Henbit and Housekeeping

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 mitts I’m wearing above are from my free Rambler’s Mitts pattern.

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.

Freeform Shawl

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.

Pixie Belt “Kelp” pictured above featured a bullion stitch pouch & a freeform seashell pouch

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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!

This stunning handmade moth clip from The Forest Fae is my constant companion these days…

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! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

-MF

Going the Distance

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 πŸ™‚

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!

Hedge Witch Hat PDF:

Sarina also modeled her new custom hat made from the free Hedge Witch Hat pattern on my blog:

Too. CUTE.

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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!

My next Free Pattern Fundraiser is supporting the National Network to End Domestic Violence – use the code “ENDVIOLENCE” now through Wednesday, April 22 on the Ravelry checkout for the Mermaid Mitts and Sandals pattern and get it for FREE! And if you can, consider donating a small amount (they’ll take any amount, and you can use Paypal) to the worthy cause.

Mermaid Mitts & Sandals

Upcoming Designs

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?

I may have some tricks up my sleeve!

-MF

The Stump

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.

In addition to the freaky freeform eyeball knot I worked into the texture πŸ˜‰

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).

The hedgehogs were excited.

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).

-MF

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. πŸ˜‰
The pumpkin pictured and the felted hedgehogs are also made by me.

Return to Paca Planet

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 πŸ˜‰

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!)

I’ve also sprinkled in some dropped stitches and lines of garter to break up the texture!

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 ❀

Now if only those colors didn’t make me crave Neapolitan ice cream.

-MF

Bazaar Life

Good morning! I’m mostly recovered from my whirlwind trip to The Farm for their annual Farm School Holiday Bazaar ❀ I had an amazing time vending and sharing my love of all things fiber art with the other vendors and shoppers, plus some bonus friend fun with my darling hosts ❀

This little blog blurb is mostly an update on what’s occupying my design radar at the moment. Having finished up the Tree of Life and Embla designs, I’m ready to work on the handful of half-finished new projects I have lying around. And maybe hack away at some of the ones that have been on the back burner for like, um, years.

It’s a hard life, creating every day! Just kidding, it’s awesome πŸ˜‰

The next big thing on the map is completing the video tutorial for the Lotus Mandala Duster. Parts 1 and 2 were released a month or two ago, so I’d like to get the rest finished up as soon as possible since many people have asked for the next installment! With the holidays approaching, it might be slow going, but it’s on my list for sure πŸ™‚

I’m also in the midst of working on a design that is inspired by the popularity of the Krampus Hat free crochet pattern. The unique and over-the-top nature of that hat really captured people’s imaginations and I’d love to create something else that’s similarly “out there”, using techniques that I developed working on a custom hat in 2018.

That bespoke piece was made to mimic the client’s custom-designed video game character, and it was quite a journey to develop and I really loved pushing myself to get it as accurate as possible. It gave me SO many new ideas πŸ˜‰ You can find the project page for this custom hat on Ravelry.

The new crazy hat design looks nothing like the custom made one pictured above, but I will still be using the Krampus Hat format for the base of the new Creature ❀ Here’s a very unhelpful sneak peek:

And speaking of Ravelry, I’ve been doing some major updating on my Projects page, uploading lost projects from years of crocheting. My goal was to thoroughly update everything in my portfolios from 2015-2018 before 2019 ended, and I’m just about done. Check out my Ravelry Projects page for 130+ creations by yours truly ❀

I guess this counts as my end-of-the-year wrap up post, so I’ll go ahead and say this:

Fiber art is my passion, and teaching it and talking about it is my dream job. To everyone who has liked, commented, shared, bought, supported, or even just smiled because of what I do, I thank you. My gratitude is without limit.

-MF

On Grief and Emergence

The following is a bit of an emotional reflection, sans any crochet instruction – I don’t usually share in this very personal way but I had some thoughts I needed to get down. So if you’re interested, read on ❀

A month ago, I was staying at my parents’ place to dog-sit while they were gallivanting around the Grand Canyon. I had all the materials to complete the patterns I was working on – the Tree of Life dreamcatcher mandala and the Embla Vest – and a bunch of free time to do it in. Until the call came in.

I’d lost another friend. One I’d just seen not a week ago. He died overnight of asthma-related breathing complications, three weeks from his birthday.

