Happy September! One of the best months of the year (IMHO) and it’s bringing lots of reorganization and preparation for yours truly 😉
I’m here today to bring you a vlog that talks a little bit about how I run my business and make money publishing crochet patterns online. This overview introduces two new platforms for Morale Fiber, Patreon and Ko-Fi, which will allow me to take subscriptions from the kind followers who want to support what I do!
Patreon and Ko-Fi are social media channels designed to help artists get paid for their work. If you like to see my work and want to make a huge difference in my ability to produce content, please subscribe, donate or follow me on either of these platforms! 🙂 If those channels are too much commitment, you can drop a safe, one-time payment in my Tip Jar on this page (or read more there about how I manage MF and provide free content).
In my YouTube Channel video I go over why I am opening these new revenue options, what I do in the day to day running of Morale Fiber, and how I juggle all the tasks of a one-woman independent art business.
There’s also some sneak peeks of upcoming designs currently in development and examples of some of the great FREE content I offer 🙂 All projects mentioned in the video are linked below 😀
One more thing – I apologize for the choppiness of this video! I mentioned recently that I was having issues with my laptop (main computer) being really slow 🙃 and shortly after I filmed this video on my phone, my computer crashed and is now totally dead. So I had to video edit on my phone. One more great reason to subscribe, donate and tip if you like my art! Mama needs a new laptop 😉
Hi fiber fans! This blog post is just a quick one featuring my newest YouTube video, which is a long and ramble-y unboxing of my latest yarn order from one of my absolute favorite supply companies, Lion Brand. As usual, the opinions and products featured in this review are 100% my own – I didn’t receive any money, affiliations, or products in return for this feature, I just really like their yarn 🙂
With this review I’ve continued my search for soft, comfortable #4 weight cotton yarn for use in my halter top and bikini top patterns and I finally find my coveted substitute for I Love This Cotton…
I also re-supply myself on Ferris Wheel, an excellent colorful acrylic cake yarn with a lightweight one-ply structure. This yarn is somewhat melancholy as I’m using it to finish the Sundogs Throw blanket my friend was making right before she passed away.
So here’s the video – come hang with me as I laugh, cry, and ogle totes in my little woodland corner (and check below the video for links to all the patterns I mention)…
Lion Brand Unboxing & Yarn Review
Thanks for joining me! Here are the links to the patterns I mention in the video:
This summer is flying by, fueled by the need to commune and see my loved ones after the isolation and uncertainty of 2020. I keep in mind I’m lucky enough to have access to the vaccine, as there are many places that struggled to get their populations vaccinated and still so many people in danger of getting Covid 19 or the variant strains. As usual, gratitude is the name of the game.
So it’s been a busy season, and in addition to the full dance card I’ve managed a number of new designs and projects. This will be one of my “wrap-up and reflect” posts sharing my latest patterns, some new spins on old designs, and anything else that comes to mind 🙂
Faux Fur Hats
Having stashed plenty of the Lion Brand Go for Faux Thick & Quick yarn last winter, I decided to make some room on my yarn shelf by busting out two new Ushanka hats from my totally free Ushanka Hat & Muff pattern. I’ve been getting ideas from the interestingly styled images on my vintage fashion & mori kei Pinterest board, in which mountain girls sport colorful accessorized layers paired with fur hats and boots. It was a bit hot out for that sort of thing, but I did get creative with my styling and layers in order to show off these two new Ushankas!
The first is a traditional Ushanka, with the earflaps attaching to the sides of the hat with buttons instead of ties on top as with the original one I made. The big Jumbo yarn and the huge hook make these hats doable in just a fraction of a day!
The second faux fur hat I made, I modified the original crochet pattern just a little by adding an extra round of stitches on top (following the formula of increases to continue with the flat circle). I wanted a slightly bigger profile on this one, and a more rigid “turn” from the top of the hat to the sides. To accomplish this sharp top edge, I worked the first non-increase round in Back Post Double Crochet instead of regular double crochet, which helped the stitches turn inward more sharply.
I also left the earflaps off of this one to give it a more “military” and less of a “trapper” look.
