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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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

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!!

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

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

Feeling Springy!

Since my #4 stainless steel crochet hook was already out from being used to pry the keys off my laptop keyboard (https://theprocess123.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/why-you-shouldnt-dump-a-bowl-of-cheerios-on-your-laptop/) I decided to use it for what it was originally intended.

I’ve been experimenting with different types of ring-shaped objects to crochet around.  The following photo shows two of the ideas I recently finished and listed:

Crochet Jewelry by Kristy at Catalina Inspired on Etsy

Crochet Jewelry by Kristy at Catalina Inspired on Etsy

This beautiful Summery weather has me going a little flower crazy.  So far I’ve crocheted some in off-white, pale lemon yellow, garnet red and aqua.  There will be many more colors to come.Crochet Flowers by Kristy at Catalina Inspired on Etsy

Yesterday I crocheted this sunny summery necklace using brass jump rings for the centers and cotton embroidery floss for the flowers.  I crocheted nine flowers in descending sizes and sewed them together.  I’m excited to try the same pattern with some blues and purples!

Crochet Floral Choker in Tangerine, Lemon Yellow & Gold

Crochet Floral Choker in Tangerine, Lemon Yellow & Gold

Crochet Flower Choker in Lemon Yellow, Tangerine & Gold

Crochet Flower Choker in Lemon Yellow, Tangerine & Gold

Introduction to “The Process 1, 2, 3”

Kristy ThrondsonHello and welcome to “The Process 1, 2, 3”!  I’ve created this blog to share my creative process and the “stuff” that eventually hatches from it.

My personal creative process has been accurately described as “all over the place”.  I attended the Maryland Institute, College of Art (MICA ) in Baltimore, MD from 1991 – 1996 where I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting.  Although I was formally trained in classical oil painting and it remains one of my great loves to this day, I have experimented with a huge variety of media and continue to do so.

I grew up in Central New Jersey but have lived on Catalina Island off the southern coast of California for the last 8 years.  Catalina is a beautiful place to live and is endlessly inspiring.  I feel very lucky to be here.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with ME/Chronic Fatigue syndrome and Fibromyalgia.  Though I still struggle with the disability these diseases have imposed upon my life, I remain hopeful that I’ll be well again.  For anyone who is interested in this topic, I’ve been writing a blog called Fibromyalgia??? for the last year and a half that goes into much more detail about this aspect of my life.  I would like to keep that topic within that venue but I apologize if it rears its ugly head from time to time.

Environmental issues are very important to me and I try to use repurposed, recycled or sustainable materials in my artwork and craftwork when ever I can.  I currently have a shop on Etsy called Catalina Inspired where I showcase some of my creations.

In the future, I’ll be posting about the process behind many of my works and sometimes before they are listed in my shop.  I’ll also be writing about living a simple life and leaving a small footprint on the environment.

I welcome feedback and comments and I hope you will stop by again soon!