My cheesy yarnbomb

cheesy yarnbomb

There are yarnbombers who make pretty pieces, those who make political pieces, and those that make just plain crazy pieces… but me – I like mine cheesy.

cheesy yarnbomb - Hi, Jenny Brown

The idea for this cheesy yarnbomb started with a ball of light orange yarn that wasn’t quite right for my project.  For some reason it reminded me of cheese, and I whipped two squares up right away.

I made the granny square background with leftover fringe from my big crochet fail (which meant I had an end to weave every couple inches).  Then I used my number and letter patterns to create the word “Craft” and the “100% real cheesy” signs.  Last I crocheted over wire to make the “couples” cursive (that’s a technique that still needs some work, eh?).

cheesy yarnbomb - Hi, Jenny Brown

My favorite project consultant suggested adding eyes to the cheeses, which I think makes them look so sweet in love.  Originally I planned to melt pieces of plastic together to make custom wrappers, but then Erin reminded me that sandwich bags existed, and luckily, the cheese was a perfect fit. I was fretting about how to sew them to the background, but I tried Super Fabric Glue“, and it held perfectly.

cheesy yarnbomb - Hi, Jenny Brown

By this point I had fallen in love with this cheesy yarnbomb – and I was trying to think of any excuse to keep it forever.  But I knew that wasn’t right.  My knitting group friend KG suggested a local park, so Craft Husband and I checked it out.

cheesy yarnbomb - Hi, Jenny Brown

The park looked beautiful with autumn leaves falling slowly from the branches and crunching underfoot.  We followed the pedestrian bridge across the highway and back before I decided on this landing for the piece.  I love the idea of someone seeing it from the bottom of the ramp and running up to see what it is.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

PS – If you’re hungry for more punny yarnbombs, let me know in the comments below.

Truffula Tree Yarnbomb

Truffula Yarnbomb - Expectation vs Reality

Truffula Tree Yarnbomb - Expectation vs RealityAfter months of fussing over it and scoping locations, I finally put up my Lorax inspired Truffula Tree Yarnbomb at our local library.  This was the biggest yarnbomb I’ve done by myself, so of course, there were a lot of opportunities to learn lessons.

I thought I was prepared…

Truffula Tree Yarnbomb - Expectation vs Reality

After I convinced this kiddo they weren’t pillows, I bordered each piece with wire so they would have some stability and I could put each component of the Truffula Tree up with black zip ties (I took 50, just to be safe).  Since I just got a new (yard sale) bike, I thought my best plan was to put what I could in my basket and cycle over to the library. I had planned out the order in advance on my living room floor and took a picture to refer to at the fence.  I even wrote “PrOBP” on my hand so I’d get the order right, and I tied a snip of yarn to each trunk that matched the appropriate top so I could keep them in order as well.

I thought it made the most sense to do this one on a Saturday night so I could admire it Sunday before the library reopened on Monday (and potentially decided to cut it down.  around).  A little after 8:30, I started for the library.

Beware of nebby neighbors…

I parked my bike and start unpacking.  The fence was brightened by a nearby streetlight, and I was glad I didn’t need the headlamp I packed.  I quickly knelt down to put up the first trunk.  Almost instantly, stinky mud soaked through my jeans.  When I got to the second trunk, I realized that in my excitement I forgot about the identifying yarn I put on the trunks to keep things in order.  Shoot.

On the fly I reordered them and kept zipping. I was deciding on how twisty and bendy to make the trunks when I saw a figure across the street.  I could make out a middle-aged woman tapping her foot and looking toward the corner.  I don’t think it was just paranoia, but I assumed she was waiting for the cops – there was just something about the way she was standing.  I tried to work a little faster, not because I could finish before they arrived, but I hoped I would have enough up to show them it was cool (I don’t think I have a very good handle on how law enforcement works).  In my haste, the bends on the stems weren’t quite what I planned.

I occasionally kept tabs on the woman behind me, and eventually I see her walking toward me with a guy and a dog.  Of course – that wasn’t the “waiting for the police” stance, that’s the “Where the heck is my slow-poke husband?” stance (I know it well).  I immediately say “hi,” and their faces soften. They are just the friendliest folks, and I pull out the tree tops and show them my plan, and we have a nice little chat about yarnbombing and libraries and crochet in general.  I think I won them over a bit, and they were relieved that I wasn’t some crazy vandal (even though I kinda am, but whatever). I was trying to work and talk, which increased the general wonkiness.

