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Halloween Costume Tutorials

Another year means another roundup of costume-related projects and tutorials! With almost 3 weeks left until Halloween you’ll still have plenty of time to make any of the projects below.

Easily my most popular post (with almost 140,000 impressions on Pinterest in the last 60 days alone!), here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to make Minecraft Steve & Creeper heads.

Next up (with almost 50,000 impressions) is a similar tutorial, this time for making a Minecraft Enderman head along with a diamond block trick-or-treat box.

Both projects include full charts for game-accurate colors and the exact hex codes for perfect color matching!

If your idea of fantasy is less block-based and more magical, here’s a free knitting pattern for an easy scarf in the Gryffindor house colors.

If training a dragon is more your thing, here’s how to make a viking vest.

If you prefer Pokemon to Night Furies, here’s an easy, last-minute Pikachu costume idea.

If your friends-group themed costume runs more Grease than Greninja, here’s how you can make a super simple Poodle skirt.

Finally, if you’ve got enough knitting time on your hands, you can knit my Baby’s First Superhero Costume pattern as-is with cute designs for boys and girls, or convert the chart and the colors to create your superhero of choice.

Find more tips and tutorials on my How-To page!


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Cartoon Girls Trio – UPDATE (19WIPtoFO2019)

Back in January 2019 (!) I posted 19 projects I was determined to complete in 2019.  Spoiler alert – I failed – but I have made significant progress on about half of the projects on the list. Inspired by the recent Masters of the Universe and Suicide Squad remakes, here’s the current progress on my trio of 80s cartoon girls.

What I said: I’ve never shown these before, except for the odd glimpse in the background of Instagram pics.  I started this trio of plastic canvas portraits when I moved in August 2017.  While I love how they look in black and white (and blue), I designed them to be in full color and I’d love to see them complete.

What I did: Quite a bit of progress! 

I’d never shown them on the blog prior to that post, so here’s a look back at how they got to where they are now.

I’d moved in 2017 and was really excited to be able to fill my space with all the crafty, nerdy little things that make me who I am. 

Every shelf and table has some item that references my varied interests, and I’ve even used some previous projects as home décor – see the Minecraft heads from my tutorials peeping from above the kids’ desk, along with an as-yet-unshown secret project hidden among the books – so I was really excited to fill a blank wall space in my dining room with a handmade project.

First I purchased three of the largest plastic canvas sheets I could find. When looking for inspiration for what to stitch on them I really didn’t need to look very far. There are Archie comics in nearly every room in my house, thanks to my kids enjoying them as much as I do. In addition to the coloring book from my last post, I’ve drawn Betty on the blog here before, and Henri had drawn Archie a few years back. (He was even an Archie comics character for Hallowe’en last year, and I’ll be sharing that project here in October.) So clearly, Betty Cooper would be one of my cartoon trio.

Initially I drafted up Betty, Archie and Veronica, and planned out a triptych of the three of them, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it was Betty specifically that I like, and that I didn’t care if I saw Archie and Veronica daily, so I scrapped them and looked around for more inspo. As soon as I had the freedom to look beyond Riverdale I knew Harley Quinn HAD to be one of them. I’ve adored her for decades, and she’s featured in assorted places around my house, including in two different spots on this one shelving unit:

Finally, it wasn’t hard to decide on Teela as my third girl. I grew up watching He-Man and playing with the toy sets along with my younger brothers. I don’t know if it’s that she’s a strong, independant woman or if it was because she often wore a cobra headpiece and had a snake staff, and I’ve always adored snakes… but either way she had to be the one to complete my cartoon trio. I’ve shared Teela and a portion of my 80s toy collection on the blog before, and they’ve now found a home in a cabinet along with other childhood relics:

The hard part done, the next step was to create charts for each character. Instead of doing it the easy way and importing reference images into a stitch software, I decided to go the hard route and chart them myself in Excel. I found reference images for each character, adjusted the Excel cells to be square and marked off an area with the same stitch count as my total canvas size. From there it was just a matter of redrawing each girl, pixel-art style, and tweaking the design until they looked right. I’d originally planned to use continental stitch to save time, but quickly realized the angles would be skewed and that cross-stitch would be best, using one stitch for every pixel/cell in my chart.

