Maybe Matilda: January 2013

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Answers to Your Crochet Questions

I asked last week for questions from you guys—anything you were dying to know, I said I’d try to answer. And I got some great questions! From crochet to photography to babies to celebrity crushes, it was fun to read your questions and ponder my (less than) brilliant answers. I’m going to split them up by category, and I’ll start today with crochet questions and answers.

I have a question about the bobble blanket...do you think it’s too girly with the ruffle border for a boy? If so...what other type of border would you suggest for the blanket?

Here is the blanket in question (and my post about it):

Crochet Bobble Blanket by Maybe Matilda

Personally, I don’t think it’s too girly, but I also don’t feel weird about letting my son play in my makeup or walk around in my heels, so I may not be the best judge of what is and is not appropriate for young boys. I think as long as you stick with a neutral or deep color (it would be great in any shade of gray, or brown/beige, or a deep green, or navy blue), it is plenty boy-appropriate. I do think it looks girly in bright/springy colors, but I think darker colors or even neutral shades would be fine for a boy. I also think a scalloped or picot border would be nice on this blanket, and might keep it from looking too ruffly and girly.

I'm interested in learning more about crochet pattern making. Do you make your own patterns or do you use others and make them your own? Where do you get inspiration for all your different crocheting creations?

Oooh, good question! I can’t say I’ve ever given much thought to this topic before. I don’t know anything about anyone else’s pattern-writing process, but for me, the whole process usually stems from either a) not being able to find a pattern for something I’m picturing in my head, b) seeing items I like in a store or online and then trying to recreate them myself, or c) finding a crochet pattern/item that I like but want to alter to fit my tastes/needs better. I have just as many (or more) pattern-writing failures as successes, and for me, it largely boils down to basic trial and error—just playing around with stitches and sizes and such until I either find something that works or give up entirely. I  do use others’ patterns frequently, and more often than not end up making changes to fit my wants/needs, but I don’t sell those patterns or call them my own. I just keep notes on my changes so I can recreate them again later, but I don’t feel comfortable calling those my own patterns and trying to make money off them. For instance, this hat is a popular item in my shop:

Crochet Brimmed Beanie from Maybe Matilda

It started out as a free pattern anyone can get online called the Big Girl Bonnet, but over the dozens (maybe hundreds!) of times I’ve made it, I’ve made many, many changes to the fit, size, and details of the hat and stitches. I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling it my pattern since I didn’t start it from scratch, but making modifications to and experimenting with existing patterns is a huge step toward writing your own patterns! Don’t be afraid to mess around with an existing pattern to change size or details or make it fit your style better. What’s the worst that could happen?

My neighbors are having their first baby. I'd love to make them a blanket. But I want it nice and soft. Any suggestions?

What a nice neighbor you are! I mainly work with worsted weight yarn—hands down, my favorite right now is I Love This Yarn from Hobby Lobby. It’s the perfect balance between durability (holds up great in the wash), comfort (nice and soft), and workability (doesn’t split). One issue I have with very soft yarns is that they often are so slippery and smooth that they’ll split as you crochet (meaning your hook will often end up going straight through the yarn instead of hooking around it, if that makes sense). It’s not the end of the world, but it slows me down and is annoying. Caron Simply Soft is really smooth and cozy, but I find it a little difficult to work with as it splits easily. It’s often worth dealing with the splitting issue for the super-smooth outcome, but not my favorite yarn when all factors are considered. Red Heart Soft falls into the same category—very smooth, very soft, very comfy, but also prone to splitting so it can be a little obnoxious to work with. If you don’t mind the splitting and extreme ‘slipperiness,’ either of those brands make great soft and cozy items. But as my first choice, I’d recommend Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn!

You have inspired me to delve into the crochet world. What's the best way to start? Where should I get supplies? What essentials should I have? What project should I start with?

Color me flattered! Best way to start is probably to find out if anyone you know is a crocheter and wouldn’t mind sitting down with you for a lesson or two. But if you don’t know anyone who crochets, you can certainly learn online (that’s what I did!). I have some basic crochet tutorials in my Crochet tab, and there are SO many YouTube video tutorials out there as well.