The moment I realized I am short…

crochet bike seat - hijennybrown.com

I’m 5’6″, which is above average for a woman, but not nearly tall enough for this project.  The treetops were over my head, and after a few stretches, I realized I couldn’t pull a zip tie without a boost. I leaned my bike against the fence, climbed up on the pedals, and reached as high as I could. I thought about standing on the seat, but I imagined I would be found unconscious the next morning, surrounded by yarn and zip ties, pinned beneath my yard sale bike.  Plus I didn’t want to ruin my new crocheted cover (made of Hello Kitty t-shirt yarn).  I really had to stretch for the blue one, but I still got it to a semi-circular shape.

Is there a hardware store nearby…

Truffula Tree Yarnbomb - Expectation vs Reality

I was convinced that 50 zip ties would be plenty, but I realized quickly that it wasn’t going to cut it.  Luckily I had packed a few extra clear ones, which I really didn’t want to use, that allowed me to finish.  Honestly, I probably could have used 10-20 more ties to fix the Truffula Tree trunks, but at this point I was beat and didn’t think I could make it to Lowe’s and back.

Why you shouldn’t bike at night…

Truffula Tree Yarnbomb - Expectation vs Reality
photo by @fcollected

I stepped back to admire my work and see a text from Craft Husband, wondering if I’m still alive.  That’s when I see that it’s after 10.  I look around for any trash and hop on my bike.  I’m zipping along when I see a police car, about a block ahead, accelerating toward me.  I assumed (why?) he was coming for me, so I turned onto a side street into a winding development that I never made it through.  I kept hearing a dog bark, and I couldn’t tell if it was getting closer or farther away.  I made turn after turn but the occasional street signs said I was still on the same road.  Eventually I gave up, got a hold on my exhausted paranoia, and headed back.

Now I just had to bike through the park, which was pitch black.  Thank goodness for that headlamp! I  cannot imagine what I looked like on the bike, breathing heavy, covered in mud, with a big light on my head… but I don’t really care.  I finally made it home and got out of those stinky jeans as soon as possible.

Was it worth it?

Truffula Tree Yarnbomb - Expectation vs Reality
photo by @fcollected

Um, yeah!  It was great to see the kids interacting with the trees, and for all the trouble and mistakes, I like how they turned out.  It’s given me the confidence to start on another big project.  And it seems the library really likes them.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

April Showers bring Crochet Flowers

Crochet Cherry Blossoms - Hi, Jenny Brown

Cherry Blossom Crochet Flowers - Hi, Jenny BrownI thought we could all use an excuse to stop and smell the crochet flowers.  These blossoms are for an upcoming collaborative installation by yarnbombers NaomiRAG and Caustic Wear (does it add to the mystery when I don’t use their real names?) They’re the two creative folks behind the crocus installation this winter.

Although Erin’s just learned how to crochet, she’s been whipping up ripples and granny squares and circles, and she made all the light pink flowers in these pictures.  I’d like to say it’s because she has an amazing, talented, beautiful, humble teacher, but I think she might just have a natural talent for it.  Mark my words, she’s gonna surpass me.

Cherry Blossom Crochet Flowers - Hi, Jenny BrownBut don’t worry – when she’s not crocheting, Erin still has time to take plenty of photos.  (You can see more of her awesome snaps on Instagram: @fcollected).  I love how she made it look like the kids happened upon a fairy wonderland sprinkled with tiny pink blossoms… even though it’s just the park near our house.  Since we all have insane allergies right now, this may be the last flowers we sniff for a while.

 

Cherry Blossom Crochet Flowers - Hi, Jenny Brown

 

Cherry Blossom Crochet Flowers - Hi, Jenny Brown

 

Cherry Blossom Crochet Flowers - Hi, Jenny BrownCherry Blossom Crochet Flowers - Hi, Jenny Brown

If you’d like to make your own crochet flowers for the Sakura Yarnbomb, there’s still time!  You can find the easy-to-follow pattern on the Caustic Wear blog.  The deadline is May 22nd, but they work up really quickly.  The only rule is that they need to be pink, so you can be as creative as you like with your embellishments and yarn choices.  You can see some examples of what folks around the world have done with their flowers in the #sakurayarnbomb feed.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Tips and Tricks for Double Strand Crochet

Double Strand Crochet Tips and Tricks - Hi, Jenny Brown

Double Strand Crochet Tips and Tricks - Hi, Jenny BrownI’ve been working hard on a secret yarn-bomb project that involves a lot of different yarns and techniques (that will hopefully all come together in a beautifully cohesive display, right?), and one of my favorite is double strand crochet.

