Crochet Stars and Soot Sprites | Free Pattern

December 6, 2020

 

When I finished crocheting my Soot Sprite Blanket inspired by the small, black, fuzzy creatures who scurry throughout Studio Ghibli's films, I realized how fun it would be to crochet tiny Soot Sprites and their accompanying bright star-shaped food (which they earn in exchange for carrying coal in Spirited Away!). Enjoy these free (and very quick!) patterns!


Part 1: Crochet Stars


Materials:

  • Yarn in the weight and color of your choice (I used limited-edition yarn from Red Door Fibre Studio's Studio Ghibli collection in DK weight)
  • Crochet hook in a size that matches your yarn
  • Scissors


Instructions:

There are many, many ways to crochet a star! These instructions create a beautifully simple five-point star, and can be crocheted in many different sizes! To change the size of your star, you only need to adjust your yarn weight and crochet hook size.

  • Round 1
    • To begin your star, chain two. 
    • In the second chain from your hook, crochet 10 half double crochet stitches. 
    • Join to the first half double crochet stitch using a slip stitch.
  • Round 2
    • *Chain 4. You will now be working in the chain stitches you just created. Place a slip stitch in the second chain from your hook. Single crochet in the next chain. Then, place a half double crochet stitch in the next chain. Skip the next half double crochet stitch, which is on your Round 1. Slip stitch in the next half double crochet stitch. 
    • Repeat from * around your entire Round 1. 
    • Fasten off and cut any excess yarn. (I don't bother to weave in yarn ends with small stars!)

Part 2: Pom-Pom Soot Sprites


Materials:

  • Yarn in the weight and color of your choice (I used limited-edition Soot Sprite yarn from Red Door Fibre Studio's Studio Ghibli collection in DK weight)
  • Pom-pom maker (I love this set by Clover)
  • Scissors

Instructions:
These Soot Sprites are an absolute breeze to create! It almost feels like a lie to call them crocheted - because you never touch a crochet hook! But, I love them so much (and so does my daughter!) - they're wonderfully squishy and so fun to roll around.

  • If using a pom-pom maker, you will need to follow the instructions provided by on the pom-pom maker's box. This will typically involve winding the yarn around each arch before cutting the yarn. You'll then tie the pom-pom together using thread before opening each arm one at a time. Remove the pom-pom from the maker, and trim any loose ends to shape.

Tada - that's it! Seriously! :)



Interview with Red Door Fibre Studio

 

A sneak peek at the limited-edition Twilight collection by Red Door Fibre Studio, launching today (December 6, 2020!)

Bringing Fandom to Yarn: Speaking with Kate Campbell of Red Door Fibre Studio

While exploring artists tagged in a #FridayFollow post one August morning, I stumbled upon Kate Campbell's Instagram profile featuring her newly-launched hand-dyed yarn shop, Red Door Fibre Studio! It took about 20 seconds of scrolling through Kate's colorful profile to realize that I was absolutely smitten with her style: Kate brings fan art to a new level by translating iconic movies and characters to limited-edition yarn collections! In early autumn, she released a *stunning* collection inspired by Studio Ghibli, which led to us collaborating and creating the Soot Sprite Blanket


Kate is launching a new collection inspired by the Twilight series today (12/6/20), and I know it will be another instant classic! 


Without further ado, it's time to grab a cuppa and get comfy as I chat with Kate about Red Door Fibre Studio.


Could you tell us a bit about how Red Door Fibre Studio came to be, where it all started?

We (I say we, but it’s really just myself) started Red Door out of a need for something more freeing than what I was already doing. I have a deep love for how all art is interconnected with one another, and my previous business concept just wasn’t cutting it for me.


I ran a small knitwear company, and since COVID cancelled all of our markets for this fall, I needed a way to fill my time and bring in our second income! I had researched hand-dyeing for over a year before actually taking the plunge because we were only renting at the time and my landlord wasn’t fond of the potential mess dyeing tends to make. Once we bought our house in early June, the building blocks started getting laid down hard and fast!


Kate Campbell holding yarn hanks from her limited-edition Studio Ghibli collection in her in-home dye studio!


What does a typical yarn-dyeing day look like for you?

I am a *planner*... until it comes to creative outlets. So I have lists of what colorways to dye/already completed, bases or materials to order, and even snacks I want for the next week! I don’t keep myself married to a dye schedule though, otherwise it sucks the life out of me.

So I take my list of colorways to dye out to my garage sometime between 7-8am during the week and pick what I can finish. I do my absolute best to listen to my body and my mental state to see when to stop for the day! There’s a set rate I need to dye at to get all orders out on time, so as long as I hit more than my rate for the day (constant over-acheiver over here), I can turn in whenever! I love the flexibility that comes with this job. If I wanted to run errands unbothered in the afternoon, I could simply wake up earlier, finish everything before lunch, and then not have to worry about whether I need to get back to my pans!


Gorgeous yarn AND cinnamon rolls - I just cannot handle the cuteness!


What are your favorite yarn bases to work with? (I'm a *sucker* for worsted weight!)

I’m a DK girl through and through! I love the drape of this base. It also doesn’t hurt that it knits up faster than fingering weight… I’m afraid I’m not too patient!


