Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fun and Games - My new ebook is OUT!!!

It's rainy and cold, and I'm just getting over being sick, so of course that means that I've been without a voice for the last 3 days.  Thankfully, it's just a little cold because I let myself get run down, and not FULL BLOWN PLAGUE!!!  I'm kinda bummed that I've pretty much ensured my demise in the 12/21/12 Mayan-Zombiepocolypse, but maybe the survivors in a thousand years will unearth my computer, laugh at it's primitive technology and then use it as a wave skimmer... :D

But seriously, it is rainy and sad outside, and I really don't have a voice, but I'm not really bummed out.  Why?  Because my new book (you know, the one that I didn't tell you about... Oh, shoot.  Blog fail.) is available in the Kindle store!  And it's chock-full of awesome indoor games that are perfect for a day like today, when the weather just makes you want to stay inside with a warm mug of cocoa and chuck bean bags at your children... Or is that just me... Okay, so don't aim for their heads...

Click HERE to check it out!

There are other projects in it too!  In fact, there are 10 patterns for 7 different projects that I've never shown anyone before.  How's that for awesome?!  It's an all exclusive pattern book, only available through the Kindle store!

You'll get patterns for:
-Juggling Balls and Hackey Sacks
-A Travel Chess and Checkers set
-A Flying Disk (you know, an indoor Frisbee! Safe for all but the very-most-schmancy living rooms!  And yes, it flies awesome outdoors too!)
-Family Game Night Snack Mats (perfect for little snacks, clean up is as simple as throwing them in with your next load of kitchen laundry)
-Poker Chips
-A Foxtail (Hackey Sack with a long tail to hurl it LOOOOONG distances! Uh, not indoor safe.)
-A Bean Bag Target Game (and the bean bags can also be used as Hopscotch Markers!  Woot!)

But wait!  There's more!  (Heh, I feel like I'm selling Ginsu Knives here! Or that awesome knife that can cut through a soda can AND a tomato... Wait, that's Ginsu too, right?)  You CAN get my new amazing book today because you can't wait another minute to start making awesome holiday presents for, like, everyone you know, BUT if you wait until tomorrow, you can GET IT FOR FREE!!!!

Yep, you don't have to shell out $2.99 of your hard earned cash for all of these amazing patterns!  You're special!  You're a Dynamo, and that means something around here!!!  The free promotion is running all day TOMORROW (Friday, November 30th), from Midnight PST to 11:59pm PST. So grab it then!  Tell your friends and family!  Brag about your freebie on Facebook!  Remind your crafty co-workers that they don't need a Kindle ereader, the software is FREE for their computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones!!!  Share the love!!!  (And remind them to LIKE Crochet Dynamite on Facebook, and sign up for emails, so that they'll get notified in the future too!!!)

As with all of my books, this is an exciting experiment into the world of self-publishing, so if you'd like to review it on Amazon (so that other smart, creative, and beautiful crocheters like you can find it and come join us) I would love that.  Or, if you believe in the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" school of thought (thank you, by the way, that makes me love you more!) then would you be willing to shoot me an email at to tell me what I've done wrong?  I try every time to produce the absolutely highest quality books that I am capable of, so your input is extremely valuable!


Thank you to everyone who has sent me contact information for my new "Buy Finished Items" page!  I am currently working on it, and hopefully will have it ready to go this weekend!  Love, love, love and giant e-hugs to you all!
xo Jaime

Monday, November 26, 2012

A question for you Pro Crocheters...

Hi Dynamos!

Recently I've received a few different emails from people who want to commission me to do crochet projects.  They love my designs, and very sweetly ask if I'd make things for them.  I want to, but I'm a busy bee over here in Crochet Dynamite Central.

Now, I know that some of you have Etsy shops and are full time crocheters to support your families.  I LOVE that.  (btw, like I've told some of you before, if you want to use any of my designs, you're more than welcome to...) I was wondering what you guys thought about doing some sort of information exchange on the site, so that the people who needed crochet projects made could get in touch with the people who crochet for a living?  (my passion is designing and writing, and I just don't have the time or energy to get into the production side of the crochet world)

I was thinking about starting with a page dedicated to people who are selling items made from my designs (amongst their other items... I don't need you to be ALL Crochet Dynamite... LOL!!!!) so that I can direct interested paying customers your way.  What do you think?  Free advertising for you, and I don't have to feel bad that I just don't have the ability to make the items myself.  I would feel really good about it, because it breaks my heart to say no to anyone...