I ordered a bunch of yarn from Knit Pics, then got started.

Here you can see the initial stages. I didn’t want to have to refer to the charts throughout the entire stitching process so decided to start with the black outlines first, so I could then later fill them in, coloring-book-style. Plus I didn’t know how long they would take to complete into full color and wanted to be able to hang them on the wall in the meantime. Considering I started these in 2017 and I’m typing this post in 2021, I’m glad I had that foresight!!

After finishing most of Betty I moved on to chart HQ next. I bet you’re wondering why I left Betty mostly done instead of finishing the rest of her border? Took me a moment to remember too lol but it’s because I left myself things to work on that didn’t require concentration, so when I had more time I would work on HQ and follow my charts, and when I had the kids with me or was watching something that required more focus I could work on Betty’s border that didn’t require much thought or any chart reference. Basically it was the cross-stitch equivalent of having knitting or crochet projects of varying difficulty levels.

Once the outlining was all done I worked on each of their eyes, as I thought it would look better on the wall, and truthfully HQ was a bit creepy without them. Then, while I still had the blue out, I added Betty’s shirt. Her top was red in my reference image but blue is my favorite color so I swapped it out, plus I liked having a color that was in each of the 3 images, to help tie them together. The middle pic above is the one posted on the blog back in 2019, and where they sat for basically most of the last 3 years. At some point I filled in their mouths and got started on Betty’s skin, and that’s where I’d stopped and moved on to other projects.

Eventually I started working on them again. I’d always had it in mind to work on equal parts of each, so as they hung on the wall they’d look similar in completion. First Betty had the slow progress on her face and neck…

…and then this past summer Teela got the same treatment, using stash yarn so she wouldn’t have the exact same skin tone as Betty’s.

Technically I should have done Harley’s face next, for them to all match, but these sheets are large and get folded up against my body or resting under my arm as I work. Since Harley’s face is white, and clearly a focal point of the image, I decided to hold it off for last so it wouldn’t get dirty or faded, and work on her costume instead.

At that point I was on a roll! The new Netflix Masters of the Universe had just come out, and it was kinda cool to start working on Teela’s tiara while watching the premiere. In fact, I got so into it that I kept watching until I found I’d binged the whole first season!

Spoiler-free take: ignore the men complaining about the show. It’s awesome to see the old gang again, even Stinkor! (Man I can still remember the smell of that toy!) I love the focus on Teela and magic vs tech. Made me think about Skylanders and my girl Sprocket – guess I’m always drawn to my tech girls! Also, as a big Buffy fan, with Sarah Michelle Gellar as the voice of Teela, it’s fantastic to hear Buffy kicking butt again. ♥

This is where the girls are now. I’ll be working on HQ’s white bib and pompom next, to complete her outfit, and that will put me into the home stretch with only 2 sections left on each girl. At the end I’ll have to do one run of border around each one, as the edges are currently unfinished, and then finally attach rings for hanging them properly, as I’m currently holding them to the wall with thumbtacks.

I know it’s not conventional wall art for an adult woman, but I love them.


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Happy Birthday Sweet Seventeen

Seventeen years ago, on September 7 2004, I started this blog. Yes, this creative passion project of mine is officially old enough to be in college and donate blood. It began on Blogger in the boom of knitting/craft blogs that fed blogrolls and Yahoo swaps and RAOK groups.  We’ve seen the onset of Ravelry and Worldwide Knit In Public Day, and welcomed pattern sources like Knitty, Craftsy, Twist Collective, St Denis Yarns and others before having to say goodbye to some of them.

With YouTube, Instagram and TikTok flooding the internet with video-based creative content, running a blog feels almost antiquated. I’ve been asked by friends and family why I don’t switch to another format but the truth is… I don’t want to. I love video tutorials. I follow a TON of craft-content YouTubers, and have saved a huge amount of “try one day” crafty TikToks to my favorites list too, so it’s not a critique of the other formats. They absolutely have their place, especially for some techniques or tutorials that can really only best be shown in video. That said, I still think there’s a place for blogs and photo-based project/pattern support.

