Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Connie Cowl: Free Crochet Pattern

Connie Cowl
By Artsy Daisy Designs
Written in American Crochet Terminology

This cozy cowl is made with a self-striping yarn that creates beautiful colors with only one skein.  With this pattern you will learn how to use the foundation single crochet to create a strong and flexible base for all types of items. 
Get the PDF printable version or link to the Connie Cowl on Ravelry.

Chunky Yarn – 130yds
(Options: Lion Brand Landscapes – 1 skein Desert Spring,
Plymouth Yarn Gina Chunky - 1 skein Color 0109)
Crochet Hook - Size J/10/6.50mm

Made with Lion Brand Landscapes

Made with Plymouth Gina Chunky

Notes/Special Stitches:
FSC (foundation single crochet)- ch 2, insert hook in to 2nd ch from hook, pull up loop, ch 1 (place marker), yo, pull through both loops on hook (first fsc made). *Insert hook into marked ch making sure to go under the left 2 loops, yo, pull up a loop, ch 1 (move marker to this ch), yo, pull through both loops on hook.  Rep from * until desired fsc length is reached. You may find you do not need to continue using the marker once you are comfortable making the stitch.

Row 1- 80 fsc. Being careful not to twist foundation, join with sl st to top of 1st fsc made.
Row 2- Do not turn. Ch 3 (counts as dc here and throughout), 2 dc in same st, ch 1, sk 3 st, *3 dc in next st, ch 1, sk 3 st, rep from * around, join with sl st to top of t-ch. (20 3-dc clusters)
Row 3- Turn. Sl st into ch-1 sp. Ch 3, 2 dc in same sp, ch 1, sk 3 st, *3 dc in next st, ch 1, sk 3 st, rep from * around, join with sl st to top of t-ch. (20 3-dc clusters)
Row 4- Do not turn. Ch 2 (counts as hdc here and throughout), hdc in each st and ch-1 sp around.  Join with sl st to top of t-ch.
Row 5- Turn. Sl st in next hdc, ch 3, 2 dc in same st, ch 1, sk 3 st, *3 dc in next st, ch 1, sk 3 st, rep from * around, join with sl st to top of t-ch. (20 3-dc clusters)
Row 6- Turn. Sl st into ch-1 sp. Ch 3, 2 dc in same sp, ch 1, sk 3 st, *3 dc in next st, ch 1, sk 3 st, rep from * around, join with sl st to top of t-ch. (20 3-dc clusters)
Row 7- Do not turn. Ch 2 (counts as hdc here and throughout), hdc in each st and ch-1 sp around.  Join with sl st to top of t-ch.
Rep Rows 5-7 twice more


Weave tail from first fsc to last fsc, closing the gap at the bottom.  Weave in tail from last round.  Block if desired.

Monday, November 7, 2016

5 Essential Notions You Need for Your Crochet Tool Kit

1. Hook Organizer
You are a crocheter, right? (of course you are or you wouldn't be reading this, lol) So you probably have a few crochet hooks...ok maybe a ton of them. So how do you keep them organized? There are many options available out there. You can buy a commercially produced product, something handmade by someone else (like on Etsy) or make your own. I have seen people use soda bottles, pencil cases and plastic bags to keep their hooks organized, or at least wrangle them into one place.

I am a big fan of roll up organizers with a flap over the top so the hooks don't go flying when you drop it. These types of organizers have Here is one from Clover that is available online or at your local craft store. There are also a ton of great ones available on Etsy like this one from HoneySuckleBarn or this one from EpidendronDesigns. If you want to make your own (you crazy hooker, you) there are a ton of great crochet patterns out there. Check out this great tutorial for a super cute hook case by Anna Nikipirowicz. I love this one!

2. Scissors
At some point in your project you are going to have to cut the yarn...unless every project you do ends exactly with three inches of yarn left at the end of the skein. No? Ok, then you need a handy dandy pair of little scissors or snips. I am a fan of Gingher Embroidery Scissors. They are small and cute and come with a protective leather sheath so you aren't stabbing yourself while crocheting. Fiskars also has some great options available. I especially love the 5" Micro-Tip Fashion Scissors. The extra sharp tip allows you to get into tight spaces and the blades cut cleanly. Regardless of which you choose, make sure you have at least one pair that is 4" or less for airplane travel.

3. Stitch Markers
When working on larger or more complex projects, stitch markers can save you from insanity. You can mark where increases or decreases go without having to count every time you get distracted. They are also great for helping to keep track of long lengths of stitching. I have done this multiple times when making blankets that need to be a certain number of stitch repeats. My favorite stitch markers are ones that I can put on and off with one hand, like the ones I offer in my Etsy shop (I know, shameless plug). They are cute and useful and I love them!