Grief seems to have been my companion this summer. In June, a friend from high school had passed away of suicide – a friend that I hadn’t seen in years, but nonetheless occupied my memory as my closest adolescent bestie, the girl I spent countless hours laughing and crying with. The distance of time between us was no real distance at all, and I grieved for Michelle.

Later in the summer, my hometown was rocked by controversy at the weekly community Farmer’s Market. An Anti-Fascist action group released leaks from an internet hate forum called Identity Evropa, which revealed with certainty that one of the farmer’s market stalls in Bloomington was operated by Neo-Nazis. The community was in uproar and the market was shut down because the protests became too dangerous. I walked the aisles of the market myself and saw the armed skinheads waiting to pick a fight.

When the market temporarily closed, the fear was brought to my front door. My then-workplace, the local co-op grocery store, decided to host an alternative market for the two weeks the official market was shut down because of safety concerns. The turmoil in town was at its peak, and during this time several public shootings occurred across the country. Customers even pointed out to me, a produce clerk, that I should have an escape plan.

I began to fear for my safety and then something very real hit me – the notion that all over the country, other people feel like this all of the time and I, with my unasked for privilege, was only now getting a taste. I was sick with anxiety at the time and I now realize that what I was feeling was in fact grief. Grief for the death of my worldview in which my town (despite its problems) was a good, safe, open-minded place to be. Grief because I’d read the leaks from the forum, and the poisonous hate speech was unbearable. Grief because I’d never had to feel this unsafe before and yet some people grow up with this danger in their bones.

Things settled, for a while, after the markets resumed (there are still yet protests happening there) and I left that job, and life went on, and I decided to focus more on my business. That dog-sitting gig was the perfect opportunity to hammer out my new pattern, and get some pretty shots of it against the background of my parents’ deciduous autumn landscape.

Until the call came in. On a Monday morning, I found out I’d lost another friend and grief was to stay by my side. And here it’s been – for a month – saturating everything. At first I pushed through, mechanically figuring the pattern numbers as if it was the only thing in the world, the only the I wanted to do was force it to make sense. Make everything make sense.

As I wrestled with it, I was frustrated and blocked up and felt at times like I was drowning in emotions from the trauma, other times I felt nothing. I latched onto other projects, creating visions in which “everything was beautiful and nothing hurt”.

Grief is a funny thing. It’s slippery, and sometimes insidious and it latched onto old wounds, causing them to bubble up from below and before I could really grasp why, I was stricken with sadness from past abuses, guilt from ancient misdeeds, and doubt that I could ever emerge.

It’s been and continues to be difficult. But the grief I’ve been experiencing has also given me positive perspectives. My friend group, who all knew Isaac, have pulled together for each other in their strength. I’m incredibly, unbelievably lucky to be here on Earth for the time that I am, and to know those shining souls that I know, and to have this platform to spill my thoughts, to people who I’ve never met but whom I can only hope feel lucky too.

The Embla Vest was so named months before my friend died, but the name is a nugget of hope. Embla was the first woman in Viking mythology, her life begun with breath on an old, fallen tree. From the dead, twisted driftwood she emerged to start humanity. The old Norse notion of time is not linear, or even circular – it’s a spiral. So all things come to an end, as they naturally should, and all things begin once more, to spiral out as they will.

It’s a really pretty philosophy. It’s a neat little metaphor, wrapped in a hopeful package. Right now, it seems too cute to deal with the messy and unfathomable world of death and grief. Embla, emerges from the trees? And starts life over again, like your favorite track on an album?

I wish it were that easy. But then again, if you’ve ever actually been lost in trees, you may know that emergence isn’t easy at all. You trip on unseen undergrowth. You get smacked in the face by branches. Sometimes, you wander into a thicket with no way through and have to turn back. But when the world is ending, you have no choice. Driven like clockwork, Embla must emerge because emergence is what she does. Time drives the motion of the spiral and Embla emerges until the end comes for her, too.

And at the end of the world (Ragnorak), the sun gives birth to a daughter, and Ask and Embla’s children (humanity) survive, and the world starts over again like your favorite track on an album, and new humans emerge, and time spirals outward.

-MF

P.S – If you are interested in Norse mythology, I can’t recommend this book enough – it’s a copy of the myths I’ve had since I was 13. They are well researched and beautifully told in narrative format.
“The Norse Myths” by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Seasons Change and So Do I

Avocado Dream Catcher, made from handspun wool and alpaca fiber hand-dyed with avocado skins. I created the natural dye with vegetable waste from my job at the co-op grocery!