As you can see with the Ramblers’ Mitts above, I’ve really been enjoying the variety of “velvet” or chenille type yarns this year, and I knew I had to make the Basic Bralette design in that ultra-cushy soft texture too. It came out as luxe as I imagined in Bernat Baby Velvet, the smaller (#4 weight) yarn version of their popular #5 weight yarn.
I got some more of the same Baby Velvet to make another! I also used the regular Bernat Velvet in black to make a super special Basic Bralette – I wanted to test the capacity of the Basic Bralette (and it’s modifier, the Curvey Bralette) design to go up to bigger cup sizes and it worked out beautifully! My friend wears an H cup size bra and with some modifications (which have now been added into the written portion of the main pattern) it was no problem to make the design fit.
Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned busy-ness, I haven’t gotten to take pictures of her in it yet. Hopefully those are coming soon. I am so pleased with how it looks, especially since I get questions about making the Basic Bralette in larger sizes a lot and now I can answer them more thoroughly, having done it myself 🙂
Cottagecore Girlfriend Dress
I’ve loved taking short breaks with bits of sewing, particularly when it means I get to clean out some leftovers and fabric-stash bust a little. I made this light, floaty and sweet patchwork dress using my favorite patchwork skirt pattern, melded with a bodice that I freehanded. A criss-cross back tie and adjustable waistband made this really comfortable, and I also added eyelet lace cotton trim in gathered ruffles on the hem and a vintage embroidered tea towel pocket!
I called it my “Cottagecore Girlfriend” dress 🙂 I learned a lot making it and hopefully will be able to recreate the bodice part for later versions – meanwhile this one has been added to my costume closet and already made an appearance in my “Moth Wizard” photoshoot for the Wizard Hat crochet pattern, which was just released!
Elf Coat Updates
On of the most major projects I concluded this summer was getting the Elf Coat pattern expanded and updated. I created a major update for the regular sizes Small-Large which included some rewriting and some additional extras like belt and pockets, but the long awaited Plus Sizes option didn’t get released until recently in June! Good timing for that, as it gives people plenty of time to get started on their coats so that they can wear them this winter 🙂
You can find the directory to all the sizes and options for the Elf Coat through the page linked in the paragraph above – right now this includes sizes Small-2XL/3XL, corset back lacing, belt tie, and THREE types of pockets, all for FREE here on my blog (but you can also buy the full written patterns in my Etsy shop 😉 and there might be a sale if you read a little further! )
New Growth & Designs
Pictured here is as much as I’m willing to reveal about the new pattern I have in the works! I try not to give too much away usually, as I just like to keep things a surprise and also because I’m terrible at committing 😀 But after 4 total reworks to this piece, I’m confident to say it’s mostly finalized and so I’m moving into the fine-tuning stage of development.
As you can see, this next one will be based on my Tree of Life motif, which has proved to be a great little free design – I have just enjoyed it SO MUCH, seeing people’s little happy trees pop up on my Instagram feed! You can get the free pattern for the Tree of Life Mandala wall hanging by following the link above. This motif also appears in my Embla Vest, a premium pattern in sizes XS-XL ❤
Last but not least, my Etsy shop is ALMOST to 10,000 sales! Holy wow, I can’t believe it! We’ve got a few more to go though, so to incentivize I’ve created my “10K or Bust” sale which is running now through the end of next month – get ANY crochet pattern from my Etsy Shop 20% off, no coupon code needed!
I’m really excited to see that number roll over – I can still remember 10K sales on Etsy being some crazy, far-away dream of mine 😉 The sale is schedule to last until August 28, 2021 – although I may extend it depending on how close to 10K we get!
As always, thank you for all your likes, comments, purchases, reviews, and encouragement!
I have some good news and some bad news! Let’s start with the good news:
The Mermaid Mitts & Sandals crochet pattern has been given a major update, which includes fixing some errors in the written pattern but also adding a bunch of bright, fresh new tutorial photography 🙂 As a pattern designer, I’m constantly backtracking to check that my paid patterns are up to my current standard – I started publishing my designs in 2015 and I’m always learning as I go, so sometimes the older patterns just look flimsy compared to what I can do now. The Mermaid Mitts & Sandals pattern is the latest PDF crochet pattern to get a nice makeover.
