"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, August 29, 2010

You've Waited So Patiently: Free Crochet Pattern

When I posted the free pattern for the Big Girl Dish Scrubby last month I really didn't expect it to be such a hit.  To date, it has received 106 hearts and it's in 26 queues!  More than that, it's brought some very positive attention to my other patterns and I can now support my yarn habit without tapping into an already too tight budget.  So, rather than simply say thank you to the many folks who had their crochet hooks in helping me do this, I offer a gesture of thanks:

A short while ago I promised matching pieces and I've finally set down to keep that promise.  So, with no further ado, I offer the Free Big Girl Kitchen Towel.....and a tease.  The tease is a work in progress and will be my next free pattern offered here.  You'll see it in a couple of the pics in this post.

All instructions use American terminology and standard abbreviations.

Supplies Needed:
about 5-6 oz. of worsted weight cotton yarn (that's about 3 balls of Peaches n Creme or Lily Sugar n Cream)
size I-9 (5.5 mm) crochet hook
one button about 1 1/4" in diameter
yarn needle and/or traditional sewing needle for attaching button and weaving in ends
stitch markers or scraps of yarn for row counting (optional)

Special Stitches Used:
single crochet decrease (sc dec) -- insert hook into both loops of first stitch being worked, yo, pull up a loop, insert hook into both loops of next stitch, yo, pull up a loop, yo, draw through all 3 loops on hook
double triple crochet (dtrc) -- yo 3 times, insert hook into next st, pull up a loop, [yo, pull through 2 loops] 4 times

ch 48

Row 1:  sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch to end, turn (47 sc)

Row 2:  ch1, sc in 1st sc, [ch1, sk next sc, sc in next sc] rep to end, turn (47 sts)

Row 3:  ch1, sc in 1st sc and 1st ch1 sp, [ch1, sk next sc, sc in next ch1 sp] rep to end, sc in last st, turn (47 sts)

Row 4:  ch1, sc in 1st sc, [ch1, sk next sc, sc in next ch1 sp] rep across ending w/ sc in last sc, turn (47 sts)

Row 5:  rep Row 3

Row 6:  ch1, sc in 1st sc and in each sc and ch1 sp across, turn (47 sc)

Row 7:  ch1, working in back loops only sc in each st across, turn (47 sc)

Row 8:  ch1, working in front loops only sc in each st across, turn (47 sc)

Row 9:  rep Row 7

Row 10:  ch1, working in front loops only sc in 1st sc, [dc in next st, sc in next st] rep to end, turn (47 sts)

Row 11:  ch1, working in back loops only sc in 1st sc, [sc in next dc, dc in next sc] rep across ending w/sc in last sc, turn (47 sts)

Row 12:  ch1, working in front loops only sc in 1st sc, [dc in next sc, sc in next dc] rep across ending w/sc in last sc, turn (47 sts)

Rows 13-14:  rep Rows 11-12

Row 15:  ch1, working in back loops only sc in each st across, turn (47 sc)

Row 16:  ch1, working in front loops only sc in each st across, turn (47 sc)

Rows 17-18:  rep Rows 15-16

Row 19:  ch1, sc in 1st sc, [ch1, sk next sc, sc in next sc] rep to end, turn (47 sts)

Row 20:  ch1, sc in 1st sc and 1st ch1 sp, [ch1, sk next sc, sc in next ch1 sp] rep to end, sc in last st, turn (47 sts)

Row 21:  ch1, sc in 1st sc, [ch1, sk next sc, sc in next ch1 sp] rep across ending w/ sc in last sc, turn (47 sts)

Rows 22-59:  rep Rows 20-21

Row 60:  ch1, sc in each sc and ch1 sp across, turn (47 sc)

Row 61:  ch1, sc dec 12 times, sc in next st, sc dec 11 times, turn (24 sts)

Row 62:  ch1, sc dec 12 times, turn (12 sts)

Row 63:  ch1, sc dec 6 times, turn (6 sts)

Row 64:  ch1, sc in each st across, turn (6 sts)

Rows 65-81:  repeat Row 64

Note:  Before proceeding, you may wish to fit your hanging loop to the place where you'd like it to hang.  If worked as instructed it will fit the average drawer pull or oven door handle.  If you need to add length simply continue repeating Row 64 as necessary.

Row 82:  ch3 (counts as dc), trc in next st, dtrc in next 2 sts, trc in next st, dc in next st, turn (6 sts)

Note:  The space between the two dtrc is your buttonhole.

Row 83:  ch1, sc in each of 1st 2 sts, 2sc in each of next 2 sts, sc in each of next 2 sts

Finishing Round:  beginning with last stitch in which you worked, sc around working 3 sc in corners and stopping at Row 82, join w/sl st in 1st sc of Row 83, fo, weave in ends

Attaching button:  Fold end of narrow strip and attach button at desired position making sure that the hanging loop made by this fold allows enough room for you to hang your towel where you wish to hang it.  Take care to attach the button loosely enough that there is sufficient space behind it for the thickness of your fabric.


Note:  This pattern has not been tested.  I made it; I wrote it; I'm posting it; done.  If you find any mistakes or have suggestions for clarification, please email me or leave a comment here (preferred).

About my work:

Any pattern I design and post here is my property. Please do not duplicate my patterns for any reason especially to sell. Instead, please link to my blog or to the pattern page when referencing one of my patterns.

You are more than welcome to offer finished items made from my patterns for sale. I see no reason why you should not profit from your hard work. However, I'd really appreciate it if you gave me credit for the design; please reference my blog or the pattern page.

If you do make any of my patterns, I'd love to see your finished items; please feel free to email pictures to me.

If you are not interested in making your own pieces, I occasionally offer finished items in my shops on Etsy and Bonanzle. I also welcome special orders, so email me and let's work together.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Just Got a Bahgin...

That's how we say it here in New England.  And we New Englanders are notorious for sniffing out those bargains AND showing them off.  In a marketing seminar mrrrf-teen years ago, our instructor told the class that New Englanders were (probably still are) the most frugal people in the US.  Moreover, we're the group who will most likely share their experiences, and the prices they paid (or didn't pay) with anyone who will listen.
Now that that's established, I offer you the reason for the title of this post:  http://www.elmore-pisgah.com/specials.htm.  This is the company that makes the famous Peaches 'n Cream cotton yarn.  I found that site a while back and bookmarked it for use at a later date.  I've vowed not to buy too much yarn at one time and to make every effort to only spend what I make from selling my patterns and wares, so I've been squirreling away every cent in my PayPal account until I could justify placing an order.  The two items in which I was most interested were the two at the top of the page:  the Seconds Cones and the 2 lb. Grab Bag.  Take a look at my haul!

I was thrilled when I opened the box because I'm all about blue and yellow for the kitchen right now and I'm working on some projects that lend themselves to beige/hemp colored yarn (including a freebie I'll be posting within the next couple of days).  It's almost as though someone read my mind.  I tend to avoid black for items that will be photographed because It's virtually impossible to get a good shot, but I can always use black yarn.  The verdict: the cones were obviously a huge hit.

The Grab Bag was not as spot on, but definitely useful. First, the two balls of variegated yarn (lower right corner) are first quality AND the same dye lot.  SCORE!  Second, the remaining colors are all ones that I can definitely use.  I'm only minorly disappointed with the amount of crochet thread I received, but I knew I was taking a chance with this order and I'll take the good with the not so bad.  I guess I'll just have to come up with a few more scrubby patterns, right?

I've already finished a project using that royal blue.  There are inconsistencies in the color, but that's not important to me.  If my plan was to sell the finished product, I'd use a first quality yarn, but the seconds are just fine for those items that may or may not end up in my own kitchen.

I should add that the online store also offers first quality balls and cones in every color and fiber that the Pisgah Yarn Company offers, so it's well worth taking a look.  The prices are also very reasonable, better than I've seen locally.

Okay, so here's the BUT:  the shipping fees begin somewhere around $8 which is pretty pricey unless you're placing a large order.  Yes, the shipping rates increase as your order does, but they creep upward rather than ballooning.

Anyhow, I would definitely give this order and the whole experience a big thumbs up.  I will most definitely be placing orders for seconds cones in the future and most likely adding some first quality cones to the next order.

Has anyone out there found a great place to buy acrylics, wools, or even other cottons on the cheap?  I'd love to hear from you, so please share!

Just a side note:  the blue towel is the "Tiny Bubbles Towel" made to match my "Tiny Bubbles" scrubby and pot holder patterns and has just been posted on Etsy and Ravelry.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Look What I Did!

