Saturday, December 21, 2013
Thursday, November 28, 2013
And to sweeten the holiday, Many Creative Gifts is offering some savings on crochet patterns for Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday -- just use coupon code Cyber2013 on our Ravelry store, and you will get 15% off your entire purchase until 11:59 PM EST on Monday, December 2nd!
We've also just introduced crochet kits for our Beaded Owl Pin and the Turkish Love Knot Bracelet! They are now available in our Etsy shop, and you will receive 10% off with coupon code CYBER2013. The savings won't last long (also ending December 2nd), and this will be our last promotion for the year. The kits include everything you need to make Phyllis' crocheted creations, and they will make great stocking stuffers! So go place your order before it's too late ;-).
Thank you so much for following the blog, visiting us on Facebook, and providing support year after year. We really appreciate your interest in crochet and our offerings, and we hope to continue bringing the best of crochet to you for many years to come!
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
What is Craftsy?
It's hard to believe that any crafter hasn't heard about Craftsy by now, but I thought I'd share a little information about the organization since I am an affiliate. They've got some great online classes (though I still haven't made it all the way through the knit socks class yet), many of which are free, so it's definitely worth checking out, so read on:
Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. With over two million members and counting, Craftsy has something for just about everyone, in categories ranging from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more.
Behind the Scenes: The Making of a Craftsy Class
Before filming even begins, hours and hours are spent determining what content will be covered in each class, and how to best teach specific techniques to the camera. Instructors work with an instructional designer to create an in-depth outline of each lesson, and decide how to best prepare props or “step-outs” that show what your project should like at different steps. Instead of a scripted class, instructors follow their outlines on camera to create an authentic and engaging teaching experience.
Most Craftsy classes are filmed in one of five Craftsy studios in Denver, CO, assuring that every part of the production process goes off without a hitch. They fly in instructors from all over the world to spend several days filming, then spend several weeks turning hours of footage into a two to three hour class experience that has been watched, rewatched, and reviewed by industry experts. The final result is an HD-quality video that takes you in-depth into specific topics in any given craft category- from cooking and fine art to sewing and knitting.
What IS the Craftsy experience?
Craftsy classes are designed to have all the benefits of an in-person class, with none of the drawbacks. Available online and on-demand, you always have world-class instructors at the tip of your fingers. You can retake the class as many times as you want, and the 30-second repeat feature allows you to watch the same section over and over again until you get every technique just right.
Watching a Craftsy class is like having a first-row seat with some of the best instructors in the world. Even better, classes have a 100% money-back guarantee.
Try online learning today with a free mini-class from Craftsy! Choose from 23 Free Craftsy Classes ranging from drawing and painting to sewing and quilting, from knitting to cake decorating and more.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
I found it during a search for a formula for shawl making. I've been working on creating a shawlette pattern and have been getting frustrated because, frankly, I've just been winging it when making each row rather than figuring out mathematically how many stitches I need on each row in order for the shawl to "grow" into the shape I want. Let's face it, crochet (and knitting too) involve math, there's just no way around it if you want an accurate and well-shaped crocheted item. It's worth doing some up front planning because you're just going to get frustrated and end up wasting time along the way (and still end up going back to making calculations :-)
So, back to the drawing board!
Saturday, November 9, 2013
I, on the other hand, have been watching "Fast TV" -- Breaking Bad. I never had seen an episode during its six-year run but finally decided to renew my subscription to Netflix and give the pilot episode a try since so many friends of mine have recommended it. Well, I am hooked! I've made it so far to a little past the middle of Season 4 and have still avoided finding out how it all comes to a close (or does it since I have heard talk of spin-offs?!). Don't tell me! I am so enjoying watching it unfold, though I've discovered I can't watch more than three episodes back to back, just too much to handle. Not sure I've ever been a binge TV watcher before but this show really could change that for me!
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
In the mean time, I have to let it slip that I've entered into a collaboration with a local yarn company that I am so excited about! More to come since we are about to launch some really fun crochet projects this month.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The pattern is now available in my Ravelry store at this link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/humpty-dumpty-in-crochet, and if you purchase before October 31st, he's 20% off with this Ravelry coupon code: Humpty2013
Now, you might be asking, why Humpty Dumpty? Well, here's an example of how a crochet designer can get inspiration from just about anywhere. I have family who lives in Bethesda, MD. So, when I go to visit, I often cut across Connecticut Avenue to Wisconsin Avenue by going down Bradley Boulevard. One day there was a bit of a back up, so as I was sitting there, I looked over and at the end of a house's driveway was a little stone Humpty Dumpty sitting on the retaining wall. He really brought back memories of the children's nursery rhyme, and I did a little Wikipedia research to find out more. Anyway, he got my creative juices flowing, and this is the result!
