Back to School Pattern Roundup – Part Deux!

After I shared yesterday’s post with 9 really cool back to school yarny patterns, I just kept finding more and more and more!!  So I thought, why not make a second post?!?!  I mean, after all, I KNOW you all like quick links to patterns, right?  :)

Here are a few more I found from some really fun talented designers:

Back to School Pattern ROundup 2

  1. Rainbow Sherbert Tablet Cover – from Blackstone Designs
  2. Lily Sugar ‘n Cream Pencil Holder – from Yarnspirations
  3. Pencil Mug Hugger – from The Hookeraholic Crochet
  4. One Strap Backback – from Snappy Tots
  5. Crayon Scarf – All Free Knitting
  6. Back to School Set – Too Yarn Cute
  7. Dolphin Pencil Case – KT & the Squid
  8. Knit Laptop Sweater – All Free Knitting
  9. Key Lanyards for Teachers – Articles of a Domestic Goddess

Which one are you the craziest about?!?!

Back to School Pattern Roundup

It has been a really long time since I’ve had school age children – My kids are having kids of their own now.  I know I know – I look WAYYYYYYYY to young to be a grandmother – thank you thank you, but it’s true!  I’m a Nana to a 4 month old and an almost 4 month old.  So since they’ll be going to preschool in just a couple of years, I am starting to get excited about all the fun yarny school things out there!  Here are some of my favorites!

Back TO School Pattern Roundup

  1.  Spike the Snake Amigurumi Pen & Pencil Topper – by Adorable Amigurumi
  2. Glam Girl Tablet Cover – by Blackstone Designs
  3. Wolf Pencil Holder – by Blackstone Designs
  4. Pencil Dolls – by Wendy Phillips (this is a knitting pattern)
  5. Fox Pencil Holder – by Blackstone Designs
  6. Schoolbus Hat – by Articles of a Domestic Goddess
  7. Robot Pencil Case – by Sincerely Pam
  8. Shark Time Pouch – by Moogly
  9. Panda Pencil Holder – by Blackstone Designs

What are some of the fun things you’ve hooked up for your favorite student or teacher?

Gettin’ Raggy With It – Rag Quilt Tutorial

IMG_2186

Awhile back I shared a rag quilt I made (you can read the post here), and I promised to share a tutorial.  Well, it’s been a little longer than I had originally planned, but let’s face it….  sometimes the crafting itself can suck us in and alter all sense of time and space, and I just couldn’t pull myself away from my toys LOL!  Couple that with a move across town, and, well….  you get the idea.  But, I actually had to make my newest granddaughter a rag quilt – so I had the perfect opportunity to photograph the steps!

The nice thing about rag quilts is that you can virtually make them any size you want, and there’s not a lot of technical skill involved.  If you can sew a fairly straight line – you can make a rag quilt!  As a matter of fact, a rag quilt is a great project for a beginner to learn how to use a sewing machine.

Supplies needed:

  • flannel (amount depends on size and style of quilt)
  • rotary cutter and cutting mat
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • sharp pointy scissors

First thing’s first…Let’s talk about flannel… how do you figure out how much you need?  Well, the first step you need to take is to decide how big you want your quilt to be.  If you don’t have an exact size in mind or do not know what size you need, check out this quilt size guide from Suzy Quilts!  You can either decide your overall size 1st and then divide that by the size of quilt squares you want to make – that’s what most folks do.  But y’all know by now, I’m not like most folks🙂  I actually almost always use a 6″ quilt square, which yields a 5″ square once it’s all sewn together due to that 1/2″ seam allowance on all sides.  I  usually like to play around with the overall shape of the quilt versus making sure the quilt matches the exact standard size.  So sometimes I just cut out a ton of 6″ squares and then play around with it to decide what I want to use.

