DIY laptop stand made with mason jars and cutting board

Crochet Enhances a DIY Laptop Stand

Eco-Craft: Making a Laptop Stand from Household Materials

If you follow my blog you know that in addition to crochet I am passionate about the environment. So whenever I feel like I need something new, I often look for environmentally friendly options first. Can I make it? Can I pick one up secondhand? Can I buy a handmade option vs plastic junk? Sometimes there are no great options and I end up having to order online from a big box store, but when I can, I do try to come up with an alternative.

DIY laptop stand made with mason jars and cutting board
DIY laptop stand made with mason jars, cutting board and crochet!

With COVID shelter-at-home orders in place, my work transitioned us all to work remotely. I’ve been working at home for over five weeks now. I really do like it although I am missing my work station. In my office I have a variable height desk and two massive monitors. It’s been an adjustment working on just a laptop, but one that has been surprisingly easy. After a week I realized I needed to raise my laptop to eye level. Too much looking down was bad for my neck. I found a box that was the right height and used that for a couple weeks. But I got sick of looking at that ugly brown box. Stuck at home without access to thrift stores had me initially looking online for a laptop stand. Once I saw how basic and how expensive it was for plastic junk, the DIY in me knew there had to be a better, Earth-friendly option.

Like most projects, I thought about this one for a few days trying to figure out the best way to make the project work. I decided on using four mason jars and an old cutting board. The jars were saved from store-bought salsa. The cutting board was one that I have been meaning to replace. It was old and had started to split as ***someone*** ran it through the dishwasher a few times. Split cutting boards are not good to use as bacteria can get in the cracks. I knew it was important for the jars to have some weight to them to add stability to the laptop stand. I had enough sand for two jars. The third is filled with blue sea glass purchased at least 15 years ago. The last is filled with shells collected from one of our beach trips. The two sand jars were a little plain looking so I added a display of some of the nicest shells in one. The second I decorated with a crocheted motif using stash yarn. This was inspired by my Zinnia Votive pattern. I used the motif from the pattern and secured it with a crocheted band around the back. The cotton and linen yarn (CotLin by KnitPicks) in Raindrop, looks great, is the perfect dusty blue, and contrasts nicely with the white sand. The jars were secured to the cutting board with hot glue. Now when I’m working on my computer, not only is my neck happier, but I am surrounded by crochet and memories of good times with my family at the beach. All for zero dollars and zero impact on the Earth.

DIY laptop stand enhanced with crochet
Crochet used to decorate a mason jar in a DIY laptop stand.
DIY laptop stand with seaglass
DIY laptop stand with sand and shells in a mason jar
Sea shells my family collected on one of our beach trips!

And an added bonus is the space under the laptop. Underneath the stand I placed a basket. Now my computer glasses, cleaning cloth, and lip balm are close at hand but out of the way.

DIY laptop stand made with mason jars and old cutting board decorated with crochet
Ta-Da! an awesome laptop stand!

I purchased a new cutting board to replace the one used in the project. I did have to go online to a big box store but at least it is made from bamboo-an environmentally friendly material.

My office/guest room is the latest room painted in my quest to repaint my whole house. I first blogged about it here and my last post was about the first thing I added to the freshly painted walls in this room. I’ve got a couple more crochet themed projects planned for the office/guest room, if I can ever get to a thrift store for supplies!

You can easily make one yourself. If you can’t find a old cutting board, a book, mirror, or any other solid, flat board will work. Just be sure to add some weight in the supports as you don’t want the stand to be top-heavy. If you are using glass jars, you can fill them with decorative stones, loose change or marbles. Your neck will thank you. 🙂
Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

crocheted container for plastic cutlery

vintage crocheted doilies transformed into beautiful wall art

Grandma’s Crocheted Doilies

Turning Grandma’s vintage crocheted doilies into wall art.

vintage crocheted doilies transformed into beautiful wall art

I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother and uncle. My parents, brother, sister and I would drive from Long Island to Columbus, Ohio just about every Christmas break. Grandma always had an assortment of delicious homemade cookies ready for us when we arrived and the holiday meal always came with fruit suspended in green jello. My uncle would take us to the A&W for a root beer float and we would play ping pong in the basement and canasta in the living room. My brother usually won the ping pong and canasta games. He was always good at all types of games. I remember my grandmother teaching my sister how to sew and her showing me how to make french knots. I also remember all the doilies. My grandmother had them all over the house. She had many Dresden dolls (I always called them “Lacy Ladies”), Hummel figurines, and other collectibles. Each was placed upon a doily. These doilies are some of my earliest memories of crochet. Although I’m sure I didn’t realize how they were made, I remember I always loved the beautiful lace and symmetry of them.

