My 1800’s Vacation, and Touchstone

I just took an unexpected vacation to the 1800’s, okay not quite literally but 66 hours without power, phone, or internet can feel a bit like it.
Now, some will instantly think this is torture and have tinges of sympathy. However, really it helps me stay humble and grounded…even in my crochet.


It is a time when the world makes me slow down, I am not tied up in the world of social media, I am not browsing Pinterest, I am not finding something to pull me away from the actually stitching of my fabric. I would spend the evening working on a shawl pattern, in almost darkness, with only a firelight and a candle flickering ensuring I found the right placement for my stitches. This is a design that I hope to share shortly, as it is almost complete.


This time also helps me to focus on the strong background of ancestors that formed me the way I am. I know that my grandmother didn’t have the luxury of indoor plumbing for most of her life, that my great grandmother never had electric lights to work by late into the night. Neither were distracted by the world of television, and made it through life just fine. Realizing that all the generations that came before me lived in a world without these modern conveniences, helps to keep me grounded it what is really important.


These 66 hours found my children talking to me, and each other more. Sharing more hopes, dreams and fears then in any given day of the week. They had the opportunity to experience true quiet and a dark night sky. It really can be just the simple things.
I was also able to play with new ideas in yarn, and sketch out ideas for new designs. It may have been an unexpected “vacation”, but sometimes it is exactly what you needed.

December! Time to enjoy my Craftvent CAL

So if you have been fortunate enough to receive a limited edition crochet Jimmy Beans Wool Craftvent for 2018, I thought I would share some tips and insight behind the design. Note: This kit sold out and is no longer available on their website, but it doesn’t hurt to call and see if one may be hiding in the back. (If you were unsuccessful obtaining one, read to the end and I will share some insights to making your own).

To begin with the shawl starts at a point and increase on one side until it becomes a large triangle. The first couple of rows might be the most challenging, especially since it is small and there is not much to hang on to.

The first row, essentially becomes a “V”, ensuring that all odd number rows will be worked in a “V st” pattern. The even number rows are simply double crochet stitches worked into all the stitches and spaces across.

To help you keep an accurate row count, the number of “V”’s will increase by 1 every time you work this row, while the double crochet row will always increase by 3 stitches. So if you had 3 “V” stitches in row 5, you will have 6 “V” stitches in Row 7, while if you had 10 double crochets in Row 6, then you will have 13 double crochet stitches in Row 8.

Also the increase are worked on the same side as the color changes, keeping all the pattern differences on one side of the work.

While this “V” stitch/double crochet row repeat makes up a vast portion of the design, the smaller rows of back loop single crochet stitches are always worked in pairs, and there are no increase worked in these rows. This little stitch pattern adds a great contrast in the fabric, not only visually but texturally too.

This entire kit is based upon the redesign of my Quest Shawl pattern, so if you were not able to get a Craftvent the closet to offer is the Quest Shawl pattern. The main difference in these designs is actually the color blocking. Quest has only 2 colors, while Craftvent features 8. If you want to purchase these yarns and thus make your own color blocking from the Quest Shawl, here are the yarns:

You can order a skein of each from Jimmy Beans Wool and create your own color blocking effect.

I will admit, I was so excited about this project that I purchased a kit myself, and am reworking the shawl again day by day in the calendar! You can follow along with my progress at my Facebook Page or Instagram.

Hope you enjoy this process as much as I am!

Yes, Swatches Lie…Well Maybe….

Yes, swatches lie. Well that is a bit harsh…really they can be a bit misleading.

To start with there is the famous question, “Do I need to make a swatch?” Well only if you want to ensure that you meet the gauge of the pattern. Gauge helps to ensure that the pattern comes out the same size, but it also ensures that your fabric has the same drape as that of the original design. If this is important to you, then yes, you need to swatch.

That being said there are some road blocks that stop many people from making a swatch.

First there is no actual directions for making a swatch, the gauge lists the number of stitches and rows that fit the given measurements, but that is where the information ends. If you are a new crocheter this can be a bit difficult to decipher, as you need to read and understand your pattern and then make assumptions from this.

One of the ways to make these assumptions is simply to make a chain longer than the given measurement for the gauge. By a rule of thumb add make the swatch at least 40% bigger than is measured, so if it states 4” (10cm), make a swatch of 5 ½” (14 cm). This is so you can take the measurement from of the stitches and rows without using the edges of the swatch, as the edges can distort the measurement.

If the gauge gives a stitch pattern, work this in rows until the rows measure larger than the given measurement. However this is only step one.

The next step to ensure you are getting an accurate measurement is to block your swatch. Essentially you want to treat your wash as you would the finished item, so if it is hand washed then hand wash, if it is machine wash then machine wash, and let dry.

Now you can take the measurement and to ensure that you meet gauge, to proceed with your pattern. If you need to adjust your hook size to obtain gauge you will need to repeat the process in a new hook size and repeat.

However here is the honesty, very few of us go through these steps. I know when I get my yarn I want to dive right in and get to creating, but sometimes I do have to pay the price for this. I may need to rip back and rework if things are not coming out as expected.

