"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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Where's the New Stuff?

I was born and raised in Manchester, NH as was my dad.  Mom's journey was a bit more involved, but she did most of her growing up there.  The core of my mother's side of the family, my grandparents, pretty much  stayed in Manchester, in the same neighborhood, for most of the time I remained in the city.  Dad's side spread all over, so I didn't get the benefit of their company except at weddings, funerals, and holidays.  No, my aim here is not to give you my complete life history, simply to segue into the reason that the following info may be terribly inaccurate.

Dad's sister (one of five) Irene lived with her husband and kids in Hampton, NH which was an hour drive from Manchester.  We weren't close in proximity or spirit, but here's what I've been able to piece together based on what I do know:  Auntie Irene was the quintessential craft lady.  Rather than work a typical 9 to 5 job, she worked from home where she raised two daughters and made extra income by selling her wares at craft fairs and shows.  Nearly every Christmas gift from my Aunt Irene was handmade, from the stocking knitted the year I was born, to the beautiful life-sized rag doll when I was about 3 or 4, to the giant stuffed peanut in honor of Jimmy Carter's election as president.  My cousins and I looked forward to Auntie Irene's creations every year and they were truly treasured objects meant to be used, played with, and eventually lost to years of loving wear.

The last gift I received before she and my uncle Romie retired to Florida was a cross stitch kit when I was 13.  Although I had already developed a healthy respect for handcrafts, thanks to my mothers talent for crochet and my father's for ceramics, this 3x5" kit was a catalyst for what would become a long-running love affair with cross-stitch embroidery.  Unfortunately, my eyes and hands are not what they once were and I am no longer able to produce items that require such detail, but I can contribute a few objects to entertain those of you who enjoy cross-stitching as much as I once did.  When I was cross-stitching regularly I loved that I could use such a simple process to embellish mundane items like kitchen towels and pot holders.

So why am I telling you all of this?  Truth be told, I'm hoping a somewhat interesting back story will be a sufficient substitution for new patterns, at least for now.  About a month ago I was inspired by a towel I  embellished nearly 20 years ago.  It's become so sad looking and worn that I wondered if I could create a version of my own.  Easier said than done.  This has become a much bigger undertaking than I expected.  As with any towel I design, I wanted to create a set that also included a pot holder and scrubby.  MAKING these projects has been a heckuvalot easier than translating the instructions into language simple enough for a crochet newbie, but I'm almost there and I hoped to have the whole set available before Thanksgiving.  (So much for THAT deadline.)  Of all my designs, this is the one that has required the most research, labor, time, and patience.  When you see the finished patterns, you'll understand, but here's a sneak peek at the works in progress:

This post, somewhat of a tribute to my Aunt, is significant on this of all days because we drove that sometimes treacherous 60 minutes from Manchester to Hampton every Thanksgiving morning to have dinner and spend a wonderful holiday with Dad's entire side of the family.  I've been told many a time that Mom went into labor (with me) right after one of those dinners, but that's a story for another time...maybe next year.  Happy Thanksgiving and much love to one and all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Plug for Megan

You know, it just occurred to me that the way Megan and I support each other you'd think we'd been friends forever.  Truth be told, one of us found the other's blog shortly after I began writing mine and we became fast internet friends.  Who knows if we'll ever actually meet in person, but we share common interests and a very healthy respect for one another.  That said, as SUPREME RULER of the Big Girl Blog, I command you to visit Megan's blog and check out her giveaway week.  Today is the last day she'll be listing giveaways, but entries begin closing on the 24th (?)....yeah, okay, so maybe I should have checked before I began writing, huh?

And if you don't recognize me as supreme ruler I'll get over it, but do yourself a favor and check out her blog anyway because the giveaways this week are great (two of them are from Yours Truly) and because the premise of her blog is awesome!  It's called Crochet Every Day.  She's posting one pattern each day in 2010 and she's working every one of them.  Her goal is to finish all 365 projects by 2014 and she's well on her way.  (Good thing it's not a leap year, huh?)  If you're not a crocheter, check it out anyway; you may become one.

