Blog

Keychains!

I have finally made enough progress to list my keychains/bag tags for sale. These little guys are hugs. They are designed to give you something to send to a friend or loved one to let them know you are thinking of them, or to even get for yourself to remember you are loved! I tried to chose a range of colors for different tastes, while keeping them mostly bright to be uplifting. They are between 2 and 2.5″ in width. The width will vary based on when I have made them, and the yarn I used. I use all the same brand yarn, but it still has variation in thickness. That is the joy of handmade! They are all 100% unique.

These are each made with acrylic yarn for durability, and have polyester fill. They are meant to be soft and squishy. I have used safety eyes for each of them, but they are still not meant to be toys and are not safe for children. Each one comes with the key chain hardware already attached, so they are ready to go!

I haven’t quite figured out the shipping logistics for these on the website yet, so I have chosen to list them on Etsy for now. I may change things up later, but for now this is a great solution.

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Blog, Patterns, Test Knits

Open Test Knits!

I have two patterns that are accepting test knitters. First up is my Scarf of Many Colors. I have a group started on Ravelry, but you can also work with me via email. This scarf uses fingering weight yarn, in a variety of colors that are completely up to your choosing. I’m not picky. I personally used Miss Babs Advent 2018 kit in the Midcentury colorway. I used all 25 colors, but did repeat a couple. You’ll want to be able to make 29 triangles, if you want to match the sample. Of course, you can always adjust the size up or down, but I recommend an odd number of colors to get a squared end scarf.

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This scarf is a pretty easy knit. The main stitches are simple knit and purl stitches. The only complication to it, are the wraps. I have included detailed instructions on how to work the wraps, but you can also search for ‘knitting wraps’ or ‘purling wraps’ and you will get some great videos on how to do these. This is done to create short rows and make the triangle shape.

The deadline for the scarf completion is September 20, 2019. And for testing for me, you will get the finalized pattern for the scarf as well as a coupon code for a free pattern of your choosing (not including kits or ebooks) that is valid for one full year.

The second test knit that is open is for my Middleton Pullover. There is also a group on Ravelry for this, but just like the scarf, we can work together via email if you prefer. This sweater uses sport weight yarn. I chose Miss Babs Killington in the Dahlia colorway. One of the requirements for this test is letting me know how much yarn you used to complete your size. The sizes available are 30 (32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52)“ Bust. I have built in 2″ of ease, so the finished measurements will be 32 (34, 38, 42, 46, 50, 54)” Bust.

This pullover has lace at the bottom of the body as well as at the bottom of the sleeves. The construction is bottom up for the body. Then for the sleeves, the stitches are picked up and the sleeves are then knit down to the cuff.

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The deadline for the sweater completion is October 15, 2019, which means it should be finished in time for the cooler temperatures. For testing, you will get a copy of this finalized pattern, as well as a coupon code for one free pattern of your choosing (not including kits or ebooks) that will be valid for one full year.

If you are interested in testing either of these patterns, you can message me on Ravelry, or you can email me at tlcraftsanddesign at gmail dot com.

Blog, How To

Sock Basics Part 1: Your Cuff and Leg

Okay, so you have decided you want to make yourself a nice pair of knit socks. But, they look so complicated! And those heels…how do those even work?! The good news is that socks are not as complicated as they look, and they use some of the skills you probably already have at your disposal. They can be a bit fiddly though. I will try to give you all the tips and tricks that I have learned over the years, to help make your first pair of socks be just the first of many!

If you would like to work along with me as I walk through these steps, definitely try using a worsted or bulky yarn at first, with about a size US 8 needle. This will give you a much better visual of how all these steps come together. Many sock patterns use a sock weight yarn, with about a size US 1/2.25mm needle. That makes for tiny stitches that can be tough to see when you are starting out. Going big will make things look much clearer.

