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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Free Pattern - Great Last Minute Christmas Gift!

Merry Christmas!

Here is another very quick Christmas gift idea for you:


This necklace is a FREE pattern and can be found here at www.redheart.com.

This chunky style necklace is made with Metallic Sashay Ruffle yarn in a unique way - This yarn is usually used to make ruffley scarves but I decided to crochet with it coming right off the ball.  Then the long chains are woven together in a special pattern to make the attractive center piece.

All instructions and diagrams can be found in the pattern.

I think this could make a great Christmas gift in red and white or red and green using the beautiful Sashay yarns.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Crochet Gifts in 1-2-3 !

Here are some more great gift ideas found in a Crochet! magazine's Special Issue -
(You can order this issue on the link above or buy it in your local craft store (or bookstore) - even though it was published in the fall I just saw it for the first time in my local Joann's)
This Scarf Necklace (from the cover) is made with a beautiful variegated yarn.  It is very lightweight and adds a great pop of color to any simple top.
 This Ice Drop necklace is made with a pretty metallic yarn and clear tear drop beads.  It adds a fancy touch of sparkle to a Christmas party outfit or any winter dress.  I would like to make another one with gold metallic yarn.
I enjoy working with yarn and beads and then turning them into a jewelry design.  I often have grand plans to crochet something special (shawl or top) for an event coming up but as the event gets closer and time dwindles down, I end up with nothing crocheted a day or two before . . . . so, I 'resort' to creating some jewelry to wear and be the 'star' of my outfit.  Now that the time to Christmas is getting short, these would make the quick gifts you need!
(In a few days, another very quick necklace design - FREE pattern)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Holly Leaf Scarf

Here is another quick and easy Christmas gift that is one size fits all!

I created this design several years ago and wear it every Christmas season - I always get many compliments on it and it looks great in photos.

This pattern is available in my Ravelry store for $5.00 - Christmas Holly Leaf Scarf

I crocheted with Red Heart's Shimmer yarn in the colors Lime Green and Red - It is one of my favorite yarns since the metallic thread matches the yarn color.  It is also very soft and washes well.

The Holly Leaf is one of my favorite Christmas symbols.  If you do some research, you will find that the holly leaf and its berries have been used in all sorts of ways in a variety of cultures and religions.  I like the connection of the prickly points to Christ's crown of thorns and the red berries to the ultimate sacrifice he made for us - reminding us of the purpose and reason for Christmas.

But I probably like the holly so much because I have fond memories of watching my mom and her mom adding them to every Christmas card (and envelope) with a swift and graceful flourish of their colored (or gold) markers - a tradition that continues to this day!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Merry Mistletoe

Can you believe Thanksgiving has gone by and it's time to get ready for Christmas?

Our family loves to start decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving.  We have a great time going to cut our tree down at a local farm and spending the rest of the weekend putting up our Christmas d├ęcor.  Today I look forward to putting up this decoration I designed - Merry Mistletoe.

Its sprigs (made out of Red Heart Soft Yarn) will never wither or dry out. You can hang this mistletoe every year in hopes to create many kissable moments.  It also would make a great hostess gift for your next Christmas party.
This design can be found in the current December issue of Crochet World -
on newsstands now or at www.crochet-world.com
Coming up in the next few weeks - crocheted Christmas gift ideas!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Crochet Pumpkin Votive from Newspaper Bag

I come from a long line of creative and crafty women so I was brought up to always think 'outside-the-box' and look at things in a unique way - and that includes what went through my mind when I saw this on our doorstep each rainy Sunday:  This could make a neat crochet project!

I had made "plarn" (yarn made with strips of plastic bags) before and experimented a little.  I have not done much since it seemed to take so much longer to make the plarn then it did to actually crochet something.  But I have still been on the lookout for colored plastic bags to use.  . . . They are hard to come by until you have a rainy Sunday when the newspaper is delivered!

First, I gathered several of the orange plastic bags and cut them into strips using a cutting pattern that keeps each bag all one length.  (I cut off the bottom of every bag  - this created a tube open on both ends - and then cut down the tube lengthwise - this created one large rectangle as seen in photo above). I rolled the strips into a ball as I went and soon was ready to crochet.

