Author Archives: Mindy

Looking For Test Crocheters

I am looking for pattern testers! This is something I’ve been considering for a long time, and I’m excited to finally begin the process.

Pattern testers must be able to work within a deadline and provide notes on clarity issues, typos, gauge and sizing issues to ensure the final pattern is easy for makers to understand. Experience crocheting garments and using finer weight yarns is preferred, but lack of experience is not necessarily a dealbreaker.

Pattern testers will receive a free copy of the the final pattern, as well as a discount on future pattern purchases.

If interested, go apply here or click “Test Crocheting” at the top of the blog!

Project Notes: “Pumpkin Spice” Embroidered Top

This top is designed top be reversible, front to back, with buttons on one side and a v-neck on the other. I’m happy with the overall design, but I think I’d like to try it in a different yarn. I used an acrylic/nylon blend from my stash, and the yarn’s stretch made the top turn out tighter than intended. This causes pulling on the button placket. I think a cotton yarn would work much, much better.

The embroidery is done using a cotton thread. I love the pop of the white against the burnt orange. I’m debating covering the back of the button placket to hide the thread ends and to see if it will help it hold it’s shape better. It would also help protect to embroidery from pulling and wear, since it’s in a spot that will be stretched and touched a lot.

Here is the v-neck. The point turned out a little softer than I wanted. I would handle the stitching a bit differently on the next go-around. But it looks okay.

Missing Autumn Weather

My favorite season has always been spring, and second is autumn. They are quite similar. Sadly, we don’t really get either of them in the southern US anymore, just a few days of that sweet in-between of t-shirt weather and gentle breezes, and then weeks of back and forth icy cold and steaming hot, until the forthcoming summer or winter season finally wins out.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I walk into town a lot with my son. We haven’t done too much walking during the height of summer as temps have been pretty high, and this leads me to thinking how harsh the cold will be eventually and how he might not experience those autumn-y days in the same way I did.

For me, as a kid, autumn seemed to start in August, just as school was back in, and stretch for weeks. But the past several years it feels like it lasts about two days.

Surprisingly, it feels like September has brought the cooler weather, and I’m hoping we’ll truly take time to enjoy it while it lasts.

In between a few custom crochet orders, I’ve been working on this cardigan for my son. I try to make him a new jacket or sweater every year. This one’s been working up pretty quickly (although clothing for kids is so much smaller that it does go faster, especially with worsted weight yarn). I think the collar might be where the biggest challenge lies with this one, as I’ll be trying a shawl collar for the first time and might have to play around with increases and decreases to get a shape I’m happy with.

Project Notes: Moss Stitch Top With Embroidered Hem

Here is a garment I finished several months ago, but had yet to write a wrap-up for. Using a fingering weight cotton yarn in moss stitch (also called lemon peel stitch). I had originally intended for the top to be solid color, but realized part-way through the back panel that I wouldn’t have enough of the white yarn to finish, so I adjusted by frogging some on the front panel and adding this peach to the yoke of the top. I think it would have looked fine in solid color, but I like the way the color-blocking turned out!

I used DMC cotton embroidery thread to add the hand embroidered floral details along the base. I had an idea for the florals I wanted to do, and the style, but I drew some simple sketches out to really solidify the design before I began embroidering. I’m really, really happy with how the embroidery turned out. So far, I’ve left it unlined, but we’ll see how it holds up once the top has been worn a few times. Even though all the yarn and thread used is cotton, after washing it almost seems as though the thread ends have felted in a way, so they’re actually pretty secure.

As I’ve experimented with embroidery on various crochet stitches, I’ve found that so far I like to work without a hoop or anything holding the main fabric tight, and instead work with the tension of the crocheted piece so that the embroidery won’t be pulled too taught or snap when the crochet is stretched – especially important for garments. I learned here that I really like using backstitch when embroidering on crochet, as it creates a more solid line, but can still stretch with the crochet, and it’s pretty secure and easy to weave thread ends into on the back.

I do want to try a shorter, more cropped version of the basic top, and play around with some more embroidery eventually. But I do love the way this top turned out.

Tea Tales: Apple Lime Sweet Tea

In 2010, I went on a short-term mission trip to Costa Rica. The main part of the trip was spent helping build a new church and medical clinic, along with leading VBS at several surrounding churches. The last couple days were spent at a new location and were meant to be a chance to experience more of the country, rest, and reflect on the previous days before heading home.

The second location was a hotel with a breathtaking view of Arenal Volcano, and we’d been told by the previous year’s team to be sure and order their “sweet tea” at dinner because it was not what you would expect as someone from the southern US, where we’re know for our cold, sugary, simple tea.

