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How To Tuesday — Maggie Leg Warmers

Here it is 🙂 The long awaited new pattern post. This pattern gave me some trouble when I sent it to testers. I realized last night (with the help of my best friend) that I was just using the wrong stitch name. It made it confusing. There are so many variations of the “star stitch”. The stitch used in this pattern is actually the “5-Star Marguerite Stitch” — so I decided to give them a lovey nick-name. Presenting the Maggie Leg Warmers!

crochet leg warmers

Ta-daah! (Modeled by my BFF)

In Colorado “Fall” can mean picturesque brisk days with beautiful falling leaves in varying shades of reds, greens, and yellows. Sometimes, I walk around the neighborhood and just stare in wonder and adoration at this gorgeous place I am lucky enough to call home.

However.

“Fall” in Colorado can also mean HOT days of “Indian Summer”.

It can also mean two feet of snow and blistering wind.

I prefer the perfect days (ha, who doesn’t?!)

One of the very best things about Fall? Big, comfy, lovely accessories! I’m cheap  frugal, so I prefer to make my own.

I’ve been admiring outfits on Pinterest for quite sometime, and one of my very favorite looks is the pairing of knee high boots with some cozy leg warmers. I like boot cuffs, but I wanted to come up with a warmer that can go over the boots.

So, I now present to you what I came up with over the weekend (you know.. that weekend 3 weeks ago..)

It took some help from testers to get it looking right AND functional, but I am happy with the end result!

Now, since I’ve saved money on the accessories, I can spend more on the boots… right?

Finished dimensions: 12″ (height) x *13″ (width)

*This pattern is easily adjusted to fit any size leg — Just measure the circumference of your calf before you get started, and add or subtract rows to adjust the width. This pattern is meant to overlap, so it should be bigger around than your calf.

Materials used:

yarn, crochet hook, buttons

Materials needed ( ^ That is not enough yarn for a pair).

J hook (6.0mm)

*Approx. 6 oz (*Approx. 300 yds) worsted weight acrylic yarn (shown – I Love This Yarn in Sungold)

Trim shown – Bernat Pipsqueak in Chocolate

Buttons (I used 5 buttons on each leg warmer)

Stitches/Terms used (US terminology):

st – stitch

ch – chain

yo – yarn over

sc – single crochet (insert hook into st, yo, pull up loop, yo, pull through both loops)

hdc – half double crochet (yo, insert hook into st, yo, pull up loop, yo pull through all 3 loops)

dc – double crochet (yo, insert hook into st, yo, pull up loop, yo pull through 2 loops, yo, pull up loop, yo, pull through both loops)

Beginning Marguerite cluster st (BegMC) – insert hook into same st (hdc in this pattern), yo pull up loop, *insert hook into next st, yo pull up loop* repeat from * 3 times (you should have 6 loops on hook), yo pull through all loops, ch 1 (creating the “eye” of the star)

Marguerite Cluster St (MC)– insert hook into “eye” of star, yo pull up loop, insert hook into front of last loop of star, yo pull up loop, insert hook into same st as the last loop of the previous star, yo pull up loop (you should have 4 loops on hook) *insert hook into next st, yo pull up loop* repeat from *one time (you should have 6 loops on hook) yo, pull through all loops, ch 1 (creating the “eye” of the star)

I cannot find a video for this stitch the way that I do it. I had a link here, but opted to remove it. I’m going to make my own video (..maybe..) and add it here, so if you NEED the video — have no fear — it’s coming soon(ish)! For now, I’ve got that nifty photo tutorial at the end of the pattern.

*Make sure you have enough material to make two. 🙂 — The amount listed is a ROUGH estimate. 2 skeins of a basic worsted weight should be plenty.

Ch  42

R1: hdc in 2nd ch from hook and in each chain to the end (41 hdc)

Beginning chain does not count as a stitch here, or anywhere throughout the pattern.

