Crafty Christmas

Hi there blog readers!  Our family had a wonderful Christmas!  I hope that you and your family did too!  We had lots of fun and did lots of things for Christmas, but I want to share with you those parts of it that were crafty in some way or another, since after all, this is a craft blog.

Snowflake Christmas ornament in Crayola Model Magic made by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

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First, a couple of days before Christmas Mr AC, the girls and I started a new family tradition -- making Christmas ornaments.  Last year we had begun what we thought would be our yearly tradition -- buying a new one for each of the kids each year, but we didn't manage to fit that in this year, and since Drama Queen had mentioned wanting modeling clay, I had the idea to get some and we could make ornaments instead of buying them.  We used Crayola Model Magic, which isn't actually clay, but is much softer, so it is easier for kids to use.  We had lots of fun.  Here are a few pictures of our creations:

Christmas ornaments made of Crayola Model Magic by the family of April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

The top picture is the snowflake that I made.  Below on the left is the "Ogre Castle" that Lady Hops-a-lot wanted me to make on her bahalf.  I'm not sure where she came up with the idea, but it was amusing and fun.  Next is Drama Queen's dragon.  She loves dragons!  Next, is the ornament that Mr AC made.  You are looking at it upside down and lying on it's back, but if you stood it up and turned it around you would see that it is a waterfall pouring over some green hills with the sun in the sky above it.  I was really impressed with it.  Next is one of Princess's abstract creations.  Each of the girls made a few other assorted things, but these were the first ones we finished.  This is not as solid as modeling clay, but if you've ever worked with it, you know that modeling clay would be difficult for little kids to use.  This was pretty soft.  If it comes apart after it dries you can easily glue the pieces back together with Elmer's glue.  This was fun!

Mr AC and I did lots of baking and cooking on Christmas Eve.  I made our traditional Christmas Eve dessert -- birthday cake in honor of our Lord's birthday.

Birthday cake for Jesus, made by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

Mr AC baked 2 pies for Christmas dinner which we had with my family at my parents' house -- pumpkin and cherry pies.  He also did his traditional, though rather odd, Christmas Eve barbecue.  He grilled steak and corn on the cob.  We also had scallops, mashed potatoes, and a nice salad.  Yummy!  Then, after the girls were in bed I made rolls for Christmas dinner and cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast -- both from scratch.  Also yummy!

I made only two gifts this year.  The first was for my mother-in-law, who some time ago mentioned that she would enjoy a crocheted headband.  I based the idea loosly on the headband in Interweave Crochet Accessories 2010 that was designed by Robyn Chachula.  I really wanted this to be a simple project though, and that headband is made with a more complicated stitch pattern.  I tried it out and was very sure after just a few rows that I didn't want to make one that complicated.  So, I ripped it out, got out my stitch dictionary, picked a fairly simple shell-stitch pattern and worked up a headband.  I used the instructions from the magazine to attach the crocheted portion to the elastic.  I never knew that you could crochet into elastic, but sure enough, you can.

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I also used the pattern in that issue called "One for All Family of Mitts" that I believe was designed by Doris Chan.  It is a collection of similar fingerless mitt patterns that come in a large variety of sizes.  I made these, and a matching hat based on my baby hat pattern, for Mr AC's 13 year-old cousin.  Unfortunately, I didn't remember to take pictures before giving them away, so I can't show them to you.  I also gave 1 hank of sock yarn each to both my mom and oldest sister.  It was Cascade Yarns Heritage Paints.  The one I gave my sister was mostly black with bits of green and purple in it (#9826 I think), and the one I gave my mom was a combination of purples, pinks, greens, and blues (#9692 I think).

I received a couple of handmade gifts:

hand knit socks made for April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio by her mom

This pair of hand-knit socks from my mom.  I have wanted a pair of hand-knit socks for awhile, so I was super excited to get these!  I'm not sure what yarn she used.  They are really comfy though, and non-bulky enough to wear with shoes.  I love them!

The other handmade gift that I got is from my oldest sister.  These are oven mitts that look like cupcakes.  You can slip your fingers under the "frosting" on the muffin top.  So cute!

Handmade cupcake potholders made for April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio by her sister.

