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I'm Crazy for Crochet!
The ABCs of a Clever Craft
When I was about 11, my grandmother taught me to crochet. While I am a little vague on the details, I can remember creating small (slightly lopsided) squares by the dozens before I grew tired of it and quit. I remember trying to knit for awhile too after that, but somehow knitting just didn't seem to click with me at all. Twenty some-odd years later I thought it might make a nice relaxing hobby in the evenings after work,so I bought an idiot-friendly book and learned to crochet all over again.
It didn't take too many of those beginner projects before I was "hooked" (sorry, it was irresistable :o) I think it is safe to say that my nice, relaxing hobby has transcended those sad little squares to become yet another facet of my creative self; and it is FUN-FUN-FUN!
NOTE: Like where I store my hooks and small pattern books? If the storage container above looks familiar, that's because it's a plastic silverware caddy. Works great, doesn't it?
Some How To's for You Too
Oh, and don't worry...
I'm not going all the way to Z
(well, not today anyway :o)
A#1 Perfect Solution
I don't know about you, but I hate sitting still. I have also developed a rather intense loathing for TV commercials (except for the supercool ones aired during the Superbowl; they're excused :o) I keep a tote with my latest crochet project by my seat in the family room and work my way through the evening news (I don't have to watch it, I can just listen). It also gives me something to focus on during the commercials (which seem to go on longer and longer these days).
The "Learn To Crochet" book I picked for the Amazon module below is the same one I used - it's great!
TIP: Sometimes I don't have a spare tote, so I just grab a gift bag to put my project in (I almost never use them for presents anyway :o)
(L) I keep my crochet thread and yarn in totes so I can just stack 'em up. (M) A scarf to keep those winter winds at bay. (R) The table topper gave a nice vintage look to this little table displaying old family photos.
If you're already hooked... - Teach someone else, or learn something new
Blankets are beautiful
These are wonderful longer term projects (literally AND figuratively :o) to keep you busy. I usually do some quick projects in between to keep me from getting too frustrated (some of the blankets can take quite a while to complete when you don't have large quantities of down time to work on it).
My favorite blanket pattern on the fly? The Q-Hook patterns using 2 or 3 strands of yarn at once - they are not only fun, they're FAST!
PHOTO: This blanket (module pic) was a shower gift to coordinate with a "Sammy the Frog" nursery theme; photos below were all gifts for new babies).
P.S. The one in the middle below was made for my nephew using individual squares done with the afghan stitch, then pieced together. As pretty as it is, I will NEVER do that again (I hate to sew :o)
Carry it Anywhere
(and work while you wait)
I'm not a really big fan of waiting, how about you? I'm not too keen on thumbing through all those magazines at the doctor's office either. Mainly because when you consider the majority of the people that have already looked through them were probably sick and chock full of germs...well, you know - ick.
I can just grab one of my little project totes on my way out the door, and work on it while I'm waiting. Depending on where you're waiting, it can also give those around you a much needed distraction (a community service of sorts :o) I say this because I have spent many an hour in my Oncologist's waiting room (for cancer treatment) and hospital waiting rooms (for testing).
Sometimes you CAN take it with you - (You know I do :o)
Doilies are Dynamite!
For some reason, the word doily brings to mind a mental picture of "The Cat Lady". You know the one to whom I'm referring: she's about 200 years old, keeps 156 felines (who all live INside), and has little crocheted doilies on every single table top and decorating the arms of all of her living room furniture. I don't know WHY it evokes that alarming image, but it does.
You know what though? I've figured out that doilies are actually pretty darn cool to make, and they look really nice in the home - who knew? Well, besides the Cat Lady I mean. Make a small one and frame it or use it with a candle for an eye-catching centerpiece; I did!
TIP: Some of the round "table toppers" that you see in people's houses are actually just monster doilies :o)
My favorite doily - Made an nice addition to a fall centerpiece
Easy Skill to Build On
Once you have the basics down, crochet is pretty easy to take to the next level. I found a number of patterns and projects I wanted to try, but personally had no use for. What did I do? Donated them to the annual fund raising bazaar at a local special needs school. Everybody was happy.
It's also a fairly easy craft to teach to your children. Think what a wonderful project it would be to teach a group of Girl Scouts to crochet and help them make simple scarves to donate to a shelter.
TIP: The snowflakes make a wonderful handmade touch to a Christmas gift (sprayed with adhesive and sprinkled lightly with iridescent glitter it will really knock their socks off :o)
Evolving: Beyond the Basics
Filigree is F-U-N :o)
In the midst of creating blankets and doilies, I discovered another kind of crochet: Filigree. It utilizes a chart instead of a pattern, and uses a system of blocks and open spaces to create a word or picture. Of course you know I just HAD to try it...
Although it looks rather complicated, it's actually no harder than traditional crochet; it only uses two stitches throughout (the double crochet and the chain stitch).
