Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Designs, A Crochet-A-Long, and a Sale!

Good Sunday Morning! 

Today I would like to introduce two new patterns; Winter Lodge (on the left) and Lumberjack (on the right). I'm going to tell you a story about how these two blankets came into being.

These two designs have gone through almost a year of metamorphosis into their final states. They both started out as a totally different blanket design. That design was then changed into Winter Lodge because I was submitting it for possible publication. That fell through and I didn't feel like pursuing outside publication anymore, so the Winter Lodge was set aside for a bit. 

However, there were more design ideas I wanted to pursue with the pattern. I picked it back up, changed the yarn I used, went with a new color palette, altered stitches in strategic places, and the Lumberjack was born. I guess you could call Winter Lodge and Lumberjack fraternal twins. They share traits, they share "DNA", but they are not identical. The Bizzy Crochet team (myself and Theresa, lol) decided to keep them together for whatever project came up next because they shared so much, yet were so different.  

Winter Lodge is a more delicate feminine look, and Lumberjack is a sturdier more masculine look. They are both 50" x 50" finished size and make a nice snugly blanket. I love them both.


Ok, so why am I giving you so much information about the story behind these two new blankets? Because we are having a Crochet-A-Long with them!! If you've never been a part of a crochet-a-long you are not alone. My first ever foray into the world of CAL's was this last January when I joined the Hygge (what's a Hygge?) moderating team with Scheepjes on Facebook (you can check out that group here). Before then I had seen CAL's, but I didn't understand them so I had no interest in them. What I learned, though, was that a CAL is a great little community where everyone works at their own pace on the same pattern, and everyone receives encouragement through sharing their pictures and the process together. Questions can be answered in a timely fashion. It creates a great group of new to experienced crafters. 

The CAL dates are September 16th to November 4th. We finish in time for gift giving! :) The patterns themselves will not be released until Sept 16th.  Then, they will come out in weekly installments. The last week both patterns will be bundled together in a final product for you. I have packaged the Winter Lodge and Lumberjack together so they are one price for two blankets. They will be on a weekly discount right up until the day before we start. The sale schedule will go as such: 

August 18-24= 60% OFF
August 25-31= 40% OFF
Sept 1-7= 25% OFF
Sept 8-14= 10% OFF
Sept 15th Full Price.

If you are planning to purchase these patterns- you get to decide how much you save on them. My suggestion? Jump on that bad boy now and get them at 60% off!! At that discount it's only $4.80 for two full afghan patterns! Two brand new patterns you can't find anywhere else.  




If you've read my blog before, you know that I have fallen in love with Whirl by Scheepjes. It's a generous 1,000m cake of fingering weight cotton that graduates in colors. I can't even say how many colors are in each skein. It seems like at least 6 or 7. Their gradations are so subtle and natural and smooth they create absolutely gorgeous end products. I created the Sapling Baby Sampler Blanket (free!) from the Lumberjack base using one skein of Whirl in the Melting Macaron colorway. 

Theresa really wanted to see what she could do using Whirl with the Winter Lodge and Lumberjack patterns. She used two cakes of the Salted Caramel Matcha. She said it reminds her of her home state of Alaska. I've never been to Alaska, but I've watched a lot of Alaska: The Last Frontier and Alaskan Bush People (lol) so I feel like I'm a bit of an expert 😂😂 and I can totally see the resemblance. 

But, seriously, Theresa has created a bonus pattern with elements of both the Lodge and Lumberjack to use up both cakes of Whirl. The bonus information will help you increase your afghan past 50" x 50" organically if you are wanting a larger finish. I haven't seen the finished product yet, the picture below is only a sneak peak, but I can only imagine how beautiful her blanket is!! 