But, I’m going to lay out this tutorial using some easy math so that it takes the guess work out of it for you🙂

When you’re in the fabric store looking at the flannel, decide how many different prints you want to use in your quilt.  You can make yours all one print, or mix it up with all different designs.  Let’s say you decide you want to make a baby quilt, which according to the size chart on Suzy Quilts, measures 30″ x 40″.  So if you are going to use 6″ squares (which yield 5″ finished), you will need 6 squares across (30″ divided by 5″ finished square) by 8 squares down (40″ divided by 5″ finished square).  But you’ll need 2 or 3 layers depending on how thick yu want your quilt to be.  To deterine the total number of squares you need, simply multiply the number of squares across by the number of squares down, and then either double or triple that number, depending on how many layers you want:

6 squares across x 8 squares down = 48 squares needed (for each layer)

I like to do 2 layer quilts so they’re lighter weight – so in this case, you’d actually need 96 squares total.

To determine how many 6″ squares you’ll need from each color/pattern for each layer, divide the total number of squares you need by the number of different fabrics you use.  For example, if you wanted to use 4 different prints, you would divide 48 by 4, which equals 12.  So you’d need 12 6-in squares out of each print for each layer.  For the rest of this tutorial, we’re going to work with just 2 layers.  But if you want to make your quilt thicker, just add more layers in between the top and bottom layers.

Flannel on the bolt is usually around 42-44″ wide, so you can usually get 7 squares across.  I’d always double check the bolt though just to be safe.  If it’s not that wide, you’ll need to buy more in length to compensate.  But let’s assume it’s a standard bolt, shall we?  :)  That means you’ll need 2 rows of 6″ – which comes out to 12″.  That equals 1/3 of a yard per layer, so the bare minimum is 2/3 yard.  You could just buy that, but it’s been my experience that there could be small irregularities in the fabric, or the fabric might not be cut straight off the bold, so I always buy a little extra just to be safe.

Once you have your fabric purchased, now we get into the fun part – cutting all those squares!  But it’s important to note that you should NOT wash the flannel before cutting!! I recommend cutting 6″ strips, and then cutting those strips into squares.

IMG_3120

Cutting 6″ strips

IMG_3121

Cutting strips into squares

Once you have all your squares cut, you’ll need to arrange them with one layer on top and one layer on bottom, both with the right side of your fabric facing out.  You want to be sure to have any patterns or prints facing the same way, so that your square looks the same on both sides.

IMG_3122

Both layers have the right side facing out

IMG_3123

Match the direction of the print on both sides

Next, use your sewing maching to sew a big “X” acros each square.  It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, just do the best you can.  This X just holds the layers together.

Now, if you are going to monogram  one of the squares like I did here, you’re going to want to do the monogram on the top layer only.  You’ll then put your two squares together with the right sides facing out, and just sew lines from the corners in toward the center until you reach the monogram.  Don’t sew over the monogram!

IMG_3187

IMG_3189

Sewing from corners to edge of monogram

Once you have sewn the X on all your squares, you’ll want to clear a big ol’ space on a table or the floor (if you can keep kids and pets from trying to “help”, lol), and lay out all of your squares.  Play around with the layout until you come up with the design you want.

Then pick up the squares, making one pile for each row.  Be very careful to keep your squares in order, as well as the piles for each row, otherwise you’ll end up with a finished design you weren’t expecting.

It’s time to start sewing!

The big trick with rag quilts is to make sure the seam is kept to the outside on the top layer.  I know that seams counterintuitive for some folks, but it’s crucial to get the “rag” finish.  Pick up your 1st 2 squares, and put one on top of the other with the back sides touching.  Then sew that seam, using a 1/2″ seam allowance!

When you open the pieces back up, that bulky seam should be on the top.

IMG_3190

Squares sewn together with seam on top

Continue sewing all the squares together for each row.

IMG_3191

All the squares sewn together for the 1st row – and a sneak peak of my new pedicure🙂

When all the rows are stitched and you’re ready to sew the rows together, it’s a good idea to pin the seams open.  It will help the fabric move more smoothly through the machine.  Just be sure to pull the pins out right before the needle hits them – or there could be a trip to your ER and the sewing machine repair man in your future.

IMG_3193

Seams pinned open

IMG_3195

2 rows sewn together

Continue sewing all the rows together until your quilt is completely assembled.  The last task on the sewing machine is to sew completely around the border of the quilt, using the same 1/2″ seam allowance as the rest of the quilt.