4. Measuring Tape or Ruler
You always measure your gauge swatch before starting a project, right? Riiiiiigggghhhhht.... Whether you do or you don't, having a measuring tape on hand is always a good idea. I use the small retractable tapes that you can get from your local LYS or craft store. I have a bunch of them at this point and I keep one with each of my projects. Here is a really cute Sock Monkey tape measure from Lantern Moon.

5. Mini Notebook & Pen
You have so many awesome ideas; you need a place to write them down.  A little notebook is the perfect place to jot down yarn specifications, pattern modifications, hook sizes for specific projects or your own pattern ideas. I like the mini composition notebooks that you can get at the Dollar Tree.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival 2016

Did you get to go to the NY State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck?  If not, you missed an amazing experience.  If you did, you know what I mean.  It was my first time and it was magnificent.

Inside one of the multiple barns

The festival is held on the Duchess County Fairgrounds in Upstate NY.  It was a bit chilly for most of the people there, but this Colorado girl was happy in a t-shirt.  The clear blue sky and colorful trees provided the perfect backdrop for the day. Buildings and tents full of hundreds of vendors selling yarn, patterns, notions, finished items, animals, soap, spinning wheels, the list goes on.

Beautiful skies and trees set the scene for a great day!
There were so many people there, it was hard to get around and see everything.  But it was worth it. Being in such a large group of like minded folk is very comforting.  Every moment you are asking another knitter/crocheter/spinner/felter about their beautiful handmade items.  Check out this Kristy Glass Knits video from the festival and you will get to see some of the amazing creations. Thank you Kristy for featuring me in your video :)

Here are a few of the amazing crochet pieces people were wearing.  I am in love with the jacket on the left.  The woman that made it said she didn't use a pattern and just pieced it together as she went. She even hand sewed in a green cotton lining.
The scrappy granny square sweater is one of those "so ugly it's cute" fashion pieces.  I sent this picture to my husband and told him it was the next project on my list. He did not think it was very funny. Lol. I still think it is fabulous! You check this gal out in the Kristy Glass Knits video too.

The most awesome Granny Sweater ever!
Stunning Granny Coat

Stephen West talking with a fan

As if it couldn't get any better, I spotted Stephen West!  As you can see he was decked out head to toe in a fun knitted creation.  I love his use of color and his unabashed personality.  He could hardly get two feet before being stopped by another fan.  He was very nice to everyone and took lots of pictures. He just recently published a book of knitting patterns that you can find at your local LYS.

Lastly, there were so many animals to see and pet.  Llamas, alpaca, angora bunnies and every type of sheep you can imagine.  It is amazing to see the actual animals that the fiber we create with comes from.  It is truly a grounding experience.
Sweet Young Alpaca
What a cute face on this llama!
All of us gals! Isn't That brown sweater amazing?
Did you see this pic on my Instagram?

We made this a girls only weekend.  We had such a blast!  I can't wait to go back next year!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Free Crochet Pattern: The Henrietta Headband

Free Crochet Pattern

Some of my followers may remember hearing of Henrietta. She is a dear friend that also happens to be my crochet pattern tester.  She and I both love wearing wide fabric headbands in our short hair.  A while back she made me a reversible fabric headband of Doctor Who fabric (Woohoo! My favorite!).

Recently, I had a bit of yarn left over from making this guy:

It's a Plesiosaurus (sort of? but he's cute anyway) that I made for Henrietta as a birthday gift.  She has a serious love of dinosaurs.  I was lucky enough to pick this yarn up in my goodie bag from last year's Yarn Fest.  It is Mantra by Mango Moon yarns. It is a fantastic cotton blend that has interesting color changes and great stitch definition.  I had just enough to make a small project...wouldn't a headband be perfect?
May I present to you: The Henrietta Headband!  It's simple and cute and a great project to show of a smaller amount of specialty yarn. Add it to your Ravelry queue here.

Supplies:                      Mango Moon Mantra in color 9105 Jade/Sage (150 yds/skein)
Size H crochet hook

Finished Size/Notes:
Approx 1¾” wide, 19” circumference.  Stitches allow 1-2” of stretch.  You can add more repeats of Row 4 if desired.

Special Stitches:
FSC (foundation single crochet)- ch 2, insert hook in to 2nd ch from hook, pull up loop, ch 1 (place marker), yo, pull through both loops on hook (first fsc made). *Insert hook into marked ch making sure to go under the left 2 loops, yo, pull up a loop, ch 1 (move marker to this ch), yo, pull through both loops on hook.  Rep from * until desired fsc length is reached. You may find you do not need to continue using the marker once you are comfortable making the stitch.
Hdc2tog (half double crochet 2 together)- This stitch is worked over 2 stitches from the previous row and is also known as a hdc decrease. Yo, insert hook into first designated stitch, yo and pull up loop, yo, insert into second stitch, yo and pull up loop, yo and pull through all loops on hook.

