New Pattern Alert-Peek-a-Boo Lion Baby Blanket

March-In Like a Lion

I remember, in either 1st or 2nd grade, an elementary teacher of mine having a huge calendar in her room.  Each month had a saying but the only one I really remember was March-In like a lion, out like a lamb.  I remember thinking it was really weird-how could a lion turn into a lamb??? and what does that have to do with March???  For whatever reason this saying stuck with me for many, many (many…) years.  So when it came time to publish my latest design, I thought the perfect day would March 1!  I’m pleased to announce that March 2016 is indeed, coming in like a lion.  A Peek-a-Boo Lion to be exact.

The Peek-a-Boo Lion Baby Blanket is now available!  Enjoy!!  and enjoy the rest of March!

And of course, is included in my Buy 2 Patterns, get a 3rd for FREE offer! No coupon needed and offered on my Ravelry site.  Shown below in Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice yarn.

Lion Baby Blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins. Peek-a-Boo Lion #CbyDH

Shells of Love-001

How to be a crochet pattern tester

Help Wanted, Crochet Pattern Testers

WilmaeleeTuxedo

Spiffy Tuxedo bib tested by Donna. Donna has tested a number of my patterns. She’s very sweet and an awesome tester! She’s fast, thorough and does great stitch work.

Have you ever thought about what crochet designers do to finalize their patterns before self-publication?  Besides editing, it is important to have patterns test “knit”.  (FYI-Test knit is a saying often used for both testing a crochet pattern and a knit pattern.)

Why?  What’s so great about pattern testing?

For pattern users:

#1 Pattern testing ensures the instructions can be followed by an individual other than the designer.  When I’m shopping for a pattern, I often look at either reviews of the pattern (Etsy) or on Ravelry, if there are projects linked to the pattern.  I know many people don’t bother with reviews or project/pattern linking.  A fantastic pattern that has been crocheted 1,000 times may not have a single review or a single pattern linked to it.  BUT when it does, I’m able to confirm that at least some crocheters were able to make sense of the pattern and able to recreate what the designer intended.

#2 Pattern testing can offer other interpretations of a design for others to enjoy. For example, when I had my Jester hat tested, one tester made her hat super Halloweenie with hanging spiders and other creepy crawlies.

For designers:

See #1 and #2 above AND pattern testers often see things that editing may have missed.  Things like what yarns will or won’t work with a design.  They may come up with questions that weren’t thought of and need to be addressed or have tips/suggestions on how to improve a pattern.

For testers:

#1 Pattern testing is an important and much appreciated aspect of designing.  By pattern testing you are helping to make crochet patterns better-This benefits the entire crochet community.

#2 Opportunity to get patterns for FREE and before they are released to the general public!

Currently, I run all my pattern testing through Ravelry in the Testing Pool group.  This is a very laid back group with limited rules.  However, I do have requirements that I ask of all my testers.  Each test will have test specifics requirements provided but in general I ask the following:

  1. Work the pattern as written.  This is the number one requirement as the object of the pattern test is to ensure the pattern is doable as it is written.  Minor substitutions may be allowed, for example, foundation single crochet my be substituted for a long starting chain and row 1 of single crochet.  Just please confirm any adjustments prior.
  2. Make gauge.  If gauge isn’t important, I’ll state it but if it is important, then please take the time to match the stated gauge.  Gauge is important for proper fit.
  3. Keep in touch.  Either post in the test thread or email me and let me know you are still working on it. Usually no news is good news but I like to hear you are still working on the project.
  4. Keep details out of the test thread.  Minor typos can be posted in the thread but if you have a question on an entire line, please send me an email or private message.
  5. Respect copyright.  The draft pattern is still protected by copyright.  I’ve never had an issue of testers sharing my patterns, thank you!!
  6. Start right away and finish on time.  If you need a couple days to order/pick up yarn, that’s fine but please let me know.  In the meantime while waiting for your yarn, peruse the pattern and see if any adjustments or errors jump out at you.