My hope is that you join us on this fun fall journey of creation!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

An Ode to "The Perfect Companion Bag"

I was asked by Pam at StichedNaturally.com to review one of her handmade project bags about a month or so ago. So, I said I would be happy to. The following is an ode to "The Perfect Companion Bag"...😎

                                  

Oh, little bag, how could I have known how perfect you would be when I agreed to test you out? With your whimsical fabric, and silk cord tie, and adorably themed buttons. You came to me perfectly packaged; You were protected in a nice thick plastic to keep the weather off of you (and that's good, because it always rains in Florida). As I got to poking around in you I discovered you were literally COVERED in pockets!! Five of them just on the outside of you...and another FOUR on the inside...that doesn't include the perfectly hidden zippered pocket on the inside. It's deeper than it looks. How did you fit so much in there??



It turned out you were WAY bigger than I expected you to be. Pam said she sent me one of the medium bags....was she right? Did she make a mistake? Actually, no....turns out the description on her website was right on with what I held in my hands. You're a medium? And you're only $28?? Handmade?? 😲

I started stuffing you with things to see what would fit. I dragged you to work. I took you everywhere with me. How would you hold up, little bag? How would you fare with the Bizzonator?? 


It's a good thing you don't care about the dust on my dashboard, little bag.


You were great with my granny square project when I had to fill you up with about 15 balls of scrap yarn in varying sizes. I was also able to keep my smaller bag with my hooks and needles in you, too. It seemed like you had no end to your ability to hold more!


Look at what we did together, bag! We made a granny square fall table runner!


Then we started on slippers. We are currently stuck on making the Simple Garter Stitch Slippers that are free on Ravelry. 



You don't quite hold a 10" pair of straight needles, but you sure do hide my dpn's nicely. It's ok little bag. I will get one of your brothers or sisters to help me out with the really tall projects. You and I will keep working on the smaller ones. 

If you have made it this far in the story, thanks for sticking around! Seriously, give Pam a visit. Bags are not her only specialty. She also happens to be one of very few US distributors who carries Scheepjes yarns (Whirl, Stonewashed, Invicta, etc), kits, and publications, as well as constantly adding to her supply of whimsical, yet practical, supplies for knitters and crocheters. She is located in Southern Wisconsin, so she's a fellow Cheesehead! 

Tah for now!




Sunday, July 23, 2017

FALL 2017 CAL SCHEDULE

If you didn't already know, I have a Facebook page and several groups for different things. One of them happens to be a Crochet-A-Long group. I have just posted the new Fall Schedule for our upcoming CAL's. We would love for you to join us, because we have several really fun, and totally new, patterns coming out. There are two free CAL's and one paid. Sign-ups for the paid pattern starts on August 18th. If you want to stay up with when things are happening, please come join the CAL group on Facebook

There is also a new-ish Bizzy Crochet Ravelry Group which I am working on getting better at keeping up with. LOL Come join us there for more CAL updates. 


Monday, July 17, 2017

Traveling Cow FREE Pattern!




Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Traveling Cows! Their pattern was created on our family vacation trip to Michigan and Wisconsin this last June. I took a big bag of scraps in baby weight/ DK weight yarn, a bag of fluff, and all my accessories....and had a blast. Of course, every cow had it's own personality, and I shared their road trip creation on Instagram like I have previously with my kitties and owls. Road trip crocheting and knitting helps me live through the endless hours. These cute little cows are available for free on Ravelry.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Let's Go For a Whirl....and a New Free Pattern!!

