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 😉
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!
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 ❤
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?
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.
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 ❤
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.
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.
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. 😛
Because 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.
I’ve always loved the nazar, a Middle Eastern charm symbol representing an eye, which used to ward off the evil eye. 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. 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!
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.
That’s really the only reason I do this. Excuse to dress up! Just kidding. Kind of.
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.
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!!
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.
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 😀
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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!
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.
I am really loving these natural tones, which is a good thing because my beautiful friends sometimes give me secondhand fiber. 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.
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 😛 ) were acquired and now I am clumsily learning to use them.
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.
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.
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! 😉
This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.
When it comes to pouches, a square or rectangle pocket is about as easy as you can get. Squares and rectangles are just rows, back and forth, and if you can crochet you’re probably already familiar with them. Then of course there’s granny squares, which are a whole other business, but they can also be really fun in these belts. If you want a tutorial on making granny squares, check the “Part 2 Instructions” crochet portion of this free pattern on my blog.
Here I’m just going to crochet a rectangle, then fold it in half and seam it up the sides to make a square envelope pouch. I might add fancier stuff later, but for now concentrate on the rectangle.
To start a row for a rectangle or square, chain the length you want, then chain a few extra depending on what size stitch you are making – chain 0 extra for sc (the last ch counts as your first st), chain 1 extra for hdc (the last 2 ch count as your first st), chain 2 extra for dc (the last 3 ch count as your first st) etc.
Then, work your rows back and forth, chaining as many as necessary for the turns (1 for sc, 2 for hdc, 3 for dc, etc) – until you have a square or rectangle. Easy! I made mine a little more textured and interesting by using rows of linked half-double crochet instead of regular hdc. You can find more info on linked stitches on my free Linked Double Crochet tutorial.
Linking stitches creates a subtle & pretty texture as well as a sturdier fabric than regular crochet.
Fold over the piece, then use crochet stitching to work through both layers at once to seam them together. Alternatively, you could thread a yarn needle with some yarn and whip stitch them together sewing-style, but I prefer the stitch method. Here I’m going to use single crochet to seam the pieces together, because I’ve decided I’m going to come back and add a funky edging later, and I’ll need something to work into easily.
The general rule for crocheting into the edges of rows is that you’ll want as many stitches per row edge as there are chains in the turning chain for your stitch height – so for single crochet, the turning chain is 1, and you’d make 1 stitch per row edge. For hdc, the turning chain is 2, so you’d want two stitches per row edge. Keep in mind this is a GENERAL rule and it’s going to depend on your gauge and other factors – for instance, I sometimes only make 2 stitches per row side on double crochet rows, if it works better for the specific situation.
Anyway, seam that puppy up whatever way you feel like. Weave in your ends, and you’re done! Easy pouch. Now to make it more interesting, see the next post.