So is anyone interested in taking this community to the next level?  Email me directly ( if you want to be included in my list, and let me know if you have a shop that actually sells items from this site, or if you'd be willing to do special requests (even if you don't normally 'stock' my designs).    In the interest of sending all traffic your way, I'm going to take down my Sample Shop (its moderate success has been more stressful than I expected -- I'm just going back to donating everything...).

Anyone have an opinion?  Is there a better way to do this? You guys know I love to experiment...


... It looks like my new ebook, Crochet Dynamite: Fun and Games, is on track to come out this Friday as a Kindle exclusive...  It's my first book with ALL NEW PATTERNS that have not been published anywhere else!! (More experimenting!!)  I'm so excited by how awesome it's turned out, that it's going to be available for FREE for the first day... So mark your Google Calendars and tweet your friends!!  Friday, November 30th!!  Free!!  So if you haven't already, go download the free Kindle Reader for your computer, tablet, smart phone or other awesome techie device that lets you download apps.  So much free goodness, you won't want to miss it!!!
xo Jaime

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's about time!

So, I was on Facebook this morning (are we friends yet on Facebook? I'm Jaime Maraia on FB and you can also like the Crochet Dynamite page. Come find me!!!) where I saw the most amazing clock linked by KasalaInk, Ladyink Lankasirkus, Maarit Österman...

It's a knitting clock!!!  It knits as it goes around and after a year you have a scarf!  

Holy Schmow!!!  My clocks are seriously lazy.  They have never given me a gift beyond making sure that I am awoken in the morning by the most annoying noise in the world...

You can read a whole article about this clock HERE.  It's worth checking out just for the awesome pictures!!!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Butterfly Wings

It's getting cold around here!  We've had a very hot fall this year in SoCal, and it's lovely to have some brisk (and occasionally rainy) weather!  I'm absolutely loving it.

My friend Kristy does not share my enthusiam for our current chilly weather. She's been very concerned for the homeless community in our area, who do not have fluffy down slippers (like I do!) to wear when it gets freezing cold at night.  She's been on a crusade this month to collect as many scarves, hats, gloves, hand warmers, and coats as she possibly can so that she can distribute them to the homeless/motel families in our area, like her little friend Sofia:

Her goal is to collect 100 scarves to distribute this holiday season.  I designed a scarf pattern for her project.  If you'd like to crochet one (or two!) to send to her this holiday season, I know she'd really appreciate it.  And I would too!  You can click the "To Make a Crochet Donation" button over on the right to get my contact details.

abbreviations used:
ch - chain stitch
sc - single crochet
dc - double crochet
st - stitch

Butterfly Wings Scarf
5 oz skein of worsted weight yarn
Size I crochet hook
Yarn needle

ch 25
R1: 3 dc in 5th ch from hook, skip 3 ch,[ (sc in next st, ch 3, 3 dc) in next stitch, skip 3 ch,] 4 times, sc in last ch
R2-84: 4 ch, 3 dc in first st, skip 3 st, [(sc in next ch 3 space, ch 3, 3 dc in the same ch 3 space as the sc), skip 3 st] 4 times, sc in last st
R85: 1 ch, sc in each st and ch sp across (20 st)
Fasten off.  Weave in ends.

This pattern is really fun and it works up crazy fast (because you're crocheting into ch loops, not actual stitches).  One of the women that comes to the outreach breakfast even offered to pattern test it for me!  I had a lot of fun putting together a supplies kit for her!

If you'd like to crochet one (or two!) to send to her this holiday season, I know Kristy (and the families she helps) would really appreciate it.  And I would too!  You can click the "To Make a Crochet Donation" button over on the right to get my contact details.

You may have noticed that there was a little butterfly on Sofia's hat!  The butterflies are being so well received, and they're spreading a lot of smiles, especially with the kids!  I am so grateful to everyone that has helped us with this project!

Speaking of which:  Holy Schmow!  I got a package from Wendy in PA this week that knocked my socks off...

