Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mega Giveaway, $299 value at giverslog



Let's forget for just a moment that the Giver's log gift giver's blog has given us incredible handmade gift ideas and recipes for things like kick-butt caramels, hot chocolate on a stick (which I made today and am currently enjoying) and home made pesto. Forget that it's a friendly blog with lots of special touches like pretty printables.

Today, AmberLee is giving away a Silhouette Machine (a $299.99 value), complete with Software for Windows XP/Vista & Mac, Power cable, USB cable -2 Cutting mats (one for thick media, one for thin media), One cutting blade and a $10 gift card to the Silhouette Online Store.

What?? Am I serious?

Yeah.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Want to be a Knooker?

You heard me. It’s an actual word, and it’s what’s being used to describe a new (to me) technique for knitting with a special crochet hook called a KNOOK. This isn’t to be confused with the knit stitch in tunisian crochet that looks like knit fabric. The fabric you make by knooking really is knit, it’s just the technique that’s different.

 

The big deal is this hook! It’s a special crochet hook with a hole on the end opposite the hook. There are a few different kinds of hook which are commercially available that work for this, the most commonly found is a Locker Hooking needle, like this (picture courtesy of KMart.com):

kmartlockerhook1

Another similar tool is the Amazing Needle (picture courtesy Amazingyarn.com):

amazing_needle

 

You string a cord or shoelace on the end of this hook and use it to hold your active stitches, like your right hand knitting needle. You don’t specifically have to own one of these special needles to try this out. If you hold your active stitches on your crochet hook (better yet, your longer tunisian, cro-knit or cabled crochet hook), you can grab your cord with your hook and pull it through all the stitches, freeing your hook again to start knooking in the other direction.

 

How fortunate we are to have avid and knowledgeable knookers like Jen, with her Knooking blog to demonstrate the technique for us! Here’s her video teaching us the garter stitch:

Knooking: The knit stitch by pixjen

Check out her other knooking videos here.

 

Lately, because I desperately wish to knit myself some socks, I’ve been trying to relearn how to knit. It’s a slow process, and though I’m having little success with double pointed needles and even a circular needle, I’m optimistic that knooking will help me achieve my goal by making the best of my talent for crochet. Since I live in a small town with only WalMart as my craft supply source, there are no knooks, Amazing Needles or Locker Hooking needles anywhere to be found. This means than after my initial swatch attempt with a regular hook and cord, I was ready to hit the DIY road and make my own knook.

 

With regular old 6mm doweling from the dollar store, my trusty Jobmate rotary tool and some sand paper, I fashioned this knook all by my self. I think it’s rather beautiful if I may say so, and I even waxed it by rubbing some wax from a soy wax candle I have in my studio (Butt Naked scented, too).

IMG_4318r

It works like a charm, but the slippery cord I was able to fit in the hole does like to slip through my work, so I’m going to have to widen that hole to accommodate a larger and more grippy cord. Still, I was able to make the following swatch with it:

IMG_4315r

 

I had some 8mm doweling kicking around too, so I made another knook with that, with a wider hole that will fit a shoelace.

IMG_4319r

Hooray! And what else should an aspiring sock knitter try, but knitting in the round with some double stranded chunky?

IMG_4316r

Not bad for my first day knooking, if I do say so. I do still want to get some good knooks so I can knit finer gauge yarns (sock yarn, hello!). I’ve got my eye on a set of Denise Interchangeable Circular Crochet Hooks, because I really think they’ll be fabulous for knooking. I hope that the next knooking project I blog about is my first pair of socks!

 

Meanwhile, I’ve joined the Knooking Group on Ravelry (the very place I stumbled across that introduced me to knooking), for inspiration, tips and fellowship. Join us!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Halloween!

A while back, one of my favourite blogs, Dollar Store Crafts, showed us some super cool silicone ice cube trays in skull shapes! Needless to say I had to have it, but I don’t have a Dollar Tree store here! A quick message to Heather at DSC enabled me to do a trade with her. She sent me some skull moulds (and became my Hero) and I sent her the Sesame Street monster moulds my local Dollarama has.