Basic Crochet Tutorials at Maybe Matilda

One awesome thing about crochet is that you don’t need much to get started, and it’s a rather inexpensive hobby. I’d start practicing with some low-price yarn like Red Heart or Bernat Super Saver, and an H or I hook. Altogether, those’ll cost you, oh, maybe $5-7 for both yarn and a hook? (My favorites are the Boye hooks, available just about anywhere--JoAnn, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, etc.) And that’s all you’ll need to start! Set up a Ravelry account (totally free!) and sift through their patterns until something catches your eye—something like these washcloths, this baby blanket, or this simple scarf would be a great place to start.

I would love a tutorial on something that may sound silly, but I couldn't find any other tutorials on: sewing store bought fabric to crocheted fabric. There are really great pictures of crocheted handbags with linings, and baby blankets with a flannel side and a crocheted side. I really want to know the best way to do that.

I’ll admit, I haven’t done this very much! I’ll experiment and find a great way to do it and get back to you :-)

Do you do granny squares and if so do you have a favorite way to join them? I am completely addicted to making them but now have a pile of them and struggle with joining them!

I totally feel your pain. I love making granny squares and blankets with blocks (here are ONE, TWO, THREE  blankets I’ve done using squares), but I haaaaate joining them. It is by far my least favorite step in blanket-making. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t found a method I’m crazy about yet. My favorite, if I had to choose one that I hated the least but also really love the look of, is this sort of zig zag chain/single crochet method. You can kind of see the zig-zaggy look of this method in this picture:

Zig Zag Join for Crochet Blocks

I’m not sure that it has a name, and at the time, I thought I had made it up. Of course, I didn’t, and later found a tutorial for it HERE. So I’d recommend trying that way—much faster than anything else I’ve tried, and I like the resulting look a lot!

I was wondering how you learned to crochet - did a family member show you how or did you learn on your own?

A little of each, actually! A neighbor of mine sparked my interest years ago when I saw her crocheting a blanket for her new baby. She gave me a brief lesson once and taught me to chain and single crochet. A few months later, a different neighbor helped answer some questions and troubleshoot a few things I was doing wrong. After those two very basic beginner lessons, I learned everything else from YouTube crochet videos, online tutorials, and good old trial and error. The internet is a beautiful thing—I owe probably 90% of my crochet knowledge to blog tutorials, Ravelry, and YouTube videos!

(Answers to the remaining questions coming soon!)

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Crochet Heart Headband for Valentine’s Day

Last week I shared a step-by-step photo tutorial to make sweet little itty bitty crochet hearts for Valentine’s day. I think there are so many fun ways to use these (and I’ll share some more ideas at the end of this post), but today I thought I’d show you just one way I came up with to incorporate these hearts into a fun Valentine’s project—a colorful heart headband:

Make a Crochet Heart Headband for Valentine's Day

(Behold my baby sister, Bekah. Lovely, isn’t she? I’m so glad she doesn’t mind modeling for me, because it’s so fun to do her hair and dress her up and take her picture. Like a life-sized Barbie, I tell you. Worry not, she is always repaid for her modeling efforts with baked goods and free crochet goodies.)

Won’t this be a fun little headband to wear around Valentine’s Day? And since those little hearts are so quick to make, you could try them out in different non-Valentinesy colors to wear anytime. This is yet another tutorial that is probably unnecessary (not too tough to figure out how I made this one), but I’m so in the habit now of taking pictures while I make things that it almost seems like a waste to not post a how-to. A blogger’s curse. So . . . want to make one? I have photos for you. Of course I do.

Start by making three hearts using my crochet heart tutorial HERE. I stayed in the pink family, and the size variations are due to using different hook sizes. They were all made with the same pattern. You’ll also need an elastic headband (I believe mine are from Walmart or Target—you can find them just about anywhere!), a hot glue gun, and some felt in a coordinating color (or just neutral colored, like white or beige).

