9.30.2013

Jacket & Jill

Jacket & Jill went up the hill...

This design is called "Jacket & Jill" -- an openwork cardigan in sizes 4[6, 8, 10] and made with Lionbrand Yarns Cotton-Ease (Worsted weight, 207yd/188m per skein).  It's found in my brand new e-book, Banana Moon Studio Book One: Girls.  You'll need 1[2, 2, 2] skeins of the main color, and 1 skein of the secondary color, plus some satin ribbon for the closure.


I think this is my favorite design in the e-book.  I love the way it fits and the way the stitch pattern naturally creates a scalloped edge on the bottom.


I loved working with Lionbrand Yarns Cotton-Ease!  It is a soft yarn that is a pleasure to stitch with.  It comes in a nice variety of colors, so I'll be excited to see other versions of this cardigan and see what colors you choose to use!  Please post pictures on Ravelry or on my Facebook page!  I also want to thank Lionbrand Yarns because they provided the yarn for this sample.  Lionbrand Yarns is an awesome company that does so much to support the designers in the crochet and knit industry!  I definitely recommend supporting them in return!


The cardigan is made from the top-down with raglan sleeves, and there is no seaming!  Did you read that?!?  NO seaming!


The difficulty level is "intermediate".  The stitches aren't complicated, but the yoke section is just a little complicated.  Dividing into body and sleeves is a little bit complicated.  If you're a confident crocheter, this will be no problem.  Once you get past that point, it's easy peasy.


Sure, there's no way you need this many pictures of this design, but I love each of these pictures (and the cute little girl in them, wink), so you get to see all of them.


I'll be blogging about each design and the yarn used to make it over the next few weeks.  Remember, the e-book is for sale for $13.99 on Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy.  It includes 7 patterns for girls.  You can view them all in a previous blog post or on Ravelry.

When I blog about the last pattern, I'll be running a giveaway for a free copy of the e-book for one lucky winner.  Stay tuned...

Happy stitching!
April

9.28.2013

Banana Moon Studio Book One: Girls

It is now my very great pleasure to introduce the 7 crochet projects that have consumed my attention for months now -- these are the projects to be found in Banana Moon Studio Book One: Girls.  The collection is available for sale on Ravelry, Etsy, and on my website for $13.99.

Monkey Bars Winter Set

Gracie Lacy Capris

Lovestruck Leggies

Treehouse Top

Seashore Shrug

Kaleidoscope Cover

Jacket & Jill
It seemed only right that the first ever Banana Moon Studio e-book be a collection for girls -- since my 4 girls are so much a part of my life and work, and the inspiration for my brand and logo.

I learned so much in the process of writing these patterns, that even if I don't make a profit, it will have been worth it!  I worked with tech editors Kj Hay and Dawn Cogger on these patterns -- yes, they are all professionally tech-edited.  In working with them, I became a better writer.

I have enjoyed stitching and writing these patterns and really feel like I have achieved something great here.  I hope that you agree and love these patterns as much as I do.

Many thanks to the support of my husband, my adorable daughters, and to the yarn companies that provided yarn for some of the models: Berroco, Lionbrand Yarns, and Jojoland.

Over the next few weeks I will blog about each pattern individually and the yarn that it is made from.  I will also be working over the next few months to post tutorials about the various techniques and stitch patterns used in this collection.  I hope you'll join me...

Also, I have a few friends that have volunteered to blog about my book, and I hope that you will enjoy their reviews.  I'll post here when those are up!

What do you think?  Which is your favorite project?

Happy stitching!
April

9.26.2013

How to Make Your Own Spindle


Really, this is so easy.

You can make your own drop spindle out of a metal crochet hook and some oven-bake clay.  You won't be able to crochet with the hook after turning it into a spindle though, so keep that in mind, and use a hook that you won't mind not crocheting with anymore.  I like to use a tunisian hook, so that I have a longer shaft, but you can use a standard hook if you like.

Use your oven-bake clay to make a "pancake" shape like ours up there.  I usually have to spend some time working the clay to soften it up enough, and as you can see, we mixed colors.  Once you have your colors mixed, and your clay soft enough, roll it between your hands, or between a hard, flat surface and one hand to make a ball.  Then use the bottom of a smooth glass cup or bowl to smoosh it flat.

Ideally, the whorl of your spindle, the part you are making with the clay, should be perfectly symmetrical and smooth, unless you want a top-whorl spindle, in which case you'll want a notch somewhere around the edge to hook your yarn into.  However, I have not gone to the trouble to measure to make sure that my hole for the shaft is dead center...I just eye-balled it, and my spindle works just fine.

Take your hook, and push it through the center of your (still soft) clay whorl.  If you are using a non-in-line hook (such as a Boye) then you will not want to push the hook end through, as this will make your hole too big.  Your hole needs to be the same size as the shaft of your hook.  If it is too big, then your whorl will not stay on your hook.  If you have a tunisian hook with a stopper on the end, you will not want to push that stopper through it for the same reason.

Once you have the hole, you bake the clay whorl (see the directions on the clay package, or Google your clay brand to find them online).  It should not take too long.  Our whorls were only about 1/4" (6mm) thick.

After baking, let it cool just a bit.  When it is cool enough to touch, push it onto your hook.  It should be a snug fit, and once the clay is cool, it should stay put pretty well.  I've been using mine for a few weeks now, and the whorl is not moving around.

