Polka Dot Cottage | Making stuff and telling you all about it since 2005 - Part 2

Weekend Favorites

Posted November 14th, 2014 by

I like how the center row of this week’s mosaic is all leaves. I am very happy with the free mosaic tool I use, but one feature I wish it had is the ability to drag and drop images around so that they are in the most visually-pleasing arrangement. Sometimes the mosaics would benefit from a little tweaking. This week, though, that middle row is just right.

By the way, this week I decided I don’t have nearly enough social media to distract me, and so I hopped onto tumblr.

That’s sarcasm, of course (I have plenty to distract me), but really I did get myself a tumblr blog, which I plan to use just for sharing my photography endeavors. There will be some material repeated from what you see over here on this blog, but there will be other things you never see here. Also, there will be very little talking. So, if you like a heavy dose of images with very few words, you might like to follow me there.

And if you’re not interested in that, don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere. Polka Dot Cottage was, is (and for the forseeable future will be) my home base.

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. Today’s the day for The Sewing Party. Join me at 1:30 pm EST and learn how to make the Strips and Bricks quilt. #stitchindye #sewingparty, 2. Apparently, I sew for humility purposes…. And to familiarize myself with the ins & outs of the seam ripper…, 3. Look Ma! The Calico Star quilt is all done! #wisecrafthandmade, 4. not a garland ;), 5. Leaves and Acorns, 6. 10.21.2014, 7. Simplicity, 8. just because, 9. figs

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.

  • The No-Particular-Destination Project. and Why It’s Awesome – from CraftyPod. I agree that it’s great to have a portable project that you can work on whenever the mood strikes and wherever there are little pockets of unfilled time. I don’t know how I feel about the open-endedness of it, though. What do you think? Could you be happy working on a project for which there is no particular end in sight? Or are you more about the results than the process?
  • Farewell to the Mortal Muses – by Kristin of Mortal Muses. Mortal Muses is closing down the blog at the end of the month. I find that disappointing – I miss Shutter Sisters in it’s old format, and I will likely miss MM, too. They do have a new project coming in 2015, though, and hopefully that will be something I can get into as much as the blog format has been! Drop by their website to participate in the farewell festivities.
  • Halloween 2014: Crafty wrap-up – a fun show-and-tell from Pennamite. Penny is always so creative when it comes to Halloween. This year she crocheted a number of hats, made an awesome steampunky costume for her son’s wheelchair, and put together a cute stop-motion video of her yard’s crochet creature infestation. Take a look!
  • Lazy Waves Blanket – a free crochet pattern from Look At What I Made. Such a pretty blanket, and she goes into a lot of detail that can help you make yours exactly the same as hers, or change it up in different ways.

Have a happy Friday! And go check out my tumblr :-)

Chevron Cowl

Posted November 13th, 2014 by

The Chevron Cowl, loom-knitting pattern at Polka Dot Cottage

There have kinda been crickets here this week, haven’t there? Sorry about that. I have been preoccupied with getting this pattern finished, and (let’s be honest here) getting sucked into social media that I never intended to get sucked into. (I’m trying to do a little research into something, but it keeps leading me down very interesting rabbit holes and before I know it, whoooooosh! There goes the morning.)

But anyway, I am here today to tell you about something I did manage to finish. (Yay!)

Chevron Cowl
Chevron Cowl
Chevron Cowl
Chevron Cowl
Chevron Cowl

Allow me to introduce the Chevron Cowl, so named because the stitches create a zig-zaggy chevron texture. I knit this cowl in just a few hours using bulky wool on a Martha Stewart knitting loom.

I was all set to buy some swanky, high-end fiber to use here, but inspiration struck on a Monday when all of the local yarn shops are closed. Rather than wait until Tuesday, I settled on the dreaded craft store yarn, and let me say I have been pleasantly surprised by the results of my purchase.

Oh, I know not everyone dreads the craft store yarn. And honestly, I don’t entirely dread it either. But I do think I look down my nose at it just a teeny bit. And I always like to use the Good Stuff for a loom pattern because it seems that so often loom-knit projects have kind of a cheap look to them. I want the loomed stuff to look as classy as their needle-knit cousins, you know?