NOW GO!  THE SUPREME RULER COMMANDS YOU.  Pay no attention to the woman behind the afghan.  ;o)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Free Stuff! Get Your Free Stuff!

Hey everybody!  My pal Megan over at Crochet Every Day is having a giveaway week and today's prize is your choice of any of my single patterns, so get your fingers over there and enter for your chance to win.  Why are you still here?  You should be HERE!  Now go!  ;o)  Love ya!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Filler, Fluff, or Writer's Block?

None of the above, actually.  Although I'd love to post faithfully and on some sort of a schedule, I simply have yet to find a routine that works for me, so I offer this instead.  I've got some terrific friends/readers/customers in cyberspace who are gracious enough to allow me to use their photos here on the ole blog.  I love that these kind folks have given me permission to show off their completed versions of my patterns.  Take a gander at the latest batch:

Marrisa/Javamama on Ravelry
Big Girl Scrubby in Pisgah Peaches n Creme
with Aunt Lydia's #10 cotton
Stacy/Vachick on Ravelry
Big Girl Scrubby
Bonidee on Ravelry
Big Girl Scrubby in Lion Brand cotton

Big Girl Scrubby in Pisgah Peaches n Creme
Basanja on Ravelry
Big Girl Scrubby in Pisgah Peaches n Creme

Jenny/Craftywabbit on Ravelry
Big Girl Scrubby in Pisgah Peaches n Creme
(she got 3 from 1 2oz. ball)

Megan/Themegababe on Ravelry
Tiny Bubbles Scrubby in Pisgah Peaches n Creme
with #10 cotton

Jennifer/sshisher22 on Ravelry
Tiny Bubbles Scrubby in Pisgah Peaches n Creme
with #10 cotton
Megan/Themegababe on Ravelry
Grandpa's Sweater Scrubby in Lily Sugar n Cream
Linda via email
Grandpa's Sweater Scrubby pattern test
If you'd like me to feature your finished pieces here, email photos to me at BigGirlJewelry@yahoo.com or post them on Ravelry by linking your project to the pattern page.  (Ravelry lets me know when pics are linked  to my patterns.)  I make no claims to the rights of your emailed photos EXCEPT that I assume if you've emailed them to me it's okay for me to post them here.  If I want to use your photo anywhere else, I will contact you for permission.  I will not post Ravelry photos without first asking permission, BUT we all make mistakes.  If I have mistakenly posted your photo without your permission, please let me know and I will remove it.

Thank you all for your continued support.  Happy Crocheting!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Change-Up, Just for Fun. . .Free Crochet Pattern

I like playing with new ideas that incorporate environmental responsibility with crochet, or crafting in general for that matter.  That's why I started dabbling with scrubby sacks or soap sacks a while back.  Call them what you will, if you haven't encountered them before, I'll give you a brief explanation.  Pretty much, a scrubby sack is something my brother and I though WE invented in the tub when we were kids.  We took our washcloths, wrapped them around our favorite bar of soap, and used the whole package to scrub us clean.  Boy, did we think we were brilliant...LOL  Fast forward to last winter when I started surfing the web for cute little quickie projects to keep my itchy fingers busy during the cooler months so I wouldn't start yet another afghan.  I came across what many crocheters called scrubby sacks which took our "invention" one step further.  It's simply a cute pouch crocheted in an hour or two that's closed with a simple drawstring.  It's large enough to hold a full sized bar of soap, but my favorite part is that it's a great way to collect all those soap scraps sitting at the bottom of your soap dish so they're large enough to handle.  I'm cheap; I like to use every little bit of that soap, especially since I use a more pricey brand for my sensitive skin.
An added bonus to this pattern is that it's pretty (you like how I toot my own horn there?) so wrap a small gift in tissue, drop it in the sack, and your cute crochet project turns into a reusable gift bag!  Think about it:  wouldn't a gourmet bar of soap make a great grab gift when given inside a delightful little pouch?  Anyhow, I'm giving you the simple, round pattern here.  I have a couple of oval variations available in my Etsy and Ravelry shops as a set bundled with the pdf version of this one.

