The $500 Doily

I make a lot of doilies. There’s a collection of them on our dining table, and we use them as place mats and coasters. Yesterday after my daughters finished the dishes, I found one of the doilies left on the counter, half-wet, with rice stuck to it. It was made with moss-green KnitPicks Curio size 10 thread, a daisy design, not particularly difficult, but striking.

“Just throw it in the washer,” someone said.

“No! That will shrink it and ruin it.”

“So, just make another one.”

…!

This doily took several evenings to finish. If I had to tally up the hours, probably 12 hours  in total. I prefer quality over quantity – other crocheters might be faster. The faster I go, the worse my stitch quality gets. It’s not a race unless you’re Lily Chin competing for the World’s Fastest Crocheter title.

With all those hours and at my usual professional rate, that’s about $500 worth of my time. That’s a $500 doily! Only to me, obviously.

It’s amazing how little value is placed on these beautiful objects, works of art that take so much time and care to make. In my view, it is a reflection of the minimal value placed on women’s time.

Advertisements

Yarn Cravings and Amazon Adventures

Happy January…I’ve been battling an illness for the past month, and am still not well. The bugs swirling around in winter at schools finally caught up to me. The past 2 weeks it’s getting progressively worse. You know I’m sick when I miss my precious ski days! It’s depressing. On the bright side, I have had extra time for net-surfing, reading, writing, and knitting. Surfing for patterns and yarn, of course. Here are some of the goodies I found and the adventures along the way.

Since finishing the Baby Surprise Jacket (see last post), I started an adult-sized version for one of my daughters. It is progressing nicely. Here’s a photo of the work in progress. The yarn is Elann Peruvian Highland Donegal in Oatmeal and blue, with bits of Patons Classic Wool in blush, and a Caron Cake in Rainbow Sherbet.

While knitting I was also surfing, planning out the next jacket, and browsing through more garter stitch patterns. Here’s one I absolutely drooled over: the Hue Shift Afghan from KnitPicks. Wow, it’s stunning, and it’s offered as a kit and a pattern. Although the kit is low-priced, it’s from the USA and I would have to pay exchange and duty. I may just get the pattern and shop for yarn in my stash or LYS.

Shop local is my mantra (I love my LYS), but I just couldn’t help myself with this one. There is a yarn supplier & pattern designer I’ve been a fan of for years, Elann, based in Vancouver. (So, they’re kind of local.) Elann now outsources their shipping to Amazon.ca. Anyway, I ordered a 5-pack of the Meander wool in the Bohemian colourway. It arrived last Friday as promised, but when I opened the box, my order was sprinkled with, of all things, SOY SAUCE. It was actually spilled inside the box. I guess the Amazon warehouse order-picker-packer was eating his lunch while he packed my box. Thankfully the yarn was packaged in a plastic bag, so it was not damaged, but it stunk like soy sauce. Awful, except, Elann’s customer service was fast and amazing. They replied to my complaint within a couple of hours, and offered to replace the yarn and give me a free pattern. I decided to keep the yarn (the smell will easily air/wash out), and chose the Pinwheel Sweater pattern. You can find Elann on Ravelry, and on Amazon. Check them out. I am still a loyal customer thanks to their fabulous customer service. The Meander yarn is delicious and is destined for my next project, probably another Surprise Jacket, or a cozy “swoncho” (poncho-sweater-thing, thanks Knitting Daily emails for the name).

What are you working on? Feel free to post links in the comments here.

I hope you are all healthy and well. Happy knitting and crocheting!

Rediscovering Garter Stitch

Happy 2018! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on my site, because…well, life happens. My husband suffered a major, life-changing injury at work in early 2015, and is still recovering after several surgeries. He now lives with PTSD and a permanently damaged hand. It has been a struggle for him, and for the whole family. I haven’t had the energy to write for a while, but I’m back now. Here are some of the designs I’m coveting and working on.

My LYS: Unwind Yarns

There’s a new LYS in town, called Unwind Yarns: More Than a Yarn Store, and I love it! I bought a set of Kollage interchangeable circular needles, with square needles. Square needles are so easy to work with, and so far I haven’t had the aching hands I usually get from knitting. Unwind stocks good-quality, gorgeous wools and other premium fibres. Here’s a multi-coloured cowl I made using the “Waves” stranded colourwork pattern (Alterknits Stitch Dictionary) and Drops Karisma superwash wool. I’m not completely happy with the colourway, because it doesn’t quite have enough contrast to show clearly.

Here’s the toque I made for my husband’s birthday present, also in Karisma. I adapted a mitten pattern from Drops website, using five repeats, and even used the mitten top shaping as-is for a unique top.

Danish Modern: Hanne Falkenberg

Crochet has been the theme of this blog, but I also love to knit. Lately, colourwork with stranded knitting and stripes has captured my interest. While leafing through old back issues of Vogue Knitting magazine, I re-discovered a designer whose work fascinates me. Her name is Hanne Falkenberg, and she designs what she calls Danish Modern garments for women. Visit her site here: http://www.knit.dk/index_uk.phpMs. Falkenberg’s designs are not available for sale as patterns only. She sells them as full kits, complete with her own wool, a fine 2-ply Scottish Shetland wool. The designs are coveted by fans, who consider a completed Falkenberg to be quite an accomplishment, requiring dedication and perseverance. In North America, the only distributor is Sedona Knit Wits at https://www.sedonaknitwits.com/collections/hanne-falkenberg. Right now I am coveting the Mermaid jacket, Blues Vest, Drip Drop and Da Capo jackets. My need for instant gratification couldn’t be met just yet, and I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a full-scale project like those just yet. So, I searched for some more accessible projects to achieve a similar look. Purl Soho has several garter-stitch projects that feature simplicity and clean lines, but they weren’t quite what I wanted for now.

Schoolhouse Press and E.Z.

Garter stitch is so simple and under-appreciated, knit every row, and for the longest time I avoided it because it looked too simple to me. I’m drawn back to it now because its simplicity can be so beautiful. It shows colourwork well, it lays flat and doesn’t roll, and it’s so springy and squishy. If it’s done in good-quality wool, it is spectacular. While searching for patterns in garter stitch, I found the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket and Adult Surprise Jacket pattern on my bookshelf. I ordered it probably five or six years ago from Schoolhouse Press, back when they only sold hard copies of their patterns (no pdf downloads at all!). By the time it arrived in the mail, I had moved on to other projects. This project had everything I was looking for: mitres, potential for striping patterns, a more sophisticated looking garter-stitch garment. Schoolhouse Press now offers digital products including pdf copies of patterns and streaming videos, and an online calculator for custom-sizing the Surprise Sweater. It’s a literal treasure trove of knowledge (E.Z. was a genius, and her equally-talented daughter Meg Swanson and grandson Cully continue the tradition.) I bought the Surprise Sweater streaming video, which features Meg Swanson demonstrating the techniques. Thanks to the video, I finally tried the i-cord bind off and it was a success. Meg recommends making the Baby Surprise Jacket first, before trying the adult size. I just completed my first one tonight.

My next project will be an adult-size version of the Surprise Sweater, and I’m just choosing what wool to use. I have some tweedy wool in beige and denim blue to use up, but it’s not superwash treated. Maybe that’s okay, because I can just soak it to clean it.

What’s on your needles (or hook)?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Blueberry Creek Crafts

Have a wonderful holiday season, whatever you celebrate. Best wishes to you and yours!

20141215_161246

This week I’ve been busy wrapping gifts, finishing off hand-made items, and mailing parcels to family and customers (the last one went to New York). I hope all the yarn snippets are picked up – one gift had so many ends to weave in that I lost count! It’s a flurry of yarn and thread here.

Hopefully, the freezing rain outside today turns to snow flurries. Ski trails, here I come!

I’ve just posted two new patterns for mason jar cozies, inspired by vintage doilies: the Blooming Shells cozy, and the Lily of the Valley cozy. They are available for purchase in my Ravelry and Etsy shops.

Lily of the Valley

20141215_161316

Buy all three patterns and get 25% off regular price!

Doily Redux: Modern Thread Crochet for your Home

I’ve taken a short break from frantic slipper-making to indulge a creative whim: designing thread crochet candle holders. Well, they’re actually Mason jar covers, and I hope to use them as pendant lamps. Equally gorgeous as tea light holders, these covers are basically cylindrical doilies. I’m fascinated by the interplay of light and shadow created when it’s lit from within by a candle.

Foxglove-candle_edited-1
Light up your home this holiday…also, DIY wedding alert!

This is my latest design: the Foxgloves Lace mason jar cover. The base of the cover is a floral design, making it perfect for a hanging pendant lamp.

Foxglove-bottom

Without a candle, it’s still a lovely piece. Filled with peppermint candies, it would make a nice quick gift. It only took a couple of hours to make this one, so a determined crafter could make several in one day. (Unless you suffer from hand pain like I do – then I recommend taking frequent breaks.)

Foxglove-1

Because of my hand pain problem, I need to alternate between larger yarn and smaller thread. (Just another excuse for having several projects on the go at once!)

Anyway, if you’re planning a DIY wedding, get started on these now! You can make a bunch for centrepieces or favours.

The pattern is available for sale in my Etsy shop and also on Ravelry and Craftsy.

Since I first wrote this, I’ve written two other mason jar patterns. You can purchase them individually or as a collection (save 25% off individual prices by purchasing the collection). The collection is available in my Etsy, Craftsy, and Ravelry stores. On Ravelry, add all three patterns to your cart and the discount will be calculated automatically. Etsy and Craftsy have a separate listing for the pattern collection.

20141215_161246

Houndstooth handbags for Christmas

Houndstooth handbags

For the past week I’ve been whipping up these houndstooth handbags to give as Christmas gifts. I LOVE the pattern, which is by Jennifer Pionk of A Crocheted Simplicity. It’s available to buy on Etsy and on Ravelry. Check out her website for more cute patterns.

I made it in three different colour combinations: tea rose (peach) and white, navy and white, and turquoise blue and white. I used the optional bow embellishment on the tea rose version, and may add a flower to the other two. They look chic without an embellishment.

The tea rose version is made following the pattern exactly, including the separate crocheted belt and bow, which are sewn on afterwards. The houndstooth stitch pattern is a simple two-row repeat. The key to getting the houndstooth checks to pop is to turn your work at the end of each round. Otherwise, it will just look like stripes. It also has a sturdy base made of linked dc which I have not tried before. The other two have slight modifications based on my personal preferences. Instead of a separate belt, I made the contrast stripe part of the bag top, and used single crochet instead of linked dc. The linked dc is easy to do and looks very nice, it’s just that I prefer the single crochet. Also, I’m not a fan of sewing. That’s just me!

The navy bag is made with acrylic yarn, not cotton, and I’m pleased with the results. It’s substantial and looks more suitable for winter because of it’s woolly texture. The turquoise bag is cotton, with a Tunisian simple stitch base. I chose Tunisian for this one because I have trouble counting the rows in linked dc – they blend together too much for my eyes. Tunisian rows are easy to count and easy to crochet into all sides. Christmas is only 3 weeks away, and I have a need for speed right now!

Here are photos of the different bag bases: the linked dc, and the Tunisian. Both make a dense fabric suitable for a bag. (Edit…2018…the other photos have somehow been lost from my media files. Not sure what happened there.)

My daughters want to use their handbags as lunch bags. Although the pattern doesn’t call for one, a lining would help keep the bags clean. I agree that a lining isn’t really necessary, but it would also help the handbags look more finished.

Overall, I give this pattern two thumbs up and will be making many more houndstooth handbags! Next up is one in Mod Green and White, using Lily Sugar’n Cream cotton, then a Holly Berry Red with white using Red Heart With Love.

Peppermint for the holidays and a new pattern!

image3

This year, I’m in love with a Nordic-look red and white theme. I’m working on decorations and gift items with these colours – bright white and real red. Here are the first items in my 2014 holiday collection: the Peppermint handbag and wine bottle carrier set! The pattern is available in my Etsy shop and in my Ravelry store. You can make them both in a weekend using less than three balls of Lily Sugar’n Cream cotton.

Peppermint gift bag set

Review: Craft Daily video subscription

Two posts ago, I mentioned I was doing a trial of the Craft Daily video subscription for one month. Well, the month is up, and here’s my verdict:

Considering most resource sites (like the Interweave store) charge about $19 and up to download just one video, the Craft Daily subscription was worth it. For about $20, I had unlimited access to all of the videos on the site, and I watched at least 15 of them. There are videos by big name designers for everything from basic knitting and crochet techniques to designing your own garments and accessories. The most useful tutorials for me were the Seamless Crochet in the Round with Doris Chan, the Toolbox and Tunisian crochet videos with Lily Chin, and all of the designing videos by Robyn Chachula. Although the earlier seasons of Knitting Daily TV episodes are available at Craft Daily, the newer ones are not. That was disappointing, because the show is not offered by my satellite provider as far as I can tell. I didn’t want to have to purchase them separately.

Lily Chin’s Tunisian tutorials inspired me to try a cowl using Tunisian stitch in the round. Up until then I have made them flat, like this one. My next post will feature the results of my first seamless Tunisian project. The idea for Tunisian cables came from Robyn Chachula’s unexpected crochet stitches video, and from one of her pattern books.

Cabled Tunisian Cowl with buttons
Cabled Tunisian Cowl with buttons

If you are looking for access to lots of videos, clear instructions and demonstrations of techniques and help with specific patterns, a subscription might be a good investment for you. Many of the videos come with free pattern and instruction booklet downloads. You can access the videos as often as you like, as long as your subscription is valid. It’s a great way to try out the many Interweave tutorials on the site. If there’s one you’d like to keep forever, it makes more sense to purchase that one from the Interweave store than to keep subscribing monthly. Browse through the available workshops first and try the previews before you commit.

I am not an affiliate of any of these stores, and this post reflects my own opinion. From one crafter to another, that’s my view.

 

How to make basic crocheted slipper boots: UPDATED free pattern in women’s sizes S-M-L

IMG_0349

By Gwen Higgins, Blueberry Creek Crafts.

This basic slipper boot is a perfect canvas for embellishment with your own stylistic elements. Try buttons, straps, or tassels. It’s worked from the toe up similar to a sock, so you can adjust the length of each section to custom-fit to your feet. Make the boot as tall as you like. Two balls of Boutique Midnight is just enough to make 12″ tall boots, so you’ll need more yarn if you want taller boots. The pattern is written using standard U.S. terms.

Update December 29, 2014: now includes other sizes, alternate yarn suggestions, and instructions for an improved heel.

For pattern inquiries or comments, email Gwen at gwen@blueberrycreekcrafts.com .

www.blueberrycreekcrafts.com

Materials

Materials: For sparkly slippers: Red Heart Boutique Midnight, two 70g (2.5 oz)  / 140 m (153 yd) balls, medium (4) weight yarn, crochet hook size 6.0 mm (U.S. 10 / J). Substitute any medium-weight yarn that gives you the same gauge. Just make a test swatch. Other suggested yarns: Red Heart With Love (one to two skeins), Willow Burrow Worsted (two balls), Patons Décor (two balls). After making many pairs, I suggest using one of the alternate yarns. While the Boutique Midnight is very pretty and gives good results, it is not as easy-care, stretches out more, and may not wear as well as the others over time.

Gauge: 13 hdc and 9 rows makes 4” x 4” (10 cm x 10 cm).

In single crochet, 14 sc and 16 rows makes 4” x 4” (10 cm x 10 cm).

Check your gauge and use a different hook size, if needed, to achieve this gauge. You may want to use a smaller hook if your feet are smaller. The boots shown are slightly large for me (I made them for someone with bigger feet), so if your feet are smaller than size 8, use a 5.5mm hook to tighten up the gauge and reduce the boot size.

This pattern is written with ½” negative ease – that means, the finished slipper will be slightly smaller than the actual foot sizes shown, to allow for stretch.

Sizes: Ladies U.S. shoe sizes Small (up to size 6), Medium (up to size 9), and Large (up to size 12).

Instructions are written for smallest size with larger sizes in brackets.

Foot circumference:

  • Small: 7” (17.5 cm)
  • Medium: 8” (20.5 cm)
  • Large: 9” (23 cm)

Foot length:

  • Small: 9” (23 cm)
  • Medium: 10″ (25.5 cm)
  • Large: 11” (28 cm)

Boot height: Approximately 12″ total; 9″ shaft from top of heel, or height of your choice. Foot to ankle is 3.25″ (3.75″, 4.25″).

As per Craft Yarn Council Standard Foot Sizing chart: http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/footsize.html

 

Make Foot:

(Note: This portion is worked in the round, joining with a slip stitch to the first stitch every round and ch 1 to start the next round.)

Toe:

Chain 4.

Round 1: 7 hdc in 1st ch, sl st to join.Ch 1.

Round 2: 2 hdc in each hdc around, join w sl st. Ch 1. (14 hdc.)

Round 3: *1 hdc in 1st hdc, 2 hdc in next hdc; repeat from * 6 times. Join with sl st. (21 hdc.) For size small, your toe is finished. Continue to Foot portion. For sizes Medium and Large, complete round 4.

Sizes M & L only: Round 4: Ch 1 * 1 hdc in 1st two hdc, 2 hdc in next hdc; repeat from * 6 times. Join with sl st to first hdc. 28 hdc.

 

Front Foot:

The lower portion of the foot is worked in the round until you reach the ankle opening, as follows:

Work 1 hdc in each hdc around and join with sl st to first hdc. Ch 1 to start the next round. Continue in this manner until the piece measures 4.25” (5.0”, 5.5”) long from the beginning. This is approximately 10 rows (11 rows, 12 rows) in total from the start of the toe.

Decision point: If you need a smaller or larger slipper, this is about the halfway point in the length of the foot. Work fewer or more rows as required to achieve the desired length. From here on, you will work in rows (back and forth) instead of in the round. Do not join at the end of each row; ch 1 and turn your work.

 

Back of Foot and Heel, Basic Method:

The following rows for the back of the foot and heel are worked back and forth in rows, to make the back of the foot and the heel. Instructions for an alternate, more durable, heel are included on the next page.

Basic Method

Row 11 for size small (row 12 for size medium, row 13 for size large): 1 Hdc in each hdc around, DO NOT JOIN. ch 1, TURN.  (21 hdc (28 hdc, 28 hdc) in row.)

Continue working in hdc in rows until foot measures 8.5” (9.5”, 10.5”) from toe.

Turn heel inside out and use slip stitches to join the back heel seam. Fasten off. Go to boot shaft.

 

Back of foot and heel, alternate method:

This method produces a more durable and shaped heel. It’s worked in single crochet with decreases at the back of the heel to provide a better fit.

Row 11 (12, 13): 1 sc in each hdc around. Do not join. Ch 1, TURN. (21 (28, 28) sc in row.)

Next row: 1 sc in each sc. Ch 1, turn.

Continue in this manner until foot measures 8” (9”, 10”) from toe.

Shape heel:

Row 1 of heel shaping: Sc in first 8 (10, 10) sc, sc 2 tog, sc in next 1 (4, 4) sc, sc 2 tog, sc in last 8 (10, 10) sc. Ch 1, turn. (You have decreased two stitches on this row and now have 19 (26, 26) sc.)

Row 2 of heel shaping: Sc in first 7 (10, 10) sc, sc 2 tog, sc in next 1 (2, 2) sc, sc 2 tog, sc in last 7 (10, 10) sc. (You have decreased two more stitches and now have 17 (24, 24) sc.)

Join heel seam: Turn heel inside out and slip stitch both sides together. This creates the vertical seam at the back of the heel. Fasten off and weave in ends.

 

Make boot shaft:

The boot shaft is made by working rounds of hdc (or the stitch pattern of your choice) around the top edge of the rows that form the ankle opening. In general, on the first round make 3 hdc stitches for every two rows, or one hdc for every one row if you made the alternate heel. This will give evenly-spaced stitches around. I sometimes use single crochet for the first round to give a neater look. It’s your choice.

Join again just to left side of heel seam with slip stitch. Ch 2.

Round 1: Work 15 (16, 17) hdc evenly along left side, 2 hdc in centre front, and 15 (16, 17) hdc along other side. Join. There are now 32 (34, 36) hdc in the round. Join with a slip stitch to first hdc.

Round 2: Ch 2, hdc in same stitch and one hdc in each hdc around. The chains at the beginning of each round are not counted as stitches.

Rounds 3 through 18: Work as for round 2 (one hdc in each hdc) or until desired height (18 rows or your choice). Total height pictured including heel is approximately 12″. Ch 1.

Last 5 rows: One sc in each sc around, join to first sc with sl st. Ch 1 to start next round, except on last round.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

 

 

Abbreviations:

Ch: chain

Hdc: half-double crochet

Sc: single crochet

Sl st: slip stitch

 

Leave a comment with a link to your own version of these boots!

 

Copyright: 2014 G. Higgins.

Feel free to use this pattern to make items for sale, but please give credit to this pattern & my site.

 

For more patterns and gift ideas, visit www.blueberrycreekcrafts.com. Happy crafting!