Crochet Basics: Slip Knot & Foundation Chain

Holly Neufeld Crochet BasicsHolly Neufeld Crochet BasicsHave you been wanting to learn how to crochet? It's such a great hobby, especially for the fall and winter months. We introduced this series with a post on getting started and reading patterns, and in this post, I will demonstrate two fundamental steps: a slip knot and a foundation chain (or chain stitch).  These steps are needed to begin all crochet projects. A slip knot is how to secure the yarn on your hook to begin any stitch. 

To begin, take your yarn and wrap it around your index and middle fingers twice, crossing it over to make an "X". Take the first loop, lift it up and grab the second loop, and pull it through the first one. Pull gently to make the knot, leaving a loop. Insert your hook into the loop and pull on the shorter strand of yarn to secure it on your hook. You've made a slip knot!


Holly Neufeld Crochet BasicsTo make a chain stitch, hook your yarn over your left-hand ring finger, and with your right-hand middle finger and thumb holding the loop on the hook, wrap the yarn over the hook end (yarn over/yo) and pull it through the loop of yarn on the hook.  That's your first chain stitch (ch st). Yarn over again and pull it through the loop of yarn on the hook. That's 2 ch st. If a pattern says to "ch 12", you would do this 12 times. You can count each stitch in the chain easily. Now you've made a foundation chain! 

Holly Neufeld Crochet BasicsHere's a fun tip: use a jar to hold your ball of yarn in place while you're crocheting! I like to wind my skeins of yarn into balls before I start a project, and the jar keeps it from rolling away. You can also use bowls and other dishes that are specifically made for this purpose. Just choose something bigger than your ball of yarn and it will be able to roll around freely as you work.

Use a jar to keep ball of yarn in place while crocheting!Use a jar to keep ball of yarn in place while crocheting!Keep practicing these simple steps, and then you'll be ready to learn some stitches! - Holly

Credits // Author: Holly Neufeld, Photography: Sarah Rhodes, Video and Music: Jeremy Larson.

Print Your Instagram Photos With Us!

A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!)Today, with our good friends at Canon USA, we're excited to issue you a challenge!

It's something we've all been meaning to do but have put off for way too long. We're printing our Instagram photos and making albums. 

Everyone here at ABM is joining in as well!

We challenge you to print your Instagram photos. (Start small or print them all. It's up to you!) Then make a photo album and share it with us on Instagram using #mybeautifulmess. We'll be commenting on your photos and sharing a few of our favorites on the ABM instagram account.

We're excited to see what you create! 

To kick off our challenge, we got together, brought snacks, and made our first albums together. We each printed about 20 photos and filled 4x4 inch mini albums with them. At the office here, we used our Canon PIXMA MG7120 to print our photos on their semi-gloss photo paper. We added a few titles with stickers and handwritten notes, but for the most, part we kept it pretty simple. We were all able to complete our albums within an hour (and that includes time for chatting and snacking!). High fives! 

The best part, we all finished our albums motivated and inspired to make more. 

A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!) A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!)  A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!)  A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!)  A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!)      A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!)      A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!)      (( Go Trey! ))

A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!)      Our finished albums are the happiest sight to see. 

A Beautiful Mess photo challenge! (click through to join!)      Supplies needed: Canon PIXMA MG7120, 4x4 mini albums (they come in Gray, Mint, Coral and Gold), and extra 4x4 pages (We all used one extra pack, but two extra packs would totally fit.)

Can't wait to see your albums popping up on Instagram! xo. Elsie + the team 

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Sarah Rhodes, Videography and Music: Jeremy Larson. Photos edited with Jean and Piper from The Signature Collection.

track

Portobello Beer Burgers

Portobello beer burger (click through for recipe)It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I began to appreciate beer. I was always a mixed drink or cocktail kind of gal. But these days, I'm as likely to order a beer as I am a cocktail.  And this year I am determined to have a successful at-home-brewing experience. About a year and a half ago I had an EPIC fail. And I've been nervous to try again ever since. But I'm thinking this autumn might be the time to try again.

Portobello beer burger (click through for recipe)  But this post isn't about home brewed beer. It's about burgers. Portobello mushroom burgers that get soaked in beer before cooking. If you enjoy making burgers at home, you're gonna love this recipe because it really could not be easier. Also, it's a good excuse to stock up on your current favorite brew... if you need an excuse, that is.

