It’s HERE! Ravelry’s Indie Designer Gift-A-Long!

It’s HERE! Ravelry’s Indie Designer Gift-A-Long!

Giftalong-logo-400What is a Gift-A-Long?

It’s a chance to save some $$ on your favorite gift patterns, participate in knit/crochet-a-longs, share photos of your finished projects, see what others are making, win prizes and HAVE FUN!  In other words, it’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

From November 1st through November 15th any pattern listed in the “List of Participating Patterns” thread is 25% off when you use the code “giftalong”. (Ravelry only)

Once you’ve got your Gift-A-Long patterns, please join a relevant KAL/CAL.  (For instance, if it is a cowl, please join the cowl KAL/CAL.) KAL/CAL participants are eligible for lots of lovely prizes (check out the Prizes thread for details) but you gotta post to win!

Almost 175 independent designers from Ravelry have banded together to offer their best gift patterns at a discount of 25% off (you gotta use the coupon code “giftalong” to get the discount) from now through Nov. 15, GMT.  In addition, designers will be monitoring the various KAL/CAL to see if there are any questions.   And there will be prizes, lot’s of prizes-almost 300 hundred-with lots of chances to win.  KAL/CALs will run until December 31st, plenty of time to knock out all your holiday knitting and crocheting.

Save 25% on the following Crochet by Darleen Hopkins patterns.  Remember, you have use the coupon code “giftalong” to get the 25% off.  I can’t wait to see all your finished items!

Crochet by Darleen Hopkins Gift-a-Long

Crochet by Darleen Hopkins
Gift-a-Long

Piranha Monster Fish Hat 25% off

The Cubed Hat, Super Slouchy and Relaxed Beanie 25% off

Stars and Flowers Slouch Hat 25% off

Owl Drool Bibs 25% off

Bobble Head Blanket Buddy 25% off

Mr. Springy, The Robot Hat 25% off

Join Ravelry, join the Gift-a-Long, get your patterns and have fun!

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Using Felted Sweaters in Your Crochet Projects

Felting Old Sweaters and Crochet

Hard to believe but we are already into September.  It’s still hot, really hot, where I live but soon the leaves will start to change and the gift giving season will be upon us.  Homemade gifts are gifts from the heart.  Combining the gift giving season with crochet is something we crafters can look forward to all year.  And if you enjoy repurposing as much as you enjoy crochet then I have a question for you.  What do you get when you combine an old wool sweater, a washing machine and a little imagination?

Answer: Anything!

A few years ago I discovered felting (I believe it is called “fulling” when a wool item is already made and then fluffed up but it’s often referred to as “felting”). I had a beautiful partial wool sweater that I just could not wear. Even with a cotton turtleneck underneath, I was bothered by the itchy wool. But I loved the colors in the sweater so I held onto it. One day I decided I wanted a tea cozy. Rather than purchase one, I felted my sweater in the washer. This created a really nice thick fabric. I cut it to shape, sewed the two pieces together and lined it with an old dish towel on the inside to keep the wool fuzzies from getting in my drinks. Now I have an adorable tea cozy and enjoy my beautiful sweater every day!

Snowflake Ice Scraper Mitt

Snowflake Ice Scraper Mitt

Felting is fun and easy and can repurpose just about any wool fabric into something new. So, what does this have to do with crocheting? Well, you can make a fantastic Ice Scraper Mitt by felting an old sweater, cut two pieces to size, embellish with an adorable crocheted snowflake, sew together and voilà! , you have a beautiful handmade gift.

Pizza! Pizza!

Pizza! Pizza!

Back of pizza

Back of pizza

 

I use felted wool sweaters to back my Pizza! Pizza! hot pads to protect my counter tops from hot items. Crocheted coasters can be backed to add additional protection from condensation. Or cut appliques from the fabric and decorate crochet hats or purses.

Felting isn’t just for old sweaters. You can crocheting anything and then felt it. Follow a pattern using a hook one or two sizes bigger than the pattern calls for (remember, the item will shrink as it felts), then felt it and enjoy the results. Here is an example. I crocheted this adorable Christmas Tree Stocking Decoration in a hook two sizes bigger than the pattern called for and then felted it in the washer. I love the result, what do you think? (Note, I added some white roving and needle felted it on the rim)

before feltingafter felting

Great! How do I do it?

Well, it’s easy. Place your item to be felted in your washer. Turn it on and relax! That is essentially it. It’s best to place the item in a mesh delicates/lingerie bag and wash with your towels, sheets or other items you would normally was in hot. You can also use your cold cycle if you only wash in cold as the agitation of the items in the washer will also felt the fabric. After ten minutes or so, check and see if you have the desired effect. If not, keep it in until you do. Lay your item out to air dry. If you have a front load washer, never fear. Just use the shortest cycle as you will get to a point where you won’t be able to open the door to check on your fabric. You may need to run it through a couple of cycles to get the desired amount of felting.

Felting is fun but remember, once the items has felted (shrunk) you cannot undo it. Take your time, check your item a couple of times during the wash cycle and start with something small that would be OK if it didn’t come out perfect.

Important notes:

  •  The more you felt an item the tighter the fabric and the less the individual stitches will show
  •  Very thin fabrics may stick to themselves and they would be best not felted in the washer
  •  Only animal fibers will felt (wool, alpaca, cashmere)
  •  Synthetics and plant-based yarns will not felt (cotton, acrylic, bamboo)
  •  Most feltable fabrics/yarn will shrink 20-30%
  •  Should be at least 70% animal fiber to get a good felted result
  •  Superwash wool has been specially treated to NOT felt.
  •  You CANNOT go backwards, so go slowly!

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).

Last Minute Handmade Halloween Costume

10 Days and Counting to my FAVORITE Holiday.  I LOVE Halloween.  Some of my favorite Halloween memories are of dragging the costume box down from the attic and putting together that year’s spooky creation.  That box contained some old miscellaneous costume pieces and a few of mom’s old wigs and 1960’s housedresses.  I had a lot fun with that box and created some pretty wacky costumes both for Halloween and for just silly play.

Now that I have my own family, we have a costume box too but with only boys, it’s full of mostly bloody swords and capes.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with bloody swords and capes.  We just don’t have anything pink or fairy-like.  So when I started thinking about what would work as a last-minute costume with just bloody swords and capes, I thought of this.  Crocheted Skull Hat

What I love about this is the child’s face is not covered with an obstructing and hot mask.  I dislike full face masks.  They smell funny, are hot and make it hard to see, especially at night.  Another awesome thing is once Halloween is over, you have a great hat to wear throughout the winter season.

 

Not into the spooky costumes? Here are some suggestions for last-minute handmade Halloween costumes for the little ones!

Lego Man Costume
Regular Clothes are All You Need to Add

Halloween Pig Hat Crocheted

Oink! Oink!
Add Pink Top and Pants and You’re Done!

Happy Kitty or Happy Puppy
Adorable Costume for Baby or Small Child

Robot Costume

Mr. Spingy, the Robot Dude
Add Gray Sweats for Instant Costume