What's been inspiring you lately?!
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Even DC Mayor Vincent Gray was there to open the season.
Here I am with the "mascot" of Scare Force One (don't tell Carla!)
These women are amazing athletes from all walks of life, and they are passionate about roller derby and giving back to the community. Read more about the DC Rollergirls on our website and find out about how you can support this wonderful organization!
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Also, the rams were let loose on the sheep yesterday, so there should be a flock of lambs in about 5 months! I love getting news from the Owens' farm and really hope to get up there to Sunbury, PA, some day soon to visit. Sounds like they are going to have overnight accommodations on the farm in the near future, so that should make the trip so much better.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The reason I paid attention to the article is because I know that Vanna is an avid crocheter and has built quite a yarn empire for herself as well. "Her contract, estimated to be worth millions, gives her the freedom to dabble in real estate and crocheting, hobbies she’s since turned into business ventures. Among knitting enthusiasts, Vanna is known for her popular line of yarn, from which she recently donated $1 million to St. Jude’s Hospital." Unfortunately, that's all the article says about this aspect of her life, but I really liked this statement of hers: "What people don’t know about me is that I’m a pretty good businesswoman,” Vanna says. “Yes, I do this little ol’ game show, but I know the show isn’t going to last forever, so I’ve gone into different ventures. But I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging.” I think there could be some very interesting business lessons we could learn from Vanna!
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
My search started at www.englishteastore.com because who better?! And pretty quickly, I came across the Brown Betty, a teapot with quite a history. It goes back to the end of the 17th Century when the British Ceramic Teapot came into being. The original Brown Bettys were made out of red clay from the Bradell Woods area in Stoke-on-Trent and left unglazed. The teapots are still made in Stoke-on-Trent with the same clay from the original area, and it is thought that the Brown Betty makes the best pot of tea because of the type of clay that is used and the shape of the pot.
But, right before hitting the "buy" button, I started thinking I should get a stainless steel teapot because I already have a very nice, simple stainless steel creamer and sugar and thus I'd have a set. Well, in the search for stainless steel, I got led to silver plated teapots and eBay and quadruple silverplated and "vintage" and "antique" and finally to the gorgeous carved and embossed teapots (repousse) from the Victorian Era. (I also recently saw the movie The Butler, and of course, there are scenes of him carrying in a beautiful, shiny coffee/tea set to the Oval Office:-) It's amazing all of the information out there about the process of making quadruple plated items, the different designs and finishes, and the different companies that made such tea sets back in the mid-to late-1800s.
I lost a few auctions but found a lovely pot being sold by a lady in Florida. The pot's been in her family since her grandmother, so that made it more attractive. Plus, she was offering it on a "best offer" basis, so I was able to negotiate a fair deal with her and avoid the whole whoo-haaa of the auctions. Whew.
So, as you can see, I shined up the pot and the silver plated tray that I had not had a full appreciation for before all this and was able to enjoy a spot of tea while crocheting! Ahhhhhh!
Friday, September 6, 2013
One technique I've used to estimate yarn usage is to make a gauge swatch in the specialty stitch pattern I am using, then unravel and measure how much yarn I've used for that number of stitches and rows, then use those figures to do some calculations when I've figured out how many stitches and rows the finished product has. This method can give a rough enough estimate that will help you be able to indicate in your pattern how many yards/meters of yarn the pattern maker will need, especially if it's less than one skein's worth. It's worth doing this because a number of crocheters have plenty of half-used balls of yarn around and want to be able to predict whether they've got enough yarn to make your pattern (remember your frustration when making something and coming up two rows short on yarn!).
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
I also tried to get some magazine reading done as well. I think I've rediscovered my appreciation for Entrepreneur magazine (I'm sure they're glad since it's renewal time!). One interesting article I read was on the Angie's List founder. When asked what she thinks her best trait is, she responded "perseverance." That was an eye opener for me and a good reminder about how important it is to stick to things. Of course, it's better if you can whip things out in an efficient and timely manner, but you know, life happens. So, it's better (I think) to keep sticking with it, to persevere until something is done, even if it takes a lot longer than you thought it would and you feel like you're never going to get it done. Now, it's also important to know when to abandon something because it's just not turning out as you thought it would or something more important, better, [fill in the blank] has come along. Better to cut your losses and move on rather than persevering through something that's not going to yield a good or satisfying result. Problem is, it's often hard to know right away the things to keep working on and the things to let go!
So, long-time readers, you know how I try to use this blog for many different purposes, including as an accountability tool. I've still got a few months til the end of the year and will be trying to sort out what I've promised you in 2013 that I think I should follow through on and what will fall by the wayside :-) One of my assignments I've been thinking about was the one to identify my customers and sketch out a little bio about each representative one. But, the Angie's List article had me shifting gears to thinking about my crochet students instead as a starting point.