So how can I find a happy medium between creating a swatch and just enjoying my crochet? My tip is to check my work regularly. I may block an item before I head to bed, after a day of stitching, and check my gauge in the morning. If it is on course I feel free to continue onward, if it is a bit off it is a day to rip back and begin anew. This may be a bit of a gamble in losing a day’s worth of work, but it keeps me enjoying my stitching while still being happy with the outcome.

Cutting Crochet- It is Possible

I have been quite a few questions lately about how to cut crochet. Granted it is not a simple process, but it is a skill you can acquire, with some simple understanding about your fabric.

First what do you want to cut your fabric? Maybe the beginning chain is way too tight in comparison with the rest of the fabric, and you would love it fixed. Maybe you made the something the wrong size, an afghan you made to wide, a sweater you made too long. The reasons can be vast.

To begin with cutting crochet fabric is unique and different almost every time you do it. The approaches to cutting across rows for fabric (horizontally) and cutting through stitches (vertically) might be similar, but horizontally is a bit easier. So let’s start there.

Before cutting through a row of stitches you want to run a thread through the bases or “feet” or the stitches that are being worked into the row to be cut. This thread will help prevent the fabric from unraveling.

Once the thread is in place, cut the row off. Now remove all the excess yarn bits. You should have crochet stitches that are now worked on a thread. It is relatively simple to finish this fabric off by a new fabric to the base of the stitches on the thread and crochet into the “bottoms” of each stitch. Once all the stitches are worked into, you can remove the thread.

To cut vertically in the fabric, the approach is similar to run a thread through the stitches adjacent to those being cut, but it can be more difficult to ensure that each loop that encompass a stitch is secure in this process, so I add an extra stitch. After running a thread through the stitches, you can cut the fabric (note, if you want to save both sides of the fabric from the cut you will need to run a thread on either side of the cut to ensure that neither piece of fabric unravels).

Once the fabric is cut, gently remove the excess yarn form the fabric at the cut, being careful to watch each row and ensure that no yarn is unraveling past your thread. If it is, as you have missed a loop, place a removable stitch marker in the “uncaught” loop. This removable stitch marker can be as simple as a paper clip. After removing the excess yarn and determining unsecured loops on the edge you will need to join with yarn and crochet over the edge, making sure to incorporate the unsecured loops into the new stitches you are creating. This will assist in preventing them from unraveling. After you have successfully crocheted the edge you can remove the thread. You may find that the edge still looks a bit shaggy, so you may have to weave in assorted ends throughout the edge to ensure a tidy finish.

Like I said it is not a project for the faint of heart, but it can be done. If you want to progress in further in cutting your crochet fabrics, I would suggest checking out teh work by Vashti Braha of Designing Vashti….she went down the rabbit hole with Self Healing Stitches and such….find them here. Why Self Healing Stitches, Self Healing Stitches Resources, 

I am A #HumansThatYarn

Humans that yarn. Sounds like an interesting caption, but to the Craft Yarn Council it is a bit more than that.

The Craft Yarn Council is a nonprofit organization that is designed to promote all things yarn that includes certifying knitting and crochet instructors….it is an interesting course that I completed of crochet in 2012, and really has helped me to teach crochet more effectively. (You can find information about the program here). The Humans that Yarn campaign is an effort by this organization to hear the voices of those that craft with yarn.

Often as crocheters it seems like we are defined by the fact that we are not knitters, and this campaign gives us an opportunity to talk about who we are and what yarn means to us, so I thought I would share my thoughts.

For me I really do not remember a time in my life without yarn somewhere around. As I have talked about in the past I taught myself to crochet at the age 10 from a book, but it wasn’t from a true desire to crochet as much as it was to learn and create. It just happened that I had access to yarn, hooks and the book.

Most of my yarn came from others. Other people would give me there left over scraps and partial skeins. There was a time when I finally committed to creating my first afghan that I convinced my mom to allow me to purchase some yarn. I remember spending time going over patterns finding the one that I wanted to create. I remember standing in the aisle of the store putting various combinations of yarn together to find the perfect colors. I remember asking my mom’s advice on the color selection, she after all as in many different art classes at the time.

Yet yarn is not just a memory for me. It is a way of moving my hands and keeping my mind flowing it is being productive in even the most likely of times.

It might be that I tend to want to do or experience things that no one would quite expect to look at me. No one in grade school would expect me to be crocheting, I had many friends in high school look at me like I was crazy when they found out…although many still have the afghan I made them. I guess I liked a bit of the awe factor. Not fitting into any particular mold…I still find it appealing.

People that know me are no longer surprised by the crocheting, but they tell me they are inspired by my designing, teaching and taking it on as a business. The title “Crochet Designers” does garner surprise from people I meet, as they never thought of any career like it.

So I guess, my easiest summation for Who am I? when considering Humans that Yarn, I am contrite wanting to be different and a bit surprising while utilizing a common craft.

Share your #HumasthatYarn story, Who are You?