Drinks were brought out to the table, most in normal glasses. But the sweet tea was served in wine glasses with paper lime and apple decorations stuck on the side and straw. We reconfirmed several times that “No, it’s not alcoholic.” Just sweet tea.

Very intense presentation, very yummy and refreshing.

We tried to decipher the ingredients and make our own version when we got back home.

For apple juice, I recommend the Simply Apple brand, as it is a pure-pressed apple juice with no added sugar, that is closer to a cider texture and taste-wise.

For tea, use any black leaf tea.

These ingredient measurements are for a single serving, but you could, of course, increase them for a full pitcher.

Just Keep Stitching

(taken several months ago, this project is now finished, and my desk is now painted)

Creating and writing a crochet pattern takes a long time as a stay-at-home mom of a toddler. Something that used to take me two months, tops, is now taking, at current count, over seven.
I went into this year knowing that a focus on more intricate clothing designs would take longer than I was previously used to, but it still wears at me sometimes.

Right now, my main work time consists of part of my child’s naptime (the other part going toward exercise, lunch and housecleaning), and a couple hours after he goes to bed. This totals to about 15 hours a week, if that. I can sometimes crochet or edit a little while my kiddo is engaged in some independent play, but lately he wants to be right where I am as soon as I start – whether to grab the yarn or push all the buttons on my laptop.

I’m also moving into creating patterns for more detailed garments and learning new design software at the same time.

All this to say that sometimes it seems like this one pattern won’t ever be finished, let alone all the others I have in my queue. There are fleeting moments where I feel like I should just give up, because I won’t ever catch up with all the other designers out there with their vast collections of patterns, or those who seem to be able to churn out patterns every few weeks. But then I have to remember a few things – 1. I enjoy crocheting and designing crocheted clothing and while it may not be the most opportune-seeming time to finally dive into that, overall I’m excited about what I’m making, 2. If I keep working at this, no matter how slowly, it will eventually get done.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve found a better balance for all the things I need/want to get done in my days, but other times I feel like I wind up sacrificing one thing for others and and I’m not getting the time I need. My child will be starting preschool in the fall, going a couple days a week, and I’m planning to use that time for crochet-related work, so maybe things will pick up a bit then.

Work Desk Remodel

I have been missing crochet. Last week I spent several days painting my work desk. My work time is mainly limited to my child’s naptimes and bedtimes, but I’ve needed to give up that work time for painting in order to go ahead and get the refurbish done.

There were a few reasons I decided to paint my desk, or rather, just the desktop. When my husband and I were renovating our house several years ago, we designated one of the bedrooms as a computer room/craft studio and put a wide desk in the closet that I could use as a work table. We got a large board and my dad helped us sand the top and side, cut the board to fit the closet, and install it. We realized after it had been screwed in that we’d accidentlly put the board in upside down. At the time, I was planning on using the desk mainly for sewing and laying out garment pieces, so while it was annoying, we decided not to remove it, especially since putting it in was kind of difficult.

before

Over the past almost two years, I’ve been using this table as my main work desk. We’ve added shelves above it and made it a nice little space, but the area wasn’t great for picture taking (frustrating when wanting to get process shots and pics for patterns, Instagram, blog, etc.) I finally got a true color light for the space and that helped a TON, but the surface of the desk itself was too shiny for my taste. I wanted a more matte background for my photos.

My husband and I discussed options – removing and flipping the desktop to it’s intended direction would be extra difficult with the new shelves now installed above, so we can to the conclusion of painting the top.

It took a bit of time to get started, but I managed to get it done over two naptimes and a couple hours for two nights. I decided to use chalkpaint as I liked the matte characteristics, and do a concrete-inspired look using a light blue and light grey. We used Valspar Chalky paints and their corresponding Clear Sealing Wax, just because it was what was available. I haven’t used others to compare, but I feel like it worked well enough and I’m satisfied with how the desktop has turned out.

Everything has been moved back into its place, and my time will be mostly dedicated to editing a pattern. So, I won’t be picking up my hook, but it will still be nice to get back in that headspace.

Project Notes: Shell Stitch Cropped Top With Embroidered Details

I started making this top MONTHS ago. I don’t usually have a project that I’ll work on in little bits here and there, either between more prominent projects or when I need a break from those projects, but that’s what this top started out as. In the last few months, I started to get more excited about this top for a few reasons – I was really excited about the simple shape, and I had decided to add embroidered details – and I worked fervently to finish it.

