Maybe Matilda: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Get ready for more random crap.

I have to admit, I'm always shocked by the response I get to what I lovingly call my "random crap" posts. Like this one, where I confessed to not quite fitting in with the craft/blog world, and this one, where I got a smidgen fed up with reading about bloggers' fake-perfect lives. I think those are the only two bare-my-soul posts I've written here so far, and each time, I've thought as I was typing, "This is it. This is the post that will get a thousand comments telling me how much I suck, and that I'm doing everything wrong, and that I should get off the internet and hide my face in shame." And maybe it's just because I don't allow anonymous comments (take that, haters!), but the haters haven't emerged yet. Quite the opposite, in fact--it turns out we all have an awful lot in common.

It seems like we're all pretty dang tired of trying to make our lives look perfect online. We're all tired of feeling craptastic when we read about others' fabulous lives. We all think we're the only ones who aren't keeping up and doing everything right. We're all a bit afraid to admit that we don't have it all together, but we all feel so relieved to hear that nobody else really has it all together, either.

It's interesting, isn't it? That we're all sitting behind our computers, feeling lonely and left out, when even the people who give us the impression that everything is amazing and perfect all the time (whether they mean to come across that way or not) are sitting behind their computers feeling the exact same way. Makes me wonder . . . what are we all pretending for? Why aren't we all just being really honest, all the time, if that's what makes us feel happy and satisfied and normal?

I've been very cautious about writing personal (or, "random crap") posts here--much as I hate to admit it, I often just skim blog posts for interesting pictures without actually reading them (for shame!). So I figure, that's probably what everyone else does, too, and no one will want to read my kooky blather. But maybe I don't need to be shy anymore--if we can still be friends after you've listened to me melt down about my imperfect life, what more damage can I do, really? Might as well just let it all out from now on. You're big kids, I'm sure you can handle this (pointing to self). Although it is kind of a lot to handle.
Now that I know how similar we are and how nice you'll be when I act like a crazy person, I just might get around to writing some more random crap. 

Thank you for your kind comments on my little blog rant last week--it really meant so much to me to know that I'm not alone in feeling like an oddball sometimes. And that I'm not alone in occasionally feeding Forrest candy for dinner . . . there were like 10 people who commented that they do the same. Honestly, people are only going to coo over his fat rolls for a limited time in life--I'm going to make sure he takes full advantage of this golden life stage. I'd be eating Red Vines for dinner a lot more often if I thought people might tickle my belly in the grocery store and sing, "Who's da chubbiest?! Who is it?!" In a nice way, of course.
read more "Get ready for more random crap."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Handmade Shop Directory

I purchased a one month account with Inlinkz so we could have our Crochet Along link up earlier this month (side note: I would definitely recommend Inlinkz if you're looking for a link site--I've never used another, so can't really compare, but their amazing customer service alone was worth the price--I sent them questions twice and both times had them answered within 5 minutes. Not too shabby!).

Well, my $1.99 subscription is now about to expire, and heaven knows I need to get my money's worth out of every single penny I ever spend. I wondered about what sort of link up I could have before my $1.99 was lost and gone forever . . . link up your most hilarious craft failure? Your glamour shot wearing your pajamas in a wheat field? A post you think deserves a few more comments?

I finally settled on what I think is a winner. You know how blog link parties always ask you not to link up an etsy shop, or an item you're selling?

Well, friends, here we go. This is going to be your handmade Christmas shopping source. Link up your handmade shop! Do you sell on etsy? big cartel? artfire? some other handmade site I haven't heard of yet? right through your blog? Wherever you sell, if you love to make things yourself and sell your work, add a link to your shop to the linkup below! I'll make this post a tab at the top of my blog so visitors can find our little handmade shop directory if they want to buy handmade, and I put the linkup end date as far in the future as possible--Dec. 2012--so anyone who comes across this post later on can keep adding their shop for a while. Link 'er on up, and get shopping!


read more "Handmade Shop Directory"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monster Hoodie Refashion and an Uncalled For Blog Rant

I have a guest post over at My Own Road today with the tutorial to make this little monster hoodie:
I've mentioned before that I don't do many holiday crafts, but I like this one because it looks Halloween-y enough for now (heehee . . . halloweenie) but I don't think it'll look out of place if he keeps wearing it later.

And just so no one decides to come back and mock me in the comments . . . yes, I do realize now that one of my sentences in that guest post contains the word "few" 3 times. Yesterday was a bit of a long day. The sort of day that ends with me writing a sentence with 3 "fews" without noticing.  And with that as my intro, now I will wax a tad too philosophical and get into one of my blogging pet peeves. 

