Introducing the Bitterbrush Bandit

(C) 2014 Interweave
Better late, than never, they say. So, here I am to introduce the "Bitterbrush Bandit" shawl from Interweave Crochet's special issue, Crochetscene.

This is a traditionally-shaped triangular shawl, but is designed to be worn as a bandit scarf. It really makes a fun accessory to complete your outfit. The yarn is called Way Out Wonderful Treasures by Universal Yarn. This is a metallic yarn with attached charms throughout. I enjoyed the finished effect of the shawl with this yarn, but the yarn can be a little tricky to work with. It comes in a hank, and with good reason. I tried to wind it into a ball, but it just would not stay put. The strands would slip off each other. I eventually decided to just work with it straight from my swift. No swift? Utilize the back of a chair.

I hope that if you make one you'll add photos to Ravelry or share them on my Facebook page! I love to see photos of FOs from my patterns! Makes my day!

(C) 2014 Interweave
Now, you may be wondering, where on earth have you been???

Well, mostly, my energy has just been zippo. We've had our house on the market, and I've used up my available energy with cleaning for showings and signing a billion pieces of paper. We've finally sold it, and we move in a few weeks. We're not going far, just the city "nextdoor" to get more room inside and out. I have also been busy with work -- not completely ignoring it. The most exciting piece of news is that I am hoping to get a book deal, and have been working toward that end. I've had a few patterns come out this summer, and I think I've (now) finished blogging about all of those. There will be more in the coming months.

Don't forget you can find me on Facebook and Twitter as well. You can hear from me more often via my Facebook page, as I check in there much more frequently.

Happy stitching!


Scamp Bandana Reveal

Introducing the Scamp Bandana! This is the second of two patterns of mine in the Summer issue of Interweave Crochet! That's right! I got TWO patterns in one issue!

So, when I read the call for submissions for this issue, this is what I cam up with. I knew it was perfect because it had that kind of retro feel and was perfect for the road-trip/camping theme they were going for. This is going to be the perfect accessory for a road trip in a convertible -- to keep your hair under control and out of your face. Also in this issue, the editor was looking for projects in all different types of lace. This project is done in Bruges laces, and this is my first pattern in the technique.

I love it! I've already seen one finished project on Ravelry, and I hope to see many more.

It is made in Schulana Merino-Cotton 135 (distributed by Skacel) and an F/5 (3.75mm) hook.

If you've ever done Bruges lace, this should be easy. It's a small, beginner project in the technique, however a few people are having trouble with it (I've heard this via Ravelry and Crochetme.com). Part of the difficulty is probably just that this is a new technique to them, but there are a few errors in the pattern as well, that I'm sure aren't helping. In the "Last turning" at the end of Row 4 it says "Work Row 2 of Turning". That shouldn't be there. Don't work Row 2 of the Turning there. Just pretend those words aren't there. Also Row 4 of "Last Turning" and Row 2 of "Last column" are both missing a "turn" after you sl st to the hair band or to another ch-5 sp.

Well, I hope you enjoy and love this project as much as I do, despite the errors! My oldest, Drama Queen, is the happy owner of the original design that I submitted for my "swatch". We got it back, and she is enjoying it. The full-size one works well on her (she is 10). I may make some smaller ones for my younger kids -- fewer rows per column, and fewer columns.

Happy stitching!


Rosalie Wrap Reveal

Introducing my one of my two latest patterns, "Rosalie Wrap"! This wrap is stitched in Tunisian entrelac. I am very excited about this design for a couple of reasons. One of those is that this is my first ever design in Tunisian crochet, and therefore, my first published design in Tunisian crochet! Have you ever tried Tunisian crochet? If not, you really should! It is really fun! Tunisian entrelac is a technique that involves making each of those squares one at a time, but there's no joining of motifs, you connect the squares as you go. Each "tier" of squares is worked all in a row. Then you fasten off at the end of each tier, since you can't turn the piece and work on the wrong side. Tunisian doesn't get turned like traditional crochet, to work across the wrong side to go the other way.