Grandma’s vintage doilies

My grandmother passed away in 2003 (98 yrs old!). My uncle continued to live in the family home until he passed in 2008. And when he passed it was time to clear out the house. In doing so, we all brought home items that were special to us. One of the items I kept was a collection of doilies. Ever since I have been wanting to do something with them but not sure what. My home isn’t the doily and figurine type so I knew it would have to be a project. Eventually I figured out I would frame the doilies and display them as art.

Not only is this project special because it is a reminder of the good times with my grandmother and uncle but it is also a reminder of my brother. When I graduated from college (1991) he let me live with him for three months while I completed a management training program. I’m sure that wasn’t the most exciting thing for him, having his little sister crashing in his new duplex, but we made it work. And it was a huge help to me as I didn’t know where I would be transferred to once I completed the training program and therefore did not want to commit to a lease. While I was living with him, I started collecting items for my future apartment in the corner of the room where I slept. The pile grew as I often stopped by yard sales on the weekends. One of my purchases was a framed print. I moved that print to my first apartment in Elmira and to many other apartments after that. Eventually the print faded but I always kept it because I loved the wood frame. This is the frame I used in the project. Seeing it reminds me of my brother and his generosity to open his home to me. It is a reminder of how important family is and of how we need to make time for each other. My brother passed away in July, 2019. He was only 57.

The print, now faded, purchased at a yard sale while I lived with my brother.

So, how did I make it? First I cleaned up the glass and revived the wood frame with Old English wood polish. I spent about a week trying to figure out how I would make the background. My original thought was to purchase a solid framing mat but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the local framing store was closed and my shopping options were very limited. I looked at poster board online and even thought about painting cardboard for the background. Then, on my essential once-a-week-outing of shopping for food and supplies at Walmart, I took a quick look in the craft section and found a pre-cut section of beautiful blue knit fabric for $2!! It was perfect. I selected nine doilies from the collection to be displayed. Seven are crocheted, one is knit and one I believe is tatted. The doilies were steamed flat, placed in position, and voila!, beautiful crocheted wall art.

Beautiful vintage crocheted doilies turned into wall art
Beautiful wall art made with vintage crocheted doilies.

I didn’t start crocheting until a year or two after my grandmother passed. It saddens me that I didn’t get to share this craft with her. My grandmother was extremely talented in crafts and could sew just about anything. Years ago I had asked my uncle if Grandma crocheted and he could only remember her making an afghan. My father doesn’t remember either. So I’m not sure if my grandmother made the doilies or if they were given to her by friends or other family members. But I do know they are beautiful and bring comfort of warm family memories when I look at them. The total cost of this project was less than $6 (fabric, hanging hardware and poster board to seal the back), but to me, it is priceless. It is a beautiful reminder of childhood memories and of family who are no longer with us.

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

Moxie shawl crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Designer Interview: Irina Mulyavko

Amigurumi Crochet Designer, Irina Mulyavko

When you see the designs by Irina Mulyavko, you can’t help but smile. They are not just cute, they are delightful, charming and every other cute synonym in the English language. Let’s learn more about the designer behind some of the most adorable amigurumi crochet patterns available.

Amigurumi Cat in Sweater by Irina Mulyavko

Please, tell us a little about yourself and your designs.

My name is Irina. I live in Barnaul – this is a small beautiful city in Russia. I have an engineer education. I am a big fan of handmade! I always waited for the weekend to do my favorite thing – to sew and crochet. And today I am a former engineer and I am engaged in the creation of crochet designs. And I’m really happy! I can be found on Ravelry and on Instagram @crochetgift_shop

How long have you been crocheting?

My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was a little girl. Grandma taught me simple stitches. I liked it a lot! Later I learned to crochet on my own using the book. The first thing I crocheted was clothes for a small doll (I kept these doll clothes as a keepsake and maybe in the future I will show this project on Ravelry – called “my first work”). I continued to learn how to crochet. I crocheted lace doily, clothes and much more. 