Please don’t volunteer if you can’t make the deadline.  My number one testing pet-peeve is testers who don’t finish, ever.  Obviously, life happens.  Let me know if you have an issue and I’ll work with you.  In the past I had a tester get hit with Hurricane Sandy and a tester who ran over a bear in an ATV resulting in a hurt arm.  Usually it’s normal stuff like an unexpected illness that can cause a delay and that is fine.  The excuse of “I was working on another project” isn’t fine so please, if you commit to the test, finish it.  If real life gets in the way and you need an extension, please finish it ASAP. Testers who do not finish are not asked to test again.

So what makes a great tester?

Experience? NOPE!  I’ve had great testers that were beginning level crocheters and first time testers.  If my pattern is geared to that level, then yes! I’d love some beginner crochet testers.  Occasionally I’ll ask for intermediate to advanced crocheters only, but not always.

Attention to detail? YES! I always ask my testers to check for typos.  Did I type year instead of yarn?  Does it makes sense? Was a comma overlooked? Were numbers transposed?

Exactly the same yarn? NOPE!  Usually I want equivalent yarn i.e. yarn that is the same weight and density so that the final result is similar to my sample.  Same weight yarns can behave differently as some are squishy and some are fuller.  I try to state what will or will not be acceptable substitutes.  Ask if you aren’t sure.  Sometimes I want to see the design worked in different weights.  I had a lace-weight shawl tested in worsted and it came out great!

Check stitch counts? YES! Please and thank you.

Able to read a crochet pattern? YES!  Again, all levels are welcome but you must have knowledge of how a crochet pattern is written.

Ability to communicate? YES! I welcome all comments and suggestions.  I have often incorporated my testers suggestions (with acknowledgement of course).  Usually a pattern is written a certain way for a reason but if you think it could be constructed in another, easier way, let me know.

Active on Ravelry? YES!  I will look at your completed projects prior to selection so if you haven’t jumped on the Ravelry bandwagon yet, now is the time.  (Seriously, what are you waiting for?  Ravelry is an amazing crochet source that is FREE to use!)

Photos? YES! A Ravelry project page with photos linked to the pattern will be required.  I prefer clear, in focus, natural light photos and often feature project photos (with permission) on my Facebook page.

And don’t forget…Finish on time!  Thank you!

I find my testers to be invaluable.  Running a pattern test is both fun and educational for me and one of my favorite aspects of designing.  After all, my greatest joy in designing is being able to see others duplicate and use my designs/ideas in their everyday life.

If you are interested in joining my Ravelry earburn list for future tests, please send me PM via Ravelry.  When a new test is posted in the Testing Pool, I will earburn all those who have asked to be notified.  Be sure to read all the stated testing requirements.  An earburn is not a guarantee of testing.  I will review all volunteers’ Ravelry projects prior to selection.  If you are selected to test, your email will be necessary so I may send the pattern to you!  Thank you!!

PatchworkKitty-001

 

 

Confessions of a Crochet Addict

You know you are addicted to crochet when…

KissyFishFace (1000x1000) …you are 2 stitches into a 100 stitch row and it is time to leave and you say, “I just have to finish this row first”.

…you keep a project bag in your car for the “just in case I have to wait five minutes to crochet while waiting for ______ to finish”.   (Fill in the blank with any child’s sporting or school event.)

…you find stitch markers in your slippers.

…you buy a new camera just so you can take better photos of your projects.

…you buy a smartphone just so you can take quick photos of your projects.

…instead of counting sheep, you count stitches.

…you don’t mind arriving early to work to secure a parking spot because you are happy to sit in your car and crochet for a few minutes.

…you recall your vacations by which project you made while traveling.  “Oh I remember that trip.  That was when I made….”

…you are more excited for a “snow/ice day” than your kids.

