Monday, March 30, 2009

More Pearl lore

I was going to keep my history of pearls brief, but, in my research, I came across some nice lore about pearls that I just had to share. More about actual pearl types tomorrow!

Pearls were once thought to be the tears of the gods.

In imperial China, the natural black pearl was regarded as a symbol of wisdom.

Some Hindu writers have linked pearls with clouds, elephants, snakes, wild boars, fish and --only sometimes-- with oysters, themselves.

The Greeks and Romans thought pearls were born in oysters as a result of a drop of rain or dew having penetrated between the layers. The Persians thought the same, but they believed that if a pearl was imperfect it was due to thunder in the sky. A more colorful version says pearls are born from the meeting of a rainbow with the earth.

In the Orient, pearls are sometimes associated with the tears of angels, mermaids or mythical nymphs in stories mixing pain and suffering with bliss. A Ceylon legend tells how the tears of Adam and Eve created a lake that gave birth to pearls --white or pink pearls from Eve's tears, and more precious and rare gray and black pearls from Adam's tears. Why the difference? Man knows better how to control his emotions, according to the legend.

According to one Polynesian legend, Oro, the Polynesian god of peace and fertility, came down to earth on a rainbow to offer a special type of pearl oyster to man. Another says that Oro offered the pearl from an oyster to the beautiful princess of Bora Bora as a sign of his love.

One of the most romantic legends tells how the moon bathes the ocean in its light to attract the oysters to the surface so that it may impregnate them with heavenly dew. Polished by time, this drop of light holds this heavenly radiance within its heart and cloaks itself in a garment with blue, green, pink and golden reflections that shine and blend in harmony.

Pearls are symbols of purity and clarity.

Associated with the ministry, pearls bring wisdom through experience; they quicken the law of karma, and bring engagements and love relationships.

Pearls are said to keep children safe. They are symbols of innocence; therefore, they are talismans for the innocent.

Pearls help to attune the chakras. Since it is a soft white, it helps bring soft, healing energy during meditation.

Pearls, like mother of pearl, are associated with the moon and water. This makes them very feminine in nature, and conducive to connecting with the goddess.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Intro to Pearls - History

The pearl is unique among all other gemstones in the world. It is the only gem that is grown inside a living organism.

Cartier & Co. traded two strands of pearls for a magnificent building on New York's Fifth Avenue in 1916.

Commoners were once prohibited from wearing pearls. From the 13th to the 16th centuries, only European royalty could wear pearls.

Christopher Columbus was convinced he had discovered Japan when he found Indians in the New World wearing pearls.

Pearls were favorites of English royalty. Many of their gowns were studded extensively with pearls.

Marie Antoinette designed a coffee cup using pearls. Since pearls are considered to be the most feminine of gems, Marie Antoinette's choice to use pearls is very much in style of a woman who reverently sought femininity.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another thank you!

This is to honor another "Etsy Angel" who helped me learn my way around the Internet better today, (I thought I already knew how to, but it's now obvious that I don't).

Her Shop is Cotton Colors, (love that name too!), and this is her Serenity Bird 2 - Pillow Cover. It's so cheery!

Please visit Cotton Color's shop at:
Cotton Colors:

Setting Sun, Rising Moon

I apologize for not blogging as often as I should. My ongoing struggles to master this blog have almost gotten the better of me. I've been wanting to post a series on "Pearls", and needed some nice photos to accompany them. As a visual person, I love photos, and think lots of them give a blog the needed impact. In a plea of desperation, I sought help on the Etsy forums, and sopme nice people came to my rescue. I discovered some nice shops in the process, and wanted to share some nice discoveries .
Thank you, PeriwinklePaisley, for bringing sunshine into my world today! Don't you just love her name?!!

This work is called "Setting Sun Rising Moon". It's a batik, one of my most beloved forms of fabric art!!

Please find PeriwinklePaisley's shop here:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pearl rope necklace and earrings

I've been working on a necklace and earring set for some time. It took time because I've been buying the supplies as I needed them. Being rather new to jewelry making, I neither have a large inventory, nor deep enough pockets on which to build one.

