The Flaws Of Being A Creative Perfectionist (And Shawl in a Ball Review)

In most aspects of my life, I am not a perfectionist. I am very much Type B. I’m disorganized, easily distracted, and usually have a million ideas floating through my brain, none of which are the one I’m supposed to be working on.

However, when it comes to the “public” aspect of my persona, I’m much different. If I’m making a product for my Etsy shop, it needs to be perfect. I triple check my knots. I make sure there isn’t a woven end peaking out. I try it on and take pictures from every angle to make sure it looks alright. Still, the moment someone purchases something, I start to think, “Is it perfect? Will it fall apart in the mail? Will it not be as nice as they expect it to be?” More than once, I’ve considered completely remaking something before shipping it, even though I know the original is a great product.

Lately, I’ve been letting this aspect of my personality freeze me up when it comes to this blog. I have a million ideas, but none of them are good enough. As a “creative mind” I have a hard time focusing on one thing long enough to really allow it to live up to my own expectations. Instead, I get frustrated that it’s not going according to plan and move on to the next idea. And then the next. Leaving a string of unfinished or abandoned projects in my wake. I’m working on getting better at this,  but there’s a lot of failure along the way.

During my last post, I had posted the beginning of a baby bonnet pattern using Alpaca Cloud. Since then, I’ve looked at the finished product from every angle. I’ve torn out rows more times than I can count. And you know what?

I don’t like it!

I’ve spent the last week trying to perfect it, but this is me, letting go. Not every project is going to be a winner. Not every idea works, and that is okay.

So I’ve spent the last week working on some personal and custom orders, and accessing some other creative outlets (writing and hand-lettering), and I’m feeling like myself again. Therefore, I thought it was time to do another yarn review and pattern round up! I’m not going to promise you a pattern anytime soon, but you can expect a few video and photo tutorials to be coming your way. I’m playing around with a few different techniques for joining squares or hexagons for blankets, and I think it would be good to have a post detailing the pros and cons to each.

So, without further ado…

The Yarn

Shawl in a Ball by Lion Brand. Pictured here in “Prism”.

Modern Crochet Yarn Review, Shawl in a Ball from Lion Brand Yarns. Read my review of this yarn as well as get pattern ideas and inspiration. Modern Crochet Yarn Review, Shawl in a Ball from Lion Brand Yarns. Read my review of this yarn as well as get pattern ideas and inspiration.

The Stats

Fiber: 61% Cotton, 34% Acrylic, 5% Other Fiber

Yardage: 481 yards (150 g)

Weight: 4 (Medium, similar to worsted weight)

Recommended Hook: J

Care Instructions: Machine Wash, Lay Flat To Dry

Cost: $9.99 (about 2 cents a yard)

My Thoughts

The first time I used this yarn, I got very frustrated. I was working up an asymmetrical shawl using a pattern from the back of the label and thought I’d be able to finish it up on my two hour flight. (Pro Tip: This is a great thing to do the first time you try out a yarn. It ensures that the you’ll have enough for your project and shouldn’t come across any snags, as the pattern has been tested with this specific yarn multiple times.) Unfortunately, when I pulled it out of my bag, the skein had come apart and turned into a giant knot. I spent most of the flight trying to unknot the yarn and ended up having to cut a large section out.

Modern Crochet Asymmetrical Shawl using Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball.

However, the finished product came out so nice! I decided to give Shawl In A Ball another shot and just be more careful about the skein.

I’m definitely glad that I did. Some of my favorite products I’ve made have come from this yarn. It has a lovely halo to it that always gives it an ethereal quality. It’s a yarn that begs to be photographed from every angle. The color ways available range from subtle (like the Soothing Blue shown in the shawl above) to dynamic (like the “Prism” shown earlier in this post). Some even have a metallic thread spun in for some extra glam without being too flashy.

Because of the texture of the yarn, it can get tangled easily. I have learned to be extra careful if I’m packing it in a bag (sometimes I put a rubber band around the outside to keep everything in place), but actually crocheting with it is quite easy. It works up well with the J hook called for, but I’ve also used a smaller hook and made a more dense fabric. The yarn itself is much thinner than what I would consider a 4. I think it’s definitely more of a 3, but it’s very versatile because of the texture and halo so it works up like a 4.

