AFHandcrafts at the Handmade Mafia

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Always exciting in Edmonton are the constant farmer’s, artisans, pop-up and handmade markets throughout the city.  I feel very fortunate to be able to take part in these events to be able to showcase my handmade products to locals.  I have had much more luck selling items in person than online with Etsy.com

I love that at markets customers can come up and feel my yarns, rovings, batts, scarves and bags.  When I have stuff for sale, I know that touching an item is a big part of wanting to purchase it.

Needless to say I’m in full gear for the upcoming Handmade Mafia Market on June 2, 2012.  As always, I will have varied selection of hand spun yarns, uniquely dyed roving, crazy blended batts, squiggly scarves and a wonderful project bag.

Here are two Shetland rovings dyed with the season in mind. Bright green spring and late, lovely fall.

Newest from my studio are beautiful blended batts.  Ranging from 40g to 75g in weight, these batts contain wool, silk, firestar, locks and sari silk.

Crafter in the Mountains

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Spring has finally arrived in chilly Alberta, and with spring comes camping!  Last year, my Hubby and I were very fortunate to find our very own travel trailer.  A 1973 Holdaire, around 18′ long with a bed, a bathroom, a small kitchen and 2 rolling wheels!  Needless to say that we’re excited to get going!

We’ve decided to head out to the Mountains for the May Long Weekend.  This time, however, we’ll be on a fully paved highway in a well-established campground/resort.  Learning from experience, camping off of logging roads is best done is dry season.

Hopefully this camping trip will be a little more mellow and a lot less snowy.  So far the weather reports are hopeful, mild weather and a little rain!

Now the debate starts, what do I bring to craft over a 4-day weekend?

Japanese Flower Shawl

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As a response to my “Unique Blanket Patterns” post I received a new request! It took me a couple of days to get back to this one as my little guy has been sick and my family has had an exciting weekend including the university graduation of my sister-in-law (Congrats Holly!) and the Kamloops Family Market where Brian had a booth.

Imagine my surprise when I received this lovely request in my inbox!

What beautiful patterns! especially the star at the top. Have you seen Japanese Flower Shawls? I’m looking for a simple circular pattern to make the pieces for my own. Apparently, the actual original pattern is only available by buying the original book (in Japanese). Here it is on Pinterest. http://pinterest.com/pin/239042692691556187/:)

I do love a challenge! So I have set out on a treasure hunt and found some resources that I hope will answer lotsofnicethings’ request and also inspire some of you out there to give this beautiful and unique pattern a try too. Thank you so much to lotsofnicethings and please feel free to keep those requests coming!

Tracking down this pattern definitely proved itself to be quite a challenge. I did find a few blogs, most in French (Yay for bilingualism!) but even these had pulled down any tutorials or written instructions out of respect for the original author.

They all have a valid point of course. As any of you who have ever written a pattern know, crochet is an art in itself. I too have chosen not to write out any pattern or offer tutorials. In an effort to inspire you to learn the pattern yourself, I have posted a few pictures from outside sources and some crochet charts. (Check out this post to learn more about reading crochet charts.)

Japanese Flower Shawl

Delicate and brightly coloured, these flowers are beautiful draped over your shoulders as a shawl but could also adorn a sweater or toque or become a beautiful afghan!

As was mentioned in the request, the original pattern for these flowers is in Japanese. This isn't quite the same flower but may work. If you can read a crochet chart, this little picture may serve well as a guide!

Another chart.

This is such a great picture. If you are familiar with crochet, you may be able to figure out the pattern by this photo alone.

Yet another clear photo to follow. And the comments on this blog post may give you a few more hints too!

You may notice that these are not all the same. They are quite similar but there are a few options out there so I guess it is up to you what you like! Aside from these images, most of what I found was quite repetitive. If what I’ve listed here doesn’t do the trick, try this search for plenty more resources!

Please share your Japanese Flowers with us!

Thanks and happy hooking!