Christmas Tree Ornament by Irina Mulyavko

How long have you been designing and what led you to design?

Since childhood, I did not like to crochet according to the pattern. And the design came up on their own. Unofficially, I have been designing for many years. And officially the first design appeared in 2016. It was a Christmas snowflake. The Christmas theme dragged me on and I decided to continue to create templates. 

Why crochet? What is it that interests you?

It so happened that crocheting is very easy and interesting for me. I have nothing against knitting needles. But I do not own knitting needles. A few years ago I was asked why only the hook and do not own knitting needles? I said that I would start to study knitting needles when I ran out of ideas for crocheting. I want to realize everything! Ideas still haven’t ended! And I continue to work crochet. 

Amigurumi Giraffe by Irina Mulyavko

Do you enjoy other crafts or hobbies? or is there one that you would like to learn?

Yes, I like to sew. I love the world of fashion. For more than 20 years I have been making clothes and something for home. Perhaps in the future I would learn the trapunto technique. I am also interested in weaving. 

Cute Amigurumi Cactus by Irina Mulyavko

How many WIP do you currently have, and do you think you will ever finish all of them?

I rarely have multiple WIPs. I do not like unfinished WIP. But sometimes this happens due to the lack of the required amount of yarn. Then I have several WIPs in my work. 

What was the last thing you crocheted for yourself?

The last thing I did for myself was a dress with a full skirt. I dreamed about this! Design developed independently. Hooray! In my wardrobe addition! 

Amigurumi Bear in Sweater by Irina Mulyavko

What is your favorite design of yours and why?

I can’t single out just one design. I love amigurumi. But I was always scared that it was necessary to sew a lot of parts of amigurumi. I decided to develop amigurumi, where there is little to sew parts. The first to appear was a bear in a sweater. I liked him and I made some more animals. I love them all!

When you do not crochet, what do you do?

I love nature! I like to walk through the woods – for mushrooms or just like that.I like to go to the philharmonic to a concert of classical music.I love coloring books. I fell in love with Johanna Basford magical colorful book The Mysterious Garden.

Where can we find you?

On Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/irina-mulyavko
On Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/crochetgiftsshop/
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crochetgift_shop/

Thank you, Irina. You designs are beyond cute and are sure to bring happiness to crocheters around the globe. I love them all!!!

Meet Crochet Designer Rachy Newin

Crochet Designer Rachy Newin.

Chances are if you’ve recently seen a beautiful, lacy crocheted shawl, it is one of Rachy’s. Racy is also participating in the 2019 Indie Designer Gift-A-Along and has graciously agreed to be interviewed. So…let’s get to know Rachy Newin!

Please tell a little bit about yourself and your designs.

I love crochet and I love hand-dyed yarn and my patterns are designed to pair the two together perfectly. I focus on higher end yarns and love playing around with colors and texture and lace. Lately, I’ve also been super into beads – they’re fun and deceptively easy, and I love the way it sparkles!

Sugar Plum Shawl by Rachy Newin

How long have you been crocheting?

I’ve been on Ravelry since December 2013, so I’ve probably been crocheting since about November 2013! I’ve been crafting in various ways for my whole life, but only taught myself to crochet as an adult.

How long have you been designing and what led you to design? 

My first ever pattern was a super quick freebie I posted five years ago. I freehanded it and people asked for the pattern, so I wrote it out and popped it up on Ravelry. A few months later, I started getting more involved with creating my own patterns. I walked into a LYS for the first time and fell in love, but couldn’t find any patterns that would work with their yarns the way I wanted them to – so I set out to design the patterns I wanted to make.

How did you first learn to crochet?  

Libraries and YouTube! First step was hitting up the library for every book I could find on crochet and yarn. But it’s hard to follow the steps from books alone, so I spent a lot of time sitting in front of YouTube videos and watching how my hands should move.

Starlight Shawl by Rachy Newin

Do you have any other crafts or hobbies? or is there one you would like to learn?

Does collecting yarn count as a separate hobby? I’d love to learn all the crafts – especially spinning and yarn dyeing – but I don’t have the time or space in my house to learn it all.