Patterns

There are so many wonderful options with this yarn. At 481 yards, it does just what it sets out to do – gives you enough yardage to complete a shawl with only one skein.

Sherbert Wrap

Cost: Free Ravelry Download

Yardage: 360+

Total Project Cost: $7.75

Skill Level: Beginner

This pattern begins with a Foundation Single Crochet, but is then a simple two row repeat. You can adjust the width to your liking and use two skeins for a luxurious wrap or one for a scarf like Ravelry user Zutsie did here.

Opal Arrows Infinity Scarf

Cost: Free!

This infinity scarf is made using Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball and Moogly's Opal Arrows pattern.

Yardage: 1 skein

Total Project Cost: $9.99

 

Skill Level: Beginner

This is one of my favorite finished products. I need to make about 10 more of them because this one sold so quickly that I barely got to enjoy it! I definitely think I need one for myself. This simple filet crochet pattern creates a mesh chevron. It harnesses the lightweight feel of the yarn to give you the feeling of being wrapped in a cloud.

Serenity Draped Vest

Cost: Free Ravelry Download

Yardage: 1000+

Total Project Cost: $20+

Skill Level: Beginner

I’ve had this pattern in my queue for ages, but haven’t had the time to tackle it. I think this yarn would be absolutely perfect for a flowy cardigan or vest because of the great drape. This sweater pattern is great for beginners since it only uses two rectangles sewn together!

Superbowl Monday Blues – And a Blue Crochet Pattern

I love football. Really. Watching football is one of my favorite pastimes and it goes so well with crocheting. Most of my Sundays are spent going to church, then flopping down on my couch with a project and watching 7 hours of Red Zone.

I’m a Cowboys fan, and my husband is a Bears fan. More importantly than our team affiliation, though, is Fantasy Football. We’re founding members of our league, and I’ve managed to lose in the championship for three years running now.

So whenever the Superbowl comes, regardless of who’s playing, I cook a bunch of food and get excited. We either go to someone’s house, or host a party of our own and enjoy a few hours of food, friendship, and football.

Then, Monday morning comes… And no, I’m not hungover. I’m just reminded that football season is now officially over and I have 6 long months to go before pre-season. 6 months with no excuse to become a couch potato for several hours at a time. I get the Superbowl Monday Blues.

So, for this week’s pattern, I decided to go blue. After all, what better way to chase away the Superbowl Monday Blues than with crocheting!

Baby Bonnet Time

I recently reviewed Knit Pick’s Alpaca Cloud lace weight yarn and knew right away that this yarn needs to be made into something wearable.

With a niece on the way, I kept seeing super cute baby bonnets. I thought it would be fun to find a vintage doily pattern for the back of the bonnet and then do a simple HDC for the sides.

That being said, it’s taking a little longer to work up than I anticipated, so I’m going to share with you a work in progress as well as a really awesome website that I used to help me create this project!

So many vintage patterns!

Check out FreeVintageCrochet.com. While it might not be the fanciest of websites, it has SO many vintage patterns. I could get lost on this website for ages. In fact, I did this morning when I started this endeavor. I tried out several doily patterns before I found one that I thought worked for my concept. I ended up going with Simplicity Doily #7213.

Modern Crochet Baby Bonnet - Free crochet pattern from Modern Crochet.

When I took this picture I had already started working on the sides. I used two strands of Alpaca Cloud held together and a Size E Clover Amour hook (Get the whole set here.) to give the bonnet a little more coverage. My first attempts used only one strand, and I felt the finished product was TOO lacy for this use. Perhaps if you went down to a very small hook, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

I completed the doily through round 5. To make a larger bonnet for older children, you can just add more rounds to the doily!

That’s all for today, folks. How did you beat the Superbowl Monday blues?

The Best Kinds Of Mornings (And an Alpaca Yarn Review)

Do you ever have those mornings where you feel like you’ve gotten a million things accomplished by 10 am? Today has been one of those days.

Now keep in mind, I have an equal number of mornings where I’m not even out of BED until 10 am…but I digress.

My new work schedule allows me two mornings off during the week and maybe it’s the coffee talking, but I am LOVING it! I combined my free morning today with my new camera (which, by the way, I got the Canon EOS T6i

and I highly recommend it!) to take some new photos for my Etsy shop.