Keep reading for all the details on this design or go directly to my Etsy Shop or Ravelry Store to purchase this premium crochet pattern (But you might want to keep reading because I’m offering a SALE on Ravelry, discussed below)!
So that’s the good news, here’s the bad news: This design was supposed to debut today as both a paid PDF pattern file update AND a FREE pattern re-release including a new video tutorial. Another thing I like to do with my older paid patterns as I update them is consider whether they would be good choices for offering a free version here on my blog – just like I did with the Rhiannon Cowl, the Mandala Tam, the Winter Poncho, and the Mandala Top. Free versions of patterns help both me and you, since I get more site traffic which leads to more sales, and people who can’t afford a ton of paid patterns get access to quality content they can enjoy and recommend to others 🙂
But this is the bad news part, because I can’t offer the pattern on the blog or as a video today. For about two weeks now, my laptop computer has been inexplicably slow. It took me days to format the pattern update, and my computer has been so laggy and malfunctioning that it’s been very difficult to get any work done at all. I had scheduled the re-release of the Mermaid Mitts in updated PDF form, free blog pattern form, and free YouTube tutorial video form… but I’m nowhere near completing those last two items because my computer is SO FREAKING SLOW right now. 😦
SOOOOO here’s my temporary solution – A SALE! Buy any other crochet pattern from my Ravelry Store, get the Mermaid Mitts & Sandals PDF pattern file for free! You don’t need a coupon code, just drop the Mermaid pattern in your cart with any other pattern and go to checkout where the discount will be taken 🙂 I’ll still be uploading this pattern for free and with a video tutorial in the future, once I fix whatever ailment is afflicting my technology. In the meantime, PDF pattern purchases are my main source of income and it would really help me out with the new technology costs if you took advantage of this deal – or, if you don’t need any more PDF patterns but still want to support my business, consider leaving a Tip in the Tip Jar! You can enter any amount of $1 increments to leave a tip in my secure, WordPress-backed payment system there. Any amount will be extra appreciated right now as technology is expensive but I can’t provide patterns without it ❤
Anyway, here’s all the details about the Mermaid Mitts & Sandals pattern, which is one I’m very proud of and I think you’ll love! ❤
Mermaid Mitts & Sandals
This fanciful beaded crochet accessory set is suitable for any mermaids, undines, or sirens that might journey onto land in search of a mortal to ensnare. This is a two-in-one pattern that makes one pair of scaly armwarmers (wrist OR elbow length) and one pair of beaded barefoot sandals!
I love the unique design of the mitts, which feature the crocodile stitches only on the back of the hand, not surrounding the palm, for more practical wear. The barefoot sandals are a mystical twist on traditional crochet foot accessories! Includes tutorial photography to accompany the written instructions and separate tutorials for crocodile stitches and the beading technique used in this pattern.
Suitable not only for mermaids, undines, and naiads, but also dryads, nymphs, sylphs, and all other manner of fae and little folk!
Materials: 3.50 hook (or size needed to obtain gauge) Lion Brand Coboo (#3 weight, 100 g / 232 yd, 50% cotton 50% Bamboo rayon) – about ½ skein (this is the recommended yarn but this pattern looks GREAT with lots of different yarns, including many #4 weight and #3 weight substitutes such as Lion Brand Mandala or Red Heart Unforgettable) 32 6/0 seed beads (optional) beading needle (optional) tapestry needle Gauge: 1 croc stitch scale = 1.5” measured across top
Pattern written in US crochet terminology. Language: ENGLISH
I drew inspiration from a lot of places for this design but one that always stuck with me was a faerie-like croc stitch barefoot sandal that had bells at the tip of each croc scale – I adored them and I still plan on doing a bell version of the sandals soon ❤
As always, and despite the sometimes struggle-y nature of being a one-woman art business, I’m so full of gratitude. The online crochet community has been my home for over a decade now and it just gets better and better. It takes all of us to make it that way, sharing our creativity, ideas, inspiration, and encouragement to keep the passion of our tradition alive ❤ Thank you!
