Friday, December 15, 2017

Review: Charley Crochet Cactus Kit from Global Backyard Industries

Today, I will be reviewing the Charley Crochet Cactus Kit from Global Backyard Industries. Disclaimer: I received this complimentary kit in exchange for a review. I am not being paid to write this review and everything shared here is my real opinion. Thanks go out to Global Backyard Industries for providing the kit.

So, there are 10 days until Christmas. How did we get here so quickly? Who knows. I am pleased to report that all of my (modest) shopping is done. Are you sitting there with no idea of what to get for someone this holiday season, be they crocheter or not? This kit could be a great solution to your problem! Since it is available on Amazon, you can buy it now and it will ship out quickly. Furthermore, the cactus it creates is quite giftable as well! Finally, this kit is priced very reasonably.

The kit comes with everything you need to create the cactus, even the hook! I trusted this to be true before opening it and brought it to my fiber group the other day, ready to work on it. The only thing it doesn't contain is scissors. The materials are of good quality.

The instructions were clear and the cactus was really fun to make. I was a little unsure about working with the green novelty yarn, but it turned out to be sturdy and just fine to work with. I love my little cactus! I haven't decided if I will give it to a friend or take it to work. Check it out!

How cute! I unhesitatingly recommend this kit.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Free Crochet Pattern: Ombre Lightning Scarf

The other day I told you all about the Royal Time Gradient Trio that I had the opportunity to work with. I'm happy to report that I have just finished the pattern I was writing with it. Here's the Ombre Lightning Scarf! This is an extra extra long and skinny scarf that is chic and wrapped many times. Pattern below.

- 600 yd (548 m) of fingering weight yarn; 200 yards of each of three colors
- US size E 3.5mm crochet hook
- yarn needle
- scissors

This scarf is about 10 ft (3 m) long and 3 in (7.5 cm) wide. 

sk = skip, dc = double crochet, ch = chain, st = stitch, rep = repeat, sc = single crochet

Scarf Base
With darkest color, chain 32.
Row 1: Sk 3 ch sts (counts as 1 dc). Work 1 dc into the fourth ch from the hook. Work 1 dc into each ch st across. (30)
Row 2: Ch 3, turn. Sk first st. Work 1 dc into each st across. Work 1 final dc into the top of ch 3. (30)
Row 3: Ch 8, turn. Sk 3 ch sts (counts as 1 dc). Work 1 dc into each remaining ch. Work 1 dc into first 24 sts. Leave remaining 5 sts and ch 3 unworked. (30)
Row 4: Ch 3, turn. Sk first st. Work 1 dc into each st across. Work 1 final dc into the top of ch 3. (30)
Rows 5 through 30: Rep Rows 3 and 4.
Change to middle color.
Rows 31 through 60: Rep Rows 3 and 4.
Change to lightest color.
Rows 61 to 90: Rep Rows 3 and 4.
Fasten off and weave in ends.

Make sure the right side is facing you. You will know that the right side is facing you if the little tips are curling up toward you. With the darkest color, attach with a slip stitch in the lightest corner. Work sc evenly up one entire side of the scarf. I worked 2 sc into each row end, ch 1 in the inner corners, 1 sc into each unworked dc, 1 sc into top of ch 3, and ch 1 on the outer corners. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Change to lightest color and attach with a slip stitch in the darkest corner. Repeat the same process up the other side of the scarf. Note that you will be working into the underside of the chain stitches instead of dc sts.

Optional Fringe
Once again, make sure that the right side is racing. With the middle color, cut 128 10-inch strands. Attach the strands in sets of four in every other stitch at both ends of the scarf. Use the Lark's Head Knot to attach the strands. Trim as desired.

I hope you enjoy this pattern! Let me know what you think in the comments. I could see this pattern being adapted for thicker yarn weights. If you try it, let me know!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: Gradient Trio from Zen Yarn Garden

Today, I will be reviewing the Royal Time Gradient Trio from Zen Yarn Garden. Disclaimer: I received this complimentary yarn in exchange for a review. I am not being paid to write this review and everything shared here is my real opinion.

Gradient patterns are really hot right now. The bold ombre trend came up a few years ago, and now the focus has shifted to slightly more subtle color transitions. I love gradient projects. I think they are really classy. However, something that can sometimes be challenging is finding the right yarn for the pattern. Zen Yarn Garden has got you covered with their prearranged gradient sets. They even suggest patterns!

I am currently working with this yarn and it is a very pleasant experience. I'm using a smallish hook (3.5mm), and yet my hand is not tiring too much. I think it is because the yarn is very smooth and easy to work with. It is soft, yet it also provides good stitch definition.

Purple is my favorite color, so this is the perfect set for me. At first I thought I might find an existing pattern to work with. However, I got a flash of design inspiration and I've actually been developing a simple crochet pattern. Guess what? It will be a free pattern!

This is just a little teaser picture. The free pattern should be posted sometime at the beginning of December. Speaking of December, I heartily endorse this gradient trio as a holiday gift. For a knitter or crocheter. If I have extra yarn after the pattern is complete, I'll knit it up and let you know what I think. For now, I am perfectly pleased to be crocheting with it. Thank you for the yarn, Zen Yarn Garden!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gift Nature's Gifts!

