Gift-A-Long Designer, Sarah Jane Jackson

Sarah Jane Jackson, Crochet Designer

Frostberry Hat crochet pattern by Sarah Jane

The Frostberry Hat Crochet Pattern by Sarah Jane

I’ve not had the opportunity to meet Sarah in person (I’m in Georgia, USA she’s in Queensland, Australia) but  was first introduced to her when I tested The Acacia Cloche pattern of hers in 2011.  She was so sweet and friendly during the test that I was more than excited when I had an opportunity to get to know her a little bit better through an online designer forum.  In the last year, I’ve made two more of her patterns, The Winter Tracks Hat and The Frostberry Hat.  Her designs are beautiful and stylish and always current with today’s trends.  And of course, exquisitely modeled on her lovely children.

Let’s get to know a little more about Sarah.

The biggest thing about me I guess is that we have 8 children! 7 of them at home, the kids at home range in age from 23 down to 4 and 5 of them are boys (which always leaves me short of models!). It’s busy but housework seems to have become more optional as I get older, leaving me enough time to crochet ;). My youngest starts school next year and I am hoping to turn designing into a decent part time job…..we will see how that goes!

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

Evening Delight Shawl by Sarah Jane

When I first learned to crochet I only knew chain, so I used to design things made with chains and find a way to link them together. I didn’t learn to read patterns until I was about 20 so I have always designed. A few years ago I came across a little ad on a website looking for sample knitters/crocheters and designers, I sent off an email and haven’t looked back since…..I stumbled across Ravelry about 6 months later and that was a match made in heaven, I couldn’t believe that there was actually somewhere I could sell my own designs!

Why crochet? What is it that interests you?  What do you enjoy most about the craft?

I have crocheted as long as I can remember with a few breaks for other types of craft. I always come back to crochet because I love the portability and convenience, Also the sheer creativity in being able to take a piece of string and a hook then being able to turn it into something beautiful, it thrills me every time!

What inspires you and/or your designs?

Steam Punk Corset Crochet Pattern by Sarah JaneJust about anything, colour, fashion and yarn I think would be the top 3. I am often inspired by a stitch pattern I love and want to find a way to use and I often want to create a certain ‘look’ with what I am making. My steampunk collection was the result of chasing a type of style or ‘look’.

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

Hmmmm I am not counting my wip’s…I might give myself a heart attack.  I am sure I have more than I actually remember! I always have at least 3 things on the go at a time and there are a few that are in time out or hibernation. I am pretty ruthless though, if I get bored with them or decide I won’t finish then I rip them out.  I am often ripping something out if I am not happy with it. The ladies in my craft group have been known to almost cry when I start ripping something that is almost completed (this happens more often than I like to admit).

What was the last thing you crocheted for yourself?

Winter Tracks crochet hat pattern by Sarah Jane

Unfortunately here in Brisbane most of my style of crochet is not really wearable although I try and wear at least some of my hats. I haven’t finished anything specifically for myself yet but I am in the (very slow) process of making myself a summer top. I’m not quite sure I will ever get it finished though as the colour isn’t thrilling me at the moment.

Thanks Sarah!  I anxiously await some more of  your designs.

The hat at above is Sarah’s Winter Tracks Hat.  It is the second time I made this hat.  I accidentally left the brim off this one but it still looks fantastic anyway.  See below for links to where you can find Sarah and her designs.

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/sarah-jane
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sjack44/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarahjaneDesignscrochet
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/Sarahsshoppe

 

Whispers Crochet Shawl Pattern

Peppermint Pals Hot Pad Set from http://www.ilikecrochet.com/issues/december-2014/?mqsc=DAHOPBL111414

I Like Crochet – Holiday 2014

Checking out the 2014 Holiday issue from ILikeCrochet.com

Have you had a chance to check out the 2014 Holiday issue from ILikeCrochet.com?  I have to admit, I have had access to this issue since November but have been so busy that I am just now getting a chance to really check it out and it is great!  As a contributor, I am honored to have my  Peppermint Pals Hot Pads included.  It really has some great patterns, articles and tips.  There are a number of hat patterns-I do love hats-shawls, scarves, baby items and tops.  And if you have time before the holidays, some great holiday themed items as well.  Check out those stockings on the cover!  Adorable!

