My one-year designer anniversary!

This post should start with a bunch of pictures of my face making surprised, confused, ecstatic, and bewildered looks! HOW did I manage to become a crochet designer and spend an entire year doing this already!?

How come I didn’t do this sooner? How long can I keep doing this? How did I get so many followers and supporters on all my various social media sites? And, why do I have so many social media sites? 😆

At this time last year I was trying to wrap my head around how to create an interlocking crochet pattern. I managed to publish my first pattern to ravelry on April 1, 2020.

I now have 200 patterns published to Ravelry! Quite a few are also on Etsy. Almost all of my patterns are written for interlocking and overlay mosaic; I did try my hand at “regular” crochet patterns too but I don’t find it as enjoyable.

I have met (online) so many kind and creative people this past year. There are over 3000 members in my Facebook group. I have over 1400 followers on Instagram, over 1800 subscribers on my YouTube channel, and I actually don’t know how to check how many of you are subscribed to these blog posts. And I am failing at being regular with the Mailchimp newsletter 😬 but I really appreciate everyone who has shown their support there too!

Honestly, I am so thankful to everyone who has supported me through this first year. I can’t believe how validating and rewarding it has been. So many little dreams-come-true. 🤩

I need to give a special shout-out to David Q. Orth. His pattern, Doctor’s Orders, is what got me hooked. His kindness through this first year has been a breath of fresh air.

My brown and yellow, “Doctor’s Orders” blanket; designed by David Q. Orth

Plus, his designs are amazing and that inspires me to do the best artwork I can. He started designing only a few months before I did and it has been nice to grow beside each other.

I am also very thankful for Kate Dudman! She has been a source of emotional support, an encyclopedia of knowledge and experience, and a fun friend to chat with. She puts a lot of time and effort into her facebook group, Interlocking Crochet World, and it is a great resource for everyone!

I also put my new friend, Neetsey, to work shortly after becoming acquainted. She has helped me with ravelry and other “business” things but is also a good shoulder to cry on. It is really too bad the shoulder is only online, the internet is still lacking the human touch. We will meet someday! And, her little dog too! 😉😆

I credit my new friend, Kimberly Windsor-Johnson, as the kind push that has helped me keep moving forward. Her encouragement and creativity have buoyed me a few times. And, of course, I needed another virtual shoulder for my many moments.

There have been others through the past year who have shown me how to believe in myself, even when it’s just a single comment. I appreciate the constructive criticism as well as the compliments and I am thankful that not everyone has given up on me.

I have made mistakes this year. That’s to be expected when learning so many new things and filling my schedule to the brim (ok, it was definitely overflowing: started designing, sold our house, hubby lost his job, moved twice, homeschooling my eldest, and a global pandemic? Ya, it was a stressful year lol). I am sorry for the disappointments and I guarantee I will not be perfect in the future either.

I have disappointed myself a few times as well. But I have also grown.

It’s hard to have a plan for the future of “Ashlee Brotzell Designs” when I really don’t know what I expected or what I can expect from myself when a hobby blows up into a job.

First and foremost, I am a mom. I am a wife. My family is, and has to remain, a priority.

Secondly, my own mental health is a balancing act between pushing myself to grow without pushing myself off the edge. 😅 I want to keep working at designing but I don’t want it to be “work”. This is therapy. This is me-time. This is supplemental income.

In short, my goals for the next year are to keep designing, keep trying new things, but with a stronger focus on balance.

I still have a lot of things on my to-do list. Even more on my wishlist. And a lifetime supply of inspiration.

Tune in tomorrow, when I will tell you how we are going to celebrate this momentous occasion!

March Gnome

Gnomes are totally in right now! I was overwhelmed with the responses to my ebook, “A Year of Gnomes”.

You can grab the ebook on Etsy or Ravelry; you also have the option of buying the individual monthly gnomes. March Gnome is the newest addition.

March Gnome: Interlocking and mosaic crochet patterns

March Gnome is another oversized afghan square (20″ or 40-window foundation when using the interlocking crochet technique). I have quite a few squares of this size that you can mix-and-match to create your own blanket!

I have already emailed this pattern to everyone who purchased the ebook on Etsy. And if you bought it on Ravelry you will see an “update available”.

