Hooking for Good – Blanket Statement

Hi, Jenny Brown - ripple blanket

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Oh my goodness! I don’t know whether to jump for joy or fall into a puddle of tears…but this is the last donation for this season’s “Hooking for Good.”

Hi, Jenny Brown - crochet ripple blanket for Binky Patrol

I should admit I’m a little addicted to ripple patterns.  I snuggle every night under a ripple my mom made me long ago, and it’s my fall-back when I need to crochet a blanket fast (or in the case of this thin-worsted, very slowly).  It’s not just that zig-zag pattern or the fun math that makes each row rise and fall. I think it’s also the word “ripple”: not only fun to say, but  a wonderful idea of making a small action that can result in far-reaching waves. You know, like donating something you made for some who needs it.

Crochet Ripple Blanket for Binky Patrol - Hi, Jenny Brown

This blanket is going to Binky Patrol – an organization that distributes blankets to children “born HIV+, drug-addicted, infected with AIDS or other chronic & terminal illnesses, those who are abused, in foster care or experiencing trauma of any kind.”  For those who aren’t crafters, they offer an easy no-sew blanket tutorial on their home page. I also love their idea of getting a group of friends together to help each other make blankets.  If you live near Northern New Jersey or NYC and want to do this, please comment and we will make it happen!

If you’d like to crochet or knit a blanket for another organization, you can find a great list of charities that will distribute them in this post by Starting Chain or this one by Crochet Concupiscence.

Hi, Jenny Brown - crochet ripple blanket for Binky Patrol

I should also say sorry to Mr. A and the Babes.  Both of them really bonded with this blanket, and I loved that they would snuggle under it as I worked each row.  They’ve both been very understanding about the fact that I’ve been donating almost everything I’ve made in the past few months, but they weren’t excited about letting this one go.  Both asked for me to give him the blanket, but A specifically asked that I make another with the same yarn (Heartland by Lion Brand, if you also have a yarn-snob 5-year-old at home & are allergic to wool). Maybe this thing isn’t over after all.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Hooking for Good – Mail Bag Edition

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I’ve been scrambling a bit to finish my last project for Hooking for Good – due partially to the holidays, partially some wonderful out of town visiting with the in-laws, and partially to my never-ending to-do list.  Just thinking about it is giving me anxiety.

Luckily, these late nights are a little easier after checking the ol’ mailbox.  It’s been full of some pretty heartwarming Hooking for Good happiness.  If you’re looking for an excuse to start donating your handmade items, I can say the mail makes it totally worthwhile.

First, I got a letter from Youth Services in Wheeling, which is the current home of the plastic mat I made.  I was so touched that they took the time to write me a letter, including the story of one of the residents and a picture of the mat in action (it will be given away when the shelter closes for the season in March).

Youth Services shelter - hijennybrown.com

Youth Services shelter - hijennybrown.com

Wheeling Youth Services Letter about crochet plastic mat- hijennybrown.comI also got a postcard from We Are Kenya – I love that they used the word “cozy” to describe the scarves my mom and I made.  So sweet!

We Are Kenya - Thank You

we are kenya back

And I already got a postcard from Emily’s Hats for Hope thanking me for the hat I made and Mr. A modeled.  I’m so glad she liked Alexander’s drawing (he drew a sweet top hat on the envelope).

emily's hats for hope thank you - hijennybrown.comI’ve just got a few more ends to tuck in before I settle down for a long winter’s nap.   Hope y’all are having a wonderful holiday surrounded by people you love!

Bye,
Jenny Brown

PS – Yesterday was out last giveaway, and it was a book by the awesome author, podcaster, and fancy business lady Kari Chapin.  Our winner is Michaela!  Congrats!

congrats

Hooking for Good – Three Little Kittens…

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I don’t know if this is normal, but there is never a point in my life where my brain is on mute. There is always a song on in the background, and during the holidays it’s either “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (which I totally nail), “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” (Bowie 4 Life), or “Happy Xmas.” But this holiday my head keeps buzzing with “Three Little Kittens, they lost their mittens…” over and over and over. I stupidly clicked on a YouTube video of it for Mr. Babes (a desperate attempt to get out of “The Wheels on the Bus” purgatory), and now the poor boy is addicted.  And I really want some pie.

Hi, Jenny Brown - knit mittens for donationSo when it came to deciding what I’d donate this week, the answer was easy – MITTENS!  This pair is going to Mittens for Detroit, which distributes handmade gloves and mittens to those in need. If you’re not a crafter, they also accept monetary donations to buy gloves.  I used Red Heart’s Mittens for All Pattern and leftover Cotton-Ease.  I’m still working on my knitting skills, so please don’t judge too harshly, OK?  I think we’ll be back to crocheting next week…

Hi, Jenny Brown - knit mittens for donation

My goodness, those hands are wiggly.  Let’s zoom out a bit on that one:

Hi, Jenny Brown - Mitten HelpersOy, they sure were excited to wear these mittens.  They totally deserve some pie.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

P.S.: The winner of yesterday’s giveaway is Brandy of Auntie B’s Baby Boutique!

