Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Costume: My Birthday Suit

Happy Halloween, Stitchers! Are you in costume today? I've been enjoying the pictures of friends and family posted online over the past few days of their costumes.

One year I dressed up as Rosie the Riveter, and another year I donned this strange bird beak mask on my face, but this year I'm not costumed in the traditional sense. I think I'll just stick with what's attached to me in the natural sense: my tattoos.

[caption id="attachment_137" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The Original"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_138" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Additions"][/caption]

Have a safe and fun Halloween, friends! I'd love for you to share what you're wearing this year, but most of all, make sure to keep those hands stitchin'!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pattern Sale from Linda Permann

Those of you who've been listening to the Shorty's Sutures Podcast know that I'm a big fan of Linda Permann. I've been fortunate enough to acquire both of her books this year and I've signed up for her Craftsy class Beyond Rectangles.

Now through October 31st Linda is running a 20% off sale on her patterns. Click over to her site for all the details!

In case you're wondering, I've just purchased the Peanut Butter pattern Once I finish my Beyond Rectangles class I'm going to tackle this super cute cardigan. I've been eye-balling it for several months now. And, thanks to some extra encouragement from Shorty's Sutures friends on Ravelry I'm going to stop being a big chicken about making a sweater!

Happy (almost) Halloween, my stitchy friends!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stitchery Update: A Passion for Crochet

Last week was a whirlwind of stitches for me! I started off mixing a bit of knitting in with a lot of crocheting, but as the week wrapped up I found myself only in love with crochet.

Remember the Orange Sharf? It's been frogged. It really didn't happen on purpose at first. I pulled the project out of its bag and noticed that about 15 stitches had come off one needle. Well, I don't know how to fix that yet, so I felt I was given an invitation to begin again. I reaffirmed that thought when I glanced back over all of my stitching mistakes by telling myself, "ahhh, yes.... just start over."

And so I will begin again.

Remember the Plum Crazy Cowl? It's demise is in the plotting phase. I've made enough progress in the project to better analyze what it's going to look like upon completion, and I'm not liking what I see. It's too big around for my neck, my cast on is quite atrocious, and I'm just sick of all the mistakes.

And so it will be frogged, then I will begin again.

These revelations in knitting have lead me to remember what brought me to my love of yarn: my love of crochet. I still have a deep desire to crochet every day, no matter what other stitches I may throw into the mix. It's so comforting to me but also productive.

I managed to crochet two cowls last week and begin a third, with even more crochet prospects on the horizon! And, I'm proud of my stitches when it comes to crochet.

I'm confident my knitting skills will improve one day, but crochet will always be my true love. Crochet brings me peace, fond sentimental feelings and a yearning for more. It makes me smile and leads me to confidently invest in luxurious yarns.

I must thank my Grandmother Berger for helping me to develop this amazing skill . Rest in peace, dear Grandmother, and thank you again for bringing such a wonderful art form into my life.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Episode 10: A New Way of Thinking

This episode begins with a new way of thinking about design and pattern writing. Who knew jotting down a few thoughts and stitches could lead to something wonderful!

[caption id="attachment_132" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="New Cowl Stitches"][/caption]

Finished Objects

A new cowl for Alexis, an infinity scarf or two for Holly and a new cowl for mehave been completed since the last episode. The third scarf for the Operation Gratitude campaign is complete with the goal to finish two more before December.

[caption id="attachment_131" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A Cowl for Alexis"][/caption]

What's in my bag?

What's in my ears?

  • My usual yarn-lovin' podcasts referenced in previous episodes

  • The Nerdist

  • The Moth (a must if you love story telling!)

What's in my stash?

The cowls mentioned in the finished objects section were quick crochet projects using Malabrigo Black #195 and Sealing Wax and Lion Brand Homespun in Wildfire.

[caption id="attachment_130" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Blocking in my bathtub! A blocking board is on my Christmas wishlist!"][/caption]

Those yarns were in my stash ever so briefly! I want to give Sheepish a whirl by Vickie Howell and add that to my stash as soon as possible.