The whole process of putting together a project is sort of an adventure for me. There's something to be said for not rushing things, because I get a sense of satisfaction of letting a project "speak" to me as it's being made. This said that it wanted to be very soft and feminine. I listed the necklace in my shops yesterday and will be posting the matching earrings today.

Materials - Pink/peach biwa pearls, ivory freshwater pearls, assorted clear and ruby colored AB cone, tube, and seed beads, sterling silver wires, beads and clasp.

Hope you like them!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Crochet stitching techniques, problems, and chaning colors

Here are a few miscellaneous tips on problems, stitching techniques, and changing yarn colors within a project. Again, there are easy to follow illustration this page:
Difficulty pulling hook through loops (Split stitches)
It is easier to pull yarn through loops if the hook is turned slightly down with yarn pulled firmly around the hook. The yarn must be loosened after each stitch is made.

Turning chains - what are they and do they count as a stitch
Turning chains are the number of chain stitches worked at the end of a row to achieve the required height for the next row.

Working Under Front, Back or Both Loop(s)
Generally a crochet stitch is made by slipping the hook under the top two loops of a stitch, but some patterns will say to insert the hook through the back or front loop only. This creates a ridge or horizontal bar across the row. See Crochet Abbreviations for working into the front or back loops.

Working around the post
Post refers to the stitch below the row being working. You literally circle the post of the crochet stitch below, either from the front and out again or from the back and out again and then work the stitch as usual. This produces a raised effect.

Changing yarn colors or starting a new ball or skein of yarn
If you are simply joining a new ball or skein of yarn in the same color, it's best to do it at the beginning of a row because it is easier to hide the tail of the yarn. Simply wrap the new yarn around the hook and draw up a loop and continue crocheting. Leave a 6" long tail of yarn to, tie a loose knot to hold the yarn in place. When you complete your project, untie the knot and weave in the ends. This also applies when you have to change yarn in the middle of a row.
When a pattern says to change colors, it is made this way: Work the last stitch to final two loops on the hook, draw up a loop with the new color and complete the stitch. If you are following a color chart or crocheting a multicolor pattern, yarn can be carried along the back of the work if the repeat is fairly close together. If yarn is carried more than 3 or 4 stitches, carried yarn should be caught into the work every 2 or 3 stitches.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Finishing off (seaming garments and projects)

Here are the common methods of creating seams on finished projects. Again, please refer to the following website for easy to follow illustrations.
Finishing & Blocking
Finishing refers to seaming the garment pieces together (see Joining Seams) and weaving in yarn ends (see below). Blocking the garment evens out stitches, flattens your seams and gives the garment a more professional appearance.

Follow the yarn label for the manufacturer's directions. When a yarn label says to machine wash and dry, it usually means the yarn has "memory," i.e., machine washing and drying will restore the original shape.

Some yarns require different methods of blocking such as wet blocking or steaming. For wet blocking, hand wash or dampen the garment, squeezing out as much moisture as possible by wrapping in a towel or a short machine spin. With the whole garment supported, lay it on a flat surface to dry. If steaming, keep the iron or steamer at least a half inch above the garment on the wrong side. Lay the garment flat to dry thoroughly, as it can be warped or misshapen when damp.

Joining seams (Invisible Weaving, also called Mattress Stitch, Backstitch, Slip Stitch)

There are several ways to seam in crochet. Regardless of what method you use, be sure not to pull the seaming thread too tight or the seam will pucker. If your project is made with a very textured yarn, which will be difficult to pull through the loops, you might consider using a smooth yarn in a matching color.

The most common method of weaving two seams together is called invisible weaving or mattress stitch, which is also called invisible weaving. Place your project on a flat surface with right sides facing you and with matching yarn. Thread a blunt-point yarn needle. Beginning at the hem edge, secure yarn through both sides. With the needle pointing up, pick up the first stitch, leaving yarn loose; go to the opposite piece and pick up the corresponding row. Continue working back and forth. Every three or four stitches tighten yarn in seam. Be sure the yarn is tight enough to disappear, but not enough to shorten or pucker the seam.

