Monday, May 30, 2011

Baby Baptism Embroidery Gift

This past weekend marked a special occasion in our family - the baptism of our nephew! To commemorate the event, I embroidered a shell and the date on muslin. I'm trying to decide if I want to frame it with his photo or create blocks for baby's first year quilt. I could embroider a baby shoe and the date for his first steps and some curly hair and the date of his first haircut. What to do, what to do?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cotton Crochet in the Round for Summer

I've mentioned before that I love road trips and the chance to do a lot of crochet. These are three projects I've made in the car, no pattern, no reading required. Just cotton yarn and a hook. Also, a drink bottle or soda can helps for gauge.

One of my favorite cotton yarns is Cotton Tots. It doesn't split, it's sturdy and feels so rich and thick worked up. When I learned to crochet, one of the first projects I made were baby wash cloths with this yarn, yummy.

These can cozies and drink bottle covers were just crocheted in the round. I used the net stitch for the bottle cover with a chain three.

The coasters were made with Sugar and Cream tweed yarn. The coaster holder is just a coaster with decreasing rows to make the sides. My mom showed me how to add the edge by doing a front post stitch for the last row of the coaster. We use these all over the house and I need to make more when we hit the road this summer.

Hope this inspires you to pick up your hook this summer! These make great gifts, too!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Using Google Keyword Search to Increase Blog Traffic

Sometimes my day job spills over into my hobby pursuits ...

If you blog, you’re probably interested in getting more readers. Ever wonder what search terms are most commonly used to find more info about your area of expertise? I read an interesting article about tweaking blog posts to get higher Google search result placement on ProBlogger. Basically, you can use Google’s Keyword Search Tool to find you which words are being used to find websites and blogs like yours. By tweaking your posts slightly to use most-used search terms, you can increase traffic because your website will come up higher in the list of search results in Google.

Using my own blog as an example, I searched for “crochet” and got these results:

So I learned people are searching for crochet patterns, versus crochet tutorials or crochet directions. I could tweak a tutorial title or content, for example, to include “pattern” to get higher search result placement. Looking further down the list, “free” patterns and “baby” patterns and “how to crochet” are also common search terms for crochet. Do I have something to offer in these areas that would attract new readers? I’m reminded looking at this list that I never wrote a post about my new nephew’s teddy bear hat project.

You can also use the Google Analytics tool to see what keywords brought people to your blog. (If you’re not using Google Analytics, visit this link if you’d like to learn more.

Also, in the Blogger dashboard under Stats>Traffic Sources, you can view the keywords used to find your site:

There is a fine line between using keywords to dictate your content versus to focus and refine it. If I only followed a keyword strategy to create content, whether I was interested in a certain subject or not, it would backfire. But if I use Google Keyword Search and other tools available, to discover which topics my audience is interested in and choose the words that get them to my blog, I can increase readership.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How do you choose crochet project colors?

My crochet Japanese flower motif is growing by leaps and bounds as I add two motifs a night. As I work with the colors of cotton yarn, there are just no bad color combinations. I've seen these amazing creations online and thought there was some magical formula for making it all turn out well. The only secret, that I can tell, is to buy colors you really love and get going. There are eight colors I'm using in this project that range from light pink, to dark purple to turquoise and tangerine. It does seem that there needs to be a balance between light, medium and dark hues but otherwise, it's all good! I try to mix up the color combinations and join the motifs together as I go so I don't have a project at the end of my project. (Hate that.) I've also been weaving in the ends with the next row so the color changes don't drive me crazy.

Making this motif shawl has turned on the light bulb for my gardening also. I've never just tried randomly mixing colors and types of plants in our planters. This spring, I just bought a bunch of flowers that were full-sun rated and mixed them in patterns I liked. It was so joyful to just plant and not try to control the outcome so much.

How do you choose colors for your projects? Do you use a certain color theory? Have you ever just gone with your gut reaction to choosing colors that "go together?"

Monday, May 09, 2011

Got Loopy with Mary Beth Temple and Crochet Giveaway!

It was very exciting to be Mary Beth Temple's BlogTalkRadio show, "Getting Loopy." I volunteered to be her guest after she put out the call on Twitter. Couldn't believe I had enough to say about crochet to fill 40 minutes but before I knew it, we were out of time. Thanks, Mary Beth for making me feel so relaxed and welcome!

Mary Beth is also doing a giveaway for a free cloche hat and fingerless glove set I crocheted to one lucky winner. Listen to the show for details and good luck!

Mary Beth Temple is published crochet and knit designer. You can find her patterns at

Listen to the show here:
Listen to internet radio with Mary Beth Temple on Blog Talk Radio

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Moms Who Rock the Hook

All my life, I have been surrounded by handmakers. This post salutes all the moms in my family who have created with crochet but I could easily do five more posts showcasing these same amazing ladies and their quilting and knitting.

This Crochet barbie dress was made by my mother when I was seven or eight years old. When I told her I was working to reproduce great-grandma's venetian lace collar, she said I was crazy. But look at the tiny stitches in this dress! This dress was taken on and off many a Barbie in the last 40 years, including my daughter's dolls. It's stood the test of time and wear and tear. I love the bright yellow thread she used and the sassy strapless pattern.

My grandma crocheted these flower trivets for Christmas this year. They are double layered and very thick for protecting tables and counter tops. She has always loved bright colors and combines them in unusual and wonderful ways. Grandma Marge also makes socks, slippers and all matter of useful objects.

Filet crochet is my Aunt Marlene's specialty. It boggles my mind to look at these stitches and the intricate pattern of this piece, which spells our last name and measures over 36 inches long. I cherish this special Christmas gift and think of my aunt every day.

My mother-in-law made this crochet bear for my son when he was a toddler. I think this was way before the amigurami craze. She passed away almost a decade ago and I regret not asking her more about her crochet projects. She also crocheted a beautiful broomstick lace afghan for our first house and we still cuddle under it on the couch. Her crochet is a lasting legacy for us.

My step mom crocheted this fun, granny square afghan as a Christmas gift for my daughter. I love her color choices and the yarn she used has withstood many washings and dryings. It is usually laying on the back of our sofa all winter and it is so cheery on a dreary day.

So here's to all the Moms who rock the hook! You inspire me every day as I appreciated you lasting gifts of crochet.
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