Friday, March 30, 2012

FYI: My Story of Journaling

In December of last year Laura of Along for the Ride contacted me about my paper and fabric-covered composition books and invited me to share my story of journaling as part of a series she runs on her blog. Seems my every new year comes with a resolution to journal more regularly. Do yours? Well, it's a full quarter into the new year now and I'm sharing this as a way to motivate myself again, and perhaps you too! Click to read more.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Merchant & Mills Sewing Notions Set (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)

I received this very cool Merchant & Mills Sewing Notion Set in the mail from Kaufmann Mercantile. Have you heard of the online store? It conjures up so many great associations for me. I love the idea of a carefully stocked mercantile1 Their tag is "Products that will outlast you." (A very deliberate us of "that" vs. "which" for those of you English major types... :-)). And in this day of cheap and disposable don't we appreciate well-made products we can invest in for the long term?

Click to read all about it and enter the GIVEAWAY open through April 4th. (GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sewing: Kangaroo Pocket Sweat Skirt...for Me?

Part of the reason I enjoy sewing for my girls at the exclusion of things for myself (there's only so much time), is that my girl projects are nearly always sure-things. Those for me, not so much. But sometimes I get an idea and I just can't help myself. And the idea of making something new to wear is so fun! This skirt is a perfect example.

I have always had a "thing" for camouflage and when I spotted this knit fabric on clearance at a local sewing store last year I just had to get it. A project immediately popped into my head: an ankle-length, slightly a-line skirt with a drawstring waist and a kangaroo pocket in front. What could be more comfortable to wear? (This may be my first knit project too, by the way. My mother always shied away from knits so I got the idea that they were "difficult.")

But can I wear it? That's the question. I was imagining a t-shirt and flip flops or chunky sandals. Or even a more tailored cotton shirt tied at the waist. But I'm thinking "no." I probably can't pull it off. Not sure I should even try. Maybe if I'd made this skirt in a solid color? I may try it again. Solid may be more age appropriate, and flattering. But I'm certainly going to move on to some versions for my girls. Can you believe I found some other knit camouflage fabric? I think my girls will pull it off for sure.

What do you think? Does this happen to you?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Crafter's Tool Butler Winner

A lot of you were excited about this great Crafter's Tool Butler from Jordana Paige. (I was able to try it out while posting about crochet supplies here.) You are right--so many many ways it could be used for better organization. I love the idea of being able to grab it and go and know that you've got anything you could need for a project.

The random and lucky winner of this fabulous item is:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Crochet 8: The Half Double Crochet (Tutorial)

Yarn: Stich Nation Full O' Sheep in Clementine  Fabric: Alexander Henry Mushroom City in Yellow

I love the Half Double Crochet (usually abbreviated "HDC"). So mysterious...what is a half double? Wouldn't that be a single. Well, no.... it's not in fact.

The half double crochet is used for something between the height of a single crochet and a double crochet. I suppose there are a couple ways to explain it but I think it's easiest to learn the double crochet first and then subtract from there, thus this tutorial comes after the one for the double crochet.

The half double crochet is the primary stitch used a couple baby hat patterns of mine (the Best Baby Cloche and the Ruffled Rose Earflap Hat), and many many other hats and sweaters besides. It's just a good go-to for a crochet fabric with a bit more interest than a straight single crochet. A bit of texture, not too lacey. Nice and warm.

Interested? Click to read more and view the photo and video tutorial.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to Crochet 7: Weaving In the Ends (Tutorial)

Yarn: Lily Sugar'n Cream in Hot Pink; Fabric: Windham Fabrics "Storybook VIII Toss"

Invariably, when you come to the end of a crochet pattern you will read the words, "weave in ends," or "weave in the ends," or "weave in your ends." Regardless of the wording, this is referring to the action of cleaning up all the stray yarn tails left from the first slip knot, the last fasten off, and any places you have added a new skein. This is my least favorite part of any pattern! I am fine with the repetitive stitch making but when I'm finished I want it to be finished--I dislike this final tidying up. 

In any event, I thought it might be helpful to have a little demonstration of the "weaving in" since it took me more than a couple years to get it right. It's the difference between a nicely finished project and one that in time has stray ends again, and even worse, fraying ends.

