Flatirons Shawl

The Flatirons Shawl is my latest independent published design. This was what I was working on during our Mount Rushmore/Eclipse road trip. It is made with Theodora’s Pearls “Auxanometer” hand-dyed yarn, dyed in Longmont. This is a lovely rayon yarn that has beautiful sheen and drape in the finished project. Each hank contains approximately 400 yards of fingering weight yarn.

It is constructed of 3 triangles crocheted continuously from one triangle to the next, creating an asymmetrical wrap that has only 4 tails to weave in at the finish. There are 2 different lace patterns used to create the triangles and 2 colors of yarn to add textural interest. The triangles inspired the name “Flatirons” because of the dramatic rock formations bordering the Boulder Valley.

Back view of Kerchief wrap

Between the yarn and the shape this is an extremely wearable shawl. I tried styling it a number of ways on Collette.

Pinned Ends Cowl style

For this wearing option I pinned the two tips of the shawl at the back of the neck and made a doubled circle across the shoulders to create a cowl look.

Fastened with Shawl Pin

Then there is always the useful shawl pin option. This style really shows off the drape of the fabric and gives great coverage of the shoulders.

The pattern is an advanced intermediate level, so a definite skill builder. It involves working 4 row repeating lace patterns, decreases, color work, and changing direction of stitches. The pattern contains stitch charts for the lace pattern in each triangle as well as a detailed schematic for the edging directions.

Foothills Sunrise
Chautauqua Moonlight
Boulder Canyon
St. Vrain Trail

Today is the launch of this project at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe.  As part of their 5th year anniversary celebration the shop is doing kits of the above 4 different color combinations for $62 each. The pre-order of the kits starts today, September 5th thru September 17th. If you pre-order the yarn during this time the shop will provide a complimentary copy of the pattern. The yarn will be delivered to customers the week of the 25th.

Then I’ll be hosting the CAL starter party Saturday, September 30th from 2p – 4p at the shop. We will also have a thread in the Longmont Yarn Shoppe Ravelry group. So even if you live far from Longmont, Colorado you will be able to participate in the CAL and the pre-order of the yarn. Just call the shop to order your kit at 303-678-8242.

The color kits will still be available after the 17th, but will not include the complimentary pattern.  You will be able to purchase the pattern thru my Ravelry shop at any time.

 

 

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Taking Care of Yourself

My boys are back in school and that means Summer is over for me.  As I’ve shared a bit already, this Summer was a super full one for me, 2 big family trips and 2 work trips. I’m now back into the swing of design work deadlines and preparing for teaching at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair and at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe this Fall.

There is also the awareness that I need to get to work on making my gifts for the Christmas season (only a wee bit over 18 weeks to go) and the slew of birthdays coming up over the next 4 months. That means lots of crafting hours. I’m sure I’m not alone in the crafting crunch as the weather cools off for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

I have a “survival” guide that I follow to be sure that all that crafting doesn’t lead to me being in pain. Today I want to share with you my top 5 tips to surviving the crafting crunch.

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Stay well hydrated
  3. Take regular breaks
  4. Find some stretches that work for you
  5. Set realistic goals

Get Enough Sleep

I know, who has time for sleep?  I’m as guilty as the next person of cutting into my sleep hours to get more stuff done. But sleep is a major component to preventing injury. Getting enough sleep allows your body to mend and restore itself, as well as increasing the efficiency of your brain. You are much more likely to make mistakes in a project when you are too tired. It’s better to set aside the crafting and head to bed earlier, you will be able to work with greater clarity and speed after a good night’s sleep.

How much sleep do you need? That really depends, the typical recommendation is 8 hours, but some people need a little more and some a little less. Most doctors advise 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night. I know for me personally I seem to do best with 7 1/2 hours.

Stay well Hydrated

Our bodies are mostly water and we lose a lot of it each day thru respiration, elimination and perspiration. Drinking water regularly thru-out the day is one of the best things you can do for your health. Even mild dehydration can make us more prone to injury as well as causing mental fatigue. The classic recommendation is 12 – eight ounce glasses (96 ounces) of water thru-out the day. That doesn’t take into account different sizes of people and different activity levels.

My favorite formula for figuring out the minimum amount of water to drink thru out the day uses your weight. Take your weight in pounds and halve that number to get the amount of ounces of water you should be consuming each day.  Example – if you weigh 150 pounds you need to drink at least 75 ounces of water daily. If you are having a very active day, or you live in a hot climate, you may want to increase the amount of water you drink.

