My Own Personal Sweat Shop

Hand Sewing Crocheted Squares Together For a Headband

Hand Sewing Crocheted Squares Together For a Headband

Being a craftsperson in the USA can be a real financial challenge which continues to worsen as the costs of raw materials, food and housing rise. To make matters worse, few of us have seen even a measly cost-of-living raise at our “day jobs” in years.

Sites like Etsy claim to support the small business artisan but after modifying their definition of “handmade” at the end of last year, mass produced items are springing up like weeds on the site that calls itself a “handmade marketplace”.  I’ve argued with artists who refuse to compete with inexpensive versions of what they create by hand, saying it’s a useless endeavor.

As of yet, I’ve been unable to reconcile my time and material costs with my prices.  I scour sale flyers and websites to get my materials at the lowest prices possible but where I usually hit a brick wall is with my hourly rate for labor.  If it takes me an hour to crochet one of my headbands, with costs subtracted out, I’d do better working as a…well…almost anything else.  Yet, I tread on, believing I will someday find the magic equation and actually be able to support myself doing what I love.  Is it really asking too much?  It’s actually asking a lot.

Putting it very simply, the average American can’t afford to buy goods that are manufactured or created in the United States.  This is nothing new globally as the same has been true of workers in China, India and other countries for hundreds of years but is unnerving in one of the most highly developed countries in the world.  The far majority of Americans buy clothing that’s made in another country.  The few who still work in the manufacturing industry probably can’t afford to buy the things they help manufacture.  I receive catalogs from “Fair Trade” companies who glossily advertise beautiful items that I couldn’t afford in my wildest dreams.  I want to buy fair trade, organic, natural, ecofriendly and items made in the USA but I just can’t afford to most of the time and have tried not to feel guilty about purchasing things that wear the dreaded “made in China” label.

When I was a child, my family went through some rough patches where money was pretty tight.  My stay-at-home mom made some of our clothing to save money.  Now, it’s hard to even find a fabric store.  After buying a pattern, fabric and notions for a garment you wish to sew, you could have bought three at Wal-Mart or Target, already made, for the same price.  There’s no reason to waste the time it takes to sew something by hand if it isn’t cost effective (for most of us anyway).

The global economy has been undergoing complex changes of which I understand at only the most rudimentary level, if at all.  I think most of us can see how these changes are affecting our daily lives as basic food prices rise while the containers in which they are sold shrink.  It’s really important that we are able to do what we love at some point during our lives even if it’s only for a couple hours a week and for those of us who are artists this may just have to be enough.

But still, I work towards my goal, even after my two other jobs and four year old, absorb most of my time.  After all, if you work hard enough and have faith in your dream, you can accomplish anything  – right?  A nice sentiment but not very realistic.

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Free Pattern, How To Make A Fringed Crochet Choker Necklace

Crochet Necklace With Wood Beads In Turquoise, Blue and Olive Green

Crochet Necklace With Wood Beads In Turquoise, Blue and Olive Green

I’ve made a rule, that before I’m allowed to buy any more yarn, I have to use all that I have, which is quite a lot.  I bought this yarn quite a while ago just because I liked it.  I had no real plan for what I’d do with it since it’s too thick to use for my  headbands.  For my headband pattern, I usually use sock yarn or something equally fine.  This is a flat ribbon yarn made with a polyester, acrylic blend.  I kept thinking what nice fringe it would make.  I designed these necklaces especially with this yarn in mind.This particular yarn is 1/8 inch or 3 mm wide and flat.  You may need to adjust the pattern if a different sized yarn is used.   I chose to use a traditional clasp but a crochet button and loop would probably work well too.

This pattern assumes a basic knowledge of crochet stitches and abbreviations.  My method of crochet is a bit unorthodox due to a problem I had with my left hand when I first learned, so I’m not the right person to give advice to beginners on how to hold the needle and form the stitches.  My post DIY – How to Make A Crochet Headband has a list of stitch abbreviations before the pattern.

If you’re not into DIY projects, or you just don’t have time, you can find these necklaces in my shop Catalina Inspired, in the section Crochet Jewelry.