My “blogaversary” this year falls on the first day of Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish New Year.  I think that makes it perfect timing for a long-overdue blog restart. (I know, I know, I’ve said this before. Shhhh!) Coincidentally I was born on was erev (eve) Rosh Hashanna (we won’t say how long ago!) so Happy birthday to the blog, happy sort of birthday to me, and happy Jewish New Year!

To celebrate 17 years in the public craft domain I’ve scoured the site, my notes, folders, and metadata and picked 17 fun, interesting or long-forgotten items from my blogging history.

1-7

Numbers 1-7 are from the archives.  These are posts even I forgot about!  Some are helpful tips, some are free patterns/tutorials, and all are added to the How To section above.

8

Even when I don’t post regularly I get a steady stream of visitors (thanks!) and I’m always curious to see what search terms bring people my way.  So number 8 is my top referrer keywords from back in my Blogger days.  Funny enough it’s a tie between two completely random things that have almost nothing to do with my site: “cute japanese cartoons” & “hangman”.  I’m guessing the former is related to the time I knit a Japanese boy band, but the latter?  NO idea.

9

Number 9 is the results of my top search terms after migrating the blog to WordPress.  Unfortunately/fortunately Google has been encrypting the vast majority of search terms since 2013 so 9771 of my results are “unknown”.  Of the list that remains the top three terms are: “Toothless”, “pocketbook slippers”, and “pocket book slippers”, likely linking back to these two projects (Toothless, slippers).  Wanna know the lowest search result that brought someone my way?  “Long hair cut feet”.  I wonder how disappointed the searcher was to find my post was literally about a long hair transformation??

10

Number 10 is a really cool fact- I’ve had visitors from 170 different countries!  The majority are, unsurprisingly, from Canada and the United States, but rounding out the top 20 are the UK, Australia, Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Mexico, France, Iceland, Spain, Italy, the Philippines, Israel, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Argentina, Hungary and Denmark.

11-14

Numbers 11-14 are my the top 4 posts since switching to WordPress.  I had a hunch what these were because they keep Pinterest flashing up on my phone.  What I didn’t expect was that the top post would outrank second place by more than double!

15

I’ve spent the last few months poring over my unshared projects and planning out a blog schedule for the year.  For number 15 I thought it would be fun to look through my folders and see just how old my oldest unshared project truly is. There was a lot to wade through but I found it!  Coming in at over a decade old a crafty hack that you’ll see on the block next year dates all the way back to February 2010!

16

Looking through all those projects was a fun trip down a creative memory lane.  As number 16 here’s a little teaser of a post I can’t wait to share in full…

Any guesses?

17

And finally, for making down this far: number 17 is a picture of me at the same age as this blog.

Whether you’ve been here since day 1 or day 6204, thanks for being a part of my creative adventures. I run this blog for me, but I love sharing it with you. ♥

*All search terms and other totals above were accurate as of the date of preparing this post.


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Ear Saver Mask Hook Lanyards

Just in time for Back To School, I’m pleased to share my ear savers / mask lanyards! Mask are an important part of life these days, but they can cause more harm than good when you’re constantly fiddling with them to relieve pressure on your ears or keep them from slipping off your nose. And then there’s the issue of where to put it when you take it off to eat (or in class). Enter the ear saver / lanyard / mask buddy / mask mates / mask hooks (and I’m sure another half dozen names for them!)

There are many options and designs available online, from knit to crochet to sewn or 3D-printed. When my kids asked for something custom, I decided to try my hand at designing my own, in a medium I saw ill-represented – my favored plastic canvas. It’s soft, flexible, washable, and I knew would be excellent for this purpose.

Jakob asked for a Creeper, Henri asked for a Boom Slime from Slime Rancher, but I didn’t stop there.

Want something neutral, to match your hair and not stand out? Got it!

Want something bright and colorful? Got it!

Want to rep your favorite team’s logo? Got that too!

There are currently 13 designs, with more being added as custom orders come in.

All hooks are soft, flexible, made with anti-pill yarn and are completely washable.

