I always look forward to March, otherwise known as National Crochet Month, and participating in the blog tour by Crochetville with this year’s theme “Pawprints on our Hearts”. Make sure and follow along on the tour here.
This theme was a bit difficult for me. I still have a heavy heart from the passing of a pet, the family house rabbit, Storm. He managed to capture my heart in a way that the other pets in the home just haven’t managed. Storm was always nearby as I was working on projects and designs. You might not believe it, he would share his opinion of my work. He was always a critic.
Imagine a rabbit that managed to be the dominate pet in the house. Keeping the 80 pound dog and cat in line. Stealing the dog’s bed and chase the cat, and learned to scratch on the refrigerator door to get blueberries. He is missed.
I have always had a soft spot for rabbits, and I am not sure why. I have had a few different bunnies over the years, and their personalities are always so varied. It is so unplanned, how our hearts can just open up to our pets.
As a way of celebrating this love we have for pets with you during National Crochet Month, I am offering my pattern for BBD (Baby Brown Dog) at half price (get it here). This is a toy puppy with weighted feet that hopefully will find a way into your heart.
It has been one week. One week since I was awoke by the sound of traffic.
I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the road I live on is a major access for the community of Grizzly Flats. It was one week ago that from the traffic, being too heavy and commuting in the wrong direction, that I knew something was wrong.
I checked news sources and social media outlets, but it was at least 30 minutes until I found confirmation that Grizzly Flats was being evacuated due to fire. By morning I would learn that longtime friends had lost everything in the Caldor fire.
My turn- It has been one week
Only 24 hours later I would receive my own evacuation warning. My family loaded up the pets, packed the “important papers”, loaded up favorite mementos and left home. It is a surreal experience.
We have since returned home, as our notice is actually a “warning”, we are not under a “mandatory” evacuation. However we continue to live in a heightened state. Everything is still packed, and when things need to be used, they are re-packed immediately after. It is kind of like camping at home.
These are the times when you find out what is important. I am surprised at where crochet fit in this for me. Among my packings, I made sure my hooks found a vehicle. However only the yarns that I have current commitments had the same fate. The only completed projects that made the cut were ones that needed photography, as they are near a publication date. I didn’t pack any books, not any of my “specialty yarns”. I didn’t even pack my “specialty” or “collectable” hooks. Just the everyday hooks made the car, and that current projects made it there too.
Maybe it is because crochet is not a “thing” for me. Maybe the process is really what drives me. The movement of my hands, the twisting of the hook, the flow of the yarn between my fingers. Granted times like these make it difficult to be creative and design something new. Yet, crochet does keep my hands busy and my mind focused.
Crochet quilt blocks lend themselves to unlimited creativity. These can be great for scrap projects or planned out artistic works.
Below I describe how to create your own simple geographic block, as well as some idea suggestions.
In the world of quilting the half square triangle, even using just this block, the possibilities are endless. Essentially it is simply a square that is worked with two colors. It is divided on the diagonal, creating a look of two triangles with the long ends together.
Sizes for crochet quilt blocks
Create your own design, just ensure that these blocks are the same size, or equal fractions of each other. Meaning make big and little blocks. The big block might be 10” then the little squares should be 5” so that they can all be put together equally.
Getting started with your crochet quilt blocks
To begin, create a chain the desired length of the diagonal of the square. This chain should be an odd number. Work a single crochet decrease over the 2nd and 3rd chain (need to know how to work a single decrease, check it out here), single crochet in each chain across until 2 chains are left. Single crochet decrease over the last 2 chains, then chain 1 and turn.
All subsequent rows of this half of the square are worked the same. Work a single crochet decrease over the first two stitches, single crochet in each stitch across until 2 stitches remain, then work a single crochet decrease over the last two stitches. Repeat this until only 2 stitches remain, and then single crochet decrease these tow stitches together.
The next side
Using another color and the unused loops of the beginning chain. Work the same stitch technique of decreases on each side of the row.