You have such a knack for translating popular culture into brilliant colorways! How do you decide what each collection will be about?

Oh wow, thank you! I started Red Door because I was lacking total creative freedom (as well as the other reasons like I talked about earlier) and I have an obsessive personality when it comes to movies or tv shows or any other media, really. I wanted to shove Red Door with as much joy as humanly possible, so I base our collections off of things that I love. Animal Crossing, Studio Ghibli films, Avatar: The Last Airbender (an animated kid’s show!) and I have so many more ideas up my sleeve. My key is to always stick to things I know like the back of my own hand!




How do you balance having to produce yarn for your business with indulging your creative side?

My whole job IS my creative side! Because I base our collections off of things that I love, I get to indulge every single time I hit the dye pans. This is where that whole “obsessive personality” thing really kicks in. I’m a true believer that all art is not complete without other art. Like how movies lack emotional depth without a perfect soundtrack overlaying heartfelt scenes. How fanart (or even memes!) from TV shows and book series’ help us relate even further to the characters. And even how our yarns are really just hanks on a shelf until fibre artists get a hold of them to turn them into something even more beautiful. My creative heart is filled to the *brim* with happiness every time someone sends me or tags me in one of their makes. 

It also helps that we do a monthly mystery yarn club, The Villagers Club, based on Animal Crossing Villagers! This way, I get to dye up a new colorway even in the middle of fulfilling pre-orders!


Lastly, what do you have on your needles at the moment?

So. Many. Things. But we’ll stick to the one I’m actually making any progress on! I’m knitting up Hermione’s Everyday Socks in our colorways Kyoshi Warrior and Katana (for a contrasting heel and toe).


Where can people find you and your yarn?

You can purchase my yarn online at Red Door Fibre Studio, and you can follow me on Instagram at @reddoorfs.




The Soot Sprite Blanket

December 5, 2020

 

When I began to imagine my first crochet pattern inspired by pop culture, I knew it had to accomplish several things at once: it needed to evoke fantasy and nostalgia, appeal to both children and adults alike, and incorporate a rainbow of colors balanced by a grounding neutral. My go-to neutral is Pale Grey by Feels Like Butta (Lion Brand Yarns), and when I discovered the limited-edition Studio Ghibli hand-dyed yarn collection by Kate Campbell of Red Door Fibre Studio, I knew I had a winning combination!



About the Pattern

The Soot Sprite Blanket is inspired by the small, black, fuzzy creatures who scurry throughout Studio Ghibli's films, often accompanied by bright star-shaped food (which they earn in exchange for carrying coal in Spirited Away!). This crochet pattern uses a variety of basic crochet stitches that combine to create stripes and bobbles (the Soot Sprites!). I love creating flexible blanket designs, so you will find instructions for making it any size. The finished baby blanket featured in this pattern's photos measures 37.5" x 36.5."

My sample blanket featured in this pattern includes limited-edition hand-dyed yarn by Red Door Fibre Studio, which may or may not be available for purchase at the time you are creating your blanket. I love using hand-dyed yarn in projects because it's wonderfully high quality, comes in a wide range of unique colors, and is made with tremendous love and care by a small business. Unlike corporate yarn producers, however, small hand-dyed yarn businesses are typically unable to maintain an inventory of all colors they have dyed; sometimes colors will be re-released, but it is not guaranteed! In this pattern, you'll see that I have provided a comprehensive list of alternative yarn colors and brands you may substitute in this pattern.


One of my favorite parts of this blanket are the softly undulating "ripples" created by the alternating stitch patterns in each row! This is designed to mimic the Soot Sprites' movements! 

What's in the pattern?

In this PDF pattern, you'll find: 

  • A detailed 70-page tutorial with 129 step-by-step color photos that teach you exactly how to crochet this blanket (including photos showing you where to place your hook and stitch!)
  • Instructions provided for the body of the blanket, border, and fastening off/weaving in all yarn tails
  • A comprehensive supply list, including the amount of yarn I used in this sample baby blanket. Please note that the sample blanket featured in this pattern's photos includes limited-edition hand-dyed yarn by Red Door Fibre Studio, and I have included a detailed list of readily-available alternative yarn brands/colors you may substitute in this pattern.
  • Tips that are written as if I am teaching a good friend, so you will encounter minimal abbreviations or crochet jargon
  • Instructions written in US terms

What stitches should I know?

Although the instructions are very detailed, I recommend you be familiar with the following stitches that are used in this blanket:

  • Foundation chain stitches
  • Chain stitches
  • Slip stitches
  • Single crochet stitches
  • Half double crochet stitches
  • Double crochet stitches

Am I able to sell items I make from this pattern?

Yes! You are welcome to sell anything you make from this pattern. However, I kindly request that you do not alter this pattern in any manner and distribute as your own. Please also use your own photos to advertise products made for sale. I strongly (but politely!) request that you give credit to my shop for the pattern and post a link if you sell online.


Where can I purchase this pattern?

You may purchase this Soot Sprite Blanket pattern in my Etsy shop here, and it costs $6! 



