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 😉
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 🙂
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 😉 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.
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.
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
Fur yarn seems to be something I always have a lot of. In addition to using it to trim Trickster Hoods, wacky coats, and Pixie Belts, I also occasionally use it to make costume ears and tails. My first foray into tail making was using crochet, as it was certainly easier for me at the time to deal with the nuisance of all that funky hair using a technique with which I was very confident.
The resulting little fox tail (I call it the chibi tail) was clever, IMHO, made with super soft Lion Brand Romance and ending in a little clip so it could be attached to a belt. But it was a bit stiff, and I decided knitting was really the way to go for these fun and cruelty-free costume elements.
I made a couple more – the tail on the left is made with Lion Brand Fun Fur, knitted to look like a raccoon, the tail on the right is Lion Brand Romance again, in sweet fantastical pastels. Both are stuffed with lightweight polyester fiber stuffing and clippable, like the first, onto belt or pants.
The pastel tail is pretty long, and very slinky and soft. After that one, I went down the rabbit hole. Er, possibly the fox hole.
I had A LOT of Lion Brand Pelt in similar colors. What if I made a really BIG tail, so it would look proportionate to the human body?
So, as you can see, I did that. And this year’s Halloween costume was born. To be specific, I finished the humongous tail less than 24 hours before the costume party! 😀
I dubbed my costume “Forest Witch” but mostly I was referred to as the Squirrel Lady which I am also 100% satisfied with 😉 . This is one of the most handmade of all costumes I’ve ever done, so I’m going to feature some of the elements involved before writing out my notes on making the Tail toward the end of the post – keep reading for the free pattern! You can also favorite this project on Ravelry for reference later.
It was cold and rainy enough the day of the party to wear my super woodsy version of the Boho Fringe Poncho, made with different scrap bulky and super bulky yarns, then trimmed with plain fringe and woven with a super textured handspun art yarn. I also added a leafy drawstring tie to the top of this piece, similar to the one made for the Rhiannon Cowl. I’m so glad to have added this poncho to the ensemble, because it hasn’t really seen the light of day since I made it.
Underneath I wore the dress I had refashioned from a few thrift store pieces – I cut the green top and the brown and purple paisley skirt up joined them using hairpin lace, then added doily accents – all crocheted in gray, upcycled sweater yarn. You can read more about this refashion project here. Layered under the dress is a thrifted skirt that I tie-dyed in browns.
The belt sports several accessories beside the tail – one of them is a crocheted woolen pouch, mounted on loops so that it can slide onto a belt. This pattern is a piece of Lilla Bjorn’s Dandelion Mandala Overlay. The knife is an antique piece made with a real fawn’s hoof found for me by a friend. It’s not handmade by me, it’s just totally wicked so I wanted to mention it 😉
It was terribly overcast all day, so my indoors photoshoot is very dark (and consequently grainy.. just pretend it’s a spooky filter effect, okay?) and you probably can’t see the faux dreads underneath my hair very well, but they are there and I made those too! From Jacob wool, dyed brown and boiled in hot water to felt them making long woolen cords, then attached to and elastic headband and decorated with beads and feathers. The hat on top sports a pair of crocheted fur yarn ears, mounted on an elastic band around the crown of the hat.
The witch hat, unfortunately is not handmade. I attempted to finish the black Hedge Witch Hat for this ensemble in time for the party, but was too busy knitting this big chunky baby…
Speaking of which, how about that tutorial? I’m afraid all I can offer is my notes, since this was not intended to be a full-scale pattern, but it’s pretty straightforward knitting if you can stand trying to see your way around all that fur.
Costume Mega Tail Tutorial
Materials: US Size 9 double pointed knitting needles (1 set) US size 9 circular needles, 24″ Lion Brand Pelt (#5, 50 g / 47 yds) 4 skeins “Sable”, 4 skeins “Fisher” Lion Brand Fun Fur, (#5 bulky, 40 g / 57 yards) 1 skein “Ginger” Lion Brand Romance (#6 super bulky, 50 g / 27 yards) 1 skein “Truffle”, 1 skein “Champagne” (Or, in substitute, around 550 yards total of any fur yarn) Metal clasp ~10-15 oz Polyester Fiberfill batting Scissors and Tapestry needle
With fur yarn and DPNs, Cast On 18 sts. Knitting in the round: Row 1: *K, M1 increase* Rpt around – 27 sts Row 2; *K2, M1 increase* Rpt around – 36 sts Row 3: *K3, M1 increase* Rpt around – 45 sts Row 4: *K4, M1 increase* Rpt around – 54 sts Row 5: *K5, M1 increase* Rpt around – 63 sts Row 6: *K6, M1 increase* Rpt around – 72 sts
Switch to circular needles. Rows 7 – Infinity: Knit around. Change colors when necessary or desired.