These are sewn, rather than knitted or crocheted, however she is a talented knitter and crocheter as well.

I also received 5 balls/hanks of yarn as gifts.  Mr AC gave me one hank of Malabrigo sock that is 100% kettle-dyed superwash merino:

Malabrigo sock yarn, photo by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

The colors resemble those of peacock feathers.  I haven't decided what to do with it yet...maybe a dressy scarf.  He also gave me two hanks of Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed in a denim blue color.  Maybe a scarf? a cropped cardigan?  This yarn is a chunky 90% Baby Alpaca, 7% Acrylic, and 3% Viscose blend, and it is SOOOOO soft!

Plymouth yarns baby alpaca grande, photo by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

And my oldest sister gave me two balls of Jojoland Rhythm that is 100% Wool.  This yarn would probably felt well.  I could see a pair of fingerless mitts from this, or a scarf.  It is not an especially soft wool (I have several other balls of Jojoland yarn, and none of their wools are especially soft), but they have some of the most gorgeous color variations that I've ever seen in yarn!  I know this because there is something I've made in one of their yarns that is submitted for publication somewhere, so I can't show it to you, but believe me, it's gorgeous and I wear it.  It is a little bit itchy, but bearable.

Jojoland Rhythm Yarn, wool, photo by April Garwood of Banana Moon Studio

I don't have firm plans for any of these new yarns.  Do you have any suggestions? What do you think I should do with them? What would you do with them?  I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Again, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and that you have a wonderful New Year!

Happy crafting!


Online Quilting Class


Merry Christmas!

Hi blog readers!  I plan to put together a longer post about our Christmas celebrations, but for tonight I just want to say Merry Christmas to all of you and say what a wonderful, peaceful, lovely, Christ-centered day I had.  I loved every bit of it!  I hope that your Christmas was equally wonderful!

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish; but have everlasting life.  For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved." -- John 3:16-17

I'll "see" you all in a few days with pics and details on our Christmas!  Happy Sabbath!

April :)


More of the Garwood Family Christmas

Last night I made peanut butter fudge -- a traditional Christmas treat from my family.  My mom always made both chocolate and peanut butter fudge when I was growing up, and she still does.  The peanut butter fudge was a tradition from my Dad's side of the family.  I have always loved peanut butter, and I like peanut butter combined with chocolate even more.  I love Reese's peanut butter cups.  I really love Lindor peanut butter truffles!  You get the picture.  So, anyway, was asked on Twitter to share my peanut butter fudge recipe.  I actually use the same recipe that I use for chocolate fudge, except that I substitute peanut butter chips for chocolate chips.  So, you could probably use any chocolate fudge recipe that uses melted chocolate chips, but substitute just like I do.  Here is mine:

4 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. evaporated milk (2 5oz. cans)
1 c. butter
2 c. peanut butter chips (you could also try 1 c. peanut butter, and 1 c. chocolate chips, yummy!)
7 oz. marshmellow creme
1 t. vanilla

1. Line a 13 x 9 in. pan with foil and butter the foil.  Butter the sides of a heavy saucepan.  Combine sugar, evaporated milk, and butter in saucepan. 

2. Cook and stir over med-high heat until mixture boils.  Turn temp. down to medium and continue to cook and stir for 10 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat.  Add peanut butter chips, marshmellow creme, and vanilla.  Stir until chips melt and ingredients are combined.  Beat by hand for one more minute.  Poor into foil-lined pan.  Score into 1 in. squares while still warm.  Once cool, use foil to lift out of pan, cut into pieces.  Store in airtight container in the fridge.

4. Enjoy!

Let me know if you try it and how it goes!  I also wanted to share our family's Christmas stockings with all of you.  Here is Mr AC's

He and I met at The University of Oklahoma when we were both working on Bachelor's degrees.  His is in Mechanical Engineering, mine is in Microbiology.  He loves the OU sports teams.  I enjoy watching the football games, but don't get very interested in the other sports.  So, his stocking is an OU that I made from fleece, felt and flannel.

Here is my stocking

Mine is made from fabric that I recycled from an old formal dress that I wore a few times in high school.  There is ice blue satin and velvet.  The frog closure has beads and sequins on it and is just appliqued here for decorationg.  It doesn't actually close anything.  The white band on top is flannel.