…when packing for vacation you pack your yarn first.

…you find stitch markers in every room of your house.

…you post more photos of yarn and your projects than pictures of your kids.

…road trip = more crochet time (oh, and family time too!).

…you compare how much something costs to skeins of yarn. (It’s how much?  Gosh that’s like five skeins of yarn!)

…your idea of a good date night involves a yarn store and coupons.

…your idea of an exciting Friday night is blocking a shawl.

…you have daily UFO sightings at your house.

…your teenage son actually knows the difference between knitting and crocheting.

…you find stitch markers in the dryer.

…you are having a panic attack because you can’t find your *favorite* G hook.

…you tell your son, “Sorry, your homework has to wait.  I need the computer for this pattern.”

…you’ve used the phrase “yarn diet”.

…you have more throw blankets than couches, loveseats and chairs combined.

…new car shopping involves checking for enough *leg AND crochet bag* room.

…you find crochet hooks under your couch.

…you find yarn under your couch.

…you find stitch markers under your couch.

…you have crocheted by candlelight.

…you get excited when your husband says “road trip” before you even know where he wants to visit.

…you take a vacation day to catch up on things at the house and the number one item on your list is to finish your current crochet project.

…your cat totally ignores the balls of yarn splayed across the floor, “Been there, done that-Meow!”

…you store yarn in your bathtub.

…you find stitch markers at work.

…you are annoyed when you DON’T have to wait at the doctor’s office.

…you have a room dedicated to just yarn and crochet.

…you think it is totally normal to ask someone his or her head circumference.

…you find pieces of yarn in your purse and your coat pockets.

…you find stitch markers in your purse and your coat pockets.

…you suffer from APDS* and AYDS*.

*APDS-Acquired Pattern Disorder Syndrome.  The inability to stop purchasing patterns, resulting in a collection of patterns that far exceeds your life expectancy.

*AYPS-Acquired Yarn Disorder Syndrome.  When you’ve acquired so much yarn you will never, ever use it all in 3 lifetimes.

…you find you can relate to all of the above!

We adopted our cat from a shelter so we don’t know a lot about her parents.  She does have some Manx in her as she does not have a tail.  So…. you might be addicted to crochet when your son asks you to crochet a tail for your cat and you pause a moment thinking over the possibility of this project.
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Relax! And enjoy your healthy addiction to crochet. Now go create something extraordinary.

EyeballPillow900

New Pattern Alert-Love Notes, Mixed Media Cards

Just Released, Love Notes – Mixed Media Cards

Love Notes crochet pattern for mix media cards to make for Valentines or any timeJust in time for Valentine’s Day!  Also perfect for weddings, anniversaries or “just ’cause I love you” days! What’s different about this pattern?  Pattern includes instructions for hearts as well as pre-made templates.  Crochet, print and mail.  It’s that easy!

Pattern available here: Love Notes

Remember, all Crochet by Darleen Hopkins patterns are Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE when purchased on Ravelry. No coupon needed!


Owl crochet pattern

Stash Bust Update, Mid-December 2015

Final Count for 2015 Stash Bust Challenge??

Melo hat by ACCROchet

I finished what will likely be my last charitable project for 2015, the Melo Hat by ACCROchet.  It’s a super cute hat.  I had to adjust the pattern a little as my yarn was much thinner than the suggested yarn.  I ended up adding an additional pattern repeat and working a lot of extras rows.  It’s super slouchy with a removable pom-pom.  I hope a young teen will enjoy it.  I’m super happy I was able to complete this during the Gift-A-Long on Ravelry.  There is a slim chance I’ll have time to finish another hat before 2016 starts.  But if not, I’m pleased with the results to date!

