Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Festive Snowflake Ornament

I have the honor and privilege of proofreading and testing for a wonderful designer, Ira Rott. Her latest creation is a beautiful snowflake that can be a coaster, window decoration, or as I tried it with thread, an ornament! It is a beautiful little pattern, and it is a free pattern, so go get your copy at!
Here is a direct link to the pattern on her website:

I had a roll of very tiny silver thread (size 20 perhaps) and I decided to try this Festive Snowflake pattern using that and a tiny hook (0.75 mm) and was super impressed with the results! It is the perfect size for an ornament for my tree.This would also make a great gift tag for your presents.

Ira is one of THE best pattern writers/designers I know, so be sure to check out all of her lovely patterns!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Recycled Hook Holders-pens to hooks!

A couple years ago I came across this wonderful tutorial on how to use old pens to make your own crochet hook handle :
Lady Willow has excellent step by step instructions-I absolutely love making these! Please take a moment to read through the steps she gives-& then I thought I would show you what I did using her tutorial. 

I found some of these "Light up" pens which are suppose to light up when you write with them, however mine have dried up & no longer write and/or the light no longer works, so I decided to make a pen hook holder out of them. I also wanted a western themed hook, so I selected another pen for this purpose.
I gathered my supplies-I used a small plastic (or wooden) cutting board, a finely serated kitchen knife, metal nail file, plastic crochet hook, yarn scraps (for stuffing), small picture cut from a magazine, tacky glue & mod podge, and crochet thread (size 10 or smaller), for the 2 hooks I made here.

Hook #1: Light-up Pen

On the light-up pen, I used the groove just above the tip, & used the serated knife to carefully saw a little and then turned the pen while sawing all the way around until the tip popped off- I wondered how I would get the ink out, but after sawing the tip off, it just fell out! I used the nail file to soften the edges so it would be smooth to hold in your hand. (see hook holder #2 for photo)

The light-up pen casing was now a straight pipe, like a straw, so I had to figure out a way to keep the hook inside. I had a plastic size H hook to use. I decided to use part of an idea I saw in Crochet World magazine (Aug 2012) -Sparkle Pens (, since the pen shaft was clear and would show anything I used to secure the hook inside. I found some cotton/metalic size 10 thread, and started making a cover to be slipped over the hook. For my H size hook, with a 1.5 mm hook, I chained 2, putting 4 sc in the 2nd ch from the hook, no joining, just keep sc in each st around and around. After getting a few rounds of sc, I inserted a metal hook which made it easier to crochet around, and would make sure that it would still stretch to fit over the plastic hook (I want a tight fit). I eyeballed the length of the shaft to know how many rounds to go (the thread streches a bit, so test it as you go), then sl st to finish off. I put the cover over the plastic H hook, and then pushed it into the pen shaft. It was a REALLY tight fit-I almost didn't get the hook into the pen-but I pushed and twisted and prodded until it did go in (maybe use a smaller weight thread next time), but this made it so my hook would not come out-no other filling nor glue needed, but I could have glued around the tip of the pen shaft next to the hook for extra security.
Tada! A new crochet hook with a fancy cover!

Hook #2: Western themed
I wanted a western looking hook holder next. I chose a pen from a stash of pens I pick up at conventions or meetings (This one happened to be from the Hereford assn) that have a logo on them, and I got creative to cover up this logo with a pretty picture from a magazine/catalog (I used my Mary Maxim catalog-puzzle pic or framed art of horses).
I used the yarn scraps, the glue, and the mod podge on this hook, in addition to the tools I used for the 1st hook.
My pen tips were plastic-make sure as metal would require stronger tools (like the
I sawed off a little of the tip at a time-the farther back I cut off the bigger the hole for the hook to fit through, so I cut a little off then tried to fit my hook through. 
  If it didn't fit through, then I sawed another section of the tip off.

  I then used the metal nail file to sand the edges where I just cut the tip off of, as they are a little sharp/rough.
I used the small parts inside the pen as much as I could to secure the hook inside-with this hook, I don't think I was able to use any of them. The hook was too long to use the plastic piece that keeps the clicker (top) of the pen stiff, so I stuffed the clicker part of the pen with yarn scraps and then glued the hook where it meets the tip of the pen to secure it. I might have used some rubber scraps to put around the hook-the covering on electrical wire works well too. I placed the magazine pic around the top part of the pen and cut it to the shape of the pen. Then I put a thin coat of mod podge on the pen, stuck the pic to it, and put on a thin coat of mod podge over the top. Let it dry and had another great new crochet hook.
I know I have a finished photo for Hook #2 somewhere, but cannot find it now, so I will add later. I hope you give this a try!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sweet Basil-fresh to dried for winter!

