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.)

Crochet An Easter Tree

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Not sure I’ve ever seen an Easter Tree before, but I really like this one.  There’s a free pattern and instructions for making this pretty table topper.

I make a lot of wreaths and tend to scrounge for embellishments rather than go to a craft store and buy a whole bunch of properly coordinated add-ons.  This tree has that feel to me – it’s more a project of love than an interior designer’s carefully constructed, color coordinated perfection.  Much more my style, for sure.

I can think of a lot of cool ways to embellish a tree like this based on this idea and the basic instructions.  Along with the Spring flowers and Easter eggs, I think I’d add some pretty birds and colorful butterflies.  What about you?

Crochet Technique – Into The ‘Third’ Loop

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I have come to appreciate the joy of working with chunky yarns – the main one being that a project crochets up very quickly!  The technique I just read about adds yet another dimension to the equation.  I like this idea.

You can read more about it here.  This is a way to create a faux ribbing which when done with chunky yarn extends each stitch and makes the project come together even that much more quickly.   I will probably work one of these up over this next week.  They make wonderful gifts this time of year.  Right now, we have gotten about 3 inches of snow with up to 4 more expected before morning.  Winter wind whips right through me unless I have the protection of one of these warm cowls.

Spectacular Felting

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Even if you’ve never wet-felted (fulled) anything before, this might be just the opportunity for you!  I know this scarf looks like an advanced felting project, but it’s not.  There’s a great tutorial available for free.

I have made a similar scarf using a similar wet-felting process so I’m quite familiar.  It’s a messy project, but well worth the trouble.  You will, even if a beginner, be able to make a unique, gorgeous scarf or just a length of fabric you can use for some other purpose with this technique.

Felting is an amazing way to create a new fabric using wool yarn, wool roving (as in this project), old wool sweaters, and other oddments of wool you may have stashed around your home or that you can find for pennies at a thrift store or garage sale.

If you are not familiar with roving, it’s the form wool is in after being sheared from the animal and carded.  Roving is twisted to make yarn and thread.  It’s lovely to work with as it’s almost lighter than air, comes is a dizzying array of colors, and is relatively inexpensive considering all you can do with it.

There is something called ‘roving yarn’ which is now sold by companies like Lion Brand.  Rather than being actual roving, it’s sort of half way between actual roving and a well twisted yarn.  It’s usually bulky strands that can be crocheted or knitted like any other yarn.  One problem is the lack of twist creates a fiber that is not durable and will pill or brush off much more easily than a yarn with more twist.  Still, it’s fun to work with.

If you get snowed in, try this project.  You’ll be lost in the work all day and will have a lovely length of fabric to show for your efforts.  You can then embellish the fabric, cut it, sew it, whatever.  You’ll enjoy seeing how the fiber artist in the linked article here attains her finished result.  Unless you’ve seen it before, you might not have thought it possible!  Go for it!

Crochet Me An Unfading Flower – An Ongoing Affair

I love to crochet flowers. I find all kinds of ways to use them. Adding a pretty flower to a scarf, headband, or bracelet is the perfect way to set off an outfit. There are oodles of free crochet patterns of flowers all over the internet. Here are a few of my favorites.  And, btw, flowers are a perfect way to use up even very small amounts of threads since you can make fantasy flowers any color(s) you like (or have on hand).  Create the flower to match, complement, or contrast with the garment you’ll add them to or to others in a bouquet.

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Who’s the smart person who could visualize the Crocodile Stitch as a flower?  With or without the artificial stamen poking out from the center.  Get the free pattern here Crocodile Stitch Flowers.

 

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My favorite Poinsettia pattern.  I’ve made a batch of these.  They make wonderful brooches.

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Just use a small safety pin on the reverse to affix this lovely flower to your lapel or sweater.  The perfect touch for Christmas.

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Funky crocheted flowers – or fantasy flowers – are fun and can be unique ways to express your whimsey.  Why not?  You will get lots of compliments if you take care to use a pleasing color combination or add beads, buttons, or other sparkles to your flowers.  Get this pretty one with the yellow-orange center here.

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This is a nice example of how a minimum of sparklies can make a flower really ‘pop’.  Simple but effective.

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And, finally, this lovely, delicate beauty.  You can get the free pattern and video online.