I have but one request if you make this pattern:  please come back and leave a comment to let me know how you felt about the instruction.  The oval patterns were tested extensively, but this one was typed up a while ago and not really well tested.  (I couldn't decide exactly what to do with it.)  Just as with any of my patterns I would love to see your finished projects.  I'd like to post a collection of photos some time before Thanksgiving, (maybe even ON Thanksgiving) to show off readers' handiwork.

As always, Happy Crocheting!

Round X-Stitch Pouch
Crochet Pattern

by Laurie Laliberte, Big Girl Jewelry & More

Special stitch used:  X-stitch -- skip next st, work dc in next st, work dc in previously skipped st around the dc you just made
To begin a round of X-stitch, skip the first 2 sts, work dc in next st, work dc in 2nd previously skipped st around the dc you just made
To end a round of X-stitch, work your last dc around the beginning ch3 of the round in the 1st skipped stitch.

Supplies Needed:
2 oz (95 yds) worsted weight cotton yarn (example was made using less than 1 ball Lily Sugar 'n Cream)
size H-8 (5.0 mm) crochet hook
size J-10 (6.0 mm) crochet hook (optional)
stitch markers or scrap yarn (optional)
yarn needle or smaller hook for weaving in ends

All instructions use American terminology and standard abbreviations

with smaller hook ch4, join w/sl st in 1st ch to form a loop

Round 1:  ch4 (counts as dc, ch1), [dc, ch1] 8 times, join in 3rd ch of ch4 (9 dc, 9 ch1 sp)

Round 2:  sl st into ch1 sp, [ch 4 (counts as dc, ch1), dc, ch1] all in same ch1 sp, join in 3rd ch of beg ch4 (18 dc, 18 ch1 sp)

Round 3:  sl st into ch1 cp, ch5 (counts as dc, ch2), [dc, ch2] in each ch1 sp around, join in 3rd ch of beg ch5 (18 dc, 18 ch2 sp)

Round 4:  ch1, sc in same st as joining, 2 sc in ch2 sp, [sc in next dc, 2sc in next ch2 sp] around, join in 1st sc (54 sc) 

Round 5:  ch3, X-stitch around (27 X-sts)

Round 6:  ch1, sc in each st around, join in 1st sc (54 sc)

Round 7:  ch4 (counts as dc, ch1), [sk next st, dc in next st, ch1] around, join in 3rd ch of beg ch4 (27 dc, 27 ch1 sp)

Round 8:  sl st into ch1 sp, ch4 (counts as dc, ch1), [dc, ch1] in each ch1 sp around, join in 3rd ch of beg ch4 (27 dc, 27 ch1 sp)

Round 9:  repeat Round 8

Round 10:  ch1, sc in each st and ch1 sp around, join in 1st sc (54 sc)

Round 11:  ch3, X-stitch around (27 X-sts)

Round 12:  ch1, sc in each st around, join in 1st sc (54 sc)

Round 13:  ch4 (counts as dc, ch1), [sk next st, dc in next st, ch1] around, join in 3rd ch of beg ch4 (27 dc, 27 ch1 sp)

Round 14:  sl st into ch1 sp, ch4 (counts as dc, ch1), [dc, ch1] in each ch1 sp around, join in 3rd ch of beg ch4 (27 dc, 27 ch1 sp)

Round 15:  repeat Round 14

Round 16:  ch1, sc in each dc and ch1 sp around, join in 1st sc, fo (54 sc)

with larger hook ch 70, fo leaving a 1-2" tail at each end, Separate the strands of the yarn to form mini tassels.  Weave the drawstring through desired row of dc, ch1 spaces.

About my work:

Any pattern I design and post is my property.  Please do not duplicate my patterns for any reason especially to sell.  Instead, please link to my blog (http://biggirljewelry.blogspot.com/) or to the page where you found the pattern when referencing one of my patterns.

You are more than welcome to offer finished products 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 take a moment to email pictures to me.

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


I would love to see your finished projects!  Please send me photos.  With your permission, I will post them on 
Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/designers/laurie-laliberte/patterns 
and/or Etsy http://www.etsy.com/shop/BigGirlJewelry 
and/or my blog http://biggirljewelry.blogspot.com/ .