I'm pretty sure, by now, that most people know I have a "thing" for sampler blankets. A sampler blanket was one of the first projects I ever made when I was getting back into crochet 32 years ago (my god, has it been that long?). I loved the fact that every new section had me working on a different pattern or a different stitch. I loved the fact that it gave me the opportunity to play with color, which is another obvious passion of mine. Sampler blankets, to me, are what's fun about crocheting blankets. I honestly struggle through blankets that only use one stitch through the whole thing. I wouldn't say I have attention deficit, but I do lose interest quite easily. The first sampler I ever published was the Faeries sampler blanket back in 2012. I created it in 2008, but lost the pattern for 4 years...lol...you can read about it here

With that little preamble, I am here to present to you my latest FREE pattern (which can be downloaded on Ravelry) and talk about the yarn it was made from. It was made with one cake of Whirl, which is made by a company named Scheepjes in the Netherlands. I was introduced to Scheepjes through my good friend, Theresa, who does all the editing for my patterns so you will see her name often. I have had the opportunity to serve as a moderator for their highly popular Hygge CAL in the international group, and so have had the chance to get to know their yarns a little better. One of the new yarns that came out during the CAL was Whirl. 💖😍

I was blessed with two balls of the Whirl, but because of it's thinness (it is a fingering weight yarn) I had NO idea what I was going to do with it. I saw a lot of people making shawls, but as I have been on an anti-bandwagon kick about shawls I dug in my heels. lol. I know, I am weird and have many flaws. I finally succumbed and decided to make a Lost In Time Shawl by Mijocrochet (picture below) out of the color on the left (Fruity 'O' Tutty) because the pattern is gorgeous and different and romantic. While making it, I fell in love with Whirl. I don't know why I thought it would be hard to work with. 😕 It is well spun, so splitting is minimal. It is so incredibly soft, and the colors gradate from one to the other so softly that you almost don't know it's happening until you take a step back from your project. The joins are tied in such a way that they are totally hidden within your work as soon as you make a stitch with them. 

What I really loved about the Lost In Time Shawl was that each color change seemed to fall perfectly with each new stitch, and highlighted each row, giving the shawl a great deal of texture.  Scroll to see the shawl pictures. ⇓                                           





I followed the pattern using a size F/3.75mm hook. I did 5 repeats and had a tiny ball of yarn leftover. I finished it off with some homemade tassels...and by homemade..I mean "homemade"...like, this girl has got NO tassel making skills. I think you can click on the pictures ⇑ to make them larger...just don't look too closely at the tassels. LOL I also got to pull out my beads to decorate with, but I couldn't get the yarn through the precious stones I wanted to put on the shawl and I had to resort to using iridescent pony beads and silver spacers. It's still pretty, but like I said..I need to up my tassel making game.

Before I even finished my Lost In Time Shawl, I knew what I was going to make with the second cake of Whirl in the Melting Macaron colorway. I have been working on a new sampler pattern since November. This particular pattern has gone through 4 metamorphosis in that time period; This baby sampler being the latest...and last. It has been named the Sapling Baby Sampler, and it is an abbreviated version of a pattern that will be coming out in the next week or so. I promise the name will make more sense then. This pattern is totally FREE and will remain FREE! The link will take you to Ravelry. Although it has been created with the Scheepjes Whirl in mind, you know me...I'm all about using whatever you have. This pattern uses almost a full 1000 yds of fingering weight yarn and an F hook. There are gauge instructions included if you are using one cake of Whirl. The pattern has been written specifically to use one ball of self-gradating yarn, so if you are using from your stash you will need to take your yarn changes into account, because those instructions are not included.

I think this pattern is great for a beginner to stretch their pattern reading muscles, as well as trying some new-to-them stitches. There are a lot of simple rows using sc, dc, chaining, and skipping, and there are a few challenging rows that will have you working in between stitches, and working in previous rows. There's certainly plenty to keep you busy, and you will have to pay close attention to your stitch counts because each row builds on the next.



For those of you more experienced crocheters out there, this should be a nice simple pattern to work up. There's lots of texture and lovely things to keep you busy. 😎 The finished size before blocking is about 27" x 27". I steam-blocked it to about a 34" x 34". This will help your pretty stitches to stand out, as well as make your baby blanket a little more "baby" sized. If you don't want to block, this will make a lovely newborn blanket. 

Scroll for more pictures. ⇓



The blanket has a frothy picot edge giving the blanket a dainty finish.