 

So, by now I’ve convinced you that you MUST crochet some flowers.  You can find all those patterns online or you can just start playing with yarn and hook and come up with some beauties of your own.  The way I got started working up my own, unique flowers without the use of a pattern was to create simple layers and tie them together.  Making three different sizes of the same 5 loops shells, for instance, is a great way to practice.  But, if you find that having a pattern at hand gives you comfort, use this one to get yourself started.  But, promise me that after you’ve made a few of these, you’ll put down the pattern and try making your very own, unique creations.  This is a great way to do that since there will be no mistakes!  Flowers, either in nature or in your living room, come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  So, you can’t go too far wrong.  Save your yarn scraps and work from small to larger.  Then, send me a picture!

Ukranian Crochet

 

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I was walking at the mall the other evening when I came upon the woman wearing this lovely sweater coat.  I accosted her to ask where she had purchased it.  In her best attempt at English she informed me that it is not available here but is from her native Ukraine.  I thanked her then she walked on.  A moment later, it occurred to me that my walking buddy, Kris, has a really good phone on her camera and was once a professional photographer.  I asked, she said yes.  Then, I thought I should probably ask permission of the wearer.  She quickly agreed and stood still so that Kris could get a good shot.

This woman is built similar to me – short and wide.  I could only imagine how lovely and flattering the coat would be on me!  The V-shaped inserts create the flattering effect.  The lighter pattern is a sort of animal print.  The inside of the jacket, which makes it appear reversible, is an abstract design of the same colors.

I do not believe this is a handmade item or that it is crocheted.  I believe it is a machine made knitted garment, probably two layers, and it’s made of fingering or sport weight acrylic or acrylic blend yarn – all that from a cursory examination as the owner didn’t speak much English.  She was so kind to even let me take a picture.

So, if you’ve seen this for sale somewhere, have seen a pattern that is similar, or are really good at creating a finished design from just looking at a picture, I’d love to see this in a form that I could reproduce.

Crochet Is Good For You!

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31 Ways that Knitting and Crochet Can Change Your Life

  1. Relieve depression.
  2. Promote mental health.
  3. Reduce anxiety.
  4. Process grief.
  5. Alleviate cabin fever during winter months.
  6. Reduce Stress.
  7. Practise mindfulness and meditation.
  8. Create a non-medicinal, feel-good high.
  9. Protect the brain from damage incurred by aging.
  10. Learn discipline, empathy, patience.
  11. Lose weight.
  12. Relieve insomnia.
  13. Relieve chronic pain.
  14. Keep your brain fit.
  15. Think clearer.
  16. Reduce negative thoughts.
  17. Reduce or postpone dementia.
  18. Improve your mood.
  19. Get organized.
  20. Build self-esteem.
  21. Avoid cognitive impairment.
  22. Delay memory loss.
  23. Control eating disorders.
  24. Find friends.
  25. Reduce irritability and restlessness.
  26. Control addictions.
  27. Get strong.
  28. Recovery.
  29. Practice prayer.
  30. Give to others.
  31. Build community.

Lion Brand Yarn recently published this list.  I shamelessly have copied and pasted it here to increase its exposure.  I love many LB yarns, especially Homespun which is one of those yarns that you either love or hate – no in between.  I have made many projects with it, including my first ever full sized afghan about 15 years ago that used 11 full skeins of a charcoal gray and a lovely red.  My son, for whom it was made, and assorted girlfriends have all loved it.  You should visit the LB site to see more about how crocheting is good for you.

Several others have written on this subject, most notably Kathryn Vercillo at http://www.crochetconcupiscence.com/ .  Kathryn’s story is nothing short of miraculous!

For most of us, we will find that once we have mastered the basics of crochet, there are many patterns that we can do on ‘auto pilot’, allowing us to enter a Zen sort of zone where our mind seems to become independent of our bodies – like a runner’s high.  I just love it when I can get there, especially during times of acute stress.  And, I know it works.  I know how to get there even if I sometimes fail to remind my self that this sort of relief from my problems/stress is as close as a hook and yarn.

If you haven’t discovered that, or tried for it, please do.  It’s amazing!  It’s the sort of thing, like meditation, that one is wise to practice when things are not particularly stressful so that when things get tense, we know just what to do to help ourselves.  Tell me your story of stress reduction through crochet or in what way any of those things in that list of 31 above has worked for you.