Double Strand Crochet Techniques - Hi, Jenny BrownDouble strand crochet is the same as regular crochet, but you’ll be holding two strands straight in your non-dominant hand instead of just one.  As you work each stitch, be sure you have equal tension on both strands and are pulling both strands through each loop.  The technique is simple, but it may take some time to perfect the tension and check for mistakes.

Common mistakes people make with Double Strand Crochet

  • Tangling Yarn – Keeping one ball on each side of you, like this cutie, will reduce the opportunities for knots and tangles

Double Strand Crochet - Hi, Jenny Brown

  • Using a hook that’s too small – Working with a hook that isn’t big enough will crush your yarn and really put a stain on your hooking hand.  Try a couple different hook sizes to find the perfect look.
  • Dropping one strand – When you drop a strand for part of a stitch, you’ll be tempted to continue the stitch with both strands and pretend this little incident never happened.  Don’t do it!  You’ll totally see that wonky weak part every time you look at your piece.
  • Not keeping even tension – If you have one strand looser than the other, you’ll get bumpy loops all over the place.  Not cute.
  • Forgetting to Rest – The increased thickness of the yarn will make hands tired, so be nice and give yourself a break here and there.

Benefits of Double Strand Crochet

  • Create a stronger fabric – double strand crochet is perfect for items that need a little extra body, including baskets, potholders, or cozies (like the one I made for my Kitchen Aid mixer, because why not?)
  • Add extra color and dimension – When Erin and I got up close and personal with NaomiRAG’s work, we realized she used double strand crochet to give her pieces more color and depth. It’s the perfect alternative to tapestry crochet, and I’m sure you’ll agree the end result is totally amazing.
Crochet Double Strand - Hi, Jenny Brown
Photo by Erin Markan – Piece by NaomiRAG
  • Make novelty yarns easier to handle – Novelty yarns catch a lot of flack, but there are times when nothing else will do… like, say, when you need to make a giant muppet-esque orange circle. It is really difficult to see previous stitches in the funkiest novelty yarns, so adding a plain yarn (in a similar color if you don’t want it to show) will allow you to count your stitches easily and place those increases in the perfect place.

Double Stranding with Novelty Yarn - Hi, Jenny Brown

  •  Calm a crazy yarn – If you’ve got a loud, variegated yarn in your stash that you totally hate, try double-stranding with a coordinating or neutral yarn.  You’ll calm that ugly right down.

Why you should really, really, really make a swatch first

You might not know how two yarns will work with each other, so it’s best to do a quick swatch to see how they’ll interact and if you like the effect. Also, this is a great time to try different hook sizes to find out which will look best.  If you’re using a novelty yarn, you may also want to vary your stitches – taller stitches look much better with fun fur because it gives the yarn more room to puff out.

But the main reason you should really, really, really make a swatch first is that double strand crochet is a total pain to frog. With double strand crochet, the two yarns will pull out side-by-side, and you’ll have a heck of a time getting them neatly and knotlessly separated.  (If you have a Craft Husband handy, you can ask him to pull one strand while you pull the other and each roll the yarn back into a ball.)

How to double strand using crochet couching

Crochet Couching - Hi, Jenny Brown

Some yarns look great with regular double stranding, but if you’re using a novelty yarn with special bits and bobs (like this puff ball yarn), then you’ll want to try this technique.  (Please keep in mind – I think I made up this term.  If you know the real name, please let me know – but I thought it was similar to it’s embroidery cousin, and I’ve been watching a lot of British Sewing Bee lately.)

  1. Complete the chain and first row of your piece with the main yarn as you normally would
  2. Hold the novelty and main yarn in your non-dominant hand as you would for regular double strand crochet
  3. Begin next row by crocheting main yarn over novelty yarn (like when you’re doing tapestry crochet) until you get to a puff ball
  4. Push puff ball to right side of piece (this will happen naturally when you’re working on the right side)
  5. Chain 1, skip 1, and sc in the next sc to secure puff ball
  6. Pull novelty yarn slightly to ensure there are no loose loops
  7. Repeat to end
  8. In next row, continue in the same way, single crocheting in ch spaces when necessary

Double Strand Alternative – Surface Crochet

Surface Crochet - Hi, Jenny Brown

If you’re having trouble holding two strands at once but still want to have a multi-strand effect, try surface crochet.

  1. Keep yarn at back of piece. Push hook down through first space.
  2. Pull up loop and pull yarn gently to tighten loop on hook, if necessary.
  3. Continue by inserting hook into next space, pulling up loop, and pulling yarn gently to tighten loop on hook, if necessary.