If you're a subscriber of my email newsletter, you've probably already seen this, but I think it bears repeating here (this time with pictures).
Kris and Martha Kringle

I've been hard at work perfecting crochet patterns for my various shops and I'm very excited to share them with you:


Yes, I realise it's August, and hot as can be outside for many of us, but now is the best time to think about crocheting those smaller Holiday gifts.  Before we settle down with afghans (and afghan projects) on our laps, lets focus on the quickies and get them crossed off our lists.

It's been my experience that the toughest patterns to find online are those for mittens and and unisex or masculine hats, so I've come up with a few and am working on more.  Thus far, I've posted two patterns for hats and one for mittens.  They all use basic worsted weight yarn in your choice of fiber.  More will be forthcoming as soon as I find a moment to type them up properly.  Matching scarf patterns are also in the works, so look for them in the near future.

Simple Astro Hat
Simple Earth Hat
Big Girl Mittens

Many thanks to my handsome nephews for modeling the new hats!

Chubby Nubby Hanging Towel

This one is literally hot off the press.  Just last night I posted the pattern for Chubby Nubby Towels  You guessed it!  The main pattern is for a hanging towel that matches the Chubby Nubby Scrubby which has become quite a hit.  It also includes instructions for a flat towel that matches as well as variations so you can "mix it up" in your own kitchen!  This pattern is available by itself and, by the end of the day today, will be bundled with the matching scrubby at a discounted price.  Fear not; if you have already purchased the scrubby pattern and would like to take advantage of the discount, simply contact me via one of my shops or email and a special listing will be made for you at the discounted price in the shop of your choosing.

Coming soon will be a matching potholder/hot pad and I'm opening my ears to any requests for other matching items.  If you have any requests, send them to me and I'll do my best to oblige.  I plan to do the same for the Tiny Bubbles Scrubby in my shops as well as the free Big Girl Scrubby posted here on my blog, so keep your eyes peeled for those.  Before you even have a chance to ask, yes, the match to the freebie will be here for free!


And finally, I've introduced my own amigurumi patterns called "Lightbulb Lovies," so named because the base body is the shape of a lightbulb.  Thus far, three styles are available:  "Lovey" the lightbulb, my mascot and fit model, "Salonga" the panda, and "Jackman" the koala.  Almost ready to go are Kris and Martha Kringle which will be posted soon.

Each of the Lovies sits about 5 1/2 to 6" tall and is worked with a "join as you go" method to eliminate the need for endless sewing once the crochet pieces are finished.  Currently on the drawing board is an entire menagerie and, at the request of one of my valued blog readers, a Nativity which I hope to have done and listed before the end of September.



You will find every pattern described in this post by clicking on any of the following links:

As always, if you have any questions or comments regarding anything you've read here, my ears are open!  Simply leave a comment below or drop me a line at BigGirlJewelry@yahoo.com.

Thank you all for your continued support!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Favorite Employee: Michael Buble

Dad was a huge fan of various styles of music that fall under the umbrella we call Jazz.  You name it, his record collection had it, mostly latin and swing/big band.  Ella, Billie, Nat, Sarah, Mel.....sigh.  Along with most of his facial features, I inherited that love, but even more so.  I also adore zydeco, blues, and fusion, and I've never met a torch song I didn't love. Anyhow, a while back, I discovered Pandora.com which allows listeners to create their own channels.  I've got about ten channels that suit my many musical moods, but my choice today is the one I named the "Lizard Lounge."

As I posted last week, I've been pouring almost every waking moment into developing, writing, and posting new patterns which can be extremely frustrating when you live in a house with three wonderful, but rambunctious, children.  Late this afternoon, in a desperate attempt to finish editing, translating, and posting my most recent creation amidst the chaos, I put in my earbuds, turned on Pandora, took a deep breath and just allowed the music to wash over me.  As I listened to Michael Buble croon "Everything," I did exactly what we so often forget to do:   I lived for just that one moment.   Nothing else mattered; nothing else existed, just me, my laptop, and Michael Buble.  For those few minutes I let go of everything and found something very close to what yogis call "bliss."  That was just the reminder I needed to stop and smell the roses, to tell the people I love that I love them because I may never get the chance again.