Here is Drama Queen's

This is made from a kit that I got at Hobby Lobby.  All of the girls' stockings are made from kits I got there.  You can usually find these at the craft stores beginning in the summer so that you can get them finished in time for Christmas.

Here is Princess's

This stocking suits her perfectly because she is my girly girl.  I'm sure you can see what I should have seen from the get go...that's a lot of little pieces!  It's adoreable, but this stocking was a lot of work!  So, when I made the next one...

....for Lady Hops-a-lot...

I chose one with many fewer, and lots bigger pieces.  It is still adoreable though, and fits her cheery personality really well.

Here is the partially-completed stocking that I am still working on for Baby:
I've finished two snowmen and a little bluebird.  I've started a penguin.  I still have to finish the penguin and do one more snowman.  So, I could still finish it in time for Christmas, but I probably won't.  At her current age, she won't notice.  It will definitely be done in time for next Christmas, when she will be old enough to notice.  This year I have an extra stocking for her to use.

I'd love to hear about your crafty Christmas traditions too!

April :)


More on the "Spring Creek Jumper"

Copyright 2010 Interweave Crochet
Copyright 2010 Interweave Crochet
Copyright 2010 Interweave Crochet
Copyright 2010 Interweave Crochet
Copyright 2010 Interweave Crochet
I am so in LOVE with these pictures that the magazine took for this jumper!  Aren't they darling?!  When the call for submissions for this issue came out it specifically mentioned that they wanted to feature cables in this issue.  My previous exposure to cables was fairly small, but I went to work designing an intricately cabled table runner that I thought was really nice and that Mr AC loved, and still does.  As I was getting close to mailing the submission, I just wasn't feeling confident that this would be what they wanted, since they tend to publish more garment patterns than home decor, so I went stash-diving and put together a sketch and swatch for this jumper, though I submitted it as a dress with sleeves.  Wouldn't you know it, this was the design they wanted.  I remember very distinctly getting the acceptance email because I had just returned to a hotel room after a Michael Buble concert with Mr AC.  We were enjoying a lovely overnight getaway in June.  I was elated when I got the email, and scared at the same time, because I still find it a little scary to design garments.  A pattern for a garment in multiple sizes is a lot more challenging than a one-size-fits-all accessory.

When the yarn arrived I fell in love with it.  It is SOOOOO soft and lovely to work with.  It was apparently so new that they were having trouble getting me enough of it, so it came in two shipments and we had to check to see if the dye lots matched well enough to use together.  If they hadn't, I'd have been re-doing the dress in green instead, which they also sent me enough of to make the jumper.

This jumper is a little more frilly than my other children's designs.  I love it! but if you prefer less frilliness, the edging can be easily replaced with more plain stitches.  This is written in sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.  The yarn is Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection Rosebud.  If you can afford to use this yarn, I definitely recommend it.  It is wonderful!  I hope that you enjoy it!  I'd love for you to leave a comment with your opinion of it!  See the full preview here.

Happy crafting!

April :)


Reveal time! (3 posts in one day is a record for me!)

Here is the pre-order for the Winter issue of Interweave Crochet!  You actually get to see my design now because there is a picture of it on the Table of Contents page!  It's the purple girls jumper -- isn't it adoreable?!  This is a first for me (getting a pic on the table of contents page), so I'm feeling pretty jazzed about it!  I'll give you a few more details once the full preview is up.  Below is the cover pic (Copyright 2010 Interweave Crochet)

Box of yarn arrived!