Beer soaked mushroom burgersPortobello Beer Burgers, serves 2-3.

2-3 portobello mushrooms
1 bottle of your favorite beer (darker beers do well in this recipe, but use any kind you like)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2-3 slices of cheese (optional)
burger buns
lettuce
tomato
onion rings or potato chips

First, remove the stems from the mushrooms and give them a good rinse/scrub. Often times mushroom will have just a little dirt or soil on them. So be sure to wash them well before using.

In a bowl, combine the beer, Worcestershire sauce, and red pepper flakes. Soak the mushrooms in the liquid for 20-30 minutes.

How to make portobello burgersBefore cooking the mushrooms, I'll use my hot pan to toast the burger buns. This is not essential but an easy step to take to elevate your burger experience. :)

In a large skillet or cast iron pan over medium heat, cook the mushrooms for 6-8 minutes. Flipping once in the middle of cooking. If you find your mushrooms are sticking to the pan, add a teaspoon or two of olive oil.

As the mushrooms cook, they will release liquid. This is mostly water from the mushrooms. Use a spoon to remove excess liquid from the pan as these cook.

Best vegetarian burger recipeIf you are using cheese, place a slice on top of the mushroom during the last minute or two of cooking. When you remove the mushroom from the pan, first place them on a plate lined with paper towels. This will help to soak up any additional moisture released during cooking. I've heard people say they don't enjoy mushrooms because they are too slimy, and one of the reasons mushrooms sometimes feel slimy is because care wasn't taken to remove excess moisture released during cooking.

So, I guess it's really on you if these turn out slimy or not. No pressure.

Portobello beer burger (click through for recipe) Place the cooked portobello on top of the burger bun. Then top it with lettuce, tomato, any favorite sauces, and either onion rings or potato chips. The onion rings (or potato chips if you're lazy) really help to add a delicious crunch to this burger, so don't skip them. Serve alongside your favorite beer. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Pro Tips For Creating The Perfect Cat Eye

Easiest ever cat eye eyeliner tricks Easiest ever cat eye eyeliner tricksOne of the most common questions I get asked is how to do "cat eyeliner" and how to get eyeliner to stay. Winged liner is actually pretty easy once you've got the right product. My absolute favorite product is the tattoo liner by Kat Von D. It's available at Sephora. It's designed after a Japanese calligraphy brush, so it has long tapered bristles instead of a typical felt tip. It's so easy to get a sharp, crisp line, and the formula is super black and long lasting.

Best eyelinersI'll show you my winged liner trick below along with a little extra tip to help liner stay on the bottom inner rim (makeup artists call it the waterline).

Get perfect cat eye eyelinerStep One: Liner should go on after eyeshadow but before mascara.

Get perfect cat eye eyeliner.  Step Two: Sort of like in my false lash video, you want to look down but not close your eye. If you close your eye, it changes the shape of the lid and you'll end up with some weird looking liner once you open. Start by lining from the inner corner to about 3/4 of the way to the end. I like to hold the liner pen parallel to my lash line and gently pull it across.

Get perfect cat eye eyeliner   Step Three: Instead of trying to flick the wing up, you're actually going to draw it from the top down. Create a little triangle that lines up with the outer corner of the brow, and then fill it in. You might need to slightly lift your brow to pull up on the skin, but don't pull too hard. That skin is delicate! 

Perfect cat eye eyelinerStep Four: For bottom liner, you'll want to use a waterproof gel liner. You can also use a pencil as long as the formula isn't too dry. You don't want to irritate the eye. Use a little brush to apply. 

Perfect cat eye eyeliner  Perfect cat eye eyeliner tricksStep Five: Here's the trick for making the bottom liner stay. You're going to take a matching or similar shadow and a small eyeshadow brush with short bristles and gently press the eyeshadow into the liner. This might feel a little bit weird, but just blink a few times and any shadow particles will clear away. Setting creams with powders is the oldest trick in the Hollywood book and will help any makeup last longer (I love layering cream blush with powder blush for this exact reason!).

