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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Monique Hooded Jacket

You may call this a jacket or you may call it a cardigan, but the Monique Hooded Jacket, found in my book, Colorful Crochet Lace, is designed more for fashion than for warmth. Of course, the open lace crochet pattern will require wearing a long sleeved shirt underneath, unless you just want to throw it on in the spring or a cool summer night.

Monique Hooded Jacket in Colorful Crochet Lace by Mary Jane Hall
The rows on this pattern are vertical, so the beginning chain is at the center front. The sweater is worked in 2 pieces and the center backs are joined with a seam.  The sleeves are worked right onto the front and back panels, because I wanted to avoid you having to work too many sesms.

Hood is completely optional, since it's worked separate and attached at the end of the psttern. 
The hood is a highlight of this jacket. The sleeves, which are long and flared on the ends, will graze across the top of your hand, maybe even to your knuckles. If you want to make this, and you have shorter arms, you should think about working less rows on the sleeves. This will need to be determined before the sleeves are finished though. 

This is the jacket shown worn with a belt. There are no buttons on the front and the 2 sides should overlap. Please excuse my pictures! I should have taken more time so i would have avoided my messy craft room. 

Monique Hooded Jacket closed together in front with a satin bow. 
And finally, I'm showing it with a satin bow. You could use a skinny scarf, but I made this bow on my sewing machine. I did not attach it on each side to be tied in front, on purpose, but I made the satin tie in one piece and put each end through the holes in the lace, so each end could be pulled through and tied into a bow in the front. I didnt sew it on, so it could be worn without the bow too, as in the other photos. The book does not show these ways of wearing it,  but I like to show as many options as possible. 
There are some errors on this pattern in the book, but don't worry, the corrections are here on my blog and also on the Interweave website here
For more info on this pattern, such as yarn used, go to the Ravelry pattern page here.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Amelie Triangle Shawl

If you're looking for an easy project, this shawl would be a great option. The Lovers Knot Stitch, also called the Solomon's Knot, reminds me of macrame. The incredibly fun pattern can be found in my book, Colorful Crochet Lace.

Amelie Triangle Shawl with the Lover's in Colorful Crochet Lace
by Mary Jane Hall
Another reason to consider this patten is that it can be worn several ways. If you are familiar with my designs, you know I have a passion for showing how many different ways a project can be worn, such as the Basic Capelet in my book, Crochet That Fits and my Cabled Cowl made into 7 different projects, for sale here on my blog.

A dk #3 wt yarn, Knit One, Crochet Two, was used for this project
I love adding anything dangling or textured to an edge, and to my surprise, I really like the look of the shawl wrapped around the neck to form a cowl.

Wear the Amelie Triangle Shawl
 as a Beach Cover

Amelie Triangle Shawl from Colourful Crochet Lace
by Mary Jane Hall
For more info on this shawl see the pattern page on Ravelry here.

Parsian Gardens Circular Shawl

There are 22 projects in my latest book, Colorful Crochet Lace, published by Interweave Press, a branch of F+W. I have not had the time to write a detailed description with several pictures of each project, so I thought I would just go ahead and do a post on each design, but add to the post later. In the meantime, if you want to see all my designs I've had published in the past 11 years, please go to my Ravelry Designer page here. My Ravelry ID is maryjane2.

Parisian Gardens Circular Shawl from Colorful Crochet Lace 
by Mary Jane Hall
This shawl has to be one of my all time favorites. I love the color, the shape and the delicate lace yarn. If you've never worked with a lace yarn before, this would be a great pattern to start with. Please don't let the small yarn intimidate you. I've designed this with long, open stitches, so it will not take forever to finish.

Parisian Gardens Circular Shawl in Colorful Crochet Lace
by Mary Jane Hall, worn as a Scarf!
Circulsr Shawl worn as a Cowl

Parisian Gardens Circular Shawl by Mary Jane Hall, could easily be made into
a colorful mandala with several diffrent colors!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tips on Felting

To Felt a Crochet or Knit Item

When a crocheted or knitted item is felted, the stitches do not show, so it resembles fabric. Things can be felted in different ways, depending on how much you want the stitches to disappear, or how much you want your purse (or item) to shrink.
I'm showing felted purses, an ipod/phone case, a scarf and 2 different felted bowls.