I am currently working on another large banner for my Epic Farms Etsy Shop (at my current rate of speed, I should have it finished by 2033 :o)
PHOTOS: The names below were custom orders and given as Christmas gifts; I rotated the pattern for the one in the center to accommodate a narrow wall space.
One of these days I might even get around to doing our name :o)
For that fabulous Filigree project
My favorite filigree: "Leaping Deer" - Is that cool or what? (I totally surprised myself :o)
Sometimes there are an awful lot more people than there is pocketbook when it comes to gift giving. Handmade crocheted gifts can be just the thing to bridge that gap (not to mention avoiding hurt feelings and/or embarrassment :o) Delicate little snowflakes make lovely small gifts for those "not so close" friends and co-workers.
There are some fabulous pattern books dedicated to gifts and Christmas ornaments (I've put some in the Amazon module below). Enjoy!
NOTE: I made the little magnetic butterflies (bottom left) for the nursing staff after my reconstruction (I was in the hospital for 5 days, so I got to know them pretty well). The butterflies were for the nurses to put on their hospital lockers; they were a huge hit :o)
Gift patterns galore...
Hats and Headbands
Are great as gifts too; plus they are fun to make. This little hat was made for the grandmother of one of the kids at school; she has cancer, and he asked me if I would make her a special hat to wear.
Since this was in the spring (with summer on the way), I used cotton yarn. The cheerful little flower has a white pearl button in the middle and can easily be taken off and put back on, depending on her mood.
Buttons are my favorite middles for crocheted flowers; they're inexpensive and pretty darn cute too (like the wooden one on the headband below ;o)
I can: In need and in deed.
Crochet for hope, crochet to help
I made this prayer shawl awhile back for a friend at church; she had a stroke and is now wheelchair bound. There are some wonderful books and lots of free patterns on the internet for prayer shawls. Some even include several suggested prayers listed by denomination for the recipient. There are also a number of churches that have prayer shawl ministry groups - and how cool is that??
When I gave it to her, I included an over-sized lingerie bag for washing and the instructions from the yarn. I used the Caron So Soft in a beautiful shade of rose, as this project is meant for comfort every bit as much as warmth :o)
How about it? - Ready to start your own ministry?
Just have a ball, y'all!
What to do with that leftover yarn
Yarn has become something truly wonderful! The Plain Jane Skeins of the past have been replaced with marvelous textures and tones that lend some serious pizazz to your projects :o)
Leftover yarn is perfect for a patchwork project of your own; although personally I don't sew (I'd rather eat dirt :o) so I'd much rather use it to make some squares to donate to Warm Up America. They collect 7"x9" knitted and crocheted squares to assemble into blankets for anyone in need. Isn't that awesome??
Keeps me busy - that's for sure :o) - My grandmother gave me her entire yarn collection...Woo!
Here are some wonderful storage solutions
The portable yarn dispenser is wonderful when working with multiple strands of yarn held together - like some of the Q-Hook patterns. I just love mine!
I may try knitting again one day, but for now I'd much rather crochet...How about you?
How about you?
I really do know my ABCs
But I'm going to skip along a bit,
if you please.
P is for... Plarn?
What the heck is plarn??
I came across this strange word in conjunction with a recycled crochet project not too long ago, and decided to check it out ('cause I had absolutely no idea what it was either ;o) Plarn is "yarn" made out of plastic bags - and how awesome is that?? I found a handy little video which I've posted below that shows you how to make it. Talk about your clever ideas on recycling, right?
I don't know about you, but I have about a gazillion plastic bags crammed into one of those bag holders in my kitchen. Since I've just learned how to make it, I don't have any projects of my own to show, but the nice lady in the video will show you hers so you can see exactly what something made with "plarn" looks like. Not as weird looking as you'd expect, actually.
Look how easy this is
Happily, it seems she's already figured out the learning curve for us - yay!
How about it?
Had you ever heard of plarn before?
It totally transcends awesomeness
I absolutely LOVE this site! Ravelry is a website designed for knitters and crocheters, and offers a plethora of patterns as well as a place to show off your own labors. Patterns are searchable, level of difficulty rated by other users, and many of them are free (my favorite word!)
In addition to all those free patterns, you can keep up with your WIPs (Works in Progress) and keep track of your yarn and/or thread inventory under the "Stash" tab. Have several of the same skein? No problem! Your stash comes complete with a built-in calculator that automatically totals how many yards you have available (beyond handy when pattern searching - just check your stash to see if you have enough. When starting a project using yarn you already have, click use stash yarn and the yardage is automatically deducted. Phenomenal! You can even do a yarn swap with fellow Ravelers for those "What was I thinking?" yarn purchases.
Already on Ravelry or joining soon? Look me up; I'm under "EpicFarms". See you there!