You can crochet into the surface crochet stitches as you would any chain to add height.

Surface Crochet with tall stitches - Hi, Jenny Brown

If you have any questions about double strand crochet, leave them in the comments below or come talk to me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

NJ Makers Day Yarn Bomb

Makers Gonna Make - HiJennyBrown.com

makers gonna make yarnbomb - hijennybrown.comSaturday was our state’s inaugural Maker Day, so of course I had to celebrate by crocheting this NJ Makers Day Yarn Bomb.

Mr. A and Yarn Bomb - HiJennyBrown.com

Some folks thought it should have been hung closer to the playground (so visiting it would coincide with a turn on the swings), but I like it on the chain link fence (over the ugly piece of wood holding that metal sign on).

crochet scissors - hijennybrown.com

I only had a day to get it done, so I wanted to make something small inspired by my favorite craft supplies (and Taylor Swift, of course).  The scissors are based on Howie of WooWork’s “Snippy” crochet scissors.  Howie is one of the first “cool” crocheters I found online, and his scissors have been in the back of my head since 2009.  I used his “recipe” for the scissors and as the base for a bigger pair.  I nestled them into what you would technically call a “chain 15 space” on the black background.

Yarn Bomb Ruler - hijennybrown.com

I knew I wanted the ruler to be at least close to accurate, but I didn’t realize how many little black hashes that would require.  Some lines are straighter than others, but hopefully the people of New Jersey will forgive my inconsistencies.  I made the ruler waaaay bigger than required for the space so I could fold it over onto itself (mimicking the way I improperly store my real rulers).

pin close-up on Makers Yarnbomb- HiJennyBrown.com

The pins were 100% Mr. A’s idea, using pinkies-purple for the heads and some stashed Tahki Stacy Charles “Stella” for the points.  A little pricey for yarn bombing, but I love the shine.  I used the same yarn for the needle, which unfortunately is a bit hidden.

Makers Gonna Make - HiJennyBrown.com

The letters, of course, are from my Uppercase and Lowercase Alphabet Multipack.  I used random colors of newer and vintage crochet thread, then sewed them to the background.  If I had more time, I would have been a little more intentional and careful, but I just attached them with a quick running stitch. One of the cool features of the updated pattern is a guide with suggested hook sizes for every type of yarn, plus techniques for attaching letters to your finished projects.

wire-edge of Makers Gonna Make YarnBomb - HiJennyBrown.com

One of my favorite yarnbombing tricks is to add a wire border, something I figured out while making the giant heart.  Mr. A thought it needed more green, so I held the wire along the edge of the black and single-crocheted over it.  It gives the piece enough structure that you can attach it to a fence or other surface with nothing more than a zip tie in each corner.  It probably could have used a little more reshaping, but we had to get this guy done in time to get on to the other NJ Makers Day events.

Yarn Bomb Crew - HiJennyBrown.com Bye,
Jenny Brown

*Photos by Erin Markan of Folks Collected

10 Tips to Crafting Your Own Community Project

A Garden in Winter Hat Donation - Hi, Jenny Brown

I consider myself lucky to have the time and yarn to contribute to amazing yarn installations, charity events, and awareness campaigns across the country.  If you’re like me, you totally idolize the folks with enough organization and know-how to put these events together.

But I have a secret – you can do it, too, and you don’t need a ton of money or a huge network of friends or even an original idea.  All you need are these 10 tips based on the experiences of real event organizer and all-around inspiring folks.  But don’t take my word for it…

A Garden in Winter - courtesy Val Dale on hijennybrown.com
Courtesy Val Dale

 

1: IDENTIFY A NEED (OR JUST A WANT)

If no ideas come immediately to mind, scroll through your Facebook feed, roam down Main Street, or talk to friends about the needs of your community (and yes, beautification and public art are needs).  Think about your specific talents and how that could help people in your community – just passing along the knowledge you have is enough.

Still haven’t come up with something? Right now I’m going through New Tech City’s Bored and Beautiful Project, which features 5 challenges in small audio snippets to help you put down your phone and turn on your boredom, and eventually, your great ideas.

2: SHARE YOUR IDEA

You’ve got an idea, but you’re not completely sure how to implement it.  And deep down, there’s some nagging part of you that worries it’s not even a good idea.  That’s OK – share it anyway!