All the designs are available in my shop page or here on Etsy. Local Montrealers who arrange for pick up (vs shipping) can contact me for a discount code good on any order!

NOTE: For those of you who’d prefer to make your own, I’ll have a PDF coming for that soon! If you’d like to be notified as soon as it’s available, email me or leave a comment down below.


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Harry Potter: Knitting Magic (including a design by ME!)

I’ve been waiting so long to share this wonderful project with you, and I’m delighted that I finally can, because the book is officially out today!

Harry Potter: Knitting Magic – The Official Guide to Creating Original Knits Inspired by the Harry Potter Films

Featuring more than 25 projects, the 192-page book includes patterns for clothing, home projects, and keepsakes pulled straight from the movies – and even includes a few iconic costume pieces as seen on-screen.

There are projects designed with the movies’ actual costumes in mind, like the House Scarves:

…and the Beauxbatons students’ capelet:

…as well as projects inspired BY the movies like this gorgeous sweater based on Hermione’s time-turner:

…and this adorable hanger featuring the Sorting Hat and the animals that represent each House:

Even the staging and photography of the book is incredible- I mean COME ON-

This entire Umbrage scene is perfect!!

The book also includes fun facts, original costume sketches, film stills, and other behind-the-scenes treasures.

The book has already gotten really good press reviews (Martha Stewart, The Nerdist, Mental Floss, House Beautiful, Apartment Therapy, among others) and I’m seriously honored that I got to be a part of it, and thrilled to finally present my pattern: The Order of the Phoenix Lace-Knit Throw Blanket.

It’s a circular blanket knit from the center out in alternating strands of a beautiful orange/red hand-dyed yarn that reminded me so much of Dumbledore’s cherished phoenix Fawkes.

The center of the blanket features flames to represent the phoenix’ fire, and is separated from the next section by a jagged dividing line that is actually Harry’s lightning bolt scar.

The middle section proudly proclaims the title of the fifth HP book (and blanket inspiration) in an eyelet font.

Anyone who’s knit my Lullaby blanket pattern can attest that while it might seem daunting, the text charts are really easy to follow and work up pretty fast.

Finally the border section features Fawkes’ feathers, elongating in rows until finally ending in individual feather tips.

I loved every aspect of designing, swatching and knitting this blanket, and I truly hope you enjoy it too.

You can click HERE to get your own copy.


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Secret’s Out!

Harry Potter Knitting Magic cover

It’s official! And it’s also OFFICIAL! As in – it’s THE OFFICIAL HARRY POTTER KNITTING PATTERN BOOK, licensed and everything!

And now that it’s in pre-order status, I can finally tell you all (a little) about it!

I’m so excited to be a part of this gorgeous book, and beyond thrilled that my pattern was one of the ones chosen for the cover! There will be 28 patterns in total, 208 pages, and includes costume replicas, projects inspired by the films, film tidbits, behind-the-scenes info and more.

I can’t wait to share more info and pics as it becomes available, but in the meantime here’s the lovely cover.

It will be released on January 28 2020, and for those of you interested in pre-ordering, you can do so here.


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FREE PATTERN: Perfect Lay-Flat Knitted Diagonal Garter Washcloth

Update: see end of post for information about a downloadable pattern pdf

With my upcoming surgery looming in the near future, I decided to make the most of my time and get a head start on this year’s holiday teacher gifts.  I still make the Christmas and Hanukkah gifts for my kids’ teachers, lunch ladies and daycare workers, and, not knowing how much I’d be up for a long bout of down-to-the-wire crafting post-op (since I somehow always end up working til 4am the night before the last day of school), I was smart and started early.

I decided to make dish/washcloths again.  It’s been a few years since the junior campus staff got regular square washcloths, and I haven’t made them for anyone on senior side yet, so I wasn’t worried about being too repetitive.  I dug some favorite Bernat Handicrafter Cotton from my stash and pulled up the most basic, well known, standard dishcloth pattern Ravelry had to offer – a plain old, diagonal-knit garter washcloth.