One of my favorite sayings goes “The only constant is change.”
It reminds me that the live happily in life, you always need to acknowledge the shifting nature of it. If you go along expecting everything to be the same, always resisting when forced to take paths that you didn’t intend, life and it’s transformative progress will seem to be a battle.
One of my other favorite sayings goes “Man plans, god laughs” 😉
I’ll be reflecting in this post about what I’ve been doing with Morale Fiber over the past year – it’s more of a diary entry really, collecting my thoughts and tipping you off for what’s on the horizon for my designs!
2020 – Plague Year
It’s obviously been a weird one. In addition to switching my business from part-time to full-time in 2020, just a few months into the year Corona Virus struck and my proximity to at-risk loved ones made self-employment more imperative than usual. Still luckily things are going well, and I created & maintained my schedule for the year which included 6 written patterns, 4 tutorials, 2 brand new free hat patterns, 3 remodeled patterns, and lots more crochet morale boosting!
I’ve got a couple projects/designs in the works to finish off the year’s production list, and I’m now into my normal “holidays” phase of the year, despite the lack of holiday events upcoming (stupid plague).
YouTube Channel (& SALE!!)
One of the biggest efforts I made this year was reaching my goal of monetizing my YouTube Channel, which I’ve been developing as quickly as my creaky, video-hating old bones can manage. But I did make that goal also, thanks to all the watchers & subscribers, so I’m holding a special pattern sale as a thank-you!
All PDF versions of the full-length patterns available on my YouTube Channel (and a few that are all written PDF but have video component tutorials) are ON SALE for 50% off now through November 15 on Ravelry ❤ ❤ Here’s a list of the patterns on sale, linked to Ravelry – use the code “YOUTUBE” at checkout to get the discount!
Monetizing my YouTube channel will help me continue to bring out free content available to everyone while also giving me the financial support to keep publishing great quality, full-scale written PDF crochet patterns. Another great way to support my art: The Tip Jar!
20th Pixie Belt: Lotus
I realized at some point that the next Pixie Pocket Belt I made would be my 20th, and so I determined to make a really special one. I have been making these unique crocheted utility belts freehand, doing them completely different each time, for a few years now.
After that, I got out my special hand-dyed upcycled fabric given to me by my friend Kate, who had it left over from a studio art project – and it happened to match so well! What I ended up with is a watery, soft, draping train of prismatic lace and tatters, topped with a shimmery white lotus flower circular pocket and soft drawstring bag and toadstool pouch accents.
I put it over another hand-dyed upcycled project of mine, an in-progress rag gown, fit for a water sprite dredged from the bottom of a flowery pond. No mud, no lotus ❤
Elf Coat Expansion
Pretty much as soon as I put down the last touches on the Elf Coat design, I knew I was going to have to pick it up again eventually! One part of the sleeve design always nagged at me, and I did intend to give it pockets eventually – and lo, the flood of requests for Plus Sizes ❤ ❤
As much as I wanted to fulfill these fixes, I needed a break from the Elf Coat, so I took a couple years off to think about things 😉 And now I’m back, tackling the first part of the Elf Coat redesign and expansion! The first task is to fix the sleeve bit and to get a pocket option figured out, then update those changes to the already-existing sizes (S-M-L).
Afterward, I design & test the plus sizes! This is exciting and if you’d like to be a part of any of the testing for the new updates, join the Morale Fiber Facebook Group – The MFCA – and keep an eye out for the testing call!
Other Projects & Updates
I’ve got a number of bigger new designs on the horizon, which I’m also going to need help testing 😉 None are solid enough yet to list here, but I’ve got a hoard of updatable old patterns and things to occupy myself until things coalesce, of course.
I’m also thinking that this website, moralefiber.blog, really needs a few changes – it’s remained virtually the exact same since I opened it five years ago. Which makes sense, because I’m much more concerned with producing crochet content than updating the way the site looks – but eventually one must try to stay efficient. Hopefully I don’t wreck the way it works in the process!