To view the tutorial click to read more.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

HOH in Crochet: Easy Baby Afghan (Tutorial)

After making a little hat and scarf that called for this technique, I made a little blanket like this a few years ago for some friends of mine who were adopting their second baby boy. I used a cornflower blue yarn, an aqua and a cream. It looked gorgeous and the texture was so ropey and fun. I imagine any baby would love to stick his or her fingers through it.

I thought of this blanket again when I started this Head-Over-Heels in Crochet series because it is a great beginner project or a mindless project for someone with more experience and the results are fantastic! As I keep repeating, I love anything that meets two critical criteria: great-looking and quick to work up! This Easy Baby Afghan certainly does.

This little afghan would be a great gift to welcome a new baby. It would look so darling folded over a crib or rocking chair. It is soft and almost spongey so I was thinking it would also make a great playmat or sleeping mat in the bottom of a crib. And it isn't quickly outgrown.

Tess thinks it's perfect for curling up with. It has a bit of heft for keeping little toes warm during nap or couch time.

I love it in these springtime colors: gold, pink and white. They were inspired by this darling sweater made by Rae in pink and gold. Rae is right--pink and yellow are beautiful together! I have been thinking about coral, pink, yellow and grey together too...

But about this baby afghan... Not sure if we're keeping it or gifting it. We'll have to see. If you would like to make one to gift or to keep (you could certainly enlarge it for an adult sized lap blanket too!) click to view the tutorial. It's all single crochet!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to Crochet 6: The Double Crochet

Yarn: Stitch Nation's Full O' Sheep in Clementine  Fabric: IKEA

The “fabric” created with single crochet is beautiful in itself, and versatile if you think about washcloths, sweaters, blankets, satchels, and scarves. I love the density and texture it creates. But as you move on to the other stitches things really start to get interesting, especially because you can combine them!

As I have mentioned in my previous "How to Crochet" posts, the really nice thing about crochet is that the stitches build on each other. If you’ve learned the motion of a chain stitch it’s just a matter of the number of times you yarn-over and pull the yarn through to create the other crochet stitches. So if you’ve been practicing your chains and single crochets you’ll be amazed at what you can do next.

Click to view the photo and video tutorial for creating the double crochet stitch.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

HOH in Crochet: Girl's Felted Satchel (Tutorial)

I love how these little satchels came out! My girls were excited about the idea from the start and went with me to pick out the yarn. Even my husband commented on the final results. I love the saturated colors and it doesn't get much better than fuzzy felted wool if you like tactile fabrics. (Who doesn't?) I love the texture and the thickness of the "fabric" on these little bags and it's not often I use oversized buttons but these purses were begging for them.

They look pretty fun, are cozy to wear, and are the perfect size for carrying a little girl's hard-earned allowance, or a few prized posessions. The strap is long enough to wear across the body, where it is less likely to slip off.

But the really important thing about the Girl's Felted Satchel is that it's made entirely using the single crochet stitch! If you've been following my How to Crochet series to brush up on your crochet technique or learning for the first time this would be a great project for you. Creating the crochet pieces for the bag is easy. The construction--seaming the strap to the bag--is a bit tricky but I've got lots of pictures for you to make it as simple as possible.

To make the satchel, you crochet a long rectangle for the body of the bag, and a narrow strip for the strap, and then seam them together using the single crochet seaming method.

I used Stitch Nation's Full O' Sheep yarn in Clementine, Passionfruit and Aquamarine.It's 100% peruvian wool. Such great colors and great together!

You could add a felted flower to the flap too if you wanted, or embroider with a contrasting yarn before or after felting. I think these little felted satchels have great potential.

Click to view the tutorial for making a Girl's Felted Satchel.

How-to tutorials, patterns, giveaways, reviews and interviews to make certain you are smitten.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Circle of Moms Top 25 List

Friends, I have always backed away from anything looking like a popularity contest. But I realize in the blogging world one has to sometimes inform her readers about certain things. Else how would you know? So I'm letting you know that Aesthetic Nest is in the running to be in Circle of Mom's Top 25 Creative Moms for 2012. Voting ends March 15th and you may vote once a day. If you have time to click over the next few days and vote for Aesthetic Nest it would be great! Thanks.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to Crochet 5: Seaming Your Work

In this how-to series we could move right on from single crochet to the other stitches (double crochet, half double crochet and triple crochet) but I'm pausing to talk about "seaming" because if you want to make anything other than washcloths or rectangular scarves or afghans (which are all good) you're going to need to seam some pieces together. Seaming is a good skill to have and it can be the difference between a cute sweater looking handmade instead of homemade. I am going to share two different methods. The first is the invisible mattress stitch, which works equally well for knitting or crochet by the way, and the second seaming method uses a single crochet stitch.

