Fun crochet, cross stitch, and a new book from Erik Larson

By now, you know that sometimes I find something on the Internet that I must share immediately. Today is another one of those times. They are completely random, but I think all are pretty awesome. 🙂

Quick-and-Easy-Crochet-Cowls-600x3381. Petals to Picots is sponsoring a giveaway for an online cowl class from Tamara Kelly at Moogly. Quick and Easy Crochet Cowls includes seven lessons for three beautiful projects. The cost has been reduced from $29.99 to $19.99, and the first 1,000 people to sign up receive a free skein of yarn. However, you may also try to win it for free from Petals to Picots.

Designed by Backstage Stitching

Designed by Backstage Stitching

2. I was reading through one of my blogrolls and found this great post at Backstage Stitching. She has graciously made this available in the Free Patterns section of her blog. This is such a cute and hilarious design that I just had to share it. I think a lot of my fellow stitchers will enjoy it.

dead-wake-larson3. And for something completely different — Erik Larson has a new book coming out on March 10: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. BookPeople’s blog features a great review and you may purchase it through their independent book store in Texas (link provided in the blog post). It’s been difficult for me to find time for my needlework and reading, but I’m definitely going to make time to read this. I enjoy his books very much.

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Last-minute handmade gift ideas

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Last year, I had it all figured out. Starting in the summer, I made an Excel spreadsheet to sort out what I was making for whom, how much yarn I would need, where I would buy it, when it had to be finished, etc. I even had Tim’s birthday gift (an afghan) done a little early, and his birthday is in late November. This left me time to make some quick last-minute scarves for people at the job I’d recently started. All was well.

This year? Not so much. Due to a lot of changes in my life over the last few months, very strict budgeting, and illness, my gift-planning mojo has been nonexistent. Well, it’s less than two weeks before Christmas and I have some catching up to do, and I’m betting there are others out there who still want to give homemade gifts but need something they can zoom through. There are some great scarves and other items out there you can make pretty quickly, especially if you are a fast crocheter. They are all lovely on their own, but some of them can be dressed up even more with a few other items.

Dude ScarfIf you need to make a quick “guy” scarf, here’s a quick one – aptly named “The Dude Scarf.” I tend to make mine without the fringe, but I know some people like it. I found this free pattern on The Gimpy Hooker’s blog. I have made this in the past and it works up pretty quickly, just a combination of half-double crochets and triple crochets. The pattern calls for two strands of worsted yarn (4), but I like to use bulky (5) or extra bulky (6) yarn to make it that much easier and faster and not have to worry about controlling two strands at once.

This “Hour-and-a-Half Cowl” took me a little longer than that to hour-and-a-half-cowl_smallstitch, but it was done in an evening. It’s a great way to use up extra yarn you have lying around and you can come up with some great colorways. The pattern calls for four strands of yarn, but you could easily use three strands for a slightly less bulky cowl – it all depends on what YOU want your finished project to look like. You could use two or three strands of bulky yarn for a slightly different effect. The pattern page was originally on Yarnspirations, but is now archived on The WayBack Machine and the photos don’t seem to be appearing. If you like the pattern you may want to copy and paste the text to your computer, just in case the page eventually disappears.

crochet tweedy scarfDo you need one (or several) gifts for women? This incredibly easy and fast Crochet Tweedy Scarf  from Lion Brand is a lifesaver! I’ve made this several times. I’ve used different yarns, but – as usual – it goes more quickly if you use a bulky yarn and a large hook. It’s a basic V-stitch. You can play with the width and length, and could even use two strands of worsted instead of one strand of bulky. It looks particularly nice in a variegated yarn.

If you’ve made scarves, cowls, mittens, and hats until you can’t stand it anymore, try lulu b sedge clothsome handmade spa washcloths. There are many simple patterns out there, but this is one of my favorites and – of course – works up closely. Make a few of Lulu B’s Sedge Cloth in coordinating colors for a great way to make someone feel special. The texture to these cloths from Lulu Belle Designs offers a slightly exfoliating effect, which can help with keeping smooth skin during those drying winter months. If you really want to WOW! someone, wrap them with a pretty ribbon and place in a basket with some soaps and lotions.

5-5-hour-throw_smallIf you are short on time but still want to make a larger gift for that special someone, the Five-and-a-Half-Hour Throw is the way to go (Scroll down a bit for the pattern). Now, I think you need to be an incredibly fast crocheter to finish this in that time, but it does work up quickly. Again, the pattern calls for three strands of worsted weight yarn, but you could play with a few strands of bulky weight yarn or whatever you’d like.

One more item you may like to make for someone’s home decor are coasters. If you ombre coastersare creating the Five-and-a-Half-Hour Throw for someone and have some extra yarn left, I encourage you to make these Ombre Coasters using that leftover yarn. It adds just a little extra something to the throw on its own. Of course, these coasters could be made in a myriad of colors and combinations as a lovely gift by themselves.

In the end, have fun! While it can be stressful to try to fit in those last-minute (and sometimes surprise) gifts, you can have a lot of fun deciding what yarn you have in your stash that you can use, or what you can find at your local shop to use. Some of these patterns that use multiple strands could include a strand of something sparkly or furry, or you could use three strands of one color and one strand that is variegated – the possibilities are limitless. Just because you’re working quickly, doesn’t mean you can’t still be creative.