I will save you the eyestrain and just tell you that it's 66 butterflies!  Thank you, thank you, thank you Wendy!!!

**Hey, as a little side note, if you have a local charity that you donate to and you'd rather donate a Butterfly Wings scarf (or two!) to them, Kristy and I don't mind at all.  I would love it if you wanted to send me an email so that I can add your donation to our list of items donated though, because we're trying to keep a count...  Also, this scarf is super cute, so you don't have to just make it for charity, you'll want to make a couple for gifts this year too!!!**

Kristy and Sofia say THANK YOU!!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Amazing donations...

This week has been hectic, full of highs and lows.  My grandma was getting better, walking like a champ and feeling perky, and then yesterday was unable to walk on her own.  It's so hard to see someone you love feeling sick and in pain.  If she's not better today, we're going to have to go back to see her doctor.

But on a super bright note, I got a chance to run by my mailbox and discovered TWO amazing packages in it!!!!  Holy cats!  There were so many butterflies!!!!

A very special THANK YOU goes to Teeni and Edith for their amazing donations.  There were over three dozen butterflies all together, which should keep Kristy in butterflies for at least a month!  I am overwhelmed and humbled by your generosity.

And thank you, Dynamos, for your wonderful comments full of love and support for my family, both here on the blog, and on Facebook.  You guys are my happy thought today.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cloud Atlas and an open letter to Kym Barrett

This weekend was LOOOOOONG.  We were pretty much tied to the house, which meant that I got quite a bit of crocheting done, and Mims and Jake went stir-crazy.  As a family that usually crams as much activity as humanly possible into our weekends, it was pretty rough.  But my grandma got up and walked twice yesterday, so maybe this won't be for too much longer.

My parents came by on Sunday and watched both of my 'girls' so that Jake and I could go see Cloud Atlas.  I wasn't interested in seeing it (3 hours of weird make-up, and like 6 different story lines...) until Jake showed me this picture:

...and then I had to see it, because I had to get a better look at that crochet hooded poncho.  And it was spectacular, as was everything else in the village.  It was a fiber artist's dream!  I actually went home and tried to find out who the crochet (and knit, part of it was knit too) artist was that had done all of the work for the nomadic tribe in that section of the movie.  After a tremendous amount of google searching (lol, Eliz!) I discovered an article that briefly mentioned that Kym Barrett (who also worked with the Wachowskis on The Matrix) had trolled the internet chat boards to find crochet and macrame artists to make the pieces.  Holy cats! How amazing is that?! Excuse me for a mome, I've got to go write a letter...

Dear Ms. Barrett,
Please let me crochet for your next film project.
Thank you,
Jaime Crochet Dynamite Maraia

(You can read the whole article HERE if you're interested, but it's mostly about a costume exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Interesting!)

I enjoyed the movie, but I'm hesitant to say whether you'll enjoy the movie as well.  It was challenging to suspend my disbelief, and Jake and I whispered through the whole thing as we attempted to recognize the actors in their various incarnations (sorry, fellow moviegoers.  At least we weren't the ones with the yelling toddler...)  It was a beautiful message, told in a strange (and strangely beautiful) way.  And it had a LOT of really beautiful crochet...


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday School: How to be Famous!

Good morning!  Welcome to Sunday School!  Today I wanted to share some of the awesome resources that I use on a daily basis to keep Crochet Dynamite moving forward.  These are the small business tools and resources that I have used (and am still using!) to make my site grow!  I know that quite a few of you Dynamos have small businesses and blogs, so I just thought I'd pass on some of the best tools that I've found so far...

I suppose you're wondering when Oprah, The Super Friends, Queen Elizabeth II, Liberace, Justin Bieber and I were all hanging out.  Well, it was at our book club last Tuesday, if you must know...

Okay, I'll admit, that picture is pretty ridiculous, but according to Derek Halpern at that's all it takes to inspire other people to think you're more famous (and, surprisingly, give you business cred) than you actually are (although you probably shouldn't just grab random people like I did, and he does suggest interviewing them and asking their permission... LOL!!!).  If you aren't familiar with, it's an amazing resource filled with marketing research and how to use it to your advantage, whether you want more readers or more sales conversions, or more fame...