I love reading blogs because they can be so inspiring and hilarious and fun and uniting . . . hundreds of women all over the world are making me laugh and cry with them, helping me to think in new ways, getting my creative juices flowing, educating me on new topics and ideas . . . but they're also, sometimes, making me feel unbelievably frustrated, annoyed, dissatisfied, and unworthy. Some blogs--ones that I purposely no longer visit, even if friends gush about how much they love them--make everything look so perfect and styled and glamorous and idyllic that I can't help but click away in a worse mood. 

Maybe their lives really are that nice and they're truly spending every day in a totally stylish new outfit (a size 2 outfit, thank you very much) that they somehow found time to professionally photograph in some gorgeous location, and maybe their husbands (hubbies!) really are their perfect heroes who bring them breakfast in bed every day while reciting them sonnets, and maybe their kids really are as adorable and well-behaved all the time as they make them out to be, and their houses really look like they were taken from the pages of a magazine, and every DIY project is completely effortless and mistake-free, and if all that is really true, well, good for them. But why on earth would I want to read that?

Because at my house? At my house, I repeat the same outfits, quite often. And some days, I don't even make it that far, and I stay in my jammies all day. Want to see that professionally photographed in a wheat field? And my husband is great and I love him (that's precisely why I married him, and I don't feel any compulsion to try and convince you that he's better than the one sitting on your couch picking his nose right now), but you know what? We argue. Quite often. And he burps and farts and has never written me a sonnet. And that's just fine with me, so why would I want to read about how perfect someone else is pretending their husband is? How is that supposed to help me feel happier about the one I have? And as for their perfect children . . . well, they clearly would not be allowed to play with mine:
But I sure love him! He cries, he throws tantrums, he mushes food into his hair, he tries to grab his poop out of his diaper every single time I change him, but what's the point of pretending that all he ever does is give me slobbery kisses and draw me kooky pictures and sing like the Vienna Boys' Choir? And you know what? I'm not always completely content and blissful as a mother. Gasp! Some days, I sure miss heading off to work in the morning and being done with my days' tasks at 5:00. And sometimes I think back fondly on the old days, when we could sleep in as late as we wanted on the weekends, and head out on a vacation or even just a date without making massive arrangements first. Sometimes this kid makes me want to pull my hair out and just take off running and never look back. That doesn't mean I love my little boy any less than any other mom loves her kids, but I simply can't pretend that everything is always perfect, even though I can definitely see the temptation to only post the angelic photos like this and let you imagine that this is how he is all the time:
My house is messy more often than not. My attempts at being creative are often failures. I ruin dinners, and I have yet to put up a holiday decoration . . . not just for this season, but ever. My child watches The Cat in the Hat instead of sitting on my lap while I read him books, I didn't breastfeed very long or cloth diaper and I don't feed him organic produce, and I don't feel bad about it.You know what he had for dinner last night? Red Vines. 

I have bad days. I have doubts about my choices in life, and about myself. I'm not 100% deliriously happy 100% of the time. And I never think there's anything wrong with that until I start reading certain blogs that give me the feeling there is something wrong with that.

You wouldn't hang out with a friend who made you feel fat and ugly and called you a bad mom, would you? If someone came into your house and snickered at the throw pillows you tried to sew for your couch, and cringed at the sight of toys scattered all over the floor, would you invite them to stay a while? No! So why would I want to read blogs that make me feel worse about my very ordinary, very unglamorous, very imperfect life?

All that to say, I hope I'm never that blog. I hope I never, ever, ever make anyone feel worse about themselves, their family, their life, or their work. I'm not interested in making everything look perfect and easy, and I doubt I could pull that off convincingly, even if I tried. For me, as a blog reader, there's a fine line between inspiring, optimistic, uplifting and plain old depressing, and I hope as a blog writer, I never cross it.

(Big sigh.) That was quite a jump, from check out my monster hoodie refashion to holy blog rant. Maybe that gives you a hint of what kind of day I had yesterday, while trying to work on that hoodie. I didn't start out this post with any intention besides directing you to My Own Road for the hoodie post, but it all just came out . . . word vomit. I guess I just want to put that out there . . . the idea that imperfect is fine. Ordinary is okay. Maybe it just needed to be said.
read more "Monster Hoodie Refashion and an Uncalled For Blog Rant"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hooray!

