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.

 

Crochet Attachment, or Attached to Me

When I was younger crochet was an emotional outlet, I do not know if I could say the same thing today. Maybe crochet has grown up with me, or maybe it has just become ingrained to my every day.

I remember when I was in high school that my brother use to joke that is anyone was cold and needed a blanket, then find a guy for me to date then break up with me. Not that I dated much at all, but break-ups did through me into an afghan making frenzy. Everyone in my family has at least one, friends from the time can probably say the same.

It was not necessarily that I was filling my stitches with tears, as much as it kept my hands busy and helped to let my mind focus. I guess in a sense it was my meditation. I am not sure if it applies the same today.

I crochet daily, but now it has a different focus, it is part of my work. I keep more notes about the stitches I am working, I am deciding the best way to highlight a yarn, I am thinking of things for blog posts, I am exploring different ways to explain techniques in teaching, basically I have lost my mind wandering. I am not completely sure that this has come from the position of it being my work, or the many years that I have been doing it, over ¾ of my life.

I also am not working nearly as many afghans. I made many blankets over the years, I really only started making garments about a decade ago. In all things relative that is very short amount of time. So maybe that has taken to my change of my crochet experience, that I have expanded the scope of my outlet.

I may not recognize it as my emotional outlet, but nearly twenty years of marriage could have curbed that need. I still am not sure what I would do with my hands while seated just about anywhere, so maybe crochet has grown into something more primal, maybe it is just a part of me that I cannot see as separate.

Small Town, Small World, Big Punch in Fiber Arts

The world has ways of reminding me that it is much smaller then I think, and I have had friends recently make me think of my home town a bit differently. I grew up, currently live, and have long roots in the California gold country; a friend made a comment about living in such a historic place, and I admit I think I probably have taken that for granted. However the craziest thing isn’t how much my area has history, it is how often I learn about companies in the fiber industry that have roots here too.

 

As I was getting into the profession of crochet I began to pay a bit more attention to my surrounding in regards to other professionals. My local Fibers Guild (a groups of members that love all things yarn) I learned that there was a yarn company just a short distance from my kids school, Lisa Souza Knitwear and Dyeworks. I have worked with Lisa over the years to help create crochet designs in her beautiful yarns, as well as help work her show booth and visit various cities throughout the United States.

 

If only having a well-established yarn company in my town was enough, I also learned that a nationally recognized fiber spinning instructor and author, Lexi Boeger of Pluckyfluff, grew up in my community as well. Heck she was only a year ahead of me in high school, but my high school was large enough that I can honestly say that we did not run in the same circles. Her family owns a well-known local winery, and she has a studio just near the tasting room, that I have had the pleasure of teaching workshops at.

 

Those two connections should be more than enough, then I got into a conversation with a long time member of my Fiber Guild and when she learned where I lived she immediately assumed that I must know Lorna Miser, the creator and founder of Lorna’s Laces yarn. I did not know her, but the connection was made that as I was growing up she was starting the yarn company literally about 2 miles from my childhood home. There is even a colorway within the yarn company that features my street name, Bucks Bar. I did meet Lorna a few years later, and long after she had sold the business that is now housed in the Chicago, Illinois area, I was when working on some designs for a book that she was working on, and learned that she knew several members of my extended family. Even though up until very recently she and I only lived about thirty minutes apart, while she was starting up her latest yarn adventure, Zombie Yarns,  we would only cross paths at trade shows thousands of miles from home; but that is how it works out at times isn’t it? Never have lunch with a friend when you are in the everyday routine of home, but definitely make time when out of the ordinary grind.

 

So looking back over the connections above to my community, I thought that maybe there was something in the water or maybe every community as secret fiber artists dwelling in plain sight. Then I was at a trade show earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio when a friend and colleague escorted me over to check out a hook supplier. Honestly, I was tagging along a bit, my mind was already taking in the days discussions with various yarn companies when the gentleman, Chris Barnes, mentioned something about California. I mentioned I was from Placerville, that got him to look up, as he started he grew up there. Now I should mention that when traveling it is exciting to find someone that can pronounce the name of the town correctly (it is a short a sound), let alone know where it is without me drawing a map. We began chatting back and forth to find that we knew several of the same people and he was only two years ahead of me in high school and hung out with my cousin during his high school years. Apparently he had just taken over the business his father had started in my hometown, Brittany Needles. The company moved several years back to a little down on the northern coast that I enjoy vacationing at, Mendocino, but it started right here in my little gold rush town.

 

I know I have taken the local gold rush history for granted, but I did not realize that there was such a rich fiber arts history in the professional sense surrounding me. Honestly, since this last connection I am beginning to think I need to question the ladies at the Hangtown Fibers Guild more, as when I excitedly mention these new to me connections, they have already know everyone involved.  I wonder if there are any other industry connections hidden away in my back yard.

Repurposed Bath Towel Blanket

When I was in high school, with my first car, okay a small truck, I had an “always prepared” bag behind the seat. The bag contained a coat, snow gloves, a blanket, a bathing suit, sun block, and a towel. Not exactly the same “always prepared” that I would think of today, but at the time you never knew what plans might arise for after school (especially if I had a day off work). It might be a trip to the mountains to play in the snow, or it could be a day at the river…really depends on the season and the weather, but I was prepared.

Well, several years have gone by since then, but I still attempt to keep “prepared” kit in my vehicle…no longer my cute little truck that I would take 4 wheeling, but my much more practical Subaru Outback…I still refuse to admit it might be a station wagon. My kit now has some granola bars, napkins and wet wipes, a flashlight, and I still have a blanket. I find that this blanket has many good uses, and can even still fit in some spontaneity, like a quick picnic in the park, or what is more likely a fast food dinner during archery practice. The blanket also helps when the kids are tired, or someone is cold. It covers the seats when the dog goes to the vet, or is rolled into a ball to give the driver some more support for resting their arm on the console.

Repurposed bath towel blanket. Www.lindadeancrochet.com

Repurposed Bath Towel blanket

This blanket has been replaced over the years, and one way I like to feel that I have a blanket that is really a second life is to make one. When bath towels wear out, become a bit thread barren, or simply have too many holes, I cut them into squares. As long as the squares are the same size, that is all that matters. I then crochet an edge around the squares. I then join all the squares together, I could sew or seem them, but I prefer to crochet them together. I find that the terry cloth a nice fabric for a blanket of the necessity, but just be mindful of ensuring that you slightly roll the edge of the fabric when crocheting the edge around it, this helps to reduce the initial fraying.

Give it a try next time you have a towel that has seen better days, and create your own blanket to be prepared with.