Crocheted Aliens in the Western US

Annie’s Adventures

Annie the Alien went on an exciting adventure this past summer. She joined us on our road trip from Georgia to Las Vegas, NV and everywhere in between.  From the bright lights of the Vegas Strip to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the United States, Annie enjoyed them all.  She wanted to share with you some of her favorite sites.   Psst! See below for a special offer in honor of National Crochet Month, 2017!

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Somehow a pink alien fit right in at infamous Las Vegas!

annie-the-alien-enjoying-the-breathtaking-view-of-bryce-canyon

Annie the Alien LOVES Bryce Canyon.  She didn’t want to leave…. Annie will be back.  I’m sure of it.  And she will bring her brother Arnie to see it all.

annie-the-alien-enjoys-the-views-of-the-grand-canyon

Annie the Alien enjoys the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The North Rim is so peaceful.  We saw very few humans at the overlooks.   BTW, the black bean soup at the little snack bar at the North Rim Visitor’s Center is REALLY GOOD!

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Another view of Annie the Alien at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. WOW! It is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!!!

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Annie the Alien started this hike at 6am to avoid the 110 degree weather. Boy, was it worth it! The arch is HUGE!!!!!  Do you see the person in the middle of the arch and one on the left side?

Want to make your own Annie (or Arnie)? You CAN! In honor of National Crochet Month, 2017, the Arnie and Annie Baby Lovey Crochet Pattern is FREE with any Crochet by Darleen Hopkins purchase on Ravelry. Yup! With the purchase of any of my self-published patterns on Ravelry and coupon code “AnnieNatCroMo2017“, you can get the pattern for free. Happy Crocheting! Valid during the month of March 2017 only (expires 3/31/2017 11:59 PM EST)  Use this link to get started. The pattern and the coupon are already added to your cart.  You just need to figure out what other pattern you would like by clicking on “View all available items” at the top of the page. ENJOY!

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New Pattern Alert! Tiffany Scarf, crochet

New Pattern Alert! Tiffany Scarf, crochet

I’m super excited to share the latest #CbyDH  pattern! The Tiffany Scarf.  Create a beautiful lace scarf with this easy crochet pattern.  If you use the suggested yarn, you can make the scarf as it is written with just one ball!  Written for fingering weight yarn but instructions are provided to adjust the length for any gauge and any weight from lace to DK.  The scarf is stitched the lengthwise.  A chart is included with the full written instructions.  The entire scarf can be completed in just a few hours.

So, why is it called the Tiffany Scarf?  I don’t know!  I just thought it fit. 🙂

Pattern information can be found here: The Tiffany Scarf

And, like all my patterns, the Tiffany Scarf is included in the Crochet by Darleen Hopkins Buy 2 Patterns, Get a 3rd for FREE! sale on Ravelry. No coupon needed.

Black Raspberry Shawl Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

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Crochet Designer Interview: Susan Carlson

Crochet Designer Interview: Susan Carlson with Felted Button

One of the many great things about the Indie Gift-A-Long is discovering new (to me) designers.  I took one look at Susan’s designer page, Felted Button, and I knew I had to feature her on my blog.  Her use of color is phenomenal.  Let’s learn more about Susan.

Star Fruit Blanket or Rug by Susan Carlson

Star Fruit Blanket or Rug crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Hi! Susan Carlson of Felted Button here. I’m a former science teacher turned full-time crochet designer. I feel extraordinarily grateful that I can do this crochet gig every day! It’s such a blast!

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

I first learned to crochet from my grandmother who came for a short visit when I was 9. She was making granny squares and taught me to make one. I thought it was fun, but got really distracted with other things for many years until I discovered some lovely blogs and decided to pick up the hook again. It’s been about 11 years now.

Toddle Tee Pee crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Toddler Tee Pee crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

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

I have been designing now for just over 4 years. When I first began crocheting I tried lots of different patterns and techniques to build my skill base. But eventually I had so many crocheted items around that my house was overflowing. (You can only give so many hats, scarves and bags to friends and family, right?) So I opened an Etsy store to sell off my extras. Surprisingly they began to sell. But the stress of shipping, meeting customer deadlines, etc., made the whole process stressful for me. I had already begun to create my own designs and realized that with my technical writing skills, teaching and experience with so many patterns, I could write up my own! So Felted Button officially began then.