Until Morale Improves, the Crocheting Will Continue ❤
Forgive me, fiber darlings, as the golden falling walnut leaves and the true approach of autumn sends me into paroxysms of nostalgia – you see, I’ve completed a very long personal fiber art project, and will not hesitate to use it as an excuse to wax sentimental 😉
Translation: This is a long personal reflection post and a project with no patterns. 😉
I had already been working with drop spindles at this point, but I was excited to take advantage of the larger, faster batches one could produce with the wheel. I dug into the first pound with vigor, producing a tight and even dark brown set of yarns… but like lots of large projects, the initial momentum got lost and it took me several years to finish spinning the rest of the fiber.
In the mean time I learned and experimented with lots of other things, and even added more alpaca fiber to the hoard, including a raw fleece gifted to me by a friend (not much of that one went into the final product – hand carding is a workout!!)
The fleeces followed me, like a little herd of alpacas themselves, though many phases of life in the past four years. I spun and played with them, dreamed with them. They reminded me all the time of the farms and ranches I worked at when I was younger and traveling the United States, work-trading as a farm hand at communes and eco-villages. Every fiber of them passed through my hands eventually, to twist together on the wheel or spindle – how many thoughts are in these fibers? How many dreams?
At once point I got exuberantly experimental about natural dyeing again (my first forays consisted of tea, coffee, turmeric, and a failed pokeberry batch way back in 2009-10 or so), so I started collecting the vegetable waste from my day job in the produce department and brewing up a big batch of avocado dye from the pits and skins. Raw material, collected and transmuted again. How many hands picked the fruit? How many dreams did they dream?
When I dive, I deep dive. I want to know the parts of a process like I know the breathing of my lungs, intrinsically, so that my fingers can read the dreams. To me, that is the way to respect – respect what, I don’t know. The energies it took to create everything around me? Maybe. It is gratitude, definitely.
When the fibers were carded and dyed and spun and plied and washed and dried, I took them to my fatter knitting needles: the 9.00 mm circulars from my interchangeable set. (I remember the super long knitted scarf from a decade ago, and how I tried to cram so many stitches of recycled cotton onto a cheap plastic yard sale needle and snapped it into oblivion, losing hundreds of tiny knit stitches to my cold-sweating terror…)
Good thing my tools have evolved with me. I knit and knit and knit, practicing my speed-purling, practicing my yarn overs, dropping stitches and switching to garter occasionally. I never got the bug for delicate knit patterns, I like my knits huge and stupid and chunky and easy.
I knew it was going to be a big folded rectangle essentially, with two arm holes. Simple. A large serape-like shell could be worn over other winter layers, since not all of the yarn I used is next-to-skin soft – but holy heck is it warm! Alpaca fiber is also naturally water-resistant, enhancing this wrap’s qualities as outerwear.
I played up the textural aspects of this piece, letting my big dumb rectangle be the blank canvas for every nuanced lump in the fiber. It was handspun; it was messy, chunky, uneven, perfectly imperfect. I did not want it to look sleek, cosmopolitan, curated. It was my glorious mess. So I did what I learned to do best in the grueling hours of the windowless rooms in studio art at Indiana University – turn imperfections into advantages.
(Mostly) planned dropped stitches provided visual breaks vertically, and lines of garter stitches complemented and accented the color changes horizontally, creating a weathered and distressed texture that plays up the lumpy, bumpy, mismatched yarnscape. The large needles allowed plenty of looseness in the stitches to give the otherwise square shell garment a flattering bit of drape. The rough visual style belies the incredibly squishy loft of the bulky alpaca yarns.
I can’t believe I spun 100% of this garment – it is my first large project to be entirely handspun. Some parts are a little scratchy, I’ll admit, and it certainly needs a second wash (it’s fragrant in a strongly camelid sort of way at the moment) – but this piece will warm me now in a special way, because so much of my story is now shared with it.