Our giveaway winner - BrandyI usually let the kiddos pick the name out of a bowl or I use a random number generator, but this week I let Craft Husband pick the number. It just happened to be another former Marine!  (Think it’s a coincidence, or should I start investigating CH?)  Congratulations, Auntie B! Please send me your email address so I can forward your prize. (Psst – If you didn’t win, keep reading!)

Hi, Jenny Brown Postcard Sale - Use Code "OKLAHOMA" for free shipping - hijennybrown.etsy.com

P.P.S.: I’m heading to Oklahoma this week to visit my in-laws before the holidays, so there’ll be no post Friday.  I really want to go light on the packing, so I’d like to offer you a little something to keep me from schlepping the last few postcard packs across the country. Today only – use the coupon code “OKLAHOMA” to get FREE SHIPPING on your postcard purchase.  They’ll go out first thing Thursday before I jump onto that plane.  Thanks in advance for helping me zip that overstuffed suitcase shut!

Hooking for Good: Hat Week

Hat Week - HiJennyBrown.com

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It’s time for a confession…I’ve been cheating on my crochet – with knitting!

Knit Hat - HiJennyBrown.com

I know, right?  I really don’t understand why knitters and crocheters are the craft version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, but somehow I feel like I have to apologize for picking up needles.  Personally, I blame dumb TV shows and commercials where folks are making granny square with knitting needles (held like weapons, of course) and ribbed sweaters with crochet hooks (although that can be done, but not the way they’re doing it). It gets us all riled up and we take it out on our poor fellow crafters.  So yes, like everyone else in the US, I blame all my problems on the media.

Crochet is still my first love, but when it comes to hats, especially for little boys, I just gotta knit.  There’s really nothing cuter, and poor little Babes was hatless.  I made his brother a green and blue knit hat a while back (he picked the colors, folks, not me)

Alexander and the green and blue hatSo I made Babes one with the leftover yarn (yep, I still had the yarn).  He’s very into “matching” right now, so the timing is perfect.

Babes' hat - HiJennyBrown.com

BTW – Babes has been secretly working on his “Ravelry face”: the chin-down-look-away.  Some day you’ll see him on Sad Etsy Boyfriends, and you’ll know he started here first.

Babes does the look-away - HiJennyBrown.com

In case you’re looking at that ribbing and wondering: “Does Jenny Brown think she’s good at knitting?” No, no I don’t.  I haven’t put in enough hours to consider myself anything more than a beginner, but I’m OK with that. That’s why I started the ribbing of hat number two, which I will be donating, in super dark grey – see any mistakes?  Nope, me neither.

knit hat - HiJennyBrown.comI’d like to admit 1. I had to pay him a quarter to model this hat and 2. This hat fits me.  Actually, so does Babes’ hat.  These kids just have big, cute heads.

I improvised the design with some leftover Cotton-Ease.  The hat is off to Emily’s Hats for Hope, which was started in my new home, NJ, by a 17 year old. Since 2011, they’ve donated over 15,000 hats to people who are homeless or are living in low-income communities.  They also mentor groups in the US and beyond, so check out their list for a group near you.

I made a crochet hat to donate as well, but I asked Erin which buttons to use…

Crochet Hat Close-up - HiJennyBrown.com

And then to try it on…

Crochet Hat - HiJennyBrown.com

And now I can mark her off my Christmas list.  I mean, really, it’s just too cute on her.  I promise to make another one to donate soon.  The pattern is the Women’s Peaked Cap by Yarnspirations, and it works up super fast once you get the front-posts down.

Want to donate hats to charity? Here are a few tips:

  • Use a yarn that feels super soft – imagine how cozy and comforted your recipient will feel the first time they slip on your hat.  Also, double-check the charity’s website before using animal fibers. (Some organizations do not accept certain fibers that may be itchy or require special laundering.  Also, label any items with animal fibers so they will not be given to someone – ahem – with an allergy.)
  • Be careful when choosing a pattern – most organizations have specific guidelines about the types of hats they will accept.  Some organizations prefer really dense, warm hats.  Others, especially those for cancer patients who may be wearing hats indoors, prefer light-weight, patterned hats.  The good news is that most sites have their own suggested patterns, so it’s a great chance to try something new.
  • Think about teens, men, and older women – everyone loves to crochet a teeny, fuchsia baby hat: definitely make one of those.  Then, make a plainer, larger hat that someone older and less flashy will love to wear.  And don’t forget about those big-headed kids!