Last week I ordered a big box of yarn from http://www.yarn.com/.  I was planning to make a big order soon, and that happened to coincide with the free shipping they offered durnig the week of Cyber Monday, so I took advantage of that to get a big box of yarn for a pretty good price.  So, here are the new goodies that I got:

So, all of the above pictures are Valley Superwash DK by Valley Yarns.  It is so soft and comes in a beautiful variety of colors!  I have 2 balls each of the red, aqua, dusty purple, and lilac; and 1 ball each of the yellow, burnt orange, grass green, dark chocolate brown, and a dusty rose.  I bet you can't guess what I'm going to do with these -- baby mittens and hats!  I'm sure that I can make a matching hat and mitten sets in the colors of which I have 2 balls, I'm not sure about the other colors.  Do you see a color here that you like? would you like to custom order a specific size and color?  Let me know!  I'll be making an effort as I can afford to do so, to keep multiple balls of every colorway in stock, but I'm not quite there yet.  I think there was a deep purple that was backordered of which I'll also be getting 1 or 2 balls  .  You can see several examples of my baby mittens, and a few examples of baby hats in my Etsy shop: http://www.bananamoonstudio.etsy.com/.

The next 3 pictures are Berroco Pure Pima.  This yarn has the same gauge as the Berroco Weekend in which my bolero pattern is written, but is a little more luxurious since it is, as the name suggests, 100% Pima Cotton, instead of an acrylic/cotton blend.  I want for all of the items that I make to sell in my shop to be made of luxurious fibers, so that is why I chose to use this yarn instead.  I wanted to begin adding some other items to the shop, and I decided I'd try making a few boleros.  I haven't timed myself making one, so I'm not sure yet how much I will charge for them, but it's likely to be upwards of $100, maybe even $200.  I have enough yarn now to make 2 boleros, one in "oyster" and green, and the other in "oyster" and corral.  The lace panels will be in the oyster, and the green or coral will be the edging.  I have enough to make these in some of the smaller sizes, not in the larger sizes.  If you are interested in having one of these, please let me know and we can discuss sizing!

The last picture here is a picture of how the bolero looks when worn, but of course I am planning to make these in the colors shown above.  You can find the pattern for this bolero in my Etsy shop: http://www.bananamoonstudio.etsy.com/ and on Ravelry: www.ravlery.com/stores/banana-moon-studio.

I haven't forgotten that Kelly suggested she'd like to read more about what inspires me.  I will make an effort to write more about that as time goes on.  I contemplated on my inspiration, and concluded that it didn't sound very exciting.  However, I know that I like to read the blogs of other designers and hear about their inspiration, even though to them it probably doesn't sound very interesting.  I'll mention the baby mittens and bolero here since I wrote a bit about them above. 

I made my first few pairs of baby mittens as baby shower gifts for some friends of mine.  A few months previous to that several of my friends that came over monthly for craft nights, and I all made children's mittens to donate to the LDS Humanitarian Services, which they donate in turn to orphanages, and other individuals or organizations that may have a need for them.  So, this gave me an idea of how to construct mittens, though there are other ways, I liked the sc blo ribbed cuff and then turning it to work in the row ends to make the mitten body, but those mittens had thumbs.  So, then several of my friends were expecting babies (which is quite common among groups of Mormons, because we believe that God likes us to have large families if we are able).  So, I grabbed some leftover yarn from my stash and made a few pairs of baby mittens.  They turned out very cute, and then I decided to make little circles with which to embellish them.  I got the idea of working into a slip knot to make circles from Lily Chin's Crochet Tips and Tricks book which I had browsed through at Barnes and Noble once.  By the way, she has lots of good ideas in that book!  The first ones that I made I stitched the circle on just with thread around the edges instead of stitching it on like a button, but I didn't like the look of it all that well.  Then I got the idea to stitch it on like a button, and I fell in love with it!  The couples to which I gave them loved them as well.  Since then I have given baby mittens to many expectant couples.  Fall of 2009 I opened an Etsy shop called April Creates and sold baby mittens, but with a shorter cuff.  I decided to lengthen it in an effort to help them stay on better.  I also discovered that superwash wool makes a good yarn choice because it is more elastic than most other yarns.  The cotton/microfiber, and wool/angora yarns that I have also used will stretch out in the cuff, but don't spring back to maintain a snug fit like superwash wool does.  The mittens that I now sell in my shop stay on quite well.  My own Baby has some and she likes them alot.  They are beautiful, they stay on well, they are machine washable, and very soft!

