Friday, November 30, 2012

Free Minecraft Creeper Knitting Chart

I’ve been playing a lot of Minecraft. So have my kids, their friends, and my friends’ kids. It’s a really popular game. I made these creeper hats for my friend’s kids for Christmas. These are 84 stitch versions of Cynthia Miller’s Basic Knit hat. It’s a free download on Ravelry.


I posted the chart on my project page on Ravelry, but I thought I’d offer it here, and put it on its own pattern page on Rav as well! It’ll work with anything (hat, mitts/wristers, sweater, socks) that has multiples of 7 stitches across. Carry strands loosely behind and don’t bother crossing them. It’s only 2 colours and nothing carries more than 5 stitches so it’s nice and tidy.

Feel free to share this around. Enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

More Yarncrafting

Is it normal for knitters and crocheters to take a hiatus from their craft over the summer? This notion baffles me, as I cannot seem to put down my needles, no matter what’s going on.

Here are some of my recent FOs. None of these are original designs, but were all fun to make.

IMG_4579tThis gorgeous Playful Poncho from Lion Brand was given as a gift to my daughter’s friend. I was so happy to see her wearing it everyday while it was appropriate for the weather; something I have yet to see my daughter do with things I’ve knitted and crocheted for her, except maybe her favourite toque.
This was an excellent stash buster, it used 4 skeins of various blue acrylic yarns I had laying around.

Here I am modelling a Kraken (giant octopus) hat that I made for my husband, who is kind and cool enough to wear my funky hats on ‘hat day’ at work, a day when people donate to charity for the privilege of wearing a hat in the building all day. This one was improvised off the cuff, so there isn’t a written pattern for it in existence. I wish now that I had written it out as I went. Oh well, such is often the case with me.

IMG_4618tI’m addicted to socks. I’m also a addicted to Knit Picks, the lovely online shop where I bought my Harmony Wood circular needles, with which I knit these Waterfall Socks by Wendy Knits. The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Canopy. These were my first ever lace socks, and a source of challenge, frustration and pride!

IMG_4641tEvery self-respecting Browncoat knitter needs to knit herself a Jayne Hat, right? Well here’s my first, a gift for my favourite fellow Browncoat in Australia. The next one will be for me. The pattern is My Jayne Hat by Erica Barcott and made from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes.

IMG_4664tMy first Tabi socks, which were improvised from plain old cuff-down ankle socks. I used a short row heel here and I’m not entirely sure I like it. I’ve had more success with the Fleegle heel for toes up socks. I didn’t want to do toe-up on these, because it seemed too fiddly, but next time I make tabi socks, I’ll probably do a proper heel flap and gusset style heel. I just have to figure out how to do that with magic loop technique. These were knit from Blue Moon Fibre Arts' Socks That Rock in the Fire on the Mountain colourway.

IMG_4677tHow adorable is this Aviatrix Baby Hat by Justine Turner? (That’s a Ravelry Link.) One of the Nerd Wars challenges for this month was to make something for babies and donate it. This year, Slave Lake Alberta had a forest fire that saw 1/3 of the town burn down. Many homes and businesses were lost, and I donated these hats (along with some kids’ books for their library) through my kids’ school fundraiser. They’re made from Red Heart Comfort, Super Saver and whatever other acrylic I had in my stash. This is the most incredible pattern I’ve ever downloaded. Justine provides instructions for 3 different yarn gauges for hats in 7 different sizes! Incredible!

Another Nerd Wars project, these arm warmers are based on Ilsefins korvmuddar by Ilsefin. The pattern is in Swedish, but someone was kind enough to provide translated instructions in the project comments on Ravelry. These were knit with Knit Picks Wool of the Andes.

IMG_4702tMore stash busting! Here’s another Red Heart Kids, Super Saver and anonymous acrylic wonder, the Tapestry Tote Bag by Kathleen Garen.

There are a couple pairs of socks I never took pictures of as well, but they’re in the laundry, being some of the only socks I’m wearing these days, when it’s cool enough to wear socks outside! I have another pair on my needle as well, and some more projects planned for the near future. Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Answering Mail

I get a lot of questions and requests for advice from aspiring amigurumists (it’s now a word, I’m sure), by email and private message on YouTube and deviantART. Sometimes I go into older sent mail to find the answers all written up so I can copy and paste them. Here’s a new reply I wrote today that I felt bore repeating here. I hope it’s as useful as it seems to me right now.

If you get similar pleas for advice, feel free to quote me.

hi Jan :D
how long have you been doing crochet? :)
did you practice a lot to get as good as you are now?
when you first started was it easy? did things come at a little funny looking? lol I was just kind of wondering about these things
I've been looking at some plushies made by amigurimi (am i spelling it right :P) and want to make some 2. i have been looking at a lot of tutorials and will have some money next month to buy all the supplies needed. is there anything you might recommend for me?
bye-bye thank you for your wonderful tutorials

Hi! Thanks for your message!

I first learned to crochet when I was a child, as my mother crocheted afghans. That's what it meant to me back then; blankets that took months to make. I was not at all interested in ANY project that took that long, so I didn't crochet for many many years. A few years ago, I found pictures of amigurumi on deviantART, the website I use to host my gallery of handmade jewelry (and now crocheted and knit things too). It was love a first sight; I could see these things could be made in less than a day!