The hat weighs over 4.25 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 12

Total bears made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 6

Total blankets made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 2

Total weight of yarn used in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 5 pounds, 5 ounces!
Spiffy

Crochet Designer Interview, Janet Brani

Janet Brani with OneLoopShy

Side Strips copyright OneLoopShy Designs

Side Stripes
copyright OneLoopShy Designs

I met Janet last year when I won one her patterns during the 2014 Gift-A-Long.  I choose Ends Well to make as one of my 2015 Stash Bust Challenge hats. I like that fact that there were no ends to work in. I really dislike weaving in ends.  This was my first time making something with slip stitch crochet and the hat is adorable.

Let’s learn a little bit about Janet.

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

I learned to crochet when I was 8. My grandmother taught me, and used to “frog” all my work and wind it right back up into a ball so I could try again! I learned years later that my grandmother was left-handed, which might explain why I hold my hook and tension my yarn a little differently than the norm.

Artifice Slouch (Tunisian) copyright OneLoopShy Designs

Artifice Slouch (Tunisian)
copyright OneLoopShy Designs

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

I have been designing around 5 years, with the first patterns being ones I created for teaching when I worked at a yarn shop. I submitted a couple of designs to magazines after meeting with editors at CGOA convention, and it has just grown from there.

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

I know how to knit, but always reach for a hook first. Crochet comes naturally to me and knitting is a struggle that usually ends with dropped stitches! When I worked at a yarn shop, I enjoyed a friendly rivalry with my knitting co-workers, which most often revolved around how much faster I could make something!

Countervail copyright OneLoopShy Designs

Countervail
copyright OneLoopShy Designs

What is your favorite design of yours, why? 

My “Messenger Bag” that was featured in the 2014 issue of Vogue Crochet. I love felting crochet and I had this image in my head of making an animal print. It is one of the few times that the finished project actually ended up exactly as I imagined!

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

I may have as many as 15-20 WIPs, and I know I will never finish them. Once I lay something aside, I tend to lose interest in it and, truth be told, quite often can’t remember what it actually is!

Spoiler Alert copyright OneLoopShy Designs

Spoiler Alert
copyright OneLoopShy Designs

What are your favorite stitches?

I love slip stitch crochet, and intend to do more designs with it in the new year. I also love linked stitches and have been using them a lot to produce a fabric that is more “knit like”. My newest hat pattern, Alexin, uses both slip stitch and linked stitches.

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

Yarn shopping!

Thank you Janet!  You can find OneLoopShy on Facebook and on Ravelry.

MerriestOfHolidaysRavBanner

New Pattern Alert-Sunny Days Baby Mobile

Just Released, Sunny Days Baby Mobile, crochet pattern

Sunny Days Mobile, crochet pattern for baby, tweens, teens or anytime you want a little sunshine! #CbyDHCold weather got you down?  Make yourself this adorable Sunny Days Mobile and your forecast will be nothing but rainbows and sunshine!  Also a perfect baby gift or room decoration for babies, tweens and teens.  Pattern available here: Sunny Days Baby Mobile

Remember, all Crochet by Darleen Hopkins patterns are Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE when purchased on Ravelry. No coupon needed!

Oh, and have you heard about the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long?  This mobile qualifies for prizes if you participate!


Crochet designer interview: Betty Fay Wallace

Crochet Designer Interview, Betty Fay Wallace

Snowbaby crochet pattern by Betty Fay Wallace

Snow Baby Cocoon and Hat
copyright Betty Fay Wallace

I had the pleasure to interview Betty Fay Wallace for this week’s designer interview.  I discovered her last year during the 2014 Gift-A-Long when I made one of her beautiful hats, the La Villa Lace Brim Slouch hat, as part of my 2014 Stash Bust Challenge.  And this year she was one of my assigned designers for my part of the GAL pinning.  (The last two years I have been on the Pinterest team helping to create beautiful boards of the GAL featured patterns.)  Her designs are beautiful and lacy making those of us without a little girl to crochet for very, very jealous!

Let’s get know Betty!

I am retired with two grown children, a grown granddaughter (and an any-minute-now great-granddaughter) and two young grandchildren, and my sweet dog Jake.  I have also been blessed with a large extended family and many friends.

