Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy Conclusion

Remember my awesome friends Kate and Ryan? If you don't, check 'em out here. Mr. N and I had the pleasure of standing next to them at their wedding this weekend, and it was an incredibly wonderful time! We couldn't be happier for them and hope they're enjoying their honeymoon in the Bahamas. I was given the task of making Kates' rehearsal dinner dress, so I made some quick sketches for her. She chose the dress on the right:

So I got her measurements and got started. I adapted a pattern I already had and made a muslin from it:

I experimented with different ways to arrange the back straps.

Kate liked the above arrangement best, so I packed off the muslin and mailed it to her to try on. 
In the meantime, I rooted through my stash to see what I had in the way of peacock feathers, and low and behold, I had this.

Several years ago I interned with amazing prom dress designer Loralie, and she gave me a whole bunch of fabrics and trims and appliques she no longer needed. That's how I came to have an entire roll of this amazing trim, which couldn't be more perfect for this occasion. Here's how the trim will be placed:

Then I bought some beautiful silk dupioni, sewed until 3 in the morning, hopped on a plane, and put the dress on the bride. 

Perfect! We made some adjustments to the straps and ended up doing a simple halter strap which suited Kate to a T. Here I am with the bride:

As it turned out, Ryan and Kates' officiant is a Canadian citizen, so in order for their marriage to be legal they had to go to the courthouse to be officially married a day before their actual wedding. Which means I got to make Kates' wedding dress, in a sense. Pretty cool. Here's the bride and groom at the courthouse:

Making it legal, as Mr. N looks on. 

Congratulations, you two! We couldn't be happier. Thanks for letting us play a big part in your day! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

And Now, Proud to Introduce...

my new website, www.ChiCrochet.com!! I am so excited to have an online catalogue for my crochet patterns. I'll be posting new patterns all the time as well as crochet tutorials, tips, and advice! So what are you waiting for? Check it out!

I hope you love it! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to email me at bniel at chicrochet dot com. I'll still be posting projects I'm working on here, but for crochet patterns and crochet news, be sure to bookmark the site. 

Happy Hooking!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Big News

Coming in two short days...

Cryptic? Yes. But it's worth the wait! Can't wait to show you! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Special Assignment

Once upon a time I had two great friends from two completely different circles. This is Kate, one of my nearest and dearest from early college days in Pennsylvania:

And this is Ryan, dear friend of Mr. N. and I from Chicago:

Don't mind me in the background. I'm just really into Rock Band. Ryan is too, that's why his face is so serious. 

When Mr. N. and I got married two summers ago, Kate was one of my bridesmaids and Ryan was one of Mr. N's groomsmen. I had a gut feeling that they would get along, so I mentioned to Ryan that he might want to try to get to know Kate during the wedding weekend. Also, anytime assigned seating was involved, guess who was seated next to each other? That's right. Well, it turns out Ryan and Kate hit it off. Really hit it off. 

They're getting married in 3 weeks and I couldn't be happier! Kate gave me the great honor of making her rehearsal dinner dress and I'm so excited to dress the lovely bride. The wedding has a peacock theme, so I made some sketches for Kate to choose from (click to enlarge):

Which one did she choose? Check back soon for the finished product! 

Friday, May 27, 2011


I'm a few weeks into this self-employed/working from home/full time designing thing, which is awesome, and I've learned several key things already:

1. All the moms go to Target between 10-12 on weekdays. Seriously, if you're a mom looking to meet other moms, get yourself to Target in the middle of a weekday. If you're not a mom, like me, just keep pushing your childless cart full of Target brand boxed wine right to the checkout and get out of there.

2. Showering is not an item I get to cross off my To Do list. Some things should never be on a To Do list.

3. To work at home, you need to have a functioning workspace. So my first order of business was to get my workroom in order, not to mention my yarn and hooks. Until this week my hooks had been all over the place--a few rubber-banded together at the bottom of a bag of yarn, some in the couch cushions, and a few at the bottom of various purses (yeah, i know, it's an addiction). I needed to keep them all in one easily identifiable place, so I found some old, strange fabric and whipped this up:

Aren't you just dying to see inside? It's glorious:

Isn't that fabric bizarre? I love it. This was a super easy project, all you need is some fabric and a couple strips of elastic! Now I have any hook I need at my fingertips.

Now the bigger issue of the yarn. Until just recently, my yarn was in a moving box that I dug through every time I needed to find something. The digging resulted in a yarn knot the size of my head, and if I found yarn I wanted to use, I first had to extract it from the twisted mass by cutting it out. Not productive. Until a magical trip to Ikea last week, when Mr. N spotted an organizational tool that has revolutionized my life. Behold:

Amazing. It's all right there, sorted by weight! Oh, and yes, that is a pink and black feather boa. It's from my bachelorette party, and no, I'm not getting rid of it any time soon. 