It used to be my practice to write a summer wrap-up post for Morale Fiber Blog, and though I haven’t always done so, I fall back into my old habit today! I won’t be going over summer projects so much as talking a bit about my life situation, my business, and where I hope to go in the future. It’s a bit more of an intimate look into how I, as a person, manage Morale Fiber.

That’s me, un-wigged and un-filtered and un-photoshopped. But with great lighting, of course. πŸ˜‰

I have loved fiber arts since the minute I was handed my first sewing kit as a child – when my mom taught me my first crochet stitches when I was 10 years old, that interest was cemented into a lifelong habit. In time I expanded into knitting, spinning, dyeing, and any other fiber craft I could get my hands on as well as my first love, crochet.

Fast forward A LOT – last December I finally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Humanities. In addition to working full-time at the co-op grocery, since January I have been concentrating almost solely on completing and releasing all three adult sizes of the Elf Coat crochet pattern for free on my blog and as a purchasable PDF pattern. I poured so much energy and love into this design, and over TWO YEARS worth of experimenting and tweaking the pattern. Now the Elf Coat is currently competing for top popularity on my blog with my Lotus Mandala Duster. πŸ™‚

I’ve said it so many times : the BEST part about designing is connecting with other fiber artists and seeing what all the amazing, clever, resourceful people create with my patterns. I love seeing everyone’s projects and sharing them for inspiration, and this spurred me to accomplish another goal this summer – to start a Facebook group for my business based around boho, magical, and fantasy crochet designs, the Magic Fantastic Crochet Atelier.

The response has been, yes, fantastic πŸ™‚ I hope if you have your own designs to share that you will join us too! I love having this group as a way to connect more personally with those who follow my page and love the same craft that I do ❀

I’ve been amazed at the level of support my art has received, because really I’m just a silly fantasy nerd who decided years ago that I needed to put my stuff on the internet for some reason. When I look at where I am now, I know the Regina of eight years ago would not believe it. It’s a gratifying feeling πŸ˜€

Fast forward again – to just a few days ago, when a number of people contacted me to let me know a sham clothing company, using multiple web fronts, was using my Elf Coat images to sell what they claimed were my designs.

Unfortunately, as soon as I contacted one of the e-mail addresses provided for a website doing this, about 20 other false web fronts doing the exact same thing popped up, all under different names and all advertising to my followers on Facebook. Frustrating? Absolutely.

Getting ripped off sucks, and I’ve seen it happen to a number of my favorite indie artisans and designers. In fact, I’ve seen it happen to so many of my favorite designers, that being included in the same category as them is a tiny little bit gratifying actually, ha ha!

I am grateful that so many people rushed to my defense. I couldn’t ask to know better people through this business ❀ Yes, I had my image stolen, but ultimately the people who want to support me are those that want to make something for themselves, not buy cheap crap that may or may not be just a credit card number fishing scam.

That’s the real plus side to building my business on making patterns. Not only do I get to help create art all around the world, but I get to know and be supported by people who value the effort and time and satisfaction that goes into creating something with your own two hands. That’s love. That’s the love you wrap your family members and friends in when you make something for them. That’s the love you wrap yourself in when you enter the calming meditation of stitching. No one can mass manufacture that. No one can create that except for all of us, together ❀ ❀

Friends and beautiful models Arika Harris and Daisey Denson wearing my Feather & Scale Halter Top design

I’m tearing up, over here πŸ˜‰

So, that about concludes the ramble-y, emotional portion of this post. Now I’d like to talk for a minute about how I manage Morale Fiber. My revenue comes from two main sources: paid pattern sales and selling ad space on my blog.

As I mention on my Master List of Paid Patterns, selling pattern PDF files are my main source of business income. If you want to support me, buying my patterns through my Etsy Shop or Ravelry store is a great way to do so and get something awesome you can make in return!

Selling ad space on my blog also provide revenue, but it’s less than 5% of my overall take. And, let’s face it – it’s kind of ugly. I avoided doing it for a while because it was so ugly, but over several years of blogging I had too many images for my free blog plan to host and so I had to move to a paid plan. Ad space revenue helps me pay for the yearly subscription to keep my blog going so you can get all the latest updates and all those sweet freebies! Every time you view my blog page, I make a slight fraction of a penny.