Sound like lots of ends to weave in? There are quite a few, but once you get the hang of it, you can weave in the beginning ends as you stitch, so that you just have to weave in the fasten-off end for each tier. Actually, I was even able to weave in some of the fasten-off ends as I worked the tier above, once I was comfortable with the technique. This wrap is made in Crystal Palace Yarns Mini Mochi #327 Georgia Peach (6 skeins). The colors in this yarn are really lovely -- subtle differences in shades of peach that make for a very beautiful wrap!

I don't think I blogged about this design when I was first excited about it. I made this version of the wrap as my entry for the 2013 CGOA Design Competition, and won 2nd place in the Accessories category! I called it "Windowpane Wrap" and made it in Jojoland Melody.

In 2012 I went to the CGOA conference in Manchester, NH. I took a class, taught by Vashti Braha about how to incorporate holes, or negative space, into Tunisian crochet. Now, she didn't teach us to make those holes the way I made them, she wasn't even using Tunisian entrelac. She taught us another fascinating way to make holes in Tunisian crochet. But, as those ideas swam around through my head, I had a vision in mind of something I wanted to make. It looked a lot like this wrap, but I had planned on using Vashti's method of creating the negative space. However, when I tried it that way, it didn't look how I wanted it to look.

I continued tinkering with the idea until I came up with a very simple way to make empty squares in Tunisian entrelac so that you could have empty and filled squares a lot like filet crochet. I even made a chart for this design that looks a lot like a filet chart. The difference of course, is that the squares are all set on their points in this method, rather than on their sides, like in filet crochet.

After my wrap won a prize at the design competition, I sent some pictures of it to Interweave Crochet Editor, Marcy Smith and asked if she'd be interested in publishing the pattern. Fortunately, she was very happy to be offered the pattern! Now, it is available in the Summer issue of Interweave Crochet as "Rosalie Wrap".

Stay tuned for a post about my other design in this issue, and also for a tutorial on this method of crochet!

Happy stitching!


LYS Sighting

This is SweetieWray's in Watonga, OK. One Friday a few weeks ago, my family and I were traveling to Roman Nose State Park, which is just outside of Watonga. Along the highway coming into town there was a large sign that read "Yarn Store, 113 W Main". This was highly effective advertising, since I had not thought to check the whereabouts of a yarn store before leaving on this day trip -- shocking, I know, but I'll remember to next time!

Thanks to my very nice husband and patient children, I was able to stop by. I'm so glad I did! It just so happens that they were celebrating their 5 year anniversary that day! What luck! Let me tell you, these folks know how to throw a party! There were sheep cookies and punch. There was a discount for everyone by choosing a sheep paper that had a discount amount inside. I think I got 15% off one item. There was a free set of beaded stitch markers for everyone, and they also entered me into a drawing. I don't think I won, because I haven't heard anything from them. Rats.

This was a very nice shop! I hope I have occasion to visit them again! It's not completely out of the question since Roman Nose State Park is such a nice park, and a great camping spot. There are natural springs there that we waded in. Here is one of my fav pics from our outing:

You can just see Drama Queen and Princess back there by the cave opening. There is a waterfall in that cave that I think comes out of a spring. There were many neat and beautiful sights there that we really enjoyed!

As you might have guessed, I picked out some yarn while I was at SweetieWray's. It is called "Swizzle" by The Alpaca Yarn Company. I got #01 Goldenrod, #03 Rose, and #04 Plum Perfection. This yarn is 100% Alpaca, dk weight, and very soft with a nice halo to it. It is loosely plied, and therefore tends to split, but it's not bothering me at all. The variation between dark and light within each colorway is a short variation, so that in traditional crochet, it produces short blips of color. Because of how Tunisian knit stitch works, it creates stripes. Interestingly, when I tried making the entrelac squares 10 sts wide, the square was almost entirely one shade. That was neat too, but I decided to make the squares a little smaller and got stripes, which was more what I wanted.

The next day we were traveling to my in-laws house to visit for a family wedding that evening. While on the way (Mr AC was driving) I was staring at those 3 pretty skeins of yarn, trying to decide what they wanted to be. I came up with an idea, and started a swatch, but it just wasn't looking like I had envisioned it.

I really thought that this yarn wanted to be stitched up in Tunisian crochet, but that really wasn't what I wanted to do. I eventually listened to the yarn, and started working in Tunisian entrelac, and it looked beautiful!

I don't plan to share anything else about what this is going be just yet, but I think it's a pretty great idea.