IMG_3196

Sew around the edge of the quilt

Whew – you’re done on the sewing machine!  Now comes the most tedious part for me – but it is the absolutely most essential component.  Bust out those sharp pointy scissors (but of course, don’t run with them), and start clipping those seams almost to the stitching.  But be very careful not to cut the stitching or your quilt could fall apart.  I typically make the snips and clips about every 1/4″ or so, but the exact spacing isn’t important.  Just eyeball it, and it’ll be all good🙂

IMG_3197

This is how I snip and clip – please disregard my raggedy cuticles… although I guess it does fit the theme – hehehe!

Be sure to snip ALL the seams.  (This is the most time consuming part for me – I usually have to take a few breaks to let my hand rest).  When you get to a cross seam, I just cut the seam loose close to the stitching so that it will stand up and be clipped.  No worries, though – you won’t even be able to see that once it’s all said & done.

IMG_3198

Snipping the cross seam

Once you’ve snipped and clipped all the snippables and clippables, all that’s left is to run that bad boy through the wash!  The process of washing and drying it will cause the clipped areas to fray like crazy, which is what makes it raggy.  The amount of fray may vary, so if your quilt isn’t raggedy enough after the 1st wash and dry, run it through once more.

IMG_3200

All seams clipped

IMG_3223

The seams after being washed and dried

IMG_3222

The completed quilt

Voila!  Horray!  WOO HOO!  You’ve done it!  You’ve made a great keepsake for someone you love, or even like a little🙂

IMG_2221

As an added note, this would be a great project for a memory quilt!  Think about it – if you have a bunch of flannel shirts from a loved one, cut those into squares instead of purchasing new fabric.

Also, work this on a much smaller scale for a throw pillow!

The raggedy possibilities are endless!

 

 

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!!!

If you saw my post a couple of weeks ago about the Happily Hooked Bamboo Hook Review, you’ll know that I have an extra set to give away!  Although I’m a couple of days late in announcing, it is finally the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

Are you ready to hear who won?

Are you?

I can’t heeeeeeeeeaaaaaaar you !!!🙂

Without further ado…

JOY NISSEN – you have won the extra set of bamboo handled hooks!!!

Congratulations, lady!  To claim your prize, please visit my Facebook Page and send me a private message with your mailing address🙂

Thanks to everyone who played along!  Always do keep visiting my blog – you’ll never know when I’m giving away something next!

Josephina Elephant Rug – Pattern Review

IMG_3066

When my 1st granddaughter was born in March, my daughter chose elephants as her nursery theme.  And when she saw a picture of the Josephina and Jeffery Elephant Rug by Ira Rott, well, let’s just say it magically appeared at the top of my to-do list🙂

So I found the pattern on Ravelry and purchased it and then went to visit my good friend Joann to grab some grey yarn.  The pattern calls for 3 strands, so I bought 3 skeins of Caron One Pound Dark Grey, dug out my trusty N hook, and went to work.  And worked…. And worked…. And worked!

Normally I’m a pretty fast hooker, lol, but this project seemed to take a long time.  And the more rows & rounds I completed, it become more challenging to maneuver due to the size and weight.  But, my skeins were dwindling down, and the head and trunk magically took shape!  I thought – whew!  Now we’re cooking hooking with gas!

As I got started on the ears, the variety of stitches really started bringing a lovely texture to the design.  However, it seemed to pucker much more than I would have liked.  But I kept going, thinking that it’ll lay flat eventually when it’s all completed.  Unfortunately though, it never did.  It seemed that in spots, there were too many increases making it ruffly, and in other spots there were not enough, which made it pucker.  But…  I always tell my knitting and crochet students to trust the process🙂  Most designers have a method to their madness, and I was going to keep hooking along and see it through. And as it turns out, there were instructions to block each piece before putting it together.  And while I’m a huge fan of steam blocking, I thought perhaps it wouldn’t have needed the blocking as much if the increases/decreases were designed a tad differently.