While I'm talking about that ridiculous collage, I should also mention my favorite photo editing site,  It's simple and intuitive.  I can edit my pictures, including airbrushing and teeth whitening (not that I need any of that), re-size them so the files are nice and small, and collage them to make myself laugh...

(Once again, not a celebrity endorsement of Crochet Dynamite... Just Jaime goofing around with photo editing software, and my favorite of the Ryan Gosling 'Hey Girl' pictures...)

Karen Gunton's site,, is chock full of real-life advice for us tiny business owners. The information that she shares is informative without being intimidating.  She really understands the areas that those of us that are small now, but have big dreams, need support in.  I look forward to her weekly email 'Toolbox' which is an awesome collection of small biz tips, ideas, and inspiration...

Startup Princess is another great resource for women entrepreneurs.  It's a coaching buisness, but there is a ton of useful information on the magazine-style site.  I watched an interview with Michelle McCullough a couple of months ago and found her so inspiring.  The site has a lot of information about social networking and building your brand, and it's a great place to find a business mentor (if you're interested in that sort of thing).

Okay, enough business, I've got to send you over to this week's Hot Crochet Link Love over at Crochet Concupiscence (if you haven't seen it already!). My Heart Trivet pattern is linked, but really you should go because Kathryn always finds the greatest articles, so even if I wasn't included I'd send you over there...

And a giant THANK YOU!!!! and many, many e-hugs to everyone who has bought my books this week, sent in crochet donations, or wrote to me comments to let me know that you're keeping my family in your prayers.   It was a very close call with my grandma this week, and while she's not completely out of the woods yet, the antibiotics seem to be working and we have hope that she'll be able to be up and walking in a few more days. 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!  My love and best wishes go out to all of our veterans and those that are actively serving (and a little extra love to my active duty cousin!).


Friday, November 9, 2012

Gratitude 'Stones'

I am not naturally a positive person.  It's hard to believe, I know, but it's the truth.  It's through a great deal of determination and practice that I've learned to see the bright side in life challenges.

At my core, I am a worrier.  It's been said that worrying is like praying for what you don't want.  I have enough life experience to know that while that's not exactly my truth, worrying has never done as much for me as trying to find something positive in my situation.

This week has been extremely challenging in my personal life.  My grandma got very, very sick and I've been her full-time caregiver.  Usually we happily co-exist in our home, and she doesn't need much help beyond fixing her meals and doing her laundry.  By me providing full time care for her means that Jake has had to take Mims to school, and break up his sleep into two sections.  And someone has to be at home all the time, so we can't go out as a family, even if it's just to run errands.  It's been hard to find happy thoughts this week.

So I made us some Gratitude Stones.  If you're not familiar with them, they're a tiny reminder to be grateful for what your life has been blessed with.  You carry one in your pocket, and every time you put your hand in your pocket and find it throughout your day you take a moment to be grateful for all of the good things in your life.

It works.  I discovered that while I was sad with our situation, and worried about my grandma and her future, I could choose to be grateful that I got the opportunity to help her, and that I had such a wonderful family that were willing to pick up some of my responsibilities while I was so busy. While it didn't make my life any easier, it made me feel better about my life, and that made me happier.  Jake used his and found it easier to maneuver difficult situations at his job.  And Mims found that hers made a really cool hopscotch marker.

Gratitude Stones
Embroidery floss (don't separate it, we're going to use all 6 strands)
Size C hook (I like Susan Bates hooks for working with embroidery floss)
Tapestry needle
Poly-pellets (very small amount!)

ch 15, sl st to first ch to form a ring (be careful not to twist stitches)
R1: ch 1, sc in each ch around, sl st to first sc to close round (15 st)
R2-8: ch 1, sc in each st around, sl st to first sc to close round (15 st)
Fasten off.

**Note:  If you want to make yours like I made mine, I changed colors at R2, R4, R6, and R8.  The rainbow 'stone' I changed color at every row (it's only 7 rows too, because I wanted mine to be Roy G. Biv accurate)**

If you make a bunch, your family might be snarky and ask you if you were crocheting all of the missing fingers from your fingerless gloves...

Whipstitch one of the open sides closed.  It will now look like a finger beanie.  Weave in the ends and let your daughter do a finger puppet show.  Then realize that the sun is starting to go down and if you want to get the pictures taken you need to get the finger beanies back...  But, uh, don't make her cry...