Still, I must say right here for the record that Patons Classic Wool Bulky is pretty nice after you wet block it. I had my doubts taking it off of the loom, when it was all stiff and kinda crunchy-feeling, but blocking made it soft and drapey. It’s no Malabrigo Chunky, but it’s super nice for an inexpensive yarn. And being able to make this cowl for less than $8 is a pretty nice perk.

Chevron Cowl
Fast, cheap, pleasant to wear, and zig-zags! Have I sold you on this yet?

The Chevron Cowl ebook contains everything a complete loom-knitting newbie needs to know in order to make one. I show you how to cast-on, how to knit, how to purl, and how to bind-off. I share a bunch of other tidbits, too, like how to wet block and how to modify the pattern if you get a different gauge when you swatch.

Chevron Cowl
Chevron Cowl

COMPLETE NEWBIE level, step-by-step loom-knitting tutorial.

Fully illustrated, 8-page PDF.

Price: $4.99

If you already know how to do all of that stuff and just want the pattern, you can get that for somewhat less moolah than the tutorial eBook. Like so:

Chevron Cowl - Just the Pattern!
Chevron Cowl - Just the Pattern!

No tutorial, just the 2-page pattern PDF.

Price: $1.99

Want more details? Get ‘em here.

This cowl is really awfully quick to make. I could see you whipping up a whole pile of them for holiday gift-giving purposes. I could even see a man wearing one. (Maybe none of the men I know, but certainly there are cowl-wearing men out there in the wild?)

Happy Loom-Knitting, my friends! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions, and thanks as always for your support.

TWiP: warmth

Posted November 8th, 2014 by

This Week in Pictures
There’s quite a difference, color-wise, between this week and last. For one thing, the actual colors in nature are somewhat more toned-down. But also my daily photo project has gone from the vibrant hues of fall in October, to total desaturation in November.

For this week, I’ve found myself converting my images to black and white, and then bumping up the warmth in the highlights. And sometimes I’ve also fiddled with a touch of color in the shadows. I can’t seem to leave straight black and white alone. What can I say? I’m a warmth addict.

We’re in Virginia this weekend, hanging out at the World Fantasy Convention. Not actually attending it, mind you. Just making use of the hotel room while Neil attends it. We do this kind of thing a lot when Neil goes to conventions. He’s always so busy, he doesn’t use the room for much else other than a few hours of sleep. It seems a waste to leave it unoccupied, so the kids and I usually travel with him and enjoy the change of scenery.

Sometimes I can even convince them to leave the hotel and do something interesting (if by “interesting” you mean “yarn shopping” – and this time I do!)

Today we walked our legs off: hotel to Metro station, to yarn shop, to restaurant, back to Metro station, to hotel. My fitbit would be jumping for joy, if the battery hadn’t died somewhere in the middle of the trip. Darn it. I know it’s silly, but I hate not getting “credit” on the leaderboard for the steps I take. (Think I can be a bit competitive? Nah…)

There are more pictures than I normally post this week. I got more Instagrammy than usual – that’s what tends to happen when I go places!

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365, plus some everyday-life images I posted on Instagram during the previous week. (FYI, my daily photo project this year has changing monthly themes. November’s theme is “monochrome” or some variation thereof. Black and white, sepia, split tones, basically anything goes as long as it’s super desaturated.)

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


Instagram: Good Lord. Resistance is totally futile.

365: BW 1/30 – Rainy Saturday at the Stockton Market.


365: BW 2/30 – Chilly day today. Neil lit the fire for the first time this season.


Instagram: Primary Colors Girl snaps a quick selfie before flying off on a yarn-aquiring mission.

365: BW 3/30 – I’m working on a new knitting loom pattern.


Instagram: On today’s agenda: filming a new video! #loomknitting #pdc

365: BW 4/30 – The laundry basket is bottomless.


Instagram: Well, here is a strange turn of events: I’m packing for a few days away, and there is not a stitch of green in my suitcase. There is ALWAYS green in my suitcase! Copious amounts of it, in fact.How very unlike me. #queenofgreen

365: BW 5/30 – Let’s go for a drive.

Instagram: Highway supper. Roy Rogers has the best BBQ sauce ever. Ever!


365: BW 6/30 – It’s a rainy day in VIrginia. This is our view from the hotel.

