Tag Archives: crochet

Year Long Endeavors

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The past few years have not been that great for me.  With each year I’ve noticed my health getting worse (fibromyalgia).  Every year I have always made up a list of goals for the next year and never get far because I never feel well.  At the end of the year, any goals that I didn’t get to just get added to the next years list with my new goals.  Only, I am getting to the point where I can’t do much at all.  So this year I didn’t make any “new year goals.”   I just decided to do as much as I can, when I can.  Every day is a new day and whatever it brings I will just have to roll with it.  If I can’t get out of bed than that is all I can do.

I did start a few year long endeavors but nothing that will throw me off if I miss a day.

  1. Temperature Scarf.  My oldest son Jared helped me with this a lot.  He went with me to Joann’s and helped me pick out 12 colors (including black).  Then we arranged them into a pleasing rainbow of sorts with the colors we deemed to be “cold colors” on one end and the “hot colors” on the other end.  Jared made my chart for me with a temperature range for each color.   I decided I wanted to show the extremes in temperature we get here so I divided the year into thirds.  The first 4 months I am checking the temperature each day and taking the low for the day I check my chart to find out what color to use.  I work one row a day based on the temperature.  After the first 4 months I’ll switch to the high temperature then back to the low temps for the last four – so it will be warm around my neck (where the middle is hehe)  I am almost finished  with January and I love how it looks already!  After the last day of January I’ll add a few rows of black.  I started with a few rows of black and I’ll end with a few rows of black and when it is all done I’ll add an edge of black.  That way it will look like a thermometer kinda.
  2. I joined a CAL (crochet a long) on ravelry.com that is making a 12″ x 12″ block every month.  They also vote for an extra 12″ square and there is also a 6″ square each month for people wanting to make a baby blanket or whatever.
  3. I joined another CAL (Official CCC Social group) that is doing a 12″ x 12″ block every WEEK!  (until Nov I think which leaves time to piece them together)  The last two pictures show the first two from this group.  They are so awesome!!!
  4. I also joined another crochet group that has several different CAL’s planned throughout the year.  Creative Crochet Crew Group has to be the best crochet group I’ve seen on facebook.   Their first project is starting on Feb 4th I believe and they are making the Magnificent Moss Basket.  They even have the designer in this group in case anyone has any questions.  This group is totally focused on crochet so no random chit chat about other things or negativity of any sort.  No knitting or other off topic things either.  That makes it really nice because it is such a large group.  I find so many wonderful patterns or ideas in this group.  The group I linked in #3 above is the social group where chit chat is allowed but not the negativity.  Both groups are awesome!

This link is to my Ravelry Project page for my 2014 blanket!  I’ll be adding each square as I do them so if you check back you can see all the patterns (which are all free).

When I finished the purple flower with the green part it made me think of a water lily so I made the rest blue.

When I finished the purple flower with the green part it made me think of a water lily so I made the rest blue.

So all of these “endeavors” are crochet related.  That seems to be the one thing that keeps me going.  Last year I was really into knitting but lately I only want to crochet.  I’ve been crocheting for most of my life (my sister started teaching me when I was 5) but I haven’t been knitting all that long.  When I am in pain and have a hard time focusing I go for the thing that I can do on autopilot.  It helps to keep my mind focused on something – something not to hard but hard enough to keep my mind off of hurting.  This may sound silly but if I am in so much pain that I can’t crochet, I actually try to mentally form the stitches in my head as a way to distract myself.  I think everyone with fibromyalgia has their little tricks like that.

Oh, I should add, I am doing all of these things using only yarn that I already have.  I have a lot!  I picked out four colors to make a blanket for my room.  Purple – Green – Blue – Cream   But, I am using different yarns and different shades of those colors in my squares.  I may even make some 6″ squares and group 4 together into a larger square.

Hairy Lavender Flower Square

I got the bright idea to use green fun fur with the white for the center of this square. Then I had to give it a haircut because it looked like an overgrown lawn!

Making a blanket to fit my bed might be overwhelming but making a 12″ square can be done in an hour or so.  When I don’t feel well it takes me all day but I still find myself waiting impatiently for the next one to be posted in each group.  In no time at all I will have enough squares to make my blanket and I really doubt it will take a year.  I’ll probably make a blanket for every bed in the house.

The flower in this one is two shades of blue but the darker shade looks gray in the picture.  There actually isn't any gray in this.

The flower in this one is two shades of blue but the darker shade looks gray in the picture. There actually isn’t any gray in this.