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

Hands down the best part of designing is seeing something that began as an idea in my head translated through my hook and hands, through a pattern, to someone else’s head, hook and hands! It’s magical, I tell ya! Playing with yarn, color and textures also gives me a thrill. Regarding the benefits of crochet’s calming effect on my head and heart—well, it’s just the ticket. I have a very noisy brain and through crochet am able to focus and quiet my brain. It’s very cathartic to me.

Gifted Blanket crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Gifted Blanket crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

What other crafts do you enjoy? or is there another craft you would like to learn?

I am very much a beginning knitter and would love to become more skilled at it! It does such wonderful things, that honestly crochet doesn’t do nearly as well. But I’m having a tough time balancing my business, busy family and other life obligations to squeeze it in. I will, though! I will!

What influences your style?

I have always been crazy for color. Always. Rainbow bedding as a child, a desire for purple shag carpeting as a kid (you now know how old I am, huh?), bright and bold flowers for my wedding. I just love color. My house looks like a crazy person lives here. If you use all of the colors, nothing has to match, right?

What inspires you and/or your designs?

I find inspiration from nature, photographs, quilts, graphic images, ceramics, yarn, color…

Abacus Blanket crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Abacus Blanket crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

What is your favorite design of yours, why?

It is hard to pick my favorite from over 100 designs, but I am really pleased with my Abacus Blanket. I like the options it has for color, its texture and that the “mock” bullion is so much easier and quicker than a regular bullion. Plus, it is clean.  I like clean designs.

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

This would have to be my Monet’s Garden Throw. I started with 10 disparately colored balls of yarn and challenged myself to make them look beautiful together. I think I pulled it off and am really tickled about how it all came together.

What are your favorite stitches?

It is hard to pick a favorite since they all have a place, depending on the design, and I don’t want to leave any out. But if I had to pick one, it would be the hdc (US). It’s so nice and tidy from the back and front, good height so things grow quickly, but leaves no gaps. I like it.

Monet's Garden Throw, crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

Monet’s Garden Throw, crochet pattern by Susan Carlson

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

My Clover Amour hooks. And buttons, of course.

Where can we find you?

Website: http://www.feltedbutton.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/feltedbutton

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/susan-carlson

Instagram: @FeltedButton

Thank you Susan!!!  Your bright, fun colors are truly an extension of your personality.  🙂

Would you like to learn more about other crochet designers?  Check out this link and be sure to follow CrochetByDarleenHopkins.com!

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Year-end clean out yields lots of WIPs

Lots of WIPs finished this weekend!

Every few months I like to go through all my projects bags and miscellaneous stashed boxes and bags of yarn.  I spend anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes organizing what I have. I often find yarn in bags for designs that I decided against making.  That yarn goes in the car to be returned to the store. (I know, some people would never return yarn but I have TOO MUCH! if a design doesn’t get made, I have to return the yarn.  I don’t have the room to store any more.)  And I always find WIPs. If they are not likely to be completed, they are removed from the project bag and placed back in the yarn storage boxes to be ripped out for the next time I want to use that yarn.  WIPs that need to be finished are placed back in a project bag with whatever is needed to complete it.

blue-rivers-for-hopeharmony-for-hopeThis clean out I found a couple hats that were almost done.  Actually, I thought I had already finished and mailed them to Halos of Hope.  The first is from the Blue Rivers hat pattern.  I did not have enough yarn for a pom-pom so I made a removable tassel.  The second is from the Crocheted Harmony hat pattern.  I omitted the brim and the tassel.  I think it looks great as a slightly slouchy beanie. Both of these hats are crocheted in Lion Brand Heartland.  I found a third hat that was only just started.  I want to finish it but I have some holiday crocheting I have to complete first.  I’ll save it for my next mail out to Halos of Hope.

christmas-pick-fundraiser-1I also found some Christmas Pickles I had started for a fundraiser for the local high school marching band.  They are in need of new uniforms.  A couple parents and I are making items to sell at the holiday concert in hopes to raise a little more money for the uniforms.  Yesterday, I was able to get 8 Christmas Pickles Gift Sets packed up and ready to sell.