I say “water”, but there are many other drinks you can have that count toward your fluid intake.  Except caffeinated beverages. They actually act as a diuretic and remove water from your body thru elimination. So enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning, but remember to drink an extra glass of water to counteract the caffeine.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking a break doesn’t mean you have to stand on your head doing Yoga for 15 minutes, though that would be awesome if you want to do that. Taking a break means doing something else for a bit. I often have breaks built into my day by normal household maintenance chores.

Sometimes it is moving the laundry to the dryer, making myself some lunch, or taking the dog for a walk.  Just doing something different that gets me up and moving for a little bit at least every 30 minutes. It’s about the only way my house gets tidied, 10 minutes of cleaning chores every half hour.

The typical recommendation is to take a break every 20 minutes. If you are having some pain in your hands/neck/back from crafting that is a good strategy. More frequent breaks keep your body from seizing on a particular movement or posture as the only muscle setting. If you are drinking enough water you will be needing a “bio-break” every 2 hours or so, and that counts as well.

Find some Stretches that work for You

We all have a spot that hurts the worse after a day of intense crafting, so it is important to figure out how to stretch or strengthen your “spot”. I tend to feel it in my hands and neck when I have over done the crafting time. When I worked as a massage therapist I had a series of stretches I used to keep my hands working for me.

These are my favorite hand stretches. I do them at least 3 times during my work day and once more before I go to sleep. You can read a bit more about these hand stretches in my blog post: Keeping your Hands Happy.

Set Realistic Goals

I always seem to be hit with inspiration for the perfect massive gift about 2 weeks before the gift giving occasion. This rarely works out well and can lead to crazy nights of crocheting with only a few hours of sleep (Yup, that is how I know the importance of sleep).  I have finally learnt to be kinder to myself and have set more realistic goals for my gift making. If you want to do a large project for your gift you need to give yourself enough time to get it finished.

One of the things I have figured out after too many insane crochet deadlines is that it will usually take you about twice as long to finish a project than you think it will. Partially this is due to the fact that there is more to finishing a project than just the crochet. There is also all the weaving in of ends and blocking/washing the item and so on.

If you are looking at a couple of weeks before a gift is due to be presented, then look to smaller projects. The following are some links to patterns that make great gifts and are quick to crochet.

Snowflakes are one of my first choices for a fast gift. They are easy to ship and make great embellishments. You can work them in thread and stiffen them or attach the points to a larger ring for a beautiful addition to any holiday décor. I’ve also worked them in yarn and used them to embellish commercially made hats, scarves or gloves for a personalized gift.

I have 3 free snowflake patterns here on the blog.

Frozen Star Snowflake – This was last year’s snowflake pattern and it is a super quick one to work up with only 3 rounds to work up. This one is really ideal to work in a thicker yarn to attach to another project or a commercially made item as an embellishment.

Lacy Snowflakes – This is my favorite snowflake pattern, it is a written instruction only pattern here on the blog – if you prefer charts along with the text you can purchase a PDF version of this pattern thru my Ravelry shop for $1.99.

Little Snowflake Ornament – This was the first snowflake pattern I shared here on the blog and it is a stitch chart only pattern.

I love hats, earwarmers and cowls for wearable gifts, they don’t take a lot of time or yarn to crochet.  I make a lot of hats for my family, it has become a bit of a Christmas tradition. I have a couple of hat patterns available for free here on the blog and a couple of hat patterns for sell in my Ravelry shop.

Whirlwind Hat – This is an intermediate level text pattern available here on the blog. I’ve included photos and a link to a video to help with learning the trick to working the spiral.

Simple Double Crochet Hat – This is a super easy hat that works up quick in double crochet stitches and a single crochet finish. Work it in variegated yarn for a colorful look, or use a solid yarn for a background that can be embellished with motifs.

Mountain Top Beanie – This is an intermediate level pattern available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop. The pattern includes stitch charts for the crown, sides and ribbing. The sample for this hat was worked in Ella Rae Lace Merino Aran yarn, a wonderful luxurious yarn that is so soft and colorful. Because the hat only uses 1 ball it is a fun splurge project.

Spiraling Crosses Hat – This is an easy intermediate level pattern available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop. The pattern includes a stitch chart of the crown and sides to help you with the placement for the cross stitches. The slightly cabled texture of this stitch pattern makes a good hat for either women or men on your gift list.

Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat – This is an easy level pattern full of all the tips and tricks I teach in my hat class. It is a great pattern for those wanting to create any size hat with any size yarn. You can purchase it in my Ravelry Shop.