 (I'm guessing this is exactly the sort of post no one but my actual friends and family will care about . . . I didn't make anything cool, or mess anything up in my typical fashion, nor do I have anything amusing or interesting to say. But indulge me--this is a big moment for our family.)

You know how every girl wants to marry a doctor?

Well, I finally did it! Although I suppose most of the congratulations should be directed to Jeff, my husband up there, on the right, since he did most of the hard work. All I had to do was try to look nice and trick him into marrying me. (A job well done.)

Jeff graduated last week from Palmer College of Chiropractic and has informed me he would now like to be referred to solely as Dr. Brown (as in, "Dr. Brown, I'm experiencing a terrible pain in my back, what can you do to help?" and "Dr. Brown, dinner's ready!" and "Dr. Brown, put away your shoes." It sounds rather snappy, whatever the situation, although I'll admit to preferring Doc Brown, personally.)

And a kind of sad story: I didn't go to his graduation. We've been in Utah for the past few months for his internship, and it would have cost us something like $1000 for both of us to fly back to Iowa for graduation . . . and since neither of us attended our own BYU graduations and didn't feel like we missed anything, and since we're recently graduated students and don't really have $1000 to toss around, we figured it wouldn't matter much if I didn't go. But now that I'm seeing the pictures, I'm sort of feeling the loss--it's a pretty big deal for him to have become a doctor, for goodness' sakes, and I wasn't really there to see it happen (although I was certainly there for every agonizing step of the way which ought to count for a lot more than a silly ceremony). And it was especially sad for him to have the same conversation over and over during graduation weekend:

"Jeff! Who's here with you for graduation?"

"No one."

"What do you mean? Your family didn't come?"

"Nope."

"Even your wife?"

"No."

" . . . what happened? Did someone die?"

Ah well. Whether I was there or not, it happened--he's officially Dr. Jeff Brown, D.C., and I'm awfully proud.

 (Our sweet little guy was so excited to see his daddy again after a full 3 days without him . . . he's not the snuggliest little thing, normally, but he laid there and hugged Jeff for a solid 5 minutes when he got home from the airport. It was pretty adorable.)
read more "Hooray!"

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crochet Slippers :: Mary Jane and Murry Joe

I don't often crochet things for myself. (Correction: the cowl I made for our crochet along was, I believe, the second thing I have ever crocheted for myself.) I have only made two, count 'em, two things for Forrest. I am always crocheting--seriously, all the time--but hardly have a single item in my house that I made to keep. That seems kind of sad, doesn't it? That hundreds of kids all over the world are wearing my hats, but most of the people I love (um, myself included) don't own anything I've made for them?

And earlier this month, while I was up to my ears in orders for my shop, I realized something: my feet were chilly. Quite chilly. Sure, I could have gone and put on a pair of socks, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and this girl's heart wanted handmade crochet slippers. Is that so wrong?

So I set aside the orders I was working on and decided that, wonder of wonders, I was going to crochet something for me. And not decide at the last minute to sell it instead, which happens to most of the crochet projects that I start for myself. Ravelry produced an adorable Mary Jane slippers pattern and I got busy while listening to General Conference

Before too long, I had a cute pair of slippers. But my feet were still chilly. Why, you ask?
Because those are my dang husband's gigantic hobbit feet in my slippers! I know that I crochet loosely and usually need to drop at least one hook size or alter patterns to make them smaller. So I did. I went down one hook size from what the pattern recommended, and crocheted them according to the pattern. I thought that would be enough. Clearly, it was not.
(I'd like to take a moment to point out that I did not direct him in these feet poses. He's a natural.)

I was actually headed towards the garbage can to toss them out when he called, "Wait! Where are you going with those?!" I told him they were getting chucked, obviously, because they were huge and ridiculous.

"Are you joking? I want them." Really? You want them? "Of course!" And he's been wearing them ever since.

Thank goodness conference is two days long--I had enough time to make a matching pair for myself . . . a little smaller this time around.
After that first pair of slippers, I was prepared to declare this a crochet failure and give up, never to make anything for myself again. But matching husband-wife Mary Jane and Murry Joe slippers?
I do believe that's a crochet win.