I have always liked the celebrations on March 17 (in school we would celebrate St. Patrick’s day).

  • It is exactly 6 months away from my birthday.
  • Everything is green (and usually emerald green, which is my favorite).
  • Plus, you get to color pictures of magical rainbows and pots of gold.
  • Oh, and McDonald’s comes out with a shamrock shake ☘ which is minty delicious!
  • Sometimes the weather gives you a reprieve from winter with a spring-like sneak peak lol
  • And, as an adult, I also get to celebrate my son’s birthday!

This will be his 4th birthday so I am going to put all my patterns on sale in honor of him! Get 40% off anything in my Etsy shop or Ravelry store until March 4th!

Happy birthday, Remington! 🥰

By the way, our Master List of Gnomes is here:

Types of Crafters

I was thinking today about how there are 3 types of crafters: product crafters, process crafters, and planning crafters.

Product crafters work towards an end goal of having a completed item. Sometimes they prefer small blocks that can be joined together because they get to be “done” lots of things before being done the big project. Immediate gratification is required.

My pile of squares that gives me immediate gratification.

Process crafters are in it for the long haul. They are pleased to have finished items as well, but it’s more about trying new stitches or keeping their hands busy.

Perhaps this one really requires two categories: process crafters who like repetition (think about dc blankets), and process crafters who like to explore (try this stitch, play with this new tool, figure out something new even if there is no finished product from it).

This blanket is taking a long time, but the process is therapy 😍

Planning crafters are those with too many patterns, too much yarn, too many wips, etc. They see potential projects everywhere but never seem to finish anything. Their creativity has filled up storage bins, shelves, closets, and entire rooms.

My unorganized yarn / project stack.

I think I have been all three at some point. Depending on what stage of life I am in. And I think I prefer to have some projects in each category so I choose what to work on based on my mood. 🤣

What about you? Can you think of other “types”? I just made these up based on what I know about myself and other crafters.

Alice’s Debut Pattern: Feline the Deer

If you’ve read any of my bio here or on Facebook you will know that I am a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children!

Alice drawing on the chalkboard

My eldest, Alice, is 6 years old. She loves to color and draw and play with little figurines. She overheard me telling Dad that someone asked for me to draw a deer for my big 2020 Holiday Squares eBook.

Being the sweet child she is, she drew a deer for me to use! Although, you may notice, I also drew a deer for the eBook. She used the chalk board, and luckily I snapped a picture before the 3 year old wiped the slate clean!

Alice’s chalk drawing of a deer.

Many people in my facebook group encouraged me to create an actual pattern from her drawing, so I asked Alice if she would like that and of course, she did!

You would think there aren’t that many details in the chalk drawing, but you would be wrong.

I tried to create a 40-window square (which is a chart 81 x 81 like all the squares in my eBook) but Alice was not pleased at my inattention to detail.

I made the chart larger and we tried again. She made sure I got the ears on and corrected my “wiggly tail” to be “much straighter”. She also declared that her name was Feline and it should be written, “right here”. I suggested that we needed to add more decoration to make the image work as a crochet pattern.

She said, “ok, icicles”. And that is what you see at the top of the image now. I also added a few snowflakes to complete the picture and we were done! She wanted her to be pink, so, pink it is.

This chart is 121 x 121, which should come out to about 30″ square if you use worsted weight yarn (that’s a 4 – medium weight yarn on the Craft Council’s chart) and a 4.5 mm hook. This is a good size for a baby blanket or you can add a few more panels and create a larger blanket.

I have published this pattern on Ravelry and Etsy.

100% of the gross sales of this pattern will go to Alice. She currently wants to save up to buy a princess sled, a princess dress, and a princess bed.

I was also going to remind you all to sign up for my regular emails, now that the Abstract Queen CAL is done, but mailchimp is having issues so I have no link to give you.

I hope you all are doing lots of crocheting! Talk to you later!

Among Us – turning a hat into a character

So, if you live under a rock, you may not have seen any of these “Among Us” toys, hats, etc. I admit, it took me longer than most to figure out why everyone kept using the phrase “sus”.

My bestie asked me to make her son a stuffy and a hat.

