Friday, March 25, 2011

Crochet Pattern Organization

I have no idea how everyone else organizes their patterns (maybe just on computers?), but I wanted to share my way. :)

For months (like, 12!), I was storing my favorite patterns on my kindle, mostly in PDF form. But the text of the PDFs was always too small, so I had to turn my kindle horizontal. Plus, at the time, the kindle didn't have their "collections"/folder option, so it was a PITA to organize them with all of my other ebooks. I also have a "Crochet Patterns" folder on my laptop where I have them saved into categories. And, of course, there is Ravelry.

But, and maybe I'm just old-school, I do enjoy having things like patterns in physical form. It's nice to be able to flip through my patterns and especially nice for when I don't have access to power (e.g. when the power went out last year while I was crocheting some play food and my laptop battery was crap and would die after 10 minutes without being plugged in and my kindle wasn't charged...).

So, how do I organize my patterns?
In this:
My crochet pattern binder!
It's a smaller 2" binder, measuring in at about 7" x 8" that I picked up at Office Depot for about $4. I'm still trying to figure out what type of cover I want for it, so excuse it's boring blue-ness! Inside, I have a bunch of those free patterns you can grab at Joann and Michael's and some 5"x7" and 5"x8" index cards where I print out or write out patterns.
Pocket has lined paper for notes & lists
(back pocket has free patterns that are for knitting - inspiration, mostly)
My "Home/Kitchen" section

My "Holiday" section, shown to show the design I use for the index cards
I only just today added the tabs! My binder was a mess before, but I hadn't found any dividers that would work all that well (A-Z is pretty useless). My index cards are the larger ones too, so I had to find something larger than them while small enough to fit my binder.

A project that I can't WAIT to finish so that it gives me more free time is an order I am fulfilling for 20,000 origami lucky stars. I'm about 8,000 stars in now, but I need to devote about 4 straight hours a day to folding them, minimum (that's about 500 stars a day). Why am I mentioning this here? Well, I ordered the paper from a printer (no way was I printing 500 sheets of paper here at home! WAY cheaper and faster to use a professional). And I had that paper pre-cut to be 5.5"x8.5". Ever 100 sheets of paper, there were cardboard sheets. Not only am I able to upcycle them, but they were just about the perfect size!

So I opened up photoshop and quickly made some colorful tabs with the sections I figured I'd need and printed them out onto an index card that hadn't printed correctly (yay for more recycling). Cut those out and taped them onto the dividers (glue would have likely been better, but I wasn't that patient). And voila!
That last one, Afghans, was one that I sort of forgot about when I was designing...
So it gets the handwritten treatment!
I want to do something with the blah brown-ness of the cardboard, but, like the blueness of the cover, it's got to wait until I decide what I want to do with it. I'll probably just cover the cardboard with scrapbook paper on the fronts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why are baby's hats so darn fun to make?

I've finally started on the Owl hat my friend wanted for her daughter, inspired by one she found online. I have several photos to go by and am really trying to recreate the hat as best I can. So far, I think I've done pretty darn well! And I'm not sure that it makes sense that people are trying to sell patterns for similarly designed hats for $5-10! IMO, patterns should only be sold if they required a bunch of frogging to design/create because, otherwise, it was easy enough to figure out that most anyone should be able to do it! If one really wants to charge for their pattern and it's pretty easy, make it a couple bucks at most! Or, at least, allow people to sell items they create with the simple pattern if you must charge them $10 for it.

I don't mean to be a tease, but I'll post my pattern (for free) when I am done and can post some photos along with it. Stay tuned!

Also on the agenda, a couple of stegosaurus hats for etsy customers. It's seemingly a hit among moms with boys, despite it being pretty darn cute on little girls too! (if a dinosaur can be blue and orange, why can't it be pink and purple?). I'm working on a green one with dark brown plates (spikes?) and then on to a light green hat with orange plates. Hmm, green seems to be the color of choice.

When I'm done with these, I'm totally itching to come up with some more! I want to make a bee hat and a flower hat, but will likely need to start focusing more on just bunny hats first. Fortunately, baby hats work up pretty quickly (2-3 hours for me, generally), but I still need to figure out colors and such! I also imagine that most people would prefer natural fibers to acrylic (honestly, I would LOVE to be able to  work basically solely with fibers like bamboo and silk, but it's just too $$$ :( ), so I will probably look into at least getting some more Peaches & Creme yarn in colors other than ombres and white & ecru.