Plenty of yarn, plenty of time, and a well-worn pattern.  This, I thought, would be a breeze.  I was even optimistic enough to think I’d have the Xmas gifts ready before November!

Heh.

My troubles started early on.  After completing the first washcloth, actually.  I had finished it and set it down flat on the table and noticed the lower edge immediately curl upwards.  I smoothed it flat but it quickly rolled inwards again.  It wasn’t terribly noticeable, and – let’s face it – this is a dishcloth.  If used properly it would end up scrunched and rolled and pulled and would sag and ease out of shape quickly.  But I was annoyed at how it looked and poked around at it a bit trying to figure out why the top half was fine but the lower half curled in.  The top half, by contrast, lay beautifully flat. I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong.

Finally I realized it wasn’t my fault – there was an inherent flaw with the pattern. It was the kind where you increase into the second stitch of every row.  That type of increase pulls imperceptibly on the outer stitch, eating up the slack between the first two stitches.  When this is done at intervals one would hardly notice, but when it is done at the beginning of every row the result was edges that curled inwards.  This didn’t occur on the top half of the diamond because that was the decrease half and I wasn’t using any of the previous row’s slack at all.

I could smooth it flat and I could have blocked it but come on… blocking washcloths?  No thanks.  I’d rather figure out how to knit it without the flaw.

The main thing was to figure out what increase to use.  Any increase which went into the prior row, including a standard ‘make 1’, would cause the same inward tugging.  Yarn-over increase patterns didn’t have that problem, but I didn’t want eyelets dotting the sides of my washcloth.  I wanted these cloths to look less dainty, more ‘rugged’, if that makes sense.  I decided to work YO increases but to close them on the subsequent rows by knitting them through the back loop.

Once I was tinkering with the pattern I also added a plain row at the max width point before transitioning into the decreases. Diagonal patterns always seem to have you go from wide to narrow without any plain row in between and I find that the extra row tugs less on those points of the diamond.  The result is a lovely garter washcloth which has wonderful drape and lays flat beautifully, and is now my go-to knit washcloth or dishcloth.

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I’ve knit 9 of them so far… sadly not anywhere near how many I need, but enough to know I’m really happy with how it works out, and I added it to Ravelry tonight.

The yardage listed is for a dishcloth knit to 41 sts, which results (at my tension) in a 9” x 9” square. You can easily make them larger or smaller. If desired before binding off you can create a strip to fold over and sew down for a hanging loop by either knitting about 4” of garter on those 3 sts or knitting them into a 4” long 3-st i-cord.

This pattern would work equally well for baby blankets or throws, continuing to increase until whatever max diagonal is desired before working the plain row and then beginning the decreases.

photo-2016-10-28-11-32-05-am

Directions

  • CO 3 sts 
  • row 1- k across 
  • row 2- k1, yo, k to end 
  • inc row– k1, yo, k to previous row’s yo and knit it tbl (to close the hole), k1 
  • Repeat inc row until diagonal of cloth is at desired widest point (I stopped at 41 sts)
  • Next row- k to previous row’s yo and knit it tbl (to close the hole), k1 
  • dec row– k1, k2tog, k to end of row 
  • Repeat dec row until cloth is back down to its original number of sts 
  • BO remaining sts & weave in the loose ends

Update!

This pattern is on Ravelry here.

This pattern is provided for free above, but if you’d prefer an easy-to-print version, I have made it available here for a very small fee. The PDF includes the full instructions, an easy to read layout and full color images.

*Updated January 2020

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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on the way to Hogwarts

Those who follow me on Instagram/FB got a sneak peek at Henri’s Halloween costume this year.  The boys fell hard into the world of Hogwarts when we began showing them the films this year, though we stopped after the 5th one because they were getting a bit too dark.

Jakob wants to be Draco Malfoy.  It was his original costume choice, now possibly swapped out for a Minecraft Enderman, but in general, he wants to be a Slytherin.  He thinks Harry was put in the wrong house, and that Slytherin is where it’s at.  It’s less to do with the negative traits or a penchant for the color green, than it is that, as he likes to remind me, “We love snakes, Mom.“.  Yes.  Yes we do.