Easiest ever cat eye eyeliner tricks  I love this look with neutral eyes and lips, but you can also pair it with red lipstick for a super vintage feel! xo. AnnaRose

Credits // Author: AnnaRose Kern. Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions.

Mandi's Dining Room Before & After

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessAs a first time home owner, I was incredibly eager to start renovating our entire house the day we moved in. Of course, it usually doesn't work like that, especially when you're on a tight budget. The comparatively large and open kitchen/dining area was what had really sold us on this little house, but for a long time it was my least favorite part of our home, as far as decor was concerned.

As I recently prepared for our kitchen renovation (you can see my posts and follow along here), I became really motivated to make a few changes I had been dreaming about for our dining room as well. After two years of saving money and shuffling things in from my thrift store trips, I decided it was high time this space got a little love.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessThe Before

This is about as before as it gets, folks! I snapped this photo when we were just house hunters looking for a bargain buy. When we first viewed this house, everything was plain, dark, and basically a blank canvas, since no one had been living in the home for quite some time. Because we were really tight on money, I took a couple of years to really think about what I wanted for the space. While I waited, I filled the dining room with things I had inexpensively created or had found at thrift stores over the years. If my home looks like a hodge podge of found items, it's because that's exactly what it is! It's just taken me a while to refine everything to my liking.

The first change I made to our home was regrettable, and it concerned the purple-gray paint you see on the walls in the image below. When we moved in, all of the walls in the entire house were a light, bright green (see image above). So, in a hurry to be rid of it, I bought three gallons of paint after looking at swatches for only a few minutes at the store. Because I was pregnant, family offered to paint all of the walls in our dining room and living room while I hid from the fumes at my parents' house. When I saw the paint on the walls the next day, I didn't exactly despise it, but I definitely did not like it. I just didn't feel as though it fit our personality or style at all, and it made our generously shaded home feel even darker. (I used flashes to capture the image below left because I couldn't get enough even light for a good shot.) But, like I said, money was tight. I couldn't justify the expense of buying more paint and definitely couldn't bear asking people to repaint it for me. So I figured I'd wait it out.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessThe Changes

Two years later I finally got the dramatic change I was waiting for when I dipped into our home repair fund and painted all of the trim a glossy white and repainted all of the walls with a carefully considered Benjamin Moore paint that I just adore— Bright White. (It's more like a very light gray— a shade darker than the untinted white paint on our trim and cabinet.) We also repainted the ceiling with untinted white paint and were surprised to see that the ceilings had actually been a really dingy, dark shade of white. No wonder it had been so dreary in our house!

The little white light fixture shown in the before picture below was something inexpensive I had hastily found on the Internet to replace the ceiling fan that had come with the previously un-air-conditioned house. The light was another unfortunate choice I made in the early days of home ownership, as its small size was severely disproportionate to our big farmhouse table in this wide-open space. Oops. I suppose it would be perfect over someone's small kitchen table though. I had a really difficult time settling on a light fixture to replace it. I was afraid of getting something too trendy, but I didn't want anything too traditional either. Eventually I settled on these two 12" globe pendants, which fill the space above the table quite nicely and add a nice sixties' flair to our home.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessI excitedly spotted the shell chairs above on the sidewalk at Goodwill one Sunday when we were driving home from church. Of course, I ran into the store and bought them all, but I eventually decided they didn't work with our space very well. I ended up selling them for a profit and replaced them with new, more traditional spindle-back chairs. I really love these chairs and hope they last a long time!

In the before pictures, you'll see a beautiful Turkish kilim rug on the floor. When my daughter Lucy started eating food, it had to go. I pulled it up and stored it in our garage. I ended up selling the rug to an ABM reader, and the money from that sale, in combination with the sale of the chairs above, gave me enough money to buy the new dining room chairs. Now we are rugless in here, and I think it's the best choice for our messy family, considering my constant crafting and Lucy's penchant for throwing food on the floor. Terrazzo floors are wonderfully resilient.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessAn easy change, well, really more like a temporary fix, was pulling off the brass fireplace surround. I thought it was kind of ugly and it wasn't serving a purpose on our unused fireplace. So we just ripped it off and cleaned the wall. Such a dramatic change! Eventually I want to install a gas fireplace insert because the chimney would need expensive repair work to make it wood burning, and there's already a gas line in place for an easy hook-up. The brick wall of the fireplace is also shared by the kitchen (see image below). So when we decided to paint it white during the stressful backsplash repair, the dining room was also affected. Painting the brick wall white wasn't something I had ever wanted to do, but now that it's done, I actually really love it! It's so bright in here now, and the built-in oven blends into the background so nicely.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessThe last big changes in this space are the storage pieces and curtains. My mother-in-law scored some major points when she got these curtains for me last Christmas. I love the pop of color they inject into the room, and the golden yellow hue is just perfect for my '60s-influenced style. Recently I whipped up this DIY curtain rod to complete the look.

