Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Ins & Outs of Pattern Testing

I write many of my own crochet patterns but I LOVE to occasionally test and even purchase patterns from other designers. Normally designers will post a "testing call" on their Facebook business page. The designer will ask you to join a FB or Ravelry group that they've created or they may simply ask you to respond directly to the FB post. Each designer has their own way of choosing testers. Some do a random draw or choose by the alphabet and your last name while others request to see a sample of your work.

Tips for Being Chosen
  • Provide a clickable link to your crochet/knitting page. Don't tag your page by using the @ symbol. Instead, type the entire URL of your page into the comment. Doing this will provide a thumbnail image of the profile picture on your business page.
  • Be sure that your crochet/knitting business page, especially the profile picture, looks professional. The designers are looking for someone who can provide quality pictures. They don't have to be taken with a professional camera but you don't want to submit cell phone quality pictures.
  • Provide your email address, along with the link to your page. Many designers are super busy and they want to get the patterns tested quickly. By providing your email the designer will be able to quickly send the pattern to the testers they have chosen.
  • If you've tested before, don't be afraid to say so. Yes that's right....don't be afraid to name drop the previous designers you've tested for.
  • If the test has a desired time frame, be sure to state that you can accomplish the test in the time frame provided and be sure to actually commit to it! If you fail to meet the time frame you will, more than likely, be charged for the pattern.
  • If you have access to models be sure to list the ages of the models you can provide pictures of using the testing item.
  • Bonus- If you are a yarn freak, like me, let the designer know you have the required materials already on hand.
  • Example response: I would love to test for you! I have testing experience and have recently tested for *. I can have this item tested in the time frame you require. I can also provide clear pictures and I have a model for sizes * and *. I have all the materials required on hand. My email is * and you can find examples of my work at
Tips for Being a Successful Tester
  • Choose the yarn colors first. If the designer gives you the choice of color...choose it wisely. It's okay to use unexpected colors but don't go completely crazy.
  • Start as soon as you receive the pattern. Also be sure to send a quick little email response stating that you received the pattern and you are excited and ready to begin.
  • Print the pattern and read through it entirely, checking for spelling/grammar errors, before you start. Unless the designer prefers a specific editing style, mark and correct all errors directly onto the printed pattern with a red pen.
  • Mark any pattern errors as you are testing so that you do not forget.
  • After you have completed the test, scan the pattern, with errors marked in red, into your computer. The designer will appreciate you marking directly on the pattern because it's much easier for them to find the errors and correct them.
  • Take 2-3 photos of the item in use. If the lighting in your house is dim, take the photos outside in natural light instead. Be mindful of what's in the background of your photo. No designer wants to see what you had for lunch or the dirty dishes you didn't finish the night before because you were up until 3am finishing the testing of their item, lol. For most designers, the photos are just as important as the pattern edits you are submitting to them. Edit the photos using a free online editing tool like Resize the photos to 800 X 800 or less in case the designer has a picky email server.
Turning in Your Photos & Edits
  • Start the email with something positive. If you felt like the pattern was exciting, tell the designer that!
  • Attach the photos you took.
  • Attach the pattern, with the edits in red, that you scanned in.
  • In the body of the email describe the fit or turn out of the item. This is also a good place to offer any suggestions that you may have.
  • Thank the designer for the opportunity to test. In most cases the designer has quite a few testers to choose from. So consider yourself lucky if you are chosen.
  • If you were part of a personal group which was created by the designer you tested for, be sure to post your photos in the group. If you finish early this will help other testers who may be struggling on a step, if there is no visual to go by on the pattern draft.
  • Post one of the photos on your personal Facebook page, with a nice comment about the pattern and provide a link to the designer's page. This will help promote the pattern and will be greatly appreciated by the designer.
  • Be sure to get written permission from the designer before posting the item for sale anywhere online or at local craft fairs. Most designers allow you to sell your finished items as a courtesy of testing the pattern.
  • Good luck and HAPPY TESTING!!!!
Below are a few of the items I have tested.
Polka Dot Cowl (Pattern by Tricia Dodge of Cuddlepie Crochet)

You or your child will look amazing in this one of a kind cowl. Its innovative design features 3-d  polka dots in a contrasting color which really sets it apart. This design is awaiting its debut. I'll update the post when its released. For now you can browse other Cuddlepie Crochet creations at 
Chevron Dog Sweater (Pattern by Sara Sach Posh Pooch Designs)