R2: Ch 2, turn, hdc in same st, begMC, MC (x18), hdc in same st (top of first st of previous row — total of 19 MC sts)

R3: Ch 1, turn, sc in first hdc, 2 sc in “eye” of star st, and every star st down the row, 1 sc in last hdc, sc in top of first st of previous row (41 sc)

R4: Ch 2, turn, hdc in same st and every st down row (41 hdc)

R5 (buttonhole row): Ch 2, turn, dc in same st and every st down the row (41 dc)

R6-R8: Repeat rows 2-4

R9: Repeat row 4 (41 hdc)

R10- 36 (or desired circumference is met): Repeat rows 6-9, ending with a hdc row.

At the end of your final row, finish last st with trim yarn.

sc around the top, the beginning length edge, and the bottom

fasten off, weave in ends and attach buttons to front side on the un-trimmed edge.

Your double crochet row will function as the buttonholes.

I originally wrote this pattern using an I hook. When I switched it up to the J hook, I also added the dc row to be used as the buttonhole row (assuming I would still need a buttonhole row). If your gauge is like mine, You really don’t HAVE to use a dc row when using a J hook (the hdc’s would have sufficed for me), but — it was already added, so there it stays haha! Feel free to move that dc row to wherever you would like your buttonhole row to be (Just switch it out with a hdc row). As long as it’s near the beginning somewhere, you should be fine. Also, I considered making it taper down — I didn’t. On purpose. I didn’t design these legwarmers to go over leggings. I designed them to go over BOOTS, so they are supposed to be a little wider around the bottom to accommodate boots. Personally, I think the pair I made for myself look pretty darling slouching over my foot a little without the boot, but that might just be me.

I’ve been nervous about posting this one. I don’t know why, exactly. I don’t typically stray away from head/neck wear, I guess.  I hope you guys love it as much as I do! My Little has already demanded requested a pair for her in pink and purple (of course). She even picked out her own buttons at Hobby Lobby 😛

Who else is in love with the texture of the Marguerite Cluster Stitch??

 I don’t want to get all repetitive with this stitch, but I do have plans for a couple more accessories featuring it. It’s just. so. pretty. 🙂


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It’s Friday! Hey-O!

Oh, Friday… ::sigh::

I love Fridays. I’m not really sure why considering I stay home with the girls, and the weekends are not necessarily any different than the rest of the week (ha!), but I do. It must be left over attachment from school days? I don’t know.

This week has been.. Meh. Just one of those weeks, I guess. I spent the week in kind of a crochet slump. I’ve got ideas, but follow-through? Not this week.

BUT — I didn’t come here to whine and complain.

Actually, I wanted to show you all what I DID get accomplished this week.

An order for this sock monkey hat:

Sock Monkey

A blue sock monkey order

And this pullover for Lilly:

This pullover is not only my first completed clothing item, but also my first “Granny Square” pattern. Can you believe that I’ve been avidly crocheting for nearly TWO YEARS and have never done a granny square until now?! I’ll definitely be making more granny squares, AND more of these pullovers. In the future, I’ll probably stick to solid colors with accents instead of the self patterning yarn.

I found this pattern on this fantastic blog:

http://pardonmychaos-amanda.blogspot.com/2011/08/granny-square-top-tutorial.html

I actually did not follow the pattern this time, just used the idea. I had to find the granny square instructions, as they are not included, but that was no biggie. I just headed right over to Teresa Richardson (The Crochet Geek) and found a video. To save you time, however, here it is:

http://www.crochetgeek.com/2009/01/crochet-traditional-granny-square.html

Watch the video. I honestly did not find the written instructions to be completely accurate (it doesn’t seem to include the corner instructions in every row), but the video is fantastic, and the chart is spot on and easy to follow.

I just made it as big as I thought it needed to be (11 rounds – the pattern says 9 rounds, but my girl is bigger than hers), and followed her design (kind of) for the sleeves and neck.

It was super easy! A great beginner project and first clothing item. I’ll be scouring her blog for more patterns in the very near future!