It was all for this year’s Halloween Bash and Bake Sale at my kids’ school. In the past, I’ve brought bagged “mouse brains” (failed and crumbled puffed wheat squares in brown paper sacks) and bug-filled popcorn balls (melted marshmallow and Jello powder tossed popcorn with gummies pressed inside), and this year, sugar calaveras!
IMG_4291r

All you need to make these sugar skulls are some handy dandy skull ice cube moulds, sugar, water and a package of icing tubes specially designed for cookies. I used Cake Mate Scribblers. I think they’re just called Cake Mate Classic Writing Icing in the U.S. It dries hard, almost like royal icing, but comes in nice bright primary colours.

IMG_4292r

I followed Heather’s tutorial on how to make Edible Sugar Skulls (I also added a couple drops of peppermint extract to spruce up the flavour)and then decorated them with my Cake Mate Scribblers. Then when they were dry, I used another package of Scribblers to glue the skulls to some card stock I stamped with a really cool skull-themed portrait oval. Cool huh? Pop them into some zipper bags (or decorative Halloween treat bags, if you were smart enough to buy them at the start of the season, unlike me) and you’re all set!

Thanks for checking this out!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Review: Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs

I recently bought a gorgeous book called Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs by Edie Eckman and I'm just loving it. The cover caught my eye with it's incredible colours and textures, and I couldn't pass it up! I've been carrying it in my yarnbag all summer and showing it to every yarncrafter I know.



There are so many cool motifs to play with to construct blankets or even just yarnbomb the town in (not that I admit to participating in such subversive activities ;) ). It's spiral-bound so it lays flat while you read and stitch, the patterns are written out in easy, common terms as well as graphic chart, and the pictures are in gorgeous, full colour. There are patterns for all skill levels here, though none of them look too daunting if you are familiar with the basic stitches. This cover alone, worthy of hours of admiration, makes me smile every time I look at it.

I highly recommend this book to my fellow hookers!


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Now playing: Evil Genius Orchestra - Han Solo And The Princess
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Creating Amigurumi Episode 2

Wow. Episode two is finally out of the gate after two weeks of recovery from a pinched nerve in my back (thank God for a Massage Therapist from heaven and an incredible Chiropractor, both of which finally got me out of bed rest).




In this episode, I pick up where we left off after our first round, and demonstrate how to single crochet in the round with regular single crochet increases. You'll also see how to use a stitch marker and, I have to admit, you'll learn that fluorescent pink isn't probably the best colour to be using in a video demonstration with artificial lighting. Yikes.

I used some new video editing software (Cyberlink PowerDirector 8) that I'm not 100% comfortable with yet, but am getting there. My video camera is a HP v5060h, which looked incredible when I was shopping for a new video camera.

Photo courtesy of Hewlett Packard.


I'm really happy with how easy it is to use, but really ticked off that the format it records is .mov. I've gotten used to using Windows Movie Maker to edit my videos, but it doesn't recognize quicktime's .mov format, so that meant not only looking around for a decent editor that does, but also meant having to pay for said editor. I had the camera for several months and returning it to Walmart isn't really an option now. So I bought the software (how else would I spend the little money I recieve from AllFreeCrochet.com for making these special videos for them, huh?) and can now properly edit the footage. My new problem is that my videos are still turning out blurry despite the quality of this camera. I'm sure it's probably a focus and lighting issue (I'm leaning to macro with these close up demonstrations, and perhaps I shouldn't try to get so close). Not only that, but what quality of file should I be making? An 8 minute HD video ran 395MB and takes an hour and a half to export, making it difficult to hand to my editor at AllFreeCrochet.com for her approval. I mean, I don't even know if that HD video looks better than this or anything. How do I make these decisions??? Help!

As it stands, despite my little old Canon A570 making me a "YouTube Amigurumi-teaching superstar", *chuckle!* I still am very much a newbie at the whole movie-making process and while I'm happy to oblige all those people who write me everyday asking for advice and more videos, I still feel like I should be able to give them better product than I seem to be putting out there. So if you are a movie-making genius and you have advice for me, lay it on me! I'd be happy to hear it. Meanwhile, I'll keep muddling through trying to learn as much as I can, for as long as I have fun doing it!

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!


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Now playing: Black Uhuru - Right Stuff
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Partnering with AllFreeCrochet.com!

A few weeks ago, AllFreeCrochet.com contracted me to make some crochet videos for the video tutorials section of their website. I've been reading Favecrafts.com and AllFreeCrochet.com newsletters for some time now. I've recommended them before and continue to do so. I have shared my free patterns with them, and now I've begun making a video series demonstrating the skills needed to create your own amigurumi. It's called Creating Amigurumi and the first episode was posted today, both on my channel and on AllFreeCrochet.com's channel.