How many WIPs do you currently have and do you think you will ever finish all of them?

I refuse to count all my WIPs all at once, I’m not sure I want to face that reality, but I usually have five to seven WIPs with me at any given time. I would love to theoretically finish them all one day, but with the way I keep getting distracted by new projects, I doubt that’ll ever happened.

Keep Breathing Cowl by Rachy Newin

What was the last thing you crocheted for yourself?

Most of my design samples are for me! There’s a very short list of people I’m willing to craft for as I only crochet for people who appreciate the time and effort. I’d rather keep the gorgeous lace shawl for me than give it to someone who won’t love it.

What is your favorite stitch?

Half-double crochet! It’s solid enough to be cozy and warm, but has enough flexibility to give the project good drape. I use hdc a *lot*.

What pattern/design are you most proud of? Why?

It’s so impossible to pick just one! Maybe the Bumps in the Road Shawl, I’m really pleased with how the technical aspects of the pattern work out. It’s a super wearable shape and the body features a modified stitch that’s fully reversible and delightfully textured. The pattern is also designed so that you don’t have to cut the yarn – there’s no ends to weave in, except for the start and end of each skein. Plus, the math is set up so you can work any number of rows in the body and add the edging at any point. I absolutely love the finished look of the shawl, but I’m especially proud of the behind-the-scenes technical bits that make it really fun to work up.

Bonfire Shawl by Rachy Newin

 What is your favorite crochet tool or notion?

Bobby pins! They’re the perfect stitch marker. Cheap, easy to slide on and off, and you can pick them up anywhere in case of emergency.

 When you aren’t knitting/crocheting, what are you doing?

I’m pretty low key. If I’m not crocheting, I’m probably hanging out with the dog, playing games on my phone, or deep in a book. My ideal afternoon is a dog on my lap, a soothing mindless project to work on, and a hardcover book so I can read while I crochet.

Where can we find you?

Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/rachy-newin
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/rachynewindesigns
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachynewindesigns/

Thanks Rachy! Your designs are beautiful!!!





Designer Interview: Fiona Langtry

One of my favorite parts of the Indie Design Gift-a-Long is the opportunity to find new designers. Today I have the honor of introducing you to crochet designer, Fiona “Fi” Langtry.

Please tell a little bit about yourself and your designs.

I’m a crochet designer of ladies’ garments and accessories from Australia. Trevor and I have been married for almost 31 years and we live in a small town called Yass with our two teenagers.

I love to design and make gloves, scarves and beanies, along with ponchos and capes. My style is boho-shic – relaxed fit, comfortable and often colorful.  I love working with chunky, unusual and/or hand-dyed yarns.  No fiber or yarn scares me – I simply grab a big hook (9 or 10mm are often in my hand!)

Orchid Vest by Fiona Langtry

How long have you been crocheting/knitting?

I was a knitter.  I learned when I was around 10 and never stopped.  I would have said I was an intermediate level; I could make fairly intricate lacework, do color work and cables… but I was SLOW.

I became a crocheter. When I was in my 40s, a friend needed help making lots of brooches.  I discovered how fast crochet was, and I’ve never looked back!

How long have you been designing and what led you to design? 

I published my first design in May 2014.  The EasyFit Beanie was a “happy accident” that I decided to write down for others to make too.  I had already been a tester for others, and therefore knew some of the process, so I gave my own patterns a go.  I now have over 60 patterns published and another 5 in various stages of the design / testing process.

Traverse my Heart by Fiona Langtry

What is your design process?

Many times, I will hold the end of a ball of yarn in my fingers and start crocheting with little-to-no plan in place.  I may plan a hat, or some gloves or a poncho, but sometimes that will be the extent of the plan.  Often the yarn will drive the textures I choose to incorporate. 

I will usually make notes on my tablet while I create, then do the actual pattern writing on my computer.

Once a pattern is at a “certain stage”, I will send an email to my testing pool and request expressions of interest. 

The testing stage can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the size and complexity of the pattern in question.  Once my testers are happy, I send the pattern to my tech editor and publish on Ravelry and my Website.  Most patterns also end up in my Etsy shop and on LoveCrafts. 

Shell Mitts by Fiona Langtry

Do you have any other crafts or hobbies? or is there one you would like to learn?