I *mostly* followed a pattern I found online for the little amigurumi guy. I couldn’t get the eye… goggle… face thing? I don’t know what it is, but mine wasn’t working so I had to free hand it a bit.

There are lots of free patterns out there, make sure you do use a FREE one because the creators of Among Us have been clear about their wishes: read about that here.

So, here is my little guy:

See his little wolf ears? Special request. I did 3 chains in a magic circle, then 2 single crochets in each stitch around (6). I then did one more round of sc. Flatten and sew on.

The pattern I followed made weird goggles so I kind if squished and shaped them into something I liked better.

Then I made a hat. A basic beanie.

For the matching wolf ears I had to do a lot more than 3 rounds lol

For these big wolf ears I started with 4 single crochets in a magic circle. Increase all the way around (that means put 2 sc in each stitch).

I didn’t join the rows, I was just working in rounds, so make sure you grab a stitch marker!

3rd round: repeat *sc, inc* (12)

4: repeat *2 sc, inc* (16)

5: repeat *inc, 3 sc* (20) (I moved the increase to avoid a spiral line)

6: repeat *4 sc, inc* (24)

7: repeat * 2 sc, inc, inc, 8 sc* (26)

8: repeat *inc, 12 sc* (28)

9 sc around. Cut and tie off. Leave a long tail for sewing.

Flatten the cone into an ear. Make sure you curve it strongly. Use stitch markers to place both ears on the hat before sewing.

You want them to match up! And you don’t want to have to cut your work off and redo it.

The goggle part on the hat is a 2D item instead of 3D like on the little amigurumi.

To make an oval:

Chain 17, sc in 2nd from hook and across (16).

Don’t turn your work, sc in each stitch along the bottom of your work (+ 16, 32 for this round).

Round 3: increase (put 2 sc in the same stitch), sc x14, inc in both of the next 2 stitches, sc 14, inc.

Round 4: inc, inc, sc x 14, inc x 3, sc 14, inc. Cut and tie off, leave a long tail for sewing.

Give it a try!

Child’s Sleep Mask

My 6-year-old daughter really wanted me to make her an eye mask for sleeping. She is scared of the dark so I highly doubt this will actually be used for sleeping 🤣 but I made it for her anyway.

I looked online quickly for a pattern, but I got tired of spam.

So, although it has no mosaic or interlocking design, I am putting this pattern in my blog anyway so you can give it a try too! It should be easy to make.

The amount of yarn will be quite small. And you can use whatever color you want!

I am using random scrap yarn. If I was making something for myself to actually sleep with I think some softer yarn might be worth it.

I use US terminology and I don’t yet have a tutorial on each of these stitches but you should be able to find tutorials elsewhere if you are brand new to crochet.

I use stitch markers and scissors and a needle, as well as my 3.75 mm crochet hook and some leftover yarn.

Here is my process:

This random yarn seems like it might have been a light – 3 at some point but it has been tightly wound for numerous years and it is quite skinny now. I would barely classify it as a 3 weight, maybe a 2 is a better fit.

It is also scratchy but my daughter liked the color and it was in a random box given to me so I would like to use it up.

I did a wraps-per-inch measurement and got 15. You can learn about that here from Craft Council.

I want snug stitches so I am going to use a 3.75 mm hook.

Key (US terms)

  • Ch = chain
  • Hdc = half double crochet
  • Sl st = slip stitch
  • Sc = single crochet
  • Dc = double crochet
  • Tc = triple / treble crochet

Step 1: chain 16, hdc in 2nd from hook and hdc across to end.

Add 4 more hdc in that last stitch.

Hdc in each stitch back across the bottom. Put 5 stitches in the last stitch.

Ch 1, place a stitch marker. Hdc in same spot and continue across for 15 stitches.

Put 2 hdc in each of the next 3 stitches.

Hdc back across (16 stitches). Put 2 hdc in each of the next 3 stitches. And a single hdc in the final stitch.

Join with a sl st. Move your stitch marker or use a new one.

Ch 1, hdc in same space. Hdc x 17.

2 hdc in each of the next 4 stitches.

Hdc x 18. 2 hdc in each of the next 4 stitches.

One final hdc before the stitch marker.

Join with a sl st, move your stitch marker or add another one.