A couple recent projects that were started but not finished were some dishcloths for my parents.  I cannot show a picture because they both read my blog. 🙂 (Hi Mom and Dad!)  But I was able to finish them too.

It was a productive weekend.  The hats were finished, labeled and mailed.  The pickles were finished and the gift sets were packaged and are ready to sell.  And the dishcloths were finished and are ready to be delivered.  Super excited to have all these items completed as there are only 14 days to Christmas and I have a number of holiday gifts to finish!

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The Christmas Pickle, a fun holiday tradition

The Christmas Pickle

Every family has holiday traditions; some large, some small.  Some traditions focus on family gatherings; Easter egg hunt at Grandma’s after a sunrise church service, travel to visit family every year at Thanksgiving or a large Christmas dinner for fifteen with the in-laws (be sure to bring your famous mac-n-cheese!).  Some traditions are smaller, more personal to mom, dad and the kids.  Maybe you decorate your Christmas tree together on Thanksgiving, celebrate half-birthdays or hide some really hard to find Easter eggs with special prizes inside that take a good hour of searching to locate.  One tradition I have enjoyed is making my boys a special, crocheted Christmas gift.  Over the years I have crocheted stuffed monsters, cats, gnomes, popular characters, and most recently, stuffed dragons playing my kids’ favorite sports.

christmas-pickle-holliday-tradition-crochet-patternThere is one holiday custom I recently discovered that I believe will become a new tradition in our home.  The Christmas Pickle.  This custom is so silly that I feel it will be welcomed with open arms in my household.  If you haven’t heard of it, it is pretty simple.  A Christmas ornament in the shape of a pickle is placed upon the Christmas tree.  The first child to find the ornament on Christmas morning receives a special gift or will have extra good luck for the year.  That is it.  The pickle, being green, is hard to see and therefore a type of treasure hunt.   But why a pickle?  That is what is so silly.  What do pickles have to do with Christmas?  There is no connection to the religious celebration for Christians or the Santa Claus/St. Nick aspect of it.   It is totally random.

Surely there must be a reason for the pickle.  A quick internet search will yield a few different theories as to the origin of the custom.  It was originally thought to be a German tradition but that seems to have been disproved.  One theory as to the origin is about a dying prisoner of war who asked a guard for one last pickle.  His wish was granted and the pickle gave him enough strength and the will to live.  The prisoner survived and was able to return home to his family.  True or not, it is a touching story about how a little act of kindness in an awful situation could inspire an individual.  Another theory is that the custom was fabricated by a creative glass Christmas ornament salesman in the late 1800s in order to sell his pickle shaped ornaments!

I don’t know what the origin of the custom may be.  I do know it can be a lot of fun to hide the pickle and have the kids search for it.  Something silly and quick that they will look forward to each year.  I am really excited to introduce The Christmas Pickle to my family.  I love the story of how one individual’s kindness in a horrific environment inspired a man to survive.   It is a tradition that at first seems a little silly but has meaning that will inspire.  I hope my boys enjoy the story, the pickle and the hunt, and continue this family tradition for many years.

It is never too late to start a new tradition with your family.  You can buy a Christmas Pickle ornament, or like us crocheters love to do, make your own.  Choose a yarn that is as close to the color of your tree as possible.  Or, if you tend to have a different live tree every year, make a couple of pickles in different shades of green.  You will always have one that can be easily camouflaged deep within the branches.

The Christmas Pickle would make a fun gift for new families just starting out.  Perhaps a family member or close friend was recently married or engaged, or maybe a new baby arrived.  Make your loved one a Christmas Pickle ornament, enclose the story of kindness and continue the tradition.

The Christmas Pickle Gift Set includes both a crochet pattern and a gift card explaining the tradition.  Print the included Christmas Pickle story and enclose with your hand-crocheted Christmas Pickle ornament.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_pickle

http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/christmaspickle

http://german.about.com/library/blgermyth11.htm

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Crocheted toy from child's drawing.

