Cute, Bright Things

So we’ve had the Week from Hell here, but now tonight we’re starting the Popcorn Dialogues with It Happened One Night, so nothing but good times ahead. In the meantime, here’s a post I wrote for the day that life got so crazy that I couldn’t post anything except snarls and meeps:

I live with two little girls. We are all about da cute and da bright. With that in mind, here are some Cute, Bright Things.

From Arlette’s Polka Dot Pineapple blog, instructions for felt gift bags with lots of step-by-step photos and clear directions:

Arlette is also all about da cute, so look at all the things she shows how to make on her blog. And thank you, Arlette.

If you need a bigger bag, try Inga’s Haekelbeutel, difficult to say, amazingly easy to make, just 16 squares and Inga’s ingenious assembly. The original pattern was in German, but you can down load a PDF in English with clear diagrams and instructions from Ravelry. You have to register with the site to enter, but it’s free and no one will send e-mails.

Or there are smaller bags you can make in five minutes: good old Martha Stewart comes through with clip art for tiny gift bags:

Actually, you should go through the all 50 pages of the “Our Best Clip Art” slide show at Martha’s site (spice jar labels, luggage tags, monogram labels, postcards, and more). Whatever else you want to say about Martha, the woman has exquisite taste.

You don’t need a bag? Fine. Have a monkey. You have to crochet but the pattern is free at Paton’s website:

Or if you want something a little more ambitious, there’s Sarah London’s classic wool-eater blanket a pattern so popular that it has its own Flickr group:

Sarah’s instructions are for British crocheters, so you’ll have to translate (UK double triple crochet = US triple crochet).

See? Bright, colorful, cute. Have a nice day!
(This blog will return to its usual dark and snark with the next post.)

52 thoughts on “Cute, Bright Things

  1. Hmmm…a little bit of avoidance going on? I’m voting for twelve days of Liz, even though the monkey is stinking cute!

  2. Love it Jenny! My Mom makes bags in the same way with material. She gets requests! Now I want to crochet one like above! Also back to a previous crochet post, I have made a swirly scarf…can’t remember the name for it but you know the one…and I loved it! since it is in shades of grey and I finished it during the last episodes of Lost my Lovely Man calls it the smoke monster and makes clicking sounds every time I worked on it. Next one will be lighter yarn and brighter colours!

  3. Just what I needed to perk me up. Thanks. I think “weeks from hell are doing the rounds.” Can’t wait for last exam tomorrow.

  4. OMG, I am just crocheting the handle on my Ingaโ€™s Haekelbeutelbag-I loved the same exact one. I couldn’t get the Anchor Magicline yarn-which imho MAKES that bag, but I used a ombre Sugar n Cream in the same scheme. Not as eye popping, but summery. I also made the square bigger-7 rows, not 5.

    1. I know, I never get the yarn the pattern specified but for that one, I really tried. And yay to you for finishing!

  5. I really like that variant on the classic granny square: the basic four-petalled shape in one colour per square would also be pretty made up into a blanket.
    Jenny, you mentioned the crochet terminology, but with all those excellent pics it hardly matters. I think the pattern is Aussie rather than British, because she says ‘8-ply wool’; that’s Aussie for ‘double knitting’ (British), and about half-way between ‘sport’ and ‘worsted’ (American). I have NO idea what a 4 mm hook is in American, though (it’s a size 8 in our obsolete Imperial sizes). But the beauty of crocheting squares is that none of that matters too much. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. I think you’re right, she’s Australian, but I think you both use the same terms and US terms are different. Weirdly, the 4mm hook is a 6, which I have never seen anywhere in American stores. The F is 3.75 and the G is 4.25, and as you said, it really doesn’t matter since you don’t have to get gauge on this. Any yarn, and hook, make the squares and sew them together. Ta da!

  6. So restful; bright and pretty and useful. But I’m still trying to crochet the boa scarf and not getting very far, so the bag, which I also WANT, is going to be out of the picture for me. Still I can look at the pictures and dream. Very soothing.

    1. I have found it is easier to knit the boas using large size 15 needles and casting on 6 to 8 stitches. Crocheting eyelash and the real fluffy yarns is harder to see, you can knit one in an evening.

  7. Haven’t had a bad week, but it has been crazy – way too crazy. The sight of that rainbow hobo bag has totally turned my day around! Now I am planning to sneak off to the yarn store tomorrow and get started on some summer fun….. Thanks!

  8. WARNING Blantant Crusie Blog Hijack.

    Hey guys I need a title for a writing class about dialog. Any body want to play? marly? r? anybody? It should be catchy and fun. – Like me. **Blush** Should probably move over this to my blog. (click on my name.)