Purple flower circle square

To See or Not to See

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I’m not a spring chicken anymore and more and more I’ve been noticing that I am blind as a bat.  I was trying to find the correct crochet hooks for a project and the larger hooks I have are these clear colored plastic hooks with the size etched into the end of the handle.  I’m sure you know the ones.  They are Susan Bates Crystalites.  Susan bates also has the hooks that are all white which have the same issue.  When I was looking for the larger sizes like L (8 mm) and N (10 mm) these were all I could find here locally.  With no contrast it is very difficult to read the size.  I finally got a bright idea and I dabbed some white acrylic paint over the size on the handle and tapped the paint around with my fingers to fill in the etched in area.  Then I wiped off the excess with a paper towel and now I can see it perfectly!  If you have the white ones you could use any bright color or black.  The same thing applies to the knitting needles of course.

Fixing Crochet Hooks so they are Readable

I’m still alive

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Hampton Twists Peaches & Creme

Hampton Twists Peaches & Creme

 

I’ve been sick for an insanely long time.  And now it is March, the time when the sun starts to come out and blind everyone that isn’t used to it – Migraine Season.  I have always loved this time of year because of the sunshine but the last several years I’ve been getting a lot of migraines during March.  It took a long time before one of my doctors figured out that it was the sun (bright light) triggering it.  I have my movie star sunglasses with polarized lenses that I always wear when I go out but somehow I still get migraines.  So, while the weather is warming up and it is a beautiful sun-shiny day, I am sitting inside with the drapes all drawn like a vampire.  I vant to suck yer blood ah ah ah ah!  Okay, not really.  I like things more well done than rare.

Anyway, I think I’ve been sick for a good two whole months at least.  That really sucks but the one thing that keeps me going is crafts.  I always knit or crochet something though I usually drop the more complicated projects and start something more simple.  For some reason I like something that requires me to count stitches when I don’t feel well or when I have a migraine.  If not I end up counting anyway.  It must be a distraction tactic.

Right now I’m making a reusable grocery bag I found FREE on this blog and on Ravelry.  I’m using the new “Twists” yarn by Peaches & Creme.  The color is called Hampton Twists and has burgundy, white, and neutral strands twisted together.   The effect is very cool but a bit difficult on the eyes when working on it.  I’m working the bottom of this bag which is done in a spiral of single crochet and my eyes just can’t seem to keep track of the stitches with all the stripes.  I think it will be cool though.

The pattern says to use a stitch marker to mark the beginning of each round but because of this crazy stripped yarn I’m using 4 stitch markers.  This would also be a great way for beginners to do this pattern.  The bottom is an oval spiral – so basically a rectangle with a half circle at each end.  The rectangle is 39 single crochets long and after rounding the corner you go back down and work 39 single crochet in the back side of the chain stitches.  So I marked the first and last stitch of the 39 stitches on both sides.  3 of my stitch markers are one color and the one that also marks the beginning of the next round is a different color.  This makes it easier to know when you get to those stitches that require increases.  You know exactly where they are because they are between the two markers on the short sides.  If you don’t mark them it can be difficult to know where those stitches actually begin and end.  The first time around I noticed my piece wasn’t looking quite right and I knew I had gotten mixed up somewhere.  So this is my 2nd attempt.

I found a sneaky little trick to crochet in my stitch markers since I find it a little fiddly getting mine to slip into these tight single crochet stitches.  They just aren’t stiff enough and they are rubbery so they want to stick to the cotton and refuse to go through.  They are the Boye ones that come in the cute little box.  I normally love them so it must be the cotton.  Anyway, when you get to the spot where you want to add the marker – just before that stitch – close the marker and then slide it on the back end of the crochet hook.  Then push it down and over the loop of yarn and then off the hook end (keeping the yarn on the hook).  That puts the marker around the part of the stitch that will end up being the top.  Then you just work the stitch like normal and it will already be in place.

I’m still working on the bottom but you can see my progress by clicking here.  I’ll take a picture once I get the bottom finished.

Crocheted angels and weight loss

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I haven’t been feeling well for a while.  Mostly I’ve been really tired and have very low energy but I keep trying to make my goals for losing weight.  I started using my stationary bike again and even though my goal is to make 10 minutes I sometimes don’t make it.  I still do what I can and once or twice I made it to 15 minutes without too much pain.  I have lost 6 lbs so far!  Last year I was stuck at this one place and I am now past it!  That right there makes me happy!  I weigh less than I ever did last year.  Not a lot less but any less is great!

I have to work really hard to watch my diet.  I’ve found that cutting back on carbs really helps but I also use a little protein supplement to make sure I get enough.  That is one thing I usually run low on.  I’m keeping my calories at 1200 and taking vitamins.  I’m using myfitnesspal.com along with the app for the iphone to track what I eat.

I also made a gift for a friend who is pregnant.  She lost her first baby at birth and I can’t imagine going through that.  My stomach was in knots just thinking about it.