Thanksgiving has passed and winter holiday decorations are popping up everywhere! Something I'm really happy about is that I am completely done with my holiday shopping. It's true! I got a jump on it this year and now I get to wrap all of the presents. I think wrapping presents is super fun!

However, I realize that I am likely an anomaly in having my shopping done. Most folks are just getting started. If you're looking for a gift for a crocheter, consider my book: Nature's Gifts for Baby. It can be purchased on Amazon and the Leisure Arts website (where it's on sale this weekend!), as well as in craft stores around the United States. Your giftee will be able to get a head start on all of the baby shower gifts that will be needed next summer as a result of this year's cozy winter moments *wink*.

 Still not convinced? Check out these reviews:

From Mikey of The Crochet Crowd: "Sara has gone that extra step to make the blankets look and feel special."

From Tamara Kelly of Moogly: "Aren’t they gorgeous!?"

From Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence: "I love the way that nature has inspired the pieces in ways that are both obvious and subtle."

From Susan Carlson of Felted Button:  "As you know--I looove making blankets, so this is right down my alley!"

From Susan Lowman of The Crochet Architect: "If you’re looking for some new crochet patterns to make for a favorite baby in your life, I hope you’ll consider this book with lots of creative designs!"

PS: Re-reading all of the kind words of the reviewers definitely has me misty-eyed. The crochet community is so kind and supportive!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Yarn at the Northwest Chocolate Festival

I have been going to so many events. It's been fun, but also exhausting. I recently attended the last event I'll be going to for a while. The Northwest Chocolate Festival was interesting and tasty, but also very crowded. It was located right on a pier with a pretty view of the Puget Sound. They had chocolate vendors visiting from all over the world. In addition to chocolate, they also had other specialty items like hot sauce and jerky. I sampled both kangaroo jerky and alligator jerky. I enjoyed the former... not so much the latter.

Why am I talking about a chocolate festival on a fiber arts blog? Well, as luck would have it, I actually found yarn there! Stellar Alpacas had a selection of yarn and goodies for sale.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Willow Cowl: Take Two

In my Vogue Knitting Live pictures, I was wearing a freshly knitted cowl. It was another Willow Cowl, made with gorgeous yarn that my friend, Toni, gave me. I had fun making the first cowl and wanted to try a second that was true to the pattern. I enjoy the result... but I won't be repeating a pattern again. I have found that I much prefer making something new each time, whether it be designing or working up someone else's pattern. However, I'm happy I made this cowl. It is very wearable and the colors are very me. I didn't block it; I like it the way it is. It's squishy and has a lot of movement. (I'm also lazy about blocking!)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Vouge Knitting Live Seattle 2017: Megapost!

Fall has shaped up to be quite a busy season for me! I've been to at least one event each weekend, I'm working on several projects at once, and my day job is as busy as ever. I was lucky enough to go to Vogue Knitting Live last weekend... and I'm only just getting around to posting about it today!

This was such a cool event. I had heard about it when it came by a few years ago, but I didn't end up going. I made sure to snag my ticket early this year!

The event was filled with art, presentation, classes, booths, and fiber lovers of all ages and crafts. I saw lots of great crochet. I think the fine yarn world is doing a much better job of being inclusive of crochet these days.

There was soooooo much delightful yarn! I really had to contain myself. Look at the lovelies above from Mary Gavan Yarns, Knit Picks, and Third Piece.

I absolutely fell in love with the gradient yarns of The Blue Brick, and the dyer herself kindly posed for a picture. Unfortunately, I snoozed on the hank that I wanted. When I went back, it was gone! How exciting are the sparkles?

Nicky Epstein had a booth showcasing her large "Teatime Bears," as well as toy animals made by knitters who had followed her patterns.

Laurinda Reddig, a super friendly crochet designer who I previously met at Urban Craft Uprising, had a lovely selection of crochet pieces out to show.

Gina Rose Gallina, whose pineapple I blogged about previously, was there showing off some amazing and whimsical art. She took the time to chat with me and share tidbits about her process. She is so friendly!

Mandy Greer's art was a mix of many mediums, crochet included. The blue artwork was made by many hands and brought together by Mandy. Such a neat aesthetic!

More amazing art was showcased by Suzanne Tidwell, Carol Milne, Claire Taylor, and Gabriele Meyer.

At the end of the event there was a yarn drop, hosted by Rowan. I got to catch yarn as it fell from the ceiling! It was really fun to line up with all of the other yarn lovers. I managed to snag two skeins from the same dye lot!

After the event, my friends Claire, Suzanne, and Caroline all joined me at a coffee shop. We worked, chatted, and reviewed our loot.

I came away from the market with some lovely stitch markers and a case from Miss Purl. They can be used as either crochet or knitting markers. Isn't that cool!? I also splurged on a gorgeous skein of sparkle yarn from Fidalgo. It was such a great time! I'll definitely attend when it comes to Seattle again.