The block is really just that simple. Now for some ideas. I have found plugging the term “half square triangle quilt” into a search engine, and then selecting the images option, that there is a great abundance of uses.
Some of my favorites are the Ohio Star block, Flock of Geese block, and Pinwheel blocks. The half square triangles that are created can be put together to form these larger blocks, then these blocks can be put together to create pillows, blankets, ponchos, the possibilities are only limited by imagination.
Playing in the kitchen can be fun and I have found ways to bring crochet into the mix. Crochet in the kitchen is not a new thing. I have crochet potholders and trivets, crochet dishtowels hanging from my stove door, some crochet dish cloths, and even crochet handle covers for cast iron pans. However, I have started embossing crochet in my baking.
I made a personal challenge to work my way through a Swedish book on baking this last year, and can say with tasty results. Starting my morning with a cup of hot tea or coffee and a couple of butter cookies have become part of the results.
Embossing Crochet Butter Cookies
I have played with a couple of butter cookie recipes and found some quick, simple, short cuts that have made these my new go-to snacks. When I start rolling out my cookies, and they are ready to cut, I place a crochet doily over the top of the dough and work my rolling pin over it. This embosses the doily pattern into the fabric. I then take a pizza cutter and cut the dough in squares and bake.
I get to enjoy the doily design with my coffee in the morning. They look like I spent time and effort on them, and when really they are my simple pleasures.
Want to try them for yourself?
Emboss Crochet Butter Cookies
1 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 ¾ cups flour
Preheat oven to 400°. Place all ingredients in food processor and turn on. Mix for about a minute, or until dough looks like sand, but when pressed sticks together. if it does not seem to come together well, add a little water about 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until it forms a dough.
Pour dough into a bowl or onto plastic wrap and form dough into a flat ball. Place in the refrigerator to chill, at least 10 minutes up to overnight.
Time to roll
Roll dough out to desired thickness (usually between ¼- ½ inches). Place clean doily over dough (you can also place a piece of plastic wrap between dough and doily, but keep it loose). Roll impression of doily into dough. Note: often you kitchen lighting does not show the texture very well, so get down to eye level to get a better look.
Chilling helps embossing crochet
Cut dough into 2 inch squares (or desired shapes), and place on baking sheet (since the cookies do not spear, you can place many on the tray, close together). I usually get a few dozen squares. For best embossing, place cookies in refrigerator for 10 minutes to re-chill. Bake for 8-10 minutes. It may appear that the embossing is not as detailed, but let the cookies cool and the impression will become more visible.
You can use the same technique with any crochet pattern, on any rolled dough. However a cold dough helps keep the embossed image best. Image your next pie with a lace embossed top…it is definitely on my list to try.
As we enter a New Year, I always find myself reflecting on the previous 12 months. This time I found some interesting understandings that I had overlooked; disconnect between my head and my hands.
With the constantly changing dynamics of 2020 I needed to keep my hands busy. I needed to keep a rhythm and flow of yarn in my hand, yet I had difficulty designing. My mind did not want to count stitches. It did not want to think of stitch patterns or colorways. My mind did not want to plan, my hands just wanted to move.
What I realized is something that has always been part of me, that I am most creative when I am calm. This was something that was constantly in peril in the last several months. I have been mentally juggling various situations in various days. Handling the changes of focus that have been tossed my way daily has made its effect, as most of the designs that I released in my pattern line have been designs that I had designed earlier.
However, I have been finding a new way to focus artistically. I have been rediscovering things that inspired me as a child. I stumbled across various little trinkets that had held my attention when I was younger. A couple of mismatched barrettes that I always thought were so pretty. A picture on a playing card, just a couple of kittens, but the monochromatic feel always captivated me. Even some fabric that my mom had purchased to make me a sundress. The dress was never made, but I always smiled when seeing the little rows of yellow roses.
This has helped me feel grounded. I still may not feel like my designing muscles are ready to fully flex, but at least I feel like there is a way to calm my mind for an artistic focus…so maybe I can find a happy medium between my head and my hands.