Well in my dishcloth group we were learning about intarsia, which is a method of adding colors.  There was a knit pattern and a crochet pattern.  I did the knit cloth and I wanted to learn the technique for crochet as well.  I wasn’t loving the pattern though.   It just wasn’t something that I wanted for my kitchen so I thought I’d just have to make it for someone else.  Well, after I looked at the pattern I saw something else in it and decided to change the pattern.  The pattern was on graph paper so I changed the design by omitting some squares and embroidery designs and adding my own until it looked like a baby carriage.  I also got a piece of graph paper and scribbled in squares until I had a decent angel.  I made it a long rectangle with one design at each end and backed it with pre-shrunk flannel for a baby burp cloth.  It is made out of materials that are easy to wash and dry.  I was able to give it to my friend last night and she loved it.

 

Finished baby burp cloth with flannel lining

Finished baby burp cloth with flannel lining

I decided to link this post up to a linky party hosted by Creative Crafts Thursday at www.creativecraftsthursday.blogspot.com.

It’s a blog hop so click below to see the other blogs that are participating.

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Apply Yourself!

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WordPress Daily Blog Prompt: Apply Yourself

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.

I am actually doing this right now.  I enjoy knitting but I tend to do what is easy.  This year I have been trying to improve on my knitting skills.  I actually started in December when I made a lacy dishcloth pattern I saw on ravelry.  That was challenging for me and I ripped it out and started over several times.  I even researched and learned how to do a new cast on and how to kitchener (weave) the ends together so there was no obvious seam.  After I was finished with that I was so pleased with myself and hungry to learn more.

It helps to be part of a group that is doing the same thing.  They might not all be knitting something challenging but there are always people more seasoned than you are that can offer a learning challenge.  My group is a dishcloth group on ravelry called Dishcloth Weekly Knitalong.  They are not just a knitting group though.  They also have crochet patterns and there are several crocheters that participate.  Each week they post a crochet pattern and a knit pattern and each person can choose which to work on.  Many people do both patterns.  

Now a dishcloth group may not seem like the ideal group to learn new things and it wasn’t the obvious choice for me but after joining I learned the advantages of learning on a small scale.  I am learning more challenging techniques but I don’t get so overwhelmed because the project is so small.  If I had started out trying to make a lacy shawl instead of the lacy dishcloth above I might not have stuck with it long enough to finish.

I am currently learning Intarsia knitting.  This is a technique where you are adding blocks of color within larger areas of color without carrying yarn across the back.  The pattern is a simple pattern with staggered blocks of one color on a different colored background.  I have 10 bobbins of colored yarn dangling from my washcloth so the difficulty is not in the knitting but in keeping yourself from getting all tangled up.  I am SO VERY GLAD I do not have a cat!  Oh and I am using these bobbins that I printed free online from Wild Olive.  I just adhered them to the side of a cereal box with Elmer’s spray adhesive and cut them out.  I like the spray adhesive because I don’t have to worry about the layers of paper separating as I use them.  They work great and they are really cute!  She also has smaller bobbins for thread on her website.

I printed mine on pink cardstock and made some others on blue cardstock so I have boys and girls.

I printed mine on pink cardstock and made some others on blue cardstock so I have boys and girls.

Learning Intarsia knitting
I started out with my bobbins lined up all neatly in a row but that didn’t last long.  At first I fought with them constantly tying to keep them all untangled.  I finally just gave up and concentrated on knitting until I finished that section and then snipped them off leaving the ends to weave in later.  It is so much easier if you just try to forget about the tangled mess and just knit but I’m a little OCD so it makes my blood pressure go up.

I’m getting there though and it is not as stressful now as it was when I started.  I am now about half way finished!

This is the first pattern I’ve ever worked that involved a chart.  So that is something new I’ve added to my repertoire already.  I now know how to read a charted knitting pattern, at least a simple one.

It really isn’t as hard as it seems.  It is just more awkward.  When you add in new threads it is very loose so you have to be careful of the tension.  As you end one color you just pull the next color yarn under the old one being dropped so they get twisted.  That prevents holes from forming in the knitted fabric.  Even though some of the stitches are lose in the beginning you can just tug the lose ends in the back to snug them up and the front will all look like one smooth fabric.  I love how it looks and even though this is a very simple pattern I can just imagine what could be possible!

I have already found another pattern for a potholder using intarsia knitting and it has cute little chickens and eggs.  I knew my sister would love it because she is crazy for chickens.  I don’t get it really but that’s her thing and I’d love to make something I know my sister would love!  I’m going to change the colors to match her kitchen.

That pattern is free by Drops and is called 0-626 Easter pot holder with pattern in ”Paris”

Here is my project at the halfway point.  Lookin’ good!

Learning Intarsia Knitting (half way now)

Learning Intarsia Knitting (half way now)

Here is a video I used to help me get started. It explains how to get started where most videos show you how to do it after it is about half way completed. When she first starts talking in the beginning it sounds really overly complicated. Don’t listen, just watch her do it and then go back and listen. It makes more sense after you’ve seen it being done.