How to make a Valentine's headband with crochet hearts

I played around with heart placement and decided I liked the look best with the hearts overlapping slightly, going from largest to smallest (so the smallest heart is near the top of your head, and the largest is near your ear). I think they also look cute clustered, as shown in the picture above, but decided to go with the ducks in a row look for my headband. When you’re sure you like their placement, use a small amount of hot glue to stick ‘em together. Make sure you’re placing the hot glue far enough from the edges so it won’t show or smoosh out the sides of the hearts. Smooshy hot glue is not so pretty.

Crochet Hearts for a Valentine's Day Headband

Then place your glued-together hearts onto the felt and use a pen to lightly trace around them. Cut the felt inside the traced line and place your hearts on top to make sure you can’t see the felt from above—if you need to, go back and trim more so the felt won’t be visible from the outside.

Make a Valentine's heart headband

Lay the elastic headband over the felt backing and attach them with hot glue.

Felt backing + headband

Then use more hot glue to attach the hearts on top of the felt. Make sure they’re lined up correctly so you can’t see the felt.

DIY Valentine's Heart Headband (crochet)

So you should have a headband sandwich here . . . felt backing, then elastic headband, then hearts, like so:

Backside of Valentine's Heart Headband

Once your hot glue is dry, you can sport your new Valentine’s Day headband.

DIY Valentine's Crochet Heart Headband

I think it’s adorable! If you make one, I’d love to see a picture. And if you like the look but aren’t quite ready to crochet one yourself, I put up a listing in my etsy shop to make one for you. Happy Love Day to us all.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Go On. Ask Me Anything.

There comes a day in every blogger’s life when she must face the truth in the cold light of day: I don’t have anything to say today. And yet I wanted to post something. Here we are.

And so I’m turning to the time-honored tradition of flaking out and forcing you to give me a post topic for next week by asking me questions. You think of something you want to know, and I will answer it in a post next week.

Do you have a crochet question? Blogging question? Parenting question (hahahaHAhahaha)? Personal question? Are you burning to know what my favorite cookie recipe is? Or my celebrity crushes (I could name so, so many)?

Whatever you might be wondering, go on, leave it in the comments, and I’ll answer them next week. Keep it appropriate, people.

DSC_0422

(Picture 100% unrelated to this post. But it is also so 100% essence of Forrest, I had to put it somewhere. He’s a handsome boy.)

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rustic ‘Love’ Letters

That title kind of makes it sound like this post is about the sort of letters lovers send each other, doesn’t it? As for the rustic part . . . maybe they are very outdoorsy types? And the letters are composed in a cabin in the woods somewhere? I’m sorry to disappoint you, but these rustic love letters aren’t those rustic love letters. I’m talking about these ones:

Rustic 'Love' Letters from Maybe Matilda

I made these to go with my neutral, rustic Valentine’s display, and I really like how they came out. Although I can appreciate and enjoy Valentine’s décor that screams glittery red-and-pink greetings in your face, I wanted something a little softer for my place. This little display only cost a few dollars, it’s going to be reusable for Christmas next year by switching out a letter, and it’s not too traditionally loud for Valentine’s day, I could definitely get away with using it year-round as regular décor. Win-win-win.

To make these letters, I just picked up a few items from Hobby Lobby—a mini-twig wreath to stand in as the ‘o’ (it was $2.50 if I remember correctly), and a few paper mache letters (also $2.50 each, but wait for them to go on sale before you buy—they were 30% off when I bought them a week or two ago!). I picked up an L, V, and E, as well as an N. That way, I can scramble the letters/wreath to make ‘Noel’ to use in Christmas displays next year. Smart, eh? I have my moments.

How to make rustic faux-distressed 'Love' letters

Now, back when I was searching for a nice gray wall color for my house, I bought something like a dozen gray sample paints. So I just popped out one of those tiny sample size paints to use on my letters. It’s a very soft gray, but mostly reads as white, which is fine. Go ahead and paint your letters.

DIY 'Love' Letters for Valentine's Day

(Don’t you paint on your stovetop?)