The Noel Hat

November 1, 2020

 


When I think of the holidays, I think of time spent with family and friends, baking to no end, and whipping up quick and fun-to-stitch gifts. The Noel Hat is my take on a crocheted holiday beanie, and I absolutely love how this pattern comes to life with the Christmas color palette by Shelly Diaz of Daisy Stitch Co. Daisy Stitch Co has many gorgeous colorways, but my top recommendations for the Noel hat are Boughs of Holly, Forest, and Ruby!


About the Pattern

This beginner-friendly Noel Hat pattern is a perfect project for first-time crocheters, as it uses basic stitches and minimal shaping. And because I think everyone should be able to enjoy stitching up a hat, I include a detailed size chart ranging from 4-lb Preemie to Adult XL with tips on how to customize the fit!



What's in the pattern?

In this PDF pattern, you will find:

  •  A detailed 25-page tutorial with 42 step-by-step color photos that teach you exactly how to crochet this hat (including photos showing you where to place your hook and stitches!)
  • Instructions provided for creating the foundation chain, subsequent rows, sewing the hat closed, attaching a pom-pom, and weaving in all ends
  • A comprehensive supply list
  • Tips that are written as if I am teaching a good friend, so you will encounter minimal abbreviations or crochet jargon
  • Instructions written in US terms

What stitches should I know?

Although the instructions are very detailed, I recommend you be familiar with the following stitches that are used in this hat:

  • Foundation chain stitches
  • Chain stitches
  • Slip stitches
  • Single crochet stitches
  • Double crochet stitches

How is this crochet hat pattern different from all the others out there?!

I won't try to hide it - there are a TON of crochet hat patterns out there! I have written my Noel Hat pattern as if I am teaching a good friend, and use straightforward instructions with minimal crochet jargon so you do not have to worry about deciphering the pattern while you stitch. I also include over 40 color photos that accompany the step-by-step instructions, starting from the foundation chain to adding the pom-pom, so you can see exactly where to place your hook and stitches! Detailed instructions for creating the foundation chain, subsequent rows, sewing the hat closed, and attaching a pom-pom are included.


This hat is also stitched according to measurements, rather than stitch counts or gauge, so you can easily customize your hat for the perfect fit! A detailed size chart ranging from 4-lb Preemie to Adult XL is included, and I provide helpful tips on how to add a fold-over brim (as seen in the photos).


Am I able to sell items I make from this pattern?

Yes, you are welcome to sell anything you make from this pattern! Do not alter this pattern in any manner and distribute as your own. Please use your own photos to advertise products made for sale. I strongly (but politely!) request that you give credit to my shop for the pattern and post a link if you sell online.


Where can I purchase this pattern?

The Noel Hat pattern is available for purchase in my Etsy shop here, and costs $5! This hat is a companion piece to my Noel Blanket pattern, a festive holiday afghan also available here. You may purchase both the Noel Hat and Blanket as a bundle for 10% off here.



The Noel Blanket

 


The Noel Blanket is my take on a Christmas afghan, and I absolutely love how this pattern comes to life with hand-dyed yarn by Shelly Diaz of Daisy Stitch Co! Daisy Stitch Co has many gorgeous colorways, but my top recommendations for the Noel Blanket are Boughs of Holly, Forest, and Ruby. 



About the Pattern

This pattern uses a variety of basic crochet stitches and quick color changes, ideal for an enthusiastic beginner! And because I love creating flexible blanket designs, this pattern includes instructions for making it any size! The finished baby blanket featured in this pattern's photos measures 37" x 46.5". I provide detailed information on this pattern's gauge, but it's important to note that this stitch pattern will work up beautifully in your preferred gauge and yarn weight; there's no need to stress over the gauge in this pattern! 


I absolutely love how the pattern's multicolored rows take on the appearance of bric-a-brac (it really feeds my 90s-kid's soul!).

What's in the pattern?

In this PDF pattern, you'll find:

  • A detailed 43-page tutorial with 83 step-by-step color photos that teach you exactly how to crochet this blanket (including photos showing you where to place your hook and stitch!)
  • Instructions provided for the body of the blanket, border, and fastening off/weaving in all yarn tails
  • A comprehensive supply list, with yardage estimates for my sample blanket included
  • Tips that are written as if I am teaching a good friend, so you will encounter minimal abbreviations or crochet jargon
  • Instructions written in US terms


What stitches should I know?

Although the instructions are very detailed, I recommend you be familiar with the following stitches that are used in this blanket:

  • Foundation chain stitches
  • Chain stitches
  • Slip stitches
  • Single crochet stitches
  • Double crochet stitches


Am I able to sell items I make from this pattern?

Yes! You are welcome to sell anything you make from this pattern. However, I kindly request that you do not alter this pattern in any manner and distribute as your own. Please also use your own photos to advertise products made for sale. I strongly (but politely!) request that you give credit to my shop for the pattern and post a link if you sell online.


Where can I purchase this pattern?

You may purchase this Noel Blanket pattern in my Etsy shop here, and it costs $6! The Noel Blanket is a companion piece to the Noel Hat, which is a beginner-friendly beanie pattern available for purchase here. You may purchase the Noel Blanket and Hat as a bundle for 10% off here.