This was such a fun pattern! This pattern is designed to fit a dog between 2-20lbs. The color combinations are endless. You can find the pattern here
Halter Dress w/ Flirty Ruffle Skirt (Pattern by Sara Sach of Posh Pooch Designs)
I loved this pattern for my little pooch because it was something different that I had never seen before. Can you imagine walking your dog in this at the park during spring/summer? ADORABLE! You can find the pattern here
Midsummer Wrap (Pattern by Salena Baca of Baca Creations)
Sadly I didn't have a model for this wrap but you can imagine how pretty this would be draped around your shoulders on a cool summer evening. This can be done in many colors and made to match any outfit. The pattern is clear and simple to read. The wrap can be made in different sizes to fit all ages. You can find the pattern here
Princess Hat (Pattern by Teena Sutton Murphy of Flushed with Rosy Colour)
This sweet little hat is made with 100% cotton so it would be perfect during any season. The design of the brim adds a little extra flare and the flower attachment completes the look. You can find the pattern here in 6 different sizes.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

$25 Craft Creek Giveaway

It's time for Craft Creek to have a giveaway. The month of May is sure to be exciting. I will be celebrating my son's birthday month, as he will be turning the big #7 this year.

The giveaway will start today, May 1st. The winner will be announced on May 21st, my son's birthday. The prize is a $25 Craft Creek gift certificate. You can enter the giveaway below... HERE

I will also be having a few flash sales on my Facebook page Craft Creek. The flash sales will only last 24 hours so keep your eyes peeled!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zebra

I love the way this hat turned out. The zebra mane really sets it off. I used Vanna's Choice yarn in black and white for the hat. I used Lion Brand Fun Fur yarn in black for the mane.
The finished hat can be purchased at Craft Creek.

Y is for Yarn

I've used many types of yarn over the last few years. Below I have listed my favorites and why.

#1 Vanna's Choice (100% Acrylic)- This yarn is affordable, soft yet durable, & perfect for baby hats.

#2 Caron Simply Soft (100% Acrylic)- This yarn is bad for having knots but it's my favorite for afghans. It makes a heavier afghan with a shiny and polished look.

#3 Lily Sugar 'n Cream (100% Cotton)- This yarn is soft and generally flawless. It's my favorite cotton yarn because of it's price and the available color options. It's perfect for kitchen items like dishcloths, and also great for hair accessories.

#4 Patons Stretch Sock (Cotton 41%, Wool 39%, Nylon 13%, 7% Elastic)- The color selection isn't massive with this yarn. The way this yarn works up makes up for that. It's soft and lightweight and offers just the right amount of stretch. It's great for socks and wrist warmers.

#5 Red Heart with Love (100% Acrylic)- This yarn has a super soft texture but is still very affordable. It would be great to make stuffed animals/amigurumi.

#6 Red Heart Sashay (97% Acrylic, 3% Metallic Polyester)- This yarn is used for ruffle scarfs. The color selection is gorgeous. It's generally flawless. It has just the right amount of metallic sparkle on the bottom, where the ruffle is. The price is a touch high but you only need one skein to make a scarf.

X is for X Marks the Spot

The name of my website...X marks the spot. My son went through a pirate stage when he was around 3 years old. All he thought about was gold, ships, and pirate hooks. So let's focus on treasure maps!

As I've already mentioned, I ran myself short on time for the a-z challenge. I wanted to do this project more than any of the others on my list. It's one of the most creative things I've came across for children of all ages to enjoy. Maggie Muggins Designs did such an excellent job writing a tutorial for a fabric treasure map. She listed step by step instructions and clear pictures. The tutorial can be found here. While you're there, check out the rest of the blog. There is ALOT of creativity going on over there. :)
(Photo By Maggie Muggins Desgins)

W is for Wreath

We all love having a beautiful wreath hanging on our front door or one of the main living space walls. But wreaths can be outrageously expensive. Below I have listed some great links for DIY wreaths for a small cost.

DIY Spring Rosette Wreath By Dreamsicle Sisters

DIY Burlap Wreath By Bunglaow

DIY Tulle Wreath By It's a Muegge Life

V is for Velcro

Velcro has been around for over 60 years!! Every home needs to have a stash of Velcro on hand. It has tons of household uses and a wide array of craft uses. Below I have listed links for some crafty ways to use Velcro.

