Here's the latest of my free patterns from Red Heart: Crocheted Christmas Garland for your tree! This pattern is easy, and it works up quickly. You may even have these yarns and colors hidden away in your stash. You can always double the pattern numbers should you desire the strands to be longer or continuous. Let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas! Here's the link.
Yeah! Three cheers for the analog generation! I feel as though I've conquered the world at this moment. The "I can't figure this thing out anymore DRAGON has been slain! Guess that's a sign that I'm an old schooler and didn't grow up with a computer on my lap. At any rate, should you be looking for a fun fall pattern, I am offering my Cabled Pumpkin Head Hat as a pdf download for $5.00 on my newly opened Ravelry Store. This hat is written for 3 sizes: infants, children, and adults, which should just about cover everyone! You can always adjust the pattern for more or less ease by switching the size crochet hook. The pattern also includes links to instructional videos to help you with the braided cable stitch. Just click HERE to go to my Ravelry Store to buy this pattern. But don't worry, I promise not to let my technology head swell too big. I'm too aware that there is always another I.T. disaster lurking just around the corner...
No matter how long a book may seem, there usually never seems to be enough room for all the photos you really want to show! I thought it may serve you to show you some more detailed photos of the Celtic Cross Afghan and Pillow which appears in my new book Contemporary Celtic Crochet. This particular pattern can be displayed on either side (so you can say it is reversible) with the Celtic Cross motif having 2 different textured looks.
This afghan was inspired by my Christian faith, of which the cross is central, signifying the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary more than 2000 years ago. This is why the cross, made using the Celtic Weave stitch is the focal point of the afghan & pillow. The trim along the top and bottom represents a king's crown, signifying that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
I think you will find this project interesting to crochet with all of the different cables and woven stitches throughout. It is worked in one piece, so you don't need to worry about sewing panels together. Should you ever need some instructional help, you can always turn to the video section of the website, or to Youtube (Bonnie Bay Crochet channel) for stitch videos. Another option is to consider a subscription to Craft Daily where I take you through all the how-to's for both afghan & pillow (coming soon!).
Front View of Celtic Cross Pillow
Back view of Celtic Cross Pillow - The cover overlaps in the back for easy removal for washing.
You may be wondering, "What is busking???" For those of you who may not be familiar with this term, it is something a musician does, especially in places like Dublin. It is very common to see a variety of musicians playing in the open, seeking monetary tips from those who pass by. This is different from begging though and requires a working permit from the local government. After all, this is work for a musician. If I ever get an opportunity to return to Ireland, you just may see me wearing this wrap as I spend some time busking with my guitar and pennywhistle!
Anyway, I recently received an excellent question from a fellow crocheter about the construction of the Busking Beauty Sweater Wrap. Here are a few more photos to help clarify the back portion. This is one of my more favorite pieces in the book, and I specifically chose Cestari Yarns, a family owned company in the wonderful state of Virginia. I love, love, love their cotton/wool and cotton/wool/silk DK weight yarns for this project, and they are reasonably priced! These are modeled by my daughter Becky. (This project is in my new book, Contemporary Celtic Crochet, and is available here at the Interweave Store and at Amazon.)
You will notice that the rows of crochet on the back panel are perpendicular to those on the stole portion. This section is crocheted separately and then crocheted/stitched to the stole.
In 2009 I began seeking to publish some of my crochet designs with national crochet magazines. In the process I had the pleasure of interracting, via e-mail with Michele Maks who was then the editor of Crochet World Magazine. I knew Michele was different right away. She responded to me quickly and cheerfully, and the fact that she was interested in some of my designs was a super big blessing to this rookie designer! Her encouragement was a significant factor in helping me not to give up on pursuing publication. Last fall I had the pleasure to meet with Michele face to face at the CGOA conference in Charlotte, NC and learn about her newest venture called "Mainly Crochet". There is a lot more to Michele than her crochet hook and excellent business skills. I hope you are inspired by meeting her though this interview!
Bonnie Bay Crochet (BBC): What exactly is “Mainly Crochet”?
Michele Maks (MM): mainly crochet is a crochet pattern subscription service, sort of like an online magazine , but with noticeable differences from other magazines. There are no ads, there are no space constraints, and our designers have been encouraged to do what they do best, with fewer than usual editorial directions. I believe the best designs come when a designer can listen to his or her own guidance. There is generally a discussion, not an editorial edict, and this has produced a stunning array of crochet goodness.