The Gamekeeper's Hut

October 18, 2020

 

This pattern has been retired as of May 2021. This post is for archival purposes only. Each of my PDF patterns and artworks are inherently protected by copyright. You may NOT re-create or copy my work; patterns may not be re-sold, distributed (in print or online), or shared.

"There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling, a copper kettle was boiling on the open fire, and in the corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it." - J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

About the Pattern

This 8-inch embroidery design is inspired by Hagrid's cozy hut, a small stone house on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Although created with experienced embroiderers in mind, I think a confident beginner with a can-do attitude when it comes to pattern tracing and satin stitch could also handle it!



What's in the pattern?

In this 40-page PDF, you will find:

  • A detailed supply list, including links to my preferred small businesses that sell the best embroidery hoops and fabrics!
  • A complete list of all DMC thread colors used in this pattern, including color swatches
  • Pattern tips throughout
  • One black and white traceable pattern
  • One illustrated color guide
  • 8 pages of illustrated stitch tutorials with written explanations, so that you will learn all the stitches used in this pattern
  • Detailed instructions on how to begin and finish your hoop
  • 20 pages of step-by-step instructions with accompanying photos that teach you how to successfully stitch this hoop


Stitching these pumpkins was one of my favorite parts of creating this hoop!


Am I able to sell items I make from this pattern?

No, Unlike my crochet patterns, I kindly ask that you do not sell anything you make from this pattern. Do not alter this pattern in any manner and distribute as your own. I strongly (but politely!) request that you give credit to my shop for the pattern and post a link if you share your finished hoop online.



Help! I'm intimidated by embroidery!

First, take a deep breath! Each of my embroidery patterns includes a detailed stitch guide with illustrations and step-by-step instructions so that you're able to learn each stitch with confidence. (YouTube is also a great teacher if you're a bigger fan of video tutorials!) Remember, if anything ever starts to look a little wonky, you can always use a pair of small embroidery scissors to carefully cut the stitches out and try again! Unlike many other art forms, very little in embroidery is irreversible. Mistakes are always a part of learning, so please do not become discouraged if you find yourself practicing stitches several times before you're happy with the result. (Plus, the more you practice, the better embroiderer you will become!)



Where can I purchase this pattern?

You'll find this pattern available here in my Etsy shop, and it costs $15!



Hoot, Hoot!

October 14, 2020 6100 Main St, Houston, TX 77005, USA

Hoot, Hoot! Original embroidery by Allison M. Clark. November 2018. Cotton thread on striped linen fabric in 3-inch wooden hoop. 

Growing up, I adored all things Harry Potter: the potions and spells for every imaginable purpose, the enchanting settings, the constant search for helpful books in the library (hard relate!), and, of course, the animals who kept young witches and wizards company throughout the series. When I became an owl myself as an undergrad at Rice University, you can bet I was down for the influx of owl- and Hermione Granger-themed gifts!

With Covid-19 and quarantine still going strong, I've been reminiscing on the last times I visited my family in Texas, which reminded me of this cute lil' owl hoop! When I traveled back to Houston for Thanksgiving in 2018, my family celebrated being together with one of my favorite college traditions: cheering on the Rice football team from the bleachers in the nosebleed section! Was it cold? Kind of. Did we walk down memory lane with a mini tour of the campus? You bet. Did we win? Heck yes. Was it as fun as when I was enrolled? Even more so – there’s something pretty liberating about not having to study for finals during the November break!




Fun fact: Colin and I met during our time at Rice together! Here’s photographic proof that we graduated together as best friends, soon to be engaged in less than seven months (*aww*).


Bonus fun fact: The beautiful building behind us is Lovett Hall (*cough,* which is not the same thing as Lovett College, where we lived as freshman!). That archway in the middle of the building is the Sallyport, which you walk through to enter the academic quad as a freshman during the closing ceremony of orientation week. You're not supposed to walk through it again until you graduate, or else you risk never graduating. It's one of those mildly bemusing archaic traditions that's covered in Rice Magazine. I honestly can't remember if I ever broke that superstition or not. When you graduate, you exit the academic quad through the Sallyport (yes, the grad ceremony is held outside, in May, in the Texas heat, without shade). Full circle!


Interview with Daisy Stitch Co

October 13, 2020

 

A small sample of the seasonal colorways created by Daisy Stitch Co! Pictured from left to right: Cinnamon, Crisp Pear, Golden Hour, McIntosh Apple, and Moss. Photo courtesy of Daisy Stitch Co

Behind the Business: Speaking with Shelly of Daisy Stitch Co

While browsing Instagram one mid-July morning, a post featuring a "Christmas in July" sale by Daisy Stitch Co popped up in my stories. I was instantly captivated by the seasonal colorways, and was smitten by the beautiful combinations of colors that captured the transitions between summer and autumn, autumn and winter, etc. I reached out to Shelly Diaz of Daisy Stitch Co, and we began to collaborate on what would eventually become the Suzie Hat and Suzie Scarf crochet patterns! (Plus, we're currently putting together the Noel Blanket and Noel Hat patterns, to be released on November 1!)