Above all...I do hope you enjoy!!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Some Friendships Become "Framily"

Sorry for my absence these last couple Sundays. We were traveling seeing family and friends up north. Today's post just happens to be about a small portion of that:


The top picture was taken in 2010 in Bayfield, WI. We were the Bushareno clan which included Sam and Chris Bushman and their three kids Bryen, Jasper, and Vanessa, and our family, the Mareno's, Tony, Biz, Stefani, and Teo.  
L-R in back: Stefani, Bryen, Tony, Chris, Sam, Teo
L-R in front: Vanessa, Biz, Jasper

In 2011, the Marenos moved to Florida. *insert heart-wrenching sad music*
Many tears were cried, and we have desperately missed our good friends all six years we have been here, but...we just can't do WI weather anymore.

Over time my brother's kids, the Fishers (Emily, Sam, Liz, and Josey), have gotten to be good friends with the Bushman kids. So, the next picture was done just a week ago at a 90th birthday party for my grandmother, and they are now known as the 
Busharenofish clan. 

It was so wonderful to see them all together again. They are almost all adults now, and they enjoyed each other immensely. Chris wasn't able to make the trip, but Tony and I had a great time visiting with Sam. Just made us miss them all the more. We are making plans to take an anniversary trip together to the Smokey Mountains next year. NO KIDS.
Some friendships only get better with time. 



                    L-R: Sam, Bryen, Vanessa, Stefani, Emily, Liz, Teo, Jasper, and Josey


That picture makes me wax nostalgic, because it reminds me of the movie Sandlot and their group picture. The last summer before they all split up and went on to different lives. Yet, there was a story of enduring friendship woven in. *sigh* I like to think our little group has it's own "Yeah-Yeah", and "Squints", and "Ham."
 These guys are second generation framily. :)

Sam (17) and Vanessa (17) will be a Seniors this year. Bryen (19) works on a farm. Stefani (22) has moved 1200 miles away from home to work in a ministry. Emily (19) is getting ready to leave for 9 months on a missions trip to Taiwan. Lizzie (15) starts HS this year. Teo (20) is going back to school this Fall to get his Carpentry certificate. Jasper (18) just graduated HS this year and will be going to school for Cabinetry and Engineering. And Josey (12) is bringing up the rear starting 7th grade. 

What an adventure life is....



Sandlot picture credit screenrant.com


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Those "Go-To" Patterns

Do you ever find yourself going to the same patterns over and over again? I know I do. Recently I've been making a box of toys for a friend, and even though I scour Ravelry for something new and different to make, I always end up coming back to the same toys. Why do I do that? 

Well, I'm going to talk about a couple of patterns today that are my "go-to" patterns for quick and easy gifts. I'm going to tell you why patterns become my "go-to" projects, and you may find that we look for the exact same things. Who knows?


First up is a knit owl pattern that I simply adore. It's name is "Seamus the Owl Knitting Pattern" by Linda Dawkins. I have shared this little owl pattern in the past on here, and even had a whole IG road trip story making owls from WI to Florida. (picture below) One of the reasons I like this pattern so much is because it is relatively seamless. It is knit in the round on double-pointed needles, and only the butt and top need to be sewn up. There are two little wings that you have to knit individually and sew on, but if that is the worst thing that happens to finish off a toy...then I can deal with it. Another reason I like this pattern is that I can use any combination of needle and yarn sizes and create a variety of owls. The green and blue owls in this picture were made with size 4 dpn's and baby yarn. The olive green owl was made with size 6 dpn's and worsted weight yarn. I'm a bit of an overstuffer, so from the angle of my picture the blue and olive owls look close to the same size. They aren't. The two green owls show the true difference in sizes. Now, what if I used a size 10 to 13 needle and a yarn like Lion Brand Homespun?? What a fun and chunky owl that would be!! 


These are some of the owls from my IG road trip. 
Meet Pudge, Annabelle, and Squirt.