By the time I got both ears done and attached to the head, I was flabbergasted by the size of it!  I ended up having to go buy 3 more One Pound skeins to finish it, and it was SOOOOO huge – it took up most of the floor.  I’m not sure why, but I was expecting it to be about 1/2 to 2/3 the size it ended up being.  But in all fairness, it’s my own fault!  I never looked at the finished size info in the pattern.   If I had, I probably would have cut it down to 2 strands and used a K hook.  It was a good lesson to me – I tend to “jump ahead” since I’m a very experienced hooker…  but it was a good reminder – a right proper thump on the forehead – to check the fine print on every pattern before getting started🙂

I really enjoyed the eyes and the eyebrows – the white accents in the eyes really brought the whole face to life🙂  The bow was the perfect addition for a little girl elephant, and the little “tufts” of hair just put it over the top for cuteness!

All in all, I do have to say the pattern was well written and user friendly in terms of the level of detail in the instructions. There were TONS of photos for nearly every step, and the pattern also included very detailed diagrams for stitch marker placement which made it very easy to attach the ears symmetrically to the head.  It really eliminated the guess work….  I didn’t have to “eyeball” anything, which was really appreciated!

IMG_3068

Although it does take up almost the entire floor of the nursery, my daughter LOVES it – pretty much head-over-heels-goo-goo-ga-ga over this rug!  And I’m pretty sure my sweet granddaughter will be too when she’s old enough to crawl around on it and experience all the sensory treasures hidden in the lovely textured stitches!

This was my first experience with Ira Rott patterns, and I have to say – I give it 2 thumbs up!!!

Happily Hooked -Bamboo Hook Review

Sheesh – it’s been a little while since I’ve posted!  I’d love to say I was on a world tour, visiting all the warm sunny and glorious locations, being fanned and fed grapes by a very buff foreign cabana boy… but it’s nothing that glamorous🙂  I had to take a little time off to spend some time with my brand new grand babies and some travel for that pesky day job (hey, bills gotta get paid, right?).  But during that time, I did manage to squeeze in some hookin’ – tested some patterns for other designers, competed in the Battle of the Stitches challenge, and tried out some new tools.

I’m not sure if any of you have seen the offers by Happily Hooked Magazine for a set of free bamboo crochet hooks as long as you pay the shipping.  I’m always skeptical of these types of things, because, let’s face it – there almost always is a hidden fee or some kind of catch that ends up costing you WAY MORE than the same thing would cost in a store.  And often times the items that you actually receive are vastly different that what you thought you were getting.  So I thought to myself:  Self, maybe we should give it a try and even write a blog post about my experience🙂  So that’s what me and “Self” decided to do🙂

The ad said the offer was for a set of 7 Bamboo Hooks, and this is what I received:

IMG_3007

I was very pleased to see that the tip of the hook is in the Boye style and not Bates…  I know I’m likely to kick a hornet’s nest when I say this, but…  I can’t stand the Bates hooks!  Don’t get me started on why – it would take an entire blog post for that explanation!  But just suffice it to say that I am 100%, T-totally, absolutely a Boye girl!  While the hooks themselves are a very lightweight metal of some kind, the handles themselves are bamboo from what I can tell.   The handles are not round, but they are wide  and flat with a nice spot for your thumb to grip if you are a knife-style hooker like me.  Being a handicapped hooker, I’m always looking for ways to make crafting more comfortable, and this seemed to be fairly easy to hold.  I don’t think these would be very comfortable if you are a pencil-style hooker though.  But that’s just a guess, since I still can’t get the hang of holding my hook any other way but the way I always do🙂

IMG_3008

I was reading some of the comments to Happily Hooked’s ad, and some folks thought that their hooks weren’t filed smoothly and that their hooks snagged the yarn.  Actually, I didn’t find that to be the case with my set.  I used the 4.0 mm hook on a sweater, and the yarn didn’t seem to catch on the hook at all.  In that respect, it worked just as good as my standard metal G hook.

All in all, I think the set of hooks were definitely worth the $6.99 shipping fee, in spite of the somewhat misleading statement that they were bamboo hooks.  I mean, you pay that much for just a couple of hooks at the store, right?!

In fact, I liked them well enough that I bought a second set to give away to one of my fabulous blog readers!  Yes – that means YOU!