Other than that, I didn’t get a ton done around here. I managed to get most of the chairs sanded, so they’re almost ready to paint.  Hopefully, I’ll get that post up soon. I’m ready to get those FINISHED and off of my queue of unfinished projects. I’ve been feeling that end of summer panic — you know, the “OHMYGOSHITSALMOSTTHEENDOFSUMMER!” feeling that drives you to pack your days and weeks full of all of the summer activities you intended to do at the beginning of summer, but haven’t actually done yet? Yeah, that one.

So, weather permitting, we’ll be at the pool later. Maybe the Denver Zoo next week, and then my oldest goes to camp for two weeks. Once she gets back, it will be a mad dash to get everything ready for the school year. BOTH girls are starting new schools — Kacie – HIGH SCHOOL ::shudder:: and Lilly – Preschool. I can’t believe it!

Happy Friday and have a fantastic weekend! What are your plans?

 


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How-To Tuesday — Tie Dye Crochet

Finally! The much anticipated “messy” crochet tutorial 🙂

Tie-Dye. I’m not a huge tie-dyer. I think before I started this project, the last (and only other) time I tie-dyed anything was in middle school. I won’t say exactly how long ago THAT was, but suffice to say it was not recently.

This was a fun project. I will definitely be trying it again!

“The waaaaiiiiting is the hardest part” — Tom Petty 

Lucky readers – you don’t have to wait 6-8 hours to see the results 😛

After the initial wait time, I rinsed (and rinsed, and RINSED) the material until the water was mostly clear, then washed it by itself in hot water with a small amount of laundry detergent, and ran it through the dryer until it was mostly dry.

I don’t LOVE how it turned out, but I’m satisfied with it, as it was my first time. Plus, I had a LOT of dye, so I whipped up a shirt for myself as well!

Here is the finished product:

What do you all think? I contained the mess pretty well. I would definitely make sure you have a container you don’t care about, gloves to protect you from dying your skin, and a roll of paper towels on hand.

I’d LOOOOOVE to see your finished items if you try it!

Happy Tuesday!


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Selling on Etsy — The Pros and Cons (according to me)

I have a shop on Etsy. As do 800,000 other active members (according to an article by an Etsy admin in August of 2012, who knows how many there are now!?). My relationship with my Etsy shop has been of the love/hate variety. I’ve been struggling to figure out what my deal is with it, and I’ve come up with a pretty extensive list of pros and cons *purely based on my personal opinions, mind you* that I’ve decided to share with you. My business dream is to become a self-fulfilling, mostly online business. Most of the time I think I’d like to remove myself from Etsy altogether, but then I come back to “the pros” side of the list and think I’ll likely live there at least part-time forever.

Let’s start with the Pros, shall we?

There are plenty of them and most of them are huge.