Sarah & Ella - courtesy Sarah Worth on HiJennyBrown.com
Courtesy Sarah Wirth

 

You may have seen yarnbombers attaching scarves to statues and trees as a gift to those who are cold or homeless.  Sarah Wirth (an old high school buddy – Hi, Sarah!) shared one such picture on Frederick’s Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership Facebook feed, which caught the eye of SHIP’s founder, Ed Hinde, and Val Dale, who offered to start a Facebook event page.  The freezing temperatures in January encouraged them to act quickly, so they encouraged folks to collect new and gently used scarves, hats, gloves, and jackets to be distributed the next week. Val worried that the event might not have enough time to go viral with such a tight timeline: “I expected 40 to 50 to attend, with maybe a couple hundred invites.  Instead, it truly caught on fire…I think the idea just really resonated with folks. It was something they could do that would make a first-hand impact.  It was visual in its symbolism.  There has been a lot of focus on poverty and homelessness in our community.  It gave folks something tangible they could do together.”

A Garden in Winter Hat Donation - Hi, Jenny Brown

It was so successful, in fact, that organizers started to worry there would be too many people and donations.  Luckily, the Rescue Mission offered a truck to collect more donations, participants identified additional locations for leaving donations in advance, and a local police officer monitored traffic.

3: DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT

It sounds cliché, but no one has your same unique mix of experience, talent, and connections.  As Stacey Monique would tell you: Why Not You?’

knit hat - HiJennyBrown.com

If you need more convincing, Emily’s Hats for Hope Initiative, which has distributed over 15,000 hats to people who needed them, was started by a then 17-year-old.  I think you can do it.

4: GET OVER YOURSELF AND ASK

There might be a little part of you that thinks you’re not cool or popular enough to pull this off, but friendo, this ain’t high school.  The only difference between you and the fancy event organizers you see on the news is that they actually asked for help.  That, and they have way more expensive nail polish.

I’ve contributed to a few yarnbombing projects lately that I learned about on Instagram, of all places.  They make it easy by spelling out specifically what they want, where it should be sent, and how it will be used.  I think Yarnbomber is probably the best example of this: he announces his projects using one of his many beautiful scenic photos, gives a firm deadline, and let’s people be creative.  He also lets folks know that their items may not be used at all, which helps manage everyone’s expectations while also adding an exciting air of mystery.  When I saw my square in his latest installation, I was ecstatic!.

It also doesn’t have to be a “thing.” Ask a fellow blogger to share your event.  Ask your English snob buddy to read over your invitation.  Ask your local craft store to put event fliers in every bag.  The worst they can say is no.

If you’re still a little scared to ask, practice on me.   I promise to say yes.

5. GIVE PEOPLE MULTIPLE WAYS TO HELP

The most successful events allow people to contribute in a way that’s easiest or most rewarding for them.  For the A Garden in Winter event, people could contribute by buying new warm weather accessories, donating gently used items, or making their own (which is of course what I did).  Folks could also come to the kick-off event and tie donated items, or they could just offer support on the event page.

A Garden in Winter Hat Donation - Hi, Jenny Brown

With Knit the Bridge, the largest yarn bomb in the world, You could make a piece or a full panel, you could sew panels on during the installation, you could zip tie machine-knit panels to snow fencing, help direct a crane, donate cash, buy t-shirts, or help tear the thing apart.  Really, there were no bad options (and Craft Husband and I did quite a few).

craft husband on knit the bridge - hijennybrown.com

6. RECOGNIZE YOUR VOLUNTEERS

This is your chance to be the mushy, enthusiastic person that usually only comes out when you catch “The Princess Bride” on cable (still at the Wesley part? Awesome!).  Whenever you can, post about donations coming in, or include stories about the folks you intend to serve on any social media stream available to you.  I was so excited to see the picture NaomiRAG posted when she received my crochet crocuses for her upcoming installation (I am so looking forward about that one!) And don’t forget to check volunteers’ feeds and like the heck out of their posts (not just the ones about you).

Crochet Crocus for NaomiRAG by Hi Jenny Brown

Don’t forget to tell them thank you in person, and don’t worry about throwing in a few extra exclamation points here and there! Also drop the names of any government officials, organizations, or businesses that helped you into press releases, blog posts, or tweets.  Don’t be spammy, but it’s OK to be sincerely grateful.

7. BE SENSITIVE

Some projects, like A Garden in Winter, may require a little more forethought and sensitivity on your part.  Sometimes folks get so wrapped up in the “good” they’re doing that they forget about the end recipient.  Leading up to the event, the A Garden in Winter organizers posted in their Facebook group that participants should treat what some would call encampments as the “homes and neighborhoods” of residents who are homeless. As Val said, “Homelessness is a condition, not a person.”