Remember that giant bag of Poly-pellets that I made you get for the hopscotch markers last month. Go get it and use another 15 pellets to fill your tiny bag... (it might take more than 15, I was just being sassy...)

I like to pinch my 'stones' closed the other way, so instead of getting a little square packet, you get a funky triangular shaped beanbag.  That's just me, though, you don't have to make yours triangular. 

Whipstitch the open side of the bag closed.  Make your stitches nice and close so that you don't lose your pellets on your daily travels.

The finished gratitude stones.  They're tiny.  They're fun to carry.  They didn't even make a dent in your poly-pellet stash.  But don't worry, I've got a holiday project that will use at least another ounce of poly-pellets next week...  We'll use it up!  I promise!

My grandma seems to be doing better today, and seems to have gotten past the worst of the illness.  It's still going to be a while before she's back to her regular self, but that's okay, I'm grateful for how far she's already come.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Heart Trivet

Thanksgiving is coming.  I'm making trivets...

Heart Trivet
approximately 8" across
Worsted weight 100% cotton yarn (I used Bernat Handicrafter in Robin's Egg)
Size H hook
Yarn needle

Outer Heart:
ch 82
R1: dc in 3rd ch from hook, dc in each ch across (80 st)
R2-6: dc in each st across (80 st)
Fasten off.  Weave in ends.

Inner Swirl:
ch 32

R1: dc in 3rd ch from hook, dc in each ch across (80 st)
R2-5: dc in each st across (80 st)
Fasten off.  Weave in ends.

To assemble:

Start by rolling the outer heart piece up into a long skinny roll (just like we did with the Bun Shaper).

You can whipstitch it together to keep it from unrolling, or you can slip stitch the loose end to the roll.  As long as the roll is tight we're good!

You can roll in the ends of the long tube to make the top part of the heart.  Curl the ends to the center so they kinda look like a cinnamon roll and then tack them in place.  In the picture the top center of the heart looks tacked together too, but it isn't.  Don't tack it in the center yet!  (we'll do that later)

Now grab your Inner Swirl piece!

Roll it up and whipstitch it together like you did with the Outer Heart piece.  Roll it up into a teardrop shape.  Tack it in place so it doesn't unroll.

Slip the teardrop-shaped Inner Swirl piece into the center of the Outer Heart piece so that it fills in the open gap in the heart.  Adjust the swirls so that they look good.  When you're happy with how they look, grab your yarn and yarn needle and sew everything together (on the back side so it doesn't show!).  Stitch it really well so it doesn't fall apart!  When you're done, shake it around a little to make sure that it's really, really sewn together.

Weave in the ends, and you're done!  Grab a pot and try it out!


Monday, November 5, 2012

A vist to the Museum

Oh my goodness, Dynamos, I had an adventure this weekend!  It was supposed to be a quick trip up to a museum on the USC campus in the hopes that I could find some contemporary art featuring crochet.  We actually made it up to the campus in record time, in fact, we got there about an hour before the USC Fisher Museum of Art was even supposed to open.  But, this wouldn't be a very good story if we found parking and wandered around the gorgeous campus for an hour feeling smug and happy...

I am not a sports gal, and I'm not married to a sports guy.  My 91-year-old grandma knows more about what's going on in the sports world than we do (SHE is a sports gal. Go Angels!  Go Lakers!). I should have asked her if there was anything going on this weekend up at the LA Colosseum.  So, oblivious to the fact that there was a HUGE football game (USC vs Oregon) happening last Saturday, we made our way up to LA...

This was the cheapest parking that we could find anywhere near the campus!  Most of the parking was $60, which was a great deal if you were going to the game and were spending the day up there.  We only needed our parking place for a half hour... So $40-60 was a little pricey for us...  Surely we would be able to find parking elsewhere.  We noticed that the Metro Line had a station right in front of the museum. Hmm, if we could find a place to park near a Metro station, we could just park and ride the Metro in!  Brilliant!  So we set off in search of a place to park far away from the Colosseum and near a Metro station.