For this yarn I used a F/5-3.75mm hook.  First, chain 75.  If you’re using ribbon yarn, be sure to keep it flat as you wrap it around the hook.  If it twists, it can look sloppy.

Crochet Choker Step 2 - Add Clasp To End of Chain 75

Crochet Choker Step 2 – Add Clasp To End of Chain 75

If you’re using a traditional metal clasp, at the end of the chain, slide the remaining loop through one half of the clasp as pictured.

Next, chain 1 then sc in each chain stitch making sure the yarn stays flat.  The yarn can get quite twisted so sometimes I cut it making sure I’ve left enough to finish the row.  When you reach the end of the row, slip stitch in the 1st chain stitch, then slip the second half of the clasp over the last loop.   Chain 1.  It should look like this:

Crochet Choker Step 3 - Second Half Of Clasp

Crochet Choker Step 3 – Second Half Of Clasp

Now tie off the last stitch and weave the ends in.

Now cut four 8 1/2 inch lengths of yarn.  Carefully line them up so they are flat and lined up side by side then tie them in an overhand knot around the center of the necklace being very careful to keep the yarn flat and neat.  Carefully tighten the knot until it looks something like this:

Crochet Choker Step 4 - Knot Fringe Around Choker

Crochet Choker Step 4 – Knot Fringe Around Choker

When the knot is tied, lay the eight fringes out flat.  String some wood or glass beads on each length of fringe so they hang down straight and don’t tangle as easily.  I chose to knot the fringes at four different lengths like so:

Crochet Choker Step 5 - Tie Wood (or Glass) Beads To Each Fringe

Crochet Choker Step 5 – Tie Wood (or Glass) Beads To Each Fringe

The finished product should look something like this:Finished!  Crochet Choker Necklace With Wood Beads

Catalina Festival of Art

Me & My Ocean Side Booth at the Catalina Festival of Art

Me & My Ocean Side Booth at the Catalina Festival of Art

I’m finally getting around to writing about the Festival of Art we had here on Catalina Island, September 21, 22 & 23.  It was a beautiful weekend (which is no big surprise here in Southern California) though some complained that it was too hot.  Being originally from the east coast, where this summer it was scorchingly hot and humid, I thought it was perfect.  Not to mention, the nice warm to hot weather we’ve had this summer made the ocean water a refreshing 74 degrees F.  I was actually just swimming at Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve a couple of hours ago with my daughter, Mom & Dad and the water was crystal clear and the perfect temperature!  But, I digress. 

My Original Tile Design on Glass Necklace

My Original Tile Design on Glass Necklace

Some of My Crochet Headbands on Display  (click to see crochet headbands for sale at Catalina Inspired)

Some of My Crochet Headbands on Display (click to see crochet headbands for sale at Catalina Inspired)

I was so honored this year to receive an Honorable Mention for my tile jewelry from the Catalina Art Association!   Awards are given for the categories Fine Painting, Fine Jewelry, Fine Crafts and Photography.  I love the Art Festival each September here on Catalina Island.  I get to see so many islanders and fellow artists who are normally too busy in the summer for socializing (the winter here is another story – there’s plenty of free time). 

My Lotus Flower Notecards Made From Almost 100% Recycled Materials

My Lotus Flower Notecards Made From Almost 100% Recycled Materials

Now that the Art Festival is over, it’s time to enjoy the warm ocean water for a few more weeks before it becomes too cold and meanwhile,  start gearing up for the holidays!

Hope you are having a great day!

A Wave at Lover's Cove Marine Preserve on Catalina Island, California Channel Islands

A Wave at Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve on Catalina Island, California Channel Islands

Summer Time, and the Livin’ is…

Lover's Cove on Catalina Island

Lover’s Cove on Catalina Island

It’s really difficult to stay focused on anything when you live in a hotel on Catalina Island in the summer.  The smell of suntan lotion and the sight of my hotel guests parading by my door wearing bathing suits and sundresses really makes me want to drop what I’m doing and head outside. 

I’ve been crocheting quite a bit recently because it’s portable and takes very little concentration.  I think I cranked out about ten headbands this week.  I’m making mostly wool headbands now in anticipation of fall and the Catalina Festival of Art on September 21, 22 & 23. 