Velcro-Embellished Wreath By Home Made Modern

Velcro Ribbon Belts By Lil Blue Boo

Velcro Craft Stick Builders By Living Life Intentionally

No-Slip Velcro Loop Dish Towel By Martha Stewart Blog

U is for Ultrasound

Here is a little breather from all my crafty posts. I'm over half way through my pregnancy and I've had some really amazing opportunities to view my unborn baby boy through the use of ultrasounds. It's simply amazing how far modern technology has taken us.

Baby Houston at 8 weeks
Baby Houston at 16 weeks
Baby Houston at 20 Weeks

Do not copy or use these photos in any form without my prior consent.

T is for Tin Can

I'm not a recycler at heart. I know it's wrong but you will find me throwing away all the metals from my kitchen, straight into the trash can. Recently though, I've been on a recycling while crafting kick. There are so many great things you can do with a tin can, just as an example.
Here are some really great ideas from other crafters out there who have turned a simple tin can into something really wonderful.
Tin Can Caddy By Shabby Chic Inspired

S is for Security Blanket

Every baby needs a cute little blanket to pack around. Security blankets come in many sizes, colors, and styles. I  made this sweet little Big Bird blanket for my niece on her 1st birthday.
The free pattern for the blanket base can be found here. You must be a member of Ravelry to view the pattern. Registration is free and there are thousands of other great patterns on the Ravelry site to keep those fingers busy!
I crocheted the Big Bird attachment as I went. I did not write a pattern because I was so pressed for time. I may go back and crochet another one and write a pattern for him since he looks so cute on the blanket. :)

The blanket, without the Big Bird attachment, can be found for sale at Craft Creek.

R is for Ruffle Scarf

I thought I had mastered every style and technique of crochet. A few months ago a good friend of mine mentioned ruffle scarfs. Now in my head I assumed this was like any other crochet scarf, worked across in rows either vertically or horizontally. So I ordered 7 skeins of Red Heart Sashay yarn and was so excited when it finally came in the mail. I opened it, pulled out a strand of yarn to check the texture, and had no idea how anyone could possibly make a scarf from it.
I searched tons of patterns and could not figure it out. Finally I came across a how to video on the ruffle scarf. After watching the video, I found the ruffle scarf to be one of the simplest things I had ever crocheted. The video can be found here. Even if you are new to crochet, these are so easy to make. I will be adding these to my shop this week, if you prefer to buy one already made. You will find them for sale at Craft Creek toward the end of this week.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Q is for Quilting

When I was growing up my Mom had a tradition every year in the month of October. She always made my sister and I homemade Halloween costumes. This tradition brings back so many wonderful memories for me. So when I had my son I tried to carry this tradition on. I've made him a costume almost every Halloween since he was born, minus a couple years. This year he will be turning 7 and he has decided that a store bought costume is much more cool. Although it hurt my pride just a touch when he made this announcement to me, I have to say I was also somewhat relieved.

I can crochet anything you put in front of me but when it comes to sewing, I have yet to master the skill. You will find me with a pair of scissors and a seam ripper anytime I'm in front of a sewing machine. I have always wanted to master sewing simply because the art of quilting is a huge part of my family history. Maybe some day I'll improve. For now here are some great links from other crafters who have far more experience with sewing and quilting than me. :)

Quilting Terms & Lingo

Machine Quilting

Hand Quilting

Free Beginner Quilt Patterns

P is for Purse

In all honesty I'm really not a purse type of girl. I normally carry an oversized bag, if you can call it that. I take a yarn project with me everywhere I go, hence the large bag I carry. But for those girls who do love cute little purses, or even for those like my self, who pack a  purse/clutch on special occasions, this purse is such an adorable spring option.

The pattern is free and can be found here on the Tangled Happy blog. The yarn I chose for this project was Caron Simply Soft. I crocheted the purse in the colors of grey heather and sunshine. I crocheted the flower in Red Heart Classics yarn in the color parakeet. I did add a quick and simple liner to my purse. The spaces left between each group of stitches would have allowed smaller items to fall through which is why I chose to add a liner.

The best part about this free crochet pattern is it offers 3 different handle styles and a few different flower styles to attach to the bag.

If crocheting isn't for you, the finished purse can be found for sale at Craft Creek.

Friday, April 26, 2013

O is for Owl

Owls seem to be all the craze lately. From babies and toddlers to teenagers and adults, I have seen owls floating around everywhere. So today I'm sharing two super easy and super awesome crochet owl patterns. The best part is... both patterns are completely free!