FSC 22.
Row 1- Ch 2. Quarter turn clockwise so you are working into side of last fsc.  2 hdc. (2)
Row 2- Ch 2. Turn. 2 hdc in each st. (4)
Row 3- Ch 2. Turn. 2 hdc in 1st st, hdc in each of next 2 st, 2hdc in last st. (6)
Row 4- Ch 2. Turn. Hdc in each st across. (6)
Row 5-36- Repeat Row 4 (6)
Row 37- Ch 2. Turn. Hdc2tog, hdc in each of next 2 st, hdc2tog in last st. (4)
Row 38- Ch 2. Turn. Hdc2tog twice. (2)
Row 39- Ch 2. Turn. Hdc in each st. (2)

Fasten off.  Sew ends securely, being careful not to twist.  Weave in ends.

If you like crochet headbands, check out my two other free crochet patterns Easy & Cute Crocheted Headband and Spring Square Headband.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Why You Should STOP Buying Crocheted Items at Big Box Stores and START Support Local Artisans

You are walking through the aisles of a clothing store and a crocheted top catches your eye.  You look closely at the stitches and you recognize the single and double crochets.  You think to yourself "What cute top.  I could make that myself." You look at the price tag and do some quick math in your head. With the cost of yarn, even at a discount store, there is no way you could make that for less than what they are selling it for.  This is especially true when you add in how long it would take you to crochet. Maybe you buy it or maybe you search for a crochet pattern that you can (someday) use to make one just like it.  You leave the store and go about your day.

The last time you walked down the aisles of a craft store, did you see the pretty doilies for sale?  They are anywhere from 3 to 7 inches across and usually cost 3 to 8 dollars regular price.  If you have ever done any thread crochet work, you know all too well the pain of stitching with tiny steel hooks, hunching over and squinting to try to see the detail of each tiny stitch.  Can you imagine how long it would take for you to make that doily?  How sore you would be after completing such a task?  What if you had to make 10 of them in a day? 20?

What you may not realize is that, just as you create each stitch in your work, a human hand has created every stitch in that top and doily.  Each one was made by a person, most likely in a factory somewhere. It might take you days or even weeks to complete a project like that.  But for the people that are hand making these items, they are making multiple pieces a day.  Enough tops and doilies to fill stores all over the world.

How do I know this? Simple.  There is no such thing as crochet machine.  Go ahead and Google it. The machines that make "crochet" make a completely different product.   No robotic hands with hooks attached to them that make stitches like the ones you and I make.  Only other hands can do this.  Why is this important?  Because the people making these items are not being paid their worth. No, I do not have any background insider information, but I do have basic math skills.

Let's look at the doily as an example:
If the price of a doily is $8 without any discounts, how much of that $8 is going to the artisan? Even if they received the entire amount, that may equal about $1/hr if they are really fast.  Then let's apply basic business math: the rule of thumb when pricing a product for retail is to at least double the wholesale price, and being able to still turn a profit even when you offer a sale or coupon on that item.  This means that the retailer that is selling the doily paid, at most, $4 for it.  Keep in mind that the retailer has to pay for all of their other business expenses like a warehouse, shipping costs, utilities, store rents, CEO and employee salaries, taxes, etc.  That brings our artisan to 50 cents/hr if they are lucky.  But that artisan is not selling it directly to the company, they are one of many employees that work for a manufacturing company that also needs to make a profit.  That manufacturing company also has business expenses that need to be covered as well.  Let's say they only take half of the wholesale price of the doily and give the other half to the employee (I really have no idea what they keep and what they pay, but it's not a bad assumption).  Our artisan is now only making 25 cents/hour.  That is not much at all.

So I ask you this?  Would you do a job for 25 cents/hr?  What kind of life could you provide for yourself and your family on this meager salary?  Is the work these artisans are doing worth more than that?

I ask you to join me in only buying handmade artisan goods from only reputable sources, for a fair price.  Do your homework and help your fellow humans get what they are worth.
Support handmade artisans that sell through online markets like Etsy.  It may cost you a little more, but you will be doing the entire world some good.  How much is that worth?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Blankets Galore!

Like most of you, I love sharing photos of my finished items.  Here are a few blankets that I have completed in the last year or so that I have not shared yet.  Making baby and lap blankets is great because they allow you to experiment with different patterns and colors without too much time (and yarn) invested.  They are also the best gift!  I have always said that giving someone something hand crocheted is like giving them a hug :)

Rainbow Burst Blanket...What a fun pattern!  This is one of the best round ripple patterns out there. Get the free pattern here from RoseRed Designs.  I was able to use a lot of my stash on this one.  I love me some rainbows!!

