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.

Simple Basket- Crochet for A Difference

There are various ways that crochet impacts organizations and individuals every day. I have always tried to use my crochet ability to make a local impact, so I want to share a crochet stitch and inspire you to Crochet For A Difference.

I have stated it in past posts, that crochet specialty stitch pattern names really are not known universally, but in order to make it clear about the stitch I am discussing I have to give it a name, so I want to share the Simple Basket Stitch Pattern with you.

Front post double crochet www.lindadeancrochet.com

Where to work a Front Post Double Crochet, insert the hook around the post.

This stitch pattern is worked in double crochet with the only variation being the Front Post Double Crochet. This Front Post stitch can seem intimidating, but essentially it is the same double crochet that you have always worked it is just in a different location. To work this stitch you begin with a yarn over and insert the hook around the body or post of the next stitch from the front to the back and then to the front again, and then work it as a regular double crochet by working a yarn over then pulling it through, then yarn over again and pull through two loops, twice.

To work the Simple Basket you need to create chain that is a multiple of 4, then add 2 more chains.

Row 1: Work a double crochet in each chain across, turn.

Row 2: Chain 3, [front post double crochet in the next 2 stitches, double crochet in the next 2 stitches] repeating across until 1 stitch remains, double crochet in the last stitch, turn.

Simple Basket Stitch www.lindadeancrochet.com

Simple Basket Stitch

Repeat Row 2 until you have reached the desired length.

To help visually understand where each stitch goes so that you do not have to worry about counting, essentially if the stitch you are working into appears to be pushed forward then work a front post double crochet, if the stitch you are working into appears to be pushed away from you work it as a double crochet stitch.

The texture created gives a great visual as well as esthetic feel. It has a nice loft to it that really helps the stitch feel like it is harder than it is. This can create a great blanket that you may consider to donate to a homeless shelter. It is estimated that any given night in the United States that over 600,000 people were experiencing homelessness only 17% of those are consider chronically homeless (source greendoors.org). Meaning that a great percentage of those experiencing homeless on any given night, are in a short term housing situation and a simple blanket can make a difficult time a little more bearable. Find one in your community here.

The More I Teach, the More I Learn

Teaching crochet might sound like an interesting way to make a little extra money, but there is more to it than what you might think.

I have been teaching crochet for almost a decade, in a variety of venues with a variety of approaches. I began teaching consistently at a coffee shop, I set up a regular hour a week and had people drop in for lessons at their leisure. I also hosted my own workshops at a local winery, I taught workshops at local guild gatherings. I worked this approach for quite some time.

 The drop in lessons at the coffee shop always kept me on my toes. I never knew student may arrive or what they may want to learn. It kept me flexible, and always expanding my own education to keep up with the requests and needs of those seeking my service. This approach did have its down side however, as I never had any idea if anyone would even show up during these set hours. I had many a day that I would just sip my tea and people watch instead of having any students.

Hosting my own workshops way an interesting experience. I was responsible for everything, the location set up, the advertising, the accounts receivable/payable, as well as all the regular workshop expectations for handouts and material, I even made the refreshments. This helped me to recognize my own strengths and weaknesses, as well as a better appreciation for all the work and undertaking that goes into larger teaching/learning venues.

Teaching at the guild workshops had their own challenges, as I personally knew most of the students. I seemed surreal to me that people I knew actually wanted to pay to take a class from me. It was a safe place, but I had to ensure not to “let my guard down” in a sense. I want to keep things professional and this can be difficult when the room is filled with people that you share a different kind of relationship with. Thus, this experience helped me to understand some of my short comings as an instructor.

From these 3 teaching venues I grew into teaching at my local yarn store, as well as at national conferences. The local yarn store helped me to expand my student following, and introduce me to new people. It allowed me to focus on actual education without having to worry about the advertising, the enrollment, the location. I feel like I have a more formal footing on my class structure and can focus on various ways to explain various crochet approaches. I can better understand different learning styles and different personalities. This has helped me to better structure my classes for national conferences.

The difference from workshops at the local yarn store and those at conferences, is really the students. The local yarn store has a wide base of students, with varying needs and learning desires, those at conferences often are very focused on the topic at hand, and as a result the classes need to be geared to a more advanced student.

That might be the most challenging thing to putting a workshop together, ensuring that you have enough material to keep everyone engaged. It can be a delicate balance, and until you have the students in the room you never really know what the event will look like. You need to have enough material so that the advanced students are kept busy, while not have so much that you overwhelm students that may need more guidance.