If you’d like to receive a set of these hooks, leave a comment below telling me about your favorite crochet hook and why you love it so much!  I’ll randomly draw a winner from the comments the week before Father’s Day!

Happy Hookin’ Y’all!

Adaptive Hookery – the NEW Standard

Most activities traditionally have a right way of doing things and a wrong way, but I believe that’s not exactly the case!  So I like to say there’s a standard way and a nonstandard way of accomplishing the task.

Take knitting and crochet for example…. if you watch the instructional videos online for learning techniques for these crafts, most of them feature a common theme for holding the tools, holding tension on the yarn, and how to yarn over – amongst all the other tidbits involved in the project.  While these techniques are admittedly the standard, quite a few folks may not be able to accomplish it exactly the same way due to various limitations.  I really hate for people to get scared off from experiencing the love and wonder of being able to create things with their hands – it is truly heartbreaking for me

So I always tell my students that really, ultimately, when it’s all said and done, how you got to the finish line is no where near as important as that it looks how you want it to look when you get there!  I do my best to hammer it in (oh, come on.. metaphorically of course🙂 ) that it’s ok to hold your hook a little different, or yarn over backwards from the way your friend does, or to even use a different tool altogether than what is recommended in the pattern.  Follow a process of trial and error to find what is comfortable and works for you.  There is no wrong way, as long as you are happy with the results!  Of course, there are some things that make a difference, like matching gauge, but as long as it’s meeting gauge requirements with your adaptations – you are GOLDEN!  The only “right way” is YOUR WAY! 

This unconventional philosophy is particularly critical for handicapped crafters… (honestly, I’m not sure what the politically correct term is, but since I fit in this category, I feel like I can label it however I want🙂  )

You may not know it, but I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis for about a year now, with flares coming and going randomly, and determining which body part will be impacted next is like eating a box of chocolate with Forrest Gump (cmon, can’t you hear him saying “you’ll never know what you’re going to get?”).  As a die hard crafter of all sorts, I started to panic trying to figure out how to keep my hooker mojo going during flares.  And I came up with a doozy for crochet!

CHECK IT OUT!!!!

When my right hand & wrist get inflamed and useless, I wear a brace to provide a little extra support.  And because I lose the ability to grip during a flare, I ram my hook between my fingers and into the brace… and channel my inner one-blade Wolverine by moving and rotating just my forearm..

It works like a charm!!  It sure ain’t pretty to look at, but it definitely gets the job done and allows me to keep getting my craft on.  I tried to take and edit a video on iMovie, but apparently my skills are challenged and I couldn’t figure out out, LOL…  Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to show you my adaptive talents in motion.

For now, here are some links to a few creative adaptive tools that are out there.  I haven’t used any of them, but they look pretty neat!  If you are an adaptive crafter, have ued any of these tools, or know someone who fits the bill, feel free to comment and share!

Norwegian Knitting Thimble – helps folks who may not be able to hold yarn tension
Clamp-It Suction Base Hook Holder – great for folks with use of only one hand
Electric Yarn Ball Winder – helps keep your yard nicely wound without needing alot of hand or wrist strength and dexterity

Remember …. the only right way is….. you got it – IT’S YOUR WAY!

Gettin’ Raggy With It!

Hey y’all!  It’s been a little while, but I had to take a little hiatus for the birth of my very 1st granddaughter!  I tell you, there is no greater gift, other than the birth of your own children, than the gift of becoming a Nana…  I just want to look at her face all day every day🙂  And smooch her, and nibble her little cheeks off….  but my son-in-law seems to think that might make me a cannibal, LOL… Anyway, my new granddaughter Hanna inspired today’s blog post.

Before she was born, I had the idea to make her a flannel rag quilt, but had no idea how to do it.  So after the obligatory Google and Pinterest searches, blog reads, and shopping trip to the fabric store, I set out on my raggy journey.  And what I found out is, it is extremely easy to do!  You simply cut the flannel squares, double layer the squares and baste a big X in the middle for security, sew them together in the desired configuration with the seams on the top side (which admittedly seems counterintuitive, LOL), and then snip all the seams.  The last step is to toss it in the washer & dryer, and the normally quite annoying property of flannel to fray on the edges when washed actually becomes the most beneficial finishing step of the process!