Now, there are two ways you can make socks. You can either start at the Cuff of the sock and work down towards the ankle, or you can start at the toes and work up. Neither of these is necessarily better for learning, but many find that the cast on for toes can be overwhelming, so lets start with the cuff. It’s a simple procedure that will get you going quickly. As you work through making socks, you will be able to decide for yourself which way you like to knit your socks…toe up or cuff down.

When it comes to needles, you can use either double pointed needles, or circulars. My patterns are all written for circular needles. I will do my best to break the steps down to accommodate both. If you are interested in giving circulars a try, you will want a long cord, about 40″ long for the Magic Loop Method, or if you are really bold, you can try the 9″ sock circulars that people are using now. I haven’t tried those yet, but a lot of folks love them.

To start, you will want to cast on the number of stitches listed for your pattern. In this case, I’m going to use my standard size small numbers, and cast on 56 stitches. When casting on your stitches, you need a stretchy cast on. You can use a long tail cast on, but it does run the risk of being too tight on the calf. If you can do a loose cast on with the long tail, then great, go ahead and use this. However, if you are like me and cast on like your life depends on it, and your first row is crazy tight, then perhaps try the German Twisted cast on. It’s a bit looser, but does create a different edge than the long tail. But, I still like it. There are lots of great YouTube videos that can walk you through how to do this cast on. It’s very much like the Long Tail cast on, but adds an extra little twist in there, that gives a bit stretch.

Spread your stitches across your needles evenly. If you are using a set of 5 double pointed sock needles, then divide the stitches over 4 needles. If you are using a set of 4, then divide over 3 needles, and if you are using circulars split the stitches between the two needles. When using double pointed needles, the stitch count may not divide perfectly. Just divide as best you can, making sure that the number of stitches on each needle is as close as you can manage.

Now, you are going to join the stitches to work in the round. This is the same for any other in the round project you may have worked on. You want to make sure that all your stitches face in the same direction, so there is no twist. After you smooth them all out, and they are all in the same direction, join and begin to work your stitches in a knit 2, purl 2 repeated pattern around all the stitches. Most of my cuffs will use this or some variation for about 1″ of length. This will give the cuff a nice stretch to better hug your leg. If you find that you easily loose track of the beginning of the round, use a stitch marker that opens to just hook on to your yarn, so you can see it as you work your way around. Many folks will say to just use the marker, but honestly, if you are using any of the needles listed above, that little thing is going to slip off every time you get to the beginning. I like just clipping it to the fabric where I can see it, but I don’t have to keep moving it or finding it when it falls off my work.

After you finish the specified number of rounds for your cuff, you are now at the leg. This is one of the simple parts of the sock. You are just going to go around and around, following the pattern, until it is the length you like. Personally, I like to go until my whole leg from the cast on is 6″ long. If the pattern you use has a different heel than the standard, it should specify that you knit until the leg is ‘X’ inches shorter than your desired length. This will also depend on the kind of heel the pattern uses. It could be 2″, or if it’s an afterthought heel, which I’ll dive into next time, it will be less.

So, that is it for Part 1 of our sock construction. I’ll be back soon to get into the good stuff. Heel construction is up next!!

Tips and Tricks: When you are working in the round on something like socks, you will notice that regardless of the needles you choose, you can get what is called ladders between the needles. This is a stand of yarn that seems to be leaving gaps. The easiest way to deal with these, is when you are on stitch two of your needle, give an extra little pull on your yarn to tighten it just a tiny bit more. This will help to even things out. If you still have a little bit of a gap, this will even out after you wash your socks. As a note, if you tighten too much on the very first stitch of your needle, especially if you are using circulars, will cause the last stitch on the previous needle to be too tight. So, you want to stick to the extra tightening on stitch two.