A few organizations that accept knit and crochet hats (or google your own):

  • Emily’s Hats for Hope – accepting hats for people who are homeless or are living in low-income communities
  • Halos of Hope – donating hats to people fighting cancer  (I’ve donated to them before)
  • Your Local Women’s Shelter – many shelters accept donated hats for the women and children they serve.  Use womenshelters.org to locate an organization near you, then email them or check their website to find out if they accept donations.

Now get your hooks and needles out and live every week like it’s hat week.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Hooking for Good: Make Your Presents Known

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It’s the time of year when all crafters start to really stress: Oh my goodness, I forgot about so-and-so, and I will totally need to make them a present because they’ll be making one for me.  Oy vey, I forgot about that nephew, who I promised a crocheted blanket back in July.  Holy guacamole, how am I ever going to finish 12 pairs of fingerless gloves for the cousins on top of everything else?

My secret is to just buy things from Etsy: same great homemade feel, none of the work.  Or, I give most people nothing.  I know, it’s terrible – but I have a huge extended family, and I’d rather rotate my focus to a few people annually, so I can make them something special, rather than make one throw-away gift per person.  This year I’m so focused on making things for strangers that I’m pretty sure I won’t be making any presents for my family and friends.  Think I can get away with saying “My presence is your present?”

No matter what your gift-giving strategy is this year, here are a few projects from the HiJB archives that would make fun and quick presents.

hello banner from crochet bannerama - Hi Jenny Brown, Banner Beach Photos251

Quick Crochet Cowl – I wore the one from this tutorial during our Crochet Bannerama photoshoot.  So cozy!

lego necklace - hijennybrown.com

Lego Necklace – we made these for Liam’s birthday party, but they’d be great holiday gifts for a crowd.

Crochet Ornament - hijennybrown.com

Crochet Personalized Ornaments – Who doesn’t love a personalized gift?  Some glue, a little crochet thread, a cheap store-bought frame, and you’re all done.

And if you need a gift for your favorite crafters – why not send them some crochet-inspired postcards?

holiday postcards - hijennybrown.com

Or this unique banner pattern?

Crochet Bannerama - Hi, Jenny Brown

Or visit the shops who donated for our giveaways this season!  Thanks to Creatively Happy One, Moon Star Adri, and Opportuknits, Kari Chapin!

winner - hijennybrown.com

Today’s winner gets a present today, too!  Melissa W. was our randomly selected winner and will receive a pair of adult and a pair of child armwarmers.  Ann Espo donated this amazing prize – thanks Ann!  Her goal is to grow her business so she can begin to hire women transitioning back to their families and communities after incarceration.  If you’d like to support her or see more of her wonderful designs, visit opportuknits.etsy.com.

See you Friday where I admit I’m cheating on my crochet with….KNITTING!

Bye,
Jenny Brown

New Pattern: Crochet Bannerama

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With a name like “Bannerama,” it has to be good!

Crochet Bannerama - Hi, Jenny BrownI’ve been working on this pattern FOR-EVER, and I’m so glad I got all the checking and rechecking done for Cyber Monday.  I mean, can you image how beautiful these would be along a mantel for the holidays?  How could I keep that from you guys?

I know you’ve seen buntings and banners before, but you’ve never seen any constructed like these!  Sturdy and creatively constructed, each one is something you can proudly reuse for years and years.

Let me introduce you to the three new patterns that make up this pattern multipack:

hello garland - happy birthday banner - Hi, Jenny Brown BUNTING PATTERN: This traditional bunting pattern has a twist: a hidden cord sewn in to keep flags in place, as well as and a fold-over design that keeps the back of your work out of sight.

hello garland - happy birthday banner - Hi, Jenny Brown

GARLAND PATTERN: This curved design is perfect for a photo props and weddings or to decorate a kid’s room. It features a fold-over design that hides ends, and flags are connected with a scalloped edge.

happy birthday banner - Hi, Jenny Brown

BANNER PATTERN: This banner has a lot going for it, including easy to create pieces and a customizable design that allows you to remove and add characters. Make new messages for any event – you’re only limited by the length of your cord.

So much coolness, right?  Erin did all the photography on the Jersey Shore, so the whole pattern has a beachy feel.  Even though they were shot in early November, it still makes me feel a little warmer just looking at them.

There are two versions of the new pattern:  The Crochet Bannerama Multipack includes the three new banner patterns and does not include the letter, number, and punctuation motifs. It’s perfect for anyone who already owns the motifs and is looking for a fun way to use them.

Crochet Bannerama - Hi, Jenny Brown

The Superpack includes the three banner patterns plus the 3 motif patterns (uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers & punctuation).  It’s perfect for anyone who has not yet purchased the motifs and would like both patterns at a discounted price.