Hope you enjoyed my little travel log!

Happy stitching and happy travels!



Russian Joins

Several weeks ago now, I spent an entire afternoon sitting in a chair in my dining room while some men were here installing new carpet in our home. I was making this simple shrug in Red Heart Boutique Treasure #1913 Spectrum for Drama Queen. I decided to use a Russian join to join in a new skein. I didn't come up with this technique. I learned about it from articles in magazines, but I have learned to really love it, so I wanted to share this tutorial with you, my readers. Since my phone was handy, I used it to take step-by-step pictures of the process.

Sorry about the glare in this photo. I tried to do the rest with some paper in the background. Sorry for the poor photo-quality here. I was making do with what I had there with me.

Anyway, we begin in the photo above, with time to join in a new skein.

Take the yarn end from the skein you've been working with, and thread it into a yarn needle.

Put that end around the end for the new skein, looping them around each other with 4 to 6 inches of end left.

Working back into the same strand that is on the needle, run the needle back and forth through the strand, so that your needle is heading back towards your project. You'll be forming a loop between where the needle is attached to your yarn end, and where you've started running it back into the strand. The other yarn end, for the new skein, should be going through that loop.

Once you've run your needle through 4 to 6 inches of the strand, pull it all the way through to close up the loop you've made. Now the end from the skein you've been using, is a double thickness. There is a little loop where I had wrapped this end around the other. The end of my new skein is going through that loop. Cut off any excess that didn't get worked in, or just weave it in a little further.

Now thread the end of the new skein into your yarn needle and do the same thing. Run the needle in and out through the strand, forming a loop 4 to 6 inches away from the end of the yarn. This time, your needle will be heading towards your new skein.

You see how the needle goes back and forth through the strand?

Pull the needle all the way through to close up the hole. Now this new yarn end is a double thickness, and it is joined to the old yarn end. Cut off any excess, or weave in a little more if needed.

Can you see that the next few stitches are a little more bulky than the rest? That's because they are worked with double-thick yarn. However, in the finished shrug, you really can't see it.

Why would you want to join a new skein this way instead of however you've done it before? Well, for starters, the ends are all woven in by the time you finish joining. It really doesn't take all that long to do this once you get the hang of it, and there are NO ends left to weave in afterwards! Those ends will be really secure! Believe me, they are not coming undone from that!

As I worked on this Russian join, it occurred to me how awesome this will be for lace projects! One of the really frustrating parts about lace projects for me is finding a place to weave in the ends that they won't show and won't come undone. I will use Russian joins in lace projects from now on!!! And you can use this technique whether you are crocheting or knitting!

This is also great when you are using yarns that don't have any, or much, grab to them. With a lot of animal fibers, ends stay woven in pretty well because the scales on the fibers grab each other and the ends stay locked in. However, when working with fibers that don't do that...well, we've probably all had projects where our ends wouldn't stay put. Cotton, acrylic, bamboo, silk -- with many of these yarns, it can be nearly impossible to keep your ends from coming undone. I will use Russian joins when using these yarns from now on!!! 

In fact, I might just use them all the time since that means my ends will be so well woven in, so quickly, and very well hidden!

Happy joining!



National Crochet Month Tour 2014

Happy National Crochet Month!

And, welcome to Banana Moon Studio!

This blog tour was organized by Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka of Crochetville, a wonderful crochet community with forums, free and for sale patterns sold by indie designers, and classes. All month long there will be crochet professionals blogging to celebrate crochet, and I am pleased to be a part of it, for the second year in a row. Please see Crochetville's blog for a full schedule of the participants.

We're doing a few things with this blog tour. First, is that we are supporting Halos of Hope, an organization that collects and donates hats to cancer centers and hospitals around the country for those who have undergone treatments. You can donate money to help them cover shipping costs (100% of your donation is used for postage, not admin costs), or you can make and donate hats to contribute to a Crochetville group donation. Please see Crochetville's website for details on how to contribute as part of the group effort.

The second thing we are doing with this blog tour is promoting the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA). I joined the CGOA when I began designing in 2010, because I wanted to be a part of the mentor program so that I would have someone that I could ask when I had questions or needed a cheerleader. I got that and more! Jocelyn Sass was my mentor, and she is still my friend. I also got connected with all the professionals that are members of CGOA through a Yahoo! group forum, and by meeting them at the conferences. Getting to know those professionals and meet them face-to-face was the #1 biggest boost to my crochet career!

The third thing we are doing is celebrating the art of crochet with you by putting on this tour, and by offering something to our readers in honor of this craft we all love! I have written a pattern, "Gardens Galore Garland" to share with you here on the blog. This pattern will stay available for free on the blog. Please don't copy this to any other website or share it by email. If you know someone that would like the pattern, please direct them to my blog.

Gardens Galore Garland

By April Garwood

Yarn: Valley Yarns Longmeadow (60% Cotton, 40% Microfiber; 117 yd [107 m]/1 ¾ oz [50 g]; CYCA #3):
#05 Fuchsia
#14 Periwinkle
#08 Coral
#15 Dark Blue
#10 Lettuce
#01 White

Hook: Size G/6 [4.00 mm]

Gauge: 8-Petal Flower = 3” [7.5 cm] diameter. Gauge is not critical for this project.

Note: Use these colors as you desire, making as many of each piece as you like (I made 2 of each) in whichever colors you like. You can combine shapes as desired or leave some or all of them by themselves. Also, use whichever color you choose for the garland chain (I used #01 White).

Make an adjustable ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 1, 6 sc in ring, pull tail tight to close center, join to first sc with sl st – 6 sts.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, (sc, dc)in first st, 2 dc in next st, sl st in next st, 2 dc in next st, (dc, sc)in next st, (sc, ch 2, sc)in last st, join to first st with sl st – 11 sts. Fasten off.

Ch 8, join to first ch with sl st to form ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 2(does not count as a st), 20 dc in ring, join to first st with sl st – 20 sts. Fasten off.

Make an adjustable ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 2 (does not count as a st), 12 dc in ring, pull tail tight to close, join to first st with sl st – 12 sts. Fasten off.

6-Petal Flower
Make an adjustable ring.
Rnd 1: Ch 2 (does not count as a st), (dc, ch 2)6 times in ring, join to first st with sl st – 6 sts.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, (sc, hdc, dc, hdc, sc) in each ch sp around, join to first st with sl st – 30 sts. Fasten off.

8-Petal Flower
Make an adjustable ring
Rnd 1: Ch 1, 8 sc in ring, pull tail to tighten just enough to close, leaving a small hole in the middle, join to first st with sl st – 8 sts.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, (sc, ch 2)in each st around, join to first st with sl st.
Rnd 3: Sl st in first ch sp, ch 1, (sc, ch 3)in each ch sp around, join to first st with sl st.
Rnd 4: Ch 1, (sc, hdc, dc, ch 1, dc, hdc, sc)in each ch sp around, join to first st with sl st – 48 sts. Fasten off.

Ch 40, sc in top of first piece (all pieces should have RS facing when you st into them), *ch 20, sc in top of next piece, repeat from star until all pieces are attached, ch 40. Fasten off.

(C)2014 April Garwood. All rights reserved. For personal, non-commercial use only.

Great thing about this pattern is that it is giving you the tools to build something that is very individually yours. You can put these little motifs together however you like. You can make a garland with them; you can make hairclips or headbands with them. You could use them to applique to t-shirts, or to decorate bags, or even to decorate a hat -- that you could send to Halos of Hope!

Happy National Crochet Month! Enjoy the pattern! I will put a page on Ravelry for it, so if you make it, please share pictures there or on my Facebook page!

Happy stitching!


Happy National Crochet Month!

March is National Crochet Month! How will you celebrate this wonderful craft? It should probably involve yarn shopping, right? 'Cause we all know it's impossible to have too much. (wink)

I will be crocheting this month...of course. Also, I will be participating in Crochetville's National Crochet Month blog tour, for the second year in a row. The tour consists of one or two crochet professionals blogging each day and offering something special for their readers on that day. My tour post will be on the 20th, and you'll want to come visit that day...trust me...

There should be a full schedule up on Crochetville's blog soon, but until then, today starts of with Shelby Allaho, and tomorrow's post is from Ellen Gormley.

I hope you'll visit their blogs, and follow along all month, because I know there are going to be some great posts and freebies that you won't want to miss!

Happy National Crochet Month!