Lucy Lane Sweater by Betty Fay Wallace

Lucy Lane Sweater
copyright Betty Fay Wallace

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

At least a hundred years…sometimes I exaggerate.  I just saw a Facebook post that said “I thought it would take longer to get this old”!  Anyway, my grandmother and aunts taught me to crochet and knit at a very young age.  And that was many years ago.

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

After I retired, I decided to enjoy my hobbies of knitting and crochet.  Soon the house, dogs and grandkids were all covered in my projects!  So I decided to sell some of my items on Etsy.  I couldn’t imagine anyone actually buying them but it wasn’t long until I could not keep up with the orders.  The aches and pains – not to mention pounds – soon added up. So I decided to write-up my patterns.  It’s a perfect solution.  I get to play with my hooks, needles and yarn but at a more leisurely pace and still occasionally get in a little exercise.

Seaside Cottage Cocoon/Snuggle Sack and Hat by Betty Fay Wallace

Seaside Cottage Snuggle Sack and Hat
copyright Betty Fay Wallace

What is your favorite crochet tool?

My favorite tool is the Wood Yarn/Thread Holder handmade by willysman on Etsy.  It is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and the most useful item I possess.  I had tried every yarn holder and gimmick I could find but had not found anything that worked very well for me.  These are pricey and I hesitated before spending this much.  But I am so glad I did.  The yarn flows smoothly and effortlessly without tangling.

It is such a well made and beautiful item that I know it will be one of the things I pass on to my granddaughters as one of my treasures.  He makes them in a variety of woods.  The price is determined by the wood used.  I also purchased the “thingy” – a separate attachment that keeps the yarn centered.  I haven’t tried it without that piece so I’m not sure it is absolutely necessary.

I am not affiliated with him in any way.  I just love this gadget so much I tell everyone about it.

Nacogdoches Night Scarf by Betty Fay Wallace

Nacogdoches Night Scarf
copyright Betty Fay Wallace

What other crafts do you enjoy?

I love to sew, garden, play with grandkids, reading – anything fun and not too strenuous.

What challenges do you face when designing and how do you overcome them?

Designing is easy!  Putting it down on paper in that foreign language of crochet, formatting a word document, photographing and editing pictures, and keeping up with all the computer knowledge necessary to accomplish all of this is the hard part.  Makes my head hurt!  I also try to include charts with all my patterns.  I can work from a chart much easier than written instructions.  But creating the crochet charts is also a very time-consuming, brain fogging procedure.  But I love the challenge.

I make use of every online resource available, such as, Craft Yarn Council, all the forums on Ravelry, the pattern testers on Ravelry and other Ravelry designers.  The testers and other designers are always so generous with their help and support.  It is a fantastic community!

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

I just finished a beautiful shawl – Rosewater by Janina Kallio. http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Duffay/rosewater

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

Knitting

La Ville Slouch Hat by Betty Fay Wallace

La Ville Lace Brim Slouch Hat
copyright Betty Fay Wallace

Where can we find you?

I didn’t really plan any of this so I didn’t coordinate the names of my sites very well.  I can be found on Ravelry, Craftsy, and Etsy.  Annie’s Catalog also carries some of my patterns.

My names include Betty Fay Wallace Designs, Maison de Terre Handmade Gifts and Cielo’sCloset.

And on Facebook.

Thank you!
I LOVE the Nacogdoches Night Scarf, above, and I asked Betty about the name.  She said it was designed for her granddaughter’s homecoming football game at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas.  And the Lucy Lane sweater is named for her soon-to-arrive great granddaughter!  How sweet!!

