Monthly Archives: February 2006

And I’m up and running…er, walking…er, limping along

BellaLinda Designs is now part of the MomsWhoThink Member Stores. Yay me. I have four items up right now…A total of 223 views…And not the slightest nibble. Sigh. I could lower my prices, but I don’t want to. I work damn hard on my pieces, 99% of them are original designs, & the ones that aren’t are so modified that they might as well be. I’m not going to undersell myself. Which, of course, means that I run the risk of not selling at all. Ah well. I’ll have to take it if it comes down to that. At least I will have tried.

I’ve been working my butt off to get the store stocked, too. My latest projects are the Blue Bubbles Purse already in the store, and this:
This was a total pain in the ass to come up with. I am so anal about how I want my stuff to look. Especially with toddler clothes. I am violently allergic to “prostitot” clothing, so when I make stuff like this I have to make sure it’s something I’m willing to let my daughters be seen in. That, and it’s got to look good.

I started out crocheting it from the bottom up, using the block-and-offset-shell stitch. But I frogged that–and I honestly do not remember why–and started crocheting it from the sc portion so I could get all the shaping out of the way. I made the front, the straps, and the back (in that order), then sewed it all together and did the bottom portion in the round. Of course, that required frogging it multiple times until I got the stitch multiplier just right (it did not match what was given in the book!), then frogging it yet more multiple times until I got the pattern down. It actually moved rather quickly from there.

Now, technical info for those of you who are curious: This piece is crocheted in Caron’s Simply Soft, using a 4.5mm hook. The top part is plain ol’ single crochet, the bottom a ripple stitch done in the back loops only. Since I’m doing it all in one color, I wanted it to have some good definition to it, thus the ridged effect.

I will be writing the pattern up and posting it for sale along with the actual item. There are a few other crocheters on the site, with some luck I can make a bit of money off selling the patterns, if not the actual items.

Today also brought a trip to the bookstore, but I’ll go into that more tomorrow.

Next project: a circular baby blankie in camouflage yarn.

In honor of St Valentine’s Day…

Wish I had an FO to present, but I do not. I did, however, come across an interesting coincidence while out thrifting today. At our first stop I found The Complete Book of Crochet, with a copyright date of 1973. At our second, I found the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, with a copyright of 1979.

My hubby was born in ’73, I in ’79. Finding books our ages is romantic in a geeky crochet sort of way…

More to the point, it also lets me go off on one of my favorite subjects: the myth of “modern” crochet. Each generation seems to like to think it’s come up with whatever craft all on its own. This may have been true for crochet a couple hundred years ago, but not now. Folks were indeed making ugly ponchos back in the 1970s. I know, I know. Quelle suprise. I think ugly ponchos are one of the odd constants of design. Along with hideous hats.

But there are more subtle similarities. The older book, for instance, has a pattern for a “long evening skirt” that isn’t wildly different in attitude from the famous spiderweb lace skirt over at Weird Mirror. Berets are still quite common, as are tote bags. And throw pillows.

There are differences, of course. The Complete Book of Crochet has a very large number of thread crochet patterns. Very nice, intricate ones. Yes, my dears, the dreaded doily. Sometimes I wish I had the patience for thread…

It’s the second book I am most excited about, to be honest. And, you know, I can’t think of a single book published today that follows up its directions for basic techniques with a discussion of designing your own garments! Oh, woe betide the old-fashioned crochet!

(I am secretly rubbing my hands together in glee over the macramé directions; I’ve been longing for a hanging macramé onion basket for longer than I care to admit…)

More interesting stuff from the second book…

The double chain stitch (otherwise known as chainless single crochet), a technique very few crocheters my age seem to have heard about, is herein presented as a crochet basic, as is a Solomon’s knot (which they call a double knot stitch).

Their suggestion for a first project is not a scarf. I will repeat: NOT A SCARF. It’s a tote bag. A striped tote bag. With purchased handles. Which means beginners are expected to be able to grasp the concepts of changing colors, shaping, and sewing. Which means crocheters are expected to be reasonably intelligent!

