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Studio Organization for the Crafty Woman

Crafty women sometimes have a different idea of what Girls’ Night Out should look like. I recently visited a close friend who had just moved into her new (to her) house. The last few boxes to unpack were daunting for her as they housed her passion–one of her prime interests in life–her sewing. This has also been her business, and there it was, all boxed up, staring at her. She had so many boxes to go through and found it difficult to decide which one to sort through first. All the items in the boxes were quite daunting, too! Some needed to be kept, some needed to be given away, and some just needed to be trashed! I would like to think I helped, but I’m not positive. Much of the time I was there, I was thinking about my own studio organization and how much I really want to work on getting rid of some of my old stuff!

So, in honor of all our unorganized yarn/sewing/craft rooms, here are several organizers and room arrangements that I wish I had in my studio!

Organization Walls

Studio organization bookcases

Slanted ceiling studio organization

(I have no idea where the above photo is from, but it is a great storage idea for my studio which has a slanted ceiling. If you know the correct web address, so I can give credit to the designer of this space, please send me a message!)

Organization Bins

Organization bins

Although this is showing toys and books for children, I can just imagine these bins holding skeins of yarn, scraps of fabric, and opened packages of batting and fleece.

Studio Organization

Ideas for studio organization

Pegboard on the wall is a great idea, one which I have already made use of in my studio. Organization needs often change over time, though. I find I must change-up my pegboard every now and then to make it more useful. has some great craft room ideas; I need to procrastinate research a bit more to see what new ideas I can come up with for my studio.

Pegboard Organization

Below is a photo of my downstairs pegboard. As you can see, I am just starting to populate it with hooks and miscellaneous things I need to store. (Notice the magnet board directly below it.) I’m working downstairs more these days because the light is so much better, but I share the space with Hubs, so I need to keep it more organized. I have some really great ideas for studio organization, but no time to implement them. One thing on my to-do list is to paint the pegboard, but for now, I’m thrilled just to have it on the wall.

Chocolate Dog Studio organization using pegboard

Use Your Stash

Looking for ways to use up and get rid of your yarn stash? Do you have UFOs (unfinished objects), WIPs (works in progress), and PIGs (projects in grocery sacks) hiding around your home? Then you need to join the Use Your Stash Challenge 2017! Be watching this blog — details are coming next week!


Talk to you later,


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Organizing New Ideas for Future Crochet Projects

Organizing New Ideas

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Sometimes, when you get new ideas for future crochet projects, you aren’t ready to start working on them right away. You need time to think about them — to refine and perfect them — until you’re ready to begin the project. So, how do you keep those new ideas stored and organized until you are ready to start working on them? I have several things which I do that help me keep new ideas in mind.

1. Take a Photo with My Phone

I will take pictures of things that  inspire me or trigger ideas in my mind. My phone is usually always with me and a photo is worth 1,000 words. The thin and thick stripes in this wrapping paper would make a great crochet blanket, scarf or sweater.

Inspirational stripes

And here’s an example of a striped fabric that caught my eye. I like the colors in this, although they do seem a bit dark. The widths of the various stripes and the color sequence would lend themselves easily to being repeated in an afghan.

Fabric inspires new ideas

This blanket was inspired by the yarns within it since they inspired me to see the Autumn landscape of Oklahoma: the browns of the plowed fields; the golds and rusts of the trees; the blue from the sky and lakes; and the green of the old dried grasses in the pastures.

Inspired by nature

2. Pin It to My Secret Pinterest Inspiration Board

Yes, I do have several secret boards. (Doesn’t everyone?) If it is online, I will pin it to my secret inspiration board which no one else has access to. When you choose to create something based on what someone else has created, you need to be very careful about claiming too much of their work as your own. You can use it as a springboard to a new idea, but downright copying and passing it off as yours is piracy.  While I do have a secret Pinterest board, it isn’t filled with just other’s work — it has photos of color mood boards, stitches that I want to try, and other things that I think will make beautiful projects.

3. Go “Old School” (Paper and Pencil) and Write the New Ideas Down

(Affiliate links are included for the products I use. I will receive a small percentage of any item you purchase, but it will not affect your pricing.)

Often, I will draw out new ideas or write them down. I find this method increasingly hard to manage, though, as papers tend to get shuffled and lost. Here’s an example of a couple of my composition books (which I love!) full of ideas and crochet patterns.

Storing new ideas

I also love the post-it note brand of tabs and file folder labels.  I use them to mark the beginning of each pattern or idea that I put in the composition book. It helps keep the patterns organized and easy to find.

Keeping track of new ideas

Another thing I use all the time is a legal pad and clipboard. I write the pattern and notes furiously and then flip the pages. You can even see the paper sometimes in the background of my photos. Nearly every pattern I write has its beginnings on paper in some form. I always try to date and take progress photos as I work. This helps me keep track of how I put it together as well as document my thought processes. This all translates to detailed patterns, with photos, for you!

organizing new ideas

4. Pin It to a Real Life Bulletin Board or Magnet Board

saving new ideas
Check out more cool bulletin boards here:

Sometimes I’ll see a photo in a magazine I own, or maybe the  colors in fabric or yarn in my stash will catch my eye. When that happens, I will actually pin the photo or the materials to a bulletin board. I haven’t been doing this as often as I have been taping them into the composition book. The book is working better for me at this time, since I don’t have a dedicated working space. I often find myself in my chair, at the dining table…basically, working all over the house.