Peppermint Pals Hot Pad Set, crochet pattern

Peppermint Pals Hot Pads Now available at CrochetByDarleenHopkins.com!

I’m picking out yarn for a couple of hat patterns-did I mention I like making hats?  to use in my stash busting in the upcoming year.  Two hats from this issue have been marked high on my to-do list, the hat from the Wistful Wisteria pattern set and the Butterscotch Cream hat.  I’ll be sure to post photos of the finished items.

Shawls B2G1

Gift-A-Long Designer, Denise Balvanz

Denise Balvanz, Knitting Designer

Reindeer hat crochet pattern by Denise BalvanzI had the pleasure to interview Denise for my second post in the Designer Interview Series.  Most of her designs are knit although she does have the cutest little crochet reindeer hat I have ever seen.  Seriously, do they get any cuter than this? Denise is also participating in the Gift-A-Long this year and has hand-picked a couple of her favorite designs that would make great gift ideas for the holiday season.  I am in awe of her colorwork and a huge fan of the Roses Christmas Stockings series, see photo below.  With great pleasure, I’d like to introduce Denise Balvanz!

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Amaliya Knit Pattern Set includes caplet, hat, mittens and fingerless mitts.

Amaliya Knit Pattern Set includes caplet, hat, mittens and fingerless mitts. Modeled by one of Denise’s beautiful daughters.

Most people who meet me remember first that we have 8 children! Most of them are grown now but we still have 7th and 12th graders that we are homeschooling. I have sewn and knit a lot of clothes for growing children! Over the past 10 years I have taught at my LYS, spent 3+ years working with a small US-based Norwegian yarn distributor where I packed orders, set up a retail website, helped proofread/tech-edit the patterns she was translating and ran the business when she was out of the country, and most recently, spent more time designing patterns and knitting for fun!

How long have you been crocheting/knitting and how did you first learn?

My love of fiber crafts started when I was quite young, maybe 6 or 7 years old. I remember a friend of my mom’s helping me learn to knit when we were on vacation. My grandmother was a knitter and crocheter too but mostly I am self-taught.

What other crafts do you enjoy?

If it involves fiber I have probably given it a try; embroidery, counted cross stitch, needlepoint, macramé (hey, it was the 70’s). My biggest loves though are knitting, crocheting and sewing.

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

I have a bent toward entrepreneurism. I was a custom dressmaker/alterationist for 25 years as my children were growing. Then about 10 years ago, I walked into the LYS and was asked if I would like to teach some classes. Some of my designs were patterns for the classes I taught at there.

I have never been good at following a pattern without making at least a few changes to it. My first designs for my own use came about because of that. Except for the stranded patterns that I generally chart first, I design a lot of things on the needles as I knit. My knitting friends are always amazed at that. I have the ability to “see” the knitting in my head as I knit and even as I read a pattern.

What inspires you and/or your designs?

Endless Roses Christmas Stocking knitting pattern set by Denise BalvanzI love clean, classic styles; cables and textures; and the 2-color Norwegian designs. Working with a Norwegian yarn line and visiting Norway in 2010 were highlights of my designing career. I am hoping to use more of the ideas from the Norwegian traditions in my future designs.

Thank you so much Denise!  You can find out more about Denise and her beautiful patterns at the following links:

Ravelry — DeniseInIowa,
http://www.ravelry.com/designers/denise-balvanz
Website — http://denisesneedleworks.com
Blog — http://denisesneedleworks.blogspot.com/
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/DenisesNeedleworks
Pinterest — http://www.pinterest.com/DeniseInIowa/

Shawls B2G1

Handmade with Love – Downloadable tags

Handmade with Love

example-handmade-tagThe gift giving holiday season is fast approaching!  If you haven’t started your gift crocheting yet, you’d better get on it.  And to make it a little easier, I’d thought I’d share these adorable tags I stumbled upon.  Compliments of Craftsy.

What are you making this year?  Dishcloth set for the kids’ bus driver?  Pizza Potholder for your youngest child’s teacher?  How about a Piranha hat for Uncle Stan, the marine biologist?

Crochet by Darleen Hopkins on Ravelry, Buy 2 Get 1 Free!
(no coupon needed!
)

Free Pattern Friday – Mr. Gnome

Mr. Gnome or Santa or Wizard Crochet Pattern

Mr. Gnome Crochet by Darleen Hopkins Pattern

Mr. Gnome Crochet by Darleen Hopkins Pattern

I plan to either offer or promote a free pattern on the first Friday of every month.   (I’m a day late this month due to an internet outage yesterday-don’t get me started on Windstream!) Last month I posted the pattern for my Slouchy Football Hat.  This month, I’ve decided to offer a Ravelry coupon code for a free copy of my Mr. Gnome! 

Mr. Gnome is an adorable little gnome I originally designed for my oldest son.  He was gnome crazy last year so I came up with this little guy as a Christmas gift.  The really neat thing about this pattern is you can make him into a wizard, a Santa or anything else that has a pointy hat!   I used leftover worsted cotton yarn but really any yarn will work; thinner yarn will yield a smaller gnome, thicker yarn, a larger gnome.  I used an old sock stuffed with plastic beans so he’d stay level.

I’d love to see the finished gnomes!  If you are on Ravelry, link yours up to the pattern.   Also, I love to post completed projects on my Facebook page, Crochet by Darleen Hopkins.  Get yours while you can and check out what else I have in my shop.  Remember, all patterns and pattern collections/eBooks are buy 2, get 1 FREE.  No coupon needed, Ravelry will automatically deduct the lowest priced pattern from your purchase.  The coupon code is “GnomeGiveAway ” and it expires December 31st 2012 at midnight, EST.   Find it here Crochet by Darleen Hopkins on Ravelry.

Enjoy!

Handmade Holidays-Winter Crochetvolution is a great place to start

If you are like me, and if you are reading this blog about crochet, it’s likely you are, you like to include handmade items in your holiday gift giving.  I’m always looking for something unique to make and to give.  It’s also nice to be able to gift something special that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.  One great place to start looking for gift pattern ideas is Crochetvolution (it’s FREE!).  This “new” eMag has been growing over the last 14 months; both in readership and in pattern offerings.  The latest issue, Winter 2012 is fantastic (yes,  I’m a little biased as I contributed an article and a pattern).  But I’m talking about the other fantastic patterns, beside mine.

There are too many patterns to highlight them all here, so you’ll just have to take a look yourself, but here a few of my favorites and the ones I hope to incorporate in my gift making this holiday season.

Mitten Bookmarks!  Adorable!!!! 

I’m making 4 sets of these to give as teacher gifts.   Best part, each one uses only about 5 yards of yarn!

Anastacia’s Textured Scarf is a unique twist on a warm winter scarf.  The yarn she chose for this project is gorgeous and works wonderfully with the pattern.

Sarah Jane’s Cowl is gorgeous too!  How can I choose which one to make???  And she has a fingerless mitt pattern to match  (see above), both can be made with just one skein of yarn, fantastic!

Last, but not least, my contribution to the issue, the Snowflake Ice Scraper Mitt.  The mitt part is made from a damaged wool sweater (instructions on felting here) and the snowflake can be made with just scrap yarn. Upcycle an old sweater and give a great gift!

This issue is jam-packed with fantastic gift giving ideas, from quick projects to larger ones for the very special individuals in your life.  Check it out, read the articles too and sign up to be on the mailing list (it’s FREE).