Here are some of the wool hairbands I just listed in my shop.  Don’t forget, if you want to create one of these great headbands yourself, check out my three-part post, starting with DIY – How to Make a Crochet Headband for step-by-step instructions.

Crochet Headband Wool & Acrylic Mix Yarn in Magenta, Purple and Rust Orange Boho Chick Hairband

Crochet Headband Wool & Acrylic Mix Yarn in Magenta, Purple and Rust Orange Boho Chic Hairband

Crochet Headband, Wool, in Lavender & Gray Mix, Boho Chic Knit Hairband

Crochet Headband, Wool, in Lavender & Gray Mix, Boho Chic Knit Hairband

Crochet Headband, Wool in Soft Gray, Rust & Teal, Boho Chic Hairband

Crochet Headband, Wool in Soft Gray, Rust & Teal, Boho Chic Hairband

Crochet Headband, Wool in Soft Gray, Lavender & Teal, Boho Chic Hairband

Crochet Headband, Wool in Soft Gray, Lavender & Teal, Boho Chic Hairband

Easy Crochet Flower Pattern

Easy Crochet Flower Pattern

Easy Crochet Flower Pattern

 This is a simple crochet flower pattern with a twist.  The flower is crocheted around a silver 9mm jump ring.  For this particular flower, I used all six strands of standard, bright pink, embroidery floss.   Jump rings can be found in jewelry supply stores or websites.  I suggest using soldered rings rather than split rings so the thread doesn’t slip through.  The ring I used for this pattern is 9mm in diameter and made with 20 gauge wire.  I’m using a size 4 stainless steel crochet hook.

This crochet flower pattern was designed by me, is copy-righted and free of charge. Please feel free to use this pattern for personal use only. I do sell my crochet items in my Etsy Shop, Catalina Inspired, so I’d appreciate credit for the design and that it not be used for re-sale.

Silver Ring and Pink Embroidery Floss

Silver Ring and Pink Embroidery Floss

The crochet stitch abbreviations I’m using are standard but you can refer to the post – DIY – How to Make a Crochet Headband for abbreviations.

One Single Crochet in the Silver Ring

One Single Crochet in the Silver Ring

To begin, yarn over the crochet hook and do one sc in the ring. Ch 6, sc in ring and repeat around the ring so that you end up with 5 sc in the ring and 5 flower petals. It should look like this:

Round 1 - 5 Flower Petals Made with Ch 6 Spaces

Round 1 – 5 Flower Petals Made with Ch 6 Spaces

   Now, do 9 sc in each ch 6 space. You may need to push the stitches over in order to fit 9. Sl st in the first sc.  It should look something like this: 

  

Round 2 - 9 sc in each ch 6 space.

Round 2 – 9 sc in each ch 6 space.

Round 3 – sl st in next sc. * Hdc in next sc.  Dc in next 2 sc, ch 1, dc in next st, ch 1.  Dc in next 2 sc, hdc in next sc, sl st in next 2 sc.  Repeat from * around the flower.  At the end sl st with first sc and tie off.  It should look like this when finished.  

Finished Bright Pink Crochet Flower

Finished Bright Pink Crochet Flower

 

The final product can be used in jewelry (see the necklace below), or as an applique on headbands, scarves, handbags, sweaters or anything else you can think of. 

Yellow, Gold & Orange Crochet Flower Necklace

Yellow, Gold & Orange Crochet Flower Necklace (click on the picture to see the listing in my Etsy shop)

 

Crochet Headband Pattern – Part 3

Crochet Headband Pattern - In Pale Yellow Bamboo Blend Yarn

Crochet Headband Pattern – In Pale Yellow Bamboo Blend Yarn

 This is the third and final post in a series on how to make the crochet headband pictured.  Here are the two earlier posts:

DYI – How to Make a Crochet Headband – Free Pattern

Crochet Headband Pattern – Part 2  

Please refer to the first post for stitch abbreviations, which are standard.   Also, as I’ve previously written, if you don’t want to make the headband yourself, visit my Etsy Shop, Catalina Inspired where I have many different colors available.

