Tag Archives: quick

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.

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!

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!

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.

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!

The Great Toque Marathon: finale!

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Now that my Xmas and winter weather knitting rush has quieted, I can get back to blogging and building my Etsy store! I was very happy to receive an email from the customer who purchased the 10 toques from my Great Toque Marathon Part 1 & Part 2. The toques were enjoyed by all over Christmas as well as out in Banff and Lake Louise, AB.

I was very pleased that the toques helped the family to bond and keep warm in the cool weather. I can only imagine they bewildered looks wherever they travelled. According to my customer, they were helpful in spotting each other on the busy Banff sidewalks!

I’m very proud and happy that I was able to help welcome French visitors to Canada in style. Bienvenue!

Christmas with warm ears!

Thank you to Jan & her family for sharing their Christmas photos.

Fluffy and spikey Mail, Lots of locks

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The second parcel, which I alluded to in my previous post, was from another Canadian fibre producer.  Val, from Wooly Wool of the West contacted me via Ravelry when she saw my ISO (in search of) postings on various forums.

Merino on Hackle with comb, Diz and Diz Threader.

I spent numerous hours playing with it once I had it secured to a sturdy table.  Firstly, to get the motion down, I combed through  a couple ounces of merino roving that I purchased a while ago that was full of little pieces of hay and grass aka “VM”.

Because Merino does not have a long staple, I found it difficult to use the comb and hackle, but managed to get a small bag of wonderfully soft and nearly vm-free fibre.  I spun a small amount of it and am very happy with the results.

My second attempt, this time with cotswold locks also purchased from Wooly Wool of the West, stashed Firestar & Silk, as well as Lincoln Locks from Neauveau Fiber Arts .  Long, curly locks comb very nicely on my new tools.

Layer 1, Cotswold locks

Cotswold locks, silk & Lincoln locks on Hackle

After two passes, I found that I had made beautifully blended and lofty fibre.

Twice combed locks on Hackle, ready to Diz.

I dizzed off two lengths of wonderful green and sparkly top, which I spun up on a home made top-whorl drop spindle, then plied it together from a centre pull ball.

Combed top, featuring Cotswold, Lincoln, silk & Firestar

Making a wonderful skein of dk weight yarn with lots of halo.

Swamp Yarn

The Great Toque Marathon: Update

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K2, P2, K2, P2 has been my thought train for over a week now. Whenever I am not working, driving, cooking or sleeping, I have been knitting the Great Canadian toques.

I can say with great joy, that I have started on my 9th toque in 16 days! I am also very happy to say that my current speed will, in fact, allow me to complete my Xmas knitting in time for the big family get-togethers.

I have not changed the pattern, but I have had to change how I build the toques:

Firstly, I discovered that the balls of Bernat that I purchased, from different stores and different batches, have been plagued with knots and unusual colour changes.  I would suggest to anyone who is going to take on a colour-sensitive project with a variegated yarn to pull out a ball winder or nostepinne to re-wind and ensure that the ball of yarn is worth using.

Secondly, I have started putting on stitch markers from the beginning so I have an easy view of all my stitches and can make sure that I don’t accidentally drop or knit/purl two stitches together. This was a suggestion from my Mum-in-Law who is a wealth of information and a very talented artist!

Be sure to check back for the final details on the project and the free pattern I will be posting.  Happy knitting!

Easy and quick crochet

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I am a teacher and I love to work with kids who are having trouble. I feel infinite patience with my students and enjoy coming up with new and creative ways to teach a new skill. I can be patient as a teacher but I’m not sure I’m known for my patience in my personal life.

Crafting would definitely fit into my personal life. I have the skills to pull off big projects (I think) but when it comes to following through on a long pattern or project, I tend to move on to instant gratification. That is why this project was so great!

Actually I was just eying up a pretty cowl at Shoppers Drug Mart but can’t be bothered to pay for something that I could just make and customize to whatever yarn I like.

I found this pattern free online here and was eager to give it a try.

So last night, at about 11pm, I began to crochet. I was instantly addicted to the simple-to-master pattern and could not put it down! Eventually, mommy fatigue kicked in and I reluctantly climbed my stairs and went to bed.

I woke up today and it was a little like Christmas! I couldn’t wait to get back to this project. So naturally, I did. I am thrilled with the finished product. In about 2.5 hours, I have a beautiful circular scarf that is both pretty and practical. I am already considering which yarn to try this pattern in next!

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