global

Global Reach

  • International Presence – If you are willing to ship internationally, your items will show up in the search results of anyone who types in one of your keywords worldwide. That is a pretty incredible pro for small businesses trying to reach a wide market! Of course, there are complicated rules governing what you can and cannot ship internationally, customs forms, increased shipping costs, etc. But, it’s still a pretty major pro!
  • Minimal Fees – Etsy’s listing fees are minimal and long lasting. For one listing that lasts four months, you pay twenty cents. Twenty cents, and you can list one available or twenty available — still twenty cents. When and if you sell something, the percentage taken by Etsy is smaller than anywhere I’ve found (granted, I haven’t looked that hard). I believe it is currently 3.5%, and they don’t include the shipping charges, which is nice. So, for example, let’s say I list a hat in my shop for $20. I would pay the twenty cents for listing the item, and when I sold the hat, I would pay an additional seventy cents (3.5% of the $20 item price). Now, if you list multiple available in one listing, there are additional fees if one of them sells. Basically, if I list 10 of those hats for sale for $20, I initially pay twenty cents for the listing. If I sell one of those hats, I will pay the seventy cents for the percentage and then I will pay another twenty cents to keep the remaining nine hats listed (and another twenty cents respectively as the remaining hats sell).. Now that I’ve typed it all out, it seems very complicated lol, but it’s really not. At any rate, I count the minimal, if complicated, fees as a pro.
  • Free Publicity – If you get busy on Etsy, the possibilities of massive amounts of publicity (for free!) are boundless. Teams that focus on treasury making are great tools for publicity, not to mention increasing your chances of making the front page. It’s all about exposure. The more people that treasure/favorite your items, the more people see your items, the more likely you are to actually SELL the items. You can buy ads, but from what I understand, they don’t really do much to increase views or sales. I’ve personally never invested in them, but that’s what I’ve heard from sellers who have. So, yeah, free publicity — that’s definitely a pro.
  • Enormous Network of Colleagues – Etsy is HUGE. 800,000 active sellers about a year ago. And most of them are more than willing to give you advice and want to help you succeed. You can join as many teams as you want (teams are groups that focus on a certain thing — shop type, area, publicity, treasuries, etc.), and as long as you are a productive member of that team *not a list-and-leave-er*, they’re incredibly useful. I’d suggest you only join teams you are willing and able to keep up with, though. There are few things more annoying on Etsy than to be part of a worthless team, or to be a productive member of a team chock full of unproductive members. If the team requirement is 5 treasuries a month, make it happen, or leave the team. Simple enough. There are also seemingly infinite forums to scour through for just about anything you could be looking for help with. The support system on Etsy has made me a better business person — not that I’m great, I’ve got a LOT of work to do still — and it is one of the most significant pros on the list.

    light bulb

    Eureka!

  • Inspiration Abundance – Feeling stuck? Unsure of the direction you should be going with your goals? Go through the endless list of treasuries. Do a little research on top trending themes. There is inspiration at your fingertips if you just spend a little time looking around. I enjoy just letting my mouse clicks guide me through the fabulousness that is the handmade community.

Now.. Let’s examine some of the Cons (Dunh-dunh-duuuunh).

There are a few of these too, I’ll let you decide for yourself how huge they are.

  • High School “Clique” Mentality – It can be intimidating to join Etsy. You’re basically throwing yourself out there for everyone to judge. A lot of sellers are creating things they are passionate about. Sometimes it can feel like you are the geeky bookworm and you’ve just unknowingly sat down at the “cool table” in the cafeteria. *Nothing against geeky bookworms — I totally AM one* I’ve been part of teams in the past where it didn’t matter how many treasuries I made featuring members of the team, there was a CORE group of members, and they ONLY treasured each other. Buh-bye worthless team! I graduated from high school 14 years ago. I didn’t like the cliquey-ness then, and I don’t like it now. Major Con.

    Colorado flag crochet beanie hat

    A conforming picture of one of my shop listings

  • Politics of Pictures – Making it into treasuries is a big deal. And there is definitely a theme among the treasuries that make the front page. This can make the freedom to photograph creatively a near impossibility. It’s pretty common knowledge on Etsy that you will not make it onto the front page if your pictures do not conform to the typical front page look (blinding white background). There are exceptions for sure, but they’re usually limited to the sellers that are “in” with all of the cliques. To be fair, the pictures that make it onto the front page treasuries are always GORGEOUS. However, it is nice to have a little creative freedom, and not all items photograph well on a solid white background. This is more of an irritant to me than a real con.

 