Blog, Projects

Having some fun

One of the problems with trying to have your own business, is that sometimes it can get overwhelming and just not feel fun. You can feel like you are bogged down or stuck. That happened this past weekend. I started to feel very stuck. I was overwhelmed by everything going on. My sales have been in the tank, which can be very common during the summer, but it’s still really tough to deal with. So, as I usually do, I start thinking about plan B. That usually involves the thoughts of what I can do to make money via online sales. Perhaps I SHOULD look at getting into Lularoe (which I debate about every 3 months, even though I just don’t have the mental stuff to do it…just really not something I am good at), or perhaps focus more on the Young Living sales (which I might still push forward with), or search for something else. Then I remember that I’m just not the sales type. Which is funny, but I’m not. I need to work on this more, because obviously it would be beneficial for more things.

I ended up going back to the thoughts of my dormant Etsy shop. I thought, what can I put on there that could be good. I settled on keychains. A very specific thing, that I can make varieties of. Just keychains. Keychains with wood burned tags. Keychains with stuffed critters. Keychains with beaded creations. All keychains. I might add stuff later, but for now…keychains. haha

I started working on my prototypes this weekend, while I wait for some yarn to come in for these. Now, the stuffed critters will have safety eyes, but are still not for kids. They are specifically for keychains, and not for play, but are still super cute. 🙂

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These are the three I have worked up so far. The kitty still needs whiskers, and his tail to be attached to his body. I don’t want to have a dangling tail that would get all tangled up. And the other two are getting some kind of mouth. I just need to dig out the embroidery floss to take care of that. 🙂

Stay tuned for these little guys to be released. I have a bunch more options for critters as well (shark, bat, dolphin, a hug), but I need to get the right color of yarn first. 😀

Thanks to this helping to clear my head and give me some direction, I will have some designs coming down the pipe. I have a couple things that are finishing up testing, and will be released around the 15th. I also have my Scarf of Many Colors that is scheduled to go to the editor on the 12th. That should mean I can start testing of that the following week. Right now the scarf is blocking, and should be dry before too long, so I can get proper pictures. 😀

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Thanks for reading!!

Blog, Projects

Making Plans

We have been waiting for someone to come and look at a couch/recliner that we have up for sale, so I took the down time to do some planning. It’s good to do that every once in a while to make sure I know where I am heading. This time, it wasn’t all about patterns, though. I am working on getting some products up for sale. I’m not 100% sure how that is going to work. If I can get it to work on here, then they will absolutely be listed here, but if not, they will go up on Etsy.

I was trying to decide what would be the first product listed. Part of the problem is getting myself going. I spend so much time working on my pattern designs, that I don’t do much else. I need to be able to balance my time a bit better. To start with, I have decided to make a bunch of keychain items. I already have some wood burning items I have been wanting to do for that. I am now expanding into little crocheted toys that will be on keychains. I have about 8 different designs that I am working through to get them the size that I want them to be.

To start my day, I cleaned up my desk, but you would never know it now.

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I’m playing around with yarn I currently have on hand, but I do have a bunch of specific colors coming to make what I am planning. I have to find my keychain hardware though. I know I bought some. lol I also bought craft safety eyes a while back, and have no idea where they are. But, I know I don’t have near enough, so I went ahead and got some more. My original craft room is still in complete disrepair, so the eyes are probably down there…somewhere. hehe

I better get myself back to work, or I will never get these going. Thanks for reading!

Blog, Projects

New Things

Goodness I have been busy lately. Most of it has been things behind the scenes that isn’t visible. Over the past year I’ve had the debate raging in my head of where to go next with my designs. Do I open my own store? Do I go back to Etsy? Do I keep going as normal? Then Craftsy changed things up, and all my stuff was gone from there, and I was pretty annoyed at the idea of uploading everything again. That made the debate go even more. So, the decision was made to go ahead and set up a store on here.

Once my choice was made, it was all about dealing with the logistics. Tax numbers needed to be obtained (that was being taken care of by other places). Once I was legal all over, I could start the store for reals. I listed everything and was all set. But, now what? At this point, I am looking at making sure I have some sort of advertising campaign going.