When you drive 1/2 mile the neighborhood begins to look like this.  There are bars on all of the windows and fences around every parking lot.  It did not inspire confidence...  Besides, we had now gotten just far enough away that the Metro lines were now underground, which made it impossible to know if we were getting closer to a station or further away.  Jake finally decided that we'd better just go to Union Station and figure it out from there.

Getting to Union Station was a whole mess in itself.  We are suburban.  We are Orange County.  We live literally in the heart of Disney country.  We don't go up to LA unless Rachel Rizner and the Resonators are playing, so all of this was completely foreign to us.  And we got LOOOOOOST!

A couple of years ago Jake got really into the Amazing Race and made me watch, like, 8 seasons of the show with him.  He has been convinced that we should go on the show ever since.  I always told him that I didn't want to go, because we would be the couple that would spend the whole time bickering in the car over where to go, and that somehow they would edit the bickering to make me look whiney and mean.  Well, I can say for certain now that when we do get that opportunity, absolutely we will bicker in the car because I hate the way he drives, but it will be HILARIOUS because it never got mean.  And we found French General, which we never would have found if we hadn't gotten all turned around and lost.

I wish I could have taken a picture of the inside.  It was like Willy Wonka's Craft Shop filled with everything beautiful in the world.  Go check it out online!  It wasn't even open, but the lady who owns it let me poke my head inside to see.  Ah, it was like craft heaven.  I will totally be back!!

At least from here we were able to put in directions to get from French General to Union Station into Google Maps.  It lead us through the winding hills around Dodger Stadium and over a freeway so that we could finally see the train station in the distance.  Our circuitous route also lead us through Chinatown!  I wish I could have captured the yummy smells in a picture, but you'll just have to take my word for it!

We got an awesome parking spot in the structure under Union Station right next to the elevator! Jake discovered that he had left his phone in the car, so we got to ride in this elevator 3 times!  Apparently on Saturdays the elevator doesn't go down to the parking structure without a security badge, so we had to ask a very nice security guard to let us go back down to our car.  Of course, that should have been our clue to move it to another lot, but who was thinking that clearly at that point?  We just wanted to get on the subway!

 Luckily we weren't the only one's headed to USC on the Metro Line.  There were hoards of football fans crowding the station, so we just kinda followed the herd.  I posed next to the map, but we didn't need it... We were following the Red Shirts!

We knew that we were going to have to transfer lines, so rather than guess how many trips we'd need, we got Tap cards with all day passes on them.  The machine made change with $1 coins, so it felt like we'd won a huge Vegas payout!  Sacagawea Score!

Now that we had our Tap cards we could finally head back to the museum.  And it only took 2 hours!  Yippee!

Jake and I were on  the party train headed back to USC.  It was CROWDED!

 I happened to be wearing the right colors, so we fit right in!  We got to hang with the tailgaters!  And that security guy was cool, he wasn't giving me the stink eye.  Besides, how can you be mad when the party right beside us is blasting Gangnam Style?!  It's impossible.

The museum was (not surprisingly) very quiet and empty.  There were no cameras allowed inside, so I don't have any pictures to show you.  The piece (La Lutxona, 2007) by Blanka Amezkua that I was hoping to see was there, along with a second piece (What in the World, 2007), so I feel like it was worth the trip.  Of course I wished that there was more crochet incorporated into the art, but the crochet on those two pieces was beautiful.  I felt like it added to the tone of the art, and was hip and kitchy at the same time, which I think was the vibe the artist was really going for.  And it was really inspiring.  It had never occurred to me to use crochet in that way, but now I'm going to have to add some crochet borders to my next art pieces. I mean, why wouldn't I??!   If you're interested in checking them out, the exhibit A Complex Weave: Women and Identity in Contemporary Art will be on display until December 1, 2012.  It is being displayed with The Sota Project which is an immersive multi-layered video installation that reenacts a controversial text from the Talmud.

Want to know what the best part about the whole day was?  As I left, one of the women who was there to answer questions asked me if I was there for a class.  And I got to say YES!!!  I looked like a student and I AM a student! know, just not at USC... LOL!!!