The bolero started from a Christmas gift that Mr AC gave me last year -- two spools of Patons Bamboo Silk, one in navy blue, and one in grey.  I contemplated what I would do with them for quite awhile.  Since I only had a little I was mostly thinking of a small accessory item - a capelet, shawl, scarf, shrug, etc.  I began work on designing a capelet, but eventually abandoned it because I didn't really like it that well.  I then drew a sketch for the bolero and loved it!  I browsed through stitch dictionaries to find a stitch pattern I liked.  The one that I used was from Interweave Press' Harmony Guide.  I knew that I wanted the main panels to be lacy.  I settled on that arch stitch and began designing.  I wound up buying quite a bit more yarn to finish it, but I loved how it turned out.  I approached one of the co-owners of my LYS about selling the pattern at their store.  She provided the Berroco Weekend yarn to make a prototype with since they don't sell Patons yarn at their shop.  I tweaked things a little when I redesigned it in the new yarn, for the better.  The prototype turned out beautiful! and I was grateful for my beautiful friend Whitney modeling it for me!  She is actually expecting her second baby now - her first girl!  Congrats Whitney!  I worked so hard on that pattern.  I didn't realize going into it how challenging it would be to write.  I used symbol charts and charted out every piece in every size just so that I could figure out what the changes needed to be.  Between each size there was only one or two additional stitches along the edges.  Because of the lacy stitch pattern and the wide pattern repeats this meant that the changes between sizes weren't as simple as putting a larger number in parentheses.  I usually had to rewrite the instructions for the edges of each size, with only a little overlap.  This means that, while the stitches involved are not all that complicated, the pattern is difficult to read and would be a real challenge for anyone other than an experienced and well-versed crocheter.  I'm hoping that as I begin working from the pattern to make a few boleros from the shop that I will find ways to simplify the pattern.

Well, Hopefully, that didn't bore anyone to death.  That was a really long post!  I'd love to "hear" your thoughts on all of that!  After all, the fact that you read this and have opinions about it is what makes this fun for me!

Happy crafting! and Merry Christmas!

April :)

Nativity Set Advent Presents

Today I want to share one of our family's most special Christmas traditions.  It centers around the hand-painted ceramic 20 piece nativity set that my mother-in-law made for us as a wedding gift.  You could do the same thing with any nativity set, tweaking it to go with your set.  So, what we do is individually wrap each piece of the set as a gift.  Each has a tag on it with the date it is to be opened, and the reading/song that goes with it.  I've linked each of the song titles to a place where you can find the words and music for them, and even listen to an mp3 of the song.  You can look up scripture references here.

Below are the pieces, dates we open them and the reading/singing that goes with them:

Date      Piece                           Reading/Singing
12/5      Mary                           Luke 1:26-35, 38

12/6      Joseph                         Matt 1:18-21, 24-25

12/7      Donkey                        Luke 2:1-5

12/8      Manger                        Luke 2:6-7; Dictionary: Manger -- "a trough or open box in a stable designed to hold feed or fodder for livestock."

12/9      Sheep 1                        Sing "Once in Royal David's City"

12/10    Cow                             Sing "Once Within a Lowly Stable"

12/11    Sheep 2                        Sing "Away in a Manger"

12/12    Shepherd 1                   Luke 2:8

12/13    Shepherd 2                   Sing "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks"

12/14    Angel                            Luke 2:9-14

12/15    Shepherd 3                   Luke 2:15-16

12/16    Shepherd 4                   Luke 2:17-20

12/17    Star                              Matt 2:9-10 and Hel 14:3-5(In The Book of Mormon)

12/18    Wise Man 1                  Matt 2:1-2 and define Magi(I found this in the Bible Dictionary that I have).

12/19    Wise Man 2                  Matt 2:3-6

12/20    Wise Man 3                  Sing "With Wondering Awe"

12/21    Camel 1                        Matt 2:7-8

12/22    Camel 2                        Matt 2:9-10

12/23    Camel 3                        Matt 2:11-12; Dictionary: Frankincense -- "a fragrant gum resin from trees [found in] Somalia and southern coastal Arabia that is an important incense resin and was used in ancient times in religious rites and in embalming."  Myrrh -- "a yellowish brown to reddish brown aromatic gum resin with a bitter and slightly pungent taste obtained from a tree of eastern Africa and Arabia."