Of course while I was doing all this, I needed to make sure that the designs didn’t fall through the cracks. No point in having my own store if I have nothing new to put into it. Right now, I have three projects in testing. That means August will be busy with launches. 😀 Here are some pics of what is coming down the pipe!

Socks:

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Hooded Cowl:

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Scarf:

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And a sweater (about to go to editing and also get a proper photo shoot):

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I also have a couple other things in progress. One is a scarf made with mini skeins:

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And a Game of Thrones inspired snowflake shawl:

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I can’t wait to get these all out to everyone. 😀 I think I need to do a brain storming session soon, though. I’m hoping to get these latest in progress items finished in the next 3 weeks to get them all out for editing. 😀 I will be sure to post in the patterns page when these each launch!

Blog, Patterns

GAL 2018

It is almost that time of year. When gifting starts to consume a large part of our brain. To help with that, the 6th annual Gift-a-long is here! You will see stuff from hundreds of designers, and there is a great chat group going that is helping to encourage each other to get those gifts out quickly. If you are interested in joining the gift-a-long group head over to Ravelry! I have also signed up to be one of the participating designers. It should be a lot of fun!

There are even lots of lovely prizes that can be won! But, you have to be a group member to fully participate in that. All the details are at the link I shared above. 😀

My Post

Blog

Going Mobile

I am very excited to say that I am now mobile with my business stuff. Yay! One of the difficult parts of working from having RA is that sometimes sitting at the computer is very painful. If I’m not able to sit at the computer to work, I tend to get a bit grumpy, because I feel like I’ve wasted the day. I really haven’t, since I was trying to get myself feeling better, but still. I had an old MacBook that I fired up to get it up and running over the last week only to find that it had hit the end of its life. I tried listening to a Facebook live last night and the headphone port was all messed up. I also tried to install the latest OS on the Mac, and it said I was out of hard drive space. Apparently it only came with 125Gb, which is not much now days. I’ll get it all cleaned up and delete everything I can, but it will only be able to be used as a word processor. That’s if nothing else fails on it, but I’m not holding my breath. Unfortunately my novel I am working on is on that laptop, in a program that I bought as Mac only. Oh well. I’ll get it all printed (I think I already did, but I need to find the print out), and just do my edits and rewrites over here.

But, since I am now mobile, that means I’ll be able to do more to engage my audience. I will be able to do more blog posts and updates on Facebook. Plus it should mean a faster turn around on my edits for my editor. 😀 I even have the design software installed on here. I usually struggle to get it to work, but it was all smooth today. Except Photoshop. That little bugger took 3 attempts to get it to install. And to ensure no storage issues, I got a 4TB external drive to go with this bad boy. 😀 I’ll be good for storage for quite some time. The laptop itself already came with a 225GB SSD card, and 1TB hard drive, so it was already fine. But, I wasn’t taking any chances.

I’m looking forward to pushing hard the next few months to get some great stuff out to everyone!!

Blog

Basement

We are starting to get towards the end of the week, and that means the end of the work on the foundation. They should be done by the end of tomorrow. They are a bit behind, because things are taking longer than expected. Inspection was supposed to be today, but it will be moved to tomorrow. Which is fine. Better to do things right, rather than rush to meet an inspection deadline. Thanks to the early mornings, my RA has flared. I’m hurting a lot, but it will pass once I get to rest.

Unfortunately, with all this work, the basement is trashed. They took all the wall drywall down. It was supposed to be just a couple feet, but it’s all gone. However, that meant that they did the water proofing membrane all the way up the wall. So that’s pretty awesome. But, this is how the main part of the basement looks right now:

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As for my craft room. Oh dear. It’s in a similar state. But, the guys were awesome. I only prepped for a couple feet, so I left all my decoration up top that were stuck to the wall. I had butterflies and flowers all stuck up there. They took the time to peel each one off. How amazing are they? I was bummed about everything, then J found the pile of flowers and butterflies sitting on my cabinet with my other stuff. 😀 They earn an A+ in my book.