In other news, I'm thoroughly enjoying a Craftsy class with Linda Permann, Beyond Rectangles. I highly recommend this format of instruction! I also whipped out my knitting instructional video called [amazon_link id="B000A0P6A4" target="_blank" ]The Complete Beginner's Guide to Knitting by Nici McNally[/amazon_link] to study up on correct technique and try to improve my tension and speed. Excitedly I briefly talk about being asked to review a new crochet book by Lark Publishing.

Well friends, that’s it for this episode. Feel free to send me an email at, find me on Facebook, Tout, Twitter or join the ShortysSutures Ravelry group. Thanks so much for joining me and I do hope you’ll join me again next time.

Until then, keep those hands stitchin'!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Show Notes: It's All in the Details

While preparing for Episode 10 of the Shorty's Sutures Podcast it occurred to me to change the formatting and style of the Show Notes. For the first episode I included a more conversational style of notes, but as I've published other episodes I've migrated to basic topic links.

Which style of notes do you prefer:  conversational or topic links?

I'm interested to know if any of you follow the show notes while you listen, if you read through them before listening or if you come back to the show notes after you've finished listening to an episode. Please leave your feedback in the comments section below.

Episode 10 will be available this weekend, but until then keep those hands stitchin'!



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Finding Design Inspiration

If you would've asked me a few months ago if I thought I could design a crochet pattern I would've told you no. It's amazing how things can change when you least expect them to.

About two weeks ago I was working on a project that didn't pan out very well for me. I frogged the attempt at a new cowl and rewound my yarn. The yarn promptly went back into my craft cabinet, but that yummy Malabrigo candy kept calling my name! Especially the red colorway.

I decided to go ahead and try to wing it and make a cowl anyway, without a pattern. My thinking was that I had this beautiful yarn and I wanted to quickly crochet a cowl so I could wear it as soon as the weather began to turn cooler.

Soon after beginning this project I realized how much I liked how it was coming together. The rounds were joining together practically seamlessly! Then I thought what a great project this would be for me to share, especially if there are any new crocheters out there who are looking for a simple project with almost instantaneous gratification! This is also a great project for experienced crocheters who are looking for an efficient project that will leave them with a classic cowl to wear for years to come.

[caption id="attachment_125" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Prima Classic Cowl"]Prima Classic Cowl[/caption]

I was shocked that I had come up with a pattern! It's a pattern that I'm proud of and I actually had a friend ask me to make one for her, too! That made my heart sing, I tell ya. It boosted my confidence, enabling me to think that I just might be able to come up with more designs in the future that other crocheters would like to try. Amazingly enough, this design and pattern came together by following the inspiration of a simple plan in my mind and using wonderful yarn.

I'm in the process of making my second Prima Classic Cowl as a way of testing my pattern notes to make sure they will be easy to follow. My plan is to release the free pattern within a week, so stay tuned! This may end up being your favorite crocheted cowl of the season, too!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to Make a Crocheter Smile in 1.7 Seconds

I've been told I'm one of those serious types who doesn't smile often enough. I like to disagree with anyone who calls me overly serious and point out the deepening laugh lines that tease me every time I look in the mirror.

But, even on my most serious of days one thing that will make me smile faster than a speeding bullet is for someone to say, "I love that! Will you make one for me?" Then the coy, demure expression takes over and you may hear me say, "Really, you like it? Of course I'll make one for you! What color?"

Last week I had two friends reach out to me within a three day period asking about Infinity Scarves I had made. Maybe it's the change from summer into fall that's rousing my dear friends from their yarn-less slumber. Or maybe I should give myself a little more credit that I can crochet a great scarf! Either way, I've been smiling ever since the first message asking for one of my handmade creations.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Colorful Cleaning

Did you know how fun it is to clean with crocheted dishcloths? I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here, but I'm seriously not kidding!Having a cutesy little thing to wash dishes or wipe down my counter tops with is a wonderful feeling! I feel a bit like I should be dressed like Donna Reed with a beautiful dress and apron on serving my family a glass of fresh milk that was just delivered.

You should try it! It's not only fun, but crocheting these cuties was incredibly fast. It's a great way to use up yarn scraps and quick projects do wonders for your mental health. Here's to happy stitchin' and a clear, focused mind!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lots of stuff is happening over at Shorty's Sutures:
  • Episode 9 of the crochet podcast is ready for your listening pleasure
  • New posts are online to get yarny thoughts spinning
  • Social media links allow you to interact with the Shorty's Sutures group
Stop by and check it out! I'll be waiting....