12/24   Nephi                            3 Ne 1:4-21 (For those of you that are not familiar with this character or scripture reference, it is from The Book of Mormon.  There are some portions of it that are about what was happening on the American continents the night before Christ was born, this Nephi saw the new star in the sky the night before He was born, so our Nephi figure is looking up at our star which we hang from the ceiling over the manger)

12/25   Baby Jesus                    Isa 7:14; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:31-33, 35; Luke 2:10-11; John 3:16-17

We open these gifts each night after our family scripture study.  We do the reading/singing before we open them, and then the girls get to take turns opening them and very carefully placing them on our "bar".  On Christmas morning we open the little present of Baby Jesus first before any others.  This sets the tone for the day because we have focused on what Christmas is really about.  The verses we read just before opening the box include prophesies made many years before His birth, they tell us about Him, and then the verses in John are some of my most favorite in all of scripture, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish; but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved." -- John 3:16-17.  We remember that Jesus was the first Christmas gift ever given, and He was given to all of us by our Heavenly Father.  I also love that we open one of these each day, so that we remember all season long what we are celebrating.  It's a wonderful tradition.  I hope that some of you will choose to use this in your own families.  I'd love to hear about it if you do, and how you and your family feel about it.
This is cut vinyl that my friend did for me.  This is on our wall above our piano.  This is the same friend that did the vinyl for the windows of my van.

Merry Christmas!  and Happy Crafting!  May you finish all of your handmade gifts in time without staying up all night on Christmas Eve!

April :)


Seeking Inspiration

Hello Blog Readers!  As you may have noticed, I haven't found much to blog about lately.  I know that I will have a reveal, two actually, for you in the next couple of weeks.  Until then though I'll be continuing to make mittens for the shop.  I've also ordered some yarn to make a few of my "Beautiful Arches Boleros" as finished items for the shop.  I am working, rather slowly, on a design that will either be sold to a yarn company or self-published.  I have box of yarn on the way, that, as I mentioned, contains yarn for boleros, and also more mitten yarn.  I've already said quite a bit about those things though, and wonder if you'd rather hear nothing than the bored with details of the same things over again.  So, my question is, what would you like me to write about?  Do you have a question? a comment? an idea? a suggestion?  As you contemplate on that, let me point out that anyone in the US making orders of finished items from the shop for Christmas needs to place their order by 8 am Monday December 20th.  Anyone ordering patterns for Christmas from my Etsy shop should do so by the end of the day December 23rd.  You can buy them on Ravelry anytime and get an immediate download because their system does that without my involvement.  I look forward to hearing your suggestions! 

Happy crafting!

April :)
Wool and bamboo thumbless baby mittens - size 0 to 6 months in sand and aqua (will be listed in the shop either tonight or tomorrow).


Bella Dress Pattern

The pattern for my "Bella Dress" from Interweave Crochet Spring 2010 is now available in the Interweave Store!  I'm not sure when they added it, but I'm excited to see it there.  So, if you missed that issue you can buy the individual pattern a little cheaper than buying the whole issue.
Copyright 2010 Interweave Crochet


Cyber Monday

In honor of "Cyber Monday" I am offering a discount of 15% off in my Etsy shop on all items for about the next 24 hours (in other words, it lasts until I get on the computer tomorrow morning and delete the coupon code ;) ).  Use the coupon code CYBRMNDY at checkout. http://bananamoonstudio.etsy.com/.
 "Gracie Lacy Capris" pattern
 Wool/bamboo baby mittens size 0 to 6 month
"Sweet Little Rounded Mittens" pattern

I hope that everyone had a nice Thanksgiving -- all of my American readers that is.  I certainly hope that everyone's weekend was nice no matter where  you're from!  I've made a few pairs of baby mittens, worked a bit on a pattern, worked on Baby's Christmas stocking, and a stash-busting scarf for charity.  What have you been crafting over the holiday?  Enjoy the sale!

