Summer on Catalina Island

Sunrise View of Avalon Harbor From My Window

Sunrise View of Avalon Harbor From My Window

I love living on Catalina Island but I must admit it can be rather distracting in the Summer.  I’m so lucky to have an amazing view of  Avalon Harbor and the Pacific Ocean right out my living room window.  It provides endless inspiration and beauty and I never tire of seeing it.  However, frequently in the Summer, those waving palm trees beckon me to come out and play.  The coconuty smell of suntan lotion wafts up to my window and it’s all over.  It’s all I can do to keep my mind on whatever I should be doing such as hotel business or projects for my Esty Shop. 


My Daughter & I at Lover's Cove on Catalina Island

My Daughter & I at Lover’s Cove on Catalina Island

Yesterday my daughter and I dropped what we were doing and went out to enjoy the Southern California sun.  It’s a slow time of year in the shop which makes for a great excuse when you’re looking for one.  The only problem is that it only fuels the fire.  That warm, clear, sea water sure did feel great!

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!!

Spring Cleaning

I just ordered a ton of new jewelry making supplies in anticipation of summer here on Catalina Island and our Catalina Festival of Art in September.  As a result I figured I should mark down some items in my shop to make way for the new.

Hand Made Crochet Choker Necklace in Ivory with Teal Beads

Hand Made Crochet Choker Necklace in Ivory with Teal Beads

Spring Cleaning Sale at Catalina Inspired on Etsy

I’ll be adding more sale items in the upcoming days and after that, some of the new stuff I’m working on including some Catalina themed jewelry in gold and silver.

Silk Marbled Yarn in Purple, Brown and Aquamarine

Silk Yarn in Purple, Brown and Aqua

Silk Yarn in Purple, Brown and Aqua

When my two-year old emptied my knitting basket, (What a Tangled Mess) I found three small balls of marbled silk yarn (fingering weight) in purple, brown and aquamarine. I remembered buying them to make headbands a few years ago. When I started crocheting with them I realized that they wouldn’t really work because the color changed too drastically and too quickly which tended to obscure the design. So, like so many other things, they got thrown in the yarn basket. When my daughter resurrected them, I decided to find a use for them.

I found that by using more than one marbled color, or in combination with other solid yarns, the design was much more  clear.

Aqua and brown silk marbled yarn design for crochet headband

Aqua and brown silk marbled yarn design for crochet headband

Since the yarn is only fingering weight I ended up having to crochet two extra layers around the outside to get the same width as with the yarn I usually use.

Today I finished a choker using the aqua yarn and nineteen fresh water pearls.  I still have a good amount left so I guess I’ll have to get creative again.

Finished Headband in Brown and Aqua and Silk Yarn

Finished Headband in Brown and Aqua and Silk Yarn

Crochet Choker, Fresh Water Pearls and Aqua Silk Yarn

Crochet Choker, Fresh Water Pearls and Aqua Silk Yarn

Back to Sticks

New Pile of Sticks Ready to Become the Next Tea Light Holder

New Pile of Sticks Ready to Become the Next Tea Light Holder

Late yesterday afternoon, after much pestering, my daughter finally convinced me to pry myself from the computer in exchange for some fresh air.  

She has her own little, pale blue, dust pan and whisk broom and loves to follow me around the garden and sweep up any stray clippings or dead leaves that get missed.  I give her lots of “big helper” encouragement since she does such a good job cleaning up after me. 

Whenever I’m out in the garden, I undoubtedly end up at one of the many over-grown shrubs, with shears and lopper in hand.  This isn’t really a project that should be started when dusk is just around the corner, but that never stops me.  Yesterday afternoon/ evening was no different.  When I was finally at a stopping place (nowhere near finished), it was completely dark and must, I thought,  have been near my daughter’s bedtime.  I couldn’t go inside though until the patio was swept and all my tools put away, after all, this is a hotel. 

Of course, I had to go through all the branches to make sure I wasn’t throwing any “good ones” away.  Finally, twenty minutes later, my daughter and I were heading in.  

Tuesday’s are my favorite day of the week since I have the day almost entirely to myself.  My husband works during the day (he usually works afternoons & evenings) and my daughter is at pre-school.  So, whatever I had originally planned for the day was overshadowed by this beautiful new pile of sticks – go figure.  I had to break the promise to myself regarding the unfinished crochet projects.  “I’ve been so good, I deserve a change of pace” I reasoned.  I can always find a good reason to do something I would rather be doing.

Tea Light Holder #2 Made Using Recycled Glass, Tree Branches and Hemp Cord

Tea Light Holder #2 Made Using Recycled Glass, Tree Branches and Hemp Cord

 I jumped right into creating my second tea light holder, utilizing the lessons I’d learned from the first one, which took far longer to make than it should have.  This time I used white glue to hold the hemp cord to the branches as I tied each one.  The first time, I tied them all first, then ended up having to tie many of them a second time when I glued them.  This one still took longer than it probably should have, but next time I should have the process down pat (ha ha).  I also used a different sized jar which I think I like better than the first.  This jar was the same height but the mouth of the jar was one inch less in diameter, two inches, which is the perfect diameter for a tea light.  Here’s how it finally came out.