(If you plan to use this pattern to make yourself some slippers, head to my Ravelry project page to see what alterations I made to the pattern to end up with a size that fit me.)
read more "Crochet Slippers :: Mary Jane and Murry Joe"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Kure for Krystle

A recent customer at my shop shared her friend's story with me while searching for a gift for her, and gave me permission to pass it on to you. I always feel touched by stories of families going through difficult illnesses . . . and even more so when there are children involved. I can't imagine the heartache and fear a child would feel as she watches her mother battle something like cancer, so I wanted to share with you the story of 3-year old Kloe and her mom, Krystle, who is fighting a very rare and aggressive form of cancer.
"On July 29, 2011 our dear friend Krystle DeBuono, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Nasal Cavity Ethmoid Sinus Cancer after months of being treated for a sinus infection. On August 9th she had major surgery in hopes to remove the cancerous tumor and spent a month recovering with two of the recovery weeks in ICU. Recently, Krystle has been told that the cancer has returned, it is spreading and is very aggressive. She will be in Boston, MA over the next several months to receive chemotherapy and radiation treatment at Mass General.  


"Nasal Cavity Ethmoid Sinus Cancer is very rare and typically is found in adults 45 – 85 years old. Krystle is 28 years old so you can understand the severe rarity of her case. The cancer is so aggressive that at this time the tumors caused vision loss out of her left eye.

"Krystle will be faced with major medical bills and due to her illness she has spent several months out of work. Krystle has a loving 3 year old daughter, Kloe, and we want to make her return home stress free. We want to be able to provide Krystle the comfort of knowing that she is financially secure while she is on her way to recovery.


 "We will be having a benefit in her honor on Sunday, November 6th from 1pm - 4pm at Daniele's Banquet Specialists in New Hartford. We have cancer bracelets for sale and monetary donations are always greatly appreciated. 

"With every breath there is hope and we thank you for your support."
I encourage you to visit Krystle's site and, if you can, make a donation to help cover the cost of her medical bills. I'm sure every little bit, no matter how small, makes a big difference.
read more "A Kure for Krystle"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Things . . . win a pattern and check out a guest post!

Very few things in life make me feel as pathetic as not having internet access. Suddenly I have no way to communicate with friends (yes, I'm one of those people who will write on your facebook wall instead of calling you, even though that would be 10 times easier), majorly reduced entertainment (which may have been a benefit in disguise . . . I actually read a book this weekend instead of blogs--imagine that!), and enormous etsy shop stress (I am so, so, so sorry to the handful of people who purchased a pattern right before I lost internet . . . I was just able to send your patterns now, 3 days later). All to say, hurray for the internet and boo for an unwilling internet fast.

Anyway! Two things are happening today:

1) Win a pattern from my shop at Simple Simon & Company!
Do you read Simple Simon? If you don't, hop over and check it out . . . you will love it! They're having a Thank-tober week full of giveaways, and a pattern from my shop is the first item up for grabs, so head over to enter!

2) Michelle from A Little Tipsy invited me over to guest post today . . . so hop over there to see how I made this cute headband from an unexpected cast-off:
Okay, fine, it's made from a big t-shirt sleeve. I guess it's not much of a surprise when I put the words right on the picture (whoops). But I sure do love me a quickie craft! Head over to check it out!
read more "Two Things . . . win a pattern and check out a guest post!"

Friday, October 14, 2011

Guest post :: What I Wish I'd Known When I Learned to Crochet

I'm over at my friend Lindsay's blog, Southern Lovely, today with a guest post on tips for the newbie crocheter. Stop by and check it out!

What would you add to my list of advice?

And PS, thanks to everyone who wished Forrest well after my post yesterday--he hasn't thrown up in 24 hours, which is a little shocking since I let him have chocolate chips for dinner last night (he hadn't eaten anything all day, so I figured chocolate for dinner was better than no dinner! Once again, mother of the year, people.), so hopefully he's all better!
read more "Guest post :: What I Wish I'd Known When I Learned to Crochet"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Button Up Cardigan Cowl (Old Sweater Refashion)

(My poor little guy has been all sorts of pukey and sick the last few days. Two nights ago, he threw up in his crib and cried for a few minutes, so we went in and cleaned him up and put him back to bed. Last night, he threw up in his crib again . . . and didn't seem to mind it as much, because we didn't know until this morning, when we got him up and saw the sheets covered in crusty vomit (not to mention his jammies, his hair, his favorite blankie . . . ). Imagine how gross it would be to sleep in a bed covered in your own barf. Poor Gooby. I'm also feeling guilty that I am kind of, just a tad, enjoying having him a bit under the weather, because my normally independent child is so much more cuddly than usual. Mother of the Year, right here. For the talent portion of this contest, I'll push my baby down, then snuggle him better when he cries. So, while you send nice, happy, healthy thoughts our way, enjoy this post that was on Whipperberry a few weeks ago!)