Ok – on to the pattern.  Now that you’ve joined all five squares, the next step is to crochet all the way around twice.   

With the front side facing up, YO and insert the hook into the top right ch3 space and sc 3 times.  Then sc in each sc across the end of the headband till you come to the next ch3 space but skip over the center sc.  There should be 6 sc across the end, not 7.  It should look like this:

Crochet Headband in Salmon Bamboo Blend Yarn - Finish Step 1

Crochet Headband in Salmon Bamboo Blend Yarn – Finish Step 1

 Sc 5 times in the corner ch3 space.  Sc in each sc to the next ch3 space.  If you followed the pattern exactly there should be 7 sc along each square side.  2 sc in ch3 space.  Insert the hook into one of the stitches made to sew the squares together (two layers of yarn), pull up a loop and sc.  2 sc in next ch 3 space.  Here’s what it should look like so far:

Crochet Headband in Salmon Pink Bamboo Blend Yarn - Finish Step 2

Crochet Headband in Salmon Pink Bamboo Blend Yarn – Finish Step 2

Continue with 7 sc, 2 sc in ch 3 space, sc in between squares and 2sc in ch3 space until you get to the next corner.  5 sc in the corner ch 3 space and 6 sc across headband end, skipping over the center stitch which prevents the end from puckering.  5 sc in next corner and continue crocheting the second side, the same as the first.  When you get to the end, sc 2 in the first ch3 space and sl st in first sc.  It should look like this:

Crochet Headband in Salmon Pink Bamboo Blend Yarn - Finish Step 3

Crochet Headband in Salmon Pink Bamboo Blend Yarn – Finish Step 3

 For the next round, sc in each sc all the way around except for at the corners.  See picture for instructions on the corners.

Crochet Headband - Corner Detail Instructions

Crochet Headband – Corner Detail Instructions

 Each corner should look like this when finished:

Crochet Headband - Corner Detail Finished

Crochet Headband – Corner Detail Finished

 Continue all the way around, slip stitch with the first sc and tie off.  It should now look like this:

Crochet Headband - Finish Step 4

Crochet Headband – Finish Step 4

After tying off, yarn over and insert the hook into center sc at right corner.  Ch1.  Sc in each sc across until you reach the center corner sc on the left side.  Ch1, skip 1st sc and sc across to the 1st sc on previous row.  Ch1, skip 1st sc and sc in each sc across to the 1st sc in the previous row.  Continue to decrease stitches until there are 6 sc across.  Now it should look like this:

Crochet Headband - Finish Step 5

Now, after you’ve decreased to 6 stitches, ch 2 then dc across all 6 sc.  Continue making rows of 6 dc until the tie is long enough.  To measure, place the center square of the headband on the top of your head and pull the tie down until it’s long enough to tie a square knot with.  When you think it’s long enough, tie off and repeat the same instructions on the opposite side.  If it turns out that the tie isn’t long enough when you finish,  just add a few more rows until it’s the perfect length.  Then weave in any loose ands and trim.  Here’s the finished product. Crochet Headband in Salmon Pink Bamboo Blend Yarn - Finished!

 I hope these crazy instructions, though a bit unorthodox, were understandable.  If not, please comment on anything you don’t understand and I’ll try to clear up any confusion.  I used a lot of pictures for this pattern, but as I wrote in the first post, I’ve never actually written one of my patterns down.  I found it a bid difficult to communicate something that I’ve done intuitively for so long.  So, again, I apologize if it didn’t make sense.  Happy hooking !

Crochet Headband Pattern – Part Two

Crochet Headband in Salmon Pink (click on the picture to see this item in my Etsy Shop)

Crochet Headband in Salmon Pink (click on the picture to see this item in my Etsy Shop)

While reading over my last post (DIY – How to Make a Crochet Headband – Part One) I realized I’d forgotten a couple of important points.

(before I begin, I’ll just mention again, that if you don’t have the time or desire to make this headband yourself, I have many different styles available in my Etsy Shop – Catalina Inspired if you want to check them out.)