Speaking of cotton yarn - anyone out there have any luck dying it? A few months ago, I wanted to see about naturally dying cotton yarn with things like dandelions & strawberries, but never got around to trying it.

Also, how about "tarn" (yarn made from t-shirts)? I have a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat and am itching to try to make some, but don't really have any shirts I want to cut up! (unfortunately, we've donated quite a few of my husband's old t-shirts over the years!) I guess I need to hit up some garage sales and thrift stores to find some...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

PATTERN: Install Ball Animal Orb

Install Ball:

Yarn: Worsted Weight. I used Caron Simply Soft Black yarn for the middle and White for the embroidery, and their Brites Lime for the rest.

Hook size: 5.5mm

With black, 12 hdc into magic circle
1: 1 hdc, 2hdc into each st - 18 sts
2: 1 hdc, 2hdc, rep - 24 sts
3: With green, 2 hdc, 2hdc, rep - 30 sts
4: 3 hdc, 2hdc, rep - 36 sts
5: 4 hdc, 2hdc, rep - 42 sts
6: 5 hdc, 2hdc, rep - 48 sts
7-11: hdc around - 48 sts
12: 4 hdc, hdc2tog, rep - 42 sts
13: 3 hdc, hdc2tog, rep - 36 sts
14: 2 hdc, hdc2tog, rep - 30 sts
Embroider white & start stuffing
15: 1 hdc, hdc2tog, rep - 24 sts
16-18: hdc2tog, rep - 12/6/3 sts

Obviously, the install ball is easy enough to do, haha. You could also use sc instead of hdc and just do a few more rows (1.5 more, I imagine!).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I've gotten back to making some more play food for my friend's daughter. :)

Behold, chocolate chip cookies that do not look like weird frisbees: (and a christmas tree "sugar cookie").

And a vanilla ice cream cone (it's about 5" tall):

Monday, March 7, 2011

Castle Crashers!

This past month, I've had a couple of people ask for some custom items that I'd never done before for the game Castle Crashers.

First, I made a custom animal orb, Install Ball:
The finished product!The image from that I had to work with.

Then, a bit later, I had someone order 3 custom hats. The first was The Industrialist, the second the Ninja and the last was the Bear (Bipolar Bear, Bear Shaman... whatever you'd like to call him!). The Industrialist was probably the most difficult of the three for me and my least favorite of the hats (though Brian, my customer, was pleased with the results! :) ). I couldn't figure how to keep the pointed top of the hat from being a bit limp and teletubbie-like.

The Ninja was much easier and I quite enjoyed making the skull & crossbones for it. :)

And then there was my favorite, the Bear. I wanted to give him the furry texture the bear in the game so obviously had, but hadn't had much luck with any textured yarn I had tried (I had previously tried both Lion Brand Homespun and Joann Sensations Boucle and hated them both). So I researched a bit to see if I could find a way to pull it off. I was considering some of Red Heart's yarn and then wound up getting some I'd never even heard of before. My husband was the one who discovered it when we were at Michaels and I'm so glad he talked me into trying it out! I bought Red Heart Buttercup in white (tell me that color isn't being discontinued! I can't find it online anywhere... But I have bought about 8 skeins of it, just in case!).

At first, I was not enjoying the yarn any more than I had the others, even with my new 8.0mm bamboo crochet hook
(the recommended hook according to the label). But then I had an epiphany - the yarn was
textured and you couldn't really tell where the stitches was. Which was my problem, of course. But if I couldn't tell where the stitches were, how could an untrained eye? So I sort of fudged my way through, not always going through both front & back loops or even necessarily going through either properly. And, before I knew it, I was actually making the hat! Eventually, I did find my stitches more clearly and crocheted properly, but I do think that helped me get used to the tension to use and get over my frustrations.

Out of curiosity (and after running out and buying more skeins of this wonderfully soft and plush yarn!), I tried out some Homespun again, with the 8mm bamboo hook (despite having tried it and a 10mm hook previously). And I was able to make a bunny hat with it! I am so overjoyed at the fact that I can now use Homespun!! I've always loved the colors, the texture, and the softness (though not the squeakiness you get when you use aluminum or plastic hooks) and thought that was such a tease since the yarn was horrible to work with. And now I know how to use it properly!! I intend to use a bunch of it for hats in the near future and will no longer pass it up when I see the mill end bags for $6 at Big Lots.

And, just in case someone stumbles upon this because they are looking for any of the above, I may or may not have them listed in my etsy store, but that doesn't mean I won't make you one! Just convo me on etsy or e-mail me or leave a comment here!