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


Posted November 18th, 2014 by


How do you like my naked crochet hook collection? Someday many of them will have polymer clay handles, but today they’re just hanging out in the buff.

I’ve been storing them in this homemade organizer ever since I started accumulating them in any great number. It’s been a few years at this point, I guess. The box is a sturdy Lands End shoebox. Inside the box is a set of 28 toilet paper tubes, held together with paper clips, and inside each tube is a rolled-up piece of card stock where I’ve written the contents of each tube.

I’ve often thought I’d like to decorate the box and make it more visually-appealing, but its plainness has grown on me. That, and laziness. Ok, it’s mostly laziness. I will probably never get around to decorating that poor box.

I did re-organize the contents, though. I realized today that my old method wasn’t working for me. I hardly ever sell steel hooks, and yet they were taking up more than half of the box. So I grouped them together into fewer tubes, and spread out the aluminum hooks in a way that will make it easier to find what I need. Yay!

Did you know that within twelve hours of announcing last night that the shop was open, I had already received one third of the total number of orders I can realistically handle? Wow! At this rate, I’ll have to close the shop in just a few days!

So thank you very much. Seeing those orders come in is simultaneously thrilling and panic-inducing. I’m so happy you like my work, but eek! Now I have to actually set up the clay table and make these things in a timely manner. Eek!

You’ve twisted my arm, now it’s time!

Posted November 17th, 2014 by

Custom crochet hooks, buttons, pendants, and stick pens at Polka Dot Cottage

Ok, I heard you loud and clear – you’d like me to make more crochet hooks! I wasn’t going to do it this year, but you’ve twisted my arm…

Being that it’s already almost the end of November, and I know how crazy December can be, I have had to take an honest look at how much clay work I can realistically do between now and Christmas. And it’s not all that much, I’m afraid.

Therefore, I am opening the shop for custom orders until next Monday, November 24th OR until I have as many orders as I can handle – whichever comes first.

I have no real idea how many of you who expressed an interest will actually pull the trigger on these, but if a large percentage of you do, I’ll fill up my quota pretty quickly. In other words, if you have your heart set on something, please don’t wait too long!

It’s not just crochet hooks I am willing to do. I am also up for making buttons, pendants, and stick pens, so there’s something for you non-crocheters out there, too.

Ready? Set… Go!

P.S. I’ve made some tweaks to the shopping cart – please tell me if anything is not working as it should!

TWiP: The usual

Posted November 15th, 2014 by

This Week in Pictures at Polka Dot Cottage

If you recall, when last we saw our intrepid crew they were spending a long weekend in Virginia at the World Fantasy Convention, hanging out with friends and doing what they usually do at these things.

On Sunday Neil and the rest of the Clarkesworld gang won the award they were up for (yay!) and we were actually there for the ceremony. Usually we watch these things from home via the interwebs, so it was nice to be there in person this time, to congratulate my favorite editor, and to snap a few photos of my own.

We came home Sunday night, and the rest of this week has pretty much been the usual. This is a good thing, because in general I like the usual.

By the way, in case you missed it yesterday and you really like this photo-sharing thing of mine, you should check out my new Tumblr blog. It’s pretty much 99% photos and 1% words. (I save my talking for this place!) Have a peek.

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…


365: BW 8/30 – There’s just nothing like being upside down on a hotel couch on a bright sunny day.

Instagram: When we are away from home it is surprisingly easy to convince me that Starbucks is an acceptable lunch.


Instagram: Lingering over coffee

Instagram: They won! Congrats to Clarkesworld :-)

365: BW 9/30 – Refueling at a turnpike rest stop.


365: BW 10/30 – Oh, the irony of a dust-encrusted vacuum!


365: BW 11/30 – We had pasta for supper tonight, and Netflix kept me company while I prepared it.


365: BW 12/30 – Foggy morning.

Instagram: It’s the old exercising while knitting experiment.


Instagram: On schedule to publish my new #loomknitting pattern today or tomorrow! #pdc

365: BW 13/30 – Lately I find I am a lot more productive if I leave the house, and jump start my work old-school-style with pen and paper. After that, I’m ready to go back home and hop on the computer to finish up.


Instagram: So, this just happened. A paper straw photo shoot. All I wanted was a glass of water, and before I knew it… hello camera and backdrops and 30 images of straws in a mason jar. #easilydistracted

365: BW 14/30 – For some reason when I have to take black and white photos, I get in the mood to use old things as my subjects.

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 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.

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