I love to crochet (enough to fill up an etsy shop and still not be tired of it!), but it is, admittedly, a bit of a slow craft. And sometimes you really just want to have a project started and finished within a few minutes so you can sit back and bask in the warm glow of instant gratification. With that in mind, here's a cute winter cowl for the lazy crocheter!

I think it's a really fun piece for fall, and adds so much personality to an otherwise boring outfit (translation: all my outfits are boring, so I'll take all the cute accessories I can get my hands on).

And here's the best part--it's made from an old, unloved cardigan. Don't we all have a few of those lying around?

My sister gave me this sweater that she bought a few years ago but hasn't worn in a while:
It's so cute--I love the big buttons, the chunky cables, and the beautiful aqua blue color--but there were a few problems. First of all, it was kind of short and very boxy . . . the feminine figure I'm shooting for doesn't involve any squares, so I doubted I'd ever wear it. Also, it's a size XS . . . that's a size or two away from what I normally wear, so I really doubted I'd be able to wear it as is. I thought a little button-up cowl would be the perfect way to repurpose this sweater! Just grab a cardigan you don't expect to wear again (the smaller size, the better!) and button it up, then slice it to the length you want it to be as a cowl:

(The poor thing never saw me coming.)

I cut my sweater off about two inches below the armpits. Now, if you have a larger sized sweater, you may want to taper the sides in so it's a bit more fitted toward the top--just turn it inside out, pinch the side seams together, and sew a new side seam, angling in towards where the neck used to be. Since my sweater was pretty small to start with, I just took the sides in a teeny bit, and even that probably wasn't completely necessary (and I of course forgot to take a picture of this step).

Set your sewing machine to a zig zag stitch and sew close to the cut edge to prevent it from fraying or unraveling with wear--as you can see, I didn't sew directly along the cut edge, just pretty close to it to seal the cut side of the knit:
Now fold the cut edge over towards the wrong side of the sweater about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, and sew it down with a straight stitch (if your sweater is a thinner knit, I would suggest folding it twice before sewing, to hide the cut end--unfortunately, the sweater I used was extremely thick and it was difficult enough to sew through just two layers, much less three if I folded it again!):
That's it! I told you it was quick! The trickiest part about this project for me was maneuvering the very bulky sweater through my machine--do your best not to pull or tug as you sew; you don't want a big stretched-out neckline on your cowl.

It's even got some versatility to it . . . you can wear it partially unbuttoned to keep your shoulders covered:
Or button it all the way up to keep your neck extra cozy:
You've not only cleared out some closet space, but you've got a cute new fall/winter item to wear. 

(Well, that was a fun break from nurse/mom duty! Now back to wiping runny noses and, let's be honest, putting Baby Einstein on repeat.)
read more "Button Up Cardigan Cowl (Old Sweater Refashion)"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

FAQ :: Ruffles and Dots Crochet Baby Blanket

Without a doubt, I get the most comments and questions on my Ruffles and Dots Crochet Baby Blanket, which I originally made and posted HERE back in April.


I've made this blankie quite a few times now, so I feel pretty well-prepared to tackle a frequently asked questions post about making this blanket.

(This yellow one is my most recent version--a customer at my etsy shop requested it in yellow, and I love it in this bright, cheery lemon shade! Up until her order, I had only made it in green over and over, so it was pretty exciting to try a new color.)

Q: What yarn do you use?
A: I've used quite a few different brands of yarn to make this blanket, and would recommend any of them. The original blanket, posted about here and pictured above with my little chubster atop it, was made using almost exactly 2 skeins of Bernat Softee Chunky in, I think, Grass. That yarn claims to be bulky weight, which I heartily object to. It's no more chunky than the Olsen twins. I have also used Sensations Rainbow Classic yarn from Joann, and I liked it, with one minor annoyance--both times I've used this yarn, it has inexplicably broken. Like, I'm crocheting along, minding my own business, and bam, the strand of yarn just breaks in two, completely unprovoked. It's not a huge deal, since I just rejoin the yarn and weave in the ends where it broke, but I do feel slightly concerned that it might just be cheap quality yarn, although it does have the benefit of being super soft and comfortable, which I'm sure any baby would appreciate. I have also used Red Heart yarn, which I know some people get a little snooty about because it's, for lack of a better term, Walmart yarn, but I really loved the blanket I made using this brand. And although it's not quite as soft, it didn't go around crumbling to pieces on me like the stupid Sensations yarn did. Seriously, Sensations, go find a new friend to fall apart on. We're through.