Here is her quilt, with 6 inch squares in a 6×6 configuration, done with 3 layers of flannel:

IMG_2186

I even monogrammed the lower right corner with my handy dandy embroidery machine, and I am just soooo tickled with how it turned out!

IMG_2186 - Version 2

It turned out so well, that I had to make more!  Especially since Joann’s had a sale on flannel, and they had some really cute boy themes!  Which was perfect, since my good friend is having a boy, and I promised the hubs that I’d try to only buy fabric I had a plan for due to space restrictions.  (little does he know my fingers were crossed when I promised – muahahahahahaha!)

I decided to switch it up a bit on the second one though.  My friend lives in a warmer climate, so I cut it down to 2 layers of flannel instead of 3.  My daughter suggested a rectangular shape would be more crib/bed friendly, so I arranged the squares in a 5×7 configuration.  Here’s the end result:

IMG_2221

You might notice that the monogram is also oriented diagonally instead of straight – also a suggestion from my daughter.  She doesn’t think she’s very creative on her own, but she really does a great job helping me edit and fine tune things, doesn’t she??  If you look up close, you can see the monogram has a mix of fonts and colors to add even more personalization to the little dude’s new blankie.

IMG_2222

The back side matches the front exactly minus the seams, although you could totally take advantage of the opportunity for added creativity if you wanted!

IMG_2224

I’m telling you – I am TOTALLY addicted to making these!  I’m working on a tutorial for these, so if you’re interested, keep your eyes peeled in the near future!

In the meantime, if you’re interested in ordering one, leave me a comment below, or visit my Facebook page and send me a message!

Easter Bunny Came Early!

Even though Easter isn’t for a few more days, I wanted to share a little goodie that is only for you – my blog followers!  You all are my favorite people in the whole wide internet world, and I want you all to feel as ooey-gooey-warm-and-squishy inside as I feel about you🙂

So from now until Midnight tomorrow night, Mountain time (cause I live in the Rockies🙂 ) you can visit my Ravelry store and get one free pattern of your choice!

Will you choose boot cuffs like the Broomstick Twist Boot Cuffs?

11218949_10153227450584212_2297611374956701713_n

Or will you choose something for a little bundle of joy in your life, like the Cozy Cable Sleep Sack?

12552714_10208433594697809_2430021620036671434_n

Or will you add something cute and stylish to your Spring wardrobe like the Butterfly Kisses Scarf & Belt?

IMG_3262

Whatever your heart’s desire, all you have to do is head over to my Ravelry shop, add your pattern to your cart and at checkout, just enter the code BLOGLUV316 to get it for FREE!

Thanks so much for being a fan of The Blue Star Boutique!

Easter Crochet Pattern Roundup

Hip – Hop

Hibbity Hop

A hip-hip hibbity HOP!

I can’t for the life of me remember where that little ditty came from, but it is alway in the back of my mind.  It’s one of those things that jump out from somewhere in my mental file cabinets when I’m feeling feisty….  It’s one of those things that help me get my funk on – and I’m talking full on singing and middle-aged-chubby-mom-getting-my-groove-on type of funky dancin’… and when it starts I just. can’t. stop.

But the good thing is around this time of year, I can blame it on my love for the Easter Bunny🙂  This funky spirit has inspired me to share some of my favorite Easter crochet patterns I ran across in my search for Easter craftiness.  Enjoy!

Easter Pattern Roundup

  1. Lil Chickie Duck – Lisa Auch
  2. Chocolate Easter Bunny – WhiskersAndWool
  3. Easter Peeps – Angie Cruise
  4. Spring Chick Beanie, Stuffie, and Baby Chicks – Snappy Tots
  5. Bunny Bonnet and Stuffy Photo Prop – Sweet Potato 3
  6. Easter Basket – Jen Maude
  7. Easter Bunny Headband – Paper, Needles, & Sweets
  8. Pip Squeaks Plastic Egg Cover and Stuffy – Comfy Cabana
  9. Crochet Easter Place Setting – Petals to Picots

Happy Hippity Hookin’!