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It’s an honor just to be nominated . . .

February 25, 2015

You know how you hear movie stars say that before awards shows, and you roll your eyes and think, “Yeah, right. What a cliché. They’re just saying that to sound nice.”

But holy crap, you guys. I got nominated for The 2015 Crochet Awards – The Flamies – and let me tell you, it’s an honor just to be nominated. Seriously.

Quickly glancing through the list of other nominees, I just about spit out my coffee. And then I saw this year’s Judges Panel and nearly fell out of my chair. I’m still not sure if this is completely real. But if it is, you can participate!

Voting is fun and easy and you can do it here. There are several categories, and I’m up in the Cowl category, for my Birthday Cake Cowl:

Birthday Cake Cowl Pattern

 *pattern available here*

If you want to learn more about The Flamies, check it out here. And thank YOU for all the support these last few years, it really has lifted me up!

xo, Heidi

Heidi: Crafter, Kazoo Player, Hand Model

February 15, 2015

I always thought being a Price is Right model would be a good gig. Just get dressed up, smile, and point. Caress the air around a package of Rice-a-Roni. Or, getting Vanna White’s job: turn letters, make small talk with Pat Sajak. I would take either of these jobs.

Now that I can add “hand model” to my resume, maybe I’ll get a call-back. Dear game show recruiters, here’s me modeling a BRAAAND NEW MUG, made by my boss:

fingerless gloves and handmade clay mug

handmade clay mug

*Pssst. You can find the pattern for these gloves here.

handmade clay mug

I love this thing, I want to show it off. I’m hoping there are more handmade mugs in my future.
(Yes – that is a hint, Nicole!).

handmade clay mug

And hey, Pat Sajak: this ain’t my first rodeo. I have a face for hand modeling, but I think with some makeup and the magic of TV, I could really turn those letters.

Shelly Crochet Fingerless Gloves

Shelly Fingerless Gloves

peasy fingerless gloves

Peasy Gloves

Spring, Getting Married (squared), and Portable Cheese

February 13, 2015

Februaries in the midwest are hardest for me. It’s the last, long, slow gasp of winter – it seems never ending! But February also means that spring is right around the corner, relatively speaking (March – please be gentle with us!). I am getting SO EXCITED for spring. My heirloom seeds arrived in the mail yesterday, I’ve got some plans for bird feeders in the works (stay tuned for that), and Nicky and I are eagerly awaiting a couple of early spring weddings.

The first two things that come to mind when anticipating a wedding are:

1. Nostalgia. Weddings make me reminisce about our wedding, how meaningful and fun it was. I wish Nicky and I could get married every year (Wait — can we? Is that allowed?).

Double Married

2. Panic. What are we going to get for wedding gifts? Nothing on the registry is “calling” to me! What about money? NO. That’s not very personal. But it’s useful! But does this make it look like a dollar amount on our love for these people? Yes? No? Gah!

Chill, Heidi, mellow out. What did we get for our wedding that was memorable and meaningful? Well, lots of things. But the ones that stuck out were the gifts that reflected us – and if they were personalized or handmade, even better!

Okay, so inhale slowly, exhale. Here’s a site that offers one-stop shopping that hits all the important points: unique, personalized, handmade, socially and environmentally conscious gifts . . . for everyone on your list. Both of our couples-soon-to-be-married are sentimental, nature-loving outdoorsy types, and I found so many fun things at Uncommon Goods that will be perfect! I love how you can search by Handmade, Recycled, and/or Made in the USA. And that’s what I did to find some unique gifts for our spring (SPRING!) wedding-ers.

Gifts from UncommonGoods

1. Personalized Wedding Crest print here. Perfect! You can find way more personalized items here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/gifts/personalized/personalized-gifts

2. This Butterfly House is so sweet.

3. Woodsy and wine-y. And a gift that keeps on giving way after the wedding: this personalized wine box.

4. These personalized stamps are so thoughtful and useful!

5. This cutting board is handmade by a husband and wife team. Score!

6. The Terra Table Lamp will bring the outdoors in all year round. Get a closer look here. Be still, my heart!

And there is so much more: gifts for men here, gifts for your pet, gifts for baby . . . Uncommon Goods is a veritable rabbit hole of awesome finds (especially for those hard-to-buy-for folks, go see for yourself: http://www.uncommongoods.com/occasions/birthday-gifts)! Another bonus: you can feel good about your purchases because half of what they sell is made by hand, one-third include upcycled/recycled materials, and $1 of every purchase gets donated to the non-profit of your choice!

