Friday, May 27, 2011

Choosing Yarn for Baby Hats

Ever set out on a knit or crochet project and wonder what the best yarn for it is and why? Silly question, right? If the project you're about to embark on is a baby hat then my latest article with About.com, Yarn For Baby Hats, might be just the thing for you. This article discusses the best materials for hats and special considerations when those hats are destined for little ones. It would also serve as a good reference for making chemo hats since softness and touch are important in this case as well.

After you read the article please feel free to come on back here and ask questions or suggest other areas that you feel should be covered.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Once a Designer

Once a designer, always a designer.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you might have noticed that recently I've been talking about a desire to sew. This brilliant idea of mine was spurred on by my love of skirts and thoughts of warmer weather to come. I love patterned skirts paired with simple tanks and tees. I could continue to buy finished garments as I've done in the past, but wouldn't it be so much more fun to make my own? Especially if I could sew skirts and knit tops and shawls that coordinated? Wouldn't that be awesome? I thought so, and so another crafty hobby is born.

I bought a few yards of material from Connecting Threads, enough for 2 skirts. This was a few weeks ago. The material has been sitting in a box beside my bed slowly being covered and taken over by yarn. Due to design/work obligations I hadn't gotten to my first foray into sewing as quickly as I'd wanted to. However, yesterday I decided it was time. For the moment my design schedule was relatively clear and I felt I could devot a few hours to sewing. I traced the wrap skirt pattern, cut out the pieces, and carefully cut the fabric. I followed the pattern directions to the letter. So far, so good.

After dinner I dragged out Mom's old sewing machine. (I really want a new one of my own. I'm thinking birthday present.) Sewing the 8 skirt panels together was pretty easy. I screwed up a bit on the first one since I'd never done a French seam before, but I managed to fix it and from the right side it looks fine, although it's a bit wobbly on the inside. I got through all the seams and hems on the main portion of the skirt and then moved on to the waistband. I don't like the waistband. I understand what I'm being told to do, but it seems like there should be a much more efficient way to go about it. I felt so strongly about this not being the best method that I decided I'd better go to bed and not start altering my very first sewing project at 11:30pm.

In the light of day I still don't like the waistband. I'm going to proceed as instructed this time around because the pieces are already cut, but next time will be different. I've also begun planning ways to alter the shape of the skirt. I really never was very good at following directions. This is why I write instructions for other people to follow!

Back in September I took crocheting with me on vacation so that I had a craft, but it wouldn't be "work" related. I didn't complete the project because I started designing other crocheted things. Obviously I just can't leave well enough alone. By December I'd taken on a job freelancing for About.com as their crochet pattern writer. And now I'm sewing. I have no plans to design sewing patterns. None. Nope. No way. At least not for the public. Will I design stuff for me to sew? Well of course, I seem to already be heading this way.

I really want to finish the waistband of my skirt today. However, I'm going to be a good girl and go swatch and write a pattern submission. And design. It's what I do.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rice Pudding

Yesterday was a day for trying new recipes. I made a decision a few months ago that I would try and make at least one new [to me] recipe every week. Yesterday I tried 4 new recipes. (Just call me an overachiever.)

For dinner I made a basic risotto (which turned out delicious and extremely filling). Chris saw the arborio rice and suggested we might try to make rice pudding. How could you turn down pudding? So we used the leftover cup and together experimented with a new recipe.

While cooking the pudding I was afraid that the 4 cups of milk was far too much. The pudding looked more like and soup and took a while to reduce down far enough to remove it from the heat. However, the end result was creamy goodness. If you're short on milk and time then you might want to try only 3 cups. But if you're willing to wait then 4 cups is well worth it.


Rice Pudding Recipe

  • 1 cup (dry) Arborio Rice
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 Tbl spn Butter
  • 4 cups Milk
  • 8 Tbl spns Sugar
  • 2 tspns Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • Cinnamon to taste


Place arborio rice, butter, and water together in a pot. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add milk, sugar, a vanilla extract to pot. Cover and simmer another 15 minutes.

Add egg (make sure to beat and mix in well so you don't have scrambled egg floating in your pudding). Simmer uncovered until almost all liquid has evaporated.

Remove from heat. Add cinnamon to taste. Let stand until cool. Rice will continue to absorb remaining liquid as it cools.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cat Hat Pattern

The Cat Hat Pattern (which I have dubbed the "Cat's Meow Baby Hat") is the 95th Fiddle Knits design! 95. Seriously. I'm pretty excited about that. I've been designing for around 3 years now. The first 6 months of that time was pretty laid back and mostly just exploring the idea of what knitting design could be. I look back at my first designs and laugh sometimes. I feel like I was such a kid back then. Those long 3 years ago. If you're interested in what the original Fiddle Knits Designs were (I actually went by FiddleLee Designs back then) you can check out the Dulce Neck Cozy, Harmony Handwarmers, Impressionist Cowl, and With a Song Scarflette. These 4 designs are now offered for free on my website.