Easter Crafting Love

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I hope everyone had a lovely Easter Weekend!  I feel doubly-lucky as I was able to hop a flight and go spend the weekend with Shaz and her family, then fly home in time for a wonderful Easter lunch with my family.

While in Kamloops we (surprise, surprise) crafted like it was going out of style! Because it was going to be a short holiday for me, I did not bring my full compliment of spindles.  On the average long weekend trip, I bring 1 spindle/day, plus one.  For this trip, I only packed one spindle that was working on, spinning a merino braid purchased at Wool Revival earlier in the week.

Merino Roving on Airplane! spindle

I had planned on spinning both of the braids in the photo (one ripped into strips) and then ply them together into a sport-weight 2-ply, but once I got close to finishing the first braid Shaz declared that it was her yarn.  We were able to give it a bath  and hang it to dry.  I am very happy with the results!

Laceweight single

We were also able to visit a wonderful yarn store, Electrictree Yarns! Full of yarn roving, spinning wheels and a great sit down area, I was happily able to buy linen roving, cashmere down, silk hankies and beautifully dyed BFL roving from Caroline’s (the owner) collection.  I was also very happy to stay in my fibre budget for the trip!

I love LYS’s!

Re-Skeining, FTW!

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I love dyeing yarn!  Whether is my own spun yarn, or commerically spun, I will dye it all!

This is Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool dyed with Dharma Acid Dyes. I love the colours, but hate the fact that it’s a little blotchy.  But, after a re-skein and looking over the terrible little knot, I could not be happier with the result.

Now I have two wonderful skeins of 100% wool, bright green with orange splashes.  My favourite dyed yarn to date is my own handspun, Blue Faced Leicester spun into a thin 2-ply yarn.

I dyed the skein with Dharma’s Navy & Peacock blues, hoping for a cobalt-like colour.  I think I succeeded in making yarn that I don’t want to part with!

I think that this yarn would make a beautiful shawl, like the Boneyard (free Ravelry pattern), or perhaps a beret! But, if you’re a weaver, I know it would look wonderful as the Woven Gossamer Wings Butterfly shawl by Noreen Crone-Findlay!

Knitting hiatus!

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Is has become very apparent to me that too much of a good thing can be painful…  Which is sad because I love crafting.  But crafting too much and too long has forced me to slow down and enjoy the skeins, so to speak.

In the last month I have given myself a painful case of tendinitis…  This has come to severely interfere in my knitting, spinning and overall craftiness.  My Physiotherapist has told me I should stop knitting, spinning or doing anything involving my wrist & thumb.

As of this post, I have not knit in over 60 hours.  I have no knitting or spindles in my purse, backpack, car as to avoid the temptation to pick up a UFO or to start a new project.

On the other hand, I have been able to organise my hand-dyed and hand-spun yarns for sale over the next couple of weeks.  That is something that I have put off to complete time-sensitive projects.  It feels very good to re-skein, label and track all my yarns, rovings and spindles.

Although….

Next weekend, I will likely turn sharply from my Physio’s advice as I will be joining a group of fibre freaks in the Mountains for a bi-annual crafting get-away.  I plan on bringing a large amount of spinning to work on, and to show off Walter, my handsome, German spinning wheel.

Organising my sale yarns has become my evening activity that brings me inner peace. I have been able to measure, weigh and label all of my completely skeins, a chore unto itself.

Thankfully, my Hubby and I are setting up my AFHandcrafts website where I planning on blogging, updating local events and selling my fun handspun yarn.  I also plan on making tutorial videos as my skill level allows, I’ve very excited to be able to show people how I dye my yarns & fibres.

Hooray for technology!

Unique Blanket Patterns

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So… I have asked for you to send me your requests. If you are looking for a new project, why not let me do all the hard work for you? It makes for a great blog post that we can share with everyone and you get out of searching through endless patterns. I have finally gotten my first Craft Diva request! Okay, so maybe I kind of had to beg my friend to let me do the research for her but either way, I did.