The Lego Blanket...This was a great stash buster.  I used the rest of the yarn from the above rainbow burst.  I found the pattern on Pinterest and altered it a bit.  My Legomaniac nephew loved it and my husband was jealous!  It was very fast and the blocks were easy to do on the run.

 Nautical Ripple...This sweet blanket was a gift for a dear friend on her baby shower.  She was doing a nautical theme and I thought the ripple was a great choice because it looks like waves.  She waited a long time for that baby boy and I am over the moon for her!

Peacock Blocks Blanket...This was made for a distant relative at the request of my Aunt-in-law.  Her mother used to crochet and when she found out her first grandchild was to be born, she wanted to continue the tradition of a handmade blanket.  The parents were doing the room in a peacock theme so I found this free pattern and just changed the colors to match.  It was a challenging, but brilliant, pattern.

Scattered Blocks Afghan...I wanted the colored blocks to look like they were "floating" on a background.  Next time I will try it with brighter solids on a black base.  I feel that a high contrast will give a better impression of floating and the black will better hide the seams.  It was a good experiment and the recipient loves it very much.

Star Trek Baby Blanket...The couple that is having this baby are geeky and wonderful. The nursery is a Star Trek/Star Wars/Winnie the Pooh mashup.  I love it! This pattern was another Pinterest find, except it was a chart for a knitted potholder.   It was easily converted to filet crochet and Voila!   Here it is:

What is your favorite item to make?  Why?  I would love to see some of your finished projects too. Please feel free to leave me a comment below or check out my Facebook page.

Happy Hooking! :)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

While I Was Away....or How to Drive Yourself Crazy in 3 Simple Steps

Hi All!

It has been a while since my last post because a lot has been happening...

I have finally decided to give my crochet "hobby" the attention and work it needs to become a business!  This is a very exciting but extremely overwhelming process.  The biggest question has been: How am I going to make money?  It's not much of a business if it doesn't create any actual revenue.  So I went about getting some notebooks to jot in and doing a lot of reading and research.  I bought 2 books on starting a creative business, signed up for 5 different email lists for help, wrote down a million ideas, and paced all over the house trying to figure out what to spend my time on. Here is where I am right now

A) What I have actually accomplished:

  • Uploaded 9 of my free crochet patterns onto Ravelry (almost 750 downloads in 2 weeks!)
  • Started using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook more regularly
  • Listed a few finished products on Etsy, including my new stitch markers :)
  • Created at least 3 new crochet patterns that are being tested (Thank you, Henrietta!)
  • Created Follow buttons and badges here on the blog to connect you lovelies to my other online locations
  • Finally signed up this blog for Google Adsense to get a little extra $$ (Thank you for the clicks!!)
  • I bought the domain InspirationYarns.com.  There isn't anything there yet, but I hope to tie it into some of the items in list D below in the near future

B) What I really need to accomplish:

  • Listing patterns for sale on Ravelry and Etsy
  • Making and listing more products for sale on Etsy
  • Spread the word about said patterns and products
  • Buy/Create something to use as a prop for my crocheted items=better pictures
  • Create and submit at least one pattern proposal to a crochet magazine or yarn company
  • Spend more time trying to sell my huge inventory of Reusable Baby Jays products on Etsy (they really are awesome and I really do use them in my daily life)
  • Write more blog posts
C) What I am thinking I should accomplish, but I have no idea how to do it, or if its even worth my time:
  • Create fancy blog post graphics that are easier to tweet/pin/post (see fancy graphic above)
  • Start and manage an email list for sharing blog posts, new products and new patterns
  • Update my Artsy Daisy Logo-it's been the same had drawn logo for 8 years...
  • Buy video equipment and start shooting crochet tutorials
D) What I fantasize about accomplishing, which keeps me from moving anything from lists  B and C to list A:
  • Opening a YARN SHOP! Yep, this is the ultimate dream.  I will certainly accomplish this at some point in my life.
  • Learning to spin yarn and selling it
  • Learning to hand dye yarn in longer colorways for all of my crochet peeps!
  • Starting a charity crochet hat program to help people of all types
  • Sharing my practice of gratitude and positive focus to help others get the most out of their lives
...and breathe!

So now that you know where my brain has been lately, I shall present you with the list of 3 Simple Steps to Drive Yourself Crazy:

  1. Move across the country (Colorado to Delaware) and then move again 3 months later (Delaware to New Jersey)
  2. Have your significant other start working in new location while you still live in old location (twice)
  3. Decide to start a business that you have no idea how it will work yet, but be determined that it will...all at the same time.

Ha! So that's all for now. Is your head swimming yet? Mine sure is.  Let me know a) what steps you have taken to become crazy and b) if any of the above ideas sound like something you would like to see happen.

Happy Hooking my Lovelies!!