The Hooded Lotus Duster, for which the full written patterns are available on Morale Fiber Blog.

A pretty good portion of my free time outside of my day job is spent managing Morale Fiber by making social media posts and responding to questions and e-mails for both my paid and my free patterns. I love to talk shop which is great because I end up doing it A LOT ❀

I also spend plenty of time designing. I fill my computer files and notebooks with jotted down ideas, test yarns and gauge, make drafts, make more drafts, make MORE DRAFTS, and hopefully finally come up with something I can write down as a pattern (but only after making this one more draft). πŸ˜‰

The Ida Shawl takes the win for most maddening amount of drafts.

It’s a labor of love, and I hope you love what I come up with. After the illegal theft of my images, I had the opportunity to see with new eyes that many people did love making my designs, and it helped me enormously. Today I wanted to humbly offer this third way to support my art – a donation button.

You don’t have to donate, and I am certainly grateful for the support no matter what amount of patronage you have or will give Morale Fiber. But if you do love my designs and want to show your support, as well as contribute to the creation of more patterns and designs by me, you now have this option!

Donation

Patronage Donation for Morale Fiber Designs

$1.00

I’m very excited about what I have in the works right now, including the long-promised Lotus Duster video tutorial, a new circular vest design with a ton of customizing options, a new scrap knit garment tutorial.. and that’s just the beginning.

As always, thank you so very much for visiting and thank you for creating art with me ❀

-MF

Winter Project Updates

Hi there! It’s not necessarily been crickets around here, but I do feel its time for some project updates of things I’ve recently completed. I haven’t had a whole lot of new things to show in the crochet category since many of the things I’ve had on the hook have been larger, longer projects that I’ve toiled at slowly in my spare time over the course of last semester. After the New Year I made it a priority to finish some of these things up so that I could MOVE. ON. FINALLY.

And so today I present two new project variations on two of my personal favorite original patterns, plus a skirt that I’d been hacking away at (literally). Prepare for photogenic twirling. There will be twirling.

Eyeball Sweater

I bought the yarn for this pattern, Yarn Bee Soft and Sleek in six different multi colorways, with some legwarmer project vaguely in mind. Well, that project was just not exciting enough to me, and so I started a chaotically rainbow version of my Spiral Sweater pattern.

eyeball8

 

 

I worked it in size Small, but decreased every other stitch across the armholes to tighten up the front collar of the sweater (and also conserve yarn, which turns out was very necessary). I also skipped the Linked Double Crochet reinforcement across the back of the collar. Because I forgot. πŸ˜›

eyeball4Because I started with a central circle of solid navy leftovers that I had from a different Spiral Sweater, the middle part of the back started to look like the pupil of an eye, so I ran with that. After finishing everything on the sweater, I took some more spare yarn and slip stitched some crazy squiggles into the “iris” of the eye.

eyeball5

DSC_0084.1.jpg

 

I’ve always loved the nazar, a Middle Eastern charm symbol representing an eye, which used to ward off the evil eye.Β  This sweater is watching your back! Har har har.

You can find the project page, which also links to my original pattern in the righthand sidebar, here on Ravelry.Β  That bitchin’ tree man necklace I am wearing is from my friend Wendy’s polymer clay art shop, Dark Pony Arts – check her out, she is amazing!

 

Fairy Shawl

Though the Ida Shawl was originally designed to be multicolored, I’ve found that I really love doing them in monochromatic yarns, especially neutrals. This one is done with a DK weight acrylic yarn, Premier Everyday Baby in White, which used up all of three skeins once the fringe was finished. I really had fun plotting an outfit to go with this one.

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That’s really the only reason I do this. Excuse to dress up! Just kidding. Kind of.

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The Ida Shawl, as finicky as it was to get right during the designing process, is all the more worth it for the struggle. I still love that central design, which represents the seeds that form a star when you cut an apple in half horizontally.

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You can see this project on Ravelry too, with all of the pictures and a link to the original pattern. The leafy headwrap I am wearing is also a pattern of mine, the FREE Ivy Crown tutorial.

 

Jewel Skirt

This is the 5th skirt I’ve produced using Wendy Kay’s No-Gathers Gypsy Skirt pattern that I bought from her shop on Etsy, and this pattern has been WELL worth my money. Just chop out blocks and sew them together, no measuring (well, not much measuring) and you’ve got a beautiful dancing skirt to twirl in. Easy.. and fun!!