My friend, who was featured in my last post, is looking for a new pattern. She made a fantastic Mario granny square blanket not too long ago and now it is time for a new project. I’ve scoured Ravelry for some unique and fun blanket patterns for her and YOU!

Hopefully, I have made the choice a little easier for you and her by narrowing down the pattern choices to the more unique and child-friendly options. There are so many patterns out there to choose from and plenty are similar to each other but I have selected a few of varying skill range that seem to jump off the page for me.

All of these patterns are available for FREE so please browse and choose as many as you like. Click the photo to be directed to the pattern link on Ravelry (you may need to sign up for a free account to get the pattern.). If you do decide to take on one of these beautiful blankets, please share!

Try this pattern in a variety of colours for a boy or a girl!

Baby doll/blanket

Amigurumi and blanket in one!

Endless colour possibilities and super simple!

How utterly adorable is this little fox?

In keeping with the Nintendo theme...

What about a life-sized sock monkey?

This one may take a leap of faith but is VERY cool!

Crochet visitor

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Crochet visitor

This weekend, a friend of mine came to visit. She has recently taken up crochet and is a very talented and creative artist who works with many different media. Since I had a visitor, it seems fitting for the blog to have a visitor too!

For those of you who are beginners at crochet or are debating trying it, I hope that this post will be inspirational to you. With little more than borrowed hooks and a passion for crafts, my friend has very quickly proven that crochet is an excellent outlet for creativity (not that this is of any debate).

She excitedly texted me this photo of her very first blanket-in-the-works a little while back and I was blown away! Not only does this project fit with her personality seamlessly, but it is also an ambitious one. With more than 100 white granny squares alone to form the background, this is a very time consuming endeavor.

She has since finished the blanket and it looks absolutely fabulous. A quick note; she ran into the same problem as I did when seaming her blanket. Beginning with horizontal rows and single crochet, she found that the number of single crochets were too few to allow for the full stretch of the granny square causing some bunching of the pattern. How nice it is to have friends to discuss this sort of thing!

Below are a few more pictures of her “blankie”.

She has also taken to creating some very adorable amigurumi stuffed animals and had a sweet little elephant named Frank, or “Fwang” as my 2 year old has taken to calling him, for us when she arrived. She documented her process very well too!

If you would like your very own Frank, you can get the pattern here. You may notice that in the original pattern, he has no tail. He simply could not be an elephant with no tail so my friend improvised his sweet little tail by creating a short chain and single crocheting back on it once.

Amigurumi animals are great personal gifts for anyone, not just children, so why not check out this page of free Ravelry patterns to see if you can find your own little friend to build! Or, if you like, here are a few of my faves: Baby Elmo, Alphabet Letters, Baby MONSTERS!, Little Owl… You can also click here for some YouTube tutorials on Amigurumi!

Do you make Amigurumi? Tell us about your favorite pattern in the comments below!

Learn to Crochet

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As you may have noticed by now, Alli does plenty of spinning, knitting and weaving. I tend to do more crochet and knitting. We both dabble in plenty of other crafty activities as well. For example: painting, drawing, carving, sewing, cooking, card-making, scrapbooking, and much more! In fact, if you come across something you think we ought to try, tell us! Maybe we can blog about it too!

I am going to take some liberties here and say that Alli and I both are just naturally the artistic type. We have both been fortunate to have friends and family that support our addiction, ahem, hobbies. Plenty of what we know; however, is self-taught or was handed down by a “self-taught”. So I thought I would share with you a few of the great resources available online.

There is so much out there to learn (as anyone who has ever visited Pinterest may know). So for today I am going to limit this post to a crochet-focused toolbox. I will even need to limit that because otherwise I would never finish this post. Let’s grab a few YouTube and Printable resources…

Most of what you need to know to become a skilled crocheter is available on YouTube. There are some great how-to videos out there. Some are certainly better than others. I have tracked down a few favorites for you here but if you come across something you think is better, please let us know! Also, if you don’t find what you are looking for, tell us about it and we will track it down! Thanks!