April :)


Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Here is my top ten list of things I am grateful for:

1. Jesus Christ
2. My husband and kids
3. My parents
4. My sisters
5. My friends
6. My freedom
7. A comfortable home
8. Plentiful good and healthy food
9. Warm clothing
10. A working vehicle

Probably no surprises there.  Now, here's a list of "little" things that I am thankful for:

- baby laughter
- the smell of a wood fire
- beautiful fall leaves
- the miracle of pregnancy and birth
- music
- gorgeous sunsets
- the ability to improve myself
- a comfortable bed
- flowers
- the ability to see in color
- yarn :)

What seemingly "small" thing are you grateful for? What "big" thing are you most grateful for?  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

April :)


Sweet Little Hat Pattern

 This sweet hat pattern was designed to match my mitten patterns, with a ribbed band around the bottom and a crocheted button for embellishment.  The pattern is written in the same yarn as the "Sweet Little Rounded Mittens" pattern, Valley Yarns Valley Superwash DK.  Online shadecard and ordering here.  The pattern is written in sizes: preemie, newborn, 6 mo, 12 mo, 2 yr, and 3 yr.  I've hesitated to write a baby hat pattern before because baby head sizes can vary so much.  For instance, my baby's head circumference is 19 inches, but according to the Craft Yarn Council of America standard body measurements, that is the head circumference of a teenager.  All of my girls have larger than average head circumferences.  That's just the way they were made.  So, when I made her hat I custom made it to fit her head size, and this is ideal.  If you can, measure the baby's head before you begin, plan for 2 inches of negative ease in the circumference.  Measure from ear lobe to ear lobe over the crown of the head, divide by 2, and make the height of the hat based on that.  If you can't measure the baby's head before you begin then just go with the pattern sizes as they are written. 

So, I hope that you enjoy it (and I hope that you buy it ;) )!  It is available on both Etsy and Ravelry.  Below are some more adoreable pics of Baby wearing her hat.


Photography Tips

I am going to start this post by saying that I know a lot less about photography than a lot of other people.  However, I have done just a bit of reading and a lot of experimenting and found some things that help me take pretty good pictures with my very average camera, and very unimpressive set-up.  Since many of you have the same sorts of equipment to work with that I do, I figure this might be helpful to those of you that blog and/or run an online shop.

First - you do not need special equipment or an expensive camera to get a decent picture (note that I did not say fabulous, but decent).  Below is a picture of where I take most of the pictures for my Etsy shop:
That's right, I put a piece of white flannel on an armchair in my living room.  The things that make this a decent place to take pictures are that I have lots of windows in my living room, and a light fixture right above this chair.  On a sunny day, this is enough light to get decent pictures.  Outside would be an even better place.  I could put this piece of white flannel on the sidewalk in front of my house and get very well-lit pictures.  The next thing to mention is that an amateur, such as myself, should not use a flash if I can possibly avoid it.  Apparently, professionals can use a flash to do great things, but when I use a flash, the picture looks like this:

I can take the same picture without the flash:
Obviously, the second picture is better.  The light looks much more natural.  Don't believe me?  Try it yourself in a well-lit part of your home.

The next trick you should use is to find the "close-up" setting on your camera.  Mine has this little dial on top with symbols to represent the different settings.  Instead of using the automatic setting, use the one that is for close-ups.  Mine has a little tulip symbol for this setting.  Just remember to turn off the automatic flash.

Next, you'll want some basic photo-editing software.  I don't have anything other than the HP Photosmart Essentials software that came with my scanner.  When I open edit mode for an individual picture there is a button at the very top that says "Photo Fix" and has a little magic wand symbol.  This is a very magical button indeed, and I use it on nearly every picture I take whether business or personal.  Here is an example of a picture just as it came off my camera:

It's not too bad.  Here's what it looks like after I use my magical "Photo Fix" button:

It brightens up the colors and often makes them look more correct.  It is even more striking with many other pictures that I've taken.  I just didn't manage to take any bad enough ones this time, lol.  Now, even better, is what happens when I crop it:
See?  Now this picture is ready to use.  I can also use the same software to resize the image, which is essential if you are using Etsy, because the pictures usually come off your camera with a file size that is too big for their system.  I hope this helps.  If you have other tips I'd love to hear them.  Let me know how it goes when you try these tips.

By the way, the pair of mittens in these pictures is a size 0 to 6 months, and will be listed in my shop tonight.

Happy crafting!

April :)