Backstitch is another method of seaming but it creates a bulkier seam. Holding the right sides of your project together, thread a blunt-pointed yarn needle with matching yarn. Beginning at the hem edge close to the edge, secure yarn through both sides. Come up through the fabric at point A, make a stitch backwards and come up at point beyond where you made the first stitch. Match backstitch size with crochet stitch size.

Slip Stitch is another method but it also creates a bulky seam. Make a slip knot at end of the yarn. With right sides together, put hook under both bound off edges, catching the slip knot and pull through both pieces of fabric. Insert hook under the next stitches; pull through all loops on the hook. Continue until seam is complete. This is an excellent stitch for afghan square assembly.

Overcast is another method, but also creates a bulkier seam. With blunt-pointed needle and matching yarn, place right sides together and insert needle back to front, bringing the needle over the edge. Insert needle back to front again catching only one or two strands from each edge. Continue in this manner.

Weaving in Yarn Ends
At the completion of a project, weaving in any yarn ends is necessary for neatness and to prolong wear. With the wrong side facing, thread a blunt-pointed needle with the end of the yarn. Carefully weave the needle along the back of the stitches about 2 to 3 inches on a diagonal, gently pulling the yarn end. Weave the other yarn end in the opposite direction. When finished, gently stretch the fabric in all directions so the fabric does not pull. Trim excess yarn ends.

Tomorrow - changing yarn colors and Miscellaneous crochet tips

Friday, March 20, 2009

Crochet - decreasing and increasing

With most projects, you'll need to increase, decrease, or probably both, to create shape in whatever it is you're making. It's very easy, as you'll see below. Again, please refer to the following site for illustrations on where to put your hook when decreasing and increasing:

I'd love to hear how you're doing learning your new craft!!

The simplest decrease is to skip a stitch, but it can leave a hole in the work. To avoid that, in single crochet, insert the hook in the next stitch, yarn over and pull yarn through. Instead of completing the single crochet, insert hook into the next stitch, yarn over and pull through so there are three loops on the hook. Yarn over and pull yarn through all 3 loops to make 1 decrease.
In double crochet, work the first double crochet until only 2 loops are on the hook. Yarn over, insert hook in the next stitch, yarn over and pull through stitch (3 loops on hook). Yarn over and pull through 2 loops, then yarn over and pull yarn through all 3 loops to complete a decrease.

To increase, simply make two stitches in one stitch.

Tomorrow - joining seams, changing colors, and other troubleshooting tips.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What can go wrong with crochet results

Using the crazy shell stitch, (or any other stitch that you like and have mastered), how about making up a "practice" scarf, of if you have some COTTON yarn, a small dishcloth as your first project? For these items, all you have to do is to make a square or rectangle, stopping when you find the size to be about right.

At first, almost all beginner crocheters find that their work edges are uneven - wider in some areas and narrower in others. You may even find some other inconsistencies of which there seems no explanation. I found a great site that covers most of the common mistakes that can lead to a less than perfect finished product. As you practice, you will find that your work is increasingly even and smooth if you use the following tips. Remember to count the stitches in every row periodically to see if you are maintaining the required number of stitches. One of the reasons I like crochet is that it's easy to rip out and start again, and you never have to worry about picking up dropped stitches, as in knitting.

As taken from:

Edge of foundation row puckers
If the foundation row is tight, the crocheted fabric may pucker. A tight foundation row in a hemline and sleeve makes edges that are tight and uncomfortable. To avoid this problem, crochet experts suggest using a larger size hook and then switching to the recommended hook size. Chaining very loosely will also solve the problem.