When I start designing a new crochet pattern, I carefully consider the colorways and yarn weights I'll be featuring in the finished product. It feels a bit like magic when I find the perfect color and yarn for a project, and that exciting moment when things start to come together and I can truly envision how something will come to life never gets old! I find Shelly's yarns to be especially captivating, as they hit the sweet spot of cozy and classic wonderfully!


Without further ado, it's time to grab a cuppa and get comfy as I chat with Shelly about Daisy Stitch Co!



Welcome to the Stitchery & Co. blog, Shelly! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Texas with my husband and 2 dogs, Daisy and Maggie. I have 2 grown up kids, Zach, 26, and Hannah, 23. I love the outdoors and being active. I go on lots of dog walks and bicycle rides.


I am obsessed with yarn and my passion is hand-dyeing yarn. I love being able to share my colors with other yarn enthusiasts. I have been crocheting for many years. My grandmother, Ida Fisher, taught me when I was a little girl. I still have many of the afghans she made for me and my family. Even after her passing, they remind me of her and the time we spent together crocheting.


Photo courtesy Daisy Stitch Co


How did Daisy Stitch Co get started?

Several years ago, I made a career change. I was managing a retail specialty store, working long hours and my stress level was at a high. My health was starting to suffer. So I took a leap of faith and decided to make a change. At first, I just wanted to take some time off to destress and work on improving my health. I have always loved to crochet, so I started making things for friends and family. Crocheting is a big stress reliever for me. I find it soothing and calming. It’s also very rewarding to make something for the people you love. Then I decided to open an Etsy shop and list some of my creations. I named the shop after my sweet Aussie mix, Daisy. As I got into it, I started designing and publishing patterns. After seeing a YouTube tutorial, I tried my hand at yarn dyeing. I loved it and became obsessed!


The Autumn Dreams Beanie Pattern - a free pattern by Daisy Stitch Co available here!


What's your favorite part of dyeing yarn?

I just love seeing the colors come together in the dye pan. It’s so fun to throw different colors in to see how they will turn out. Sometimes it’s a dud, but most of the time it’s better than I hoped for. I also love seeing these colors stitched up by my customers. It makes me so happy! I love seeing progress pics and finished projects.


You have so many beautiful color palettes to choose from! How do you select which colors will become part of your hand-dyed yarn collections?

I try to keep the palettes seasonal.  I am truly inspired by nature. My most recent collection was inspired by all of the gorgeous colors in autumn fruits. I have to be honest: sometimes, it’s by accident. I will experiment with something and love how it turns out and that becomes a colorway. I am obsessed with looking up color palettes online. I like to challenge myself and try to get the colors to look like the real thing. For example, I am super proud of McIntosh Apple. The way the colors came out, it really looks like the colors of the McIntosh Apple!


McIntosh Apple by Daisy Stitch Co


I'm always so curious as to how yarn dyers actually dye up their yarn! Are you working alone, or do you have help? What keeps you motivated and enthusiastic to keep going?

It’s taken me awhile to get my process down and I am still learning new things every day. I am meticulous about writing everything down. It’s important to me to be able to reproduce the colorways. I have mostly been working alone, with some help from my husband and daughter. I am currently looking for part-time help. I am so motivated by my awesome, supportive customers and fiber friends. The maker community is so amazing! Inspiration and creativity motivate me as well.  When I get an idea, I have to try it out. Being creative is so fulfilling for me. I have 2 sisters and they both have their own businesses. They both inspire me with their dedication and courage. We are each others cheerleaders!


What's in the future for Daisy Stitch Co?

The future is bright and I am so excited about  the possibilities of my business. Daisy Stitch Co has seen big growth this year. I have been able to keep up, but am currently looking to hire some help. I will be doing more shows and events. There are more collaborations coming up and my holiday collection will be released in November. Over the next year, I would love to be able to have a few brand ambassadors and maybe even move the business into an office space/warehouse. (I have taken over my house with all the dyeing stuff.)


Where can people find you and your yarn?

You can purchase my yarn online at Daisy Stitch Co, and you can follow me on Instagram at @daisystitchco.



 

Mars is Bright

October 12, 2020

 


"'Good evening,' said Ronan. 'Students, are you? And do you learn much, up at the school?' 'Erm-' 'A bit,' said Hermione timidly. 'A bit. Well, that's something.' Ronan sighed. He flung back his head and stared at the sky. 'Mars is bright tonight.'" - J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Behind the Work & Why It's Now OOAK

When I first began brainstorming ideas for embroidery hoop patterns, I thought I might be interested in designing a series highlighting my favorite literary quotes. I was new to calligraphy and excited to learn, so stitching this hoop with the famous words uttered by Ronan when he first met the young Hogwarts students in the Forbidden Forest was an interesting adventure! I was troubleshooting how to position letters so they could be easily embroidered and then also figuring out how to teach someone the simplest way to embroider the cursive lettering via a PDF pattern.


I love this little 6-inch embroidery hoop, and was initially happy to have it included in my Etsy shop as an example of how to stitch chunky calligraphic quotes surrounded by complementary collage elements. However, after about two months of intense design ideation and critically considering how I want to define my creative practice, I decided to deactivate the listing for this embroidery pattern. 