Why You Shouldn't Follow the Us vs. Them Mentality

Schoolyard taunting is over for most of us, right? Amazingly enough, though, it's not over for everyone.

You may have heard me mention in a past podcast episode about not understanding why some knitters mock crocheting and some crocheters mock knitting. By this I mean adults are making fun of and/or opposing the other fiber art. In case you didn't hear that episode I indicated I was shocked to discover that this mentality even existed. Alas, it does exist in certain circles and I'm on a quest to bring that frame of mind to an end.

For the purposes of my argument I'm going to refer to this way of thinking as the Us vs. Them Mentality. If a yarncrafter is pro-knit and anti-crochet, or pro-crochet and anti-knit then they are part of the Us vs. Them Mentality.

After getting over the disbelief that anyone would pick sides like that I began asking where might this way of thinking have come from. I'm guessing one of the contributing factors is because knitting has historically been around longer than crochet, or at least based on documented artifacts knitting appears to have been around longer than crochet. It's natural to think the longer a particular art form has been around the more people have played with it and developed new things within that medium. If we are going to assume that history is correct, and knitting was here first, then knitters have simply had more time to develop more stitch and technique options, and focus on more natural fiber yarns, than crocheters have. Beware any anti-crochet lurkers... crocheters have been catching up and are gaining new ground!

I've received responses from listeners and readers that crochet has a stigma of being a granny-style hobby that's only used to create novelty items with rough and outdated acrylic yarns. Those of us who actually crochet know better, but perhaps there are some knitters who really think that way. Crocheters can help combat this ideal by continuing to make more crocheted products using high quality yarns and a variety of stitch techniques.

As far as crocheters being anti-knit perhaps this mentality developed as a defense response to the aforementioned group. Or, maybe the anti-knit movement was in response to seeing too many ugly holiday sweaters back in the 80's and 90's. Who knows. No matter how the negative sentiments came to be they should disappear. And, I have four reasons for you to ponder as to why we should all choose not to jump on the Us vs. Them bandwagon and simply embrace both skill sets.

First of all, having either (or both) the ability to crochet and the ability to knit proves that you have specific skill sets. Having the ability to make beautiful things by hand is a wonderful thing! Develop those skills, no matter what they are, and you'll not only see your confidence level grow but you'll contribute to keeping those skills around for generations to come. Keeping them around will also help them to become even more developed and complex over time.

Just look at designers like Vashti Braha and Doris Chan who are consistently working to improve their crochet skills, develop new techniques and share them with everyone. (I would also name an innovative knitter or two, but I'm too new on the knit scene to know of them. I'm sure there are many and I welcome you to note any innovative knitters in the comments section below.)

Secondly, being part of the Us vs. Them mentality is just plain reactive instead of being proactive. Being reactive is defensive while being proactive is forward thinking and can be positive. To help illustrate my point here is a quote by Serge Prengel from

In this context, the word “reactive” implies that you don’t have the initiative. You let the events set the agenda. You’re tossed and turned, so to speak, by the tides of life. Each new wave catches you by surprise. Huffing and puffing, you scramble to react to it in order to just stay afloat.

In contrast, the image we associate with “proactivity” is one of grace under stress. To stay with the previous analogy, let’s say you’re in choppy waters. Now, you look more at ease. It’s not just that you anticipate the waves. You’re in tune with them. You’re not desperately trying to escape them; you’re dancing with them.

I'm a fan of choosing to be graceful and letting the naysayers fill themselves up with negativity.  (Ok, sometimes I may reactively vent to myself or my family, but I put the negativity away and get back to a positive approach as soon as possible.) I honestly don't feel that this topic should consume anyone in the yarn world, but I do feel that we shouldn't give any more of our energy to the causes who so defiantly oppose either skill, both of which used to be more commonplace skills in society.

