Contest Turn-In

Tomorrow, I’ll be packing up all of my crochet and knit entries and turning them over for judging. The ends are woven in, the FOs are blocked, and the tags are labeled and carefully pinned in place. Nothing left but to actually transport them. Twenty pieces (eek, I know!), which I have been working on all year. I can’t wait!

Projects like this:

Erin Shawl

and this:

Sinead Throw

and of course, who could forget this:

IMG_4269

I’m so excited to share more about these projects and my other entries. I realized after I uploaded these photos that I picked neutral-colored pieces, but rest assured that I have plenty of colorful entries, too. In the meantime, I’m frogging my Haruni shawl (in Chroma Lollipop) yet again and starting over. Fingers crossed that this attempt is the one to keep!

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In My Stash: Caron Simply Soft Paints

For a while now, Caron’s Simply Soft yarn has been my go-to acrylic. When you’re picky about textures (scratchy yarns need not apply), it’s great to have a staple like this one that works up well, is readily available, and won’t break the budget if you need a lot of it for a project.

Caron Simply Soft Tapestry

I just can’t pass up pretty variegated yarn in a rainbow of hues. This colorway is called Tapestry, and it’s even more fun in person.

Caron Simply Soft Tapestry

I haven’t yet decided what my skeins of this will become. They’re kind of begging to be made into a gift project for a baby girl, like this adorable knit baby sweater. I also saw a version of the honey cowl made in this colorway, which creates a very cheerful accessory for a solid-colored shirt. Other pattern suggestions welcome. 🙂

Caron Simply Soft Tapestry

Any opinions on this yarn, or on working with acrylic in general? Although I have been working with yarn for a long time, I have only recently begun exploring options other than the acrylic types that are easy to find in stores.

“Mini” and Mega Doily Progress

You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure (and when I say nothing, I mean nothing), you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.

“Chick flicks” are hit or miss with me, but I do love Julie & Julia. (In no small part thanks to this guy and this lady, who also made this movie a favorite of mine.) The quote above really resonates with me, because it can apply to any hobby or passion. If you love something, then it can provide a lot of comfort to you when everything else is unpredictable.

Sunburst Pineapple Doily

With that being said, you don’t always get the results that you expect – even with your favorite hobby. The chocolate cream pie that Julie makes in the film may turn out beautifully 99 percent of the time, but not always. Likewise, my craft projects don’t always come out exactly how I envisioned. But that doesn’t make the process any less rewarding.

I’ve had to make some modifications as I have worked on my latest projects, for example. The “mini” and mega doilies that I am making for an upcoming contest were originally supposed to be identical. But circumstances (the store running out of thread, and a diameter that was quickly surpassing the contest guidelines) have forced me to reimagine how these will turn out.

Sunburst Pineapple Doily

I’m still excited about the idea, though, and every modification helps me get better at improvising and will (hopefully) ultimately help me to design my own creations one of these days (years?). As much as I am enjoying the projects, I am also looking forward to the next big thing. It’s way past time to get out the knitting needles again.

The “Mini” Doily & Mega Doily Challenge

My next projects are the product of my overachieving nature. I am getting ready to enter some knit and crochet items in a local contest. Last year was my rookie year in this contest, and I had some beginner’s luck. Just enough to get me fired up to go again this year. 🙂

Sunburst Pineapple Crochet Hooks

Part of the entry for this contest involves paying for tags. The thing about the tags is that you buy them in increments of 10. You don’t have to use 10, but you have the tags. I had 18 items (I know) to enter, and just under a month until the contest. Two unused tags. Sitting there smugly. Mocking me.

I looked through the remaining categories and came up with an idea for an experiment that would be interesting and give me two more entries in categories that I hadn’t already entered. While perusing Ravelry, I have seen quite a few blankets that have been made from doily patterns. They’re elegant and unique, but I haven’t really had a reason to make one. Until now.

Aunt Lydia's & I Love This Yarn

Presenting my own personal “Mini” Doily & Mega Doily Challenge (mini in quotation marks because the finished doily is actually a decent size), to be made from the Sunburst Pineapple Doily pattern. Using #10 crochet thread (Aunt Lydia’s in River Blue) and Aran-weight yarn (I Love This Yarn in Antique Teal), I am making two versions of this pattern: one an afghan, one a centerpiece.

Sunburst Pineapple Doily Challenge

I picked this pattern because it is relatively flat, and isn’t too lacy to be an effective afghan. Plus, it’s also pretty in its original thread crochet form. I crocheted the first few rounds on each one separately, and am now proceeding round by round, switching between projects. Let me tell you now that this makes every round seem ridiculously long.

Here’s the project after ten rounds. Fingers crossed that they both turn out!

Sunburst Pineapple Doily Challenge

Sneaky Centerpiece Update

I’ve been holding out on you. I created another thread crochet project in the same colorway as my Between-Meal Centerpiece. I just love the pearly gray thread paired with the crisp white/metallic one, and it happened to coordinate with the wedding colors of its recipient. This one is Peacock Pride from Absolutely Gorgeous Doilies by Patricia Kristoffersen.

Peacock Pride Doily

The recipient actually told me that she would love for me to make something as a wedding gift. I was so flattered! I tend to get very shy about giving handmade gifts. They (handmade gifts in general, that is) seem to have gotten such a bad reputation, but I personally love getting them and hope others feel the same.

peacock pride doily

The majority of the doily is made with the Silver Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Cotton, with the last round in the white/silver thread. Since I was running out of the white/silver (and the store was closed – boo!) I omitted some of the picots from that round.

peacock pride doily

I gifted the doily over the holiday weekend, and she loved it! Whew. It’s so much fun to create projects for people who I know want them and appreciate them.

peacock pride doily

I also hear that this particular doily makes a good napping companion.

peacock pride doily

P.S. I shared this project on the Petals to Picots link party, and you should join too!