(Glass Votive - 3" diameter across bottom, 3 1/2" across opening on top and 15 1/4" around widest part)

I used a J hook and worked as if I was making a baby hat.  I started with an adjustable ring so there is no hole on top.  From there I simply single crocheted around increasing as I needed to up to the widest point of the votive. (To check, I slid the project over the votive and then slid off to continue.)  After passing the widest part of the votive, I then decreased gradually until my stitches completely covered the glass. (You can use a simple pattern for a newborn hat to get the basic shape.)

To finish I added green pipe cleaners (that had been twisted around a pencil) and a felt leaf. (I found a pumpkin leaf template on-line.)

The plastic is stretchy and fits nicely to the shape of the votive.  Use ONLY battery-powered tea lights to illuminate your pumpkin!  (You can also use those short strands of battery-powered LED lights - they are much brighter than a tea light).You may also want to secure the bottom of the pumpkin edges with twist ties - this keeps it snug on the votive but also allows you to undo it to replace or remove the tea light.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(I used the glass votive with the open end on top because the shape seems more pumpkin-like. But . . . if you flipped over the glass holder so the open end was on the bottom, it would be very quick and easy to add a tea light and/or turn it off and on!)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ladies Night Out Crochet Class


Our Ladies Night Out Crochet Class had a great time this fall.  We learned a variety of stitches that we made into squares and practiced several techniques, such as: color changes and joining squares.

Ali and Jenn are crocheting away and getting inspiration from a pattern book.

Reshea and Elisha enjoyed crocheting together as mother and daughter - even though one is left-handed and the other right-handed! :)

Marie and Mona made several beautiful squares.


Elyse and Sally were beginners that did a wonderful job
learning the basics and having a good family time together.

Celeste is great to sit next to and get pointers. Bonnie always brings a lot of laughter to class!

And here I am with Judy who has made some neat projects
combining knitting with crochet.
Please check out everyone's projects on the page to the left - Student Gallery of Projects - that we worked on for the last 8 weeks.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Contemporary Celtic Crochet by Bonnie Barker

Welcome to the blog tour for a review of Bonnie’s book today!
Click on these links below to buy a copy :

I met Bonnie back in 2012 during the CGOA Professional Development Day.  She impressed me right away by how quickly she worked up an intricately braided cable square for donation – without looking at a pattern - while she sat next to me.   As we talked we found out we had several things in common besides crochet– we are both Christian homeschool moms and love music!  Since then our friendship has grown over emails and has been a blessing to me.  At this year’s CGOA conference (Knit and Crochet Show) it was great to see Bonnie again and get a sneak preview of her beautiful book.

As you may have guessed, I am always drawn to things labeled “Celtic” and Bonnie’s book is filled to the brim with all kinds of great Celtic designs and photographs.  I love the Celtic Knot graphics along every page along with all of the wonderful photos of Ireland (that Bonnie took herself when she traveled there).  My favorite photo is the one on page 87 of the Cliffs of Moher – stunning cliffs with the deep blue of the ocean next to the bright green of the land– breathtaking!  I also like how Bonnie gave a creative and thoughtful name to each of the projects.

Here are some of my favorite designs:

Hialeah Honey Baby Blanket – pg 62
This design features the Celtic Weave stitch (Bonnie’s invention) and a thick Braided Cable.  I have tried the Celtic Weave (see below) and love how it is much easier than it looks – just a two row repeat!
Knockardakin Wrap – pg 84

Here we see the Honeycomb and Wheat stitches in a Ruana-style wrap.  Looks so warm and beautiful!

Kells Cabled Sweater – pg 112
I have seen the Book of Kells in Dublin – truly amazing piece of artwork, history and scripture.  I love the details of this sweater and how it is named after the book in Dublin.


Celtic Cross Afghan and Pillow – pg 116
Such a clever use of the Celtic Weave stitch to create the cross-shape!