Why? The answer is pretty simple: quotes with little else are just not my thing, and (at least for the time being), I don't have the drive or passion to make them my thing! There are many artists out there who already stitch amazing, mind-bogglingly beautiful quotes offset by delicate details. I'm just not one of them. I prefer to stitch architecture, or full montages, or wreaths accompanied by a quote, or cute lil' seasonal things that just make me smile when I pick up my needle and begin to embroider!


While I understand you might be disappointed not to have the opportunity to stitch up your own "Mars is Bright Tonight" embroidery using my pattern, I hope you'll understand my motivation behind adjusting my Etsy inventory. Of course, you're more than welcome to take your own stab at the quote - I'd love to see what you stitch in your own style!


Help! How do I substitute yarn?!

October 11, 2020

 


Yarn Substitution 101

Imagine you've found the perfect crochet (or knit) pattern, and you're now selecting which yarns you'll use to create your piece. The pattern might call for yarn that's not in stock, or worse, no longer being produced! Maybe you don't actually like the yarn used in the pattern - the color might not match your preferred color palette, you're not a fan of superwash wool, or you're allergic to the fiber! Should you scrap the pattern and find something else to stitch? No, of course not!


Welcome to the wonderful world of yarn substitution! I love substituting yarn for many reasons: sometimes I just want to use different colors, but I'm usually searching for yarn that's easier to care for or yarn that's softer to the touch. In order to successfully substitute one yarn for another, you'll need to keep several key questions in mind:


What yarn properties are most important to you?

Does the overall look of the fabric matter the most to you, or are you flexible on things such as drape and sheen? Not all fibers and yarn will work up to create a fabric that has a beautiful drape (some really do create a stiff blanket or sweater!). Bamboo, silk, and other viscose fibers work well in designs calling for a heavy and swinging drape, whereas fibers such as cashmere and mohair will have a lighter feel. Fibers and yarn also have different surface sheens (e.g., how shiny do you want your finished piece to look?). I personally find it to be super tricky to discern a fiber's sheen while online shopping, so I recommend checking out fibers in person if it's your first time working with the brand. As a general rule, however, smooth fibers such as bamboo and silk will have a more lustrous sheen; cashmere and mohair will have a less noticeable sheen; and most wool fibers will have a matte appearance.


What stitches are used in the pattern?

I've learned this the hard way, so take my advice: not all yarns stitch up equally! If the pattern calls for ribbing techniques often used in wearable garments such as sweaters and hats, you'll likely want a fiber that is very close to the fiber recommended by the pattern. This is because ribbing provides shape to the garment, and this shaping may pull or shrink when washed, which can be exacerbated by the yarn used! (As a side note, I tend to use superwash wool or acrylic fibers for these types of garments.)


If the pattern uses many textured stitches (e.g., cable stitches, seed stitches, lemon peel stitches, etc.), you'll likely want to select a smooth, plied yarn that will highlight your stitchwork. Your stitches would simply get lost in a fuzzy or tweed-like yarn, and what's the point of losing the effort behind your stitches?! (Although I do absolutely love a fuzzy yarn for something like a pom-pom or amigurumi stuffed animal!)


Are you going to be wearing this item?

If you're going to be wearing the finished product, you'll 100% want to keep in mind how the yarn feels against your skin! (Again, this is a moment where it would be best if you could physically touch the yarn in a store.) Some wool fibers can be softened using a special wool wash, but this only helps to a certain degree. If your yarn is scratchy and unbelievably itchy, wool wash isn't going to work a miracle!


How much money are  you willing to spend on your yarn?

The cost of a hank or skein of yarn can vary wildly, with many affordable acrylic options lending themselves well to large projects and more expensive, hand-dyed yarn created by independent artists being a better fit for smaller projects such as sweaters, scarves, and hats. Of course, you can always mix affordable and expensive yarns together! You'll just want to make sure that the yarns are very close in weight so that your stitches match as you move between the different brands.


Does your finished item need to be an exact size?

If your pattern requires you to create something to an exact size, such as a wearable item that is notated by stitch counts rather than actual measurements (my absolute nightmare!), you'll need to pay close attention to the yarn's gauge. I highly, highly recommend you crochet or knit a test swatch using your preferred yarn to check that you'll be able to match the gauge provided in the pattern.


The Best Yarn Substitution Tool: YarnSub




If you're new to yarn subsitution, looking to discover new yarn brands, or need to find a perfect dupe for an out of stock yarn, I cannot recommend YarnSub enough! YarnSub is a free and independent tool to help crocheters and knitters find workable substitutes for yarn, and is actively run by lifelong knitter Wendy Peterson. It has a mind-boggling large database of yarns, which can be navigated through helpful filters such as:

  • Animal fibers
  • Animal-derived
  • Synthetic
  • Plant fibers
  • Cost

Each yarn is also fully categorized with details such as weight, texture, fiber, recommended needles and hooks, gauge, care instructions, available styles, and price. When applicable, YarnSub also includes the option to view different online retailers who have the yarn in stock! Yarn substitutions are ranked according to how well the substitute matches the original yarn, so you can easily see which yarns are the closest fit. Amazing, right?