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I made this one from mostly upcycled fabrics, including some curtains from Goodwill and several yards of fabric I had had tucked away for YEARS that I got from a thrift market outside of the Portland Indiana Tractor and Engine show. It’s funny sometimes, when your craft supplies remind you of the places you’ve been and the other lives that you’ve lived.

I think sometimes that’s part of the appeal, for people who handmake things. It certainly is for me.

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The other skirts I’ve made I’ve given away or sold, but I think I’m keeping this one for myself. The jewel tones and floral print match nearly everything in my closet πŸ˜€

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I don’t put ALL of my sewing and refashion projects here on Morale Fiber blog, since I want the main focus here to be on crochet techniques, patterns and designs – but I do run a more personal side blog on Tumblr which I use for sewing and fashion stuff. Check me out there: Howling Mouse on Tumblr.

 

I do have more projects from over the winter that remain unfinished, plus some exciting new things budding! So I’m gonna go hustle that. As always, thank you for visiting!

-MF

P.S – I’ve gotten a lot of photo submissions of people’s projects that they have made from my designs lately – please keep that up! I love that so much! ❀ ❀ ❀ I hope you all have loved it too!

 

Alpacalypse Now

Guys, I’m really sorry about that pun. Sort of.

You see, last Saturday I turned in my final assignment for my Bachelor’s degree, so I’ve been bursting forth with renewed energy on all the ongoing craft projects laying around my home. And exuberant art energy requires puns.

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So that’s my segue into my post today, talking about one of the things I love to do when I have a little extra time – spinning! Well, it’s also just an excuse for shameless yarn porn.

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I’ve been spinning periodically, although I haven’t really made a blog post about it recently. I did a silly thing a while back and ordered a massive amount of beautiful alpaca fiber from Alpaca Direct. I resolved to spin it all, and wrote a whole post about it –Β  which, now that I look at that post, was over two years ago. Slow art for the win!

Because, I totally did spin it all! Yep, all of it. Some of it even made it into projects for my friends along the way. This is me, plying together the last bit of the natural white alpaca fiber, on my trusty wheel.

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Her name is Mystic.

I made it through the pound of natural white, the 12 oz of dark brown, and SOME of the 8 oz of lighter brown (from Valentina) that I purchased at a later date. I eventually gave up on spinning it all consistently, and went in for the fast and wacky approach for the last half of the natural white. I love the variation in textures I got!

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For the white yarn, some skeins were consistent, some were chunky, and some were singles. The dark brown (being the first batch I did) was pretty even, and the light brown is a bulky, fluffy affair.

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I am really loving these natural tones, which is a good thing because my beautiful friends sometimes give me secondhand fiber.Β  Last summer I was gifted a big bag of RAW alpaca fiber in a beautiful pecan brown color; the catch is, this fiber is really unprocessed.

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Which is actually not a catch at all, since I finally had an excuse to purchase some carding equipment! Hand carders (still not enough resources to justify a drum carder πŸ˜› ) were acquired and now I am clumsily learning to use them.

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I’m not great at it yet, especially since I have to keep switching to my left hand so that my right arm doesn’t end up noticeably more beefy – this activity is a WORKOUT. But as you can see, I’m producing a few silly looking rolags from the raw material so I can spin them, bit by bit, on the drop spindle.

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Excuse my awkward fiber sausage

Its tempting to build a pile of rolags and then spin them all on the wheel for speed’s sake, but for now I am enjoying the process of drop spindling them, so that I can learn how the fibers act when they are hand carded like this. I’ve been favoring the spindle lately anyway, after a period of neglect. Its simplicity and portability is really attractive and valuable, even though wheel spinning is more efficient, so I’m glad I learned both.

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The real question is, what the hell am I going to make with 4 pounds of handspun alpaca fiber? Stay tuned, maybe I’ll know in another two years! πŸ˜‰

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Here’s a picture of my moon lamp, for no reason other than its pretty!

-MF

Ch-ch-ch-changes

You may have noticed it’s been a touch quiet on the blog lately, at least for the summer time when I am normally busy crocheting my heart out during the break from school. Well, I’m still crocheting my heart out, but due to some recent changes I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to create and photograph and post.