Instagram: I am having a hard time not seeing 5.25″ floppy disks when I look at this wall art. #nerd #oldschool


Instagram: The Clarke’s are adventuring today.

365: BW 7/30 – Crystal City Metro Station in Arlington, VA.

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!

Weekend Favorites

Posted November 7th, 2014 by

Oops! Today’s post is a little later than usual – sorry about that! I got myself completely turned-around in terms of what day this is. The kids had yesterday and today off, and we’ve been going places and doing things… and every time I thought about whether it was Thursday or Friday or Wednesday, I almost always got it wrong at first.

And so last night saw me casting on for a sweater I’ve had my eye on for ages, with no regard for the fact that it was Thursday, and Thursday usually means Write the Weekend Favorites Post Night.

Instead it became Knit Fifteen Rows Night. This yarn is so wonderful – this is going to be one squishy delicious sweater, so at least there’s that…

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

1. , 2. aqua and lime by ruby acorn, 3. bearing gifts, 4. light fall, 5. Golden silence, 6. Be Still 52 Week 24, 7. smile, 8. Riddari Cardigan, 9. Untitled, 10. Christmas Crafting, 11. Untitled, 12. Изображение 292, 13. ASTAMI.BALLYGUNGE CULTURAL PARK (7), 14. Primarily, A Bowl of Leaves on a Front Porch, 15. snovember, 16. Untitled

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.

  • 鳴子系こけし/こけしの岡仁 – a toymaker video on Vimeo. This is really awesome to see this man’s artistry in making wooden toys. My favorite part is seeing how he adds the stripes to the body. That, and how he attaches the head. Really, so interesting!
  • Is It Worth It to Write a Craft Book? – food for thought from CraftyPod. As someone who has often thought about what it would be like to write a craft book, I find Diane’s honest posts on the subject quite interesting. Today, she talks about what you can expect financially as well as the non-financial aspects that may or may not tip the scales for you, as a potential author.
  • The Adelaide Tank from The Magic Pattern Book – a free sewing pattern excerpt from Amy Barickman, via Sew Mama Sew. This is a nice, fashionable ruffle tank. The pattern is free to download! I know it’s getting colder out there, but this still would make a nice layering piece with your favorite cardigan, while you wait for summer to roll around again.

Enjoy the rest of your Friday! I think there’s a lot of knitting ahead in mine…

Looming again

Posted November 5th, 2014 by





Setting up the pegs

Setting up the pegs
Last week, while knitting my delicate, lightweight, super drapey red cowl, I had an idea for a chunky, heavy grayish-tan cowl I could make on the knitting loom.

I’m not much of a loomer anymore. For me, needles just feel easier these days. But the two most active posts on this blog, in terms of still receiving comments years later, are the two where I spend some time tutorializing on loom-knitting concepts (how to make a Luxurious Neckwarmer [including all of the basic stitches], and how to translate a needle pattern to a loom pattern).

People seem to like to come here to learn a little something about loom knitting, and I’m afraid that I really rarely do it myself anymore, let alone talk about it here! So, of course, when an inspiration hits me I kind of have to go for it.

It’s a chunky cowl with a subtle chevron stitch pattern. It took a mere 24 hours, from concept to completion, and that includes time for eating, sleeping and yarn shopping.

I’m not ready to share the whole project yet. There are photos to process and a video to produce (yep, I’m planning another video, too!) These steps could take time.

But I thought I would come here and tease you just a bit with some pictures from the beginning of the process.

Oh! And can I just say, I am in LOVE with my new photo shoot backgrounds. Holy cow. I can’t stop looking at these knitting loom pictures, and I really doubt they would be grabbing me so hard if I’d taken them on my dining room table, or the plain white background of the built-ins by the window.

I know this is veering off topic, but check out those backgrounds in action here:

Soap from Storybook Farm

I’ll tell you more about why I’m taking pictures of stacks of pretty soap another time. The point is: those backgrounds! *swoon*

Ok. I’m done digressing. Meet me back here (hopefully before too, too long) to learn how to make a chunky loom-knit chevron cowl. I haven’t decided how much of the process I am giving away for free, but there will certainly be a free component. At the very least, I’ll teach you all of the basic stitches you’ll need to know.

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