See this project on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/BabycakesCreates/13-peacock-pride

My First Knitting Project

aka, Proof That I Make More Than Doilies. Don’t worry, I have many, many more doily projects to share. I’ve been on a roll! But for the sake of variety, I thought I’d back up a bit and share my first completed knitting project.

Cable Knit Scarf

I started to learn how to knit in January – during my short vacation for the New Year – having resolved to finally do so as a sort-of resolution. (Does it still count as a resolution if it involves something that you are really looking forward to?) After countless practice pieces, online tutorial views, and “here goes nothing” moments, I was ready to start on my first real project: a cabled scarf.  (Pattern here.)

Cable Knit Scarf

Cables are the real reason that I was finally compelled to learn how to knit. There are some patterns that can simulate the look of cables in crochet, but although they are beautiful, to me it just isn’t the same. And, as you can see, this pattern is full of them.

Cable Knit Scarf

There are certainly mistakes in this first attempt, but overall I’m happy with it. I haven’t had a lot of time to work on my knitting skills lately – I have lots and lots of crochet projects to prepare for an upcoming local contest turn-in deadline. I have completed a few other projects since this one, and I’m excited to keep learning.

Babycakes Creates Domain

P.S. Babycakes Creates has its own domain, so babycakescreates.com will now direct you here. You can, of course, still access the site from babycakescreates.wordpress.com.

Hope you’re having a great holiday weekend!

See this project on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/BabycakesCreates/saxon-double-braided-scarf

Why Good Patterns are Worth Paying For

Crochet Pattern Book

I go through a lot of patterns. I always have a project going, and when I’m excited about that project, I can’t wait to get it done. Most of the patterns are free, simply because there are so many available. I appreciate these free patterns immensely. But I have bought, and will continue to buy, patterns, collections, or books that contain designs that I want to make.

It’s important to realize that great patterns have value. A lot of time and effort went into producing them, and that is something that is easy to take for granted when so many are free.

This topic has been on my mind for quite a while – even before I started posting here. Although I am not a pattern designer, I understand how difficult it is to create content, and I strongly believe that the people who make that content deserve to be compensated.

As someone who uses content (in this case, patterns), I have come across many different types, both free and paid.  Despite the fact that I could stay busy forever making projects from free patterns, there are many reasons why I won’t rely exclusively on free patterns. Here are the main ones, for your consideration:

  • Because you can get results you won’t get from other patterns.

If you have been crafting for a long time, many patterns start to look the same. But every so often, you will come across a pattern that is undeniably clever, well-constructed, and unique. In this case, it’s not too hard to see why paying for the pattern is a necessity. You just won’t be able to find anything quite like it available for free.

I have come across many patterns that meet this criteria for me. Lollo the African Flower Bear immediately came to mind – it is just such a smart use of motifs, and the results are truly stunning. The pattern is detailed almost to a fault, with photos of most of the steps. The result is a hugely informative resource that makes it almost impossible to fail when trying to make the project. Some may balk at the price – at the time, I paid $10 for just this pattern alone – but in my mind the work that went into the pattern makes it well worth it.

Lollo African Flower Bear Pattern

  • Because a high-quality pattern makes the hobby more enjoyable.

I want to preface this point by saying that there are many free patterns with wonderful instructions. I am constantly amazed by the amount of patterns that are available at no cost to me. Many of the best ones are published by yarn companies that (I assume) commission or buy these designs for their pattern libraries. This is a win-win-win situation: The designers are compensated, the crafters get well-designed patterns, and the companies get a boost in web traffic and product sales by providing the patterns at no cost.

With that being said, however, many of the patterns that you can find for free are, well, less than wonderful. That may be because the pattern was written by an inexperienced designer who doesn’t have the skill yet to create a truly aesthetically pleasing design. It may also be because the pattern’s instructions are unclear, or riddled with errors. If you are using an older free pattern, the terminology may be confusing or inconsistent.

High-quality paid patterns have, in most cases, taken hours and hours to put together. They are tested, re-tested, and tested again. Every row or round is checked by the designer, a pattern tester, or maybe even a technical editor. If any errors are found after the original publication, errata is made available. This means that by the time you start the pattern, most of the “kinks” have been worked out and you’ll be able to enjoy a (hopefully) frustration-free project.

  • Because talented designers (and the people who help them!) deserve to get paid.

Imagine working for days or weeks on a project that, while you found enjoyable, was at times frustrating and tedious. It would be incredibly difficult to do all of that work without the expectation of some kind of monetary reward at the end. That’s why I have no problem spending money on a project pattern that catches my eye.

Patterns aren’t just the work of the designer, either. Although I’m sure many designers work on their own, others have partnerships with pattern testers. Pattern publications ensure that their patterns are up to their standards by employing editors. Those people should also be compensated for their time and effort.

Doily Pattern

  • Because you want more great patterns in the future.

Everyone needs to pay the bills, and that goes for the people who write our patterns, too. If they are not getting paid for the time spent on creating patterns, then they will have fewer incentives to create those patterns. When there is a market for their patterns, then designers will have the ability to keep doing what they love while making ends meet – or at least earning a little extra income. And we win in the end, too, because we’ll be able to enjoy their talents through the designs that we get to enjoy.