start the new year .... with beautiful flowers waking up from their long sleep and bursting into life!

Happy Holidays to all! May the winter camellia be a symbol for your New Year, beginning in a burst of beauty and joy!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

First Time Lace Knitting: Easy Pattern, Gorgeous Result


Our local Borders closed some time ago and we have been left with no bookstore in the area....but.... a Barnes & Noble has just moved into the old Borders location. Joy! They had a  book by Joelle Hoverson's called  "Last-Minute Knitted Gifts". Just what I needed! A book for quick, last minute holiday gifts. And it was on clearance! Yes, the book went home with me.



Having a few skeins of Rowan Kidsilk Haze in my stash, I dove right into "Airy Scarf". Projected time to make according to the book? Two to four hours. My first knitted lace for a gorgeous scarflette and it could be whipped up in about 2-3 hours? Cast on that morning. Eight.... hours... later ..... I finished. I'm not sure what type of knitter they timed making these, but it must have been someone a lot faster than me. I'd plan on a day or two to make this. The Kidsilk Haze is the *perfect* yarn for this (and you can get 2 scarves from 1 skein!), but it doesn't lend itself to ripping back because it snarls on itself .. so taking a bit of extra time on the eyelet row is a good time investment.


I was disappointed this book's patterns weren't going to be the quick gift knits I had hoped for, but the result for this scarf was gorgeous. Simple pattern, VERY easy to knit, and an instant classic that is oh so wearable. Light as a summer's breeze and soft as the touch of a butterfly's wing. Gifting this one, but I will definitely be making more of these. For a first time lace project, couldn't ask for a nicer pattern.

Green Tea Knitted Washcloths

I finished my knitted leaves! I was able to get four leaves out of one skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton. These are just so cool! Super soft and a perfect pairing with my boys' handmade soaps.

These are lovely washcloths, but it occurred to me that, if made a little smaller, they would make excellent coasters. We drink quite a bit of tea around here with out current fav being jasmine green tea. These knitted leaves would make awesome coasters for green tea served in delicate celadon cups.


Think I'll go put the kettle on and make a cup now :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Knitted Leaf Pattern & Clover Stitch Markers


Every year my little guys make handmade soaps as holiday gifts. They choose all the scents and colors and additive combinations themselves in their "soap alchemy lab". I have a few go-to patterns for crocheted washcloths to pair with their beautiful soaps, but this year I ran across a fabulous knitted pattern and am using it instead. It is for these simple, but lovely, knitted leaves. These are SO satisfying to knit up. Fast, easy to memorize pattern, and the finished product looks great. I usually use a nice sturdy cotton, like Lily Sugar'n Cream, but this year I splurged a bit and got an oh-so-soft skein of Blue Sky Alpacas worsted organic cotton. The color is just fabulous, a fresh bright green. I will be able to get 4 leaves from this one skein, with a bit left over.


These leaves were perfect to try out my new toys. See that package of green and purple circles? Those are my new Clover stitch markers! These are *awesome*. They are highly visible in their bright colors, come in different sizes to match your needles, and best of all .... are squishy and non-bulky. You can twist your yarn and needles however you want and these don't interfere or catch in your work at all. Best stitch markers ever!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review: "Crochet Noro"

I've been in love with Noro yarn ever since I learned to knit through the process of knitting the famous Noro Scarf design. The color shifting of this yarn is simply sublime! First, came a pair of knitting books "Knit Noro" & "Knit Noro: Accessories: 30 Colorful Little Knits", where projects were photographed and presented just as beautifully as the yarn it showcased. Now, at long last, comes "Crochet Noro"!

Like the other books in the series, it is hardbound and gorgeously photographed in warm, rich tones. No area of the page is left out of the luxe treatment. Even the page borders let the European-style tapestry backgrounds show through.

Patterns include a full-spread splash shot, with the pattern itself starting on the next page. It includes difficulty rating, full materials list and clear instructions, both written and charted. Assembly and sizing diagrams are also provided as needed. There is no guessing in these patterns... they tell you exactly what to do!

Let's talk about the patterns themselves. If you like shawls, there are some absolute showstoppers in here. Above is the Chrysanthemum Shawl....gorgeous!!! There are several hats, bags and scarves, a nesting bowl home accessory pattern, a short skirt, a flower motif blanket, both a fingerless glove and a wristlet pattern, and some very wearable tunic & cardigan type garments. There were a number of ho-hum boring patterns, but given the large number of nice projects it is well worth adding this book to your crochet library.

 As far as difficulty, like the Noro knitting books there is very little for beginners here. Overall, I thought the marked difficulty rating for many of the projects seemed too high for what was required in the pattern?? Just my opinion though :)

Bottom Line: Love Noro? Buy. Looking for a gorgeous crochet coffee-table book? Buy. Looking for nice patterns? A good bet.