Owl Amigurumi/Stuffed Animal
This little guy is so adorable. I used my favorite yarn, Vanna's Choice, in the colors charcoal gray and aqua. The original pattern can be found here on Lion Brand's website. You must be a member of to view this pattern. Registration is free. I chose to do a normal owl instead of the graduation styled owl, as the pattern called for. I also chose to sew the wings on the side of the body instead of around the neck area. That allowed the wings to lay in more of a flat and natural way. I encourage all of you "hookers" out there to add this to your project list. It's one of the cutest projects I've personally made. gives you the rights to sell your finished products using their patterns which is a great plus. For all you "non hookers," out there, I do sell this in my shop. You can purchase it from me at Craft Creek.

Owl Hat
I cannot say enough about these owl hats. This is such a great gift idea for all the little ones in your life. The color options are endless. I've made many different color combinations and they always turn out gorgeous. My rule of thumb is to stick with Vanna's Choice yarn. All of the yarn color options in this brand seem to go together, so you can't go wrong. This pattern is free and can be found here at the Repeat Crafter Me blog. This pattern includes every size from newborn through adult. In the pictures below, I used the colors barley and rose mist for the girl hat and barley and colonial blue for the boy hat. Again, if you crochet, this is a must for your project list. If you do not crochet but would love to gift an owl hat, you can purchase one from my shop Craft Creek.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

N is for Newspaper

I have simply ran myself short on time this week and have fallen behind on my crafting for the A-Z challenge. Baseball season has started up again for my 6 year old. Between work, moving, baseball practice, and crochet orders I feel a little ragged. Hopefully things slow down soon. I'm 20 weeks pregnant this week...half way!!! So for the next few posts I will featuring a few other blogs that have some super talented crafters behind them.

Some of us receive a newspaper in our mailbox or at our doorstep 2-3 times a week. Generally, we spend 10-15 minutes reading the paper and then it hits the trash can. Below I have found some talented artists who have given a new life to their morning paper.

Newspaper Roses
I love the look of these newspaper roses from the Michele Made Me blog. She offers a step by step tutorial Here. There are so many things you could use these beautiful roses for. You could even add a touch of pink and gold color to give them an antique look.
(Photo by Michele Made Me Blog)
Newspaper Reeds
Check out this neat tutorial on newspaper reeds from the Craft Stylish Blog. Diane Gilleland offers a step by step tutorial here You can use these reeds to cover boxes, picture frames, tissue boxes and much more.
(Photo By Diane Gilleland)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

M is for Monkey

Monkeys were never a part of my vocabulary best friend gave birth to her first baby boy. The theme she chose for his nursery was monkeys. I made this hat as a special request for her little boy.

You can purchase my monkey hat at Craft Creek
If you would like to crochet your own monkey hat, the pattern can be purchased here Monkey Pattern

L is for Lantern

This simple tutorial on making a homemade lantern would be an excellent idea for an outside wedding being planned on a low budget.
Tin Can
Wire or Twine (Handle)
Tea Candle
Paint if desired

STEP 1: Clean your tin can thoroughly.
STEP 2: If you choose to paint your can, like I did, be sure to do that now. Otherwise you will be painting over your holes.
STEP 3: Drill out tiny holes all around your can. If you want to do a pattern, take a sharpie and draw the pattern dots before drilling. Leave 1 inch of undrilled space around the bottom section of the can.
STEP 4: Create a handle with wire or twine. You can use the holes you drilled in the previous step to pull your wire/twine through.
STEP 5: Place a small amount of sand in the bottom if your can. Place candle on top of sand and light when ready to use.


K is for Kid Craft

If you didn't have a pet rock when you were young, you missed out! Pet rocks are fun and easy crafts to do with your kids.

Paint Brushes

STEP 1- Collect rocks. Wash rocks until free of loose dirt.
STEP 2- Paint as desired and allow to dry.


J is for Jar

Mason jars can be super handy in a craft room or a garage. They are able to hold lots of tiny items that otherwise look messy when strewn across a table top or thrown in a drawer. But filling a mason jar with hundreds of tiny screws and placing it on a shelf isn't all that attractive. Below is an easy tutorial on "dressing up" a mason jar so that it becomes a decoration rather than an eye sore.
Mason Jar(s)
White Craft Glue
Food Coloring
Paint Brush
Mixing Bowl

STEP 1- Mix 1/2 cup of glue with 1 teaspoon of gel food coloring per jar. Blend until uniform color.
STEP 2- Paint mixture onto outside of jar with brush.
STEP 3- Allow to dry for 6 hours before use.

Note: You will notice that initially the color of the mixture looks too dense once painted onto the jars. The color WILL become transparent after drying.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I is for Index Cards

Index cards are great recipe organizers!