First, when you complete each square and tie it off, you should leave a 7″ – 8″ tail of yarn remaining before you cut.  This reduces the number of  ends you have to weave in.  If you’ve already woven the ends in, however, all is not lost.  I’ll explain more on that when I get back to the pattern.

The second point I forgot to mention concerns everyone’s personal style of crochet and resulting gauge.  The gauge (stitches per inch) can be pretty flexible in this pattern since the headband doesn’t need to be a specific width.  For reference purposes, my squares, using the bamboo blend yarn, end up being just a little more than 2″ square.  However, some people crochet tighter or looser stitches.  The squares are often a little tight around the edges (represented by a slight curl or pucker) but this is ok since we will be stitching around the outside of the squares which will stretch them a bit.  If you think your squares are really misshapen though, you can alter the pattern slightly to accommodate your own style.

For example, in round 3 of the motif, you can try doing 4 single crochets in each ch3 space instead of 5.  Of course, you will then need to subtract these stitches from the 4th round.

If any of this is confusing,  you’re having trouble with the pattern or something doesn’t make sense (an error on my part), please feel free to leave a comment with the details of your issue and I’ll be happy to help.

Ok, to pick up from where we left off in the last post…

You should now have 5 squares completed.  If you did leave a 7″ – 8″ tail of yarn off each square, here’s how to proceed.  You’ll need a large, plastic, blunt ended needle.  Line up 2 of the squares so that both tails are facing down off the bottom of each square and thread the needle like this (make sure the correct side of the square is facing up)…

Crochet Headband - Joining Two Squares - Step One

Crochet Headband – Joining Two Squares – Step One

Next, pass the needle through the center ch of the top, right ch3 space on the bottom square, like this:

Crochet Headband - Joining Two Squares - Step Two

Crochet Headband – Joining Two Squares – Step Two

Pull the thread through but leave enough slack so that the squares are still lined up.  Then pass the needle over and through the center ch on the bottom, right, ch3 space on the top square like this…

Crochet Headband - Joining Two Squares - Step Three

Crochet Headband – Joining Two Squares – Step Three

Now pass the needle under and back through the same center ch of the top right ch3 space on the bottom square.  Adjust the yarn at this point so that it’s not too tight or too loose going from the tie-off point to where it enters the first stitch.  As you sew the two squares together, make sure you catch the slack part of the yarn (from the beginning) in each stitch so that it cannot be seen.  Also, when sewing the two squares together, pass the needle only through the back loop (the two loops closest to each other) of the sc like this…

Crochet Headband - Joining Two Squares - Step Four

Crochet Headband – Joining Two Squares – Step Four

Continue joining the squares by sewing through the back loop all the way to the center ch of the ch 3 spaces on the left.  Weave the end back through and cut.  It should look something like this…

Crochet Headband - Joining Two Squares - Step Five

Crochet Headband – Joining Two Squares – Step Five

Continue joining the other three squares in the same manner.  If you didn’t leave a 7″ – 8″ tail of yarn on each square, all you have to do is cut a piece of yarn about 9″ long and sew the squares together in the same manner, only leaving about 2″ before the first stitch.   Sew over it as you go across the edges of the square. Here’s what the 5 squares should look like when they’re joined together…

Crochet Headband - All Five Squares Joined Together

Crochet Headband – All Five Squares Joined Together

Again, please feel free to comment with any issues or clarification of my instructions.  I realize I’ve been leaning heavily on pictures here, but I’ve never actually written one of my patterns down and I’m a visual person, so I think it comes across more clearly this way.  If not – let me know! Click here for part three of the crochet headband pattern

Happy hooking!!

DIY – How to Make a Crochet Headband – Free Pattern

DIY - How to Make a Crochet Headband

DIY – Crochet Headband in “Soft Sunshine” With Bamboo Blend Yarn

I’ve had several people ask about the pattern for crochet headbands I sell in my Etsy shop, Catalina Inspired.  So, by popular demand, the next few posts will provide step by step instructions on how to do just that.   The instructions are for the headband pictured above which is made using Caron Spa Yarn,  a blend of acrylic and sustainable bamboo in “soft sunshine”.  Michael’s craft stores usually carry this yarn.

