Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mason Jar Mug Crisco Candles with Crochet Cozy



Did you know that you can easily make low-cost, odorless, and long burning candles with Crisco shortening?! No melting and burning of wax to contend with and you probably already have the ingredients on hand! I found the most adorable mini Mason Jar Mugs at Bed Bath and Beyond and of course this project wouldn't be complete without the addition of cute little crochet mug cozy! The perfect gift in a jar!


Materials:
- Small Glass Mason Jar Mugs (or any glass container with work). Please note that the crochet mug cozy only fits THESE mini mason jar spice mugs.
- Crisco Vegetable Shortening (or any brad of vegetable cooking lard).
- Thin strand of Cotton yarn (must be all natural fiber).
- Pencil

Melt Crisco shortening in saucepan over medium-low heat. It shouldn't be boiling. Just heat until melted. I used about half of the container shown above for the two candles.


Pour melted shortening into the glass jar. Cut strand of cotton yarn and tie it to the top of the pencil. Stick it in the glass jar just so it reaches the bottom. You can weigh it down with a washer if needed.

Let the Crisco cool and become a solid again. Stick it in the fridge to speed up this process. When the  candle has cooled, snip the yarn wick from the top of the pencil.


Your candle is complete and ready to light! 


Now if you want to cozy it up with a little crochet sleeve, here is the pattern!

Materials:
- Worsted weight yarn
- Size F crochet hook
- Button
- Tapestry needle

Abbreviations:
SC = Single Crochet

Mini Mason Jar Mug Cozy Pattern:
Chain 28, join to first chain to make a large circle, chain 1
Round 2: SC in each stitch around, join, chain 1 and TURN
Round 3-7: SC in 26 stitches (leaving two stitches unused), chain 1, turn
attach accent yarn color
Round 8: SC across top and down open slit before joining chain 12 and then join to first SC made. The chain 12 creates the loop that attaches to your button.
Sew button on opposite corner of cozy.


Slip cozy around your little mug mason jar. I love that these jars have lids so you can keep your candles clean, protected, and dust free when not using. They also make gifting so easy!




Thursday, January 22, 2015

Crochet Citrus Fruit Slices and Valentines Printable




Play food, magnets, key chains, ornaments, pins, and so much more! These easy Crochet Citrus Fruit Slices can be used in so many ways and they also make a cute non-candy Valentine. I've made an orange, lemon, and lime but you could easily add apple and watermelon to the collection. The pattern is virtually the same as my Crochet Apple Slice Keychain but I will repost the pattern and new tutorial below. Of course I am providing the free printable as well!

Materials:
- Worsted Weight Yarn. I used Lion Brand Vanna's Choice in Teracotta, Mustard, Fern, and White.
- Size H crochet hook
- Tapestry needle

Abbreviations:
SC = Single Crochet

Fruit Slice Pattern:
Start with white yarn
Magic Ring, chain 1 and make 12 SC  in ring, join, 
change to orange/yellow/or green yarn
Round 2: 2 SC in first stitch, SC in next, repeat around, join, chain 1 (18 SC)
Round 3: 2 SC in first stitch, SC in next 2 stitches, repeat around, join, chain 1 (24 SC)
Round 4: 2 SC in first stitch, SC in next 3 stitches, repeat around, join, chain 1(30 SC)
Round 5: 2 SC in first stitch, SC in next 4 stitches, repeat around, join, (36 SC)
Fasten off leaving long tail


With white, slip stitch around outer edge. Weave in all ends except for long tail from end of Round 5.


Fold in half and sew edges together.



With a long strand of white yarn and your tapestry needle, create line sections in your fruit slice. Use the spaces in-between the magic ring round as your guide. Lines should go on the front and back.





If making the valentines, print out the match printables and attach! 



If you like these you may also like my free crochet fruit coasters pattern!