I'm hooked, and want to learn more!

Ready to dive into the deep end of yarn substitution? I recommend checking out the book Yarn Subsitution Made Easy: Matching the Right Yarn to Any Knitting Pattern by Carol J. Sulcoski (2012) or The Knitter's Book of Yarn: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Using, and Enjoying Yarn by Clara Parkes (2007).


Have you tried substituting yarn before? If so, I'd love to know what other advice you'd like to share! I love learning from y'all so much, and can't wait to expand my understanding of fiber and yarn!


Easy Halloween Garland | Free Pattern

October 10, 2020

 

About the Pattern

Halloween is hands-down one of my favorite holidays (followed closely by Valentine's Day!), so when I had some extra Feels Like Butta yarn leftover from my Rainbow Bobble Blanket pattern, I just knew it would make the perfect garland filled with simple ghosts and pumpkins!


This free beginner-friendly pattern can be easily adapted using your own yarn scraps, and uses a crocheted foundation chain, tassels, and pom-poms as the basis for the garland. I'd love to see if you whip one of these up for the fall holidays - be sure to tag #StitcheryandCo and @allisonmclark on Instagram so I can marvel at your work!


Materials

  • Feels Like Butta by Lion Brand Yarn in White, Pale Grey, Orange, Mint, and Pink 
  • Crochet hook (to match whatever yarn weight you use)
  • Yarn needle




Instructions: Part 1

Creating Ghosts and Ghouls from Tassels

I like to create tassels using a hardcover or board book, as they make it easy to slide the yarn off at the end! I recommend experimenting with different sizes of books to see which one you like best; larger books will make larger tassels! 


Begin by unraveling a portion of your White or Pink Feels Like Butta yarn. I added both white and pink ghosts to my garland, but you could use any color! 


Hold your yarn end(s) in the center of your book, and begin to wrap the yarn around the book.


Continue to wrap your yarn around the book. The thickness of your tassel will be determined by how many times you wrap the yarn around the book. For these tassels, I wrapped the White and Pink yarn around the book 50 times. 


After you have finished wrapping the yarn around the book, cut the yarn from the skein.



You will now slide that very tight loop of yarn off your book, being sure to keep the bundle of yarn in its loop-like shape.


Place your loop of yarn down onto a flat surface. Use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the bottom of the yarn loop in order to create a thick strip of yarn threads. (This is why I recommend a pair of sharp scissors - it can be tough to cut through this bulk of yarn!)


Lay your bundle of yarn onto a flat surface, keeping the yarn lengths even.


Using the same color of yarn as your ghost, cut a piece of yarn that is approximately two feet long, as well as a shorter piece of yarn that is about six inches long. Lay your longer length of yarn (about two feet long) down vertically in front of you. Place the thick strip of yarn threads down horizontally on top of the vertical yarn, so that that the long piece of yarn is at the middle of the thick strip of yarn threads. 


Tie a knot around the yarn threads using your long length of yarn.


Re-shape your tassel by brushing the thick strip of yarn threads down into the same direction, making sure that the long length of yarn that is holding the bundle together is kept separate. Use a shorter piece of yarn (about six inches long) to tie a knot around the tassel, about one inch from the top of the yarn bundle. This will create a round ball-shape at the top of the tassel (aka, the head!). You will want this knot to be very tight and sturdy, or else you risk strands of yarn slipping out from the tassel over time.


Tada - you now have a finished ghost! Repeat the above steps using your preferred yarn colors, creating the number of ghosts you would like to have in your finished garland. For my garland, I created 5 white ghosts and 5 pink ghosts (all using Feels Like Butta yarn).


Instructions: Part 2

Creating Pumpkins from Pom-Poms

The pumpkins are a cinch to create! I used the Clover Pom-Pom Maker Set, with the 85mm and 65 mm pom-pom makers for the large- and medium-sized pumpkins. When using a pom-pom maker, you will begin by winding the yarn around each arch of the maker before cutting the yarn (see next step).



Use a pair of sharp scissors to carefully cut the yarn within the pom-pom maker.


After you cut the yarn, you will need to use a long thread to tie a knot around the pom-pom, which will keep the pom-pom's strands in place. I used Feels Like Butta yarn in Orange for the pom-pom and changed to the color Mint to tie off the pom-pom (so that it would look like a little stem!).


Normally when you make a pom-pom, you only need to tie one thread around the pom-pom's strands. However, I tied several additional Mint threads around mine and then cut them short so that they would look like little tufts of leaves poking out from the top of the pumpkin.


Remove the pom-pom from the pom-pom maker by opening one arch at a time. If necessary, you can use scissors to trim any loose strands or shape your pom-pom into the perfect circular pumpkin shape. Remember that you'll need the long strand of Mint yarn at the top of your pumpkin in order to attach it to the garland! I made 5 medium and 5 large pumpkins.


