Polka Dot Cottage | Making stuff and telling you all about it since 2005

Weekend Favorites

Posted October 31st, 2014 by

Another Halloween is here. This is the first year we haven’t had a school parade to go to. I’m ok with that.

Last year I think we had two groups of kids ring the doorbell. That’s it. So I’ve decided not to buy any candy. I’m just going to share stuff we already have: my big ol’ 5lb bag of Yummy Earth lollipops, and maybe some Equal Exchange chocolate miniatures, if I’m feeling particularly generous.

Yes, I will be the house handing out organic lollipops and fair trade chocolate.

Hey, it’s not like we’re going to see more than a dozen kids come by anyway. Every year I cringe at having to buy the artificially-flavored junk I usually avoid, and then I spend the next few weeks being tempted by the copious amounts of leftovers (and being too weak to resist more often than not).

This year I am not buying into that. Lest you think I’m some kind of Halloween Scrooge, these lollipops are actually really, really delicious. I would not have invested in a 5lb bag otherwise! Just writing that makes me want to go dig through the bag and get myself a pomegranate pucker. (Amazon has them, if you’re interested. < –and that’s an affiliate link).

Boo humbug!

On Flickr

The mosaic below represents other people’s pictures that spoke to me this week. Be sure to click on the titles below the mosaic, if you want to know more about the image or the photographer behind it.

(follow me on flickr)

Weekend Favorites at Polka Dot Cottage

1. Ms Pumpkin likes a healthy diet., 2. , 3. Untitled, 4. I am a one woman sewing factory this week, stitching up lots if new original pieces for #urbancraftuprising on December 6-7th. Will you be there?, 5. Good Morning from the Lake! #fromwhereistand #lakegeorge #themugchronicles #leaflove, 6. Late night random crafting is my version of checking out/playing games on phone etc.- {hoping @maryartspirit will make #rughooking kits, as this pumpkin is my version of her idea. she also sells them finished on her etsy and teaches it live @frenchgeneral, 7. Untitled, 8. DSC04332, 9. Commission pillow #2, goes with one in previous photo. These were made for a 13 y o who’s getting a gorgeous new room. I hope she likes them!, 10. Morning, 11. Teal Squares, 12. A scene from my booth at Quilt Market. With @shenaanagins #stitchindye #showmethemoda #quiltmarket

Around the Web

I spend some time earlier in the week sharing my favorite crafty links through social media. And then I repeat them here on Fridays.

  • All About Ease – knitting advice from berroco design studio. Amy asks (and answers) the question: What is ease and how much do you need? A good read for beginner knitters and crocheters before starting that sweater project.
  • Lamb Bonnet – an adorable sewing project from The Purl Bee. This is so cute. And she’s totally right about there being a very small window of opportunity where you get to choose your little one’s Halloween costume. Parents of toddlers, take note!
  • Nude Food Sandwich Wrappers – from thirtynine, via Sew Mama Sew. I used to be all about the reusable food containers for my kids’ lunch boxes, but now *they* are all about the brown bag. So I have reluctantly transitioned to using the least objectionable disposable wrapping that I can. If I didn’t think it would get them teased, though, I’d make them a set of these sandwich wraps and some coordinating cloth napkins.
  • Design Your Own Photo Stickers – a fun idea from Spoonflower Blog. My head is spinning from the possibilities here. I have a few blank walls that would love something like this…
  • Giant crochet leaf pattern for autumn bunting – tutorial from Messy La, via Mollie Makes. I love the look of these leaves – they’re different than what you might expect, in that they seem to radiate out from the bottom rather than the center. So pretty!
  • Realistic Eyeball Props – a creepy Halloween DIY, via Crafter-holic!. Not a huge Halloween fan over here, but I have to say, these are some really convincing eyeballs. I *almost* want to make a bowl of them for display on the coffee table.

Happy Halloween!

New Pattern: Neutral Squares Blanket

Posted October 30th, 2014 by

Hold on to your hats, it’s another pattern! In less than a week!

Enthusiasts of the hook, this one is for you.

As crocheters, we are drawn to a project when it has aspects that will keep us interested in the work: color! design! variety! And yet, we all have loved ones who eschew those very things. How do we reconcile their tastes with our desire to crochet them something special?

I’ll tell you. We make them one of these!

Neutral Squares Blanket at Polka Dot Cottage

Neutral Squares crochet blanket, at Polka Dot Cottage

Neutral Squares crochet blanket, at Polka Dot Cottage

Neutral Squares crochet blanket, at Polka Dot Cottage

Winter 21/31 - Texture

This is the blanket I crocheted for Neil’s Christmas present last December. Few people are more persnickety than Neil when it comes to handmade stuff, but he likes this blanket. In fact, I can’t get him to leave it in the family room where I intended for it to be, because he likes to sleep under it.