Lace Hat – This pattern is available on the Red Heart website. This was one of the first designs I sold when I started out as a designer. For a time the yarn for this project was discontinued, but they have brought back a new version of “Heart & Sole” yarn.

Springtime Headband – This is a pattern on my blog that is great for a quick gift, you can usually get 2 out of 1 ball of Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease in worsted weight. It is an intermediate level pattern, but I have included photo tutorials for the 2 texture stitches used in the pattern.

2 by 2 Cowl – This pattern is an easy level and speedy crochet project, it also uses only 1 ball of yarn. You can find the text pattern here on my blog and there is a link on the pattern post to a video to help you with the foundation I used.

Kellie Cowl – This pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop and is an intermediate level project. It would make a great gift for someone living in a warmer climate, or for those that don’t feel the cold all that much. The pattern has stitch charts to help you with the tricky parts and clear text instructions. It takes only 1 ball of the specified yarn and if you add the optional beads it is a fun dressy accessory to wear anytime of year.

These 3 moebius style cowls are quick and fun to crochet. The patterns are available individually in my Ravelry Shop.

Twisted Vs Cowl – A super quick project worked with bulky yarn and a big hook. The text pattern includes a photo tutorial about moebius construction.

Anna Moebius Cowl – Named after a friend’s grand-daughter this cowl is another fast one to work up in a chunky yarn. Pattern includes stitch chart and is an easy intermediate level project.

Twisted Garden Cowl – This pattern is an intermediate level project, with an interesting stitch pattern. This is still a small enough project to complete quickly, and is entertaining for more experienced or intrepid crocheters.

For those that don’t feel like working the moebius off a twisted foundation, there is always my Springtime Cowl. This pattern is available here on my blog and used 2 balls of the yarn for the sample. It is a simple stitch with the twist added when the 2 ends are sewn together.

If you have made it this far in my post I have a special gift for you. A 10% discount for any of my patterns over $3.50 price point. The code is: Crunch2017, and will only be valid until Friday, August 25th, 2017 at 11 p.m. Mountain time.

I hope this helps you all get started on the gift projects you need to complete and that you all survive the crafting crunch.

 

Summer is Flying By

This summer is going so fast, I’ve been traveling for both work and family stuff, so the times at home are super packed with household and work tasks.

We got back from our Lake Huron trip the evening of the 11th and I hit the ground running the next day.

It was Casual Crochet meet-up and the end of our Testing Pool CAL. Everyone that could make it was there to get their photo taken wearing their cowls. A number of these ambitious crocheters had made 2 cowls. Can you tell that the Aqua colorway was very popular?

For naming this cowl I took all the names of my testers and put them in a hat. We drew out a name and this cowl is now known as the “Kellie Cowl”. That’s Kellie at the lower left in the photo.

You can purchase the pattern for this cowl in my Ravelry shop. It comes with detailed stitch charts for the foundation, joins and increase point.

I’m headed out to Chicago for the CGOA Chain Link Conference this week, so this may be a one post week again. We will see how busy it all is there and if I will have a decent internet connection. If you are coming to the conference be sure to say hello. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of my yarnie friends and making new ones.

18 Patterns in 2016

I was talking with a crochet friend the other day about how many patterns I had published in 2016, and I wasn’t sure. I knew I had been doing a lot of work in 2016. So today I decided to take a tally. Turns out I had 18 patterns published, counting the 6 that were in my newest book: “Wraps for All Seasons”.

There were 5 decorative neckwear patterns:

Sophisticated Simplicity Necklace – this pattern is available here on my blog.

Springtime Cowl – this pattern is available here on my blog.

Loopy de Loop Necklace – this pattern is available here on my blog and I have a video tutorial for it on my YouTube channel.

Sweet Song Decorative Scarf – this pattern is available here on my blog.

Photo courtesy of Red Heart

Beaded Crochet Necklace – this pattern is available on the Red Heart website.

There were 3 Hat patterns:

Mountain Top Beanie – the pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop.

Simple DC Hat – the pattern is available here on my blog.

Whirlwind Hat – the pattern is available here on my blog.

There were 2 fun little projects in Thread crochet:

Simple Victorian Earrings – the pattern is available here on my blog.

Frozen Star Snowflake – the pattern is available here on my blog.

One afghan square:

Fans & Lace Afghan Square – the pattern is available here on my blog as well as tutorial videos on my YouTube Channel .

There were 7 wraps patterns:

The 6 in my book from Annie’s Publishing – “Wraps for All Seasons”, which you can purchase on Amazon or at the Annie’s website.

Playing with Triangles Shawl

Playing with Triangles Shawl – the pattern is available here on my blog as well as an informative video on my YouTube Channel.