I knit this piece to a length of about 55″. When ready to finish off:
Switch back to the Double Pointed needles
3rd to last Row: *K2, K2together decrease* Rpt around. 2nd to last Row: *K1, K2together decrease* Rpt around. Last Row: *K2tog decrease* around. Cut yarn leaving a long piece for sewing. Thread the yarn into a tapestry needle and pass the yarn through each loop on the needles, catching the live stitches on the yarn tail. Once all stitches are threaded, pull the DPNS out and use the thread to cinch the stitches shut. Make some firm weavings across this circle to secure shut, then weave in ends and cut.
To finish the piece, Weave in all yarn ends. I used a wig brush at this stage to brush all the fur loose that had gotten trapped in between stitches to make it thicker and fluffier. Then, take the polyester fiberfill and stuff through the open end. Be careful not to overstuff – it really needs less than you think, and overdoing it will cause the piece to be too stiff and therefore less realistic looking.
Once the piece is stuffed, thread a long piece of fur yarn onto a tapestry needle and sew the open end shut, then sew onto the clasp. I used a pretty small metal lobster style clasp, available with the metal findings in most hobby stores. This allows you to attach the tail to a belt (recommended – it’s heavy) or to pants (works better with smaller ones, but if you’re brave enough…)
One last very necessary addition to this monstrosity is left! Using a crochet hook, I loosely threaded a length of bronze ribbon yarn through the knit stitches toward the end of the tail, weaving in and out all around the circumference, then tying the ends in a knot. After all, I had to have some way to keep this thing from getting super wet and mucky by dragging on the ground!
I used the tied length of ribbon as a handle to maneuver the thing all night (and dance with it – SO MUCH FUN.) Also occasionally to bop people in the face with the fluffyness. When I needed both hands free, I wrapped the ribbon into my belt in the front to secure it.
I probably don’t need to tell you that I had too much fun with it 😉 And I hope you will too, if you decide to make one for yourself ❤ If you have any questions on how I did anything in this semi-slap-dash tutorial thingy, leave me a comment 🙂
P.S – as a big and unintended bonus, post-costume-party this thing turned out to be an excellent body pillow as well, lol!
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. 😉
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. 🙂
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 🙂 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 😀
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 ❤ ❤
I’m tearing up, over here 😉
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.
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). 😉
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!
Patronage Donation for Morale Fiber Designs
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 ❤
When I first worked out my little quirky leaf motif I knew I had to make a leafy crown out of it at some point – I just couldn’t find the right yarn at the hobby stores. I wanted it to be delicate and pretty, not bulky, but the yarns I tested didn’t fit the bill.
And then the very obvious solution hit me – use THREAD, not yarn, holding two strands together to make it bigger. Yay! So without further yammering, here’s the FREE crochet pattern for this fun leafy DIY floral crown.
Taking a moment today to picture-bomb you with one of my more recently completed projects, the Huntress sweater dress – made from my Flower Child Pullover pattern of course, which you can find on Ravelry and on Etsy, and don’t forget about the big sale I have going on my crochet patterns until July 31, 2018!
I’m enjoying the large window I have in the front room of my new place that lets in lots of light for photography so I don’t have to mess too much with studio lighting right now – which means I have more time to focus on dressing up those bad boy crochet pieces.
And looking silly.
…. or drunk.
This piece is also available for sale in my Etsy shop, and fits sizes Medium to Large, with a bust of up to 40″. This one is extra long with a collar-to-hem length of about 33″. I just love making these things!
You can also find this image gallery on Tumblr now, as I recently began posting some of my style stuff (including but not limited to my crochet designs) on my new account. Howlingxmouse, yo! Follow me!
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?).
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 Store 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!
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 🙂 And subscribe to the blog and follow me on Facebook for all the latest updates!
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! 💖 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:
Daisey, wearing size XS
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!
Pixie 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.
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 😉
I’ve got even more in the works, but I’m running out of time today 🙂 Back later, with more crochet goodness.<3