The instructions for this headband assume a basic knowledge of crochet.   If DIY projects aren’t for you, please feel free to check out my shop where I have many types of crochet headbands available.

Through much experimentation, I’ve found some yarns that work well for making this headband.  The photo below shows my three favorites.

Different Types of Yarn You Can Use to Make a Crochet Headband

Different Types of Yarn You Can Use to Make a Crochet Headband. From L-R, wool mixed color, bamboo blend & cotton.

Crochet Headband in Wool - Creamy White and Teal/Sienna Mix

Crochet Headband in Wool – Creamy White and Teal/Sienna Mix. The yarn is fingering weight and is shown as an example of a headband made using very light weight yarn but is not recommended for this pattern.

From left to right, the yarns pictured are, Patons Kroy Wool Sock yarn in a purple/blue/gray mix, Caron’s bamboo yarn, mentioned above,  in a salmon pink and Patons Grace cotton yarn in sage green.  Each type of yarn requires a different hook size and sometimes, a slight change in the pattern.

I like the cotton and bamboo yarns for Spring and Summer headbands and the wools for winter.  I wear the headbands I make all the time, they tie for a custom fit and stay put on your head.  I like that they don’t slide back like so many headbands do.

The bamboo yarn is the largest size yarn I’ve used successfully.  Anything larger tends to be bulky in my opinion, but you may find you like that look.  I’ve used very light fingering yarn (pictured above) but I don’t recommend it for this particular pattern.

The yarn I’ll be using for this pattern is the Caron bamboo blend in a salmon pink, as pictured above.

This crochet headband pattern was designed by me, is copy-righted and free of charge.  Please feel free to use this pattern for personal use only.  I do sell these headbands in my Etsy Shop, Catalina Inspired,  so I’d appreciate credit for the design and that it not be used for re-sale.

I usually use a smaller hook than is called for on the yarn package.  The headband tends to hold its shape better and the tighter stitches also give the headband a good amount of stretch.

cl st = cluster stitch = yo, insert hook into correct stitch, draw up a loop. Yo and pull hook through 2 loops on hook. Yo, insert hook into same stitch and draw up a loop. Yo, pull hook through 2 loops on hook. Yo and pull through 3 remaining loops on hook.

sc = single crochet

sl st = slip stitch

ch = chain

yo = yarn over

For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll be using crochet hook size F/4, although I usually use F/3 on the headbands I sell in my shop.  Since it’s harder to see what you’re doing when the stitches are so tight, I recommend using the larger size hook for the first one you make.

Using crochet hook size F/4 and the Caron Bamboo blend yarn previously mentioned, chain 4 and join with the first ch st using a sl st, or use a sliding loop.

Round 1 – ch1, 8 sc in loop, sl st in first sc.  You should have 8 single crochets going around the loop like so:

Beginning Round For Floral Motif Used in the Crochet Headband

Beginning Round For Floral Motif Used in the Crochet Headband

Round 2 – Ch 1, * sc in next sc.  Ch 3, cl st in next sc (instructions above).  Ch 3.  Repeat from * all around the loop.  Sl st to first single crochet.  When finished, there should be 8, ch 3 spaces and it should look like this:

Round 2 of Floral Motif for Crochet Headband

Round 2 of Floral Motif for Crochet Headband

Round 3 – ch 1, 5 sc in next ch 3 space.  5 sc in each ch 3 space on round and sl st to 2nd sc at the beginning of the round .  At the end of this round there should be 8 spaces with 5 sc in each and it should look like this:

Round 3 of Flower Motif for Chrochet Headband

Round 4 of the Floral Motif for the Crochet Headband

Round 4 of the Floral Motif for the Crochet Headband

Round 4 – Ch 1 , sc in next 3 sc.  Skip 1 sc, * ch 3.  Skip next sc.  Sc in next 4 sc.  Skip next sc, sc in the next 4 sc.  Repeat from *, 3 times.  Sl st to 1st sc at the beginning of the round and tie off.  Make 5 squares that look like this:

Connecting the 5 pieces, the next step in making the headband, will be covered in my next post.

Click here for part two of the Crochet Headband pattern.

Happy hooking!!