Now, I wanted them to have a rustic ‘worn’ look. But sanding paint off a paper mache letter to get that distressed look didn’t seem brilliant to me. I don’t know, maybe it would work fine, but I wasn’t willing to try it and potentially ruin my super-expensive $2.50 – 30% off letters. So I tried a different route. I just grabbed some brown craft paint, got the teeniest tiniest bit on my brush, and ‘flicked’ it over the edges of the letters to make them look worn out and distressed.

Faux-Distress Painted Letters

I’m not sure how best to describe this. Just make sure there’s not much paint on your brush (I barely dipped it into the paint, then dabbed most of it off onto a piece of paper so it was just barely barely barely moist with paint), placed the brush right on the edge of the letter and ‘flicked’ it forward/upward. It’ll give it a sort of bristly, worn-off, splattery look. The important points here, I learned by sad experience, are to 1) make sure there is not much paint on your brush—too much paint and it’ll look sloppy instead of shabby chic, and 2) if you make a mistake, just forget it and keep going. You’ll do more harm by trying to rub it off and reapply than by just moving on. Really.

How to faux distress letters with paint

By focusing your faux-distress painting around the corners, it’ll look more natural, so go a little heavier around the corners and a little lighter on the other edges.

I used a tiny picture frame easel/plate stand thing to prop up the ‘O’ and just pulled the sides open a little wider so they’d essentially be hidden by the ‘O’. It worked out just fine. There you have it!

How to make a rustic 'love' sign

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Crochet Valentine Hearts Photo Tutorial

I am a woman of my word. I promised a step-by-step photo tutorial for these little heart cuties, and I am here. to. DELIVER!

Crochet Valentine Hearts with step by step photos and instructions

(Hey look, I did that blogger thing where I made a nice pinnable image for you!)

These itty bitties are so leetle and so sweet and so quick and simple. Now, first things first: this is not my own pattern. I found the pattern HERE at Heloise V. This tutorial is to help you out in making the smallest heart pattern on her site. She also has instructions for medium and large adaptations, as well as a pattern for adorable little applique flowers, so hop over and check out her fun site! The size variations in my photos are due to different hook sizes, but all 3 were made using the same, smallest heart pattern.

Second things second: although this isn’t a difficult crochet pattern, you’ll of course have an easier time if you are already familiar with crochet basics. Visit my Crochet tab at the top of the page to find some basic crochet tutorials and step-by-steps to help you learn. If you get stuck at any point, just look up the stitch you’re stuck on in google, and you’ll find a zillion and one videos to help you out.

Crochet Valentine Hearts Tutorial

Aren’t they darling? I’m smitten.

You can use any old scrap yarn you have lying around, and any size hook that is appropriate for your yarn (if you’re using worsted weight yarn, anywhere from an F through a K should work nicely). I used a G hook for the tiniest pink heart in my photos (it’s about an inch and a half across), an I hook for the medium size bright pink one, and a K hook for the largest maroon heart. They were all made with the same pattern, all are made of worsted weight yarn, and the only thing that I changed from one heart to the next was the hook size, so play around and experiment with different hook sizes to find a size you love!

You’ll need to start with a magic circle. To be honest, I find this tough to capture in pictures and to explain, so please refer to this tutorial and this video if you need help.

Make your magic circle and chain 3.

Hearts tutorial by Maybe Matilda

Now you’re going to work 3 treble (or triple) crochets into the circle. Yarn over your hook twice:

Crochet heart step-by-step

Then insert your hook into the circle and pull up a loop, then yarn over again:

Photo Tutorial for Crochet Hearts

You’ll now have 4 loops (plus the yarn over) on your hook (as pictured above). Pull the yarn over through just the first two loops on your hook, then yarn over again:

Photo Tutorial for Crochet Hearts from Maybe Matilda

You’ll now have 3 loops on your hook, plus the yarn over. Pull the yarn over through just the first two loops again, exactly as you did in the previous step. Yarn over again:

How to crochet a heart

You’ll now have two loops left on your hook, plus the yarn over. Can you guess what’s coming next? I bet so. Pull the yarn over through the two remaining loops on your hook.