I do most of my crafting in the dining room, and since I'm working on something every week, it's important to have somewhere to tuck away all of my materials so our dining room doesn't end up looking like a work zone. I ditched the old thrifted china cabinet and its clear glass doors for an antique cabinet that had plenty of hidden storage, which greatly reduced the visual clutter. I had to paint the cabinet to disguise extensive repair work I had done, so a fresh coat of white paint helped to brighten the dining room even more. The proportions of this wider cabinet work better than the narrow china cabinet did next to my large dining table. And I really love that, because of the cabinet's lower height, I now have a nice surface for decorating.

The vintage green locker was another piece that I bought for its storage potential, and it fit perfectly next to the sliding door without obstructing the path to our patio. I had considered painting the locker a different color, because avocado green would not have been my first choice. But I really love the patina and character of the finish, which makes me a bit worried I wouldn't like it as much if it were freshly painted. Maybe I'll try an antique looking paint job on it someday, though I don't know what color I would choose.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessI plan to change up the vignettes on the cabinet from time to time, especially during the holidays. For now, I have silly little tchotchkes and Lucy's photo on display. I have a feeling they'll soon get displaced by pumpkins or maybe something a little spooky.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
The Glitter Counter

I had been looking for a cabinet like the one in our dining room for quite some time. I finally found the perfect piece and took it home in the midst of our kitchen renovation. It needed some work done to it before it could be used, so, as if I wasn't busy enough at the time, I decided to build a countertop for it. But not just any counter, you guys! I made a glitter countertop. Because of its height, you really can't see the glitter until you walk up to the cabinet. It's a fun little surprise.

You can check out how I made the glitter countertop at my personal blog here.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessI've been collecting wall art for the past few years, and while I had been hanging mostly tolerable thrift store finds in our past homes, I finally have amassed a collection of pieces I really, truly love. Above you can see the vintage photobooth panel from a local Northeast Ohio amusement park, Cedar Point. Funny enough, we actually found it at a resale/antique shop when we were down in Columbus this summer.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
The paintings in our dining room are both Milton Avery reproduction canvases that I framed myself. You can see my post about custom framing without any power tools here. Links to where you can buy them are at the bottom of this post. 

To add some extra cheer to our kitchen and dining area, I like to impulsively grab flowers on occasional grocery store trips and rearrange them in my own pots and vases when I get home. I arranged these bright flowers inside of a vintage glazed pot on our table for an infusion of happy, end-of-summer color.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessIn case you are curious about where anything in our dining room is from, I've included information and links for you below:

-Dining table— I made it out of old barn siding
-Dining chairs— Overstock
-Portable radio— Vermont Country Store
-Liquor tray— Wild Orchid Quilts
-Cabinet— vintage
-Countertop— DIY
-Locker— vintage
-Curtains— Amazon
-Curtain rod— DIY

-Large Milton Avery canvas— Painting Star (stretched and framed by me)
-Small Milton Avery canvas over fireplace— Encore Editions (framed by me)
-Photobooth panel— vintage, purchased from Grandview Mercantile in Columbus
-Wall paint— Benjamin Moore "Bright White"
-Brick wall paint— untinted white semi-gloss paint
-Cowhide stool— eBay, reupholstered
-Faux cowhide upholstery fabric— Amazon
-Dog on wheels— garage sale find

-High Chair— Amazon (we removed the pad)

I loved looking at these before and after pictures! Our house really has come quite a long way since we first walked through its doors as potential buyers. We really love it here, and hope you enjoyed taking a peek! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection.

The Shop

Check out our Photoshop Actions, E-Courses, Workshops and Crash Courses!

Browse by Category