The Latest “Finished” Project

Crochet Wrap Belt Tan and Ivory White

Crochet Wrap Belt Tan and Ivory White

Here’s my latest “finished” project.  For this one all I had to do was make the belt loop, the rest was already done.  I wasn’t sure if I should add some more segments and make it a scarflette but the belt idea won out in the end.  I made the loop by wrapping multi-strand galvanized steel wire in a circle around itself a few times, then crocheted all around it.  The wire works well because you can adjust it to whatever size you need.  On one of the wraps I cut across the center of the circle with the wire (before crocheting of course) and crocheted around it as well.  The loop is a bit flexible but should hold its shape well.  Click on the picture to see the listing in my Etsy shop.

I’m, so far, pleasantly surprised at my ability to focus on finishing  these projects as I promised myself.  My normal process is to flit from piece to piece.  I don’t know how much longer I can sustain this level of focus though. 

Next up!!

What a Tangled Mess!!

My Daughter and My Yarn Basket

My Daughter and My Yarn Basket

Yesterday, my two-year old daughter got into my yarn basket.  She’s done it before but this time she really made a mess.  When I finally looked over to see the floor strewn with tangled yarn, my instinct was to scream…or maybe cry, I’m not sure which.  Instead of doing either, my eye caught an unfinished project I’d started maybe as long as a year ago.  It was a crochet pendant made with gold cotton thread and turquoise glass beads.  I’d forgotten it entirely and so vowed to “finish” it!  When I sat down on the floor, I discovered countless crochet “experiments” some good and some bad.  I decided, rather than being angry at my daughter, I should thank her for giving me a reason to go through all this junk and maybe even finish some of the projects.

Yarn Basket Mess

Yarn Basket Mess

There may have been as many as thirty crochet flowers scattered across the floor.  Some small and delicate and some large and fuzzy.  I decided to make three piles.  One pile was for experiments that had gone so horribly wrong they weren’t even worth the unraveled yarn or thread they were made with.  The second pile was for experiments that had gone horribly wrong but that had used enough yarn or thread to be worth unraveling.  The third was for things I thought may be worth finishing.  I threw away the items in pile number one, unraveled items in pile number two and threw the rest into a canvas bag while promising myself I’d finish these projects before starting anything new (we’ll see how that works out). 

A few of the projects were simple to finish, for example,  headbands that just needed the ties crocheted and ends woven in.  Others weren’t so straight forward and I’m not even sure what I originally intended them to be but they still have some potential.  I may decided later that some of them belonged in pile number one in the first place but I can put that off for a while. 

Crochet Gold Sun and Turquoise Glass Beads Pendant- FINISHED!

Crochet Gold Sun and Turquoise Glass Beads Pendant FINISHED!

 This is the pendant I mentioned earlier, finally finished with a matching knotwork chain and silver clasp.  I’m pretty happy with how it came out and I’m excited to discover some more lost treasures.  I crocheted some of them so long ago it’s as though someone else did all the hard work and I just need to finish them.  Of course, as with almost any type of creative process, finishing is most often the least fun part since by this time you may be getting sick of looking at the thing.

Off I go to rescue the next partially finished crochet project from the canvas bag – a.k.a. “pile number three” .Finished Crochet Sun Pendant With Turquoise Glass Beads

Why You Shouldn’t Dump a Bowl of Cheerios on Your Laptop

My Keyless Laptop

My poor keyless laptop

Yesterday I found a whole new use for my tiny #4 stainless steel crochet hook.  It works great for prying off laptop keys.

My poor baby!  I’ve done it before but yesterday, my current laptop (a little over a year old and the first brand new, non-refurbished one I’ve owned) had its overdue baptism.  Rather than a full glass of chardonnay, this time it was a bowl of Cheerios complete with about a half cup of soy milk that splattered down through the keys.  If you’ve ever done it, you know that feeling of terror as you watch the spill in what seems like slow motion.  It’s not unlike the feeling you get when you see your toddler turn toward a busy street and pull their hand away from yours just as you grab the hood of their sweatshirt.

I instinctively pulled the power cord and turned the laptop upside down (with no thought to the couch or carpet) and it immediately started screeching at me.  My husband, who was in the kitchen at the time, ran in to the living room yelling “What is that?”.  Not being as big a fan of electronics as I, he was relieved to find it was only my laptop and not a fire alarm or something more serious.  I ran for towels and my hair dryer in an attempt to keep the soy milk from reaching the mother board or, god forbid, the hard drive.

The chardonnay incident four or five years ago had not ended well.  Almost the moment the liquid hit the keyboard of the Dell laptop, it gave a loud beeping death knell, the screen went blank and it never booted up again.  I was insanely lucky, that time.  I’d bought the laptop refurbished on eBay without even realizing it was under full warranty!  I received a brand new one in about three days.