*** You may make and sell products from my patterns but if you do I ask that you link back to my post. Please do not copy and post this pattern and claim it as your own. Please do not re-publish photos as your own.***

Want more free patterns? Keep in touch on my Repeat Crafter Me Facebook Page for new pattern sneak peeks and when they will be available on my blog! And feel free to post pictures of your finished hats and/or links to your shops on my Facebook wall so all can see. Be sure to also follow me on Instagram! I love when you tag me (@repeatcrafterme)!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Crock Pot Sweet Potato Soup


WOW I just made the BEST soup ever! I am going nuts over this Crock Pot Sweet Potato Soup! It is very similar in flavor to my crock pot butternut squash soup but it has a slightly thicker texture and a creamier consistency and taste. Absolutely delicious! You could easily double the recipe and if you are looking for a low-cal option you can replace the heavy cream with light cream or fat free half and half.

Ingredients:
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- A pinch or two of salt
- 3/4 cup heavy cream (or light cream or fat free half and half)

Directions:
1. Peal and cut up sweet potatoes and place them in the crock pot. Two cut up potatoes fit perfectly in my  3-quart crock pot)
2. Pour 1 cup of chicken broth over sweet potatoes and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
3. When sweet potatoes are completely soft and easily breaking apart with a fork, transfer to a blender or food processor and puree. Pour back into the crock pot and add the rest of the ingredients: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, brown sugar, salt, and heavy cream.
4. Stir and cook another 30 minutes - 1 hour on low in the crock pot.
Serves about 3-4 people.













Monday, January 19, 2015

How to Photograph Your Crochet


If you have your own business selling crocheted items this post is for you! Even if you don't sell your crochet but you want to show off your work on social media or on your own blog, you will benefit from this information. You always want the photo of your product to reflect the hard work you put into it. I am by no means a professional photographer but over the past 3 years I have learned a thing or two about how to stage my crochet and I've discovered some important tricks to taking eye-catching, pinterest-worthy pictures. My photos are still far from perfect, but below are some tips that I think might help you in your business!

1. Choose a background. In order to showcase your product, you want to place it against a clean, clutter-free background. Get rid of personal items and avoid distracting, clashing colors and patterns. In most cases, a solid color piece of paper is best. Construction or card stock paper, scrapbook paper, or even plain white printer paper can be a great backdrop for appliqués and small projects. For larger projects like hats and afghans, you will need a larger backdrop. You can get a roll of brown mailing paper at the Dollar Store! I have used this many times in my projects (like HERE and HERE and HERE). Or how about the roll of drawing paper from Ikea? A lot of you may already have this in your kids playroom. Also, a piece of white or black poster board (also found at the Dollar Store) works perfectly. HERE is an example of a project against black poster board. But the best thing I ever did was invest $29 in a vinyl backdrop. You have probably seen my faux vintage white wood plank backdrop in a lot of my photos. It is clean and neutral but provides just a little bit of texture and interest to the photo. I also like that it rolls up without crinkling and it wipes clean. I purchased the 4ftx3ft size from Ink&Elm on Etsy. If you like the faux wood look you can also purchase rolls of faux wood paper for a lot less money! I personally have THIS ONE and have used it many times like in this project right HERE.

One more idea is to use the inside cover of book (see picture below in list item #2). This gives you a consistent background and foreground and is easy to prop up. I've been taking quite a few of my pictures using different hardcover children's books that we have around the house. THIS PROJECT was taken using the inside cover of a Curious George book :)


This is NOT a good way to show off your product:

2. You NEED natural light. Unless you have some sort of professional lighting studio I highly recommend refraining from taking pictures during non-daylight hours. I've found that the best place to position your crochet is near a window. You don't want there to be direct sunlight (or else your photo will be washed out) but the natural light should be filling the room. Turn off any ceiling lights or lamps. You can photograph outside as well but only in a shady spot. I've found that overcast days are best for indoor and outdoor photos!



Below is a comparison of a photo taken with natural light vs artificial light. Both photos are completely unedited. The natural light will help bring out the true colors of the yarn. It is also brighter, cleaner, and doesn't have harsh shadows. Also, I NEVER use the flash on my camera. Let the natural light do the work.