At this point it was nearly 2 and Jake and I were starving.  We didn't really want in on the tailgate food that was available everywhere, but we did hit a Starbucks which made both of us feel a ton better.  Recently I've had some digestive issues (eww, sorry!) that have made me avoid wheat in an effort to keep the sharp stomach pains at bay (no zingers, no cookies, no world famous brownies), so all of the actual food in Starbucks was inedible, but an iced coffee drink hit the spot.  We hiked our booties down about a block and a half to the Metro Station across from Staples Center and headed back to our car!

Public transportation rocks!  Even with our ice-blended goodness, we spent less than $30 on our day adventure, which still comes in under the $40 parking option.  We had to get a 2nd security guard to let us out back down to our car, and we paid the parking attendant the $6 fee in Sacagawea coins.  He told us that they get a LOT of $1 coins back...

We didn't get home until nearly 4 (about 6 hours after we left, which is 4 hours longer than we had planned!), but we had such a great time.  It was like a mini-vacation!  In fact, now that we know what we're doing, we're planning to do it again next month so that we can take Mims to the California Science Center (she's obsessed with mummies right now, and they have a Cleopatra exhibit) and also to the Natural History Museum (she also wants to see the dinosaur bones).

One last look on our way home.  Goodbye Los Angeles!  Thanks for the wonderful day!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dynamite Update: I got my Swatches back

What a wonderfully busy week!  Halloween right in the center of it kinda threw me for a loop, so I'm really looking forward to spending the next week catching up on sleep and work.

First off, I got the first set of my International Diploma in Crochet swatches back this week.  Oh my goodness, the shipping time is brutal.  They had been reviewed nearly a month ago!  I knew that this was going to be a very nit-picky process, and so I'm happy that ANY of them passed on the first try.  5 of my 7 swatches passed with 95% (or higher) scores, which makes me happy as a life-long overachiever.  The bummer was that the other 2 were miserable failures and I'm going to have to re-do them.  I thought the reviews were fascinating, so I'm going to share the re-do swatches and show you what I did wrong so that we all can learn from my mistakes.

Swatch #1 (a network of chain and slip stitch, with four straight edges): This piece needed to have either a scalloped edge as the base OR is needed to have the side and top edges straight.  At the top I should have only put 2 chains between the slip stitches to make a straight edge, and I should have put the hook into the 3rd stitch of the turning chain, rather than the space.  This swatch was the one that I felt least confident with when I sent it off, so I'm not surprised that it came back as a do-over.  I hadn't been entirely clear as to what I was supposed to be accomplishing with this one, but now I feel confident that I'll be able to pass this swatch next time with no problems.

Swatch #7 (a square of triple trebles):  Do you see how the bottom corner curls in the photo?  I had blocked it so that it would be straight, but there are just some things that blocking can't fix, and this is one of them.  I should have added an additional chain stitch before I turned, which would have caused my corner to lie flat.  Other than that I got a delightful comment of 'you handle the tall stitches well'.  So, I'll re-do this one with an additional stitch!  And then it will pass and I'll be closer to getting my degree!!!  Yay school!  

Continuing our discussion of school, I'm going to the USC Fisher Museum of Art today to go see an exhibit called A Complex Weave: Women and Identity in Contemporary Art.  I am so excited!  I have been searching for a museum within 200 miles that had crochet on display to write a report on for my class.  I have been sadly disappointed at the lack of crochet in virtually all of our local museums, since I really had my heart set on doing my report on crochet in art.  So when I realized that this exhibit had at least one piece that had crochet involved, I had to go check it out.  I am not entirely sure what I'm going to see, but it sounds like it's going to be right up my alley.  Even if there isn't enough crochet there to write my report, I'm still going to have a good time.

The ebook bonanza was a huge success!  Thank you to everyone who went to Amazon and got copies.  Over 1700 books were downloaded, which I think is amazing considering you guys had virtually no notice and I did absolutely no advertising.   I am grateful to all of you!  

I am especially grateful to the Super Dynamos that wrote reviews of the books on Amazon.  A gigantic THANK YOU goes out to Teeni, Laura, Jinxed and Nicki! I appreciate your hard work and kind words more than I can express.  If anyone else downloaded my books and would like to leave a (hopefully positive) review on Amazon, it would absolutely mean the world to me.  And, as always, if there is something you don't like about them, please send me an email at and tell me what needs to be fixed.  I am still new at self-publishing, and while I strive to put out the highest quality work I'm capable of, I appreciate any feedback that you might have.

