Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: Cascade 220 Superwash Sport

I like Cascade 220.  I like Cascade 220 Superwash.  So when I found out it comes in sport weight?  Woo!  This is a soft and fluffy plied yarn.  I find the superwash softer than the regular 220, personally.  It's very smooth, and has nice stitch definition.  The only thing I don't like about this yarn is the slightly confusing yardage - rather than being 220 yards, it is 136 yards (in a 50 g skein).  That means a lot of ends to weave in in a large project, but I think its scrummy merino softness is worth it.  It comes in a great range of colors, as well... you've virtually guaranteed to find something you like, and the price is pretty good, too.

Do you have something you want me to review? Needles? Yarn? Notions? Drop me a line! marusempai at gmail dot com Put "Maru reviews" in the subject line.

Monday, March 21, 2011


First, I just realized that I declared six winners to my contest that was supposed to have five winners.  So... bonus winner!  Three of you left contact information, but I'm still waiting to hear from Mellissa Zeffer, craftink, and Emily.  Please email me at marusempai AT gmail DOT com, or comment on this post with contact information.

Second, my Happy NatCroMo Sale will be going on until the end of the month.  All the crochet patterns in my Ravelry store are 10% off!

Friday, March 18, 2011


And the winners of my birthday contest are:
Mellissa Zeffer

Please email me at marusempai AT gmail DOT com to claim your prize!  You may pick any one pattern from my self published line.

Didn't win?  My Happy NatCroMo sale is still going on!  All my crochet patterns are 10% off in my Ravelry store.  No code needed - the discount will automatically be deducted from your total.  Thanks for playing.  :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why so quiet?

Ok, I'll be honest.  One of the reasons I like having contests is I like to see my readership go up.  So, when people are here trying to win stuff, I try to pull out my very, very best blogging skills.  We are, however, having one heck of a time over here - family stuff, mostly.  We're fine.  We will be fine.  It all leaves, however, precious little time for blogging.  So please excuse the silence, and come back again soon.  I'll be back to normal soon.  :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Your cheat sheet to Japanese patterns

The beginning of my shawl.  Pretty!
My personal project for National Crochet Month has been to learn to read Japanese patterns.  You'd think this would be pretty easy... not only are they completely charted, but I speak fluent Japanese!  Peace of cake right?  Well, it turns out that crafting uses words I don't know, and words I thought I knew but to mean something completely different, so I thought I'd share my little key with you.  I'm working from the pattern Outing Shawl by Pierrot Yarns.
  • 約143c: any time you see this character, followed by a number, followed by a "c," it means "about (number) centimeters."
  • 110段 : this symbol, preceded by a number, is the number of rows.
  • 1模様 : these two symbols together, preceded by a number, is the number of pattern repeats.
  • 12目 : this symbol, with a number in front of it, is the number of stitches. 
 Those are the very basics.  They also combine to make some slightly more complicated directions:
  •  12目1模様 : this one is "(number) of stitches equals one repeat."  In this example, 12 stitches is one repeat.
  •  8段1模様 : this is a lot like the last one, but notice the second character is the "row" character - so, in this example, "8 rows equals one repeat."
  • 49目作る : this is where it tells you how many starting chains to make.  In this example, 49.  Note that this number does NOT include the turning chain.
Is there more to it?  Yes.  Yes there is.  That being said, with that much knowledge, and knowing the standard charting symbols, you can read and execute a Japanese pattern.  So go forth!  Expand your knowledge of crochet!  Japanese patterns can look intimidating at first, but they really are pretty manageable.  Even if you don't speak Japanese.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy birthdays CONTEST!

Tomorrow my sweet baby turns one.  In a little over a week, I turn *mumble mumble*.  And it's national crochet month still!  So I says to myself, let's have a contest!  Winners will be selected by random draw from comments on this post.  Get entries by:
  1. Just say hi!
  2. Follow this blog, and leave a second comment telling me so!
  3. Follow me on Twitter (@marudesigns) and leave a comment telling me so!
  4. Follow me on Facebook (Maru Designs) and leave a comment telling me so! 
So that's as many as four entries per person!  And what are the prizes?  Patterns!  Five randomly selected winners will get any one of my self published or Knitpicks patterns for free.  And remember, my National Crochet Month sale is still going on - all my crochet patterns are 10% off.  I'll draw the winners on March 18, my birthday.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy National Crochet Month SALE!

Did you know March is National Crochet Month?  Frankly, me neither until like three weeks ago.  It is probably National (all kinds of other things) month as well, but hey... why the heck not!  Promote the heck out of that crochet goodness!

The sad part for me, however, is the things I'm allowed to talk about this month aren't crochet, but knit.  Boo!  Hopefully I'll be able to plan this a little better next year, as I'll have more forewarning.  But what I can do is make all my crochet patterns on Ravelry 10% off until the end of the month.  That includes buying my crochet patterns through the "buy it now" links here on my blog.

For my own celebration I'm putting some serious effort into more crochet cables.  The world needs more of them!  I think I'll also be making myself a crochet scarf or something - I have got to figure out how to read a Japanese chart, and a scarf should be easy enough to practice on.  And just for fun, here's a nice crochet swatch:

Set those picots free!  :D