Lacy Crochet

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I am occasionally dumbfounded – and thrilled – to find a truly creative crocheter who designs and shares her (or his) patterns with the rest of us mere mortal crocheters.  Olga Poltava is one such designer.  Her designs consistently delight me.  Her blog is named ‘Lacy Crochet’ and it’s well named!  Her designs are always ones that leave me drooling for more and running to find just the right yarn from my stash to start on her latest project.

Since I crochet a lot of baby afghans (babyghans), I am constantly looking for fresh designs.  I have my favorite go-to designs, but sometimes they bore me and I want something new and different.  Olga never fails me.

You can get the free pattern for the afghan pictured above right here.  I believe this is one design she credits to her mom.  There is clearly a bloodline of fine crochet in these women!

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This crochet lace ripple is an one of her newest designs.  This would make a wonderful babyghan too.  Or sweater.  Or scarf.

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Here’s another example of a very sweet afghan which would work nicely for a baby girl.  Please check out Olga’s site to see her many other designs.  She has plenty of free patterns and offers others for sale.  Her patterns are well written and error free as far as I’ve seen.  If you like lovely stitch motifs worked in readily available yarns like Pound of Love, you’ll appreciate Olga’s designs and website as much as I do.

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Quick And Easy Spring Crochet For Your Wardrobe

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These little hair clips might be just the thing you need to make an Easter outfit look complete and special.  And, best of all, you can color coordinate and work them up in a matter of minutes.  You can glue the cute little flowers on – or better yet, tie them to the hair clip and touch the knot with a tiny bit of Fray Check or nail polish.  I love this kind of clip for my very fine hair.  But, they will work just fine for anyone’s hair from tot to senior citizen.  Get the free pattern here.

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Here’s another quick, lovely idea to finish off your new Spring outfit.  Not much could be easier!  If you don’t use the idea for a headband, you can adapt it for a pretty bracelet.  The color combinations here are perfect, but you can use whatever color combo that will complete your special outfit.  You’ll find the free pattern here.

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I can think of a bunch of ways to use these lovely blossoms from Planet June (free pattern).  The idea I like the best, and that I am most likely to use, is to work up a cluster of them to use as an applique to brighten up an older cardigan.  I’m not much of a shopper and tend to buy the same colors and silhouettes, so why bother?  I have a lot of pink, including a pink cardigan and a pink hoodie that I wear over and over.  A grouping of these pretty flowers and leaves would be perfect on either of those.  Further, I’d make them repositionable so I could wear them only when I wanted to and leave my plain cardigan or hoodie in tact.  Maybe you’re not a ‘pink person’ like I am.  Make them in red or orange or blue or lilac.  Sprinkle them around your cardigan or tee shirt to give it a fresh, updated look without making a permanent change.  You can make them repositionable by using Aleene’s Tack It Over And Over glue which can be found at Michael’s and other craft stores.  Follow the instructions carefully to create an applique that you can move from one garment to another or store for later use.

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I’m a huge fan of Aleene’s glues which are now owned by Duncan Enterprises and of Aleene and her children and grandchildren who are inspired crafters.  Aleene’s glues are the finest in the field, including her Tacky Glue which is a must have for all serious crafters.  Maybe I’ll write more about this at a later date.

So, now you have a few, fresh ideas of ways to use your crochet skills to brighten your new – or old – wardrobe.  These ideas work just fine for all ages.  I’d love to see how you use them, so please send me a picture if you use them like this or adapt them in some unique way.  That would be totally amazing!

Cinderella Project – A Crochet Aside

 

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I recently had the opportunity to work for the Cinderella Project, a wonderful charity that matches teen girls referred by their school guidance counselors with beautiful prom dresses.  Many of these teens are in foster care, have educational issues which interfere with their success in school, or live in home situations where there is a lot of financial and/or emotional insecurity.  Each girl gets an appointment.  About 10-12 girls arrive each hour and each is assigned a personal shopper to help them find the right gown.  The Director of this project makes it clear to the volunteers that the girl shouldn’t leave unless she finds a dress that is at least a 9.  That’s a pretty high standard!  But, the personal shoppers guide the girls to the size and color the girl wants, assist the girl to try on each garment, and encourage the girl to make the right selection.

My role there was as Seamstress.  That’s a stretch for my sewing skills, but I can definitely sew on a hook and eye, make minor repairs, and shorten straps.  Those are the kinds of fixes most dresses needed.  Each girl would be brought to me or the other Seamstress for an evaluation of what it might take to make the dress fit the girl perfectly.

Some dresses were just clearly too large or too small for the girl.  But, we had over 2000 dresses, so each girl had at least 6 to choose from. Styles ranged from very frilly and full to sleek and sophisticated to short, baby doll looks.  Many are strapless.  Each girl also is gifted one additional item – either a shawl, purse, pair of shoes, piece of jewelry (necklace or earrings), or a coupon for an ‘updo’ at a salon.  We ran out of shoes pretty quickly but since most girls chose long gowns, this was not a tragedy.

One of the things that struck me was the body image issues so many girls had.  It was clear to me that a significant number of the girls were very much afraid to show any skin.  I remember being that way as a teen – in fact I’m still pretty much like that.  Of course, some of them seemed very comfortable with the strapless, backless, and thigh high slits of many of the dresses

I quickly found my stride here.  I was able to convince quite a few girls that a dress was too large, too small, or too immodest for her, that there was a better color or cut, that the length would work if she’d just try on some heels.  My best success was just being honest and encouraging.  There were so many pretty dresses that I saw no reason for a girl to ‘settle’  That said, some girls simply chose a dress that was just wrong for her body shape.  That’s where I had success explaining how just shortening straps or taking a nip or tuck would actually ruin the lines of the dress that would otherwise be flattering.  A dress should not overwhelm a girl.  A girl had to feel beautiful in her dress to look beautiful.  For many, this was clearly the first time there was a feeling of beauty.  What a joy to see!