Contact organizations who also help the people you are planning your project for, and ask them about the language they would use.  They might also be able to review invitations or press releases for you or help identify how best to help a variety of populations.

8. FIGHT THE URGE TO SAY IT’S NOT ENOUGH

No one’s saying you have to solve all the world’s problems with your first event.  When the Young Preservationists decided to decorate abandoned or at risk historic building in downtown Wheeling, my group jumped at the chance to decorate a beautiful Victorian building.  The event and decorations caught the eye of Glenn Elliott, who had recently moved back to Wheeling and couldn’t resist the vacant building.  A couple hearts downtown didn’t save an entire town, but it did save one building and helped a man move from advocate to owner. (Why is this not a romantic comedy yet?  Lifetime Channel, are you listening?)

Heart Party - hijennybrown

Oh gosh, I miss these guys.  We were so glad the Professional Building had a new owner that we went back a year later to give her a little more love.

2-9-2014 Professional Building Hearts-9855

Knitteapolis recently got permission to yarnbomb the Mall of America sign in red panels & hearts for Wear Red Day with the goal of raising awareness about heart disease in women.  The final result was so pretty, MoA allowed it to stay up longer and pictures and videos of the event were EVERYWHERE I looked that day.

I’ve seen people afraid to volunteer to organize or participate in events because they’re not “doing enough.” As Val said, even events that have a direct benefit, like providing warm clothing or food, can have a bigger effect: “I think whenever we engage the community, it raises awareness.  News coverage, which there was, reaches an even broader audience. You want the word out in as many venues as possible.  While the news covered it after the event happened, I do think that people who saw it would then consider the topic and what they might do to be involved in the issue.  It would be my hope that it will increase participation.”

9. PLAN THE NEXT STEP

Once your successful campaign or project is over, you’re going to be on the highest high…and you want to capitalize on that before you lose momentum.

Hi, Jenny Brown Flowers for Pop des Fleurs

Knit the Bridge has Pop des Fleurs, A Garden in Winter is using their event page to discuss other actions they can take, and everyone’s favorite giver of crochet hearts, Nallie Radloff, is adding some wood love.  Don’t wait until it’s over to think about what’s next because you want to feel like this forever.

10. Now Just Do It!

I can’t say it any better than Val did: “We can all think of 15 reasons why something won’t work.  Instead, think of HOW it will work and then ‘just do it!'”
BONUS TIP: Make friends with a good photographer!  Thanks to Erin Markan of @fcollected for her great photos of all our projects over the years (and happy early birthday, friendo!)
Bye,
Jenny Brown

Flower Lady

Crochet Crocus - Hi, Jenny Brown

I know you don’t want to hear me talk about how cold I am.  Is it interesting at all that I’m wearing a hat and cowl inside, with the tiny electric heater blowing on my feet?  Wanna chat about my ultra-dry skin or über-frizzy hair? Were you wondering if I’ve been googling water-heated mattress pads all night? No, not at all?  Then let’s just skip to the part where I’m so hungry for spring that I’m crocheting nothing but flowers until NJ thaws out.

Crochet Crocus for NaomiRAG by Hi Jenny Brown

My first flower foray came from this instagram post by amazing yarn artist @NaomiRAG. Have you seen her amazing crochet yarnbombing before?

Do I want to contribute?  Uh, yeah! A quick email later, I had the pattern in hand and was working up some crocuses (crocqui?).  Erin had a whole vision for flower pictures: I got out the double-stick tape, and she started drawing stems on her repurposed whiteboard-turned-chalkboard.  (True fact: I have been voted “Least Likely to Keep a Plant Alive” and I didn’t know crocuses grew on stems.  She started talking about how they were the first flower of spring, and I suddenly realized she had a better handle on this project than I ever did. Oh, Erin, why you always got to be better and smarter?)

Mr. A adding leaves to crochet crocuses - Hi Jenny Brown

Mr. A (who is an excellent graffiti student), was really keen on drawing some leaves.

Mr. A adding sky to crochet crocuses - Hi Jenny Brown

He and his mom did a little additional decorating as well, and I really love how the pictures turned out.

Crochet Crocus on chalkboard - Hi Jenny Brown

My goodness, it was hard to take these down and ship them out…

Crochet Crocus - Hi, Jenny BrownBut, on to the next project.
Crochet Daisy - Hi, Jenny Brown

The folks behind Knit the Bridge have a new project – Pop des Fleurs. This flower-based installation in 2016 will feature tons of handmade flowers, but they are in need of various flower types for a test installation next month.  I made some of the plastic bag flowers they suggested (I just subbed crochet for knitting), but I was not feeling the plarn this week.