Thirdly, other fiber artists aren't doing this to each other. Do you read or hear about dyers taunting or speaking negatively about spinners? Or weavers making fun of those who choose to embroider? Why any knitter or crocheter would care about knocking the other craft is completely beyond me. Learning and sharing any or all of these facets of the fiber arts is keeping the crafts alive for future generations, and helping them to grow and develop in new ways.

Lastly, but most importantly we need to support each other and remain in the same network. Trends can ebb and flow, and right now we're seeing an upswing of crochet in the fashion markets. This trend may continue for a season or two, or it may remain for years to come. When the crochet trend fades, or when the knit trend fades, I say just continue working your skills and developing your craft so that these skills aren't lost with whatever the latest fashion may be.

I'm a firm believer that the art of crochet will become as mainstream as knitting the more we use it and the more we invest in our supplies and skills. Keep asking for more types of classes that will not only expose you to more intricate crochet stitches, but it will also allow you to create more complex garments, accessories and home decor. Having more options for both skills around the world will evolve and one day it won't seem so one-sided.

No matter what your preferred method of stitching is, friends, just keep those hands stitchin'! Be confident when it comes to developing your skills and don't be afraid to brag about them.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to Feel Peaceful in Minutes

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I felt like crap-o-la when I woke up. I was determined not to let my day be wasted just because I didn't feel like my normal  somewhat energized self, but I knew I needed to take it easy.

One of the first things I did after Hubby left for the office was to pull out my Radicowl project that I've had listed in my projects queue on Ravelry for over a month. I grabbed my pattern, my freshly wound yarn balls, my crochet hook and began getting down to business. I sat in silence, my Dobie Axel on the couch beside me and I worked to create what I hoped would be a new cowl and learn a new technique in the process. Despite having to navigate through an unfamiliar pattern I felt a level of peaceful determination take over.

The new [to me] technique is called Crochet Brioche. I wasn't able to find a lot of information in video format about it online, so I just dug into the pattern to see how far I could get. Basically, one row is completed in two parts, an A section and a B section. The A section is crocheted in one color and the B section in another color. After about an hour and a half into the project I was beginning row 3. I kept looking back at my work not liking what I was seeing. I kept telling myself that I wasn't going to wear this. Ever.

The color combination of deep red and golden yellow, which I thought would look like a sunset, I realized is not a color combo I would regularly wear. The stitch pattern that I was creating, which could be technically incorrect since I'm unsure if I'm following the pattern correctly, looked more like Granny Square stitching than the Crochet Brioche I was seeing in the picture. I knew I wasn't going to wear a Granny Square-ish cowl. Ever.

So, I frogged the entire thing and rewound my two balls of yarn. Despite my failed attempt at this project I felt better than I had when I gotten up. I didn't feel frustrated and I didn't feel like I had failed. I felt like I had made a new discovery. I had discovered that Crochet Brioche is something I will need to learn from a class online or person-to-person instruction, and that it may not be a form of crochet work that I truly like.

I maneuvered around the house to complete the rest of my goals for the day at a very slow pace. I managed to reach all of my goals and even add one more: to use my Sealing Wax Red Malabrigo worsted yarn (one of the yarns from the Radicowl project) in another project before the day was over.

You see, this deep red Malabrigo worsted weight yarn has been in my stash calling my name since April. When I wound it on my Nostepinne a couple of nights ago I felt how soft and fuzzy the texture was, causing the yarn to stick to itself throughout the process. I kept wondering how it was going to feel as I crocheted with it. To tell you the truth, it felt amazing moving between my fingers and onto my crochet hook. So I was determined to not let the day pass without beginning a new project with it.

I reached my last goal of the day. Before retreating to bed I started a new cowl with a simple series of crochet stitches. Once I had my desired length and joined the two ends of foundation stitches together I felt satisfied enough to put the project away for the night. I felt a small smile emerge on my face as I switched off the lamp.

I'm sharing this story with you today to communicate just what a positive impact crochet has on my life. It helps me turn a murky day into a brighter one. It lowers my blood pressure and it brings me peace. Even when I have to start over and begin something totally new I feel better. Even when I have to acknowledge that a simpler stitch is the right way for me to go I feel better. I hope that crochet, or some other form of hand stitchery, can bring you that same type of feeling.

Keep those hands stitchin', folks. It will bring you peace!