The chatter from the girls quickly informed the volunteers just how important this project was.  For so many of these girls, there would never be another social event that would top her prom.  Many would not have dressy weddings.  Many would not attend any further schooling.  Some already had children of their own and prom night would represent the culmination of her teen years and the entrance into her adult life for good.  They talked about how important prom had been to their moms.  They texted pictures of themselves wearing each prospective dress to a dear friend.  We were not just fitting girls to dresses.  We were putting wings to their dreams.

Next year, I plan to volunteer to work each day of this project.  It was extremely rewarding.  How often does anyone get to be a small part of another person’s dream?  How often can we actually watch a shy ‘duckling’ turn into a gorgeous swan right before our eyes when she sees herself in the mirror wearing a dress that would be perfect on the Red Carpet – and is perfect on her?

NOTE:  I’m  going to sew and/or crochet a few stoles for the Cinderella Project to be used next year.  If anyone else is interested in contributing – something light weight and lacy – please let me know!

Want A Crochet Challenge?

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If you are interested in crocheting an afghan that looks truly challenging, this one is for you.  It’s not a free pattern, but I’ve seen this one in person, courtesy of one of the pattern testers, my friend Ronnie, and the afghan is a knock-out!

On the page where you can purchase the pattern, you can take a look at the variety of color options other crocheters have chosen.  That’s such a nice part of Ravelry.  I looked at all of them, including the two that Ronnie has posted there, and the colors in the one pictured here are totally outstanding.  My faves – and I’m not particularly a ‘blue’ person.  It’s Ronnie’s use of the black that makes the other colors pop.

Ronnie insists that this pattern is not truly challenging.  That it has a pattern repeat that is easy to memorize and that it moves along nicely.  I’m not completely buying that – especially since I’ve seen the thing in person.  But, if you are looking for a project that is either challenging or unique, this one is for you.  I’d love to see what color combinations others come up with.  The only comment I have on color choice is that the person who changed colors every row did not create nearly as much visual impact as the color repeats chosen by Ronnie.  And, due to the large-ish lengths of yarn required, it’s not a scrap project.  If you have scraps left over, you might be smart enough to use them the way Ronnie did her third iteration of this afghan.  I’ll post a pic of it when I get one.

Not Just Crochet

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Crochet is my main craft.  It’s my favorite – but it’s not my only craft.  I also sew, bead, quilt, and do some paper crafting.  I am especially fond of craft projects which use recycled or repurposed materials.  When I saw these projects, I immediately began making plans to find time to make a few of them.  I don’t think I can find much of a way to combine these projects with crochet, but if you think of a way, please let me know.  Ii guess I could crochet or chain the necklace above to which the book corners are added.  It’s my favorite of these projects.

I also think these would be great projects for kids for Sunday school, school art class, and VBS.  Since most of these cost almost nothing to create, there’s no way to go wrong.

Spring Crochet – Some Ideas

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This fresh, pretty Spring wreath would really brighten your front door or an interior wall.  Easy to pull together, use up a bunch of scraps, and enjoy the delicious colors of Spring.  Get the free pattern here.

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Make this sweet garland in colors to match your wreath.  Use it to adorn the valance of your drapes, above a doorway, or along any wall.  This is a great project for beginners too.  It’s highly adaptable.  You can use this idea to add any flowers to a garland.  Freeform them, use other free patterns online, embellish with buttons or beads, make in any length you want, and add more flowers as you go if you like.  The free pattern is here.

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This cute little owl is actually a baby rattle.  Free pattern here.  This got me to thinking about a wreath for baby’s room that would be adorned with some simple playthings for baby.  This is one of the very rare times when I would use velcro with crochet.  Sew on a couple small circles of velcro (or similar) to the back of the owl and to the front of the wreath where the bumble bee is.  Then you have a detachable baby rattle that has a nifty storage area all its own.  Baby and mom both would enjoy this!  Just remember to keep the wreath with all those buttons on it away from baby so the buttons don’t get ‘tasted’ by baby.

How many other cute little toys could we use for this application?  Small rattles, small teething rings, cute little soft ‘blocks’ – what else?  How sweet would that be?

Crochet Priced To Sell

 

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This subject comes up all the time and has been on my mind recently.  While I cannot over estimate the value of the crocheted items I make for others, I feel that few crocheters will ever earn enough money to represent the true value of a crocheted item they want to sell.

This article sums up the negative self talk we all do – and does it far better than I could.  These are not my original thoughts or writing although I agree with the author’s statements and opinions.

Since I truly do understand the value of crocheted works, I have put out the money on a few occasions to buy something special.  My favorite item is a table topper in wine colored size 10 cotton that would have taken me a month to complete.  The crocheter who sold it fell right into one of the negative self talk rabbit holes the article discusses.  This lovely, heirloom quality piece sold for $35.  I asked its crocheter why so cheap.  She said she only wanted to recoup her actual costs and earn enough money to continue to buy top quality crochet thread and yarn.  I can’t even imagine how little she valued her time and what she might have earned per hour.  Probably about two cents per hour.  That’s just wrong.

Please read the article and give me your opinions about this topic in my Comments section below.

(That picture above is not mine.  It’s a picture of a typical craft fair table I found here.)