  9. Talking About Dialogue
    The Stuff Between the Quotation Marks
    She Said, He Said, You Wrote
    A Writing Class About Dialogue

  10. I’m loving that bag. I normally shy away from squares … I hate joining them … but sixteen I could maybe do. I’ve got some ugly striping sock yarn that might work.

    Sadly, I did not get to the library last night and they close early Fridays, so I will not be able to play along with tonight’s movie. I will, however, look forward to the post-movie blog, and maybe I can pick it up tomorrow and just be late with my commentary. We shall see.

      1. Ah, the clarity and maturity an extra glass of wine brings. I can’t even remember why he was using just the initial in the first place. Hope everyone enjoyed the movie! It’s great, isn’t it? That gal is feisty!

        1. Good question – the wines poured for me were not red. And they didn’t really bring me clarity or maturity. They did make me hunt through all the cabinets and finally through the lint at the bottom of my bag for an ancient aspirin tablet. Wait! I’ve got it. They were Friday Night Whites! I kill myself sometimes. Taking my headache and going to bed. Someone is already there, sleeping like a baby. This someone does not deserve to be sleeping like a baby. It is UNJUST. He should be awake with his own headache.

  11. Thank you soo much for the Martha Stewart link. I love this kind of crafty stuff, I could spend hours on that site. But I do not have time !

  12. London Mabel — don’t just wish you could crochet! Give it a try! It really isn’t hard; easier for a beginner than knitting, I think — I can’t quite remember, because I learned to knit when I was 4. But I was taught basic crochet when about 9 or 10, and I think I got the hang of it in about half an hour, and I am no genius, so anyone can. That’s not to say that there aren’t really skilled and specialised aspects of the craft, but you can make lots of great things without being an expert.
    Both knitting and crochet are really soothing, relaxing, blood-pressure reducing pastimes. You can do them while listening to music or talking or watching TV, and you finish up with a useful garment or object. They are great things to do. I love it that Jenny promotes crocheting and other crafts here: she is a such a sensible person.

    I only wish writing books were as easy and fun as crocheting. I am 2 months over deadline, and wracked with guilt, and the weather is too hot to spend hours on end at the computer…

    1. Ag and I were separated at birth. Everything she said. Especially the part about me being so SENSIBLE. (Tell my mother.)

  13. Love the Arlette’s blog. I can make those, easy peasy. Never learned to crochet. My Texas friend keeps telling me it is SO easy. For new babies and not every baby gets one, only the babies of special friends get them; she takes a baby receiving blanket, (the flannel ones) and crochets an edge all around the edge, thus making it a special blanket. It is so easy, she says. It looked easy. I have a how-to-book, hooks, now, I need to make the time. Right!

    Jenny’s Mother – Jenny is sensible. Marly – so funny.
    Off to listen to the Popcorn Dialogues. Clark Cable, a close second to Cary Grant.

  14. Every time crocheting comes up here, people talk about it being relaxing. I don’t get it. I’ve tried to learn a couple of times, but it makes me incredibly tense. I sit there with my yarn, and start thinking about all the other things I should be doing. Then I think about the things I could be doing, and wonder if this is a good use of my very limited free time. Finally, I get myself so worked up I toss the yarn aside and go clean something.

    1. Do you get worried in the same way about all other leisure activities, like watching TV, gardening, or, umm, reading novels? If so, then I don’t suppose any craft project would seem relaxing to you.
      But if one believes that some leisure time is sensible, even essential for a well-rounded, balanced existence, then knitting and crochet are good because (a) you have the refreshing rest from cleaning, writing, cooking, ironing or whatever other duties are on your mind, (b) you can do it at the same time as another leisure activity, e.g. listening to music or watching TV (or reading, in some cases) — two leisure activities for the price of one — and, (c) you actually have a useful product to show at the end of it.

    2. Methinks ’tis no coincidence that crotchet is the root of crotchety.
      I start out trying to crotchet a humble square, but invariably end up creating a triangle. Or a polygon. Or a dodecafrigginhedron. Relaxing shmaxing, I find it taxing.

    3. Crochet for me is like driving: my hands are busy and my mind is free, so it’s great for brainstorming a problem or a book. I don’t know what it is about driving that kick starts my thinking, but an hour drive and cut through about ten hours of dithering over a problem. Crochet comes a close second to that, as does quilting. And now I must learn to knit, too. I’ve had a mental block against it, probably because my mother knits, but it’s time to stop being such a craft weenie and learn. Just not today.

  15. Merry, I feel your pain! My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was a little girl. (Funny, I still have to hold the hook the way I did at seven) I even used the craft to take up time and keep myself out of trouble when the hubs was out to sea…BUT I can NOT crochet and do something else, even watch television. And an unfinished project?! Or a project that is lopsided?! My eye twiches just thinking about them.