My garden did rather well this year, in spite of the heat and drought. My favorite plant to harvest is the sweet basil! I love to grow it, pick it, and dry it for use during the winter or to give to friends as gifts. As I was doing this, I wondered if it would make a good tutorial for anyone who would like to do this but perhaps has never given it a try. I was late in planting my basil this year-it went into the ground in late June-but you can plant basil indoors at any time. Start with your seeds :)

 After it has come up and is ready to be harvested it will look something like this:
When I harvest the stems, I cut them a few joints up, so that more will grow back after I have picked it. Here is what my patch looked like before and after I harvested a batch:

 I then bring it in, wash it, and lay it out to dry for a bit. I like to use rubber-bands to hang the bunches with-I loop two or three rubber-bands together like this:
I also like to use a peg board like the one above, with those push pins to hang the bunches from. After the basil has dripped dry, I take and gather 4-5 stalks together and wrap one of the rubber-band ends around the cut ends-wrap till the 1st knot on the rubber-band, then hang on the peg. So it will look like this:
I hang my bunches in an air-conditioned or cool place during the summer months-at least until they are good and wilted, then you may hang them in a vehicle (during the summer when your car is hot inside) for faster drying. I think if you dry them too fast in the heat, you may notice a darker color. I have had good luck with the color when dried slowly or in a cool place. Let them dry completely-the stems and leaves will be brittle not rubbery when ready.

Now I take a gallon-sized zip lock bag and place one whole bunch inside and then crush the leaves gently through the bag:
You may now remove the rubber-band and may need to separate the stems and finish crushing the leaves from the stems gently while still keeping the stem inside the bag. Then I remove all the larger stems-a dear friend of mine suggests that you may tie these stems into bundles with a string and keep near your fireplace or wood stove to toss on the fire for a pleasant smell-what a neat idea!:

You may crush the leaves to whatever consistency you prefer and now you are ready to put them in whatever container you would like to store for winter use or to give as a gift :) I like to use an empty spice jar or even smaller zip lock bags. Enjoy using your basil in soups, meat, tomato dishes or whatever your heart desires!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Calendar Envelope Tutorial

Wait! Don’t throw out last years calendar! Use it to make a gift set of 12 envelopes! I learned how to make calendar envelopes from another friend on Ravelry and want to share a step by step process so that you can have fun making them too. You may want to add paper, stamps, and blank address labels and give this as a gift to anyone-perhaps someone who is injured in the hospital, as a way to write notes, or for a graduation gift-a fun way to do thank-you notes, you get the idea! Don’t have any of last year’s calendars? No problem-use any of the months of this year’s calendar that have already flown by!

Step 1: Gather your supplies. You will need: an old calendar, scissors, double-sided tape or stick glue (or regular tape), letter opener, an old envelope (medium sized), pen or pencil, address labels (blank or your own), stamps.

Step 2: Make your pattern. Take any envelope you can find-a piece of junk mail, or a card you received and use the letter opener (or a butter knife) to carefully unseal all the edges, so that you your envelope becomes a flat sheet. (see photos below) Use the very back page on your calendar (this is usually stiff like card-stock and will have no picture on it-so it works great to use to as a pattern) and trace around your envelope to make the pattern piece that you will use to lay on the calendar pages. Cut along your tracing lines with your scissors-and you now have a pattern piece!

Step 3: Trace your pages. Lay your pattern on the calendar page so that it contains the part of the picture you like most (large envelopes don’t give much choice) and trace around the pattern with your pen/pencil. For illustration purposes I show this being done on the picture side, BUT if you don’t want your ink to show on the envelope, you need to trace on the numbers side of the calendar page-try holding it up to the light to see how to center it. Pencil can be used on the picture side, and will be virtually invisible-but it is also hard to see where to cut out. Do this on all or as many of the pages as you want, then remove the calendars pages from the wire binding (carefully-this wire would work great as a hanger for other craft projects-instead of wrapping wire around a pencil-or as a string art project) or remove the staples in the center binding.

Step 4: Cut out your pages. Following the lines you traced around the pattern-cut all the envelopes out of the calendar pages. I have used and X-acto cutter to cut straight lines (like on the smaller envelope) and then use scissors to cut the triangles on the sides out-speeds up the process a bit.

Step 5: Fold all flaps. I always start folding from the bottom, sides, then top-but do it however it works for you. Fold and make a crease along where you see the dotted lines on my pattern pieces.