Abbreviations and other notables:

Craft Yarn Council Abbreviations, Chart Symbols

Lion Brand Dictionary of Knitting and Crochet Abbreviations

Purple Kitty Yarns abbreviations in alphabetical order (PDF available too!)

YouTube How to:

Many of the authors of these videos have other instructional clips too. I have tried to find a variety so that you can choose your favourite source and explore other videos authored here. Please note that there are some interchangeable terms used in crochet depending on your source. See abbreviations above for clarification.

Make a Chain

Single Crochet

Half Double Crochet

Double Crochet

Triple Crochet

Single Crochet Increase/Decrease

SC Decrease only

 

Printable Resources:

Learn to Crochet Instructions – source here

More to come!

A baby beanie – Staying motivated

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If I had to categorize knitting and crochet into a particular season, I think winter is very fitting. In the winter, the cooler weather and ever-changing fashions lure me back to my yarn stash. Inspiration is easy to find in stores, on celebrities and in the natural need for a fresh new pair of mittens on a cold day.

In the summer, warmer weather calls to me and, for some reason, I forget all about fiber arts. It’s certainly not for lack of projects to do. I always have a long mental list of pieces I want to accomplish. Perhaps I fall prey to the cliche that knitted and crochet garments are better suited to the cold (we all know that there are plenty of summer patterns on Ravelry). I just tend to set aside my projects with the intention of picking it back up in a day or two and, before I know it, it’s time to start Christmas gifts again.

The projects that I had told myself I would accomplish once I finally had the time are put back on hold before they are begun.

This year, as I feel my interests begin to once again shift, I am more determined than ever to stay focused. So, inspired by a request by my husband, I have come up with a strategy. I am going to sprinkle in a bunch of small projects with my larger ones so that I can enjoy the satisfaction of a completed piece and stay motivated to continue on the large ones.

What does this have to do with you? you may wonder. Well, for one, it means that I will be blogging more often. For two, (do we say “for two”?), it means you get a free pattern for the sweet little newborn hat I made for Brian’s associate who just had a baby girl! By the way, how do you stay motivated to work on those bigger projects? Share your strategies in the comments!

For this little newborn beanie, I used some leftover Bernat Alpaca in Ebony (Less than 50g) and a couple of meters of hand spun yarn made by Alli which was absolutely beautiful! (Check out her yarns and other products here!) The pattern is super simple and the whole project took me less than an hour!

To form the base of the hat:

Size: 0-3 months
Hook: H
Yarn: Bernat Alpaca, Ebony
Qty: Approx 50g

Note: If subbing for another yarn, I would recommend a DK or sport weight yarn or slightly lighter than worsted.

Begin: Ch4, sl st to first chain to form a loop. Ch2, 8 hdc into loop. Join to first ch2 with a sl st.

Row 1: Ch2, hdc1 into first hdc, hdc2 into each rem. hdc around. Join.
Row 2: Ch2, hdc1, [hdc1, hdc2] rep. around. Join.
Row 3: Ch2, hdc1, [hdc1, hdc1, hdc2] rep. around. Join.
Row 4: Ch2, hdc1, [hdc1, hdc1, hdc1, hdc2] rep. around. Join.

Repeat row 4 seven more times. Fasten off and weave in ends.

To form the flower:

This is a great little appliqué for using up scraps of yarn. I used some of Alli’s hand spun yarn!

Hook: H

Begin:
Ch 11 (foundation chain), ch2, turn.
Dc4 into 4th ch from hook, ch2, [sc, ch2, dc4, ch2], rep. until you have formed 5 petals.
Fasten off yarn with a 5″ tail and draw tail back through the foundation. Tighten to form flower and fasten off.
Use a large button as the centre of the flower and attach flower to the base hat.

PDF coming soon!

Happy hooking!