This pattern is the easiest of my four crocheted blankets. The tutorial version teaches you how to make a granny square, how to connect squares together as you go, and how to make a border.

I also talk a bit about alternate color schemes, and the best way to go about constructing the pieces of your blanket.

I am so pleased to finally be publishing this pattern. I’ve had the pictures taken, the introduction written, and the pattern scribbled down for months. I just couldn’t seem to get past my tutorial-writing block until now.

A blanket like this makes a nice gift for someone special, and there’s definitely enough time to make one before those December holidays come around. Or, you can do what I did last year – give the blanket 3/4 of the way done, and finish it a month later!

Neutral Squares Blanket
Neutral Squares Blanket

BEGINNER level, step-by-step crochet tutorial.

Fully illustrated, 10-page PDF.


Price: $6.99

This is also available without the step-by-step photo tutorial, if you are confident in your crochet skills.

Neutral Squares Blanket - Just the Pattern!
Neutral Squares Blanket - Just the Pattern!

No tutorial, just the 3-page pattern PDF.

Price: $2.99

Get more information on the Neutral Squares Blanket product page, or check it out on Ravelry:

And with this, I have emptied out the queue of half-finished patterns/tutorials waiting to be turned into eBooks. Next up? I have an idea for a loom-knit cowl…

Happy Crocheting, and thanks for your support!

P.S. Ever look at a word so many times that it suddenly looks wrong to you? I’ve been doing that all day with “neutral.” I’ve even googled it twice to make sure I wasn’t screwing up the spelling. Duh.

And now for something a little different

Posted October 29th, 2014 by

New photo backdrops
You all know that I like to make things, right? And most of the things I make are small or wearable. I’m cool with things that require tiny precise work, like stitching or polymer clay millefiori. But start talking about Big stuff, like lumber, paint, wood stain, and power tools and you’ve lost me.

My mother, on the other hand, is right at home with that stuff. While my house has barely changed in the decade and a half I’ve lived here, my childhood home barely resembles its former self for all of my mother’s demolition and construction projects over 36 years.

I have a Dremel tool in the basement that I am afraid to touch. Mom asks for power tools for Christmas.

Have I painted a picture for you yet? We’re both creative, but our talents lie on opposite ends of the crafty spectrum.

This is handy, though, when Mom wants a crocheted table runner, or I have a sudden inspiration that requires distressing some lumber. I don’t have sudden inspirations like that very often, but I actually had one last week. And today Mom and I made it happen.

My favorite spot to take pictures in my house is on top of a built-in cabinet in the dining room. The light pouring in the window there is just perfect for my photography needs. But I’ve been disappointed over the years that the surface of the cabinet wasn’t more interesting (it’s painted white). I needed something I could put on top of the cabinet that would mimic a table top with interesting color and texture.

As it turns out, my parents’ garage is full of chunks of wood that came from various sources (a basement wall, a kitchen remodel, an old shelf…) and we were able to look through those and find three pieces that would do nicely.

New photo backdrops

The first was already painted that vintagey minty aqua color that I love so much. All we did to that one was run some sandpaper over it to strip off a small amount of the paint and let some of the white underneath show through.

New photo backdrops

New photo backdrops

New photo backdrops

29 crafty 33 for upload

29 crafty 31 for upload

The next one had some interesting wood grain, and when I sanded it (I used a power tool! go me!) the surface lightened considerably and the grain showed even better.

We mixed up some glaze and some acrylic paint in a light teal, painted it onto the wood, and then wiped it off with a rag. We finished it off with a coat of wax for a subtle shine.

It is actually two-sided. Both sides started the same, but the one that was more beat up also got a second coat of paint on top, a bit darker and blue-er.

New photo backdrops

New photo backdrops

New photo backdrops

Fall 29/31

The last one we painted white and then covered with that same teal wash, which, it turned out was too bright. So we added some dark green, and that was better. We finished up with some more sanding and this time the natural wood showed through.

Mom thinks it looks kind of beachy, and I agree.

I am LOVING these.

29 crafty 34 for upload

They’re small enough to be portable and I can set them up on my nice, bright cabinet and pretend that I have an interesting table.

I don’t collaborate on craft projects very often, but I’m always glad when I do. This is something that maybe I could have done on my own, but I would have been a lot more tentative about it, and I would have ended up spending a small fortune on supplies.

Everything we used today was pulled from the garage or the basement. That’s such a nice thing, to have enough supplies on-hand that experimenting is easy.

Nothing we used today was at all what I envisioned when I came up with this project, from the wood to the paint, and yet I’m super happy with the results.

New photo backdrops

Thanks, Mom!