Index Cards
Index Card Tabs
Index Card Holder
Printed Recipes has an index card sized print option

STEP 1- Print desired recipes.
STEP 2- Glue recipes to index cards.
STEP 3- Place index cards, with recipes, inside holder and organize by alphabetical tabs as desired. You may want to organize by main dish, sides, dessert... OR chicken, beef, starch, vegetable, fruit...
STEP 4- Add your own personal touch by decorating the holder.

H is for Hexagons

Below I have written instructions for crocheting a hexagon. When these hexagons are joined together, they make gorgeous afghans.


Hexagon Pattern

Special Stitches- You will be using a bobble stitch which will be worked as follows: yarn over, insert hook into space, yarn over, pull back through the space (3 loops on hook), yarn over & pull through 2 loops (2 loops on hook). Yarn over and insert hook into same space, yarn over, pull through space (4 loops on hook), yarn over and pull through 2 loops (3 loops on hook), yarn over and pull through all 3 loops. You have created a bobble stitch, which is basically a few half way finished dc’s.

ROUND 1- Chain 4, join to first chain with slip stitch

  ROUND 2- Chain 3, 11dc into center of ring, join to third chain from beginning of round to join.
For color change- Tie off. Tie back on with new color in a space between 2 of the dc’s.
For continuing with same color- Slip stitch into next space between 2 of the dc’s.
  ROUND 3- Chain 2, 1dc into same space, chain 1. *Bobble stitch in next space, chain 1* repeat from *to* 10 times. Slip stitch into second chain from beginning of round to join.
For color change- Tie off. Tie back on with new color in a space between 2 of the bobble stitches.
For continuing with same color- Slip stitch into next stitch. Slip stitch again into space between 2 of the bobble stitches.
  ROUND 4- Chain 3, 2dc into same space, chain 1. *3dc into next space between bobbles, chain 1* repeat from *to* 10 times. Slip stitch into third chain from beginning of round to join.
For color change- Tie off. Tie back on with new color in a space between 2 of the 3dc groups.
For continuing with same color- Slip stitch twice into next two stitches. Slip stitch into next space between 2 of the 3dc groups.
ROUND 5- *Chain 3, slip stitch into next space between 2 sets of the 3dc groups* repeat from *to* 10 times. Chain 3, slip stitch into first chain from beginning round to join.
Do not change color. Continue with same color.

ROUND 6- Slip stitch into the next chain 3 space (under loop) you made from previous round. Chain 3, 2dc, Chain 2, 3dc into same space. 3dc into next chain 3 loop. *3dc, chain 2, 3dc into next space. 3dc into next chain 3 loop* repeat from *to* 4 times. Slip stitch to third chain from beginning round to join.


Monday, April 15, 2013

G is for Granny Square

Granny squares can be used for so many different crochet projects. Below are the steps used for making a basic granny square. Enjoy!


Granny Square Pattern
ROUND 1- Chain 4, slip stitch to first chain to form a small loop

ROUND 2- Chain 4, *(3dc into center of loop, chain 1) 3 times*; 2dc in center of loop, slip stitch to 3rd chain from beginning of round to join.
ROUND 3- Slip stitch until you reach the first corner space created from previous round. Chain 3 (2dc, chain 1, 3dc) into space. *Chain 1, skip 3 dc, (3dc, chain 1, 3dc) into next space* Repeat from *to* 2 more times, chain 1, slip stitch to third chain from beginning of round.
ROUND 4- Slip stitch until you reach the first corner space created from previous round. Chain 3 (2dc, chain 1, 3dc) into space. *Chain 1, 3dc into side space, Chain 1, (3dc, chain 1, 3dc) for corner* repeat from *to* 2 more time. Chain 1, 3dc into last side space, chain 1. Slip stitch to third chain from beginning of round.
ROUND 5- Slip stitch until you reach the first corner space created from previous round. Chain 3 (2dc, chain 1, 3dc) into space. *Chain 1, 3dc into side space, Chain 1, 3dc into next side space, chain1 (3dc, chain 1, 3dc) for corner* repeat from *to* 2 more time. (Chain 1, 3dc into side space, chain 1, two times) Slip stitch to third chain from beginning of round.
You may continue on to make the square as big as you like. Just remember to add (3dc) into every side space, with 1sc in between every side space. Always work corners as (Chain 3, 2dc, chain 1, 3dc) in your beginning corner and (3dc, chain 1, 3dc) in each of the 3 remaining corners.