December 11, 2012

On Some Things to Look Forward To.

I got busy with my hook this weekend and started two new patterns for two exciting things to come in the shop!

The first is a pair of boot cuffs. This pattern was more challenging to create than I had expected. First, I’m not the best mannequin for them, because I think my calves run slightly larger than your average calf (all those years of dance class!). Second, I wanted a good blend between an interesting pattern and something that didn’t take forever to work up. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out! (And, of course, I had to add a bit of scalloping at the top :))


Second, I hopped on the start of a newish bandwagon–move over moustaches, peter pan collars are up next! I’ve loved the look of a peter pan collar on cardigans and blouses for a good long time now, and then I started seeing some necklaces that mimic that design. Well, I took it a step further and crocheted a peter pan collar! I absolutely love the way it turned out–the pattern kind of fell right into place naturally, without much redoing on my part to get it the way I wanted it. I’ve ordered some great buttons for it, so I just have to wait for them to come in to start listing on Etsy!



What were you working on this weekend?

September 7, 2012

On Bundling Down for Winter via Knitting.

Yes, I know that it’s even shameful for me to think of this season right now, as in the US, it isn’t even autumn yet, but I have a project in mind.

I am not great at managing cold weather, snow, and wind, and so I want an extremely warm covering for my head. With that in mind, I had intended to make a “scarf hat” last winter but had never gotten around to it. It’s basically a hat whose back kind of trails into a thick scarf that you can wrap around your face and neck. (But it’s not the end of the hat that turns into a scarf; it’s the front piece on either side.) I saw something similar to what I was looking for at an amazing Etsy shop, pixiebell:

The only problem is my stubbornness; I tend to insist on making winter items myself. Since I know how to knit, it always feels like a huge cop-out to just buy it from someone else, even if that someone else is incredible and it would be in my best interest and completely worth it.

So I went on the great hunt for a pattern, digging through endless false leads. (Do you know how many hat and scarf patterns there are out there? Shouldn’t typing {“scarf hat” pattern} into Google search yield more relevant results?) And then, I realized how silly I was being. There are names for this thing: a hooded scarf and a scoodie.

And armed with that critical piece of knowledge, I have found the perfect pattern. It’s a beautiful knitted, cabled, hooded scarf with pockets at the end for your hands (something I wasn’t expecting to enjoy, but I’m quickly warming–pun intended–to the idea).

A trip to Michael’s later, and I had the yarn I wanted to use: Caron’s Simply Soft in Dark Sage.

I have a dark brown knee-length winter coat, so this should go perfectly :). Of course, I had to buy a couple extra skeins for mittens, “just in case”! I’ve already modified the scarf’s pattern to use on the mittens, as well, so if that goes as planned, I’ll share that pattern with you, too!

I do actually slightly prefer knitting to crocheting, just because you can really do some awesome detail work. However, since it is so labor intensive, I don’t knit for my shop, because I would feel uncomfortable charging that much for an item. Instead, I knit clothing for myself and occasionally for my fiance. I’m excited to have this chance to work on something for myself!

So far, I have the first pocket done. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Are you planning any winter projects?

August 20, 2012

On Braiding.

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 11:45 am

This morning on the bus, a woman pulled her hair to the side of her face and began braiding it while reading a book. Her hair was thick and dark and straightened. (Having curly hair myself, I can always tell when curly hair is straighted.) My first reaction was disappointment: she had clearly spent some considerable time making her hair perfectly straight, no bumps or ridges, no frizz.

Then I thought again. The braid was beautiful too–even more so was the way in which she did it. Swept it from her neck with one stroke, firmly divided the thousands of strands into three, and while she was doing something else–while her concentration was on the book in front of her–she created something entirely new.

I can braid; I do the same thing she does. When it’s raining or humid or hot, my hair doesn’t stay trailing on the back of my neck like some woolen blanket; it goes into a braid. I guess I just never realized how graceful and commanding the act was, how skilled one had to be to change the structure of your hair in fifteen seconds. Do I look that powerful when I do it, too?

Like braiding, crocheting takes strands and makes them into a context. Any project does this: sewing, knitting, beading, felting. We are changing the very structure of these items. We have the power to alter their makeup and how people perceive them. Yarn is just yarn until you, essentially, tie it in a million knots. Then it’s craft, or art, or a blanket, or a doll. We don’t personify yarn, but we do give faces and voices and personality to a teddy bear, or an octopus, or a rabbit. We make them matter.

That’s a daring thought.

August 14, 2012

On Modcloth and Sewing Imposters.

Filed under: On Creating. — Tags: , , , , , — amandajocrafts @ 3:25 pm

Modcloth has rapidly become my weakness.

First, if you don’t know what Modcloth is, and you are a female who loves unique and classic dresses, DON’T GO THERE. Unless you intend to fall in love with something amazing and expensive, and you have extra money on your hands for said purchase.

Luckily, I have not yet fallen prey to my whims, as I have rent and student loans and a fiance who will fully support my purchasing, but then unknowingly make me feel guilty because he never buys anything for himself. Ever. He’s without exorbitant needs.

So, until my etsy shop picks up a bit, and I can have some spare change, the dresses elude me.

However, I have found a wonderful blog,, that shows you how to make the Modcloth dresses: what pattern to use, suggestions on material, etc. Armed with this knowledge, I started to create the “Pull Up a Cherry Dress” around Easter.

Well, here’s the thing about me and sewing: it’s my most challenging of the “homemaking” arts. (Crocheting I do in my sleep; give me a pattern to knit and I can; needlepoint is fine, but boring.)

Zippers are so hard! The material never lines up quite right. Cutting the material from the pattern takes so long. I run out of thread. I drop pins on the floor, and two weeks later they end up in my feet. My sewing machine goes crazy (read: I mess it up).

If I can, amazingly, get past all the mental knowledge of all these previous struggles and hype my confidence up to the point where “I’m ready to do it, right now”…I still have to wash, dry, and iron the material! That’s four hours to psych myself out!

Well, I managed to finish the dress. I put it on, and it was two sizes too big. So big that I can’t just tuck it with some quick darts on either side; I have to go into each bodice seam in both the material and the lining and take it in.

It’s been sitting in my closet in a ball for three months. I actually had forgotten it was there until I was cleaning up in there to make room for more stuff.

Maybe I’ll finish it now. It would feel so rewarding, indeed, if I could get it to fit me.

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