Ch 1, hdc in same space. Hdc x 18.

2 hdc in each of the next 6 stitches.

Hdc x 20. 2 hdc in each of the next 6 stitches.

Hdc x2 before the stitch marker.

Join with a sl st, move your stitch marker or add another one.

The next round is slightly different.

Ch 1, hdc in same space.

Hdc x 20.

2 hdc in each of the next 3 stitches.

Hdc x 3.

2 hdc in each of the next 3 stitches.

Hdc x 1, dc x 3, tc x 4, dc x 1, hdc x 1, sc x 1, sl st x 1, sc x 1, hdc x 1, dc x 1, tc x 4, dc x 3, hdc x 1.

2 hdc in each of the next 3 stitches.

Hdc x 3.

2 hdc in each of the next 3 stitches.

Two final hdc before the stitch marker. Join with a sl st.

Ch 1, sc x 35, hdc x 2, dc x 2, 2 dc in each of the next 2 stitches, dc x 1, hdc x 2, sc x 7, hdc x 2, dc x 1, 2 dc in each of the next 2 stitches, dc x 2, hdc x 2, sc x 17, join with sl st.

Now I have embroidered two sleeping eyelids. I wish I was better at embroidery but it is what it is. Also, you will notice my lighting has changed dramatically; midnight vs noon the next day. 🤣

To create the band for around the head I imagine there are quite a few options out there. Two simple i-cords that you have to tie would work, but I don’t like tying things near hair, ouch. And my daughter is not coordinated enough to tie something behind her own head so I am going to do a “stretchy” stitch and make a band.

I have heard that knitting is good for stretch but I don’t know how to knit (yet).

I have attached my yarn to one end through the back loops only and done 5 sc across.

Now I will go back and forth doing back loop sc until it seems long enough for my daughter’s head.

I always ch 1, turn, 6 sc. Ch 1, turn, 6 sc. Repeat ad nauseum.

I tried measuring it on her head but it stretched out a LOT after a tug of war with little brother. I sewed a good 4″ over on itself to make the band tighter.

And that’s it! She originally wanted a unicorn horn, no, a bow, actually put ears on it, no, definitely no ears, etc. I will embellish it later if she ever makes up her mind. 🤷‍♀️

Abstract Princess

I know there’s a lot going on right now (the Abstract Queen CAL will start soon and my Preemie Love Blanket is free for 3 days) so perhaps from a marketing view I should have timed the release on this one better. I will work on learning marketing too someday.

I was at my computer all day finishing this pattern and working on the mosaic for my Many Hearts patterns and fixing the charts for my left-handed patterns on “Preemie Love Blanket” and “Birthday Cupcake” (which is still on for $1 CAD until the end of the month). I work on lots of things at once and sometimes it can feel like I’m getting nothing done. So I really wanted something as a finished reward and decided to get this baby out ASAP!

When I drew the Abstract Queen I had only been doing patterns for about a month. I didn’t know I could use the mosaic technique, I didn’t even know how to crochet the mosaic technique yet! lol I drew the design with no thought towards what the pattern would be like to crochet.

Turns out, it is a bit of a beast! There are random repetitions but mostly it is a long pattern that requires focus and counting for every part. And, unlike a lot of mosaic patterns out there, there is no easy way to make the pattern smaller. It is more like a picture (like my Speedy Train), and has to be done as a whole.

In an effort to make the pattern more manageable I have created a baby queen, the Abstract Princess. You can get your copy on Etsy or Ravelry. And you will get a discount for the first two days (buy it before August 28, 2020)!

The chart for this pattern is 227 x 227 so it should come out to be around 57″ square. It includes a chart and written instructions for the interlocking and mosaic techniques.

I think it is quite lovely. Am I allowed to say that about my own pattern? I really want to make it.

But I have quite a bit on my to-do list before I allow myself to crochet this one, so I really need to see your projects!

We also managed to list and conditionally sell our house last week, and then we conditonally bought a new one (all in 5 days!). I am confident our buyer’s financing will go through and then ours will too.

It is very exciting around here and I am so glad I get to share my patterns with you all. Thank you for your patience as I deal with this big life event as well!