How to crochet hearts

There’s your first treble crochet! Now just repeat those steps for two more treble crochets:

How to crochet Valentine's Hearts

By now, you should have your chain 3 on the right, then your three treble crochets, as pictured above.

Next up, we need to work 3 double crochets. Yarn over your hook just once:

Crochet Hearts step by step

Insert your hook into the circle, pull up a loop, and yarn over again:

Crochet a heart photo tutorial

Pull the yarn over through the first two loops on the hook, and yarn over again:

Crochet instructions to make a heart

Then pull the yarn over through the two remaining loops on your hook:

Step by step photos to crochet heart

There’s your double crochet! Now work two more double crochets.

Crochet Heart Pattern and Tutorial

From right to left in the picture above, you should have your chain 3, 3 treble crochets, and 3 double crochets. (My chain 3 is kind of hiding my first treble crochet in that picture. Don’t worry about it, it’s in there, I promise.)

Now chain 1 by yarning over the hook and pulling it straight through the loop on your hook.

Step by Step Heart Tutorial

Work one treble crochet into the circle. Refer to the pictures up top if you don’t remember how. This treble will be the ‘tip’ of your heart.

Step by Step Heart Tutorial

Chain 1 again.

Step by Step Heart Tutorial

Now you’re basically going to repeat the first half of the pattern, backwards, to form the second half of the heart. First up is 3 double crochets. Refer to the double crochet pictures above if you need help.

Step by Step Heart Tutorial

Then you’ve got 3 more treble crochets. You’re probably a pro at these by now.

How to make crocheted hearts

Now just chain 2:

How to make crocheted Valentine hearts

Then slip stitch into the circle to finish it up. Just insert your hook into the circle, pull up a loop, and pull the loop straight through the loop already on your hook.

Make a Crochet Valentine Heart

And you’ve got your little heart! Mostly!

Step by step photo instructions to crochet hearts

See the loose ‘tail’ yarn at the top? Pulling that will tighten your heart and cinch it closed (the magical part of the magic circle—it disappears like magic!). Give it a good firm pull until your heart is completely closed in the center.

How to make cute little crochet Valentine Hearts

Ah, that’s more like it. Fasten off your yarn by pulling a loop through the loop on your hook (just like working a chain), snipping your yarn a few inches away from the hook, and pulling the loop completely through. Tighten it up and weave in the ends, and you’re done!

In case you want to see all the stitches labeled on the heart, enjoy this pictographic brilliance:

Step by Step Crochet Hearts from Maybe Matilda

So, to sum up, the hearts are simply made by . . .

Magic circle, ch 3, 3 trc, 3 dc, ch 1, 1 trc, ch 1, 3 dc, 3 trc, ch2, sl st.

(trc = treble crochet; dc = double crochet; ch = chain; sl st = slip stitch)

Ta da!

Crochet Hearts Photo Tutorial

Fun, huh? Once you’re comfortable with the stitches, you’ll be able to whip these up in no time at all.

I used these hearts as little ornaments for a Valentine’s ‘tree’ in this post, and I have another fun project incorporating them that I’ll share in a bit.

Hope you enjoy! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

A Subtle Valentine’s Display

I have been informed by a certain spouse that it is too early for Valentine’s Day décor to be put up. But I’ve also been informed by said spouse that I shouldn’t let my son play with Barbies and walk around in my heels, and that soup doesn’t count as a meal, and that getting into a tickle fight with a toddler doesn’t count as daily exercise, and I haven’t paid any attention to those gentle heedings, so I’m not going to start now.

My little table in my entry room looked so boring after I took down my Christmas décor. I left it empty for maybe 4 days before I couldn’t take it anymore and started to put together a little Valentine’s display. I loved the sort of natural, woodsy feel of my Christmas vignette, so I used that as inspiration for a simple, subtle Valentine’s look.

Neutral, Rustic Valentine's Display by Maybe Matilda

This may be obvious by the direction I took for this very neutral display, but I am not insane about the traditional Valentine’s look . . . the pink and red, the glitter, the sappy hearts . . . don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and zesty, but I’m not sure it’s the sort of fun and zesty I could look at every day for a month leading up to a holiday and still be happy about living with. So I took a very understated route instead.

I left the book page garland and coffee filter wreath up from the Christmas display—I really like them over that window. They may become permanent fixtures. The little owl Scentsy warmer seems to have also become a permanent piece on this table for two reasons: so far, it has always fit into my table displays, and it is also (so far) out of the reach of little fingers.

Rustic 'love' Valentine display by Maybe Matilda

I made the little ‘love’ letters and am rather pleased with them. But do I like the look of the wreath-y ‘o’ in ‘love’ right there next to the big ‘o’ that is the coffee filter wreath, like a stinky little copycat? No. No I do not. But does it bug me enough to go back to the store to buy another letter, get out all the paints and supplies I used to dress them up, and replace it with a painted ‘o’? No sir. Regardless, there will be a tutorial for the excruciatingly difficult job of painting and faux-distressing those letters next week. Prep yo.

I tossed in a vase full of sticks gathered from the backyard and crocheted some little heart ornaments to hang from the branches. I worried that the crocheted hearts would be cheesy, but I actually really like them. They add another touch of rustic-y homespun coziness. On Monday, I’ll have a step-by-step photo tutorial to help you make these little hearts. I think they’re so cute and fun, and they’re so quick and simple to make. So if you’re a little rusty on the ol’ crochet skills or are just starting out, it should be enough to ease you in with a speedy little Valentine’s project.

Crocheted heart ornaments on Valentine's 'tree'

And as you may know, I have developed a weird lampshade embellishment disorder. I don’t know why I feel the need to accessorize a lampshade, which kinda, if you think about it, already is an accessory to the lamp, which is an accessory to the room, so I’m accessorizing to the third degree here. But now that I did it once, it feels too naked without something, so here we are.

Crocheted heart on lampshade

One more little crochet heart to tie in with the branches on the other end of the table. I was going to use my fancypants removable lampshade accessory trick to attach it, but I popped it onto the lampshade to see if I liked it, and it stuck on its own. Very thoughtful of you, Mr. Heart. Will you be my Valentine?

So there you go. My neutral, understated, not very Valentinesy Valentine’s display. I like it, and I especially like that it’s not so bright and loud that I’ll get tired of looking at it. What can I say, I’m a boring, beige sort of person.

Rustic Neutral Valentine Display by Maybe Matilda

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2nd Birthday Photo Tribute

In my grand tradition of waiting at least 6 months to post about projects, I am pleased to present my little boy’s 2nd birthday photo. (His birthday was in August. Procrastinators of the world, unite! Later! Whenever we get around to it! I’ll get back to you with the details! I probably won’t!)

Birthday Photo Tribute

Awwww, such a cutie. I decided before his first birthday that I wanted to make one of these for his birthday every year, and eventually collect them all into a little album together. I like the idea of capturing not just how he looked around each birthday, but some little aspects of his personality that might otherwise be forgotten. And yes, it took me 6 months to make this one, whereas I posted his first birthday’s photo tribute last year just days after his birthday had passed. If this procrastination rate continues, I’ll be finishing up his 18th birthday photo just in time to celebrate his 50th birthday.

And speaking of procrastination, I kept meaning to take actual birthday photos around the big day. I was picturing him holding a giant bouquet of balloons, maybe a big number 2, maybe confetti or streamers falling around him as I snapped photos. I’m sure it won’t require much imagination on your part to picture me putting this off until it was so far past his birthday that it seemed flat-out laughable to plan and execute a birthday shoot. So I ended up just finding the cutest picture on my computer that was relatively near his birthday—this one was actually a photo he took himself with the camera remote and tripod in his Halloween costume, 2 months after turning 2. He looks precious, it’s close enough to his birthday that it’ll do, and there’s plenty of white space around him to add text, so I figured it was a good choice.

Tiny Mal costume

After fiddling with the colors/brightness in Picasa (I have no idea what I’m doing), I added the text with Picmonkey. I’m happy with how it turned out, and resolving to not put the birthday photos off for 6 months next year.

Once more, because I think it’s so cute . . .

Birthday Boy Photo Tribute

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