I seem to have acquired an actual day job, like a responsible adult type person, at the local co-op grocery (which I am loving). Also, I moved again! And we all know how much fun that is, what with the throwing of the possessions into garbage bags (is there a better way to do that?).

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What I really do.

I do still have many awesome things planned both as far as paid crochet patterns and free tutorials and projects, but the work pace on those has slowed down a bit. More info on what’s coming up after the first big announcement:

Paid Pattern Price Change

Beginning in August, all of my paid digital PDF crochet patterns will change from 5.50 USD to 5.95 USD. This is something I have been waffling about for a few months now, but a recent announcement by Etsy that they are raising their percentage fees from shop sales (from 3% to 5%) made the decision for me.

However, I do intend to help mitigate this price change by hosting a HUGE SALE! From now until my price change goes into effect August 1, I will be offering ALL of my paid patterns for 37% off (a little over $2 off) through my Ravelry Pattern StoreΒ and 30% off ($1.65 off) through my Etsy Shop. No coupon code necessary – snap them all up while they are at this awesome price!

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There are also two older patterns I will be offering soon for free on the blog (so you don’t have to bother buying them if you don’t want the PDF version). The Rhiannon Hooded Cowl and the Mini Mandala Slouchy Tam will be making an appearance, with upgraded photos, gratis – keep an eye out for these freebies here in the future πŸ™‚ And subscribe to the blog and follow me on Facebook for all the latest updates!

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I’d love to take this chance to thank the wonderful customers that have bought my patterns, especially those that have taken time from their day to leave reviews:

“Almost finished with this sweater and I am so happy with the outcome!! The pattern is so easy to follow. This is maybe my second or third purchase from moralefiber and her patterns are just so clear and neat. Not to mention how cute and practical the designs are. Thank you!! <3”
-Kristin H. (Spiral Sweater)

“It is easy to understand and comes with a great amount of pictures as well as written instructions. I am using the yarn suggested in the pattern (white cotton/acrylic blend) and it works up real fast. I love it! πŸ’– Can’t wait to finish it! Thanks for making this pattern!”
-Diana (Lotus Duster)

“What a lovely shop owner! Very patient with my questions. Super cute pattern!! <3”
-Robin (Krampus Hat)

“Pattern is clearly written, hence easy to follow. Love this design, so versatile. Highly recommended; Thanks very much ;-)”
-Alexandra H. (Flower Child Pullover)

Also, thank you so much to all the wonderful people that have commented and messaged me directly about my work. There have seriously been days when your amazing and kind words have truly brightened my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you! ❀

New PROJECTS and TUTORIALS:

Needless to say, with the addition of a day job, some of the things I had planned for this summer got re-arranged in priority. Here’s what’s definitely on the line right now!

New Halter Top Pattern:

I am so excited about this new design, which I have been fiddling with since January. I have made several of these beauties so far and am nearing the final stages of photographing and writing, and can’t wait to show you the final product! This design uses a fine gradient yarn and croc stitches to create a gorgeous scale top that is flattering on every figure, and includes FIVE sizes XS-XL, equivalent to cup sizes A-DD!

I just can’t resist a sneak peak featuring some of my lovely friends test-fitting some of the completed pieces:

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Daisey, wearing size XS

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Katy modeling size XL

P.S – the lovely pendant in the previous photo is the wire wrapping art of my friend Isaac from Twisted Forrest Jewelry – check out his page and give him a like!

PixieΒ  Belt Tutorial:

In response to many requests, I have begun working on creating a tutorial for my freeform ragtag crochet pixie belts! I hope to include a basic tutorial for the different shapes you can utilize, plus pictures on how I normally form the base belt, as well as inspiration on choosing colors and themes… It should be interesting – of course, these will be most fun if you cut loose and customize to your heart’s content, and my goal is to create a good guideline to springboard from!

Now, warning on this: it might take some time! So I’ve decided to come out with the tutorials in bits and pieces, beginning with the basics and working up from there.

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Lotus Duster Video Tutorial:

Yes, this is definitely in the works. I have wanted to do this for a long time, so I intend to jump in and do it! The Video tutorial will be free on my blog, probably presented in episodes, and I’ll try to include as many of my tips and tricks as I can! Forgive me in advance for what I know will be amateurish video editing skills, but I’m gonna try πŸ˜‰

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I’ve got even more in the works, but I’m running out of time today πŸ™‚ Back later, with more crochet goodness.<3

-MF