On My Hook

Baby blanket I am making for my son’s teacher, who is due back from maternity leave next month. I’m not sure how much bigger to make it – it’s about 32 inches square before blocking. Does anyone prewash their baby/cotton items in Woolite or Dreft? I’m also trying to figure out how to finish the edges, I don’t know if a picot or shell would be too much, considering it’s five colors, including the variegated.

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On the Runway

Stop by Lark Crafts and read Vickie Howell’s quickie interview with Jay McCarroll, designer and season one winner of Bravo’s Project Runway. If I recall correctly, Jay did some pretty crochet work in his final collection.

Season 8 of the show is now underway and airs on Lifetime Television.

Link: http://www.larkcrafts.com/craft-your-life/craft-corps-jay-mccarroll/

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Kitchen Sink Soapmaking

I picked up a melt and pour soap kit at the thrift shop a while back; it’s been sitting on the floor of my bathroom closet waiting for me to become inspired. I made these while the kids were playing this morning after breakfast.

"clear" glycerine soap block

I popped some chunks of the clear glycerine base into a glass measuring cup and microwaved it in short, 10 second bursts until it was liquid. First up on the menu was the lemon bar. I’d had lemon extract sitting in my spice cabinet since I bought it by mistake 6 years ago. I think I’ve used it twice since then. Very strong, with a pungent lemon scent. (Not at all Pledge-like.) The few drops of yellow food color I added next were a bit too much in retrospect (my boys and I came to the conclusion that the foamy yellow liquid looked a little too familiar, if you know what I mean…) A little zested rind of a lemon added just the right touch of visual interest.

Cinnamon toast was next – starting with some vanilla extract and ending up with two bars – I added additional product because the brown got very dark and I wanted to be able to see the bits of sugar and cinnamon through the clear soap. These took the longest to dry and distorted the plastic molds a bit when I neglected to let the hot mixture cool a bit before pouring it.

There was still a bit of vanilla-y brown left over so I tried something similar, this time with “exfoliating” coffee grounds and a bit of A&W root beer ice cream topping, because, why not? It’s my 10 year old’s favorite.

Cinnamon Toast, Lemon Zest and Orange Lychee

I did a quick search for some internet soap recipes and found that you can add baking soda as a skin softener. That coupled with some red made a a nice muted pink; and I was thinking of pulling some rosewater out of the upstairs vanity when I found peach fragrance oil packaged with the kit. Unfortunately, the baking soda precipitated to the bottom and caused cracking when I de-molded the soap. (The root beer stuck as well – I’ll definitely use some type or release agent – Pam? – next time.)

Peach Fizz and Root Beer

By now I’m just about done and the natives are getting restless, so I finish up the last bit of pink with some OJ from the fridge (no pulp!) and raid the spice rack again to find an appropriate match for it. No cardamom, and orange-clove smells too much like autumn for me. I guess I could have tried ginger, but I love the look of the black lychee tea leaves suspended inside the orange bar.

I’m definitely going to try some of these again. One of the molds was hexagon shaped and begging to be turned into a milk-honey-almond bath bar. Making soap was a lot easier than I thought, and the kids were able to help a bit too. These will be nice to go along with hand-crocheted washcloths and spa items for gifts or craft shows.

For now though, I’ve got a sink full of dishes to wash. And these delicious smells are making me hungry!

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Friday Favorites on a Tuesday Afternoon

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List of the Harmony Guides

Found this at Yarnmarket, I was looking for the complete list of the Harmony Guides series of stitch books. Craft snob that I am (!) I assumed that if volumes 6 and 7 were on crochet stitches, there must be 5 other crochet books I hadn’t read yet. This is the current list of available Harmony books. Some original volumes are out of print.

Posted for reference (italics mine):

# The Harmony Guide: 101 Stitches to Knit
boxed kit of 101 cards with booklet
# The Harmony Guides: 101 Stitches to Crochet
boxed kit of 101 cards with booklet
# The Harmony Guides: Cables & Arans
from the original Harmony Guides Vol 2, 3, & 5
# The Harmony Guides: Knit & Purl
from the original Harmony Guides Vol 2, 3, & 4
# The Harmony Guides: Lace & Eyelets
from the original Harmony Guides Vol & 3
# Harmony Guides Volume 1: Knitting Techniques
# The Harmony Guides: Basic Crochet Stitches
# Harmony Guides Volume 4: 250 Creative Knitting Stitches
# Harmony Guides Volume 6: 300 Crochet Stitches
# Harmony Guides Volume 7: 220 More Crochet Stitches

And from Amazon, listed by latest publication date:

  • The Harmony Guides: Colorwork Stitches: 250 Designs to Knit by Sharon Brant (Paperback – Jun 1, 2009)
  • The Harmony Guides: Crochet Stitch Motifs: 250 Stitches to Crochet by Erika Knight (Paperback – Jul 1, 2008)
  • The Harmony Guides: Basic Crochet Stitches: 250 Stitches to Crochet by Erika Knight (Paperback – April 1, 2008)
  • The Harmony Guides: Cables & Arans: 250 Stitches to Knit by Erika Knight (Paperback – Oct 1, 2007)
  • The Harmony Guides: Knit & Purl: 250 Stitches to Knit by Erika Knight (Paperback – Oct 1, 2007)
  • The Harmony Guides: Lace & Eyelets: 250 Stitches to Knit by Erika Knight (Paperback – Oct 1, 2007)
  • 220 More Crochet Stitches: Volume 7 (The Harmony Guides) by The Harmony Guides (Paperback – Jan 1, 1999)
  • 300 Crochet Stitches (The Harmony Guides, V. 6) by The Harmony Guides (Paperback – Jan 1, 1999)
  • 220 Aran Stitches and Patterns: Volume 5 (The Harmony Guides) by The Harmony Guides (Paperback – Jul 1, 1998)
  • 250 Creative Knitting Stitches (The Harmony Guides, Vol. 4) by The Harmony Guides (Paperback – Jul 1, 1998)
  • 440 More Knitting Stitches: Volume 3 (The Harmony Guides) by The Harmony Guides (Paperback – Jul 1, 1998)
  • 450 Knitting Stitches: Volume 2 (The Harmony Guides) by The Harmony Guides (Paperback – Jul 1, 1998)
  • Knitting Techniques: Volume 1 (The Harmony Guides) by The Harmony Guides (Paperback – Jul 1, 1998)
I’ve removed the links to the individual books due to some issues with wordpress advertising policy. Please check out used booksellers such as Powell‘s or AbeBooks and save a tree in the process.
Ravelry members can also access a list of posts regarding the guides here

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Blog Contest (not mine)

Go see Jane at  Grammieknits for a nice New Year’s contest

that will have you thinking in a good way.

get it, thinking/brain?

Ok, just go.

(ends Jan 15)

via Dandy @ purpleisafruit

image courtesy of Monster Crochet *

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Cobblestone Theivery; also Happy New Year.

I can usually motivate the writing muse with something visual – I had a quick but enjoyable walk in the park with the puppy this morning after the kids were off to school after winter break. There’s a tennis court behind (or in front of, depending on your direction) the park and it’s landscaped with those potato-sized river rocks that have always held some odd fascination for me. Did anybody else love painting rocks as a kid? The melding of art and organic did it for me, plus it was a portable “pretty” to admire wherever the mood struck. I vividly remember a red daisy with a yellow center I made with some too-thick possibly musty acrylic  leftover from a paint-by-numbers set.


I’ve seen a few crochet-covered stones here and there on the interwebs. (Even a flickr pool for them!) And I do love me some crochet covered things. Until just recently I was plagued by a series of creepy dreams involving real pets covered in yarn and faux fur.

So now I have an empty D*nkin’ Donuts travel mug in my right pocket because I can’t get enough caffeine in my system before walking to the bus, my phone in my other pocket, and the dog, who hasn’t been walked in too long and is straining to smell the thousand other animals who have passed by in the time since we’ve been here. I want to pick up a rock but realize, as I have before, that it’s technically stealing (an admonishment that I’m sure I heard from my parents as often as I’ve given to my kids). There are a few seniors gathering for tennis, but I wasn’t too worried, except I was because as I quickly scanned to area for a good one – oval but not too bumpy, granite-y instead of slate and bent down to grab it, I chose too quickly and immediately regretted my haste. How could I go back for another? Surely that would seem suspicious. I start to think about my “new” project – never mind the number of old new projects that are not finished.  I can cover it in the green thread I found yesterday when I cleaned out the coffee table drawers. It may look like moss. Now I’m daydreaming and I know it – what else could I cover in crochet? I could make little yarn leaves on those fallen branches over there. A theme! Maybe I will have an exhibition, a retrospective!  – but I’ll have to learn some type of doily-like pattern. Picots? I think I have some pattern books. Urgh, but I really don’t like thread crochet..oh, what is this now, a roadblock, put up by me? in my mind?  How very unusual…

So we start back and get to the crosswalk and I still have the rock in my hand. Will some passerby or motorist see me and know of my transgression of the pedestrian/park ethics code? I pretend for a second it’s a special dog training device. I wait for the light to change and try to put the rock in my pocket but but it doesn’t fit, and I can’t switch hands with the leash puller so I stand there awkwardly, pushing the walk button a few more times than needed.

Headed home though, a funny thing happens. I start to enjoy the weight in my hand. It’s warming up a bit and the sky looks clearer. Lucy’s caught some scent on the wind, and she looks happy too.

I’m going home with my rock and my dog, because that’s pretty much how far in advance I’ve planned my day. It could be worse.

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity” – Jones, Chuck

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