The brown felted shoulderbag is one I designed for my book, Positively Crochet!, published in 2007. This book which has 50 projects of garments and accessories, has been a best seller and continues to be very popular today. Projects are still stylish! You can see them all on my Ravelry designer page here.

Different washing machines and water temperatures may also cause an item to felt and shrink differently. Some people may only need to put their item through the wash once, where as some machine’s may require you to put it through a cycle 4 times.

At left is my iPod case, also in Positively Crochet! Its quick and easy, with a pocket in back for your ear buds, key or money.

One of the most important things you need to know is that you HAVE to use wool yarn or other animal fiber in order for the felting process to work. Otherwise, you will just be wasting your time.
Before and After Felting

Instructions for Felting                                 
1. Place the item inside a zippered pillowcase, and put into washing machine on lowest water level and hottest setting.

Felted Bowl
If water is not hot enough, turn up heat or pour boiling water in machine as it fills up. Place tennis shoes (or tennis balls) in washer to help with agitation. This really helps with the felting process.

2. Add 1 tablespoon Ivory Snow soap or Dawn dishwashing liquid and 1/4 cup baking soda.

Kep scrolling, but first I want to tell you about my felted bowl! It was such a fun project and I love the outcome. I'm not sure I even wrote down the pattern, but if I can find it I'll post it as a free pattern. I believe I made a beannie hat shape that was much larger than a regular hat. After it was felted, but still wet, I found a bowl that it fit over tightly. If its loose, it won't dry right. I made different colored circles in different sizes in case I wanted to make it polka dotted.

I just looked up Felted projects on Ravelry and found 30 pages of projects here. I found patterns for just about anything you can think of, including bowls like mine! I hadn't seen anyone else do that.
3. You may have to repeat this process 1-2 more times depending on how you want it to look. Rinse in cold water; reshape and let spin to take out excess water.

Keep scrolling, but first, I want you to see the Houndstooth purse I designed to be in my book Crochet That Fits, a book with 33 garmrnts and accessories, voted "Best Crochet Pattern Book of 2008".  The one shown in the book is a slate blue and gray color. This purse is also lined and has peltex, a stiffener for a structured feel.

Felted Dish - my free pattern, not posted yet!
4. Placing piece in sink with ice water at end of cycle will help it to felt. Block purse in this manner: Before the felting process you should have a box with the dimensions of your bag ready with a plastic bag over it.

I usually have more then 1 box ready in case the purse doesn’t end up the size I expect. Immediately place wet purse onto the box, making sure it’s a tight fit. Let it air dry completely for 2-3 days.

The scarf, also in Positively Crochet!, is much longer before being felted. But see the difference in the stitches? The sideways cluster stitches ended up forming into little balls on the felted scarf. It's a very quick and easy project. In fact, its beginner level. See before and after felting below!

This is the way I showed the scarf in one of my fashion shows
To read more about felting see the book, Felted Crochet, by Jane Davis.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Italian Sausage Hero Sandwiches - Festival Style

Yum! Doesn't this look good?
Did you ever eat an Italian Sausage Sandwich with Peppers and Onions at a festival? My mouth waters just thinking about it. In fact that's one of the main things that motivates me to go to an outdoor festival! They are so good! I found a recipe in a Country Living magazine in the early 80's , but I add mushrooms to mine too. I thought I'd share this with you and I know you will thank me. See recipe below.

I like my sausage cooked well and charred!