So, after seeing just a few of the projects, aren’t you eager to start making them? Are you apprehensive because you haven’t tried cables before? Well, have no fear, Bonnie provides wonderful step-by-step photos in the beginning of the book that take you through each cable stitch.  She also provides great videos on her website explaining these stitches as well. (www.bonniebaycrochet.com) That is how I first tried out her Celtic Weave stitch shown in this blue swatch below (made with Lion Brand’s Homespun yarn).

And then recently I worked up this green swatch (with Red Heart’s Super Saver) using the explanations in Bonnie’s book  - Tada!
A few things I would have liked to see in the book:  a list of all projects with a small photo of each (and page numbers) somewhere at the beginning of the book;  a similar list/index of all of the stitches (with thumbnail photos and page numbers of the instructions);  and full black and white diagrams of each project showing where each stitch is used (some of this you can tell by the photos but for other projects some parts are hidden).

One of the first projects I hope to make is the Cables Meet Lace Cape on page 64  (see photo at end of post) with metallic and sequined yarn.  Bonnie’s friend and neighbor, Terry, wore a similiar cape in light blue to the banquet during the Knit and Crochet Show – it was stunning! (as you can see below – this design is called, “Channeled Cape” and can be found in the Winter issue of Crochet!) – and Bonnie is wearing the Kells Cabled Sweater in red – beautiful!
I am so glad for my friend, Bonnie, who wrote this excellent book, and that I have a copy in my own crochet library.  Not only is it a great way to learn cables, but it is a great book to leaf through to enjoy the beauty of the designs, the photographs of Ireland and the stories that go with them. Congratulations, Bonnie! This book is a treasure in my collection of crochet books.
Cables Meet Lace Cape



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tunisian Crochet For Baby by Sharon Silverman

Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for Sharon Silverman's newest book:

As I prepared to review this book, I did what everyone does with a new book - I skimmed through it quickly and looked at all of the photos.

WOW! The photographs are wonderful starting with the one shown above which also graces the cover.  I enjoyed seeing the tiny hands, perfect little nose, tender eyelashes and open mouth of this precious baby. It reminded me of my own children and how they stay this small for such a short time. What a treasure to have all the babies photographed so beautifully in this book - All of them are probably walking and talking by now.

I especially enjoyed the photos on pages 31, 32 and 96. The photographers, Tiffany Blackstone and Alan Wycheck, captured sweet moments that one gets to enjoy in the presence of a baby.
I love this cute yawn. The snuggly Cocoon and Hat add to the cuteness.

All of the designs are expertly crocheted and include several advanced elements.  The Christening Gown is beautiful.  The edgings are elegant and I like how Sharon combined solid stitches with a lacy look. It is clever how she incorporated tall stitches so that ribbons can be threaded through.

I love the look of the Checkerboard Blanket and Hat.  The stitch looks very dense and is sure to keep any baby warm.

The Sherbert Stripes Hat (cover photo) and the Thumbless Mittens look as if they could be knitted - a fun benefit of Tunisian crochet - and their shaping is smooth and streamlined (no bunches).

Throughout the book all of the diagrams are large and very clear. Sharon provides a key at the bottom of every page and special instructions for all aspects of the projects.  I also appreciated how each design was shown in a variety of angles and close-ups so you can see how the written instructions match the finished project.  There are also several excellent photos at the end of the book to explain all of the Techniques you need to complete the designs - from elementary crochet stitches to the more complex Tunisian techniques. I like Sharon's use of pink and blue yarn (common nursery colors!) to show the 'ins and outs' of the more difficult stitches.

So, with all of this great instruction, I tried my hand at Tunisian crochet . . . yes, I had only tried it once before and was not successful.  Tunisian crochet looks a lot like knitting but still only uses a hook.  The hook that you use is a very long hook that you 'load' up with loops and then take off every other 'pass'. I thought the washcloths were a great beginner project and I love how the colors looked with the stitches. I decided to just try the Simple Stitch and Knit Stitch to start.
Washcloth Quartet - Pg 65

Here is my swatch - you can see the characteristic vertical bars of the Simple Stitch on the bottom half and the Knit Stitch on the top half.  My stitches were much tighter for the top half which probably would get better with practice.  One thing that was cumbersome for me was to find the instructions for how to work into the foundation chain. For some reason these directions come several pages into the technique section - I was expecting them to be at the beginning since this is how you begin a project. 