I think I've identified three types of students: 1) naturals, 2) those ultimately not interested in crochet, and 3) the perseverers. As a teacher, it's important to have experience with all three and work out how you approach each type, but I'm sure you're sensing that the third category is the most challenging and most rewarding! More to come...
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Saturday, August 3, 2013
So, I hope everyone takes a bit of time this August to catch up! See you officially in September!!
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
But, I digress. This post is about evolution and adaptability, both of which are positive spins on change, which sometimes can elicit negative feelings. Sometimes, change really is good. For example, I have not particularly kept up well with my Etsy shop. Since I now concentrate on making patterns rather than the items themselves, I post the patterns on Ravelry, though I can't bring myself to close my Etsy shop because I've been on there since the beginning in 2005!
So, why not also post patterns on Etsy? Well, putting aside the costs associated with doing that (which are a bit more than on Ravelry), the biggest concern for me was that a pattern purchaser on Etsy would not have access to the pattern immediately - she or he would have to wait until I was able to make it home to my computer to send the pattern electronically (though I have had a few purchasers request hard copies mailed to them). Maybe it's just me projecting my desires onto others, but if I find a pattern I like, I want to be able to download it right away and get started (or at least read and play around with it).
Well, the other day, I was looking around on Etsy (it still remains my home page and a great source for pins to my Pinterest boards) and I saw a pattern that I clicked on and was given the choice to purchase it as a digital file! Whoa, instant downloading available on Etsy! A game changer?! I won't know til I try, but obviously it's time to rethink my Etsy shop :-)
The bigger point here is you just have to be open to change and to be willing to rethink and adapt to changes, many of which turn out to be good. And just because something didn't meet your needs in the past doesn't mean it's not worth reconsidering in the future. Sometimes, it's worth giving second chances (or even thirds ;-). Your business plan (or life plan) is not a static concept -- it has to bend, grow, change and adapt as the world around it does all those things. It's easy to get caught up in whatever actions you're currently pursuing and just stick to those, but do take the time periodically to step back, do a little research into what new things are out there, and then think about what (positive) changes you want to make to adapt!
Friday, July 19, 2013
I'm specifically thinking about the herringbone double crochet stitch. By making a few slight changes in the regular double crochet stitch, you get a new stitch that creates the illusion of herringbone.
It's hard to explain in words, but here goes:
1) yarn over and insert hook into next st (same as usual)
2) yarn over and pull up a loop through the stitch AND THE FIRST LOOP ON YOUR HOOK. This step is different than the regular dc; you should have 2 loops on your hook
3) yarn over and pull up a loop through THE FIRST LOOP ON YOUR HOOK. This step is also different than the regular dc; you still have 2 loops on your hook
4) yarn over, and pull up a loop through the last 2 loops on your hook to finish the stitch (same as usual).
I hope this short video also is helpful to you in giving this fun variation on the regular dc stitch a try!
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
In fact, I think I might have waited a little too long because it was a little squishy, but I cut it up into chunks and put the chunks to soak in some cold water and salt for about 1/2 hour to an hour, and they were fine. Then, I harvested a few cherry tomatoes and a Serrano pepper and chopped those up too. A little olive oil and garlic in a sautee pan, some seasoning, then the pepper and tomato. Once they cooked for a few minutes, I added the eggplant and continued to stir every few minutes (I kept it on medium to low heat). Once the eggplant looked like it had softened and cooked through lightly, I poured in some Rao's Tomato and Basil sauce and just kept cooking the mixture til it had bubbled and cooked for about 10 minutes. And voila!
I prepared some Fucilli, added the sauce, and we had a pretty good meal!
Friday, July 12, 2013
Issues of Inside Crochet magazine seem to now be available on iTunes and Pocketmag. Issue 43 should be in stores in August here in the States. I also will be allowed to post the pattern in my Ravelry store in about 6 months :-)
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Well, so far, I've read two wonderful books that fit the bill. The first, Hooked on Murder by Betty Hechtman, was an easy and enjoyable read. I totally agree with Earlene Fowler's description on the jacket that it is "a gentle and charming novel... Its quirky and likable characters are appealing and real." Crochet club member Molly Pink gets caught up in a murder mystery and does a little amateur sleuthing to try to solve the crime. The book even includes the group's crochet pattern for a granny square and a recipe for pound cake! I'm getting ready to read the next book in the series Dead Men Don't Crochet (admit it, pretty corny and clever titles!)