I can't tell you how excited I am that more people are interested in my videos. After all, I had never set out to do anything more than show a few friends how I'd made something. It's cool that it's grown to a channel with 12 very popular videos, with a combined 461,759 views. I get messages every day on YouTube from viewers asking for more videos and advice about everything from pattern reading to what to buy a crochet-loving girlfriend for her birthday.

I hope you enjoy this latest video and the rest of the series to come!


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Now playing: Jonathan Coulton - The Future Soon
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Care-a-Lot, Filth Wizard style

The creative genius that is the Filth Wizard, aka Kitten Muffin, has amazed me again. I've been reading her blog for over a year and am constantly impressed and inspired by her creative recycling and dedication to creating crafty fun for her kids. Today I opened up my reader to find a great, styrofoam Care-A-Lot playhouse she made with her wizards. I had to share it with you.


Align CenterPhoto copyright Kitten Muffin, www.filthwizardry.com.



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Now playing: Donavon Frankenreiter - Free
via FoxyTunes

Friday, June 25, 2010

Meet Up!


My Ravelry group, West Yellowhead Ravellers, hosted a meet-up today at Pocahontas Bungalows in Alberta. We had ladies from Hinton and Jasper meet up for brunch, yarn talk and fun. We had a delicious lunch (Roasted Vegetable and Havarti Wrap with salad was incredible) and bought some yarn (Billie brought a stash), and I did a trade with my former neighbour Gayle. We'd lost touch when she moved years ago, and it was great to reconnect!

Can't wait for the next one, in October!



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Now playing: Týr - The Wild Rover [The Dubliners]
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Polymer Clay Bead Love!

I've been following Lorelei's Blog - Inside the Studio for some time now, and I'm always awed by her gorgeous jewelry. Her work is very organic and natural, and she finds the coolest art beads in the world to incorporate into her designs. Many art beads are kind of expensive for many of us to consider buying online, and living in a small town means I don't get as much access to good craft shopping as I'd like. What's a girl to do, but make her own!



So I've messing with polymer clay lately, thinking about birds and earthy colours and vintage feels. Remembering that "not all polymer clay beads are art beads," as I recently read somewhere, I worried about how these would turn out and whether they would be art. I mean, what is art anyway?



Art is the product of human creativity. It doesn't have to be good, or even deep and meaningful, really. It just has to be, and in many cases, it wants to be. These birdies wanted to be, and I made them. I'm so proud, and I can't wait to make more art with them! Thank you, Lorelei, for the artbead love.




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Now playing: Metric - Rock Me Now
via FoxyTunes

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter!

I’ve been away from the blog world for nearly a year. Funny how life does that, isn’t it?

Today, in celebration of Easter, I’ve posted a new video on YouTube that demonstrates how to crochet an amigurumi egg. Just in time for the holiday, you can whip up several of these little things for the one in your life who doesn’t like chocolate. Add safety eyes, beads or embroidered faces to turn them into little buddies for your friends. Or, use this shape as the head for a more life-like amigurumi doll design. There are lots of ways to use this pattern. Enjoy!

easteregg2t

Amigurumi Easter Egg

Materials:
Red Heart Comfort sport in two colours of your choice.
Hook: F (3.75 or 4 mm)


Abbreviations:
R = round or row
sc = single crochet
st = stitch
tog = together (sc 2 tog = decrease)
sl st = slip stitch
instructions between * are repeated

R1 - sc 6 in a circle (amigurumi double ring) = 6st
R2 – *sc 1, 2 sc in next st* = 9 st
R3 - *sc 2, 2 sc in next st* = 12 st
R4 - *sc 3, 2 sc in next st* = 15 st
R5 - *sc 4, 2 sc in next st* = 18 st
R6 - *sc 5, 2 sc in next st* = 21 st
R7 - *sc 6, 2 sc in next st* = 24 st
R8 – sc around = 24 st
R9 – *sc 2, sc 2 tog* = 18 st
R10 - *sc 2, sc 2 tog* = 12st --Stuff with 100% polyester fibrefill.--
R11 - *sc 2 tog* = 6 st

sl st and bind off, leaving a tail long enough to sew end closed.

I also posted a link to this pattern on Ravelry.





Thanks for stopping by!
Jan