Now that I'm organized I can start taking over the world! I'll keep you posted! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Big News, Big Trip!

Yep, ok, this is my confession. It's been an insanely long time since I posted anything here. I can assure you, however, that is not because nothing has been going on...quite the opposite, actually:

1. One of my crochet patterns has been accepted for publication by a major crochet magazine! I wish I could say more, but I'm contractually obligated not to share a thing until it's published in October. But once October rolls around I can't wait to share everything!

2. I left my day job as an administrative assistant to pursue design, both fashion and crochet, full time. Seems a little crazy, but it was just time to take a risk and do what I want to do. Thank you for being the first members of my crochet empire! Website with patterns coming soon!

3. Mr. N. and I just got back from a 3 week trip to Europe. It was, in a word, incredible. We started at a friend's wedding in Budapest, then on to Venice, Milan, Lake Como, Lucerne (Switzerland), and then Stuttgart, Germany, where my amazing sister lives with her husband and beautiful little girls.

Here we are having aperitivos (afternoon drinks) in Venice:

Dinner in Lake Como:

Idyllic Lucerne, Switzerland:

And finally, Mr. N with two of our nieces, sporting dresses we picked up for them at the Baby Gap in Milan:

So as you can see, it's been an amazing, super busy past couple of months. Thanks for sticking with me on this journey and supporting me. I can't wait to see what's next!



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Op Top by Alexis Winslow

Although I'm a die-hard crocheter, every now and then I like to do a knitting project to keep my skills up. Also, in all honesty, the knitting patterns that are out there are way better than most crochet patterns. That's something I seek to change. But in the meantime, I have a deep appreciation for both skills, though crochet will always be first in my heart. I like to stick up for the underdog.

A few months ago I came across an article about the top 10 up-and-coming knitting designers, and most underwhelmed me except one: Alexis Winslow.

This girl has got it going on. Her patterns are intricate without being fussy (unless that's the intention, as with the Miss Myrtle fingerless gloves) and beautifully fresh and modern. Needing a winter hat, I immediately gravitated to the Op Top. I knitted the hat on straight needles and seamed it together rather than working on circular needles, and it came out perfectly. It was my first time doing knitted colorwork (stranding), and it took me a few tries to get it right, but I love the finished product:

Thanks Alexis! I'm a huge fan.

Alexis is also an incredible painter, so if you haven't checked her out yet, I insist that you do so: http://www.knitdarling.com/.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Last Look

The last pieces in the new collection are a little more work-friendly. I wanted to make a structured top with the brown floral from the previous dress, so I started by draping in muslin.

Then I marked the style lines and button placement, adding a 1" button extension:

Then I sewed a sample muslin.

Looks pretty good! Time for the brown floral.

This top is a bit of a departure from my usual aesthetic, but the floral just calls for a sweet, conservative silhouette.

The buttonholer on my machine is broken, so I manually made some buttonholes and sewed on the buttons (don't you love them? Thanks to Lauren for helping me pick them out!):

To complete the look, I whipped up a high waisted pencil skirt from the same brown knit as the jacket and dress:

The finished look:

To be completely candid, I think I prefer the silhouette of this top in muslin as opposed to the brown floral. Looks a bit busy and boxy. What do you think?

Coming soon: more yarncraft! huzzah!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Christmas Craft-a-palooza

If you're a family member of mine, chances are you (or your children) have received a yarny gift from me at some point. This tradition may have started in the poor-college-student Christmases of yore, but it still continues today! This Christmas was no different--here are some of this season's Christmas crafts.

For my baby niece Elliana, this teddy bear (dog?), made with Lion Brand Homespun:

Who quickly made friends with Don Leon.

He'd be annoyed, but he's too busy sleeping.
Next, this heart purse for Ellie's older sister Kate.

Next, I whipped up these Tunisian crochet Christmas stockings for me and the Mister:

No fireplace, so an office door will have to do.

These stockings are huge--over 3 feet long. Great for giants with big calves.
And, the piece de resistance, the sweater I knitted for Mr. N. Yes, knitted! It took me about 3 months and 3 or 4 false starts but he loved it (and actually wears it! The pinnacle of achievement for any crafter):

It was a unisex pattern I altered to fit--I lengthened the body and sleeves three inches, and that was just barely enough. I used Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, my favorite yarn ever! Here's Mr. N. with Mom and Dad N.

I also made the scarf  Mom N is wearing from Lion Brand Amazing Yarn. Love the beautiful color variance.

That's about it from Christmas. And now, my belated gift to my wonderful readers: gratuitous pictures of Don Leon.

We'll get back to our regularly scheduled fashion soon. Thanks for stopping by!

ps. All patterns I used can be found by clicking the links in the text above.