The top is worked in two pieces, front and back. Most of the embroidery was done before the front and back were seamed together. Shoulders and sides were then seamed, right sides facing, in single crochet. Once seamed, I turned the top right side out and added some simple single crochet stitching to the armholes, neckline, and bottom hem to finish and round out the edges.

Working in small amounts on the front piece over several months meant that I didn’t see the piece work up as fast as usual, so the front wound up being much too wide. Instead of frogging and redoing the whole thing, I simply made note of the adjusted measurements on my pattern draft to correct it for future makes, and made the back piece much smaller to account for the front piece being too big. This meant the seam would be further back on each side instead of directly under the arms, but given the color, texture, and simple design of the top, I wasn’t too worried about this.

I have been experimenting with different types of embroidery on different crochet stitches lately, and at some point, decided I wanted to add a little embroidery to this top. You can see that the stems and shoots are made with simple long stitches, as that worked best over the shell stitching. Crochet always has at least a little stretch, and this garment has a good bit because of not only the shell stitches, but the yarn itself, which is an acrylic/nylon blend. I tried to stay aware of this while embroidering and kept a looser tension for the stems and shoots than I would have if working into regular fabric. The leaves are single chain stitches with a bit of fill, and the small buds are French knots. All was done using DMC cotton embroidery thread.

The majority of the embroidery was done before the front and back were joined together, since it was easier to weave the back ends in as I went. After trying on the top once it was seamed together, I went and filled out the embroidery where I felt the top needed it. Although I’m still not 100% about it and feel like maybe I could have done better/added a bit more. Though now I know how the top looks when worn, I could maybe figure out better placing and amount of the embroidery if I do something similar in the future.

I love how these green and blue shades pop a bit from, yet compliment the grey.

In the above picture, you can see how the side seam is further back than normal. Also, this is a bit nitpicky, but as the designer critiquing a first draft, I’d rather the back neckline for this piece be a bit higher and flatter than this. But again, it’s not a big deal, and looks okay.

I finished this piece just as the weather was warming up around here, and the material is just too hot to wear right now, but I’m excited to wear it next fall/winter.

For some behind-the-scenes and in-progress shots, go peruse my instagram: @waterswares

Waters Wears: Star Stitch Sweater First Draft

I finished this sweater a little over a week ago. I would up having a good bit of this heathered grey acrylic yarn leftover from a custom project, and decided to use it for this sweater idea I’d had in my head for a while. The shape of the sweater is inspired by an old cropped sweater of mine that has started to fall apart and wear with time (though I do mend it as needed). As for the stitch, I’ve wanted to use star stitch in a pattern for years, and as it is a thick and squishy stitch, it makes for a nice, warm sweater.

Overall, the sweater turned out well, although there are a few things to note:

– The neckline needs to be smaller, as I’d originally intended. I made up for it being too wide in this go by making the neckline ribbing closer to 2 inches wide, when I’d planned for it to be more like 1 inch wide. This made the neckline take on more of a scoopneck shape, which is fine, but not my personal favorite and not, as I said, what I’d originally intended for the sweater. It’s funny that the neckline wound up so much wider than I’d wanted, even though I measured carefully and checked several times during making.

– Though I surprisingly didn’t hate how wide the sleeves were for this go – they actually work surprisingly well with the sweater overall – I’d definitely make them smaller in the next version. And though I used a hook one size smaller for the ribbing than the body, I might use an even smaller one for the wrist ribbing next time to make the sleeve cuffs a little tighter.

– At a point during the making, I had to go buy more yarn to have enough to finish. Even though I bought the same yarn, the dye lot available to me was different. I decided this would be fine as the greys used in the body and sleeves of the sweater already varied in places, even being from the same dye lot, and as the new yarn would be used just for the ribbing. So there is an unplanned subtle difference in greys between the body and the ribbing; the yarn used for the ribbing seems a much cooler grey, almost blue-looking.

Can you see the subtle difference in greys? It’s more obvious in some lighting than others.

I decided to pass this first draft on to a lovely friend, and it looks great on her! I kind of love when I make something that I’ve not planned for anyone specifically, but then it’s just obvious it’s meant for a certain person.

Looks For Fall

I did a little drawing series over on my Instagram of looks I like to wear during fall and winter. It was a fun little project; I enjoyed playing around with this drawing style and making the borders.

Here’s a round up of the drawings.

One of my favorite ways to wear an infinity scarf in the last few years – layered over a long pendant necklace.

I typically just scrunch or tuck in skinnies when wearing boots, but lately I’m loving wearing them cuffed with ankle boots.

A lightweight sweater tucked into a high-waisted skirt makes for a chic look.

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