No online shopping trip is complete without picking something for yourself! So Nicky, I really like this birch bracelet right here, for when we get married again (double-married? married squared?):

Birch Bracelet by Nancy Nelson

And I’ll get you this, so you can have melted cheese wherever you are:

Portable Cheese Melter by Frank Bleeker

*This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own and I only support people I believe in!

Free Crochet Pattern: Simple Man Cowl

January 31, 2015

I rarely get requests from guys for crochet items. I have, of course, made plenty of hats for dudes. My brother asked for some manly fingerless gloves once, and I did try and oblige with these. But here we have something a bit different (for me): a convertible cowl.

Simple Man Convertible Cowl

As requested by Nicky: “Can you make me a short scarf that buttons closed?”

Me: “Sure. Like, how? Where do you want it to button up?”

Nicky: “I don’t know.”

And so, I made him a cowl that he can button in just about a hundred ways.

Roberta is our model today, as the boy is still in bed. She looks good, so I guess this is a unisex cowl.

Simple Man Convertible Cowl Pattern

Some things to note:

This pattern is really easy, but I find that working with a big hook is a bit unwieldy, so I would consider this an intermediate level pattern. Maybe you are a beginner who finds that working with a big hook is easy. And if so, then this is for you!

The hook exaggerates the stitches, so I did use two stitch markers (safety pins) to mark the tops of the beginning ch 2s of each row, moving them up as I completed rows. That made it really obvious where to put the last stitch of each row.

Make sure your buttons: 1) fit through the holes between stitches, and 2) are large enough to hold the cowl together. Shank buttons will be best. If you use regular flat buttons, make sure to not sew them down so tight that they don’t hold the thickness of the cowl.

Your yarn ends most likely will not fit into a yarn needle. Use a smaller hook (like an 8mm) to grab yarn ends and weave them through the wrong side of your work.

Cowl is made so that buttons can slide into any space between any two stitches.

Entire cowl is made by holding two strands of yarn together as one. I used two skeins of the same color, but using two different colors will also look quite nice.

Finished size: about 7.5 inches wide, about 37 inches around.

Simple Man Convertible Cowl Pattern

What you’ll need:

2 skeins of bulky (5) yarn. Used here: 2 skeins of Bernat Softee Chunky (3.5oz/108yds) in Teal

Q (15.75mm) crochet hook

3 buttons (mine are 1.25 inch shank buttons)

Sewing needle and thread

Pattern:

Ch 12

Row 1: Half double crochet (hdc) in 3rd ch from hook. Hdc in each ch across. (11 hdc)

Row 2: Ch 2 (counts as first hdc), turn. Hdc in each st across. (11 hdc)

Rows 3 – 33: Repeat row 2. When done with row 33, cut yarn, finish off, weave in all ends.

Sew buttons as follows:

Count 4 rows in from either end. Buttons will go on this row in a line. Sew buttons to the following stitches: one at the center on the 6th hdc in from side, one each on the 2nd hdc in from each side.

Simple Man Convertible Cowl Pattern

Done! Wrap cowl however you want and close with buttons. Buttons can fit into any gap between any hdcs.

If you like this pattern, please check out all the new patterns in my shop!

Simple Man Convertible Cowl Pattern

Simple Man Convertible Cowl Pattern

Simple Man Convertible Cowl Pattern

 

“Let It Go,” or, “How to Make a Life Metaphor from Crochet”

January 9, 2015

When making crochet patterns, I usually have one particular idea in my mind. I’ll stubbornly try to make exactly what’s in my head, ripping back my work dozens of times. Then, just when I give in and just when I am about to give up, it seems like something else takes over. Just switching a hook size or yarn can change everything. All of a sudden, the work comes easily − it almost has a mind of its own. The design starts to dictate itself. The details come freely and make sense.

And, feeling particularly introspective today, I think: “Why do I do this to myself?” Not just designing crochet patterns, but everywhere. I am 33 years old now, and I still get frustrated when I can’t control everything or when things do not turn out how I imagined they would. I know dang well that when I just let go and let the universe take over, that things turn out how they should. I’m not particularly any religion of any sort, but I do like the saying “Let go and let God” (feel free to replace with any higher power of your choosing). I also continually find myself humming that Frozen song, Let It Go, but I think that might just be the media’s doing.

So this is what I am going to try really hard at this year: roll with the punches, wave a white flag, come what may, que sera, etc. etc. It’s no easy task, but I am up for the challenge. This is starting to sound like one of those “The More You Know” PSAs, so on to what brought us here:

Cheer Squad Cowl Crochet Pattern

This cowl pattern started out as an infinity scarf with alternating solid stripes of color (and no drawstring or pom pons).