My work in progress – a scrappy mosaic version of the Abstract Princess! http://ravel.me/abstract-princess

2021 Update: I’ve been going through my posts to try and clean things up (too many random ads, spelling error here and there, etc). I remember the excitement at selling and buying and how eager I was for our lives to change. Shortly after this, my husband lost his job, we didn’t move into a new house, and we had to leave a lot of our things behind when we moved into a tiny apartment 7 hours away (closer to family). It was super stressful.

Buzz Lightyear Sweater, part 2

I managed to find some time for this project today.

I have the body done.

I pinned the shoulders together and tried it on my wiggly toddler. It seems to fit!

I thought 7 stitches from shoulder towards the neck would be enough but after trying it on him I think 9 will be better. That leaves me 28 stitches from collar, across the back, to the other collar for a hood.

The hood is this deep purple and I think the colors are looking great.

I am going to do a very simple hood. Just 20 rows of hdc and then fold the top in half and sew it up.

The hood is definitely not deep enough as is, but I still need to put that purple border on so it should be ok.

For the front border, I simply started in the bottom corner and put a sc in each row all the way up amd back down. Then, I did 5 rows of hdc and finally, 2 rows of sc. I believe a button would fit through these holes if I ever decided to put some on but the plan is to just leave it open.

Also, a big thing I would change if I did this again: those color changes I carried up the side are NOT being hidden by the loose stitches. 😰😭

The white is definitely visible under the purple border.

Oh well. I am not frogging it. Moving on. The sleeves are next.

If I was making a vest I would be done!

I am using green to make a row of sc around the arm holes. Then I will switch to white but I will try the back loop only trick again. It definitely makes a difference but I’m not 100% sure it is worth the effort yet.

I have 29 green stitches around the arm hole. I joined my white and did 29 sc into the back loops only. Then I joined that round with a slip stitch, ch 1, hdc around. From now on I will use a stitch marker to keep track of my rounds.

I did 7 hdc rounds of 29 stitches. Then I started decreasing. Row 8 had 1 decrease (28 stitches) and then I did 2 more rows. Row 11 had 1 decrease (27 stitches).

At the end of row 12 I did a sc and then a slip stitch and cut and tied off my yarn.

I then joined the green and did 3 rows. I put a decrease in the 3rd row (26 stitches).

Back to white to finish off these sleeves. I did 2 rows at 26 stitches and then a row with a decrease.

I put all my decreases on the underside or back of the sleeves but I don’t pay too much attention to the exact stitch so I am not sure if it was stitch 10 or 15 or whatever of the row.

I did 2 more rows at 25 stitches, then a row with a decrease in it, then a final row with 24 stitches. I finished off the sleeves by doing 2 rows of hdc alternating using the front and back posts. Sort of a false ribbed look.

It is a bit big on him, but I want him to be able to wear it for awhile. We can roll the sleeves up for a year.

If I was completely focused on crocheting I could whip up this sweater in a day or two. But I have little kids and we just listed our house for sale so I think it took me 2 weeks?

It was a nice change from blankets anyway.

Buzz Lightyear Sweater, part 1

My toddler is in LOVE with Buzz Lightyear. You may have already seen the blanket I made him?

I started it one month before having my 3rd child, so it took me nearly a year to finish! But of course, during that year I didn’t get to work on it that often. There was at least a full 3 months where I didn’t even touch it.

It is all single crochet and at one point I think I had 50 bobbins! I used a 4.5 mm hook and worsted weight yarn. It is quite heavy and sort of stiff. I was trying to keep it from being too large but if I did another graphgan I would use a 5 mm hook so the drape is a bit looser.

My cute little boy was really excited to get it, but he won’t sleep with it. 🤷‍♀️ Kids.

I am now attempting to make him a Buzz Lightyear sweater. Maybe he will use this more. His older sister likes her unicorn sweater and and I will have to come up with some fancy sweater for my 3rd child as well.

On a completely unrelated note: I am happy to report the front porch has been renovated and looks much better now

I am writing out my pattern as I make it up. It won’t be a true pattern because I don’t plan on making size options. This is just the one size I am using that will fit my one child right now. I also created a Ravelry project page.

