"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

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's All Japanese to Me. . .Part Two!

slipper sock by sharon klinsky adjusted to fit my two year old niece
simple earth hat by laurie laliberte
Now where were we?  Oh yeah, so in the midst of entertaining myself with all these delicious hats and scarves and shawls (oh my!) the weather turned cold, not just autumn cold, New England cold.  I think I mentioned in my last post that the high would be around 25 degrees.  (Yeah, I'd never survive a winter in Minnesota without a big sheepdog and a husband.  ;oP)  So my darling eight year old nephew, N, asked me to make him a winter hat because his old hat had a hole and Mom tossed it in the trash last spring.  I spent a few days scouring Ravelry and Crochet Pattern Central and I found two patterns I liked.  I began working one of them but it just wasn't working out the way I wanted it.  The other really lent itself to a two color design, but I was trying to use up some of the navy left over from my own scarf and hat project.  N got home from school one afternoon and saw that I was in the process of frogging the hat I'd begun earlier that day.  He asked why I was taking it apart and I explained that I just didn't like it after all.  To which he replied, "What about one of your designs?"  (Well DUH!)  I swear, half the time this kid acts like he's only four or five, then he has these glimmers of maturity when he acts as though he's about thirty.  This was one of those moments.  I mean, the whole reason I made the two men's hat patterns that I sell in my shops is that I couldn't find any men's hats patterns I actually liked!  So, Auntie Laurie, why DIDN'T you just start with one of the hats you created?  I showed N the pics from the Ravelry listings of the two hats I offer and he chose the Simple Earth hat. To further emphasize my own stupidity, I should tell you that the kid modeling the finished example on Etsy and Ravelry is the nephew in question.  All I needed to do to shrink the pattern enough to fit him was work it with a smaller (G) hook.

slipper sock by sharon klinsky
pattern adjusted to fit me
Okay, done. . .finally time to just knuckle down and finish those slipper socks I started for myself back in October.  This is one of the most versatile and easy to adjust patterns I've ever worked. I'll tell ya Sharon Klinsky, their designer, is a GENIUS!  Adjusting the pattern to accommodate different sizes, widths, etc is so easy it's criminal.  No, they're not glamorous, but they're extremely warm because they're worked with two strands of yarn and they work up quickly because of the simplicity of the design.  In just a few hours I made a pair to give to my two year old niece for Christmas. I will warn you if you're prone to discomfort/pain in your hands for any reason, these can be tough to work.  My fingers are still stiff a day after finishing the pair I made for the little one (partially from the crocheting, partially from the weather).  Still, I'd like to make a few more pairs before Christmas, one for each of her brothers and another for myself so my feet won't be cold while I wash my first pair.

Somehow in this flurry of activity I WAS able to finish the cross stitching on the towel in my "Cross-Stitchable" collection.  I'm sure I'll be listing that before this post hits your screen, at least that's my intent.  I must say that I really like it and I'm darn proud of it because I've never written a cross stitch pattern before.  (Can you tell I can't wait to show it off?)  Anyhow, now that I've brought you full circle, perhaps I should get to the reason for these two posts. . .

plaits & bobbles hat by michele thompson
After seeing N's hat, his Mom asked if I had, already made, a hat in my stash that would coordinate with her winter coat.  Immediately I thought of one I made last winter that I absolutely love.  I originally made the pattern for myself a couple of years ago in a solid lilac acrylic.  I made it again in this aran fleck that just seemed to beg for this pattern when I picked it up at the craft store.
Note:  I searched everywhere so I could link this pattern, but it's nowhere to be found.
What better to go with a beige and chocolate brown coat, right?  Wrong.  Mom tried it on and wasn't crazy about the way it slouched on her. She asked for something more fitted.  So I searched. . .and searched. . .and I found a few styles that I thought would suit her simple/less embellished style.  We settled on chocolate brown for the color so I wouldn't have to order yarn before getting started and I pulled up my Ravelry queue to show her the styles I had chosen for her.  She stood over my shoulder as I clicked from one style to the next and suddenly I heard, "Wait, stop!  Click that one."  "THIS one?"  "Yeah, that one.  Do you have that color?  Not the blue, the green under it." She had spotted a pretty puff stitch beret/tam style I had queued for myself.  Well, it just so happens that yes, I DID have that color in my stash AND the pattern from Pierrot Yarns was FREE!  Within an hour, I was comfy on the couch with my laptop on the coffee table in front of me and the project begun.
In the interest of saving paper I rarely print patterns.  Instead I save them on my laptop so I can carry them almost anywhere.  However, I need to get around to creating a better filing system.
By the time dinner was ready I was tweaking the pattern slightly so it would better suit Mom's face shape vs. the Japanese model in the picture.  By bedtime the hat was done and it looked great. . .and great on her.  So why is this particular project blogworthy?  Because the doggone thing's in Japanese! Honestly, I believe the two most beautiful sources on Ravelry for free patterns are the Japanese companies (which I lump under one umbrella) and Drops Design.  Both have attention to detail that we Americans often overlook.  Of course, the drawback to each of them is that neither is written in American terminology.  That's why I hadn't made projects from either group until now.

oval tiny bubbles scrubby by laurie laliberte
When I first sat down to make Mom's hat, I groaned.  I had forgotten that it was a Japanese pattern.  Okay, deep breath. The All Shawl pattern was written AND had a chart.  Heck, I had WRITTEN a chart for my Oval Tiny Bubbles Scrubby so I could better visualize the end product.  (I later wrote the instructions by following that chart.)  I knew I could make the hat by working completely from the chart.  I just had to find a key so I could be certain I was reading it correctly.  I found a great conversion chart and set to work.  By the time I began the third round, I was able to follow the pattern without a second thought and it was a breeze.  All in all, I think the finished project turned out great AND it did wonders for my self confidence.  I still can't read Japanese, but now I know I can work any of the Japanese patterns available on Ravelry. . .and so can you!

As always, Happy Crocheting!

All of the items pictured in this article were crocheted by Laurie Laliberte using Lily Sugar 'n Cream except the slipper socks which were done in Pisgah Peaches 'n Creme 100% cotton worsted weight yarn.  All photos were taken by and are property of Laurie Laliberte.


  1. I love the slippers' pattern. I have been using it since the 70s! These slippers are great, wear long and everyone I make them for asks for more. Yours look wonderful. :)

  2. You have been very busy! haha Love that plaits & bobbles beanie!

  3. Hey ladies! Two great patterns, right?

    @Sharon--The slipper socks remind me of the ones my Auntie Lou would make for all the kids in the family.

    @Megan--I searched EVERYWHERE to find a link to the plaits & bobbles hat. It's one of those rare patterns I actually printed. I have the original web address, but even the "wayback machine" was no help! That's one piece of paper I'm going to keep forever! Hmmm....I just got an idea.... >:o)

  4. Okay, file this one under "reasons social networking is worth the effort." I was able to find a resource that lead me to the Plaits & Bobbles hat. I follow Red Heart Yarns on facebook and the kind soul who handles their page was able to tell me that the original pattern came from a book called "Aran Classics." I'm guessing the book is out of print because Amazon doesn't have it and they have everything. So there you have it. Try your local library if you're interested in making the hat.

  5. Just checked out your Etsy crochet shop....the value pricing section is a very cool idea!

  6. Thanks Machelle! I figure we're all in the same boat as far as the economy goes and every little bit helps. Besides, when you deal in pdf files the value bundles are the equivalent of adding a little gift with purchase, right?