And dear readers? Brace yourselves, because I think every picture I take for the next month and a half is going to be in front of that window, perched on a snazzy new background…

More upgrades

Posted October 29th, 2014 by

Fullscreen capture 10272014 103417 AM.bmp

Last week I told you I did a long-time-coming redesign of the Download Shop. Well, I knew once that happened, it wouldn’t be long before I turned my attention to the Handmades Shop as well.

Just like before, I needed to get rid of the busy-ness, most notably the photographic header and the blog sidebar. Now that they are both gone, and I have made a few tweaks to the content of the page as well, I am much happier:

Polka Dot Cottage Handmades Shop

There were also numerous issues with the product pages themselves, which started out looking like this:

Fullscreen capture 10272014 112601 AM.bmp

And now look like this:

Fullscreen capture 10272014 121114 PM.bmp

I feel better now :-)

You know, with all of this shop tweaking, I am feeling (very predictably, I might add) that the blog needs a little TLC, too. I have been thinking about removing one of the sidebars and getting rid of the advertising. Less than a year ago, I switched away from corporate advertising in favor of providing space for small family businesses. Unfortunately, I have gotten so few takers in that time, it seems like a silly idea to keep devoting significant sidebar real estate to it. That’s kind of a bummer for me. I was hoping to see some fun crafty businesses hanging out in that space. *sigh*

I’d like to transition the blog to a newer, more modern theme that encompasses all of the snazzy WordPress updates that have come along since I first installed this theme in 2007. I’ve made so many customizations to this old theme, that starting over is a big decision, and most likely a big undertaking as well. It may be worth it, though. It’s important to me that the blog render well on mobile devices, and right now that doesn’t work as well as it could.

Ah, but this post was not supposed to be about the blog. Go take a peek in the shop! I haven’t been open for custom orders in some time, but there are plenty of ready-made items that might like to go home with you!

Spotted in the wild

Posted October 27th, 2014 by

274/365: Oct 1 - Six hooks in progress

I haven’t had my polymer clay supplies out in some time. (My dining room thanks me – it’s been neat and clean for months – some kind of record around here!) But, when I do have the clay supplies out, and I am cranking out batch after batch of handmade crochet hooks, it might seem to me as if I have crafted thousands of the darn things and that they are as ubiquitous in the crochet community as an unadorned Susan Bates metal G hook.

But in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. I have probably made a few hundred hooks in my time, and they are scattered far and wide. Most people have never heard of my little hook-making operation – a fact about which I am not complaining, because too much more popularity would only chain me to the work table in an utterly unsustainable way.

(Although I wouldn’t refuse just a little more notoriety, if it came my way.)

02 hooks

I say all this so that you will understand what a pleasant jolt it gave me the other night to spot my hooks “in the wild.”

Last night it was too close to bedtime to put on any tv shows of any substantial length, but it was too early for me to want to head upstairs just yet. I remembered I had a Craftsy class I hadn’t yet watched (Professional Finishing for Perfect Crochet (w/ Linda Permann)), so I figured I’d entertain myself with the first lesson.

I got it all set up on the Google TV, pressed PLAY, watched Linda start to talk about neatening up the edges of a flat crochet piece, and that’s when I saw it: my hook! In fact, I sat up straight and said aloud, “hey! that’s my hook!”

273/365: Sep 30 - Making a lot of hooks this week. Finishing the first batch.

I know I sold hooks to Linda. I know she writes books and patterns, and teaches online classes. So it should not have been such a surprise to see her using one of them. Still, there on the big screen it jumped out at me, and I kept thinking, “How cool! My hook is on TV!”

Part of the excitement, I imagine, is that I watch these classes on my television, so what most people are seeing on a computer or tablet screen, I’m seeing in 37 glorious inches. I’m sure it gives inflated importance to the whole thing…

But still: Cool! My hook is on TV! ;-)

This has me thinking, of course, that maybe it’s time to make some more. I’ve had many months (or has it been a year already?) to recover from the last hook-making sessions, and there are currently only six of them left in the shop.

I may even be inclined to open up the shop for custom orders sometime next month. Would there be any interest in that? (When you place a custom order, I make a hook exactly to your specifications – size, brand, handle pattern, type of thumb grip, etc.)

05 hooks 02

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you in the market for custom crochet hooks for yourself or maybe for gift-giving?

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve had any interest in getting out my clay supplies. Maybe I should see my stuff out in the wild more often! It seems to be the jolt I need.

(BTW, that Craftsy link up there is an affiliate link, but I would have written this exact same post, even if it wasn’t. The usual disclaimers apply.)

featured sponsors!
ad swap friends
advertisements
trusted affiliates

 

RSS  Email  Download the Android App  Kindle + Facebook  Twitter  Google Plus  Flickr deviantART  Ravelry  Pinterest  YouTube Pandora  LastFM

Site design and contents copyright 2005-2014 by Lisa Clarke.