I get really excited when I finish a piece that’s taken me years, to me they feel like a victory! Previously, the Stump had been my longest-held project (3 years), but now the Alpaca Wrap (4 years) is the record holder 😉
And here’s my advice to every artist who may have had the tough moments, like me, that make dreams feel like impossibilities: Patience, patience, patience.
The month of May is usually a busy one for me, and this one has not been an exception so far, even despite local shutdown regulations! Read on for a bit about the projects I’m doing now and what I’ve got coming up ❤
Henbit Pixie Belt
With the weather warming I’m working outside and hiking around even more, enjoying nature in isolation and keeping an eye on the new plants springing up everywhere.
One particularly pretty little spring plant is Henbit, a bright fuschia-flowered plant that grows in scrubby areas and fields, which is an edible weed for humans as well as tasty for wildlife like hummingbirds. This plant was the inspiration for my latest Pixie Pocket Belt piece, for which it is named.
The Pixie Pocket Belts are projects I’ve been drawn to for years, and though I never make two the same, I did create a comprehensive tutorial guide for making your own unique creation – that’s available for free on my blog or in PDF format for a small fee.
These cute & useful costume pieces are a chance for me to flex my freestyle muscles. I love the multimedia aspect too, using beads and upcycled fabrics and metal details to create something really magical.
The Pixie Belts I’ve made over the years have been technically “freeform” (meaning crocheted without a pattern or overall plan), though they are a bit different from the classic freeform style made popular by such incredible crochet artists as Prudence Mapstone and Hannah Martin of Of Mars.
I’ve wanted to tackle a more recognizably freeform crochet piece and recently began practicing the various motifs that are common in this style, such as spirals, bullions, and crab stitch.
Some of the videos I’ve been watching have been both useful for the freeform project and useful to help me hone my video tutorial skills 🙂 I’ve saved some of my favorites to my Channel playlists and I’ll keep adding more – find those collected here on Youtube and like & subscribe to my channel to get more updates!
I’ve completed most of the pieces I want to include in this freeform shawl, so I’m currently in the process of arranging and joining them. It feels great to challenge myself, and I’m learning and making lots of mistakes which is good ❤
Out of Office May 20-24
At the end of every May for the last 9 years, I’ve attended the big spring festival Elf Fest with my local community of nature-celebrators. This May, of course, it has been canceled. It’s the responsible thing to do and I’m happy that my friends are all safe – still, it’s a wrench for me and the rest of the crew.
Despite not having the festival to attend, I am going to go ahead and take that time off anyway, to unplug a little more and slow down 🙂 So I’ll be Out of Office from May 20 through May 24, returning May 25 to answer any questions and comments you might have left during that time!
I have a loooooooooong list of upcoming crochet designs – so many that I think I’ll need help soon! I’m looking into starting a little group – if you are interested in pattern testing for Morale Fiber be sure to follow me on Facebook, join my main crochet group the Magic Fantastic Crochet Atelier, or subscribe to my blog through e-mail! ❤ I’ll make the announcement across these channels when it comes time.
As always, I’m really grateful for everyone out there who purchases, supports, tags, shares, comments, likes, and recommends my work – I do it for you! I love you! Thank you! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Happy Monday! I hope everyone out there is feeling well and healthy – I am, if just a touch stir crazy. But the weather is beautiful and I’ve been blessed with a lot of opportunities to hike out in the isolated woods recently 🙂
It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post, so I thought I’d write up a little summary of what’s on my schedule right now – a couple new projects and previews, plus giveaways! I’m lucky to have already been working from home when the stay-at-home order was put in my place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in my state, so I have plenty in the works and more on the horizon for as long as my yarn stash holds out (even then, the emergency reserves are flush...)
So, cheers! Be sure to subscribe to my blog, and like & follow my Facebook Page for more fun crochet stuff!
Star & Moon Twirling Gown:
Another project made from the very well-appreciated Wendy Kay’s No-Sew Gypsy Skirt pattern, which I purchased from Etsy years ago and have used a LOT. I think this is my eighth skirt from that pattern.