Click to view the full tutorial.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

HOH in Crochet: The Supplies (Giveaway for Crafter's Tool Butler-CLOSED)

One of the things that makes knitting and crocheting so appealing is their portability. You really don't need much to keep a project with you as you're about town. Hooks or needles, a ball of yarn, the work in progress and a bag to carry it in if you are worried about it mixing around in your purse.

I am going to share the supplies I keep on hand for crocheting at home and on-the-go, including a review of the new and very versatile Jordana Paige Crafter's Tool Butler. There's a GIVEAWAY for a Crafter's Tool Butler too! If you can't settle on just one form of handiwork this may be just your thing (and who wouldn't love a "butler"?!).

Click below to read the details and enter the giveaway.

How-to tutorials, patterns, giveaways, reviews and interviews to make certain you are smitten.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Crochet: Child's Sedge Stitch Cowl (Pattern)

March is being its characteristic self around here. Snow one day, walking weather the next. It loves to keep us guessing. So it's definitely not the end of scarf weather, and that's a good thing because I have a couple more scarf patterns in me! I loved the Sedge Stitch Cowl and Maxi Cowl, and it seemed you did too, so I decided to try it in a child's size. The cowl may be the easiest way to keep little ones warm--no chance of it slipping off. In fact, Tess loves to pull it out of the closet and tug it over her head all by herself.

This pattern is perfect for what I'd call an "advanced beginner"--anyone who has practiced a bit and is feeling confident about tackling a pattern. The pattern calls for some basic stitches: chain, single crochet, and double crochet (which I'll be teaching how-to very shortly), but it's the way they're put together that creates this great "sedge stitch" texture. You can view my original tutorial for the Sedge Stitch Cowl here. The child's pattern also includes a photo tutorial to make things more clear. The only tricky thing is counting out the stitch pattern but you'll find that comes pretty easily. Plus, since this cowl is created holding two strands together at the same time it goes very quickly. It won't take you long to have a cozy little cowl for some lucky child!

The Child's Sedge Stitch Cowl pattern comes in one size to fit most children. You can see this one works great on my toddler, pre-schooler and almost first-grader. It requires two skeins of worsted-weight yarn (category 4). I used Vanna's Choice Baby in Pink Poodle for this one--such a great pink color.

Because I want you too to be Head-Over-Heels in Crochet I am offering this pattern in my shop at an introductory 30% off for the rest of the week (through Saturday 3/10/12). Just type in INTRO30 in the Etsy Shopping cart when you are completing your transaction (you'll see a blue link to "Apply shop coupon code").

How-to tutorials, patterns, giveaways, reviews and interviews to make certain you are smitten.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How to Crochet 4: The Single Crochet (Tutorial)

Yarn: Stitch Nation Full o' Sheep Passionfruit   Fabric: Kathy Hall for Andover Fabrics

The great thing about crochet is that every stitch you make is based on the same actions you did when forming a chain stitch. So if you are feeling comfortable with the chain stitch you are most of the way there! Truly! The rest is just a matter of keeping track of the number of times you "yarn over" and pull the yarn through the working loop (or loops). 

If you are just learning to crochet I would recommend yards and yards of chain stitches, which you can pull out and remake, and inches of single crochet rows. I wouldn’t recommend picking out a pattern and starting there. However, if you are like I am, in that you aren’t very fond of pure practice and instead need something to show for all the work, then think “washcloths.” Washcloths are a perfect practice project. You can work on basic stitches and end up with something for scrubbing dishes, or exfoliating your face. Cotton crochet washcloths are fantastic, a bit of a luxury actually, but they don’t need to be a specific size, gauge or perfectly square. I have a step-by-step tutorial for some ribbed washcloths right here.

So whether you practice and tear out and practice again, or take a run at a washcloth, get ready to single crochet!

Click to view the photo and video tutorial.

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