Instructions: Part 3

Putting it All Together: Creating the Garland

Once you have your pom-pom pumpkins and tassel ghosts created, you'll just need to crochet a simple foundation chain to serve as the length of your garland! I crocheted my foundation chain while holding both White and Pale Grey yarns together, which causes the colors to create a subtle marbled appearance and produces a thicker foundation chain. Of course, you could also stick to just one color - it's up to you! If you're brand new to crochet, I recommend checking out this video tutorial on how to stitch a foundation chain by Crochet Guru.


My foundation chain is 315 chain stitches long, and I placed a ghost or pumpkin every 15 chain stitches. In order to attach each ghost or pumpkin to the garland, I used a sturdy yarn needle to carefully thread a yarn tail from each item through a chain stitch on the garland. Remember that both the ghost and the pumpkin have long yarn tails that were designed to be attached to the garland!


Once one yarn tail from either a pumpkin or ghost is threaded through the foundation chain, carefully tie the yarn tail to its corresponding yarn tail in order to tightly secure it to the garland. Use a pair of scissors to trim the excess yarn from the garland.


That's it! You've now created a classic Halloween garland! Please share your projects with me on Instagram by tagging #StitcheryandCo and @allisonmclark - I can't wait to see what you make!


Interview with Misfit Yarns

October 9, 2020

 


You might recognize the brand Misfit Yarns from my Cookies and Cream Hat pattern, which is made using the colorway Cookies and Cream in DK by Misfit Yarns. I first discovered Misfit Yarns on Instagram (@misfityarns), and was instantly drawn to the brand's color palettes that range from some of the brightest hues imaginable to more subdued combinations! My personal favorite is (perhaps obviously!) Cookies and Cream, which features a creamy white background with speckles moving from light grey to deep black. It really does remind me of a classic candy bar mixed with an Oreo cookie!


The Cookies and Cream Hat, with a beginner-friendly crochet pattern available here


What you may not know, however, is that Misfit Yarns is a one-woman operation led by Michele! Michele is one of the kindest independent dyers I've worked with, and I am so excited to share our conversation about her yarn-dyeing business with you!


How did Misfit Yarns get started?

Misfit Yarns started in 2007(!) when I learned how to spin yarn and wanted to dye my own roving colors. I was also really into processing my own fiber (washing the fleece, carding the fleece, etc.) so I wanted to have complete control over my color choices. I started selling handspun and hand dyed yarns on Etsy as a hobby and it became a very part-time endeavor when I was able to devote the time and energy to it. Misfit Yarns went on an on again/off again hiatus between 2012-2018. I revived Misfit Yarns as a more consistent part-time endeavor in the middle of 2018. I was starting my doctoral studies in a part time 2-year program and because I wasn't working full time, it provided an opportunity to rebrand into commercial hand dyed yarn.


Why did you want to create hand-dyed yarns?

Again, it came out of wanting to control the colors I wanted to spin and create with handspun yarns. This evolved into using prespun, commercial yarns and the motivation from all of the indie dyers that have emerged over the years. I really enjoy dyeing yarn and wanted it to become a more consistent part of my life, even though I'm operating out of a tiny kitchen. 


I've never dyed yarn, but I imagine there's a lot of steps and planning that goes into it! (Color selection? Washing the yarns? Drying time? It must be a ton!) What does a typical yarn-dyeing day look like for you?

When I dye yarn, I don't always have a plan in mind. When I do, it's usually the turn of the seasons or an inspiration that pops up. With this current batch of fall and Halloween yarns, I came in with a plan to use fall and Halloween colors and go from there. I usually take notes (or forget and have to remember later) during the dye process to be able to recreate it to the best of my ability later. I mostly dye protein fibers - which are animal fibers. The dyes used for protein fibers are acid dyes. The acid I use to set the dye is citric acid - so nothing too serious. Some use vinegar, but with citric acid there's no smell and the powder lasts longer than liquid. Depending on the method, I either tray dye or dye in a pot. For variegated and speckled yarns, I'll use a hotel pan on my stove and add the colors to the yarn after adding citric acid and water to the pans. Depending on the effect, sometimes I add the citric acid later. Once I have finished dyeing, I let the yarn cool and then I rinse it in my washing machine with no agitation and then spin them to get the moisture out. I then hang dry them on a drying rack. After they are dry, I will wind them, photograph them for Etsy and Instagram and tag them. Whew!


How has social media helped your business?

Instagram has really opened up a lot of doors and promotion for the business. I've certainly gotten a fair amount of customers from Instagram and also some from Facebook. It's really fun to be able to interact with customers and potential customers on social media platforms and I'm glad that there's many out there who have found my yarn and feel it's worthy of their yarn craft projects. 


Lastly, what's in the future for Misfit Yarns?

I'm really excited that I was accepted to vend at the Online International Fiber Festival taking place November 9-16. You can find out more info at https://oiff.familypodcasts.com/. The first day highlights the American Midwest and I am excited to be representing the region where I grew up and currently live in. If shows open back up again next year or more go virtual, I hope to do more shows next year and continue to grow my brand. I've also been accepted for Virtual Vogue Knitting Live, which is taking place now through October 11! 




A selection of hand-dyed yarn by Michele of Misfit Yarns, all available in the Misfit Yarns Etsy Shop!