3. Stage your crochet item. I like to photograph my piece as soon as I finish it. The stitches will be tight and the piece will be at its best. If I am going to have my kids model for me, I do that AFTER I have taken all the photos of it lying flat. Try your best to make sure seams are in the back. If it is a hat with earflaps, make sure they look even and the braided tails are nicely positioned or even tied together. Buttons, eyes, and embellishments should all be positioned to perfection (or close to!). If you need to, tape down parts with double sided tape so they don't move while you are photographing. Block your granny squares if needed. Try and smooth out all lumps. If I want to show more dimension to my hats (and I know my models won't cooperate) sometimes I use a wine glass to prop it up (see photo below in list item #5).



4. Take pictures from different angles. I take about 60-100 pictures of each project before I choose the best 2-3 "beauty shot" photos to showcase on my blog. Get a photo from the front, back, and sides of the crochet item. Show off the details and embellishments that are especially important or a fun part of the piece. If it's a larger piece like an afghan try rolling it or folding it. Draping it over a chair and standing on a ladder to take a picture from above. Stack granny squares for more depth. Experiment!

5. Invest in a DSLR Camera and use photo editing software. Smart phones can take OK pictures, but if you want to take it to the next level you will want a better camera. I love my Canon EOS Rebel T2i with the Macro Lens. I use it daily! The macro lens allows me to get a crisp foreground and a blurry background. I know there are other ways to achieve this but I am not a professional photographer and I really don't understand camera settings very well. The macro lens does it for me! You can also buy a MACRO LENS that clips onto your smart phone! I haven't used one but I like the idea :) I've been able to create some great bokeh in my photos with this lens. HERE is a helpful article on Bokeh and some additional information about cameras and other lenses you can use to create this affect. 

I use Photoshop to edit all of my photos. Editing consist of adjusting the lighting levels and brightness/contrast to get the photo to really pop! I also use it to resize and crop my photos and collage them if needed. In addition I place my logo on all my photos and at times use decorative fonts to create titles (you can download free fronts from DaFont.com). But Photoshop can be expensive (even the Elements version) and can also be difficult to learn if you don't have experience with it already. Don't worry, www.PicMonkey.com is a free photo editing site and it allows you to do all the things I mentioned above!


Try not to get discourage and keep practicing your photography! The goal is to attract people to your item. You want them to be interested and intrigued enough to click on it to see more. Make it stand out from the others and allow your handmade work to shine!

If any of you have other photography tips and tricks I would love for you to comment below!










Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crochet Shamrock


Here is another way you can use my easy crochet heart pattern... to make a shamrock! Sew three green hearts together and you have the leaves. A simple chain makes a stem. I have been using my easy crochet heart pattern for so many projects: Crochet Heart Wand, Crochet LoveBug Lovey,  and my Crochet Bumble Bee. Just by using different size hooks, you can easily change the size of these hearts. I am sure you will think of many other ways to put this pattern to use!


Materials:
-Worsted Weight Yarn. I used Lion Brand Vanna's Choice in Sweet Pea.
- Size F Crochet Hook
- Tapestry needle

Finished Shamrock measures approximately 4x4 inches.

Abbreviations:
SC = Single Crochet
HDC = Half Double Crochet
DC = Double Crochet

Make 3 Easy Crochet Hearts. (4 if you want to make a 4-leaf clover!)


Sew edges that need to touch together. Weave your tapestry needle under the top of the single crochet's on both sides at the same time. Weave in ends.




Attach a new piece of yarn in the middle.


Chain 14. DC in 3rd chain from hook and in next, HDC in next 2, SC the rest of the way down chain. Join with slip stitch to the middle of the shamrock leaves. Fasten off and weave in ends.



Add a little flair by slip stitching with a different shade of green around the edges.


This would make a great appliqué for a St. Patrick's Day hat! 

*** You may make and sell products from my patterns but if you do I ask that you link back to my post. Please do not copy and post this pattern and claim it as your own. Please do not re-publish photos as your own.***

Want more free patterns? Keep in touch on my Repeat Crafter Me Facebook Page for new pattern sneak peeks and when they will be available on my blog! And feel free to post pictures of your finished hats and/or links to your shops on my Facebook wall so all can see. Be sure to also follow me on Instagram! I love when you tag me (@repeatcrafterme)!