My girls and I made the whorls pictured above a few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon because they wanted me to teach them how to spin.  This one that I made is my favorite spindle so far!  It is light, and the hook helps hold the yarn on.  I made mine as a bottom-whorl spindle.  Other bottom-whorl spindles I've tried only have a groove in the top of the shaft to hold the yarn on, but I can't get that to work for anything.  The yarn won't stay on!  This homemade spindle has a hook at the top to hold my yarn on, which works great!  And, my frustrations with top-whorl spindles has been pretty similar, yarn slipping out of the groove on the edge of the whorl.  I'm not having those problems at all with my homemade spindle!

One of the girls' spindles with her very first attempt.

My spindle nearly full of Merino/Silk yarn.

If you make one with my directions here, I'd love to see pictures on my facebook page!

Happy spinning!

April

9.19.2013

The Secret Lives of Knit & Crochet Designers: Ellen Gormley Edition

When I first discovered things like current, stylish crochet designs, specialty yarn shops, and luxury yarns, I began following a few crochet designers on their blogs.  One of the first two was Ellen Gormley.  The other was Robyn Chachula.  I discovered both of them from the first few issues of Interweave Crochet that I looked at.  So, Ellen was one of my heroes, and someone that I have admired every since.  She has been a part of my journey as a crochet designer.  

I was over the moon to meet her two years ago at my first CGOA conference in Minneapolis, MN!  Since then we have kept in touch online and become friends.  Really makes me feel pretty special since I have looked up to her as a mentor!

She has shared some info about her "secret life" and some pictures of her work and other hobbies:

"When crochet was just a hobby, I had other hobbies as well. Photography, reading, new recipes and cooking, and Jazzercise.  When crochet became my career, it remained my hobby as well.  Little by little, there has been less and less time for other hobbies. Now, since I crochet full time I find that my hobbies need to be things that I can do with my kids. Priorities have made me whittle down my activities.  I don't do Jazzercise anymore since the class schedules didn't always work. Instead I took up running because it is much more flexible with my available time. 

Ellen with her son after a race

I still read, but it's at the end of the evening when all else is done. The kids often go with me to the library and I volunteer as a reader at their school. So, I get to read and be with the kids and volunteer all at the same time!  I still have a long list of things I would do if I had more time... like sewing, more crochet, more knitting, more travel... For now, because I love crochet so much, it really does feel that I'm playing all the time."

I so understand that!  It is so nice that crochet can be both work and fun!  Same for me!  Below are some pictures of Ellen's recent work.

Magenta scarf, is the "Bonus Scarf" from Ellen's "Learn Bruges Lace" crochet book. No special tools needed. Basic crochet stitches and beginner instruction

Mystic Fog Scarf from Ellen's Annie's online class, "Crocheting with Beads".
You can learn more about Ellen on her website, GoCrochet.  Have you seen Ellen's work before?  What's your favorite design?

Thank you for sharing with us Ellen!

Happy stitching!
April


9.12.2013

Pretty Handspun


Isn't it beautiful?!  This is my latest handspun yarn.  I bought the 80% Merino/20% Silk dyed fiber from Widdershin Woolworks.  I love it!  So beautiful and soft.  I haven't blocked it yet, so there are still some curlycues in it.  This is 4 oz, and I have another 4 oz batch to spin.  Sometime soon, I'll post about spindles.  For today, just enjoy the pretty pictures.  I cropped this picture to make a super closeup that is now my desktop background.  Love it!


Happy crafting!

April

9.05.2013

Breaking News!


Breaking News!!!

My crochet design business has finally graduated to having it's OWN website!

My blog will still be found in the very same spot, so don't panic!

But you can now find me at 

The Secret Lives of Knit & Crochet Designers: Linda Dean Edition

A few weeks ago I was listening to Marly Bird's Yarn Thing Podcast, when she mentioned having been a collegiate athlete. I wondered, hmm, which sport? So, I asked her on facebook (because apparently I am cool enough to be friends with her, wink). She said that she competed in shotput, discus, and hammer. She said that she, "fell into it. After playing volleyball in the fall, then basketball in the winter, I wanted to do a spring sport and track was on the list."

So, that discussion got me thinking, I'm sure most crochet and knit designers have other things they've been involved in that we would find interesting, so once in awhile I'll talk to my design friends and see if they will share their "secret lives" with me to share on the blog. We begin with my friend Linda Dean, whom I met at my first CGOA conference in 2011. Her first professionally published patterns appeared in 2012, so she is still pretty new to the scene.

Tunisian Mini Shawl by Linda Dean
Here is what Linda told me about her "secret life":

Careers: Resource specialist for aging service and caregivers (you need some thing for some one over the age of 60, I probably have a program for you, and lets not get me started on the topic of Alzheimer's ...I can go on for a while).

How I got involved, I have always worked well with older adults so when needing work, it became a good fit. There was some over lap with my designing, and it helped me realize that when opportunities present themselves in life, it is too short to wait for the next time, you need to take it now. I also had great support from the families I had helped over the years that inspired ideas. 

More career...photo processor (in the days before digital I processed 35mm and 110 film), this experience helped me understand color and composition. There is nothing like seeing thousands of photos to see what works and what doesn't, visually. 

Hobbies- Middle Eastern Bellydance, it has been completely crazy how this has contributed to my designing. The choreography has helped inspire crochet stitches and patterns, more then I would ever have realized.

Simply Girl Summer Top by Linda Dean

Beautiful work, right?!  And not only a wonderful designer, but a super nice person as well.  Have you seen Linda's work?  What is your favorite design of her's?

Happy stitching!
April