  16. Being a lefty means that learning to crochet or knit has always been a challenge since everyone around me that knows how to do either is right-handed, so of course it is all backward to me! My gf taught me how to loom, however, and I find that not only does it not matter which way you do it, it is relaxing and fun and you get results quickly–always a plus when you also suffer from ADD!! I use to embroider when I was younger. Made quite lovely little things for my first nephew and niece when they were born–receiving blankets, little drool bibs, and these sweet little sleeveless cotton baby tops to wear during the hot summer months… I think my sisters still have them…

  17. My gread-granny taught all my aunts to knit as children, and my mum would still fly through a cardigan pattern for my DD on a regular basis. However, one of my aunts is a leftie, and GG couldn’t figure out how to switch it around to teach her. So she taught her crocheting instead. And like my mum she’s still at it. In fact when I was pregnant she went to a class to learn how to do a double-sided blanket and luckily chose correctly when she did it pink (it’s pink on one side, and white on the other) As my aunt and another family friend crocheted blankets for me I decided that I wanted to learn, and with the help of a book I’ve gotten pretty good at straight lines. It’s doing circles and squares that confuses me, but I did manage to crochet a hat for a baby doll. I switch between crochet and cross-stitch now depending on how much free time I have of an evening and how much brain power is left at the end of the day. Doll blankets have become my speciality – straight lines and if they go wonky at the edges my nearly-3 year old doesn’t care.

  18. I agree with AgTigress and Jenny about crochet being relaxing. I can do it while watching tv or listening to an audiobook. As for all the other things I could be doing, when I am doing them, I’m thinking about books I could be reading or how far along I could be getting on my crochet WIP, so I guess it’s a matter of perspective.

    Merry, darlin’, if we ever end up on the same side of the continent again, I’ll give you a hand with all that geometry.

    I do technically know how to knit, and I pick it up every so often with high hopes, but so far I find it more frustrating than soothing. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, but I never end up with the right number of stitches and can never figure out where I went wrong.

  19. I feel so much better about watching TV if I have knitting in my hands. In fact, that’s why I learned to knit, so that I could watch football and old movies with a conscience that, while not clear, was, at least, sufficiently pacified to enable my physical inactivity.

    Sadly, I cannot knit while I read, really (I’ve tried), but my conscience doesn’t seem to trouble me when I read. Which explains a lot about my life and the state of my house.

  20. I don’t feel that crochet is particularly relaxing, and I can’t watch TV while doing it — it fills my mind up with twists and curves and geometry . . . which is a kind of fun feeling all by itself! And then, seeing the inches and inches of production, out of what was once one straight line. Gosh, I love it! Gosh, I wish I had more time for it! Right now, I’ve got gardening claws (cramped up from too much weeding yesterday), but maybe when stuff stops growing so much I can take it up again . . . .

  21. I was interested in Jenny’s comparison of crocheting and driving — something that occupies the hands but leaves the mind free to wander. When I have to drive, one hundred percent of my attention is on driving, I am am incredibly tense, and the only imaginative thoughts in my brain are all the myriad possibilities of accidents — pedestrians suddenly stepping out into the road without looking, cyclists silently creeping up on my offside, maniac drivers high on drugs or fleeing from the police (or both) crashing into me. Relaxing: no.
    But knitting, and to a lesser extent, crocheting: the hands just get on with it, and the brain can be busy doing something totally different. If working on a long stretch of plain stocking-stitch (stockinette, in AE), one doesn’t even need to look at the hands very often, let alone think about the process. The hands know what they are doing, and can be relied upon to do it, automatically.

  22. Geez, I’ve started this about four times in the last two days, and every time I begin, the power goes out. Maybe somebody’s trying to tell me something.

    AgTigress- I don’t get worried when I do other leisure activities like reading or watching TV, because my brain is too busy to worry. The problem with crocheting is that my hands are busy, but my brain is not, and that’s where I get into trouble. I can’t read or watch TV and do anything else at the same time, because I get completely involved, and the rest of the world completely disappears. Probably why I like to read so much. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I do have the same experience Jenny does while driving, though. Very relaxing, and of course no guilt, because I have to be driving to get where I’m going, it’s not goofing off in any way. All my best dialog comes to me while I drive. I’ve taken to carrying a little voice recorder on the seat next to me so I can record it before it’s gone.

  23. I hate ironing, but because it’s so mundane my brain gets freed up for story ideas. However by the time I’ve finished the ironing and had a chance to write the spark has gone. And that’s only part of why I read but don’t write.

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