Modeled by the lovely Sarina Newbold, this celestial piece is 100% cotton fabric donated by a friend, and I used the long-wedge version of the pattern to create a gown-length mega-skirt that adjusts from XS up to XXL at the waistband.
As you can see, it is just KILLER for twirling in. I am patiently building my sewing skills, because I have some really neat ideas for more crochet/fabric fusion clothing ❤ in the future!
I plan to go over the pattern once more, then turn this popular design into a downloadable, ad-free PDF! I’m looking to expand my PDF offerings to include more available free patterns, for those that like to the portability and convenience – if there’s one you’d like to see, let me know 🙂
Fundraisers & Giveaways
I’ve recently began offering some of my premium, normally paid-only crochet patterns for FREE as special deals to help people stay safe & sane during this period of self-isolation (which I have begun to call Free Range Captivity). In return, I ask those who can do so to consider making a small donation to a worthy cause.
The first Free Pattern Fundraiser offered the Valkyrie Top gratis in support of The Trevor Project. The offer is ended now, thank you to everyone who supported this important service! Keep reading for the current free offering 🙂
The Valkyrie Top was also part of a recent Instagram Giveaway I participated in, hosted by the incredible Starlily Creations featuring some of my personal favorite crochet artists and heroes. Congratulations to Viv, winner of the deluxe halter top pattern pack!
As I sometimes like to do in these rambling wrap-up posts, I have a couple sneak peeks on something that’s coming up soon! This design has been on my mind for years, though I lacked the persistence to do it until recently.
Mysterious, eh? Well, not really. It’s just crochet pineapples, that ubiquitous motif. Or is it?
Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I used to write blog posts of themed crochet projects. These Pattern Galleries were mostly links to actual patterns, but occasionally contained inspiration-only images.
It was there that I first idea’d a crocheted stump ottoman. In the Pouf Collection, which I so aptly described as ” Poufs, ottomans, small stools, floor cushions (n.) – furniture that allows me to lay around on the ground like a lazy slob while giving off the appearance of being classy. “ I featured this image of a now-unavailable product from Anthropologie.
Welcome to the world of slow art! Because today I have an actual, finished product inspired by that post that feels like forever ago (it wasn’t, but you know…)
I did put a stump ottoman “firmly on my to-do list” in fact, but I didn’t actually start the project until 2017, when I purchased a slightly beat-up vintage ottoman and wanted to cover the nasty vinyl with something cooler. A removable, freeform cover in the shape of a stump would be just perfect.
I started by gathering all my little bits of white and beige scrap yarn and crocheting a flat, ringed circle. Spike stitches and varying my stitch height were strategies I used to give it a naturally odd appearence – totally symmetrical was not the goal.
This of course was the top of my stump, where the inner rings of the tree are showing. Once I had this circle big enough to cover the top of the ottoman, I folded it up and put it aside to start on the bark, which would go around the outside of the ottoman.
I chose to alternate a light brown with a dark brown, both #3 or #4 weight throughout the piece, and all worked as post stitches of various heights. I used a spike stitch to create a segmented texture in the bark.
I started the bark with a 4.00 mm hook. Working post stitches in worsted yarn with a 4.00 hook is pretty tough and slow going though, really – if you’re not used to it. I quickly grew bored with the bark and put the project aside, making some effort at progress but mostly be distracted by other things (like the budding Elf Coat project).
Well, after a time I reshuffled my life and ended up losing the ottoman that The Stump was to cover. But I kept my project, determining I could find another way to fill it. If I could convince myself to finish that awefully boring bark part.
I did hack away at it occasionally until about two months ago, when I decided to finish this thing for real. I switched hooks, sizing up to a 4.5 mm to speed the process along, and made the project a priority. I needed almost 70″ of bark in length to match the circumference of the flat top, and with some gritting of the teeth, I got it.
I took a few videos of me working along the way, for posterity. Here’s a demo video of the bark, showing how I worked the post stitches, dual strands, and spike stitches to create the texture.
Time to construct! Using locking stitch markers, I measured roughly how the bark would attach and then stitched it together.