Crochet Daisy - Hi, Jenny BrownSo I moved on to some bulky acrylic flowers based on this pattern by Saria with some leftover Lion Brand Hometown.  I was digging the big bright flowers so much that I kinda wanted to leave them on that (cold, cold, cold) fence so I could visit them every once in a while.

Crochet Daisy - Hi, Jenny Brown

(The stems here are sad, dead vines from summer.  Oh winter, you’re the meanest).

Crochet Daisy - Hi, Jenny Brown

If you know of any other yarnbombing or crochet/knit installation projects, or you’ve participated in one yourself, please let me know about it in the comments.  I need a few more things to keep my hands busy to keep them from freezing solid.

Bye,
Jenny Brown

photo kiddo - hijennybrown

PS – I gave the boys my camera while their mom was taking pictures, and I sent a little behind-the-scenes peek at the cuteness to the folks on my weekly email list.  Want to learn more about HiJB and hear about new patterns and products before anyone else?  Well then sign up, friendo!

PPS – Today is my mom’s birthday!   Happy Birthday, Mom!

2014: A Little Too Good

Professional Building Hearts-HiJennyBrown

2015, I don’t want to give you a complex or anything, but you’re going to have a lot to live up to cause 2014 kinda killed it.  I mean, seriously:

I casually talked to some famous people

Judge John Hodgman Show - via maximumfun.org Jenny - Creative Live with Michelle Ward

No bigs, just John Hodgman & Jesse Thorn on the Judge John Hodgman Podcast and Michelle Ward during her Creative Live class in San Francisco (I also met Creative Live fan-girl favorite JKO, FYI).

Hi, Jenny Brown won an award for crochet photography (thanks to our amazing photographer Erin Markan) from Crochet Concupiscence. Thanks, Kathryn!

awesome blog award - crochet concupiscence

Our crew moved to New Jersey and have yet to get a spray tan (or meet a person with one, btw) and enjoyed being just a train ride away from NYC.

Etsy Craft Party - Hi, Jenny Brown

I released a New Pattern: Crochet Bannerama

Crochet Bannerama by Hi, Jenny Brown- 3 Pattern Multipack for crochet garland, banner, and bunting that you can personalize

and two free crochet project that use my letter, number, & punctuation patterns:

Teacher Gift Crochet Cup Cuff Project PatternLast Day First Day Back to School Crochet Reversible Photo Prop

One of my yarn bombs survived in the wild for 3 months (confirmed by Richelle of the Red Scorpio in November and by Jenna of Promo Analyzer in mid-December) and counting

hello yarnbomb front hi jenny brownrepost of redscorpios photo on hijennybrown.com

Hello Yarn Bomb - picture by Jenna of promoanalyzer.com

and I made a couple other cool yarnbombs (with help from Erin & Craft Husband).

Stop Collaborate & Listen yarnbombyarn bomb - barber pole crochet yarnbomb

and a giant heart with the folks of Ohio Valley Handmade

Professional Building Hearts-HiJennyBrown
All We Need Is Love - Yarnbomb

I kinda killed it with school crafts

lego necklace - hijennybrown.com 10-30-2014, Trunk or Treat, Minecraft Car - hijennybrown.com

 

I gave some pretty good advice

You Know What You Should Make - Hi, Jenny Brown

 

10 tips to help kids love crochet - Hi, Jenny BrownI had so much fun with Hooking for Good: donating 9 items to organizations throughout the country, donating $1 from every sale to Action Against Hunger, and giving away amazing items by Kari Chapin, Ann Espo of OpportuKnits, artist and podcaster Heather Saulsbury, and Adri of Moon Star Adri to you awesome folks.

Hooking for Good Crochet and Knit Donations - hijennybrown.com

And I LOVED seeing your FOs made with my motif patterns and project ideas!

A photo posted by Jacqui J (@yarnosaurusrex) on

 

Plus, I was humble all year long.

I also met so many amazing makers, artists, crocheters,  coaches, and enthusiasts this year, and I want to thank you all for your kindness and support.  Please forgive me for not mentioning you individually because inevitably I will leave out the most sensitive person, and I don’t want anyone to feel bad on the New Year’s!