Step 6: Apply double stick tape. Apply double stick tape (or use a glue stick) along the insides of the flaps where the bottom & sides will meet; I have marked these with little sticky-notes in the photo below. As you can see on the bigger envelope the tape is applied to the bottom flap, but on the smaller envelope the tape is applied to the side flaps (bottom part only-you don’t seal the top until you are ready to mail it). You may need to refer to your original envelope to make sure you tape the correct sides & bottom together. 

 Step 7: Add address labels & stamps. If you are making a gift set-you may just want to add some sheets of blank paper (that fit your envelope-an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper can be folded to fit most), blank address labels, and some stamps. I typically will use the cover page of the calendar-the one that is stiff-to make an envelope that is slightly larger than the one used on the pages & use this envelope to hold all 12 of the envelopes, paper, labels, & stamps.  If you are making these for your own personal use, then use the address labels & stamps to seal the top flap down-no additional double sticky tape needed. Put the labels on the flaps side, so that you leave the pretty picture on the “front” side as a pretty picture.  

 That's it-you're done! Hope you have enjoyed making these-make some and brighten someone's day today! I would love to see what you make and hear how you used them :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Yarn: Any 2 or 3 colors of wool yarn (sport to worsted weight or heavier)
Hook: US I /9 -5.5mm (or whatever size you desire)
Finished size: Bear Motif (un-felted)-5 ¼ inches wide-ears 1 ½ inches wide; Circle motif (un-felted) 3 ¾ inches wide. Small felt circle is about 2 inches wide.  (Felting did not shrink mine much).
Note:  No joining rounds necessary-use a stitchmarker or piece of yarn to mark beginning of rnds.

Supplies needed:
 -A few yards of wool yarn in 3 colors, and/or felt
-Felt for backing
-6-stranded embroidery floss/thread
-Buttons or beads may be used for the eyes instead 
of embroidery if you wish
-Sewing needle
-Rubber gloves for felting in hot water

Bear Motif: (made with a heavy worsted weight wool)
Begin with a magic loop.
Rnd 1) 7 sc in magic loop, pull magic loop tight. (7 sc)
Rnd 2) 2 sc in each st around. (14 sc)
Rnd 3) (2 sc in next st, sc in next st) around. (21 sc)
Rnd 4) (2 sc in next st, sc in next 2 sts) around. (28 sc)
Rnd 5) (2 sc in next st, sc in next 3 sts) around. (35 sc)
Rnd 6) (2 sc in next st, sc in next 4 sts) around. (42 sc)
Rnd 7) (2 sc in next st, sc in next 5 sts) around. (35 sc)
Rnd 8)-ears-Sl st in next st, *ch 1, (hdc, dc, htr, tr) in next st, (tr, htr, dc, hdc, sl st) in next st,* sl st in next 12 sts (to 2nd increase point), repeat from * to * once more, sl st in next st, finish off & weave in ends.
Circle Motif(s): (made with sport weight wool)
Repeat beginning rounds (1-7) of Bear Motif-up to Rnd 8 (no ears needed on this motif). If your yarn is a lighter weight yarn, this circle will be smaller even if doing all 7 rounds (which is what I did). If you want to use the same weight yarn, then stop at any round that gives you a circle width slightly smaller than the Bear motif. For the 3rd circle-I used a piece of felt I had and simply used the bottom of a candle holder to trace around, but you may repeat the Bear motif instructions again stopping after only a few rounds so that you have 3 motifs each a little smaller than the 1st , if not using a sheet of felt.  Felt both (or all 3) motifs in hot water. 
Coaster Assembly: 

  1.  After all motifs have been felted and dried, position the smallest one in the center of the middle-sized one & pin in place. Using 6-stranded embroidery floss, blanket stitch all around the smallest circle to sew it to the middle circle, then embroider the nose and mouth in the center of the smallest circle.
  2. Next, lay those 2 circles (now joined as one piece) on the Bear motif and pin into place. Using 6-stranded embroidery floss, blanket stitch all the way around the middle-sized circle to secure the two pieces together. Embroider eyes just above where the middle circle joins the Bear motif (centered below the ears). 
  3. Cut a felt back the same size as your Bear motif (I laid my felt sheet on the back, pinned it in place and then cut around the bear motif), pin it in place on the back and using 6-stranded embroidery floss, blanket stitch all around the outside of the Bear motif (I did this with the front side of the bear facing me, so I could place my stitches evenly-not as pictured here with the back showing).
Now grab your favorite mug, fill it with your favorite beverage, and enjoy using your new mug rug!

© Copyright July 2012 by Carmen Carpenter, all rights reserved. This pattern, in whole or part, may not be reproduced – mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying -- without the written permission of Carmen Carpenter. Projects made from this pattern may be gifted, swapped or sold. If you use this pattern to sell items on the internet, kindly credit Carmen Carpenter as the designer.