2 Hot Italian Sausages and 2 Sweet Italian Sausages (I used only sweet! They aren't really sweet, but are not as spicy as the hot). You can find the Kroger brand in the meat section near the pork.
2 Tablespoons butter
2 large sweet peppers - 1 green and 1 red (sometimes I use all green)
1 large onion (I use sweet)
1 or 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (you could use canned)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Note: If doubling the recipe, you may not want to double the spices. I did that and thought there were too many spices.
4 Hoagie buns
Continued below

Pepper, onion and mushroom mixture
Take the casing off the sausages. You can leave them on, but I think they are better without that. They won't fall apart.
Fry the Sausages on medium high heat in the butter till brown on all 4 sides. This may take 20 or more minutes. Turn up heat you need to, depending on how much char you want on them. Place the Sausages on a pan in a preheated oven that's been set on warm. If you think they aren't quite done put the oven on 200.

In remaining butter that's in the pan, saute the peppers, onions and mushrooms for just a few minutes. You do not want to get them too done. They're better when they're still a little crisp. Add the chopped garlic and spices. Stir and cook anotherminute or two.
Serve immediately in hoagie bun. I think they're better if the bun is warmed in the microwave for seconds or evendors if the buns are slightly toasted in the oven.
I hope you enjoy this!

Chinese Pepper Steak with Tomatoes

I love Pepper Steak but most Chinese restaurants do not add tomates to the dish. I love tomatoes added because that's the way my mom and dad liked to cook it. They learned to love and fix oriental dishes from the years we spent living in the Philippine Islands. The food there is very similar to Chinese cusine and I'll never forget visiting Hong Kong and Japan too. I have great memories of the time we spent there and would love to go back someday.
There are many different recipes for this hearty dish, but I hope you like my version! Remember to make sure you don't cook the vegetables too long. You want them to be crisp, rather than soggy.  And lastof all, make sure you serve it on top of some steamed white rice or better yet with brown rice if you want to eat healthier!


1 1/2 lbs top sirloin steak, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons peanut oil or any other cooking oil (coconut oil is also a good choice)
1 whole med size onion, cut into bite size squares
1 green pepper, sliced into bite size squares or slivers
1 red sweet pepper, cut into bite size chunks
1 handful of fresh pea pods, ends trimmed.
2 medium size tomatoes, sliced in wedges
2 - cloves garlic, chopped
1 can water chestnuts, sliced
1/4 cup lite soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 tespoon ground ginger or freshly grated ginger
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional - 1- 2 Tablespoons cooking wine

Put the steak in the freezer for about 30 minutes because it will be easier to slice. After 30 minutes, slice the steak into thin slices.
In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, sugar, ginger and cornstarch. Add the steak slices and allow to marinate for 20 - 30 minutes.
While steak is marinating, chop peppers, onions and garlic. Trim peapods and put in separate bowl. Slice tomatoes into thin wedges and set aside in a separate bowl. They will be added at the end a couple minutes before serving.
Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in wok on high heat. Cook beef in 2 batches so it will get crispy. Place cooked beef in a bowl and set aside. Add 1- 2 more tablespoons  oil to wok and fry chopped garlic and water chestnuts along with about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion.  After it has carmelized, add peppers and onion to pan. Cook 2 minutes. Put beef back into pan and stir all together. Add 1/2 - 2/3 cup water. If adding cooking wine, this would be the time to do that. Heat for about a minute. Salt and pepper to taste. Add peapods and tomatoes and cook about 1-2 minutes longer.
Serve over rice.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sari Silk Bolero in Positively Crochet!

Sari Silk Bolero, in my book, Positively Crochet!
 This colorful bolero is crocheted into 2 circles, (left and front) and a seam is sewn in the back, which leaves a "V" at the bottom back. Even though Sari Silk yarn may be difficult to work with, due to the inconsistiencies of the yarn, I absolutely love the vibrant colors and the work and time you put into it is well worth it! Sometimes you may even have to hold up your work to the light to see the stitches, but I just love the outcome. See my Sari Silk Purse and belt also. I ordered this gorgeous yarn on eBay, but you can buy it other places too.

Back of Bolero
Sari Silk Bolero in the book

You can see many more of my designs on Ravelry. (link to my page)