  • Plagiarism Abundance – Remember when I listed “inspiration” as a pro? Well, let’s not confuse inspiration with plagiarism. There are so many listings on Etsy. If you are in a certain industry, crochet for example, it is very easy to click on someone’s top selling items and make a copy of your very own to list. It’s just something to take into consideration. If you have a product that is very unique, chances are once you list it, it won’t be unique for long. I don’t believe there is much that can be done about it. Really, there are only so many ways to do any one thing, and with nearly a million active sellers on Etsy, you’re most likely not the only person with your product (unless you’re selling something very specific and off the wall — vinyl dog bibs, perhaps?). You’ve got to develop a thick skin and try to find the positive in people latching on to your ideas. A small con, but one to consider.
  • Demanding Etsy Presence – This one gets to me. I feel like Etsy goes to lengths (maybe not “great” ones, but lengths nonetheless) to make sure you are only truly successful if you are spending a good chunk of your time on the site. Listing items takes FOR-EV-ER. Creating treasuries USED to be pretty easy with the aid of the Shmetsy tool, but has since changed to where they don’t allow you to “one-click add” items from your favorites to your treasury. Annoying. And I haven’t been able to muster up the motivation to create any treasuries since, because once you go Shmetsy, you will never want to go back to pre-Shmetsy! Also, only shops with more than 50 items really get any attention in the search results, or any recognition as a “serious” seller. FIFTY items. Each one taking, as I said, FOR-EV-ER to list. There is no such thing as, “Oh, hang on, I’ve got to list this item in my shop real fast.” Nope. Be prepared to spend some time. At least initially. I’ve had this ongoing goal to create basic listing templates in Word that I can just copy/paste into my listings, but I have yet to find the time to do that. There are people who work full time jobs and run (successful) Etsy businesses on the side. To these people I say, “How the HELL are you doing that?!”. Seriously, I want to know 😛
  • Negative Feedback-ers – There are some people that just plain refuse to be happy. With anything. Ever. They are usually the same people that get joy out of making others unhappy, or attempting to ruin someone’s day/life. We all know people like this.  Etsy has a “feedback” system. If you are able to make all of your customers happy, you can keep your positive feedback percentage right around that 100. But! There are always those people. Those people who get their item late because there was a hurricane that delayed the postal service, so they take it out on your feedback score. Those people who ordered a custom, made to order, item two days before they needed it and are pissed because YOU didn’t complete it in time — negative feedback for you (“Take THAT!”). These perpetual negative-feedback-ers can have a real negative impact on your sales numbers in the future, because people look at that number. They rarely, however, take the time to scroll through the pages of positive feedback to find the reason for the negative. They’ll just see your non-stellar percentage next to a shop who has managed a stellar percentage and move right past you. I don’t know what can be done about this either, but I know it’s a pain to get Etsy to remove an undeserved negative (not from personal experience, but from a friend’s personal experience). Maybe Etsy should make it a little more difficult to leave negative feedback — only allow certain reasons as acceptable, for example. I don’t know how that would work, but it’s currently not very seller-friendly in that respect.
  • “Handmade” and “Vintage” varying definitions –  These terms can have vastly different definitions depending on the person. “Handmade” to me, and in my shop, means “made by my hands”. There are shops who sell items, that while technically “handmade”, are not made by the shop owner. In some cases the hands that are doing the making are attached to children across the world making ten cents per hour (or day, or whatever). Not exactly the vision people have when they’re shopping from the “small businesses” on Etsy. Even if you type “Made in the USA” (or your country) in the search bar, you have no way of knowing if a) that is a true statement, or b) they are purchasing their materials from aforementioned child-labor shops. You just never know, and the definitions and terms of use on Etsy in this regard should be a lot more strict (in my opinion). Shops should be required to specify who is doing the making.  “Vintage”… I have seen plenty of blatant misuse of this term. In what world does shopping at the thrift store make you a connoisseur of all things vintage? It doesn’t. It makes you a thrift store shopper. And while thrift stores can have some amazing deals (I am a total thrifter!), the fact that you bought it second-hand, does not make it vintage. So stop trying to re-sell thrift store reject items at a 500% markup. If you’re not schooled in actual vintage items, stop pretending you know what you are talking about! These two are the biggest cons in my opinion because they tarnish all things related to Etsy.

Ultimately, I love Etsy as a platform to get started and making a name for yourself. I don’t have the hours needed in the day to focus on the SEO, picture editing, description writing, treasury making, and team participating that are necessary in succeeding as a shop. One day, I will funnel a good chunk of time into making my shop all it can be. Maybe. Maybe I’ll just funnel all of my time into making a name for my own website, my own brand, and my own values.