Tripod + Self Timer = No need to rope a friend into modeling! Unfortunately, it was cold enough that I didn’t get too many photos in before my fingers froze. Also unfortunately, I don’t look like Tyra Banks and definitely don’t know how to “smize”. Still…something is accomplished!

As far as this week’s yarn review, I think I’m getting spoiled.

Around Christmas time, I was using my need to make Christmas gifts, combined with sales, to give myself an excuse to buy some stuff I wouldn’t normally buy. You see, I’m definitely one of those “champagne taste, beer budget” type of gals. This means my usual yarn purchases are limited to Michael’s with my 40% off coupon. Luckily, there are so many GREAT yarns available at Michael’s and other craft stores now (thank you Caron Cakes!) that this isn’t a problem. It does mean, however, that I use primarily acrylic blend yarns.

I’ve been hearing great things about alpaca, but was never able to find any pure alpaca yarns. I’m sure I could if I went into my LYS, but I know I’d spend a million dollars and I don’t have a million dollars, so instead I checked out Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud.

The Stats

Fiber: 100% Baby Alpaca

Yardage: 440 (50g)

Weight: Lace

Recommended Hook: B up to E

Care Instructions: Hand wash, Lay flat to dry

Cost: $6.79 (less than 2 cents a yard)

My Thoughts

I’m in love. This yarn is so soft and airy I just want to keep touching it! I haven’t worked much with lace weight yarn, but I think I’ll be addicted after this.

The yarn has a little halo on it, just enough to give it an etheral look. I used a swift and ball winder to easily put it into a ball since it comes hanked. I would not recommend trying to put this into a ball by hand as it would be time consuming and tedious. The yarn is very slippery!

The size hook to use will vary by the finished look you want. I have been using a size E hook to work up a shawl and I wouldn’t go any bigger than that.

I’ll be adding some patterns in a later post along with an original pattern.

The Perfect Combination of Vintage and Modern – A Free Crochet Apron Pattern

I’m not really much of a chef. Or a baker. Or a dishwasher. In fact, I spent very little time in the kitchen. I CAN do all of those things, but my lovely husband (He definitely needs a nickname…and not “The Cowboy”…) usually takes charge of it all because of my work schedule.

However, every once in a while I feel compelled to try to bake up scrumptious chocolate chip cookies from scratch. They never live up to my expectations, but I have fun none-the-less. (Side note, if you have any good cookie recipes or tips, drop them in the comment box below!) Part of the appeal of baking from scratch is the “1950s Housewife” feel of it all. Well, what 1950s housewife would be caught dead without an apron?

Image result for vintage crochet apron 1950

When I was trying to think of a cool new pattern for the Caron Cakes I reviewed last week, I immediately thought of chevrons. Chevrons are both modern and classic and the combination of neutrals and bright color in this yarn are perfect for bringing it into the 21st century.

Free vintage inspired crochet apron pattern from Modern Crochet. Use less than one skein of Caron Cakes yarn to make this adorable apron.

Vintage Inspired Crochet Apron Pattern

Yarn: Caron Cakes

Yardage: approximately 300 yards

Hook: I (5.5 MM)

Other Materials:
Coordinating ribbon such as this (approximately 2 yards)
Sewing Needle
Thread
OR
Liquid Stitch

Project Cost: about $10-15

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Apron

Vintage Inspired Crocheted Apron. Chevron apron made with caron cakes yarn.

Ch 42 (multiples of 10 plus 2)

Row 1:
DC in 4th ch from hook (skipped chains count as first DC).
DC in next 2 chains (4 DC so far).
*3 DC in next stitch (stitch 5).
DC in next 4 stitches.
Sk 2 ch.
DC in next 4 stitches.*
Repeat between * until 2 stitches remaining.
DC last two stitches together.

Row 2 (Standard Row):
Ch 2 and turn (counts as DC here and throughout).
Sk first stitch.
DC in next 3 stitches (4 DC so far).
*3 DC in next stitch (This should be the middle stitch of the 3 DC from previous row).
DC in next 4 stitches.
Sk 2 stitches (These should be the stitch before and the stitch after the Sk 2 ch from previous round).
DC in next 4 stitches.*
Repeat between * until 2 stitches remaining.
DC last two stitches together.

Row 3-4:
Standard Row

Row 5 (Increase Row):
Repeat row 2 EXCEPT do 5 DC instead of 3 DC at each “peak”.