When I tried the Knit stitch I had a hard time seeing in the photos where to insert my hook and didn't quite understand the wording - so, I had to check a video on-line to help me with this part.  I think the two-color approach that Sharon used for the more complex stitches would have been helpful here since it is hard to convey 3D concepts in 2D photos.  Sharon also mentions in the beginning that this book is for those who are more experienced Tunisian crocheters (than me) and that if you are a beginner, you should first read her book, "Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting" to get started.

Overall, this is an excellent book - for its photos, diagrams, designs and instructions - and would make a good addition to a crocheter's library, especially if they were looking for some new and innovative baby designs (to replace that same old baby blanket gift they've been making over and over for years!)

** All photos were taken from Sharon Silverman's Ravelry page (here ) where you can see more photos of other designs in the book and those available on her website: www.SharonSilverman.com **

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Crocheted Olaf

We love the movie "Frozen" in our house and Olaf, the snowman, is one of our favorite characters.  Since the Knit and Crochet Show was happening in the heat of the summer, I thought it would be fun to include a large crocheted Olaf - since he is always dreaming of summer!

Olaf sat right near the front desk to greet everyone as they arrived.
He was a big hit!
I enjoyed making him using Red Heart's Buttercup yarn.
On the last afternoon of the conference we took everything down and loaded up my van with all of the yarn art.  Olaf fit perfectly in the child's car seat for the short ride home. :)
This pattern of Olaf will be available later in the fall - check back here (or better yet, enter your email address into the "Follow by Email" rectangle on the upper right - you'll receive an email of each new post).

Monday, September 1, 2014

Red Heart sponsored the Knit and Crochet Show Yarn Bomb

Thank you to Red Heart yarns for sponsoring the Yarn Bomb project at the Knit and Crochet Show.
They sent all kinds of great yarn that I used to create most of the projects shown in the gardens in the previous post -

Unforgettable - Boutique Unforgettable Looks like wool but is 100% acrylic and soft.  Each skein has a lot of yardage and comes in beautiful color combos.

 Vivid - VividSuper chunky yarn in super bright colors - work up quick  - perfect for yarn bombs!
Reflective - ReflectiveBright colors with a reflective thread throughout.

Gumdrop - GumdropSuper soft and comes in bright colorways that are great for projects for kids (or yarn bombs - :) ).

Swanky - Boutique Swanky - Oval color-matching sequins add a ton of sparkle to all the gem tones and it's affordable!

(Visit www.redheart.com to order these yarns or visit your local craft store.)

Here I am in the Red Heart Booth in the Expo Center filled with all of the great yarn vendors.

This large art piece was made with the Reflective yarn in a rainbow of colors and then stretched across a large hoop.  When photographed with flash, the reflective thread in the yarn shines.

Here is the same project without the flash:

This giant Celtic Knot Heart sat on a table in the booth - I crocheted with the Vivid yarn for this project and mounted it to a piece of cardboard.

Be on the lookout for these patterns to be made available here!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Garden Photos of the Knit and Crochet Show Yarn Bomb

There are several gardens all throughout the lobby of the hotel and they were a perfect spot to add some cute creatures and crochet artwork.

One of my daughters created the bird nests and this cute little blue bird.

Butterflies should be in every garden!

And, of course, flowers, too!

We see hummingbirds and ladybugs in our garden all summer long so I had to add them here.

Another one of my daughters crocheted the ladybugs.

The circular and flower-like shape of doilies also make a great addition to the greens of the gardens.

Everyone loved this giant toadstool.

This is a sparkly crocheted wind chime that hung from a tree in the lounge.

All photos of the yarn bomb will be posted on a page to the left and on my Pinterest page - CelKnotCrochet/Jennifer E Ryan.