I searched for a good pattern to try, and found Hannah Kaminsky's blog, Bittersweet. She had a free pattern for these little birds, and it just clicked immediately. I suddenly knew the technique to create and construct anything I want just by adjusting the number of rounds, increases and decreases. I used the things I learned making that pattern to create my own, and have never used another person's patterns again. Here's the pattern that turned me onto it all:

Here is all you need to make your own amigurumi:

  1. Cheap, colourful acrylic yarn in worsted weight. Acrylic can be thrown in the washing machine and dryer without much fuss and is always the best choice for little toys like this, IMO. Buy a few different really bright colours that give you joy!
  2. A good hook or two. For amigurumi, I always use a smaller hook than is recommended on the label of the yarn. If you got that worsted weight yarn, use a 4mm (G) or 4.5mm hook. If you can find hooks with fat handles on them, spend the money and get them. If you end up crocheting a LOT, then this will help you prevent repetitive strain injury like tendonitis and carpal tunnel. Take care of your hands
  3. Scissors. Small scissors you can toss in a pencil case with your hooks for cutting your yarn. Acrylic yarn doesn't break easily like wool (which you can usually just pull apart).
  4. Yarn needle. You need a good blunt yarn needle that fits the yarn through the eye, for weaving your ends in when you're done. Very important, as the finishing touches make a BIG difference.
  5. Polyester fibre fill. This is fluffy stuff you'll stuff your toys with.

That's it. There are other things that help, like stitch markers to help you keep count of what row/stitch you're on, but you can always use a scrap of yarn in a contrasting colour for that in a pinch. Same with safety eyes and things, you can always just embroider facial features on your toys with contrasting yarn colours. All this stuff should be available at Walmart, or whatever local craft store you find yarn in. This doesn't have to be a costly hobby though. Check thrift stores for yarns and hooks and notions as well!

Good luck and have fun!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Win!

I was lucky enough to be one of the blog partners chosen this month (second month in a row, in fact! How lucky is that?!) to win a prize package from Rings & Things! I’m so excited! I have yet to use the cool goodies I won in February but plan to do so soon, and I’ll blog about it for you.

Here’s the list of lucky blog-partner giveaway winners!

  1. Debbie St George
  2. Julia Benson-Slaughter
  3. Jan Baxter
  4. Jenny Stark
  5. Penny Illemszky
  6. Wella Cornelis
  7. Jeannie Dukic
  8. Dee Gordon
  9. Chris Jackman
  10. Kassie Inman

Congratulations to everyone, and thanks very much to Dave and the crew at Rings & Things!

Speaking of which, they’ve just launched their new Spring Supplement catalogue, so go check it out for some great deals on useful Mixed Media-themed pretties!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Nerd Wars Begins

On, my favourite online yarn crafting community, there’s a special group for just about every interest. I happen to be a big science fiction nerd, so when it was announced in the Big Bang Gang forum (a group for lovers of the hit TV show, The Big Bang Theory) that there was going to be a big yarn craft competition for nerds from all nerdy fandoms, I signed right up for Team Bazinga.

Nerd Wars lasts three months and participants are eligible to submit to any and all of six different challenges offered each month. Each challenge has a category to which it belongs and entrants earn points for their team by completing projects that fit the challenge. The first Challenges were launched on Feb. 1 and I’ve just completed my first entry.

The challenge was for the Technical category, and called A BONDING EXPERIENCE.

“Chemical bonds come in many flavors (see the Wikipedia article for more information). An ionic bond is formed by the attraction between two oppositely charged ions, where one is a metal and the other is a nonmetal (these can be polyatomic). The resulting compounds, which include things like table salt (NaCl), have all sorts of useful properties.

Your challenge is to demonstrate the fiber equivalent of ionic bonding, using different types of fiber. Working with different fibers generally requires different techniques or tools to produce a finished object with the hoped-for properties. Therefore, in addition to presenting your finished object, you should discuss the technical aspect (fiber preparation, needle choice, etc.) of working with different fibers. Pre-blended fibers/yarns count as polyatomic ions and therefore can be one half of the ionic bond."

I think a lot of competitors are stranding different fibres together but I wanted to do something unexpected. I realize that knitting with wire isn’t all that new, but in this group, it won’t be an expected technique. I just hope it qualifies for points!


I used florists paddle wire, because it’s all I could get on short notice and I didn’t have anything finer handy. It was knit on 5mm needles with Swarovski crystals and features Patons Soy Wool Solids in Berry, crocheted down the centre and with a little “Penny Blossom” in the middle, accented with crystals. The Penny Blossom comes from Season 2, Episode 18: The Work Song Nanocluster, in which Penny is making hair accessories with artificial flowers and rhinestones to supplement her income. the boys try to help her and hilarity ensues. By now Penny is over the whole nightmare and would enjoy this pretty little bracelet.

I have some other, more traditional fibre projects lined up for the other challenges for this month. Cross your fingers for me that I’ll be able to complete them all in time!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lori Anderson's Metal Stamp Set Giveaway


Over at, Lori is giving away some very pretty ImpressArt letter stamps, courtesy of PJ Tool & Supply, a jewelry and hand tools supply site.


While you’re there checking out this giveaway, be sure to click the link to her jewelry website and see Lori’s stunning work!