The increases are going to give your apron a more trapezoidal shape. In the end, this allows it to have some beautiful movement and lay with nice ripples.

 

Crocheted Chevrons - Caron Cakes

Rows 6-10:
Alternate Standard and Increase rows.

Rows 10-17:
Three rows of Standard, 1 row of Increase (x2)

Rows 18-27:
Four rows of Standard, 1 row of Increase (x2)

Rows 28-30:
Standard Rows

Tie off and weave in ends.

Waistband

Cut a length of coordinating ribbon to comfortably tie around your waist. Use a lighter to seal the ends.

Lay the ribbon over the top few rows of your apron, lining up the middles of the ribbon and the apron. Hand stitch them together using row of stitches at the top of the ribbon and a row at the bottom of the ribbon. If you do not want to sew, you could use Liquid Stitch, which is what I did for this project.

Et voila!

 

1950s Inspired Crochet Apron1950s Inspired Crochet Apron1950s Inspired Crochet Apron

Please note this blog post contains affiliate links. These links help pay for my blog at no cost to you. You are welcome to sell items made using this pattern, but you may not sell this pattern or use any photos from this blog in your promotions or listings.

10 Random Facts about Modern Crochet

I’ve been inspired by my fellow makers on Instagram to do a post giving you a glimpse into the maker behind the projects. Welcome to #makermonday! So, here, in no random order, are 10 random things about me.

Meet the maker behind Modern Crochet

1.  Despite my smiling face in the above photo, I detest winter. I hate having to wear 8 layers to walk out of the house. Plus, when it get’s dark at 4:30, I want to curl into my bed and hibernate.

2. I love live music and I’ve been to about 75 concerts. I’ve seen John Mayer 9 times and Pearl Jam 6 times.

3. I’m obsessed with “old” things. I KNOW that I romanticize the past, but I like it that way. Since I was little, I’ve always loved pretending to be in different time periods. This has led to many attempts to set my hair in pursuit of 1940s curls.

Meet the maker behind Modern Crochet.

4. I just started a new career as a children’s librarian! This means I’m currently balancing my small business, a new career, and I’ll be starting grad school in a few months. Yikes!

5. I’m a Hufflepuff through and through. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and usually re-read the series once a year. I haven’t gone to Wizarding World of Harry Potter YET, but I hope to get there next year.

Meet the maker behind Modern Crochet.

6. Besides crocheting, my favorite way to relax is to read or do some creative writing. I really enjoy using Hoopla to listen to audiobooks while I crochet.

7. I participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) every year. It’s an insane challenge to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30. I’ve only “won” twice, but I enjoy it even when I don’t reach my goal.

8. I drink my coffee black. My husband (who has requested to be called “The Cowboy” because he thinks that’s what Pioneer Woman calls her husband…) makes the best coffee. He fresh grinds the beans and uses the french press and it’s just divine. I love that I get to hang around a couple mornings a week with this new job and enjoy cup of coffee with him.

9. I have a dog and a bunny. My dog’s name is Maxwell and my bunny is Sergeant Pepper. They have a bromance going on.

Meet the maker behind Modern Crochet.

10. I’ve gone skydiving. I worked as a summer camp counselor one year and there were two days off between the sessions. About 15-20 of us staffers decided to go together. It was a lot of fun, though much colder than I thought it would be. I definitely recommend it!

So that’s all for today folks. I’ll be back on Wednesday with a really cute, vintage inspired pattern I’ve been working on.

Let me know some random facts about yourself in the comments below!

Chunky Beanie – Free Pattern and Video Tutorial

It’s snowing! Now that I’m not in the teaching world anymore, I don’t really get snow days. However, whenever it snows I’m extra motivated to crochet! I was at a friend’s house the other night and she requested a chunky beanie. I had a bunch of different colors of chunky yarn that I had been wondering what to do with, so I decided to sit down and come up with a simple pattern and tutorial for absolute beginners.

Free crochet pattern - chunky beanie video tutorial and written pattern. Tutorial is perfect for beginner crocheters of all ages.

I plan to add faux fur pom-poms to the tops, but the beanie itself is super simple to show off the chunky texture of the yarn.

Want more free patterns? Check out my collection of patterns here!

Pattern

Yarn: Loops and Threads Charisma from Michael’s, or other bulky weight yarn

Hook: O (I got mine in a set at Hobby Lobby)

Other Materials: Yarn Needle and (optional) pom-pom

Hold 2 strands of yarn together throughout.

Round 1:

Start with Magic Circle

Ch 2 and complete 8 DC into circle. Sl st to join.

Round 2:

Ch 2 – counts as DC from here on

2 DC in each stitch around.

Sl st to join (16 DCs)

Round 3:

Ch 2, DC in same stitch.

1 DC in next stitch.

Contine *2 DC, 1 DC* around.

Sl st to join (24 DC).

Rounds 4 – 8:

Ch 2, DC in each stitch around.

Sl st to join (24 DC).

Rounds 9-10

Ch 1 (counts as SC), SC around.

Sl st to join (24 SC).

Tie off and weave in ends.

Part One of the Video Tutorial!

 

Part Two!

 

What’s your favorite hat pattern? Are you a fan of the chunky yarn?

 

 

 

Yarn Review – Caron Cakes

Caron Cakes, Caron Cakes,IMG_20180115_120757

How much do I love thee?

Let me count the ways…

Seriously, though, I love this yarn. This is the yarn that reignited my love of crochet and pushed me to start my Etsy shop.  I spent a lot of time looking at other people’s finished crochet products online to get inspiration. It’s one of the reasons I LOVE Instagram. A year and a half ago, all of a sudden, I was seeing this yarn everywhere.

I’m a sucker for color. I love finding colors that go together and mixing neutrals with vibrant, saturated hues. The color combinations on these cakes is amazing. Some have more neutral tones, but many feature a variety of bright shades. This is perfect for people who have a hard time finding a color palette that coordinates. It’s also perfect for people (like me) who hate weaving in ends!

IMG_20180115_120741.jpg

The color changes are sudden and spaced much further apart as opposed to a typical variegated yarn. This gives you a bold finished look that works well for a variety of patterns.

The Stats

Fiber: 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool

Yardage: 383 yards (200g)

Weight: Worsted

Recommended Hook: H

Care Instructions: Hand wash, Lay flat to dry

Cost: $7.99 (2 cents a yard)

My Thoughts

While the official care instructions say to hand wash, I have successfully machine washed garments made with this yarn in cold water. Since there is some wool content, I always lay flat to dry to avoid any shrinking or felting.

The yarn is soft and plush and finished garments benefit from the added warmth of the wool.

As I stated before, the color changes are sudden. Some people love this, others hate it. I personally enjoy it. When people see the finished products, they often thing that it was made using several skeins of yarn. I can’t stand weaving in ends, so it’s nice to be able to achieve this striped look without the hassle of multiple skeins.

In addition, the yardage gives you a lot of options for items using just one skein.  I love the color choices, but sometimes will find a skein in which I love all the colors except one. If you’re using multiple skeins, you need to pay attention to which color is on the outside and inside of each one and maybe do some digging through the shelves to find two that will keep the pattern going at regular intervals if that is something that is important to you.

Patterns

So, because of how much I LOVE this yarn, I have used it in quite a few patterns. Here are a few of my favorites!

Virus Shawl

Cost: Free!

Yardage: 300+

Total Project Cost: $6+

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner (trust me – there are video tutorials and everything!)

green shawl scarf 3.jpg

 

Don’t let the title scare you – there is  nothing icky about this shawl. The link takes you to a summary of the pattern including links to the original pattern and video tutorials. While the finished product is a show stopper, the pattern itself is a simple repeat of chains, single crochet, and double crochet. The pattern works especially well with these self striping yarns, but can be done in any weight and made as large or small as you wish.

 

 

 

 

Greenery Wrap

Pattern Cost: Free!

Yardage: 1 skein (380 yards)

Total Project Cost: $7.99

Skill Level: Beginner

This wrap is made using a simple 2 row repeat. You can adjust the size easily and the finished product works well as a wrap to throw over your shoulders in cool spring and summer evenings, or scrunched up as a scarf in the fall and winter.

Ripple Baby Blanket

Cost: Free! (Ravelry Download)

Yardage: 750+

Total Project Cost: $15.98+

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

As long as you can work in the round, DC, and increase and decrease, you can create this blanket! You can complete a smaller sized baby blanket with 2 skeins, or add a third for a larger blanket. The stripes will become more narrow as you work your way out, but I think this looks really neat.

What is your favorite Caron Cake color? What patterns have you tried with this yarn?