Tips for the Mundane

There are some truths about crochet that no one ever seems to share, we all hit a period where we are bored. This could be a stitch pattern, the act of moving the hook, the feel of the yarn. Everyone I have ever met does put things down from time to time, but they never really admit it.

It does not matter if you crochet for a living or just as a hobby, sometimes we find a mundane point. However, I have found a couple of ways through this period.

Ask yourself why. Is it that the stitch is not exciting? Is pattern is taking too long to finish? Is my attention being pulled in another direction?

We have all been there, and there is no shame in it. I have found a couple of approaches to get through it and still actually end up loving crochet again.

First, take a break. This is not a bad word and it does not mean that you are done with the craft, it simply means that you need a point of rejuvenation. Usually when I put my hook down, I find that I still need something to keep my hands busy and fidgety in the evenings when sitting with the family in front of the television. For me I then pick up work puzzles, maybe some Sudoku or word searches, I don’t quite have the disposition for crosswords but there are plenty of different puzzles to keep me entertained.

However, sometimes you need to get a project finished, there is a deadline…maybe you need that gift for the baby shower in 3 days. In this case, I have to set small goals. It can be as simple as completing a set number of rows of the pattern every time I sit down with it in my hand. This really depends upon that stitch pattern, but maybe it is as simple as getting through one of the row pattern repeats. Maybe it is getting to the next color change, or the next color change in the yarn. I set myself a visual point and work toward it. I find that this helps even more if I have a small reward for myself at the end, maybe I get a cookie or such, maybe then I get a nice stretch. It does not have to be anything big, it just has to be something to break up the monotony.

Sometimes it is as simple as changing projects and putting one in “time out”. I find this happens most on projects that I was first intrigued by, but then quickly discovered that the design was a really rather simple stitch repeat, like an entire afghan worked in only double crochet rows. There is nothing wrong with it, it just is not very exciting, and frankly if I do not have a reason or deadline to actually complete it, I might not get it finished. In this case I just have to be honest with myself. There is no harm in using the yarn in another project.

I wish I could say that I never put down my hook, that I have endless creative energy, but alas that is not what works for me. There are times I need to find another focus to help but my love of crochet back in focus.

Memory In Crochet

March every year is a month long celebration of crochet, as it is recognized as “National Crochet Month”. You will find “National Craft Week” in there to, but I do tend to focus on crochet. Lately, however, I have taking a bit of an introspective look.

Usually when someone talks about the memories crochet creates they are usually referring something someone made. Maybe it is an afghan that grandma made, or a dishtowel that a favorite aunt created. However there is another crochet memory that crocheters sometime get to experience, and it is found in the yarn.

It is true that when crocheters create something special for a loved one or friend that they take time to figure out the right color, the right pattern, and think of this person often when creating the stitches. This is the process that some refer to as adding the love. However, this last week I have been reminded of another way to stitch, while looking at someone else’s thoughts and dreams.

I have been crocheting with yarn that was inherited by be from one of my students that lost her battle with cancer this last year. I have had similar experiences in the past, making stitches from yarn chosen by someone else, for some perfect project that I am unaware of. I do not know why this color, or why this weight. I don’t know what the inspiration was. I only know that this was something that inspired her, something that wanted to be created.

I may not know what the original intended creation for the yarns, so I simply pick a stitch and make an afghan. I later donate this afghan to various charitable organizations. I spend the time stitching, being remembering a friend.

I wish I could say that this was the first such time I have stitched this afghan, but it’s not. It is a memorial for me, a bit cathartic, and bit therapeutic, and a bit of a tribute.

Crochet continues to amaze me, how it is such an emotional part of life.

Award Winning Design! Book Club Afghan

There are somethings that really take me by surprise. A really pleasant surprise is finding out that one of your designs has been chosen as one of the Top 50 Patterns of 2017 by I Like Crochet Magazine! That is one of the Best of 2017!

Of the thousands of patterns and designs that come out every year, I Like Crochet Magazine felt that my Book Club Afghan was among the cream of the crop.  It takes me back a bit.

Honestly, I am never sure how to assess my designs. I just make the idea that comes to me.

I have found over the years that the more I over think an idea, the less I really like it. So I try and keep things simple, and focus on the approach of what it takes to make the design. Maybe it is the fundamental crocheter in me, but my end thought really falls to if I enjoy making it.

This is the practice that went into making the Book Club Afghan, just enough stitch change to keep things interesting, just enough repeat to keep the design something that you can relax doing. This is how the lacy panels are worked, in a lengthwise direction with solid stitches between them. The three styles of lace make just enough visual interest, and are just different enough from one another that it is a joy to work.