They give patterns for an oval, a triangle, a mitered-corner square, an octagon, and, elsewhere, a star. Do you have any idea how much trouble I had trying to find a coherent, non-openwork star pattern so I could make a stuffed star for my daughter for Christmas? I had to come up with my own!

There are also techniques I haven’t seen clearly explained before. Like overlaid meshes, two different versions. One where you slipstitch across a mesh background. Very interesting look.

Getting back to that design thing…It tells you how to shape three different necklines (square, high round, and V)…Three different sleeves (set-in, raglan, & semi-raglan)…Four different techniques for ribbing, four different buttonhole techniques…I’m so happy. This book doesn’t seem to exist in a newer edition past 1981. I really don’t think there is anything comparable to this out today. This book managed to pack into only a few pages more information on garment-making techniques than even Donna Kooler’s Encylcopedia of Crochet! I’m in love!

And this is what I’m working on right now:

Nice little banner, isn’t it? Now I just need somewhere to put it! And stuff to sell!

It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time to make a little extra money selling my crocheted things. I like making clothes for little ones, so it makes sense to me to specialize in this area.

I designed the above banner a few minutes ago. Took a little doing. Which I will now explain here because I am just that narcissistic, & who knows maybe someone else needs a mini class in banner design.

First thing I did was ‘borrow’ a banner ad from the website I intend to first have this on. This is to make certain I get just the right size. Then I opened it up in Paint Shop Pro 9, which is my graphics program. Added a layer. Opened up a graphic I’d already made, which is a clip of a close-up of one of my projects. Shrank it down so the height was exact (80 pixels). Pasted it on this new layer to cover up the old banner. Did a gaussian blur on it (2.5, for those interested in the techs). Opened up the photo of my daughter you see there on it. (Why this one? Because she’s cute & that is one of my more original designs.) Resized it so the height was exact. Copied, pasted. Added in the text. Saved. Cursed myself for forgetting to rename the file, then went & renamed it.

Then PM’ed the owner of the site I spend most of my time on, MomsWhoThink, and asked her for specifics on price to advertise my fledgling business in my signature.

I’m sitting here now with a knot in my stomach, for no good reason. This is a huge step for me. I am so scared. Will my items sell? Are they good-enough quality? How on Earth do I keep proper records for tax purposes? Oy. Change scares the living crap out of me.

Wish me luck…

Neat find at Wal-Mart:

Saw this at Wal-Mart this evening. A pretty little toddler aloha dress with crochet trim. Ten-fifty is the price. A good price, but I can’t bring myself to buy it when I can make it myself. But I couldn’t resist taking a photo so I could show it online. Crochet really is starting to be everywhere!

Needless to say, from there we went right over to the craft section where I picked up some aloha fabric of my own (and if you want to be totally correct, btw, you’ll stop calling them Hawaiian shirts & start calling them aloha shirts) and a cone of Sugar & Cream so I can make my own version.

This goes to prove, once again, my theory that crochet is very, very Hawaiian. You can’t really tell from the picture (I took it pretty quick, since it looks strange to be photographing merchandise), but the bodice is a simple shell pattern.

My own version will be much plainer than this. My crochet skills are up to it, not so much my sewing skills. I may just go back and buy these some day soon. They’re that cute. (And I’m not quite easy with the ethics of photographing something & then making my own version, but it’s not like I intend to sell them or anything.)

In love with Leisure Arts…

I love Leisure Arts. Really I do. I especially love their relatively large books. Like In Love with Crochet, which I ordered from Amazon and which just arrived today.

This is unapologetically hokey stuff. It starts off with eight afghan patterns and segues right into four doilies. There are dishcloths. Fridgies. A filet crochet picture frame. And then there’s my favorite: Quick Birthday Fairies. I used to have this book, you see, but it got lost somewhere along the way in one of our many moves. I have been tearing my hair out for a while now trying to find this particular pattern, as I wanted to make it for my older daughter back when she was an only (and she’s turning four in a month, so that gives you an idea of how long it’s been!). I knew I had it somewhere, but I didn’t know where, and of course I couldn’t find it because the book was lost. But now I have it again! So I am very happy to have ordered this book so I’d qualify for free shipping!

Sigh. I am such a happy little crochet nerd tonight…