Extra stitches - where did they come from?
Most errors occur at the beginning and end of a row. Check the directions. For single crochet, work the first stitch in the row in the first stitch of the row below. Work the last stitch in the last stitch of the single crochet in the row below. For double crochet, work the first stitch in the second stitch of the row below. Work the last stitch in the turn chain. At the end of each row count stitches to be sure it is the number required.
Extra stitches can result when two stitches are made in one, which is particularly easy to do with textured yarns because it is harder to see the actual stitch.

Missing some stitches - where did they go?
If your crocheting keeps getting narrower, it means you are not crocheting into every stitch in a row. Remember, for single crochet, work the first stitch in the row in the first stitch of the row below. Work the last stitch in the last stitch of the single crochet in the row below. For double crochet, work the first stitch in the second stitch of the row below. Work the last stitch in the turn chain. Count stitches frequently.
It is also easy to miss a stitch within a row, especially when using a textured yarn where it is harder to see the actual stitch.

Uneven edges
Usually crooked edges are the result of adding extra or skipping stitches. Most frequently, this happens at the end of a row, which is why it's helpful to regularly count your stitches.
If you find you have added or subtracted a stitch try to go back and see where you made the mistake. If it's in the row you are crocheting, simply rip back and correct it. If it was made several rows below, then you have to make a choice-rip back to the point, add or subtract a stitch on the current row or if it is not critical to the design of your project, just continue.
Working single crochet around the edge of a finished garment gives a smooth look.

Tomorrow - learning to decrease and increase...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crochet abbreviations and pattern instructions

Yo, insert hook in st, yo, pull through st, yo, pull through 2 lps on hook, (yo, insert hook in same st, yo, pull through st, yo, pull through 2 lps on hook) 3 times, yo, pull through all 5 lps on hook, ch 1.

Looks like another language, doesn't it?! Actually it's the written version of the basic double crochet you learned earlier with the video tutorial! Pattern instructions look very confusing and intimidating to the first time observer.

For those who cannot copy a piece of crochet work visually, one needs to know how to follow basic pattern instructions to learn new stich patterns or to create something using crochet. The many different crochet stitches are merely different and various combinations of single, double, or triple crochet, etc., but grouped together different ways to achieve the finished result. Using different materials and hook sizes also affect the end result, but that's a topic for another post.

There are many good books and Internet illustrations for learning various stitches, and if a certain stitch appeals to you, practice and master it, and from there you can make a basic scarf, sans a formal pattern. You can click on the following link for instructions on how to work a variant of the "shell stitch", also known there as the brick stitch:

The next step is to figure out how to make sense of the symbols and abbreviations used in pattern instructions. I wish I could say that there is a standard for crochet pattern instructions, but there doesn't seem to be. Some patterns use stars for pattern repeats, others brackets, others use parentheses, and so forth. Eventually you'll get the hang of it.

Here is the list of terms and abbreviations used in crochet patterns, listed in alphabetical order, as referenced from the following site - an excellent source for crochet, knitting, and more! Please see the Crochet Dictionary on this site for additional information including definitions of terms and pictures.

First special marks

Symbol Description
[ ]
( )

Sets off instructions that are to be repeated within a pattern
example: [dc, sk 2 ch, sc] across
That means you would repeat the stitches specified within the brackets across the row in that order.

A pattern might also use both parentheses and brackets
example: [2 dc in next st, (dc, sk 2 ch, sc) four times] across.
This means that you would work 2 double crochet in the next stitch, then you would work a dc, sk 2 ch, sc, dc, sk 2 ch, sc, dc, sk 2 ch, sc, dc, sk 2 ch, sc. Then you would start over - 2 dc in next st, then the repeating (dc, sk 2 ch, sc). Each time you go back to the 2dc at the beginning because it is included in the repeat.