How Do You Save Your New Ideas?

Now that you’ve read about the methods that I am using right now, I’d love to know what you do to keep your ideas organized. Leave a comment below to start the conversation!
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Talk to you later,


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Beautiful Ruby Red Afghan Pattern

I have just listed my Ruby Red Afghan pattern for sale in my Etsy and Craftsy stores. I have included the supplies and skills list you need to be able to complete it. This afghan pattern is a step up for beginners. The yarn is a lovely wool blend but can be difficult to frog (or take out) as the fibers can mat together. Even with that challenge, it is a beautiful, soft and warm blanket. It is a good “first jump” into specialty yarns.

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern

It is crocheted and photographed in this lovely red yarn but you can choose from any of the yarn colors which this yarn comes in to make yours unique. There are so many different choices; from icy blues and greens to purples and yellows. Just…so many choices! I know you will find the perfect color combination to fit your personality.

Ruby Red Afghan Pattern, www.chocolatedogstudio

Warm, soft and wooly, it makes a great lightweight blanket with all the warmth of wool. The yarn for this blanket is usually easy to find.

What I’ve Been Up To

October seems to be when I gear up for Christmas and begin creating any handmade gifts that I might want to give to bless friends and family. This blanket is a wonderful gift to give or receive. Spare time is always at a premium during these months and this year is no exception. My goal is to get some new patterns up in the shops soon, so keep dropping in (at the Etsy store and Craftsy store) to look around. (And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter! Doing so will keep you up-to-date on patterns, finished products, and all that I’ve been up to in life.) I am also concentrating on my giveaway for November. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Talk to you later,


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A Reason to Rip Out: Color Pooling

Family and friends often ask me what it’s like to design crochet patterns. Recently, I answered that I crochet and rip it out, crochet and rip it out, crochet some more and rip that out, too. I have just finished trying a new technique called color pooling.  Finally, I finish the prototype and let it sit for awhile. Eventually, I take it apart all the way down to the beginning. I can almost hear you sigh as you ask, “Why are you telling me this, Karen?” The answer is simple: learning a new technique means that you must be willing to rip out old work.

I get it–I really do–that feeling of ahh, it’s finally finished! That sense of permanence and finality that comes when you put the hook away, clean up the snippets from weaving in all those pesky ends, and fold up your creation and set it aside. I love that feeling of accomplishment.

The Need to Rip Out

However, there are times when that project just isn’t working out; the colors, the size, the density–something just isn’t right. In your heart of hearts, you know that you are going to hate working on the project and that it will sit unfinished if you don’t correct the problem. You are hesitant–you’ve already put in so much hard work–but you know what you should do. You should rip out that row, those 25 rows, down to the beginning and start over, and simply give the yarn away and start over fresh!

A Reason to Rip Out

I’m talking about the need to rip out in order to prepare you for the next wonderful thing in the world of crochet. It’s big! It’s addicting! And it will cause you to rip out as you work (or design) patterns!

You’ve seen those beautiful variegated yarns on the shelves, the ones that have 2-5 different colors in them, with each color about 10-25 inches in length.  There is this Wow! thing you can do with it, if you space things just so, and crochet the yarn with just the right tension. I know you’ve probably seen projects that use this technique, and you’re wondering about this addicting craze. And, IT IS addicting–In the biggest sense of the word! But, you must get used to ripping out because you will crochet and rip out and crochet and rip out, over and over, again and again.

Color Pooling

I started last night with some Loops & Threads® Impeccable yarn from my neighborhood craft store and my favorite G-size hook. It worked perfectly! I crocheted, ripped out, and crocheted again; in between, I surfed the Internet for clearer instructions. I worked all evening and finally ended up with what you see in the photo below. This is about 34 stitches wide, plus two for turning.  color pooling

What is this mystery? Where did the argyle come from? This, my crochet friends, is called color pooling. Color pooling is when you crochet with variegated yarn in the correct length, tension, and stitch to make the colors show up where and when you want them. It isn’t hard, but it does take determination (and a certain amount of bull-headedness) to want to crochet something in rows for about 3 inches before you rip out and start over to get the patterning right. This method of crocheting isn’t for the faint of heart.

Playing with Color

I love it! What a great way to play with color and buy lovely yarn that already has the pattern built right in! There are so many variegated yarns to choose from, too. Some have larger color sections than others, so keep that in mind when you are shopping.

I will show you more in a later post, as I am off to play with the yarn and see if I can’t make it wider. What did I do with the 18 inches of skinny, skinny scarf, you ask? I ripped it out to make a wider one (after the photographs, of course)! So far, it isn’t working, but I will figure it out. I’m not quite sure whether it is the tension, number of stitches, or what.

Remember: crochet, rip out, repeat.

(I’m hooked! This is like Sudoku, or spider solitaire with four suits. I just can’t put it down, and I will win in the end! As you can see below, it’s time to rip out again.)

time to rip out

Talk to you later,