Q: Did you follow the tutorial exactly, or did you make changes to it?
A: Yes to both questions. Since I've made this blanket a handful of times, I've sometimes followed these instructions from Tales From Cuckoo Land precisely as written, and sometimes made a few changes by increasing the number of stitches between bobbles to 8 or 9, or increasing the number of single crochet rows between bobble rows. I've loved the outcome both ways--play around with it and see what you like best! 

Q: How do you make the ruffly border?
A: This is also covered in Tales From Cuckoo Land's instructions--you can find the "frill" instructions in the second full paragraph beneath the last instructional photo. It's so easy to do, but is a bit time consuming--I swear, the border always feels like it takes just as long as the blanket itself.

Q: What size hook do you use?
A: I've used anywhere from a G to a K hook, and have liked the results every time. The smaller the hook, the tighter weave your blanket will have (and the longer it will take for you to finish your blanket); a bigger hook will mean you finish your blanket faster but will have a slightly looser weave. Personally, I prefer using a larger hook (a J or K) because it works up more quickly and is a little more breathable.

(Babies sure love playing with the little bobbles!)

Q: How long is your starting chain?
A: Want to hear something part funny, part humiliating? I don't think I've ever yet, in all the times I've made this blanket, had a starting chain with the correct number of stitches--I always (I'm not joking! Every dang time!) have to drop at least one stitch, or add at least one in as I go. Theoretically, getting the correct number of stitches to start with should not be all that difficult--just figure out how many stitches you want between each bobble and how big you want your blanket, and do the math--but I have never once gotten it right on my first try. Embarrassing, right? My excuse is that I was an English major . . . I haven't taken a math class since I was 16 (so, like, a million years ago. Have I mentioned that I'm old as dust?). But math deficiencies aside, to end up with a baby blanket about 35" square, I use a starting chain of about 90-100, depending on what my embarrassingly terrible math skills came up with as the number I'd need, and fix any errors in length when I get to the first row of bobbles. No biggie.


Q: Would this blanket be too hard for me? I just learned to crochet.
A: Nope! This is a great beginner pattern! If you want something that you'll be able to finish really quickly, it might not be your best bet--it's easy, but it is time-consuming--but if you don't mind a bit of  a time commitment, you'll love working on this blanket, even if you just learned to crochet. My sister-in-law visited us a few weeks ago while I was working on the yellow blanket pictured at the top of this post, and she wanted to start one, too . . . so she made one herself, and it was her first crochet project ever!  The only thing to remember as a beginner is that the instructions are written using UK crochet terms, so you can reference this chart for a translation to US terms if you'd like, although the pattern would still work and look great even if you didn't mentally switch every one of her dc's to an sc, and worked it up just as written.

I can't say enough good things about this blanket--I think it's such an adorable, modern look; babies love to play with the stitches, and it's a simple pattern to follow. There's also a tutorial right here for changing the color of your bobble, which would make for a really cool blanket, too. So, three cheers for Tales From Cuckoo Land for writing up the tutorial and instructions!
read more "FAQ :: Ruffles and Dots Crochet Baby Blanket"

Monday, October 10, 2011

Winners galore!

I guess this is it . . . I'm feeling pretty sad to see our little crochet along come to an end. I got quite attached to it along the way. So, thank you all so much for making it such a fun event! I loved checking out your finished projects, hearing about your struggles and successes as you learned to crochet, and especially reading about how much you came to enjoy a new craft! Thank you for participating, and I hope you'll all join in for our next crochet along (date and project unknown . . . but we're definitely doing this again)!

I'm sure you're excited to see the crocheters who received the most votes, aren't you? The first place winner with over 100 votes is the Molten Lava Cowl crocheted by Maureen (and modeled by her adorable daughter):
How cute is that? No wonder she got so many votes!
And second through fourth places went to Miranda, Tristin, and Rachelle:
Hurray for our winners! And a shout-out to some other cowls that really caught my eye:
Top row, L to R: Jill, Allison, Celeste
Middle row, L to R: Regina, Samantha, Adriana
Bottom row, L to R: Lisa, Nicole, Rhonda
It was so fun to see how much variety one simple pattern could take . . . your projects ranged across the spectrum from serene winter whites to bright springy colors; and from a classic, simple look to adding cute accessories like buttons and brooches. I love seeing all the ways everyone adapted the pattern to fit their style and taste.This is part of what's so fun about crochet--even a pattern that may not immediately strike you as the best idea ever can be changed and accessorized to really suit your own personality. You can get endless variety from a simple, humble start!