I knew this laptop was no longer under warranty and hoped and prayed its fate wouldn’t be that of its predecessor.  I sopped up as much of the liquid as I could and turned my hairdryer on its cool setting, aiming it at the still upside down keyboard.  After a couple of minutes with the hair dryer, I couldn’t wait any longer (although I should have) and flipped it over to discover the damage.  To my overwhelming relief it started to boot up but quickly started screeching again.  I punched at keys thinking something was stuck and finally it stopped beeping and booted up.  It looked like the hard drive and mother board had survived intact but something was definitely not right.  Some keys didn’t work at all and it seemed as though the scroll keys were stuck, endlessly scrolling down, down down.  I restarted it and again the loud beeping started immediately.  When the keyboard backlight was on, I could see the soy milk squishing around as I pressed keys.

I powered it down and took out the battery.  I went to the grocery store to get some rubbing alcohol and started prying the keys and little  plastic springs off (enter, #4 stainless steel crochet hook).  I cleaned under all the keys but could still see the soy milk one layer down.  My beautiful Toshiba laptop doesn’t have one screw showing, so I started prying panels off to find them.  I finally found the screws for the keyboard and pulled it out.  I disconnected it and took it apart.  I cleaned it out to the best of my ability but when I put it all back together and started it up, the screeching started right up again.  To make a short story long, I took it apart a couple more times without any success.

I wrote the part number down before I put the screws back in and went online to find a new keyboard.  I used my wireless mouse and since the keys were still off, typing anything was very difficult and in some cases impossible.  The scroll down key kept getting stuck so the screen would start blinking like a disco strobe.  I finally found the part online and ordered it.  It was $100 including two-day shipping.  No problem, I could wait that long.

Later in the day I received an email saying that the part (keyboard) was no longer available and my order was being cancelled.  I took a deep breath and headed for our local Radio Shack.  I found an external keyboard for $20 and brought it home.  Incidentally, I had donated the exact brand/model of keyboard not six months ago to the thrift shop.  I got the keyboard home, put the driver disc into the drive and an error immediately popped up.  It wasn’t compatible with Windows 7.

I took another deep breath, choked back tears of utter frustration and headed back to Radio Shack.  This time I got a “plug-and-play” wireless model made by Logitech and – miracle of all miracles – it worked!!

So, I’m typing this blog on my new keyboard that I have to carry around with my laptop.  I shouldn’t complain.  Thank goodness my hard drive and mother board survived!

The moral of the story (which I should know really well by now) – don’t eat or drink around your laptop.  Let’s see how long it takes me to forget that rule this time!

On to the Next Thing…

I’m still working with the “pile of sticks” but, as usual, I’ve been distracted by another project.  I was replacing all the old brochures in the hotel office with new ones and I ended up with a pile of colorful, glossy paper to throw in the recycling bin.

Looking at the pile, that same old nagging thought kicked in…”These must be useful for something.  I can’t just throw them away”.  The gears start slowly churning and, of course, whatever I’m doing at the time gets pushed to the side while I ponder this newest problem.

I’ve made notecards with recycled paper before, but this paper was of a heavier stock.

I finally found my trusty paper shredder, pushed some of the brochures through it and they were transformed into 1/4″ wide strips.  Some of the brochures had old sepia toned photos and colorful landscapes.  When shredded, the original image is unrecognizable and you’re left with pure colors and tones.

I used a glue stick to adhere the paper to some blank notecards and the strips created nice contrasting vertical stripes.  After they dried, I used a mixture of white glue and water to add a translucent layer of recycled tissue paper on top that gives the cards a matte finish and beautiful texture.

I printed out four different ornate letter “O”s on some recycled paper and mounted them on brown craft paper that came as padding in a package I received. 

I glued the mounted letter to the card.  When I finish the rest of them to the other note cards I’ll have a set of four completely unique note cards.

Here’s a photo of some letter “T” cards I made with the sepia toned photos in the brochures.  Click on the photo to see the listing in my shop.  When I finish the “O” cards I’ll post those as well.

Still Playing With Sticks

Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt

Anyone who’s familiar with my artistic inclinations, knows how erratic they can be.  For example, one moment I’m crocheting jewelry and the next I’m pouring resin on my handmade tile pendants while the next week, I’m shredding recycled paper to create notecards.  Like so many other aspects of my life, my creativity runs, hops and skips in every direction, all at once.  Maybe it’s ADD?  All I know is that I usually have several very different projects going on at the same time, which can be frustrating for those I cohabit with in our very small apartment.

After I finished the tea light holder made with branches, hemp cord and wood beads, I felt some momentum to continue down that path.  I dug through my “pile of sticks” and chose one with a particularly unique shape.  I began wrapping the branches with the same hemp cord I used in the previous project.  I’m not exactly sure where this is going but ideas of a “family tree” are buzzing around in my head.

I’ve been watching Finding Your Roots on PBS with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and really getting into it.  I would love to have my DNA tested, although I think the result would be predictable.  My mom’s done quite a bit of genealogical research on our family and it seems that everyone hails from Scandinavia or the British Isles.  Who knows though…there may be a surprise in there and  I’d love to know about it.

Anyway, we’ll have to see where this family tree idea goes.  I have a lot of material to work with, both physically and intellectually.  It could get interesting.