Superpack - Hi, Jenny Brown Both patterns are available on Etsy, Ravelry, and Craftsy.  They’re on sale for Cyber Monday: just $3 for the Multpack and $9 for the Superpack. Also, from now until December 31, $1 from every pattern sold will be donated to Action Against Hunger.

Special thanks to Erin, who took and edited all the photographs, and to Casey of Plus 3 Crochet, who did pattern testing.  I really appreciate it, ladies!

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Introducing: 2014 Crochet Holiday Postcards

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Woo-hoo!  It’s that time of year again – the day I remember (and am constantly reminded) that I’m not getting any younger.  At least they soften the blow with cake. (Little Liam has been talking about “buttercream” all morning – who knew he was a frosting connoisseur?)

Won’t you help me take my mind off sinking deep into my late-30s by talking about something else?  Something I like just a wee bit more?

Ah, yes: Crochet!

holiday postcards - hijennybrown.comEverything’s better with yarn – right? The top-left design is new for this year – I kept dreaming of something woodsy and cozy, and this is what came off the hook:

Hi, Jenny Brown -Merry Christmas Post CardThe original crochet piece was photographed by Erin, my awesome partner in crime.  Doesn’t it make you want to sip hot chocolate by a cozy fire?

11-24-2014, Hi Jenny Brown Post Cards31 Hi, Jenny Brown-Postcards

I also brought back the “peace on earth” and “have yourself a merry little christmas” themes that sold out last year because they are just too cute to ignore. They’re a little larger (4 x 6) and thicker (130-lb glossy cardstock, baby) this year.

Oops – almost forgot about the back.  It has a traditional postcard layout with a crochet twist:

Hi, Jenny Brown - Crochet Postcards backIf you’re as excited about these as I am, head over to Etsy and use the coupon code “officially” for 10% off.  (And if you were wondering, yep – I’ll be giving $1 from each pack to Action Against Hunger).

OK, now off to get some of that cake.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Hooking for Good – Poms Away!

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pompoms - hijennybrown.com

This week’s giveaway was from an amazing artist: Heather Saulsbury of the Creatively Happy blog and podcast (please check out both!) I figured it was only fitting for my donation this week to an art project, so of course I was reminded of my promise to Christen Mattix.  She is knitting a blue yarn line to the sea from a park bench on the street.  It’s part performance art, part yarnbombing, all amazing.  Anyway, on one of her posts about what should happen when the line finally hits the water, I commented:

comment on christenmattix.com

Friend, I am many things, but I am not a liar.  Scratch that, I totally lie all the time.  No, not all the time.  Like, what would you say is an acceptable percentage?  All right already, let’s just say I made the pom-poms and get on with it, eh?

pompom on cardboard - hijennybrown

My mom taught me before to make pom-poms with two cardboard discs, but I totally forgot how (even though I blogged about it).  This video by Bernat Yarn is amazing, except that it mentions a template that I don’t have – I just used a duct tape roll for the outer circle and a scotch tape roll for the inner circle. If you watch the video for 1 minute and then say I got it, ya don’t.  Watch the whole thing or you’ll totally miss the ingenious tips about cutting (not that I did that).

pompom cutting - hijennybrown.com

Is there anything better than cutting into a pom-pom and watching all the tiny strings break away?

IMG_4696

Man, I really used that template up.

For the smaller pom-poms, I used the fork-method and some really aggressive trimming. You can google the technique, or check out the book Pom-Poms, which is where I learned it. The boys helped me with this a little bit, but they don’t quite have the hand-eye coordination for tiny, perfect movements yet and their forks looked like they had been attacked by rebellious blue spaghetti.

pompomcloseup - hijennybrown.com

So, if you didn’t make a blood oath to Christen, you’re probably wondering how else to use a pom-pom for good?

  • I attended a class with author Leanne Prain, and she said pom-poms are the perfect way to get a kid started on yarnbombing.  I trust her because she did, like, write the book on it.
  • Have a friend who is stretched a little too thin? What about making her a pom-pom wreath or garland and leaving it on her porch?  Or maybe the two of you could make the same thing for a local senior center/classroom/new local business…whatever!
  • Knit the Bridge (which just won a Mayor’s Award – congratulations!) is starting on a new project called Pop des Fleurs that will require a LOT of handmade flowers for the testing and installation phases.  Check out their “puff flower” tutorial here.
  • Pom-pom hats are totally in right now, and that might come in handy next week…

And after you’re done with all that making, you deserve a little reward!  So our randomly selected winner for today is:

Congrats, Carina-hijennybrown.com

Congratulations to Carina, who just happens to be the awesome crocheter and knitter behind the blog Häkelmonster!  I hope you enjoy Heather’s prize-pack of awesomeness!

Bye,
Jenny Brown