Just do it; take a risk.....LIVE  My favorite movie quote is from Auntie Mame, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."  (Of course, my second favorite is, "Black coffee and a sidecar, Auntie needs fuel.")  Thanks to the "Lizard Lounge," Michael Buble, and Frank Sinatra, I finished this evening what I started this morning and, to quote another favorite artist, Rob Gonzalez, "all is right with the world."


Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm So Proud!

This one's just a quickie.  I wanted to show off some of the work being done by my readers and customers, so here are some pics for you to peruse at your leisure.  Thank you for the pictures ladies!  Please keep them coming; as I receive more, I'll post them here.

Megan themegababe's Chubby Nubby Scrubby
in Lily Sugar 'n Cream Prints

Find Megan here:  Crochet Every Day

katilo's 2 Big Girl Scrubbies
in Aunt Lydia's Baby Denim
cherylannmary's Tiny Bubbles Scrubby
in Lily Sugar 'n Cream Twists
All photos were collected via email or Ravelry and posted with permission, so please don't swipe them to post elsewhere.  Thanks!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I could use a break, but. . .

Project A
I'm on a roll.  In the past two weeks, I've completed, perfected, and written four patterns.  I found a free online resource so I could translate my .wps files to .pdf which means I could post my patterns for sale without having to pay almost $100 for Adobe Acrobat.  I tried, and failed to teach myself how to use the trial version of Acrobat9.  I posted three of those patterns on four different websites (and sold several copies).  I filled orders for email and packaged items.  I found an online resource where I could buy not-quite-first quality yarn at dirt cheap prices so I don't have to waste my top quality yarn when I make prototypes (and frog them, and make them, and frog them....you get the picture.)  And I blogged; I tweeted; I face booked; I connected with old friends and made some new ones.  Whew!

Project B
So why can't I stop for a minute and take a breath?  Because I'm the creative type and a workaholic.  Anyone out there who has ever pursued artistic endeavors has got to know what I mean.  The last good idea could very well be the last good idea.  Creativity is fleeting so you have to hang on to that great idea and guide it to it's completion.  Whether you're a writer (or blogger), a woodworker, a painter, a sculptor, or a crafter you know that the design doesn't come from your hands.  If it were that simple, then I could easily give my hands a few days off and just sit back and do some for-pleasure-only crocheting or reading or. . .whatever.  But it's not that simple.

Creativity comes from your head.  Now, some of you may argue that it comes from your heart, but think about it. . .really think about it.  Your passion for your craft most definitely comes from your heart.  Without heart, it's not craft; it's just work.  Without heart, "good enough" really is good enough.  Without heart, any schmuck can do what we do.  But the creativity, that initial spark that lights the fire that becomes the passion that is craftsmanship. . .that, my friends, comes from the brain.  And when my brain finds an idea, it holds that idea like a moray eel holds its prey.  My brain begs me to put pen to paper until finally all that creativity sparks that fire in my heart, where it lights the wildfire of passion which rages down my arm and becomes a paragraph, or a drawing, or a diagram.  Then my mind can rest, but not for long, because my hands go to work to perfect the idea.  They work, and they correct, and they fine tune until, finally, a finished product emerges that my brain decides is worthy of being called done.

Project D
But what happens when project A is still under construction when an idea for project B finds the need to emerge?  And then there's project C. . .and project D. . .uh oh.  Can  you see where I'm headed here?  Well, I'll give you a true scenario to illustrate my point: 

Project A was an experiment that worked out pretty well.  I had just about finished Project A when I got the idea for Project B.  Great!  I could get right onto Project B without a break.  But then Project C hit me.  Hmmm. . .Well, I could do a quick sketch of Project C then go back to Project B, finish it and move on to Project C.  That didn't happen.  I ended up working on Project B and Project C simultaneously for a bit, but Project C didn't really go as easily as planned, so I put it aside and finished Project B (which is probably what I should have done in the first place).  Just as I finished Project B I had a brainstorm.  I would make two versions of Project C.  That's how Project D came to light.  I worked on Project D while I continued to work the bugs out of Project C.  Not surprisingly, Project D found it's way to completion first, but Project C was well underway.  Finally, just hours ago, I put Project C to bed.

I should be happy, right?  Well, I am. . .happy.  I'm happy, but I'm not satisfied.  Why?  Because only minutes before I sat down to write this blog entry Project E found it's way into my brain. . .and into my heart. . .and down my arm. . .

Cue the music:  wah wah wah waaaaaaaaaaaah.
And finally, Project C