And while we're talking winners--the winner of the Pumpkin Baby Hat from Knit Cookies is Hifam!
Make sure to check out the rest of the adorable knit goodies in Knit Cookies' etsy shop, check out her blog, and like her facebook page to stay in the loop! I'm thinking anything from Chelsea's shop would make a great Christmas present, don't you think?

And one last thank you to our crochet along sponsors, who were so kind in donating such wonderful prizes that got us all motivated and excited to crochet! Check out their shops for hundreds of great patterns that will have you itching to pick up those hooks again!

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Voting is Open and Giveaway :: Knit Pumpkin Baby Hat from KnitCookies!

Voting is now open for our Crochet Along! Whether you were a participant or not, head over to this post, check out all the beautiful entries, and vote on your favorite (by clicking the little "vote" text under your favorite one)! Winners will be announced Monday!

In the midst of all this crochet madness, have you given any thought to knitting? I can't claim it as a talent myself, sadly, despite my best efforts, but my old friend Chelsea is a fantastic knitter and has a great giveaway for you guys! Her shop is filled with gorgeous knits from adorable little baby hats to chic accessories for you, and even fun items for the guy in your life. I'll let her take it away and introduce herself . . .

---GIVEAWAY CLOSED---
Thanks so much for entering, and have fun shopping with Knit Cookies!

Hi! I'm Chelsea from KnitCookies etsy shop and blog!


I'm so excited to give away one of my knit goodies on Maybe Matilda! Rachel and I have know each other since we were 12--had sleepovers, went to camp--but sadly we have not seen each other in years! Unlike Rachel, I haven't figured out the whole crocheting thing yet--but I do knit.

Some of my favorites:
Women's one size fits most leg warmers:

And this could be yours!
What a perfect item for fall and Halloween . . . a sweet little pumpkin hat! I love it!

How to enter:
(leave a separate comment for each entry)
1) Like KnitCookies facebook page!
2) Follow KnitCookies blog!
3) Heart KnitCookies etsy shop

Make sure to leave a separate comment for each entry method you complete, and either leave your email address in the comment, or have your email enabled on your google profile so I have a way to reach you if you win!

Now go vote on your favorite crochet along cowl, check out the rest of Chelsea's beautiful shop, Knit Cookies, and start thinking of who you'd love to put that sweet pumpkin hat on!
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CAL :: Choose your free pattern here!

If you finished a Time Out Cowl as part of the Maybe Matilda Crochet Along and linked it up to this post, claim your free pattern from the Maybe Matilda etsy shop by filling out this little survey! (And if you haven't linked up your cowl yet, hop over to this post first, then come back here to claim your pattern!)
STEP 1: Head over to my shop's pattern section and decide on a favorite pattern.
(Just FYI . . . if you don't feel like taking on much of a challenge, the easiest patterns are probably the faux bow headwrap, pictured above, and the flower headwrap.)

STEP 1-A: Also on the table are a few patterns currently in the works . . . I'm finishing up patterns for the striped beanies and bow beanie pictured on these delicious little triplets (I'm totally pumped that my hats were used for this darling shoot by Photogazelle Photography!):
As well as the pattern for this lovely headwrap with a rose accent:

If you decide to choose one of these patterns, that's fantastic! But be aware that there will be a bit of a wait as I put the finishing touches on them. I'll email them to you as soon as they're ready, but expect a one to three week wait. As with the rest of my patterns, the beanies will include sizes from newborn through child; the headwrap will be one adult size.

STEP TWO: Fill out the little survey at the bottom of this post, and I'll email you the PDF for your pattern as soon as possible!

FINE PRINT: You have my blessing to make and sell as much as you'd like using my patterns, but I would appreciate a link back to my shop as your pattern source! The patterns will be emailed to you as PDFs--there are loads of free PDF readers online that you can download to read the patterns. You do not have permission to recopy, rewrite, redistribute or resell my patterns in any form as your own or otherwise. So please don't change two words of my pattern and call it your own, open a shop and start selling my beloved pattern babies, or forward the pattern to all your buddies to use. Let's play nice, mmmkay? I've worked hard on these. Don't make me hate you.

Okey dokey. Fill out this survey, and thanks so much for participating!

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CAL :: Link up your cowls!