Shells of Love-001

Crochet Designer Interview, Julie of ACCROchet

Sorbet shawl pattern by ACCROchet

Sorbet Shawl
copyright ACCROchet

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long (GAL) is upon us again.  Not only does the GAL give designers the opportunity to work alongside other crocheters/knitters but it has also become a fantastic way to get to know some of these awesome people.  I was excited to find crochet designer, Julie as a participant in this year’s 2015 GAL.  Her vibrant personality flows through to her designs as they are not only fun and youthful but also beautiful and modern.

Julie, please share a little of your background.

My name is Julie, and I design crochet patterns under the alias ACCROchet (a play on words, in French, combining addicted & crochet). I am nearly 40 years old, a mom & stepmom to 2 very different teenagers, and engaged to The Man of my dreams. We live in a suburb on the North Shore of Montreal.

I work in Communications & Advertising full-time, but my evenings & weekends are devoted to crochet, crochet design, teaching crochet, inspiring others to crochet, etc. My patterns are published in both English and French. Initially, ACCROchet was born to offer options to French-only crocheters, but as it grew, I decided to translate them to English as well.

Melo Hat crochet pattern by ACCROchet

Melo Hat
copyright ACCROchet

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

I officially got started after being invited to a fiber festival in my province (festivaltwist.org). I was going there mostly to sell finished crochet items, but had 3 patterns written and brought them on a whim.

So many people bought them, and asked for more, that a knitting friend and I vowed to design 1 new pattern every month until the next event. And we did.

Turns out this is a good thing, because I don’t like making the same thing twice, which is a prerequisite of selling finished items!

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

Initially it was a way to keep busy on maternity leave, in the evenings. I have anxiety & crochet lets me channel the energy more positively.

I think I fell in love with crochet because it is/was an underdog. I guess it makes me feel good to see people change their minds about the craft when they see what we do with it now!

Quatre 4 in 1 cowl crochet pattern by ACCROchet

Quatre 4 in 1 Cowl
copyright ACCROchet

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

I love Tunisian crochet, and count it as a separate craft. I’m starting to think about maybe perhaps trying to knit.

What influences your style?

I try really hard to create items that beginners* will be able to crochet without too much of a headache, but that crocheters with more experience won’t be bored by. I think my designs are distinctively modern, crisp and classic all at once.

*I’m not convinced I believe in beginner/expert. I mostly believe in mindless crochet/involved crochet. But the range remains the same.

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

This hat, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/131730357828620382/ by Mama in a Stitch. It’s super simple. I love it.

Workman's sock crochet pattern by ACCROchet

Workman’s Sock
copyright ACCROchet

What are your favorite stitches?

I have an unhealthy attraction to the half-double crochet stitch. It tends to show up often in my designs.
I also really like working in the back loop only.

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

My Furls Fiberarts Candy Shop hooks. I bought them in spurts, splurging until I had the entire rainbow. I love them.

Twisted Cowl, tunisian crochet pattern by ACCROchet

Twisted Cowl, Tunisian Crochet
copyright ACCROchet

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

When what?

(HA! HA!, I can totally relate!) Where can we find you?

Facebook: facebook.com/accrochet
Ravelry: ravelry.com/designers/accrochet
Website: accrochet.com

Thank you!
I’ve really enjoyed meeting Julie aka ACCROchet. I’m making a Melo Hat as part of my Stash Bust Challenge, and part of the GAL of course!  Check back for the finished photo. 

Glacier

 

New Pattern Alert-Pretty Spiffy Tuxedo Baby Bib

Just Released, Pretty Spiffy Tuxedo Baby Bib

Pretty Spiffy Crochet pattern baby bibJust in time to whip one up for your upcoming Thanksgiving feast!  This is adorable bib is an easy crochet pattern.  If you can change color mid-row, you can make this cutie!  Pattern available here: Pretty Spiffy

Remember, all Crochet by Darleen Hopkins patterns are Buy 2, Get a 3rd for FREE when purchased on Ravelry. No coupon needed!

Oh, and have you heard about the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long?  This bib qualifies for prizes if you participate!

Shells of Love-001