I tend to name the toys I make if they don't have a designated home to go to. Making these guys really helped make a long road trip shorter. 

Speaking of road trip toys...the second of my "go-to" patterns is "Beans the Cat Knitting Pattern" also by Linda Dawkins. The Beans kitties were the original road trip toy all made while going from Florida to WI. It was so fun to do on Instagram with all my friends there. Part of the gang is pictured below.



This little gang of rogue kitties is (from L-R) Calico, Blue Raspberry, Pistachio, and Sunset. In total I made 7 kitties in the car on a 16 hour trip. Their construction is much like Seamus in that only the butt and top get sewn up. There is an i-cord tail that you attach and voila! you have a kitty. These work up even faster than Seamus does, and they are so. darn. cute! 

I did come up with a crochet Beans pattern that I share for free on the blog. Here's the link if you would rather crochet some kitties




My last little guys that are part of my "go-to" pattern list are "Hedgehogs" by Purl Soho. This one uses two different size yarns and two different size dpn's for construction. But, beyond that, it's pretty straightforward. It's essentially one-piece construction in that once you reach the end you simply stuff it, sew up the butt, and knit some little ears on it. There are no separate pieces that have to be sewn on later. When you're done knitting...you're done. Well, of course, other than embroidering on a quick face.  This is a joyful little pattern to use. One more favorite feature of this pattern, really of all the patterns, is that I use up my scraps to make them. Each toy only takes a little bit of yarn. They are perfect for those balls of yarn that just take up space in your stash. They aren't big enough for a blanket, unless you make squares, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood to make squares. These toys are a great alternative for your scraps. 

Now, I know that I focused primarily on knit toys in this post. The reason I shared them is because I'm rubbish at creating knit toy patterns, so I wanted to share my favorites from that world first. I struggle to achieve the same simple values from crocheted toys. Maybe it's because I can do so much more in crochet, so I feel like my toys have to be really detailed? When I crochet a toy for someone, I either pull from my cache of personal patterns, or I make up a new one. However, there is one small grouping of crochet toys that are simplistic and can be used for quick and easy gifts. The Lion Brand amigurumi toys are very simple construction with basic shapes. GREAT for beginners or for people that just need a quick toy. That collection is where the little frog from my last two posts came from. 

BUT! If you are looking for some fun, free crochet patterns that make great gifts for anyone, I want you to tap into my patterns! I'm sharing pictures of some of my favorites to make again and again. Some are more detailed than others, but I love making them. 

For little girls (or they could be adapted for little boys) the Pocket BFF's


And the Barnyard Gang, which can be for boys and girls alike...There is a CAL on FB for the Barnyard Gang from May 27th to June 12th with bonus instructions for a "Mrs Farmer" character, so join us if you can!


Well, other than the last two patterns I posted, could you tell what the overwhelming theme was in the patterns I picked out? Yep...easy assembly and few parts. I'm sort of a lazy crafter. I am a process knitter and crocheter (I just figured this out about myself), so I knit and crochet for the experience of knitting and crocheting. I'm not driven by the finished product...I'm driven by the doing. Yet, I don't like complicated. I only like complicated when I go into something knowing that it's going to be a challenge. If my brain deems something is too difficult, then I quit. Give me simple. Give me quick. Once in a while I will run into a pattern that just oozes difficulty and potential hair loss and I feel compelled to make it. Those moments are rare. LOL!!

As a matter of fact, I'm on the hunt for a shawl on which to use my new Scheepjes Whirl yarn. My three picks are Lost In Time Shawl by mijocrochet, Secret Paths Shawl by mijocrochet, and Edlothia by Jasmin Rasanen. My chart skills are not strong, so I'm not sure I would come out of the Edlothia pattern with any hair left. I'm leaning heavily toward the Lost in Time....I'll let you know what I decide. 

Tah for now!
Biz