11.29.2010

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 :)

11.24.2010

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 :)

11.22.2010

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.


11.17.2010

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 :)


11.15.2010

Crochet for Baby

I took a little break this weekend from business crochet and made a mitten and hat set for Baby.  She loves them and they turned out so cute!  Here are some pics:

I made these in Berocco Pure Merino DK in pale pink and the aqua colored buttons are Naturally Caron Country.  They are very soft and fit perfectly!  I love how they turned out!  So, do you think I should write a pattern for this hat?

Happy crafting!

April :)

11.11.2010

Thoughts

So, I've been planning for awhile to go to the Knit and Crochet Show next summer. I'm so excited about going! We'll leave this thought for a minute and come back to it.

I've been contemplating what I really want to accomplish in my crochet career. I really love my Etsy shop! But, I also like designing for magazines occasionally.  I don't think I have it in me to be like a lot of designers and have constant magazine and yarn company work, with all of the deadlines that come with it.  Deadlines tend to stress me out.  Maybe mostly because I can't really afford to spend that much time on crochet right now.  I kind of have to put a lot of important things on the back burner to finish on time.  I don't mind a project with a deadline every now and then, but back to back, one on top of another, would not be very pleasant to me.  Maybe as I get more experience and designing gets easier I won't mind so much.  Anyway, so I've been contemplating how to balance my Etsy shop with designing.  I think that for the most part I just want to pursue contracts with Interweave Crochet right now, and not with other possible publishers.  Maybe I'll expand to afew others once my girls are all in school.  In between those contracts, I focus on my shop, both finished items and self-publish patterns.  So, as I've been thinking about attending the K&C Show, I've been primarily thinking of the benefits to going as a designer -- being able to meet editors and show them my work.  Lately, as I've been contemplating my focus I've been wondering whether or not it would be worth it to go.  Other professionals have given me an estimate that I could plan to spend $1500-$2000 not counting the plane ticket.  Last night I was listening to radio.lds.org in the evening.  This is an online radio station geared towards mormons (you can find a widget for it in the sidebar of my blog).  The program on at the time was a recording of one of the apostles, Henry Eyering, speaking about the importance of education.  He said that when we follow Christ we can't help but have a desire for self-improvement and education.  He said that spiritual education is certainly most important, but does not negate the need for secular education.  As I was listening to this, I felt a very clear thought come to me that I know was from the Holy Ghost, that I need to go to this conference to persue education in my chosen field.  That is the reason for going -- to educate myself.  I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost, and for Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father communicating to me what they need me to do.  Just thought I'd share that.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Last night I was working on new mittens for the shop.  Below is a picture of a pair that I plan to list tonight.  They are 0 to 6 month size in pail pink and a mint green.  They are so cute!

Happy crafting!

April :)

11.09.2010

My New Billboard on Wheels

Hi crafty folks!  I wanted to show you my new "Billboard on Wheels".  I had my good friend Annie make some custom vinyl decals for the windows of my van.  They turned out great!  The colors look a bit off on my monitor, but trust me, they look fabulous on the car!


You can find Annie's blog at http://www.giftofgab-vinyl.blogspot.com/.  Tell me what you think!

Happy crafting!

April :)

11.08.2010

The Post-stitch Post

Well, the poll I began last week is nearly over, and 5 out of 6 who voted said, "Yes!  I would love [a post-stitch tutorial]!"  So, here it is...


Just in case the video isn't very clear (since I have a very non-fabulous camera, yes, I used my still-camera's video setting for this, and it was not allowing for a clear picture really close-up) I have included a couple of still pictures.
The first picture here is how things will look when you insert your hook to work a Front Post Double Crochet, usually abbreviated "Fpdc".  You insert your hook from the front side of the fabric to the back on the right side of the post of the designated stitch, and then go across the post, and go back through the fabric to the right side on the left side of the post.  Then yarn over, and pull up a loop, then yarn over and pull through 2 loops, yarn over and pull through 2 remaining loops.  So the only difference between a post-stitch, and a regular stitch, is that you work it around the post instead of into the tops of the stitches.
This photo shows how things should look when you are inserting your hook for a Back Post Double Crochet, usually abbreviated "Bpdc".  You insert your hook from the back side of the fabric to the front side on the right of the post of the designated stitch, then go across the post, and back through the fabric to the back of the fabric on the left side of the post.  Then work just as for the Front Post Double Crochet, or a regular double crochet.

Typically, when working cables or ribbing, the non-post stitches are shorter than the post-stitches.  In this example, my post-stitches are double crochet, but you can work any stitch as a post-stitch.  I've never seen single crochet post-stitches in a pattern, and I think you would get some very unusual fabric working that way.  Often, when working intricate cables, the non-post stitches are half-double crochet, and the post-stitches are double and treble crochet, depending on how slanted they are.  The reason for the different sizes is that the bottom of the post-stitch is lower than the bottom of all the non-post stitches in the row.  In order to make the tops of all the stitches in the row more-or-less even, the post-stitches need to be longer to make up the distance. 

For examples of projects with post stitches, I will place a few links here:

- My "Rugged Warmth Winter Set" uses post-stitches to create a thick fabric and decorative ridges.   
- My "Beautiful Arches Bolero" uses post-stitches to make a ribbed edging that is crocheted right onto the constructed pieces.
- Ellen Gormley's "Sunny Spread" from Crochet Today Jan/Feb 2008 uses post-stitches beautifully!  You'll just have to look at the pictures to see how it looks.
- Drew Emborsky's "Saugatuck Summer" from Crochet It. Love It. Wear It.  (Drew by the way, uses lots of post-stitches in his designing) uses post-stitches all over to create a ribbed look.
- Fana Goberstein's "Brenda's Basketweave Bag" from Interweave Crochet Accessories 2010 uses post-stitches to make a very nice basketweave pattern.  This is a very clever stitch combination!
- Doris Chan's "One for All Family of Mitts" also from Interweave Crochet, Accessories 2010 uses post-stitches to make a simple deorative cable.

If you've never tried post-stitches before, now you are ready to give it a shot!  Go for it!  I hope that this answered your questions about post-stitches.  If not, leave me a comment with your question and I'll do my best to answer it for you.  Happy (post-)stitching!

April :) 

My Mittens and Pattern on Annemarie's Blog.

My baby mittens and pattern were featured today on Annemarie's blog.  The blog post is written both in Dutch (I think) and English.  Thanks for the feature Annemarie!

I appreciate all of the votes on my poll.  Clearly, there are those who would LOVE a tutorial on post stitches.  I should have that up sometime today or tomorrow.  Until then, happy crafting!

April :)

11.02.2010

New Poll

I primarily wanted to point out today that I have added a poll to the sidebar that I would love to have you all vote on for me.  What does this picture have to do with that?  Absolutely nothing.  The poll is for me to know whether or not anyone would like me to do a photo or video tutorial on post stitches.  I am thinking particularly of post stitches since they form the basic stitch pattern for me newly released pattern "Rugged Warmth Winter Set" (see previous post).

The picture is one of me making the Bella Dress that is pictured in Interweave Crochet Spring 2010.  In this picture I was sewing in the underskirt. 

I spent most of yesterday working on family and biz finances.  That's not the fun part, but essential anyway.  I also worked a bit on a pair of mittens while waiting for webpages to load (my computer is ridiculously slow.  One of these days, I'll get a new and faster one).  Today, I have spent most of the morning on administrative tasks.  I've worked a couple of stitches on an upcoming design while waiting on pages to load.  I plan to work on a different upcoming design this afternoon in Valley Yarns Deerfield -- a beautiful baby alpaca silk blend.

Also, I have joined an Etsy team called Christian Artists Promoting Shops (CAPS).  I've wanted to join a team for awhile, but haven't had much luck finding one that I liked.  I nearly joined a different team, but the leader of the group never did follow up with sending me a welcome email.  I was not impressed, so I looked for a different team.  I am really excited about this potential for making new friends and having other etsy sellers to help me promote my shop, while I help them.  Click here to see a list of our team's listings.

I would love to hear about what you are crafting today!  Happy crafting!

April :)

11.01.2010

Rugged Warmth Winter Set Reveal




These pictures are of my latest design, "Rugged Warmth Winter Set".  This crochet pattern is a winter accessories set for older teenage boys and men. The hat and mitten patterns are written in two different sizes, and the smaller size will probably also fit most women, including me. The stitch pattern and yarn used in these accessories creates a very warm set with a dense, but flexible fabric. The stitch pattern is all in post stitches, which tip the tops of the stitches inward, adding thickness to the fabric, and reducing the size of the spaces between stitches. There are also three raised ridges on the lower edge of the hat, the middle of the mittens, and the ends of the scarf.  This is done by using a back post stitch when working the right side rows.  This tips the tops of the stitches outward, creating the ridge.  This is mostly done for looks, but also helps to shape the hat properly.  If the whole hat is worked to keep the ridges inside, then the hat wants to curl up, rather than stay down over the head.  I hadn't originally planned to make it with the ridges on the outside, but as I was working on it, it was apparent that keeping them all inside the hat wouldn't work.  I then rewrote the mitten, and scarf instructions to include matching ridges.  I will make a confession, that might be obvious from the pictures without my saying anything, but I did not rip out and rework the mittens, which were already finished when I started on the hat, so you won't see the matching ridges in this picture.  Also, I made this scarf a year or two ago I think, and it isn't even made in the same stitch pattern, it is made in regular ol' dc stitches with a little square "hole" in the middle every several rows.  I tried to get pictures where the holes didn't show too much, but I know they are still visible.  So, the scarf in the picture is not worked in the same stitch pattern.  All that being confessed, I feel confident that the pattern I have written will produce a very nice looking set, that very nearly resembles the one in the picture and that has ridges matching those that you can see on the hat in the picture, with all 3 items worked in the same stitch pattern.  Here are the measurements of the finished items produced from the pattern: Mitten Cuff 2¾” long and 5¾(7)” relaxed circumference; Mitten Body – 7(9¼)” around, 7¼(8)” long; Hat – 16(18¾)” around bottom edge, 16(17½)” from brim to brim over top center; Scarf – 7” x 73”.  Keep in mind that you want a little negative ease in the mittens, and 5 to 6 inches negative ease in the circumference of the hat.  For instance, my head measures 22 1/2 inches around, and the smaller size hat would fit me just right.  My husband's head measures 24 1/2 inches around, and the larger hat, pictured above, fits him just right.

The suggested yarn is Plymouth Yarns Suri Merino a luxurious blend that is 55% Suri Alpaca and 45% Extrafine Merino Wool. Each skein stats: 109 yd [100 m]/1.75 oz [50 g]; weight category 4 [medium]). These animal fibers provide outstanding insulation from the cold, even when wet, so they will be great for wearing in the snow.  Click here for the online shadecard.

This comes in a great variety of masculine, feminine and neutral colors. It is a soft, pleasant yarn to work with and wear. It should be hand-washed and lain flat to dry. The entire set requires 12 skeins of yarn (a lot of yarn is required when working in this stitch pattern, but this makes these items extra warm and comfortable). The mittens require 2 to 2 1/2 skeins depending on size, the scarf requires 7 1/2 skeins, the hat requires 1 3/4 to 2 skeins depending on size.

Substituting yarns is fine of course, but keep in mind that a yarn of the same weight and fiber content will make the best substitute, and it is essential to check gauge for the hat and mittens. 

This pattern is available to purchase in my etsy shop, and my ravelry pattern store.  I hope that you all like it as much as Mr AC and I do!  I'd love it if you'd leave a comment telling me what you think!

Happy crafting!

April :)