When my teenagers “leave home”, I plan on learning how to spin.  I am deliberately NOT learning until then, because I feel like it will become an all-consuming hobby and for the moment I don’t have time for anything else J

 What was the last thing you crocheted/knit for yourself?

I designed the Senorita Shawl using 3 balls of yarn I picked up at Lincraft (an Aussie chain store for crafters).  It wasn’t intentionally for me, but this shawl/scarf became my wardrobe staple this past winter – a scarf under coats, and a shawl when the coat wasn’t required.  I love it!

 What are your favorite stitches?

I love using “cheat” stitches – I discovered “foundation” stitch and fell in love with it (no more working into chains, YAY!), and then I discovered Chainless Starting stitches – again, no more chains!  Most of my patterns include one, if not both of these amazing alternatives to traditional methods… I have customers who thank me for introducing these stitches to them, some after 30 years of crocheting!

What pattern/design are you most proud of? why?

My proudest accomplishment is the Desert Dreams Poncho – it was a “barely there” idea for nearly 18 months, and then, when I was recuperating from minor surgery in July 2018, I sat and finally worked it out.  I ran a CAL group on Facebook for my testers and we had a lot of fun getting this pattern to the final release in December 2018.  It has been my most popular pattern across all platforms in 2019 and those who complete it are really proud of the final results!

Desert Dreams Poncho by Fiona Langtry

 What is/are your favorite crochet tool(s) or notion(s)?

I love love love my Clover Amour hooks – I have 2 full sets, and they’re the only way I can complete the number of projects I make each year. 

There is a screw-top magnetic needle case that means I’m never searching for a needle to complete a project – I store all sizes in it, from giant eye needles for super chunky yarn, through to the needle I use for tiny buttons.

And… my snippers – they travel with me almost everywhere – and they’re safe because they have a lid to keep the blades from stabbing anything!

Where can we find you?
Ravelry: https://www.ravelry.com/stores/reve-design-co/
Website – get a free pattern: https://revedesignco.com/free-gift
IG: https://instagram.com/revedesignco

Thank you Fi! I agree, you should be proud of the Desert Dreams Poncho. It is AMAZING!

On your mark, get set, GIFT-A-LONG!

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is BAAAACCKKK! #GAL2019 #giftalong2019

I’m super excited to announce I’m participating in the Indie Gift-a-Long again this year (year 7!!) so….What is a Gift-a-Long.? I believe it is best stated from source, the Indie Design Gift-a-Long group on Ravelry, so…

What is the Indie Design Gift-A-Long?
It’s prepping for the holidays as only fiber folks can, with special deals from hundreds of indie designers!

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is a 5 week long KAL/CAL of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by almost 300 independent designers. From November 26th at 8pm (US-EST) through December 1st at 11:59 pm (US-EST) these indie designers will be discounting between 10 – 20 of their patterns by 25% for this event.

There are eight KAL/CALs to participate in, prizes of all sorts given out, games, and generally a lot of fun! The Gift-A-Long KAL/CALs will run from November 26th at 8pm US EST through – December 31, 2019 at 11:59pm US EST. All patterns by the participating designers are eligible for the KAL/CALs and projects made from all not-free patterns by the participating designers are eligible to win prizes. Please note that all prize winners must be group members to be eligible to win a prize.

Join in the fun, discover new designers and patterns and win lots of prizes. It’s FREE, you just need to join Ravelry, free, and then join the Indie Design Gift-a-Long group, also free. It’s that simple. See you there!!

New Pattern Alert! Cute as a Button Baby Blanket

Cute as a Button Baby Blanket crochet pattern now available!

Cute as a Button Baby Blanket crochet patternCrochet pattern for a baby blanket Cute as a ButtonThe Cute as Button Baby Blanket crochet pattern is now available! The pattern is easy and written for worsted weight yarn.  I used Knit Picks Mighty Stitch for the sample.  Pattern includes full written instructions, charts and a tutorial for sewing on the buttons.

You can find out more about the pattern here: Cute as a Button Baby Blanket

This pattern is included in my Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE sale! No coupon needed, Ravelry will automatically deduct the lowest priced pattern from your purchase.

Happy Crocheting!

Christmas-Tree-Pillows-crochet-pattern-by-Darleen-Hopkins-1