I added a few more freeform rounds around the top to give it a nice gnarly edge, then turned my attention to finishing the main part of the cover.
The eyeball knot got stuffed full of polyester filling and then closed with rounds of stitches worked directly onto the back on the inside.
At this point I was ready to tackle the idea of how to fill this thing. Rather than hunt for a new ottoman over which this could fit, I needed a semi-firm filling that would give the furniture piece some weight and resistance.
A bean bag seemed like the logical conclusion, and I schemed up a bottom portion of the Stump that could be closed with a drawstring and tied shut, so that I could insert or remove a bag full of beans.
Then, beans happened! After I sewed the inner bag out of sheet scraps, I carefully poured a huge bag of styrofoam beans from the craft store in and stuffed that sucker.
Now that the filling part was worked out, I could turn my attention to the most fun part: adding all the growths.
Using a selection of earthy toned scrap yarns, I applied myself to creating three types of moss, two batches of lichens, extra bark, shelf fungus, and toadstools either worked directly onto the piece or sewn on after.
Once the last lichen was nestled in, I took a deep breath and a minute to pat myself on the back. Finally done!
And because it grew with me over time, my connection to this piece feels pretty personal. I dyed that lichen yarn, I spun that moss, I rescued those scraps. I cussed at that bark, delighted over those toadstools, cried on those tree rings. At first we were strangers, but now The Stump and I are good friends (I fear I will end up referring to it as Stumpie, now matter how hard I try not to).
Here’s the link to the Ravelry Project Page, which has the full compliment of pictures, if you want to give Stumpie a fave (oh no…).
I’m off to personify yarn somewhere else for a while, and hopefully not start any more four year fiber art projects (yeah right).
P.S – In case you spied the other crocheted accessories and were curious: I’m wearing two other Morale Fiber designs in these photos – the Spiral Sweater and the Ivy Crown as a boot wrap. 😉 The pumpkin pictured and the felted hedgehogs are also made by me.
Sometimes for fun I’ll go back and see what I’ve been writing on this blog at the same time in previous years – it’s a nice perk of having years worth of posts, to see what kind of progress I’ve made. Apparently December and January is a common point in the year for me to be interested in working with spinning wool and working with handspun yarn. No surprise! It’s cold here during these months and the low light of the dead of winter keeps me inside focused on the coziest materials.
It all started with the Pounds of ‘Paca, a spinning venture in September of 2016 where I ordered waaaaaay too much alpaca fiber (on sale) and spun it all over the course of a couple of years – see Alpacalypse Now for the final yarns I came up with.
Not totally final though, because some of it went into my experimental Avocado Dye batch, coming out in shades of muted pinks and hazels, a really pretty and soft color to add to my giant pile of alpaca yarn. Some of THAT went into this bitchin’ avocado dreamcatcher 😉
The avocado dye batch was a year ago now, and I still have some dyestuffs left over sitting in the back of my fridge. I’m contemplating another natural dye run, but first I’m going to make some more progress on what I decided to do with all this excess camelid fluff.
It’s another large knit, similar in style to some of the loosely knit wraps I’ve made in the past:
But this one is made entirely from handspun yarn, in the pretty neutral and muted tones. I am not sure exactly how I will style this wrap, but I’m enjoying the mindless knitting for now. It’s worked in stockinette (the other large knits above are garter stitch) and I’m using continental style to speed up my purling (getting almost as fast as my continental knit stitch!)
There’s much to be said for instant gratification projects, but as I build my repertoire of skills, materials, and experiences, I grow more and more attached to the projects that follow me through my history as an artist. I’ve been finishing up a lot of long-term projects lately, causing me to reflect on one of the most valuable skills I’ve picked up through working my art:
Patience. Because nothing makes a piece more personal than having it grow with you over time. There have been many projects I have stuffed in a corner in frustration, or stowed away never knowing if it would be finished (and a few that actually did go into the trash forever). I always find that when those projects re-emerge, I’m armed with a new perspective or a fresh skill to bring to the table, as if the project was only waiting for that development all along and I didn’t know it ❤