It's time! I sure hope your cowl is finished up, being worn with pride, and ready to show off because today's the day to share your work! I'm so excited to see everyone's finished piece. (And this link list will be open for a few days, so if you aren't ready just yet, you can still join in when you're finished.) Voting won't begin until Friday, so make sure to come back then and vote for your favorite! (I'll post about it to remind you.)
(There's my finished cowl--I held two strands of Bernat Super Value in Redwood Heather and shortened the pattern quite a bit to have a snugger-fitting cowl [not entirely sure that "snugger" is a real word, but I'm makin' it happen], and I really love how it turned out!)

If you'd like a reminder of the prizes that are up for grabs, I'm happy to oblige. The person with the highest number of votes will get the first pick from the prizes; second person gets to pick next from the three remaining prizes, and so on. I just couldn't rank these prizes (they're all fantastic!), so these aren't first/second/third/fourth place prizes . . . they're just the prizes the four winners will get to choose from.

So, in no particular order . . . one lucky lady (or sir, I guess, . . . it would be pretty rad if a dude crocheted one of these cowls with us) will receive this fox scarf crochet pattern (as well as another pattern of his/her choice) from Bees Knees Knitting!
Two winners will receive two patterns of their choice from Crochet Baby Boutique!

And one winner will receive the Rainbow Amigurumi ebook, with patterns and instructions to make 7 adorable little friends, from Fresh Stitches!
Thanks again to our great sponsors for providing such wonderful prizes! I'm already excited for the four crocheters who will get their hands on some great new patterns . . . that's sure to get you excited to keep crocheting!

One last thing before you link up. Everyone who finishes and shares their cowl on this post gets to choose a pattern to receive free from my etsy shop, remember? After you've linked up your cowl, head over to this post and fill out the little survey so I know which pattern to send you. Please, please, please visit that post and fill out the survey--I'm really not going to hunt you down and toss patterns in your lap, so make this easy for me, okay? (And if you need any help linking up your cowl, visit this post.)

EDITED: If you visited sometime in the last, oh, 20 minutes or so, the link list wasn't working--I realized it's because the list automatically closes and won't accept submissions once voting starts (which I had set to start the same time as the link list opened). So you can't vote just now. So add your link, and I'll let you know when the voting is open! Thank you!

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Monday, October 3, 2011

CAL :: How to link up your cowl for Wednesday

Are you almost done with your cowl for our crochet along? This Wednesday (Oct. 5) is the big day, when you'll link up your cowl and start voting for your favorites! I can't wait to see everyone's finished work! It's been so fun to have this project to work on together, don't you think?

(Ahhh, one last ridiculous crochet comic. That feels good. Jockstrap for our next crochet along? Anyone? Anyone?)

So, in case you haven't participated in a link party before, I'll let you know how it's going to work. Remember way back when you added your name to the crochet along participants list? (And if you never got around to adding your name, that's fine--you can still link up your finished cowl on Wednesday!) Linking up your cowl is going to work basically the same way. 

In order to link up your cowl, you'll just need to post a picture of it online somewhere. That means you can either:
1) Make a blog post about your cowl and include a picture of it. (If you have a blog, I'd love if you'd post about it so we can come visit you, and your friends and readers can come here and vote! Just make sure you include a link back here in your post so they know where to find the voting.)
2) Upload a picture to the Maybe Matilda flickr group.
3) Or have a picture of your cowl elsewhere online.

When you head over here on Wednesday, you'll see this at the bottom of the post (just like the original sign up list):
Click the "add your link" button and a few info bars will open up:
If you've blogged about your cowl, copy and paste the URL of that specific post (not your blog's main page, but the post about the cowl) into the URL box. If you're grabbing a picture from somewhere else online (flickr, photobucket, picasa, or wherever you put your pic), open the page with your photo and copy and paste the URL into the first box. Then put your name or your blog's name or your cowl's name or something, I don't care, into the name box, and your email (no one will be able to see it, don't fret), and click next.
If you're confused about where to find the URL, or how any of this works so far, head over here and check out this help page from inlinkz.

A page will show up with all the pictures it could find at the URL you entered; just select the picture you want to show up here, and you're done! 

We'll end up with a nice pretty list of participants' pictures here, and there will be a little vote link under each entry, so take a look through all of the entries, vote for the one you like best, and pass the word along to your family and friends so they can come vote for a favorite as well!

So finish up that cowl if you haven't yet, snap a couple cute pictures, and get blogging (or flickring, or whatever) and meet me back here Wednesday to add your cowl! I can't wait to see your work . . . make me proud.

And check out our crochet along sponsors' awesome shops!
PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket
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