I am using worsted weight yarn. Red Heart Super Saver melon green. Some leftover black from my stash. Red Heart Super Saver medium purple. Not sure what brand this leftover white is.

My main stitch is going to be the hdc (half double crochet) because it gives enough bulk when using a large hook and makes the project quick.

My hook is a 7 mm. It looks like I have about 11 hdc by 8 rows in 4″ as a gauge.

I am starting with green at the bottom, and working my way up.

Foundation hdc 67. Ch 1, turn and hdc in the same spot (counts as the first stitch). I had more problems than usual with keeping my stitch count proper, stitch markers are your friend!

After the foundation row, do another row of hdc with the green, then switch to black for 2 rows.

I am adding these single crochet white rows to represent the bendy part of Buzz’s waist. I am doing the SC in the back loop only and then switching back to black and doing hdc in the front loop only.

I want those unused loops to both be on the “right side” of my work. This is an amigurumi trick to get straight lines and I am not sure it will work the same with my loose gauge but I figured it is worth a try.

I also do the first and last stitch under both loops because I want my project to feel sturdy. In mosaic crochet when you join new yarn you use both loops, so I joined yarn with the same technique.

I then did 2 rows of black, another row of white, 2 rows of black, a row of white, and 2 rows of black. For the color changing rows I always used the loop on the wrong side (sometimes that is the front loop and sometimes it is the back loop).

Turns out I messed up my own made up pattern 🤣 white was supposed to be sc, but the middle row is hdc

I also chose to just drag my yarn up the side instead of cutting it each time. I plan on putting a border on after that will cover the messy edges anyway so I would rather not have ends to weave in.

Ugly edges for now

Now that the waist is done I have cut the black and I am using white again. When you look at Buzz you will notice he has two purple stripes across his front… but the angle makes it complicated. I decided my sweater was going to be a bit more abstract and not an actual image of his costume. Maybe I am being too lazy. I hope it’s good enough.

I have done 3 rows of hdc in white, then one row in dark purple, then 3 more in white. Why did I do just one row of purple? Well I am using the leftover yarn from that Toy Story blanket and this piece of yarn was the perfect length to just do one row.

He knows it is for him

I then switched to green for 3 more rows until I decided the length was sufficient. Now the tricky math part.

I started with 67 hdc, but I will be adding a border along the front opening, so I folded it into an approximate sweater shape and counted the front panel stitches. I did a few rows and measured it on my not-so-cooperative toddler.

With all that very official measuring I decided each front panel will have 15 stitches. And I want them to be at least 7″ tall from the armpit hole to the shoulder based on his other clothes.

Therefore, I did an extra 13 rows of 15 stitches for each front panel and 13 rows of 39 stitches for the back panel. The stitch that had my stitch markers got used for both the front and back panels.

And I like to make the stitches match on the front, so with the first front panel, since my yarn was attached, I started at the outside edge, but with the second front panel I joined my yarn where the stitch marker was because a hdc doesn’t look quite the same on each side and I wanted the front to line up with the front. I also joined my back panel to the stitch marker near the 1st front panel because that makes all the hdc face the same way.

So far, this does not look like what I first envisioned. But it feels nice. Soft and stretchy. And it has worked up pretty quickly.

Technically, it has been 2 days since I started it, but I also managed to get 2 patterns updated to include right- and left-handed instructions for both interlocking and mosaic crochet (Preemie Love and Wild and Free) and I published a new pattern: Speedy Train!

I am going to publish this in two parts because it is quite long with my notes and ramblings and it may take me a few days to get back to this project.

Household Birthdays

Three of the five people living in my house have birthdays in August!

First, my husband. He buys his own gift and I make him a meal (kind of like every day lol). I also make him a cake each year and decorate it fancy (but very homemade “fancy”… not professional looking).

Then, a few days later, my baby will turn 1! I’ll bake her some cupcakes or a small cake to smash.

Exactly a week later is my eldest daughter’s birthday: she will be 6 this year!

So, to celebrate, I’ve managed to add mosaic instructions to my “Birthday Cupcake” pattern and it will be on sale for $1 for the rest of the month!

Or, if you prefer, you can grab it on Etsy! Their discounts don’t work the same way so I’ve just changed the “regular” price temporarily.