Designer Interview: Martina Gromova

Martina Gromová with Kid’s Creations

When I first saw Martina’s crocheted toys, I actually squealed with delight.  They are adorable.  She takes a child’s drawing and turns it into a toy.  Adorable.  So sweet and so special.  I immediately contacted Martina and asked her if I could interview her.  I was delighted she said yes.  It turns out she is as sweet as the kids’ drawings. Crocheted toy from child's art.Please, tell us about yourself.

08 09I am married and I am  mother of four wonderful children.   I live in the most beautiful city in Slovakia, Bojnice (I have to add some photos, because it′s really stunning)  I work as a professional soldier in the armed forces of the Slovak Republic. I love my job, but I miss that creative activities.  Therefore, in my spare time, but especially during evenings and nights, I’m turning into a creative person with a high addiction on crochet. I love to crochet and I feel nervous when I  am not holding a crochet hook. I love to crochet while watching TV, listening to the radio while traveling, during my lunch-breaks and also while breast-feeding.

Crocheted toy from child's drawing.How long have you been crocheting and how did you first learn?

I started to crochet 7 years ago, when my twins were born. I wanted to use the time in addition to breastfeeding, and at the same time to make something nice for my kids. I knew how to knit since childhood. Maybe I tried to crochet as a child, but I do not remember it now. Mama led us (me and my twin sister) to handicrafts. I can cope with sewing, embroidery, macramé but also with cooking and baking, and I am open to other techniques and skills.Crocheted toy from child's art.How long have you been converting children’s art to adorable dolls and what led you to this business?

I have started with crocheted toys from drawings and photos just last year. It came as request from my son who wished for his birthday only one thing and that was toy from his drawing. It was a figure of  “Boxie” as he named him. I enjoyed this work very much and, of course, the same request came from the rest of my children. It was so funny to crochet these toys from drawings and based on this, I decided that this is the right work that I enjoy and that fulfills me.

Crocheted toy from child's art.If someone wanted to order a toy, what is the process?

I have a Facebook fun page named “From Drawing to toy”  and also I have a second fun page named “el.key handmade”. The second one is for other crocheted items I am making – clothing, toys, accessories, crocheted jewelry.

If somebody is interested in converting a drawing into a toy, he only needs to contact me via personal message on Facebook page “From Drawing to toy” or via email: elkey.handmade@gmail.com

I have no problem with international shipping, it depends on customer whether the postage isn′t too expensive. But I think the postage is ok (for example from Europe to USA 5-10 euro).

I′ve already sent some items all over the world, and there was no problem.

The price depends on “difficulty of drawing” and required size of toy. Just send me the photo of drawing or any photo you would like me to crochet and I will answer  you back with price offer.Crocheted toy from child's art.Why crochet? What is it that interests you?  What do you enjoy most about the craft?

I love crochet for its form-ability, usage, also for the use of math when creating patterns. For its compactness, you don′t have need anything, just one tool – crochet hook and one skein of yarn. And also nearly no mess remains. You can use any material and crochet around things. In event you are shipwreck on the island, crochet can help you in many cases, you are able to crochet various baskets, clothes, shoes …

What other crafts do you enjoy? or is there another craft you would like to learn?

From other crafts I like also knitting, sewing, baking. But in crochet craft there is freeform crochet I have already tried, but would like to learn much more. I’d like to make more crocheted art instead of common crocheted items. I would like to try convert some famous paintings into crochet…but it´s just the plan, what I need the most is the TIME.

Crocheted toy from child's art.What challenges do you face when converting the drawings and how do you overcome them?

The best challenges for me are the drawings from the littlest ones. These are so cute, but sometimes you have problem to understand what child wanted to draw. Because of that parents usually attach remarks about drawings.

What is your favorite drawing to doll, why?

My favourite one is “Person in shoes with little whale friend”. This drawing drew Caleb 4 year old from Arizona. It´s my favourite because of its cuteness and the challenge itself – how to deal with this drawing. It was just in black and white. But I am proud of every one toy from drawing.

I am the most proud on toy from drawing that I mentioned before (Person in shoes with whale friend). But in case of crocheting from photo I am the most proud on crocheted accordion for my son and purple car from photo.  The accordion pattern is available in Slovak, contact Martina if interested in English 🙂

Crochet toy from children's art.

Person in shoes with little whale friend.