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The other fun part of them taking down all the drywall is that we got to see the studs underneath. This was absolutely not done by a professional. And if it was, they should be fired. I kid you not, one of the studs was made from two pieces of floor molding stuck together. Other parts were old painted 2X4’s from who knows where. They were all used before and were discolored from having been wet at some point. Also, you can see in craft room photo one, that the wall is dangling. It wasn’t actually attached to the ceiling joists in any way. It was just standing there. So, when the bottom studs were cut for the guys to work, it was held up by the drywall, and then dangling. lol It’s all pretty laughable. I have to laugh, otherwise I would cry. It’s a disaster down there. The floor is gone all around the edge, there are tunnels under doors, and huge 3 foot deep holes for the sumps. But, it will work out. After this the basement will be dry. We’ll get someone in to finish the demo and rebuild. It will take a long time, and I don’t expect to have my craft room back until some time this winter. But, we’ll get there. We just have to do a little at a time, because this is going to cost us a lot of money.

But, in better news, I have a pattern that is about to go into testing. I’m finishing up sock 2 now.

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Now it’s time to head off to drink my coffee. It’s already after 1pm, so I should really get caffeinated. 😀 Thanks for reading!

Blog

Busy week

Things are truckin’ along here. I managed to get my file off to my tech editor over the weekend. Yay! I know there are issues with it, and I also forgot to add the section about putting the ribbon on the t-shirt. lol But, it’s a good start. 😀 Thanks to the big push to get the tee done and the pattern emailed off, it triggered a nice case of finish-it-up-itis. That means I am really pushing to get things done. Another reason for the push to get things done is the wip basket. Oh dear…the wip basket. I have it sitting up here by my desk.

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The pink zigzag basket is all the wip’s that I found so far. There could be more hiding in bags around the house. lol This basket is not small. It’s sitting on top of a bar fridge, and is about 3 layers deep. So many things! The brown basket to the left has some quilting stuff in it, but the pink and white squares on top is a double knit blanket I am working on. I have 12/20ish squares complete so far. I say “ish” because I don’t know if 20 squares will result in the size blanket I would like. More squares may be needed.

I released these socks a while ago. They are my Lace Argyle socks. The poor second sock sat there just waiting for me to finish it. The last two days I worked on it as quickly as I could, and I managed to get it finished. Yay! Finally something else off my to do list.

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I am also working on a pair of socks that will be a gift. They are my Leaves Galore socks, but they aren’t completed yet. I am on the gusset of sock two. So stay tuned for that one in the coming days.

With all the work being done around here, I am replacing my office desk. This is the one in the main office, not the one in the studio. I am using the studio for inspiration though. Desks have become so expensive and I can never find one I like. My current one broke almost immediately. Absolute junk. So, I bought a dining table that is 60″ long, 34″ deep and 30″ tall. Big, but not that big. My current desk is 59″ long, so it won’t take up too much more space, other than how far it sticks out from the wall. It should arrive tomorrow. Unfortunately with the desk I bought a matching printer stand. I seriously just assembled the printer stand today. I bought it last July. It’s been quite a rough winter for me. lol But, it’s assembled!!

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There is a door to go on it, but I am planning on using the whole thing to hold paper, so the door will be in the way. So, we’ll leave it open.

We also put together a cabinet a couple days ago for the laundry room. It gives us a bit more room in there. We took down two hanging cabinets to put this in its place. I have to paint around the top of it now, but I’ll do that later. 😀

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Other than that, we’re about to start gutting the basement. That’s on for tomorrow. We need to at least pull out and pile up the things for the junk guys to take. They come on Wedesday.

Phew! I’m already thinking about bed time! But, there is hockey on in an hour, and it’s the Playoffs baby!! hehe That will be some quality knitting time.