The fringe on this design I fell really helps it stand out, as it offers just a bit of a classic flair. Overall this design has always reminded me of a classic fisherman’s afghan with a modern update, something classic made more current.

I know that there are many fabulous designs accepted every year by the publication, and I am honored that one of mine was selected. I guess a truer statement might be that I am humbled.

 

Crochet Ups & Downs

How is it that WIPs (Works In Progress) can multiply and haunt you? How is it I can love to crochet yet not have the desire to do one more stitch on the afghan? Why is it that time can stand still with some projects?

I think we have all had these questions, I know I find them popping up in projects that are not even crochet related. In the beginning I have a plan, I am completely excited…the something happens. I don’t know what it is exactly, maybe I get bored, or I hit a snag in my plan. Maybe the next project just looks so much more exciting.

Yes, this is a challenge, even as I crochet for a living. In some cases if it wasn’t for a deadline some designs may not get completed. Not that they are not good designs or that I don’t love them but they sometimes fall into a rut and have to get put into time out.

Sometimes I think I am a bit manic in my crochet, I will crochet for non-stop for hours finishing project after project…then I hit a spell where I cannot even pick up a hook. My yarn and hook just stare at me, causing me guilt…I should be working on that project…I want to complete that idea…but I am stalled. I really do set goals every morning about what project needs to get done, and how far I need to get, but some days work a bit better than others.

I shouldn’t beat myself up too much, this is not the only area in my life this can appear nor am I the only one afflicted. There are always some home improvement projects around the house that haven’t quite been finished. There are always some art or craft projects that are half done; the garden seems to get partially started every year but never really finished. Some of it is that plans change part way through, others that the skill might exceed the ability.

Fortunately the slump always passes and the projects always get finished. Fortunately somehow everything balances out. So I will try and be a little nicer to myself when I just cannot pick up a hook. It is not a reflection of my love of craft it is just finding balance.

Inspiring Book & Give Away! Quick Crochet for the Home

I do not often do reviews. This has been a personal issue for me, as I don’t want to feel like I am just “hocking” items and adding an endorsement to everything in the hopes of gaining more followers or the like. I want to actually mean what I say and have those that read my work realize that I am taking caution in sharing my views. I know I could share negative thoughts in a review, but really I would prefer if I couldn’t say something nice, that I not say anything at all. So I am selective.

When I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing the first book written by Tamara Kelly, aka Mooglyblog.com, I was flattered, but a bit apprehensive. I consider Tamara a friend, so it doubly feels like I cannot say anything negative, especially about her first book. Fortunately, after reading through it I can easily stay to my “moral high ground” of endorsements, as the book is really very nice and well done.

The book, Quick Crochet for Home, honestly would not have been the first book I would have considered for my bookshelf. This is because I have done so many home décor projects over the years that I thought I couldn’t find any that would inspire me anymore, I was wrong. Tamara applies some techniques in ways that I had not considered before and helped me to look at home décor with fresh eyes.

When checking out the Around the Table Trivet I was surprised that there was no cording listed in the materials, as looking at the photo images it appeared that the rounds were well padded, then I noticed that there was not spiral effect of the rounds. The genius of the pattern has one round worked over the adjacent round! So there is not obvious join, and it creates its own padding…genius! It is one of those, why didn’t I think of that moments.

Then her Chevron Cuddles Blanket takes the challenge of the increase and decrease stitches out of the famous crochet design of zig zags, and worked the design side to side carrying different colors instead of working each color as a separate row. This has some definite benefits, such as being easier of newer crocheters, and allowing you to really envision how the colors come together well before you have finished the project. You only have to know how to double crochet, and change colors…it is that simple, yet looks much more challenging.

I also found that the book was well presented, layout well, offered well written patterns and charts. Another bonus, it has photography that actually helped you understand the project, not just look really pretty.

I found inspiration in several of the other designs as well, but I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed going through this book. There is a little something for everyone, there are patterns that you will easily work over and over again, as well as others that might only wait for the perfect moment. Tamara shares several different original ideas in her approach to her designs, and I am sure that you will find something that you will create.

As an added bonus, I have the opportunity to GIVE AWAY a FREE copy of Quick Crochet for the Home by Tamara Kelly, to one lucky reader! Simply leave a comment telling me what your favorite item is to crochet…whether it be home décor or something else, by midnight Friday, September 1, 2017. The following day one comment will be selected at random to choose the winner.