* the asterisk will be placed in front of the stitches that need to be repeated.
Example: *dc, sk 2 ch, sc, repeat from * four times

* * one asterisk will appear at the beginning of the instructions to be repeated and one at the end
Example: *dc, sk 2 ch, sc *, repeat from * to * four times

" inch(es)


alt alternate
approx approximately
beg begin, beginning
bet between
BLO back loop only
bo bobbleBP = back post
BPdc = back post double crochet
CC contrasting color
ch chain stitch
CL cluster
cont continue
dbl double
dc double crochet
dc2tog double crochet 2 stitches together
dtr or dbl tr double triple
dec decrease
dir directions
dk dark
DNT/dnt do not turn
dtr or dbl tr = double triple
ea each
ex sc extended single crochet
fig = figure 1 (picture of stitch)
FLO = front loop only
FP = front post
FPdc = front post double crochet
fig = figure 1 (picture of stitch)
fo = finish off
foll = following
gm or gr = grams
gr = group
hdc = half double crochet
hk = hook
htr = half triple crochet
in = inch
inc = increase
incl = including
inst = instructions
lp(s) = loop(s)
lsc long single crochet
lt = light
MC = main color
med = medium
mm = millimeter
no. = number
oz(s) = ounce
p picot pat or patt pattern stitch
pat st = pattern stitch
pc st = popcorn stitch (also pop, pc, ps)
pm place marker
prev = previous
rem = remaining
rep = repeat
rnd(s) round(s)
rs = right side
rsc reverse single crochet
sc = single crochet
sc2tog single crochet 2 together
sk = skip
sl st = slip stitch
sp(s) space(s)
st(s) stitch(es)
tch = turning chain
tog = together
tr = triple (treble) crochet
x times = (such as repeat 5x)
ws = wrong side
yo = yarn over
yoh yarn over hook

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nemaste's Whimsical Wonder.

I'm happy to feature the work of one of my followers who magically and mysteriously found my blog. When I started blogging, I though no one would ever be interested in what I had to say, so thank you all! I hope to eventually feature each and every one of you, so please stay tuned!

The themes of Nemaste's work is Asian/Oriental, and her creations are vivid and happy. One of this artists favorites, and one that puts a smile on my face is a "Whimsical Wonder" called "Mommy Bat Baby Bat". This necklace features a cute carved wooden bead pendant hung on a string of red fresh water pearls, both smooth and laser faceted, large black fresh water pearls, and Swarovski crystals. The necklace comes with coordinating earrings for sale at the Etsy shop.

I hope you'll browse Nemaste's shop and blog to see more:

Friday, March 13, 2009

New earrings

I posted these earrings earlier this week. I can't decide whether they remind me of seashells or calla lilies. What do you think? They can be purchased at any of my marketing sites. (see profile)

Wishing everyone a good weekend!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Etsy Marketing has featured an article on me!

Right after I starting posting the crochet video series, I announced it on the Etsy forums. I had met folks there who were anxious to learn crochet, and I thought a video tutorial was the next best thing to learning in a real classroom situation.

Anyway, Etsymarketing.ortg contacted me, and asked me to write an article about vlogging, (using videos for teaching purposes on personal blogs). You can view the article by clicking in the black, white and gray box entitled "Featured Author Etsy Marketing" in the sidebar, or click on the followign link that will also take you to the page:

Stay tuned for more updates, and thank you all for your support!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Crochet 101 - Stitch & Hook Placement Close Up Details

Before I get into pattern instructions, I thought it would be best review what we've learned so far. When I first learned crochet, one of the things that always confused me was where I was supposed to be inserting my hook.

Actually, there is really no *one* right or wrong way, and it actually depends on a couple of things. First of all, often the pattern instructions will dictate where the hook is to be inserted, and if you are crocheting without a pattern, you are completely free to choose whatever you wish to achieve the final look of your project.

Generally, inserting the hook in only one loop of the previous row, will result in a horizontal "bar" across the work in that row, and on one side of the finished work. Inserting the hook in both stitches will usually eliminate that bar.

Experiment with different techniques, and see which you like best. Again,the appearance of the finished effect will determine your hook placement.


Used with permission and with appreciation to Teresa.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Today we will learn how to do Quadruple Crochet (qc).