Crocheted accordian from photo.

Crocheted car from a photo

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

I was crocheting almost everything but because of lack of time I limited my crocheting to crocheted toys from drawings and photos and any special crocheting instead of common crochet. I’d like to improve myself and need to try other techniques of crocheting and that is not possible while crocheting same items and items following patterns.

I don’t like to have many WIPs. I don´t like to start new crochet thing unless I didn’t finish previous WIP. But sometimes it’s impossible and I have the most of 2 WIPs.

What was the last thing you crocheted for yourself?

The last thing I crocheted personally for me was this summer top and some necklaces.

Crocheted necklace pattern, Roses in Bloom by Martina Gromova.

Roses in Bloom, pattern by Martina Gromova

el.key handmade crochet

Martina’s summer top. Adapted from Slovak chart (center panel) and free handed design. Gorgeous!

What are your favorite stitches?

My favourite stitch is single crochet for its use in amigurumi. But I like bobble stitch, popcorn stitch and also crocodile stitch.

What is your favorite crochet tool or notion?

My favourite crochet tool is crochet hook, I need new one every time. I have a little case with approximately 100 hooks in various sizes.

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

When I am not crocheting I usually spend time with my kids and family. And there is a lot of work around the house, like cooking, washing, tidying up and so on.

Where can we find you?

I don’t have a website but planning to have in future. At this time I have only two Facebook pages, first for crocheted toys from kid’s drawings https://facebook.com/fromdrawingtotoy/ and second for other crocheted items and my own patterns https://facebook.com/elkeyhandmade-796329807074848/

You can also find Martina on Ravelry as El.key Crochet.

Thank you so much, Martina!  Love, love, LOVE these toys from drawings. I can’t wait to see what else you make 🙂

#familyfun tic-tac-toe game board crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

 

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What a month-lots of miles and lots of new patterns

Road Trip and New Patterns – June, 2016

Last month was busy, very busy; both in crochet and personally.   My family and I took a 13 day road trip.  My husband’s goal is to have my boys see the US.  So far, we have been to 46 states!  Last month we drove from Georgia to as far west as Las Vegas.    The trip consisted of sites of such extremes, from the massive natural beauty of The Grand Canyon, to the engineering marvel of the Hoover Dam, to the paleontological with preserved prehistoric dinosaur footprints, to the astronomical with the Meteor Crater in Winslow, AZ.  (I can’t read, “Winslow, AZ” without singing “The Eagles, Take it Easy” in my head!)  The trip was amazing and exhausting.  We drove 5,291 miles.  My husband drove the entire time and because the driver is in charge of the radio, we listen to RUSH, the entire time.  That’s OK, the boys and I are fans too.

slot canyons escalante UTThe trip was exhausting.  It. Was. Exhausting.  We got up early to avoid the heat and pushed ourselves with many hikes.  We hiked The Narrows at Zion national park, hiked for hours at Bryce Canyon national park, hiked at 6am to avoid the 110 degree weather at Arches national park.  Even that early it was hot.  And we spent a few hours in the heat exploring the slot canyons in Escalante, UT.  This was probably my favorite hike of the entire trip.  It’s hard to compete with Zion and Bryce.  But my husband and I had been to Zion and Bryce 17 years earlier so the slot canyons were a new experience for us.  And the boys loved it too.  And every muscle in my body hurt after.  Even muscles I didn’t know I had hurt.

Because this trip was exhausting, extremely enjoyable, but exhausting-did I mention that?-I didn’t crochet too much.  I had big plans.  I brought yarn to make a number of hats for donation.  I brought yarn to work on a new design for a fall decoration and I brought yarn to finish up a sample for another design that was 99% ready to go.  I did finish up the sample and was excited to publish Arnie and Annie, Baby Alien Loveys when we returned home.  The rest of the yarn just went on a very long road trip and returned back home unused.

In addition to Arnie and Annie, Baby Alien Loveys, last month I was able to self-publish The Littlest Ladybug, Bib and Rattle set, #familyfun, Tic-Tac-Toe travel game and Blue Rivers Hat.  Blue Rivers was previously published in ILikeCrochet.com.

PHEW!  I need to spend July resting.

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