The butterflies have been a huge hit!  The kids at the hospital and at the homeless outreach have been thrilled with them, so I want to send out a great big thank you to all of you who have donated or have contacted me about donating more butterflies!  I'm putting together a batch for Kristy to take this Sunday, along with a scarf 'kit' for one of the mom's at the outreach to use for pattern testing for me.  Hopefully it will come out fine, because I can't wait to share that pattern with you in a couple more weeks!!  In the meantime, we're always going to need more butterflies to help spread smiles, so if you're interested in donating, you can click on the 'To make a Crochet Donation' button over there on the right.

I need to appologize to you guys for getting behind on answering comments on the blog.  I do read everything that you write, and I love it and appreciate your comments so much.  I've been volunteering for a couple of hours in the mornings in Mimsey's class, which leaves me about 10 less hours in my week, so I'm going to start designating a day or two a week to answer comments.  If there's a crochet emergency, or just something that it would be nice to get a quicker response to, feel free to email me. 

Whew.  That felt like a Crochet Dynamite: State of the Union!  How are you guys doing?  Everyone survive the storm?  I'm sending all my best wishes and hopes and love to you all to have a wonderfully blessed weekend!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Better than a Sock Bun!

I love a good sock bun, but I ran into a problem last week when I wanted to put my hair up.  White socks (which didn't show under my blonde hair) suddenly  were so obvious under my new vampire-red hair (that's the actual name on the bottle, not my name for it, btw).  I really wasn't interested in purchasing and then destroying a brand new pair of pink-red socks because I wanted to do my hair either.

That got me to thinking about what I could come up with to fix this dilemma.  I had seen a package at Target for a bun shaper that was just a foam version of a rolled up sock, but as it only came in the more traditional hair colors (blonde/brown/black) I wasn't interested.  Hmm... But maybe I could come up with something myself...

Then I did a google search for hair rats.  Uh, yeah, they used to call them hair rats.  Apparently there's all kinds of awesomeness out there for diy-ing your own hair rat (or hair shaper, if you prefer a less disgusting phrase) out of your own hair!  Rad!  Perfect match!  But that takes months, and I really needed something that I could use right now...

Crochet to the rescue!  I had a giant bag of left-over pink yarn from the Think Pink blanket, and one of them was a dark pink cotton that was a close-enough match to work for my ratty purpose!
I crocheted myself a pink bun shaper (the coolest part was that I was able to make it much larger than the shapers that are for sale right now)!  I like it even better than my previous rolled up socks, because you couldn't bobby pin the sock into place, but with a crocheted shaper you can bobby pin  right through the stitches.  It feels much more secure, which I didn't even realize I had worried about before (but duh, who would want a rolled up sock to fall out of their hair in a meeting? LOL!)

I love mine so much, I had to make one for Mims.  If you want to make one too, this is how I did it:

Better Than a Sock Bun: Crochet Bun Shaper
Worsted weight cotton yarn
Size G crochet hook
Yarn needle

ch 29
R1: dc in 3rd ch from hook, dc in each ch across (27 st)
R2-16: ch 2 (counts as first dc), dc in each st across (27 st)
Fasten off.  Weave in ends.

Starting at ch end, roll up the crochet piece into a long tube.  Whipstitch the tube closed so that it's nice and smooth.

I used pink yarn so that you can see where the whipstitching should go.
When you make yours please use the color that matches the bun shaper! LOL!

Now curve it around and whipstitch the tube ends together to make it into a donut shape.  Make sure the ends are really securely stitched.   Fasten off and weave in any loose ends.

See!  You can't see the whipstitching when you use matching yarn to stitch it together! 

Yippee!  Now you can use it to make your bun look amazing and huge.  Because this is the one place in a lady's life that having huge buns makes us happy!  LOL!!!

If you've never done a sock bun before, here's a quick rundown of the steps:
1. Put your hair into a ponytail
2. Pull the ponytail through the bun shaper
3. Wrap your hair around the bun shaper to cover it up
4. Bobby pin the hair into place around the bun shaper
5. Show off your awesome HUGE bun!  :D

**If you're not familliar with Sock Buns, there's a great set of instructions HERE that are crochet free and you can be out the door in 3 minutes!