Tag Archives: easy

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.

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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!

 

My First Crochet Blanket

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My First Crochet Blanket

Okay, so I know it has been a very long time since I have blogged. I have a big update in the works which I should have up soon. Until that is done, I wanted to share the crochet blanket I have been working on. It is for my son and I didn’t use a pattern.

Crochet, for me, provides flexibility and the ability to improvise. I love that it is quick, (I am a sucker for instant gratification.), and I love how portable and forgiving it can be. The drawback though is that it uses much more yarn than knitting and I often prefer the texture of a knitted garment to a crocheted one.

Many times I pick up some yarn and begin to crochet with an image in my mind and no pattern. I find that I am usually able to bring that image into reality through hooking and that is what I did with this blanket. For awhile now, I have contemplated trying a granny square as they are notoriously easy and also allow you to use up yarn ends and scraps. So I looked up an easy tutorial for a modified granny square on YouTube and began to build my very first blanket! (Find a written tutorial here!)

Building a blanket using granny squares gave me the instant gratification I need and still allowed me to create a larger project. My son, who is almost two, was thrilled to play with the squares of his new blanket while I continued working. (What a great distraction!)

For this project, I dug through my stash of yarns and selected a few worsted weight yarns in teal, grey, black and white. These were a combination of Red Heart, Bernat, TLC and a bag of anonymous roll ends I bought at discount from Zellers I think.

The process was quite simple, very portable and fast! This project is incredibly easy to pick up and put down at a moment’s notice as well. Because this blanket was for my son, the size isn’t too big; four squares by six.

I wanted to create a randomized pattern with both solid and multicoloured squares so I crocheted 6 teal, 6 white, some with teal centres and black or white borders, some with white centres and black or white borders, and even a few black ones. Finally, I bordered every square in grey, adding an extra row one side in the hopes of making the blanket a bit larger. To bring it all together, I used a slip stitch through one of the top loops of each square then I created a border in half double crochet.

Here are a few pictures of the process:

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I am a very “type A” personality so I needed a bit of help from my husband and Alli to add a bit of chaos to the pattern.

I really like how it turned out. I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got from my son when he saw all of the pieces finally as one. He was elated! In fact, I have not yet been able to weave in all of the yarn ends as he doesn’t want to give it up. He saw it on the floor, final product for me to appraise and immediately began to dance on it! It was very cute.

AFHandcrafts Sale!

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I love spinning, I spend much of my time at behind my Walter Kircher spinnrad (spinning wheel) working on different styles of yarn from laceweight, to bulky and even art yarns!  Right now, I’ve started gathering quite the variety of yarns and I need to clear out my AFHandcrafts etsy shop to make room for the new stuff!  If you go to my shop, use the code spring10time to get 10% off your purchase!  The sale will be on until April 30th, 2012 or until the items are gone!

'Green Grass' corriedale handspun

Red corriedale handspun

Orange merino handspun

Happy crafting!

Dyeing commences!

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This spring I have decided to build my skills by learning how to take wonderful rovings, locks, fleeces and dyeing them with wonderful Dharma Acid dyes.  This past week, with wonderful weather, I was able to set up a preliminary dyeing station on the deck to try my first roving with the new dyes.  I am very, very happy with the results:

Aurora, Merino/Silk roving dyed with Dark Navy, Peacock Blue, Teddy Bear Brown and Brilliant Orange.

Aurora Braid, Merino/Silk

 

Once the dye was used up, I put in some BFL roving and tried something a little different, Brilliant Yellow, Fire Engine Red and after a few minutes, a touch of True Black.

Zombie, BFL roving

 

Because not all of the blue had full exhausted and because I did not change the colour, the Brilliant Yellow became lime green.  I can’t help but to think of all the fun zombie movies I love to watch with my husband.

These are currently for sale on my Facebook Page, seach: AFHandcrafts, or in my Ravelry stash page, search: nomadalli.

Happy crafting!