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Jakob, age 4, with friend.

The Snake is my Chinese sign and a long-favored creature of mine, and that love transferred down to my oldest.  In fact, we’d have a pet snake at home if it weren’t for 2 things: 1. I would be too heartbroken to feed it mice, and 2. my father-in-law would never visit again.

In any case, if ever he were to dress up as anything from the Potterverse, it would be in Slytherin colors.  But Henri?  He’s Gryffindor all the way.

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Doesn’t he even LOOK like a young Harry???

We bought those glasses and wand last weekend at the local Halloween store, and my mom lent us a black grad gown that is PERFECT for his robes.  I’d like to find time to make a crest for the robe, but the main finishing touch for his costume is the scarf, so I decided to get on that last night.

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The burgundy isn’t quite right, but I’m working with stash yarn and I don’t think he’ll mind too much.  The pattern is my own, such as it is.

CO 30 sts with burg yarn.  Work 1×1 rib for 30 rows.  Change to yellow, work 1×1 rib for 30 rows.  Repeat, ending after a burgundy section.  Add fringe.

I decided against working stockinette because I really didn’t feel like taking the extra time to make it doubled or in the round, and a flat panel of st st would curl like crazy.  1×1 rib contracts enough to look almost like stockinette and won’t curl, making it quicker and easier for a 6yo’s Halloween costume.  🙂

UPDATE AFTER HALLOWEEN: Here’s Henri’s final costume!


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SuperBaby, revisited

The boys keep talking about what they want to be for Halloween this year, and it has me reminiscing about Jakob’s first Halloween, and one of my very first designs.

Here’s a repost, coming to you from all the way back in 2007.  Lookit how wittle he was!!

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From November 2007: May I present…

SuperBaby!

SuperBaby’s special powers include drowning his adversaries in massive amounts of drool, and the ability to shove anything into his mouth. Foes are often foiled in their plots by his awesome cuteness which requires all who pass to stop, come closer, and kiss him.

SuperBaby also managed to stand by himself (leaning on the sofa) for the purposes of taking this photo.
His detachable cape is this season’s “in” accessory. No SuperBaby would be caught dead without a cape this year, and we hear that shiny red is the new black.

The pattern is my own, for both the outfit and the cape. I had Yannick’s help in creating the baby, and the Superness is all his own. 🙂

By the way, these are the pumpkins that Yannick bought for outside our house. Should I be insulted that the “Daddy” and “Baby” pumpkins are perfect, and the “Mommy” pumpkin is all lumpy and deformed?

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Heh.

My brother Aaron edited that pic up there and now SuperBaby looks right at home, defending the city.

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He wore the outfit again for Purim too.  🙂

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A little while later I’d contacted DC inquiring about permission to write up and publish the pattern.  (They, duh, refused me).2746347727_708f81ccb0_n

So… I modified it into a generic superhero instead, and now anyone who wants to can knit up their very own!

myfirstcostumesuperhero

The pattern is written for ages 6-12 months [12-18 months], and includes full instructions and charts for the costume, the two shown chest shields, and the cape.  There is also a blank chart with instructions on how to design your own shield, in case you want to personalize it with your favorite SuperBaby’s initial.

It’s on Ravelry here.


new pattern up: my first hockey player: montreal canadiens

NOTE: for some reason comments are closed for this post…I’m not sure why, but you can still reach me by email if you want.

It’s up!!  I’ve been working on it for a while, and I’ve finally finished my HABS player pattern!  And thanks to our boys making it to game 7 tomorrow, now YOU’VE got enough time to knit up a little good luck totem of your own!  (Or, depending on how things turn out, it makes a great voodoo doll…hehe)

The pattern is $2.99 CAD and is available in Ravelry here, or to purchase directly click here.  That link is for a Ravelry PDF download, but you don’t need to be a Ravelry member to purchase.

I hope you enjoy it!  I tried my best to make the pattern faithful to the red home uniform, and you can knit it with just stripes, or duplicate stitch/embroider the famous CH logo.  There’s even room on the back to duplicate stitch your favorite player’s initials (and even his name, if you’re good at embroidery!).