BBC: So there are no space constraints? What does this mean for the crocheter when it comes to reading your patterns?
MM: This means that from page to page, we won’t refer you to a repeat on a previous page, we’ll write it out for you again. We won’t send you to a “continued on page XX”, it’s all there consecutively for you. It also means that we can use as many photos and as many words as we think are necessary to adequately get the pattern across to you. Our only criteria for the amount of space we use is that the pattern is done the way we think it should be done.
BBC: What made you decide to start your own on-line crochet magazine?
MM: When I was still editor at Crochet World, I was diagnosed with MS. Staying on at that job become impossible. I spent a few years recovering after I left, but I knew that I wasn’t “done”. A long history of freelance work, and then editing, had given me ideas about how I would do things if I were in charge. Moving back to Maine and rather extreme lifestyle changes took me from needing a walker to get around to being quite mobile on my own steam again. Being my own boss and setting my own schedule gives me the ability to do what needs to get done in a way that is conducive to my own well being, as well as serving our designers and subscribers in the way that I think they should be. So far, so good! After 25+ years in this business, I have to say this is the most satisfying thing I have ever done.
BBC: That is a very serious life challenge. Is this something that is recurring, goes into remission, or is it progressive? In other words, what is your prognosis?
MM: I was diagnosed with primary progressive MS, the kind that is supposed to permanently end up with me in bed. My neurologist joked- “Don’t plan on taking a walking tour of Europe next summer”. I did, in fact, go downhill at first very quickly, at a much older age than most MS patients. There’s nothing quite like having my doctor say- “You’re too old for this!” Indeed! Fortunately, I’m rather stubborn (who me?!) and refused to accept this eventuality. I have made rather extreme dietary changes(compared to American norms) and attitude changes that have given me more and more good days, and most days I don’t even need my cane. I’ve even made it to the top of Morse Mountain! The blessing that my MS has given me is that I now know the consequences of not paying strict attention to my diet and stress levels. Some behaviors just aren’t worth the consequences to me!
BBC: Why crochet and not some other fiber craft?
MM: I am totally addicted to crochet! Though it is my “second language” (I started as a knitter), it is the language I speak most fluently now. My years in the business have allowed me to become friendly with incredible design talents and I am fortunate to get to work with many of them at mainly crochet.
BBC: I’m sure many of my readers can relate to your addiction. I know I certainly can! Who taught you (or how did you learn) to crochet?
MM: Necessity is the mother of invention- it was also the mother of Michele’s learning how to crochet! In 1985, I submitted a knit hat to a magazine and was asked if I could do it in crochet. A quick trip to the library and lots of stitches later and I was very glad that I had answered “Sure!”
BBC: What are your personal favorite projects to make? (Yes, you must pick at least one or two!)
MM: I absolutely LOVED doing the baby blankets for the It’s Christmas, Baby! Pattern. So much so, that I couldn’t make just one! I have a great appreciation for “easy” and “simple”, because then it’s about the flow of yarn past the hook, a completely relaxing and satisfying experience.
BBC: These look like wonder beginner projects that would be a great encouragement to a new crocheter. If you could talk to seasoned crocheters everywhere, what is the first thing you would like to talk to them about? What would you like to tell new crocheters?
MM: I would tell seasoned crocheters that what they do is important. The act of creation is holy. I would tell new crocheters the same thing, but also stress that practice is what gets perfection. That said, perfection is not necessary to enjoy the craft, and being too rigid about it should be avoided. Play! Play with your crochet! Play is good!
BBC: Very well said. I couldn’t agree with you more! How can we get a subscription to Mainly Crochet?
MM: A year’s subscription is $24/year and is easily available at www.mainlycrochet.com. A subscription gets you the entire collection of patterns so far (188 as I’m writing this) and the next year’s patterns as well. We don’t put out “issues”, we stream the patterns as they are produced. For less than a monthly trip to Starbucks, you’ll have pretty much all the crochet you could dream of!
BBC: Just to clarify, this means that all these patterns are available on any of my devices and I don’t have to worry about misplacing my one copy of a print magazine???
MM: As long as you have internet access, yes. Downloading the patterns to your computer or device will allow you to access even without internet. More and more people are finding that since they are carrying their devices around anyway, it’s a very convenient way to tote a pattern. And just think of all the space that can be devoted to YARN instead of books or magazines! Hug a tree and crochet!