And, the second, The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil, is a bit more thoughtful and serious with a British twist. Jo Mackenzie finds herself widowed with two young boys, starting over in a small town as a yarn shop owner. Despite a whole other set of quirky characters, the community embraces Jo, and she is headed towards a brighter future. I think I'll probably pick up the next in this series of books as well.
Both books were relatively quick reads and entertaining, and both authors know their fiber arts!
Friday, July 5, 2013
Thank you to those of you who all made fine name suggestions, but out on my balcony yesterday, it hit me -- Petunia! I have some beautiful white petunias growing right now in planters, and they are doing well, even with the heat we've been having lately. Even though the petunia is a delicate looking flower, it really is quite hardy, grows well, and withstands the elements like a trooper. Hopefully Petunia will do the same!
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Friday, June 28, 2013
I use those Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack also. They really do work, though supplemental watering is still necessary I think, especially on hot days. And they look pretty :-)
And I saw a lady bug on a leaf the other day, that's got to be a good sign too, right?
It's funny though, I don't crochet out on the balcony. I think it's because I don't want to expose my project to the elements, and I can just see me knocking on my neighbor's door, 5 floors down, "excuse me, might I retrieve my ball of yarn from your patio?!" Nope, I use the farm as my escape to unplug, unwind, and look around and see what's going on around me. Aaaaaaaah.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
On another note, I just got the shipment of chunky yarn made from Princess' wool (remember, this year I said I was NOT going through that whole skirting and cleaning process again! I still haven't carded, much less spun, her wool from last year). There's a lot of yarn in that bag! I can't believe this is it, that's all the wool that I'll ever have from her :-(. So, that just means that I will have to come up with a really special crochet project for it! Help me decide what to make!
Friday, June 21, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The first ones I came across are actually mainly knitting tutorials, but I find that knitting demonstrations make me start thinking about how to achieve a similar effect through crochet.
Juniper Moon Farm has a great round up of tutorials, including one on how to crochet an i-cord.
The Crochet Geek has an amazing collection of crochet tutorials, many of them geared towards beginners.
And this Pinterest board says it all: Beginner Crochet Tutorials
Please visit my Many Creative Gifts YouTube channel for a growing collection of crochet tutorials too.
So, I hope these resources will help you try some new crochet stitches and techniques and brush up on some that you hadn't thought about in a while!
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Friday, June 7, 2013
Basically it's a way of planning out the content and timing of posts ahead of time. The process wants you to first think about your target audience and what they would want to read. Then, figure out two to five specific categories of information on which to concentrate. And to finish, get it scheduled on a spreadsheet, with dates, post titles, and social media links. But, of course, the most important step is going to be sticking to it!
I am committing to go through with this process and share it with you because YOU are my target audience :-). Let's see if I can describe some of you properly, but that will be the next post.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
# 140 was bred with their natural-colored ram Baritone and had twins: a ram lamb and my # 217.
Number 217 spent her first year as part of the Owens' Sheep Camp. She was haltered, led around, given treats, entered into Lamb Races and Hide and Go Sheep, and got to play with lots of children. As a result, she's really quite friendly and curious about people.
After that cushy first year, she spent the winter with a group of other yearling ewes and rejoined the flock this spring. Right now, she is out to pasture and will be getting her first blanket next week to protect that beautiful fleece.
So, it's time for another naming contest! Since her grandmother was named Honeysuckle, I hope you'll keep that in mind in coming up with a sweet name for # 217 in her own right. Please post your entries (no limit) on our Facebook Page (I'll have a post on which you can comment and add your entry). I'll have some nice crochet treats for the winner, but I do reserve the right to end the contest and just come up with a name of my own liking for her. Good luck!
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
And I got an email saying that I had won one of the Online Presence Review from Dream Your Success. I'm really excited about this opportunity to have a fresh eye look at my site, this blog, all my social media posts, etc., and give me some insights on how to bring it all together and where to channel my energy and of course will share what I find out.
Which got me to thinking about how there are Talkers and Doers. I'm a sucker for webinars and other resources that are supposed to give you insights into the latest business technique, and I recently signed up for a free newsletter and mini-course on the Facebook Landing Page. Now, this fellow sure spoke well about how he did research and came up with a fool-proof template that really helped his business grow, but he really didn't explain what the landing page is about and how to take action steps to actually make one of your own. So, I did a quick search for "how to make a Facebook landing page" and up popped Heather Porter's website, on which she's got a free video that takes you step-by-step through the process of what the page actually looks like and how to create one! I haven't actually watched and implemented the whole video yet, but I can tell that, once I've thought through exactly what I want to go onto my FB landing page, I'm going to be able to actually get it done! So, that's the difference in my opinion between the first guy (talks nicely but ...) and Ms. Porter (who actually gets things done and helps you do them too!).