Let’s see if I can double the number of patterns in 2017.

Whispering Wind Cowl

I enjoy creating moebius style cowls but decided to challenge myself with designing a simple tube style cowl with this design. I wanted to create a crocheted cowl that would have a very graceful drape and would be a lovely accent piece to wear indoors, but could also serve nicely as a warm layer under a coat or jacket.

First order of business was chosing a yarn, I picked Berroco’s “Folio” yarn. This luxurious yarn is an Alpaca/Rayon blend that feels like cashmere, with marvelous drape and warmth. I paired the yarn with a simple mesh stitch pattern to allow the yarn to really shine.

Collette’s first modeling gig

Next I gave some serious thought to how I wanted to work the foundation and how to finish the opposite end of the tube to compliment the foundation. I usually like everything to be very precisely matched. It’s probably the math part of my brain dictating terms. I decided to give myself permission to have the finishing edge be different from the foundation.

Freedom!

Funnily enough, the 2 edges don’t look all that different. But never fear, I will be playing with this some more and there will be some very different edges in the future. I just wanted to get my toe wet this time around.  I have definitely found a new fascination. Throwing out the idea of precise matching has stirred up all sorts of creativity in my brain.

I used my stacked row foundation to start this cowl, then the rounds of mesh stitch are worked off one side to the desired length. In this pattern I have written the instructions, and worked the sample to be 31 inches around and 13 inches wide from foundation to finished edging. I’ve also included instructions on how to modify the pattern to make a wider cowl (deep enough to be pulled up as a hood), or a longer cowl that makes it more like an infinity scarf.

You can purchase the pattern in my Ravelry Shop for $4.99.

You can use a different yarn than I chose for the sample, but I would strongly recommend a yarn with a large percentage of fine alpaca fiber or rayon. You want the yarn to be very fluid to get the fantastic drape you see in the photos.

 

Vivianne Shawl

vivianne-shawl-andee-graves-m2h-designs-a2

This is my newest M2H Designs pattern the Vivianne Shawl. The name Vivianne means “full of life” and the colorful striping and sparkly beads make this a very lively shawl.

yarn-for-new-pwt-shawl

I used only 3 hanks of Berocco’s “Vintage” worsted weight yarn in different colors to create the uneven color changes. Originally I thought I would use 2 hanks of the dark blue, but I decided I wanted to have approximately the same amount of yarn in each color. Because the shawl is worked top down the rows get longer and the sections of color play out in pleasing proportions. I also mixed things up a little by working a stripe of the next color before ending the preceding color. This stripe has beads added using the “hoist-on” method for a bit more bling and liveliness.

Vivianne Shawl 3 - Andee Graves/M2H Designs

The final 2 border rows are continued in the last color and feature beads added to the stitches to create sparkly drape along the bottom edge of the shawl.

This pattern is available for purchase in my Ravelry Shop for $4.99. In addition to concise text instructions, the pattern contains stitch charts for the body of the shawl and the border, plus photo tutorials for adding the beads.

“Wraps for All Seasons” Blog Tour – Stop #3

Hi everyone. My book “Wraps for All Seasons” is going on a blog tour. We will be making 6 stops for this tour. Each of the bloggers will be giving away a copy of the book, so be sure to visit them to see what they have to share with you about my book.

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Stop #3 is with the brilliant, kind and talented Karen Whooley. As many of my long-time readers know, Karen is not only an incredible designer of both Crochet and Knit patterns, she was my CGOA mentor when I first began the journey of becoming a crochet designer myself.

andee

This photo is the two of us in 2010 at the Manchester CGOA conference. We’ve both changed a lot in our appearance, but our friendship is still strong. She is one of the people I can really depend on in my life to tell me when an idea or design is utter garbage, so I know when she has good things to say I’ve earned it. It’s good to have folks that keep you on your toes.

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Karen is a marvelous teacher and many of the books she has written over the years reflect that. She is the rock star of crocheted socks, she has all styles of sock patterns available in her shop on her website. I had a hard time picking a favorite, but I do love her “Mix and Match Toe-Up Socks” as the best pattern to purchase for the beginning of learning to crochet socks.

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Check out her beautiful pattern for the “Spring Leaf Shawlette”. This shawl is worked from side to side including the lace border, so once you reach the end of the rows you are finished. Definitely a good pattern to add to your shawl pattern collection. You can purchase it over on her website.

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The next stop for the “Wraps for All Seasons” blog tour will be next Tuesday, November 8th.

You can purchase my book at the Annie’s Craft Store or on Amazon.com.