Sound Wave Infinity Scarf Crochet Pattern

This infinity scarf began in my mind as a delicate lacy shawl, made with super fine yarn and a small hook.

Faux Bow Hobo Crochet Bag

This crochet hobo bag was a wallet. Until it was not.

Ember Scarf Broomstick Lace Pattern

What is now more of a poncho, this broomstick lace pattern was intended to be a very long scarf, without any tassels or edging.

Rainy Day Crochet Poncho

And this poncho/cape/shrug started life as a single-colored cowl made with bulky yarn. Go figure.

So here’s to the new year, 2015, and all the curveballs it will most certainly bring. Let’s try to stop white-knuckling that safety bar on the roller coaster, and throw our arms up into the air instead.

The More You Know

Bustin’ Patootie

December 14, 2014

As Leonard Cohen says, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

With that in mind, I have been focusing on what I enjoy while everything around me falls apart.

The cat needs another ultrasound? And prednisone? Bring me my yarn!

Get me my crochet hook and call the electrician!

Dear Plumber Dude: spare me the dirty details because I am busy counting stitches!

I have been bustin’ patoot on some new patterns, and four of them are available now on Etsy and Ravelry:

Ember Scarf

Ember Scarf

 

First Frost Cowl

First Frost Cowl

 

Rainy Day Shrug

Rainy Day Shrug

 

Two Timer Infinity Scarf

Two-Timer Infinity Scarf

Thanks for looking! Catch ya later!

Stripping and Painting Curvy Furniture

October 17, 2014

There are a lot of posts out there about refinishing and painting furniture. This here is not a glorious Before and After post, but rather what I learned about using Citristrip, the truth about sanding, and going with the flow. stripping and painting curvy furniture

First, let me point out that I knew this was going to be an arduous task and I just wanted to buy new chairs. Following a heated whisper-argument in the IKEA dining section, a few tears shed behind  an armoire display, and removing ourselves to separate corners of the kitchen staging area –  I knew that refinishing the chairs we already had was going to be a better option than buying new ones. (This is what the sign should say on the building: IKEA: Only the Strong Survive) (Also, IKEA would be better off having a bar instead of a food court). Anyway, on to the Citristrip. Directions on the bottle are pretty vague. And they say that you can leave it on for up to 24 hours. I left it on for 30 minutes and it was all dried out and impossible to get off. Here is how I got the Citristrip to work on these chairs, which are all curvy surfaces:

  1. Wear gloves.
  2. Glob on a VERY thick layer of the Citristrip. I was just dumping it right on the paintbrush and applying it that way. I’d say about a quarter inch thick or so. Work on one chair or a couple sections at a time.
  3. Let it sit for about five to ten minutes.
  4. Using a green scrubbing pad (those scratchy ones you can get in the dishwashing section), scrub the Citristrip around until you can see the bare wood. Then wipe it off with a rag. This is messy and you’ll need to rinse the scrub pad out as you go and/or switch to clean new ones every once in a while.
  5. If there are any spots of varnish or paint still left, you can dump Citristrip right on the scrub pad and really get at those problem areas.
  6. Once the chairs are bare, wipe everything off with mineral spirits.
  7. This process is three things: tedious, time consuming, and messy. But it worked for me. And if you have curvy surfaces, it will work for you. Citristrip can be scraped away, but really only on flat surfaces.

And now, the painting. I used regular old interior house paint, one that was a paint and primer in one (so I didn’t prime, duh). Here now is where I will be shunned by DIYers who do things right, who know what they’re doing, perfectionists who really have patience:

I. Did. Not. Use. Sandpaper.

Nope. After the Citristrip fiasco, there was no way I was going to apply several very thin layers of paint, sanding and cleaning between each layer. Heck no. You know what I did? I used a foam brush – a cheap foam brush. And it worked out just fine. It will probably work fine for you, too, so long as you use the broad side of the brush to kind of gently “smear” even layers of paint on. And be careful of drips. If you just smooth everything out as you go, all will be well, I swear. The key words here are: slow, deliberate, gentle, mindful. Do three thinnish layers of paint that way, allowing a few hours of dry time between each coat, and the surfaces will be very close to very smooth. And there you have it: it’s not perfection, but pretty darn close.

And that’s good enough for me.

Once the paint is good and dry, go ahead and reupholster the seats, too. That’s a breeze and Nicky and I did four chairs in about an hour.

stripping and painting curvy furniture

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