The Cat Hat Pattern: Details
The "Cat's Meow" is an easy crocheted baby hat. It's worked in two single crochet pieces and then crocheted together around the edges. Because there's no shaping, or working in the round, it's a very beginner friendly hat.
I used Lion Brand Baby's First yarn for the design. It was my first time working with Baby's First and I was pretty happy with it. Other than saying it's soft and squishy and bouncy and easy-care I won't go on and on about the details here. I did write a pretty thorough review of it for About.com if you're interested. I'd use it again for more baby stuff. I really want to knit a baby sweater with the stuff. The yarn behaves nicely for crocheting, but there's nothing like a good cozy sweater knit in simple stockinette. But that's jus my opinion.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Backloop Beanie

Yesterday saw the release of my 94th design: the Crochet Visor Beanie Pattern, aka the Backloop Beanie.
This design uses 2 "special" techniques: working through the back loops and working in the round. I've written "how to" articles for both of these techniques. You can see them here:


When I started crocheting this hat I wasn't intending on having Annalee model it. If I was I would have made the hat a little bit smaller. However, she looked cute (as usual) in it, so she got the job. Notice that the back of the hat has a slight curl to it. Wasn't supposed to be like that, but I kind of like it. The intention is that the hat fit like a classic beanie with a brim (hence the whole crochet visor beanie pattern). However, if you like that little back flip then just work the length slightly longer than needed so it hits the back of the wear's neck. Then ta da! You'll have made my mistake intentionally!

All of my crochet designs seem to have 2 names: one very bland and the other ever so slightly more creative. Slightly. Nothing like my knit stuff. Wonder why? When I write a pattern for About.com it needs to be searchable to everyone on the web. This means I need to think of what phrase or word folks are most likely to search for when they want a specific type of design. Once I come up with that term I name my document (aka the pattern title) accordingly. Usually it's not very appealing, like crochet visor beanie pattern, but it's appropriate. Because I can't live with having something quite that obvious as the official name I've started coming up with something that's still obvious, but maybe not as much so. In this case the pattern name became Backloop or Backloop Visor Beanie. If you search for my crochet designs on Ravelry you'll find them under the "creative" names. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Knitting in the Green

Today I'm hoping that the 4th (or is it 5th?) attempt on the Peridot Tee will be the charm. Peridot is a cap sleeve top destined for the Shades of Green collection. It will be appearing late in the collection, f you couldn't guess that since I'm still currently working on it. (I believe it's pattern 6 in the lineup.)

I'm working the design in Knit Picks Comfy Sport in the Honey Dew colorway. I think by now I can officially confirm that I don't mind knitting with cotton (or in this case mostly cotton) as long as it's very lightweight. Fingering, sport, and a light DK all seem to be easy enough on my hands. This is fine with me because anything I want to be cotton I also want to be thin, otherwise I don't see a point. Unless, of course, you have an allergy and cotton is your natural fiber of choice. Not the case for me.

I tried several different stitch patterns before I settled on one [I think] I like for Peridot. It's got some eyelets and some cables, but I'm not going to say what the name of the stitch is yet. Sorry. ;-) As of right now my idea is to offer the pattern with a choose-your-own-adventure flair to the sizing. You'll be able to cast on and following the pattern straight through, or you can choose your lower body size and then I'll have a section walking you through the steps to increase and go up to another stitch count for your bust, or decrease for the bust section. I decided to do this for purely selfish reasons. I want to keep the sample knit for myself. (Part of my Make More of My Own Clothes Movement.) My belly and bust don't agree with each other on what size I should be knitting and I figure I'm not the only one that has this problem. So, something needs to be done about it and this seemed like a good pattern to get it going. Hopefully the idea pans out the way I'm envisioning it to!

Preview photos of the Shades of Green Collection will begin appearing on June 1. For now I'll give you a list of the names and items that are completed (plus Peridot):
1) A Certain Shade of Green Shawl
2) Garden Grove
3) Green With Envy Hat
4) Cutting Ferns Shawl
5) Leafy Greens Hat
5a) Baby Greens Baby Hat
6) Serpentine Summer Hat
7) Peridot Tee

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ripple Away

A ripple afghan has been on my crochet to-do list since the beginning of this year when I began working with About.com. Last night I figured I should finally get around to starting this project. I'm hoping that I can have it done before it gets scorchingly hot and I'm cursing having a blanket draped across my lap. Of course, considering it's already May I'm going to have to work pretty quickly.

I decided to use a waving ripple stitch for this afghan. (I will probably visit the standard mountain peaks ripple stitch for another afghan down the road sometime.) My yarn is Caron Simply Soft in Light Country Blue and Country Blue. I haven't used this yarn is forever. Well, really in about 10 years or so when I was crocheting more. It's soft enough and easy to work with, but I'm still a little put off by the fact it's 100% acrylic. I feel like I'm cheating somehow. But I have the yarn already and I don't want to let it go to waste. Plus it'll be much more useful transformed into a blanket than it was sitting in a pile of skeins at the end of my bed. Next time around I think I'll go with a wool yarn from Lion Brand (Wool Ease) or Knit Picks (perhaps Wool of the Andes).

Once the afghan is done it'll be available as a free pattern on the About.com crochet website.