See you next year,
Jenny Brown

Hooking for Good – Giving and Getting

hello yarnbomb mystery - hijennybrown.com

I’m amazed that this project is just getting started, and already I’m seeing so many great things happening.  Before I started my “Hooking for Good” season, I shared my idea in a Facebook group started by Kari Chapin.  I was so excited to get some feedback, but I was shocked when some of the artists and crafters, including Kari herself, offered to donate items to my weekly giveaways.  You can’t believe how much that warmed my heart (although it’s still two sizes too small).

Artist Heather Saulsbury also mentioned the project on her new podcast, Creatively Happy, where she shares the mic with her mom to discuss animals, photography, art, family, and other awesomeness.  Please give it a listen, at least for the opportunity to pretend you and your mom could have a civil, informative conversation for 20 minutes (or is that just me?)

I also wanted to say how thankful I am for everyone who shared the last nice thing they did for someone on the HiJB Facebook Page as part of this week’s giveaway- there was such a great mix of super sweet and ultra crazy good deeds going on there.  Be sure to check Facebook and Instagram next Tuesday, when I’ll be giving away a beautiful piece by jewelry artist Adri of Moon Star Adri.

But I’d have to say that the best, best, best thing that happened this week was an unexpected tag from Richelle of Red Scorpio Handmade.  While she was in San Francisco for a Creative Live taping, she snapped a picture of this old girl:

repost of redscorpios photo on hijennybrown.com

Remember her?  She’s my “hello” yarnbomb from when I was in San Francisco 2 months ago.

hello yarnbomb mystery - hijennybrown.com

OK, now here’s the weird part – how did it get there?  As you can see from the pic above, I placed it pretty low – someone must have unlaced  her and relaced her high on this sign (otherwise, how would they get it around the metal fasteners?) It’s a mystery that I’d really love an answer to, so if you have information leading to the thanking of this kind, tall do-gooder, please comment below.

hellofeature

One last thing that rocked this week – piles of crunchy, sweet-smelling leaves and this co-conspirator.

11-11-2014, Leaf Jumping-hijennybrown.comCan you believe we didn’t plan the matching shirts?

Bye,
Jenny Brown

Shave and a Yarnbomb – 2 bits

crochet yarn bomb barber pole carlisle barbershop

I really love Erin’s parents.  They’ve never been anything but kind to me.  They always have chocolate in the house.  They are both peace-loving barbers.  And they kindly agreed to let me deface their front yard.

yarn bomb - barber pole crochet yarnbomb

Actually, it was their darling daughter who arranged for me to cover their tree in crochet.  E’s family lives in Carlisle, PA, across the street from a famous car show, and attendees park in her parents’ huge yard to be close to the action.  It’s like a spur-of-the-moment party in a (hopefully) big, dry yard.  Unfortunately, although the décor is tight, it’s missing one little thing… a big ol’ barber pole.

E promised to put everything together if I crocheted it.  I thought this was a perfect opportunity to try out an idea I had – instead of charting a barber pole with stripes, why not make individual strips that could be spun around an all-white base?  Then I could make caps to cover the ends of the red & blue strips.  Seemed easy enough, and since I wasn’t sewing it on, there was no reason not to try it.

When I yarnbomb, I really don’t worry about size and rows and such…that’s why the first version of the white base was too tall and had to be frogged completely.  Luckily I had a helper to get version two started (and if you’ve read my post about helping kids learn to love crochet, you know this is all part of the process).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ35Gu4Cdu8]

Anybody else ready to hashtag all their future projects #tada?

Version two was a little wobbly – good news: E didn’t care. Phew! I made a little kit for her with needles, extra yarn, and all the pieces tagged in the order each should go up. Since E doesn’t crochet, I also marked which side was the front.

yarnbomb kit

Erin has helped with a few yarnbombs, so she had no trouble getting this big ole’ thing up.

erin (Pic by Johnny Oyster – thanks Johnny!)

Of course, she did have a little help.

Babes - Carlisle Yarn bomb barber pole

My favorite part is the sparkly cap (made by double-stranding gray cotton and some sparkle crochet thread).

        CAM06276

And we did get a few rave reviews from some young locals (E’s & her sister’s yarn-loving kids).

Carlisle Yarn bomb barber pole kids 4 Carlisle Yarn bomb barber pole kids 3 Carlisle Yarn bomb barber pole kids 2 Carlisle Yarn bomb barber pole kids 1

Hopefully this will open Erin up to some future collaborations. If you want to collaborate with us on a yarnbomb, let us know in the comments!

Bye,
Jenny Brown

PS – photos by Erin Markan (unless otherwise noted).  Thanks, Erin!