The one underlying affect that teaching has, is seeing the joy and excitement your students have when it all clicks into place and they “get it”. I have heard this said by teachers of all sorts, it is a very unique experience that can become addicting. It is really the students that keep me coming back to teaching, they keep challenging me…something that I have always enjoyed.

I guess I can safely say that teaching has given me more than I would have imagined, every time I teach I learn something new. It might be from a question a student asks that causes me to look at the subject matter from a completely different vantage point, or it could be learning a better way to share my ideas and concepts with someone else. If teaching crochet is something you have considered, be prepared to grow.

A Different Sheep- Blue Faced- and the Yarn

It is becoming a bit more common to find the breed of the sheep listed as the fiber content of yarns, but without some knowledge of the breed it can make it difficult to assess what to expect from the yarn, it can actually make it difficult to assess the yarn itself, as often you may not even realize that it is a wool breed.

Blue Faced Luster or Bluefaced Leicester is an English Sheep breed, and the Leicester (sometimes seen as Luster, especially in the American market) is actually a reference to a geographic location of this long fleece breed. The staple, the actual individual “hair” of the fleece, is long; anywhere from 5-18” (13-46cm), so this means that the yarn can hold together even with less “twist” then some other wool. Essentially what this means is that because the fiber is longer it does not need to be twisted as often to catch hold of other fibers, as a result they may not hold as much air being less warm as some shorter stapled fibers…but not by much as the fiber also has a fine crimp.

Bluefaced Leicester yarn www.lindadeancrochet.com

West Yorkshire Spinners Bluefaced Leicester Aran Prints yarn. (color pheasant)

Wool fibers can retain heat due to air pockets. Like insulation the more “pockets” that can trap air the more it can trap heat. So when a staple is twisted with other staples the spaces between cause pockets of air. The crimp of a fiber, is how much “wave” it has. It is a zig zag effect, and the more crimp the more the fiber can create air pockets and retain heat.

The staple also has a fine micron count, this results in a soft yarn. The micron count in the diameter of an individual strand of fiber. The easiest way to think of a comparison in micron count is to think of the hair of a small child and a grown adult. The child’s hair is noticeably softer then the adults, this is because its micron count is smaller, it is thinner, then the adult.

So with Bluefaced Leicester having all these qualities you can expect that the yarn will have a softness and billowiness to it, as I discovered in West Yorkshire Spinners Bluefaced Leicester Aran Prints. This yarn is true to the nature of the breed. It has a soft yet durable ply that results in a well-defined yarn that gives good stitch definition. This particular yarn has a very versatile quality and can easily create an accessory such as a scarf or hat, item for home décor or a light sweater. I think that this can easily be a go to wool yarn, which fits the build for many projects.

There is some subtle qualities of various wools, and the subtle differences in this one is not something that you will regret.

Pinwheel Blanket- A Work of Many Ideas

The Pinwheel Blanket is one that takes a little different approach then I usually do; it is comprised of small motifs that make a larger motif, then joined together. I will admit, I usually think a little more simplistic, I have a motif and that motif gets joined to other motifs, so making a motif out of motifs…well that is like an ah ha moment.

Pinwheel Blanket www.lindadeancrochet.com

Pinwheel Blanket Crochet Now Issue 10

I did not make this realization on my own, I had help. I often believe the best designs come out of a collaboration, ideas always grow when you listen to others…sometimes for the better, like this one. I had worked the smaller motifs together, mostly to see how they looked joined together as I think the join point creates a really interesting effect. It was the editor of Crochet Now that mentioned that the block created looked great just as they were and should be treated like motifs, this allows the join point to become a highlight.

This collaboration has opened my eyes to many different attachment and joining, sometimes it just takes a different view to open up a new world.

So about Pinwheel Blanket, the initial small motif is only comprised of three rounds, so it works up quickly. It grew from a flower, and I feel it has a floral feel. It is at the join point that I see the pinwheel, with a feeling of the whirly-gigs I have seen in the garden. So I guess in a sense this throw has a garden feel for me. With flowers and whirly-gigs it does have an outdoor feel, and even the colors are bright like flowers.

Each small motif is joined to create a square that is the bordered with a main color and joined to other squares, this creates a patchwork and rustic charm while in keeping with garden feel. This is a great project that can be worked as a portable, take on the go and create a fabulous blanket. Check this design in Issue 10 of Crochet Now.