Used with permission and with appreciation to Teresa.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Crochet 101 - TRIPLE CROCHET

Today you will learn how to do Triple Crochet (tc). It's also called treble crochet, and the terms are used interchangeably.

Crochet 101 - TRIPLE CROCHET

Used with permission and with appreciation to Teresa.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Crochet 101 - DOUBLE CROCHET

Today you will learn how to do Double Crochet (dc). It's really not that much different than half double crochet.


Used with permission and with appreciation to Teresa.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Crochet 101 - Half Double Crochet

Today you are learning to do Half Double crochet (hdc)!


Used with permission and with appreciation to Teresa.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Crochet 101 - Single Crochet

Today we will learn how to single crochet (sc).
Have fun!

Crochet 101 - SINGLE CROCHET

Used with permission and with appreciation to Teresa.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Crochet 101 - slip stitch

Now that we've covered the basic slip knot and chain, it's time to move on to the very simple slip stitch. In pattern instructions, this can be noted as "sl st".

I don't think I mentioned this, nor was it covered in the tutorial, but some may be wondering what the best way to hold the thread and finished when crocheting. For right handers, it works best to hold the chain, (or finished work, when you're far enough to have something to hold onto), between the thumb and first and/or second fingers, or even the whole hand, while threading the yarn or thread through the rest of the fingers on the left hand. It will be the opposite for lefties. With time and practice, everyone will find what is the most comfortable for them, and what works the best. Whatever works for you should be relaxing, not tense and awkward. Remember, this is supposed to be relaxing!

Also, the more you work, the more you'll find the proper tension when it comes to holding your yarn. "Tension" is how much and how hard the thread is pulled as the crochet stitches are being formed, and how tight the stitches will be when finished. If pulled too tight, the stitches will be more tightly formed, and the opposite when less tension is used.

With that said, here's the tutorial on creating the slip stitch. Have fun!

Crochet 101 - SLIP STITCH

Used with permission and with appreciation to Teresa.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Crochet 101 - Learning how to crochet the chain stitch

It used to be that crochet was the red-headed stepchild of the needlecraft world, not being given much regard by other needle artists. And, although most people in the US consider any form of needlework a persuit of women, any form of lacemaking and needlework were only enjoyed by men until the most recently centuries! But, that's a discussion for another post.

Crochet is currently enjoying an increase in popularity, and some folks are very interested in learning more about it. I feel the best way to learn is to watch someone actually with hook and yarn - somehow the printed illustrations have always been confusing to me. I was taught to crochet by my Grandmother, (who never worked with instructions), but not everyone knows someone who can teach them.

There are a lot of books and instructions in bookstores and on the Internet about learning crochet. The majority is in the form of written illustrations. Not only was I very fortunate to come across a site that not only has video tutorials, including LEFT-HANDEd instructions, but also one in which the kind webmistress has given me permission to use her video on my blog!! For those who already know how to crochet and are interested in learning more, her blog has several video tutorials that can help you, (notations below).

I will be posting more crochet references in the future, but for now, for those who just want to learn how to "chain", (the basic stitch in crochet), here's a great tutorial.

You'll need:

Yarn - basic, inexpensive yarn is all you need - you'll be ripping and re-hooking a lot, and eventually the yarn will get frayed. Remember whatever yarn you select is just for practice, so it can be any color. Just get regular yarn - novelty and eyelash yarn is sometimes challenging for even the most seasoned crocheter, so please avoid those yarns, at least for now.Text Color

Scissors - preferably sewing scissors that are made for cutting fabric and yarn. If you have embroidery scissors, they are perfect.

A crochet hook - Hooks come in many different materials, such as metal, plastic, wood, and so forth. They also come in different lengths. For beginners, it works best to use a basic, short hook. Hooks are available in many sizes, from teeny-tiny, (for fine lace), to very large sized used to make novelty items. For beginners, size J, K or M are good sizes for beginning crocheters.

That's it. Find a comfortable chair and in a place with good lighting, and practice away!

Crochet 101 - CHAIN

With heartfelt thanks and great appreciation to Teresa at: